E Bikes Getting Popular for Commuting and Touring? Toyota and Parlee Cycles working on the PXP project
Hybrid Electric bus in Flagstaff, AZ with bike rack
I discovered this article from Green Packs
discussing Toyota's efforts to build an electric bike in cooperation with Parlee Cycles. This is amazing stuff, very "futuristic" and really not my "cup of tea" but is nonetheless a very interesting read for folks interested in alternative fuel sources and green energy.
From my experience of working with electric bike projects at our shop, if anyone knows how to build a fast, efficient bicycle that can take a beating it's the companies who have teamed up on that project.
This past summer while traveling through Arizona I wanted to see the solar powered bus station and hybrid electric buses in Flagstaff, AZ. With ample bike rack parking and bicycle carriers, Flagstaff is obviously in keeping with alternative energy and meeting the needs of their avid bicycle commuters. Trek 7200 e bike, click photo for full review
This raises the question "is this the direction bicycles are taking for meeting demands of everyday bicycle commuters?" Electric and pedal driven bikes that remind me of the old Honda gas powered mopeds?
Several years ago we built up an electric tricycle with extra batteries and had that thing humming along at 40 mph with a kit from Wilderness Energy. (Reviews of that kit at amazon aren't very good and I haven't seen the hub motor kit available with disc brake). Later the new owner of that bike was going to try rigging up some solar kit for riding across New Mexico. Haven't heard from him since but knowing we had some success with the project and after reading the article mentioned previously and seeing the photo at right has got me recollecting the challenges of building something stout enough to handle the speed, braking and bumps that routinely going 25 to 30 mph does to a bike.
Disc brake is an absolute necessity when considering not only the speeds some electric motors are capable of but also the weight of motor and batteries requires more stopping power, particularly when bicycle commuting in traffic. Another issue when we experimented with our electric bike was tire wear. Having a long wearing tire of high quality puncture resistant design and that offers some vibration damping from harsh or rough road conditions.Bicycling Magazine
has an excellent article of Four e bikes they tested and reviewed. A retailer of some of those bikes reviewed are at NYCE Wheels. At their site they also have high quality electric motor kits and lots of information for researching an electric bike purchase. So far the kits and bikes from Currie Technologies
is getting good reviews and there is a kit from OEM that comes with a rear wheel and disc brake. Here is a bit of advice I received from a reviewer.
Don't EVER buy any e-bike unless it runs at 48 volts or HIGHER ! The higher voltage gives you so many benefits. I have tested over 35 different e-bikes and everything under 48 volts has been bad. Almost EVERY e-bike that had 48--52 volts motor and running over 500 watts was GOOD. Max. watts output should be above 1000 watts to get a 220 pound rider up any 20---25% uphill. ALSO, The Lithium batteries (any of them) made in USA or Germany are sooooo much better. Recently the USA and Germany is getting very competitive with Chinese prices and USA has better quality and warranty. Prodeco V3 Outlaw EX 8 Speed Electric Bicycle
Folks playing around with e bike touring at Trans American electric bike tour
I like the bikes from Prodeco Technologies, not only because these bikes are built in the USA it has some good components including Avid Elixir hydraulic disc brakes, Sram eight speed shifter and derailleur.
Perhaps the most well reviewed e bike I found and is available as a folding bike as well.
- SRAM X9 8 Speed Mid Derailleur
- SRAM XO Twist 8 Speed Shifter and Avid Elixir 5 Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- Rear Direct Drive 48V 750 Watt Motor
- 51.2V 9 Ah LiFePO4 32 Cell Battery
- 20 MPH and 25-30 Mile Distance
E bikes aren't just catching on with bicycle commuters, there are quite a few folks using electric assist, solar panels and other gadgetry for bicycle touring. Evelo bikes were used at a Trans American Electric Bike Tour.
Click on logo for more information at their site. There you find links to other electric bicycle touring information. I really don't have much interest in complicating my life further with a bunch of techno gadgetry for touring. Extra weight, mores mechanical and technical stuff to maintain and that could break down. Perhaps it's like my friend Gilbert says " maybe I'm just an old retro grouch". View our flickr set for our End of the Year Round Up
, vintage refurbished bikes for touring and commuting from the Bike Tourings' Work Shop.
click logo for e bike reviews
Fun Bicycle Touring and Commuting Gifts Or Gear for that matter, so what buy more junk! It's Christmas!
