Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Ten Things To Liven Up Your Commute

June 21, 2009

Editor’s Note: Here are some fun tips from our contributor, Anthony Coley…….

Subject: 10 things to liven up your commute

1. Stop and buy your sweetie some flowers, you’ll be loved!
2. Stop mid way for something to drink and do some people watching.
3. Ride slower and check out the scenery.
4. Run an errand on your way to or from work.
5. Take a detour somewhere you’ve never been.
6. Stop and help someone with a bike problem, flat, slipped chain….
7. Ride a different bike every once in a while.
8. Ride earlier or later than normal. Riding when it’s dark changes everything.
9. Ride with a stranger and talk about something other than bikes. Easier said than done.. 😉
10. Compare gas prices at the different gas stations you pedal by.
— This was the lowest on my Friday commute: (Note: Now gas is over $3.00/gallon!)Since this photo was taken gas is over $3.00 per gallon!

 …….and two more I just thought about..

11. Count the number of traffic lights. My commute has 39. Seems like alot…
12. Take some pics to show your cool commute:
— Here are a few from yesterday:ac1

ac2ac3ac4 ac5

Lock Up That Bike!

May 28, 2009

Editor’s Note: Anthony Coley files this excellent report on how to keep your bike “your bike”.

Every year thousands of bikes are stolen and The Cyclist is here to help you keep you trusty rig right where you left it.

Some facts about bike theft:  The National Bike Registry ( NBR ) estimates over 1.5 million bicycles are stolen every year.

My guess is these numbers are much higher because I’m sure many people do not report their bikes stolen.

NBR also states “Many bikes are stolen from home (yard, porch, garage, dorm room, etc.) Store your bike in a secure place when not in use…”  My home is the only place I have had bikes stolen.  What’s up with that?

The 2007 the FBI larceny-theft data shows bicycles accounted for 3.4% of the total larceny-theft offenses, which equates to about 210K bikes.


Tips for keeping your bike:

Check out this “How to Lock Your Bike” video by Carlton Reid from and author of “Bike To Work”:

Carlton makes a good point stating “2 kinds of locks require 2 tools – & thieves usually carry just one tool”.  I wonder how many people carry 2 locks?  I struggle with one lock, but I’m also pretty lucky that I can just roll my bike inside my office building and keep it next to my cube.
Kryptonite lock offers up the following Do’s and Don’ts:
DO keep your bike locked at all times.
DO lock your bike in a well lit area.
DO lock your bike to an object that is securely bolted or cemented to the ground, and that has something affixed to the top to prevent thieves from lifting the bike or lock over the top of the object.
DO position your lock with key mechanism facing down.
DO create a snug fit with wheels and frame so that there is little room in the U-portion of the lock for thieves’ tools.
DON’T lock your bike to itself, or to objects that can be easily cut.
DON’T lock your bike in the same area all the time.
DON’T position lock near the ground to prevent thieves from attempting to leverage or crush the lock.

Gettin’ Groovy, Luv: Experiments in Alternate Handlebars

May 24, 2009

Often I wonder how we have come to certain standards on bicycles. I will read about why this or that happened over time such as wheel size standards or fork offset or what have you. Often the reasons for things being the way they are are kinda’ funny. A lot of the time it just worked out that way or was convenient or expedient or a roll of the dice, but here it is, 100 years later and voila, the veritable ‘way it is’.

Take handlebars for instance. When did someone decide that the modern standard for mountain bike handlebars was a certain rise or bend or width, something that has only recently begun to change? Sure there have been cruiser bars and other things like commuter bikes, hybrids, etc, but the majority of real mountain bikes have come with a 3 to 6 degree sweep, maybe more, and 0 rise for years. Basically the typical XC bar that we have all owned. Riser bars are kinda new on the scene, but even so, they don’t differ too much other than the 3/4″ to 1.5″ rise in the shape of the bar. Sure, 31.8mm oversize bars are cool and new, but they still mimic the shape and sweep of the predecessors.

So what? Well I will tell ya what. There is a lot of stress and strain placed on the arms, wrists, and hands of an off road cyclist. We can strengthen them and we can adapt to the current norm of a mild sweep handlebar, but have you ever heard of ergonomics?

From Websters online dictionary.

Main Entry:
noun plural but singular or plural in construction
erg- + -nomics (as in economics)

1 : an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.


