Sunday, December 30, 2007

New bicycle laws for 2008

Happy New Year, all! Here's an overview of new laws that take effect this effect that may impact bicyclists.

A new DUI law mandates 10 days of jail time and drivers license suspension for a first time offender.

California: The legal requirement for night cyclists to use a headlight, rear reflector and side reflectors has been clarified to include cyclists on on sidewalks and paths. California law has also been updated to allow the use of reflective ankle straps or reflective shoes instead of reflective pedals.

A new three-foot passing law takes effect January 1. Motorists will be required to give at least three feet of room when passing a cyclist.

New Mexico:
Mandatory helmet law comes into effect for children and teens 17 years of age and younger.

Oregon: The Vulnerable Roadway Users law enhances the penalties against motorists who injure or kill pedestrians and cyclists.

Bicycling Blumenauer in the WSJ

For Congressman, Life in Bike Lane Comes Naturally
Some members of Congress come to Washington and get in the fast lane. The 59-year-old Mr. Blumenauer came to Washington and got in the bike lane. Few members of Congress care more than he does about cranks and sprockets.

Mr. Blumenauer's "obsession with bicycling borders on the interesting," sniffed TV satirist Stephen Colbert.

"Bikeman," a House colleague from Oregon calls him. Mr. Blumenauer owns seven bikes. His congressional office is one of the few -- if not the only one -- that didn't even apply for a parking permit. On occasion, Mr. Blumenauer has cycled to the White House. On Mr. Blumenauer's first visit, the Secret Service, more accustomed to limousines, was flummoxed at the sight of his bike.

"I leaned it up against the portico," Mr. Blumenauer says.
The dude rocks. Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Cycling in a winter wonderland

Thanks to all for the holiday greetings and wishes. My family and I had a wonderful visit with my brother and his family down in lovely San Diego. My brother Mark gets used fry oil from the Mexican restaurant down the street. He showed me the simple rig he uses to filter the fry oil. The filtering rig is amazingly simple, and his Mercedes diesel runs off of the straight vegetable oil with no engine modifications at all. Jump below the photo for bicycle news and views.

Warren has discovered the thrill of riding his bike in soft new snow. He liked it so much he did it again. For more amazing snow country cycling photography, we can always depend on Jill in Alaska.

Kids received bikes for Christmas. "The 170 brand new bikes are a Christmas gift to every student at the school, kindergarten through fifth grade. It was a surprise so big that it was overwhelming."

Jamie in Columbus writes about the link between oil and the economy.

When reading about cycling deaths in the news, I often wonder if the reported details actually match reality. I've read so many times of a cyclist who dies because he swerved right in front of a speeding car and like Streetsblog also notes, the driver is the only living witness to the collision. As a cyclist, I can't imagine just swerving out in front of car. The cyclist is generally aware that he's vulnerable.

Streetsblog points us to a fascinating video from 1958 on "Magic Highway USA."

A new year means new calendars. If you haven't gotten yours yet, Biking Bis points us to some 2008 bicycle calendars.

Industry Outsider on rickshaws: Rickshaws are bad (they get in the way of cars, donchaknow), and rickshaws are good (they're used by crime fighting superheroes!)

Sartolialist: Bikes in the background here, here and here. And the subject on the bike here.

Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu / 明けましておめでとうございます, all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from Santa Cruz, California

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season. I really appreciate the support and feedback from everybody who has visited Cyclelicious in 2007.

Here's the view this Christmas Eve in Santa Cruz, California. You're looking north at the lighthouse at Steamer Lane. Dream all you want for a white Christmas, I kind of like this bike-riding weather in December!

Merry Christmas from Santa Cruz, CA

Friday, December 21, 2007

Eviction notice? Take the bike

A heartbreaking story involving a six year old and her first bike.
Nobody paid more dearly than Savannah Nesbit. The six-year- old and her family lost their house in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood last month after failing to pay a subprime mortgage that adjusts higher every six months.

Savannah got her first bicycle for her birthday in August, pink with streamers dangling from the handlebars. She decorated the present from her grandmother with stickers of Dora the Explorer, her favorite animated character.

When sheriff's deputies emptied the house and changed the locks, they left Savannah's bike behind.

``She cries about that bike every night, and she wants me to buy her another one, but I can't afford it right now because I have my own financial problems,'' says Savannah's grandmother, Anne Marie Wynter, whose home is also in foreclosure.
Another bike loss story: A paramedic's bike was stolen! Maybe he could have used this high tech bike theft prevention, though I'm amazed this student believes security staff will actually pay attention when they're alerted to a bike theft.

San Francisco Bike Coalition abandons plans for a bike ballot measure to bypass the anti-bike-plan court injunction.

CycleDog warns us the path to hell is strewn with flowers by tall, tastefully dressed Nordic women in stylish footwear. And this paper (pdf) from the city of Copenhagen traffic department and their consultants reveals some pretty dramatic accident statistics before and after bike facilities were installed.

Disco team kit on Astana rides: Sara writes about strange bedfellows. The photo of dark blue Discovery vs sky blue Astana looks a little strange indeed. And speaking of Team Discovery, the eBay auction expired with no bikes sold.

Bicycling filmographer Lucas Brunelle has new bicycle videos up at his website.

A reason to love NYC? The head of the city transportation department is a cycling radical.

Nashville Cyclist is too blessed to be stressed.

Cool fixed gear calculator calculates skid patches as well as gearing.

Strida 5.0: Other voices

Rats, I missed fat boy's baiku. I can only blame the busy holiday season for my oversight! Sorry.

Now to the topic at hand: The Strida 5.0 folding bicycle. James the Designer finally posts his review of the Strida 5.0 folding bicycle. I really like his viewpoint from a real product designer's point of view. Some of my thoughts on his notes:
  • "Fritz mentioned in his post, that his Strida was slightly difficult to assemble. Maybe mine was packed differently, but I didn’t have that experience at all." There's a reason I'm a software programmer, rather than somebody who's permitted access to a screwdriver and other dangerous tools. Mechanically, I'm kind of a klutz. Once I figured it out, though, I concur that this bike easily folds and unfolds in seconds. If you're a klutz like me, a brick-and-mortar dealer does the assembly for you and can demo the fold/unfold, as Chicago Strida dealer Rapid Transit Cycleshop in Chicago notes in their blog.

  • "Plastic chainring." I agree with James, the belt drive and chainring is not an issue for me at all. Like James, I'm very impressed with how clean the whole drive train is, even after a rain ride.

