Friday, December 26, 2008

Electric bikes

There has been a growing amount of media attention on electric bikes in the US. Public interest has grown too judging by the number of inquires we have gotten. What does the future hold for electric bikes here in the US? Who knows? Here is a taste of what is happening elsewhere.

1) VietNamNet Bridge -
Electric bikes sell like hot cakes as petrol price soars
Sales of electric bicycles are surging like the price of petrol as they are far cheaper to run and their riders don’t need a license or helmet. Electric bikes have been on the local market for a few years but failed to take off until 12 months ago. Now that high school kids are no longer allowed to ride motorbikes and the price of petrol has soared, the electric bike shops are seeing hordes of customers.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the bike shops along Vo Thi Sau and Cach Mang Thang Tam streets have switched to selling electric bikes. “Most of our customers are after electric bikes, though once in a while someone asks for a straight bicycle. Since before the Lunar New Year, we have sold 15-20 electric bikes per week, sometimes double that number,” an employee of H-M said.

2) USA Today - Europe's latest craze: Electric bikes

More than 10,000 electric bikes were sold in France last year, up from 6,000 in 2006, according to the Conseil National des Professions du Cycle, an association of bike professionals.

And the trend is hitting all of Europe. Sales of power-assisted bikes in Germany this year[2008] are expected to double the 60,000 sold in 2007, according to Hannes Neupert, manager of ExtraEnergy, a nonprofit organization promoting light electric vehicles headquartered in Tanna, Germany.In the Netherlands, sales of electric-powered bikes increased from 45,000 in 2006 to 89,000 last year, according BOVAG, a motorized vehicles industry association, which expects that the meter will read 121,000 at the end of 2008. That compares with an estimated 10,000 units sold across the U.S. in 2007.


Well, all this leads up to the announcement that The Hub will be carrying the Giant Twist Freedom in 2009. The Twist is not a pure electric bike, but is a hybrid that still requires pedaling and has a computer and electric motor that assist the rider. The Twist incorporates state-of-the-art technology developed in conjunction with Panasonic. It is designed to assist the rider by measuring the pedaling pressure of the rider and providing an equivalent amount of assistance. It has a range of 70 miles and is one of the smoothest riding electric/hybrid bikes available. More info at:

All types of bikes for all types of people

While I have some personal reservations about electric bikes I try to weight them against some of the benefits. For example, while electric bikes are still generally plugged into a power plant, they do present a more efficient form of transportation than most other motorized vehilcles. They also open the door for folks that face physical restrictions.

signing out Fair and Balanced

Monday, December 22, 2008

This Just In....

A few late additions to the inventory, just in time for you last minute shoppers

The Continental UltraSport HomeTrainer Tire

Designed specifically for use with indoor trainers this tire has a special cold-running compound and stiffer casing to provide longer wear.

Perfect for the trainer. Just don't run 'em on your street bike.


Classic Brooks Saddles

What can we say about Brooks Saddles that hasn't already been said before.

It's one of those "If you have to ask, you'll never know" kind of things.

Fresh selection at both stores for the hard to please retro-grouch in your life.

Happy Holidays from your friendly neighborhood full-service bike shop.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Big Changes Downtown

The Minneapolis Transportation and Public Works Committee has approved the conversion of both Hennepin and 1st Ave. from one-way to two-way traffic.

The stated purpose was to improve the flow of traffic and to increase safety.

Safety was the primary driver as the project team evaluated all elements for the project. Bicycle
operations and bike lane placement became a main focus for safety. It also generated the most
comments through the public engagement process. The safety issues described here led to the
staff recommendation with respect to bike lane placement:
• Bike lanes located along the center of Hennepin Ave combined with the introduction of
southbound traffic created a significant safety concern. Conflicts between left turning
vehicles and bicycles made up 84% of the recorded crashes over the last 4 years. The
introduction of southbound traffic would result in an increase of this type of crash if a
center running bike lane was incorporated.
• Dedicated bike lanes along the curb lines of Hennepin Ave would result in conflicts with
the extensive curbside activity on Hennepin Ave including busses.

Traffic operations, although secondary to safety, was an important factor. Safety is directly
linked to traffic operations; congestion and delay create safety risks. The traffic analysis led to the
following conclusions:
• Hennepin Avenue requires left turn lanes. Without left turn lanes vehicle delay would
more than double from what is currently observed.
• A three lane configuration (2 – thru lanes and 1-center left turn lane) would result in 17 of
26 intersections operating at a failed level of service in the PM peak period.

