Posts tagged ‘travel bikes’
I spent most of one summer of my youth riding a fixed gear, of sorts. It was a unicycle.
Fixed gear on two wheels?
Not so much.
I’m not a fixie type.
Oh, I took one of the U.S. Cycling Federation Project ’96 Super Bikes for a spin once, back when I spent my time chasing around the likes of Marty Nothstein, Mike McCarthy and the Carney brothers before the Atlanta Olympics.
I was smart enough to know my limits. Didn’t dare attempt a whirl around the banked turns of a velodrome. Rolled it safely to a stop, much to the relief of the officials watching as they held their breath. People get nervous when they lend a $10K bike to someone without a USCF license.
Earlier this year, we got a rather famous fixed gear tikit back from one of our highly acclaimed clients. It arrived just in time. I needed to take a tikit down to the Bay Area.
The question was, do I dare venture forth on a fixed gear?
When the orange one-way tikit arrived from service, all tuned up, at my desk, I had no choice but to bolt outside and see what’s up.
Even though I had a meeting in 20 minutes.
Hey, that’s why I work for a bike company, right?
I’ve heard a lot about fixies. The whole bike messenger craze.
It’s the “in” thing in the city.
But I’ve never heard anyone really come out and say, definitively and simplistically: Whoa, this is why I ride a fixie when I’m not chasing Olympic medals around the velodrome.
At least not with any argument that made sense to me.
I’ve just been left with my imagination to figure it out. Without much time on one, it’s been more than a difficult task.
So I hit the Fern Ridge Bike Path out back.
Solid, more than anything, describes the sense I get riding it.
Then again, I’m tooling alongside a creek. What about climbing? There will be climbing in San Francisco.
I headed up Bailey Hill Road. Not the most extreme hill in these parts, but a hill, and close.
[I should note here that I didn't ride up Bailey Hill proper, which is a serious test. With just a few minutes to steal for myself, I just rode up the road called Bailey Hill Road.]
This is where life on a fixie departs from cycling as we know it. It’s when you understand the true derivation of the phrase “track stand.”
It’s when you wonder, since you barely can perform a track stand and look coolio at the stop light, if there’s any chance you can do that whenever gravity forces you to surrender your ascent. Which should happen pretty soon.
On occasion, I’ll try to crank it up a hill in a gear like this. When no one’s watching. When I can cry in peace and solitude.
I remember a key change in Lance Armstrong’s arsenal a few years back early in his Tour de France run, when he focused on staying in the saddle on climbs as long as possible. It’s a great tactic for a time like this. Don’t get ahead of myself.
As the momentum slows and the muscles burn, the question becomes if, not when, to stand on those pedals.
Luckily, the grade eased. I made it up seated, still rolling straight — the only wobble coming from my shaking leg muscles, not the the balance of the bike.
Simple. That was the sensation.
So, I thought, that’s what fixies are like on a hill. Not all that much of a revelation.
Then, I turned around.
At that point you understand that you cannot coast at any time or any cost on a descent.
I don’t know about most people, but for me, the thought of taking my feet off the pedals for the descent conjures up the image of pedals and cranks becoming industrial strength meat grinders. And bone grinders.
That’s when I learn that the shaking leg muscles are only halfway into their full fixie form of expression. My head begins to spin at the same cadence as my legs. Strange. Very strange.
By the time I got back for my meeting the sensation of conquest took total control of my mind. I’m not sure what this is all about. I’m just sure that, in a bizarre way, I like it.
The fixie earned a commute home. Stay tuned.
4 comments June 13, 2011
I gravitated to the Llama because I used to ride my mountain bike all the time.
Yes, I was one of those who rode my dual suspension mountain bike on the road as much as off. That’s because I call it my comfort bike. That’s code for just loving it.
Don’t get me wrong, I do ride trails. You have to if you live in Oregon. We have some of the sweetest mountain bike trails in the U.S. Just another reason for you to put Eugene on your vacation map.
Now, I have to be honest. I had been itching to take the Pocket Llama onto the trails. We bill the Llama as a mountain bike. As the new guy around (I started in October), I still had plenty to learn.
Part of me hesitated. I really didn’t want to find out that the Llama couldn’t hold its own the trails. My background is as a journalist. You don’t spend a couple decades being objective and honest and just toss that out the window because your job now involves marketing.
So, if that happened — if the Llama didn’t live up to its billing — I’m not sure how I’d handle it.
That’s not true, now that I think about it.
