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Vintage Velo: Racycle Pacemaker – A Bike Masterpiece

Bicycle Times -

This bike hangs on the wall above the counter at First Flight Bicycles as part of the MOMBAT collection. As soon as someone points up, you know what the next question is going to be: “What’s the story behind that huge sprocket?” We’ve gotten pretty good at telling the story, so here goes.

Racycle was the brand name of bicycles produced by the Miami Cycle and Mfg. Company of Middletown, Ohio, starting with the 1896 model year and running through roughly 1924 (this particular bike dates to around 1920). In a move reminiscent of today’s bike industry, Racycle was bought out by Westfield and slowly lost all of their unique features before finally disappearing. Many of the features were similar to other bikes of the era. The frames were nothing out of the ordinary, and the 28 inch wood rims used the standard 28 inch single tube glue-on tires (similar to a modern tubular tire). While not unique to this bike, the Kelly bars are interesting.

The bolt in the center of the bars can be loosened which allows the bars to move up and down resulting in anything from a low aero position to a more relaxed upright riding position.

That leaves the obvious unique feature, the oversized front chain ring. The chain ring has 40 teeth while the rear sprocket has 14 teeth, but they use a 1-inch pitch chain which means the tooth count needs to be doubled to compare it with today’s ½-inch pitch chains.

The gearing would be an 80×28, which would yield a ratio close to a 50×18 combination on a modern drivetrain. For the same gear ratio, the larger sprockets are slightly more efficient, wear less and have less tension on the chain, so there is some science behind the sprocket size. The crank rides on a bottom bracket that places bearings outside the frame, similar to the current external bearing bottom brackets. According to period Racycle advertisements, “It’s all in the Crank Hanger.”

So now when you visit the MOMBAT and someone points to the big sprocket bike, you can tell the story for us.

This bike can be seen at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology which is housed at First Flight Bicycles in historic downtown Statesville, North Carolina. If you can’t visit in person, check out the collection at www.mombat.org.

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Planning a route... to vote!

LAB Blog -

We know, you’re hearing it from everyone. But it’s important, so we’re saying it, too: the election is one week away and your vote counts.

Review: Motobecane Fantom Cross UNO – a Practical Track Bike Outfit-

Bicycle Times -

By Shannon Johnson

Some have a warm spot in their heart for Motobécane, the French manufacturer of motorcycles, mopeds, and lightweight road bikes made from 1923 to 1981. Motobecane USA, however, has no relation to the original and is owned by the Kinesis Industry Company, which fabricates a significant portion of bicycles made in China and Taiwan. It also imports bicycles into the U.S. under the Motobecane trademark and sells them through BikeHacks.com at incredibly low prices. Free shipping is included to the lower 48 states with some assembly required.

I wondered if the deal was too good to be true and looked into it with the Fantom Cross UNO. This is Motobecane’s singlespeed cyclocross offering, described on the website as a “sport grade track bike, transformed and more aggressive for rougher terrain.” The UNO is identical in geometry and material to Motobecane’s steel-frame track bike, but with the addition of ‘cross tires, cantilever brakes, and braze-ons for front and rear rack and fenders. The frame and fork are butted and tapered 4130 chromoly, with horizontal dropouts and aggressive 73.5-degree head and 73-degree seat tube angles on the size 58cm. The UNO has 120mm rear hub spacing, whereas most ‘cross bikes typically have 130mm spacing to accommodate a wider range of wheel options.

Depending on the set-up, the UNO can be used as a full-fledged commuter, ‘cross racer, or urban fixie with all the hip stuff that goes along with it. To take advantage of the bike’s commutability, I installed full-coverage fenders and 35mm tires. If you like a wider tire, there’s room for a 42mm without fenders. The 38×16-tooth gear package was a good choice for a bike that could find itself on or off pavement. It felt slightly easy to pedal on the road, but was perfect when I detoured into the parks and had to climb gravel trails or grass

The geometry is more aggressive than a cyclocross bike’s, and much more so than a dedicated commuter, making my riding position more forward than I traditionally ride. The short 405mm chainstays and steep angles create a snappy bike with a short wheelbase that has prompt rear end tracking. This is great, if that’s what you’re looking for. On dry surfaces, handling was fun and fast, slice and dice. But, some stability is compromised with the short wheelbase and amplified with a loaded rack. On all kinds of terrain, the Avid Shorty brakes did a fine job of stopping.

The frame itself has the comfortable feel of steel, smoothing road vibration while providing good handling feedback. It’s easy to push the bike through turns, and it holds a line well and rolls smoothly. The UNO feels light and fast when standing to climb hills or taking off from a stop. I like that the frame and fork felt relatively stiff and didn’t shimmy at speed or feel flexy when track-standing at red lights. On crushed limestone trails and gravel paths, the bike felt solid and rode quietly—no chain slap. With one gear, the UNO is easy to maintain.

To offer the low price, the majority of components on the bike are nameless. However, they function fine, including the flip-flop rear hub, which allows the bike to be ridden singlespeed or fixed gear. I thought the 175mm crank arms were too long for riding fixed, so I rode it singlespeed. I swapped the bar and stem, and would have replaced the thin, uncomfortable brake levers too, if I had an extra pair

The Fantom Cross UNO is a practical track bike outfit- ted with the necessities to make it an all-weather commuter. Its snappy handling makes it fun to ride fast on city streets. With a tire swap, it can be used as a ‘cross bike too, or add shorter crankarms and you have a track bike. Its versatility would make it a good entry-level bike for someone who is not dedicated to one style of riding, but wants to try a few disciplines before settling into a purpose-built bicycle. At $400, it’s a good deal. The stock parts might meet your comfort needs, but if they don’t, a hundred bucks should be enough to swap in ones that do.

Tester stats

  • Age: 38
  • Height: 6’
  • Weight: 183lbs.
  • inseam: 33”

Bike stats

  • Country of Origin: China
  • Price: $400
  • Weight: 23.8lbs.
  • Sizes available: 49, 52, 54, 56, 58 (tested), 61, 64cm

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First Impression: Raleigh Clubman Disc – a Solid Way to Get a Feel for a Bike

Bicycle Times -

Way back in issue #2, I reviewed the Raleigh Clubman (with rim brakes). I said “The Clubman departs from the go-fast focus with some well thought out details intended for users with practical leanings.” For 2015 Raleigh takes the Clubman to the next level with disc brakes.

In our group of $1,000 bikes, The Clubman Disc stands out with a steel frame, classic looks, and the excellent 10 speed Shimano Tiagra group, a mid-level drivetrain that continues to impress me

The steel frame uses a modern sloping top tube and hooded dropouts. These “Wright” or “Breezer” style dropouts minimize the amount of flat metal plate at the highly stressed axle clamping zones, and maximize the strong, stiff and light tubing. This is a good things for frame stiffness, strength and longevity, at least that’s what Joe Breeze told me a few years ago, and I think Joe Breeze is a trustworthy place to get my frame building technology knowledge.

