Monday, May 19, 2014

Legacy Rambler

When we last talked about Legacy Frameworks (it was last year), the Chicago framebuilder had put out two thoughtfully designed complete bike models - a diamond frame and a step-through. Now Legacy has refined those models with the Rambler series, which includes a step-through, a diamond frame, and a disc brake model. They go for around $1,750, but you should contact Legacy for details.

Rambler Step-Through.

Rambler Diamond

Rambler diamond with disc brakes. All photos courtesy of Legacy Frameworks.
There are some nice touches here. The following come standard: belt drive, full fenders, drum or disc brakes, rack options, double-walled rims and (are you there Edwin?) hub-generated lighting.

Busch and Muller LED headlight. Taillight also included.
Check out that powder-coated finish. Legacy offers these as singlespeeds or with up to 15 gears with internal gear hubs.

Nice looking bikes, and they're designed, manufactured, and assembled in Chicago.

Monday, May 12, 2014

#1: Fenders

Fenders keep you clean and dry when the road is muddy or wet.

There are 4 main kinds:

Painted steel, Stainless steel, Aluminum alloy (painted or polished), and thermoplastic.

Steel is least likely to crack, and less likely to dent than aluminum, but risks rusting. Painted steel fenders come with many cheaper bikes, such as beach cruisers, as well as on high-quality European city bikes, where the underlying metal may be stainless steel or galvanized to resist rust.

Stainless steel, polished fenders are beautiful and very durable, but expensive and slightly heavier than alloy or plastic fenders. They can also be more difficult to install.

Aluminum alloy fenders are common due to their light weight, and good looks. High quality polished alloy fenders look as good as stainless steel and weigh less. They are more easily dented or bent, however, and may crack after many thousands of miles of vibration. Some are difficult to install.

Plastic fenders are dent-resistent, flexible, and fairly cheap. They may be the best option on bikes that are often parked at crowded racks, and they are the most commonly available as an add-on. They are easy to install, because they easily bend into place and holes can be drilled with little effort.

In general, black (plastic or painted) and silver (plastic or polished) are the most readily available colors. Fortunately, silver or black will match almost any bike.

If you want fenders of a particular color to match your bike's frame, it is best to buy them with the bike. It is possible to have aluminum or steel fenders painted or powder coated to match the frame later, but it is an extra step that adds time and expense.

For full protection from spraying water, curved fenders should be at least 1/2 inch or 10 mm wider than your tires. 1.5" x 26" tires work well with 2" (50 mm) fenders, for example. If the tires are too wide, a little water may spray off the edge of the tire, but most will still be caught by the center of the fender. There should be at least 1/2 inch or 10 mm of clearance between the tire and fender, to prevent rocks, mud or snow from clogging things up.

Many plastic fenders, especially those designed for road bikes and "clip-on" finders, are not long enough to keep feet dry and the bike clean. The front fender should come and close to the ground as possible; those that have a rubber or leather mud-flap can come closest without limiting clearance. On the rear wheel, a short fender may not bother you, but it will spray mud and water on bike riders behind you!

Even worse are the flat fenders which have recently been stylish. Flat strips of bamboo or metal may look nice and "minimalist", but will drip off quite a bit of water to the side while you ride.

Full-length fenders, designed to fit your bike, will make it much more pleasant to ride when the road is wet and muddy, and will keep your bike in good condition.

Friday, May 9, 2014

BULLITT Cargo Bike

While a number of North American designers have developed "longtail" cargo bikes, where the kids or freight are carried in back, the Dutch and Danish prefer keeping things up front. LARRY VS HARRY, a shop in Copenhagen, designed the BULLITT to be a relatively light-weight and speedy way to transport cargo and children.

Most of the models come standard with a 7 or 8-speed internal gear hub in the rear, disc brake in the front, a custom kick-stand and fenders. Derailleur gearing and e-assist are also available. The riding position is somewhat leaned-forward, especially for taller riders, and there is no step-thru frame option. The modern-looking aluminum frame is meant to be extra stiff, to prevent twisting even with heavy loads.

I had a chance to test-ride this bike alone and with kids in the front (in a version that has an added kid seat); the handling is similar to a road bike, with responsive (or twitchy) steering which takes a minute to get used to. Disc brakes are a good idea on a bike meant to carry weight at high speeds.

These bikes have been reviewed by:
Josh Volk
Lovely Bicycle
Momentum Magazine

Many of the Bullitts in the USA are sold by Splendid Cycles in Portland, Oregon, but they are also available in a few other cities. The bike comes as shown, but most people pay for a child seat or cargo box to be added, and an electric bike version with a lithium battery pack is also very popular. A frameset costs $2350 alone. The complete bike with Alfine 8-speed hub is $3500. The e-bike version with a BionX rear hub is a grand more, $4500. Dynamo hubs and lights are an option.

