This just in: wigs make cyclists safer

9

by Frank Steele on Sep 11, 2006 at 2:20 PM

BBC NEWS | Wearing helmets ‘more dangerous’

That’s one valid takeaway from a very simplistic study one rider in England undertook. Dr. Ian Walker of Bath University used an ultrasonic sensor to track how closely 2,500 overtaking drivers passed him while riding his bike.

He found that, when he wore a helmet, drivers cut things more closely, more than 3 inches closer on average. When, on the other hand, he wore a wig, drivers gave him an extra 6 inches or so.

Walker says the study provides some ammunition for the argument that helmets might actually detract from safety in some situations:

“By leaving the cyclist less room, drivers reduce the safety margin that cyclists need to deal with obstacles in the road, such as drain covers and potholes, as well as the margin for error in their own judgements. “We know helmets are useful in low-speed falls, and so definitely good for children, but whether they offer any real protection to somebody struck by a car is very controversial. “Either way, this study suggests wearing a helmet might make a collision more likely in the first place,” he added.

It’s not clear if the study is extensive enough to draw such sweeping conclusions, or if it would apply here in the United States. But we’re already decided: We’re starting a campaign to push for mandatory wig laws for cyclists.

(Via Del.icio.us Tag: cycling.)

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Bike Hugger meets the Ditty Bops

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by Byron on Sep 11, 2006 at 7:02 AM

Hugger Lover That’s me, Abby, Amanda, and Mark posing together at Seward Park after riding together with a group of cyclists from the Space Needle. We joined the Ditty Bops for part of their ride to Portland on Sunday and saw their packed Saturday night show at Chop Suey.

The Ditty Bops have been touring the country by bike, playing shows, and promoting cycling. Their record company arranged an interview with us the night of the show, but they were tired after driving back from NYC, and invited us to the ride the next day, which was even better. I showed up for the ride on Bettie, gave Greg their piano player and his wife Boo hugga tees, and it was a sunny, beautiful day.

We rode, chatted, and just hung out like any group of cyclists would do. I did ask both of them one, sort-of interview-like question, which was, “would you ride across the country again?” Amanda and Abby both said “yes, but not like that.” They enjoyed touring, but I think the rigors of the tour itself was wearing them out. John, teammate of mine, is riding with the ladies all the way to Portland where they’ll play the Aladdin Theatre in Portland, Oregon tomorrow night.

Later, when asked what the Ditty Bops were like I said, “creative, artistic, cyclists, and just nice girls.”

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Pedal Mowers

6

by Byron on Sep 09, 2006 at 9:03 AM

In the first few Bettie rides, I joked with Eamon and Pam that you could hook up a push mower to the back of it and ride around mowing your lawn. Well, waddya know, Peter from the Chinook Cycling Club, took this photo of a lawn-mower bike in Walla Walla and there’s a website, a patent, and another photo.

See now, where those are all flawed, is the grass clippings are going to go right into your face. In my Xtracycle version, you’ve got the mower behind you.

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Ditty Bops play Seattle

2

by Byron on Sep 08, 2006 at 7:05 PM

Ditty Bops The Ditty Bops are in town and playing Chop Suey tomorrow night at 6:00 PM. It’s an all ages show and costs $11.00 in advance and $13.00 day of. If you haven’t heard of the Ditty Bops, they’re an eclectic-pop duo that are riding their bikes across the county to promote cycling, clean air, and their new Moon Over the Freeway album.

We’ve posted on the Ditty Bops before and will be at the show. We’ve also got an interview planned and will blog about that when it’s confirmed.

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Surly sidehacking

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by Frank Steele on Sep 08, 2006 at 7:45 AM

Dave over at Surly Bikes can’t ride a bike right now because of a recent ankle injury. His doctor doesn’t want him putting a foot down and risking a re-injury.

So Dave did what any self-respecting hacker would do: He welded up a sidecar rig to his Xtracycle and Stokemonkey-equipped Instigator:

Sidehackin'

Right turns took a little practice, as did getting used to a 4-foot wide profile in traffic, but he’s taking to it, and the StokeMonkey means he can usually ease up on the injured leg.

Plus, the Xtracycle is great for carrying crutches.

He’s posted over on the surlyblog, which doesn’t have permalinks, so scroll down to “Wednesday, September 06.”

Says Dave:

My rig has some inherent handling flaws. It will never be perfect. But it still beats the hell out of taking the bus or riding in a car. I’ve regained some of my freedom, and that is priceless.

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Bike Hugger Estonia bureau checks in

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by Frank Steele on Sep 08, 2006 at 7:04 AM

Jason Swihart in Talinn, Estonia

Bike Hugging in Tallinn, by mobil’homme.

Bike Hugger Jason Swihart waves the Bike Hugger flag from Tallinn, Estonia, where he posed in front of a pedicab in his Hugga T.

Thanks, Jason!

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Crossover scooter review

0

by Frank Steele on Sep 08, 2006 at 6:41 AM

Treehugger | Great style and fewer emissions than your Vespa

Treehugger this morning has a review of the eGo Cycle 2, an electric scooter that borrows wheels, suspension, rack, and controls from the bicycle world. Payload is 250 lbs, top speed 23 miles per hour, and range of less than 25 miles.

Its foot deck hides about 50 pounds of batteries, which provide all the power – there’s no pedaling at all.

It’s sort of like an electrified Honda Cub.

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The Bettie download

20

by Byron on Sep 07, 2006 at 9:52 PM

Bettie FamilyBettie is a Bike Hugger project to build a sport-utility bike with a Karate Monkey 29-incher frame, Stokemonkey, and an Xtracycle. Bettie has an enormous carrying capacity, it’s heavy duty – 2 adults or an adult and 2 kids at a time – and is fun (really, really fun). The total Bettie download follows.

