Steve Hed, aero wheel innovator and all-around cool dude, passes away at 59

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by Mark V on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Steve Hed at Interbike

Here at Bike Hugger, we are saddened by the news that Steve Hed has died at age 59. Founder of Hed Cycling, Hed’s personal history has been deeply entwined with high performance cycling, particularly in triathlon and time trialing. Since the mid-1980s, Hed had represented the personification of the American innovator: creative, maybe a little kooky but willing to follow his ideas with equal measures of diligence and honesty. With many hours in the wind tunnel long before it was cool, he helped bring deep profile rims and disc wheels to cycling world, but when his own design for a composite spoked wheel did not produce good results in aero tests, he scrapped the idea (unlike several other manufacturers). Years later he would purchase the rights and equipment to manufacture what is now generally known as the Hed3 wheel. Then in the 21st century he was the leading proponent for the current philosophy of wide aero rims that acknowledge real world riding conditions. Additionally, he led the move towards wider clincher rims and wider tyres in performance road riding, as exemplified by the C2 Belgium rim and the even wider Belgium Plus recently. Something I personally respect is how clean Hed designs are, without all the trademarked and patented gimmicks that companies in Hed’s wake have added to distinguish their products in the consumer consciousness. Arguably, in an industry that is awash in hype, Hed represented a purity of design and purpose.

For such a small company, Hed Cycling has always had surprising connections to the biggest names in cycle sport. When I visited the Hed Cycling’s headquarters in MN a few years ago, the guys were glued to their monitors as they watched Levi Leipheimer power through his ToC time trial, knowingly commenting on how Levi had been consulting on wheels and positioning earlier that year. I walked through Hed’s shipping department to see a box of wheels to be shipped to some customer named “Contador” in Spain.

I couldn’t say that I knew Steve well. With longish, almost white hair, I could picture him blending in at a local coffee shop or farmers market. But he had certain sense of humour. One year he brought a downhill MTB wheel with a deep section rim profile to Interbike. He had this twinkle in his eye as he explained the design. Whenever I think about that occasion, I imagine that Steve built that prototype to answer a half-baked question or a bar bet, and then with the actual data hidden in his hand, he wanted to see how many people would hype it up.

I had met Steve several times at Interbikes over the years, but one of my favourite anecdotes I’m sure he never realized. I worked at a bike shop that was renowned for the retro tastes of one of the owners. That owner bought some vintage parts from a seller on Classic Rendezvous, and when they arrived at the shop I recognized the Minnesota address. In fact, Steve was the seller, and included some Hed Cycling paraphernalia as a bonus. Oddly, those items……erm…..disappeared from the box. So today I’m going to wear that Hed Cycling beanie as I ride one of many bikes fitted with Hed rims. Good bye, Steve.

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RIP Steve Hed, an Innovator

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by Byron on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:16 AM


As we’re heading out of town, heard that Steve Hed passed. Here’s a video interview with him from last year and it was always like that, every time we met, we geeked out on bikes.

RIP.

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Bicycle Black Friday

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by Byron on Nov 26, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Bikes and inventions

Been stocking up for weeks

Mentioned our Tool Roll yesterday, of course Clip-n-Seals (a best-selling, and Amazon-featured bag closure made by the parent company of Bike Hugger), and there’s gear on sale too, like this light, lock, and wool cap.

For more bike deals, see DC Rainmaker’s post and hey if you’re riding and relaxing instead of shopping on Friday, that’s what we’re doing, up in Alaska. They’re not on sale, but our Purist bottles are popular too.

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Holiday Shopping Endorsement: Tool Roll

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by Byron on Nov 25, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Flatted

Tool Roll doing its job, that it does

This Tinyblackbox pic is our Black Friday/Cyber Monday every shopping Holiday endorsement! Also see the Wired review of the Waxed Canvas Tool Roll from earlier this year and now they ship for free with Amazon Prime.

They’re all hand made in Seattle and built to hold a spare tire, CO2 canisters, as well as a couple bike tools. Bundled up the roll fits right into your jersey pocket. According to Bike Hugger, they designed the roll to help organize flat tire tools, and offer an alternative to the traditional seat bag, which can rub against (and ruin) your expensive bike shorts.

And there’s Jim fixing a flat with his.

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A Long Bike Ride

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by Byron on Nov 25, 2014 at 9:20 AM

kennewick

After last night, the country needs to go on a long bike ride; clear its head.

We’ll do that in Sitka, Alaska this week, visiting grandma and local haunts like the P Bar. Also working on Issue 19 and 20 of our magazine. The photo above is from earlier this year when we were riding in Eastern Washington.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Enumclaw: Tractor Pull of a CX Race

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by Byron on Nov 24, 2014 at 1:49 PM

mud

Like a tractor pull in the slop

This is one CX race I was super upset to miss, but knew better with a nagging knee injury, and the expected conditions of MUD BOG. There’s a reason Enumclaw is nicknamed, the “claw” too. Cause it grabs at you, robbing speed, and sometimes throwing you down into the mud.

