Thursday, January 28, 2010

Some special deals

This has been one weird Winter. It started early in October, relented with a truly beautiful November, followed by December and January freeze/thaw/snow patterns have produced some of the worst street conditions we've seen since last Winter, at least. Believe it or not, it has been less snowy and had fewer truly cold days than the average. But for some reason, it still seems harsh. Rest assured, however, it won't last much longer. January, our coldest average month, is almost history. The long-term forecasts show warmer weather ahead. In three or four weeks, stuff will likely be starting to melt, and soon the sweet, sweet aroma of thawing dogshit piles will fill the air hereabouts!

We have some inventory to clear out, which means you can get some good deals just in time for Spring!

Surly Long Haul Trucker, 58 cm, Olive green (a now discontinued color) - this one was sold to a customer who rode it for just a few days before deciding he wanted a different size. We took the parts off the bike and put them on a new frame. Then we built this barely used frame up with more or less stock LHT parts that we had in our inventory. Compared to the stock build from Surly, this one has a more expensive crank (Sugino XD600) and headset (FSA Orbit XLII), but a less fancy rear derailleur (Deore). But since the frame is technically used (barely), the bike could be yours at the outstanding price of $975! (plus tax, pedals not included)

Redline Metro-9, 56 cm: This is a wonderful 3-season sporty city/commuting bike for a great price. Smart 1x9 gearing, fenders, and just a nice looking bike! Was $679, now $459.

Redline 9-2-5, 54 cm: Similar to the Metro-9, but a single speed. Was $579, now $379.

Note: The Redline bikes fit a little bigger than the stated size; add 2-4 cm to get an idea if these are your size. For example, I usually ride 56-58 cm Surly or Rivendell bikes, but the 54 cm Redline works for me.

Parts and accessories:
Tires: we have a lot of different tires, different sizes, different price ranges. Whatever we have in stock is 20% off until Feb 13. Come and find some that work for you. Get the same deal on tubes.

Pitlocks: These are probably the best anti-theft wheel skewers money can buy. The price usually fluctuates with currency exchange. Right now, the going rate on the internet for the set is $90. We have a couple sets left for $65/set.

Get our standard $75 tune up for only $50, IF you drop off your bike between now and Feb 13, AND you pick it up within a week of us calling you to tell you it's ready.

Everything else:
10% off any in-stock item(s) until Feb 13.

Twin Cities Bike Swap, Feb 14

The Twin Cities Bike Swap (TCBS) is a wonderful event that we've been attending almost every year since 2006. This year it's on Valentine's Day (make it romantic; bring your sweetheart) at the Schwan Event Center on National Sports Center Campus in Blaine. Judging from past experience, it will be worth the drive up to Blaine.

Believe it or not, I regard the TCBS as a sign that Spring is right around the corner. More than once, snow has been observed to be melting on the day of the swap or shortly thereafter. Get up to Blaine, find some deals, see some friends, and then count the days until you can ride in a t-shirt. Won't be long!

Pedal Pub Crawl map and itinerary!

Just a reminder that the Pedal Pub Crawl is this Sunday, January 31. The first stop is the Muddy Pig, Selby and Dale in St Paul, at Noon. The map is here:

All are welcome to ride from HC at 11, or to catch up with the crawl at one of the stops. Understand that times are approximate.

I recommend weather-appropriate clothing, and whatever bike equipment you deem appropriate for riding St Paul's icy streets.

More suggestions on Lanny's blog.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

3-speed overhaul class, Feb 13

Our friend and 3-speed guru Mark Stonich of Bikesmith Design & Fabrication will be teaching a class on the disassembly/reassembly, adjustment, and maintenance of Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hubs. If you ever wanted to see inside your internal gear hub, this is a good way to learn how to do it. Mark will focus on the AW hub, but much of what you will learn may be applicable to other gearhub brands and models. There is no need to bring anything except a positive, can-do attitude. Mark has the tools you'll need and some hubs that are devoted to demonstrations and teaching.

When: Saturday, February 13, 2010, 8AM-Noon
Where: Hiawatha Cyclery, 4301 E 54th St, Minneapolis
Limit and cost: The class is limited to 6 participants. The cost is $60 paid at the time of registration. First come, first serve.

Also, just a reminder that the Feb 6 Wheelbuilding Class is still open for new registrants.

