Archive for the ‘bicycle gear’ tag
I finally upgraded my tires from the Panaracer Col de la Vie to these: the Grand Bois Lierre.
You may not think 2mm makes much of a difference, but on my first ride the 38mm-wide Lierre felt much cushier and seemed to move more effortlessly over broken, chipped pavement than my old 36mm-wide Col de la Vie tires did.
So if you have 650B-sized wheels — this upgrade is a no-brainer.
Of course, if my bike could fit them, I would love to be riding the even cushier (but still fast) 42mm-wide Grand Bois Hetre. The brownish-red tread is very cool (downright sexy some would say — if it’s possible for a bicycle tire to be sexy.)
Here’s the electric bike I mentioned in a previous post.
The electronic motor is a sensible addition for a city like San Francisco. The Faraday’s other design choices are simply brilliant and informed primarily by real bicyclist enthusiasts (rather than just by engineers).
I’m especially pleased that it comes with my favorite rack design (i.e. the porteur, a front rack pioneered by newspaper deliveryman in Paris in the 1940s and 50s).
Full disclosure: it may not be apparent from these glowing statements, but I am generally biased against electronic bikes. With the motor, it feels like cheating…a little.
A stylish, retro-looking shoe made by the Japanese company ASICS. These Onitsuka Tigers are modeled on classic Keirin (i.e. track racing) shoes of the 1970s. They don’t seem to be genuine cycling shoes, however — they have a slightly spongy sole which isn’t usually what bicyclists want. But they are on sale at Zappos (as of 03/29/12) and so I took a risk and ordered a pair.
I’ve had a nagging desire to shoot video (using my Panasonic LX-3 camera) while out riding. However, I wasn’t sure how to securely attach the camera to my bike.
Then I remembered this thing called the internet (!), which turned up quite a few designs along the lines of what you see below.
It’s a hodgepodge of nuts, bolts, and washers with a reflector mounting bracket as the base. The 1/4 main bolt screws into my camera’s tripod mount. The little acorn nut on top is just to keep everything together when the camera is not attached.
Below is all the hardware.
Here’s the camera mounted to the bracket.
What’s missing from this photo is the Opteka 0.35 fisheye lens that I plan to attach to the LX-3 for shooting video.
I hope to post some examples soon!
I want one of these Cricket Trailers, which are designed and built by an architect who worked on NASA’s “habitation modules” — the small spaces where astronauts live!
Here’s a stylish video with more interior shots of the Cricket, including views of the galley and the loo.
Jitensha Studio projects a humble store front, yet inside Hiroshi Iimura — a modern bicycle constructeur — creates some of the most beautiful, functional, and harmoniously integrated bicycles I’ve ever seen.
A constructeur (as opposed to a framebuilder) assumes a holistic approach to bicycle creation. The constructeur integrates lighting, fenders, racks, and pannier bags; and, simultaneously, balances the bicycle’s intended use with its frame geometry, tire size, clearances, and a myriad of other choices, e.g., stem length, handlebar width, chain ring sizes, saddle and peddle type, etc., etc.
I love this quote from Hiroshi published in a 2006 New York Times profile: “If a customer wants a component that is not to my taste, I refuse…I have to satisfy my own tastes first.”
Unfortunately, Hiroshi’s shop was closed the afternoon I was in Berkeley so I missed the chance to say hello. Although, I suspect he gets tired of people dropping by to say hello since he always seems to have a bicycle project or three in the works.
[Full disclosure: I own one of Hiroshi”s production Ebisu 650B models]
Bicycles + Beer + Birthplace of the mountain bike = Biketoberfest this past Saturday, 10/16/10.
Sycip, a local Sonoma County builder.
Bamboo-framed bikes including the Bamboosero.
LUCE goods = hand-made cycling clothes.
Not pictured is the delicious Spanish paella I had for lunch courtesy of Venga Paella (Thanks Eduardo!) or the Lagunitas Brewing Co.’s PILS that I washed it down with. The PILS wasn’t bad, but it could not compare to my favorite pilsner brewed fresh in nearby Berkeley.