Peter from Woodinville Bicycle shared these photos and Michael Brazel had this to say on his Facebook:

The ENTIRE course was a slick, deep, muddy mess. ‘Tractor Pull’ conditions, 400 watts @ 4 mph. Any firm green grass that could be found was a blessing. I spent the entire hour searching for firm ground. Another small Single Speed A field. This time my start was not so good, last place chasing the group through the first lap. Then, as everybody settled in, I started pulling them back one by one. Midway through the race in 3rd place and the leaders still in sight I clipped a chain link fence and hit the deck hard. I took inventory to make sure all limbs were still pointing in the right direction, climbed back on continued my search for firm ground. Finished the race on the lead lap (thanks Russell Stevenson) and held onto my 3rd place for the day and series lead.

Well raced! I was icing my knee, while Brazel was searching for firm ground. The course was a two mile flat loop that I heard felt completely uphill with a 50+ft run up. Speeds ranged from 3 to 6.5 mph and in the elites, 10-min laps.

Epic as the claw always is. See the rest of the photos Peter shared on G+ and Flickr.

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Ballerina On The Golden Bicycle

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by Byron on Nov 23, 2014 at 8:21 AM


Guess because she performed before I was born, just now hearing about The Ballerina On The Golden Bicycle. She was performing these tricks 20 years before flatland BMX and to the point of disassembling her bike to get to the good stuff.

LILY

At the height of her career, Lilly was considered the best in the circus business

She was about the highest paid circus artiste in the world and having had to do battle with all the great circuses, I still had to wait two years until she was free.” And he added, “I think she was one of the greatest performers I ever engaged. She was an artiste down to her fingertips, her costumes were magnificent, and she had a smile which was so infectious that her audience was with her in the first minute.” Just before her engagement with Bertram Mills Circus in 1962, Lilly had her bicycle gold plated; she became known as “The Bellerina On The Golden Bicycle.”

Lily is also seen performing in this circus documentary, now on DVD.

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Lake Effect Snow Storm: FAT BIKES

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by Byron on Nov 22, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Lake Effect

Roads plowed and getting ridden

Once the nearly 8 ft of snow got plowed in Aurora NY, out came the fat bikes from Chain Ring Rhythm.

We’re not expecting a Lake Effect Snow Storm near us, but will ride in the snow soon enough…

Lake Effect

Nearly 8 ft of snow in Aurora

Bill Graves Buffalo

Making the best of it

And in Buffalo Bill Graves was out riding too

Photo: HARRY SCULL JR.

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Cycle Chaser

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by Byron on Nov 21, 2014 at 9:04 AM


A couple years ago, Matt made a dynamic bike headlight with a Raspberry Pi and a small, battery-operated projector. Then shared it with us during his Built talk, at SXSW. He’s since updated the project to include animations and posted this video about it.

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Alternatives to Uber: A Folding Bike

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by Byron on Nov 20, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Tern train

How we get around town

Reacting to the Uber Scandal On Twitter, Chris said it

and so did @typeonerror and hey, there are plenty of alternatives to Uber, like riding a bike. I asked Josh Hon from Tern about this and he replied…

Biking: a ride with zero wait time, no spying, and lots of nice people

Uber’s the latest disruptive service taking the world by storm. And to be honest, it’s a pretty darn smart and imaginative way to use technology. But for a lot of trips, there’s an even better way to get around town, and that’s on a bicycle. Yeah that’s right, old school technology. But if you think about it, biking has some real advantages. Like for instance you get to leave whenever you want – there’s never any waiting for the next bus or train or finding your car in the parking lot. When you’re ready to go, you just go. Start up and maintenance costs? Well a decent bike starts at 2-3 months of gas money. A lot of times, when traffic is bad, it’s faster to get around by bike.

Even better is a folding bicycle because it fits so well with trains and buses and ferries and cars - every other form of transport. Raining hard in the evening? fold your bike and catch a ride home with a friend. Need to get across town – fold your bike and hop on the subway for part of it. Best of all, you never need to leave your bike chained outside because it folds and stashes in a closet or under a desk.

But you know what I love best about biking? It’s that my short trips add up to a work out so that when I get home at the end of the day, I can lounge around and be lazy, guilt-free. Guilt-free laziness? Now that’s something precious.

Last month I went back to my 25th reunion at Stanford. Since Stanford’s a pretty big campus and events were scattered all over, I decided to bring my bike with me. I packed my folding Tern into my Samsonite, hopped on a plane in Taipei, and arrived in SF a short 14 hours later. Every day, I’d drive to campus, park in alumni parking (very far from everything), pull my bike out of the trunk and within 10 seconds have instant transportation. My first stop was visiting my freshman dorm (that I shared with Peter Thiel) and just as I was pulling up, ran into one of my closest friends who was visiting with his family. That’s another one of the great things about cycling - the interactions with people that you just can’t get if you’re in an enclosed metal box.

Zipping around campus by bike, I managed to do everything I wanted to during Reunion weekend - even managing the double-booked time slots because I could get from one side of campus to the other in just a few minutes.

On my way back to Taipei, heading to the airport I took my first Uber ride. It was a surprisingly good experience. But if you’ve got a choice, try a bike. You just might like the experience even more.

Agreed!

Also with the burn-ban-bad air in Seattle, we’re thinking more about zero-emissions, multimodal transport and the fun you can have too…like with an electric car and a folding bike. I’ll tell you more about that in feature story I’m working on. For now, see the vignette I shared in the Medium Bicycles Collection about driving to a rails-to-trails ride with a BMW i3.

ballah

An i3 on the way out of town to a ride in the mountains

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