Ergonomics produces things like the ergonomic keyboard, designed to alleviate strain on the wrists, etc. It also gave us the fabulous option of using saddles with the center relief/ groove, like the BG saddles for Specialized, the Koobi, etc, all designed to keep blood flowing to parts of our bodies that we want to remain happy. Are they for everyone? No, but options are a good thing.

Back to the handlebars for a minute, we see that, looking back in time, handlebars were often much different on the early bicycles of our grandfathers and great grandfathers. Don’t these pics make you want one of these babies? C’mon, admit it.



I remember having some old knock off Ritchey Bull Moose bars on my first bike and they had a very aggressive sweep back to the hands. I liked those bars, but they were not very adjustable, being basically welded to the stem in one position. What did they know that we have forgotten? Or, did we finally take it to the final refining of the breed, the pure essence of form and function with the typical XC mountain bike handlebar of today? Is this the way it should always have been? Perhaps we got mistaken for motorcycles instead of bicycles? Maybe it came from this influence in the next pic?


The Tomes, muddy and pinnin’ it!

Now Tomac can go fast on pretty much anything. Heck he was winning races on Farmer John tires, maybe the worst handling tire of all time.

But who says my hands/wrists are happy at 6 degrees of bend? Why is that the gold standard that all riders need to comform to?

No good reason, at least, not anymore. Enter the alternate bend handlebar.

Mary Bars. FU and FU 2 bars. Salsa Pro Motos. Jones bars. H bars, J bars, Z bars, Q bars, what have you bars. What they all have in common is a different take on what a handlebar for a mountain bike can look like. Even drop bars are making a comeback for off road use although they never really left altogether. Much of this is being driven by folks on singlespeeds, 29ers, etc. If you are open minded about gears, big wheels, and other departures from the norm, you are more likely to be ready for other things as well.

mary Look familiar? Compare them to the handlebars on the classic bikes from the turn of the century. The Mary bars in this pic on the left are pretty ‘old school’ looking, are they not?

Lately I found myself riding along wanting to do an odd thing: I wanted to turn my wrists inward, rotating my hands on the grips in a position that I could not accomplish on the Easton Monkeylite XC bars I had on both bikes. I never had felt this way before. I never had issues with numbness in the fingers, wrist pain, etc that drives many riders to look at handlebar options. But there I was, wanting to bend those bars to a shape they were not interested in being bent to.

So, I began looking at options. I rode some FU Bars, and although they were very comfy, they felt too narrow for me. The Mary Bars sweep back towards you more than they sweep away, so the end result is the need for a longer stem, something I did not want to do. Then, I found these: The Groovy Luv Handles.

groovy-1 From the website at Groovy Cycles,words by Rody : “I’ve been searching for just the right bar to decrease the pain in my wrist and elbows after an intense ride. The current crop of bars like the Mary and Jones just did not seem to do it for me…too much sweep, not enough rise, etc..

So, working with my mentor, Bill Grove (a wealth of metal fatigue engineering knowledge) and an exercise physiologist, I fabbed up some for myself and the test team to try out. Now we’ve got them dialed and they are available for you, too.

Built of 4130 aircraft steel, with a gentle 4 degree rise and a 21.5 degree back sweep, these bars meet the natural anatomic position of your hands to allow for all day comfort and control. The design allows you to use your current stem and the grip section is long enough to mate with any combination of shifters and brake levers…just slide them on, mark the excess and cut off the material you don’t need.”

Here are some specs for you:

Width – 26.0″ from the tip of the grip to the opposite point
Rise – 4 degrees or 1.0″
Sweep – 21.5 degree
Clamp diameter – 25.4 (custom shims for 31.8 available)
Weight – 315 grams uncut

So, I thought I would give them a try on the SS DiSSent project and see if they are really the answer to what I was looking for. I ordered a set of the steel (he also makes them in Ti), wide at 28 inches and powdercoated black. When I got them it was obvious they are going to be a bit of a weight hit over the carbon bars on there now. But, I am willing to accept that if it feels great.

I measured the reach and height of the existing bars for comparison and removed the carbon bars from the DiSSent. Wow, those are light! Weighing them, I had 412 grams for the Luv Handles and 191 grams for the carbon XC bars. Oh well. I also anticipated losing some shock absorbtion by running the steel Luv Handles. Rody at Groovy Cycles suggests that riders who are running with a rigid fork pop for the Ti bar. The cost is much higher, but they flex quite a bit more.

