Sunday, September 18, 2016

The rise of e-bikes does not equal the death of human-powered bikes

There is no doubt that the rise of e-bikes is changing the bicycle business, but sometimes the excitement of the new and fear of missing out make for some mistaken bits of hyperbole. For example, this came across my Twitter stream this morning:

I replied:
On reflection, it's a fine headline. It generates clicks and it accurately quotes Mr. Butler-Adams. But I think he's wrong.

Some technologies really do replace and "kill off" others. Wikipedia really did put a lot of encyclopedia salesmen out of work. Digital cameras did kill Kodak's film business. And video killed the radio star.

Wait a minute, let's look at that last one for a bit.

When TV came along, it didn't kill radio. Radio drama pretty much died, but radio still exists. You may still listen to radio for news, music or traffic reports. For much of your information needs, you don't need or want a video component.

Now e-bikes solve some problems some folks have. They can add range and hill-climbing ability. But they add weight, price and complexity. For some folks, in some situations, e-bikes are the solution. But not all folks, in all situations. For many people, a bike that is solely human-powered is a better answer.

The Swiss Army Knife didn't make chef's knives obsolete. We live in world that has sporks, forks, spoons and chopsticks. And the non-e-bike isn't going away. E-bikes are here and they're getting better but they won't kill the bicycle.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bike Friday introduces the PakiT

Today Bike Friday is officially unveiling the Pakit. I've been riding a prototype of this bike for the past month. I can assure you, it's real. I work at Bike Friday and over the past couple of decades we've built and shipped thousands of bikes.

This is my prototype PakiT. It weighs a bit under 20 lbs.

We build all the Bike Friday's here in Eugene, Oregon. It's a pretty nice place to live and work

Unlike the production PakiTs, my prototype has a coaster brake and chain drive. Although I grew up with coaster brakes, I found I missed the ability to spin the pedals to just where I want them when I stop. Everybody who test rode the bike made the same comment. So all the production PakiTs will have cable-activated brakes.

The PakiT folds quickly to a narrow package.

The stem and handlebars detach and clip to the frame.

The bike folds to a very narrow package. We realized that a lot of folks will quick fold it and then walk into a crowded place like an elevator or a farmer's market so using a clean belt drive for the production bikes. But, down the road we will make the chain drive available as an option.

We've already build multiple PakiT prototypes and have a wide range of riders testing them. We have a factory that has already built thousands of Bike Fridays over the past few decades and we our experienced crew is ramping up to add the PakiT to our product line. The Kickstarter will let us bulk buy materials and gauge our first production run for this new bike.

The Kickstarter will tell you more about the Pakit. I like mine and it's a rough prototype. The production bike is even better and I think at least some of the people reading this blog might want one.

Keep 'em rolling,


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Review: TiGr mini Bike Lock

While I've never been as obsessed with weight as some of  my speedier bike riding friends, I do understand why weight is important to a cyclist. On a bicycle the rider is the engine and any time the terrain goes up or you want to accelerate it is your power that is making that weight move. Performance is a function of the power to weight ratio and even a touring cyclist who is not particularly interested in going fast can travel farther with less effort with a lighter load. In the high end racing bike world, people pay thousands of dollars to get the lightest frames, wheels and components.

Until recently, when it came to bike locks, you had to make a choice between weight and security. Good U-locks are quite secure, but they are heavy. Cable locks are flexible and light, but not very secure.

The folks at TiGr decided to make a secure lock out of titanium. Titanium is strong and flexible. Their first lock was a bow designed to lock both wheels of a road bike. Of course any lock can be broken given enough time and big enough tools and the initial version of the lock with a .75 wide bow could be defeated with a large set of bolt cutters. Their current bow lock is 1.25 inches wide and has been extensively tested and ART certified. Of course, no lock is 100% theft-proof but from what I've seen the TiGr locks provide a level of security on par with a good U-lock.

While the bow design works well for various bikes, I was more interested in the TiGr mini, a small lock quite similar to a U-lock.

Here's my old, very reliable ABUS U-lock:

I have no real complaints about the Abus lock, it's been very reliable. It also weighs a bit over three pounds.

My TiGr mini lock weighs a bit under one pound.

I use the TiGr mini much the same way I used the Abus, with a flexi cable to secure the front wheel of my bike (yeah, I know, someone could cut the cable. But there isn't a huge illicit market for 20" wheels, so so far, so good). And the lock itself is just big enough to secure the rear wheel via the Sheldon Method. If you have a fat-tired mountain bike the TiGr mini might not be big enough, but for a road bike or something like my Bike Friday, it's just about the perfect size.

