Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Minneapolis Country Bike Rally

I will be hosting a Country Bike Rally in Minneapolis during the last weekend in September. "Country Bike", a term coined by Rivendell's Grant Petersen, includes bicycles that are versatile enough for lots of different types of riding, on-road and off-road. Basically this includes the spectrum of riding that lies somewhere in the middle ground between road racing and "technical" off-roading. Anyway, here's the schedule.

Friday, September 26, evening: Meet and greet party at Hiawatha Cyclery
Saturday, September 27, all day: riding
Sunday, September 28, all day: riding

The actual riding itinerary is TBD. I'll probably have a couple different length ride options so you can find something that suits your tastes. In any case, I will showcase some of the Twin Cities' best riding, both urban and in the woods.

Out-of-towners can camp or find local lodging or maybe coordinate with locals who have a spare bed.

Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Used bikes and frames UPDATED 7/8/2014, plus other closeouts

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.

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.

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 or reasonable offer.

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

Kona "Jake the Snake" cross frameset, includes frame, fork, headset, seatpost, and stem. Well used but very well cared for. Seat-tube 55 cm C-T and top-tube 53.5 cm C-C actual. $295

Raleigh One-Way converted to 3-speed fixed gear. New hub internals, chainring, cog, chain, and shifter. Brooks B17 Champion Special saddle. Seat tube 59 cm C-T and top-tube 59 cm C-C actual.

Surly Krampus frameset, size medium 18". Shop demo frame. Barely used. $575

Raleigh Sports 3sp. Includes period correct Brooks B72 saddle and a basket. Seat tube 23" C-T. $225

We have a large inventory of various models of Banjo Brothers backpacks and messenger bags. 50% off while supplies last.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Locally made 1x10 drivetrain parts

We are now selling Wolf Tooth Components, a local outfit that produces a line of innovative, high-quality chainrings and cassette cogs. Wolf Tooth components are intended to convert 10sp drivetrains to elegant single-chainring configurations. You may be thinking that single-chainring drivetrains are nothing new, but Wolf Tooth has elevated this type of configuration to a new level. I'll get to the details below.

Here's my Moonlander with a Wolftooth drivetrain.

Notice the big black cog on the cassette. This is the 42t Wolf Tooth GC cog on an XT 10sp cassette. Installation requires removal of the 17t cog from a Shimano XT M771 11-36 cassette, and then install with the 42t cog in back.

With the 42t cog, this cassette now has a nearly 400% gear range.

The front end of the drivetrain includes one of the Wolf Tooth Drop Stop chainrings. The one I have is a direct mount on a SRAM/Truvativ X9 crank, but these rings are available in various bolt patterns too. The Drop Stop feature is an alternating thick-thin tooth profile that mates nicely to the alternating thick-thin gaps in the chain. This makes it difficult for the chain to fall off in the rough stuff.

By the way, this crank is not intended for the effective width (190 mm) of the rear hub on the Moonlander. By using Wolf Tooth's BB30 ring, the chainring is set further outboard for a better chainline and clearance for big tires. So I get good chainline and tire clearance with a slightly lower "Q-factor".

Plenty of chainstay clearance with the narrower crank!

A note on derailleurs: These Wolf Tooth cogs and rings are designed for Shimano and SRAM 10-speed mountain bike groups. The Drop Stop chainrings are intended for use with a derailleur that has a clutch mechanism to retard bouncy forward motion of the derailleur arm to prevent chain slap. Shimano calls this feature "Shadow +" and SRAM calls it "Type II". In our experience, the SRAM shifts much more smoothly than the Shimano with the modified 11-42 cassettes.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our favorite handlebar

For a long time I mostly rode bikes with drop bars because I wanted multiple hand positions. For long-distance riding, being able to move one's hands to different positions both decreases fatigue/discomfort and allows one to adjust to changing terrain, wind, and other factors. But even my all-time favorite drop bars (Salsa Cowbell) have some drawbacks. For the most part, they aren't great for offroad riding, they don't work with some of my favorite brakes (various MTB-type hydraulic disc brakes), etc. So I started exploring various multi-position flat bars. We tried Nitto Albatross (and clones), Soma Clarence bars, Surly Open bars, and others. All of those were fine, but our all-time favorite multi-position handlebar is the Jones H-bar Loop.

Multiple hand positions, lots of real-estate for handlebar-mounted accessories, and Revelate makes an elegant Sweetroll adaptation for this bar. Because of the comfort and amazing versatility, this is now my default bar for lots of different types of bike builds.

As of today, May 22, we have Jones loop h-bars in stock, black 710 mm width. These usually come and go pretty fast around here, but we have some inventory now.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Shop party, Sunday May 4th, 4-9pm

We are having a party at the shop, and you're invited. We will provide fixings for Pastures A Plenty pulled pork sandwiches, and we will have some Artisanal Imports beer. Please feel free to bring other food and drink to share.

Hiawatha Cyclery
4313 E 54th St
Minneapolis, MN 55417

Sunday, May 4th, 4-9pm.

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: