Southby Moments


by Byron on Mar 09, 2014 at 6:09 AM

Terns in town

Riding around rain or shine on Terns

A fleet of bikes, riding around Austin, speaking about tech and photography sure, but it’s the Southby moments that make the SXSW event experience. Like this guitar player with a twangy Tiny Tim voice serenading two hipsters taking pictures of each other at a food truck lot.

Cowboy singer serenades photo-taking hipsters

Cowboys and Hipsters

Or Chris Distafino being in the moment at Mellow Johnnys after sharing a bit of industry gossip


Chris multitasks like a boss

And a well-dressed Asian women riding a Tern on a Powertap trainer in front of a video wall in our space with Nokia.

Having fun

Booth space fun

It was Terns and tacos for us yesterday, riding quickly to and fro in the rain. Today is the Mobile Social and we’re watching the weather.


Mmmm, tacos

We’re shooting at both sides of the dial while here with Lumias and new full-frame Sonys. Uploading as time allows to G+ with more stories to follow.

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Mark V’s first repair trick: The Pepsi Tyre Boot


by Mark V on Mar 08, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Making a tyre boot

Twenty years ago I purchased my first road bike. It was a 1994 Specialized Allez. Now about that time, the bike industry had hit the zenith of its torrid love affair with gaudy colours (true, logos had yet to grow to the gargantuan sizes seen on today’s moulded carbon frames, which depending on the weather conditions, can be seen from low earth orbit ). The whole “purple anodize” craze had died down somewhat, but manufacturers en mass decided to spice up tyre products with colours. Black was too boring, too 1989. So that Allez came with grey treads, the Specialized Turbo Team in Umma Gumma Grey. Twenty years later, I still remember those tyres….remember them as the shittiest tyre I rode. You see, tyres are black for a reason: carbon black is used as a filler, which gives the vulcanized rubber toughness and UV/chemical stability. Without carbon black, those tyres might grip well, but they wore away super fast. And they punctured like no one’s business. As my introduction to road cycling, I didn’t know better tyres existed. I thought all road cyclists just learned to deal with multiple flats per ride. With the amount of practice I was accumulating, I learned to fix flats right quick.

The casing ripped rather easy too. As a poor yet moderately clever university student, I devised a way to make cheap and lasting tyre boots. Step one: get an empty, plastic soft drink bottle. Even back then, I had an insane cola addiction, so there was never a shortage of raw materials. Step two: cut a small oval of the plastic, about 15x10mm. Step three: apply a piece of duct tape to the concave side of the plastic. The duct tape should have a 8-10mm border around the plastic. Step four: make a few more of these and then stick them to a bigger square of the cola bottle plastic. Keep this square in your on-road repair kit, and peal off the tyre boots as you need them. These work better than a dollar bill or energy bar wrapper because the plastic is better at resisting bulging through the hole in the tyre casing, even at the high pressures of skinny road tyres. Also, the tape will keep the boot from dislodging, so it’s a semi-permanent fix.

I devised this trick out of necessity, because those Umma Gumma tyres tore for any random reason. With today’s tyres that use better, non-carbon fillers (silica) and better casings, I don’t bother carrying a card of my ready-to-apply tyre boots with me except on longer tours, but I often use these boots whenever a customer has a largish hole in an otherwise still-good tyre.

Making a tyre boot

Making a tyre boot

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The Best of Austin isn’t At SXSW


by David Schloss on Mar 07, 2014 at 12:07 PM

One of the wonderful things about bikes is that having one can unlock treasures. Take SXSW for example, where the world’s geek-elite class converge to network and connect. The Austin Convention Center is buzzing with activity and with passion and the energy of start-ups and established companies striking deals. .

Just a few blocks away though you can find equally rewarding experiences, though without the stock option possibilities of a good conference.

Today I’m tooling around on a loaner Tern, part of our loaner fleet at SXSW and I’m checking out the local coffee scene.


Austin, which just a half-decade ago had just a fledgling scene is now full of coffee places and roasters. I started my day single origin espresso with Stumptown at Juan Palota, stopped in mid-ride for an iced espresso at Jo’s and now am relaxing at the hand-hewn wood bars at Houndstooth on 4th and Congress.

As someone in the coffee business I’m particularly impressed with the setup at Houndstooth. Their espresso machine was designed by Kees Van Der Western and is a thing of beauty. It’s also worth more than any of the cars parked outside.

As a veteran trade show attendee, possibly the best advice I can give is to take your time in a city and absorbing the local culture. You’ll end up being rewarded in ways that will surprise you.

