For the past couple of weeks I’ve been carrying my full commute load (lunch, change of clothes, laptop, papers, e-devices, etc.) in a pair of panniers on the back of my Civia. Like the Surly I was riding before I purchased this bike, the Civia has high trail geometry optimized for carrying a rear load. The assumption seems to be that a person will throw a rack and a pair of panniers on the back and call it good, which is probably true in most cases. Up to a point, the Civia handles well when loaded in this way, with the steering livening up as some weight is placed on the rear. Beyond a certain amount of weight though, the front end starts feeling a little light and squirrelly, an issue that may be exacerbated by the fact that the internal gear hub also shifts the weight bias rearward.
In an attempt to mitigate for the unbalanced feeling of overloading the rear of the bike, I recently installed my Pass & Stow porteur rack and Freight Baggage bag on the front fork of the Civia. This is the rack/bag combo I’ve been running on my Surly for the past couple of years. With this set-up I’m able to balance the load between the front and rear of the bike. Like on the Surly, having the rack and bag on the front slows down the steering and increases the tendency for the wheel to flop to the side, but it’s something I’ve been able to adapt to with minimal effort. The plus is that the bike feels much more steady and planted on the road when the cargo is split front and rear in this way. An added benefit is that the front wheel stays on the ground while loading the rear panniers (with no weight on the front of the bike, the loaded panniers cause the bike to tip back on the rear wheel when up on the Pletscher Double kickstand).
This is still a work in progress, but even after a short time I’m liking having a little weight on the front wheel again. I’m carrying lunch, layers, and tools up front, with the remaining weight in the back. My guess is that this splits the load approximately 40/60 front and rear. This weight distribution worked well on my Surly and so far it looks to be a good set-up on the Civia as well.
March definitely came in like a lion with more storms than we’ve seen in many years. Today though, we’re expecting the mildest day of the year yet, with highs in the low 80′s. It looks like the old saying is holding true this year…
This week’s featured photo comes from Flickr user Withered Bliss (aka Adrian Wong). I just love the colors and textures in this photo (not to mention the way-cool Brommie).
[If you’d like your photos to be considered for this feature, simply upload them to Flickr, tag them with “evpicoftheweek” (without quotes), and add them to the EcoVelo Flickr Group.]
Calhoun Cycle and Banjo Brothers have teamed up to bring you their Tiny Bikeshop Concert Series. The first show in the series will feature Brianna Lane, the talented singer/songwriter who first came to fame among bicyclists when she embarked on a car-free 1,100 mile concert tour from Milwaukee, WI to Boston, MA. The show will take place tomorrow evening from 6-8pm at Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis. Here at EcoVelo we’ll have a live stream via indieload.com starting at 4pm west coast time.
The two-hour event will be free to the public and will also feature some mini Q&A sessions with factory reps and the bike shop staff covering endurance racing, dressing for foul weather cycling, bike touring, and how to set-up your bike for utility cycling. Calhoun Cycle owners and co-sponsors Luke and Mary Breen also plan to provide some in-store incentives for anyone who stops by. Be sure to check back here tomorrow afternoon at 4pm for the live stream!
Planet Bike sent us a set of their new Grasshopper fenders to try out. These pretty fenders are made from laminated Moso bamboo with a marine-grade finish. If you look closely, you’ll notice the blades have a subtle compound curve (the woodworkers in the crowd will have to tell us how they did that). The stainless steel hardware is the same (good) quality as supplied on Planet Bike’s other fenders.
As you can see, the front fender is on the short side. It’ll be fine as is for dealing with the occasional puddle or two, but for year round commuting it needs a mud flap. A Honey Brooks would look swell on this fender.
Installing the Grasshopper fenders was nearly as easy as installing plastic fenders (the process took less than 30 minutes – compare this to the typical 2-3 hours for a Honjo installation). The hardware comes pre-installed and everything was straight and where it was supposed to be. Mechanics will like these fenders.
Here are the specs from Planet Bike:
- Made from fast growing and sustainable Moso Bamboo
- Durable marine-grade top coat finish and 3 ply Bamboo laminate construction
- Hardware is all stainless-steel and pre-installed for hassle-free mounting
- V-stays for added stability
- Meets EN test standards
- Release Tabs on front fender
- Hybrid/touring (45mm)
The Grasshoppers will be at dealers in April. Retail price will be around $125-$130.
About Planet Bike
Whenever I review one of their products, I like to point out that Planet Bike donates a full 25% of company profits to grassroots bicycle advocacy organizations. Learn more here.
Disclosure: Planet Bike is a sponsor of this website and provided the Grasshopper fenders for this review.
I encountered a pair of poppies on my commute today – a sure sign that spring is truly (and finally) here. We’ll have fields full of these beauties within a few weeks.
Bike commuting, more than almost any other activity I can think of, puts one in constant touch with the changing seasons. So much of this is missed from behind the wheel of a car…