The saddle pictured is not the stock seat. That is actually the fourth saddle that has been on this bike; the stock microsuede saddle, a WTB Vigo, a Selle Anatomica, and this Fyxation leather saddle. The WTB didn’t match the aesthetic at all, but it was a wise choice for my break in ride. That ride started at 11 P.M., ended the next evening around 8 P.M., and included about 175 miles of rain, dark, sleet, muddy rail trail, brand new pavement and gastrointestinal issues. It was quite an introduction.

A ride like that is a solid way to get a feel for a bike, and so far, the Clubman could be best described and friendly, competent and quiet. The micro-knobby Kenda Karvs were ideal for the mix of pavement and crushed limestone, and the steel frame and upright position kept me rolling along through bad weather and rough roads.

Stay tuned for the full review in our next issue, Bicycle Times #33, due in early February.

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Readers Write: ‘The Jessica Fletcher Effect’

Bicycle Times -

Words and photos: Jason Max

Soon after I turned 40, the main character from Murder, She Wrote became part of my grand life-plan of bicycling.

That’s because it was then that I decided two things. One, to become a lifelong cyclist. And two, in order to become a lifelong cyclist, a transition from speedy, drop-handlebar road bike rider to slow, steady, upright-bike village rider would have to occur. At some point. Far in the future.

It was a conscious decision, and it felt good, like the deeply mature sense one gets putting money in a retirement plan. What was not a conscious decision was the way this eventual life-cycle shift would settle into my imagination.

Enter Angela Lansbury’s quirky and lovable character from Murder, She Wrote—Jessica Fletcher.

If you’re a child of the 80’s, then Sunday night meant 60 Minutes at seven o’clock, followed by Murder, She Wrote at eight. From the series premiere in 1984 until I went off to college 1989, my family and I sat on the couch every Sunday and rooted for Jessica Fletcher to solve the multitude of mysteries that took place around her quaint, fictional home of Cabot Cove, Maine. Angela Lansbury was in her late 50s and early 60s at the time of the TV series, but from my teenage perspective her character seemed much older and wiser.

Those are good memories. I can’t recall a single Murder, She Wrote plot line, but that’s ok, because the part of the show that now has the most meaning for me lies in the opening credits. I remember it vividly.

There’s Jessica Fletcher on her bike, waving at her fellow Cabot Cove villagers, accompanied by a jaunty orchestral theme. Her expression is one of contented joy. She’s happy in her community, with her friends, and with her place along the path of life, all while riding her upright town bicycle.

I love that moment, and apparently so did my imagination, because that’s where my eventual Cycling Retirement Plan settled in my dreams, right there in a Cabot Cove kind-of town, channeling my inner Jessica Fletcher on my upright three-speed bicycle. At some point. Far in the future.

Or so I thought.

Because soon after turning 40 I also bought a Brompton folding bicycle. I bought it because I love its London-built looks. I bought it because I love the idea of taking it on trains, ferries and ZipCars to further explore my New England home. I didn’t really buy it because it also happens to have an upright ride quality, but so it does.

Since then I’ve taken my cobalt blue Brompton to Nantucket to ride paths across windswept moors. I’ve pedaled my Brompton up the steep Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts and alongside cranberry bogs of Cape Cod. I’ve taken it on the train to the seaside communities of Boston’s South Shore, up into New Hampshire, and on the riverside paths of Rhode Island.

But it was while riding my Brompton on the quiet Farmington Canal Heritage Rail Trail in Connecticut that my little folding bicycle changed my cycling life.

I was making my way from the lovely village of Simsbury up to the Massachusetts border. The Litchfield Hills were to my left, Hartford’s suburbs to my right, and as I followed the gentle curves of the path through farmland, towns, and forests, my Brompton hummed away with its usual purr of small tires on smooth pavement. All the while, I was smiling without even realizing it. In fact, the only time I did realize it was when I passed speedy lycra-clad road cyclists heading the opposite direction who didn’t look nearly as happy as me.

Now, I get it. Road cycling is not about smiling all the time. There’s a joy in challenging oneself. It’s the whole suffering thing. I’ve been there. It’s great.

Yet on that unseasonably warm winter day on the rail trail, that joy-of-suffering bit felt strangely out of place. I cycled with a steady and patient air about me. I was wearing tan jeans, a plaid shirt, an orange jacket and my helmet. I rode at the slower speed of transportation, something that even with my car-free Boston lifestyle I had never seriously considered. As I pedaled, a little tune began to enter my thoughts. It was nice. It was an orchestral tune, from a long-past memory. It was kind of jaunty…

“Oh my goodness!” I thought as I recognized the theme from my childhood Sundays. “The transition has begun!”

I was turning into village-cyclist extraordinaire Jessica Fletcher. Already.

And it was awesome.

I nodded at the walkers, the families out for a stroll, and my fellow slow-cyclists. They smiled and nodded back. Most even said hello. I felt great in my non-cycling-specific clothes. I didn’t feel older or even wiser, or as if I was experiencing some sort of midlife crisis. It was the opposite of a midlife crisis! The present and my imaginary future merged, and life felt expansive and grand.

And so as I continued my journey down the path, I knew that I would have to dream up other adventures for my Cycling Retirement Plan. The joys of slow-cycling are too good to save. It’s a joy that celebrates gently-turning wheels, neighbors who wave to each other, leaves that fall quietly on the trail, and like Jessica Fletcher, new stories that can be spun throughout one’s life, one easy pedal stroke at a time.

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Review: Surly Travelers Check – Up for Almost Anything

Bicycle Times -

Before I talk about the Travelers Check, I need to talk about the Cross-Check.

And before I talk about the Cross-Check, I’ll talk about the KLR650.

In 1987 Kawasaki introduced the KLR650, a 650 cc, single-cylinder, dual-sport motorcycle. Even for the time, it was a simple tool that could do almost any motorcycle task one could ask of it. Commuting, touring, off-road, around-the-world trips or even Paris Dakar race bike, it does many things. It remained in production, almost completely unchanged, until 2008, when it received some updates, although it remains a no-nonsense option for a do-it-all moto.

It has its limitations. It is heavy and tall. The brakes are less than stellar; the engine produces less power than a modern 450 cc motocross bike, and the suspension is crude by any measure. But it is easily repaired, and with a few exceptions it is reliable as a garden tractor, it sounds like one too.

The Cross-Check fills a similar spot in the cycling world. First introduced in 1999, the Cross-Check was an inexpensive option for a “utility” steel cyclocross bike. Some might say it is the godfather of the modern adventure bike. It fits big tires and can be built up to suit a huge range of uses. Winter fixie beater, cyclocross race bike, Tour Divide cruiser, gravel bike, this thing can do it all. Rapidly closing in on 20 years of production, the Cross- Check is also mostly unchanged from the first ones that showed up in the last years of the 20th century

Much like the KLR, the Cross-Check is a jack-of-all-trades, which is both its strongest and weakest point. You’ll see what I mean by that shortly.