If you'd like to do one or both of these classes, please call 612-727-2565 or stop in to make the necessary arrangements.

Modernism and traditionalism

Bicycle touring in the US really got popular in the 1970s, and a lot of the collective wisdom related to that activity dates to that period. Mountain bikes had not yet hit the mainstream, so manufacturers of touring bicycles could not have borrowed the MTB design elements. The touring bikes of the 1970s tend to resemble slightly beefed-up versions of European racing bikes from the same period. Most of those machines could fit a 28 mm or maybe a 32 mm tire with a fender (not that bigger rubber was available anyway). And they had traditional racing geometries, possibly with the concession of 1/2 or 1-degree of seat tube and head tube angle and an extra 1 cm of chainstay length. Nowadays with the internet bulletin boards overflowing with discussion of even the most trivial aspects of bicycle design, the longing for a "traditional" aesthetic often rises above the chatter. Things like sloping top-tubes, threadless headsets, larger diameter (stronger/stiffer) tubing, and the ubiquity of black components tend to push traditionalists out of their comfort zones. While I believe the modern renditions of frame design, threadless headsets, etc, often represent some real functional improvements, I admit that the traditionalists do have a point: if it ain't broke, why fix it? After all, William and Bob rode 600 miles around Northern Minnesota back in 1935.

I love this photo. In truth, the 1930s ballooners pictured here had the big tires that permitted riding the unimproved roads of 1930s Northern Minnesota. The bicycle tourists of the 1970s, by and large, rode paved roads exclusively.

The current generation of bike tourists, at least some of them, have gravitated back to the dirt roads and trails or tours that combine a variety of surfaces. Considering ALL types of roads gives us so many more options! In the past few years, we have seen the proliferation of bikes that straddle the territory between traditional road touring bikes and devoted offroad bikes. At HC, we have built up and sold many Rivendell, Rawland, and Surly bikes that have the sneaky, built-in versatility of massive tire clearance.

The next step in the evolution of touring bikes is best typified by the Salsa Fargo. We recently sold and partially assembled an XXL Fargo for a customer who has had trouble previously finding a bike big enough. This one is big enough.
brandon's fargo
This bike was designed and tested by at least one person (a local guy who stops in to HC to buy stuff sometimes) who has an impressive history of doing long, mixed-surface adventure/endurance tours, such as Trans-Iowa and Tour Divide. Clearly, every aspect of the design was an answer to the question: Is this feature compatible with off-pavement touring in remote areas? The result is that a lot of "traditional" features got cast into the dustbin in favor of purely practical considerations. This bike has mounts for six water bottles, because who knows how long until the next water stop. The steeply sloping top-tube is a response to the fact that offroad touring sometimes requires frequent intentional and unintentional dismounts, and why not have some extra crotch clearance? The high handlebar position and drop bars provide a range of comfortable hand positions over rough roads and long days. The disc brakes give great stopping power even when riding on roads that leave the rims covered with water and mud, and not relying on the rims as a braking surface makes it easier to keep riding with an out-of-true wheel. And tire clearance! The bike pictured above has 29x2.35 tires on it, and it looks like there's room for a bigger tire, a fender, and/or gobs and gobs of mud!

Of course, one of our ingrained responses as savvy consumers will be to pigeonhole and stereotype this bike as an offroad-specific machine. Yes, it can do that, but it is also a wonderful choice for pavement. You never know when you'll encounter poor pavement maintenance, or a tempting gravel/dirt-road detour. Swap the knobby tires for some of the 29x2.0+ smoothies (Marathon Supreme, Big Apple, etc), and this becomes a road touring (or commuting) machine that is ready for damned near anything. Speaking from my experience, even if you enjoy a traditional aesthetic, keep looking at the Fargo, and its unorthodox appearance will grow on you. (maybe)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pub Crawl update

Just a reminder that the 2010 Artisanal Imports Pedal Pub Crawl is happening this Sunday, January 31. The first stop is The Muddy Pig, at Selby and Dale at high noon. The exact schedule and route after that is still in flux, but we'll update here when we have more info.

If you'd like to ride there from HC, we'll roll out at 11-ish.

