Helmet!

While riding with members of the Chinook Cycling club in the Tri Cities last weekend, up in the Horse Heavens Hill, we passed a “euro” (no helmet) cyclist going the other way and one of the Chinooks yelled out, “HELMET!!!” We all laughed at the instaneous response to the helmetless rider, and it also reminded me of seeing Pam slide into a curb headfirst, sitting with her in the hospital while she recovered from a concussion, and how a helmet saved her.

The guy that yelled had a serious Evel Knievel-style bollard accident last year. Cracked ribs, punctured lungs, his story about the accident reminded me of the intro to the Six Million Dollar Man. Dude’s got a right to yell at anybody about not wearing a helmet. If there’s anything that’ll cause me to blurt out a warning, besides seeing a cyclist riding on a busy, congested, blue-collar worker road instead of the more quieter road a block over or the other one with a bike lane, is no helmet.

Modern helmets are light, breezy, and stylish and there’s no reason whatsoever for not wearing them. A few years ago, the pro peloton lost one of it’s one in a freak accident at the start of the race and helmets were mandated. Check this story from the AP about a delivery truck that ran over a cyclist’s head, “leaving him only with a concussion and a mangled helmet,” and tell me how cool you are by not wearing a helmet.



A Bike Made to Fit Mark V

sycip%20raw%20on%20wheels.jpg Somedays I roll out of bed and I think to myself “Mark, you are a god*&%$ed genius!”

Once in a while I have a brilliant idea. Like my super compact track bike design.

Back in 1999 while delivering pizzas on a 13” Fisher Ziggarat mtb with a 400mm seatpost, I noticed that I could launch an almighty sprint form a standstill since with the low top tube I had so much room to rock the bike. Coincidently, customers noticed that their pizzas were all scrambled in the box after I delivered them. Pizza aside, wouldn’t a track bike frame also benefit from loads of clearance? So started my 8 years of experimenting with track bike design.

For my new Sycip track bike, the tubing and fork will be the biggest differences from its predecessors. The geometry of the new frame will be the ultimate expression of what I laid out in my original Sycip and refined in my Sycip No2, which this latest bike (the 3rd true track frame) will replace. In this geometry, the top tube is equivalent to a 49cm bike, but the seat tube is cut down to 38cm. The bottom bracket is about 1cm higher than most track bikes (2 to 2.5cm higher than a road bike), and the front-center (bottom bracket to front axle dimension) is fairly long compared to a keirin frame. The head and seat angles are steep, but not markedly so.

The super-compact design gets the top tube down out of the way of my knees, so if the sprint begins at low speed (thus low cadence) I can really throw the bike side to side, putting everything into the acceleration. The long front-center makes the bike sure-footed when I lunge forward in the sprint so that the rear wheel stays glued down. There is a line of thought that says that a track bike should be twitchy fast in handling, but I think that a little stability is a good thing in the middle of a combat melee. You have to expect some contact, and most other riders outweigh me. My bikes handle well on a velodrome or on the road.

Would this geometry work for all track riders? Probably not, but then again design is tailored for me. Still, that original track frame changed hands a few times among messengers in Seattle after I sold it. No.1 was well liked by smaller riders, enough so that a local builder attempted to copy the design. The fact that the copy was a disappointment is a testament to the skills of Jeremy Sycip. Sadly, No.1 was stolen late last year. As for Sycip No. 2 that I currently ride, I had standing offers for it even before I committed to the newest frame.



Trek Project One Madone

While lacking the latest carbon technology, using bonded round tubes and lugs, the Trek Madone is still a favorite race bike contender with it’s predictable, solid handling, reasonable weight, and refined ride. A criticism of Trek is that they rely on 15-yr old technology in their frames. That changed when they started incrementally updating the frames based on the systems approach Lance and company took to bike racing.

What I noticed in the first years of Madones is that there’s a real road feel. Where carbon was always “wooden” and dull feeling, you can feel the road in the Madones. You can also throw that bike into a corner and know what to expect coming out the other side. It’s not the lightest carbon bike, but it’s also not sketchy and descends like it’s on rails.

For 07, the Wines of Washington team is racing on Team Issue Project One Madones – a custom paint job, with Shimano Dura Ace, Ritchey components, and my choice in Hed Jet 60s. I took this photo against a round-about backdrop in the Tri-Cities. We were there for Mother’s day and rode some good miles with old friends.

In upcoming review, we’ll feature the S-Works Tarmac SL, which is about as technologically advanced as a racing bike gets.

project_one.jpg



Bicycle Saturday and Sunday

The Group Health Bike Saturdays and Sundays began yesterday, kicking off another summer of traffic-free family rides along Lake Washington. Sponsored by Group Health and Cascade Bike Club, the program closes Lake Washington Boulevard to motorized traffic, south of Mt. Baker Beach and around Seward Park on select weekend days throughout the summer.



Sport-Utility Bike Garage Sale Hauler

Our neighbor Tom, and fellow sport-utility biker, brought home a total garage sale score with his Xtracycle.

Bike Hugger Photostream



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