Back to the Future

According to a recent article in The Guardian, municipal officials in Beijing want to boost the number of bicyclists in the city by 25% over the next 5 years. Not so long ago, 80% of Beijing’s commuters travelled to work on bicycles, but in recent years the number has dwindled to around 20%. The sharp drop in bicycle ridership is attributed to China’s increasing wealth, which has resulted in nearly one million new cars being brought to China’s roads each month.

Read the article in The Guardian

America’s Worst Commutes

The Daily Beast has assembled a list of America’s 75 worst automobile commutes. Here’s the top 10 to whet your appetite:

  • Hollywood Freeway, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lunalilo Freeway (H-1), Honolulu, HI
  • Capital Beltway, Washington DC
  • I-35, Austin, TX
  • James Lick Freeway (US 101), San Francisco, CA
  • Cross Bronx Expressway, New York, NY
  • I-5, Seattle, WA
  • I-95, Bridgeport, CT
  • Kennedy Expressway, Chicago, IL
  • Airport Expressway (State Road 112), Miami, FL

View the full list @ The Daily Beast

Spotlight: Jango Flik

Background

Topeak is primarily known as a manufacturer of high quality bicycle tools and accessories, the most well-known being their popular bicycle pumps and multi-tools. They also manufacture everything from bags and bottle cages to racks and repair stands. Theirs is one of the most complete lines of accessories on the market.

Topeak is also the parent company to Jango bikes. Jango has developed a line of what they call “Multi-Activity Bikes”. The concept is that by changing out the wide range of Topeak/Jango “Plug & Bike” accessories — each specifically designed to integrate with these bikes — the bike is capable of transforming from a day tourer, to a grocery getter, to a loaded tourer, etc. Here’s an explanation from Jango:

Jango establishes a new type of bicycle. The Multi-Activity Bike. All Jango Accessories have been specially developed for Jango Bikes. They are exclusively designed and produced by Topeak, the Premium Manufacturer. Integrated Ports for precise and seamless integration of Bikes and Accessories. The brilliant Plug & Bike Port technology makes for perfect integration of Jango Base Bikes and Jango Accessories. Jango is simple to use and understand – no complicated technical knowledge required. The innovative Modular System guarantees your enjoyment. High Quality, Function & Styling. Everything is possible from a minimalist sporty fitness bike to a fully equiped Travel Bike with trailer. Functional, elegant and simple.

While any number of bikes can be modified to be used for multiple purposes (my Surly Long Haul Trucker is a good example), the Jango concept integrates the accessories a little tighter, and arguably, makes the modifications simpler for beginners who have little to no mechanical skills. The downside to this concept is that the Jango system locks you into using only proprietary Topeak accessories. While I very much like the quality of Topeak’s accessories, I’m more of a advocate for open standards and universality in part-and-accessory mounts.

The Flik

The Flik is Jango’s folding model. Late last year, Jango loaned us a Flik V8 to play around with and we’ve been riding it for a couple of months now. It’s an attractive folding bike with 16″ wheels and a two-position fold. The V8 is the 8-speed derailleur model with V-brakes, rear suspension, and rigid fork. Four other models are available with varying combinations of drivetrains, brakes, and suspension. You can view the other models on the Flik website.

The fit, finish, and detailing on the Flik are excellent. It’s a pretty bike.

The Flik’s relatively open cockpit makes it feel larger than it is. It rides similar to a full-sized bike and it was comfortable for 20+ mile trips, something I can’t say about all of the folders I’ve ridden.

This is what Jango calls the “shuttling” mode. The concept is that when the bike is partially folded, it has a small footprint for wheeling through train stations or on crowded sidewalks. While the idea sounds good on paper, in the circumstances in which I ride I didn’t find this fold to be an advantage over simply leaving the already-small bike unfolded.

This is the full fold. While not as compact as a Brompton or a Tikit, it’s a super-fast and simple fold that may be sufficient for people who need a folder for putting into the trunk of a car or storing in a small apartment. It’s sufficiently small for taking on the Amtrak train (which is outfitted for full-sized bikes), but it’s too large to carry on our City buses where packages (and bicycles) aren’t allowed in the aisles.

This is the folding stem. Slide the gray ring and flip the black lever and the bars fold down. It takes just a second or two.

This is the lever that initiates the main fold. Flip it forward and the rear of the bike hinges up and over. Simple and quick.

Pull this ring and the fold unlocks. Again, easy.

There are lots of interesting details to admire on the Flik. It’s really attractive up close.

Michael and I both like the rear suspension on this bike. Small bikes with small wheels can ride quite harshly (Michael didn’t much like my Brompton due to its relatively harsh ride and super-quick steering, but she really enjoys riding this bike). The rear shock and 1.75″ tires work together to smooth out the ride on the Flik.

The Shimano drivetrain is smooth and reliable and the gear ratios are appropriate for city riding. We both like the RapidFire shifter and prefer this type of shifter over twist shifters. While I generally prefer internal gear hubs on folding bikes, the weight savings that come with speccing a derailleur drivetrain are not an unwelcome compromise on a folder.

