A.N.T. Fun

Photo © Perry Bessas

Our buddies Perry and Jo attended the A.N.T. open house today. Check out Perry’s blog post about their trip and photos from the event.

Stealth Helmets

I’m way too unhip and clueless to be concerned about how my helmet looks, but if you’re more style-conscious than me, and you don’t like conventional bike helmets for fear of looking nerdy, Yakkay has come out with a line of helmets disguised as hipster hats. I have to admit, I thought they were a little silly, but my wife, who has a much better sense about these kinds of things than I do, thinks they’re pretty cool. I guess that’s why she does all of my clothes shopping for me. ;-)


RANS HammerTruck

RANS, builder of recumbents, crank forwards, tandems, and trikes, can now add cargo bikes to their list of innovative products. Their new HammerTruck is based upon a modified crank forward layout with a wheelbase of over 58″ and an integrated aluminum rack system, reminiscent of the Xtracycle FreeRadical and Surly Big Dummy.

From RANS:

The HammerTruck is a cargo hauler designed from the ground up incorporating our Crankforward design. As a Crankforward, it is an ideal package, since the lower seat and top tube height allows for easier mounting, controlling the bike at stop signs, and handling when loaded. At InterBike many cyclist instantly recognized the merits of using Crankforward design for a heavy hauler and took the “HammerTruck Challenge”. The bike was loaded 10 one-gallon water jugs, for an 80-pound load. Everyone was able to ride the bike back up the steep hill, and returned with positive comments about the smooth handling, great power transfer, plus the climb ability of the Crankforward position. We never told them there was any issue with standing and riding, and I observed many first time riders of CF taking to it naturally, the B-37 handlebars and curved riser placed forward make for a very inviting space to get off the seat and hammer it.

Based on the Dynamik the 4130 steel cro-moly frame is TIG welded and powder coated in a stunning silver and charcoal finish, all at our Hays Kansas plant. The custom frame features hard points to attach its made to order rack system. The rack consists of 1” and 1.125 aircraft aluminum tube, assembled using special fittings. The frame hard points are welded with tapped inserts, so removing the rack is a matter of 8 bolts and about 3 minutes. By itself the bike is a fun ride, even considering it’s wheelbase of 58.625”. All of our CF’s are longer than typical bikes, but the HammerTruck is another 9.125 inches over the Dynamik. The length makes the bike well suited to transport the loads, offering space to attach the large rack and bags. Being longer also means the design has to be stiffer in torsion. This is accomplished by adding a series of smaller tubes within the rear triangle. At 29.5 pounds, the bike is fairly light, and a very spirited ride, adding the tube rack, runners, sling bags, and runner covers bring it up to 42.5, still light compared to other long haulers. This is good, because a light strong, hauler can offer more net payload and better performance.

More about the HammerTruck

WorkCycles FR8

WorkCycles is now in production on their new FR8 series of heavy-duty transport bikes. This is their first offering developed solely in-house from the ground up. Right now the FR8 is in small-scale production, but by spring they should be available in larger numbers through WorkCycles’ dealer network. Hopefully we’ll see a few exported to the U.S. over the winter. [UPDATE – Clever Cycles in Portland currently has two FR8s in stock. Thanks Todd! —Alan]

From WorkCycles:

The WorkCycles FR8 (“Freight”) is a modular range of heavy-duty transport bicycles based around two versatile and super-sturdy frames. Unlike most so-called “transport” bikes the FR8 is a hard-core workhorse. Everything about the FR8, including the geometry, generous clearances, fittings and materials has been developed to create the toughest, most stable and convenient bicycle possible. It happens to ride beautifully too, regardless of what you pile on.

Like all WorkCycles’ bicycles the FR8 is hand-built in the Netherlands. This enables us to maintain a very high level of quality and provides enormous flexibility to build the FR8 to suit each customer’s needs. By choosing from various componentry variants, front and rear carriers, boxes and other options the FR8 can be configured for a remarkable range of applications.

The FR8 is available in two frame configurations: the Universal and the Cross. The Universal Frame has a fairly low step-over height but is suitable for both men and women. It adjusts to fit riders from 5’3” to 6’9”. The Cross Frame’s crossed top-tubes enable the stand-over height of a 60cm frame while the saddle and handlebars can be adjusted to the equivalent of a 75cm frame. It adjusts to fit riders from 5’ 9” to 7’ 3”. Either frame is available with one of four different component packages and a wide variety of options.

