Opening Day: Cold Feet on the Cargo Bike ride

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by Dave R. on Jan 02, 2008 at 5:10 PM

I managed to get away from sick-kid-care just long enough to get stated on this years Opening Day Cargo Bike Ride. Great day for a ride, the weather was pleasant enough for very light clothing, and the xtracycle made it possible to haul almost all the extras. Despite a very social pace, my cargo (6 yr old daughter) veto’d the ride just a few blocks in. Note to self: Dressing pedal people and cargo people are two very different tasks. After the ride I’m wondering when cargo bikes will start designing a cargo-people experience in from the get-go.

We’ve had a bit of a go of it around our house, round robin illness to beat the band. Between that, New Years hang-over, and a half-way complete fork replacement on my xtracycle I figured I would never make the cargo-bike ride. But, I managed to rally on the fork replacement (thanks to some help from the Local Bike Shop), and got everything back together. Hang overs were kept light by a mellow evening on the 31st and my kid said she was in for a Bike Parade after some time on the playground with friends.

The sky was more hung over than me, with grey clouds crowding the horizon BUT: No wind, temperatures in the low 40s, all in all a very temperate day for a ride. Nice crowd at Greenlake for the ride, including many xtracycles, a rickshaw, a swiss military bike + trailer for a small artillery piece carrying a stove and other goodies, and many other choice rides. I was very comfortable in my spring clothing: arm warmers, a wind jacket, jeans. Hauling cargo on the big bike is enough to keep anybody warm even down in the 40s. Regardless I brought along my big winter gloves, an extra warm jacket, scarf and various sundries for the 6 yr old, but didn’t give enough though to what kind of experience my passenger might have.

J. (the 6 year old) still wasn’t feeling that well when I picked her up from a play-date with some friends, and immediately started negotiating for a foreshortened ride and asking for a jacket for her legs. We agreed to doing half the ride, and I put my extra jacket on her. This was her first time riding in the bobike/peapod kid carrier, usually she rides on the back but I didn’t have time to set up her stoker stem. We had a good time socializing the peloton, meeting a couple of other youngsters on the ride and being suitably impressed by anybody willing to bring a becack (bicycle rickshaw) out on a winter day.

We left the park, becack in the lead, at an extremely brisk pace for a rickshaw, or an extremely reasonable pace for a long bike. We were slowed by a mechanical just a mile or so into the ride, and the sounds from the back made it evident that the jacket was doing OK for the legs but not the feet of my passenger. Just a few blocks later there was enough noise from the back to be clear that J. wasn’t comfortable and needed to head home, so head home we did. When we arrived we had a bit of left over black eyed peas and greens – the braised country style ribs got finished on new years eve. Then a warm bath for J.

In the future, particularly in the colder weather I need to pay closer attention to how my passengers are dressed. Hauling people around on a bike is enough work to keep you warm in many conditions. Sitting on the back just isn’t. J. sometimes asks to ride on the trail-a-cycle just so she can pedal, and I wonder if the ability to work up a bit of warmth isn’t part of the incentive.

Kids are the most frequent and most precious cargo I carry. Some of the cargo bikes (Bakfiets comes to mind) make passengers a priority but most of the long-bike kid carry capabilities I’ve seen seem more like second thoughts that integrated designs. The analogy I’m thinking of is the difference between a truck and a mini-van. Both are big and can carry a lot of crap, but one’s much friendlier for passengers.

I expect the Long Bike, City Bike, and Cargo Bike categories to take on more life in the next couple of years. Passengers on cargo bikes face special challenges – moving fast but not exerting themselves, staying and feeling secure, etc. It’d be great to see more passenger friendly features designed ‘up front’ in these newer versions, even if they come as optional packages from the store. How about some integrated handlebars? Better foot and leg protection, (both for wheels and wind)? Maybe an integrated ‘scooter’ blanket for passenger bottom halves? Back supports? Easier entry/exit?

Take that becack from the cargo ride as an extreme example of passenger centered design – it even has a roof! Clearly that’s too far for a general purpose utility bike, but designing in options for 10-30% of that functionality would be a big win.

Sorry, no photos, I was brought my camera but didn’t have a chance to take any snaps. Next time, next time.

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My Girlfriend’s Bike..pt 3

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by Mark V on Jan 01, 2008 at 9:41 PM

kappa%2004.jpg My girlfriend and I went for a ride today. Nothing too stressful, just playing around on the bikes. I’m trying to build her up so that we can get around town together via cycling.

I added the final touches to her bike. I switched out the tired Avid brake with an XT 760 V-brake. The “parallel push” linkage really makes it a lot easier to tune out the pads. Also, the bike now has Odyssey Race hubs that I laced to Rhino Lite rims. If I had the money, I would have built the wheels on Shimano DXR hubs, the Odyssey hubs are okay. The bike weighs 26.5 lbs, at least 10lbs less than her old Schwinn cruiser.

