Sneak Peek: 2011 Raleigh Port Townsend

The Raleigh Port Townsend is another new steel transpo-oriented drop bar bike for 2011.

Frame: Reynolds 520 Butted Chromoly Tubing
Fork: 4130 Chromoly Cross
Cranks: Shimano Sora 2pc 34/50t
Derailleurs: Shimano Sora
Shifters: Shimano DuraAce 9spd Bar-End
Brakes: Shimano BR550 Canti
Tires: Vittoria Randonneur Touring 700x35c
MSRP: $849


Sneak Peek: 2011 Civia Prospect and Kingfield

We have a couple of tasty pre-interbike tidbits for you today. How about a pair of affordable, drop bar, cromo transportation bikes from Civia? The new Prospect and Kingfield share geometry with the Bryant, but come in at lower price points. These should be hot. No word yet on when they’ll be available, but I’ll take a wild guess at spring, 2011.

Civia Prospect

Steel drop bar transportation bike with room to run wide tires plus fenders
Comes with Civia Wirth fenders and Civia Cafe rack
Compact double drivetrain
Bar end shifters
Linear-pull brakes
$1,150 msrp


Civia Kingfield

Steel drop bar transportation bike with room to run wide tires plus fenders
Comes with Civia Wirth fenders and Civia cafe rack
Belt drive
Shimano Nexus 8 speed
Civia bar end shifter
Linear-pull brakes
$1,295 target msrp


Numbers Don’t Always Tell the Story

This is me on my 60cm Rivendell Sam Hillborne. This is a comfortable fit. I think just about anyone, even those without a trained eye, can see that I’m in a relaxed, natural position. The position places just enough weight forward on the bars that I don’t feel planted on the saddle, but I can ride for hours with no wrist or neck pain.

The frame was sized using a “traditional” method. Essentially, it’s the largest frame I can ride in this model while still having just enough standover clearance. On paper, the 620mm effective top tube should be way too long for my build — I have long legs and a relatively short torso — but in practice it’s a good fit (compare this to my 56cm LHT’s 570mm top tube).

The $64 question is, “How is this possible?” I believe it’s a combination of this bike’s relatively shallow seat tube angle, upsloping top tube, and quill stem, as follows:

  • On bikes with steep seat tube angles, many people jam their saddles all the way back, or even go as far as purchasing seat posts with extra set-back to place the saddle further behind the bottom bracket. Doing this has the effect of lengthening the top tube and slackening the seat tube angle.
  • An upsloping top tube raises the front of the bike, making it easier to place the grip area of the handlebars at or above the height of the saddle.
  • The height of a quill stem is easily adjusted, again, making it easier to place the grip area of the handlebars at or above the height of the saddle. Higher bars essentially nullify the greater reach of a longer top tube on a larger frame.

A bike may have a longer effective top tube length on paper, but depending upon how it’s set-up, the physical reach to the bars may be the same (or even shorter) as on a bike with a shorter top tube that’s set-up differently. In the case of my bike shown above, the 71.5 degree seat tube angle, short reach quill stem, and Moustahce handlebars make for a fit that works well for me, even with what looks like a too-long top tube on paper. To get the same fit on a smaller frame would require a longer reach stem and more stem extension above the headset. The bike would be insignificantly lighter, the steering would be affected because more of the rider’s weight would be on the front wheel (whether this is better or worse is subjective), and in my opinion, the bike would be less aesthetically appealing because more seast post and stem would be showing.

Even though I happen to be a proponent of traditional sizing methods, none of the above is to promote any one particular approach to sizing and fit. The important thing is to remember that it’s a subtle combination of frame size, frame geometry, and component selection that results in a particular rider position, and that more often than not, the numbers on a geometry spreadsheet don’t tell the whole story.

ThinkBike Chicago

Later this week, Dutch bicycle transportation experts will visit Chicago to school local politicians, planners, advocates, engineers, and business people on how Chicago can become more bike-friendly. From the press release:

The ThinkBike Workshops will bring together Dutch bicycle transportation experts, Chicago area politicians, planners, advocates, engineers and business people to plan and discuss how Chicago can become more bike-friendly. Two teams, consisting of Chicago and Dutch specialists, will survey Chicago by bike and discuss how streets, intersections and whole neighborhoods can be improved for optimal bike use. Other topics of discussion at the workshops will include bike safety, commuting by bike, biking to school, bike parking, bikes and public transport, law enforcement, etc.