I vowed my next bike would be a folding bike. A planned short trip to Minneapolis proved to be the trigger.
I plan to have more notes and photos on the comparison and which one I ultimately chose and why. (Although these images of the Brompton packed for airline travel are a giveaway.)
I’ve only experienced classic Italian-made Silca pumps. Maybe some other manufacturer makes a better, easier to use, more effective, or lighter model, but these are solidly made and do the job just fine.
My Silca Pista floor model is more than 25 years old (and spare parts are still available!). I replaced the hose, clamps and washers about 5 years ago and have a few different pump heads (one brass, one plastic).
On the Silca frame model, I like Campagnolo’s steel pump head as an upgrade to Silca’s original plastic pump head, but these are hard to find and often run $50 or more on ebay.
I always carry a pump.
Well, not always. I don’t carry a pump on my city bike when I’m riding 0-3 miles around town. But on any other kind of ride I carry a pump, two spare tubes, and a few tools. (I began carrying two tubes after receiving two flat tires on one ride.)
It can be argued that mechanical self-sufficiency is less critical in the era of cell phones. Still, if you ride a lot something will eventually come loose or break and you’re sure to get flat tires every now and then.
And in my experience, even having a tiny bit of self-reliance adds to the joy of riding.
The Ebisu‘s rear basket is loaded with supplies (grapefruit, rustic cantaloupe, and goat’s milk yogurt) to add to a Mother’s Day brunch held at my brother’s house.
The basket is made by Wald and it’s attached to the rear rack with plastic zip-ties. I usually anchor the corners and then add a few more ties until it can’t move or slide the slightest bit. For a clean look snip off the zip ties close to the rack. (Here, I was too lazy and left the excess.)
I saw a random picture of a handmade Guu-Watanabe bag back in 2006 and thought it was the most elegant design I had ever seen. (I urge you to spend some time exploring the design options now available on their website).
Shortly after seeing one of these bags, I tracked down the maker, Watanabe Shoichi, in Tokyo and together (with limited common language skills) we designed the bag for my Ebisu, emailing measurements and drawings back and forth until we had the proportions just right. I believe I was his first customer outside of Japan.
I’m still delighted with my purchase. It was — and still is — impossible to get a bag this size. It is much bigger than either the Ostrich bag or the Berthoud and it fits the proportions of my 59cm 650B frame just right, as I think is very clear in this photo.
The only flaw — if you can even call it a flaw — are the straps and metal buckles (a slightly fussy or showy detail that has no place in classic randonneuring designs). I would have preferred simple elastic and hook closures (and I notice that Shoichi now uses this type of closure on his current line), but otherwise it is perfect.
Kids always stop me on the street and ask who makes it and where can they find one.
Unfortunately, they can’t be found. But modern Acorn bags — while expensive — appear to be just as good (probably better).
These bikes come from an urban design house in NYC — Areaware. The folding ifmode is quite elegant (and it’s not a small-wheeler either; it’s a full-sized bike). The Vanmoof uses solar energy for its lighting. As I said before: it truly is a golden age of cycling!
Changing a freewheel is about a 2-3 minute job — if you have the correct tool!
To mount the Suntour 13-28t I needed a special Suntour four-prong extractor. So I rode down to The Bicycle Works and found one in their tool collection.
They’re located at Yolanda Station along the east-west bike route in San Anselmo. If you’re not yet a member consider joining.
From The Bicycle Works website:
The Bicycle Works is Marin’s non-profit do-it-yourself community bicycle tool workshop empowering our community with knowledge, skills, tools, and materials for bicycle related activity with open workshops, classes and a space for creative collaboration. Directors Jelani Bertoni and Spokey Godfrey, have launched this hub of community in San Anselmo to inspire the people and the planet to live more active, sustainable lives.
That’s Jelani in the background of the above picture. He showed me the neat trick of securing the extractor in the bench vice and then turning the wheel with downward pressure to unscrew it (normally, I would brace the wheel on the ground and turn the extractor with a long wrench — a much worse way to go about it).
I once avoided anything having to do with gear ratios as the subject would make my eyes glaze over, but they’re obviously really important. The late Sheldon Brown — expert on everything bicycle related — created a simple and useful gear calculator which helped reduce my fear of the arcane subject.