This is a great way to burn off some of the mid-winter angst, hang out with other cyclists and beer lovers, enjoy food and drink specials, and maybe win a prize.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wheelbuilding class, Feb 6

Wheelbuilding can be a fun activity for some, but the real reward is riding around on a dependable set of wheels that you built yourself!

The last wheelbuilding class I conducted filled to capacity, and I couldn't accommodate everybody who wanted to do the class. So I'll do it again, Saturday, Feb 6, at 8AM-Noon.

Registration for the class is $60 - first come, first serve. You will need to have an appropriate rim, hub, and spokes, which you can order in advance of the class from HC with a 15% class discount. Don't know what brands or models of rims, hubs, and spokes are appropriate to your intended use and price range? Email or call me, and I'll help you sort it out. If you take the class, you will leave afterward with at least one completed wheel. (some people do two)

I will provide top-of-the-line wheelbuilding equipment, including truing stands, spoke wrenches, a dish stick, and a tension gauge. If you decide to get your own truing stand after the class, I will have several of the new pro-level Park TS-2.2 stands available for $160. That's cheap for a piece of equipment that will last a lifetime!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bike tours for 2010

The calendar for the upcoming season is starting to fill up. I thought I'd share what I have on the agenda for the next few months. Obviously, some of this will likely change, and more excursions will undoubtedly be added on an impromptu basis.

Last week in February: take the train to Washington, DC, explore a bit, then ride to Richmond for the handbuilt bike show. Just to be cheeky, I am planning to do this on a fixed-gear. Our nation's founding fathers didn't have freewheels or derailleurs, and neither will I!

End of April: Kevin and I have volunteered to help with the epic gravel race known as Trans-Iowa, which we are also sponsoring with a nice prize or two. While this isn't specifically a bike tour, we will most likely bring our bikes so we can get a taste of Iowa back roads.

May 15: Almanzo 100. As it stands now, I am planning to roll the Almanzo event into a 3-day, 350-mile minimal-gear tour with two overnights in a Rochester hotel. I welcome willing companions on this adventure, at their own risk.

May 22-23: Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour I am hoping to get a pass on the English requirement so I can ride the 3-speed-tour with my soon-to-be 5-year-old daughter on a French tandem (I can comply with the 3-speed requirement).

Sometime in the Summer: a weeklong tour with friends, details and schedule TBA.

Late June or Early July: Amtrak to Winona, MN, then ride the 140-some miles home. This has become a tradition, and is now in its 4th year. Last year was quite an adventure, complete with some cyclers sleeping in ditches (and on their bikes), and a midnight feast in a grocery store parking lot.

Throughout the summer, I will announce (on this blog) various day rides. I have mapped some really exciting back road loops that I think will be most enjoyable.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 Rivendells

I just got the 2010 dealer info from Rivendell, and now I have a month or so to finalize what I'm going to order. You, as a customer, can help me decide! I must say that Rivendell has really made some intriguing changes to its product line this year, and I'm excited!

The Hillborne was our best selling bike in 2009, and for good reason. It's sort of a comfortable touring bike or all-rounder - A Country Bike! - with good tire clearance and plenty of braze-ons for racks, fenders, and miscellanea. It's still going to be $1000 for the frame, fork, headset, bottom bracket, and seatpost, and roughly $2000 for a complete bike, depending on the part-spec. One change for this year: XL-reach sidepull brakes instead of cantilevers. And I'm pretty sure they're gonna be orange instead of green. We can help you with part-spec and sizing.

The Betty Foy is the mixte version of the Hillborne, and it's a lovely frameset. We don't generally sell as many of these as we do Hillbornes, but we'll probably get a few. Where the heck else are you going to get a high-end lugged mixte?

Order a Hillborne or Foy in advance with a $200 deposit by Feb 12, 2010. We expect delivery in May. You can also buy from our stock later, but the $200 deposit assures that we will get one in the right size, especially for you. The pre-ordering helps us choose the correct sizes. Otherwise, we tend to cluster around the most popular sizes, because they sell the fastest. In return for your early deposit and commitment to buy, you'll get a $100 parts credit to help you outfit your new bike (the credit is applied to the final tally of frame + parts + labor). A hundred bucks is, more or less, a Brooks B17 saddle or some fancy tires or derailleurs or _____, FREE!

Remember, to get the $100 in free parts, I need your deposit of $200 by Feb 12.

