Monday, September 22, 2008

2009 Schwinn Cutter

So a good friend of mine is moving from the burbs to the city and is looking to buy a simple around-town bike, so we were talking about single speeds, etc. I was poking around online yesterday looking at a few manufacturer's websites. I went to look at the '09 Schwinn Madison, which is a reasonably priced flip-flop, the '09 is a cool yellow too, when I saw this:

For $299!

There isn't a ton of information floating around about this bike, but assuming the frame is decent quality, this seems like a screaming deal. It's a high tensile (not cro-moly) frame, so most of the cost savings vs. the Madison is right there. Still, this is a cool entry point for somebody (who is in decent shape) looking for an 'I live downtown and need something to get me to the coffee shop, etc' bike.

I've also looked at the Madison and the Redline 925 for him. If anybody has ideas about an alternative in this price range ($500-800), let me know.

Cycling industry fueling job growth

I've been thinking a lot about high energy prices lately, and I have to say, generally I like it. I have an honest fear that gas prices will fall below $3/gallon and people will see it as 'relief' and start putting their bikes back up on hooks in the garage and buy huge SUVs again. Of course time will tell what happens with oil prices and gas prices.

Historically we have seen surges in energy prices like this before, such as 1973-1974 and 1979. However, 'this time it's different' as they like to say, because this spike has been demand driven, rather than supply driven like it was in the 70's. Of course, the spike in prices could (and should) stifle demand for oil, creating some price stability. Where prices will stabilize is the big question. Personally, I hope oil stays over $100/bbl. With high oil prices and the right tax credits in place, alternative sources of energy could actually take off, and with it, alternative transportation.

Last week I read a great column in the Prague Post online, here's a brief excerpt:

Despite the worrying current state of affairs, it is heartening to recall that humanity lived well enough for millennia without automobiles. However, my solution is not a return to the horse-drawn carriage, but the healthy, emissions-free, fun and efficient bicycle. It’s perhaps odd in an age of such technological sophistication that a simple device is making a comeback, but the bike’s simplicity is also its advantage. Believe it or not, prior to the 1950s, more than half of Western Europe’s city commuting was by bicycle. Today, a number of wealthy cities with citizens who have the money to buy cars, such as Copenhagen, Cambridge and Ferrara, Italy, (to say nothing of the prototypical example of Amsterdam) see bike ridership levels of 30 percent to 40 percent.

The article can be found here:
Warning, he rambles about peak oil for a bit, which is a pretty political issue and I prefer to avoid those topics here. Regardless of the peak oil conversation, its a well-written editorial.

To get back to the original point of this post, I saw this article this morning from my hometown paper:
A cycling parts distribution warehouse in Fort Wayne is growing in size and stature due to the surge in demand for bike stuff. I think this is awesome, and I am so happy that 'industry insiders' are willing to make continued investments in the industry, which to me identifies a long-term trend.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lazy lately

I admit it, I have been neglecting the blog. Today was such a beautiful fall day, and I had a perfect ride home. I saw about another 5-6 commuters today, which has been about average lately.

Most cyclists are friendly, especially commuter-to-commuter. I have to admit, it seems that often roadies are less friendly. But overall, most cyclists will wave to one another and chat it up at stoplights.

Lately I've wondered if this is because cyclists are happier people, or simply happier because they are riding a bike, or because we share a certain camaraderie of being in a minority.

Question of the day is: Would cyclists still be as friendly if we were the majority? I wonder if I would want to be associated with cyclists if we behaved like the current majority.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Eurobike, etc

So many bikes. Only so much time in the day.

First, credit to the brother in law for this one. Salsa has a new 29er, the Fargo, for the 2009 lineup. I can only say that, to my knowledge, this is a pretty unique bicycle. Here's the stock:

Items to note:

- 6 (!) bottle cages on most sized frames (only 5 if you are little...)
- disc brakes, the rear brake mounts on the chainstay to allow for the use of a normal rack and a full load
- handles massive (2.4") 29er tires
- stock with drops and bar ends
- note the geometry - lower BB, crazy sloped top tube for easy on and off if you're loaded up.

I'm trying to think of a personal practical application for this. Obviously for me it runs in the same spot as the LHT. Salsa is touting it as 'adventure touring' which I think is a good name.

If I was going to sell all of my worldly possessions and travel around the country with only what I could carry on a bicycle, this would be the bicycle.

Also, there were some cool bikes at Eurobike, thanks BikeRadar for the update. My favorite idea was a continuously variable hub. Not exactly sure how it works but I was wondering when we were going to see that. Check it out:

Also, I heard some noise about some guy named Lance riding for Astana next year. Not sure what all that hubub is about.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Project

The wife and I cruised down to Panera yesterday to get coffee, read, hang out, generally enjoy a beautiful day. On the way home we passed a couple of garage sales, one of which had a bike out front...of course I had to stop.

Best part? It had a 'free' sign on it. I gave the lady a couple of bucks and walked both bikes home (we were in the neighborhood already). So:
She's not a lot to look at just yet. Small frame, so it won't be for me, but a fun project none the less. The cassette and chain are totally rusted through, but the rest of the bike was decent. It needs tires and tubes, cables and housing, brake pads, bar tape, some tlc. She might make a nice fixie, I haven't taken the cassette off yet, so I'm not sure what all is going on back there. There was some surface rust on the frame so I'll be sanding that out and spraying her a fun color.