We chose the Surly Karate Monkey for it’s big wheels and versatility and a look at the specs will tell you why – the frame is built to be built into something else, your ideal Frankenstein. Bettie with this set up, as Todd describes in his blog post, addresses my biggest concern about putting your foot-down when weighted. Imagine coming up a hill in Seattle, stopping at a light fully loaded, and shifting all the weight with your back to one toe. Much easier to just foot down. Additionally it’s like riding a “working” bike, an industrial cruiser with a very nice motor assist from Stokemonkey.

By running a 29-incher with 26 inch wheels and 2.35 inch tires, we get a lower center of gravity and a cushy ride. Much of that ride has to do with the balloon tires. For the skinny tour crowd, big tires take some getting used to, but do roll and ride very nice.

A sport-utility “balloon” bike

We need to run at least 2.35s (the biggest tire we could find) to keep Bettie low, but not too low and are running the Big Apples from Schwalbe, which offer among other things, “carefree cycling.” See Balloonbikes for more on the benefits of big tires.

Amazing Cargo Capacity

We opted for the FreeRadical Hitchless Trailer Kit with Wideloaders. The Wideloaders add capacity and foot rests for passengers.

Human Electric Hybrid

Todd of Cleverchimp has been enormously helpful and you can find his comments in our posts. We chose a complete Stokemonkey kit with the big-ass battery. We live in a very hilly part of Seattle and need the juice.

Components

  • Nitto Albatross bar – a comfortable cockpit with upright position, wide bars, and lots of room for the controls (tip: these are cruiser bars that accept bar end shifters)
  • Magura Gustav M – a legendary downhill disc brake with enough stopping power to fold the fork in half. Remember an adult, 2 kids, in hilly Seattle, so we chose lots of brake.
  • DT Swiss FR 6.1D – extremely stiff, “big hit” rims. Made to ride through a war zone or the streets of Seattle.
  • Sugino Mighty Crankset – 44/32/22 9-speed compact MTB cranks – right and left chainrings, one for you to drive and the other for the Stokemonkey.
  • Shimano 16T freewheel threaded onto the Stokemonkey – the freewheel drives the left chain ring. That’s your motor assist.
  • Deore LX derailleurs – “pretty standard really.”
  • Bar end shifters – for the flexibility of switching to friction mode, if things go bad with the drivetrain, and because the throttle is taking up space for grip shift or other levers.
  • MKS platform pedals with Powergrips – old school and functional. You don’t want cleats, clips, or anything else with Bettie. Just hop on and ride – same goes for the seat.
  • Brooks B17 – been riding all over town without bike shorts. Bouncy big tires and springy seat adds to the fun factor.
  • Loud bell from REI – announce your motor-assisted smugness when you pass fellow cyclists.

Jedi master mechanic

Bettie wouldn’t have moved an inch without the work of Eamon Stanley at Elliott Bay Bicycles, home of Davidson.

Initial impressions

As I’ve been posting, we’re having a great time with Bettie and most of that is no parking, no sitting in traffic, and no car. I’ve been running errands, going on dates, and Pam has been riding the kids around. Bettie is doing exactly what we wanted and performing well.

There have been some surprises. Bettie makes dogs angry. I guess that’s all the sounds because some dogs have gone into vicious mode when I ride by – Cap’n our Pug likes Bettie, but only after lots of alert barking and a good long sniff. Of course, you can easily out run them with a twist of the throttle.

Motor-assist is just that: an assist. You’re still working and need to learn quickly how to stay on top of the gear. To ride Bettie daily, you’ll need good bike-handling skills, basic fitness, and situational awareness. You’re the motor in the human electric hybrid drive and efficiency is very important. Riding heavy on the throttle is going to burn through the batteries. It’ll be fun, but not good for commuting. With the motor-assist on, Bettie is like a fixed gear and you can’t stop pedaling. It’s easy to get lulled into la-la land, on Bettie, but realize your riding a big bike at fast speeds.

The magic, the secret sauce of Bettie and the genius of Xtracycle and Cleverchimp is that they’ve invented products that allows us to do what we want without a car. As an inventor myself, they get full props and one of the first things I did with Bettie was deliver an order of Clip-n-Seals to the mail drop.

Riding Bettie Downtown




And More Bettie

Another project

Our next project is to build up a light-duty commuter.

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New Shimano utility group wins Eurobike award

1

by Frank Steele on Sep 07, 2006 at 12:42 PM

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p>Bicycle Design | Shimano Alfine

Alfine

Shimano is introducing a 2007 component group aimed straight at Bike Hugger’s heart. Alfine is a new internal-hub group, with 8 speeds, that includes a 3-watt dynamo in the front wheel, disk brakes, and very clean and pretty cranks.

It’s based on Shimano’s existing Nexus line, upgraded to promote very quick shifts. Instead of a twist group, it includes trigger shifting.

The group took one of Shimano’s two design awards at last week’s Eurobike trade show (the other went for the 3rd-generation XTR mountain bike group). This should be a terrific and reliable group for bikes intended for everyday transportation.

(Via Bicycle Design.)

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Treehugger hugs us

2

by Byron on Sep 07, 2006 at 9:54 AM

Alerted by a reader, I just discovered that Treehugger gave us a big hug today. Nice! And thanks, much appreciated… now I’ll get a cup o’ Joe and start responding to the comments and emails. If you’re interested in learning more about Bettie, our project to build a sport-utility bike built with a Karate Monkey 29-incher frame, Stokemonkey, and Xtracycle check the tags, galleries, and video posts

Questions on Sport-utility bikes? Fire away and also note that we’ll be blogging live at Interbike September 26, 27 2006 with all kinda posts about cycling, culture, commuting, and more.

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