Welcome to the City Bikes clearance bin for all the overstock thoughts, rants, news items, and other idea fragments that we need to turn over. Check back often, as stock is refreshed frequently

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hello, newsletter readers!

Welcome, and thanks for clicking through!

You may recall that in the last newsletter, we asked for your thoughts on this thing:
Well, 100% of the three of you who responded were pretty excited, and no reticence was expressed about the $299 MSRP. We'll keep our eyes peeled, to see if this thing is ever coming to market, or if it's just another cool bit of bike vaporware.

So anyway, I was curious about a bike I'm personally pretty jazzed about, the Salsa Casseroll. We mentioned it after seeing it at Frostbike, it sure is purty, and not a bad spec for a $1600-1700 bike (though I'm not 100% sure on these prices):
...and that dropout is just a beautiful piece (photograph is off of the singlespeed bike, same frame, sorry for my cruddy photography):
Of course, it's easy to like something when there's no alternative. See, we've already got a similar bike, the Jamis Quest, in stock at $1500.
Spec is at the same strata, with some important differences (compact chainset, no fenders, lighter wheels, carbon fork, and overall more performance orientation for the Jamis). They're really targeted at different users (Jamis -- fast weekend rec riding v. Salsa -- commuting/light touring). But with an already narrow niche ($1500+ performance steel road bikes), it would likely be a one or the other proposition, in terms of having in stock (we probably can special-order the Salsa).

So, steel road fiends, what say you? If you are plunking down $1500 plus for a new steel road bike, what are you looking at? Which bike better fits the bill? And would you pay a premium for one over the other?

Moots and Demo Fleet Complete!

After rolling through our last few Moots bikes, we brought in some freshies. 2008 MootoX-YBB and YBB plus a 56cm Compact VaMoots. The VaMoots is still just a frame. We have a SRAM Force group sitting around waiting to tacked on.

Here's Philly-Boy holding the 29r MootoX-YBB. Smart build with pink headset, Juicys, Reba 80-100, Thomson, WTB... Pretty bike with SUPERHOT test-ride pedals! That Devo saddle is sexy. The 26r has one, too! I should have weighed the bike but I didn't.

We also have the 26r YBB. This is our best-seller. Such a fun bike. Even though 1/2 of Moots mountain bike business is 29rs, we still sell plenty of 26rs. See? Look how happy Phil is, just TOUCHING the Moots. Imagine what it feels like when you sit on it! How's that for graphic!?

We have some Easton EA90sl wheels coming in for the Compact VaMoots road bike. I think it's getting a Ouzo Pro fork, carbon bar and the new Cinch post from Moots when it comes out next month.

When Jon from Moots was here, he promised me a demo of the 4" travel 29r, the MootoXZ. Also on the way will be a Cinco. I'll let you know.

All of our bikes are available for test-rides. Ya gotta ride it to love it! There's no other way around it!

In other news, we got the Dakar XCR Pro bikes in for the demo fleet. 4" travel of carbon xc love. We are waiting on the 21" (so is Welp!) but our demo fleet is almost complete! We are picking up the trailer for the vinyl decal application on it and the van next week. It should be sweet. We'll be driving that sucker around to the local races (and some not-so-local) so just let us know if you need a ride!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Planet of the Apes Biking Safely

OK, so I try not to make fun of stuff created expressly for kids, like Hannah Montana or downloadable ringtones or Camel cigarettes, because I'm not a kid. And I also try not to make fun of stuff from yesteryears, because they didn't have the internet or 300 TV stations with which to hone their skills in sarcasm, irony, and rushing to declare that something has "jumped the shark."

But I've set aside my high-minded relativism for the bicycle safety edu-film below, and I hope you'll do the same for a few minutes, and enjoy a laugh at these damn dirty ape kids demonstrating the do's and don'ts of bicycle safety. Without helmets.

Trail riding skills

I haven't ridden my 1995 Klein hardtail (yes, it's three colors and has at least one anodized-purple part on it) off-road in at least 4 years. My skills are gone. So I'll be viewing the video below, featuring one of our part time salespeople, Shawn Punga....

...and the other videos in the series.

