Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tally-Ho Tandem Bike (1896)

An ad in Cycling Life for a tandem bike with a somewhat unusual design by today's standards, anyway.

Tally-Ho Tandem Bicycle (1896)

This rather simple design adds a new triangle with seat behind the seat post for the (now) front rider, with the rear rider somewhat aft of the rear wheel. The distribution of weight to the rear wheel would be severe - could this handle at all well? Presumably this would be unrideable without someone on the front seat. And the wear on the rear wheel's spokes and tire would seem likely to create problems. Particularly unusual is the chain that connects the rear rider's handlebars to the front rider's, so either (or both) can steer.

Another version of this cycle was a step through model for the front (woman) rider, a "courting tandem." The man in the rear could pedal and steer his sweetheart who rides in front. Thus having the rear seat slightly higher was a "feature" since the rear rider could then see over the front rider's head to do steering while seeing where they were going.

Another blog entry describing this type of tandem with more photos and includes a modern-day attempt at one - the modern version was intended to take advantage of possible advantages as a tandem track bike (I think). The rear wheel on the modern version looks like a lot of effort went into being it extremely strong.

Bicycle Built For Six (1896)

Above, a model with a similar approach to the back rider, from a different company. Not sure what the need for a six seater bike was in the 1890s - there were certainly three and four seat pace bikes that racers would draft behind to set records, but six seats?? Without riders the bike weighed 124 pounds . . .

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Durability & Bicycle Parts

For some years I used "traditional" Shimano SPD pedals and shoe cleats. I did not spend a lot of money on the pedals and had some "interesting" (unpleasant) failures - I never developed a good understanding of how to adjust or maintain them. When I bought a new road bike in 2007 I bought "road" Eggbeater pedals made by Crank Bros as well as a set of mountain bike Eggbeater pedals for my bad weather bike. The later set are now on my Traitor Ruben commuter bike (see below). Three years old and something like 6,000 or so miles on the pedals (not the bike) there was some play in one of them. I had used a small grease gun and lubed the pedals from time to time, but things do wear out.

Rebuilt Eggbeater Pedal

Each pedal has two "bearings" - one to the inside and one to the outside. For this not terribly expensive pedal, the inboard "bearing" isn't a bearing at all but a plastic bushing (sleeve) that is greased. The outboard bearing is a true cartridge bearing (ball bearings in two rings that keep them under easy control). Seems kind of amazing to me that they lasted this long, particularly since Crank Bros advised rebuilding every year!!!

I ordered a rebuild kit - basically, other than the pedal and the spindle, all the other parts get replaced - new bearings, new seal, new bolt to hold the pedal on to the spindle. The tedious part is cleaning off all the old grease and the plastic bushings didn't want to come out, but eventually all worked out.

Of course the outside of the pedals still look beat up, but then they are - but also pretty indestructable.

Separately I had the rear wheel of my Traitor Ruben rebuilt with DT Swiss spokes - the original spokes started popping after less than 2,000 miles, and when the third one went, I had the wheel rebuilt before the rim was ruined. No more black coated spokes on the rear wheel (which is how it came).

Since the bike has (mechanical) disk brakes front and back, one reason that the rear wheel was stressed was the extra load of braking near the hub with a disk brake that is transmitted out to the rim through the spokes. It would be great to have a disk brake on the front wheel and a cantilever brake on the rear wheel to reduce that stress - it would also be simpler than trying to adjust the rear desk if you have a rack attached to the bike since the rack complicates access to the desk brake.

Rebuilt Rear Wheel

Cycling is good for you (per 1896 article)

Short item in Cycling Life (journal) issue of August 6, 1896.
By turning the lights of physiology on cycling a Russian doctor has come to the conclusion that, next to lying abed, the cycling position is the most restful attitude the human body can assume, having five points of well-distributed support, on each of which the load may be varied at discretion. According to this opinion cycling is a scientific return to the quadruped motion of early man.

Articles in the cycling press (books as well) of this period often referenced the advice of doctors in favor of cycling, but whether this expert being a Russian was thought to add to his credibility or not is hard to know.

Washington Post story on growing popularity of cycling in D.C.

