Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Last Roundup in Sin City: Batter(y) up!

September 25, 2017

The Tern GSD in mango.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (MDM) — To e-bike, or not to e-bike: That is the question. …

We all know the e-bike is the latest and greatest entry in The Next Big Thing™ sweepstakes. Previous contenders include mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, single-speeds, city bikes, cargo bikes, fatbikes, etc., et al., and so on and so forth (thanks for playing).

Some of us think you can’t sell a certain subset of Americans a two-wheeler if it doesn’t have an engine — and sometimes, not even then (Harley sales hit a five-year low last year).

That said, in comments Comrade Herb warns: “Let’s all be careful and not snark too much about e-bikes. Lord [knows], anything that gets people out of the house and out from behind their SUV’s wheel is a good thing. And if it keeps my local bike shop alive I’m more than happy to go along with the addition to the two-wheel choices.”

And Consigliere Larry adds: “I’ve boiled my e-bike opinion down to this: E-bike instead of car? Wonderful. E-bike instead of bicycle? Not so good.”

Maybe this is the ticket: When it comes to commuting or cargo, a little electrical assist is preferable to dinosaur drive.

CyclingTips tech editor James Huang said on Twitter yesterday that he’s been living the e-cargo-bike life since January 2016, adding: “No other bike in the fleet has as big an impact on my life as that one, no question.”

The bike that most recently caught his eye was the Tern GSD. James first saw it at Eurobike, and the rest of us saw it at Interbike, and I have to admit it was impressive. With MSRP starting at $4,000 the GSD can haul kids, and cargo, and it can tour — the Bosch motor with dual batteries is said to have a range of more than 250km, which is further than I plan to travel on my meat-powered machine today, or even this week.

But questions remain. Who’s gonna buy it? And who’s gonna sell it?

I’ve heard some folks say the e-bike is a natural fit for cycling’s aging demographic, which means they’re hoping to pitch it to the same faces they’ve seen under helmets since hairnets were cool. Others say the e-bike is attracting an entirely new customer.

And still others want nothing to do with the goddamn things, wary of the sales-and-service downsides of becoming an early adopter. Some of these folks might be stuck holding fatbikes they can’t unload, or worried about the rules, regulations and fees that Big Gummint might decide to tack onto these beasties should they begin turning up on America’s streets in quantity.

Are these shop owners missing out? Ceding TNBT™ to specialty e-bike retailers, or motorcycle dealerships? Yamaha’s in the game now, and the bike biz is basically a rounding error on that balance sheet.

What are your thoughts? Anyone out there own an e-bike, or sell ’em? Give us the buzz in comments.

Last Roundup in Sin City: A rendezvous of strangers

September 22, 2017

Everybody’s working for the weekend.

LAS VEGAS (MDM) — Every morning I get up a little later, and a little slower, and every morning the line at Starbucks gets a little longer, and a little grouchier.

I remember the women working this location just off the Luxor lobby. We’ve seen each other for three mornings in September for years, and I always tip massively, because nobody should have to deal with me for free first thing in the morning unless they’ve committed some outrageous sin, like saying, “I do.”

So I get my cuppa, with smiles and light banter for dessert. One asked if they’d see me tomorrow, and I said, no, I’ll be checking out, and she wished me a safe journey home.

I didn’t tell her that we’d never see each other again, because once I snap that pic of Sin City in my rear-view mirror, I will never come back to this place, not in this life. But I will remember these women working their 21st-century assembly line, building new mornings for strangers, one cup at a time.

Speaking of sunny smiles, I caught up with Larry over lunch at Rí Rá yesterday. He knows all things Italian, but had a few questions as regards the menu at this Gaelic beanery in the Shoppes at Mandalay.

“What do the Irish drink?” he enquired.

“Everything,” I replied. Hey, you gotta swing for the fences when they pitch ’em slow like that.

On Wednesday my Adventure Cyclist comrades Alex Strickland, Nick Legan, Rick Bruner and Your Humble Narrator passed a couple pleasant hours discussing the eternal verities and remembering Mike Deme over Mexican food at the El Dorado Cantina.