Due to the relatively narrow cargo deck (no wider than the handlebars), one child can fit easily, but only small kids can double up.  Winther, another Danish bike company, makes an adaptation of the Bullitt frame called the Wallaroo, which has a wider child carrier included, to fit two kids side-by-side. However, there is only one current USA dealer, JC Lind in Chicago.
BULLITT Specifications (ALFINE 8 version):

shifterAlfine 8 speed
rear drivetrainAlfine 8 speed
bottom bracketAlfine
chainSRAM 9-speed
brake leversAvid
brakes frontAvid BB7
brake rearAvid BB7
rotorsShimano centerlock
HeadsetFSA Pig
stemCivia Midtown 25.4
gripsCivia Ergo
pedalWellgo Platform
fenders20″ front/26″ rear black
tire frontSchwalbe Marathon 20×2
tire rearSchwalbe Marathon 26×2
tube frontSlime tube 20″
tube rearSlime tube 26″
rim stripSchwalbe rim liners
wheel frontAlfine/Alex DM24 rim/stainless spokes
wheel rearAlfine/Alex DM24 rim/stainless spokes

BULLITT Geometry:

Monday, May 5, 2014

What makes a Bike For The Rest Of Us?

In a new weekly series, we will be going over the "extra" parts that make a bicycle useful for everyday transportation.

1) Fenders
2) Chain guard
3) Baskets and racks
4) Gears
5) Lights
6) Brakes
7) Lock
8) Kickstand
9) Bell

Over the next weeks, we will be reviewing these one at a time.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Kinn Cascade Flyer

Kinn is new company with 1 model of family oriented bike in Oregon. The frame, wheels and many other parts are made locally.

The Cascade Flyer is part of a new class of bikes called "mid-tails", shorter and lighter than a "long-tail" cargo bike, such as Yuba Mundo or an Xtracycle, but long enough to carry a kid plus a couple of panniers. And it comes with everyone you need, except for lights: integrated rack, fenders, chainguard, dual kickstand, 8-speed internal gear hub, disc brakes and a leather saddle.

The designer wanted a bike that was sturdy and long enough to carry his grandkids along with a couple of bags of groceries, but short and light enough to ride to work and around town. It also is just short enough to fit on a bus rack for bikes, with the front wheel turned backwards: this explains the curve in the down-tube. The geometry is designed to handle similarly to a modern hybrid or city bike, with 72 degree frame angles, and full-size 700c wheels (built by hand in Portland).

Front wheel twists so the bike can fit a standard bus rack
The 8-speed Alfine IGH version costs $2350 for a complete bike as shown. A 27-speed derailleur option is the same price. Unfortunately, there is no small size; riders shorter than 5'2" are out of luck, but medium to tall people should fit.

This can be a good option for a person who wants a made-in-the-USA, fully equipped bike that can haul groceries and a kid, and also serve as a commuter bike and city bike. I wish the complete build included dynamo lights. Considering that the wheels are hand-built locally, it may be possible to add this on to the order for an additional cost. If not, the front wheel should sell easily on Ebay.

You also get some fancy extras, like the bamboo rack top with hidden lockbox:

This bike has been reviewed by Lovely Bicycle and covered by Bikeportland

Hand made in Portland Oregon from heat-treated Cro-moly steel tubing. Fits tires up to 1.75″ wide (700x42mm) with fenders.
Fork has eyelets for front rack at dropout and mid-blade.
Regular  (5’2”-5’10”)  or  Large (5’8”-6’4”)
Three Colors
Sardinian Sea, Red Earth, Clean Slate
Built-in Rear Rack
Rated for 130lbs (60kg) to easily carry a child and groceries.
21″ rack with bamboo deck.
Child Transport
Built-in Yepp EasyFit window for direct child seat mounting.
Integrated footpeg mounts.
Cargo Capacity
Pannier rails fit standard panniers even with a Yepp child seat attached
Shimano triple 44-32-22
Kinn 36t Aluminum Crankset with Ring-guard
Shimano 9 spd 11-34 Cassette.
Shimano Alfine 8-speed Internal hub
with 20T cog
Shimano Alivio 430 trigger shifter
Shimano Alfine Trigger

Hand-built in Portland by Sugar Wheelworks
Rims & spokes
Alex DM-18 700C silver rims, with 36 14G stainless steel spokes
Shimano SLX  or Shimano Alfine hubs
700c x 35mm, with reflective sidewall and puncture guard
Brakes & Levers
Avid BB5 mechanical disk brakes for all weather stopping power
Tektro 3 finger levers
VP-560 silver alloy platform pedals
Handlebar, Grips & Bell
Alloy touring/city bar and lacquered cork grips and classic brass bell
Velo comfort saddle
Silver alloy 27.2mm x 350mm
Polished aluminum stem. 90mm (small) 110mm (large)
Alloy full coverage fenders with mud flaps and rear reflector.
Chainguard, double kickstand, footpegs