Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday hours

HC will be closed to the public Dec 24-25. We will be open Friday, Dec 26 at 3-6 pm, and Saturday, Dec 27 at Noon-2pm.

I'll get back to you about our schedule for the following week.

Happy holidays, etc. Hope you all get out for some bike adventures.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving hours and holiday special

HC will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Thursday, November 27 thru Monday, December 1. We will get back to normal hours on Tuesday, December 2. I am more than happy to take orders and answer questions during this time via email during this time. hiawathacyclery at gmail

Don't wait in line for hours like on Thanksgiving and Black Friday for deals. You can get all your deals here at HC. Buy any gift certificate between now and December 31, and I'll add 15% to it. For example, you spend $100 and get a gift certificate for $115, or spend $1000 and get a gift certificate for $1150. You can order this by email or phone, and I can mail it to the intended recipient.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are fat wheels heavy?

I think most smart bike people will acknowledge that fat tires have superior traction and flotation on sketchy surfaces, in winter conditions, etc. But the tradeoff is that they're so heavy and slow!

Thirteen years ago, the University of Minnesota decided to grant me a master's degree in geophysics, and I figure it's finally time to apply that credential to some useful purpose. So why not start by measuring something. Here's a 120tpi Dillinger 26x4" on the scale:
The scale reads 1352 g with packaging included. Add in a Q-tubes 26x2.4-2.7 superlight tube and a standard Marge Lite rim, and we have a tire/rim mass of approximately 2.28 kg.

For comparison, consider a more "typical" winter bike wheel. A Schwalbe Marathon Winter 29x2.0 studded tire is listed at 1265g. On a typical 520g rim with a typical 220g tube, this typical winter wheel weighs in at just over 2.00 kg.

But the acceleration of a wheel with an applied torque is not quite as simple as a basic mass comparison. We also have to consider the size of the wheel, since mass farther from the center of rotation is harder to accelerate. The important physical quantity here is moment of inertia. The lower this number, the faster the wheel accelerates under a given torque. Most cyclists prefer a lower value for moment of inertia, though having a higher value increases rolling momentum, which is desirable sometimes. If I assume that the effective radial center of momentum of each wheel is in the center of the tire (halfway between the rim bead seat and the outer tread of the tire), the 29" wheel has an effective radius of approximately 0.340 m. The fat tire 26" wheel has an effective radius of approximately 0.330 m.  The formula for moment of inertia is I = m x r x r. So square the radius and multiply by the mass. For the fat tire 26" wheel, the value of I is 0.24 kgm^2. For the 29" wheel the value is 0.23 kgm^2. These are about double that of a typical high-performance road racing wheel.

I consider these two inertia values to be effectively the same, given the simplifying approximations I made. But the fat tire is widely regarded (by armchair experts) as heavy and slow, while almost nobody thinks to comment on how heavy and slow a typical 700C/29" winter wheel is.

Note that I'm assuming that the mass of a hub and spokes don't contribute to the inertia calculation. Assuming the same hub mass, the 26" wheel has a slight advantage because the spokes are shorter and lighter. But the more important mass is further out on the wheel. That's why I just consider the mass of the rim, tire, and tube. Also, I'm not considering the effect of tire rolling resistance or aerodynamics. My general sense is that a high-quality fat tire inflated to an appropriate pressure has lower rolling resistance than a Schwalbe Marathon Winter, but the skinnier tire has lower aerodynamic drag.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Winter bike stuff

This week, winter set in a little earlier than usual. Given the 10-day forecasts, and the date on the calendar, we probably can't expect much of a break from cold and ice and snow anytime soon.

So I've added a few cold weather items to my Ice Cream Truck:
First, I added 45NRTH Dillinger 26x4.8" studded tires ($250 each or $450/pair). They are costly but worth it, in my opinion (similar 45NRTH tires also available in 26x3.8, 29x2.35", 700x38, 700x30). I missed out on the limited supply of studded fat tires last year, which was unfortunate given the combination of cratered/rutted ice-pack and deeper snow along my commute route for six months of winter. I opted out of bike commuting a lot because it was simply too dangerous on the ice on my fat bike, and too difficult in the snow on my skinnier tire studded bike. So this is the best of both worlds.

Second, the roads get pretty sloppy in places, so I added PDW "Dave's Mud Shovel" fenders to keep myself from getting excessively splattered. I used two front fenders ($18/ea), one on the downtube as intended, and one zip-tied under my Old Man Mountain rack ($135 for the ICT version).