  • "The Strida attracted more attention than any other bike I have ridden." I parked my Strida outside of my office door, and I am stepping out every 20 minutes or so giving a demonstration of this bike to a new set of coworkers. As I've mentioned, I work in an engineering facility and all of the engineers geek out on this bike in a major way. Children and adults that I ride by on my commute openly gawk and point at this bike. As soon as I was home last night my son wanted to ride it around the neighborhood again.

  • "There were a few things that I would change about the Strida." I had the same exact idea as James for a cantilevered seat. I'm a little shorter than him at 5'9", but even on me the bike feels cramped.

  • "It felt like riding a highwheeler which was kind of fun." I also had exactly the same thought! (as my knees swung up near the handlebars)

  • "The plastic rear rack." I was able to hang an empty pannier on it but I haven't actually gone anywhere with a pannier mounted. A rainjacket fits just fine in the little pocket formed by the rack.
Elsewhere about the Strida 5.0:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fort Collins winter Bike To Work Day

Here's a cool piece of news I didn't know about previously: The city of Fort Collins, Colorado held its first Winter Bike to Work Day yesterday. Winter cycling is actually reasonable in Colorado. Conditions are generally dry, and even when there is snow it dissipates rapidly in the high altitude sunshine and dry air.

If you need reasons to bike in the winter, Adam @ Rocbike posts his 10 reasons bikes are better for winter commuting. As I commented at Rocbike, I'm in snow-free Santa Cruz, California now, but I've "been there, done that" with winter bike commutes in Colorado, Illinois and north Texas.

DC Beautiful Bike (from Gwadzilla) Here's a cool winter cyclist profile -- Tanya the IT Coordinator uses her bike for everything in Toronto. Tanya is the Crazy Biker Chick.

Jared in Austin biked to work for the first time. Drop in and give him an encouraging word.

I wanted to pass along this bike photo that Gwadzilla took because the bike is so cool. Read more about the bike and its rider at Gwadzilla. Gwadz, if you don't know, rides his bike around Washington DC and photographs cyclists in and around the US Capital.

Handbuilt bike show 2008: Almost sold out

A record number of exhibitors are expected at the 2008 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Portland, Oregon next February, where 175 of 185 exhibitor spaces are already sold.

The 2007 show in San Jose, California was the largest to date, featuring 103 exhibitors who collectively occupied 130 booth spaces. So far 134 exhibitors have signed up for the 2008 Portland show. That's almost exactly 30% growth over '07 in exhibitors, and 43% growth in booth spaces sold.

NAHBS organizer Don Walker says, "I am truly delighted. The show has had three good growth years already, but heading into our fourth we are growing beyond my expectations. I am very confident we will sell all our booth spaces. With seven weeks until the show, we only have ten spaces left, and I am talking with companies that wish to fill those spaces."

For more information, see the NAHBS website.

California Christmas

This is wintertime from the seat of my bicycle in California. Eat yer heart out, Minnesota!

Sunshine Panda

I took this photo this morning while riding my shiny, brand new Strida 5.0 folding bike. My son tried to steal it from me last night.

Strida 5.0 at night

I posted my initial thoughts on the Strida 5.0 over at Commute By Bike. Summary: It's very cool. I brought it on the bus and train this morning and rode it the three miles to work. It took me a little over 20 minutes versus my usual 12 to 15 minutes, but I still beat the work shuttle bus.

Da' Square Wheelman posted some "bhaiku" from the City of Big Shoulders. Remember the rule: If I see a bicycle haiku, I must link to it. I'm most likely to see it if you link to Cyclelicious or comment somewhere.

And bikesgonewild, feel free to shoot me a note anytime.

Don't forget: You can win a $50 gift card from Ultra Rob.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gift ideas for cyclists

Here are some unique and (mostly) inexpensive gift ideas in this Shameless Commerce edition of Cyclelicious. You won't get these in time for Christmas, but who says gifts are limited to holidays?
  • My buddy Ken is an excellent cycling photographer who has had his photos published in VeloNews and Road Bike Action. He's offering professionally framed, conservation quality prints of his cycling photos for sale now. Visit Ken Conley's website for details. That picture of Alberto Contador in Missouri is his.

  • Jim in Colorado sells his cute Oil Free and Happy patches online. He also has stickers and t-shirts for sale.

  • These Zero Per Gallon patches and stickers are getting popular in the SF Bay Area. Be the first in your area with these fun "$0.00" patches and stickers. You can also get shirts, belts, and bling to "show off your true bike dorkiness."

    bicycle pannier bag
  • Moving up the price scale are these gorgeous bicycle bags from Basil. In the United States, Clever Cycles in Portland carries the "Blossom" and "Jasmine" panniers, and they'll ship them to you with a credit card payment. The nice folks at Clever Cycles are very very helpful. If you order any panniers from Clever Cycles, be ready with rack measurements and (for rear rack mounting) distance from the pedal at its rear-most position to the front of the rack.

    Borderline consumerism

  • If you're lucky, you might win one of two $50 gift cards from Ultra Rob. Go visit Ultra Rob's shop for more gift ideas.

  • The Danish Reelight Bicycle Lights mount to the wheels for no battery always on flashing action.

  • Robert Hurst's The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America is the best book I've seen on practical riding in the USA.

  • The Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair comes from Park Tools, which is probably the bike tools company that your bike shop uses. It covers everything from basic skills to servicing hydraulic brakes and suspension forks.

  • Any potential art bike builders and Burning Man participants may want Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza.

  • Absolutely free, of course, is Cyclelicious! Tell your friends about the joy of cycling.
Remember, it's not a gift if you get it for yourself! Enjoy the holidays, all!

Bike dopes

I plan to work on a Facebook Application over the holiday break. It's a bike racing game in which you join a cycling team to race in the big American and European races. You "train" by visiting the bike application, and more time spent training equates with better racing times. The races will occur at the same time as the real races, and I might even include real world events (such as weather, crashes, and DNFs) into the game world.

Recruiting friends to the game earns you sponsorship money which you can use to buy equipment, coaching, training aids and so forth. I'm trying to decide if drugs should be an option. If you get tested, you will be caught and if you win you will be tested. What do you think? What should be the consequences if you're caught doping?

More below...

You could have been riding your bicycle

In the real world, Floyd Landis has now been officially suspended from French, non-UCI cycling races by the French national doping agency. The UCI, which is the international union which regulates most pro cycling, had banned Landis already. The ASO is an independent organization that runs the Tour de France and Paris-Nice.