So back to the Travelers Check. Based on the geometry of the Cross-Check, the Travelers Check uses the well-regarded S&S couplers to create a take-down travel frame. Longer butting profiles on the top and down tube are used to keep the tubing thickness uniform on both sides of the couplers. Other than that, there are no real differences between the CC and TC, even down to the full-size run between 42 and 62 cm

The Travelers Check doesn’t have a complete bike option, so I built this one up out of mostly used parts that were sitting around at home and at Bicycle Times HQ. I decided to go with a flat bar build and keep it simple with a single-ring drivetrain, using a Shimano Deore 10-speed derailleur with a GoatLink adaptor to shift an 11-42 SunRace cassette. Plenty of range for almost anything, one less cable to mess with when taking it apart. The horizontal dropouts open up the possibility of single-speed or internally geared hubs for those who lean one of those ways.

The handlebars are Fouriers alt-bars, brakes are from BOX and the seat is a generic- looking but comfortable Fyxation Pilot. The wheels are older Bontrager Race TLRs. These wheels would not normally be my choice for an all-around build, but all of the all- around wheels I had at hand were disc-only. Since I had the option, I saved my tubes for flat repairs and ran a set of 35 mm Kenda Flintridge Pro tires sans-tubes. I spent most of the test period with a Surly 24-Pack rack and Porteur House bag on the front of the bike.

The Ride

For better or worse, the ride of an all-purpose steel bike hasn’t changed much in a long time. I’ve owned a few bikes of this type in my riding career, including a Cross-Check, and the best way I can find to describe the general demeanor is neutral with a subtle hint of flex.

Even with oversized tubing, compared to modern aluminum or carbon bikes the Travelers Check displays some twisting in the front end. I am sure some of this is related to the porteur rack setup, but even unloaded I noticed it while cranking up hills or getting more rad than 35 mm tires are designed for. Also, 740 mm wide bars are going to torque things up more than the drop bars, or the 660 mm bars that come stock on the flat-bar Cross-Check. And finally, I ride a lot of very stiff, very modern mountain bikes, so my stiffness calibration may be different than yours.

With the lightweight wheels and tubeless tires, I was highly impressed with how speedy this bike felt on the road while still being able to hit the dirt with authority. While it isn’t as pronounced as on some higher-end steel frames I’ve ridden, this bike still has some of the “good flex” that gives steel frames their zippy feel, which made me want to get after it more than I expected on a bike with a not terribly aggressive riding position.

I know I am spoiled, but I haven’t ridden a bike with rim brakes in a long time. My own sizeable collection of bikes has only one without discs, and that bike lives on a trainer. I can’t say I had any issues with the brakes on this bike, but it was a mild winter for the most part, not the type we used to have where wearing through the braking surface on rims in a single winter was common. As a travel bike, the rim brakes keep things much simpler than cable-actuacted discs and rotors can’t get bent in transit.

The brake pads for V-brakes are a universal fit for almost every brand out there, so it should be simple to source a set almost anywhere.

For a true touring bike, most people would want closer ratios between gears than what is found with an 11-42, 10-speed cassette. But for everything else, it is fine, and maybe the best all-around drivetrain setup I’ve used on an all-around bike. It also means one less cable and derailleur to deal with when packing. S&S recommends checking the coupler’s tightness before every ride and during the ride on very long and rough days. The coupler tool is a simple hook spanner with a 15 mm pedal wrench on the other side. I didn’t notice the instructions on daily tightening until about two weeks into the review, and both couplers where at least 3⁄4 of a turn loose.

I didn’t pack this bike up, as it doesn’t come with a case, but just like all coupled bikes it isn’t easy and takes some practice. S&S sells a variety of cases, both soft- and hard- sided, including a backpack that can fold up and store on the bike. Look for a review of the backpack at a later date. All S&S cases are designed to meet airlines’ maximum size rules, so flying should not involve an upcharge.

Conclusion

If you don’t need a travel bike, there is little reason to buy this bike. For $875 you can get a very similar complete build in the flat-bar Cross-Check. But if you do plan to fly even a few times a year, it could easily pay for itself in just a few flights.

As an all-around bike it is hard to beat the Cross-Check, and by extension, the Travelers Check, even almost two decades after it first hit the market. While it is easy to criticize its performance in any one, and in some ways every single, criteria, it really doesn’t matter. To me, the key to a good travel bike is being up for almost anything. Short of riding very technical mountain bike trails or hopping in a group ride with really fit roadies, this bike can get me into all kinds of trouble all over the globe.

Tester: Eric McKegans
Sizes available: 42, 46, 50, 52, 54, 56 (tested), 60, 62 cm
Price: $1,099 (frame and fork)
Weight: 23.4 lbs

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First Impression: Shinola Arrow – Extremely Well Mannered and Responsive

Bicycle Times -

Shinola (pronounced shy-nola) Detroit is a company doing something increasingly rare in this country: manufacturing consumer goods using the hands of skilled craftspeople. Shinola started as a watchmaker in 2011 and, having survived Motor City’s 2013 bankruptcy, expanded to leather goods, pet items and bicycles—the latter of which hit the market in December 2012. The company is part of a wave of downtown creative enterprise trying to spread across a city better known for other things, such as that 75 percent of liquor supplied to the U.S. during Prohibition reportedly passed through the Detroit area.

Industry veteran Sky Yaeger—formerly of Swobo, Spot and Bianchi—leads the design work of Shinola’s bicycles. The frames are welded at Waterford Precision Cycles in Waterford, Wisconsin, from U.S.-made True Temper double-butted 4130 ChroMo, and assembled at the Shinola flagship retail store in Detroit.

The above is what you’re paying for. It’s easy to balk at the $1,000 price tag of the Arrow, but it’s also difficult to find off-the-rack, American-made frames. While my personal temperament is not to heartily defend the practicality of a singlespeed costing a grand, there are people out there for whom this classic, creating-American-jobs bicycle is exactly what they’re looking for. The Arrow is also the most accessible Shinola offering, coming in well below the $1,950 Bixby (3-speed) and $2,950 Runwell (11-speed).

The Arrow (available with a step-through or traditional, straight top tube frame) is Shinola’s newest model and intended to be a simple, quiet, low-maintenance, throw-your-leg-over-it-and-go kind of ride that you keep and enjoy for a long time. It lacks screaming logos common on bigger brands and instead opts for a more subdued, laser-cut S on the rear dropouts and a real metal head badge. The fork crown is cast and is Shinola’s proprietary design.

The Arrow runs 38×18 gearing and is equipped with a basic all-black build kit, leather Shinola saddle, custom chain guard, Tektro caliper brakes, cork grips, silver bell, steel fenders and 700×32 Continental Contact Reflex puncture-resistant tires (I added the green tool roll). It comes in either black or white. The step-through “women’s” model is offered in just two sizes: 47 and 51 cm, so pay attention to the bike’s geometry chart if you’re thinking of ordering one.

