Stylish Seattle Bags in the Post Intelligencer

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by Dave R. on Feb 03, 2008 at 9:54 PM

elephantcivfull.jpg It looks like the P. I.’s stumbled on one of Seattle’s little secrets – R.E. Load bags. I’m still shocked at the number of people in Seattle riding around with bags made elsewhere when we have great bag makers right here in town. Out in Philly, where R.E. Load originated and still has the original branch, it sounds like the bags are endemic. R.E. Load makes the most unique, most stylish bags I’ve ever seen. Not good enough? Tell ‘em what colors you want and they’ll run you a custom anything. Bags range from huge, professional courier bags to more manageable sizes for those not hauling boxes of medical records around.

Amazingly, you can only see these bags in person at a few locations world wide, so I encourage you to drop by the E. Pike St (I haven’t checked out the Philly Store yet, please let us know if you have!). There’s plenty beyond bags inside – lots of clothing, art and culture that you can’t find on their site. R. E. Load’s just turned 10 years old. Personally I’m looking forward to seeing their bags for many more.

I’ve got my own bit of R.E. Load Baggage – the quality is great, and the customer service was very good. I definitely like the creative designs I see on their bags. However, the thing that impresses me the most about R.E.Load is how they’re growing market for other artists. It’s great to see so much hand made stuff in the store front. It looks like quite a bit of it comes from ‘friends of friends’ (or maybe just friends), but I’m not sure how else you’d grow a network of custom goods. Sadly only a fraction of it is on the site.

The other interesting thing about R.E.Load is how they’re scaling their business – slowly. It looks like they’re keeping things sustainable by staying away from high production/low quality deals. Sustainable’s smart if you love what you do, and it looks to me like a lot of love and labor goes into the bags. Good on ya, R.E. Load, keep it up!

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Amp Energy Event

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by Byron on Feb 03, 2008 at 5:20 PM

We wouldn’t expect much to blog about during the Super Bowl, but the Amp Human Energy spot got our attention. Like the human-powered, Mion booth we covered earlier, but on a much larger scale, Amp Energy is uploading 30 minutes of power for the Fox Pre-Game show.

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I’m thinking that spin classes across the country could get plugged in and offset some carbon or just recharge cell phones. Joking aside, the Amp Energy site has all the background videos and more. There’s a drill sergeant yelling at the cyclist to pedal harder and a Monkey game.

There probably hasn’t been stronger evidence that cycling is ubiquitous in pop culture (like the cycling mom Volvo commercial) than a monkey-pedaling game. Well, ok, a DKNY Neon Orange Bike is pretty good as well.

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The Crossbreed: A folding wheel

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by Byron on Feb 03, 2008 at 7:32 AM

A reader tipped me to the Crossbeed, a folding bicycle wheel. As our readers know, I’ve traveled extensively with both little-wheel folding bikes and regular-wheeled, S&S-coupled road bikes. There’s also MTB folders, but we’ve yet to try those (we really need to add a MTB blogger). In all those travel miles, I’ve never really thought of a need to fold a wheel; I’ve wished for a carbon-folding bike, just to get the weight down, wished that Brompton was slightly less industrial-age influenced, and that Dahon made a better travel case. But the Crossbreed is certainly interesting and innovative, check the video

Also posted on

Not at the level of difficulty required to reinvent the wheel, but a recent innovation that has made my travel by bike easier, is the Keyhole Bottle Cage available from SBS and at your local Independent Bike Dealer

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3 turns of an allen wrench, and boom, it’s on/off. Small innovations like that really add up when traveling. The SRAM power link is a thing of beauty as well.

Now, I really wish that mini-pumps actually pumped air. Someone should invent that.

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Cycling in Sonoma

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by Byron on Feb 02, 2008 at 8:15 AM

From the Telegraph is a guide to the 50 great things to do in the USA. Cycling in Sonoma is ranked 39th; now we’d rank that much higher than say, visiting Dollywood, but still that’s good to see cycling make it in. We’ve ridden in Sonoma, back in the pre-hugger days, and the riding is great.

It also made me wonder what our readers thought were the best places to ride?

