Saturday, November 28, 2009

more about the pugstigator

In a recent post, I introduced the Pugstigator, which is the bike I've been riding everywhere for the past week. What is the Pugstigator? The frame is a Surly Instigator. While an Instigator fork is available, the Instigator frame is sold without a fork because Surly assumes that the user may want to use a suspension fork, or any other after-market fork that is deemed appropriate. In this case, it was deemed appropriate to equip the 'gator with the symmetrical version of the Pugsley fork and a symmetrical wheel built on a Large Marge rim with Endomorph tire. The Instigator is rated for a 2.7" tire in back, which seems skinny compared to the front tire, but it's still pretty fat. I am using a WTB Moto-Raptor tire with a nominal width of 2.40 inches. The whole bike weighs 36 lbs, which is amazingly close to what my other bikes weigh.

I should point out that the Instigator frame is not a requirement. Almost any bike that takes a 1-1/8" steerer can be retrofitted with a Pug fork and wheel. The point of all this nonsense is to create a Pugsley-esque bike without buying a Pugsley frame and the special offset rims that are made for it. Simply by removing the Pug wheel and inserting a "normal" front wheel, this would become a typical-looking rigid MTB.

How does it ride? The big tire is actually lightweight and "supple" for its size, and at "high" pressure of 18-20 psi, does not feel slower than any other high-quality offroad tire when ridden on pavement. It's not a road bike, obviously, but it rides way better on the road than a road bike would ride here:
Pugstigator on the Mississippi
In fact, I could envision myself doing long distance (100+ miles) on this bike, though I'd be unlikely to set any speed records. On pavement, this rig has good momentum, and is very stable-feeling. I can ride indefinitely with no hands easier on this than on my other bikes. I think this has a lot to do with the high bottom bracket, but I'm not 100% sure.

One feature of the Pugstigator that is new to me is hydraulic disc brakes (Avid Code 5). I've always found mechanical discs to be effective enough, but somewhat fussy to use, noisy, etc. The hydraulic brakes are a revelation, and I doubt I'll ever want to use mechanical disc brakes again. They are smooth and quiet and not bedeviled by the various friction issues surrounding cable-actuated brakes.

Yesterday I was out testing the capabilities of this bike by riding on rocks and sand along the river, and even down a small set of stairs at the Veterans Home. I found out that reduced tire pressure makes riding here easy and enjoyable.
Pugstigator on the Mississippi

The reduced tire pressure that works well on rocks and sand and other irregular or shifting terrain makes for an unnerving experience when riding on pavement or hardpack. The squishy tires dive unexpectedly into corners, while, with just a few more psi, they carve the same corners with a feeling of security and some degree of controlled precision. It's amazing that a mere few hundred strokes of the mini-morph pump can produce such a large disparity in capability over diverse terrains.

Finally, after all this, the casual reader, like many visitors to the shop, may be tempted to ask "why?" or "what's it for?". I REALLY hate to get into the asinine practice of pigeonholing bikes into marketable categories. That said, I like to think that almost all bikes fit into my loose definition of "touring bike", which is: a bike that one can ride to experience the world, look at scenery, hear noises, smell the local cuisine emanating from kitchen windows, etc. All touring bikes have design trade-offs. A Long Haul Trucker loaded with 80 lbs of camping equipment and food is a poor choice for 150-mile day tours, but a 16-lb race-geometry bike that can accommodate only 700x25 tires is a generally poor choice for multi-day self-supported camping trips. Somewhere in the spectrum of bike touring, there is room for a bike that can travel comfortably and safely over any terrain that even remotely resembles a road or trail. As can be seen from some of the photos, I have been tinkering with various bags on the bike, with the ultimate goal of actually taking this bike on multi-day multi-terrain tours with camping gear.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're still planning a Thanksgiving ride at 9 AM, leaving from HCWHQ. Hope you can make it. Ride first, then eat, then ride again, then eat some more, then sleep. That's my plan, anyway.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


In the four years we've been in business at HC, we've sometimes struggled to find our niche. This might be it.

