Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meet the new wheelbuilder

This is my daughter Elissa, who is almost 5 years old. Long-time HC customers may remember Elissa hanging out at the shop as a baby back in early 2006. Now she's getting ready to head to kindergarten in the Fall, and I'm betting she'll be the only kid in her class with wheel-building on her resume.
First wheel build
Elissa recently injured her foot in an altercation with her little brother, and for the past couple days has not been able to walk. So she's been taking some time off from preschool to heal up. Today I decided to put her to work. I know she's good at following patterns, so I showed her the sequence of spoke lacing, and she took to it quickly. She actually laced most of this wheel, until the last of the spokes, at which point she handed the project off to me so she could play in one of the big boxes from QBP.

Tonight she told me she wants to lace another wheel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scattering Like The Wind

Two thirds of HC's brain trust is heading out of town next week. Jim is headed east to Richmond for the 2010 Handbuilt Bike Show in Richmond and Kevin is headed west to staff some ACA tours.

Mark the Magnificent is holding down the fort so our hours will be somewhat modified starting Saturday.

Saturday (2/20) Open 2 - 4 PM
Sunday/Monday Closed
Tuesday (2/23) Open 1 - 6
Wednesday (2/24) Closed
Thursday/Friday Open 1 - 6
Saturday Open 12 -4


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some Surly Projects

Here's a 62 cm Surly Long Haul Trucker with 26" wheels.
62 cm LHT with 26" wheels

Some people have griped about the aesthetics of big frames with small wheels, but who gives a damn when you have tire clearance like this!
62 cm LHT with 26" wheels
That's a 2" tire. With a fender. With a lot of room left over. You'll get accustomed to the proportions after awhile, especially when you realize the built-in versatility of the astounding range of tires that will fit in this frame.

Speaking of tire clearance, we've had this stock 54 cm Cross-Check sitting around here forever. I suspect the "Beef Gravy" color is under-appreciated. Anyway, I just received some 700x45 Panaracer Fire Cross tires, and they fit this bike with room to spare. It's not a 29'er, but almost! Monster-cross anyone?
crosscheck monster

crosscheck monster
As I look forward to a Summer and Fall of trail riding, I guess I won't be too heartbroken if this bike doesn't sell. The taller tires make it just the right size for me...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hiawatha Cyclery Poster

Your bike room is looking a little bleak these days. How about jazzing it up with the new HC poster by local artist, cyclist, and all-around honorable chap, Adam Turman?

(click for big)

We're waiting for these to be printed in the not-too-distant future, but quantities are limited, so please let us know soon if you'd like to buy one. If this works out, we'd like to do a different poster every year. Might as well get the first in the collection before they attain cult status on eBay!

Click here to pre-order.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Some reminders

3-speed class:
This Saturday, February 13, we will be holding our 3-speed overhaul class, 8AM-Noon. Cost is $60 at time of registration, and we have room for two more. You don't need to supply your own hub or any tools. Just pay the $60 and then show up to learn something that will astound your friends!

Rivendell pre-order incentive:
Order your Rivendell Sam Hillborne or Betty Foy THIS WEEK (thru Saturday, Feb 13) with a $200 deposit, and get $100 off the final tally of frame + parts + labor. We are expecting the frames to come in May, but we need to order now, and it will be nice to have some pre-orders so we get the right sizes.

We have one Hillborne in stock, and we're willing to make the same $100 off deal (discount on the complete bike) on this one, this week.

The word from Rivendell is that the forthcoming Hillbornes will be set up for extralong-reach caliper brakes, and I'm pretty sure they'll be orange. It's possible that some sizes will still be available, for at least a little while, in green (see above) and with canti/v-brake bosses (see above).

Finally, the Twin Cities Bike Swap:
The Swap will be this Sunday, February 14, 9:30 am - 2:30 pm at the National Sports Center in Blaine. We will be there with our table of bargains, so come early and find some deals, then go home and romance with your special lady or special gentleman or whatever.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I had the chance to ride one of Surly's new Larry tires over the weekend, designed specifically for their infamous Pugsley. This wasn't an exhaustive test as I only rode it about 20 miles, but it was over a variety of terrain including plowed roads, snow covered fields (12-18 inches) and trails packed down by hundreds of happy campers.

I installed it on the front as they recommend, and I am using the narrower 100mm wide fork.

Compared with the original Endomorph tire, the Larry definitely has a "lighter" feel to it. On twisty trails, it tracks easier and requires less effort to make corrections. On deeper snow, it grips as well as the Endo. Even on ice, I could make turns with confidence.