Henry WorkCycles
FR8 Tech Sheet (PDF) →

More on Saddle Height

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’re probably aware of the fact that I’ve been recovering from an “overuse” knee injury for the past couple of months. The injury might be better described as an overuse/maladjustment knee injury; I’m convinced incorrect saddle adjustment, as well as overuse, played a role. As part of of the process of resolving the injury, I went back and took a very close look at the saddle height on all of my bikes and now feel confident that they’re consistently adjusted and very close to where they need to be. I’ve always known correct saddle height is important for long-term knee health, but it’s never been as clear to me as it is now, after going through this process.

In an earlier post I outlined some of the common methods for determining saddle height:

  • LeMond Method – Adjust the saddle to a distance equal to your PBH* x .883, measured from the top of saddle to the center of the bottom-bracket
  • Petersen Method – Adjust the saddle to a distance equal to your PBH x .873, measured from the top of saddle to the center of the bottom-bracket
  • Hamley Method – Adjust the saddle to a distance equal to your PBH x 1.09, measured from the top of saddle to the pedaling surface (with the crank at bottom-dead-center inline with the seat tube)
  • Holmes Method – Adjust the saddle so your knee is bent 25-35 degrees with the ball of your foot on the pedal (with the crank at bottom-dead-center inline with the seat tube)

My pubic bone height (PBH) is 88.5cm (34.84″). Using the LeMond and Petersen formulas, I come up with 30.77″ and 30.42″ respectively; these measurements are used to set the distance from the top of saddle to the center of the bottom-bracket. After doing a fair amount of experimentation, I’ve settled on just over 30.5″. The Holmes method, which uses the knee angle as a way of setting saddle height, closely corresponds to the LeMond and Petersen methods.

Once you’ve used one of these formulas to get your saddle within a safe range, listen to your body to determine if you need to make small adjustments.

Crank length isn’t mentioned in regards to the LeMond and Petersen methods, but it needs to be considered since both methods use the bottom bracket to set saddle height without factoring in crank length. If you use either of these formulas, you’ll need to adjust the saddle up or down slightly to compensate for longer or shorter cranks. Most people are running 170-175mm cranks, so adjust the saddle up or down approximately .10-.20″ depending upon which crank you’re running.

Among the above methods, Hamley is the only one that gives a significantly different result. According to Hamley, my seat should be set nearly .75″ higher than what is indicated by the other formulas. Even though the Hamley method gives me what appears to be an incorrect result, I like the fact that it factors in crank length by setting the saddle height based upon the distance to the pedal surface.

By taking a few measurements and doing a little math, I determined that by modifying the Hamley formula from PBH x 1.09 to PBH x 1.07, you end up with a seat height nearly identical to what is indicated by the other methods. Modifying the Hamley method in this way puts it in line with the other methods while also taking into account crank length. This is probably the most accurate way to set saddle height short of employing a professional fitting service.

Once you’ve used one of these formulas to get your saddle within a safe range, listen to your body to determine if you need to make small adjustments. Conventional wisdom says pain in the front of the knee indicates a saddle that’s too low, and pain in the back of the knee indicates a saddle that’s too high. This has been consistent with my experience. Many people may find their saddles were too low prior to using these methods (Rivendell’s Grant Petersen says 80% of the riders they see have their saddles adjusted too low). If you’re one of these people, give yourself time to adjust to the new position; it will feel strange at first, but in the long run you’ll be doing your knees a favor.

*PBH – Pubic Bone Height. Read this for instructions on how to measure your PBH.

October Moon

Bike Boom or Bust?

Driven mostly by high gas prices*, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of bike commuters in the U.S. this past year. Bikes are everywhere you look in the media, and the bicycle industry is awash with cash. And as was seen at Interbike, manufacturers are directly targeting this influx of new transportational cyclists. It’s possible we’re looking at the beginning of new era in cycling, where bicycles are viewed more as tools than toys.

But, as exciting as it is to see more people on bikes, there is some cause for concern. On the way to work today, I saw gas as low as $3.29 a gallon, and in some Midwestern and Southern states prices have dropped below the $3 mark. This begs the question whether this new found interest in bicycles for transportation is here to stay, or whether those that took up bike commuting solely to save money will soon hop back in their cars.

With an ailing economy, many people may still be motivated to save money by driving less. There are also other significant reasons to commute by bike such as reducing our environmental footprint, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and improving our health and well-being by incorporating exercise into our daily routines. Let’s just hope our fledgling bike commuting friends find these other factors as compelling as the pocketbook. If they don’t, we may see this bicycle bubble pop like so many others in recent years—at least until gas prices go up again.

*Americans consumed 800,000 barrels of oil a day less during the first half of this year than the same period last year

© 2011 EcoVelo™