Sculpture in motion: Biomega AMS

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by Byron on Aug 03, 2007 at 7:22 AM

Design Within Reach sent us their Biomega AMS 8-Speed Bicycle a couple weeks ago and we’ve been admiring, questioning, and discussing it ever since. The bike features a shaft drive, Nexus hub, powdercoat finish, is built to just get around town, and is featured in this week’s Huggacast.

A few pedals on the shaft drive and you’ll understand that it is just for around town and that’s ok, because it does have substance to all that style. When we first unpacked it, one of the remarks was, “damn! does it come with a matching dish set, towels, and shower curtain?” It looks that nice and very designer with the powder coat finish, badges, and internal cables. The most striking visual is the cardanic shaft drive and I think the designer, Skibsted, concieved the entire bike from that drivetrain.

The bike itself is the award-winning Copenhagen, imported exclusively by DWR. It’s a museum-quality bike. Speaking about the bike, Skibsted said,

The bicycle is designed for “urban mobility,” with the intent of “making towns and cities lovelier, beautiful and cleaner places to be.” Beyond creating an object of beauty, “We want to spread the love we put into our bikes to the people who ride them. We believe that a kind of osmosis from the bike to the rider takes places, spreading our feel for quality and originality.”

An Urban Bike

Check the Huggacast video for our riding observations and our photostream for photos. The shaft drive is a love it or hate it thing (see an animation here). We appreciated the functionality of it and nearly immediately discovered the downside. Zero maintenance, looks cool – great – but massive friction, speed limitations, and a gear range that, hobbled by frictional losses, isn’t going to get you up any hill. I also could not go fast on this bike. That’s not the point, but I did try, and the bike just doesn’t go.

Ugly Bettie meets Sexy Biomega

Since I’ve been putting big miles on Bettie lately, and it also encourages the slower approach, I found myself comparing the two rides. Where Bettie isn’t the sexiest bike ever, it’s very functional. From taking the kids to soccer, delivering the goods, a date night, or just riding around, Bettie will get it done.

The Biomega is good at what it does, with some puzzling omissions:

  • No water bottle cages – every bike should have a bottle cage, hipsters need to hydrate as well
  • Better bring tire sealant – you’re not changing a rear flat with this bike. The rear wheel is bolted on, and the stock tires are ~32c’s, with not a lot of room for fatter rubber
  • At this price point and spec, a front generator hub with lights would’ve been nice

I think the owner of this bike will ride it on campus, bike paths, and from the condo to the office, and that’s great. As we first posted, we’re good with bikes as designer items, why not? As we learned with Bettie, going slow, chilling and enjoying the ride is a relief from a hectic commute or road rides.

The Biomega AMS is available online from Design Within Reach and their local studios. You’ll need to find a mechanic or bike shop to assemble it for you. The one we rode is on display now at their Seattle Studio.

Download, iTunes, Google

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In the Bike Shop: Reynolds 953

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by Byron on Aug 02, 2007 at 9:38 PM

953.jpg The latest tube set in the shop is Reynolds 953. Called Super Steel, for all it’s wondrous properties, 953 also makes surprisingly fine trumpets.

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Stone Way Coverage

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by Kelli on Aug 02, 2007 at 1:10 PM

Cyclists Ride for the Right to Bike Lanes - Seattle Times

Mayor Greg Nickels said Wednesday he intends to triple the city’s bike lanes, but they’re not the answer for every location, and the Stone Way decision will be re-evaluated in six months.

Also Wednesday, the city announced that a closed stretch of the Burke-Gilman at the Fremont Bridge will reopen this month, instead of being blocked by a private construction project through mid-2008.

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A Self-Powered Bike Factory

3

by Byron on Aug 02, 2007 at 11:07 AM

From a Pop-Sci article there’s a case study on Ellsworth Bikes’ self-powered factory.