You can view the complete layout HERE

As someone who has lived in a number of major cities, both here and abroad, I'm confused by a movement away from the typical grid of one-way streets that dominate American cities.

A close friend of mine, who attended all the public meetings to discuss this matter says it's clear that Minneapolis is looking to rejuvenate the downtown commercial district and feels that two way traffic on Hennepin (the theater district) and 1st Ave. (the bars and clubs) will help draw suburbanites who are confused by one-way traffic and a lack of street parking on Hennepin Ave.

I say, let's do what London did, and kick all the cars out, and charge exorbitant fees to bring a vehicle into the downtown area.

Friday, December 12, 2008

In The News....


Transportation chief says Americans' travel habits are fundamentally changing.

Associated Press

Last update: December 12, 2008 - 8:11 AM

WASHINGTON - Drivers clocked 9 billion fewer miles on the nation's roads in October even while gas prices were dropping, suggesting a downturn in driving that began a year ago is attributable to more than just energy costs.

Federal Highway Administration data released Friday show the number of miles driven dropped 3.5 percent in October compared with the same month a year ago. Between November 2007, when the driving decline began, and October, Americans drove 100 billion fewer miles. That's the largest continuous decline in driving the nation has experienced.


Minneapolis Midtown Greenway robbery spree: Bikers beware

By STEVE BRANDT and DAVID CHANEN •, Star Tribune staff writers

Last update: December 11, 2008 - 11:39 AM

Minneapolis police issued a warning Wednesday after several bikers were robbed -- some at knifepoint and one with a gun -- on the popular Midtown Greenway and a connecting route.

The safety of greenway users has been a concern since before it was even built because the middle third of the 5 1/2-mile route paralleling Lake Street lies in a former railroad trench. So extra features such as 911 call kiosks, security cameras and extra lighting were installed.

But that hasn't prevented about 10 attacks in recent weeks aimed at bikers on the trails. Typically, police said, they involve several men who block the trails and take backpacks, wallets, electronics and purses, but not bikes.

The robberies prompted police to step up patrols and some riders to ride without lights to avoid detection by assailants. A grassroots, Web-connected group has organized a Saturday afternoon ride called "Take Back the Greenway."

This is particularly troublesome, as a great many of The Hub's customers rely on the Greenway on a daily basis.

The portion of the Greenway where these attack have been occurring is right next to the entrance that I personally use everyday. I've got a pretty good dialogue with my neighborhood hoodlums (bike theft in my neighborhood has always been a problem with the youngin's), so I'm going to see what I can do to to get an intervention going.

Until then be careful.

Don't travel that section alone at night, and if you must, go REALLY fast from where the path crosses 28th St. until you get to Chicago Ave., wear goggles and pack some Mace.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Celebrate International Human Rights Day at The Hub

Make The Hub your hub on "Day Without a Gay"

Hello beautiful gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, allied straight-ies
community! The Hub Bike Co-operative would like you to join us on
December 10th in honor of International Human Rights Day to celebrate
the first national "Day Without a Gay."

The Hub Bike Co-op
3020 Minnehaha Ave S.
Minneapolis MN 55406

Wednesday, December 10th 2008
11:00am to 8:00pm

- Meet and greet at The Hub. Join up before and after your
volunteering for snacks, music, GLBTQA info sharing, and bike related
activities. Bring your instruments and play along.
- Get 10% off your Hub purchases (does not include bikes or labor)
when you bring in a business card thank-you from the GLBTQA
organization at which you volunteered on this day.
- Organize and schmooze at the information tables of OutFront
Minnesota, and other local GLBTQA organizations.

- 11:00am to 4:30pm D.I.T. (Do It Together) bike maintenance.
(with Chris, Sean, Mary, Ashley, and Richy)
Bring your bike for free Do-It-Yourself stand usage anytime between
11am and 4:30pm. Mechanics will be on hand to help teach you how to
do your bike fixing.

- 11:00am to 4:30pm Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Workshop
(with Chris and Seth)
Request a 1 hour tutorial on a basic bike maintenance subject of your
choosing if you gather 3 or more people for the class and submit your
request in advance to (requests will be
granted according to order received, project scale and tool

- 5:00pm to 6:15pm Workshop: Fix a Flat
(with Mary)
Never be at the mercy of the rusty street nail again – learn how to
remove your wheel, take off your tire, patch that flat tube and put it
all back together again.

- 5:00pm to 6:15pm Workshop: How to make your wheel "Straight" (true)
(with Sean)
Learn to steady out those wobbles by lubing and tightening nipples –
the spoke nipples.