I know how I’d handle it. I’d ride my Llama around town, jump curbs on the way to work like I do each morning, and take my mountain bikes on the trail. Just keep it on the down-low.
With some atypical dry and warm weather hitting the area for a few days earlier this year — including a weekend — I finally had my chance for my test ride.
I tossed the Llama in the back of my SUV and headed for the Middle Fork Trail.
It’s just outside Oakridge, and one of the really popular rides in the area.
The trail hugs the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.
I’ve ridden it a number of times on a number of different bikes.
The first time I hit it on my GT i-Drive.
I’ve hit it on my Marin mountain bike.
And on my brother’s Gary Fisher Cake.
So, the Llama had some serious standards to live up to.
The Middle Fork Trail isn’t the most technical around. Many of our trails in Oregon are pretty smooth. Sure, there are rocks and roots. But no outta control challenges here.
It’s a rolling trail.
Lots of ups and downs.
It’s a fast trail.
A fun trail.
But not fun if you can’t keep your bike under control.
So here’s my disclaimer. I’d have to rate my mountain bike skills as intermediate at best. I never raced BMX. I have no advantage with small wheels.
And it’s Bike Friday’s small wheels that grab most people’s attention.
I could easily see myself pole vaulting a lot on a trail. Fear that small wheel would dig in.
I hit the trail with apprehension. Careful at first. But in a matter of seconds, I realized a couple of quick adjustments I had to make.
I dropped the handlebars a little lower than I’ve been riding them. Suddenly, WHOOSH!
I was off and rolling.
Oh, sure, I crashed once. Got my rear wheel in trouble on a dip and rise through a creek.
I usually crash at least once, though. One of those slo-mo events.
For the most part, though, I was amazed at the control I had with the Pocket Llama.
I got comfortable with the little wheels a lot quicker than I thought I would. Once I knew how to squeeze them through rocks and roots, it was a breeze.
The little wheels let you gun up a hill with an added zing. A big zing. In the spots I did have to dismount, I found myself back on the bike a lot sooner because of the ease of getting on and off a Bike Friday.
Without the top tube there threatened my manhood all the time, I started taking some more chances than I’d normally take. I call dual suspension training wheels for mountain bikes. Once I had dual suspension, I started going over things I’d shy away from on a hardtail.
Since there is no front suspension on the Pocket Llama, I expected to be thrown around a lot. But the Thudbuster suspension seat post delivered. It kept me in the saddle, centered, balanced. Wow.
If I didn’t say that it felt like my most fun trip on the Middle Fork, I’d be lying. It was as much fun as I’ve had. It felt quicker. Faster. Sweet.
2 comments June 9, 2011
Good news is good news, even if it is a week old. But hey, we were saving this for our launch.
Rachel Gordon wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that Muni, the Bay Area’s busiest transit system, reversed its long-standing policy that barred passengers from bringing bicycles aboard the buses and streetcars allowing only folding bikes. Read her story
Add comment June 1, 2011
That’s because Kirk wrote our book on Showroom etiquette.
It’s easy for him.
It comes naturally.
“I don’t know how I came to be this way,” Kirk says, pointing out that he gained quite a reputation in the equestrian world with his service-first approach as a trailer salesman.
“I just know it’s who I am. I just treat other people the way I like to be treated.”
In a way, that’s how Kirk came to be our Showroom Host. Nine years ago he came to Bike Friday to buy a bike. He liked the way he was treated. Now he does the honor.
“My Bike Fridays have allowed me a life change that I am proud of,” says Kirk, who owns five Bike Fridays. “I’m back to my roots. I want people to have that same opportunity.”
Kirk has taken it upon himself to redefine our Factory Showroom Experience so it reflects the unique nature of Bike Friday.
With just a little more than 30 employees, Bike Friday is one of the few Made in USA bicycle manufacturers remaining. We build our folding and travel bicycles at our small factory right in Eugene.
“For the longest time we didn’t have a Showroom,” Co-Founder Alan Scholz says. “If people stopped by, we just took them out in the parking lot and let them ride a bike.”
That core element of the Showroom Experience will never change. Kirk’s priority is to say Thank You to Bike Friday Owners, and let you know how much we appreciate our partnership.
Kirk also has increased his herd of Bike Fridays in the Showroom to 25-30 on any given day, including the hottest new bikes like the Carbon Drive tikit and the Infinity New World Tourist with NuVinci.
Call ahead of time, and Kirk will size you up and set you up with a Bike Friday that fits your body.
