RED YOU R DEAD Masher-Review

BikeCommuters.com (west coast) received the RYD Masher back in September to review. I just have to make sure I note that this product was sent to us as a demo; we did not get paid for the review. Here’s our disclaimer.

What: Red You R Dead Masher

Specs:Frame – 100% 4130 Full Cro-Mo
Fork – Full 4130 Cro-Mo, straight rake
Headset – Fully Integrated, Neco Alloy 1-1/8″ Threadless
Handlebars – RYD Alloy 2″ Riser Bar, 480 mm width
Stem – RYD Alloy 60mm extension
Grips – RYD 120mm
Seat – RYD, Steel Rail
Seat Post – Alloy 26.6 x 300
Crankset – 3pc. Lasco Alloy Forged 165mm, 46t
Chain – KMC Z410 white
Pedals – Alloy Body 9/16″, plus PLASTIC cages w/ double leather straps
Front Rim – Maya 650c Alloy double wall 32h, w/ black stainless steel spokes
Rear Rim – Maya 700c Alloy double wall 32h, w/ black stainless steel spokes
Front Hub – KT Alloy 32h, loose ball, nutted
Rear Hub – KT fixed/free Alloy 32h, loose ball nutted, 16t fixed cog
Tires – Kenda Road Racing, 700x23c

Price:$599

I’ve been riding the Masher for a few months now. This bike isn’t your typical commuter bike that we often review, the kind that has fenders, racks and etc. But I wanted to get some time on this fixed gear rig because one of the favorite commuter bikes I’ve ever ridden was my old Redline 925 and I commuted with that as a fixie.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this bike. Let me start off with how the Masher felt on the road. Since this thing uses 4130 Cro-mo, I looked forward to the smooth riding experience. Sure enough, the Masher lived up to the promise of a nice riding steel bike.

With the 650c front wheel, I was concerned that I would be leaning over too much. But to my surprise, the smaller front wheel didn’t affect my riding position. One thing I did enjoy about the 650c front wheel was the lack of toe over-lap. That’s pretty important especially if you’re riding a fixie, you don’t want your front tire clipping your foot as you’re making a turn.

You may have already noticed that the Masher doesn’t come with brakes. Since this bike really was built as track/trick bike, brakes were not included. Even if I wanted to install a rear brake, I probably wouldn’t because the sidewall of the wheels are painted and having a set of brakes grabbing the rim wouldn’t be too effective nor would it be pretty. So what does that mean for a boy like me who is used to grabbing a fist full of brakes when I need to stop? Fortunately, I’ve had prior fixie riding experience so I already know how to slow down my pedaling or skid stop if necessary.

Some of you are already thinking, “what about the fenders and rack?” Nope. This doesn’t come with them. Besides, the Masher doesn’t have the ability to accept traditional racks — it’s a track bike. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use P-Clamps to install them. Fenders… I’m sure you can fit in some nice Planet Bike fenders in there with the use of P-Clamps.
However, there’s a certain level of “cool” that you would lose if you were to add those accessories. Let’s be honest, if you’re going to buy the Masher, you’re not likely to put on those things just because it would make it look goofy. Anytime I needed to carry stuff, I just busted out my handy dandy Banjo Brothers Commuter Back Pack.

Since the Masher is a fixie, there are less things to go wrong. During the last few weeks of testing, the bike never had any major problems. However, it did develop a slight creaking when I would “mash” (get it) on the pedals. That problem was quickly remedied by greasing up the threads on the pedals and adding a bit of lube on the chain.

As far as handling and performance, the Masher is quick and nimble. It’s hard to describe, but when I would mash on the pedals, to get into a sprint, the bike would respond. One of the things I’ve noticed with bikes is that aluminum frames tend to have a snappier feel when sprinting, but with steel, I can feel the rear end trying to catch up with the rest of the bike. But with the Masher I get that same snappy feel as aluminum.

The gearing on the Masher was a bit too big for my liking. The 46/16t drive train made it a bit tough to start at the stop lights. I think a 42/15t would have been more ideal for all around use. The area I live in is relatively hilly. In fact there’s one hill by my place that I usually use to test bikes on. When I took the Masher up this hill, I really struggled with the 46/16. I know for a fact that the 42/15 combo works really well for this climb and it was tall enough to get some good speed on it.

Overall, the RYD Masher really is a great bike. It’s very comfy, it is super attractive and it has been reliable throughout this time. I think for the price of $599, you’re getting a great ride. Just think about it, 4130 cro-mo, all white (I dig white bikes) and this is the kind of bike that will need very little, if any, maintenance. I understand that a fixie or even this trick/track bike isn’t for everyone, but for those who are in the market for this style of bike, you really can’t go wrong with the Masher.

Ride You R Dead Masher

By the way, for those that aren’t too familiar with fixies or fixed gear bikes, here’s a great video that showcases them:

2010 Bike Calendar

The other day I finished creating three Chicago-themed 2010 calendarsChicago Bikes, Chicago Flowers and Chicago Scapes. All calendars are created from photos I’ve taken throughout this past year.
bike calendar

All proceeds from the sale of these 2010 calendars will directly benefit the Chicago Ride of SIlence that I coordinate each May. Today only the site I’ve used to create these calendars is offering a Black Friday deal of 40% off and free shipping!