Monday, February 25, 2008

San Diego Ride Report

Back in mid-January, my productivity had hit its usual winter-hibernation levels. So my bosses shipped me off to the Bicycle Leadership Conference, no doubt hoping that the San Diego sunshine would burn off my symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. I mentioned the outcome of the riding I did out there, so I've cut and pasted the ride report I sent back that first night in San Diego, along with a couple of pics.

Opened up my bike case, assembled the Moots, and took the cover off the wheels, only to find both rims smashed inward. Grrr.
Mike worked the hookup for me, and referred me to a great bike rental dude who lent me a spare wheelset. Yahoo! So after a few hours walking to his shop and back, I mounted up and headed over to Ocean Beach. Had a lobster taco at the pier, tested the climbing legs on Point Loma (they failed). Perfect 60 degree day. Ahhhh. Then, climbing up some road that ended in 'o' in the very confusing Point Loma residential section, my chain somehow got jammed, don't quite know how. I tried to shift/pedal out of it, snapped the rear derailleur hanger off (it's replaceable, thank god).
Naturally, i forgot my multitool back in the hotel room, had a pretty incomplete knowledge of where i was, it was getting late, several miles from the hotel, and my bike was quite definitively disabled. So, i hiked up a bunch of twisting residential streets, coasted down the hills in the goofy pro-racer chew-the-bar-like-a-rawhide-bone position, trying to suppress my impulse to pedal, and suck the now-vestigial rear derailleur into the wheel that i don't own.

However, other than Point Loma (lots of hiking up Uphillo drive), and Canon Rd (long downhill that would be a lot more fun on a functional bike), most of San Diego is flat. Walking wasn't going to get me back in time for the reception, so I resorted to sitting on the bike, reaching to the ground with my tip-toes, and kicking along like a Hotwalk. Beach cruisers whizzing by at a relatively scorching 10mph, i kicked along my titanium hi-end Moots for several miles at a jogger's pace.

Other cyclists averted their eyes, either because they didn't want to help, or they saw the derailler hanging flaccid from my bike, and recognized the futility of my sitch. Also, the need to dismount/remount for every uphill gave me the opportunity to practice my cyclocross skills (still have that goshdarn remount hop).

Anyway, that's Day One. Don't cry for me, Argentina, it's still 60 degrees out.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bike Sharing coming really soon

Here it is, the 10-station bike sharing program is off and running. $40 a year. You'll recall that we did the build on these bikes, and they are really quite nice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Frostbike Schwag Bag

Hooray for free stuff! Positive behavior, like giving me things, should be rewarded and encouraged. So here's the rundown of Frostbike schwag, please note and patronize the maker of each of these doubtlessly fine items.

First item was from Surly, a ridiculously long toe strap, suitable for restraining prisoners or lashing things to a rack. They had a sign imploring grabby showgoers to not take one unless it would actually be used, so below is me using my Surly toe strap to haul the 10 pounds of vendor literature to the recycling station. Thanks, Surly!
Next, a nicely machined bottle opener from Thomson. My girlfriend gave away my Park bottle opener (a freebie from some other shindig), so I can now ween myself off of twisties. Thanks, Thomson!
Oddly, I got no t-shirts. But they did have arm warmers. Maybe they cut the sleeves off a long-sleeve shirt, gave them away, and the shirt remainders will follow at Interbike. Who knows. Thanks, Frostbike/Michelin!
Wool socks from DeFeet. I did not notice these in the bag until I unpacked at home, these might have come in handy that night at the Pugsley races. Thanks, DeFeet!
And here's some brake pads from Jagwire. I don't actually own a bike with road cartridge pads, so these will be regifted, but thanks, Jagwire!
Our Chevy Chase store manager, Nick, is quite the Europhile. Now, I may never approach his level of sofisticazione, but I can try, one comically-small sip of caffè at a time. Thanks, DT Swiss!
Finally, my favorite. A painter's cap from Belgian helmet maker Lazer. It doesn't even fit my stupid-large head. But look closely at the label -- "Lazer -- Since 1919". Before we examine this, let's see the pic:
So anyway, the 'Since 1919' assertion didn't quite ring true. The first laser was demonstrated 41 years later. It wasn't until the 1980's that marketers seized on the term as product-worthy, with such items as the Chrysler Laser:
...and American Gladiator "Laser":
Turns out, they really did start in 1919, as “Etablissement Lacroix”, maker of, "all fine leather goods for motorcyclists." OK. Thanks, Etablissement Lacroix!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Frostbike Day 2 -- Civia

Blazing a new frontier, Civia is a purpose-built line of serious commuters. The difference between Civia and Breezer, besides price, is that Civia bikes are a bit more speedy, aggressive, with the target customer being an enthusiast cyclist who decides to commute, and wants the best tool for the job.

