Monday, November 25, 2013

#8 Peter's Repurposed Bikes

Today we return to hearing about readers' bikes with an entry from Peter, who has mastered the art of the repurposed bike (aka "RUB"):

Great blog- I'm happy to see people glorifying repurposed bikes and parts. Like Angus said, there are many bicycles already in existence which, with a little attention and modification, are better suited to many riders' and potential riders' needs and budgets than the majority of new bikes for sale in bike shops and department stores. The problem is simply that people are unwilling or unable to make the necessary adjustments, despite the beautiful simplicity of the bicycle and the many resources available. 

I've only bought one new bike- the rest of mine are salvaged and cobbled together to my liking.

My Schwinn World Sport has more miles on it than any bike I've owned. The 4130 frame is in great shape; I sanded off all the surface rust when I acquired the frame and sprayed it with a two-part hardening clear coat paint. I fitted the frame with Mavic Cosmos wheels and jumbled together old Shimano 105, 600, and ultegra parts to make up the drivetrain. All parts on the bike, aside from the brake calipers, cassette, and 6700 bar-ends, were bought used at the Iowa City Bike Library. Here's the result:

All photos credit Peter Szabo

I've commuted on this bike since 2009, ridden it on many miles of rural Iowa gravel roads, and taken it on its share of centuries. 

This past spring, I finished building up what has been vying for the top spot on my list of favorite bikes I own. (The list changes frequently and there are many ties): 

My Trek 520 has been my new bike of choice for long rides, gravel, trail, and the occasional commute. It doesn't feel as fast as the World Sport does, but on calm days I manage an average speed of around 18 mph on ~50 mile rides. Here it is in Des Moines:

This bike has been wonderful so far, and there is much I look forward to adding to it.

A year ago as I was preparing to move out of my apartment, I looked at my spare parts and thought that “there must be at least a full bike’s worth of parts there.”

I bought the clean white housing and the rear brake cable, but nearly everything else was just waiting to be put to use. I rode it a handful of times this past summer, but not enough to warrant keeping it around. I will probably sell it in the spring. 

Last week, I found a Univega frame at Working Bikes. You can guess why I've decided to sell the Raleigh. I built the Univega up as a beater cyclocross bike, but it is still awaiting a wheelset. It's pictured with the wheels from the 520. I haven't decided if I will race this season, but if I do, all I'll need is a set of appropriate tires:

The build was fun for a few reasons.  The trickiest part was putting together cantilever brakes that would reach from the 26” wheel positioned posts to the rims of the 700c wheels. Here’s how it turned out:

They were both finds in a spare parts drawer, and the springs needed to be replaced in order to suit the position of the arms.  The other wonky thing about this bike is the chain guide.  I wanted to make this bike a 1x9 because I didn’t want to buy a front derailleur, so this is how I’ve kept the chain on its ring so far:

It's parts from a reflector bracket, and so far the chain has not slipped from the front ring. I'll still be cautious while riding, but I've been pretty rigorous with it so far. 

 I'll wrap this up with the bike I'm working on currently. This project has been on the back burner for me for several months, partly because I haven't made up my mind exactly how I want it to end up. I've got a Trek Antelope frame that I'm converting into a three speed. I overhauled a nice Sturmey Archer in August:

Among a few other things, I can’t decide what color I want to paint the frame (or whether to paint it at all).  I’ve considered olive green with tan Big Bens and slate blue with gray cruiser tires, but right now the bike mostly still looks like that.  Feel free to offer advice!

These two are from the Schwinn in the field and the train:

The time I transported my ladder with my b.o.b. trailer and a skateboard:

The four mile trip went... without a hitch... :/

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lights For The Rest Of Us

On behalf of his sister-in-law, Edwin searched far and wide for bicycles in the U.S. market that come standard with dynamo lights.  We are grateful that he's chosen to share his research with us.

As a long time reader of Bikes for the Rest of Us, I like practical bikes. Bikes that are good for most people, most of the time. The kind that you can ride most places in most conditions. The kind where you can go shopping for a week’s worth of groceries, commute to work and head out at night. The kind of bike that, if you wanted, you could ride on a 30-mile charity ride. Or adventure ride with your friends. The kind of bike that works during the day and during the night, rain or shine, without modifications. Kind of like the cars we drive.

