Photos from NAHBS 2011 in Austin, Texas

Our dear friend (and former Bikecommuters.com writer) Russ Roca is on the scene at the 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Austin, Texas. We asked him to take photos of the commuter-friendly offerings to share with you, and photos have begun trickling in to his Flickr account.

Classy Retrotec, inspired in no small part by Dutch “Oma” bicycles:
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A beautiful Littleford touring bike:
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To take a look at the full set, please visit Russ’s NAHBS Flickr stream by clicking here. More photos will appear throughout the weekend, so check back here and at Russ’s photo page. One of these years, we’re going to have to go to this show ourselves and get an eyeful of some handmade bike beauties!

Skirts, bike shoes and lunchtime rides

Nearly 60-degrees mid-February in Chicago?!? Yes. That was one week ago today. Perfect for a leisurely lunchtime joy ride with Dottie from LGRAB.

This week Chicago is back to the usual frigid, snowy weather. In fact, I encountered “thundersnow” and sleet on my bike commute home last night – definitely no joy ride last night.

In honor of the springtime warm-up, I dressed for the occasion – wearing a skirt with bike capris layered beneath and just a long-sleeve top (and only packed the lightweight windbreaker).
spring fashion

For the first time in months, I donned my bike shoes and clipped in for the commute. Amazing feeling and oneness with my bike again, especially to battle the headwind on the bike commute to work. And on my hands — Look ma! – exposed fingers!
fingerless gloves

And then I did something I usually never do — I took a lunchtime bike ride along Chicago’s lakefront. My friend Dottie from LGRAB joined me as we huffed our way into the wind toward the Museum Campus and then enjoyed the push and effortless ride back north to our respective workplace afternoon meeting appointments. Along the way we frolicked through puddles and muddy lakefront path terrain.

muddiness
(Thank goodness our bikes are decked out with full fenders for the mess we encountered.)

Like giddy school girls at recess, we played and photographed our way along the lake. Neither of us wore our jacket/sweater.
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I even endured a bit of chill on the way back north in defiance of the cold. And Dottie had her own snag in her tights (tell-tale sign of too much fun during the work day?).
tights snag

Even if it only lasted one day, spring was in the air. Ah! Breathe it in and feel the vitality all around. Hopefully it keeps us all going until spring arrives for good and all that snow finally melts into a sunny summer.
muddy-spring

Breezer Uptown 8 — First Impressions

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we took delivery of a Breezer Uptown 8 for testing. The folks at Breezer were kind enough to let us hang onto the bike for a couple months so we could really get a good feel for it. I’m not quite ready for the full review (that should appear here in a couple weeks), but I wanted to share some of my first impressions with you.

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Overwhelmingly at the top of my list is that despite the Breezer’s complexity — it is absolutely loaded down with every bell and whistle a commuter could possibly ask for — riding it is utter simplicity.

Say what? Look, it’s like this: this is a bike you simply jump on and go…no checking whether lights were installed or left on the kitchen counter at home, no running out of battery power midway through a ride, no rolling up pants legs or using one of those trouser clips, no funny “clickety-clack” shoes, no chain maintenance and no worrying about the delicate shifter parts getting gummed up or knocked out of place. Simply step through the frame, flip the switch to activate the generator-powered lights and off you ride! This is INCREDIBLY liberating…what was once a task of a few minutes getting any of my other bikes ready to go (lights, batteries, tires, lube, pants/cuff/shoes) has been whittled down to, “got enough pressure in the tires? Good enough.” I am sold on the concept of hub generators and since I started riding the Breezer, I’ve been fantasizing about equipping all my other commuter bikes with them.

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We’ve tested a number of bikes with internally-geared hubs on Bikecommuters.com in the past, so there’s nothing new to report with the Breezer and its Nexus Premium 8-speed rear hub. It works nearly flawlessly, can be shifted at a standstill or under load and allows Breezer to spec a full chaincase — not just a chainguard — to seal the chain away from the elements. I’ve heard tales of Breezer owners going for several years without ever servicing their chains.