And third, the 45NRTH Cobrafist pogies. These are fairly expensive at $125/pair, but they are a bargain compared to most comparable options, and designed really well. The design allows lots of unencumbered hand movement inside, plus convenient pockets and vents accessible from the inside. The idea of pogies is to allow the rider to ride bare-handed or just wear a thin glove inside the pogies, which means no dexterity loss for shifting and braking, compared to wearing big chopper mitts or lobster claw mitts.
And finally, lights. It gets dark here at 4:30 PM, so having lights that function in cold temps is an essential. I'm running dual NiteRider Lumina 750 lights ($140 each). Unlike alkaline-battery lights, these don't seem to fade in the cold. One is plenty, but having a backup light isn't a horrible idea.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A new adventure on the calendar

I've been married to my wife just over a year now, and we now have a baby together. It's honestly been wonderful. But being in a happy, secure relationship, then going through a challenging pregnancy, followed by caring for a newborn that doesn't often let me get enough sleep... Well, that situation has not exactly been good for my eating habits, and my waistline and new chins tell the tale. I've gained about 40 pounds in the past 13-14 months. I took half-assed measures to take the weight back off, but of course, I still continued to gain. Once the baby came and got settled in, I've begun to have more time to ride, which feels good, but those extra 40 pounds are obvious when I'm trying to pedal up hills.

Anyway, last week I read about the Tuscobia winter ultra. On a whim, I signed up for one of two remaining slots to race/ride the 75-mile option on New Year's Day 2015. I have never been more than moderately athletic, and as I already described, keeping my weight under control is a challenge for me. But having an event on the calendar has really focused my effort. I immediately reverted to a past strategy that has yielded success: low-carbohydrate diet. I stopped sneaking sweets (including fruit) and pastry and anything made of grain. I've lost 5 pounds already. I'm probably not going to lose 40 pounds in two months, but I can probably lose 25 and get back under 1/10 of an English ton in time for the race.

I'll try to keep the HC blog updated about my weight progress. Also potentially of interest: I'll also do some posts on my gear choices and training. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tis the season

After an exceedingly pleasant Summer-ish Fall, we are finally getting to that time of the year. Luckily, we don't yet "need" fat tires, studded tires, or fat studded tires, nor do we require any specialized clothing or extraordinary cold-weather toughness (by Minnesota standards). For the most part, we can still just hop on our bikes and ride. But it sure gets dark early now, and this weekend we will all set our clocks back an hour, so it's gonna be dark by 5pm next week. If you're going to keep riding, and you really should keep riding, you could do worse than investing in some good lights if you don't already have some. I see a lot of unlit cyclists out and about, and if I could think of a way to do it without creeping them out, I'd approach them and offer to provide them with free LED blinkies (they don't cost much). Honestly, riding unlit is so dangerous. If you do ride at night a lot, something better than cheap blinkies is probably in order. We like the NiteRider Lumina series lights, but you really can't go wrong with most of the lights on the market.

I used a second stem and a cut off chunk of handlebar to mount two Lumina lights (a 700 and a 750) on my bike. One is probably enough, but I work for the Department of Redundancy Department. I have a helmet mount, too, so when the situation warrants it, I can detach one of these and put it on top of my head in 2 seconds.

Here is a pic from some trail riding last week with my riding buddy. To protect his privacy, let's call him "Cheesecake Jake". Trust me, a nickname like this is how legends are born.

And here's my bike midway across the Marshall/Lake bridge a few nights ago (just one light on).

Taillights are important too, but they don't need to be fancy. We like various versions of the Planet Bike Superflash. They are inexpensive ($20-30 ish), bright with an irritating (good) flash pattern, have a sensible/sturdy mounting bracket, and the AAA batteries last a long time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ice Cream Truck commute

I was all set to do some kind of sentimental "Ode to Winter Cycling" post, but Fall has been amazing this year in the MSP. We have had a nice slow descent into lower temperatures, and no hints of early winter yet. So I'm going to stay in the moment. This is as good as it gets.

Since I got my new Surly Ice Cream Truck a few weeks ago, I have stopped riding other bikes. My Surly ECR is on loan to a friend, and my "road bike", a hot-rodded Torker Graduate, is mothballed for the season (unless someone wants to buy it). So the ICT is my only bike, for now. Eight years ago during the fat bike stone age, I would tell people that a fat bike was a sort of luxury for the person who already owns 7 bikes and wants something "different". And now in 2014, here I am thinking that I feel pretty happy with the ICT as my only bike. This is partly because fat bike technology has improved dramatically in the past 8 years, and partly because my perception about what a good fat bike can do has gotten broader with experience.