Dottie’s Oma from LGRAB is even featured as Ms. September! (thanks for the cross-post.)
bike calendar september

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving!

Turkey Day Commute

During a typical holiday, I usually take a holiday from the bike, too, and get in the car to go home to spend time with family and friends in the suburbs. Today, however, I’m thankful to have bike commuted to the Thanksgiving feast hosted by my mom.

This morning after checking the Metra schedules (our regional train system out to the Chicago suburbs), it felt great to be giving my car the holiday on this Turkey Day.

At a balmy 40 degrees, my ride to the train station took me down a sparsely populated lakefront path, where I passed by runners leaving the annual Turkey Trot running event in Lincoln Park and saw other runners who decided to run solo along the lake.

My bike and I just made it in time to board the train. Luckily, the conductor allowed us both to board; he even had to nudge a few folks out of the seats in the designated bike space. (They wouldn’t leave when I asked them… but I’m thankful they moved without too much protest). Most folks stared at me like I was an alien boarding with my space cruiser. After the initial shock, I like to think they were impressed with my commuting choice.

When I got home, my mom peered out the window, thinking “you biked all the way home???”

She was much relieved to hear that Metra helped with my commute.

She already had the table all set

Now the turkeys are in the oven

Let the feasting begin! Thanks MOM!

Happy Thanksgiving from Chicago!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

On behalf of the staff here at Bikecommuters.com/MtnBikeRiders.com, I want to wish all of you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving…even those of you who don’t celebrate with televised football, excessive eating and hanging out with your irritating inlaws!

turkey

Since I’m in the thanksgiving mood, I want to let you know that we’re thankful for YOU, our faithful readers. Without you, this site would be pointless — the conversations we have, the varied opinions of our contributors and the wealth of information we can share with each other makes this whole endeavor completely worthwhile. We may not always agree on everything, and that’s ok…variety is the spice of life. So, thanks!!!

Keep the flesh side up and the rubber side down, and we’ll be back in the next couple of days once the tryptophan wears off.

Review: Velo Orange Anti-Theft Wheel Skewers

A few weeks ago, Perry from Velo Orange sent us a courtesy (read: “free”) pair of their new anti-theft skewers to test out.

vo

We’ve discussed wheel security strategies in the past, and some of the drawbacks of existing “non-QR” skewers have been addressed by Velo Orange in their design. Read on!

Many of you have noticed that most new bikes (even ones billed as “urban” or “commuter friendly”) come with wheels that have traditional quick-release skewers installed. Obviously, this creates additional security headaches…without a good locking strategy, those wheels are quite easy to steal and could certainly use more protection.

Enter the non-QR skewer — replacing the cam lever with a fixed head that accepts a 5 mm hex key. While not foolproof, these non-QR skewers surely deter casual wheel thieves, but many savvy criminals now carry hex keys to swipe wheels and components off poorly-secured bikes.

Those non-QR skewers weren’t good enough for Velo Orange, so they set out to create an inexpensive alternative to Pitlock/Hublox-style skewers by using a standard “security fitting” on the head of the skewer. The Velo Orange skewer’s hex fitting has a raised “pin” in the center, defeating standard hex keys by requiring a special key with a centrally-drilled hole. Here’s a look at the VO skewer head:

head

And corresponding 5 mm “security” hex key:

hex

The VO skewers are made of chromed steel for the skewer itself and anodized aluminum for the clamping ends. Most non-QR skewers on the market have serrated faces on the aluminum ends, and I’ve experienced quite a bit of slippage over the years using such skewers on horizontal dropouts. VO did their homework on these skewers, as there is a serrated STEEL face pressed onto each aluminum end. It’s an extra touch that means these things will not slip once tightened down. Here’s a look at the nonslip face:

face

As a test platform, and in keeping with the spirit of the Velo Orange company (lovers of all things French), I installed the skewers on my 1971 French “Astra” citybike…well, not quite. Currently, VO offers the skewers in a length to handle a standard 100 mm front hub and 135 mm rear hub spacing. My Astra has a 126 mm hub with a short axle, so I couldn’t use the VO skewer on the rear. Velo Orange indicates that other sizes will be available soon. For now, the rear skewer went onto my Xtracycle (which had a QR skewer with the lever pipe-clamped to the subframe of the Xtra).

The test platform:

astra

As for testing these skewers, I can say this: once they are clamped down, those serrated faces do the trick. The wheel will NOT slip within the dropouts. I’m loathe to test the anti-theft nature of these skewers by parking my bike in a high-crime area, but I’m confident that these skewers will convince all but the most dedicated scofflaw to move on to easier targets.

I only have one negative to include about the VO skewers…only one special hex key is included in the package, and replacement keys are not yet available from VO. So, for now, don’t lose the key!!!

Currently, the Velo Orange anti-theft skewers are on sale for $12.00. They’re worth twice that in peace of mind.

We’ve got some other Velo Orange products in the review pipeline, so stay tuned in the next few weeks for more.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.