Here's the Shimano Alfine rig, in blue. $2K or so, and a derailleur version is available too.
And the Rohloff version, $3K or so:
Both bikes have disc brakes, premium internal shifting, dynamo hub and light, Thomson stem and seatpost, color matched fenders, rear rack, channels for brake lines, sliding rear dropouts, and a super tough matte finish. They'll also offer the frame, fork, fenders, and rack (with entirely-too-large diameter tubes) a la carte.

So, the question of the day is, will hardcore cyclists plunk down $2-3K for a fully-outfitted, super nice, purpose-built commuter? Ideally, bicycle manufacturers would provide some of these answers to dealers, by doing things like market research, and sharing it with prospective dealers. It would make it a lot easier to plunk down the cash to buy into a product that is no doubt pretty cool, and we all want to live in a world where the commuter bike is lavished with such great spec and engineering. But come on, bike brands, at least TRY to do some research into your market theories before developing your products.

That's a long way of saying, I have no idea if City Bikes will buy any of these bikes. They are cool, but it's an entirely new market that may exist, or may exist only in Civia's imagination.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Frostbike Day 2 -- Ya down wit BMC?

No, not really. Eric was a bit interested in their Fourstroke mountain bike, but every time he went by, and displayed the classic retail mating ritual (squeezing brake levers, compressing suspension, inspecting pivot points), he was met with maddening Swiss neutrality. No greeting, no pitch, nothing.

Anyway, 15 minutes gone, but here's a pic of the Fourstroke 01 (note the hole in the rear of the saddle of the lower bike, Eric guesses it's for crotchular airflow, I say "speed holes").
Here's a really bad pic of me holding a gin-yoo-wine Yoo-nited States quarter up to the comically-large chainstay of their roadbike:
The equally girthy downtube/bottom bracket intersection from the same bike:
Here's the BMC time trial rig, a design which has carried all of it's most prominent riders to doping positives:
I wonder what Tyler, Floyd, and Alexandre saw when they looked at themselves in this mirror finish?

Frostbike Day 2 -- A few other interesting bits

The first item I'll mention is a sock. Not so much for it's socky merits, but for the sales pitch. The very friendly saleswoman at the DeFeet booth was showing Eric and I her wares, and I suppose we were showing all the enthusiasm we could muster while hung over and discussing socks. She came to the women's model seen below, and noted that it is obvious to Jane Sockshopper that it's a women's model, because, "See, the rider has boobs." Fair enough.
Next, Cane Creek showed a wooden (either maple or ash) headset, noting that it's lighter than their carbon model.
Is it a carbon fibre garden tool? Is it a bottle opener for a 5-gallon Heineken? It's actually a saddle with an integrated bottle holder, suitable for aero-fetishists, and maybe for my '74 Motobecane with no bottlecage mounts.
Knog showed a new pannier system. The knob in the center twists, the whole pannier mount comes off, and you can then twist on backpack straps. Pretty neat.
The bags themselves looked a notch below Ortlieb in stoutness and water resistance, but as an around-town bag for 99% of commuters, these looked pretty good. Though, those 'Nightmare Before Christmas' graphics are pretty out there.
Wheels Manufacturing showed this chain tool with an emergency derailleur hanger. Several weeks ago, I botched a Shimano chain installation on my Moots, the chain failed 8 miles from my hotel in a strange town, it jammed in the derailleur, and sheared the derailleur hanger off. This would have come in handy. I suggested to them that adding a holder for a Powerlink would make this a great option for the 24-hour racing crowd, and they seemed pretty excited about that prospect.

Frostbike Day 2 -- Surly Hangover

Not much new from the folks at Surly:
Here's a logo variant that's on the Pacer, their road steel bike:
And here's the Long Haul Trucker in a new color:
And it's hardly new, but their Xtracycle frame, the Big Dummy, is finally shipping:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Frostbike overload

I'm beginning to burn out on Minnesota in winter, grainy pictures of bicycles, energy bars, riding in vans, skinny white guys with facial hair resembling Hetchins lugwork, and Frostbike in general. So for variety's sake, here's a pic of our CFO Erik and his enormous dog, both reflecting on the wonderful absurdity of things.