We also see that Iban Mayo's "B" sample has tested positive for the banned substance EPO. The sample was taken during the 2007 Tour de France. The Spanish sport federation had previously cleared Mayo and now they're in the uncomfortable position of going back on their assurances to Mayo.

Speaking of dopes, Richmond, VA police officer William McKay blew through an intersection at 40 mph without checking to see that the intersection was clear (as required by law). He hit cyclist Kristin Stokes, who was still in the intersection when the light turned red on her. The city of Richmond then sent Stokes a $3,000 bill for the damage to the cop car. After criticism from around the nation and offers of pro bono legal assistance to Stokes, the city dropped its claim. “In a state like this, the motor vehicle guy is always right and the cyclist is cluttering up the road,” says Bud Vye of the Richmond Area Bicycling Association.

From Jack's reports, we also know that the car is king in St. Louis, Missouri, where cyclists are anticipating increased harassment from motorists and law enforcement along bicycling corridors that will be overrun with traffic from the I-40 highway project.

We also see dopiness in Auckland, New Zealand, where errant cyclists who chain their bikes to ramp railings are fined the same $200 "towing fee" that illegally parked motorists are charged.

On a lighter note, VeloNews site of the day is this shocking news of another drug scandal from unexpected quarters.

I'm only posting this to scoop my friends in the Kansas City area: Gladstone, Missouri plans to build a pedestrian / bicycle bridge over Shoal Creek to improve access to Happy Rock Park.

Finally, Jennifer posted some wonderful bicycle haiku while commenting on urban cycling and the goofiness of outlandishly decorated Christmas bikes. I might as well just post a permanent link to Sue's blog in Urbana-Champaign because she posts several baikus every day! You can also find the answer to the question: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cyclists power supercomputer

MIT cyclists generated 1.2kw to power a supercomputer in response to Google's "Innovate or Die" challenge.

SciCortex is new to the supercomputing field. With their relatively slow MIPs processors they don't have any contenders in the Top 500 list of supercomputers, but SciCortex is known for their development of very low power supercomputers, which is why bicyclists are able to power them.

My own employer brags about the lower power requirements of the "Constellation" High Performance Computing platform (I'm part of the development team), and the hardware and mechanical designers work hard and get industry awards optimizing power consumption and cooling, but the fact remains that higher clock speeds in the cores, memory and I/O means more juice is required for the system. Anyway, it's an exciting field to be in.

More bicycle news

Even nice guys dope.

Specialized 2D Helmet recalled because it fails CPSC safety standards.

Community Bike Cart Design has a zine.

I've been meaning to mention Dekochari for nearly two years now. I forgot all about it and now Makezine has beat me to the punch. I have a collection of Dekochari photos around someplace that I'll post some day. Dekochari, BTW, are insane Japanese art bikes. Deko for decorated, and chari for "chariots" which is the Engrish for "bicycle" in Japan. Here's a good collection of photos and here's some more info from Pink Tentacle.

California rain

Several of my fellow bike commuters are talking about the "heavy" rain that's been in the Bay Area. I heard one guy talk about the "sheets" of rain falling from the sky the other week.

For those outside of California, I'll describe the typical California rain storm. Take a spray bottle -- the kind you use to mist your plants. Hold it about six inches from your face and spray yourself until the bottle is empty. That's a heavy rainstorm in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm not joking. It's not even a drizzle like you guys up in Seattle get. Occasionally we'll even have a mild zephyr to accompany the storm.

A heavy rainstorm in just about any other location is hauling a 30 gallon trashcan up to a second floor balcony and filling with water. Optionally add an 8 pound bag of ice (for the hail), small twigs, frogs, puppies, scrap lumber, etc. Stand under the balcony as several of your friends lift the can up and over so the contents of the trashcan fall directly on you and your bike, with the trashcan tumbling immediately afterwards into you. That's a spring storm anywhere in the U.S. Midwest and South. Of course it's not really a storm unless 80 mph winds knock down utility poles.

This is kind of a sidebar for my article about bicycle fenders at Commute By Bike.

Caltrans response to questions about bicycle detection

I recently received a letter from Caltrans in response to questions that I sent them on October 28 about bicycle detection. I am concerned that although they say they will be installing bicycle detection at new and modified traffic actuated signals, their only options are Type D loops and video detection. They totally ignore my October 16 presentation to their Electrical Systems Branch on detecting bicycles with loops that, among other things, recommended larger loops and the use of bicycle detector symbols. Furthermore, they plan on doing no more development work on in-pavement detection (loops) and to concentrate on video detection. That means that any progress on improving bicycle detection at existing signals with inductive loops is years, if not decades in the future. Finally, they are concentrating on detection methods that differentiate between motor vehicles and bicycles rather than on detecting bicycles in the first place. They are not taking first things first.

The letter says that they will be adding a Discussion Item to the January 2008 CTCDC meeting agenda. I think that we should have some representation at that meeting to try to change Caltrans' direction and to get them to do some development work on inductive loops. I will be contacting the secretary of the CTCDC about giving a short version of the presentation that I made to the Electrical Systems Branch, focusing on my recommendations to Caltrans.


Bob Shanteau
Consulting Traffic Engineer

Robert M Shanteau, PhD, PE
13 Primrose Cir
Seaside, CA 93955-4133
Voice: (831) 394-9420
FAX: (831) 394-6045

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bicycle blog link dump

Bicycle news from around the world of bicycle blogs.

Bay Area bicycle blogs

Somebody on the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition discussion list asked about bicycle blogs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Besides my own Cyclelicious, here are the ones I know about (below the photo).

Market Street cyclist getting the squeeze
I know I'm missing some. What other Bay Area bike blogs are out there? Comment here and I'll add the link to the list. I hope everybody is enjoying the rain today in the Bay Area.

World War 2 propoganda: Have you REALLY tried?

World War 2 poster.

Have you REALLY tried?

Most of us are familiar with the "When you ride alone you ride with Hitler" poster. This one reminds people that millions of GIs are sacrificing much more than the car pooler who must put up with the relative inconvenience of car sharing.

More fascinating WW2 propoganda posters can be viewed at New Hampshire State Library.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ariake Sushi, Sunnyvale, CA

I don't normally do restaurant reviews here but I just ate a place so extraordinarily bad I feel compelled to warn you all.

