Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Used bikes and frames UPDATED 2/26/2014

We've accumulated quite a few pre-owned and/or used bikes and frames to sell. One of these might be just what you need to get kick off your Spring riding for 2014. All these are owned by employees or close friends of HC, so we can vouch for the bikes' histories. Please check here often because I seem to have more bikes to add. I'll delete the bikes as they are taken off the market. Last update 2/14/2014.

Here is an older but excellent condition Surly LHT, 52 cm, with headset. The color is a metallic maroon dating back to 2005/2006 or so. This was before the LHT came as a complete bike, so this color isn't super common. $325 firm.

1960-something Triumph 3-speed. Great shape, looks barely ridden, but may need some cleaning and lubing. Seat-tube is approximately 23" C-T, so this would fit a medium to tall person. $150 or reasonable offer.

Rawland Nordavinden 58cm (read about it here). This is a chubby-tire 700c road frame that is designed for all types of road riding, and would be pretty great for all-day comfort on centuries, brevets, or on gravel. This frame is effectively new, never been fully built up or ridden since our customer bought it from us last year. The fork (not shown) is included, but it's still wrapped in bubble wrap, and I didn't want to mess around with installation for this photo. It includes a headset and square-taper bottom bracket. The frame alone retails for $725 plus shipping. This one is $650 including the headset and BB.

Rivendell Sam Hillborne 52cm from the first year for this model. The metallic green paint has a few small nicks, but is otherwise really attractive. The wheels are Deore hubs on Synergy rims with Schwalbe Marathon tires (tires shown are Grand Bois Hetres, not included in this sale). Shimano triple crank, MKS pedals, Shimano 9sp drivetrain with Tiagra front derailleur and LX rear derailleur, Dura-Ace BS77 bar-end shifters, Tektro v-brakes and levers, Civia handlebar, Brooks B17 Champion Special saddle, Berthoud fenders. Overall a well-cared-for, low-mileage bike. $1850 or reasonable offer.

Surly Moonlander, M 18". This bike was new not long ago and has very low miles. Its owners are moving and can't take the bike with them. This is mostly like a stock Moonlander, but with SRAM x7 rear hub, x7 front derailleur, x9 rear derailleur, and Soma Odin handlebar. Bud and Lou tires, which is the only thing that makes sense. $2150 as shown.

Singular Osprey 54cm C-C on the seat tube, 53.5 cm C-C on the top tube based on my measurement, frame, fork, Velo Orange headset, and basic seatpost. This is an attractive lugged steel road frame with a classic 1" threaded fork for a quill type stem. This is technically "new", but has been hanging around in the shop long enough to collect a few minor scuffs. $550

This Brompton S2L is practically new, and includes a few neat upgrades, like extra-long seatpost, reduced gearing, and the Brompton S-bag. $1300

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bike adventure photo dump

Sometimes the winter months seem dreary and long. One way to combat negativity during this time is to enjoy a rich fantasy life. I enjoy looking at old pictures from fun bike rides and trips.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What bike should you buy?

HC has always been a seller of high quality, versatile steel bikes. Our early focus on Rivendell and classically styled accessories (canvas bags, metal fenders, etc) distinguished HC from some of the bigger shops in the area. Most people who know about Rivendell think of the overall aesthetic vision of that brand: fancily-lugged steel with 2-color paint jobs, silver parts, classic quill stems, shellacked cloth tape on the bars, etc. I always enjoyed the Rivendell aesthetic, but my main attraction to Riv was actually the tough, practical, well-designed bikes, with ample braze-ons for racks and fenders, and loads of tire clearance. They were and continue to be smart bikes. My first truly nice bike was the iconic Rivendell Atlantis, which looked like a classic touring bike, but actually had clearance for (then cutting edge) 700x50 - aka "29er" - tires with fenders. That bike was, in some ways, ahead of its time. I rolled a lot of miles on the Atlantis, on pavement, gravel, dirt, and snow,  taking full advantage of the multi-surface capability of Schwalbe 700x50 Big Apple or 700x50 Marathon XR tires. I did all-season commuting, self-contained touring, trail riding on the river bottoms, and even mostly kept up with the roadies on the Freewheel Wednesday Night Rides. Versatility.