You can see from the pic that I should end up approx where the 8 degree sweep carbon bar placed the grips as far a reach and rise, but the angle/sweep is drastically different. Also, I used the shims that Groovy Cycles sells since the Luv Handle  is only made in 25.4 diameter and I had all 31.8mm stems.


Post-installation I put the measuring tape to work and found them to be juuust about 1/4″ further away from the saddle and at nearly the same height from the ground. Good enough. I set them to where the bar was relatively flat as far as rotation up or down.

Riding around the street it was a dramatic change. The increased sweep was immediately comfortable. They felt wide but when I turned sharply, I was able to make the turn with much less strain on my arms, like I was not reaching as far. I think the bend at the wrists allowed my hands to more easily follow the arc of the end of the handlebar as it turned. Nice.

I did change seatposts to get 1/2″ closer to the bars, but I was going to do that with the XC bars as well. Off to the trail.

I have about 3 good rides on the DiSSent now with the bars in place. So far, my thoughts are:

–    They are stiff little beggars. They feel absolutely stout and safe when you are honkin’ on ’em, but they do transfer a lot of shock up into your bod. They ain’t carbon. Solution for you rigid fork riders out there? Pony up for the Ti version.

–    The angle feels absolutely spot-on to me so far. I let another very experienced rider try them and he said the same thing. It just feels right, right away.

–    I love the width, although they feel somewhat narrower to me, a lot of that is the angle of the hand position more than actual end to end width. I like wide bars and I am happy, but Rody makes them narrower and to order as well.

–    They feel great when climbing out of the saddle on the SS. Like the days of bar-ends, it just works here, no doubt. They are excellent in a singlespeed application and they do allow you to move your weight off of the bars, kinda settle back and let the bike float over things a bit.


So now, I thought I would move them to the Lenz and see how I felt about them on a geared bike where standing and leverage are not as much a part of the game, but the speeds go up and the demands for handling, jumping, increase.  However, I found that I had to re-run both shifter cables as the angle of the bars did not agree with the housing length.  With a big ride set for the next day, I swapped back, but not before carefully putting around in the street to get a feel for it, and as before, it felt immediately comfortable.  I will update my feelings later on as I fit them to the Lenz at some point, but for now, I will wrap this up with a very positive impression and some final thoughts:

–    The bars had a rather thick powder coating on them, quite nice after looking at all those bland carbon bars.  However, it made for a tough go, sliding on the brake levers and other controls.  I was able to open the brake levers very slightly with a screwdriver and that worked, but the Gripshifts were a real struggle.  Ouch.  The nice, shiny powder coat is not as nice looking now.

–    They spoil ya.  Swapping back to a bike without the bars felt very odd for quite a while, then I got back in the straighter bar groove.  That may mean a bit of spending to get all bikes equipped with the Luv Handles.


Groovy Cycleworks:

Be Careful When The Kids Are Around!

May 21, 2009

Editor’s Note: Anthony Coley, contributor to The Cyclist, gives us a good reminder why you need to be careful when the kids are around our bicycles.

Watch those kiddies and your chain.

Tonight me and my two boys ( 4 and 2 ) were in the garage and my 2 year old got his finger caught in my fixed gear chain. Ugh!!!! They always play with whatever bike I have in the stand and I’m always telling them “watch the wheel, keep your hands out of the spokes, watch the chain…” Tonight I was preoccupied with my 4 year old when I heard my 2 year old start screaming. When I saw him I instantly knew what had happened. Luckily it only caught the tip. It could have been much worse.

Here’s a pic of his little hand:

By the way, he's going to be all right.

By the way, he's going to be all right.


Take care of those kids!

Bike Commuters Need To Hydrate Too!

May 21, 2009

Editor’s Note: Anthony Coley sends us this reminder that we as cyclists all need to hydrate, no matter what type of cycling it is!

