Austin Biking in October

Well folks, Austin continues to be the place for all things biking related.  Why you may ask?  Well, simple — all you have to do is experience the weather here and you will know exactly what I mean.  It is October – but the weather continues to be perfect – day temperatures hovering around 85-degrees F, and that combined with clear, sunny days.

And just to make you feel it even more – just take a look at the photos below:

May be it is that great weather that makes Austin bicyclist very nice…Just read (from Bicycling magazine):

When confronted with a difficult driver, some riders opt for the one-fingered salute, which doesn’t do much to help the situation. Austin cyclist Adam Butler, is all for the one-handed salute, but he’s making a movement for that to be a wave.

Butler is launching the WAVE campaign in his hometown in hopes to improve relationships between cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. “We need something to lube this big old crazy machine called ‘getting around’, and I think it’s waving,” Butler says.

Butler has been a cyclist for 37 years, and a driver for 25, so he knows both sides of the story. Six years ago he, his wife, and his three children downsized to become a one-car family and he became a full-time bike commuter. It was then that he realized how vulnerable you can feel commuting on a bike.

and the rest of the article here and see the video below

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Car Free Day – Recent Event

Every year on a day around September 22nd – a global organization drives an event with very interesting concept – the Car Free Day.  The event is truly global – people in various cities around the world gather on the streets and remind everyone that our cities are being over-run by motor vehicles.  Yes, this is easy for me to say as I drive in my nice car, right?  But I truly think that we could be leveraging both forms of transportation in our daily lives.

Bicycles are truly amazing form of transportation – they occupy much less space on the roads, and accidents on a bike (if no cars or trucks involved) rarely end up in serious damage to the riders.  Can you visualize how much space bikes take?  Well these guys in Latvia recently pulled off an interesting demonstration — they used light frames to demo how much space bikes vs cars take on our streets

latvian cyclists demonstrate bikes taking up as much space as cars 2 Car Free Day   Recent Event

The blog here provides more interesting photos from that demo;

If you are interested further in the concept of global traffic thoroughfares with fewer cars and trucks check out the Web site of the World Carfree Network;

There is another aspect of car ownership or its reduction — if you are living in a downtown area – you may consider the Car2Go option.  That alternative is being touted as the ‘new mobility’ option – why ?  Due to the cost savings and reduction of overall vehicles on the roads as people share….Below (courtesy of Car2Go’s web site) are the costs for leveraging the Car2Go vehicles:

what does it cost 3 Car Free Day   Recent Event

So, as you can imagine the option above is certainly a method for getting to a more car free / or near car free towns (where people share vehicles)….Oh, and saving on a vehicle will allow you to invest in more and nicer bike…YES!

 

New Mountain Bikes to Consider

I am yet to consider spending over $1500 for a mountain bike — after all – the biking experience is not coming from having the bike of magic but having the good skill set and physical endurance.  (Although I need to admit – my current bike was $1700 but I bought it on end of the model year clearance sale for $1200 — I considered it a GREAT deal)

But if you have inherited some big bucks recently or have come into a nice bonus — well, then you can consider some of the bikes I list below… I have test ridden some of them – for example the Giant Trance and must admit – it is a very nice bike….So here we go – the new best bikes below $3000!

  • Giant Trance – this is a 27.5″ bike — not the 29-inch bikes I like a lot, but as I said above, it is a very nice bike.  It comes outfitted with FOX Shocks and aluminum frameset – with aggressive weight-to-strength ratio – which is still very stiff and comfortable.

Trance 27 5 2 Black New Mountain Bikes to Consider Giant Trance 27.5-inch $2550 per giant.com

  • Jamis Dakar AMT COMP:  This is cross country and all mountain bike – based on an aluminum frameset; but the design adds a 150mm travel front fork X-Fusion and of course like the Giant – this is a fully suspended bike and given that it is also a 27.5-inch that makes sense.

15 dakaramtcomp New Mountain Bikes to Consider Jamis Dakar AMT Comp List $2599

  • Juliana Juno R: This is a bike for the women mountain bikers – not that Specialized or Trek are not offering women’s bikes… Now they do (for the last 3 years or so) but Juliana offers higher end bike in that type.  The men’s counterpart to Jualiana is Santa Cruz — also good bikes to consider

juno 34 my15 New Mountain Bikes to Consider Juliana Juno R $2599 starting for the D spec (the R-spec starts at $2799)

The bike offers dual suspension approach (given that it is also a 27.5-inch bike) with a 130mm travel front shock — RockShox Sector Gold RL Air Solo;  You can check the specs further here

  • Felt Compulson: This is an all mountain bike – and at this price range ($2699) also (as the rest of the bikes above) comes with an aluminum frameset; I was surprised to see a Suntour front fork on this bike – admittedly an advanced Suntour fork but I have been associating the brand with more low-end coil based forks/shocks.  Well, live and learn.  Here the Suntour offers 160mm travel and remote lockout.  The rear shock is RockShox Monarch -

felt bicycles compulsion 50 New Mountain Bikes to Consider Felt Compulson 50

Well, these are some of the newer bikes.  Enjoy!