Ariake Sushi on El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, California is that place. After my family and I sat down the table stank like a stale, sour, dirty dishtowel was used to wipe it down. When I picked up the top soy sauce dish from the stack of dishes, the dishes were all stuck together!

We moved to another, cleaner table. We ordered a couple of sushi combos, a fried fish dish, and udon. I went in the bathroom to clean up and the restroom reeked -- it was nasty gross gas station restroom bad, stinking heavily of old stale urine that's been laying in puddles for days. I also passed by the kitchen and saw what looked like gray water on the kitchen floor -- gross.

That pretty much killed my appetite, and then the sushi arrived. Imagine a tray of sushi you buy from Safeway for the office Christmas party. You bring the leftovers home and leave them in the fridge uncovered overnight, and that's the stale, rubbery tasteless fish that the waiter brought to our table. Even the rice balls were tasteless, the wasabi was dry and crumbly, and the soy sauce tasted watered down. The miso soup tasted almost sour, like it was leftover and left out from the previous day. The udon soup was from a cheap bottle of instant soup sauce.

Restaurant review for Ariake Sushi, 759 El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087. If my family all dies of food poisoning overnight, you all know the reason. Now excuse me as I go barf.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Boston cyclists continue in the snow

Here was the front page of the Boston Globe today.

Boston Globe today

Boston area commuters were stuck on snow clogged roads. From these photos, it looks like the only wheeled transportation that was moving were bicycles.

More photos from the Globe here and here. Thanks to Sue for the tip, who has also posted a photo of her Christmas tree bicycle.

Bicycle Christmas lights

Cyclists riding at night always talk about being "lit up like a Christmas tree." Battery powered Christmas lights added to my bicycle are so pretty that they're a new incentive for me to ride!

Christmas <br />lights on Raleigh One Way bicycle

The lights are small strings of battery powered LED lights that I bought from Walgreens for $3.33. They're meant to put on wreaths. I have one side on each side of the rear triangle attached with electrical tape.

If you put the lights on the chainstays like I did, be very careful the wires and lights won't get into any moving parts, including brakes, shifters and cables. Note also that many (most?) people strike their heel on the chainstay so arrange your lights accordingly. Be sure also that you can still remove your wheel for flat repairs -- you don't want to wrap any wires around the hub nut or quick release skewer.

If you can't find the lights at your local megamart, there's a good deal at DealExtreme: a string of 30 LED lights for $6.82 including 2 to 3 day shipping.

All I need now is a portable Star of Bethlehem hovering over me as I ride and I'll be very visible!

Here's the drive side -- the lights are arranged slightly differently.

Bicycle Christmas lights -- drivetrain

Merry Christmas, all!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shortened Tour of America announced

We laughed, we mocked, we were incredulous, but the indomitable spirit of bike racing doesn't give up. The organizers of the insanely ambitious Tour of America announced they still plan to hold a coast-to-coast race in September 2008, but they've decided to cut down the distance and stages.

"We realized our first plans were perhaps too ambitious and that the original race schedule didn't fit within standard racing protocols," said race organizer Frank Arokiasamy. They've decided to cut the race down to 21 stages and 2,200 miles, beginning in New York's Central Park and winding across 18 states before finishing up in Palo Alto, California. Read more at VeloNews.

More bike stuff below...

Photo by Alex Draude is from "Shakariki Knight" (or "Trick Night") in Okazaki Park or Takaragaike Park, Kyoto, Japan. See the photoset of Japanese boys on their fixed gear bikes.

Does anybody else have this problem? I always lose my handlebar end caps on every road bike I've ever owned. Is there a secret to keeping these?

My front brake lever came loose so I did this today.

Thanks for the link love from:

Winter bike party

I can't believe I didn't mention this earlier: The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Winter Party is this evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Palo Alto Caltrain Station on Alma at University. It's free for SVBC members, $25 for non-members (which includes a discounted membership). Besides food and drink, SVBC board member elections will also take place. More details here.

Team Discovery auctions off bikes

Tailwind Sports is auctioning their bikes on eBay!

Details at Biking Bis and Bicycle Design. These are team issue Madones and other bikes ridden by Hincapie, Padrnos, Martinez and other Team Disco cyclists, complete with letters of authentication from Tailwind Sports.

Used Team Disco Giro time trial helmets are also on the auction block with $250 starting bids. These "may have markings and features related to a used helmet." Ewww.

Death by car or gun, which is worse?

A pedestrian in west San Jose became casualty number 40 last night. I know the intersection of Williams and Boynton very well and ride my bike past that intersection often. The guy was apparently jaywalking, but there are apartments on three corners and a city park on the third so pedestrian traffic is always heavy at this intersection.

Automobile deaths are outnumbering other homicides, which is at a 10 year high with 35 homicides so far in 2007.

Peace on earth and goodwill to all, everybody!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

UK Sustrans wins £50 million in lottery funds

Do you remember this? Sustrans "Connect2" program won the £50 million grant from the UK national lottery after TV viewers were polled on which of several projects should be selected to receive the money. Sustrans got 42% of the votes cast. More also at Bike Biz.

USA energy use widget

Here's a widget for your blog or website. If you're viewing this in a blog reader you'll probably need to hit the permalink to view this properly

The US spent 0 this year on imported fossil fuels.

EIA 2006 data.
Get this widget. Cyclelicious

I grabbed the code from the Sightline Institute Pacific Northwest energy counter and changed the numbers to reflect what the United States as a nation spent on fossil fuel imports in 2006. This data is from the US Energy Information Administration. Yes, we really did send nearly a billion dollars every day to foreign banks.

You can grab this widget for use on your own website. If you use the Javascript on my server, you must link back to Cyclelicious. You're also free to copy the Javascript to your own server and use it unencumbered, if you wish. Here's a handy 180px widget that you can copy into your blog our website. If you post this to something like and have auto linebreaks enabled (most people do), be careful that each of the two lines that begin "<script>" all remain one line! Don't worry about how this code bleeds way over there on this page -- it should cut and paste just fine.
<div style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;background:darkblue;width:180px;margin:2px;padding:4px;border:solid black 1px;"> <h3 align="center" style="margin-top: 14px; font-size: 14px; color: white;">The US spent <span id="total" style="color:gray">0</span> this year on imported fossil fuels.</h3> <span style="font-size:8pt;color:white;">EIA 2006 data.</span><br /> <a style="font-size:10pt;margin:auto;color:white;" href="">Get this widget.</a> <a style="font-size:10pt;margin:auto;color:white;" href="">Cyclelicious</a> </div>
<script language="JavaScript" src=""> </script>
<script language="JavaScript"> startClock() </script>

Random bicycle news

Time to catch up on some links. Photo "Pizza delivery by bicycle" by Matty Lang and used with permission. More bicycle news below...