Bike commuters need to hydrate too!
I got my team mate at work into commuting last year and he’s doing a killer job, except that he doesn’t hydrate.  He commutes 30 miles a day, 5 days a week, and if you do the math that’s a whopping 150 miles a week, which is 40 more miles a week than I commute and I’m supposed to be The Cyclist.  That is amazing for a non-cyclist, if you ask me.  He actually did a 40 mile road ride last weekend and didn’t take anything to drink.  “Huh, that can’t be!”, you might say.  Yup, nothing!  He said at about 30’ish miles it dawned on him he didn’t have anything to drink, but since he was in the middle of no-where he had to hoof-it-out thirsty.  Nice! 
I’m a hydration nut and often return with liquid to spare.  Even on my 13 mile commute I carry a water bottle and take a few drinks about mid way.  I take in liquids about every 20-30 minutes of easy riding.  When I mountain bike ( MTB ) I carry either a 100oz or a 70 oz. bladder, depending on the length of my ride.  For epic MTB rides I carry 100 oz. and 1 or 2 bottles with some sort of electrolytes.  For example, Gatorade, Cytomax…  My philosophy is, you never know how long you may be out there, so make sure you’re hydrating.  Not hydrating is a bad idea and can be a mistake you make only once.  ;(

Gary Fisher Bikes and Trek Bicycles Offer Financing Deal

May 21, 2009

Editor’s Note: Anthony Coley sends us this tip for those of you looking for a new Urban or Commuter sled…..

Been thinking about buying a new bike but don’t have the cash? Check out Trek’s “Go By Bike” deal at:

No Interest, No Payments for 12 Months on all Trek and Gary Fisher Bicycles over $750 until the end of May 2009. ( not much time left, so don’t dawdle ) With the U.S. economy’s current state of affairs, this type of deal is pretty much unheard of. If I hadn’t just bought a new bike I’d be down at my local Trek dealer ordering a 56cm Trek District ( they only have a 60cm in stock at this time ), which happens to qualify for this deal.

If you participate in Trek’s “Go By Bike” deal, make sure to pay off the balance before 12 months so you don’t get dinged with interest!

Xtracycle Build : 10 Step Build Process

March 28, 2009

This has been a long time coming but a few snafu’s in the second week of riding the bike caused the Xtracycle to get “hung up” until I could have someone fabricate a metal bridge for me.  Without further excuses :

Step One
: Remove your rear wheel, derailleur, chain and brakes from the bike.  Put these to the side as you will need them shortly.

Step Two
:  Attach the carpet material to the Front Attachment Plate (FAP) and then gather these parts: French Nut (2), Spacer Washer (2) (if you have a 130mm rear end) 32mm bolts (2), FAP Bolt, FAP, washer and nut


Step Three : Thread 32mm bolts through Free Radical and into your French Nut and Spacer Washer (if needed.) Do not tighten as now you are going to sit the drops out of your bike in between Spacer Washer and French Nut.


Step Four :  Align and hold with left hand your Free Radical so it is sitting FAP above chainstay bridge (if you have a chainstay.)  I attached my FAP bolt through the tongue of the Free Radical, behind my chainstay bridge, through the FAP and finally into the washer bolt. Do not tighten should be only hand tight.

Step Five : Tighten FAP bolt securely. Making sure drop outs are pressed against French Bolt, tighten 32mm bolt, you may need an adjustable or cone wrench to hold the French Bolt into place.

Step Six : Reinstall Rear Wheel, I needed to purchase a larger rear rotor (203mm) as this is what the Xtracycle is set up with for more stopping power and heat displacement.

Step Seven :Reinstall Rear Derailleur and Brake with extra long cables and housing provided by Xtracycle.   I needed even more brake housing with this than Xtracycle provided as I run full length housing down my bike to my disc brake.

Step Eight : Add the chain links to your old chain, reinstall chain.  Please make sure to check the life of your chain/cassette before doing this.  If you they are worn it will cause the new segment of chain to slip. Click here if you need help adjusting your derailleur.


Step Nine : Check everything over, refer to Xtracycle and your owners manual for specific questions.


Step Ten : Go ride already!


Notes: Please grease all threads and bolts.  If there is interest of specific directions on parts please let me know.  This is a brief run down to show that building an Xtracycle is not as difficult or daunting if you have some bike mechanic skills!

Abio Folding Bikes

March 28, 2009

There is a pretty new company to the folder line up, Abio.  This company is based out of New York City and has produced two different folder models since 2007.  We will soon be previewing their belt drive, VerdionI have a soft spot in my heart for their shaft drive, Penza, bike due to the purple color.

These unique bikes are one of a kind in the United States and I hope will catch much attention as I’m riding it around or posting photos online.  The thought of a chainless, folder with no derailleurs to bother with or maybe twist up and no chains to grease up, well it feels very free to me.  As a bike mechanic I’m always worrying about my commuter bike especially while transporting it in cars, buses or flying.


