Treehugger hugs us

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by Byron on Sep 07, 2006 at 9:54 AM

Alerted by a reader, I just discovered that Treehugger gave us a big hug today. Nice! And thanks, much appreciated… now I’ll get a cup o’ Joe and start responding to the comments and emails. If you’re interested in learning more about Bettie, our project to build a sport-utility bike built with a Karate Monkey 29-incher frame, Stokemonkey, and Xtracycle check the tags, galleries, and video posts

Questions on Sport-utility bikes? Fire away and also note that we’ll be blogging live at Interbike September 26, 27 2006 with all kinda posts about cycling, culture, commuting, and more.

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Photo of the day

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by Frank Steele on Sep 07, 2006 at 7:30 AM

Critical Tits @ Burning Man

Untitled, by herby_fr.

Bikes play a critical role at Burning Man each year as the transportation of choice around Black Rock City.

For the last 11 Burning Man festivals, they’ve also been the centerpiece of a popular event celebrating “women’s freedom, power, and beauty.”

That event? Critical Tits. In 1996, five women, inspired by San Francisco’s Critical Mass, painted their chests and rode through town yelling “Critical Tits.” Last year, the event drew 5,000 women.

This photo is from this year’s edition, last Friday.

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Bike Night Out

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by Byron on Sep 05, 2006 at 7:52 PM

Bike Night Pam and I rode Bettie to dinner last night and the highlight, besides the romance of riding a bike together, was no parking stress. We rolled up to the new Cactus restaurant without the usual parking search on Alki, ate dinner, and rode back. We took turns sitting on the SnapDeck, used a light in the dark on the way back, and relaxed.

The ride to dinner was one of 6 trips/errands over the weekend that we did without a car and that’s the most liberating thing about Bettie and sport-utility bikes. We’re not stuck in traffic, sitting in a car, wasting our time.

A reader sent us a great article from the Moynihan Institute on bicycle commuting. The Rant n’ Irishman takes Critical Mass to task and also insists that he’s not making a big statement, by poking a stick in the eye of people in cars, but simply taking control of his life. Today the AP ran a story on about going car free and the benefits of arriving at “one’s destination without feeling all tense and angry.” There’s also a book about How to Live Well Without Owning a Car.

For our bike night out, we were in control, not in a car, and having fun.

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Like riding with Armstrong’s leg

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by Byron on Sep 03, 2006 at 9:46 AM

Switched the Stokemonkey setting to high-mode today on Bettie and flew up Admiral Way for a morning coffee run to Metropolitan Market. The high setting was like having an extra leg, Armstrong’s leg in fact, when you consider the Stokemonkey is putting out 430 watts at a cadence of 80!

I grabbed the coffee, more groceries, loaded Bettie’s FreeLoaders, and headed back home by way of Schooner Exact, where I tasted their latest pale ale. To make sure I condition the battery properly (as Todd told us), I flipped the switch back to low mode and cruised up the hills back home.

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Staying on top of the Gear

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by Byron on Sep 02, 2006 at 5:27 PM

Todd, the inventor of the Stokemonkey says, “Your timely and appropriate shifting permits the motor to operate within a small band of powerful and efficient speeds at all times. This is key.”

As a roadie, I was reminded of that saying, “stay on top of the gear” and found Bettie’s sweet spot within a few minutes of riding. When the Stokemonkey bogged down a bit, I’d shift, and the motor assist would pick up speed again. After a few longer rides, I could tell how well the Stokemonkey was operating by the vibrations in the seat tube and also hear it cranking away. In the video, I’m rolling up a gently sloped, 5% grade hill.

The “small power band” also keeps you working. This isn’t an electric or gas-powered bike, it’s an assist and going up the steepest hills, I was definitely pedaling at a good effort (not breaking a sweat and breathing hard). On the last ride, I took my Polar and averaged a heart rate like a typical cruising pace, which is a great winter heart rate and a good workout.

So what we have now with Bettie and this project is a great errand/working bike. I used it to get lunch and say hello to Marcus while he brews up Bike Hugger Brown. Later in the day, Pam got a full load of groceries and we didn’t burn an ounce of gas or start the car, and got a nice workout. As Todd warns, a Stokemonkey isn’t for someone that isn’t in shape or isn’t good at riding a bike and shifting. In fact you could probably start a Tuesday night Stokemonkey workout club!

Next week, after the holiday, Pam will commute on it and I’ll post on all the details including the parts we chose, why issues, recommendations, and a wish list.

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Bike Hugger Bettie first ride

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by Byron on Sep 02, 2006 at 8:56 AM

First ride with a “thrilled” passenger on Bettie, our sport-utility project bike.

And I quote, “it shoots you up the hill at like 25 miles per hour …”

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Hook a hugga up!

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by Byron on Sep 01, 2006 at 5:36 PM

Today we launched Bike Hugger @Interbike, a blog just for the bike industry’s big show. As previously posted, we’ll be in the media center, on the floor, blogging it all, and hoping for some serious schwag. And not the schwag you leave behind in the room, but the kind like with Eddy Merckx’s autograph! Oh yeah.

Having just ridden Bettie (reports to follow), our project bike, I’ll want to meet all the component manufacturers and talk about what it’s like to ride a commuter that looks like it rolled off the set of Mad Max.

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Bettie In Progress

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by Byron on Aug 31, 2006 at 9:15 PM

Bettie, our sport-utility bike, is being built up and I took some photos today at Elliott Bay Bicycles. Eamon is putting lots of extra touches and making sure Bettie is built to last and safe. Bill Davidson has been observing the progress as well.

Note the tires, brakes, and the fabulous Xtracycle Snapdeck custom pad made by Pam.

Tomorrow, Pam will ride it home and blog all about that as well. It’s damn cool and lots of questions are being asked by the guys in the shop and everyone else that sees it. I’ll post the Q/A. For Stokemonkey questions see Todd’s excellent site, FAQs, and blog. For the Xtracycle, see their site and user forums.

Put simply, the Bettie is a sport-utility bike that replaces a car and is built with a Karate Monkey 29-incher frame, Stokemonkey, and Xtracycle,

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Interbike 2006 is the Largest Ever

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by Byron on Aug 30, 2006 at 1:18 PM

In talking with Chip Smith who does communications for Interbike, I learned that it’s going to be the biggest show ever this year with a record amount of exhibits and strong preregistration numbers. I’ve also heard from bike retailers that they’re seeing strong sales and interest. That ties into what I’ve been seeing locally and a reason we launched Bike Hugger. See the press releases about Interbike for more.

I’m not exactly sure if it’s people wanting to get in shape, frustrated with traffic, fuel costs, or wanting to escape lots of bad news, but more people are riding and the industry is certainly noticing it with lots of new products in 07, including

And much more. What I’ll be on the watch for at Interbike is all things commuter. And that strong demand for cycling is not limited to the US, see this report on Eurobike, which is going on now, and a new study shows how extremely popular trekking is.

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