Take it for a ride on the Fern Ridge Bike Path, that winds along a creek right behind our building, and see why Eugene always lands on someone’s Top 10 Cities for Bicycling.
When you get back, relax with something to drink. Then let Kirk give you a Factory Tour, so you can meet some of the special people who make this a great place to work.
Our Factory Showroom is open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each weekday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Add comment June 1, 2011
You see photographs like this and just wonder. How does one get the likes of the hallow voices of cycling, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, to pose with your bike?
Oh, we suppose the short answer would be that Liggett has been a long-time Bike Friday owner.
Special Projects Manager John Rezell, aka, Raz, reports that in his stint covering cycling, it was difficult to go to any race that Liggett attended without hearing about his Bike Friday.
But there’s more to this story. There always is.
The Carbon Drive tikit showed up at the Tour of California courtesy of Jeff Linder, one of our Angel investors who has helped make Bike Friday what it is today.
Jeff is more than just Bike Friday owner and investor. Co-Founder Alan Scholz likes to call him our Factory Pro.
No, lest you think the life of a Factory Pro is all fun and games, well, take a gander how Jeff spent his spring.
In Belgium. Racing on cobblestones. On a Bike Friday.
We could call it a wrap right there. But again, we say, there is more to the story. We’ll let Jeff fill you in on his fun last week at the Tour of California:
1 comment May 26, 2011
Like, for instance, sitting in the downstairs conference room as Co-Founder Alan Scholz and Head Designer Rob English brainstorm the next Bike Friday project.
Hey, listen, I can’t tell you folks everything we do as we do it. I’m certainly not about to tip our hand, so this isn’t a major announcement. This is more about the background.
So, I can say this about the pow-wow. The topic is commuting and, well, Bike Friday knows only one way to attack any project.
I’m still learning my way around the place, the business and the people.
Alan’s brain appears to have one speed. It’s like trying to keep up with that dude or dudette with the fixed gear. You just watch and listen and wonder, “How does he do that?”
Rob’s on the same wavelength as Alan, and adds a burst of youthful energy as they collectively ascend to the stratosphere of brainstorming. It’s like watching Contador and Schleck on the Tourmalet, realizing these two boldly go where the rest of us dream — without looking back.
I sit in awe, realizing that anyone who has ever rolled off on a Bike Friday has, at one time or another, envisioned this kind of meeting. Understanding that the Bike Friday experience began, essentially, as an idea. You can envision Hanz and Alan Scholz firing ideas back and forth. To see it unfold in person exceeds any expectation.
Alan likes to remind us that Bike Fridays are bicycles made by bicycle people, and that’s what sets them apart. This innate knowledge of what will work for a real cyclist out there on the road, and what won’t, is gold.
What strikes me as funny is that a lot of our first-time customers, especially those interested in making commuting a lifestyle, aren’t necessarily cyclists. Not in the stereotypical sense.
But when they hop on one of these Bike Fridays, they’ll know what it feels like to be a real cyclist.
1 comment May 24, 2011
Yes, folks call me Raz.
They have since I bestowed that nickname upon myself back in 8th grade. I know, giving yourself a nickname. How lame is that? About as lame as admitting it, I guess.
What you need to know about me is that I’ve somehow managed to string together a run of some of the greatest jobs in the world, with this gig at Bike Friday the latest in a long line. I’m Special Projects Manager.
I’m sure everyone has their own scale for rating jobs.
For some it might be salary.
For some it might be status.
For some it might be the hours.
Maybe the boss.
Maybe someone else. (wink, wink)
For me? It’s the bikes. And the people.
Somehow, here at Bike Friday, those two elements seem to be inseparable. Joined like a cyclist and a fixed gear.
I came to this stunning revelation as I cruised through Central Park a couple of Sundays ago on a Carbon Drive tikit.
Seriously, who gets to fly from Eugene, Oregon, to New York City on the company’s dime? Then gets to ride around Manhattan on two great bikes? Pinch me.
That’s when I realized the danger of it all. I’m getting spoiled. Or, addicted. I’m not really sure which.
Alan Scholz, Co-Founder of Bike Friday, keeps telling me I need to ride this Bike Friday and that one. I have to get the real feel. I have to know the products.
So I ride them, and get blown away. Like a kid playing a video game.
The fact that I’m back in the cycling biz after a long stint with the absolute, without question, greatest job in the world — stay at home Dad — is kind of interesting.
We landed in Eugene, Oregon six years ago this coming August. That was after spending the summer of 2005 touring the Western U.S. in a pop-up tent camper looking for a place to call home and raise our daughters. We traveled 8,000 miles and lived in the camper for 85 days.
