Friday, August 15, 2008

Flying Pigeon

A reader (thanks to Matt) directed me to Flying Pigeon NYC, a local dealer for the terrific bikes of the same name. In this context, both local and terrific are relative terms. Regarding the former, NYC is closer to me than any part of China. Regarding the later, Lance doesn't ride a Flying Pigeon, but it's likely that there are more actively used Flying Pigeons around the world than all other actively used bikes put together, and that makes them terrific in my book.
The Flying Pigeon NYC Blog has pretty pictures of Flying Pigeon bicycles, either with young and beautiful New Yorkers, at popular New York City locations, or both. This is interesting, because Pigeons are not exactly chic outside Gotham.

Pigeons are fairly low tech vehicles, but they are extremely utilitarian. They are designed to get you where you want to go, regardless of weather or time of day, though not especially quickly. The full "spec" really isn't what this bike is about. This is the global Model-T of bikes: generic and reliable. It does come with lots of nice "accessories," but in this case, they're just part of the bike--a Flying Pigeon would be naked without its fenders and chaincase. There's also a stout rear carrier, a functional dynamo light set, and a kickin' double kickstand. The women's (aka step-through) version has nice low clearance, and both versions provide a short reach to the grips and an upright riding position.

A few notes:

  • I won't say these things are heavy, because even a Smart Car weight a lot more, but they're not fun to carry up stairs. Fortunately that isn't much of an issue (see below).
  • You should never, I repeat, you should NEVER wear lycra, or "cycling clothing" while riding a Flying Pigeon. The full chaincase should be a good indication that business attire is welcome on board, as are bell bottoms, and palazzo pants, whatever those are.
  • Aside from the leather saddle, the bike is built to be parked outside. Cover the seat with a plastic bag when you park the bike. If you're riding in the rain, keep it covered and sit right on the bag. If it's sunny, stuff the bag under the seat, so you'll always have it handy. 
  • Parked outside all-day-everyday, it might rust a little. So what? The entire thing is tough steel, and you didn't buy it because of the way it looks, did you? Actually, it appears that Flying Pigeons are something of a fashion accessory for some folks. Whatever floats your boat, but don't ask me to carry it up to your fourth-floor walk-up.
  • Speaking of steel: Many contemporary bikes have aluminium rims which have provide good braking power in wet and dry conditions. When aluminum rims get dented, however, they're pretty much scrap-metal. Steel rims, like those on the Pigeon, get slippery when wet, but if they become dented, can be hammered back into shape. Cool. Just be careful when its wet.
  • I've heard that NYC can be rough for bikes parked outside, but I have little experience in this area. Talk to a local bike shop about security, and take their advice. Definitely don't skimp on the lock. No one ever regretted not having something stolen. If you're not in NYC (e. g. if you're in DC), your Pigeon will be safe with a big honkin' lock--as long as you know how to use it.
  • I just learned that the Flying Pigeon brand has been declared a national treasure of China. Spectacular!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Planet Bike Rack Blinky 5

Hurray for Planet Bike.

I've liked PB for a long time, and now they've done something I've been wanted them to do for a long time: include a rack-mount with a tail-light. It's really a no brainer--if you've got a rear carrier on your bike, then the only good place to put your tail-light is the back of your rack.

The Rack Blinky 5 comes packaged with rack-mount in addition to the seatpost mount. The rack-mount is also available seperately, as it has been in the past. 
Hurray for Planet Bike!

PS for the rest of us:
This seemingly insignificant change makes the lives of your mechanic and your local bike shop's inventory staff just a bit easier, and saves you a few bucks. Both are good for you!

PS for the bikey folks (i.e. not "the rest of us"):
The rack-mount is versatile, too, allowing use of either the vertical (a la Blackburn, et al.) or horizontal (a la European, Planet Bike racks, and most others) two bolt patterns. I've also successfully bolted the mount to fenders made by Planet Bike and SKS.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Xtracycle Radish

If you're looking for a perky radish, you can't go wrong with the one in Henri Rousseau's Pink Candle (see above), but since you're here at Bikes-For-The-Rest-Of-Us, I have to assume these aren't the droids you're looking for.

How about this Radish, from Xtracycle, One-Of-Our-Favorite-Companies-Ever:
The Radish is Xtracycle's latest creation: a full longtail bike that comes in one box, with everything you need to ride in style. I posted about it previously, but there is some new information from the Xtra-folks. They've designed the frame and chosen the components so that riders of various sizes can be comfortably accommodated with only a change of saddle height, so it's a one-size-fits-most arrangement. (If they're as smart as we think they are, they'll spec a bolted seat-post binder, or a wee cable to keep combat the black-market in seat-posts and saddles.)
The Xtra-folks have also disclosed these not-too-specific specifications:
  • Xtracycle-specific steel frame, mated to a matching Free Radical (powder coated, we assume),
  • Steel fork with V-brake in front,
  • Rear disc brake (cable-actuated, we assume),
  • 7 or 8 gears with "insane" range,
  • Swept-back bars and overall laid-back styling,
  • A good all-around component set (with a freehub and stout wheels, we assume),
  • Fat-G street tires (Schwalbe, we prefer; Kenda, we expect), and
  • Loads of standard accessories, including a chainguard, fenders, and the full Xtracycle longtail kit with Freeloader bags and traditional Snap Deck.
Price tag: $1199.
Radishes are almost available. Get on the Radish mailing list by emailing your contact to I did.

Monday, August 4, 2008

SmartBike Comes To DC

Rumor has it that the much anticipated bike sharing program in Washington, DC, is operational! Supre-fantastique! Check it out and report back. Details and locations are here: SmartBike DC.

Photo: Jeff Peel, some rights reserved, CC 2.0

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Catching On

From today's Washington Post:

What's happening is, the American conception of the bicycle-as-toy and the bicycle-as-sports-equipment is being infiltrated by the European notion of the bicycle-as-transportation and the Asian notion of the bicycle-as-cargo-hauler. The idea has dawned that, guess what, contrary to the biker dogma of the 1970s and 1980s, you don't have to break your back with drop-down handlebars and obsess over ever-lighter space-age frames.

Read the whole article.