"Bicycle program makes District easier place to get around, residents say"

Article is about both the success of Capital Bikeshare and the unexpected (apparently) growth of cycling as a way to get around fashionably in the district.
. . . officials say they are stunned by the immediate popularity of Capital Bikeshare, a network of 1,100 communal red bicycles scattered around the District and Arlington County for residents and tourists.


I have certainly seen more and more people using these cycles, some in the morning in places that indicate they are using as part of their commute.

But generally there is room for improvement . . .

Andy D. Clarke, president of the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, said the District still has a long way to go to catch up to Boulder, Colo., San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and other West Coast cities that promote bicycling.

But Clarke said the District and New York have moved into the "top tier" for short-term gains in launching cycling-related initiatives.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Very Pretty City Bike

Linus Roadster Sport - looks like a very nice bike for civilized city riding. (Perhaps not what I generally do, but still.)

Photo from Flickr showing a Linus Roadster Sport
Carol & Linus Roadster Sport

I'm a little puzzled by their frame options - either 51 cm or 58 and nothing in between. And at 30 pounds, the small is a tad heavy. Why is the model with a rack the "sport" model? Oh well. On the other hand, the prices most dealers list on the Internet seem quite reasonable for this kind of quality.

Good to see something like this with dual pivot brakes. Stopping is good!

"Giant Tricycle for Advertising Purposes" (1896)

Giant Tricycle for Advertising Purposes.
The Boston Woven Hose & Rubber Company exhibit at the L. A. W. meet at Louisville - a gigantic tricycle fitted with Vim tires.

1896 Vim TIre Co. Big Trike

It takes eight men to propel it, and was built complete at the company's factory in Cambridgeport, from plans by John Dewolfe, the mechanical expert of the company. Many attempts have been made in the past to build giant machines, either bicycles or tricycles, but none of them have ever been successful, faulty construction proving the obstacle to the success of all previous similar undertakings. This tricycle has already been used with success at meets near Boston, and has been ridden over the road seme few miles around that city. The extreme height of the machine is about eleven feet, which is the diameter of the larger wheels and tires when inflated; the cross section of the two tires is sixteen inches. These are the natural rubber color. The smaller or guiding wheel has a diameter of six feet with a cross section of nine inches. This tire is of the floxine color, which this company has used to characterize its product this year. The three tires are exactly the same in construction as the regular Vim tire put out by the firm, and has its pebble tread. The machine weighs 1,453 lbs. without the eight men, who weigh approximately 1,120 lbs. more. This makes the whole thing 2,573 lbs. In construction it is analogous to the locomotive, having in reality a double set of gears. The four men on one side are geared to the wheel of that side, and the four men on the other side are geared to the other wheel. It will be ridden through the streets every day during the meet at Louisville by a picked crew of men.

From Cycling Life, available online. August 6, 1896 - page n21 in the online version.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cycling Life, August 1896 - January 1897 issues

Cycling Life, August 1896 - January 1897 issues

Cycling Life is a weekly periodical intended for "the bicycle trade" published in the 1890s. The issues for a year and a quarter that the Library of Congress holds have been digitized. Published in Chicago, the subtitle was "A Cycle Trade Paper - the Only One."

From the Cycling Life, Dec 3 1896 issue - this is the only full color ad for a bike in these issues - very pretty.
Cycling Life, Dec 3 1896 issue

Link to the above page in Cycling Life.

The bound volume that was scanned, above and below.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two Books from 1890s - Travel by Cycle in Europe

Cycling in Europe was published in 1899 and is available online here.

The title is reasonable:

But the sub-title is rather long:

Title Page, Cycling in Europe (book, 1899)

The book reminds me of Rick Steves of today - while he writes advice books on travel, he also organizes and leads tours himself.

Cover, Cycling in Europe (book, 1899)

68 pages of advice of various kinds - all for only forty cents.

Most of the photographs seem to be stock photos but there is one that does have bicycles in it, of France ~

Photo, Cycling in Europe (book, 1899)

Some of the advice is fairly general travel advice; for example, about passports:
Unless you are going to Russia or Turkey, you will not be obliged to show a passport on entering the country, and if you take one the chances are ten to one that you would not use it once, and yet I would advise that you take a passport, because you might need it, and if so you will be very thankful that you have it.