Determined to pick a place instead of chasing jobs around the country as we had done most of our adult lives, we quit our jobs, sold our house, got rid of what we could in an endless Moving Sale, put the rest in storage and ventured forward. We found Eugene to be Nirvana.
Before I opted to trade places with my wife and stay at home, I had been a sportswriter. Talk about a sweet gig.
At The Orange County Register in Southern California, I got paid for watching sports. I watched Tiger Woods play golf as a teen, Julie Foudy kick around the soccer ball in junior high and countless others. One day I asked if they would like a story about riding my bike in the Rosarito-Ensenada event in Mexico. To my utter surprise, they said yes.
That combination of cycling and writing led to a weekly column about cycling. I started chasing the likes of a young Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer around the U.S. Then I became editor of VeloNews magazine. Rough life, huh?
I left that world behind for the joy of chauffeuring my daughters to school, gymnastics and birthday parties when we weren’t doing homework, working on crafts or dancing around the living room with the music cranked.
In Eugene, I wrote for the local newspaper, part-time, so I could be with my girls before and after school.
The economy turned sour just as I hit the stage where I planned to get a full-time gig again because my daughters were old enough to get by without me around all the time.
I got laid off. I spent two years looking for work. Then, miraculously, the only real bike job I’d want in Eugene (we refused to chase jobs again, determined to keep our girls here) popped up on Craigslist. Here, at Bike Friday.
I’ve spent most of my seven months here overseeing the construction of this new website. This blog will be a key element of it. We want you to continue to share your inspiring adventures with the Bike Friday Community. We want to give you a close look at who makes Bike Friday tick. Along the way you’ll get a chance to meet the amazing people who make coming to work each morning a joy.
Speaking of which. time to get moving. I like to write at breakfast. Gotta get to work. They’ll be wondering where the showroom Pocket Llama is. You know, the one with the disc brakes and Thudbuster seatpost. My ride home last night.
3 comments May 18, 2011
Until a few weeks ago, though, New York City isn’t one of those places I could croon about.
So imagine what it was like for me, a good ol’ Wisconsin boy who lives in Oregon, pedaling around the streets of Queens on my Infinity tikit with a NuVinci hub, folding it and rolling onto the subway, and emerging from the tunnel of darkness at Grand Central Station into the heart of Manhattan.
I’d be lying if I told you I hopped right on my chariot and roared down the street. Hardly.
I preferred to stand curbside with a couple of stereotypical New York Cab Drivers and discuss the tikit. You know how that goes.
Fold it. Unfold it. Ask for directions.
Fold it. Unfold. Ask how many bike riders they’ve hit this week.
Fold it. Unfold it. Get the odds on me surviving New York City on two wheels.
“You will survive,” one cabbie says, chuckling, “but the bike? Maybe not.”
They gave me directions to head to our dealer in Manhattan, Bfold Bicycles. I wasn’t in much of a hurry. Until I saw that opening in the traffic that looked as wide as the Grand Canyon (one of the countless places I have been, for those keeping score).
To this moment I don’t know what, or who, possessed me. In a skip and a hop I found myself aboard the tikit, charging down 42nd Street in search of Broadway. The beauty of the NuVinci hub, with its continuously variable transmission, is that you don’t hear the clicking of gears, nor feel the jump as you rotate through hub’s range.
I simply cranked it and soared. My solo breakaway only lasted for an instant. Suddenly bright yellow swarmed me, as if a posse of Lance Armstrongs were chasing me down on a stage of the Tour de France.
That’s when it happened.
Let me preface this by saying that I’m not the most aggressive cyclists around. Far from it. I might be the least aggressive cyclist around. I ride for fun. To enjoy. I savor, not suffer. I’ve been known to simply roll to a stop and let potential threats roll past.
But not today. I knew what was probably coming. And I embraced it.
A hand thrusts toward the skyscrapers a quarter block ahead, the dark blue suit steeping from the curb. A yellow blur zooms past, and darts toward the him. I slam on the brakes, track stand for a moment (which, I must admit, is how long I can hold a track stand), the Cab slips in front, I zip my shifter, watch my little orange NuVinci dude transfer from riding on a flat to a massive hill, let go of my brakes, dart to the left, and charge away, around the cab, back into the fray.
Then it happens again. And again.
