Saturday, February 28, 2009

Torker Cargo-T

First, the Cargo-T:
This seemingly innocuous (except for the color, obviously) utility bike has loads of bloggers jumping up and down. Why? Because it's being distributed in United States of America, and just about any local bike shop can order one for you.

This is basically a grocer's delivery bike. These haven't been seen stateside since I dunno, the '50s maybe. Why? We were too busy inventing the tract-mansion and the Hummer, and killing off corner grocers with Chilean strawberries and high-fructose corn syrup.

Here's the deal:
  • Massive front and rear racks, for carrying what you need to carry;
  • 3-speeds, via an internally geared hub;
  • Upright position for good traffic visibility;
  • Low step-through frame, for easy mounting (this is important on a heavily loaded cargo bike);
  • Double kickstand and a headset lock, for keeping things stable while you load up;
  • Full chaincase, for keeping your chain and your pants clean, and shoelaces from getting shreaded; and
  • A bell, of course.
The manufacturer's suggested retail is $640.00.

Second, the T-300:
Don't you want one? It doesn't look stupid. It looks like a bike should look. I want one. I don't know the MSRP, but it can't be all that much. Love it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Surly Steamroller

Surly Steamroller - available at Spokes Etc. for $700.

Some folks are into Surly the way certain geeks are into Apple, if you know what I mean. As Surly’s website says: “In the beginning, Surly made frames, and they were good.” Well, a good frame is always a good start.

Surly now offers five complete bikes and in an ideal world they'd all be in your stable: the Karate Monkey for mountain biking, the Big Dummy for your cargo bike needs, the Long Haul Trucker for touring, the Steamroller for fixed gear urban riding, and the Cross-Check for... well, pretty much everything else.

This post is about the Steamroller because it’s the only new, complete Surly bike that you can buy for less than a grand. It's major downside: no braze-ons for racks or fenders.

Here are the specs:

Frame: 4130 CroMoly steel. Main triangle double butted. TIG-welded.
Fork: CroMoly, lugged and brazed. 1-1/8" threadless steer tube.
Headset: Ritchey Logic Comp 1-1/8" threadless, w/ 30mm spacers. Black
Stem: Kalloy 1-1/8" threadless. Forged. 26.0mm clamp. Black
Handlebars: PMT Aluminum. Black
Handlebar wrap: Co-Union Cork Mix. Black
Brake Lever: Tektro RL570 Front 'cross lever. Black
Brake: Tektro R356. Front caliper. Black
Crankset: Andel Forged arms. 47t ring. Black
Pedals: NOT INCLUDED
Bottom Bracket: Sugino 68x103mm
Seatpost: Kalloy - SP-248D, 27.2mm Black, Jack
Saddle: WTB SST Steel rails. Black
Cog: Surly fixed gear 3/32" 19 tooth, Surly lockring included (f/w not included).
Chain: SRAM PC-48
Hubs: Surly 32hole, 120mm OLD fixed/free. Black
Spokes: DT Swiss 14g stainless. Silver
Rims: Alex DA-13, 700c, 32 hole. Black
Tires: Maxxis Detonator, 700c x 25. Tanwall
Tubes: Cheng Shin 700c x 25


Also, check out the Surly blog.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

BFROU, One Year Later


About a year ago I posted a rant on Freewheeling Spirit about how the bicycle industry was not really committed to building a pervasive bike culture here in the U.S., but instead was content to make their profits off high-end racing bikes and mountain bikes. This was my bikes for the rest of us (“BFROU”) rant, which you can read here or here.

The great thing about blogs is that you get immediate feedback. Just the other day, when I was complaining that DC has no DIY bike repair shops , commenters quickly responded: what about x place or y place? There was a similar reaction to the BFROU rant: What do you mean there are no bikes for the rest of us? What about Breezers? What about Electra? Duh, Freewheel, there are plenty of bike manufacturers who are building utility bikes.

So I looked into these companies and the models people were telling me about and did some posts about them. I soon found enough “commuter bikes” and “townie bikes” that I started a whole new blog, BFROU, to talk about them all. Actually, all I did, and still do, is put up a picture of the bike, list the specs, and invite people who know about the bike to comment.

BFROU might have died off after about 6 months were not for David, aka The Practical Cyclist . He offered to contribute, and he’s done a great job. Among other things, David brought his interest in cargo bikes to the blog – certainly an important bike to consider if you want to go car-free or car-lite.

Another reason that this blog has continued is your comments. BFROU gets about 200 hits a day, many of which come, interestingly enough, from people googling their own bikes. I was not previously aware of this phenomenon, but it has worked out well. The best information you can get about a particular bike is from someone who actually owns it and rides it.

So here we are a year later. Maybe I’m just stubborn, but I still believe that the bicycle industry could do more to promote a pervasive bike culture in the U.S. And I won’t rest until my capital city, Washington, D.C., ranks among the “World’s Cycling Capitals,” to steal a phrase from Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

This has been a fun project. Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

(x-posted at Freewheeling Spirit )

Monday, February 2, 2009

Schwinn World GS

The Schwinn 2009 World GS retails for about $500. According to Schwinn's "dealer locator," you can find this model at Nash's Sports at 3339 14th St. N.W. in D.C.

I don't know whether Schwinn will ever recapture its former prestige (used Schwinns are still a better deal than new ones), but this is a step in the right direction. This bike makes the BFROU list because it's affordable and comes with fenders, rack, chainguard, and a bell.

2009 Specs

Frame: Schwinn N'Litened aluminum with Comfort Tuned geometry and replaceable derailleur hanger.

Fork: SR Suntour NEX 4110 suspension fork with 50mm of travel and preload adjustment
Drivetrain

Bottom Bracket: Shimano BB-UN26 square taper

Derailleurs: Shimano Acera M340 rear, C051 front

Shifters: Shimano EF50 Easy Fire triggers

Chain: KMC Z-72

Rims: Alex ACE 17 double wall alloy 32 hole

Hubs: Formula alloy sealed mechanism front and rear with quick release

Spokes: 14 gauge stainless steel, 32 per wheel

Tires: 700x38C Schwinn Approved city tread

Pedals: Resin comfort pedal with steel axle

Brake Levers: Shimano EF50

Handlebar: Alloy 50mm rise, 15 degree bend

Stem: Alloy quill style with adjustable rise

Headset: Integrated 1 1/8" threaded

Grips: Schwinn Bio Tuned Ergonomic dual density

Saddle: Comfort Tuned Plus with Schwinn memory foam

Seat Post: Alloy suspension with micro adjustment clamp

Extras: Planet Bike Freddy Fenders, Planet Bike rear alloy rack, full chain cover, bell, kick stand and alloy QR seat binder