The key features to this kind of bike are comfort, so that you can ride it all day; fenders, so you don’t get wet; a rack or basket, so you can carry your goods; and most importantly, lights, so you can see and be seen.
After riding around cities for the first 30 years of my life without a permanent lighting system on my bikes, I was blown away when I finally made the investment in a dynamo hub a few years ago. It has not changed my bike style or bike practices, as I always biked most places most of the time; it just made it so much more dependable and safer. Now I ride with my front and rear lights on all the time. I think it is safer and I stand out whether biking alone or in a crowd. My front light is a Busch and Muller Lumotec IQ Premium Fly RT Senso Plus ( I hope this name is actually shorter in its native German!)

Lumotec front light. Credit: Peter White Cycles

The lower lights stay on all the time – day time running lights! And the top light turns on at night for a more traditional head light with a horizontal cutoff according to German lighting standards. (Yes, they exist, and you can read about them and other light-nerd stuff here.)
My rear light is a Busch and Muller Toplight Line Brake Plus.

Credit: Peter White Cycles.

It has a great, steady rear light that brightens when you brake!

I bought them both from the man who knows more about bicycle lighting than anyone else in the U.S., Peter White.

Enough about me. What inspired me to write this post was looking for a good production bike for a friend. Actually, for my sister-in-law, which is slightly more pressure than just for a friend. I was thinking the best bike for her would be the kind of bike I described above, that comes with fenders, racks, and dynamo lighting, so she could ride at night without worrying about whether her batteries were charged or her lights had been stolen off her bike last time she parked it for a few minutes outside.

So I started thinking about the options for a stock bike, sold in the U.S., that fit these criteria. And here is what I found, with a few notes on the specifications of each. I have ridden very few of these bikes and so this is not a review, but more of a gathering of what is out there. Let me know in the comments if there are others that you know about that are not listed.

These bikes are fairly widely distributed and can even be found in two of our five bike shops here in Nashville. Models that come with a Dynamo hub are: 
All Breezer courtesy

o   Price: $1099

o   Dynamo Notes

§  Dynamo System: Shimano  DH 3N20-NT

§  Front Light: B&M Lumotec Lyt

§  Rear Light: B&M DToplight Plus with Standlight

o   Other: Comes in diamond frame and step through. The rear hub is a NuVinci 360 Continuously Variable Planetary gear system. In short: there are no gear “steps,” but a gradual change in ratios.
Uptown 8

Uptown 8 LS

o   Price: MSRP $849

o   Dynamo Notes

§  Dynamo System: Shimano  DH 3N20-NT

§  Front Light: B&M Lumotec Lyt

§  Rear Light: B&M DToplight Plus with Standlight

o   Other: Rear hub is a Shimano Nexus Revo-shift 8 speed internal hub. Comes in diamond frame and step through frame.
Uptown 5

Uptown 5 LS

o   Price: MSRP $789

o   Dynamo Notes:

§  Dynamo System: Shimano  DH 3N20-N

§  Front Light: Trelock Bike-I Uno LED

§  Rear Light: Trelock Trio Flat Standlight

o   Other: Rear hub is Shimano Nexus 5 speed. Comes in diamond frame and step through frame.
Beltway 11

o   Price: $2099

o   Dynamo Notes

§  Dynamo System: Shimano DH S501

§  Front Light: B&M Lumotec IQ Fly

§  Rear Light: B&M DToplight Plus with Standlight

o   Other: Rear hub is Shimano Alfine 11, a high quality internal gear hub with a wide range of gears.

Beltway 8

o   Price: MRP $1569

o   Dynamo Notes

§  Dynamo System: Shimano 3N30-QR

§  Front Light: B&M Lumotec Lyt

§  Rear Light: B&M DToplight Plus with Standlight

o   Other: Rear hub is Shimano Alfine 8, a high quality internal gear hub with a moderate range.


o   Price: MSRP : $1649

o   Dynamo Notes

§  Dynamo System: WH-S501-V-3D (Complete Wheel)

§  Front Light: B&M Lumotec IQ Fly

§  Rear Light B&M DToplight Plus with Standlight

o   Other: Rear hub is Shimano Alfine 8 internal gear hub, disc brakes.