A second book on this topic published in 1898 is "Why Not Cycle Abroad Yourself?" is also available online.

The subtitle of this one is a little shorter - WHAT A BICYCLE TRIP IN EUROPE) COSTS, HOW TO TAKE IT, HOW TO ENJOY IT, WITH A NARRATIVE OF PERSONAL TOURS, ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS. It isn't clear from the title, but the book is intended specifically for women cyclists.

What would any sensible nineteenth century up-to-date young woman do nowadays if setting out on a journey beyond the night and across the day, to say nothing of going beyond the furthermost purple rim? Why, naturally she would get out her bicycle, read this little book which would tell her all she need to know, and start off throughout the world at an expense which would make her or anyone else think living in a Harlem flat dear by comparison, considering the returns achieved.

Title page of Why Not Cycle Abroad Yourself (book, 1898)

The tone is of helpful light amusement ~
As to the expense: Aside from the first cost of the ocean passage a European tour on a bicycle costs no more than, if as much as, an ordinary summer outing at home under the same conditions and of a like duration. The truth is that the cheapness of a wheeling tour in Europe is really remarkable — if one wishes to make it cheap and knows how. As to languages one has no need of an interpreter. Abroad, as elsewhere, money talks and is the best interpreter you can possibly have. However, this statement is made with limitation. I have no wish to disparage the worth of linguistic attainments, and no one is further from belittling the value of a knowledge of French, for instance, with a smattering of as many other languages thrown in as you can conveniently get into your hand bag. Still, one can go as far as to say that with a fair idea, in advance, of what things ought to cost, and with all the information which it is our object to have comprised in this little volume, one can travel throughout Europe on a bicycle without being subjected either to extortion or petty annoyances, and with perfect ease, comfort and safety. I make this statement, too, not from any theoretical point of view. It is based on actual experience in Italy, where, ordinarily, nothing is spoken except the language of the country. There I have often stopped at a cafe to enquire the way to the next town in my choicest Italian, and have been understood to say that I wanted a bottle of their best Chianti. Still, such an experience is so novel, and you and your friends get so much amusement out of it, that it becomes a pleasant incident of the trip. Besides, it really isn't a serious matter if you get to your destination perhaps a bit later than you expected. You may be sure that the extra time will not have been without pleasure and profit.

At back of Why Not Cycle Abroad Yourself (book, 1898)

While entertaining enough to read now, as a book of practical advice at the time it would have been somewhat tedious since it combines narrative description of actual trips and randomly placed advice - trying to find answers to specific questions would not be easy. Apparently one was expected to read the entire 210 or so page.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Inflatable Helmet? Swedish Nuttiness

Article in Huffington Post points to Reuters item about a Swedish-developed "inflatable helmet" that activates in the event of fall or accident - but at $450 each this seems unlikely to serve as a popular alternative for adults who choose to avoid traditional helmets, which is the intent.

I also learned that Huffington Post has a (minor) category for "bike culture." Good!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

1906 Book - Around the United States by Bicycle


This book describes the 1904-05 trip around the United States of two young fellows - nominally to win a wager. This sort of "sponsored" bicycle adventure began in the 1890s and I was surprised to find such a trip as late as 1904 - my reading (of other books about the period) suggests that the news media became skeptical about this sort of thing and it fell out of fashion before the end of the nineteenth century. (They did follow through and publish a book, which most of these travelers failed to do.)

The full book is available online here. (It is from the Library of Congress . . . )

The rather elaborate routing to minimize their travel but hit all the required states (and territories!).


From the introduction:
Clarence M. Darling and Claude C. Murphey, age 19 and 20 respectively, left Jackson, Michigan, on May 2, 1904, to make a trip by bicycle through every state and territory within the boundary lines of the United States proper, namely, forty-five states, four territories, and the District of Columbia. The trip was the result of a wager. Upon the success of the tour a purse of five thousand dollars would be won by the two contestants providing that they lived up to all the terms and stipulations of the wager. The conditions were that they were to start on this long journey penniless, while on the trip they were neither to beg, work, borrow, nor steal, all the expenses of the tour to be met by the profits resulting from the sale of an aluminum card-receiver or ashtray, a facsimile of which is given on one of the following pages.