After doing a bit of research, I found this:

Pretty sweet. So she is swedish, 531 tubing. I am pretty happy that this is a quality frame, even if it is 30+ years old. Not bad for a free bike. I'll be working on her for a next few weeks, so this is how she stands now:

Anybody speak Swedish?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

by the numbers

I stole this from here:

Percent of American adults age 20 years and older who are overweight or obese: 66

Pounds a new bicycle commuter can expect to lose during the first year of bicycle commuting: 13

Percentage of heart disease/ stroke among leading causes of adult American deaths: 33%

Hours of bike riding per week necessary to cut the risk of heart disease and stroke in half: 3

Minutes per day Americans spend on a daily car commute (2004 average): 49

Cost of owning and operating a car in 2008 (10,000 miles): $12,672

Percent of the world's oil supply consumed by America:25%

Average price of gas on Aug. 25, 2008: $3.69

Average price of gas on Aug. 25, 2007: $2.75

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CIA World Factbook, American Automobile Association, U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, League of American Bicyclists, Bicycling Magazine

If you just look at the amount of time needed to cut the risk of heart disease by 1/2, and the amount of time the average American spends in their car on their commute, just commuting by bike a few times a week would provide some pretty impressive health benefits. I'm not a big guy, but I know I've lost about 5 lbs since I started riding 19 miles a day every day. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sharing the road

This morning was the first time (kind of surprising actually) that I was verbally threatened by a motorist on my commute. I've been brushed many-a-time, honked at, told to get on the sidewalk, etc, but today a kind gentleman in a white early 90's Accord let me know of his intention to inflict harm on my backside with his foot. I'll set the stage:

Me: sitting at red light
Him: sitting behind me at red light.
Me: sitting at red light
Him: honking, telling me to move over so that he can turn right around me
Me: (ahem) politely declining to move
Him: yelling, being generally obnoxious
(light changes)
Me: ride through intersection
Him: blahblahblahkickyourassblahblahblah

So this little altercation got me to thinking, and then I read Friday's Legally Speaking blog on Velonews. First, if you don't read Velonews, well I'm not sure why you're reading this because there is significantly better reading over there, and 2nd, well you should. And you should read Legally Speaking, because it's generally quite good.

Friday's article from Bob touches on a broad spectrum of bikes-on-the-road issues, and really takes a hard look at the psychology behind conflict. I won't try to summarize , just go read it.

The part I found particularly applicable was this:

Tethered to their freedom machines, their escape being thwarted at every turn, drivers daily suffer through this grueling feeling of inescapable restriction. And who is to blame? Everybody else who is blocking their escape. Mostly, that means other drivers, but increasingly, it means cyclists. You know, the out-group. Frustratingly slow-moving, and yet paradoxically, traveling faster than any “freedom machine” trapped in urban traffic. And worst of all, piloted by cyclists: Smug. Self-righteous. Arrogant, even, as they blast through red lights while everybody else waits their turn. The only thing worse than watching one of these scofflaws flippantly ignoring the rules everybody else is bound by is being stuck behind one of them when — or rather, if — the road ever opens up. Surely, drivers complain, is it any wonder that their wrath is turned upon cyclists?
I think this (and the related section) really hit on my experience this morning. The guy behind me was evidently in SUCH A HURRY to get to the office that he felt it necessary ot make a scene. I don't know about you, but I'm not usually in that big of a hurry to get to the office.

Also, I'll briefly defend my action. I did not move over to the curb for 2 reasons:
1) The light was about to change. I sit at this light every day, and I knew it was about to change. If I had moved over and it had changed, the driver and I would have fought for the right-of-way for the green light.
2) More importantly - I think that if people are going to start treating bikes like any other vehicle, we'd (cyclists) better all start acting like vehicles. If I had been in a car in front of this guy, I'm guessing that he wouldn't have had a fit of rage behind me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Urban Velo

I can't believe I haven't shared this one yet:

Urban Velo

Urban Velo is a great e-zine (is that still cool to say?) about riding in the city. It started out very small with just a few articles and profiles, but this latest issue (#9) is a cut above, with some great stories and a great article with Joe Breeze, who is awesome and loves bikes.

They like bikes, and I like them. Sometimes when I read Urban Velo I hear Billy Corgan singing 'hipsters unite' from Cherub Rock, but its cool if you're a fixter. You still like bikes, and riding them.

Also, if anybody wants to buy me one of those sweet EWR Merino wool jerseys, just let me know. I'll give you the address to ship it to.

just two quick things

There was an article recently printed in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne is my former hometown and birthplace). Pretty cool, since Fort Wayne has never really been super bicycle-friendly. I can tell you that most roads have no shoulder, in the 19 years that I lived in northern Indiana I never saw a sharrow and I can't remember seeing a bike lane or a Share The Road sign. I had a friend who was a cyclist and people thought he was absolutely insane to ride on the roads.

So here's this, nothing super exciting, just a decent story about a guy who bikes:

And, evidently fall is for real. The whole 'labor day is the end of summer' thing is not messing around. This morning it was about 50 when I left the house and about 60 this afternoon when I left the office. I guess I need to start mentally preparing for colder weather.

Props to the two other bike commuters I chatted with on our rides today - spandex-clad racer guy in the morning and casual-style Jamis Aurora guy in the office park this afternoon. I neglected to tell you, Jamis Aurora guy, that I too was a bike+transit guy when I lived in Denver and worked down south. There's no shame when you live 20+ miles from the office. I'm just lucky now, that's all.