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Building Bikes to Ride with Friends


by Byron on Mar 05, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Staging Terns

Terns staging

Just updated our schedule for SXSW and the first thing we’re doing when we get in town Thursday is building up a fleet of bikes with Jason Harris from Nokia. On all those Terns, we’re installing bike mounts for Lumias. That’ll happen with beers and tacos, of course.

For riding around town

For riding around town

Ride with Us

Then we’re riding daily and will announce the meets spots and times on Twitter. Sunday it’s the Mobile Social at 12:30 CST. Meet on the Create lawn where the DJs of the Sun are playing.


Built up with bike mounts for Lumias

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SRAM Introduces 7sp and 10sp Downhill Drivetrains


by Mark V on Mar 04, 2014 at 12:20 PM

7 Speed!

That’s right, a whole 7 speeds

SRAM introduces new X01 drivetrain components for the downhill set, including an innovative 7sp drivetrain. That’s right, I used “innovative” and “7sp” in the same sentence. Read on about clever parts for those who like to use bikes to fall off mountains in a semi-controlled manner; I myself have my eye on the 10sp version of the derailleur.

having not owned 7 speed myself, this seems so novel

Having never owned a 7-speed myself, this is so novel

There’s a new X01 DH “X-Horizon” rear derailleur with “X-Actuation” (ie 11sp cable-pull ratio). This is a 7sp rear derailleur, but for a 7sp with 11sp chains and cog spacing not 1980s-era 7sp cassettes. There is a specific Mini Block downhill cassette. It’s a 10-24 ratio made to fit the XX1/X01 “XD” cassette body for SRAM’s 11sp cassettes. It’s an “X-Dome” construction, machined from a block of metal rather than inidividual plates. The big difference is that the abbreviated range makes use of the space after the 24t cog with an integrated chain barrier to keep your chain from bouncing into the spokes. That’s right: the cassette has a built in “pie plate”.

The advantage of 7sp X01 DH cassette versus the 10sp version is that the 7sp has a 10t cog instead of an 11T. With the Mini Block cassette, the chainring can be smaller. This parallels the mini-drivers used on BMX freestyle bikes for a decade, in which the 9 or 10T cogs allow dinky chainwheels. Though downhillers won’t be trying to do grinds on rails, the increased clearance over ground obstacles is a similar desirable goal. The downside is that you still need to run those skinny, expensive 11sp chains, but at least the chainline range of that abbreviated cassette does mitigate the chainwear issues.

Of course there is a X01 DH carbon crankset, which is officially compatible with both 10 and 11sp chains. Remember, those X-Sync chainrings have narrow/wide teeth to aid in keeping the chain from coming off the ring in absence of chain retention systems, so the width of the chain is a crucial parameter. You can’t use a chain wider than a 10sp. So when the crank’s spec says “7sp” compatible, SRAM mean the 7sp Mini Block cassette with11sp spacing (and thus 11sp chain).

The X01 DH “X-Horizon” rear derailleur uses Exact-Actuation (aka the same 10sp cable-pull ratio as 10sp SRAM road & mtb derailleurs). This 10sp version of the X01 DH derailleur on face value doesn’t do anything that the current X0 “Type-2” rear derailleurs don’t do; they both have a clutch mechanism in the cage pivot to keep the chain from bouncing, leading to better shifting with rear suspensions, on rough terrain, and/or in conjunction with X-Sync style single chainrings. However, the X01 10sp derailleur adds “X-Horizon” (aka a non-slanting parallelogram), which tracks the chain more precisely over the profile of the cassette. This makes the X01 10sp derailleur specific to single chainring drivetrains, unlike the non-X-Horizon mechs that can handle double or triple ring setups, depending on the cage length. This 10sp X-Horizon can’t quite deliver all the range of an XX1/X01 drivetrain because there are no 10sp cassettes with a 10T cog, nor are there 10sp SRAM cassettes with cogs bigger than 36T (though plenty of companies and consumers have been hacking together cassettes with 40T or bigger aftermarket cogs).

10 Speed

This one has 10 speeds

In addition to the new DH cassettes and derailleurs, there’s the accompanying shifters for the 7sp setup. In otherwords, they are X01 shifters that pull 11sp ratio but only have 7 clicks. Available in either Gripshift or trigger style. For the 10sp version, you just use existing X0 right-hand shifters.