I have a bus haiku. It's a true story.
       White pigeon swoops low.
Bird dodges highway traffic.
Thud on bus windshield.
CenterLines is the newsletter of the U.S. National Center for Bicycling & Walking. Here are some tidbits from the December 12 issue. Oh, by the way, I have a Facebook account or profile or whatever you want to call it. If you know my real name feel free to look me up.

US Pacific Northwest Energy Spending Today: 0

European Cyclelicious meetup

Yours truly will be traveling around Europe for three weeks starting at the end of this month and I would like to meet some of our Cyclelicious readers around the world! If you are a reader from any of the following countries, please email me at and let's work on meeting up. You'll even be featured on this site!

The areas I will be visiting are:

  • Copenhagen, Denmark (December 28)
  • Helsinki and Rovaniemi, Finland (December 29 - January 2)
  • Tallinn, Estonia (January 3-4)
  • Riga, Latvia (January 5)
  • Vilnius, Lithuania (January 6)
  • Warsaw, Poland (January 7)
  • London, England (January 8)
  • Edinburgh, Scotland (January 9)
  • Dublin, Ring of Kerry, Galway, and Shannon, Ireland (January 10-17)
I hope to meet some of our global readers! Contact me if you are willing to meet up!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

San Francisco bike plan rally

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and other cyclist activists rallied today on the steps of city hall to protest the sluggish progress of the court-mandated environmental review of the city bike plan.

The city revealed recently that the review would not be complete until 2009, with expected implementation of the bike plan on hold until 2010.

Roughly 100 people showed up as San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum spoke encouraging city leaders to put a larger priority on the bike plan. The SFBC continues to encourage cyclists to contact Mayor Gavin Newsom and the city supervisors to urge them to speed up implementation of the bike plan.

Read more:

Economist says 'Don't worry, be happy'

Dr.Thomas Palley is a Yale educated published economist. I'm just a guy who blogs about bikes. He's evidently a smart guy, but I think Palley misses the point in his essay in Foreign Policy in which he reassures investors that the U.S. dollar will remain the reserve currency of choice around the world. In spite of a growing chorus of doubt around the world on the value of the dollar, Palley tells us that the falling dollar is merely a correction rather than a symptom of something fundamental about the world economy. Here's what he writes:
  • "With an annual GDP of more than $13 trillion and with efficient, liquid capital markets, the U.S. economy operates on a scale and with a vitality that is unmatched." The U.S. economy runs on oil. With fossil fuel in permanent decline around the world, U.S. productivity will fall dramatically in the near future.

  • "Many countries can’t generate enough domestic consumption to spur growth and full employment, forcing them to rely on exports [to the United States]." Our market economy is an economy of excess. We buy TVs from Malaysia and bikes from Taiwan because we have so much extra left over for consumer "stuff." Again, this excess is driven completely by cheap energy inputs into our economy. Conservation and innovation may mitigate the damage (which is why I'm so gung ho about limiting inefficient transportation modes), but the fact is that our economy will stagnate. Permanently.

  • I think Palley also ignores the fundamental fact that the US dollar is a fiat currency -- the US Federal Reserve prints as much as it needs, and its value is underpinned by the requirement that almost all international oil sales are denominated in U.S. dollars. If enough oil producing nations are willing to sell their oil in euros or yuan or pesos, then that will be the end of the American dollar. Palley's "buyer of last resort" theory won't hold water when U.S. consumers can no longer afford to buy plasma TVs and plastic knick knacks.
I think every nation that depends heavily on imported oil has significant economic challenges, and these challenges are coming sooner rather than later. The mother of all paradigm shifts will soon be on us, but with increased awareness of our reliance on a scarce resource I'm hopeful we can rise to the challenge to soften the landing.

Link to Biking Bis and give for flood relief

The recent storms in the U.S. Pacific Northwest caused flooding and up to $1 billion in damages to a portion of the I-5 corridor between Seattle and Portland this last week. The Cascade Bicycle Club has pledged to match the first $2,500 in donations that come in (which has already been surpassed!) for flood relief in the Centralia/Chehalis area. Biking Bis will also give $5 to the relief effort for each of the first 20 links to his story on this relief effort. Link away and get the word out, bloggers!

You can give online with a credit/debit card or mail your donation to the United Way of Lewis County -- details are at Biking Bis. Don't forget also to hit your employer up for matching funds if they have a giving program; many of them have a minimum amount they'll match so check the policy before you cheap out and give only $20. This is the season for giving, and these folks probably need your help more than you need that widescreen flat panel HDTV you've been eyeballing.

Stolen bike recovery story

The players:
  • Joe, a cop who's also a Cat 3 road racer and Cat B Cyclocross racer.
  • Brigitte, a racer who commutes on a $7000 Serotta.
  • Mr. Pudge, a ratty overweight dirtbag in sneakers who stole Brigitte's bike right off of the light rail train.
  • Matthew, the guy who saw Brigitte's bike at a Wells Fargo ATM and snapped a photo of Mr. Pudge with the bike.
Sgt. Joe got the ATM transaction information from Wells Fargo, got his address from the DMV, gave Mr. Pudge a visit and retrieved the bike. Read the whole story at Velo Review.

Finally, Sgt Joe's tips on identifying stolen bikes:
  • Someone riding a bike that has clipless pedals wearing tennis shoes.
  • A tweeker riding a custom titanium Serotta cross bike.
  • Joshua Hutchens of Cyclepath has a good tactic of yelling “Hey that’s my bike” and seeing if the guy takes off running. We call that a clue.
And I call that good detective work.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bicycle crimes

You can apparently use bicycles to smuggle drugs. (edited with a good link)

Bicycles are also suspected in a museum theft. Says a detective: "If I was going to do a job like this, I'd do it on a mountain bike because people don't notice that sort of thing and when people are racing to the scene of the crime they're looking for cars, they're not looking for people on bikes."

Nine banks robbed by serial robber on a bicycle. What makes this criminal especially malicious: "We think he rides a bike and ditches it and then gets in a car. We think he's stealing the bikes."

Pedestrian death prompts crackdown on law breaking cyclists. Just like they do when motorists kill somebody. Oh, waitaminute...