Intense Cycles

Now, this is a great name for a bike!  I should have thought of it… This is a bike designer and manufacturer located in sunny Southern California – Temecula to be precise. I like Temecula a lot – it is sort of off the beaten track, near by San Diego but at a higher elevation so not likely to be enveloped in smog as part of the Los Angeles or San Diego area could be.

The area is also somewhat famous for good wine – there are several wineries.  Now I have another reason to visit icon smile Intense Cycles to see the Intense Cycles manufacturing facility.  The company was started in 1990 – and to be honest with you I just noticed it as a result of their mountain bikes winning the latest INTERBIKE 2014 tradeshow award — with their Tracer 275C trail bike.

TracerT275 2015 main Intense Cycles Intense Cycles Tracer 275C

The bike is supposedly priced at $2995 – I have not seen it yet in bike shops and the company web site did not list the MSRP.

OK – so next, I will be adding the Intense Cycles to my database of mountain bikes.  And of course will add the reviews from YouTube.com

Fly6 Camera and LED Light

Fly6 Camera and LED Light  - New Gadget and Safety Tool

I just came across the newly available Fly6 taillight and HD Camera combination product.  The idea of building such a device is really great!  Why – well, because it will provide cyclist the world over with a very good safety device.  Here is a view of the product from Fly6.com

camera Fly6 Camera and LED Light  Excellent Lights and Recording Gadget

This video from the company itself is a great description of the idea that drove the product:  all in all, drivers are often careless and do not really pay enough attention to the dynamics of the road.  Why do I know this?  Because of my personal experience.  I have been involved in accident where the other party was a truck driver who hit me as I was going along a main street in the city and he was stopped at a street corner waiting to turn onto the main street.  After he hit me the guy swore he never saw me (on a bright sunny day i.e. in full daylight) — I guess he did not BUT THE MAIN REASON was that he was not paying any attention….but just decided to turn onto the main street and I happened to be there…Too bad for me right…?  Well with this new gadget many such situations will be well documented and will drive awareness and attention across all of us…

The other interesting aspect of this gadget was the STRONG interest in it – its creation was funded on Kickstarter in only a couple of months.  This diagram is sourced from Kickstarter.com and shows results from user surveys:

 Fly6 Camera and LED Light

In summary, I really like the idea behind this product.  Will look into getting one – and will post here my experiences soon enough…

 

Rational Mountain Bike Cost

So here we go – the next installment of some thoughts around what makes a ‘rational’ mountain bike price.  I put the statement rational in quotes in an attempt early on to highlight the fact that, in my opinion, there is very little that is rational about this topic.  The reality is that the companies that build mountain bikes do that for their customer base – i.e. if you do not like the price and features on a given bike, guess what others (large majority) do!

So with that in mind, the best thing you can do is decide for yourself what are the conditions that you will be experiencing and how will you be using the mountain bike you desire to purchase.  Based on that you could develop a general guideline for the amount of money you need to allocate for your purchase.  Here are some general rule of thumb considerations – based on riding you expect to do:

  • Light use hardtail bike (i.e. no rear suspension): approximately $500
  • Track and cross country hardtail (not racing): sub-$1000
  • Race capable hardtail (for amateurs): $1100-$1900
  • Hardtail with specialized components: above $2000
  • Add rear suspension to the categories above — add on the average $500-$700 on top of the prices listed above in the corresponding categories

Then you can start adding big $$$ for special frame – e.g. carbon frame for mountain bike can cost you.  Case in point the Pivot Phoenix DH Carbon – shown below – is a carbon based frame bike which with its bells and whistles still weighs only 31lbs (per pivotcycles.com)

large Foto Jens Staudt Pivot Phoenix Carbon 6500 Rational Mountain Bike Cost

Then you can also get a special set of brake pads for your disc brakes – yes, most durable and worth getting mountain bikes these days already come with at least mechanical if not fluid operated disc brakes.  Tribull from Taiwan has developed Shimano compatible brake pads with integrated heat sink – quite a setup to see… Here is a snap from their web site:

DDE 37 20130312154026 750  Rational Mountain Bike Cost  
And next to it is the compatible Shimano product – you can purchase from Amazon.com or just head to your pro-bike shop if you do not want to tinker;

At any rate, these types of options can significantly increase the price of your bike but they also come with significant benefits – lower weight and more maneuverable bike, better brakes, and so the list goes…

Like I said in my previous posting – even at $3000 a bike can be a good investment towards your health – just think – you will ride it for at least 5 years, therefore if you ride each Saturday and Sunday – that will amount to about 100 days per year — hence about 500 days — or as I said in an earlier article — that amounts to about $6 per day – almost as pricey as your cup of fancy latte….in your local coffee shop!