The Atlantis taught me a lot of what I now believe to be important characteristics of any bike that fits my needs and personality. Firstly, the Atlantis taught me that pure road bikes are kinda boring (just my opinion, of course). I love turning off the pavement to explore some secret trail or two-track road. For that kind of rambling exploration, bigger tires are empowering. To this day, I've never been able to get jazzed about any bike that can't fit 2" or wider tires. Granted, pure road bikes are usually lighter and faster on smooth pavement, but maintaining a brisk average speed is hardly ever important if you're not trying to keep up in a group, which I never do. Secondly, the Atlantis taught me that bikes should be tough. Bikes fall over when parked, they sometimes get crashed, and in my case, they often get ridden (or carried) over sub-optimal terrain. After a year of use, the frame and most of the components will be scratched, scraped, or even dented. If you boil away nostalgia and mystique, a bike is just hardware, and if used as intended, it's going to have a hard life. A sturdy frame, solid components (usually mid-level, not elite racer stuff), and wheels with strong rims and plenty of spokes go a long way toward my confidence level in riding the way I want to ride. Thirdly, freedom of choice in bikes is being able to choose to use a variety of different racks and fenders, or not. This means braze-ons. A full complement of braze-ons might add 1/4 pound to your bike, but I've seen a lot of braze-on-less road bike owners feeling pretty disappointed that they can't easily put a rack on for RAGBRAI. Racks and fenders are accessories that almost everybody wants at some point, and you're better off if you own a bike that doesn't prohibit you from expressing this freedom to choose. Fourthly, the bike shouldn't have design parameters that limit it to a weird or novel part spec. Weirdness and novelty is fine, when it serves a purpose, but a lot of bike manufacturers put gimmicks into their designs just to be different or sexy in a competitive marketplace. That can mean difficulty reconfiguring or repairing your bike in the future.

These days, the brand that best captures my bike priorities is Surly. All my bikes are Surly now: Moonlander, ECR, Ogre, and a Disc Trucker that's currently in pieces. Arguably there's some overlap in my stable, so it's possible that one of these will go away soon. In any case, if you ask me which bike to buy, I'll probably steer you toward a Surly. I've spent many years trying to find bikes for different purposes for different people. About 95% of the time, the overall best available option, by my calculations, is one or another of the fine models from our buddies at Surly.

Here's my rundown of suggestions to meet various needs, based on the criteria I described above.

All-round, everyday use, mostly pavement:

Cross-check or Long Haul Trucker. These are classic picks, for good reason. These bikes do most types of normal cycling pretty well. There's a lot of overlap between the two, and it's safe to say that one can be a reasonable substitute for the other most of the time. The Cross-check is a bit lighter and more nimble, while the LHT carries heavy loads and goes in a stable, straight line a little better. If you're a big, heavy person, the LHT has a sturdier frame and comes stock with stronger wheels. Both are exemplary for commuting, touring, brevets, and even fast club riding if you have the legs for it. I could list the Pacer here, but I'd rather suggest a Cross-check with lighter wheels and tires. That way you get faster road performance without losing tire clearance and rack mounts. The Straggler is more or less a disc-brake Cross-check, and the Trucker also comes in a disc version, which I tend to prefer. That Disc Trucker is one smart bike, by the way. We at HC often wish more bikes had the ingenious Disc Trucker rear dropouts, but that's a subject for another discussion.

Here's my Disc Trucker in the foothills of Mt Tamalpais.

All-around, everyday use, more off-road capable:
The Ogre and Troll are pretty much the same bike, aside from wheel size, with the former having 29" wheels and the latter having 26" wheels. For short people, the Troll with 26" wheels is my suggestion, while for medium to tall people, the Ogre with 29" wheels would be preferred. If you want true versatility from one bike, and don't care much about high-mileage, high-speed road riding, either of these would be a great choice. Both fit large tires (2.5" at least) and have numerous braze-ons for different racks, fenders, the Surly trailer, disc or rim brakes, and even the Rohloff 14-speed hub. I had a Troll for awhile, but decided to trade it for a Disc Trucker for the lower center-of-gravity I prefer for carrying very heavy touring loads. I've had an Ogre for a year or so, and plan to keep it around as my main daily rider. The new ECR belongs in this category, too. The ECR is a close relative of the Ogre, but with clearance for 29x3" tires and a more touring-oriented geometry (longer wheelbase, lower BB).
Here's my Rohloff-equipped ECR, before any riding and tweaking of fit. It's a garage-queen this winter, but eventually I'll probably cut off some of the steerer and tinker with saddle angle.

All-around, everyday use, ultimate shit-hitter:
This category is reserved for the Pugsley (or fancier spec Ops Pug) and the Moonlander. If riding over almost any type of terrain is your priority, and you don't care at all about weight and maximum speed on pavement, get one of these. The fat tire bikes have an undeserved reputation as a one-trick pony (i.e. only worth riding when it's snowy), but I find them to be tremendously versatile. My Moonlander has probably been my most ridden bike in the past year. I use it for commuting, grocery runs, trail riding, exploring, and just general transportation. I probably wouldn't ride it on a century or a brevet, but then again, it might be fun to ride past all that incredulity. Sometimes I think we geek out too much about bikes, and lose sight of the fact that our main goal is fun. There aren't many bikes that are as much fun as a Pugsley or Moonlander. Incidentally, we recently discovered that these fat tire bikes tend to be pretty appealing to people who are only mildly interested in other types of cycling. I can name two or three long-suffering cycling wives who only discovered that cycling with their husbands is fun when they tried Pugsleys.

Here's the Thill family fat-bike collection, His and Hers:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

We are now officially moved, come see us!