It's a Pug-front Instigator! (aka Pugstigator or Insti-Pug)


This is now the bike rack out front.
pugsley, pugstigator, HC

Believe it or not, when confronted with a fat tire bicycle, some folks don't "get it", and they ask in disbelief, "Why?" We all know the whole bike industry is based on categories and sub-categories of bikes. I don't like it, but who am I to change the world? So, while we at HC didn't invent this type of bicycle, I think I have invented the name for the bike-genre "Sub-Optimal Situation Bicycle", or SOS bike, if you're into the brevity thing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Riding an old Stumpjumper

I've been riding a 1983 Specialized Stumpjumper somewhat regularly for at least a couple years now, in various configurations. Recently I determined that the only original parts are the frame, headset, seatpost, and shifters. Anyway, the bike sort of reminds me of a tractor, in that it's somewhat heavy and slow to maneuver, but stable and able to keep a straight line over suboptimal terrain. It's safe to say that this design fell out of favor in the late 80s when bikes with faster-handling geometry came along, but for my "mountain bike" needs, the old Stumpjumper is just fine. For that matter, suitably equipped, it also makes a fine commuter or touring bike.

Anyway, I decided to take advantage of yet another 50-degree late-November day, and went exploring. I was probably never more than 2-3 miles from HCWHQ, but at times I felt like a wilderness explorer, much the way my cycling ancestors must've felt back in 1983.

minnehaha creek

mississippi river

mississippi river

mississippi river

mississippi river

minnehaha bag

Blasts From The Past

Jim with the first Atlantis. We were still weeks from opening in 2006.

One of our first shop rides. A large contingent of the Thill family is present.

The cleanest the front counter has ever been.

Lunch was a big deal!!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

A comparison of some of the lights we sell

HC customer and friend Eric P was kind enough to forward the photographic results of his comparison of the Planet Bike Blaze 1W ($45), Blaze 2W ($55), and NiteRider MiNewt ($99). Of course, these aren't the only battery lights on the market, but these are the models that we have chosen to sell, because we think they are the best we've seen at these price points.

Here's a comparison of the Blaze 1W and Blaze 2W. The 2W is on the left.

Note that the beams are roughly the same size, but the 2W illumination is somewhat more intense.

The NiteRider MiNewt is roughly double the price of either of the Blaze lights, but the battery is rechargeable, and the beam is bigger and brighter.

Eric's entire set of light beam images is here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving holiday ride and weekend special

We will be closed Thanksgiving, but we will have a pre-feast ride leaving from the shop at 9AM. There will be a food/coffee stop on the ride, and it will be interesting.

We will be open regular hours for the Friday and Saturday after the holiday, and will have a little sale during those 2 days. Every in-stock item will be at least 10% off. In addition, if you buy a gift certificate, either for yourself or for a cyclist on your gift list, you will receive a 10% bonus. For example, if you spend $100 on a gift certificate, I will give you a gift certificate for $110. If you spend $1000, get a gift certificate of $1100. It's quite a deal.

Friday, November 20, 2009

some semi-recent projects

We upgraded this early-80s Peugeot 3sp mixte for my Mom. New rims, spokes, tires, fenders, cables, and a used Brooks Flyer.
mom's peugeot
One of the nicer chainguards I've seen.

Ron bought this Rawland dSogn awhile back. Since it has disc brakes and lots of tire clearance, we first built it up with 29" wheels. Now it is back to 650B, as the designers of the bike intended.
ron's rawland
It's one heck of an "all-rounder". With smoother 700c tires, Ron did a 145-mile road ride with us earlier this summer on this bike, but now it's ready for gravel-road touring, trail riding, and just about anything else.