A few things that really stuck out to me on the design of both their models so far:

  • Internally routed cables for less wear and tear.
  • Snappy full size folding pedals
  • Quiet!  The internal hub and belt drive provide a very quiet ride

I’ll be commuting on this bike for the next couple weeks and will be documenting the experience!

Xtracycle Build Up : Parts Bag

March 28, 2009

Arleigh is building, documenting and writing out her build up of a Salsa Ala Carte mountain bike with 650b wheels and a Xtracycle Free Radical Kit.

One thing that is a bit daunting if you aren’t mechanically inclined is the huge parts bag that comes with the Xtracycle box.  There’s bit pieces and things that simply don’t make sense.  This requires reading directions and diagrams which, let’s be honest, most folks don’t.
First I seperated all the goodies into seperate piles to make sure I had everything I needed. There’s a couple stray chainring bolts that didn’t make it to their right pile but you get the idea.

Kickstand plate, and soft, durable fabric to save your frame from being scratched.

Chainring bolts used in with screws to attach the freeloader bags to the Xtracycle frame.  This is a new design to keep the bags from having to be tied to the frame.

Avid Rollamajig. Used to help ease the bend of the derailleur cable into the derailleur.  Mostly used if the cable stop is too close to derailleur, or for older style Shimano derailleurs. (I didn’t use mine.)

French Nut. These are the parts that your frame rear dropouts sit on.  They tighten through the drop out to bolts on the outside of the Xtracycle frame.

End Caps & Spacers. These seem to have many purposes (spacers, plugs, etc), I’m still researching all the possibilities for them.

V-Rack Spacers.  Used with the above to space out your top deck.

FAP Bolt.  Used to connect Xtracycle at the FAP tab near the chainstay/bottom bracket area.

4 Shorter Bolts.  Goes with chain ring bolts to attach Freeloaders.

Washers. Big washers are used to space out 130mm frame for Xtracycle.  Small washers are used with bolts.

I’m sure that there will be more parts along the way, and uses but we will document as we go.

Xtracycle Build up : Anatomy

March 28, 2009


  • Classifieds
  • –>

    Arleigh is building, documenting and writing out her build up of a Salsa Ala Carte mountain bike with 650b wheels and a Xtracycle Free Radical Kit.  This is an on going series so stay tuned for more installments.

    Now on to explain the Xtracycle frame what all the holes, poles and brackets are for.  Going from the left to right of the picture below.  There are somethings I’m sure I left out, please refer to the diagram for exact explanations of all parts, pieces and bars.

    2935569119_5e5358b293Lovely isn’t it?

    Top & Bottom Stays with Tongue – This is the part that will bolt right behind your seat tube & bb junction, between your chainstays. Also can be used to aid you in carrying the Free Radical equipped bike upstairs.


    Front Bridge, Dropout Boss, Boss Hog, FreeLoader Boss – The Front Bridge is the piece that goes straight across and holds it all together.  The Dropout Boss is where a 32mm bolt will slide through to get to through the other side to the Boss Hog.  The Boss Hog rest against the outsides of your dropouts.  It is slightly grooved to help bite and keep everything tight. The FreeLoader Boss is threaded for a bolt and chain ring bolt and the FreeLoader attachment clips to the bolt to stay snug. The black circle you see is one of the two spaces a WideLoader attachment slides into and snaps into place.



    Kickstand Plate, Serial Number and Weight Load Table
    – Very self explanatory.  Kickstand plate is where the kickstand bolts to.  The serial number keeps track of the Xtracycle for warranty, and theft protection.  The weight load table is important when you’re carrying loads, gaining weight or lack common sense.



    Disc Brake Mount, Xtracycle Dropout and Fender Eyelets –  The disc brake mount is made for 203mm rotors.  Do not forget this, or you’ll regret it and run around for a day (like me) with out a rear brake.)  The Dropout is where your rear wheel mounts into the Xtracycle frame. Fender eyelets are key in Portland, Seattle, when carrying precious cargo like children or wives in the rain and if you plan on riding in gravel.  I’m a big fan of fenders and think you will be too.



    Rear Upright, Rear Bridge and FreeLoader BossRear uprights is the second half of what the FreeRadical kit slides into.  Rear bridge is NOT a step. FreeLoader Boss, like above is made to use a bolt and chainring bolt for the FreeRadical to snap into to tighten.


    Not pictured – Brake Post, Derailleur Hanger, Tube of Gibratter.  Please refer to diagram above for exacts