You may recall from our 2015 coverage that the El Dorado adjoins a “gentlemen’s club,” but as in ’15, we restricted our activities to the side of the joint where everyone was keeping their clothes on.

And the show, you ask? It’s the show. A little smaller, a little less vibrant, and surprisingly short on bikes without batteries. But we managed to find a few unenhanced models suitable for the adventurous cyclist, and we’ll discuss those in greater detail further on down the road.

Next: Leaving Las Vegas.

So much winning!

September 14, 2017

The Marin Nicasio, up against the Wall of Science here at El Rancho Pendejo.

There’s a new review bike in the queue at El Rancho Pendejo — a Marin Nicasio.

I picked it up from the fine folks at the local Performance Bicycle shop this morning, and it practically goes without saying that ever since it’s been raining on and off because of course it has.

The Nicasio (Professor Google informs me that the name* is from the Greek for “the victorious one”) is one of those affordable do-whatever machines, with steel tubes, drop bar and disc brakes. Part of Marin’s “Beyond Road” stable, it comes with skinny-ish Schwalbes but will take the fatties, and the 2×8 Shimano Claris reminds me of the good ol’ daze spent rippin’ it up with eight-speed Ultegra, which can still be found on four bikes in the fleet.

OK, so, full disclosure, one of those bikes uses a blend of eight-speed Ultegra, Dura-Ace and XT. Sue me.

Anyway, more as I learn it. And no, I haven’t ordered up a thousand-dollar iPhone X or the Apple Watch Series 3 yet, thanks all the same. Have you?

* Prof. G just told me that Nicasio is also a place in (wait for it) Marin County, Calif. Duh.

That Voodoo that I do

September 10, 2017

The Voodoo Nakisi, parked up near the Pino Trail outside the Elena Gallegos picnic area.

Labor Day may be the unofficial end of summer for a lot of yis, but for me, it’s always Interbike.

In the olden days, when I was still a man instead of whatever it is that I am now, I would have already squeezed at least one cyclocross under my bibs by the time Le Shew Bigge rolled around.

Your Humble Narrator working a barrier at one of those long-ago cyclocrosses.

But my final race was in 2004, and as the Last Roundup in Sin City approaches I’m mostly rolling around to no particular purpose, on whichever bike amuses me at the moment, free of licensing, race number and organizational responsibilities (that first race of each new season was usually the one I promoted).

This aimless pedaling about keeps me out of the office, where the temptation is to overload the wagon like some dumb-ass pilgrim lugging all his proud-ofs to the frontier.

Do I want to do any podcasting from Interbike? Video? If one or the other, or both, which MacBook do I take, the 13-incher or the 15-incher? Thank God I’m down to one functional camera. That’s one equipment-selection decision successfully avoided.

Unless I want to buy a new camera. …

No, goddamnit, knock that shit off. Confine yourself to the bloggery. Avoid the hernia.

I always think it would be fun to do something different, and I always wind up doing the same damn thing — wandering around with a pad and pen, talking to people, an informal process that can be knocked all to hell by these consarned newfangled ee-lectronical comosellamas.

It’s all good fun until someone gets hurt. And that someone is likely to be me. If I wanted to carry a rucksack with a hunnerd pounds of gear for money I’d join the damn Army, is what. I got the haircut already.

In other news, Red Ryder has gone to The Big Roundup In the Sky. And no, he didn’t shoot his eye out.

Back to work!

September 5, 2017

Up and at ’em!

The (Communist) party’s over, comrades. Assume the position! Nose to grindstone! Hup hup!

Last night we enjoyed breaded pork chops from “Dad’s Own Cookbook” by Bob Sloan, seared Brussels sprouts via Martha Rose Shulman, rice and a hefty salad laden with greens, fruit and all manner of good things.

Also, and too, there was ice cream. It was a holiday weekend. I rode lots. Sue me.

