My daughter and got on our big yellow xtracycle and took the last Seattle Train Yard Tour scheduled so far (previously on Bikehugger. We had a great time and and I learned quite a bit about… trains. For instance, the dumpster trash in Seattle is loaded on to stinkies and sent to the far reaches of the state? My daughter’s reached the age of omniscience so even though she didn’t actually learn anything she was reminded of a few facts and had a good time. More details inside and photos at the Bikehugger urban sightings pool.
The tour was just about 3 hours, as promised, maybe only an hour of actual riding at a social pace. The great thing about a train yard tour is that trains don’t like to go up hill so the route was almost entirely flat. We stopped at 3 of the major train yards, sometimes on bridges or overpasses so we could see what was going on in the yard.
Our guide was very knowledgeable about lines coming in to Seattle, the contents of the trains and where they headed out from here. He never described himself as a railfan, but I think he’d fall into that camp. We had a couple other hard core train spotters along on the tour, but mostly it was just average Seattle citizens coming to find out more about one of the many commerce channels we have coming into the city.
Unfortunately, our guide only runs the tour intermittently, so you’ll have to wait until the next time it comes around. Check back on his site for future events and other tours.
Here’s my quick list of stuff that I’m still pissed for spending money on. I’m sure there’s plenty more out there, but here’s my start. Please jump in on the comments and let us know the items that stung you.
I should have known when I saw it was from Hong Kong Imports, but at under a $1 - I had to buy 12. I put one on each of my bikes, on by messenger bags, on my kids stroller. Why not? - it was only a buck. Turns out the thing sucks - mostly the mounting hardware. I’m sure it’s fine on a wooden velodrome, but any roads that have, say - a bump, they take off. I think I have 4 left on my messenger bags. The rest are strewn throughout the greater Seattle area - probably near a tree root or a pothole.
Instead: Planet Bike Superflash
Performance used to sell illuminite tights. Now it seems they’ve moved to leg warmers instead which probably aren’t as bad. The tights were the worst fitting, baggy in the crotch, unwearable clothing item I’ve ever used. I ride a Fizik Arione which has only a moderately pointy saddle, but whenever I’d try to sit back down from climbing my tights would catch. That sucks.
Instead: Hincapie Leg Warmers
The Polar Speed Sensor sucks. I give it credit for having user-replaceable batteries, but otherwise they are finicky at best. I have 3, and only 1 works with any consistency. The issue is - your HRM stops your riding when the speed sensor kicks off (whenever it wants it seems) and then I’m left with nothing. This is especially annoying during intervals!
I really liked this little guy for a while. It was quick and easy to take on and off a bike. I left them in my bags so I always had at least some light with me. Then it died. The problem with this thing is, when you turn it on - no matter how little juice it has it’ll show full power. When I check it I think I’m good, but then 4 minutes later it fades to a dim nothing and I’m flying blind out there. The light faces forward so you have no sense of your lights strength. Instead: Sigma Sport Micro Light
I probably don’t even need to say anything here. Micro pumps suck. The only thing they provide is the mojo to keep flats away since you are carrying a pump. If you have to actually use it - good luck.
I LOVE my Trek Portland. I HATE the wheels. I’m constrained to a 130 OLD spacing for my rear wheel which leaves me with very few options for disc-compatible hub configurations. These ones are not good. To be fair - I brought them back to the shop and Trek sent me a brand new rim after mine started to crack, but wheels are not something you want to think of on your every-day commute bike. The spokes self-loosen every couple days. I probably average a wobbly finger-loose spoke a week. Ugh.
Instead: I’ve yet to find an answer here! - Help!
I went cheap parting together my Single Speed cross bike. I shouldn’t have on the brakes. The Nashbar brakes were some amazing deal, but the springs are so weak that the levers don’t even return. Adjusting them is a total pain, and the stopping power sucks.
Instead: Tektro Oryx Brakes
Got anything that drives you nuts, or totally fails your expectations? Comment away.
The Civia Hyland is the perfect bike for someone who wants a bike to get where they’re going in a one-stop, high performance package, provided you’ve got the cash to back your desires. Civia’s paid meticulous attention to a huge number of details to get things just right – the frame, the ride, the look, and the componentry. The Hyland’s not without any flaws of course, but for those looking to drive a luxury ride off the lot tonite this might just be the ticket. See our previous coverage here, and here. Check inside for more details and photos via the Bikehugger urban bike pool.
Note: We’ve recieved some feedback asking for a more forthcoming review, so I’ve added in a few additional notes, leaving the original text in place.
I’ve seen all kinds of tube shapes over the years, but the recessed cable routing channels are a first for me. The channels help keep the bike very clean looking – both because the cables are out of view and because you can move the cables aside to wipe down the frame when it gets dirty. Keeping the cables out of view gets you a long way towards a simple appearance – not quite a singlespeed, but not far from it. The rest of the frame gets high marks: great looking welds on the 7000 series aluminium tubing, clearance for wide tires (up to 35 mm!), post mounts for disc brakes.