Soglin's criminalstupidity about shooting bicyclists makes the news. When somebody blogs about shooting teachers, they get arrested. When they talk about shooting cyclists, it's just subtle humor.

Dooring kills. Beware.

Bicycle fenders

Fenders are my friend. Mudguards are marvelous.

bicycle fender mudguard

And of course I'm obligated to link to Getinlost in Colorado, who posted a haiku about fenders.

Fenders enable me to ride my bike without getting the stripe up my backside. Fenders keep my shoes from getting soaked through except in the worst downpours. Fenders help keep muck and grit and salt away from the bottom bracket and other drivetrain parts. Fenders prolong the life of exposed cables. Fendered cyclists might attract wheel suckers.

What are some other benefits of fenders?

Food prices up by one third

I've told a few friends that I expect double digit inflation on food prices for 2008, but according to the Economist, we're already there this year. The Economist's food price index rose by a third over the last year and is at its highest level since they began the index in 1845.

Increased affluence around the world means more people eat meat, but the Economist notes also that the sudden push for ethanol means about a third of the corn crop is devoted to ethanol production. More acreage devoted to ethanol production also means less acreage for wheat, soy, and other crops. Corn is also the primary feed for cattle and chickens, so increased feed costs means we pay more for steak and chicken.

The Economist in seems to predict the exploitation of remote wilderness areas as investors pay to plow them under and build roads to access these new agricultural frontiers. We're already seeing this in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, where millions of acres of rain forest have been replaced with palm oil plantations.

Some predict that rural economies in the developing world will benefit from increased demand for biofuel crops from the west. The reality, though, seems to be different: food crops that used to sold locally are now no longer available, as farmers find it more lucrative to export their crops to the western world than to feed the local population.

This stuff is impossible to predict accurately -- we know farmers are abandoning set asides, for example, and planting record acreage to cash in on the ag bonanza. If there's a boom crop, perhaps there will be enough left over to sell to Mexican tortilla factories and the occasional food aid shipment.

It used to be that I was a little discouraged at my own attempts at conservation -- I realized that imy own cutbacks only enabled somebody else to burn that much more. Now that we're entering an era of real shortages, however, perhaps my savings will allow somebody who's truly in need to use that resource, and I'm a little more hopeful that my example will encourage others to sacrifice a little bit of their comfortable lifestyles to enable the poor to live.

Related stories:

Okay, enough of beating on that horse: A couple of fun links from A Boy on a Bicycle:
Photo: "Manila Three Wheeler" by Jeff Youngstrom.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Trek Navigator 100

It's for sale and posted to Craigslist. This post is for questions potential buyers might have about this bike.

Craigslit ad here. I might post a review of this bike here later.

Crystal covered Hello Kitty Bicycle

I'm obsessed with bicycles. Hello Kitty Hell chronicles people obsessed with Hello Kit. We combine these two obsessions with a third -- an obsession with Swarovski Crystal -- to create a crystal covered bike with a Hello Kitty motif.

Click through to Hello Kitty Hell for photos of the manifestation of these obsessions.

Courtesy of my friend The Cycle Dog, who lays aside the dog's natural hatred of cats to post some Hello Kitty haiku.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Bicycle blog

Tready calls it Speedlinking, so here we go...

WIRED: Rent bikes via cellphone in Germany.

Photo by Bruce Turner in Austin.

MAKE: Conductive paint LED bike helmet.

Photo: One legged track cyclist at the Thinking Blog. I see a one legged bike commuter during my commute on some mornings.

Gizmodo doesn't like the bicycle food tray.

People keep pointing me to this this Hello Kitty Tire. Enough already!

Ithaca: Bike shop brings community together.

LA bicycle ride stories.

11 year old girl donates bike to feed the hungry.

A winter time story in the mass media about tips for the bike commuter.

Drew does a no-hands, trackstanding self portrait "panda" shot. And he claims, "I can track stand till the cows come home, but I can't ride no hands." Yes, he's trackstanding in his apartment in this photo.

Delta Sports Arantix truss frame in the news. I've touched this bike; it's delicious.

Tour of Georgia 2008 course details.

Christmas idea: Buy a vaccine delivery bike for UNICEF.

Urban Velo: Advocating advocacy. It's a good idea.

Tuscon Christmas bicycle parade.

Muddy cyclocross in Santa Claus costumes.

The Electrobike Pi weighs 60 pounds. Which reminds me: Optibike's FAQ says "The [$6000] Optibike only weighs 57 lbs, about as much as a full suspension downhill bicycle, so pedaling as normal is a blast."

Shoe dryer.

Sue has another Bike Haiku.

Bike in the background at the Sartorialist.

San Francisco bike plan on hold two more years

From Left in SF...

Last year, blogger Rob Anderson and his "Coalition for Adequate Review" put a stop to San Francisco's bike plan when he filed suit against the city, arguing that any transportation changes must undergo an Environmental Impact Review. Judge James Warren agreed and completely stopped all new bike projects in the city with an injunction prohibiting any new bicycle facilities of any kind in San Francisco.

Now we have the news that the city does not expect to complete the required environmental review until spring 2009, with re-adoption of the bike plan in the summer of 2009. The city cannot even install bike racks for parking or racks on buses until this environmental review is completed. The San Francisco Bike Coalition urges action and asks San Francisco cyclists to call the Mayor and Board of Supervisors to encourage them to make this a higher priority.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Santa Cruz surf

This video shows what the surf looks like right now where I live. To keep it on topic, you can see some cyclists toward the end of the video :-)

My Santa Cruz surf photos are here on Flickr. Most are of my son's middle school surf team. The surf team coach sent an email to the team this week telling everybody to keep out of the water this week. The current surf report tells us the waves are a little more manageable today.

I see quite a few folks carry shortboards under their arms while biking to the beach. A few others have sidemount surfboard racks. I also found this DIY surfboard rack made from PVC pipe. I don't believe I've ever seen anyone haul a longboard by bike, though photos on the web show that it's doable.

Palo Alto high wheeler puzzles police

Palo Alto resident and local bike nut Martin Krieg often rides his high wheeler "ordinary" bicycle around town. I see him cruising around downtown. This article in the Palo Alto Weekly talks about how police stop Martin to cite him for violations of some aspect of California Vehicle Code, but he always talks his way out of a ticket (and I can imagine him doing it, too -- he's very talkative, very positive and always does it with a smile). There's also a pretty cool photo of him taking the lane in heavy traffic on his slow, historical bicycle in the rain. Read more.