Below, the "souvenir" they sold to raise money as they traveled.

One of the few illustrations to include one of their bikes, showing a location in Washington state.

The only photo of the authors and their bikes, at the finish. Or at least I assume the authors are in this photo - but which ones are they??

As is often the case in books reporting on trips taken by bicycle, little is said specifically bicycle-specific aspects of the travel, it is more a report of their encounters with people they met along the way and observations about places. They do not, for example, even report on their daily mileage achieved, which would seem closely connected to their winning the "wager" - but given the title of the book I suppose they figured readers would understood them to have won it, so no drama there.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

20 Percent of Bike Commuters in One Year . . .

Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) study that tracked bike commuters and monitored the types and severity of injuries, described in the BikePortland blog. (With a link the published study.) This text got the most interest:
Approximately 20% of bicycle commuters experienced a traumatic event and 5% required medical attention during 1 year of commuting. Traumatic events were not related to rider demographics, safety practices, or experience levels. These results imply that injury prevention should focus on improving the safety of the bicycle commuting environment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bicycle Accident on Way to Park Tool School

This article has finally appeared describing the accident that must have taken place about a half hour before I passed by this location about three blocks from where I was going to take a session of the Park Tool School (at a bike shop). The bike was still laying in the middle of the intersection and there were half a dozen police cars, so I figured the cyclist had been killed but apparently he is still alive.

One wishes for fewer car-bike accidents.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Winter Stuff - Gloves and Shoes (and other things)

It's all about layering. That, and keeping the fingers and toes warm. Keeping in mind that it doesn't get below 20 (F) here much.

Critical pieces

Warm riding gloves - solution: Pearl Izumi "lobster" gloves
These are relatively pricey at something over 50 bucks but if you want to ride in cold weather, essential. There is nothing worse than riding at a reasonable pace and feeling your fingers turning to ice.

Warm riding shoes - solution:

Shimano SH-RW80 Gore-Tex Cold Weather Road Shoes

Well, I didn't pay $229 for them!! But something like $150, yeah.
Shimano's cold and wet weather road shoe with Gore-Tex and Dual Thermal lining to provide warmth and dryness.

The good part: they are a road shoe that has the intent to keep your feet warm - typical road shoes are vented in many ways, often including holes in the soles. So yes, these are a cold weather road shoe. Also, the soles are just plastic but seem pretty stiff.

The not-so-good part. "wet weather shoe??" The shoes have GoreTex, apparently lining the inside. I don't see this does the slightest good - the shoes take in water just as fast as any other road shoe but since they are so built up, they dry out more slowly. So the wet weather role advertised is baloney, basically. But I eventually concluded that no shoes or shoes+waterproof shoe covers do this well, so I find their advertising puzzling but consider the shoes to do as good a job as is possible.

(As far as I can tell, riding in medium-to-heavy rain at a reasonable speed and avoiding getting your feet wet is impossible. I have some rubber shoe covers from Adidas and even though they have tight grippers at the ankles, water works its way down and into the shoes so that eventually my feet are completely soaked - upon arrival after a 40 minute ride I can wring out quite a bit of water from the socks. It's more like a diving wet suit - the water accumulates slowly enough in the shoe that my feet stay warm. This is not exactly how such rubber booties are advertised, however.)

I also use some neoprene half-length shoe covers over the winter shoes, particularly if it has been raining recently. These keep mud etc off the shoes.

Before I had these shoes, I used regular road shoes with zip-up in back neoprene shoe covers. Yeah, these are much less costly but they are not very durable over time and they don't do the job nearly as well.

Mostly I try not to spend lots of money on bike clothes, but for riding in winter I finally decided that having the right equipment is worth a few bucks. Low cost alternatives don't even exist for these products - but end of season sales do.

OK, one other ingredient is a good wind breaker to wear over layers. I bought one made by Cannondale ten years ago that I am still using - at the time it was like 50 bucks down from 80 because they were out of the sensible high visibility yellow - the one I have is blue (not very high visibility). It has a very high thread count, I guess, anyway it is light but wind doesn't go through it. It has side zip vents that are nice when it turns out to be more than is wanted but I don't feel like stopping and taking it off.