Anyway, with the sun shining and temperatures still mild, I left a little early for today's commute. A few minutes after leaving home, I ducked around a long-abandoned, rusty steel gate onto a weedy, cracked-up old road, down the bank, and under a bridge to the river.

By the way, the Surly Bud is the ultimate fat bike tire (unless you need studded or skinnier than 5"). Bud was originally marketed as a front tire, with Lou marketed as its companion rear tire. I now run Bud front and rear. Bud seems faster than Lou with no meaningful loss of rear traction for us mere mortals.

It was mostly smooth riding, but I had to go into the water to get around some fallen trees. I got two soakers, but I didn't care.

I was eventually "forced" to ride in the woods. The nice thing about the ICT is that I don't really need a buff trail. I can just meander through the woods, around and sometimes over logs and other debris. Luckily this spring's flooding hauled away a lot of those obstacles, and left large swaths of open riding. It's particularly lovely down there with the yellow leaves.

I am lucky to be able to tie so much "wilderness" riding into my commute. It improves my mood all day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Become a connoisseur of studs

I bought my first studded tires 11 years ago: Nokian Hakkaplitta W106 (they have 106 studs) in the 700x40 size. If there were other decent studded tire options back then, I didn't know about them. Those Nokians were heavy and slow and not much fun, but they did allow me to commute through the winter on streets and bike paths without any serious crashes. I also learned that winter riding involves a huge variety of surfaces conditions, and no tire is perfect for all of them.

Back when we had few options, we didn't have much need to scrutinize our studded tires. But now, we have lots of choices, and we can spend at least a few minutes over-analyzing. The classic type is shown here:
The top tire here is a Nokian Mount and Ground. The bottom tire is a Schwalbe Marathon Winter. The Nokian has a more open tread profile with tall lugs - this combination gives a good bite in snow, while being less likely to get snow packed into the tread. The Schwalbe has a lower profile tread and the lugs are more closely spaced. The benefit here is that the tire should roll more smoothly on pavement and hard ice. The common view among those who've tried both is that the Schwalbe rolls better/faster despite having more studs. If you are mostly riding paved streets and trails that are plowed but icy, the Schwalbes will probably be faster and more fun to ride. The studs on both tires have a square point with a sharp corner to dig into the ice. This type of stud works very well when new, but its performance diminishes as the corners get rounded off. Here's what they look like worn:
Don't pay attention to the rust, which is both inevitable and irrelevant. This is a Schwalbe Snow Stud, which was actually similar in tread pattern to the Nokian above. This tire started with square studs, like above, but it endured a couple winters of wear. It's subtle, but if you look closely, you can see that the sharp corners of the studs have been worn down and are now slightly rounded. It still works fine on smooth ice, but this tire failed me when I hit some uneven ice (common around here after snow and ice and car slop have been compacted together into rutted, cratered surfaces on the streets). I can't prove it at the moment, but I think I could have rolled that ice hump without an unplanned dismount if the studs were new and sharp-edged.

Here's what a 45NRTH Xerxes looks like. These tires have been in stock at HC since last year, so I'm not sure if this is still representative of the current Xerxes tire.
These tires are pretty lightweight and have a nice supple casing, and I would imagine that they roll much better than any of the tires I showed above. But the downside is that there aren't many studs, and the studs are not very sharp-edged (pre-worn?). I view this as a tire for road riders who wants to ride in spring and fall when the streets are clear, but have some control when they hit black ice. This would not be my first choice for serious winter commuting in Minnesota. But since these are 700x30, which is skinnier than most studded tires, these might be your only option if your bike doesn't have adequate tire clearance for something bigger.

Finally, this is the tread of a 45NRTH Dillinger (26x4" or 4.8"), but it's pretty similar to the 45NRTH Nicotine 29x2.35", which, in my experience, is an amazing tire.
These tires have a new concave stud style. The idea here is that as the stud corners wear, there is no center section to form the apex of a rounded dome (see the rounded/worn Schwalbe studs above). This means that the studs stay sharp even when they get worn. The sleeves of the studs are aluminum to save weight, while the points are wear-resistant carbide steel. These tires are expensive, but I believe they are the best available today. If you have a fat bike or "29er" to ride in the winter, these tires will handle a wider variety of winter conditions than any other winter tire on the market.