The traditional frame 55cm Arrow officially comes in it at 26 pounds with all the bells and whistles attached. On the road, that feels much lighter than I expected for a sturdy, steel townie. This is the first step-through bicycle I have spent significant time with and it is definitely a product classy enough to ride in your business suit and park next to your professional office desk without anyone batting an eye.

So far, the Arrow has surprised me with how comfortable it is. It is markedly well mannered and smooth on the road. The upright riding position helps abate any toe overlap on my 47cm frame and lends an air of casualness to cruising around (while still being plenty fun at speed). The swept-back bars aid off-the-saddle climbing efforts. Speaking of that saddle, it’s quite comfortable out of the box—not rock hard, as many leather saddles can be. I tilted mine slightly upward and am plenty happy on short jaunts in jeans.

Rack mounts front and rear mean the Arrow can do commute and shopping duty, which I will try out of the full review, due out in Issue #39. Make sure you’re subscribed so that you don’t miss it! Read more about the Arrow from Shinola and watch the video, below.

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Car* Camping on Vashon Island

Adventure Cycling -

If an eBike is can be a car replacement, what is camping with an eBike? Seattle-based writer Paul Tolme and his wife Katie hop on eBikes with for a weekend of car* camping on two wheels.

First Impression: Breezer Greenway Elite – Not a Smooth Experience

Bicycle Times -

When it comes to road bikes, I like mine comfortable, practical and versatile. Enter the $1,095 Greenway Elite. My contact at Breezer tells me: “Whether you’re riding for exercise, transportation, off-road recreation, or anything in-between, the Greenway is your do-it-all machine.” Roger all that.

The tall stack of stem spacers raised the bar, which helped to put me in a comfortable, upright riding position. As did the appropriately-short top tube. Speaking of comfort, the stock Ergon grips are a personal favorite. Note the Trelock Bike-I Uno LED headlight (dynamo hub powered, with standlight feature). Safety first!

Here’s a look at the Shimano 3-Watt Dynamo hub that powers the front/rear lights. Yep, that’s a disc brake rotor on the opposite side of the hub. This baby’s got Shimano M355 hydraulic disc brakes front and rear. A bike that’s designed to “do it all” rates a set of hydros, in my opinion.

Ample fender coverage gives the Greenway foul weather capability. The Trelock Trio Flat tail light has standlight functionality, and rocks steady (as opposed to blinking). The Greenway’s rear rack ticks a critical box on my “do it all” checklist. To do it all, you gotta haul.

The SRAM VIA Centro 2×10 drivetrain provides a wide gearing range, which matches the versatile intentions of the Greenway Elite. I’ve already put those gears to use, while hauling panniers filled with groceries. All the while daydreaming of loading those same satchels with overnight gear and heading for the hills. Very tempting.

Breezer’s D’Fusion hydroformed aluminum tubing used on the down tube and top tube has a D-shaped cross-section that helps diffuse the stresses that occur near the head tube joints without the need for reinforcement or gusseting. The rear stays use D’Fusion tubing as well. Look closely and you’ll notice a plastic cover bolted onto the concave underside of the down tube. The plate cleverly hides and protects the cables and electrical wiring.

From my first ride, the aluminum frameset and fork impressed me as feeling very solid and responsive. The Greenway provides very direct and clear feedback from the tires’ contact patches. I would not call the ride overly stiff, but it’s certainly not a buttery experience by any means.

Ah yes, the venerable Breeze-In dropout. A piece of mountain bike history that’s a welcome feature on any bike, and worthy of ogling. Light, stiff, and elegant.

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Review: Marin Four Corners – Large Tire Clearance and Touring Capability

Bicycle Times -


Tester: Emily Arnoldson
Price: $1,100
Weight: 26.9 pounds
Sizes: S (tested), M, L, XL

This year is Marin Bikes’ 30th anniversary, and it marks the introduction of an all-new “utilitour” model, the Four Corners. The neutral gray steel frame gives the bike a timeless look, while disc brakes, wide tire clearance and an upright riding position keep pace with cyclists’ expectations for adventure touring and bikepacking.

What piqued my interest in this bike was its Gemini, do-it-all attitude packaged at an approachable price point. The Four Corners is equipped with a Shimano Sora 50/39/30 crank and 12-36 cassette, wide Schwalbe Silento 700×40 tires and the stopping power of Promax Render 160 mm disc brakes. The bike’s tour-ready spec is rounded out with mounts for racks front and rear, fenders and three water bottles.

Marin also offers the upgraded Four Corners Elite model with a SRAM 1×11 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes for $2,300.

The Four Corners was designed with a long top tube—21.8 inches on the small—but also a long stem offering ample room for adjustment. An upright riding position is facilitated by a tall head tube, and the Marin bars have a 20-degree flare to the drop, which allows for a natural hand position that opens up your core. This had me in the drops more than usual, and I’ll struggle to return to a bar without flare.

On a weekend tour I split my gear between a front rack, frame pack and seat bag. It can be a struggle to fit standard-sized frame packs on small-sized frames, but the long top tube opens up the interior space, expanding storage options for shorter folks. The tires are a good middle-of-the-road rubber, offering adequate rolling speed on hard roads and off-road traction. Best of all they’re stout, making them a good fit in any terrain where you’re susceptible to punctures.

While the stock tires were capable on smooth sections of singletrack and confident when loaded down with touring gear, there’s ample clearance for swapping to larger tires: up to 700×45 with fenders or 29×2.1 without.

The bike remained poised across varying terrain, its balance un-phased by rutted dirt roads and chunky railroad ballast, proving competent to carry the weight for an extended tour. I found the gear range to be ample for touring Pennsylvania’s rolling hills, but an easier gear may be advantageous on an extended tour with sustained climbs.

For days between 45 and 85 miles, the WTB Volt Sport saddle was comfortable and supportive, even on long sections of rail trail. “The Four Corners was designed for the rider who is looking for a versatile, modern take on a touring bike,” said Chris Holmes, brand director for Marin Bikes. “[It’s] one that is equally at home with a weekday commute as it is on a week-long adventure.”

For the city dweller, it fills the niche for everyday commuting needs, and for the adventure seeker, the large tire clearance and touring capability encourages exploring on gravel and dirt. As cyclists, what tales would we have to share if everything went as planned? The Marin Four Corners is ready for a change of route and a story to tell.

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Brooks Cambium Saddle Review: Comfortable and Low-maintenance

Bicycle Times -

Accessories reviews, Component reviews, Reviews

One thing is for sure, this isn’t your father’s (or grandfather’s) Brooks saddle. The Cambium is a whole new line for the storied British marque that combines Old-World materials with modern construction and style.

Unlike virtually every other Brooks saddle ever made, the Cambium line is not made from leather. It’s even vegan if you want to get technical about it. The base is made from natural, vulcanized rubber that gives is a bit of flex and give without the patience of the normal Brooks break-in period required.

