In Retrospect

In Retrospect

The passing of another year always seems to prompt the desire to look back and survey the landscape we’ve left behind. Despite the tough times all around, we managed to hang in there and even expand our horizons a bit in 2010. Following are a few stats and highlights from the past year.

Stats

  • Our readership nearly doubled over the past year.
  • Our busiest month ever was November of this year.
  • Our busiest day ever was Novemebr 22, the day we opened voting in the Reader’s Choice portion of the “Why I Ride” Photo Contest.
  • Our #1 referrer over the past year was Google (of course).
  • Our #1 non-search related referrer was Rivendell (interesting!).
  • The top 25 or so outgoing clicks were to our sponsor sites from their banner ads. The #1 non-sponsor related outgoing link was to Surly, followed closely by Cyclelicious.
  • The #1 incoming search engine term was “ecovelo” (of course). The #2 incoming search engine term was “surly long haul trucker” (interesting, again!).
  • Visitors to the site favored the Firefox browser, followed by Safari, then Internet Explorer.
  • A whopping 72% of our visitors live in California.
  • More of our visitors live in San Francisco than any other city, followed by Portland, then Seattle and New York.
  • A disproportionately high percentage of Mac users visited the site.
  • A disproportionately high percentage of college educated males with children visited the site.
  • A majority of visitors browsed the site from work (don’t worry, we won’t tell your boss).

Content

The Photo Contest

The 2010 “Why I Ride” Photo Contest far surpassed our expectations. We received 277 amazing entries from all over the world. This was up from approximately 160 entries in 2009. We added an essay component this year which made the contest even more enjoyable (though, from all reports, much more difficult to judge). Our prize list was bigger than ever, with a Civia bicycle given away as the Grand Prize, and $750 worth of Rivendell gift certificates distributed between the top few photographers. In addition to that, our other sponsors donated a long list of awesome prizes that were distributed among the top group.

What’s in Store

We don’t have any grand plans for 2011 other than to keep doing what we’re doing while striving to polish and perfect the site. We have a number of exciting bikes and accessories lined up for review, a number of interesting people lined up for interviews, a handful of cool sponsors looking to come on board, some new camera lenses to put through their paces, and lots of bike riding and story telling to partake in. Thanks so much for your ongoing support and stick around to see what we have in store for you this coming year!

—Alan & Michael

Testing, Testing

Loring Lens Test
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[If you're not a photographer, you might want to skip the rest of this off-topic post and just enjoy the pics of a pretty bike. —Alan]

I shoot primes, mostly because I like sharp, fast lenses, and sharp, fast zooms are out of my price range. I’ve also come to really enjoy the fact that primes enforce a particular angle of view, and as I get to know them, I envision that angle of view before putting the viewfinder up to my eye. This encourages me to do more pre-visualization than I do when I shoot with zooms.

I’ve recently been buying and selling a few lenses, adjusting my coverage a bit, and strengthening my line-up in the focal lengths I use the most. One of my new lenses arrived today – a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. Like any photographer would have to do, I immediately went out and fired off a few shots just to give the lens a run around the block. I still need to learn the ins-and-outs of this lens, but after a quick 10 minute session I’m already very pleased with the output. I’ve read only great things about this lens (sharp, clean, quiet, fast focusing), and it certainly lives up to its reputation. Going forward, this will be my go-to lens for bike close-ups.

Loring Lens Test
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Loring Lens Test
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Loring Lens Test
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Loring Lens Test
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Loring Lens Test
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A Minimalist Lighting System

Planet Bike Blaze 2W
Blaze 2W

A common question is, “What is a simple, minimalist lighting set-up for commuting and utility riding that provides enough light to both see and be seen by, yet doesn’t cost an arm and a leg?”

In the past, the answer was not so clear cut because lights that were powerful enough to see and be seen by were neither simple nor inexpensive. Now, with the advent of highly efficient LED light emitters (aka “bulbs”), sufficiently powerful lights have become both simple and relatively inexpensive. Unless someone is participating in 24-hour mountain bike races or on-road ultra-endurance events, both of which require ultra-high-powered lighting and extremely long run times, a perfectly functional lighting system can be had for under $100.

There are a number of alternatives on the market, but my favorite minimalist system consists of a Planet Bike Blaze 2W headlight and a Planet Bike Superflash tail light.