Mountain Bike Cost – What is Rational

Mountain bikes have been growing in wheel size — for example, 29-inch wheels came into broad use very quickly – and in cost.  It is increasingly common to see $2000-plus price tag on a large portion of most manufacturers’ portfolio.  The reality is that in most cases the price tag has very little to do with your enjoyment on the trail.   The $1200 bike at full retail is probably the top of the sub-prosumer bikes.  You can get the “last year” bike model for that price as the top of the line pro-summer bikes are about $1700 and often discounted to $1200 during a model year change.

At the same time, those pro-summer bikes will provide you with a lot of useful exercise, keep you in good form and all this for about $4-$6 per ride if you use the bike each weekend throughout the year.   So not a bad return on your investment…

I will elaborate on this tomorrow…after my Labor Day ride…

 

Interesting rear mounted bike rack

On my current trip via Europe to Asia I came across an interesting bike rack — Thule EuroWay G2 921 Bike Carrier

Check it out (from the Thule web site):

  • New improved, detachable bike arms for convenient mounting of bikes.
  • Folds flat easily for simple storage and fits in most trunks.
  • Smart foot pedal tilt for easy trunk access even with bikes mounted.
  • Adjustable one hand coupling with low closing force for easy mounting of carrier.
  • Pump buckles with long wheel straps for easy fastening of wheels.
  • Carrier lockable on tow bar and all bike positions lockable to carrier (locks included).

Link to a good video on it:

 

Trek X-Caliber – Continuing the Review

I am getting closer to the 2-month mark of owning and using my new 29-er mountain bike – a 2014 Trek X-Caliber from the Gary Fisher Collection.  As I ride the bike – which I have been doing every Saturday and Sunday for the last 4-weeks or so, I learned to appreciate the design advantages this particular bike model offers.  

First, the G2 Geometry frame – which features a custom offset fork coupled with frame geometry which allows for much more nimble bike.  When I first started riding the bike I did notice that it felt much faster than my previous bike which was also a 29er….now I understand why that feeling – it is coming from the X-Caliber frame and offset fork – which make the bike a "race" category bike.  Very nice.  The G2 geometry gives the bike a lght feel – overall it made the X-Calber feel a whole lot more responsive on the trails.  In addition, the X-Caliber uses Trek's Gold-Aluminum material for the frame – which is providing for lighter weight while not compromising on a very strong frame overall.   

My new bike Trek july2014 3 e1407208801169 150x150 Trek X Caliber   Continuing the Review    My new bike Trek wheel 150x150 Trek X Caliber   Continuing the Review The Bontrager Mustang rims and Bontrager tires provide for very fast rides; 

The bike's fork is RockShox Reba RL with air shocks and very useful remote lockout.  The remote lockout makes it easy to turn on and off the shock and maximize on peddling efficiency when you hit the paved roads.

 MyTrekX CaliberBrakesShock 150x150 Trek X Caliber   Continuing the Review The bike uses hydraulic disk brakes which offer the strongest and shortest stoppiing distance – of course if you are not used to them – do make sure you pull on the brake levers gradually or else you WILL fly over the handlebars!!!

The X-Caliber uses a 3×10 drivetrain – 10-speed casette and a 3-ring crankset – thus offering a very wide range of gears 

MyTrek XCaliber SRAM 150x150 Trek X Caliber   Continuing the Review    MyTrek X CaliberGears 150x150 Trek X Caliber   Continuing the Review 

Overall the bike is great for usage on the road, on a cross-country trail, on a single track….feels like everywhere…!

Beginners’ Guide – Adjustments for a Mountain Bike

Almost couple of years ago I published several postings in a series about a beginners guide to mountain bikes.  The reality is that mountain biking is relatively popular but information on how to get going with a good fit for your bike is really scarce.  I aggregated a bunch of pointers on how to start with mountain biking — here is a list of the articles:

Now I need to highlight to you a couple of additional points:

  1. adjustmets to your fork and air shock
  2. adjustments for your seat and stem to prevent back and shoulder pain

So let's start with the air shock on your bike.  You need to check it approximately every 2 weeks.  Why?  Because in your riding – if you do so at least each weekend, you will continuously lose some air from the shock.  With that in mind. you need to check the air pressure and maintain it with the air shock pump on a regular basis.  My bike - Trek X-Caliber G2 29er with RockShox Reba Air shock fork – I will need to maintain around 130psi; For that I have two options on a pump – here are they are:

     I picked up the Fox one, why?  It was available…Simple as that; 

The second item – as listed above in the list of adjustments needed – was the stem on the bike.  The original stem for my Trek X-Caliber 29er was  

TrekXCaliberStem 2314090 Beginners Guide   Adjustments for a Mountain Bike  Bontrager Race Lite, 31.8mm, 7 degree;  a good quality stem – but I needed to replace it with one that brought the handlebars higher and therefore to a more comfortable posture for me.  I exchanged the stem in the bike shop where they installed a Salsa stem which was but about an inch shorter and brought the whole experience to a better result.