- 6:30pm to 7:30pm Workshop: Winter "Trans"portation
(with Mary)
Find out how to prepare your pride ride to commute through all
seasons. Tell Jack Frost, "We're here, we're…" (you know the rest).
- 6:30pm to 8:00pm Seminar: How to make your bike "Gay" (happy)
(with Chris)
Practice basic maintenance on your bike. Learn how to center breaks,
adjust derailleurs, lube chains and pivot points, and other empowering

- * pre-workshop* Mobilize!
(with Kelly and OutFront Minnesota)
Spend 5 minutes before each workshop becoming enlightened on how to
get involved with GLBTQA organizing – actions, lobbying, legislations,

*RSVP: rsvp for scheduled events to so that
we can be sure to prepare enough space for you. Bring your bike, your
friends and your allies. (walk-ins welcome, but rsvp's encouraged)
*Donate: these classes (up to a $60 value) are free; however,
donations will be accepted, all of which will go to support a local
GLBTQ organization, OutFront Minnesota. Your financial contributions
would be a much needed and appreciated support for OutFront Minnesota
at this time.

December 10th is International Human Rights Day. Human Rights day
celebrates the universal human right to live and to do so peacefully.
Some of the world's occupants have this right suppressed [e.g. the
right to equality]. This day was declared to raise awareness of human
rights and those who are deprived of these rights.

On December 10, 2008 the gay (lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer,
and straight) community will take a historic stance against hatred by
donating love to a variety of different human rights organizations
that need our help.

The GLBTQ community invites us to fight the "H8" by joining in
solidarity for "Day Without a Gay": "On December 10, you are
encouraged not to call in sick to work. You are encouraged to call in
'gay'--and donate your time to service!"

Visit the website at for more information.
For more information on local GLBTQA organizing, visit the OutFront
Minnesota website at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Hotness-The Chrome Cobra Hoodie

Along with our latest shipment of fresh Chrome-age, came these ultra-fabulous, limited hoodies.

100% Merino wool means you are warm and dry regardless of what the Minnesota winter throws at you.

Features include; thumb loops (smart), hidden front hand warmer pockets, full-length rear stash pocket, high neck collar and a three panel hood.

It could very well be the smartest piece of outerwear you ever buy. Move fast, cause they won't last long.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Have a kickin' FestiSolstiChristmaKwanzukkah

Fancy '09 Surlys in the mouth-watering new colors? That's right, we've got 'em. Creamrollers and a Truckaccino, who loves ya baby? And just in time for all those midwinter gift-giving holidays...

Saturday, December 6, 2008


We've got some sweet '09 bicycle eye candy at both Hub locations available for your gawking right now. We ordered a few of the fun to look at bikes that we will we carrying this year early so you would know we have'em and so we could gawk at them all dark winter long. We've also tried to provide equal opportunity gawking by stocking some very cool women's bikes. Up in the window now at the Minnehaha store is the Bianchi 928 mono Q C2C 105, which is much prettier than it rolls off the tongue. This bike is carbon all day fast, bladed spoke, 105 black and vibration damped with kevlar. If that leaves you saying "Who? What?" go here for answers.

In the other window at the Minne store is the Giant Aeryn2. Yellow, white, black and aero all over. It's a women's specific tri-bike. Giant has done a ton of work on their women's specific design, not only in geometry and components, but also in tube rigidity. The Aeryn is a serious tri-bike in entry level clothing. Aero bars, aero seat post, deep fat 42mm aero rims, aero carbon fork, aero tube set, aero dual bottle cage holder behind the seat. Stand outside the Minne store and imagine summertime gawking at it's yellow sunshine paint, swimmers leaving the water and jumping on their bikes. sweating into the open air. just 6 months from now.

Getting down on the floor is the Bianchi Vigorelli. Steel, black metal flake, classy, sexy I need it bad. Classic graphics and Ultegra love ride off in to the sunset and never look back. I ain't got the words. come look at it yourselves. Test ride with proper detachment, or you may be locked for ever on the cycle of death and rebirth, Vigorelli, out damn spot.

Pearlescent white Bianchis look gorgeous leaned up against street lamps at night. The Dama Bianca SheAlu 105 will sprint like mad through the twilight. The thick hydeoformed downtube will jump forward with every thrust of your thighs. The carbon/kvid fork and seatstays will take the edge off the bumps you miss as the light dims and further stars illuminate your way. Stop at a streetlamp down by the river rest your bike on the poll.
Pearlescent white Bianchis look gorgeous leaned up against street lamps at night. Don't worry you've got a triple chainring in case you fade coming back over Ramsey hill.