Greenway Elite

Greenway Elite ST

o   Price: $899

o   Dynamo Notes

§  Dynamo System: Shimano DH-3N30-QR

§  Front Light: Trelock Bike-I Uno LED

§  Rear Light: Trelock Trio Flat Standlight

o   Other: This is the one Breezer dynamo offering with a derailer: 2x10 speed.


As REI’s in house brand of bicycles, Novara has tried several different bicycles with dynamo hubs, including the Transfer, featured on this siteOther models included the Fusion, also featured hereSadly, they are both discontinued. The current line up seems to include one bike with dynamo powered lights, the Gotham.


Photo courtesy of REI.

·        Price: MSRP $1399

·        Dynamo Notes

·        Dynamo System: Joytech Dynamo hub

·        Front Light: specifications unavailable (looks like a handlebar mounted spotlight)

·        Rear Light: specifications unavailable

·        Other: Nuvinci N360 continuously variable transmission like the Breezer Uptown Infinity, but driven with a Gates carbon drive.

This company has turned out a lot of practical city bikes, commonly called “hybrids.” Not many have had dynamo lighting, but they have one out now.
Fairfax SC6

Photo courtesy Marin.
·        Price: Roughly $2000, MSRP not listed on site

·        Dynamo Notes

·        Dynamo System: Shimano Alfine Dynamo

·        Front Light: Super Nova E3 Pro

·        Rear Light: unknown

·        Other: Shimano Alfine 11 rear hub.

Electra is famous for its comfort bikes, Cali-style and their Dutch style Amsterdam models, some of which have dynamo hubs.

Amsterdam 8i

Photos courtesy Electra Bikes.

o   Price: $1200

o   Dynamo Notes

§  Dynamo System: Shimano Nexus

§  Front Light: Spanninga, unknown model

§  Rear Light: Spanninga, unknown model

o   Other: Shimano Nexus 8 speed rear hub, wheel guards, cutesy colors.

Fashion 3i

o   Price: $899

o   Dynamo Notes

§  Dynamo System: Shimano Nexus Roller

§  Front Light: Spanninga, unknown model

§  Rear Light: Spanninga, unknown model
Other: Shimano Nexus 3 speed rear hub, wheel guards, cutesy colors.

Other Options

·        Dutch/Danish and other Euro bikes

These are the real deal European style bikes sold by bike shops like  Adeline Adeline and Rolling Orange in NY, Bicycle Belle in Boston, JC Lind in Chicago, Dutch Bike Co. in Seattle, Clever Cycles in Portland OR, and My Dutch Bike in SF. These shops all sell bikes with dynamo lighting or will adapt dynamo lighting to your bike. You can add your favorite shop with dynamo bikes in the comments.

These shops sell bikes from several makers who have models with dynamo lighting. The prices tend to range from $1000 to $3000 when you add a few accessories! Some of those brands include: Brompton (UK), Gazelle (NL) Pashley (UK), Paper (UK), Pilen (SE), Retrovelo (DE), Van Moof (NL), Velorbis (DK), Workcycles (NL)

·   The big guys:
They don’t offer anything here in the US, though they have tried in the past. I never know if they drop these attempts because the public won’t buy them, or if they do not know how to sell them!
Specialized: This big bike company had a few dynamo versions of the high end commuter bike called The Source over the last few years. They also used to make a dynamo powered version of one of their Globe bikesThey don’t anymore.  On their Dutch site they still have several Source models with dynamos.

Trek used to make a cute bike called the Belleville that came in diamond frame or mixte with dynamo lights, fenders, with front and rear racks. A true bike for the rest of us. And it was featured here.

On their Dutch site, Trek has several bikes with dynamo lighting like this one:

Courtesy Trek Bicycle Products


I don't think they ever had one in the US, but on their Dutch site, you can find:

The Tesoro 3!

Courtesy: Cannondale

Overseas, yes, here in the US, no.

On their Dutch site… you can find:

·        Aero RS 0

Courtesy: Giant.

I have read about Jamis' prior offering here, but their 2014 Commuter line does not come with a dynamo option.

Edwin Williamson
Nashville, Tennessee