The inexpensive center of the cycling universe

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by Byron on Jan 18, 2007 at 8:02 AM

With a few Bike Hugger friends in Taiwan for business, I found Shut up and Drink the Kool-Aid’s post about the factory that manufactures Masi particularly interesting.

Last year, at Interbike I met the owner of a Taiwan-based company that makes the majority of bottle cages and the one that makes millions of kickstands and also saw lots of bikes that look like each other. Ironically, much like the automotive industry (is that new car pictured a Lexus, Chrysler or Mercedes?), design homogenization is bound to occur as an industry consolidates.

While low prices means more access to mass markets and sales (that’s Walmarts standard PR pitch), it also means less diversity and I also think that bodes well for the boutique, independent manufacturers that build unique bikes rather than spec a generic carbon frame. I’ll never forget when a former Raleigh employee told me that the box and packaging they ship a bike in costs more than the frame.

When we built up Bettie, we chose a well spec’d and built Surly frame and choice of components. I race on a Trek that’s made in USA and assembled with parts from Taiwan. I also train and tour on a handbuilt Davidson welded right here in Seattle.

I’m benefiting from a local independent builder, a USA manufacturer, and a combination of both. So the question today is, what’s better for the industry, an inexpensive we’ll spec’d frame or a unique handbuilt frame? Or is all well?

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Cyclists Attacked in Portland

2

by Byron on Jan 18, 2007 at 7:56 AM

A reader altered us to the attack on cyclists and Bike Portland has posted about it. “Two cyclists said they were attacked by three teenagers near a north Portland bus stop on Wednesday. “

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Princeton Tec Dual 3W LED Review

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by andrew_f_martin on Jan 17, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Princeton Tec Dual 3 Watt I posted earlier about how I love my new 3 Watt LED light. I do - I still love it, but Princeton Tec has sent me their soon to be released DOUBLE 3 Watt LED offering. 2 HAS to be better than 1 right?

The first thing you notice upon opening up the packaging (which is impressive in its own right) is that you get a TON OF STUFF! I don’t even know what to do with all the velcro, mounts, and cables they put in there. What if I go to Europe and need to charge my light: not a problem as they include the prong adapter!

When I first played with the light, it seems pretty bombproof. I guess you’d expect that from a company whose roots lie in creating SCUBA and mountaineering gear. While charging the battery, I got to work on mounting the headlight. The bar mount was simple - no issues there, but I wanted to use it as a helmet mount.

Despite all the attachment options they gave me I ended up going with zip-ties. I couldn’t get the velco to hold it tight/steady. The second thing I noticed was that the thing is up there. It’s such a svelte little light body, but the mount puts it a good 2 inches above the helmet like the webcam in that new Apple commercial (.mov link). It’s not heavy, but noticeable, so if I’m creating a mount I’d want it as close to the helmet as possible.

While I’m at it - another “nice to have”: when I have the light on my head and the battery in my rear pocket there’s nothing to keep the power cable in place - so maybe a little alligator clip on the cable or something to keep it on my collar?

Moving along to actually using the thing, well that was great. It puts out a good deal more light than my existing 3 Watt LED. Not overpowering light like the HIDs that can blind passers-by, but plenty to light a dimly-lit route. It offers a couple lesser settings that I used around dusk to make sure I was still seen, but I found them to be not enough when it got dark. That’s not an issue really as I was able to run it at full beam all the way home (~ an hour) and barely touched the battery. I left it on in my garage for hours after getting home and it was still going strong. I imagine their 6 hour claim on high is probably accurate. The strobe setting is a little weird because it wasn’t just a flash, but rather does a long followed by three short. I like using a strobe for getting seen in traffic, but this frequency pattern started to mess with my head. Also - when it comes to shifting light levels I have to find the button on my head with winter gloves on. An in-line button (maybe attached to my alligator clip?) would make that a ton easier.

The power on the high setting was noticeably brighter than my Light and Motion Vega

Of course it completely dwarfed the little Topeak Whitelite that I’ve used countless times to stumble home.

The last thing I noticed this morning: When I’m not in traffic, I like to use the iPod (a whole other debate goes here). The EMF generated by the light totally messed with the signal and made the volume cut out and spike. It didn’t however seem to have any effect my Heart Rate Monitor, probably because the cable was far enough away.

Pros: * Plenty of light (brighter on high than my 3W LED) * Battery life is awesome * Bombproof construction * More accessories included than I’ll ever use * Solid bar mount

Cons: * Helmet mount * Blinking light sequence made me dizzy * Button location when used as a helmet mount * EMF Interferes with iPod

Overall - I think the Princeton Tec light system is great. I even took a quick detour on the ride home to go out and do some night-time cyclocross riding in the woods, it did just the trick. It works well for my commute and baring a couple minor points of improvement it’s just what I need.

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Animal Encounters of the Bicycle Kind

11

by Byron on Jan 17, 2007 at 7:51 AM

Reading about chasing an owl on Bike Seattle, I remembered the animal encounters I’ve had on my bike

  • Rode through the middle of a cow carcass during the Tour of Willamette
  • Watched a crow fly through legendary mechanic Eamon Stanley’s rear wheel during our legendary ride to Snoqualmie Pass
  • Avoided the squirrel that jumped up onto a fender, off a shoulder, and the back of my fellow riders
  • Stopped to inspect a road kill badger (very cautiously cause badgers are mean)
  • Seen enough dead possums to conclude they are the stupidest animal
  • Rode over a seagull on Alki, felt really bad for about 32 seconds, until realizing there’s no shortage of seagulls (I also never liked that Jonathon Livingston Seagull novella)
  • Slowed way down and rode really cautiously past a small moose during our tour of South East Alaska (a small moose means a big moose is nearby)

When I lived in the Tri-Cities and rode with the Chinook Cycling Club, there were three evil dogs that would actually wait for us. One of them near Finley WA, we could see hiding behind trees, clocking us patiently, and then would jump out barking, clawing, and snapping – that turned into a dog sprint like that scene in American Flyer. The second dangerous dog was on the road to Paterson WA. That bad boy you wouldn’t even see or hear until he was right up on you snapping at your heels. I learned to save enough on that ride to be ready when Mr. Vicious came out to play.