Friday, October 10, 2014

More used bikes

Note: the bikes below have now been sold. Just leaving this up for posterity.

First, since it's getting to be the time of year when many people start thinking about fatter tires, lets start with the fat bikes:
SOLD: This is my wife's Pugsley Ops in XS 14" size to fit most people in the low 5-foot height range. She didn't ride this a ton, which means this one is in nearly new condition. She wants a new Ice Cream Truck, so this one is available. It is pretty much the stock bike from Surly, but I did upgrade the brakes to Avid Elixir 7. It also comes with a Topeak rack, WTB saddle, and VP pedals. $1500.

SOLD: Here's another Pugsley Ops in M 18" size, ideal for most people in the 5'6" to 5'11" range, give or take depending on personal preferences. Again, this is a low-mileage, great condition bicycle. Mostly stock parts, but with VP-001 pedlas and an upgraded FSA XC-190 handlebar. $1500.

No picture yet, but I also have a blue M Pugsley that is spec'ed very much like the Ops Pugsleys above. Except the frame and fork are blue and the rims are black. $1500.

SOLD: Here is a nice 54cm Cross-check with rack, fenders, Brooks B17, Nitto Albatross bars, and other swanky touches. Excellent condition. $975

I have a few more to add soon.

Here's an older blog post with some other bikes and frames we have

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Committing to winter cycling

Ten years ago at this time, I was (somewhat nervously) anticipating my first of many winters of cycling. "Fat Bikes" weren't a thing back then, and there wasn't even much info online, except for a few kooks up in Canada who put screws in their tires to get traction on ice. Winter biking a decade ago was something only the most eccentric of cyclists seemed to be doing. I found Peter White Cycles in New Hampshire, and ordered some 700x40 Nokian studded tires from him. Then through a process of trial-and-error, I worked out my wardrobe to deal with the mix of cold air and heat/sweat generated by the exertion. Over the winter of 2004/05, I cobbled together a haphazard pile of equipment and a few tricks to help me survive and even enjoy pedaling through the winter.

Studded tires were not a widely available product at that time. The Nokians I was riding on my bike were regarded as a novelty among my cycling friends. The next Summer, I got a bike shop job at Freewheel. When Summer turned to Fall, the buyer at Freewheel asked me if I thought they should carry studded tires, and asked for my recommendations about what to buy. I thought it was funny that he was treating me like the resident "expert" on this subject. But then I sold a shitload of studded tires. Whenever people came in to ask about putting their bikes on trainers for winter exercise, I showed them the studded tires.

Fast forward to last Winter. That was a tough one, and it really caught me by surprise! The streets around my house were covered in the bumpy, hummocky ice that makes any riding dangerous, especially if there are cars trying to navigate the same streets. I had some of the AMAZING 45NRTH 29x2.35" Nicotine studded tires on my Ogre, which handled the ice ok. But my favored commute route was detoured onto an unplowed path, where I really would have benefited from the 26x4.8" non-studded tires of my Moonlander. Combine the difficult terrain with the frigid temperatures, and I started to lose my nerve for winter cycling.

But this year, I am, perhaps for the first time, making a serious effort to be prepared to ride in almost any conditions we are likely to face this winter. I have been gradually investing in cold-weather clothing that is designed for bicycling, and I took the plunge on a pair of these bad boys.
I am hopeful that these 26x5" studded tires will be as at-home on the ice-cratered and ice-rutted streets as they are in unplowed powder and slush. Yes, they are $250 EACH!!! In my opinion, that price is worth paying if I can be safe and have fun with my cycling during what might be another long, cold winter.

Ice Cream Truck builds at HC

My custom ICT.

Mine again.

The blue hubs and polished rims really tie the ensemble together.

Here's an extra small Ice Cream Truck. 

And a medium ICT with Jones Loop bars, silver to match the rims.

For now, we have a most sizes of ICT here for test rides. If you're considering a fat bike, this is probably the one to get.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fat bike incentive program

Here's a deal: starting today 9/27 and continuing until October 11, order and pay for a Surly fat bike or "plus-sized" bike, and get 10% of the new bike price back in store credit for accessories or future purchases. That could easily be a couple hundred bucks. You'd be foolish not to!

