Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where's My Winter!?: Coping with Seasonal Unexpectedness Disorder

So, if you're at all like me, winter isn't just another season to ride in- it's an exciting, challenging time of year that raises many questions.

Among them are "How much snow will we get!?", "Should I put on studded tires!?!", "Is it cold enough for long underwear!?!?", and "Will my beard and/or hair freeze up so I can take an awesome picture for the facebook!?!??!?"

So far the answers are "hardly any", "nobody knows!", "no", and "not in the foreseeable future", and to me it's all a little unsettling, but everything's gonna be okay.

How're we supposed to have fun in a snowless winter!? you ask.. well, I'm still trying to figure it out, and I think it has to do with what I'd call an "attitude shift". For example, I was really excited to do some of this:

but since there's little to no white stuff on the ground anywhere, I tell myself, "Cool! Guess I'll do some riding in this!":

"and heck! maybe I'll even ride this thing, which I wasn't expecting to bust out again 'til April or May at least":

"Gee whiz, that thing sure is fast."

See what I mean? Just like charging headlong into a blizzard requires a shift in attitude, expecting that and getting 40 degree weather and the occasional flurry can really throw you for a loop if you don't step back and adjust the way you take it all in.

Another, more immediate example- Instead of being toe-numbing icefests that are fun in their own regard, both this and this have the potential to be downright moderate in temperature and conditions. Dig it.

Now quit reading and get a good ride or two in before 2011's gone forever, mmkay?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Monster Machines Issue #1: Chinatown NYC

A few months back I was in NY for a spell. It was hot, muggy and stinky as the city is in the summer. Also, our toddler was along, complete with nap and meal schedule regimen. So for the most part we hung around our hotel near Wall Street, observing the early days of the Occupy movement and the ongoing reconstruction of the area known as ‘ground zero.’ One day we took to foot on a journey to secure sustenance.

The walk featured some excellent examples of Chinatown delivery bike customization.

Ahh, ingenuity! Note: I never saw any of these in ‘action’ so cannot comment on their utility and/or safety.

Also spotted this clever fix of a 26” mountain bike with suspension fork replaced by 700c fork and wheel. Weird looking, may not handle great, but thanks to the bmx bars it features upright posture and with that wide and somewhat knobby rear tire a fat skid patch!

The donuts were good, too.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Tale of a Boy and His Pugsley

Around one year ago, I decided I would finally give in to the temptation of the Surly Pugsley, and my life has never been the same. It was a long, arduous decision process (I don't really need it), but as I look forward to another snowy four or five months rather than dreading the limits the white stuff puts on my riding, it's one I don't expect to ever regret.

At first it was pretty much a humble stock bike. Swapped housing, shifters, saddle, and bars. Nothing to sneeze at, but nothing special, really:

Many miles, much cassette cleaning, and a few snapped chains later, I decided to build the Alfine hub I had used on another bike into a fat wheel, and that worked pretty well for the sand and other soft stuff this past summer:

Only problem was, the Alfine requires a pretty significant 'hiccup' in the pedal stroke in order to downshift. While this hadn't been an issue in commuting, it became a real pain when riding offroad. I'd have to sort of 'pre-shift' into a gear suitable to a climb or sandy patch, push a high gear, or get off n' walk. I don't like getting off to walk, so I decided I'd try something completely different:

Ain't no gaps between the gears of the NuVinci hub. Just a 360% range of continuously variable goodness. So far, I've been very pleased with the hub's performance. One needs to let up on his or her pedal stroke a bit to upshift, but downshifting is crazy-smooth.

At first, I found myself constantly messing with the shifter, keeping my cadence perfect. Now I think I've come to a good balance of appreciating the exactness of gearing the hub affords and just ridin' the damn thing sometimes.

I've heard varied reports of the transmission fluid's viability in winter, so I'll be curious to see if there's any issues this year. I know of at least one fellow 'round these parts who rode one pretty extensively through last winter, so I'm hopeful.