We have moved! This is the new place, just a few paces to the east of our old place. The new address is 4313 E 54th St. Pardon the absence of signage (until the weather warms up a bit), but we are here during our usual business hours. The phone works. Internet works. We have our tools and inventory here. In other words, we are ready to indulge your bike fantasies and/or fix your stuff. If nothing else, stop by for a visit to chat about bikes. It's probably more fun than staying home feeling depressed or going out for a bike ride and freezing your extremities.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Finally moving

It should take a few days, but we are finally in the process of moving to our new space at 4313 E 54th St, which is the east end of the same building we've occupied for 6+ years. I want to emphasize that we are open for business during our normal business hours throughout the move. During this time, we may or may not have telephone service, but we will monitor email, facebook, and other forms of communication so we hopefully don't leave anybody hanging. Feel free to stop by to see the new space or to buy stuff.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Understanding fat bikes

I doubt there's a niche in all of cycling that attracts more widespread casual interest than fat bikes. I can't ride my Moonlander (see below for the Thill family fat bike fleet) anywhere without people staring, commenting, or asking questions about it. I assume that most of the looks and commentary, which usually seem pretty innocent, are not generally from avid cycling enthusiasts, but non-cyclists and casual cyclists. This doesn't happen to me when I'm riding my other bikes.

The questions and comments start to get a little redundant after awhile. What's that bike for? How much do those tires cost? Isn't that hard to pedal? Isn't that made for snow? Wouldn't skinnier tires be faster?

Well, I sell these things, and I ride my Moonlander year-round, so I feel pretty qualified to address the speed and "hard to pedal" questions. Every person who takes a first ride on a modern fat bike almost universally expresses surprise that "it rolls a lot easier than I expected". Most of my riding is commuting, and I haven't noticed much difference in how much time I spend riding the 7-ish miles to and from work on the Moonie compared to riding the same route on my other bikes. In fact, some of my quickest commutes have been on the Moonlander, usually when I was in a hurry, running late, etc. I will admit that the fat tires feel pretty slow going up big hills, but that's just basic physics - weight really only matters on hills, and fat tires and wide rims are relatively heavy compared to skinnier tires and rims. I suspect that I would be faster on a lighter bike with skinnier tires if, and this is a big if, I was trying to be fast. If I exerted my full effort, a lighter, skinny-bike would probably shave a few minutes off my commute time. But let's be honest, I haven't exerted my full effort in years, and shaving a few minutes off my commute has never been a priority for me.  Predictably, there are people who are interested in maximizing speed and minimizing the weight of their fat-tire bikes. With a pile of money, a person can now buy carbon fiber frames, forks, rims, and other featherweight parts, resulting in a fat bike that weighs 25 lbs or less. To each his own, but that's never been my cup of tea.

In my opinion, the great thing about fat bikes is that they aren't supposed to be fast, and for the most part, they haven't yet been tainted with that brand of competitive machismo. Many (but certainly not all) of the usual competitive types still regard fat bikes with a certain amount of uninformed scorn and take them as a joke unworthy of their attention, which is ok with me. These bikes are supposed to be, and are, great for traction, stability, control in unconsolidated snow/sand/gravel, etc. In other words, fat bikes inspire confidence. An experienced trail rider can confidently roll 4" 10psi tires over logs and other off-trail obstacles, while an inexperienced rider can confidently ride trails. What might have seemed impossible becomes not only possible, but easy and fun.

I read a silly article this morning that purported to explain fat bikes to the masses. The author trotted out the usual nonsense stereotypes about fat bikes being used to ride to the North Pole or across the Sahara. While those feats have been attempted and/or completed, in my scientific statistical survey, approximately 98.7% of fat bike riders will never be within 1000 miles of the North Pole or the Sahara. Most of us just ride them on trails, or on roads, or on beaches, or across fields, in the winter, and also during the rest of the year. Fat bikes are super fun and appropriate for a wide variety of cycling skill levels.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday season gift certificate special, plus bike stuff for sale

First, the gift certificate special:

The holiday season is a crummy time for us. Not too many people are thinking about new bike stuff or repairs this time of year, and it's pretty hard to buy a holiday gift for the cycling enthusiast in your life. So here's some incentive: You can buy a gift certificate from us between now and December 31, and we'll give you a 15% bonus. In other words, if you pay us $100, you will receive a gift certificate (or store credit) for $115. You can use this as a gift or for future purchases for yourself. You don't even have to come in to purchase. You can call 612-727-2565 and I'll mail the gift certificate.

Second, closeout and used bikes:
This Brompton S2L is practically new, and includes a few neat upgrades, like extra-long seatpost, reduced gearing, and the Brompton S-bag. $1299

This Civia Twin City 1-speed city bike is something that came about from one of our schemes earlier this summer. It's new, but not really our usual style: Price reduced to $300.

Santa Cruz Tall Boy carbon fiber, size L, lightly used. Frame, Fox fork, King headset, Price reduced to $1400. That's cheap!

Surly troll complete, new, size M (18"). This is the original 2011/12 orange color, so you can buy into some street cred. The Troll is an amazing and versatile bike for all types of adventures. A current-year troll is $1450. You can have this one for $1250.

Surly LHT 60 cm, new. This one has been here awhile. For some reason, this has a silver Velo Orange headset instead of the black Ritchey headset originally spec'ed by Surly. Otherwise, this is a new, stock 2012 bike. A current-year LHT is $1350. This one is $1150.