Eventually, we’ll get a Schwinn Stingray seat and then send the frame to get repaired (got the frame used; a brake post is buggered and the head tube was over-reamed) and painted.

kappa%2003.jpg

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Batavus Flying D

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by Byron on Jan 01, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Starting the new year out right, with a sunny winter day, I test rode the Batavus Flying D – D could stand for Dutchman, but definitely not dainty!

batavus_flying_d.jpg

This bike is big, sturdy, heavy (not in a bad heavy way, but good), and rolls – just like you’d expect a Dutch bike to do. At one point, I just rode right over speed bumps and let the big wheels, tires, and sprung seat take the abuse.

I was riding in style, upright and certain the bike would get me to where I was going. The bike rides like a urban cruiser, with wide, 26” rims and big, durable tires. It’s a curious, setback, relaxed, and upright ride and that’s in the rake of the fork. That’s hard to describe, but ride one and you’ll get what I’m saying …

A Sachs (now SRAM) 7 speed internal hub with coaster brake drives the bike with simple shifting and braking control. A coaster brake is like the brake you had on your bikes as a kid, you kick back your heel to slow the rear.

The bike is the beefier and bigger brother of the Lightning I reviewed earlier and also really dug. These bikes are heirloom bikes. Meaning, you’ll have it for the rest of your life and hand it down for generations.

The Flying D ships with

  • Brooks B67 leather saddle and matching leather grips
  • Wheel lock
  • Auto-on/off lights
  • Fenders

and the MSRP is $1,049.99. I rode the men’s version and I was remarkably able to climb up the steep hill back to Hugga HQ. The women’s version drops the tob tube.

Check with your local Independent Bike Dealer for a test ride. On the next ride with the Flying D, I’ll commute to downtown Seattle and back.

Notes

Roller brake corrected to coaster brake.

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Frozen Tri-Flow and other 07 observations

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by Byron on Dec 31, 2007 at 9:33 AM

Back from Maui, and unpacking the Modal, I learned that way below zero degrees Tri-flow freezes into a gelatinous mass. I guess the Modal was put in the unheated cargo hull of the plane, cause it came back cold and stiff, with a gooey-bottled-blob of dry lube.

That interesting lesson was one of many this year for Bike Hugger. Traveling all over the world with a bike certainly changes one’s perspective and also reaffirms a common thread of cycling everywhere. In all my travels, I’d meet someone that wanted to talk bikes with me and that includes broken English at a Beijing bike pit stop.

beijing_bike_mechanic.jpg

Bike Hugger started because we noticed

a surge in bike-to-work riders, a change in the air, a wisp of urban bikes, and spotted a long-tail, sport utility bike. I thought, ‘huh, something’s going on’

and didn’t exactly expect to sell retail goods, sponsor a team, features in Dwell and men.style.com; or building this large of a community with steady, healthy traffic.

Thanks for being part of that and considering the community, please tell us what mattered to you in 07 … what do you think was the best of bike culture?

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Brompton Factory Tour

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by Byron on Dec 31, 2007 at 7:19 AM

Our 22nd Huggacast, and last one for 07, features a tour of Brompton’s Factory with Will Butler-Adams, Engineering Director. Brompton is the London-based designer and manufacturer of the Brompton folding bicycle and related accessories.

I posted earlier this month on riding a Brompton with their tech specialist, Rory Ferguson. The video features a discussion of all the parts that go into a Brompton, welding, wheel building, and assembly. The bike shown at the end, folded by my desk, is the one I brought home. It’s a new model with a rear frame clip and a snappy 2 speed drivetrain.

Notes

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Times Columnists suggests decapitating cyclists, readers react

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by Dave R. on Dec 30, 2007 at 9:50 AM

Sounds like Matthew Paris, a grumpy old times columnist, got up on the wrong side of his bed this year. In a satirical column entitled What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated? he goes on at some length about how in addition to all the normal atrocities associated with cyclists he’s now identified littering as enough to drive him to beheading unsuspecting riders as they zoom past. Some how I think Mr. Paris might be exaggerating a bit, but it’s interesting to see anti-cyclist sentiment in the media in London as well as in Seattle.

What’s really educational though are the comments (you may have to click the ‘read all … comments’ link yourself, sorry), almost uniformly pro-cyclist. It’s a refreshing change for me to see positive public reaction in the media.

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City bikes gaining popularity with (celebrity) parents and kids

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by Dave R. on Dec 28, 2007 at 5:42 PM

There are a lot of things to like in this photo: New Orleans, single speed city bikes, urban cycling, many (3!) kids in tow, and the fact that Brad Pitt seems to have adopted my habit of sticking ones tongue out when hauling a heavy load. Most of all I’m encouraged that cycling culture can get a bit of a plug from the celebrities of the day.

Too bad about the helmets though. Maybe the Pitt-Jolies can use a bit of their celebri-clout to engender more stylish helmets in the future. Links back to where the story came from (thanks Reno-Rambler!). I blame the Ibob folks (background reading on the Bobs) for pointing me in the right direction.