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A Heavy Rain Fell on Me and My Mind


by Byron on Mar 03, 2014 at 1:59 PM

A heavy rain fell

Would periodically wipe off the computer, to see how long I’d been out there

Rain fell on me like a junk drawer pulled from a cabinet, off its guides onto the kitchen floor yesterday. Read on Twitter that Californians think they’re riding in the rain too, but they’re not, just on vacation from the Sun. Saw another cyclist and we gave each other a, “Make it home safe Bro,” nod.

Been riding so much in it this spring, concerned I maybe experiencing PTSD, cause that wasn’t epic at all, just what I had to do. Epic means you enjoyed it somewhat and there was a triumph, however small. This ride was rote, like writing lines on a blackboard. Pedal to this corner, turn left or right, then pedal some more. If I expect to perform at my late-season goals in road and cross, then there’s no choice but to ride in all weather.

After procrastinating all morning, I proved to myself I could still do it. Didn’t want to at all and I got caught out, which is unusual. If there’s one thing I do well, it’s prepare for all conditions and last time I got hypothermic was about 8 years ago. That’s when I rode down Weber canyon in the shrub-steppe desert of Eastern Washington. A cold winter wind blew up the valley and took with it all the heat from my body. It’s an odd thing that happens there, like a reverse gravity situation where your speed on the steep grade descent is stalled by a headwind.

I lost count of the storm fronts that passed over me yesterday, but the last one dropped ice water from the sky in a hostile squall. Soaked through and cold, I knew I was in trouble with 40 minutes to go before home. In the last 20, as my hands couldn’t pull the brake lever hard enough, I cursed the loss of Hydro to a recall. If you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, then rubber pads scrapping an aluminum rim on a long descent reminded me that this bike is using an iteration of wagon wheel technology to stop.

After pulling off my clothes in the mud room and throwing them towards the washer, and feeling a bit disoriented, noticed my belly was bright pink with toes and fingers numb. In the shower, digits burned and tingled, a symptom I imagined the drug Lyrica is for.

The Gabba, Nanoflex, and Gore kit all did their job, the elements just overwhelmed them. Mother Nature reminded me again who’s boss. Guess I’d forgotten in 8 years since the last time she hurt me, what she can do.

I get a rush from mastering the elements. Being comfortable in miserable conditions with the right gear.

As I wrote in 2012 on a similar day, a focus on gear keeps us on the road during the dreariest of days, and a bike like the Roubaix I’m riding smooths the roughest of roads. The Zertz and layup, geometry, and whatever secret sauce makes the bike just roll, like a rouleur wants.

As hard as the weather is on your body in Seattle, it’s harder on the roads and with rivulets running down them, you can hit a pothole without seeing it. That happened on a fast descent, as I steadied the bike between painted white lines and cars roaring past me near SeaTac. Sequestered into a bike lane, I didn’t have much room to recover from the hit, and the bike took it without the expected carbon shudder. Wheels stayed true to the line, on track, with the rubber on the ground. Banking left away from traffic and to a steep, 14% grade, the compact cranks I’ve been struggling to adapt to also proved their worth with gearing I spun.

The S-Works SL4 Roubaix I have in to demo is built up with Force 22, a compact crank, and an 11-34 Wifli cassette. The big-ringing, muscle-memory I have was struggling to find the gear with a 50/34 setup.

That was until yesterday, when I really needed it, and again today when I’ll ride again.

The gear and bike I’m riding are all the right choices. I’ve just got to pay attention to the weather patterns and how long I’m out there. Having been humbled, I also remember how to keep my sanity in the wet. It’s like doing the dishes after a fine meal, enjoying something good takes time and effort.


Left the bike on the shed to think about what we just did together

The aftermath and cleanup of a ride like that weigh on me. I left the bike outside to think about what happened, like I was doing. The difficulty will reward me later but in the moments when I’m pedaling, that doesn’t make it any easier.

As Equipped

As noted above, that’s a Roubaix SL4 frameset built up with Force 22 (50/34 & 11/34) Zipp components, including the 30s wheelset. Every part on that bike I recommend and what I run for myself cause I don’t F around in the Winter with products not liked or trusted. The cockpit includes a Joule GPS and Knog lights. I run the Knogs, just like a car, as daytime running lights. The SKS longs fit the Roubaix just fine with Hutchinson Fusions at no more than 100 PSI.

Props to Padraig of Red Kite Prayer for the edits on this story

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And the Giraffe On a Bike


by Byron on Mar 02, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Indie-rock band from Nashville And the Giraffe strapped a film camera to the front of a bicycle with some spare rigging equipment found in their friend/director’s garage and some duct tape and made this video. It cost about $200. They rode around LA and out into the desert for some gorgeous shots at the end.