Frostbike Eve 1 -- Pugsley Race!

Surly makes a fun bike called the Pugsley, which is designed to lurch it's way through soft terrain, like the Minnesota snow. And every year at Frostbike, they put on the Pugsley races, or as one straight-arrow QBP wag titled it, "The Surly Pugsley Race Powered By Bud Light."

I don't have a very compelling narrative to offer, as I (a) was extremely intoxicated, (b) was very cold, and (c) was extremely intoxicated. Here's Eric grimacing from the cold:
I didn't race, as I left my gloves and extra layers back in the hotel room. I considered lying, and saying this guy was me, but I'd like to think I'm outgrowing such shenanigans:
The rest of us huddled around the bonfire on the frozen pond, and listened to that guy in the foreground mutter insults about the racers into a megaphone.
And finally, here's Eric crying about the cold, but hiding his tears from the camera. There's yet another topless guy. At least half the folks coming to start/finish on the pond wiped out on the ice, adding another layer of absurdity to the toplessness.
One of the topless racers later popped up in our hotel bar, but sadly, I was without camera, and he was dragged off by a very spry waitress.

Frostbike Day 1 -- Salsa Completa

Salsa has made some interesting bikes and bits for quite a few years, but has really failed to establish much brand consistency. Scandium TT bikes mixed with steel hardtails. Some models were funky, some models were racy, and none were marketed in any meaningful way.

Then, at Interbike '06, Salsa showed a frame called a Casseroll. Designed around the beautiful dropout I showed at the bottom of this post, it became the #1 unit seller in framesets this past year. We liked it, but weren't keen on taking it on just as a frameset. Now, they're offering it in two complete bike variants. A single speed version, check out the chainguard:

And here's the road bike, with mostly 105 stuff:Note the color matched stems on both:
Finally, the La Cruz, a disk-only steel cross bike with vert dropouts:
We'll definitely be discussing these in some depth in the coming weeks...

Frostbike Day 1 -- Mountain Spew

I'm out of my comfort zone, but here's what I've been able to pick up about mountain bikes here in Bloomington.

650B -- Not just for the wool knicker crowd anymore, 650B is clawing its way up to Ross Perot status in the hearts of MTB product folks who are sick of the 26 v. 29 partisan warfare. Maybe it is the plain-talkin alternative to those kevlar beltway insiders, or maybe it's just a well-financed crackpot idea. Regardless, four manufacturers are tooling up 650B mountain tires, so if tire choice is holding you back, stay tuned.

Disc Powertap -- For mountain guys who wanted to quantify their lack of training, see below. The everpresent Saris randomly raffled off a few of these, and one of the lucky winners was a nice guy named Michael. Michael works for a shop called the Old Spokes Home, asked if this Powertap thing powered a dynamo light, requested a three-speed internal version, and professed a willingness to trade for boxfuls of Sturmey-Archer spares. Here's their homepage pic, for contextual purposes:
Reba 29er -- Apparently new, and somehow novel, I'm told. I nodded politely. The graphics are slated for revision, for those who care.That's all I can muster. With that out of the way, I'll post up some stuff I can actually talk about intelligently pretty soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Frostbike Day 1 -- The Majestic Sperm Wheel

Posted as bait for BikesnobNYC, here's the latest in powdercoating cheekiness from the fertile imaginations at Velocity. Picture those buggers swimming upstream on your brakeless Pista. Hmm.

Frostbike Day 0.5

Oh howdy from Frostbike, Quality Bicycle Product's annual tradeshow here in the most picturesque industrial park in Bloomington, Minnesota. For those unfamiliar, QBP is the biggest, fastest, and at least for us, most reliable parts supplier in the bike industry. They're very efficient like WalMart, but with the soul of Ben & Jerry's. Pass the Kool-Aid, please. Most every shop does at least some business with them, so yeah, good guys can finish first.

Food and coffee is a bit hard to come by in our remote Crowne Plaza lodging, but that Minnesota friendliness is making up for it. I spent Day 0.5 in a borderline psychosis, having endured a caffeine and food free 9 hour adventure on US Air, complete with late departures, wind sprints through terminals, and some snags finding and securing lodging. Next was a blur of seminars designed to excite me about enhancing the profitable paradigms of our new world of outside the box something something. I need coffee....