The Blaze 2W Headlight

The Blaze 2W is a two-watt headlight powered by 2/AA batteries*. It has high and low beams plus a blinding “Superflash” strobe. Run times are excellent at 5 hours on high, 12 hours on low, and 18 hours on strobe. It has a tight, but surprisingly bright, round beam (I prefer a slightly wider beam, but that would also diminish the intensity of the beam, so it’s a fair trade-off). The casing is made of plastic with an alloy heat-sink and a rubber seal where it comes apart for changing batteries. It comes supplied with an adjustable, quick-release handlebar mount. The Blaze is a great little headlight that gets the job done with minimal fuss.

The Superflash Tail Light

The Superflash tail light strobe pattern is so bright and distinctive that it’s recognizable from a quarter of a mile away. And recognize it I do; it has become so ubiquitous among battery-powered tail lights that I see one nearly every day throughout the winter commuting season. The Superflash is popular for good reason: it’s tiny, incredibly bright, lightweight, reasonably priced, with great run times and that distinctive, eye-catching strobe pattern.

Planet Bike Superflash Stealth
Superflash Stealth

The Superflash comes supplied with a seat-post style clamp and a built-in clip. A bracket for mounting down low on a rear rack is also available (sold separately). Though it’s not necessary, I run two on my commuter; one on the seatpost and one on the rear rack. As you can imagine, motorists give me a wide berth.

The Blaze 2W / Superflash Stealth combo is a great value in a minimalist lighting set-up for commuting and utility riding. The Blaze provides enough light to both see and be seen by, and the Superflash is the class-leading tail light. Sure, it’s possible to spend a lot more and put together a high-powered battery or dynamo system, but if you’re looking for a simple and effective lighting system that’s easy to install and easy on your pocketbook, it’s hard to beat these little LEDs from Planet Bike.

Planet Bike

Disclosure: Planet Bike is a sponsor of this website. They’re also one of the most active supporters of bicycle advocacy groups in the industry. Read more about their programs here.

*Note: I highly recommend the use of rechargeable batteries. You can read my article on rechargeables here.

Fenders

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Belt Bikes

Belt Bikes

Belt Bikes is a recently launched website devoted exclusively to bikes outfitted with the Gates Carbon Belt Drive. I’m pretty sure the site hosts the largest collection of belt driven bikes on the web.

We’re big fans of the Gates system and we’ve covered it a fair amount here on EcoVelo:

Belt Bikes

Gallery: Dom’s Raleigh Gran Prix w/DIY Bars

Dom's Raleigh
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Dom's Raleigh
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[Dom sent us these photos of his Raleigh Gran Prix outfitted with his modified handlebars. —ed.]

This is a Raleigh Gran Prix from the mid 80′s. The inspiration for the handlebar was more function than form to begin with. The original equipment drop bars and long top tube were just too much of a stretch to be comfortable for urban stop and go riding. By flopping the bar I narrowed the stretch and by chopping the bar I got the micro handgrip positions I wanted.

After a few months of riding with pass through brakes traditionally mounted on the horizontal I wanted something completely unique. At the same time I was in contact with Dynacraft, the mass market distributor. After a meeting in Minneapolis with David Castrucci, Dynacraft, US president and Les Heinen factory rep. I was told my design was not patentable, which I began to understand was true.

I went home to brainstorm while I had two weeks awaiting an answer weither Dynacraft wanted to produce bikes with this handlebar concept. So that weekend I set about molding an elbow out of modeling clay and wire. I knew this elbow modification was the direction I would pursue. The hardware store supplied prototype parts for the elbow modification. I bought the Tektro reverse levers and put everything together by Monday morning, shooting an e-mail to David and Les with a patentable design.

For the next two weeks I worked on my patent application and currently have a patent application pending with the USPTO. I am very much into “repurposing” drop bars as DIY for urban riding.

Dom

More information on the handlebar mod

#BikeNYC: Portrait of the New York Cyclist

From the #BikeNYC blog:

#BikeNYC is a project by Brooklyn photographer Dmitry Gudkov. The name refers to the Twitter hashtag, which allows disparate people to talk to each other about everything related to cycling in New York. The idea is to meet other people who cycle in the city and take a cool portrait of them with their bike. I also like to feature a few words about each subject.

Since I ditched my monthly Metrocard and started biking everywhere, I’ve gotten to know the city much better, and now I’d like to get to know some of the other people that I see biking alongside me. I like the idea of all these people who may have very little in common, apart from the fact that we all bike in this city.

In between portrait posts, I’ll be updating with less formal #bikenyc related photos, thoughts, and links.

I absolutely love Dmitry’s work. Well worth a look.

Visit the site


 
© 2011 EcoVelo™