Books for Bicyclists

I recently starting working at a busy downtown library here in Tampa. One of the first things I did was to consult our online catalog to see which, if any, books on bicycling our library had on its shelves. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few! Here are some of the ones I’ve read over the past couple months, organized by type:

Bicycling History and Development

Classic American Bicycles by Jay Pridmore (MBI Publishers, 1999). This book covers the many popular brands (Schwinn, Huffy, Columbia, Roadmaster, etc. and includes many color photographs.

The Dancing Chain: History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle by Frank Berto, et al. (Van der Plas, 2005). This is an exhaustive volume covering the origins and development of the shifting mechanisms we’re all so familiar with. This book is filled with historical photographs and manufacturers specifications and is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the component manufacturers such as Campagnolo, Huret and Shimano.
The Dancing Chain

No Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, an American Institution by Judith Crown and Glenn Coleman (H. Holt, 1996). This is an incredible account of the history and market dominance of family-owned Schwinn Bicycles. The book offers a no-holds-barred analysis of the embarrassing and mostly avoidable financial downfall of one of America’s great bike makers.

Bicycle Touring and Culture

Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia by Roff Martin Smith (Adventure Press, 2000). This book chronicles the author’s circumnavigation of the Australian continent, from charming seaside towns to blistering desert. The author meets quite a few characters along the way, too.

Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman’s Bicycle Trip through Mongolia, China and Vietnam by Erika Warmbrunn (Mountaineers Books, 2001). Erika Warmbrunn writes a captivating tale of her experiences riding a bicycle from Russia into Mongolia and China and beyond. It’s a truly amazing story, and her experiences with the native people of those regions are heartwarming.

Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle by David Lamb (Times Books, 1996). The author decides to get on his bike one day and travel from the East Coast all the way to California. This is an inspiring and funny tale of his adventures, filled with just enough bike-geekery to keep diehards entertained for hours.

The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power by Travis Hugh Culley (Villard Books, 2001). This book looks into the mystique of bicycle messengers, those daredevils of the concrete canyons. The author covers all aspects of his experiences and includes a good bit of railing against America’s carbound, consumer-based culture. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
The Immortal Class

Bicycle Repair and Maintenance

Zinn and the Art of Road Bike/Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn (VeloPress, 2005). These two books are some of the best repair manuals currently on the market – filled with useful tips from the man who builds custom bicycles and components and writes the many tech articles for VeloNews.com.

Sloane’s New Bicycle Repair Manual by Eugene Sloane (Simon and Schuster, 1991). There may be more recent editions of this book, but this is a fantastic “starter� repair manual for the budding home mechanic. It covers tool selection and overhaul/maintenance of all major bicycle systems. I have an older edition of this book at home – no V brakes or disc brakes are covered, nor are suspension systems.

Bicycling Magazine’s Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair for Road and Mountain Bikes by Jim Langley (Rodale Press, 1999). Here is another great starter manual covering nearly everything one needs to know about maintaining your own bicycle fleet. Again, there may be more recent editions that cover disc brakes and such.

Bicycle!: A Repair and Maintenance Manifesto by Sam Tracy (Speck Press, 2005). This is an irreverent look at bicycle repair, written in a hip manifesto style. Not terribly well-arranged, but fun (if not particularly useful) information.
Bicycle!

Childrens’ Books

Anatole by Eve Titus; illustrations by Paul Galdone (McGraw-Hill, 1956). This children’s classic is about a mouse named Anatole who devises a great way to keep his family fed with the finest cheeses in all of France. It’s not about bikes, but Anatole and his friends ride bikes through the streets of Paris. Kids and adults love it!!

Super Grandpa by David Schwartz and Bert Dodson (Tortuga Press, 2005). Based on a true story, an elderly gentleman is told by race officials that he is too old to race in the upcoming Tour of Sweden. Because the old man is stubborn, he decides to do it anyway, riding through the nights and sleeping during the days. He rides 600 miles to start the race, rides 1000 miles during the race and WINS, then rides 600 miles back home. In the meantime, the old man becomes a national hero. This is one of my favorite children’s books of all time!!!
Super Grandpa

So, visit your local library, and if you have other book recommendations, we’d love to hear about them!

Make Your Own Bicycle Themed Shirt!

This one is pretty easy to do. First grab a dark colored shirt. In fact, use black since it will turn out better. I used this brownish grey shirt as a sample. Then grab an old chain ring.

Then fill up a small spay bottle with bleach and lay down the chain ring in the center of the shirt, afterwards, SPRAY!

Just make sure you spray evenly and make it look neat. Once you’re down spraying it down, carefully remove the chainring, making sure you don’t drip any of the bleach onto the rest of the shirt. You’ll notices that you all ready have a cool pattern stenciled out.

Here’s how it looks once it has dried out.

A closer look, cool huh? Now go wear it and show people that you dig bikes!

Dynamic “Crosstown 7” Shaft-Drive Bicycle

The other day, I got a package in the mail from Dynamic Bicycles. Hmm…what is it?

Look what came in the mail!

The good folks at Dynamic offered their “Crosstown 7” commuter bike to us for testing. In many respects, it is like so many other commuter-oriented bicycles on the market — aluminum frame, mounting points for fenders and rear rack, upright riding position. Where this bike differs, however, is how power gets from the pedals to the rear hub. This bike uses a very clever and deceptively simple shaft-drive. Yeah, that’s right — no greasy chain, no chainrings to chew up your pants. In fact, Dynamic takes things a step further by mounting the shaft-drive to a Shimano Nexus Inter-7 internal hub. So, no derailleurs either!

Here’s how the bike looks once removed from the packaging and assembled (a process that takes all of 10 minutes):
The assembled bike -- do you notice what's missing from this picture?

Here’s some of the specs, straight from the manufacturer’s website:

    7005 Aluminum Frame, butted for light weight
    Aluminum front fork
    Alex DA-16 High Profile Alloy Rims (28-38C tires)
    Kenda EuroTour Tires, 700x35C, 50-85psi
    Dynamic Street Shaft Drive
    Shimano Nexus Inter-7 Gearing, All-internal (17-gear range)
    Shimano Nexus 7-speed Twist Grip Shift
    Tektro Quartz alloy brakes; front disc brake optional
    Tektro 2-finger Alloy brake levers
    Base price: $679.00

Shaft-driven bicycles have been around for over 100 years, but most were plagued by problems with complexity and durability. Not so for this bike — Dynamic’s shaft-drive assembly, manufactured for them by Sussex, appears in every way to be rugged, well-sealed from the elements and elegantly simple, both inside and out. Here is a picture of the shaft-drive as mounted on the bicycle:
The shaft drive assembly, mounted to a Nexus internal hub.

Over the next two or three weeks, I will be riding this bicycle exclusively both for my work commute and for my recreational rides. Stay tuned for a full-length review. In the meantime, check out Dynamic’s excellent “FAQ” page. Also, check out their supercool Java-based animation of the shaft drive assembly in action!

Thirst over style

My assumption that the reason why the Swobo Sanchez does not have water bottle bosses is because of the ‘Track Style’ that the bike tries to achieve. Since my Deuter Backpack does not have enough room for my non-casual friday stuff, I decided to install a water bottle holder on my handlebars.

To hell with style, being hydrated under 90 degree heat really beats looking cool.