Time flies on the Flyby

Following up on our Flyby podcast, Novara got us their new Dahon-engineered folding bike for a long-term test and I rode it on Alki last night.

time_flys.jpg

I think it’s the combination of the swooping frame, graphics, and little wheels that gets the attention – for me it was the Nexus 8-speed shifting and the ability to actually climb hills on it. Shot the photo with my iPhone.



Ultra Mobile Bike Devices

While Intel announces all sorts of the “new” at the Intel Developer Forum, I’m thinking “does this tech apply to bikes?”

Sure we’ve got heart rate monitors, trip and speed computers, power meters, GPS, but I’m thinking an iPod bike or ultra-mobile PC that I can pop into a basket on my urban bike, like the BenQ.

There’s a Nike+iPod, why not a bike?



Why I ride fixed

“So you can’t coast on that?” The question comes up pretty often. My bike is usually out in front of my desk and folks catch on pretty quick that there’s something odd about it. No shifters, no corncob, no derailleurs. The question comes up after the explanation, and it almost always boils down to “why?”. I know it’s been said before many times, many ways – here’s my go…

I’m trying to be less of a man. I’ll admit it, I’m more of a man than I’d like to be. Twenty pounds less would be a good start. Commuting is part of my fitness regiment (something no *ov rider can say), and I ride fixed to make sure I get the most out of my commute. Cycling is a fantastic sport which creates incredible athletes, but for those of us schlubs who aren’t in it to win it there are just too many opportunities to coast. Even when I ride freewheel bikes I get all sweaty, so let’s just go whole hog and pedal the whole way to work, eh? One of the biggest jaw-droppers for folks is not the no-coasting thing but the single-gear thing. I’ll definitely loose out to the gal who’s can shift down to climb the tall ones (and I have). To my mind, mashing the pedals to get to the top is a special kind of locomotive resistance training. My only other option is to swallow my pride, climb off, and push it and that’s pretty good incentive even for me.

Fast I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but I’m fast on my fixed bikes. I’m not top-speed fast, and I’m certainly not race fast, but I can really move along on my bike and I almost never have to set my mind to it. Part of it is that I’m used to keeping the pressure on. On a fixie if you™re not keeping up with the bike you’re slowing it down and so the habit of at least keeping pace grows. I also have a very good feel for just how hard I’m pushing, and how much more I’ve got to give when the next hill comes along. I also think it’s just a lot less fucking around. I’m never waiting for the chain to re-engage on the right sprocket or shifting down, I’m not winding the cranks back around for a good start, etc.

Silent and Stylish This is probably my favorite part – there’s almost no noise from my bike. When my chain’s cleaned up the loudest noise coming from my ride is the sound of my tires on the road. Cycling’s often described as flying like a bird, and I just can’t imagine birds creaking and crunching through the sky like some of the bikes I hear.

There’s no doubt that the clean appearance of fixed bikes is a big draw for lots of folks, me too. But fixie style goes way past the clean appearance. I’d go so far to say that it’s an anti-gear aesthetic, although the fixie hipsters are putting a lot more attention into the gear on their bikes than a lot of my fellow commuters (check out those pink deep-v rims why don’t cha!). Something about winnowing your bike down to real core elements and using them well. I’m far from a fixie hipster, but I do hope a teeny tiny bit of fixie charm rubs off on me. I could use it.

Not all my rides are fixed, mind you. I can’t see any reason to punish myself with a cargo bike that can’t go up hills or coast down them. And a quick run around the South of Seatac mountain bike course was all it took to convince me of the wisdom of bringing gears and a freewheel. But, for my money, nothing’s quite as satisfying as flying home on my fixed bike.



Belt Drives

belt_drive.jpg Belt drives are like corduroy and Ska – they come in and out of fashion, like very 15 years or so, and this year belt-drives are back (maybe the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are planning a reunion or we can at least remember what it was like before No Doubt).

So here’s Bill Davidson holding a Delta CDrive for a project bike. He’s planning on building “a clean, oil-free bike that you can put together in a hotel room, or quickly break it down when the bike racks are full on a bus.”

A belt-drive single-speed will debut at Interbike, Ellsworth’s Signature Ride is belt-driven, and the Bicycle Design blog is pondering belt-driven design.

As belt-drives come and go, what do you think? For Urban Bikes, seems to make sense, unless it’s wet and they slip.



Bike Friendly SLUT in Seattle

Trolly.jpg Great news on the future of Seattle’s neighborhood transportation– you’ll be allowed to bring your bike on when you ride the SLUT (don’t worry, the link is work-safe). According to the Seattle DOT, bikes will be allowed in the center of the South Lake Union Trolleys Streetcars. The unfortunate acromyn for the new coaches wouldn’t be so bad if the coaches themselves were a bit more, erm, attractive. The photos on the SDOT site look faintly like a train of elongated orange daleks. I’m sure that’s not their final design though, right?



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