The manufacture of the camera they used is Black Magic Design. As much as we shoot on the bike, me and David are very interested in this setup, because there’s a live preview and it looks like it’s being steadied. The video they produced reminds me of REI’s video from a few years ago when they attached DSLRS to a bike.

Next week, we’re in Austin for our annual bike show. We’ll also pull focus to mobile photography, shooting wonderful stuff like this.

Joining us are Pei Ketron, Dan Rubin, and Jeremy Dunn. We’ll post our regular channels and new ones just for SXSW.

If you like And the Giraffe, download their album for free and we’re bringing the SYCONS with us to SXSW too. They’re our house DJS for the weekend.

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Riding Across a Prodigy Cover


by Byron on Mar 01, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Fat of the Land

Breathe with me

Yesterday I posted about Southby bikes and our animal-encounter origin story. That’s how Bike Hugger started, after I saw a lamb being born during a ride from Austin to Creedmoor Texas, a cactus in a tree, and then a buzzard eating a black act outside a boarded up megachurch.

Freaky shit I know.

Meanwhile down the coast from us in California, Richard from Cyclelicious was just riding along and found himself on a Prodigy album cover. Now that I’ve shared with you the lamb, buzzard, and cat creationism, also know these animal encounters

  • 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 rider
  • 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)
  • Rode past a coyote hunting rabbits, while the sun broke through black storm clouds

And that’s the theme for Issue 10 of our Magazine that contributors are writing now. The issue will include stories from SXSW 14 too and I’m expecting to see more animals out in the Texas Hill Country while riding with Jeremy Dunn and Chris Distefano. When I told Chris we were going to ride to that boarded up megachurch, he said.

At which point I will transform into the unholy terror as has been prophesied for thousands of years. Prepare for hell, everyone.

Yeah and if lighting strikes twice and we see a buzzard, our drivetrains will get electrified and our tires forever sealed from flats.

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Southby Bike


by Byron on Feb 27, 2014 at 3:25 PM

This One Time, Walked into a Pedicab Rodeo

You riding with us in Austin? Please do!

Austin is one of Bike Hugger’s collectively favorite cities thanks to the highly athletic population that happens to adore good food, drink and coffee. That’s one of the reasons we’ve headed to SXSW for so long and it’s the reason we’ve spent time in Austin as tourists as well.

This blog started because of a ride I did to Creedmoor Texas and back. That’s where I saw a lamb being born and a cactus in a tree. Later, buzzards and Mobile Socials

Freakiest thing I’ve seen is a buzzard eating a black cat while we were in Austin. Spooked me for days and still does. The scene occurred in front of a boarded up house, a few doors down from a Mega Church.

That still freaks me out and all the more reason to ride in Texas. If you haven’t already signed up for a SXCycles rental or our free bike and a phone promotion with Nokia, find a Southby bike with

Or what Susan does every year. She buys a cheap bike and leaves it behind. Whatever Southby bike modality you choose, it’s way better than back in the day when there were only two rental bikes in town and one was broken.

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Town and Country with Ti


by Byron on Feb 27, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Gravel Ahead

Gravel Ahead

Posted the start of a gallery for the adventures will ride on gravel and forest service roads this Spring in the Pacific Northwest. On test for this ride are Sammy Slicks from Schwalbe, a tire we now recommend, with Zipp 303 Firecrests.

The bike is the D-Plus, a handbuilt, custom Ti Davidson cross bike. For gravel, we changed out the wheels, tires, and adjusted the brakes. Read more about the D-Plus here, all the posts on G+, and in the moment on Instagram.

When Mark V designed the D-Plus, he anticipated lots of time out in the country, on access and forest service roads. Ti is, after all, the original performance, comfort bike material. As I wrote when it was getting welded

A bong-sized BB, massive John Holmes head tube, and over-sized, thin-walled Ti tubing means a bike so stiff, it’s gonna hurt. Just not too much.

For a primer on gravel, see the Adventure issue of our Magazine, my posts from Reba’s Ride, and we’ll see you at a Vicious Cycle event soon. As much as I liked and dug deep with the Crux during Cross season, it was too stiff for a day on forest service roads.

wish those signs said BEER AHEAD

Long day in the Saddle

Bouncing along an Idaho backroad somewhere, my mind wondered to smooth pavement. I fantasized about a ribbon of black asphalt with predictable white lines, instead of a washboarded moonscape with sharp rocks and cattle guards. The springy, light, resilience of Ti should keep my mind, in the moment, on the ride next time.

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