Email hiawathacyclery at gmail or give us a call to discuss!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fat bike demo

Saturday (9/27) morning at 9-11am we will be having our fat bike demo at Fort Snelling, and you're invited. You can either meet at HC at 9am to ride over there, or simply just meet at the parking lot by the interpretive center 9-11am. Surlybikes loaned us a truckload of Ice Cream Trucks and Moonlanders to test. We will also have some HC family bikes, including various Pugsleys, Moonlanders, a Ventana El Gordo with a suspension fork, and my beloved Surly ECR. If you have a fat bike, feel free to bring it so we can all compare and contrast the different models that are available.

In addition, we will have special incentives for new fat bike purchases, and a few pre-owned/demo fat-bikes to sell at attractive prices.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cyclist husband's dilemma

A lot of cyclist husbands of non-cycling wives (substitute your own relationship configuration) face the issue of wanting to get their wives to ride bikes with them, while still doing the kind of cycling they enjoy. For example, if the husband is into fast group rides with his buddies, he might find himself frustrated with low-speed rides around the lake that are in his wife's comfort zone as she rides a bike for the first time in years, perhaps. This is a difficult relationship dynamic I have seen in action many times. In my experience, fat bikes are a good way to bridge the experience gap. The fat tires inspire confidence even in inexperienced riders, and allow experienced riders to enjoy a less intense type of cycling. At least, that's how it works for my wife and me.

When I started dating my wife, she wasn't a cyclist, though she expressed interest. Being a bicycle professional, I was able to put together a sweet Disc Trucker for her with a new frame and some parts I had on-hand. We had a couple decent rides around the neighborhood and to the farmers' market, but she was nervous about traffic and felt somewhat unstable on the Trucker. I really wanted her to ride in the woods on dirt trails with me, but since the Trucker didn't quite inspire her confidence on pavement, dirt trails seemed out of the question. Eventually, seeing how she enjoyed test-riding a fat bike we had at the shop, I took the plunge and bought an extra-small Pugsley Ops for her to ride. Instantly she was hooked on the stability and traction of the 26x3.8" Nate tires. I had mistaken her for a timid rider, but on the Pugsley, she was suddenly riding (over-)confidently over a wide variety of ridiculous obstacles. She even ventured offroad in the snow with me last winter.

We had so much fun.

But then she was pregnant for awhile, so she hasn't been on a bike since last winter. Now that our baby girl is here, I've been patiently waiting until my wife gets up to riding again. Last night, she stopped by the shop, and I just happened to have a new Ice Cream Truck in the XS size here for demo. She took it for a spin around the block and over a few curbs and couldn't stop smiling...

I don't know if she'll be getting an Ice Cream Truck yet (unless someone wants to buy a tiny Pugsley), but I'm so happy to see her on a bike again. We are both looking forward to getting a babysitter so we can get out for a short ride one of these days. The nice thing about riding a fat bike on trails with my wife is that we don't have to fight crowds or traffic, and there's no pressure or temptation to go faster than what's comfortable for both of us. I'm a lucky man.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Country Bike Rally details

Next weekend is the Country Bike Rally. Think of a "country bike" as a bike that is well-suited to a mix of on-road and off-pavement riding. Thankfully, there are a lot of bikes in this unofficial category now. This is a social event, and I welcome riders of all abilities. I will also take lots of breaks to make sure everybody is keeping up and having fun.

I've decided to break the weekend into several separate events, so you don't have to commit to the entire weekend to participate. Here's the itinerary:

Sept 26, Friday evening: Meet at HC at 6pm for a ride to some eating/drinking establishment probably 5-10 miles away.

Sept 27, Saturday 9am: Meet at HC for a short ride into Fort Snelling State Park. We have arranged to have an array of fat bikes available to demo on the non-technical dirt trails in the park. I believe fat bikes are, in some ways, the ultimate country bike. I also believe they are misunderstood because most cyclists haven't tried one. This is your chance. After fooling around on fat bikes for a couple hours, we'll go have lunch.

Sept 28, Saturday 1pm: Reconvene at HC for a ride down into the Minnesota River Bottoms. This will be a loop of approximately 20 miles. The trails along the river are dirt, but are mostly firm, flat, wide, and easy to ride. I believe that most riders will be able to ride most of the trail on 700x35 or bigger tires. If we get serious rain between now and then, we will probably do something different.

Sunday 9am: HC again for a more pavement-oriented ride. We will have coffee/lunch along the way, and try to wrap things up by mid-afternoon.

Hope to see lots of friends for one or all these events. Tell your friends and family. I want everybody to feel welcome to attend.

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.

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. $275

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. $400

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

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:

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.