HC co-conspirator Kevin has been enjoying the local trails on his new Pugsley.
kevin's pugsley
That's an Epic frame pack, in case you're wondering. Other notable features include the 100 mm symmetrical fork, Schmidt hub, and (not shown in the photo) Supernova E3 Triple headlight and Supernova seatpost-mount taillight. It's quite a machine, and riding it will make you look slim.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Arkel Holiday Special (updated)

We have been selling Arkel's excellent bags and other accessories since we opened almost 4 years ago. The Commuter and Bug panniers have been long-time favorites of our bike-commuting customers, and the Arkel touring panniers and other bags are extremely smart, well-crafted for tourists and others who like to carry lots of stuff. In addition, Arkel carries the Old Man Mountain racks, which offer high-quality alternatives for hard-to-rack bikes.

LHT loaded

Anyway, we stock a few Arkel items, but it's impossible for us to stock the entire line, given all the different models, colors, etc. Now's your chance to get what you want at an excellent price. I will be doing a pre-holiday Arkel order in a couple weeks. If you order and prepay, you will receive a gift certificate equal to 15% of the MSRP of the item(s) you order (you can apply the gift certificate directly to the Arkel order, if you want to). See Arkel website (linked above) for MSRP info. Deadline for ordering is Dec 11.

Also, as an added bonus to our out of town customers, any order of Arkel products, possibly combined with other items we sell, in excess of $200 (after discount) will get free shipping (excluding wheels, frames, and bikes).

Updates to Thill Wheels

Now you can order Thill Wheels from our web catalog without talking to me! (Of course, you can talk to me if you want to. I'm very pleasant.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Be your own mechanic: Build your own wheels!

Here's a great way to recover from the extravagances of Thanksgiving, and get a little bit of your "bike-fix" as the weather is turning colder and snowier.

If you've ever wanted to learn to build and true your own wheels, we will be holding another wheelbuilding class Saturday, Dec 5, 8am-noon at HC. The wheelbuilding class has been a favorite in the past. Course fee is $60, which is required at the time of registration. Register in person or over the phone. Enrollment is limited to 5 participants.

We will provide truing stands, tools, workspace, and instruction, but you must provide your own hub, rim, spokes, and spoke nipples, or, if you don't have those items lying around, you can buy them from HC. If you order and prepay your wheel parts from HC, the price will be discounted 15% from the regular price. I will need to know what wheel parts you need a week in advance, so I can order items that are not in stock. If you don't know what parts you need, we can help you determine suitable choices. Additionally, at the end of class, we will have truing stands and spoke wrenches for sale at cost to course participants.

Stop in or call 612-727-2565 to register and order parts. And keep an eye on this blog for other bike repair course announcements.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Green Hornet" is for Sale

Kevin's custom Curt Goodrich is on EBay.

Many more pictures here.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Looking For That Perfect Christmas Gift

Kevin is selling his 1975-1976 Masi Grand Criterium.

The facts:

Size: Seat tube -- 57 cm c-t-c and 58 cm c-t-t; top tube 57 c-t-c

Equipment: Full Nuovo Record Group

Crank set: 42/52 170 mm arms; 4 in diamond

Handlebars: TTT Superleggero (NOS)

Stem: TTT Record (NOS)

Derrailleur: Rear stamped Pat 1973

Seatpost: Campy 27.2

Seat: Cinelli

Brakes: Record

Rims: Nisi tubular

Tires: NOS Clement sew ups (unglued)

Bottom bracket is stamped with a "58" only, no MC is visible. Brian Baylis looked at it and deemed it to be an original paint 1975 or 1976 model. Kevin had a brief email exchange with Mr Baylis who confirmed it.

Many more photos here.

Asking $2750.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Winter Hats

Holly from Grovecraft just dropped off a load of winter hats. They are merino wool and some have cashmere earflaps -- classy and soft!! She takes used clothing and recycles it into something useful.

We have a good selection and we're keeping the cost the same as last year -- $40.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Showers Pass is Here

Our initial order of SP clothing has arrived. If you ordered something, please come by and pick it up.

We also have, in stock, one of the Elite 2.0 E Vent jackets in black, size large. If you are a touchy feely kind of shopper, and like to see an item before buying it online, this is your chance.

We will probably place another order in the near future so if a cyclist is high on your holiday shopping list, now is the time to check out all their gear.