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Maui Rides

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by Byron on Dec 27, 2007 at 9:41 AM

The wet, windy, and stormy weather shortened most of our Maui rides and made the trip to Hana and back downright brutal at times, especially when climbing. The road conditions make for tense riding because it’s slick and unpredictable. Where you’d normally slice through the s-curves, with body english and power to the pedals, the red clay-slicked road means your riding with the bike upright and very carefully – clay buildup is also a problem. Riding Maui in the rain, beats 40 degrees in Seattle, but it’s still rain.

clay_roads.jpg

The traffic is the usual in Maui – lots of it – with the addition of construction everywhere. Once you get about 5 miles out from a town, it’s no problem, but gridlock on an island, during a vacation is especially annoying. So far we’ve ridden

  • Haiku to Hana, Highway 360 – 70 miles, 3:15 (one way), tough climbing in the wind, rain, and slick conditions.
  • Napili to the Bread Stand, Highway 30 – 35 miles, 3:00, constantly up and down, torrential downpour and clay runoff during the ride back. Mr. Steepy is always hard.
  • Kihei to Napili, Highway 31 – Highway riding, mostly flat, but wind means small chain ring for most of it. During a 5 mile stretch, I was going 28 mph without pedaling, with a tailwind.
  • Around Napili and Lahaina, Highway 30 – the condo loop, about 45 minutes on the highway and trafficked roads.

For those readers into training and racing, I ride Maui for base miles at sub threshold. You can certainly go harder, but the steady, swirling winds and undulating terrain are very good to ride a heart rate tempo. It’s also surprising how hard a gentle climb is when facing the trade winds. Also, considering the wind and terrain, I ride time and not miles.

Quick Stats

  • 20 hours
  • 16,000 ft of climbing
  • 148 avg heart rate

Modal Geared

The Modal in geared mode performed as expected – very well. It’s built for performance riding and adept at climbing, cornering, and all-day riding. The Ti frame is comfortable, precise, and controlled with minimal road vibration and shock (as you’d expect from a quality Ti frame, built by Bill Davidson). I’ll adjust the sliders for more road clearance and swap cassettes to a 27 next time.

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Should Seattle license cyclists?

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by Dave R. on Dec 26, 2007 at 11:05 AM

The PI’s got an interesting article on licensing cyclists. It’s a popular and perennial idea – it’s even come up in the Washington Legislature repeatedly in recent years. The concept generally seems to be that cyclists should pay to use roads.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to figure out that licensing cyclists to pay for roads isn’t a good idea. It generally isn’t taken too seriously in Olympia and elsewhere, the PI Sound Off section notwithstanding. The PI has actually hosted editorials on the facts of how cyclists fund roads in the past.

The PI article does a pretty good job of showing just what a bad idea this is, although you really have to read the whole article to get a full picture.

One (this one anyway) might wonder why licensing cyclists is such an attractive idea. There are several underlying thoughts: That cyclists are not paying for the roads like drivers are; that a licensing program would generate revenue to pay for additional facilities; that licenses would allow more enforcement; and would legitimize bikes on the roads.

An earlier article in the PI goes a long way in explaining away the first concern. Here’s a quote from the abstract of Whose Roads which is cited in the article

Although motorist user fees (fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees) fund most highway expenses, funding for local roads (the roads pedestrians and cyclists use most) originates mainly from general taxes. Since bicycling and walking impose lower roadway costs than motorized modes, people who rely primarily on nonmotorized modes tend to overpay their fair share of roadway costs and subsidize motorists.

The PI article yesterday by Ms. Galloway goes a long way to refute the second point. The idea that a licensing program would help pay for anything beyond administering the licensing program simply isn’t borne out in the real world. Even if a licensing program were to pay for itself entirely it would significantly increase the cost of cycling financially and logistically. What would the benefit of this additional cost to cyclists be?

The implied answer is that licensing allows additional enforcement – if you can license something you can revoke the granted licenses. That is, if you have an enforcement arm. If licensing programs don’t generate enough revenue for funding infrastructure why would they make enough for additional enforcement? More importantly, why is a licensing program needed for enforcement in the first place? There are plenty of enforceable laws to go around if we had sufficient interest in enforcing them.

Wiping these reasons out of the way leaves us with the single best reason for having a licensing program: to legitimize cyclists as users of the road. It’s pretty sad that this is the best reason because it’s almost no reason at all – cyclists have paid for road usage (see above), and have a legal right to the roads, why should we need any additional stamp or endorsement to use them?

Regardless of the reality of the situation there’s little doubt that a few people think of cyclists as illegitimate road users. I think the best outcome of a licensing program would be curing these folks of these thoughts, although even this goal is wildly optimistic. It’d be much cheaper, easier, and more effective to just ignore these folks and keep riding bikes.

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