Not nearly as surprising as seeing a Biomega in Design Within Reach, but today the New York Times ran a story on electric bikes. While good (any mainsteam coverage of bike commuting is good), the article missed the sport-utility bike market being built by companies like Clever Cycles, Xtracycle, Surly, and custom builders like Sycip and Vanilla.
We agree that cyclists are finding that bikes are, “a viable option for commuting, shopping and other local trips” especially with a long tail, rack, and motor assist.
ESPN.com: Page 2 : Nothing little about IU’s Little 500 ESPN’s Jim Caple offers a feature story on Indiana University’s Little 500, the race that features in 1979’s Oscar-nominated Breaking Away.
This year’s edition went off April 21st, and was won in a photo finish by the Cutters team, their 8th overall victory.
Gallery from gfisk.com
Long Term Bettie
Reporting on a long-term relationship with our sport utility bike, it’s mostly good, with a few improvements we can eventually roll into a Bettie 2.0:
- Stand Over Height – Fully loaded, with kids, a spouse, or Clip-n-Seals, the stand-over height of Bettie is always a concern and difficult. You’re balancing a hundred pounds or so, then stepping up, and over to get onto Bettie. The top tube of a cargo Bettie would need to be as low as possible or made like a factory worker’s cruiser bike with a basket in front or back.
- Whippiness – Bettie is a whip machine. Some cyclist may like that sensation, I most certainly do not. While I understand why Bettie whips under load and deal with it, standing up is scary, and a Bettie 2.0, Surly, or custom frame should address that problem.
- ShroudMonkey – even after being extra careful, I had a nice pair of track pants instantly sucked up into the Stokemonkey gear and ripped right off my leg. A shroud should cover the Stokemonkey drive gear to protect your pants and leg.
- MonkeyThumb – Riding Bettie with the power on eventually strains your thumb. Don’t mean to sound like a wuss, but it does. It’s the pressure on the trigger. It doesn’t help the MonkeyThumb that I bling the bell everywhere I go. I’m just so happy to ride Bettie, that I declare it with a bling, bling, bling when I pass anyone (embarrassing my children the whole time)
- MonkeyMusic – It’s the harmonic music the Stokemonkey makes that alarms dogs. Todd described it as, “there are eight distinct tones in that hum . . I can hear five of them … My wife can hear seven.” One of those eight tones dogs hear as “bark!” MonkeyMusic could sell as cosmic, carbon-reducing ringtones.
- MonkeyMeter – Even if it wasn’t accurate at all, I’d really like a MonkeyMeter that’d tell me where I was at on power supply.
- StopMonkey – After several tries, working with XtraCycle, and a trip to a downhill bike shop (I was totally out of place in that joint!) for an alignment, we still couldn’t get the rear disc to work right on Bettie because of the tolerances between the mounts. We had to settle for the Magura Gustav in the front and the crappy Shimano disc in the back. That means, I’m slowly stopping from the rear, then suddenly stopping on the front. Note that your needs may differ, but with the loads we carry on Bettie and the hills, we needed full on stopping ability. I don’t know what Shimano’s deal is with their disc brakes, but stopping power ain’t it.
Over time with Bettie, I learned to just slow down. There’s an exhilaration with the power from the Stokemonkey and cyclists are genetically programmed for speed. So, I was always pushing it faster, running right of out battery, and blowing up my legs. It’s best to just let the Stokemonkey torque get you up the hill, at a leisure speed, instead of attempting to go 35 mph with traffic (blinging the bell at motorists …).
Slowing down on Bettie also lets you talk more to the people that want to know what the deal is with that red (Stokemonkey’s motor is bright red) thing on your big bike. Take Bettie out for coffee, park it, and watch they crowds gather, debate, talk and try to figure it out. A viral marketing plan for a longtail bike is to just ride it around and talk to people about it.
It’s not often a bike-themed movie comes along and who knows if we’ll ever see one about Lance. That leaves us American Flyers, Breaking Away, and Quicksilver. In advance of the screenings, there are good reviews of The Flying Scotsman and Seattle is one of the few cities to get it in theaters.
Of course I remember the story in 1993 when Graham Obree broke the world record, had it stripped, won again, and the ongoing battles with his mind. In 1994, I started to get “serious” about cycling and he was one of the most talked about athletes in the sport.
Ain’t it cool news interviews Jonny Lee Miller who plays Obree and according to the reviews, Obree has several cameos in the movie.