Next up gawkables At the 301 cedar store.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Iceman Cometh...Part II

So here we go again, Minnesota has plunged into the kind of weather that Norwegian black metal bands sing about; unending darkness, primordial elemental cold, howling winds. Weather that strips the trees bare, leaves skin raw and eyes watering. Yes Virginia, Winter is here.
So let's go ride!
Yeah, you heard me right, let's go biking. There's absolutely no reason not to, in fact some of the things that I love about cycling are even more present in the winter. Like the absolute silence of going on a night ride while it's snowing or just after, the way the city takes on this other-worldliness when all of the angles and man-made structures are rounded out and disguised by the snow. The air is sharp, crisp and clear. It's effing beautiful out, what, you going to spend the whole winter on the trainer or catching up on Gilmore Girls? Off your duff!
There are a few things that hold most folks back. First, you're absolutely right, it gets so cold that your friends and relatives in other, wimpier parts of the country think you're insane just for living here. This is easily dealt with with a bit of snappy dressing which is, incidentally, most of what I'll be talking about on this one but I'm going to touch on lights and some bike handling tips too.
Alright, let's start with your feet. This is the big one that makes most cyclists miserable in the cold months, they just get cold, it's probably the temperature or something. There's a few things you can do though so let's start right on your skin. Wool, I can stress this enough, wool is the best thing to wear on your feet, bar none. It wicks moisture, and more importantly it will keep you warm even if it's wet. Let me repeat that in case you missed it, wool will keep you warm even if it's wet. I've been a big fan of the smartwool stuff personally but I've had good luck with thrift store argyle scores too. When it get's really cold or for longer rides I'll toss some polypropylene sock liners in there for extra wick-age. Most important is to make sure that you're not compressing your feet though, a lot of folks make this mistake. You've gotta let those toes wiggle here kids, if your can't squidge your feet around a bit you're going to cut circulation off from the outer layers of tissue which will then tend to freeze. Frostbite is no joke, you can straight up LOSE toes to it. Yes, lose. If they freeze badly enough the docs will have no choice but to snip those little piggies right off in order to stop you from getting gangrene.
On a lighter note let's talk shoes. You're smart folks or so it would seem, so a few of these will just be review for you. First off, I know you love those Sidi's but stow 'em for the winter. Even with booties road shoes will not keep you warm enough, and that goes for all road shoes. Road shoes are made to keep your feet're quick, do the rest of the math. Mountain bike shoes tend to fare a bit better but the main problem with them is that you have this little SPD mounting plate hanging out on the ball of your foot which becomes a heat sink connected to the sub-freezing air, slush and whatever other nastiness old man winter has in store for you. Fortunately, the good folks at Lake, Shimano, and Northwave all have lovely offerings for winter specific kicks. The good news, you want 'em we'll get 'em. The bad news, they're a bit pricey, expect to drop about $170 at the least but if you want to run clipless in the winter and stay toasty they're the way to go. I've known quite a few courier types over the years that swear by the Lakes, our very own Neal has a pair of them Northwaves that he's all gooey over and I've been thinking about a pair of them Shimanos myself. For all of you non-clipless types the same rules apply, as far as setup I used to run Power Grips and my Redwings in the winter but basically a grippy platform pedal and a decent hiking or work boot will do the job well. Toss those Sorels on if you want to go fully gung-ho or if you just can't stay warm.
Next up let's do base layers, most cyclists are going to be more worried about wind and wicking than insulation, we can spin to stay warm so the expedition weight stuff will most likely be too much unless you're sub 2% body fat and have a low body temperature to boot. On the legs I go with a pair of standard cool weather cycling tights under my pants and toss a pair of long underwear over those when it's stupid cold out. I had a pair of the Pearl-Izumi AmFib winter tights that I got on closeout a few years back but I have since handed those down to my lady, they're too warm for me. For the upper body you should think like you do for your feet, you want to stay dry and warm, again wool is great for this and there are a ton of good long underwear type base layers on the market. Think thin, easily removable layers. No big sweaters here people, and I would stay away from cotton long johns like you can get at target or fleet farm or wherever, they are fine for hanging out but for active stuff like riding they tend to get sweaty and then they suck heat away from you. Again with the no fun.