My Guerciotti originally had a rear cluster of cogs ranging from 13-23 teeth, as seen on the freewheel on the right, which is a good set-up for racing on mostly flat or rolling terrain.
But here’s the problem: this gear range — coupled with 42t and 52t chain rings in front — is horribly suited for Marin County’s mountainous terrain (remember: the more teeth, the bigger the cog, and the easier it is to pedal. For the front chain rings — the opposite is true).
The solution: ditch this set-up and replace it with a cluster with a 25t as the largest cog. This worked much better, but I still yearned to spin an easier gear up Bolinas ridge and other tough climbs. I discovered that some 6-speed freewheels were made with a 28t cog, which seemed just perfect and wouldn’t require a special long-cage rear derailer (necessary for rear cogs above 28t).
A Suntour freewheel with a 28t cog is pictured on the left.
I can’t wait to install it!
Technical Note: According to Sheldon’s calculator, with the new Suntour freewheel my drive wheel has an equivalent diameter of 40.1 inches (i.e. gear inches) compared to 48.9 inches using the original 23t freewheel, resulting in about a 20% improvement. Still, the low gear of a typical mountain or touring bike is another 50% or so lower, at around 20-25 gear inches.
Mini-Review: This is Wald’s model 114 basket attached to my Nishiki. There is no fork or brake bolt hardware to deal with; it stays attached with curved pressure points resting below the headset and with hooks around the handlebars. So for around $20 and two minutes of work you’ve got a basket (granted it’s not particularly elegant or permanent). Still, I’ve severely overloaded mine and it performed really well.
A standard grocery sack will almost fit, but not quite (If that matters the model 133 may be the better choice) so it’s not good for big hauls — a six-pack, a carton of eggs and some bread, that sort of thing works best. The other day it was overflowing with veggies — leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, some shallots — for making a blended Portugese-style soup. This photo was made after a morning breakfast run.
A lift-up handle releases the basket from the its mount so you can carry it into the store or around the market.
The Nishiki is a great city bike. The upright position is so comfortable (the height of the handlebars really contributes to this) that I ride it instead of my Guerciotti or Ebisu on errands around town.
I use it for trips to the Post Office, the Coffee Roastery, the Good Earth, the Scoop, Gestalt Haus, Fat Angel, and (especially) the hardware store. I’ve carried four cans of paint (two one-gallon cans and two one-quart cans) by using the front basket and then hanging one of the gallon cans around the handlebar grip. I’ve also carried 10 eight-foot strips of redwood lathe.
What I’ve added: a front basket, a kickstand, a bell, new tires, an extra long seat post (so I could get the seat up high enough to make the smallish frame fit better), and a halogen flashlight that I wedge in the basket for night riding.
What I’d like to add in the future: fenders, a bigger basket, mounted head and taillights, maybe an internal gear hub, and ultimately a full conversion to the 650B wheel size so I can use wider tires.
Three millimeters seems insignificant, but to the growing number of 650B wheeled bicycle riding nerds like myself, 3mm is a big deal.
The Quest for a 38mm tire. This is considered the sweet spot for optimizing the handling of many French-style, bicycle frames (designed for carrying stacks of newspapers, bottles of wine, food, camping gear, or what have you, on a front rack, in panniers, or in a handlebar bag).
Yet there are very few 650B x 38mm tire choices. The Col de la Vie, which I have on my Ebisu, is marketed as being 38mm wide, but it’s really only about 35mm.
There’s also the Hetre, by Grand Bois, a new and beloved tire which is a full 42mm wide. Unfortunately, when properly fendered (with at least 8-10mm of clearance), not many frames can accommodate this width.
The Mitsubishi Trimlines pictured above once filled the hallowed 38mm niche, but they have been discontinued (I’ve been trying to locate a pair for 4 years). A replacement for the Trimline has been the Holy Grail of the 650B biking community for a number of years.
Finally, a replacement (or two). It seems there will be not just one, but perhaps two true 38mm tires to fill this void.