“A geothermal system heats and cools the building, and electricity is provided by rooftop solar cells, which feed excess energy back into the local electricity grid to be credited at full retail value. “

With the bonus of, “… watching the electric meter run backward.”

gridlock_485.jpg

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No More Gears

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by Byron on Aug 02, 2007 at 7:55 AM

nuvinci_tour.jpg From Nuvinci’s blog, we’ve got an assortment of CVT goodness, including an ATC NuVinci bike at le Tour ([video here](a spin in the mountains around Val dIsere.)) The Nuvinci also just won the R&D 100 award.

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Cascade on Stone Way

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by Kelli on Aug 01, 2007 at 5:21 PM

There’s been a lot of buzz here (and elsewhere) about Stone Way. So, why should you care? Perhaps you’re not a hard-core cyclist and simply enjoy a stroll with the family along the Burke-Gilman. Or maybe you’re a roadie who can’t stand to ride in-city. Maybe you don’t even own a bike. Here’s why you should care.

Cascade’s Advocacy Organizer, Pat McGrath writes:

<

blockquote>Most people don’t normally spend a lot of time thinking about the configuration of the roads on which they drive or walk. But the factors that you nevertheless register subconsciously “ the width of the lanes, the layout of the sidewalk, the presence or absence of bicycle lanes “ influence the way we live. For example, wide roads tend to induce speeding and more severe crashes. The presence of bicycle lanes has been linked to increased bicycle use and its attendant benefits. The length of crosswalks is positively correlated with your likelihood of being struck in one. These behaviors and factors take on a particular relevance when we consider their impact on issues like global warming, public health, the obesity epidemic, and personal safety. Roads literally shape our lives.

Seattle traffic engineers know this, and some are trying to act accordingly. We know from internal memos that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has considered converting Stone Way in Fremont to a safer bicycle and pedestrian-friendly configuration since the 1980s. This plan was on course until the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, worried about changes, mounted a campaign to halt the improvement between 40th and 34th Streets. SDOT says that their decision to eliminate bicycle lanes from this section of the project and retain the old 4-lane configuration was an engineering decision, but we have information that contradicts that claim. As a result of SDOT’s apparently political decision, the bike lanes that would have linked the Burke-Gilman Trail with the growing communities to the North have been stripped from the project, leaving a six-block gap.

The fears of the Fremont Chamber are misplaced. The 4 to 3 lane rechannelization, also known as a road diet, has an established track record of success, numerous operational benefits, and little to no effect on roadway capacity. You can find more information about road diets here.

Furthermore, this action runs counter to a number of initiatives underway at the City. First is the Mayor’s well-publicized fight against climate change. Transportation is our number one source of climate change gases in the State of Washington, and to reduce its contribution we must support alternatives like biking, walking and transit. We know from studies that when we build for those transportation modes, people tend to use them and drive less. The City’s politically-motivated decision moves us in the wrong direction.

The City of Seattle previously announced an effort to improve safety on Seattle’s roads. Three lane roads are proven to be safer than four lane roads for all roadway users see road diet data. The resulting configuration would also give trucks and buses a wider 11-foot lane to operate in. It would increase their effective turning radius (room to maneuver) while reducing their exposure to “pocket” accidents.

Finally, SDOT’s reversal casts a pall over the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, which has been in the works for two years and is scheduled to be approved by the City Council later this summer. The Bicycle Master Plan originally called for bike lanes along the length of the Stone Way redevelopment project. If the City backs off from bicycle improvement plans like these at the first hint of contention, the message to the public is clear: any bicycle project is up for elimination, regardless of its benefit to the community or traffic engineering facts. The future of the Bicycle Master Plan is thrown into question before it has been approved.

SDOT justifies its capitulation by claiming that converting the street from four automotive lanes to three and adding bicycle lanes would lead to unacceptable automobile congestion. In an unbiased, independent analysis, nationally-recognized traffic planning firm Sprinkle Consulting has concluded that this is unlikely. According to their state-of-the-art traffic modeling software, congestion at the key intersection of 35th St and Stone Way would remain within acceptable parameters. Moreover, SDOT predicts, on the whole, significant increases in auto traffic between 2001 and 2010 at Stone Way intersections. Six years into this time frame, a hand-count of traffic movements by Cascade Bicycle Club has shown that automobile trips are well below the predicted levels and have actually decreased in many cases.