The lock mechanism itself has a very smooth action and it comes with two keys. Like most good locks, you register it with the company so you can get a replacement key if you ever need one.

The lock comes with a very nice bracket that I don't use. The bracket takes up a waterbottle spot and with every lock I've ever had, I never use the bracket. I always just toss the lock in a pannier or pack or strap it to my rear rack. But if you're the type who uses a lock bracket, the TiGr folks make a good one.

The TiGr is made by a small, family owned business right here in the USA. Yes, the lock cost about twice what my old lock did, but I consider it money well spent. BTW, yes I bought this. I get industry pricing because I work in the bike biz, but like you, I buy stuff. Nobody is paying me to say nice things. But this is a nice thing.

Oh, and if you do buy it through the Amazon link, I do get a kickback. Bottom line, it's a good, secure, lightweight lock.

Friday, April 01, 2016


Once again it's time for the #30DaysofBiking. I'm going to ride my bike every day in April. This year instead of updating my blog with 30 posts, I'll just post a daily tweet with a photograph from the day's ride together with a baiku (a bike inspired haiku). Depending on the day, I may do more than one baiku/photo, but each day I'll do at least one. I'll update this post with the tweets.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rob Snyder's Coroplast Handlebar Box

From Rob Snyder:

Kent, I recently made a Coroplast handlebar box based on your design and want to share it with you, maybe you would share it on your blog.

Sorry that the narrative below is so long, I am trying to describe the construction in enough detail that someone could build it without pictures.

The main difference between mine and yours is I turned it around, inspired by Emily O’Brien’s Dill Pickle handlebar bag ( This gives me more room for my hands and a nice place to put the bike number. There are also some differences in the construction details which I will try to describe here.

I fastened the pieces with Mr. McGroovy’s box rivets( Mr. McGroovy also sold me a couple of handy tools, one for cutting the length of the flutes and one for taking the rivets apart.

The overall dimensions are 8” tall (34 flutes) 12” wide and 6” front to back. I was using a large sign so I was able to make the box in 2 pieces but my first attempt was 3 pieces. I started by cutting the bowed piece leaving it longer than the needed 20” and a couple of extra flutes wider so I got a nice smooth bend. I have a roll of printer paper that is about 10” diameter which makes a great form but I think you could just roll it around air. I used a couple of lashing straps to hold it in the roll for a couple of days so it took a set.

For the front, top & bottom I cut an hourglass shape where the top & bottom have a bit of excess and the front (middle of the hourglass) is net at 8x12. The flutes are running across the front so that the bends are with the grain.

A few words about basic techniques. I have a special cutter that follows the flutes, cutting only one face of the material at a time. For cutting across the flutes a utility knife will cut through 1 face and partially through the flutes allowing you to snap the Coroplast. I use the special cutter to then cut the remaining face. Curves are more difficult and I find it helps to have a pattern or at least a steel ruler to use as a guide. Draw the curve you want with a Sharpie, place the ruler on the good side of the line so if you slip, the knife goes into the waste, and make a series of short cuts. The knife will want to follow the flutes so it is best to make light cuts. On concave curves you might even try perforations first.

For holes you can use something as simple as a nail. I tried a leather punch which worked pretty well but I think the Coroplast dulled it. A nail set or similar punch works pretty well but my favorite tool is a soldering iron.

WARNING: I do not know if the fumes from melting the Coroplast are toxic, so use caution. The soldering iron I have is a little small for the rivets but it is easy to enlarge the holes.

Back to building the box. Take the straps off the bent hoop of Coroplast. I now trim the edges so that it is 8” wide (34 flutes) and trim the ends square so that the total length is 20”. Now using a straight edge and a dull tool, crush the Coroplast (across the flutes) 1” in from each end and bend it inward. This 1” flange is where you attach the hoop to the front. I punched the holes through the flange then temporarily held the front to the flange with double-stick tape so I could match the holes into the front. I now temporarily fasten the 2 pieces together. The rivets are difficult to unfasten so you may want to use screws or such. Tape may not be strong enough because the hoop wants to spring out. With the front and hoop attached, fold the top and bottom over.

For the TOP, trace around the outside of the box and cut to the line. You can do this with sturdy shears like tin snips or the utility knife but most household scissors will not do it or will be dulled.