My traveling companion, our Chevy Chase buyer Eric, led my bedraggled shell to a charter bus, which hauled us to a happy hour (sponsored by Saris) and dinner, featuring more people saying doubtlessly profound things, and me gulping down water like my airline peanuts were meth-roasted. The highlight was the video tour of Saris played on the bus, on the video monitor, located 9 inches from my bloodshot eyes, Clockwork Orange style.

Anyway, gear postings to follow, here's a teaser:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How do you make a million dollars in the bike biz?

Start with the savings account of a guy who won the Tour 7 times, apparently. Linked on bikeportland.org, LanceStrongtm has apparently heard the siren song of bicycle retail. I keep checking that it's Valentine's Day, rather than April Fools, because his new shop, "Mellow Johnny's," will focus on commuters, rather than his moon-eyed legion of man-crush racers.

Says Armstrong BFF Bart Knaggs, "We want to add something to the community that will catalyze interest around riding bikes, about being bike friendly and folding it into life in Austin." And every shop owner who sells more u-locks than Castelli jerseys will declare, "His shop is just like mine! Cool!" But here's why we're actually right:

1. Repurposing of old building -- Fantastic Lance is moving into a building that served over the years as, "a distribution center for Pearl beer, a paint company, a steel manufacturing facility and a resource center for the homeless." City Bikes in DC occupies a space that once housed a gas station and a Ben & Jerry's cafe.

2. Hide where they ride -- Lance and City Bikes both plopped themselves down in locations where people ride their bikes (in Lance's case, next to the synergy-rich Lance Armstrong Bikeway), as opposed to where people go to shop.

3. Bike Sharing -- A few retailers grumble about publicly-funded bike sharing leeching their business. We love bike sharing, and so do they, according to the article.

4. Common workflow efficiency tool -- A dumbwaiter. "Mellow Johnny's" will make use of a dumbwaiter to move bits between floors, as City Bikes did back in the old days (photo evidence to follow).

5. Rumours of performance enhancing drug use -- Lance and our ownership team have both been accused of ingesting substances that enhance performance of a variety of tasks.

Welcome to the industry, Lance. Wanna split a shuttle ride at Frostbike this weekend?

Monday, February 11, 2008

FW: In Other News...

-----Original Message-----
From: Martin
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 11:11am

Sorry for all the emails today; I'm hungover and everyone else must suffer along with me. Anyway, not sure if you've ever seen this, but it's good:


......... __ o
......(O) (O)...........

Friday, February 8, 2008

Chito's new IF

Paint modeled after Eddie Van Halen's guitar. Arriving soon from IndyFab, it's going to be doing eye candy duty in the shops while Chito scratches together a build, swing by and ogle.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sheldon Brown

Bicycle tech guru to the masses Sheldon Brown has passed, and maybe the best tribute to his impact on the bike world is in the diversity of folks posting their thoughts. Velo Orange, Velonews, BR&IN, Gwadzilla, BikesnobNYC, bikeportland.org, and forums galore, plus his home at Harris Cyclery. But I'll never forget the etched flask.

I was lucky enough to meet him about a year or so ago. Looking back, I probably should have better expressed my appreciation for his website, which gave this normally cautious canadian cat the stones to hack apart and reassemble -- in increasingly crackpot configurations -- multiple bikes. I converted a vert dropout road bike to fixed, in spite of common wisdom and good sense, because Sheldon said it was possible, and he demonstrated the joy found in trying. I reworked a 70's Motobecane (yes, a true French bike, rife with non-conformist Gallic threads and metric-rich) into a fixed city bike (small case intended). I even dabbled with a left-side drivetrain. These monstrous rolling bastardizations of good engineering practice never would have soiled the streets without Sheldon's passion for sharing his life's work with random idiots like me who found him on the Internet.

There's a whole subset of folks who got into this industry because they saw a bit of that Sheldon Brown eccentricity in themselves, and I proudly count myself among them. I still haven't tried a BioPace chainring, though.

p.s. -- next time you're in the Boston area, go to Harris Cyclery in Newton, which is a really cool shop.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Coming soon....

...some actual new content in this blog. In the meantime, sign up for our monthly newsletter, if you're really anxious to hear from us.