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Category Archives: Gear Talk

Make It Your Own: Kinn Cascade Flyer by Tim

Good things come to those who wait, and when you have tough requirements that can take a while. Tim knew exactly what he wanted in his family’s newest bike: big and sturdy enough to carry his 3 year old son, small enough to fit on a bus rack, with sizing to fit both his tall frame and his wife’s petite one. And he wanted to buy American. After detailed research he found the perfect bike: a midtail from Kinn Bikes of Portland, Oregon.

Tim Portrait 3

As the name suggests, midtail bicycles fit in the space between a standard bike and the extended-frame cargo bikes made popular by Xtracycle, aka “longtails.” While midtails can’t carry two kids as comfortably or carry as much cargo as longtails, many, like Tim’s Kinn Cascade Flyer, come with a twist: turn the front wheel 180 degrees and the bike length shortens by 4 inches, just enough to slide into a bus or train’s bike rack.

While the Kinn may have been perfect for Tim, his wife wasn’t so keen on its frame color and it was to be her bike too. Tim’s easy fix was having the frame re-painting and while they were at it, using Rhino Lining for a durable finish. Never heard of Rhino Lining? It’s a nubby coating that’s commonly sprayed on truck beds to protect from scrapes. Perfect for a bike that gets some abuse on the mean streets of San Francisco.

Location: Old Del Monte Dried Fruit Plant 51, near Diridon Station, San Jose.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Bike Gallery, Make It Your Own

 

Barging in Europe: Living Without A Car

ladyfleur:

A couple of years ago my mountain biking friends Dave and Becky ran off to Europe for a life plying the canals and rivers on a custom-built barge they aptly named Wanderlust. While they adapted quickly to the boat’s tight quarters and living car-free, some things weren’t so easy. They saw photos of me shopping by bike, asked a few questions, and now have made space on board for something to take the hassle out of car-free shopping: a bike trailer. Here is the story of their trailer, re-blogged from their Wanderlust blog.

Originally posted on Wanderlust:

Our Croozer in its cart configuration Our Croozer in its cart configuration

Though some barges are designed to carry a car on board, Wanderlust does not have the capability. This means that when we cruise about the waterways, we are car-free. Surprisingly, we don’t miss having a car. In fact, we find the absence of a car to be liberating. But in truth, not having a car does make the practical day-to-day necessities more challenging. Life without a car requires more planning.

View original 388 more words

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 4, 2015 in Gear Talk, Travel

 

A Closer Look: Faraday Porteur Electric Bike

For someone who lives over 10 miles from my office, I’m pretty lucky to have alternatives as a bike commuter. If I want a workout, I can take an hour or so to ride the whole way and shower on arrival, or I can combine a train ride with a five mile bike ride that lets me wear my work clothes. If bike-friendly transit weren’t available, I’ve always assumed I’d have to give up daily bike commuting, saving it for when I had time and energy to spare.

But now I know what I’d do. I’d get an e-bike, like Jenny did for her hilly commute. But instead of her sporty Specialized Turbo, I think I’d go for the pedal-assist Faraday Porteur I test rode at the Los Altos History Museum. Pedal-assist bikes look and feel like regular bikes, except for an extra boost of power that feels like you have a great tailwind or powerful stoker behind you. I could use that to fight the stiff headwinds on the bay.

Faraday e-Bike

And with the Faraday Porteur, you get clean classy lines like none other. No oversized tubing or clunky batteries attached here, and it has a traditional city bike look that’s just my style.

For all the advantages of e-bikes for longer, hillier commutes or for carrying heavy loads of kids or cargo, in many places e-bikes fall through the legal cracks. They’re not as bulky or powerfully speedy as scooters or even mopeds, but they aren’t strictly legal to ride on most paved bike trails that specify “non-motorized vehicles only.” But with a stealth-looking e-bike like the Faraday, no one may be the wiser.

What do you think of e-bikes? The League of American Bicyclists is studying the issues and would like to know. If you have five minutes to spare, please take this short survey today.

 
15 Comments

Posted by on October 30, 2014 in Bike Gallery, Gear Talk

 

How to Fix a Flat in 10 Minutes Flat

“Are there thorns over here?” Lorri asked as we rolled on the dirt and gravel paths criss-crossing the Guadalupe River Trail. We had peeled off the San Jose Bike Party Ladies Ride and were searching for the rose garden on our way back to the train. I felt like a kid again, exploring the trails along Bayou Duplantier with my best friend Molly. Except this time Lorri and I were in dresses and heels. Momma never let me play in my Sunday best.

“Mmm, maybe,” I replied. Our fear wasn’t so much thorns in the rose garden, but the dreaded goathead thorns that sneak onto the path to take down the burliest of bike tires. After meandering a bit, we found the rose garden, took some fashion photos, and made it almost all the way to the train station before Lorri’s tire went flat. We scurried onto the train where Lorri went to work repairing the tire while I offered moral support.

Fixing Flat Main

By the time we reached Sunnyvale she was done. The conductor was impressed: “You fixed it already?”

