Staying on top of the Gear

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.



Bike Hugger Bettie first ride

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 …”



Hook a hugga up!

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.



Bettie In Progress

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,



Interbike 2006 is the Largest Ever

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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