If you're curious about the Nuvinci hub, fat bikes, or both and would like to try this thing out, call me at the University Bike Center or shoot me an email at and we'll make arrangements. See you out there in the snow!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bike Generator for Occupy MN

This was the result of our donation of a used trainer to the cause of the downtown occupation. Lewis from a moto repair shop built a bike-powered generator for the folks to recharge the batteries they have been using to power the village. woo!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Me, Myself and Masi

Summer is coming to a quick close which only means one thing... Amazing bike rides are here! Top of Ohio on my trusty Masi Special.

Red leaves and Tree covered roads down by Lillydale.

Yellow, red, green and orange. There is nothing like riding in the fall.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Serial numbers are important!

Every year we hear about dozens of bikes getting stolen.  Many of these can be prevented, some of them can not but what always remains the same is that a serial number can help you get your bike back. 

Your serial number is usually placed on the underside of your bike frame (also known as the bottom bracket shell).  Flip your bike over, write it down, email it to yourself, be thankful you have it if your bike gets stolen.  If your bike does get stolen make sure to file a police report and give them your serial number, this will throw up a red flag if the thief tries to sell the bike to a shop (like ours) or any pawn shop.  It also gives you proof if you see it pop up on Craig's list that it is indeed yours.  If you see it pop up on craig's list then contact the police and let them take care of it.  This also holds true if you see it out in the real world, you need to remember that you probably really want to have your bike back but the thief wants to avoid getting captured even more. 

Keep your bike from getting stolen in the first place! A Kryptonite lock will keep your bike safe and warm, Locking skewers will help with the wheels staying on and the Abus chain lock is a flexible sub for a u-lock but not quite as secure.

Avoid Cable locks (example below) for any in-the-city locking.

Many times they can be cut faster than using a key or combo.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is my helmet still good?

Helmets are great! Helmets are amazing! Helmets can save your life! But helmets also have short lifespans!

We have many customers come in and ask a similar question "Is my helmet still good?". This is one of those questions of the philosophical nature, the one that you probably already know the answer too, much like "should I take a shower today?" or "am I really in love with that person?". No, your helmet is probably not still in proper working order. This is kinda a big thing since proper "working" order means still having that life saving ability.

How can you really tell? Me and my co-workers favorite test... The hand break test!! If you can break a helmet with your hands... get a new one!!!

Picture: Spanish snapping a helmet in half with her mighty do-good arms

So what is a helmets life-span? Most manufacturers recommend replacement after 3 to 5 years depending on your climate. If your on a coast next to a sea think 3 years max, here in MPLS we usually get around 4 years sometimes 5 if your lucky and store it somewhere proper. There are also many things that reduce the life expectancy of a helmet. Some of those being dropping it, crashes (you should replace after even a single crash), puppy dogs eating it (this happens a ton!) and outside storage.

Picture: This is a helmet being locked to a bike, if you do this on a regular basis you should start thinking of replacing the helmet yearly. The sun is a helmet killer!

Why do helmets have such a short lifespan? They are Styrofoam, not a very environmental material but the best to make helmets out of. Styrofoam breaks down and gets brittle at a very quick rate (remember those Styrofoam coolers that would break after a month or three?). The reason they use it is because of the nature of the material. A bike helmet sacrifices itself to save your head. It is meant to crack and compress when your head hits the ground in order to slow the impact down. This also means that once that helmet gets squished and broken it is no longer good. This can also happen by simply dropping it (usually more than once at the same spot or from a high height).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Northside Bike Fest

The Hub Bike Coop working with partnerships in North Minneapolis, held the Northside Bike Fest even though North Commons had just opened. The North Commons Park had been a shelter for residence displaced by the tornado. 

Bike Fest 2011 North Commons
Many kids were happy to win a new or used bike, and raced around the parking lot with their new free helmet on their heads!

There are two more Northside Bike Fests left.

Fowell Park 1615 Dowling Ave. N 4-7 p.m.
Glen Gale Park 2448 Llion Ave N 4-7 p.m.
(Rain Cancels)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MplsBikeLove interviewed Chris Huff to find out more about our great new mural. Read more here:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bike Walk Week is Coming!