Stuff, stuff and more stuff, that seems to be the theme when reading articles and posts referring to packing panniers for bicycle touring. Or the latest must have gadget for bicycle commuting. Or just because the weekend group ride leader has the same jersey.
Whatever, people like buying stuff, folks like receiving stuff and that's as it should be. Help keep that big wheel of commerce cranking with the following gift ideas that are easy on the pocket book, filled with warm Christmas Season sentiment (^%&*&%) and well, just good practical stuff that just might help the winter cyclist hop on his or her bike this Holiday Season.
Cycling for less has the Multi Function Bike Multitool Bicycle Tool Patch Kit & Tire Levers 16 Function on Sale for $6.90, CLICK ON PHOTO to Purchase
BV Bicycle Light Set Super Bright 5 LED Headlight, 3 LED Taillight, Quick-Release. Super Low price of $10.47 with FREE SHIPPING. CLICK ON PHOTO to Purchase.
Lots of wool socks on sale, shown is finest quality Merino Wool Socks starting at $5.10 per pair. CLICK PHOTO to Purchase
Mirrycle Incredibell Brass Duet Bicycle Bell at $9.58 and FREE SHIPPING. CLICK PHOTO for Purchase
Roswheel Bicycle Frame Pannier and Front Tube Cell Phone Bag. At a bargain price of $5.48 you can't go wrong with this one. CLICK PHOTO to Purchase
A nice novelty item for any bike enthusiast from Park Tool, the key chain bottle opener for celebrating New Year's Eve. Please don't drink and drive because it goes on a key chain. CLICK ON PHOTO to Purchase.
Rothco Genuine 100% Wool Watch Cap made in the U.S. A warm, quality wool hat for $7.87 and FREE SHIPPING. CLICK PHOTO to Purchase
Padded Ventilated Bike Bicycle Cycling Mountain Road Half Gel Silicone Antiskid Finger Gloves/ Half Finger Gloves / Sport Gloves Mitten/ Fingerless Cycle mitts, Soft durable microfiber Material with Velcro Strap -Black with Blue Bargain at $9.60. CLICK PHOTO to Purchase
BV Bicycle Strap-On Saddle Bag / Seat Bag,3M Scotchlite reflective material, tail light hanger, velcro straps. Available in Small, Medium and Large capacity sizes with FREE SHIPPING. CLICK PHOTO to Purchase
Park Tool SPK-1 Stainless Steel Spork made of food grade stainless steel and dishwasher safe. Prices start at $5.99. CLICK PHOTO to Purchase
Five Bikes for Bike Travel that can "do it all" and Two Different Bikes for Fun Velo Orange Campeur
MSRP $1,600 Co-Motion Divide Rohloff
The Campeur from Velo Orange ...."were I forced to limit myself to a single bike, this may well be the leading candidate". Quote from Adventure Cyclist July 2013. Velo Orange now offers the Campeur as a complete bike with the frame set still available at $500.
Specs. and frame geometry details are available at their site. Click on the photo for more information at the ever popular Velo Orange blog.
MSRP $5,735.00 Breezer Beltway 11
Darren Alf of Bicycle Touring Pro is really enjoying the travel abilities of this astoundingly well made bike from Co-Motion. Difference between Darren's bike and this one is the Rohloff 14 speed internally geared and belt driven rear hub. Available with the co pilot travel case, visit the Co-Motion site for more information by clicking on photo provided.
MSRP $2099.00 Rivendell Bombadil
Of course I had to include a bike from Joe Breezer who kicked off mountain bike builds in 1977 and continues to contribute innovative ideas with cutting edge technology for commuting aficionados. Breezer Beltway 11 has the Alfine hub and light sensitive generator lights to simplify commuting needs. Complete with disc brake, rear rack and fenders, it's everything you need for a top of the line commuter that can be used for touring or world bike travel. Click on photo for more information.
MSRP $2,300 (for non diaga tube 48cm) to $3,000 '91 Diamond Back Ascent EX
Rivendell Bombadil, what a beauty and nothing short of a work of art with classic designed lugs from top quality materials. A timeless classic built for decades of riding pleasure. This is one tough, heavy duty bike, not nearly as light weight as the Breezer Beltway 11 but that's not its' forte. If you're looking for a stout tubed mountain bike for loaded touring that bang along a rocky mountain path and take it, consider the Bombadil from Rivendell.