Like the other Jango bikes, the Flik accepts a wide variety of accessories in the Plug & Bike system (35 according to Jango). While I’m not 100% sold on the concept for full-sized bikes, I think it works brilliantly for a folder. Because there is little standardization among folding bikes, many accessories are proprietary in any case. And in the case of the Flik, a wide variety of well-made and well-integrated accessories are available.

The bags attach to the rear rack via a sliding rail system. This is the forward latch that holds the bags in place. It’s a slick system that’s super-easy to use; a real advantage when shuttling on-and-off of trains, etc.

This is the integrated wheel lock that’s mounted on the front left V-brake caliper. While it won’t keep a thief from carrying off your bike, it’ll make for a good laugh when he endoes… :-) Speaking of brakes, the Jango branded V-brakes worked fine and provided plenty of stopping power and decent modulation (there’s not much to say about V-brakes – they all seem to work reasonably well if properly adjusted).

This clever little kickstand rotates in two directions which enables it to work when the Flik is folded, unfolded, or in shuttle mode.

This is the integrated headlight mount that accepts the Plug & Bike headlights.

Ding, ding! Another nice little detail…

Topeak manufactures the Allay “AirSpan” saddles. The Flik came outfitted with the “Racing Sport” model. That translucent area in the middle of the saddle is an air bladder designed to reduce pressure on sensitive tissues. The air pressure can be adjusted with the valve under the nose of the saddle. Michael found this saddle to be quite comfortable, while it wasn’t a good fit for me. As always, saddle preferences are highly personal and subjective.

What It Is

The Flik would be an excellent choice for someone who needs to store a bike in a small apartment, stow it in the back of a car, park it in the corner of a small office, or take it on a train that has facilities for full-sized bikes. It has a comfortable, open cockpit that makes it more appealing for longer rides than some other small wheel folders. The fact that it’s set-up for the Plug & Bike system gives the owner access to a wide variety of excellent accessories.

What It’s Not

The Flik is not a Brompton. In other words, it’s not a bike that can be taken onto a crowded bus or stored under the desktop in a small cubicle. The fold is secure, but on the large end of the range for 16″ folding bikes. This large folded size makes the Flik cumbersome to carry and less than ideal as a bike for multi-modal commuting in tight conditions.

Why You Might Like It

The main advantage the Flik has over its competition is its ride quality. The longish cockpit and excellent rear suspension give the Flik a comfortable and smooth ride, not unlike a full-sized bike. The fact that the wide selection of Plug & Bike accessories are so well integrated into the bike design is a real advantage as well. If you don’t have a need for a tiny fold, and you’d prefer a folder that rides more like your standard bike, you might really like the Flik. We did.

Specifications

  • Frame Size: One size fits all
  • Folded Size: 32.9“ x 13.1“ x 31.9“
  • Suggested Rider Height: 4’11” – 6’2.8”
  • Maximum Rider Weight: 242.5 lbs.
  • Suspension: MCU elastomer damping, 10mm travel
  • Shifter: Shimano Rapidfire 8-speed
  • Crank: Forged aluminum crank arm, 50T
  • Derailleur: Shimano Sora
  • Cassette: 8 speed, 11-28T
  • Brakes: Jango V-brakes
  • Grips: Ergon
  • Saddle: Allay Racing Sport
  • Wheels: 16″ x 1.75″
  • Weight as Tested (without bags): 27 lbs.
  • MSRP: $1399

Jango Flik

Disclosure

Topeak provided the loaner bike for this review. EcoVelo was not compensated in any way for writing this review.

Fillet Brazed Frames

Photo © Pereira Cycles (via Flickr)

Fillet brazing is rarely used in bicycle frame construction today. It’s a beautiful, but labor-intensive construction method that requires considerable skill on the part of the frame builder. The “fillet” itself is a layer of brass melted into the frame joint at relatively low temperature, then filed smooth. Fillet brazed frames are easily recognized by the unique appearance of one tube flowing seamlessly into the other. In my opinion, the aesthetic qualities of fillet brazed frames rival those of lugged-steel. Current builders using at least some fillet brazing in their frame construction include Pereira, Nobilette, and MAP (among others).

S.F. Bicycle Count Report

The City of San Francisco 2009 Bicycle Count Report is now available online. According to the report, bicycle ridership increased 8.5% over 2008 and 53.5% over 2006. Also of note: 69% of riders wore helmets, 29% were female, and 71% were male. I was glad to see the numbers for wrong-way riders were relatively low, though the numbers for sidewalk riders were higher than I would have guessed.

View the Report [PDF] →

Hot Summer Night

Since it seems half the country is under snow and the other half is under water, I thought I’d post a photo from a hot summer night in July of last year to remind everyone it won’t be like this forever. Keep a stiff upper lip! ;-)

Recumbent Cycle-Con

From RTR Magazine:

Recumbent & Tandem Rider Magazine is pleased to present the first annual Recumbent Cycle-Con Trade Show and Convention, an all new event designed specifically for the recumbent bicycle industry. Industry-Only Hours will provide time for recumbent cycle and accessory manufacturers, dealers and distributors to conduct business together. Public Hours will provide opportunity for excited recumbent enthusiasts and the interested public to see and test-ride bikes right on the grounds of the Pomona Fairplex.

The trade show and convention are scheduled for October 16-18, 2010. This will be the first event of its kind held here in the U.S.

More information


 
© 2011 EcoVelo™