Cascade Bicycle Club and our friends in the community want the City to Seattle to uphold its commitment to build sustainable, safe, livable communities while enhancing mobility. Its plan to add bicycle lanes to Stone Way would have moved us toward those goals. Instead, by all appearances they have chosen to sacrifice those goals in an effort to soothe the unfounded fears of a minority of Fremont businesses.

Cascade Bicycle Club will continue to fight for a complete Stone Way. On the last Thursday of every month from 4:30 to 6:30 we will be conducting traffic counts at35th St and Stone Way to show decisively that Stone Way can operate satisfactorily in a road-dieted configuration. We are mounting a campaign to give businesses that support their customers’ safety a voice in this matter. And we are working with grassroots groups to show the City that the people of Seattle care about safety and the sustainable movement of people and goods.

Press:

Some allege backpedaling with changes to bike plan, Seattle Times

Gearing Up, The Stranger

Stone Way Protest Ride, Slog

Changing Lanes, The Stranger

The Bike Plan Unraveled, The Stranger

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Ride For Fremont

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by Kelli on Aug 01, 2007 at 4:35 PM

REMINDER: Today’s Seattle Likes Bikes ride leaves tonight at 5:00 from Gasworks!!!

WHAT: A ride of enough cyclists in a loop thru lower Fremont at rush hour . This will be a legal ride, which means we ride two by two and obey all traffic laws.

WHY: The city has caved to pressure from businesses and developers and decided to go against the recommendations of the Bicycle Master Plan and leave a six-block gap in bike lanes between 34th & 40th on Stone Way N, leaving this vital corridor unsafe for cyclists.

If the city feels they can eliminate bicycle lanes as desired for commercial interests, no part of our bicycle network is safe! Read the Cascade Bicycle Club’s excellent description of the situation here.

WHO: All cyclists who are concerned about responsible community-planning and preventing private interests from trumping public safety.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 1st, 2007. We’ll meet up briefly at Gasworks Park at 4:30 (like now…oops, long day). Then we’ll start riding around the following loop, counter-clockwise, following all traffic laws. If you can’t make it until later just join in on the loop!

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Ride of his Life

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by andrew_f_martin on Aug 01, 2007 at 12:44 PM

My neighbor Billy got me into cycling some 20-odd years ago. He had a fancy 1987 Trek 400 Elance (still does) that he upgraded with cool black and yellow Mavic components. He helped me through my first Chili-Hilly and STP. The year I graduated college I rode from Seattle to San Francisco, with Billy helping me plan the route.

A couple weeks ago was Billy’s 40th College Reunion at St. Mary’s College in the bay area. How did he get there? He rode his bike. I don’t know exactly how old Billy is, but he’s had his share of bumps and bruises keeping him from riding as much as he’d like of late. I spent a couple nights at his place upgrading his Trek with some gearing to get him over the hills by the redwoods and making sure that everything was ready for the trip. He ended up splitting the trip into two week-long legs, but he made it. The ride of his life is Paul Sherwin’s over-used quip that you hear on any tour stage. For Billy, this 800mile trip was truly the ride of his life. He lost 30 pounds, feels years younger, and has a whole new collection of biking memories to keep him pounding out the miles. Congrats on a great ride Bill!

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Poop on the Morning Commute

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by Byron on Aug 01, 2007 at 9:49 AM

A hugger reader wrote in this morning to say …

“Have you ever put your foot down at a light on a bike trail right into a pile of dog shit? It happened to me this morning and pretty much put a damper on the morning commute. “

Well no, but that does suck. I have ran over a seagull (and felt horrible about it), seen a crow fly into another cyclists wheel, and then saw a squirrel jump up onto a fender rack, the person’s butt, back, shoulder, and off into a tree. That was a total trip.

What’s your weirdest or gross commute story?

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