Now Herself is back in the loving embrace of the military-industrial complex while I contemplate the two-week run-up to Interbike. Frankly, I would rather not be going to Sin City, and various experts of my acquaintance anticipate a reduced turnout for the final show there, but business is business and schnapps is schnapps, as Middelstaedt reminded Territorial Kantorek in “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

At the moment business includes trying to dredge up a three-figure bike suitable for the Adventure Cyclist audience after one of our review models went walkabout, as can happen during the silly season marking the transition from one model year to the next. There seems to be a metric shit-ton of product floating around on container ships, but damn’ little on dry land, and deadlines wait for no man.

Speaking of things floating around in the ocean to no good purpose, Hurricane Irma is thrashing around just east of Antigua, drawing a bead on Florida. One of Herself’s sisters lives in the Sunshine State and I don’t imagine she has “Key Largo” queued up on Netflix. Like most of us, including the late Johnny Rocco, I expect she prefers that the ocean stay in the water.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, “it seems as if everything is on fire except the desert.” Ditto Montana. Stay safe out there, kids.

Gimme a brake

August 27, 2017

Now I can hit the binders without innocent bystanders thinking they’re being attacked by a deranged eagle.

I got paid for a little extracurricular work I did a while back and decided to spread some of the love around, ordering up a new set of Avid BB7s for the Bianchi Zurigo Disc.

The fine folks at Two Wheel Drive handled acquisition and installation, and now I don’t have to listen to those gawd-awful BB5s gargling whenever I squeeze the levers. Sumbitches made more bad noise than a busted chainsaw.

There are worse things than shite brakes, though. Ask anyone in Hurricane Harvey’s vicinity. The Houston Chronicle is all over the story, with one of the most horrific moments (for me, anyway) being the residents of a senior center sitting in waist-deep water, awaiting rescue.

There are other tales nearly as grim, and I expect there will be more of them as the days drag on. And weird ones, too, about a guy catching fish in his living room and dogs carrying their own emergency rations.

We often crack wise about Texas around here, because hey — it’s Texas, y’all! But spare a thought if you will for the residents of the Lone Star State, and if you haven’t spent all your disposable income on new brakes, consider sending them a little sumpin’-sumpin’.

Bear with me

August 16, 2017

It’s all downhill from here. That itty bitty green stripe in the distance is the bosque.

More distraction: Sick of being a spectator at our latest national disaster, I hightailed it to the hills yesterday.

It was a short ride, just 25 miles, but a hilly one, meandering up and down the foothills streets before tackling the star of the show, the short, steep climb to La Cueva picnic grounds.

There’s bears in them thar hills.

The road surface is what we like to call “heavy,” which is to say the chip-seal is mostly thick tar and old boulders. But the views are pretty damn’ fine and well worth the effort to get there.

School having started, there was mostly no one at La Cueva but me. One young gent, who was backpacking his kid up and down the trails, said he was maintaining a wildlife camera up there. He’s getting plenty of bear pix, but no cougars. Might check the bars down by the university, I thought.

The lack of cougars aside, it was nice to take a break from that ruptured sewer line disguised as the news that leads to my MacBook, and thence to the overworked leach field in my head.

And speaking of news, let’s: I can write all day long about the walking, talking Superfund site farting Mickey D’s into the ordinarily rarified atmosphere of the Oval Office like some malignant tuba, but you folks can get better, smarter stuff elsewhere, and plenty of it, too. I’m starting to feel as though we already enjoy an overabundance of words on this topic and rather than picking the scab over and over again we might be better served by taking action to resolve the problem.

So what do you come here for? Politics? Bike stuff? General yuks? Filthy language? Pet pix? Let me know your preferences in comments. But do keep in mind that it’s my shop, and I’m likely to stock many of my favorite products no matter what the customers crave.

A good example of a bad example

July 30, 2017

A break in the traffic.

Ride Your Own Damn’ Bike Week has been extended, by popular demand.

After the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff came the Bianchi Zurigo, the Soma Double Cross, and today, one of my two Steelman Eurocrosses.

