Category Archives: Bike Tech

Raw Talent . . .



This year’s gift idea comes from the talented hands and mind of local artisan, Oliver. You can see and purchase this handsome tree ornament (jacket pull, or necklace) at the Downtube Bicycle Works.

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Ears Cold? Try These

Cat Ears Ear Covers 11-14-14Here’s a handy way to keep your ears warm(er) and to reduce annoying helmet-head wind noise – Adventure Cycling’s “Cat Ear” Ear Covers. These are simple “polar fleece” triangles with a strip of hook-and-loop on each side to secure the “ear” to your helmet straps. Although the photo borrowed from Adventure Cycling’s “Cycle Source” on-line shop shows red, they come only in black.

Worth the $12.00 – part of which would seemingly go to Adventure Cycling’s programs.


Model – Courtesy Adventure Cycling

Detail – With bill/coins for reference

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Commute by Bicycle – Book Review

The Bicycle Commuter’s Handbook* by Robert Hurst would make thoughtful gift for someone contemplating commuting by bicycle. This pocket/purse size book packs a lot of useful information into its 97 pages. However, an urban rider with 5-8 years of experience would enjoy this book as an entertaining refresher with some perhaps new ideas.

The included sections are “Equipment and Clothing,” “Preparation,” “The Ride,” “At Work,” and “Routine Maintenance.”

“Preparation” has some good thoughts on route planning based on different skills and riding preferences. Among tips that would be evident to an experienced rider but valuable to a newcomer is the observation that the most important ingredient for a bicycle friendly street is the attitude of the people who use it. Street features the author recommends avoiding include high traffic speeds, on-street parking, time-sapping traffic signals, oblivious pedestrians, interstate entrance/exit ramps, high schools(!), damaged road surfaces, and bad attitude or “street vibe.”Bicycle Commuter's Handbook 2013

Again for the prospective commuter, “The Ride” section has a number of tips to avoid trouble – better to read about them and be prepared rather than to discover that, for example, longitudinal cracks can get you in trouble.

One not so obvious observation in the “At Work” section is the attitude about cycling and cyclists commonly held by one’s non-cycling co-workers, subordinates, and supervisors. While the experienced cyclist already will have experienced this phenomenon, it might be “news” to the budding commuter the first time she clumps into the office in helmet with a messenger bag. The author notes that the USA never had a bicycle commuter culture, so forewarned is forearmed.

One helpful section covers diagnosing (and correcting) bicycle fit issues by the nature of the pain experienced. This and other straightforward bicycle fit tips are a break from what one might have read in articles that are more “technical.”

Overall, this is a nice little book – well written and well organized.

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*Hurst, Robert, The Bicycle Commuter’s Handbook, (Guilford, CT), 2013, ISBN 978-0-7627-8468-4, US$12.95.

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In Living Color – “Bicycle Quarterly”

Bicycle Quarterly - Autum 2013 10-14-13 001It was a real pleasure to open the autumn 2013 edition (Vol. 12, No. 1) of “Bicycle Quarterly” and find all the artwork (including the few ads) in full color. “Bicycle Quarterly” is a labor of love of its founder and editor, Jan Heine. If you want technical articles and unrestrained reviews, this is the mag for you.

There is almost a glut of non-racing bicycle journals on the market – “Momentum,” “Bicycle Quarterly,” “Bicycle Times,” “Urban Velo,” and “Bicycling.” Part of the market will shake out with edge going to those that have the editorial courage to write independent equipment coverage. From at least one of the aforementioned journals, one would think that every light, shifter, frame, tire, etc. was a flawless divine creation in which no possible improvement could be envisioned.

While recognizing that the bicycle magazines have to survive within the realities of ad revenues and their dependence on the manufactures for test equipment, “Bicycle Quarterly” stands out. Not only are the tests well documented and based on (in some cases) some sophisticated test modalities but the reader gets the impression that the review is the “whole truth and nothing but the truth. Interestingly, “Bicycle Quarterly” invites the manufacturer to comment on the test/review and publishes the reactions along with the review.

If you are unfamiliar with “Bicycle Quarterly,” try it out –

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But is it Art?

This is old news, but interesting on a rainy day.How Not to Lock Up 10-7-13

The Kryptonite-4 is in the New York City Museum of Modern art having achieved that status by being rated as having high quality and historical significance. The museum’s assistant curator for architecture and design stated “the lock is simple, a very good solution to the problem.”
Big Lock 10-7-13
Michael Zane is the man behind the U-shaped Kryptonite-4. Zane (an art and history major in college) obtained manufacturing rights for the Kryptonite-4 in 1972 from the original owner and, with his father, created the current plastic-sleeved, sleek design.

So lock up and be proud.

But remember Sheldon Brown’s advice – “A U-lock should go around the rear rim and tire, somewhere inside the rear triangle of the frame. There is no need to loop it around the seat tube as well, because the wheel cannot be pulled through the rear triangle.”

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