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Riding the Breezer is comfortable and stable, with the upright stance typical of this class of city bike. Everything fits and feels just right. You won’t be setting any speed records aboard the Uptown 8, but then again it wasn’t designed for such riding. Things are looking good for the long term!

Please stay tuned for the full-scale review, which should be along shortly. In the meantime, check out Breezer’s urban lineup by visiting their website.

Florida Bike Month is Almost Here!

We here in Florida like to kick things off a bit early…while most of the rest of the nation celebrates National Bike Month in May, we go our own way and do things in March.

For folks in the Tampa Bay area, the Tampa Downtown Partnership and the New North Transportation Alliance have compiled a list of activities for the end of February, all of March and into May itself. Take a look:

Florida’s Bike Month Activities March, 2011
Visit www.TampaBayCycle.com or become a Tampa BayCycle Fan on Facebook for more information on all of the rides/classes/events listed.

All month:
– Tampa BayCycle Ambassador membership
– Free use of locker/shower at Downtown YMCA branches for bike commuters
– Weekly Discounts at City Bike Tampa
– Words for Wheels bike giveaway contest submissions (due March 2)
– Every Monday Tampa Bike Co-op free hands on bike maintenance clinics
– Every Thursday @7pm weekly rides from downtown Tampa www.citybiketampa.com
– Every Friday Group Bike to Work rides into downtown Tampa and USF from various locations
– Every Friday free bicycle valet parking at the Tampa Downtown Market
– Every Saturday different rides sponsored by the Seminole Heights Bike Club, SWAMP Club, Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium, Just Ride Bicycles, Grupetto Meet Up

February 18-19 Traffic Skills 101 class

February 24 Urban Restaurant Tour, sponsored by City Bike Tampa

Tuesday 3/1 Clearwater Sustainability Plan open house 4:30 – 7:30pm www.myclearwater.com/greenprint

Friday 3/4 Bike month kick off at the Tampa Downtown Market 10am – 2pm

Saturday 3/5 USF Bicycle Scavenger Hunt

Saturday 3/5 Urban Safety Class sponsored by City Bike Tampa

Saturday, Sunday 3/5 and 3/6 Store expansion celebration at Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium

Monday 3/7 Ride Your Bike, Get in Free! 7:30pm Lightning game. Secure bike parking at St. Pete Times Forum

Thursday 3/24 Free Flat Repair Clinic 7-9pm sponsored by Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium

Friday 3/25 Critical Mass Ride, Seminole Heights Bike Club

Saturday 3/26 Tampa’s Downtown Bike Race and Festival 10:30am – 8:00pm

Saturday 3/26 First Annual Pinellas County English Attire Ride 10:00am

Thursday 3/31 Urban Restaurant Tour, sponsored by City Bike Tampa

April 1-3 Bike League Certified Instructor training

Saturday 5/14 Urban Safety Class sponsored by City Bike Tampa

Thursday 5/26 Free Flat Repair Clinic 7-9pm sponsored by Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium

Thursday 5/26 Urban Restaurant Tour, sponsored by City Bike Tampa
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There are a lot of good events to choose from, and I’ll report on more as they are announced. There are some upcoming group “ride to work” rides, and once I locate the map and details I’ll share them with you. Also, I hope to attend a number of these events as time allows, and I’ll be sure to carry my camera along to record the details. Stay tuned!

R.I.P Harry Montague

I saw on the Google Alert’s bicycling roundup that bicycle inventor Harry Montague passed away. That name may sound familiar to some of you, as we introduced the full-size folding Montague “Boston” bike on our trip to Interbike in 2009.

In the early 1980s, he turned his eye to bicycles. By adding hinges and hand-adjustable levers, he could fold a full-size mountain bike into the trunk of a car. Folded down, its dimensions were 36 inches wide, 30 inches tall and 12 inches deep. It weighed less than 30 pounds.

The traditional bicycle “has a perfect design that has been around since the turn of the century, but it’s too big for an urban setting,” Mr. Montague told The Washington Post in 1988. “My idea was to make a high-performance bicycle that can fit in a closet.”

Read the full obituary by visiting the Washington Post.