We need more of this kind of information sharing in cities across the country.

ThinkBike Workshops

A Day Tour in Our Own Backyard

Now and then we like to take a break from utility riding to go on a bike ride purely for the enjoyment. These little ‘Day Tours”, as we like to call them, always start at our front door, and usually end up someplace that involves food and perhaps coffee. Between our doorstep and the destination, the goal is to explore the uncharted territory right under our noses, and “get away” without actually getting away in the conventional sense.

This weekend we took a trip to the next town to meet family for lunch and coffee. We chose a route that took the best advantage of quiet backstreets and off street bike paths. Our circuitous route added almost 50% on to the length of our trip, but it was a real adventure that was well worth the extra mileage.

Here we are at one of the trailheads. This particular trail runs along a creek at the base of a ravine that cuts across our town. When riding on this trail, you really feel as if you’re in another world compared to the busy streets overhead.

This is a typical view wherever the trail brushes up against the creek. We stopped along the way to watch the wild ducks frolicking in the pool below. It was a beautiful setting.

This is one end of a bike bridge that crosses the creek. These trails are nicely designed and well-maintained. They may not always connect up where you’d like, and they may not be 100% practical for commuters in terms of efficiency, but for the riders and walkers who take advantage of them, they certainly increase the livability of the community.

This is looking the opposite direction across the same bridge.

This is the I-80 overpass. They’re working on one of the bridges, so the trail was closed in the construction area. We had to backtrack and work our way down to the next freeway overcrossing to continue.

The view from the detour. We were thankful for being on our bikes and not trapped in a steel cage (aka an automobile) on such a beautiful, late summer day.

Our detour took us past the “Cosmos” sculpture. I couldn’t pass up the photo op. I love how the curves in the sculpture mimic the bicycle wheels.

This was a beautiful little park along the trail. It was so nice, we stopped for a moment to enjoy the flowers and a bit of shade.

Our lunch destination.

These rides are always their own reward, but a beautiful cup of espresso never hurt.

Headed home at the end of a fun day tour.

It still always amazes us how much there is to see and do right in our own backyard. All it takes is getting out of the car and taking the time to do a little exploring off of the main roads. Even a half day excursion across town and back can be an adventure when approached with an open mind and a wanderer’s attitude.

From the Archives: The Saddle/Handlebar Connection

[During our lively discussion the other day regarding handlebar height and rider comfort, a number of people brought up the relationship between handlebar height and saddle choice. I wrote about this back in July of 2009, so as a follow-up, I’m reposting the article today. —ed.]

I’m stating the obvious here, but finding the right saddle is very important for rider comfort. Every person is different, so it can take some experimentation to find a good fit. You know you have a good fit when your weight is supported by your ischial tuberosities, or what are called “sit bones”, and little to no pressure is placed on the soft tissues between the bones. We’re naturally accustomed to supporting our weight on our sit bones, so it only makes sense to do so when we’re on our bicycles.

The goal is to identify the saddle that works best for your physique, on a particular bike, with a particular build.

Handlebar height in relation to saddle height affects saddle fit. As a general rule, the higher the handlebars in relation to the saddle, the wider the saddle needs to be. High bars place the rider in an upright position, rolling back the hips and placing more weight on the wider portion of the sit bones. Low bars place the rider in a forward leaning position, moving the pressure points to the narrower, front portion of the sit bones. A wide saddle combined with low handlebars is likely to cause chafing between the thighs, while a narrow saddle combined with high bars is likely to place too much pressure on the soft tissues between the sit bones.

I wish I could say there’s a simple method for finding the perfect saddle. Unfortunately, it’s been my experience that a fair amount of expensive trial-and-error is required. Even among the bikes I ride on a regular basis, each requires a different saddle. The goal is to identify the saddle that works best for your physique, on a particular bike, with a particular build. Taking into consideration the relationship between saddle height and handlebar height will get you there quicker and greatly simplify the search, saving you time, money, and maybe even some discomfort in the process.

Streetfilms: Cargo Bikes in Copenhagen

Copenhagen Cargo Bikes from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Another excellent film from Clarence Eckerson, Jr. and Streetfilms. This one is on cargo bikes in Copenhagen.


© 2011 EcoVelo™