It’s then covered with a layer of organic cotton that has a distinct tweed charm and is totally waterproof. No more rushing for the rain cover for your precious Brooks. Below the cotton are a die-cast aluminum substructure and steel rails. It’s then topped with a set of decorative rivets to recall the classic Brooks style. In all, it’s a remarkably handsome package—one of the best-looking saddles I’ve ever seen.

Unlike those leather Brooks saddles, the Cambium is designed to be comfortable right out of the box. There is no maintenance required or special care needed. The shape is designed to mimic the classic B17, possibly the most-loved saddle of all time.

Now, I can’t say what will be comfortable for you, but in my experience, the Cambium does sacrifice a bit of plushness for style. There is no padding on that rubber base, so while it does have some give it is still a fairly firm perch. The shape however is wonderful, perfect for spirited rides that fall somewhere between racing and cruising.

As advertised it’s been set-it-and-forget-it. I haven’t had to clean it or adjust it in any way. While it looks fast, it isn’t for weight weenies, ringing up the scale at 415 grams.

The Cambium is available in the C17 model pictured ($160), as well as a C17s for “short”, meaning it’s a little better suited for the female anatomy. There is also a C17 model with a cutaway, and there is now a C15 model that mimics the shape of the more racy B15 leather saddle.

The post Brooks Cambium Saddle Review: Comfortable and Low-maintenance appeared first on Bicycle Times.

Lynskey Cooper CX Review: Solid Bike For A Decade Of Reliability

Bicycle Times -

Bike reviews, Reviews

Make no mistake about it, I’ve logged more miles and more hours on this bike in my review period than any other bike I’ve ridden for this magazine—maybe more than any bike I’ve ever ridden in the same amount of time. I’ve ridden it to work, ridden it on back roads both paved and unpaved, ridden it from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. in three days, ridden it from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in two days (ouch) and over hill and dale—and it has never batted an eye.

If that’s not praise, I don’t know what is.

Titanium bikes have had a hard time keeping up with the whiz-bang market share of carbon fiber and the swoopy tube shapes that dominate the modern bike scene. Once saddled with the dreaded “dentist’s bike” reputation, the material is making a comeback of sorts, with major brands once again offering high-performance titanium frames.

Lynskey, on the other hand, has never built anything but Ti bikes since the Lynskey family—founders and former owners of Litespeed— founded its eponymous brand in 2006. Though the Tennessee-based company can produce a wide range of styles, from conservative to custom, the Cooper line features stock geometry with more traditional tube shapes—all round in the case of the Cooper CX. The frame is designed around disc brakes with a 135mm rear spacing, so a set of quick-release mountain bike hubs will slide right in.

The frame I rode was finished in a standard brushed titanium look, and different brushed, blasted, polished, and painted versions are available for an extra charge, as are S&S couplers for traveling or custom braze-on.

Though the bike shipped with 32mm-wide cyclocross tires, my initial use was as a winter road bike with slick road tires. The Ti frame meant I never had to worry about rusting, and the finish just shrugged off road grime and winter nastiness. You certainly wouldn’t confuse it with a full-blown road race bike, but it is more than stiff and responsive enough to serve as a regular road bike in the cyclocross off-season. A full set of rack and fender eyelets make it year-round versatile.

 

Being my first extended time on a titanium frame, I was surprised by the balance of the frame’s stiffness—comparable to aluminum— with the smoothness of a high-end steel frame. out-of-the-saddle climbing was solid and stable, and even with the slightly higher bottom bracket, the bike never felt too tall or tippy. It may sound like hyperbole, but I’m really impressed with the ride. I knew it would hold up to the worst of my (ab)use. I loaded it up with 10-20lbs. of bike packing gear and didn’t feel any extra frame flex like I have with loaded steel bikes.

Disc brakes are finally hitting the mainstream for road and city bikes, and I’ve been converted 100 percent. Having used the Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes with SRAM, Campagnolo, and Shimano levers in the past year, I think the first two give a superior lever feel than the latter, but they are all light years ahead of even the nicest rim brakes.

In all, the Cooper comes very, very close to checking all the boxes on my One-Bike-To-Rule-Them-All dream bike list. The only thing I would need to add is a 44mm headtube to run tapered steerer forks, as I predict high-quality, carbon forks for disc brakes with straight steerer tubes probably won’t be around for long. Then again, Lynskey’s more expensive model, the ProCross, includes this feature. If the knobby tires on the Cooper CX aren’t your style, the same frame is available as the Cooper CMT with a more road and commuter oriented build kit with a rack and fenders.

If you’re looking for a solid bike that’s going to give you years—maybe decades—of reliable use, the Cooper CX is a bargain.

Vital Stats
  • Country of origin: U.S.A.
  • Price: $1,895 frame, $5,139 as built
  • Weight: 20.75lbs.
  • Sizes available: XS, S, M, L (TESTED), XL

The post Lynskey Cooper CX Review: Solid Bike For A Decade Of Reliability appeared first on Bicycle Times.

ABUS Introduces Folding Lock with Built-in Alarm: The Bordo Alarm

Bicycle Times -

Gear, News, Transportation

ABUS just introduced an extra level of security to its Bordo line of locks with an alarmed folding bike lock. The Bordo Alarm includes a 3D movement sensor that triggers an alarm should your bike or lock be tampered with. The idea is that the noise will deter thieves and prevent most from finishing “the job.”

ABUS’s Bordo line of folding bike locks ranges from the Bordo Lite to the Bordo XPlus for different security needs. ABUS gives each of its locks a Security Level of 1-15. The Bordo Alarm is rated a Level 10, which ABUS considers to be strong enough to be used “with higher-end bicycles, bikes locked in urban areas and for use in areas of high-theft risk.”

The Bordo Alarm’s movement sensor sets off a 100-decibel alarm for 15 seconds if the lock is tampered with. The sensor also detects if the movement is short and small – such as if someone bumps the bike – and sets off a quick “warning tone.”

The Bordo Alarm is compatible with the ABUS Plus Cylinder system, which allows for one key to be used with multiple different ABUS locks and helps protect against manipulations (lock picking).

The Bordo Alarm is 90 cm long when extended and folds up to a fraction of that size. It retails for $169.99.

More info can be found on the ABUS website.

The post ABUS Introduces Folding Lock with Built-in Alarm: The Bordo Alarm appeared first on Bicycle Times.

Shimano XM9 Shoes Review: Versatile Performance and Excellent Comfort

Bicycle Times -

Apparel reviews, Reviews

When Shimano announced the XM9 and XM7 earlier this year, I couldn’t have been more excited. These shoes looked to be perfect for cool fall, winter, and spring riding. Now with a couple of weeks of riding in these shoes, I’m stoked to report the XM9 is every bit as good as I had hoped.

This is the most rugged offering within Shimano’s “Tour” footwear lineup. The mid-height construction extends up over your ankles to provide coverage, support, and protection. The Nubuck upper is made waterproof and breathable with Gore-Tex; a rubberized toe protects against impacts and scuffs. A plastic heel cup pairs with a mid-foot strap to ensure a secure fit as the laces are tightened up.

