Back in the Flow

Commuter

Due to the overwhelming response to our call for bicycle commuter profiles, we removed the entries from the main flow of the website to avoid overwhelming our regular daily content. As anticipated, after the initial rush the number of entries has slowed to a trickle, so it’s time to place the profiles back in the main blog timeline and enter each new profile as an individual post. Like with our photo contests, as you scroll back through archive pages from the main entry page you’ll encounter blocks of profiles that were posted en masse, but as those drift further down the timeline it will become less of an issue.

Going forward, the complete set of profiles can be accessed by either clicking on the “Bicycle Commuter Profiles” link at the top of every page, or clicking on the same in the left hand column under the “Categories” heading.

As always, if you haven’t submitted a Profile yet, please consider adding yours to the collection. Thanks!

Summer Storm Rolling In

Summer Storm

Anti-Car Culture

NYT Screenshot

An article in today’s New York Times titled, “Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy” takes a look at how various European cities actively work to discourage automobile use. Policies such as closing roads to automobiles, levying congestion charges, instituting “environmental zones” where only low emission vehicles are allowed, and strictly limiting parking spaces have been successfully implemented across Europe as part of efforts to reduce automobile use and encourage bicycle and transit ridership.

I’ve mentioned here many times that I think it will take both carrots and sticks if we ever hope to see bicycle and public transit ridership in the U.S. reach the levels enjoyed in Europe. While the “carrot” measures such as high quality infrastructure and financial incentives are very important, I believe we also need to actively discourage automobile use by making it more expensive and less convenient, particularly for the short, urban trips that could so easily be made using alternative forms of transportation.

Read the Article

Public Cash for Clunkers

Public Cash for Clunkers

Public is running a little “Cash for Clunkers” promotion. From now through July 31, donate an old bike to any Community Bicycle Organization and Public will give you $50 off any of their new bikes.

Community Bicycle Organizations are not-for-profit, volunteer run bike shops that predominately cater to under-served communities. According to bikecollectives.org, the following types of organizations fall under the CBO heading:

  • Non-profit bicycle organizations
  • Bike shops that are accessible to people without money
  • Shops that have an educational focus, teaching others how to fix bikes
  • Shops that are volunteer run
  • Organizations that ship bikes to communities in other countries
  • Shops that provide free or low-cost services to the community
  • Organizations that recycle bicycles and parts

You can access a list of U.S.-based Community Bicycle Organizations here.

Details at Public

Sac Seersucker Ride

Seersucker Ride

We had a fabulous day today, bike-strolling, pinicking, and chatting it up with fellow bike-people on Sacramento Tweed’s summer “Seersucker Ride”. If you’re familiar with the tweed ride concept, a seersucker ride is just a warm weather version of the same.

Our intrepid hosts and ride leaders Rick & Erin of Sacramento Tweed put together a perfect program for this summer’s ride. After the meet-up at Temple Coffee/Revolution Wines in Midtown, our group of approximately 100 riders rode across town to Land Park where we picnicked in the shade while listening to traditional acoustic music provided by The Alkali Flats.

Seersucker Ride

From there we rode downtown to the Crocker Museum where they had a secure, private parking area set aside for the group’s 100 or so bikes (way cool!!). As some of the group enjoyed the exhibit, others of us relaxed in the spacious cafe area of the beautiful new Teel Family Pavillion. It felt great to cool off in the air-conditioned museum after the ride across town in the summer heat.

Finally, the main group headed to de Vere’s Irish Pub to finish off the day with a pint while a few of us split off to have a cup of coffee before heading home. All-in-all, it was an awesome time.

While on the surface it may appear tweed/seersucker rides are about the clothing, they’re actually about reawakening the spirit of a more genteel era in which camaraderie and well-wishing among bicyclists were the norm. In fact, no particular type of clothing or bicycle was required to participate in this ride, and everyone was warmly welcomed regardless of their chosen bike or attire.

Seersucker Ride

The tweed ride phenomenon started in London in January of 2009 and quickly jumped across the Atlantic to the U.S. where it has spread like wildfire the past couple of years. Many cities across the country have now hosted tweed rides.

Most tweed rides are under 20 miles in length and include a few stops for food-and-drink along the way. The pace is usually languid, and perhaps most importantly, there’s always an effort to be inclusive of riders of all ability levels.

If you haven’t experienced one of these rides yet, we highly recommend joining the fun when one comes to your area!

Some Thoughts on Internal Gear Hubs

Alfine IGH

Slowly but surely over the past few years my stable has evolved to the point where 4 out of 5 of my regular rides are outfitted with internal gear hubs (IGHs). I didn’t purposely set out to replace my derailleur drivetrains with IGHs, but they work so well for the climate and terrain in which I ride that they’re a natural choice for me. Following are a few of the pros and cons of internal gear hubs as I see them:

Pros
Low maintenance
Simple to operate (indexed, linear)
Can be shifted while at a stop
Aesthetically pleasing (clean chain line)

Cons
Can be heavy
Can have limited gear range compared to derailleur drivetrains
Require proprietary shifters
Difficult to repair for the home mechanic

Probably the biggest on-road advantage an internal gear hub provides is the ability to shift while at a stop.

Probably the biggest on-road advantage an internal gear hub provides is the ability to shift while at a stop. Regardless of whether I’m riding my Brompton with its Sturmey Archer 3-speed IGH, or my Civia Bryant with its Shimano Alfine 8-speed IGH, I always appreciate the fact that I can roll up to a stop light, make a shift or three while waiting for the light, then roll away in the appropriate gear. I’ve become so accustomed to doing this that even after 30 years on derailleur drivetrains I now sometimes forget to down-shift my derailleur-bike before coming to a stop.

Other than the Rohloff, most internal gear hubs cover a narrower range than triple derailleur drivetrains. Whether this is a real disadvantage in practice depends mostly upon where a person lives. My wife jokes that her bike is a 3-speed, even though it’s equipped with a 24-speed drivetrain. What she’s getting at is that 99% of the time she only uses the middle three cogs in the rear and the middle ring up front. For much of the riding I do, I find the same thing, though I probably use more like 6 gears instead of her 3 (I shift too much). In fact, I converted my old Surly from 27-speeds down to 18, then finally 9, and even then I rarely used the entire range. Given our riding habits, an 8-, 9-, or 11-speed IGH provides more than enough gearing options. Of course, those who live in hillier terrain may need the broader range and low-low of a touring triple.

According to a poll we conducted back in April, 14% of our readers ride bikes outfitted with internal gear hubs. My guess is that there are a variety of reasons why that number isn’t higher, some of which are listed under the “Cons” above. The first three drawbacks are not necessarily insignificant, but the last one may be the sleeper. Bicyclists—especially those who have been riding for many years—tend to be tinkerers. I’d say a fairly high percentage of our readers perform at least a portion of their maintenance at home. The issue is that working on IGHs is beyond the comfort level of many home mechanics. This puts the burden of repairing our hubs on local bike shops, and from what I’ve experienced, there’s a major shortage of mechanics who have the know-how to wrench on IGHs.

If you’re not already riding an IGH, I’d be curious to know if you’re considering one for the future, and if not, what the obstacles are. If you’re already on an IGH, I’d like to hear why you made the switch and what you both like and dislike about your particular hub(s).

Thursday Afternoon Commute: Bright Blue Skies

Thursday Commute

 
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