Three cheers for more wide tire choices!
In a word: beautiful.
You may recall my earlier post lamenting the short supply of good bicycling shoes. Well, Vittoria has created a gorgeous, classically-styled yet thoroughly modern (cleated) shoe.
I found the picture at the Pushbike blog, apparently they’re in stock at their 24th St. shop in San Francisco.
When I built up my Ebisu I decided on a Brooks saddle, my first. I went all-out and purchased the Team Professional with titanium rails (figuring I’d save some weight) and by good fortune found a used version with nearly zero miles.
They say you need to break a Brooks in and indeed the leather softened up and took on a more comfortable quality after about 400-500 miles (though it has broken in a little unevenly from side-to-side. Sadly, I’ve heard talk that Brooks’ quality is deteriorating).
Nonetheless, I love my Brooks saddle. I’m a convert.
My other saddle is a Concor, Selle San Marco from the early 80’s (I double checked and although the wording has mostly worn away it is the coveted superleggera (Italian for Super Light) model — super comfy and still going strong after 25 years!
Seen from the back in this post, the Concor is the original saddle on my Guerciotti and usually stays there because I’m too lazy to switch the Brooks back and forth between bikes. But fairly frequently, I do switch them because as comfortable as the Concor is it just can’t beat the Brooks in that category.
If you’re looking for a comfortable, good-looking, all around touring-type shoe: good luck! It was easy to find great cycling shoes meeting this description in the 70’s and 80’s. Today, it is nearly impossible.
For many, many years I remained faithful to my Italian-made Detto racing shoes (pictured on the far right) in conjunction with toe clips and leather straps even though clipless pedal systems have been standard for at least the last 15 years. Actually, both these systems are quite awkward as soon as you try to do any walking (surely you’ve heard the clickity-clack sound of bicyclists in a coffee shop). But having said that, these systems do make sense under certain conditions.
However, what’s missing from today’s marketplace is a moderately priced shoe–without cleats–that can be used for long distance riding that also allows you to blend in when you decide to park your bicycle and head to the cafe or farmer’s market. Read the rest of this entry »
Long overdue, here is the official introduction to the companion to my Guerciotti. Heavily influenced by the designed of French cyclotouring machines of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, I commissioned this 59cm bike from Jitensha Studio in Berkeley.
I told Hiroshi, the proprietor, I wanted a versatile bike for light touring and brevets; I wanted the option of carrying 10-20 lbs. upfront on low-riding front racks; and, I wanted the frame based around the 650B wheel size (and 38mm tire width).
The build included both new and vintage parts including a SON front generator hub powering the headlight, integrated front and rear racks (including detachable low-rider pannier racks) and Honjo fenders, Brooks Team Pro TI saddle, Simplex retrofriction downtube shifters, TA cyclotouriste cranks, and Shimano Ultegra derailers. A Berthoud decaleur is used with the front handlebar bag, which was custom ordered from the Guu-Watanabe in Tokyo. I believe I was their first customer from outside Japan (more on that story here).
Now that I’ve been riding the bike for some time there are inevitably small tweaks I would consider: slightly more geometric trail so it handles better unloaded thereby making it more of an all-around bike (this would require a new fork), indexed shifters (to go with the 8-speed Shimano cassette) or a 6-speed freewheel (to go with the current Simplex shifters), and maybe some slight changes to the gear ratios (currently 47×34 front and 13-27 rear). I’m also eagerly awaiting a true 38mm wide tire from Grand Bois as a replacement for the Panaracer Col de la Via which actually measure 2mm less than 38mm.
Here’s my early 80’s Guerciotti (59 cm). I bought this as a junior in high school when I was into the idea of bike racing. Top riders in the Tour de France rode bikes like this. It’s still a wonderful bike and I use it for most many of my Friday excursions. It’s been modified from it’s original condition in the following ways: I’ve put wider, more comfortable tires on clincher rims (sew-ups originally), re-tapped the handlebars with hemp-twine and three coats of shellac, added a Brooks saddle, and attached a front rack. She’s relatively light, fast, and can hold extra clothes, food, a camera, or whatever in the old TA bag.