...and it is going to be the best ever. Not only because bicycle use in Minneapolis is growing, but there is going to be a grand finale. A street fair and cyclovia running 20 blocks of Lyndale Ave!

The week starts on June 4th and there will be events throughout, and ending with a cyclovia. Originally started in Bogota, Columbia a cyclovia turns an auto filled street into a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly festival. It involves taking auto traffic off the street and providing space for people to congregate, share food and music, and get some fresh air. The Minneapolis version will be on Lyndale Ave between between 22nd St and 42nd St, going from 10-2PM on Sunday June 12th. Find out more at Open Streets Minneapolis.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Internally Geared Hubs Work

Ever wonder just what was going on inside your internally geared hub?

Here are some photos of some the hubs we have recently had the pleasure to tear apart, clean up, overhaul and reassemble.

For starters, here is very quick summary of the function of planetary gearing (that's the magic inside your internally geared hub). For the sake of simplicity, there are three main components to gearing of 3 speed hubs: the driver, which is attached to the sprocket, the planet cage, which houses the planet gears, they use the stationary sun gear fixed to the axle the increase their rotational rate and interact with the third main part, the gear ring. This all just means that the sun gear is held stationary in relation to the bike and as the planet gears revolve around they rotate faster individually than the planet cage does as a whole which in turn causes the gear ring to rotate faster than the planet cage. Both the planet cage and the gear ring have pawls which can drive the hub body and allow for coasting.

So, if you want your hub to spin slower than the sprocket (low gear) you have the sprocket drive the gear ring while the planet cage drives the hub. If you want your hub to spin at the same rate as the sprocket (middle gear, or direct drive) you have the sprocket drive the gear ring which then also drives the hub. If you want your hub to spin faster than the sprocket (high gear) you have the sprocket drive the planet cage while the gear ring drives the hub. Simple! Want more speeds? Add more sun gears and/or planet gears in a similar manner and you get more than 3 gears. These changes inside the hub occur when you use your shifter to position the clutch which sets up whether the driver interacts with the planet cage or the gear ring and you never even need to think about it. On to the photos...

We begin with the classic. The Sturmey Archer AW for use with rim brakes. This one happens to be from 1959 and it still runs smooth.
These hubs are fairly easy to disassemble completely for servicing. replacement parts are available.

Now for one of Sturmey's current offerings. The new X-RD5(W). Its a 5 speed hub with a drum brake.

You may notice how many fewer parts there are in the X-RD5(w) than in the AW. This is representative of the new standard for internally geared hubs; modular design where many of the main components are meant to be broken down only so far (that, and we didn't photograph the drum brake, sprocket, axle nuts, etc.). This makes servicing simpler and eliminates the possibility of installing parts in incorrect positions. On the flip side, you also need to replace entire components groups, and often the entire internal assembly, if one small part wears out or gets damaged.

Shimano has been making internally geared hubs for decades and this is one of their newer models. The SG-3D55. It's a 3 speed hub with a disc brake.As in the newer Sturmey Archer hubs, Shimano has simplified things with modular design. If you look closely you can see that some of these parts are rusted out from a harsh Minnesota winter. Though these hubs are relatively low maintenance, if ridden in extreme conditions, moisture can work its way into the hub where it will wreak havoc on the assembly. A new internal assembly and now it's ready for many more miles of happy riding.

Another of Shimano's internally geared hub offerings is the very popular Nexus 7 speed. This one is the SG-7R40, set up for use with a roller brake (not pictured).

As with most internally geared hubs, very little is recommended in the way of maintenance. Get your hub cones adjusted well and properly set up your cassette joint and shift cable, then ride. That being said, don't ignore your hub. You can have the internal assembly removed, cleaned and re-lubed to keep things running smoothly and to avoid unnecessary wear to the expensive parts inside.

Last, but not least, we've got another new hub, this one from Sram. It's the S7, this one has a coaster brake, and it is by far the most complicated hub out of this bunch...