There's also this article about Martin's ordinary bike and the definition of a bicycle under the California Vehicle Code. Sgt. Paul McCarthy of the Redwood City division of the California Highway Patrol agreed Wednesday that "this device" does not seem to be classified as a bicycle. "Legally, it doesn't appear he has an obligation to follow the sections of the vehicle code pertaining to a bicycle." The article describes rolling in circles at intersections waiting for traffic to pass, but I seem to recall seeing Martin do trackstands on his high bike.

Speaking of Palo Alto, dozens of bicycles were stolen during Stanford's "Big Game" against Cal State last Saturday night, including one that was stolen from a player from the locker room. Apparently, organized groups of thieves went around with lock breaking tools and a truck during the game stealing bikes locked to bike racks, poles and fences around the stadium. If you ride your bike to Stanford football games, volunteers from the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition provide guarded bicycle parking during all home Stanford games. During the Big Game, SVBC volunteers parked 1,461 bicycles. The service is free, but donations are appreciated.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Donna on East Coast Demo Days

Donna of Kryptonite works out of Boston, Mass, so you'd think she'd be all over the proposed Interbike East Coast Demo. She notes, however, that several bike vendors are west coast companies, and getting all of the bike companies to put on two sets of demo days within weeks might be a bit much for them. More at Unbreakable Bonds.

Specialized says Merry Christmas

Specialized has once again produced a glockenspiel-free Christmas video with music made with bicycle parts: pedals clipping, spokes turning, cables plucking, freewheel turning and ratcheting, brakes clamping and squealing, pedals hammering, spokes plucking, shifters clicking, and chain pulling. Watch and listen here.

I saw it at Roger Kramer's Cycling Blog, and he saw it at Bike Biz.

'Cyclists should be shot'

So says former mayor of Madison Wisconsin Paul Soglin on his blog:
The bicyclists who braved the week's second storm should be taken out and shot. Spare them and the poor driver, when they skid on treacherous streets and slide under the wheels of a truck delivering fresh vegetables.
A post like that in a very bikey town is sure to be link-bait, but here's the link anyway. Several commenters note that if the roads are so treacherous, what is he doing driving out there? Who's the one creating the danger to himself and others?

Meanwhile, we learn that cops in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves harass cyclists who legally ride on the city streets. According to St. Louis cyclist Jack Painter, police departments are leaving it up to the individual officer's discretion if they perceive cyclists are "impeding" traffic. Back in February, St. Louis County planners announced that key cycling routes may be closed to cyclists during the two years of Highway 64 reconstruction. Because of public outcry from local cyclists, local planners backed down from this plan, so now it appears that the police are sending the message instead to stop "impeding" traffic and get off the road and onto sidewalks.

See more information about the discussion with Webster Grove PD here.

Air Quality District says 'Drive a Car'

Here's a memo from the San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), which is tasked with improving air quality in the SF Bay Area:

The memo from Human Resources officer Michael Rich informs employees:
It has come to the attention of the human resources office that some employees may be riding their bicycles in the course of their work duties. While biking to work is an option that the District supports, employees are not to ride their bikes in the course of their work duties.

"The potential for serious injury is much greater riding a bicycle than driving a car in the event of an accident. Until further notice, employees should not ride their bicycles in the course of performing their work duties.
This isn't some kind of hoax, is it? Who distributes paper memos anymore?

Read more about this Bikescape.

Update: Mark Stosberg received a response from Mike Rich and posted it here. Mr Rich writes, in part: "When it came to my attention earlier this year at our employees were riding their bicycles in the course and scope of their employment, it raised a concern because it is something that we were not aware was occurring and that we had no program set up for." If the Air Quality District needs a "program" for every work activity, I don't think it sounds like a great place to work.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Robert Hurst on Peak Oil

Robert Hurst, author of the popular Art of Cycling book, added a footnote in his second edition about a troubling societal dilemma looming in the near future: the growing inability of of global energy supply to meet global energy supply. In his latest blog entry, Robert takes a look at the current situation, taking input from industry analysts and reviewing what the mass media is now saying about the specter of Peak Oil.

If you haven't yet heard of Peak Oil, Robert's essay is a good introduction. You can read it here on his blog. He also points to a couple of my daily reads: The Oil Drum and oil engineer Robert Rapier's R Squared Blog.

Interbike: East coast demo days?

Interbike organizers are apparently contemplating demo days on the USA east coast near Providence, Rhode Island. Interbike sent surveys to mid-Atlantic and New England retailers in November to gauge their interest in this event. Read more at Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.

More bicycle news

James has been reviewing the Strida folding bicycle.

Bicycling magazine: Gear list for 24+ hour adventure races.

Bike Commute Tips: Bike commuting for health and sanity, which includes a link to Jason's excellent Rochester Bike Blog. Except he's in Albany now, but never mind that.

Bike Hugger: It rained in Seattle. That deluge over the Pacific Northwest also covered Portland, Oregon in rain and wind. It'll hit my area on Thursday.

Bike Chicago: Five winter bike commute necessities. They're tires, fenders, lights, lube, and (since this is a shop's blog) a winter tune up special with coupons. They also list another Top 5: Reasons why folding bikes make great Christmas gifts.

What about Cyclocross?

I need to promote this to its own article. In case I forget: The SF Bay Area Air Quality Management District distributed a memo prohibiting bicycle transportation for employees "in the course of their work duties" because "the potential for serious injury is much greater riding a bicycle than driving a car." Grrrr....

Giro d'Italia 2008 course description. See also Steep Hill's coverage.

PV powered EV.

Cafiend on Specialized's Interbike publicity stunt.

A Velodrome in Orange County, California?

Singapore: Bicycle safety low hanging fruit?

Bicycle jokes that you've probably already heard.

Lisbon bicycle blog in Portuguese.

Bicycles in the background in these Sartorialist photos here, here, and here.

650B, Is it for me?


Sunrace Driven preview: Drool worthy photos.


Go speed racer: Over Drive is an anime series on a Japanese cyclist winning the TdF. Maybe he's the only one who can pass the dope tests. Check this plot description: "The top racer is a Japanese boy named Shinozaki Mikoto. 'Why dont you join our bicycle club?' said Fukazawa, Shinozaki Mikotos secret love. Unfortunately, despite being a high school student, he doesnt know how to ride a bike. With no real idea of what the bicycle club is, he earnestly practices." In Japanese with English subtitles.

