Category Archives: Product Review

Dead, Dying, and Born Again . . . Plus the Winners

Update on changes and stability in the bicycle magazine world.

Urban Velo – Dead. Urban Velo passed away at issue #45, December 2014 with an all-black cover. ABC fondly recalls that Urban Velo sponsored our showing “Premium Rush,” a 2012 bicycle messenger action-thriller, at the Madison Theater and gave us multiple copies of the magazine and frame stickers. Uraban Velo’s content had been slipping slowly away during 2014 . . .Urban Velo DEAD 12-14 COMP

They closed with this statement: “It has been a good run. . . . Most every city has taken it [cycling facilities] up to some degree, with the best featuring a spider web of lanes and dedicated paths, ample bike parking, and a healthy and diverse bike culture. Large-scale bikeshare was unthinkable not long ago . . . Simply riding a bicycle is hardly countercultural at this point, and there is no doubt that some of the closeness of the relatively under-the-radar city bike culture has gone to the wayside as the pool has gotten larger. The change isn’t without growing pains and nostalgia for the way it was, but the way it is shaping up to be the way we always wanted it to be. It is a good time to be a bicycle believer.”

Read more here.

“Bicycle Times” – Dying. Losing its way. Once editor Karen Brooks departed (abruptly – boom!), “Bicycle Times” seems to be lost in space and seems to be recreating itself as a music and beer mag. Have to watch how this develops. . .

Bicycle Times 2011 COMP

“Bicycling” After years of imagining that everyone on a bicycle wants to be super fast and thin, ride on carbon only, and is rich, “Bicycling” has recognized that there are other markets out there – cargo carriers, commuters, fat-tire fans, parents, e-bike advocates, women, people who can’t spend $12,000 on bicycle No. 26 and $425 for a GPS, and so on. So far, “Bicycling” seems to be hitting a nice mix with the last several issues. Now if they could just get past the cutesy language, the superlatives, and meaningless personal reminiscences in their reviews, we’d be all set.

Bicycling July 13 COMP

And the winners are . . .

“Momentum” – Remains the ultimate “unracer” bicycle magazines for the real world with lots of practical (and some impractical) tips, pointed reviews, great layout, and news for people on bicycles. Well worth the modest subscription price (print – $19.95, digital – $4.99) or pick up a comp copy at the Downtube Bicycle Works.Momenturm Winter 2014 COMP

“Bicycle Quarterly” – The absolute best from a technical viewpoint. No poetic baloney to wade through (like “Bicycling”). Hard hitting reviews, technical competence, clear editorial theme, tremendous photos, great ride stories, and no ads for cars, beer, sex toys, or “Blue Lagoon Skin Care” (again, a la “Bicycling”). Not only are the reviews plainly presented but also the manufacturer is given an opportunity to comment on the review as part of it – great strategy.

Bicycle Quarterly Spring 2014COMP

Special Interest  . . .

Two other special-interest mags are Adventure Cyclist and American Cyclist. Under the editorial leadership of Michael Deme, Adventure Cultist has a nice mix of ride narratives, product reviews, and bike touring tips. American Cyclist, the bi-monthly published presence of the League of American Bicyclists, features legislative/lobby efforts and successes and victories for people on bicycles and promotes education, cycling, bicycle clubs, and the benefits of the cycling lifestyle. Both of these are very well done and are provided as part of membership in the sponsoring advocacy organizations.

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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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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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The Third Great Awakening – Main-Stream Media Discovers Cycling

While one would expect quite a bit of press about bicycles in the New York Times because of the advent of the CitiBike share, it was surprising to have The Christian Science Monitor Weekly and The Wall Street Journal speaking out recently.

The Third Great Awakeing (
On July 6, 2013, The Wall Street Journal featured cargo bikes in its article “The New Station Wagon.” The article led off with a homey little report on a family of four going to dinner in Brooklyn coming from Manhattan on a Yuba Mondo (with one adult on a second bicycle). The article had accompanying stats on the Yuba Mondo’s carrying capacity and on cargo cycles in general. The article also presented features of the Extracyles Edgerunner and the Milano Bakfiets (literally, “box bike”).

While cargo cycles form the backbone of the article, there was also a run down on the spread of cycling across the USA: 73 % increase in cycling commuters in Minneapolis (2000-2011); new bicycle share program in NYC and Chicago; and massive new trails/paths in Indianapolis (8 miles) and Atlanta (33 miles).

The Christian Science Monitor Weekly for July 1, 2013 introduced its cover article, “Ride On! Cycling Surges in American Cites,” with a lead-in editorial “The Bicycle Spring” whose main point was that “. . . urban planners increasingly see bikes as an integral part of a transportation system” and which closed with the challenge “Bikes are no longer marginal enjoyments. They are in the mainstream and staying there.”

The main article hit cycling highlights in Boston, Washington, San Francisco, New York, Long Beach, and Portland and provided a raft of encouraging growth statistics.

Histroy Chart
Thanks go out to alert cyclists Frank, Beverly, and Keith for flagging these articles.

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