The operation of this hub is just as smooth and simple as the Shimano offerings. Sram uses a modular design as well, but many of the sub assemblies can be broken down to their smallest parts. In practice there is no need to ever take one of these apart to such a degree.

If you are interested in learning more about internally geared hubs, and the bikes they are available on, then stop into our Minnehaha shop. You can test ride bikes with different types of hubs or talk to our service staff about one that you are already riding.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Look for The Hub at this years North-side Bike Fests

The Hub will again be providing mechanical support for the 2011 North side bike festival events. The events will be packed with bicycle-fun for both kids and adults. Below are the times and dates. Hope to see you there!

Saturday May 21 is the big kick-off to the summer; this event will take place at the Special Operations Center on 41st and Dupont in North Minneapolis. We will be staged across the street at the Salem Lutheran Church Parking Lot from 10am - 2pm.

Other event dates include:

Thursday, May 26 Harrison Park 503 Irving Ave. N 4 - 7pm
Thursday, June 2 Creekview Park 5001 Humboldt Ave. N 4 - 7pm
Thursday, June 16 North Commons Park 1801 James Ave. N 4 - 7pm
Thursday, June 23 Farview Park 621 29th Ave. N 4 - 7pm
Thursday, June 30 Glen Gale 2448 Ilion Ave. N 4 - 7pm

The Hub at Last years Festival

Monday, April 25, 2011

Earthday 2011

The Hub Bike Co-op joined the School of Environmental Studies (SES) for Earth Day 2011. The day was packed with activities including an opening speech by Governor Mark Dayton. The Hub staff rode to the event pulling a loaded “Bikes to Work” trailer with a bike fitted with a Bionx electric assist. It was inspiring to meet with SES students who are committed to environmental causes. While riding back from the Apple Valley school we passed a group of SES students working to rid the Minnesota River area of invasion buck thorn. Way to go SES! Thanks for a great day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring EXPO!

That right folks its that time of year again! The birds are chirping, the sun is screaming and the cyclists are happy! This weekend The Hub will again be collaborating with Midwest Mountaineering in their Spring EXPO. We will have tons of killer deals just for you!
  • Select 2011 bikes on sale
  • Get a $50-100 gift certificate with any new bike purchase over $650
  • All remaining 2010 bikes on closeout
  • 10-15% off select apparel
Sale prices are only active during the EXPO so hurry down! If your not in the market for new goodies, fear not, The Hub always provides! We will also be offering 3 free seminars for your enjoyment.
  • Top-10 places to mountain bike in the metro area.
  • What to look for in buying a new bike.
  • How to be more efficient in your next bike tour.
2011 Spring EXPO - April 15-17. Our Cedar location will have extended hours, see our website for more details.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Starting Tuesday, January the 11th, the Hub Bike Coop’s winter spin training will resume at the Hub's 3020 Minnehaha Ave. South location. We are offering spin training two nights a week.

Tuesday nights, we will be suffering to performance training videos. On the 11th , we will be watching “Cyclops Race Day”. In this video, we will be riding with coach Robbie Ventura in an Elite level National criterium, via a POV camera. Experience the strategy, the failure, and the effort required to climb back to the top. This video is thrilling to watch and uber motivating.

On Thursday nights, we will be Zombie Interval Training version 2, or Z.I.T. v2. Z.I.T. v2 involves watching movies from the extensive zombie genre and cranking up the RPMs when ever the still living on the screen are running from or fighting with zombies. Based on feedback from the last season of Z.I.T., version 2 will include a bit more coaching to guarantee a good workout and to ensuring participant’s RPMs are matching the intensity of the film’s brain hungry undead. We will begin, January 13th , training to outrun undead Nazis, by watching an Official Selection from the 2009 Sundance film festival, “Dead Snow”.

Dead Snow trailer.

We will have 12 trainers available for attendees to use with your own bike, and 8 storage spots for spinning bikes. Call the Hub to reserve your space 612-729-0437. If you are not at the Hub at
7pm the night of your class your reserved spot will be forfeited to Spinees who are waiting. Please bring your own trainer, if you own one, so more people can participate.