The XM9 is constructed on Shimano’s Volume Performance Last, which offers ample volume and E-size width. A half-length shank provides stiffness at the pedal interface but allows the sole to flex for walking. On Shimano’s 1-11 stiffness scale, the XM9’s sole registers a three. A Vibram outsole provides great walking traction.

I’ve been riding the XM9 non-stop since receiving them for everything from mountain bike rides to commuting and I’m happy to report they’ve been nothing shy of awesome. For all-around use, the sole stiffness is a great balance of flexibility for walking and stiffness for all but the most aggressive riding. For longer, more performance-oriented rides, Shimano’s M647 pedals provided additional support thanks to their outer cage. This combo would be my recommendation for more aggressive riding or any application where you want to maximize on-the-bike stability.

Folks in cold climates will need an insulated winter boot for the coldest months as the XM9 is not insulated. On the warm end of the scale, I found these shoes to be comfortable into the lower 70s.

Overall, the XM9 is my new go-to shoe for cool weather riding. They offer versatile performance and excellent comfort on and off the bike. Historically, Shimano shoes have held up very well for me over the long haul. Assuming the XM9 hold up similarly, they’re well worth the asking price of $250.

The post Shimano XM9 Shoes Review: Versatile Performance and Excellent Comfort appeared first on Bicycle Times.

Breezer Venturi Review: Racing Geometry and Quality Ride

Bicycle Times -

Bike reviews, Reviews

The name Joe Breeze is most often associated with mountain biking, where he’s considered one of the founding fathers of the sport. Most folks don’t realize that before pioneering mountain bikes, Breeze enjoyed success at road racing. The Venturi celebrates Joe’s 35 years of cycling inspiration.

This bike is designed for riders who want racing geometry, but prefer the supple ride quality of steel to the stiffness of aluminum or carbon fiber. The Venturi features the first hydroformed, heat-treated chromoly steel frame. (Hydroforming has previously only been used on aluminum frames.) Tubes transition from D-shaped to round in various places, and the wall thickness changes as well, to create a stiff yet supple ride.

Breezer Venturi

Joe Breeze’s geometry philosophy is that weight can be shaved from the front of the frame by lowering the height of the head tube and shortening the corresponding tubes while gaining stiffness and compliance. What’s lost in the head tube height is regained by using a 12-degree rise stem, placing the rider in the same flat position as a traditional racing frame.

My size large tester has a 570mm top tube and 540mm seat tube, so I feel like my upper body is fairly flattened out, or even in an aggressively sloping position. The head tube is also rather steep at 74 degrees, paired with a relatively normal 73.5-degree seat tube. This places the rider over the bottom bracket for stability and delivers quick handling.

Breezer’s 40mm offset carbon fiber fork adds to both of those characteristics while saving weight over a steel fork and promoting front-end stiffness. Personally, I’d like a taller head tube. I’m comfortable on the bike for a couple of hours before the forward position tires my shoulders. Road racers and more aggressive riders would feel right at home with the positioning.

There’s also a lot going on in the rear of the frame. The arced seatstays bow upward instead of downward, as is typical of aluminum frames. The arc ads compliance absorbs road vibration and braces against braking force. Asymmetrical chainstays and a press-fit BB86 bottom bracket help keep the rear stiff and short to match the handling of the front.

Altogether, the short wheelbase and steep head tube make a lively feeling bike that descends with stability, tracks superbly through curves, and handles quickly. It’s just plain fun to ride. Swerving around road debris takes only a slight movement of the bar, or just a little body English. Cruising at speed, the bike feels solid and remains so when pushing through turns and curves.

I like the way the Venturi hugs the road with its low center of gravity, and the steel absorbs shock from road imperfections. The frame and carbon fork do a nice job of providing feedback and deliver a livelier feel than carbon fiber and a softer ride than aluminum. Yet, it’s stiff in the right places and efficient at transferring power.

One of my favorite times to ride this bike is when there’s climbing ahead. The Venturi accelerates smoothly or at least maintains speed until the hill is crested. The same is true of accelerating on flats or from a stop. No energy feels lost to material or design flexing. Venturi is a machine that wants to move forward. I think Breezer found a near-perfect shape in hydroforming the steel tubes. The frame doesn’t feel overbuilt, heavy, or teeth-rattling, but it’s not flexy, either.

The Ultegra 10-speed group and matching tubeless road wheels are a solid parts package. I had plenty of gear options with the compact double crankset (50- and 34-tooth chainrings). I found the right-hand shifter to be a little sensitive to error; if I inadvertently pushed both shift levers a few millimeters when initiating an up or downshift, the chosen lever would move all the way in without a shift. The more I ride the bike though, the less it happens, as I’ve become careful with my fingers.

Riding road tubeless is new to me, and although the bike came stock with tubes, Hutchinson offered a pair of tubeless Fusion 3 tires to take full advantage of the Ultegra wheelset. The wheels have remained true through the test and feel light and fast in use.

I like Venturi’s quick handling and subtle ride characteristics, and think it’s awesome that Breezer is using modern manufacturing techniques with old material. If I could change one more thing, it would be to raise the bottle cage mount on the seat tube just a bit, so it’s not blocked by the front derailleur clamp. Other than that, the Venturi delivers an awesome ride. It’s available as a complete bike or frameset.

Product specs
  • Country of origin: Taiwan
  • Price: $2,879
  • Weight: 20.06lbs.
  • Sizes available: XS-XXL, largely tested.
  • Online: www.breezerbikes.com

The post Breezer Venturi Review: Racing Geometry and Quality Ride appeared first on Bicycle Times.

Shimano Ultegra Di2 Review:The Bike that Changes the Way You Think

Bicycle Times -

Component reviews, Reviews

First off, this is NOT Ui2. There is no such thing and never will be. A lot of folks think the “D” is for Dura-Ace, the trim level where the electronically-controlled shifting first appeared. It actually stands for “Shimano Digital Integration Intelligence” – Di2, get it?

In the six years since its introduction, the concept of a battery and servo-operated shifting system has proven itself capable in nearly any conditions, from Grand Tour victories to continent-spanning tours—in the winter mud of cyclocross to the drenching rain of spring in Belgium. It has even come to mountain bikes with the introduction of the latest Shimano XTR group. (Read about that in our sister magazine, Dirt Rag.)

The shift and brake levers are about the same length as mechanical units, but more slender. With their adjustable reach, they are ideal for folks with smaller hands.

The group we have in to test is the second generation Ultegra 6870 Di2 group, essentially a trickled-down version of the current Dura-Ace version. It features the second generation of the E-tube connector cables and firmware that make it super simple to set up and adjust and is cross-compatible with most of the Dura-Ace 9070 system and even some of the previous generation 6770 Ultegra group. Just as with a mechanical groupset, you can mix and match shifters, derailleurs, cranksets, etc., with the lone exception of the sprint shifters that are only compatible with Dura-Ace 9000.