For the BOTTOM, trace around the inside of the box and the layout a parallel curve about 1.25” outside of that. This band will be bent up to attach the bottom of the box to the inside of the hoop. You will need to cut notches to make tabs to fasten. I made a trapezoid template to mark the tabs. 2.5” on the base 1” on the top and 1.25” tall. Leave about .25” from the hinge and trace the template. Starting from both ends and making the center tab a little wider or narrower will make a neater looking job.

Punch holes in the center of the tabs, fold them up and mark the inside of the box. It is hard to punch the box from the inside so I disassembled it and punched the holes where I had marked them. Now you are ready to permanently assemble the box. Once it is assembled, all that is left is to add some straps to attach it to your bike and a bungie to hold the lid closed.

My bike has bullhorn style bars so this method may not work if you have cables coming out of the brake levers (classic non-aero or early brifters). I used a small side release buckle and 2 single bar slides which attach to the box through slots and go over the bars & under the stem. I made the slots by punching a couple of holes and slitting between them and then widened and cleaned up the slot with the soldering iron. The slots are just a single flute wide. The front of the box is supported by a cord on either side which goes through a hole and loops around the handlebars. (On a drop bar bike it would go over the brake levers) the cords are adjusted with a simple toggle grip. Seattle Fabrics on Aurora Ave N. is a great place for buying the webbing & hardware but I think REI and other outdoor stores or sewing shops should have it.

To keep the lid shut I use some elastic cord and loop it around a rivet in the center of the hoop. I attached my cords through holes in the front, near the bottom and secure them inside the box with a knot. I can use the elastic cord to hold a cue sheet on the top and a bike number on the front.

The box is not waterproof so I throw most of the stuff into a stuff sack or plastic bag before putting it in the box. Since the bottom is not waterproof any water that gets in drains out. I drove from Seattle to Everett via I-5 with the bike on the back and the bike sat out in the rain for a couple of hours before driving back. My stuff sack is just an old sleeping bag sack and things were damp but not soaked and most importantly still in the box & on the bike. I have only used it on a couple of rides including Chilly Hilly and it did quite well. (that was the first box which had the lid as a 3rd piece)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

More Excitement Than Most Folks Prefer

This photo of Greenwood was taken in January for Seattle magazine's March issue PHOTO CREDIT: John Vicory

You never know what life is going to toss your way. You can work hard, build a great business that genuinely helps people and the planet and in one instant that can all get blown away.

Early Wednesday morning a leaking gas line caused a blast that destroyed three businesses in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. Those businesses are all struggling to rebuild. You can read about them here:

Also seriously damaged in the blast was G&O Family Cyclery, a wonderful shop owned and run by friends of mine. You can read more about the shop and how they are coping here:

Davey, Tyler, Donald and Karl are fine, resourceful folk and they'll rebuild, but now is a time when they can use some help. I pitched in a little bit (I wish I could do more but almost all of us in the bike business aren't here to get rich) and now I'm asking anybody reading this who cares about bikes and decent people going through a tough time to at least consider donating a bit to help in the rebuilding effort.

You can donate to help G&O Family Cyclery here:

If you'd like to help the employees of Neptune Coffee, Mr. Gyros, and the Greenwood Quick Stop you can donate here:

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Weatherneck: The Bandana Evolves

Brian Davis, the guy behind Fix-it-Sticks is back with another clever, well-designed product. It's that little bit of wind protection and warmth you may need while starting out on a cold ride but what makes it smart is how easy it is to take on and off and adjust. Brian explains it well in the Kickstarter video I've embedded at the top of this post.

Unlike many Kickstarters, Brian's project is a real thing, well-thought out and BS-free. He's going the Kickstarter route so he can bulk-buy supplies and get a sense of demand for his product.

I tested the Weatherneck out last weekend but it wasn't cold enough here for me to use it as a face mask.

Brian also sent a Weatherneck to my pal Hughie at the Bicycle Center. I told Hughie that I thought his partner Yvonne would be a better model. She sent me a picture where it looks like she's going to hold up a stagecoach.

Dillon is an ex-California dog so he's always cold. The Weatherneck made a nice little jacket for him.

Hughie started out serious.

Then he got creative.

Then he started channeling his inner Axl Rose.

OK, we've been having fun with the Weatherneck, but the bottom line is that this is a cool product. The magnetic clasp system is very versatile, you can take the Weatherneck on and off in seconds and as you can see, you can wear it in various ways.

So  if you live somewhere where it gets cold some times, check it out. I think it's well worth the reasonable price Brian is charging and I hope he sells a bunch of them.