In March sometime, we have to decide whether to carry the new Quickbeam-replacement SimpleOne single-speed (price and specs TBA) and the newly announced Hunqapillar frameset, which is apparently something between the Atlantis and the Bombadil - in other words, a heavy-duty touring and rough-stuff bike that fits big tires. The Hunqa frameset is going to be $1400. Let me know if you want one, and if it seems like we have enough interest, we'll get 'em!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Get your Almanzo info here (plus more gravel riding)

I mentioned before that I am registered to do the Almanzo 100 race/ride in May. A growing number of HC regulars are into riding gravel roads and long distances, and a few of these friends/customers are now registered, too. I'm really looking forward to the ride: the challenge of riding a gravel century, learning new roads, and now riding with great friends. Anyway, if riding 100 scenic miles of gravel roads in mid-May sounds like your cup of tea, stop by HC and pick up an Almanzo pre-made postcard. Then put your name, gender, and email address on it, address it, and get it in the mail before the end of the month. (Important: please read the rules before entering.)

I have been seeking out gravel road riding since at least 2006, but last year (2009) I went out of my way to plot out some gravel-rich back-road routes, some of which we enjoyed on HC day rides, and others on a tour with friends. This year (2010), I'm going to go nuts with this. So look for a busy gravel road ride schedule once the snow melts. I have been spending my ample free time poring over maps and studying rides that others have done, and I'm confident that we'll have some memorable rides.

(Photo by Lanny Hoff)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Goin' Swappin'

Kevin and I and a handful of selected dignitaries will be taking our show on the road Friday and Saturday for the big swap meet in Madison with the stated goal of returning with less used bike part treasures than we are bringing. If you are attending the swap, stop by and say hello.

Customers who wish to visit HCWHQ while we are gone will find the shop open for business as usual. Mark will be holding down the fort, answering the most esoteric of questions, giving demonstrations of his masterful use of cutting, grinding, and bending tools, and, presumably, moving lots of inventory out the door. Please don't let Mark get lonely. Come in and say hello, and maybe buy something nice for yourself or a loved one. Please.

Of course, if you're a local and want first crack at whatever I'm bringing to the swap, feel free to stop by today.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How long until Spring?

The cold weather and difficult riding conditions in the street have, as usual, inspired some strange ideas and behaviors at HCWHQ.

Consider half-radial spoking:

I decided awhile ago to throw my name in for the Almanzo 100. Well, I sent in my postcard yesterday, and that set off the sudden and urgent need to get my equipment together. Never mind that the race is in May. I need race wheels! For which bike? Who cares! I can figure that out later!

I choose parts for my non-fancy bikes based on a) what's in stock, or better yet, sitting in my used parts bins and b) what is unlikely to sell anytime soon. In this case, I found a Tiagra hub and an Aerohead o/c rim with a missing label. Then I started to go through my salvage spoke pile. Not sure if these spokes are used or new or some of each, but they are an odd mix of lengths, colors, diameters, brands. After some 5 or 10 seconds of searching the spoke pile, the solution became obvious! Straight-gauge DT spokes laced radially on the non-drive side and 14/15g Wheelsmith butted spokes laced 3x on the drive side.

Actually, the credit for bringing this idea into my brain-space comes from a customer who is attending next week's wheelbuilding class and asked about doing his rear wheel with a similar half-radial pattern. Since I've never done it before, I decided this would be my opportunity to give it a shot. What's the worst that could happen? I'll find out when the snow melts!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wheelbuilding class January 16

Just a reminder that I will be leading a wheelbuilding class on Saturday, January 16, at 8 AM. There are still a couple openings in the class. If interested, please call or stop by to register. Course fee is $60 and all wheel components purchased from HC will be discounted (probably 15%).

Pub Crawl, Jan 31

Friend, customer, and renowned beer personality, Lanny Hoff has announced the date of the 2010 Pub Crawl - Jan 31. Last year's event was by all accounts a huge success, and we're hoping it will be even better this year.

Details are still in flux, but here's what we know now: The 2010 Crawl will feature visits to some of St Paul's finest establishments, and there will be a variety of prize drawings (beer-related and bike-related prizes) and other fun stuff. Not big miles or fast miles, and the ride will be structured as a loop with some sort of schedule, so folks can come and go from the ride as desired.

Stay tuned for more details.