The plug and play nature of the E-tube connectors means that setup time is actually easier in many ways than a mechanical drivetrain. The biggest concern is how to route the cables. If you have full-length internal cable housing, you’re all set, the E-tube will slide right through. If you have internal routing with a bare cable moving inside the frame, you have to get creative.

This Specialized Tricross Disc was an excellent candidate, as it has a wide opening under the bottom bracket to route cables, and required only a tiny hole drilled in the bracket where the mechanical cable enters. Because this piece is welded into the downtube I had no concern with drilling an extra hole in it, and the bike can still be returned to mechanical shifting if desired and the hole will even be covered.

Installation

Shimano Ultegra Di2 installation This Specialized Tricross Disc was a great option for the Di2 setup, with internal cable routing and a wide opening at the bottom bracket through which to route the wires.

Shimano offers a few different options for connecting things and powering them, with internal and external versions of the junction box and the battery. In this case, I used the external junction box and the internal battery, which slots perfectly in the Shimano PRO Seatpost, though can be adapted to fit nearly any round Seatpost.

The battery is housed inside the Shimano PRO Seatpost, but can be fitted inside nearly any round Seatpost, or externally.

If you have to route the cables externally, you have some challenges. I used a piece of Shimano’s own stick-on cover and some cable ties to hide it behind the chainstay. Standing next to the bike there are almost no visible cables, so I’m very pleased with the installation.

Shifting

The rear derailleur moves the chain across 11 cassette cogs, and is available in a short-cage and a mid-cage, pictured here, which is compatible with up to a 32 tooth cassette for the steepest terrain.

There are no Di2-specific cranksets, and the system will work with any Shimano unit or even those from other brands, but we can’t promise the shifting will be as precise.

The reason this practice wasn’t adopted with five-bolt chainrings is that a 110 BCD chainring with 53 teeth was usually far too flexy to shift well. Shimano’s new hollow and 3D chainrings solve this problem and shift unbelievably well. In fact, it’s hard to believe the Di2 system could shift any better than the mechanical groups already do, but it does. Not only is a switch between chainrings available at the touch of a button, but it also operates as quickly as a rear shift, and can even shift under load.

Di2 changes the way you think about shifting the front derailleur. Now it is instantaneous—you don’t even need to lift off the gas.

Another cool advantage of Di2 is the ability to mount shifters virtually anywhere—after all, it’s just a button. These climbing shifters are great for riding on the tops and shifting the rear derailleur. Time trial bikes make good use of this feature by mounting shifters in all sorts of places. You can even reprogram the buttons on the main shifters to alter the shift functions if you’d like.

The climbing switch is optional and operates the rear derailleur only. I can’t say it changed the way I ride, but it was handy for easy shifts while riding on the tops.

When you click them, the action is similar to that of clicking a mouse button. It moves a little and there is some tactile feedback that it worked. The shifts happen instantly thereafter, no timing or soft-pedaling required. You can jump on and just abuse it and it will shift fine. You can hold the button for multiple shifts, but it seems faster to just click it a bunch of times as fast as you can. Because it’s so easy and shifts so well, I found myself shifting more often than I probably would on a mechanical setup. Think > Click > Shift. It’s that simple. The wide range and smaller steps on the 11-speed 11-32 cassette also mean you can make tiny adjustments to your cadence without interruption.

So far the Di2 system has been flawless and nearly without fault. The only minor problem I have was a shifter that wasn’t working until I realized the E-tube wire had become unplugged under the shifter hood. Yes, you have to keep it charged, but it’s not like your phone. We’re talking once every couple of months, depending on how often you use it. If it does get low, you’re not screwed. On one ride the battery did get low enough where the front derailleur stops working, a signal that you should probably head home—which I did, still shifting away with full control of the rear derailleur.

The junction box under the stem is essential to the control panel for the system, where you plug it in and check battery life. I have since trimmed the rubbery attachment strap.

I will say the move to electronic shifting is incredibly easy too. Once in a blue moon, I hit the wrong button, but for the most part you don’t need to reprogram your brain with new shift systems or control locations. Everything works exactly as it always has, just faster and crisper. There is a slight loss in tactile feedback of pushing that big brake lever inwards to bang out a downshift, but I can’t say I really miss it.

One drawback is that in extremely bumpy terrain (such as cyclocross or in spring classics) it might be harder to shift, and you see some pros running the mechanical drivetrain at races like Paris-Roubaix. The other downside is that it can be difficult to shift with bulky gloves on, as you lose the tactile click feel and the buttons are inherently smaller than moving the entire lever blade.

Braking

Included in our test setup is a pair of Shimano’s CX75 mechanical disc brakes. They are compatible only with short-pull levers (like road shifters) and are much smaller and lighter than the less-expensive R505 calipers. Like most mechanical disc brakes they operate the pad on one side only while the other side is fixed, though still adjustable for pad wear.

Now, I just have to say, in my experience, Shimano brakes are the best on the market. Road, mountain, disc, whatever. That’s why I was a bit disappointed in the CX75s. My initial setup resulted in a super-long lever throw, which does help with modulation, but certainly didn’t instill confidence. It also required quite a bit of muscle to get some stopping power, more than a traditional rim brake. Because there are no barrel adjusters built into the design, I cheated the caliper’s lever arm up the cable to get a shorter throw, which got the lever pull where I wanted it but still didn’t find the braking power I was looking for.

Speaking of, I’ve also been riding another bike with Shimano’s R785 Di2 levers for hydraulic brakes, and they are sublime. All the braking power you could dream of, with silky-smooth operation, at the tug of a single finger. Probably one of the most game-changing products I’ve sampled. But you’ll have to wait for that bike review for more…

Conclusion

After spending a few months with Di2 I’m really struggling to compare it to cable actuated derailleurs. It’s just so, so different that it doesn’t seem fair. Is it “better”? Well it shifts perfectly every time, the cables never stretch, it never goes out of adjustment and the battery issue is basically a non-factor. Would I install it on my everyday lock-up bike? Of course not. But on a nice road or cyclocross bike, it has some clear advantages over its cable-operated cousin. I, for one, welcome our robot shifting overlords.

Pricing

Most likely anyone’s first introduction to Di2 would be when purchasing a complete bike, but if you want to build a set à la carte, here is the MSRP pricing from Shimano:

  • ST-6870 shifters: $379.99
  • RD-6870-GS rear derailleur: $279.99 ($10 less for SS cage)
  • FD-6870 front derailleur: $269.99
  • Junction box A (under stem): $129.99
  • Junction box B (inside frame): $34.99
  • Wire (prices vary depending on length): $29.99 – $34.99
  • Internal battery: $179.99
  • Climbing switch: $129.99

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HIA Velo: Back to Work

Bicycle Times -

Bike Industry, Features

Have a look at your bicycle. A close look. The likelihood is high that your frame, fork, and most of its components were made overseas—not in the United States. That “Made in Taiwan” sticker, or one similar to it, adorns most bicycles sold in America.

