Rental Bike

A friend is traveling (not bike touring) in Nepal and sent me this photo of a rental bike he’s been using to get around town. Details include a single speed transmission and non-functioning brakes. The bell is identical to those that are supplied with modern-day Pashleys. The frame is lugged-steel (hi-ten, at best) and I see a wheel lock on the seat stays and a chainstay-mounted rear brake. He said, “Everyone has the same size bike so little kids ride these and they actually stand under the top tube so they can reach the pedals.” The rental fee? $1 a day.

Homegrown Bamboo Bikes

From the Bamboo Bike Studio website:

Welcome to the Bamboo Bike Studio, Where Self-Propulsion and Sustainable Entrepreneurship Go Hand in Hand

Our mission is twofold: provide every cyclist the experience of building his or her dream bike from scratch, while advancing sustainable entrepreneurship and development through financing bamboo bike factories in Africa and South America.

One weekend is all it takes to fabricate a frame from bamboo—a renewable and performance-positive material growing right in our backyard—assemble the components, and roll away with a custom-fitted ride, tuned to your body and cycling style. And the cost of the class directly supports the Bamboo Bike Studio’s efforts to seed the first bamboo bike factory in Ghana, where reliable and cheap bicycle transportation can dramatically improve access to jobs, commerce, education, basic food and water resources, and health care.

Bamboo Bike Studio
Related story on NPR

Breezer Catalog and Website

We were fortunate enough to be asked to fly to Pennsylvania in August of this year to shoot the 2010 Breezer catalog. After delivering the photos in early September, we’ve been anxiously waiting to see the final printed catalog. I guess we’ve been nice because Santa delivered the package today, just in time for Christmas. The catalog designer did a wonderful job and we’re extremely pleased with how the photos were incorporated into the layout. The next time you’re at a Breezer dealer, be sure to take a gander at the new catalog between test rides!

Also, the new Breezer website is now live and features our photos on the home page. And while you’re there, be sure to check out all the cool new models for 2010.


Heart and Soul

While discussing bicycles someone will occasionally make a statement to the effect of, “A frame is just something to hang parts on.” I’ve never quite understood this thinking. In my mind, a frame determines the character of a bike by having the greatest influence on fit, ride quality, appearance, and longevity. Modern materials and manufacturing techniques have done much to lower our expectations regarding craftsmanship and frame longevity, but a well-crafted frame has the potential to last decades. Over a span of 20 years or more, one can expect to replace every component on a bike multiple times. So while components (even wheels) are essentially consumables, I believe a well-designed, finely-crafted frame is the heart and soul of a bike.

What do you think? Is the essence of a bike its frame, or is a frame simply a collection of tubes that holds together the more important collection of parts?

Which of the following define the essence of a bike?

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Wald 137 Basket / Rivendell Sackville ShopSack

We’re always looking for new ways to carry stuff on our bikes. Panniers are great, as are porteur racks, messenger bags, and saddle bags, but we’ve found one of the most useful accessories for everyday hauling is a basket. Wood and wicker baskets like the Peterboro basket on Michael’s Betty Foy are functional and visually attractive, though they can be a bit fragile. Wire baskets, while not as aesthetically pleasing as wood baskets, are more utilitarian and resistant to damage than their wood counterparts. We tested the Wald Woody earlier this year and really liked it, so now we’re trying out the smaller Wald 137.

Wald baskets have been made in Maysville, Kentucky, USA since 1929 and are undoubtedly the best wire baskets available. They’re constructed from zinc-plated steel and nicely finished with no burrs or edges to catch on bags or clothing. The Wald 137 is a medium-sized basket, perfect for carrying a single bag of groceries, or a small commuter bag, laptop bag, or camera bag. The 137 normally comes from the factory with struts, but we ordered ours without struts for mounting on an existing rack. The basket can easily be attached to almost any front or rear rack using either small hose clamps or zip ties.

When used in conjunction with an elastic cargo net, reusable shopping bags work well for carrying groceries in a wire basket. Simply do your shopping, drop the bag in the basket, and lash it down with the net. This is a workable system, but Rivendell has taken the concept a step further with their good looking and heavy duty shopping/storage bag called the Sackville ShopSack.

The ShopSack is offered in two sizes. We tested the medium which is specifically designed to fit the 137 basket. The construction is typical high-end from Rivendell including the best Scottish cotton duck (it’s the same material used by Range Rover for their protective covers), military-spec webbing, melted and smeared thread-ends, and brass fittings. It’s a simple but lovely bag with just one main compartment. It’s nice enough to be used as a carry-all in a professional environment, while also being tough enough for hauling tools or camping supplies. We really like the size and construction; the capacity is about the same as that of a standard grocery sack, but because of its more robust construction and zippered top, the ShopSack is much less unwieldy than a reusable shopping bag filled to the brim.

At $40 the ShopSack is not cheap for such a simple bag, but the price is certainly justified by the fact that the quality is as good as it gets in bicycle bags. My guess is that it will last many years and end up being a great value over time, while also being stylish and functional in the process.

The Wald 137 and Rivendell Sackville ShopSack are nice products on their own, but their functionality increases exponentially when used together. The basket can easily be attached to any existing rack, and with the addition of the ShopSack, the carrying capacity is effectively doubled while the issue of carrying small items in a wire basket is eliminated. Add to this the convenience of carrying the bag with you into the grocery store, library, or office, and you have an extremely functional system that is welcome addition to almost any bicycle used for commuting, shopping, or errands.

Wald 137 Wire Basket
Rivendell Sackville ShopSack

Disclosure: Wald and Rivendell are sponsors of this site and provided some of the items used in this review.

Bike Signs

These are the Regulatory Signs and Plaques for Bicycle Facilities recently published in the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. I like the “May Use Full Lane” and “No Parking – Bike Lane” signs. Have a favorite?

[via The Recumbent Blog]

Gallery: Bongobike’s Koga-Miyata Road Gentleman

This has always been my commuter ever since I got the bare frameset and built it as a touring bike, with Nitto randonneur bars, Brooks Champion Flyer saddle and front and rear Jandd Expedition racks. Now I have turned it into a city bike with the Nitto Albatross bars, new Nitto and Velo Orange racks, an old Sugino AT crankset and a Brooks B-72 saddle. I have enjoyed it tremendously in both configurations. The frame is very comfortable and stable with its long wheelbase; very easy to ride no-hands. I hope it will continue to take me to work and back for many years. —bongobike

© 2011 EcoVelo™