Yeah and I guess in addition to a pair of simple basic tights that work down to say freezing or a little below, I bought some true winter tights last summer (which worked well during "snowmagedon").
Performance Triflex Tights without Chamois worked really well - the front panels are windproof and apparently waterproof. The main drawback is that if it gets up to 40 degrees, say, these are really too warm.

(Before I had these, I would use polypropylene long underware under cycling tights - this feels odd and is neither windproof nor waterproof, so the winter tights are much better.)

Arrival at work in rain gear
Just arrived (heavy rain)
I'm mostly blocking the view of my bike, alas. It's the one with the white saddle.

The main features of my wet weather strategy are to have a baseball cap under my helmet to keep water from sluicing down my face, which is quite annoying so I'm happy to do without, plus a lightweight waterproof jacket that I can take with me easily (and not GoreTex).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some Russian Bike Blogs/Sites

Let's Bike It проект по развитию велодвижения в России (Russian version) and Let's Bike It Russian cycling development project (English version). The English version is a completely different set of entries on the same topics in English. At the moment the two authors are traveling in Europe (France, the Netherlands) doing research on cycling (I suppose it is like research, anyway).

Live Streets or Живые улицы is not just about cycling but urban issues more generally, from Ekaterinburg. Russian only.

Iron Pony First is блог о велосипедной культуре в Петербурге, о которой пока что не так много можно сказать, поэтому приветы от других велосипедных культур здесь тоже будут. That is, a blog about bicycle culture in St. Petersburg (about which there isn't much to say for now . . . ). Russian only.

Cyclepedia.ru is an online Russian biking magazine, of sorts. Only in Russian. Has section for videos and various types of bikes, such as fixed gear.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alternatives to the "Traditional" Chain

Almost all bikes today have chains that are remarkably similar to each other and to chains of 100 years ago. All chains have pins that are 1/2 inch (and not some metric distance) apart - this means that it is fairly easy to check if a chain is "stretched" without special tools. (It isn't really that the chain stretches so much as that the pins bend, resulting in a longer chain.) Simply matching up a ruler to a straight length of the chain for 12 inches will show whether the chain is longer than it should be or not. If the chain is stretched more than a few percent longer than it won't match up with the teeth on the cogs and rings and can ruin them - and chains are cheaper than cogs and rings. If you let it go long enough, chains can break - I once saw a fellow break a chain while crossing 14th St on Independence in DC. Rather an abrupt stop.

I'm told that at some time in the 1990s Shimano introduced a chain with one centimeter between pins - the resulting links were closer together and of course the cogs and rings had to be with teeth that were also closer together. Like many "innovations" that represent a pointless departure from traditional approaches, it didn't catch on.

An idea that is presented as new but is actually from the 1890s is to replace the chain and rings with a drive shaft - in other words, before there were cars with drive shafts, there were bicycles with them. Wikipedia's article on bicycle chains notes that a bicycle chain is more than 98 percent efficient in transmitting power, so the big problem with other systems has been that they are usually less efficient.

This 1900 catalog has a shaft drive bike listed first:

The superiority of bevel gears for power transmission in the bicycle has become established beyond question.
Actually this is clearly not true, but the next statement about how well the shaft drive lasts (29,000 miles!) compared to a chain of those days was probably a strong favorable consideration.

At 65 dollars, the shaft drive bike is the most expensive model that this company was selling at the time. Presumably the big plus was that the shaft drive was cleaner than a chain, and for women didn't require netting over the rear wheel and chain guards to keep skirts out of the chain system. One suspects the absence of systems to demonstrate the lesser efficiency may have also contributed to a continuing interest in chain drives. Note that the drive shaft took on the role of the right side chain stay in the bike's structure.

For whatever reason, some early bicycle manufacturers pushed shaft drive bicycles for some time. They were even used by cycle racers - the African American rider Major Taylor rode shaft drive bikes in races, for example. But eventually they fell out of favor - for one thing, they were always more expensive than the comparable model with a chain. Also, removal of a rear wheel to work on a flat tire appears to be more complicated on a bike with a chain drive.