Three times in a few blocks, I’m flying, then slamming, then flying. The rhythm of New York City rising from the asphalt into my essence. I’m one with the pulse of the Big Apple. NuVinci has taken obstacles out of my way. I don’t need to think. Just react. I stop at a red light and burst into laughter.
NuVinci. New York City. They were made for each other.
[RAZ'S NOTE: Such a perfect match, the NuVinci and New York, that David Lam, owner of Bfold, kept the bike for customers to test ride. Then he sent me a note that it is now his personal ride. Head on down. David will give you a taste of NuVinci.]
4 comments May 15, 2011
The new BikeFriday.com.
The Emperor’s New Clothes.
We tried to sneak our way out here. In the web design business, it’s called a soft launch.
One morning you flip a switch (or, in reality, you have your programmer flip a dozen or two) and you replace your old website with the new. Live. You don’t go announcing it to the world. You just hold your breath.
Your first worry is whether or not the whole website will come crashing down around you. That nothing will work — a big worry with all the bells and whistles we have on this site. Your immediate second worry is that everything will work, but no one will notice.
In our defense, we had the utmost confidence in our team that the website would work. And, we never doubted for a moment the power of the Bike Friday Community.
The Community, of course, did not let us down. You never do.
When we looked at the raw numbers, we were blown away. On our first full day live, we topped our best numbers for the past year with the number of visitors. The next day we doubled what we usually get.
No doubt, you’ve found us, and told a friend. Or two.
Now our new website is here for everyone to explore. We hope you do a lot of exploring, and let us know exactly what you think. Let us know what isn’t here yet, and we’ll work to get it here.
As with most web projects, this was a long time coming. It began in November with a commitment on behalf of Co-Founder Alan Scholz to invest in our website.
In the next month we spent countless hours discussing and debating website theory, determining exactly how we wanted to set up the website for it to be most beneficial to the Bike Friday Community. From Day 1, Alan’s focus has remained on the Community.
We like to think our What Do You Do? area on the site reflects that commitment. While it might take a while for us to get all the great stories and photos moved over to the new website — and trust me, that’s our goal — everyone has the ability to add new photos and stories.
And, the new area has a great search feature that can help you find just what you are looking for. We know the Bike Friday Community will continue to share adventures with everyone. We know that’s where a lot of us spend cold winter days and rainy nights searching for inspiration. That will never change.
We hope we made it easier for you to learn about our company and our bikes. We tried to make it easy to know more about our bikes. We tried to simplify the process.
We have focused on our Bike Fridays with the Select Group. The Select Group itself is the culmination of a lot of Marketing research that told us these are the bicycles you are most interested in.
We continue to offer full Customized bikes — Bike Fridays built-to-order to fit your body and your needs. Just let us know what you need. Communication is important. We welcome emails and phone calls. We want to talk to you. We want to help.
We know that there are countless aspects of websites and changing websites that will create all sorts of situations. We apologize up front for any frustrations, and vow to work to find solutions.
We know it’s not perfect. Nothing ever is, is it? What we do know is that Bike Friday is where it is today because of the vibrant Bike Friday Community, how you believe in us and how you inspire us.
5 comments May 14, 2011
Welcome to the new Bike Friday website.
Yes, you’ve arrived to the right spot.
You made it.
But you made it in so many other ways, it’s impossible for us to keep track.
Our new website is a culmination of everything that we’ve heard from you, our loyal customers. It will, eventually, have all your precious stories, photos and experiences that define what Bike Friday is all about.
We’re in transition, so be gentle with us.
We wanted to get what we could online so you could start appreciating our work.
But this is a work in progess. We have so much to transfer from our old site, we thought we could keep working on that while you enjoyed what we have changed.
We’ve simplified our message. Our website is the source to find information on our bikes, our process and our services. But we need to hear from you. What’s good? What’s not? Let us know.
We have a simple goal with this blog: We want you to get to know us a little better. We’ll try to be a little more intimate. Share the essence of what makes Bike Friday tick here at the nerve center.
Nerve center. OK, I’ll be honest. I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.
This is hardly a nerve center. Hardly a world headquarters.
Nope, what is here, at our small facility in Eugene, is a building that beats with the heart of cycling. It’s filled with people who love cycling, and want to share that experience with everyone.
What we have in Eugene is a throw-back. It’s a throw-back to the old days, when you could cruise down to your local bike shop and hang. Talk about bikes. Hear stories. Tell stories.
That’s what we want to create online. A hangout, like the old bike shop, or record store, or comic book stand. A place where you feel at home. Where you can ask us anything, and we’ll try to find an answer.
15 comments May 9, 2011