Specs, frame geometry and pricing available at their wonderful blog and site by clicking on photo.
No MSRP, NICE. 2012 Nashbar double butted aluminum mountain bike frame build.
This is the fun stuff, am I right?
A bike that you find on Craig's List or at a garage sale is like a treasure hunting field trip. So much fun and the sense of satisfaction not only from finding a great bargain, but more often than not these types of bikes usually need some TLC, parts replaced or servicing. Usually lots of fun to take to your LBS as a conversation piece and is a fun way to establish a relationship with your LBS.
Suggested build cost $450 or less
Another fun idea, find a new frame that is inexpensive but not "cheap" to build on at your leisure. If you're an avid DIYer tinkering on bikes as a hobby you probably notice at some point you end up with quite a few extra parts, components and accessories lying around. Take inventory of those random odds and ends some time and see if you can slap together a fun ride. After all once you build something yourself it's so much fun to share your new found ideas with others. Franken bikes can be a sweet way of saying I love, too.
Bike Lanes or Not, A Bicycle for Commuting Waiting at intersection good distance from edge of road for traffic.
I have done my part as an active participant for bike advocacy. When I owned a bike shop in Carlsbad, NM I worked with the League of American Bicyclists
to campaign the mayor at the time. Now, when you travel through Carlsbad and see bike lanes it's because I was there.
Now I live in League City, TX where bicycle commuting is not real common place, there are few if any designated bike lanes and to tell you the truth it doesn't bother me. Miles and miles of rural country roads are very nice for road and touring bikes outside of town and along the coast. It's beautiful. Jack Brooks Park offers some excellent mountain bike trails for all skill levels and is very well maintained. In town I decided to build a bike to suit my needs of getting around without waiting for politically correct rhetoric to tell me it's safe to ride a bike here.
After all, commuting is simply the means of getting from point A to point B on a bicycle. I don't have the need to feel qualified in the eyes of some ambiguous transportation authority to validate my non motorized vehicle. I choose my routes on less busy side streets whenever possible, ride on sidewalks when appropriate, ride through vacant lots, etc. This style of commuting makes me a better rider, more aware, attentive and knowing my routes' routine traffic or road surface hazards, when it rains heavy which roads flood first, etc.
It's easy to be a law abiding citizen and ride where I please on my bike So far the only strict bicycle related traffic law I have encountered is the necessity of using a front light to be visible to traffic. Other than that the local law enforcement is fairly lenient towards cyclists. My reason for saying this is on main street here where people are repeatedly stopped for j walking, I have not and will not be pulled over for crossing the same street on a bike. It's a good idea to know the rules of the road for your state and are very to find online. Here's a link for Texas rules of the road made available from Bike Houston
So far as drivers are concerned, if the area is simply not accustomed to seeing routine bicycle commuters than why would I get angry and blame them for utter lack of experience and naivete. I have yet to have any sort of grievance toward a driver while on my bike in this area and as much as that might be because I have become so thick skinned to driver bullying that I simply block it out, it still feels as though the area is easy to navigate. As mentioned riding experience definitely plays a role here. I recently realized how much of my riding expertise I have taken for granted when I was on a ride with newbie to commuting. Commuting is so much different than recreational trail riding. Navigating traffic is very different than navigating inanimate terrain. If you're new to bicycle commuting and want a course on traffic skills check out the League of American Bicyclists. Very skilled and experienced instructors offer workshops all over the country, here's a link to the Houston, TX area workshop
Once a cyclist develops bicycle commuting skills it really can make a person a better rider, which is just one of the many benefits of getting involved with bicycle commuting. Speaking of commuter benefits visit nuride
to see if your area is participating in their rewards program. It's free to sign up and log commuter and errand miles thereby earning rewards points. Reward points for bicycle commuting are then redeemed at a large selection of participating businesses either local or online.
Winter Bicycle Commuting Tires and DIY Studded Tires Snow Covered wheels behind bike shop
T shirt gift idea for bicycle commuting
Ten years ago while living in Colorado I found it necessary to make a studded snow tire for bike commuting up and down a very steep dirt road to my cabin. Heck, it was difficult enough getting up that dry dirt road without my rear tire spinning out, let alone on snow and ice.
