I stopped over at Byron’s place Sunday and got a chance to ogle his stable of bikes. Of course the one I went to see was the Kona Ute. I’ve long been interested in the longtail concept - mostly for a short-haul option and trips to the store. I live on pretty serious hill, so for me the idea of a 50lb bike is p”robably a little foolish, but there is a local grocery that I’d love to have a quality longtail for (today I schlep messenger bags or tow the trailer).
Anyway it was raining so I didn’t get an extended test ride, but the Ute was awesome. It’s far more sturdy than the Bettie which has a decent amount of whip to it. The Ute just makes more gradual turns than a regular mountain bike, but it doesn’t have that unstable feel that you get on some xtracycles. The deck and the footpegs (standard? not sure) looked great and added a nice 2nd-passenger option. One of the nice points on the trim was the Hayes mechanical discs. I’m a big disc fan, but I’m easily disappointed by manufacturers cutting corners to save money. In a lot of lower-range bikes they use the Tektro disc setup. I love Tektro parts just not their disc brakes. The rotors warp too easily and adjustable they are not good choice by Kona for taking the high road there. The rest of the drivetrain was predictably predictable Shimano. The Cork grips were a nice touch too.
What would I change? I’d go with a Brooks saddle for that nice up-right position. I’d probably go with a slightly wider mustache bar and add some campus pedals - having that upstroke can be a good thing when hauling a load. Other than that it’s built pretty nicely. When I can convince the wife that I need one more bike…this one might be it.
We’re packed and leaving for Maui on a day of pouring rain. At least, it’s not the windstorm from last year!
Check the Timbuk2 bag snugly fit in the S&S case, next to the Modal. I designed that a couple of weeks ago with the BYOB feature and it matches the hugga colors. Like the Crumpler I took to London, but more compact to fit into the smaller S&S travel case. I’ll use that for errands and a few shorter rides. Inside of it are tools, pedals, HRM, etc. Also notice on the bottom left, the green Knog Frog light.
Get started on new years cycling resolutions right off the bat: noon on the 1st. Meet up at Greenlake, near the basketball courts. This’ll be a slow speed ride to Golden Gardens. Cargo bikes are bound to abound, but the invite is open to all. See you there!
Looks like Seattle’s taking the issue of cyclists getting doored seriously, or at least more seriously. There’s a new sign up on Dexter and SDOT would like to know what you think it means – Take the survey here. Maybe we’ll see more of these soon if the general public can figure out what they mean.
I’ve been the recipient of a door prize myself (I lived – I was headed up hill thankfully) and there’s not much I worry about more when riding my bike. How many huggers have had close encounters of the car door variety? What are your cities doing about it?
We’ll stop directly shipping our Hugga comfort retail line (socks, shirts, jerseys) from December 18 until the new year. All of our goods are available on Amazon.com and shipping for Christmas Eve until the 22nd. See the deadlines at Amazon Gift Central.
It happens all the time: boy meets girl, boy decides to get her a bicycle. This is especially true for hardcore bike geeks. These relationships don’t always work out. Scan eBay listings for road bikes smaller than 52cm and you’ll find a dozens of stories about bikes for girlfriends that just ended up collecting dust. Oh, and the girlfriends don’t always stick around either. Then that bike definitely is an eyesore.
So getting your girlfriend a bike is always a risky move. But it can be fun.
My girlfriend has declared that she isn’t into athletics, but she picked up my Redline BMX and decided that she would ride more if her bike weighed a lot less. So I pulled a spare BMX frame out of the back of the shop and started a project.
The modern BMX bike is a direct descendent of the Schwinn Stingray, a 20”-wheeled, banana seat classic. I hatched this idea to take a racing BMX frame and returning it to its roots. I’ve got a Kappa cromoly frame with 1-1/8” headset and a Euro BB, and I’m gonna put high-rise “ape-hanger” handlebars and a banana seat on it. I’ve got the project halfway done now. The bike has a early 90’s Campagnolo Chorus crankset and Redline fork. It’s gonna be AWESOME. If she ends up really liking it, I’ll have it repainted this spring.
So who else has gotten a cool bike for a significant other? And I mean a really cool bike, not some token hybrid. Did the girl keep riding, or did it end up on eBay?
The USA Cycling 2007 Cyclocross Nationals are well underway in Kansas City this week, with results from the first day already starting to roll in. Races continue today through Sunday, and over 2000 will be racing. Several of the Elite champions will be attending to defend titles. However the most interesting development will be something we all love to talk about: the weather – 2 to 4 inches of snow are expected on the course by Saturday morning. This will definitely make the later races more… exciting. Best of luck racers!
“High-performance folding” isn’t a combination of words that most cyclists would use; unless, they’ve ridden a Brompton. I was surprised by the positive feel, speed, and climbing ability of a bike that fits in an airplane overhead comparment. To see how Brompton builds their bikes, I toured the factory outside of London and learned much about a bike that’s in a constant state of engineering — for over 20 years.
Brompton is probably the most purpose-built bike I’ve ridden, with every component focused on being a folder. Brompton goes as far as having the hubs and derailleurs and tensioners built for them. A gear-head will probably pause at the fact that the bikes aren’t spec’d with a high-end group, but the ride reveals why. I didn’t expect a 2-speed drivetrain to handle climbing and the flats, but it did with a very solid and crisp feel. The shifter isn’t pretty, but perfect for urban assaults, and the commute. While other folding bikes are built to cruise around town, the Brompton expects you’re going to accelerate past a double-decker bus, up a riser, and blast down a bike path.
Riding with Brompton’s tech specialist, Rory Ferguson, I hopped curbs, pounded over speed bumps, and wasn’t afraid to stand up and go. The 16-inch wheels contibute to the positive feel and are very agile.
At the high-end of the folding bike price range, Bromptons are totally bespoke. Each one is built to your spec, hand brazed, and assembled. I brought the S2L-Xback from London and testing it now. It’s an iron-hinged (white heart cast iron), steel frame with a titanium fork, rear-triangle, and seat post. I’ve ridden full-sized bikes that weren’t 1/2 as stiff. For longer rides, a tourist would want to look at the different models. The S2L-X is a more aggressive position.
I certainly appreciate Brompton’s approach to industrial design. I’d also like to see more refinenement in the aesthetic of the bike — like knocking another 1/2 pound or so with a nicer crank and the one folding pedal is thick and a bit awkward (you only need one pedal to fold). The next engineering phase may fast-forward the Brompton to a sleeker, more rounded, less chunky design (probably not, because it works so damn well!).
I’ll spend more time with the Brompton and report, as well as podcast from the factory tour. The bike has already earned a place in the garage next to the Dahon and Modal.
Bromptons cost about $1200.00, are available worldwide, and from your local Independent Bike Dealer. They’ve got a loyal and passionate following that gathers once a year to race!