“I’m a pro,” Lorri replied matter-of-factly. As founder of Velo Girls bike club and racing teams 10 years ago, Lorri has changed more than her share of bike tires. She’s also founder and owner of Savvy Bike, which offers skills clinics, coaching and bike fit services that go far beyond a simple flat tire repair (class calendar).

Here’s how Lorri fixes a flat, adapted from her Bike Skills 002: Basic Bicycle Maintenance class. For more detailed instructions and for complicated fixes like a gash in the tire’s sidewall, read the long version.

Don’t forget to clean your hands when you’re done! I keep tissue-sized rag in my repair kit just for that. A squirt of water on the rag, a little rubbing, and I’m good until I can soap up in a washroom. Momma would approve.

How confident are you in your bike repair skills? Do you have any favorite tips of the trade?

Lorri's new love is the 1979 Schwinn Suburban she picked up in Portland.

 
22 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Gear Talk

 

Bike Spotting: Fat Free and Electric by NTS Works

My buddy Richard and I often bump into each other commuting on the Guadalupe River Trail, but this encounter was planned. Richard was test riding the NTS Works Fat Free electric-assist bike and I wanted a closer look. I happened to be riding my road bike that day, so I wasn’t wheezing to keep up with him on his beefed-up bike.

As more and more people are turning to bicycles for their daily transportation needs, electric bikes (also known as e-bikes) are getting more and more attention. E-bikes give a boost of power that can take the bite out of steep hills, make carrying kids or cargo less of a grind, and take the sweat out of going faster or further. For some, it means changing a sufferface into a happy face. But not Richard, he smiles all the time regardless.

NTS e-bike portrait

Unlike some e-bikes that operate by throttle, the Fat Free is a pedal-assist e-bike. That means that when you pedal, the motor automatically kicks in, and when you stop pedaling the motor stops too. How big a boost you get is based on which of the 5 levels of assist you choose from the handlebar control. Richard says he can comfortably maintain 18-20 mph, but he kept it at 15-16 mph while riding the trail with me. Lucky me.

I rode alongside Richard for four miles and forgot to ask to test it for myself, but did get a quick ride at an e-bike event at the Los Altos History Museum. It felt powerful, like having an instant tailwind adding to my efforts. Richard gave it the full run down with a ride from his home in Scotts Valley 30+ miles up and over the Santa Cruz Mountains to his job in San Jose. Check out his video review on the NTS Works web site.

What do you think of e-bikes? Would you consider owning one? Why or why not?

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Gear Talk

 

Roll Up Bike Repairs at the Mountain View Library

Libraries are lending more than books, music and DVDs these days. In Oakland and Berkeley, the libraries lend home and garden tools. In Ann Arbor you can borrow artwork and yard games. And in Rhode Island you can check out fishing poles, complete with tackle boxes. Here in Mountain View, our public library is now offering a bike repair station loaded with tools. Not for loan, but available on a roll up basis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Bike Stand Wide

While many of us have garages or spare rooms equipped with bike stands, floor pumps, and tools of every sort, the streets are filled with bikes that could use a little tender loving care. For them, this bike fix-it station made by Dero is a great resource. It’s well-stocked, sturdily built and ready for budding bike mechanics.

The Mountain View Public Library’s Bike Stop Fix-It Station is just one in its series of bike programs. On Saturday, July 12, 2014, they’re hosting Bike Fest on-site in their outdoor areas. Volunteers from Safe Mountain View will set up a demonstration protected bike lane like this one. If you’re local, stop in and check it out.

Location: 585 Franklin Street, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Gear Talk

 

Gear Talk: An Upstanding Kickstand for Roadies

The lowly kickstand is the Rodney Dangerfield of bike parts. It don’t get no respect. And honestly, on road bikes designed for performance, not carrying gear, the benefit is outweighed by the cost of carrying the extra weight, the risk of frame damage on bikes with lightweight tubing, and the social stigma in roadie bike culture.

But there are times where a kickstand on a road bike is pretty darn handy, like when my friend Lorri Lown teaches her Savvy Bike bike clinics. In outdoor sessions she found herself hopping on and off the bike as she explained things, and it was awkward to lay her bike down just to pick it up again. So she got an Upstand.

I thought it was so cool so I got one and installed it on Dick’s Phil Wood road bike before its photo shoot.

Upstand in Action Wide

In the up position, it looks similar to the chainstay mounted kickstand I have on my touring bike. But you don’t kick the upstand to start rolling. Instead, you remove the carbon-fiber upstand from its tiny attachment tab installed on the rear wheel’s skewer, gently tugging to release the tiny magnet that holds it in place.

Upstand Mount Wide

The upstand is shock-corded like a backpacking tent pole, so you can fold it and put it in your jersey pocket for the ride. The attachment tab is a mere 15 grams and the upstand is only 25 grams, so even the biggest weight weenie can’t complain. How stable is is? Align the tab correctly and I’d say it’s pretty darn stable.

Upstand in Jersey Pocket

The Upstand is perfect for photo shoots on bikes without kickstands. But as for real-world use, I’ll have to switch it to my road bike to test it out and let you know how it goes.

Do you have a kickstand on your bikes? If so, which ones and why? If not, would you consider an Upstand?

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 13, 2014 in Gear Talk

 
 
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