I found instructions for the aforementioned DIY snow tire from the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society
. Visit Ice Bike
for instructions for making your own. That was so many years ago I don't recall exactly what size pan head screw I used. No matter, following the instructions provided at Ice Bike will get you started. I do know that I used zinc pan head screws and rode them on dry asphalt to break them in. They worked so much better once the sharp tips were worn off.
Back then the only access I had to purchasing a studded snow tire was so expensive I didn't even consider it, which is why I made my own. Now, the availability and pricing is so much more reasonable for a quality studded winter tire that I would prefer to spend the forty or so dollars.
There are lots of tried and true brands of rather expensive studded tires. If I were in need of such a tire I would go with tires from Innova. Available in various sizes including 700c for a touring bike or 26" for a winter commuter mountain bike. Prices are very reasonable, links are provided below for more information or to purchase. Now that I am living on the Texas Gulf Coast I have no need for that crazy stuff.
So far as ice biking and other crazy people go, when asked "how much have I worked out on the bike" I can say been there done that, here's my t shirt. Another nice gift idea for the "going grey" bike guy in your bicycle family.
Click on Photo for information and purchase.
Richard's 21st Century Bicycle Book, free ebook for Christmas
Nice Gift for Beginner or Advanced Cyclist
Considered by many bike folks to be one of the best bicycle book authors of all time. Not simply because of his expert knowledge on the variety of cycling subject matter. Richard Ballantine has been entertaining cyclists interested in bike travel, bicycle touring, commuting and mountain biking for decades.
Filled with numerous fun filled illustrations, witty, real and devoted to the world of bikes. You will find yourself quoting some of his silly banter particularly when it comes to bike advocacy and safe bicycle commuting.
With a no nonsense approach, yet able to make fun of outmoded bicycle uses witnessed during the evolution of the bicycle not only informs us bike folk but keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. Something I have always felt to be a good idea with many of my "hard core enthusiast" friends.
Click on the photo to download the free ebook in Adobe Acrobat PDF or click on the link provided below.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our Bike Family to yours this Holiday Season.
A Variety of Cultural Tours of Sicily and Sikania One Week Tour One Week Bike Tours in Sicily
Alessandro Ferrara of the Bicycle Tour Hosting Group "Bikes and Lemons" is promoting their one week tours on the beautiful island of Sicily.
Their tours offer a variety of accommodations and rides for different skill levels. Several different bike paths between Palermo and Trapani are given a theme name, which are listed here.
- City Tour is for entry level riders or anyone who wants to discover the food, culture and history of Palermo, Sicily.
- Mountain Tour is mostly dry roads and single track with hills and is for more skilled endurance riders. A self evaluation form at their website helps those in question whether they would enjoy that tour.
- Art Tour around Segesta is a 35km ride for average skilled cyclists around the archaeological site of Segesta, one of the first Greek colonies of Sicily.
- Wine Tour of famous wines of Sicily through vineyard covered hills and landscapes. Accommodations can be selected along the route rather than pre planned, fo those wanting to have a spontaneous wine tasting bicycle tour.
- Sea Tour of Castellammare with two tours offered one for beginner bike tours of 20km along the coast of 45 km for more advanced touring cyclists.
For more information on Sikania One Week Bike Tours and the different bicycle tours offered visit their site at the link provided below. There is no obligation to purchase, beautiful photos and informative site for folks interested in Sicilian culture.
One of Paths offered for Bicycle Touring Sicily on a Mountain Bike
Black Friday Weekend, Cyber Monday Sales for Dependable Commuter Bikes
Black Friday Sales Event for Commuter Bikes
At one of my favorite blogs "Bikes for the Rest of Us
" I found some valuable information regarding some commuter bikes that I am not familiar with.
Gran Royale, which seems to be a division of the BMX manufacturer EASTERN Bikes are available for purchase at close out prices. I came upon this while researching some three speed wheels for building a traveling commuter bike.
Steel frames available as single speeds in cruiser and track bike styles as well as three speeds with coaster brakes. Several models and colors to choose from with some of the prices reduced by three hundred dollars or more. Though I cannot write a review as of yet, I have provided a link for information and link to shop for and purchase some of the excellent deals going on for a simple, dependable bike for commuting.