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Lapierre is bringing it to the States

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by Dave R. on Feb 01, 2008 at 6:10 PM

Lapierre.jpg Lapierre, Mr. Giles LaPierre that is, was in town last week showing off their latest bikes. Great bikes, but if you live in the states you may not be familiar with the name. Lapierre is based in France, and has been in business for 60 years and 3 generations of Lapierres. They provide the rides for the Française des Jeux cycling team, and are also a leading manufacturer of mountain bikes. Already a major brand in Europe, they’ve decided to raise the level of their game in the US.

Gaston Lapierre, Giles’s grand father, started the business right after world war II, in 1946. The family’s been involved in the business since then, although the company was bought by the Accell Group almost 15 years ago. Since then, and starting in earnest just a few years ago, Lapierre’s been making the transition from a family run, continental business to a full fledged international corporation. Change like this is never easy but it looks like the company’s come through with flying colors.

Business wise, Lapierre caught the mountain biking wave in a big way back in the middle 90s, and is one of the leading manufacturers of mountain bikes in Europe. Since then they’ve been branching out, into road racing, sponsoring the Française des Jeux (French national lottery) cycling team.

The company has had some success in Europe but realized they were spending a lot of time competing with US based companies on their own turf. A couple of years ago Lapierre decided to take it to the home town (or at least home country) of brands like Specialized and Trek. When Accell acquired Seattle Bike Supply a few years ago the opportunity presented itself and Lapierre grabbed hold.

Meeting Mr. Lapierre was great, he was very enthused about his bikes and his company of course, but also genuinely friendly. I don’t doubt he was here on business but he was obviously enthused for a weekend trip up to Snoqualmie. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s a Snowhugger.

Lapierre’s focus in the US is bringing their particular brand of high end, high tech road and mountain bikes to our market at a good price point (See Mark’s write up for details on the line up). When I asked Giles what his expectations of the US market are he said they’re looking for organic growth here in the states. Sponsoring the French national lottery team, Française des Jeux, won’t hurt. Neither will there extensive experience in the mountain biking market. Based on what we saw at last week I doubt they’ll have any trouble at all making their goals.

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Hotspur Tubes

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by Byron on Feb 01, 2008 at 2:12 PM

That’s one of the Hotspur tubes before it was fabricated last week. It’s being built up this weekend, with a hotspurian theme, and readied for the Handmade Bicycle Show on 2/8.

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More details are coming and, as an aside, before naming the bike, I consulted the Naming the Bicycle section of the Bike Cult Book. I didn’t crowdsource the name though, as Merlin Mann jokes about in this 5ives post.

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Bike Hope

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by Byron on Feb 01, 2008 at 11:12 AM

There are several bike charities – for AIDS, micro-economies, and so on – and all of them are offering bike hope. Check this article from the Nambian on the Bicycling Empowerment Network that created Bicycle Empowering Centres

This is a shipping container, which is filled with 300 secondhand bicycles, spare parts and tools which can be delivered to any town or village in the country. Local volunteers from the community are trained as bicycle mechanics and project managers. The BECs are now run as bicycle workshops: bicycles are overhauled for distribution to volunteers, as well as for sale to the community at an affordable price.

In 07, Bike Hugger supported World Bicycle Relief with bikes purchased in lieu of holiday gifts for friends, family, and partners.

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Click: The Hershey’s Kiss of Multi-Tools

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by Mark V on Jan 31, 2008 at 10:38 AM

click%20tool.jpg Lookie at what I got here: a “Click” multi-tool.

It’s tiny, has 2/3/4/5/6mm allen wrenches, flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, and a keychain ring. The tools are all chrome-vanadium steel with aluminium sides. Granted, the Click’s size prevents you from being able to hoss on a bolt, but on today’s high-performance bikes there are few bolts that require massive torque (for instance, stems clamping on carbon handlebars). Apart from it’s size and quality of the materials, the best thing about the Click is the $5 retail price.

Distributed by Cyclone.

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Snow Bikes

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by Byron on Jan 31, 2008 at 8:54 AM

China is getting hammered by the worst weather in 50 years and with millions of people riding bikes, that’s creating lots of chaos. Sure, in Seattle we’re weather wusses compared to Canada or other really cold places, but I don’t think any of us have it this bad …

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AP Photo by Eugene Hoshiko.

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