HIA Velo, in Little Rock, Arkansas, is out to change that by producing frames and forks in the U.S. of A. With a passionate collection of longtime cycling industry engineering, production, marketing and sales personnel, HIA Velo’s team has rallied around making bicycles on a large scale here on home soil. So far the response from the industry, dealers, and consumers has been far greater than expected and is picking up steam all the time.

Allied Cycle Works

In early 2017 the company launched its new bike line under the name of Allied Cycle Works. Starting with carbon fiber, other frame materials will eventually join the fold. HIA Velo currently employs 25 and aims to have 75 on staff within three years.

Tony Karklins, the founder of HIA Velo, says that the impetus for the company was born out of circumstance and a hard look at the state of the bicycle industry. After his work bringing Orbea to the U.S. market, Karklins went looking for his next project, a new brand to introduce stateside. After traveling significantly in Europe and attending global trade shows, Karklins came to the conclusion that an opportunity similar to the one Orbea had in 2001 no longer existed. He described the situation as “a sea of sameness.”

“Nobody was making their own product,” he said. “Everyone was using the same handful of people in Asia. I couldn’t find an angle.”

After looking into the idea of building his own brand using Asian production, he realized making carbon bikes in the United States would be much more viable than many people believed.

“People said overseas manufacturing was cheaper, but with Orbea, the cost kept getting higher in Asia. Minimums kept growing and shipping delays, taxes, and freight costs all increased over the years. We were building big warehouses full of inventory that was year model tagged and a ticking time bomb,” Karklins said. “The way the current bike industry works is really messy.”

When looking at the cost of producing in America, Karklins asked himself what are the real benefits of “just in time production” in America instead of the cost of building and storing a massive inventory overseas? His answer was, “when you deeply analyze that, it was a no-brainer.”

Stars further aligned when the Canadian brand Guru went bankrupt. Karklins and his investors bought its factory and intellectual property, moved the hardware to Arkansas, and HIA Velo was born.

HIA VELO

In the process, HIA Velo is creating jobs, and because they are in the United States the company has access to materials and processes that Asia does not because they are protected by international trade laws. Thanks to this, Karklins believes that the HIA Velo product will be much more advanced than a lot of people expect.

The first investment for the project came from an interesting source, the founder of Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee: a passionate cyclist and ideas man, Doug Zell. When speaking of HIA Velo, the imminent launch of Allied Cycle Works and manufacturing in the United States, a certain fervor is apparent in Zell’s voice.

“We want to be the next great bicycle company, with a product and a brand that can promise something extraordinary and actually deliver.”

Doug Zell

On a Mission

Zell and his colleagues are on a mission. He hopes that HIA Velo is bringing a new wave of manufacturing to the United States, speaking enthusiastically about bygone influences.

“There was a point in time when design and manufacturing and beauty went together in the United States,” he said. “They [later] became separated. More recently we haven’t been engineering things that have great utility and are beautiful. I hope we can be a catalyst for a larger movement where we can do real manufacturing in the U.S. We can create real, meaningful jobs where someone can buy a house and have a family. My feeling is that if we can demonstrate that it’s possible, then there will be others who will do it as well.”

Much like the direct trade model that Zell created at Intelligentsia where everyone involved in the production chain was considered, he and the rest of the HIA Velo leadership are actively cultivating a sustainable, healthy culture for its employees. By paying a real, living wage with benefits for its employees, HIA Velo is creating a corporate culture that empowers its team and encourages them to strive for an ever-better product.

“People can see that there is a real career path in front of them and their input is being considered. We want that input to be thoughtful and collaborative,” he said. “Over time I think we’ll find that some of the best ideas come from so many different places and sometimes surprising places.”

Perhaps the idea that can buoy the bike industry is simply one that many overlook or dismiss as outlandish. Perhaps it took a long time cycling industry veteran from Arkansas and a coffee entrepreneur from Chicago to develop the way forward for manufacturing in the United States. Only time will tell, but in the meantime 25 more passionate cyclists have jobs and that’s a good thing.

“None of this is revolutionary,” Zell said. “It just makes sense.”

The post HIA Velo: Back to Work appeared first on Bicycle Times.

Scott Sub Evo 20 Review: Urban Bike Perfect for Streets and Alleyways

Bicycle Times -

Bike reviews, In Print, Reviews

Drawing on Scott Sports’ European sporting and racing heritage, the Evo 20 is designed to be an urban bike that is well-suited to its environment and fun to ride. In practice, I found it to be a very well-thought-out bicycle that had just about everything you’d find yourself needing to navigate through your city’s streets and alleyways.

The Evo’s frame and fork are aluminum so there’s no worry about rust. There are adequate fenders fore and aft to ward off the spray from the Continental City Ride II tires. I think the addition of a small mudflap on the front fender could limit the very small amount of water that gets to your feet when riding around rain-soaked roads.

The tires are pretty great in most conditions as well. These tires have a very nice tread that sheds water well and puts a lot of rubber on the ground. An added bonus is their internal belt, which enhances the puncture resistance of the tire. Nobody wants flats, especially when you are on your way to work or a hot date, and don’t want to get dirty patching tubes.

The Evo has a 10-speed Shimano drivetrain with a 48x36x26 crank matched up to an 11-34 cassette, which equates to plenty of gears for all those fun hills! Of course, once you go up you’ll need to come down, so Scott equipped the Evo with a set of Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with 160 mm rotors. Snazzy.

While you’re pedaling around town you’ll probably want to pick up a thing or two from the store and cart it home with you. To aid in your deliveries, there’s a Racktime rear rack that not only has a spring clamp to hold down your precious copy of Bicycle Times magazine but also features the Snapit system. Snapit allows you to securely mount and remove bags by way of a simple latching system. Of course, if you don’t have a compatible bag, you can just use the rack normally. While you are in the store you can prop your bike up with a kickstand that does a pretty good job of keeping the bike upright and stable.

What will they think of next? I’m glad you asked. Lights that never need recharging. Yep, the Evo has a Shimano dynamo hub that powers a front and rear light. The rear light does not blink; remember Scott is a European brand and they don’t like blinkies over there. It’s plenty bright though.

That brings us to the front Busch & Müller light. Great idea, poor implementation. Unlike the mid-headtube mounted light on the cheaper Evo 30, the 20’s front light sits on top of the fender and is positioned in a way that the fender and tire can obstruct the beam. The light can be tilted so that the beam is not obscured, but then it does not illuminate the road directly in front of the bicycle. I would suggest relocating the light to a point higher up on the frame.

Other than the front light’s somewhat perplexing placement, Scott Sports did a great job with the Evo 20. It incorporates pretty much everything you’re going to want in an urban commuter and wraps it up in a comfortable, fun package.

  • Price: $1,399
  • Weight: 32.7 pounds Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
  • More info: Scott Sub Evo 20

 

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