Happy Thanksgiving from Bike Tourings
Touring Bike and Trailer food delivery
Since connecting with Lisa Piper of Natural Living Organic Food Co-op I have learned to appreciate the benefits of eating natural and organic foods.
Working in bike shops the typical sources of fueling a ride with assorted energy gels, energy drinks and energy bars has proven to be of little benefit when compared to fresh healthy foods. Three years ago when I met Lisa I offered sustainable delivery as an additional perk to her start up business. Since that time the business has expanded to the extent that having a very fuel efficient vehicle is necessary for all the deliveries to be made in a timely manner.
A recent article in Change Magazine
published the photo shown of my Nashbar Bike Touring frame and bicycle trailer to feature the Co-op's efforts. Good timing for a Thanksgiving Day "blog about". I am so grateful to be able to give thanks for the organic, fresh foods we consume on a daily basis and are able to share with others by providing a source of that nourishment for folks who appreciate it.
It's a beautiful day for riding here along the Texas Gulf Coast and winter weather here is very agreeable for cycling. We have so much to be grateful for today and it doesn't go unrecognized.
Nashbar Double Butted Aluminum Mountain Bike Frame Build
Photo shows replacement of front fork for bicycle touring and commuting
Mini Fat Tire Build with Kenda Kinetics
In pursuit of the ultimate multiple surface, multiple terrain touring and commuting bicycle? With the ever expanding market of fat tire and touring expedition bikes, popularity in that style of bike is here to stay.
As I was perusing fat tire mountain bike reviews, forums and the like I read the following statement; "to me $1,500 is not a lot to spend on a bike". That quote relates to the low end price of a quality "fat tire bike" as compared to Surly Pugsley, Moonlander, and others. It's a national trend and bike shops are selling them like hot cakes. Really, in this so called "awful economy" folks are going out to spend well over a thousand dollars on a bicycle.
As good as that is to hear, I set about to build a bike the way I ride, middle way. I'm referring to cost as well as tire size. So far my "like new build" or "new to me build" has cost something around $442. 93. Yep and I have two rear wheels as I found a WTB Dual Duty 24" disc rear wheel with tube and Kenda Kinetics 2.6" tire all intact at a thrift store for $2.93. I later found a Mavic Disc Wheelset for $40 that I can select tires for as a more practical commuter bike.
I prefer my brakes and shifters to be separate rather than the popular integrated models. I also prefer that the inner working mechanics of the shifters not be made of plastic as I have observed them wear out and are expensive to replace, particularly the integrated models. One of the reasons bar end shifters on drop bars are so popular with today's touring bikes like Surly's Long Haul Trucker.
I found the precise component group I was looking for on a '91 Diamond Back Ascent EX that had hardly been ridden by evidence of no wear on original chain and original tires still had "whiskers". I considered sticking with that frame but it was too small at 17.5" and I was looking to build a bike for touring with disc brakes.. Deore thumb shifters with index and friction options are still sought after and get a pretty penny in good condition on ebay. Paul Thumbies were over priced for this build. So, for $50 I purchased the entire bike, pulled the components which were all of the Shimano LX line including cassette, chain, crankset and rear derailleur. Of course I kept the DB frame for another build as the frame design is very interesting meeting some of the standards of a touring bike. Such as three bottle cage mounts with one under the downtube, longer top tube and chainstays.
I also wanted to be able to add a rear rack with disc brake without too much hassle. Read Blog Post Here
Mini fat tire bike with 24"x 2.6 Kenda Kinetics rear tire and WTB Dual Duty rear wheel
Photo shows compatibility of Kenda Nevegal 26" x 2.1 on front with Kenda Kinetics
24" x 2.6" on rear. Due to the size of the rear tire it doesn't effect riding position enough to be noticeable and sure makes for a fun trail bike with aggressive tread pattern on rear.
Kenda Small Block Eight with Nevegal on front for Commuting.
For commuting the Kenda Small Block Eight is used in place of the Kinetics for low rolling resistance on pavement and dry trail surfaces. Nevegal on front maintains sure handling.
A bicycle that rolls fast for commuting with lots of starts and stops, ability to take on pot holes, ride across grass, etc.
Oversized 31.8mm Mountain Riser Comfort Bars provide sure handling with loaded commuter panniers and handles changes in riding surface.