Hands tend to be subjective, I tend to get away with fairly thin non-insulated gloves in all but the coldest weather, then I switch to some snowboarding type mitts with merino wool glove liners. Here's the basic rules; your hands are one of the leading edges of your body and are therefore very susceptable to wind, your hands will sweat if they overheat, and they are very like your feet in that they will get frostbitten of they are deprived of circulation. For keeping warm it goes like this, mittens will always be warmest because your fingers can share heat through contact and shared air, lobster or "ninja turtle" gloves are the next warmest for the same reasons as mittens but with the added dexterity of a split finger, gloves come last with the most dexterity due to all of the fingers being separated but will be the least warm for the same reason. Stuff with a water/wind resistant shell with a removable liner is ideal in any case because then you can use, you guessed it, wool glove liners. They're like $3 at Kaplan Bros, go get 'em tiger.
For your cabesa there's a ton of different stuff, there's even winter specific helmets. A bunch of different companies make little windtex/lycra/microfleece cycling yarmulkes that fit snug to your melon so they can slip under a helmet or maybe you're just into the whole medieval look, it's not my call. As usual, wool is a rockin' option, Grovecraft makes some awesome winter cycling hats, they're local, recycled and run by a woman, what's not to like?
Face-wise I'd recommend keeping your breathing holes uncovered, the condensation from your breath will soak a bandana or facemask and make it hard to breathe through and give you a nice clammy, wet drape over your face. Neck gaiters and scarves are my fave, wool rules and polarfleece is a good option as well, Alicia uses a silk scarf because she can pull it over her face and it stays pretty dry and breathable. For the eyes any standard ski/snowboard goggles will do for windy days and snowstorms, stay away from the military surplus sand/dust goggles though, they're totally worthless in the cold.
Finally we get to outerwear, along with shoes it's usually the big-ticket item when your setting up for the winter. Fit-wise, cycling specific jackets tend to have longer sleeves and tail, armpit zips for venting and will have a convertable hood if any at all. Wind and water resistance is the big deal here, not insulation so those big down parkas are probably a bad idea. Endura makes truly badass shells in a variety of flavors and they do women's specific stuff as well, I've got one and it rules, 'nuff said. Pants are a personal choice (no matter what the cops say!), some folks swear by rain/wind pants in the winter but I've never found them to be necesary. Again Endura does some sweet gear here and we've even got a bit of the also badass Burley stuff left that they don't make anymore.
All things considered it takes it bit of practice to get things dialed-in, staying warm and layering is very subjective and there are no hard and fast rules. There's no setup that's going to work for everybody but something to consider is if you do other active, aerobic type activities in the winter how do you layer up for them? I'm particularly thinking of cross-country skiing here as the aerobic level is very similar, they both demand freedom of movement and over-layering will make you soggy and miserable at the least and hypothermic at the worst. Don't be afraid to mess around with your gear, remember, practice makes perfect.
Remember way back when you started reading this, when I said I'd touch on lights? Well here's winter, there's less daylight, if you don't already have a headlight get one, and a tail light too. Are you eyeballin' me punk?!
Seriously though Cateye does some slick stuff in the headlight department, Planet Bike makes a retina-searingly bright tail light called the Superflash, and rechargeable trail lights will light your way and blind other cyclists all the way home.
Lastly we're going to talk about some bike handling stuff, then you can go do important stuff. I promise. Riding in the snow takes a little bit of finesse but I have faith in you, dear readers, and I think you can do it. Just remember keep your upper body loose, don't tense up, it will make your movements jerky and probably wipe you out. Snow has a tendency to pull skinny tires one way or the other, especially if it has that windblown crust on top of it but don't panic, just countersteer a little and keep a little power to the pedals and you'll be sailin' on with no problem. Fat tires don't really have this problem as much since you float up over stuff more than cutting through but fat or skinny ice is the enemy. Studded tires are the only way to be 100% on ice but they're kind of pricey and give you a lot of rolling resistance on pavement. If you're one of those aforementioned studly types you can relax for this bit but for this rest of us here's the rules, if you're on ice DON'T make sudden turns to get off of it, lock your brakes, or panic and tense up. Any of those can wipe you out, even on a pugsley, so stay loose, keep your weight even, and use those brakes lightly. Same goes for us fixed gear folks, as much as you may be tempted to lock it up half a block out and yell "check my wicked skidz b!", avoid the temptation. Falling down on a fixed gear still hurts and you might eff up your skinny jeans b. Finally, try to hold your line in slippery snowy icy conditions. Weaving around is a bad thing, for one it puts you off balance and for two it can make dangerous weaving ruts when that slush freezes. If you are worried about going too fast just drop to a lower gear and spin a bit more, it'll keep you more stable and keep you a bit warmer. Common sense is the rule here kids, if it's slick out cut your speed a bit, don't brake through your turns and whatever you do don't bank into them. Lastly, don't ever be afraid to put a foot down if you have to, if one of them trials snobs says something hit 'em with a snowball at the next red light.
Stay frosty.