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Friday, March 30, 2007

Times Up Folding Bike Fest Video

Since I mentioned Time's Up! the other day in my post regarding the effect of the silly, recent NYPD parade permit regulations on cyclists, it seemed appropriate to follow up with the video below. Shot at the 2006 Time's Up! Folding Bike Festival, the video shows riders demonstating how different types of folding bikes fold and unfold. The first bike that is demonstrated is the $699 Mobiky Genius (which I offer with free shipping).

The Folding Bike Festival is an annual event and will be held this year on Saturday, May 12th at 2pm in New York City. The ride will cover 10 miles in Manhattan, beginning at West 23rd Street on the Hudson River Greenway and ending at Stuyvesant Cove Park, East 23rd Street at the East River. Anyone can participate including riders of non-folding bikes.


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Thursday, March 29, 2007

NYC Still Overreacting To Critical Mass

by Larry Lagarde

According to a new "parade permit" regulation by the New York Police Dept, it is now illegal for 50 or more bicyclists to cycle together without a permit.

The City of New York has seemingly been at war with cyclists since late August 2004 when over 1800 cyclists were arrested and prosecuted within a 10 day period simply for bicycle riding. One Friday evening alone, over 250 peaceful cyclists participating in a Critical Mass ride (a monthly event in which cyclists ride together in relative safety) were handcuffed and hauled away to the pokey. That night, the bikes of even more cyclists were illegally confiscated by the NYPD.

Naturally, the arrests and confiscations led to lawsuits and counter suits and, ultimately, attempts by NYC to shut down future Critical Mass rides in the city (legal skirmish time line). Thus, it seemed a victory when NYC dropped its lawsuit this week against Times Up!, the grass roots NYC bicycle advocacy group that promotes local Critical Mass rides. Not so. The lawsuit was dropped because the parade permit regs changed (the courts said the old parade permit regs were too ambiguous) and the new regs cannot be applied retroactively.

The new regulations that came out in January mandate that groups of 50 or more walkers, cyclists or other "devices moved by human power" apply for a permit before they can "march" on any street or roadway in New York City (the police wanted the regs to apply to groups of 30+ people but public outcry shot that down).

50 Cyclists in Perspective
If 17 families of 3 (mom, dad & child) planned an outing in NYC (a visit to Central Park, the Bronx Zoo, Manhattan Children's Museum, New York Aquarium, etc.), met up at one location and caravaned to their destination by SUV, no permit is needed. If the same families opted instead to bicycle to their NYC destination from a mutual starting point, they'd need a permit? In other words, Cub Scouts, members of a church congregation, the dad's club for a school, etc. are now forced to apply for a parade permit if they're going to take a bunch of kids bicycling on any street or roadway in New York City. This is insane and others like the 5 Borough Bike Club agree with me.

Bicycles are a form of transportation that is quiet, clean, efficient and healthy. They don't cause potholes or crack water mains and they don't injure 15,000 pedestrians/yr in NYC (like motor vehicles do). If anything, the NYPD should be encouraging cycling and walking, not inhibiting it.

With the next NYC Critical Mass ride scheduled for tomorrow evening, it will be interesting to see how the police authorities react this time.

More info related to this story...
- Amy Landau's Article on Cycling in NYC
- "New Standoff Over Critical Mass as Another Bike Group Sues to Block Parade Regs"
- "3 More Killed This Weekend as 100 Rally for Pedestrian Safety"
- "Time's Up!"
- "Transportation Alternatives"

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bicycle Friendly Workplace Incentives

By Larry Lagarde

If you're in the 1% of commuters in the USA that bicycle to work, you're doing yourself a favor, improving your health, mental attitude and budget but did you also realize you're improving your employer's bottom line too?

According to "Time to get the boss in biking mode" (a story that appeared this week in the Oxford Mail), bicycle commuters are more alert, less stressed and healthier (performing better and taking fewer days for sick leave). Additionally, in commercial areas where parking is a high priced commodity, employers don't have to pay for a parking space for commuters that ride their bicycles.

Just Think For A Moment...
If the monthly rate for parking is $150, you could easily be saving your employer $200-300/mth (between parking savings, decreased sick days and higher productivity), but does your employer realize this?

Now Is The Time To Ask
With gasoline prices inching upward yet again, more people are considering commuting by bike, making now an excellent time to approach your employer about improving the conditions at work for bicycle commuters. The Mail suggests starting with basics like offering shower facilities for cyclists to clean up at work and secure bike parking (but since folding bikes fold up and stay beside your desk or cubicle, YOU don't need secure bike parking, do you).

Bicycle Commuting Incentives Companies Offer
Other incentives proposed by the Mail include discounts on buying bikes, interest free loans for buying a commuter bike, paying cyclists for each mile they bicycle on company business and even giving bikes to employees for commuting - hey, if IKEA and Google can do it, so can your company, right...