The most dangerous dog lived at the top of a climb on Clodfelter Road (from the Horse Heaven Hills course of old). Cresting the top of a leg-blowing climb, with your buddies trying to drop you, doesn’t leave much room for a dog sprint. That dog caught a few of us, was rewarded with a face full of water bottle spray, and I believe is responsible for a few nasty wrecks coming down the hill.

What animal encounters have you had on bike?

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Best Bike Ever (we hope)

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by Byron on Jan 17, 2007 at 7:38 AM

Win the best custom bike ever ever at the Handmade Bicycle Show being staged in San Jose, USA, in March. Nine legendary bike builders are collaborating on the one-of-kind bike and raffling it off. Given that’s 9 builders instead of one, I have to wonder if it’ll turn into a Monster Garage like mistake or work of combined genius?

My all-time fav custom bike is a Davidson. What’s yours?

Thanks to BikeBiz for the story.

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Schooner Exact Release Party

2

by Byron on Jan 16, 2007 at 9:59 AM

Schooner Exact, “a local, small batch microbrewery focused on quality, handcrafted ales,” is having their release party on Saturday the 20th, 7:00 PM, at The Beveridge Place. Last year, when Schooner Exact first started, they made us a batch of Bike Hugger Brown and have promised us more kegs this spring, just in time for the snow to go away!

Bike Hugger and friends will attend the party and toast Schooner Exact! See them kegs stacked up below.

kegs

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Morag the Xtracycle

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by Byron on Jan 15, 2007 at 3:53 PM

Bike to Life, a blog about bicycling to a better life, includes posts about Morag, an in-progress Xtracycle. One day, possibly, Bettie and Morag will meet on the bike path.

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Little, Yellow, Bike

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by Byron on Jan 14, 2007 at 9:10 AM

A little bike that Mark saw in Japan – now if you could get a mini Xtracycle for that …

little_yellow_bike.jpg

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I (heart) Shimano

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by Mark V on Jan 14, 2007 at 12:51 AM

Dura%20Ace%20sti.jpgA few days ago I finally mounted up some Shimano Dura Ace ten-speed STI to my everyday road bike, the last of my three road bikes to get the DA-10. Of course, the rest of the components on that bike are still nine-speed, and somewhat beat-down at that. But these STI are so sweet and precise. Yeah, KA-CHUNK into gear, solid like a hammer to a firing pin. I freaking love Dura Ace.

You don’t have to look far to find a flag-waving Campagnolo fan, going on and on about Italian flare and finish BLAH BLAH BLAH Tour de France BLAH BLAH Nuevo Record BLAH BLAH but DA just works soooo well. You can tell me that you like the style of Campagnolo, or the ergonomics of it are better for you. I could respect that.

But I am so over listening to people yammer on about how Campy is just so better than that Japanese stuff. Oh, yeah, before you tell me all about how you can rebuild an Ergopower shifterSTOP…I don’t care. If I have to pay to replace my Dura Ace STI after the 3 year warranty expires (hello, how long is a Campy warranty?) I will still feel satisfied. And you want to tell me how Campy Record is heirloom quality and you’ll be riding it 20 years from now you are deluding yourself, Grandpa. This ain’t 1977. None of this new stuff, Campy, Shimano, otherwise, is gonna last. I’m not saying that just about bike components. You’re reading this on the internet now, right? Do you for one moment think you’ll be using that computer 10 years from now?

Oh, but I have a dirty secret. (in a small voice) I used to be a Campy tifosi (that means fan in Italian, for you lay people out there). Yes, it’s true! When I first started cycling, I had an Italian bike with Italian Campagnolo components, Italian saddle, and Italian bar/stem. My girlfriend was even Italian (ok, so she was half-Rumanian and all legal-but that’s another story). This is back in the days of eight-speed drivetrains, when downtube shifters were still the standard on many bikes. I was so proud of my bike, but then one day nine-speed appeared on the market like an apple tree in the garden of Eden. I wanted it everyone wanted it, but then I found out that I would have to replace rear hub (I had two sets of wheels), cassettes, chain, and half the parts out of my shifter. Crap! How could this be? I thought Campy parts were eternally rebuildable and upgrade-able. My God, why have you forsaken me?

Ah, but then there was the new ‘97 Dura Ace so much sleeker, shinier, and sexier than the old eight-speed.yesssss, and lighter too. Oh yeah, and the cassettes fit on the same hubs as the old stuff. Mmmm yeah, I could get a cheap set of training wheels anywhere. Parts available at just about any local bike shop. And check out that crank! Freakin’ sweet! You know it’s the stiffest one out there! Yes, YES, YES, I gotta have it, baby! RIGHT THERE, THAT’S THE SPOT. AHHHHHHHHH!

So boys and girls, that’s the story of how I came to have nine-speed Dura Ace on all my bikes. Then eventually Dura Ace 7800, the new ten-speed components, arrived on the market, and just like Rod Stewart I had to have the latest model.

Actually, my favorite Dura Ace is the track gruppo, cause I’m kinky like that.

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