If the Larry has one significant difference from the Endo, it has to be the importance of matching tire pressure to the conditions. Matching the correct Psi to the conditions was certainly important for the Endo, but I always felt that, as long as you were in a range, say 8-12 psi, I could generally ride over a variety of surface conditions.

Not so the Larry. It needs you to pay attention and dial the tire pressure in a little more accurately. Given the varied conditions I rode in this weekend, I tweaked the psi a few times. For example, 8 psi on soft oatmealy snow was just right but on the packed stuff, 10 felt better. The ranges are just narrower.

So, if you're on the fence about whether the Larry is worth the extra money or not, I say go for it. It really does provide a more "lively" ride, something the Pugsley could always use more of.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

You should have a bike like this

Forget all your biases, if you harbor them, against 26" wheels. This bike made it's HC showroom debut yesterday, and it has been getting a ton of attention from employees and customers alike.
58 cm LHT with 26" wheels
It's a stock Surly Long Haul Trucker, 58 cm frame with 26" wheels. We added some Tubus racks, Planet Bike Cascadia fenders, MKS pedals, a Brooks saddle, King bottle cages (plus Klean Kanteen), and most importantly, Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 26x2.0 tires. The best thing about the 26" wheel option on these new LHTs is that it allows for a much fatter tire than is possible on the 700C variant. With a 2" (50 mm) tire and fenders, there's still plenty of room in there. Why should you care? Because a 50+ mm tire will roll over mushy sand and gravel and other questionable surfaces where a 35 mm tire will falter. And, with decent tires (like these Schwalbes), this will be pleasingly fast on pavement and hard-pack dirt/gravel surfaces. More comfort and traction and flotation, with no discernible loss of speed or handling! It's a win-win-win-win-etc-situation! Bonus: if you ever find yourself in Mongolia, Mozambique, Montreal, or some other exotic place, spare 26" wheels and tires will be found growing on trees thereabouts, while 700C bits will be unavailable at any price. At least that's what I hear.

This bike, as pictured, will be around $1550, but numerous equipment options (and prices) are possible. The base bike with stock parts (no pedals) is $1095.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


At HC, we have a stack of old cycling periodicals. My favorites are the Bicycling Magazines of the 1970s. Here's one cover from October, 1977.

For the life of me, I can't understand how this fellow managed to keep his polyester bell-bottoms out of the chain. But, damn, does he look good!

If we look past the haute couture, which isn't easy, we see the depiction of a cyclist carrying his bike through the woods. I can only assume that he was out riding trails, and portaging the bicycle from one trail to another. Looks like my kinda cycling! This is actually a fairly typical cover shot from 1970s Bicycling. Somewhere I have another cover showing a guy pushing a rod-brake Raleigh roadster in some mountainous offroad terrain. And then there's the kid riding a homebrewed mixte-turned-cargo-bike on a wooded path...

These 1970s covers were shot before anybody had any inkling of the concept of the term "mountain bike". Since there were no mountain bikes yet, there were no road bikes either. Bikes were bikes. Of course, 10 years later, mountain bikes were all the rage, and the idea of riding a 10-speed "road bike" on trails suddenly seemed like something only crazy people would do. Since then, road and mountain bikes have evolved into increasingly specialized machines, each model optimized for one specific type of riding. The idea of a do-it-all bike was marginalized to the low-end of product lines, and marketed to uncommitted novices with demeaning names like "hybrid" and "comfort bike" and "city bike".

At HC, we fancy ourselves to be a small part of what seems to be a growing wave of a return to bikes that are suitable for all-around cycling. I am frequently asked by customers to categorize the bikes we sell. The educated consumer needs categories to make informed decisions supposedly, but I fail miserably at categorization. I feel silly talking about "mountain bikes" in Minnesota, since we have no mountains within 1000 miles. And the term "road bike" is worthless as a descriptor, since any bicycle can be ridden on roads. A Surly LHT is marketed as a "touring bike", but it's a great bike for lots of people who have no aspirations of loading up with 75 lbs of crap and riding across the continent. So I hesitate to use the term "touring bike" because I don't want to alienate non-tourists who should be riding a LHT. Grant Petersen at Rivendell, who, I assume, is as frustrated with inane categories as I am, coined the term "Country Bike", which paints a nice picture in my mental landscape. But it turns out that Grant's Rivendell Country Bikes make wonderful City Bikes, and, let's face it, we at HC are city dwellers who ride bikes in the city. Of course, the term "City Bike" has a whole 'nother connotation, which I'd rather not discuss... And on top of all that, how the hell am I supposed to define the Pugsley!

Stereotyping bikes is about as useful and as dangerous as stereotyping people, so I'm going to try to stop doing it. No more categories!