Notwithstanding all that, there have been attempts in recent years to introduce bikes with shaft drives, generally on bikes where the perceived lower maintenance and cleaner aspect of a shaft drive would be attractive, usually paired with an internal hub shift system.

Dynamic hybrids
In this modern example, there is a chain stay and the drive shift.

Another, probably more sensible approach is to use a drive belt to replace the chain. The belt is based on timing "chain" (or belt) technology developed for cars and these belts are incredibly strong - and require no grease or lubrication, so they stay clean. Ixi Bikes makes a small easy-to-disassemble (but not folding) bike with a belt. Trek makes several different full size bikes with belt drives, such as the District single speed, below. The belt drive seems to be pricey compared to a chain but is almost certainly just as efficient.

Trek District

The Bicycle Chain - 1896

The technological improvements in modern bikes over those of the 1890s are much less than the 120 years would suggest likely. One of the critical "ingredients" for the first "safety bicycles" was the use of a chain to connect the rear wheel to a drive shaft with pedals (rather than pedals at the center of a large front wheel). The basic structure of a bicycle chain has not changed in all that time, but I was surprised to see that there were variations - the 1896 Victor Bicycle catalog (from Overman Wheel Co.) shows a chain where the sprocket teeth are spaced further apart and engage the chain only between every other (rather than every) link.

1896 Victor bicycle chain

1896 Victor bicycle sprocket

Commercial catalogs collection. Overman Wheel Co. Victor bicycles. 1896, University of Michigan.
Available online: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015071455961

Perhaps the perceived advantage was that each of the sprocket teeth could be much more substantial, but the trade-off of having half as many teeth makes this seem a wash and somehow the symmetry of the chains we use today seems more efficient (and in any event, that chain won out). Would this approach mean that the pins would bend less? (That may have been a problem in those days.) And maybe the relative cost of chains was more than today so a sturdier chain for the money seemed wise. Hard to know at this distance in time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cheap Spokes = Bad Idea!

My impulse buy bike, a Traitor Ruben steel sort-of cyclocross sort-of urban something-or-other bike had pretty good components but the wheels were no-name (other than the name of the company, Traitor) and the spokes were these black-coated anonymous things, 32 per wheel.

Anyway, a few months ago they started popping at the nipple end on the rear wheel. First one - replace it, then another - replace it. Now after the third has blown I have given up on one-at-a-time and am having the black crap spokes cut off and having the wheel rebuilt with new DT Swiss spokes.

Traitor Ruben - new cycle

A drive (ok, rear) wheel of a road bike with disk brakes has to work really hard, so the spokes need to be something other than junk selected to make the bike look "cool." (Assuming someone is going to ride the bike and not just admire it.) 2,000 miles or so isn't that long for the wheel to go through, so it is poor performance for the spokes to fail already. (No, I don't wait 220 pounds or carry panniers full of bricks.)

Well, there you have it. When evaluating a bike to buy, the wheels and the spokes should meet the same quality assessment as the derailleur (let's say). A 105 or Ultegra derailleur doesn't make up for crummy spokes.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Steel Bike in Morning

On my commute I sometimes am lucky enough to chat with some interesting riders. Friday I came upon a young fellow riding a 1985 Fuji steel racing bike that he had "restored" and somewhat updated.

This is a similar looking Fuji from that year. (I should keep my camera in a more reachable location when riding, I guess.)

The bike was beautiful - it looked new (well, other than the design) although he had removed all the decals so I had to ask him what it was. Very nice lugged frame and fork. He had reused the original derailleurs, shifters, and even brake levers. The one concession to modern cycling was to replace the so-called 27 inch wheels with 700 size that he hand built and to put on modern Campy dual pivot brakes.

I interested to see he was riding on 32 mm tires rather than 23 or some more racing bike-typical size. Hmmm. And he reported that while he had started putting in 80 PSI he was now closer to 60 and it seemed fine, speedy enough. And he obviously finds people like me, die hards in the "tires can't be too thin and have too much PSI" camp amusing. (23 mm and 120 PSI in rear, 110 in the front is what I have. I am rethinking this.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

No Bike Parking, Please (Capitol Hill, LoC)

No Bike Parking

How not very friendly. At the Adams Building, Library of Congress, Washington DC (on Capitol Hill).