Also: the incredible sliding dropouts. A typical vertical dropout can accommodate a derailleur setup but won’t let you set up for internally geared hubs without a chain tensioner. The Hyland’s sliding dropouts let the builder choose traditional derailleur, Shimano Alfine internally geared hub, or the Rolls Royce of internally geared hubs: the 14 speed Rholoff. Such flexibility is hard to find
in frame designs, and accommodating IG hubs can often mean expensive detours such as eccentric bottom brackets.
The frame’s very stiff and solid, and when I put my foot down this ride goes – no lag, just go. Low lateral flex plays a big part I’m sure, and the overbuilt frame pays off well here. The handling’s predictable and stable. The ride is solid as well but the carbon forks and wide tires help take the edge off. Even with this help the Hyland rides pretty rough, with a bit more ‘road feel’ that seems really necessary.
It’s clear from the first glance that Civia put a lot of thought into the appearance of the bike. The clean cable routing is just one aspect. The paint’s pretty incredible – the matt, dark colors are very attractive (almost velvety) without calling too much attention to itself, maybe making it just a bit safer when locked up on the street corner. The matching fenders are a very nice touch. The drive train on the Alfine equipped bike I rode has all the simplicity and visual elegance of singlespeed drive trains. The swept back flat bars are a bit unfortunate here – there are lots of very attractive alternatives on the market right now and the flat bars say ‘hybrid’ as loudly as the Honda Insight.
The componentry on these bikes is top notch. My only componetry complaint is with the hubs and wheels. I was hoping the Alfine hub would be free of some of the quirks that my nexus equiped bike shows, but I still get the ‘spinning up’ feeling on my first pedal stroke and of course the entirely different set of noises that an IG hub provides as opposed to your regular old freehub. The wheels I rode seemed like they were still tension-releasing during my short time, which can be a scary sound if you’re not used to it. On the other hand the Alfine group I rode was very nice. Hydraulic stoppers that never quit stopping; the internally geared hub shifts very well – even compared to other IG hubs. But the goodness doesn’t stop there – nice wide 28mm Panaracer T-servs with a nice reflective stripe and a built in flat protection belt, a custom rack with a spot for a tail light, a very good saddle, very nice Thompson machined stem, ODI grips, and my favorite component of all – generator driven front light, with plenty of light for night riding.
Here’s where Civia plays it’s hand: the Hyland’s the get me where I’m going bike that comes with (almost) everything you need. This stuff isn’t impossible to get, you can get it on any bike you like provided you’re willing to wait out the delivery or piece it together yourself as time permits. At almost $2k you’re paying a premium price for a premium bike, but as gasoline goes up the cost of a get me around the city day or night, rain or shine bike seems more and more reasonable. This bike targets the luxury car crowd who can drop a couple of Gs on the best bike. If this is you, I can’t wait for you to get the Hyland (and quit riding my tail in your Lexus).
What would I change? A stand light included on the front – it’s critical that riders be seen when stopped. Get yourself a backup front light until Civia adds one in. Also, I’m surprised Civia didn’t include a rear light, generator driven or not. A bell or a honka hoota would be a nice touch too, but I can imagine everybody will want to pick their own. I wasn’t thrilled with the flat, back-swept bars, I’m more of a riser bar guy myself. One last note – check to ensure your feet clear the fenders when turning, especially on the smaller sizes. I had a bit of toe-strike on the 52, I hear it’s not a problem on larger models.
All in all I expect to see quite a few Hyland’s on the road in the near future. A friend of mine spent most of the winter waiting to start bike commuting while the Local Bike Store got her outfitted with what she needed. The Civia’s 95% ready to ride on a rainy winter night, and the other 5% you can get where you get your bike. The $2k price tag on the Alfine equipped ride would be pretty steep for a feature-free hybrid bike, but it looks cheaper every time I ride past the gas station. I think bikes like this will give folks the peace of mind they’ll need to take the plunge into bicycle commuting.
To make ourselves more relevant in Web 2.0, we’re changing our name to Bike Huggr. Later today, the rebrand will roll out with various other two-syllable, no consonant sounds and new consumer goods like
Last night we toured the French concession with Robert from the Crash Test Dummy blog. Besides every other occupation you can imagine, Robert occasionally straps a camera to his bike, rides to work in Shanghai traffic, and uploads the video. We naturally have something in common. And besides introducing us to Yue-Sai Kan, the most famous women in China who also has a blog, we also talked about Shanghai at length. Living, working, riding here, and the culture.
Uncomfortably jammed into a Subway during rush hour – survived by going to a happy place, and thought of riding the Costa Brava, instead of the guy literally breathing down my neck.
I post with my iPhone and MacBookPro. While not recommend for the non-experienced rider (especially in traffic), I shoot on-the-bike video with a Casio Exilim and edit that in iMovie HD (the older version). We’ll move to Final Cut Pro later in the year with the arrival of the new Canon HDs camcorders. I also expect an incredible offering of mobblogging apps, as soon as developers figure out the iPhone SDK, Intel’s Atom products start showing up, and mobile internet devices mature. We’ll see a bunch of those devices tomorrow here in Shanghai.