This bike is isn’t totally old-school: It has eight-speed Shimano STI, not bar-end shifters; Michelin Jet clinchers, not tubies; and a RockShox seatpost.

There’s life in the old gal yet.

But it has most of the other hallmarks: steel frame and fork; 46/36 chainrings and 11-28 cassette; Ultegra derailleurs; Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantilever brakes with SwissStop VikingPro pads (and levers reversed so the left brakes the rear wheel); Dura-Ace hubs and Mavic Open 4 CD hoops; Selle Italia Flite saddle; and Time ATAC pedals.

The whole shebang goes like 22.5 pounds, which is what makes that 36×28 low end suitable on the steep bits for Your Humble Narrator, who given our national spasticity vis-à-vis health care would rather not be popping a gasket anytime soon.

Anyway, I hadn’t ridden it in the better part of quite some time, and I ordinarily shun the trails on weekends, but today I took a chance and had a wonderful time. There were lots of folks out, but I encountered zero attitude problems. Nothing but smiles and friendly greetings, with lots of the old Alphonse-and-Gaston action. (“After you, Alphonse.” “No, you first, my dear Gaston.”)

There was one down side. I was descending a narrow bit and saw a father and son on mountain bikes climbing toward me, so I pulled over to give them room to maneuver. As they approached Pop explained to Junior that a descending rider should always yield trail to one ascending, adding that I “was setting a good example.”

Thus, with a single phrase, my career was ruined. I wonder if it’s too late to get my old rim-rat job back on The New Mexican copy desk.

Fleet readiness

July 22, 2017

A quick loop around the cul-de-sac to check the capabilities of a Canon camcorder.

It’s been Ride Your Own Damn Bike Week around here, and what a trip down memory lane that has been.

The Nobilette has been getting a lot of road time, but on Thursday I gave it a rest and broke out the old DBR Prevail TT road bike for a 90-minute spin.

The DBR Prevail TT, with a fresh set of goopy tubes to repel the goatheads.

One reason I haven’t been riding this relic is that it didn’t have sealant-filled tubes, a shortcoming I remedied before leaving aboard it. Another is the low end of 34×25, which is a tad tall for Your Humble Narrator these days.

But as it turns out, 34×25 is pretty OK when the bike only weighs 20.7 pounds, as opposed to, say, the 32.2-pound Soma Saga Disc, which I rode Friday.

Today the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff gets its moment in the sun. It, too, lacked goopy tubes, until yesterday, when I reacquainted myself with the joys of rear-wheel removal and replacement, that Rohloff hub adding a few additional steps to the process.

All these little chores make a fine distraction from the news, which is all bad. A choking shit-mist has descended upon the nation’s capital and the doings therein seem likely to make “Game of Thrones” look like “Survivor: Canyon Ranch Spa.”

This is assuming, of course, that the Republicans in Congress grow a functional pair, which seems a very wild assumption indeed. What a motley clot of harem guards that lot has turned out to be.

Videocy (an ongoing series)

July 18, 2017

Just past the turnoff to Heartbreak Hill, the marquee bit in the Santa Fe Century.

Wrapped another video for Adventure Cyclist yesterday. I was sick of all my usual backdrops, so I went up to Heartbreak Hill off NM 14 and fiddled around a bit there.

Going up (but not very far).

And no, I didn’t ride the Co-Motion Deschutes there, thanks for asking. It would’ve been fun, but we’re talking a hilly 65-mile round trip from El Rancho Pendejo. Herself was serving jury duty, The Boo is very much not interested in being alone for several hours, and I had to edit the video and do the voiceover when I got home.

Also, and too, it rained like a mad bastard here yesterday afternoon, and had I been an actual touring cyclist, instead of merely playing one on TV, I’d probably have gotten caught in it. I hear you’re supposed to suffer for your art, but still, damn.

Speaking of suffering, I see the latest iteration of Trumpcare croaked on the table. Take a moment to cheer, by all means, but let’s remember the advice of kindly Doc Winston Wolf before we get too giddy. As Kevin Drum notes, the main reason the beast died is that it wasn’t tough enough on the poors.