Bicycle video clip of the day

I'd like to remind everybody that Steephill.TV has a video clip of the day feature. Just subscribe to the RSS feed there for a bike video of the day. Right now, they feature my ugly mug with a link to the (in)famous "Lost Episode" of the Spokesman podcast.

Caltrain: Cyclists turned away as ridership surges

From the San Jose Mercury News:
It's 5:15 p.m., rush hour at Caltrain's Hillsdale station in San Mateo. Among the dozens of riders arrayed across the platform to catch the northbound "Baby Bullet" express train, the most watchful are the bicyclists.

They're hoping they don't get turned away.

Ridership is soaring amid high gas prices and global warming fears. The bicycle program is a well-established hit, with about one in 15 Caltrain riders bringing their wheels on board. Caltrains are getting so crowded at peak commute hours that not everyone's bike can fit on board. So when a Baby Bullet pulls out of the station, a handful of the rail line's most dedicated customers are left in the cold.
Read the full story in the Mercury News. I ride Caltrain daily on my commute and I'm amazed at how crowded the bike car remains. This morning, many of the usual riders were on the train in spite of the rain and cooler weather. I took the below photo in the summer of 2006 -- the bike car now looks like this in winter 2007.

Full bike car

The Highway 17 Express bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose also remains crowded, although in the winter I'm often the only cyclist. Now that we have WiFi, incidents like this 14 car pileup this morning means I sit longer on the bus hooked to the Internet.

If you take public transportation for your commute, are you seeing similar ridership increases in your area?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why the winter bike commute is fun

Warren asks "WHY?" about his bike commute today when it was 19°F (-7°C) outside. I live in sunny and warm California now, but some benefits that I recall:
  • I don't worry about a dead car battery.
  • I don't shovel my entire driveway just to back the car into the street.
  • I don't sweep snow off of my car and into my face.
  • I don't spray deicer into my door lock.
  • I don't take 15 minutes scraping ice from a windshield.
  • I don't have to warm my car up for 20 minutes.
  • It's fun to stroll into the office "under" dressed while I'm munching on an ice cream sandwich.
What are some other side benefits to commuting on bike in the winter cold?

Speaking of the cold, Sue has posted more bike haikus from Illinois. CICLE posted something about Milwaukeeeans who bike through the winter. One Love One Gear posts links to several winter cycling resources.

Photo: "Ice Scraper" by Marilylle Soveran.

Boulder bike swap

Boulder, Colorado Community Cycles will host its first Holiday Bike Swap, Giveaway, and Collection Drive at the Boulder Outlook Hotel on December 7, 8 and 9. They'll collect child and adult bikes, fix them up, and open the doors for children to come in a swap out their bikes for better fitting ones. Children without bikes are welcome to pick out a bike for themselves. Community Cycles is asking for a $10 for each bike dropped off and picked up, but the donation is not required. Read more at Community Cycles.

In nearby Longmont, Colorado, High Gear Cyclery is once again collecting and fixing bicycles for the St. Vrain Community Council's Holiday Basket program. Santa's elves will repair the donated bikes at High Gear's expense. The bikes most needed are kid-sized: ones with 12, 16, 20, or 24 inch wheels. Adult-sized mountain bikes are also welcomed. Santa already has enough 10 speed and 3 speed bikes, so those are not needed.

See Fritz on video

David has posted the "The Lost Episode" of The Spokesmen cycling podcast. This is a video interview from Interbike hosted by David. The video features: Carlton Reid of BikeBiz & QuickRelease.TV, Tim "Masi Guy" Jackson, Tim Grahl of the Crooked Cog Network, Donna "KryptoGal" Tocci, Byron the Bike Hugger, Guitar Ted representing 29 inches, Brad Q of Urban Velo magazine, and Chipps for Singletrack World.

When you watch, you'll see there's a reason I don't do video. Enjoy!

Aftermarket bicycle chainguards

Seth asks where he can find aftermarket chainguards for his Bianchi Castro Valley bicycle. I went on a hunt for plastic chainguards about three years ago and was unsuccessful. Last year, somebody asked where to find bicycle chainguards at the Bicycle Commute Tips blog and received no answer.

I've quickly searched the USA bike distributors catalogs for chainguards. SBS carries replacement chainguards for theirk Torker and Redline bikes, but I didn't see anything aftermarket. J&B looks like they carry a number of plastic chainguards. Most are for the brands of bikes they have (e.g. Sun & Cykel), but I see a number of generic items like "Chainguard 20" no clips." J&B does not sell to the general public so you'll need to go to your local bike shop and have them order the chainguards from J&B.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Basil panniers in the US?

Does anybody know of anyone who imports Basil Panniers into the United States? Are there other recommendations for stylish panniers for my wife's new bike?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Breezer Villager

My wife brought home a brand spanking new Breezer U-frame Villager bicycle from the bike shop yesterday afternoon. It's a beauty.

Breezer Villager U Frame

Sara rode it to her classes last night and loves the new bike. It features dynamo powered lighting, a 7 speed Shimano Nexus hub, rack, fenders, bell, suspension seatpost and kickstand. The moderately raked CroMoly fork has a noticeable amount of "give" to cushion what might otherwise be a harsh ride from the aluminum frame. As equipped, Sara's 15" U frame Breezer Villager weighs about 30 pounds and retails for $1200.

Until recently, most comfort bikes for city riding have tended to be heavy and built up with cheap components. In 2003, Joe Breeze started creating bikes designed for "transportation for a healthy planet." Breeze was inspired by European city bike designs but added his "California fresh" perspective to make the bikes practical yet light and responsive.

I really like this trend toward Euro-styled city bikes that aren't absolute clunkers. QBP launched their Civia brand of high end commuter bikes this year. We're also started seeing this trend from the first tier bike builders like Specialized with their Globe series of bikes.

The shop experience (from a dealer who is just now joining the Breezer network) was a mixed bag. Upright city bikes don't require the level of custom fitting that racers insist on, but I at least expect a shop to adjust the saddle and handlebars to somewhere near the correct height. The front light was also incorrectly aimed, pointing a good 30 degrees up in the air. Otherwise, everything on the bike appears to be correctly assembled, adjusted and inflated. They also noticed and repaired a loose connection between the dynamo and tail light. Apparently, this is a fairly common problem on some Breezer bikes and mentioned to Sara that she should watch for that.

Sue has been very inspired this last week, creating a bike haiku today and yesterday. I didn't know this until I read it in Roger Kramer's blog, but apparently Sue is on the board of the League of Illinois Bicyclists!