What they mean is that they don't want bicycles locked to the railing blocking the ramp for the disabled, but do they provide a bike rack close by? No. Do they indicate where the nearest LC bike rack is (about 100 yards away, out of sight, across the street)? No. And so on. So instead people have bikes locked to sign posts up and down the street. Could be done better.

And the sign itself actually takes up more of the relevant real estate than any bike ever did. Oh well!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Motor Scooter Parked as Bike


I find this hard to understand - in a parking garage protected by the US Capitol Police, the owner of this thing feels it is worth locking up his scooter at a bike rack??

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tires for Road Bike -> One on Front, Different on Back

If the weather is good (not wet, not below freezing, generally) I will commute the ten miles each way to Capitol Hill on my carbon fiber road bike rather than my steel road bike that has disk brakes.

One of the main issues I have had is with tire wear. I had Michelin ProRace2 tires and then after they were discontinued, the successor model ProRace3. They are a bit pricey, though, often listing for more than fifty bucks each.

More importantly, I haven't been happy that the ProRace tire on front wears well while the one on back wears quickly. In particular, the center of a new ProRace tire is raised in a pronounced way that I like to imagine reduces the rolling resistence but on the back this wears away in about 500 miles, leaving a flat spot instead. You can switch the tires front to back, but then the one that was in good shape on the front is quickly in same not-so-good state.

Performance has a tire from Vredestein, the
Fortezza SE Road Tire that for a while was often on sale for around 25 bucks (although now they are $34) and customers mostly seemed to have given them good reviews. I thought I would try a set of those and bought a pair - as it happened, I then got a slash ruining a not-very-old ProRace3 so now I have a Fortezza SE on the back and a ProRace3 on the front. This has worked very well - better, I think than having a Fortezza front and back. The Fortezza is a strange clincher that takes up to 160 PSI and says it needs a minimum of 110! (The ProRace3 has a max of 116 PSI.) I tried putting 140 in the back tire but the back end of the bike become too "lively" so I run with about 120 in back, 110 in front and it seems to work fine.

I can't say that I have a lot of confidence in the grippiness of this set up for high speed sharp turns, or even moderate speed ones in rainy weather, but I don't make high speed turns (much) and try not to ride this bike in the rain - problem solved. The road grip of the front tire, the ProRace3 is probably fine, but I'm a little suspicious of the Fortezza in back, but really I am not sure. I'm not testing it.

Michelin has a new tire that takes the same approach - the Michelin Pro Optimum has different characteristics for the front tire version and the back tire version:
Michelin has developed separate front and rear tires to take into account their specific requirements: The front tire carries 30% of the weight load and absorbs 100% of the braking effect. For this reason, Michelin engineers made it a priority to develop a tire with added grip, capable of providing maximum safety to users on cold, wet surfaces. The rear tire carries 70% of the weight load and absorbs 100% of the torque generated by the bike's forward motion, which affects its efficiency and wearlife. In order to achieve consistent performance, the rear tire now has a longer life, meaning that MICHELIN Pro Optimum Front and Rear tires now have comparable lifespans.
(Michelin Pro Optimum Front & Rear)

I suppose comparable tire life spans seems something to suggest as a "feature" since many folks buy the in pairs but as a goal it seems less important than simply having good riding characteristics. And it just seems unlikely - rear tires are going to wear faster, period. I'm figuring I'll go through two Fortezza tires on the rear to one ProRace3 on the front.

Mix and match - a good idea, it seems.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Capital Bikeshare's System - from France

The French language site for the company the provides "Le Système" for Capital Bikeshare. And here is the English version. They mention the recent launch of Capital Bikeshare with their equipment, noting "A total of 1,100 bikes will be spread through 114 stations." (Somehow I had missed that there are as many as 114 "stations.")

The information that Bixi is the provider of the technical approach is on the bikes themselves, giving their URL and the notice that "This product may be protected by intellectual property rights." By "product" they apparently mean more than just the bikes.
Made by "devinci.com"

The bikes are made by a French company called Devinci. The Devinci web site does not feature their role as the builder/provider of these bicycles, but it is stamped on the bikes themselves.