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Mountain Biking Near Ft. Collins, Colorado

Located at the foot of the Front Range of the Rockies about 50 miles north of Denver, it's no surprise that there are excellent opportunities for mountain biking near Ft. Collins. Also the home to Colorado State University (a college with @ 25,000 students), in 2006, Fort Collins was selected by Money Magazine as the best place to live in the entire USA. Thus, it came as no surprise when The Coloradan selected 4 great mountain biking trails in the area as the focus of a story on mtb trails. (Map: Rocky Mtn. NP, Denver & Ft. Collins)

The trails are:
- Devil's Backbone
- Blue Sky Trail
- Mount Margaret Trail
- Young Gulch Trail

If you happen to ride any of these trails, let me know how they rate and feel free to take some photos and send them my way :-)

A Thank You
Many years ago, I was offered the opportunity to accompany 2 of my best friends on their family vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park just northwest of Denver. It was a special time in my life and I had the pleasure of climbing Long's Peak on that journey. That trip was the inspiration for countless adventures and I'm forever in debt to the Seifken family for inviting me along. Thanks y'all.

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Help Save Federal Funding For Bicycling

I just received another email from Walter Finch regarding the order by Congress to slash $3.47 billion in state transportation funding. It's short, to the point and relevant so here it is:
Save Transportation Enhancements
Transportation Enhancements Gutted

Take Action! Contact Congress

The federal Transportation Enhancements (TE) program is the largest U.S. funding source for trails, walking, biking and historic preservation.

In 2006, states were required to return part of their transportation budgets to Congress. Many states chose to do this by drastically cutting their TE programs.

On Monday, March 19, 2007, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an order implementing Congress' call for the return of an additional $3.47 billion in transportation money. Within 30 days, your governor will decide how to apply this cut to your state's transportation budget. If not fairly allocated, this could be the end of programs that fund trails, walking and biking in your state.

Please contact your Congressional Leaders now.

Walter & the League of American Bicyclists have made it very easy to contact your congressional representative. Just visit the "contact your Congressional Leaders now" link, fill in the blanks and click Send Message.

About Walter Finch
The League hired Walter in 2006 to advocate on Capitol Hill on behalf of cyclists and to report back on key federal decisions and policies relating to cycling. He has more than 18 years of experience in the transportation industry, has worked on numerous issues related to bicycling.


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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Self Service Bicycle Rental Programs Spreading

By Larry Lagarde

Imagine how cool it would be if you could walk to a self service bicycle rental kiosk near your home, office or school, pull a bike from the rack and go cycling for an hour or two free of charge. At the end of the ride, return the bike to another nearby rental kiosk and you're done - no worries about the bike getting stolen, mechanical problems like a flat tire, etc. Well, if you're in Washington, DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, London, Paris or Seville, you could be seeing unmanned cycling rental stands in your neighborhood very soon.

Who are the players?
Essentially, two giants in "street furniture" (such as bus stop shelters) and advertising (billboards) are behind the trend: Clear Channel Adshel & JCDecaux.

The Pilot Project
In 1998, Clear Channel Adshel began "Velo a la carte", a SmartBike rental program in Rennes, France with rental bikes disbursed at unmanned, self service stations throughout the city. Cyclists use the bikes for free for up to two hours and a computer tracks where/when bikes were returned and notifies mechanics when bikes require service.

Why all the activity?
The programs have been successful because cyclists are using the bikes (cutting congestion & pollution) and because the ad companies that manage the bike rentals receive exclusive, lucrative, long term contracts to sell advertising on the bikes and elsewhere.

Where are these bike rental programs?
The self service stations of similar bike rental programs have been popping up like mushrooms in cities across Europe. Examples include Aix en-Provence, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Brussels, Cordoba, Dublin, Lyon, Marseille, Singapore & Vienna; however, the grand daddy of them all though will be Cyclocity®'s rental program in Paris (JCDecaux SA is hiring a staff of over 400 to install, maintain & control the 20,000+ rental bicycles that will be available in the City of Light).

Is there a downside?
Users report that some stations have no room to return a bike at times (which can lead to charges acruing for unintended usage). The rental bikes are heavier and thus can be less fun to ride than other bikes. Also, there is the risk that the free bikes can adversely affect sales & service income at local bike shops; however, data indicates that the rentals are boosting bike sales by drawing people back to cycling.

So how'd all this get started?
Self service bicycle rentals are an outgrowth of bike sharing, a concept with its roots in Amsterdam's free White Bicycles program of 1964. Over the years, similar community bicycle programs have attempted to offer free or nearly free bicycles in inner-cities to reduce auto congestion and air pollution. Unfortunately, theft and vandalism plagued these programs until anti-theft and bike maintenance systems were perfected. (Photo: White bicycles for free use, Hoge Veluwe National Park, the Netherlands)

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tour of the Nations - Map & Brochure

Tour of the Nations topo mapHere is more information that I received yesterday about the Tour of the Nations, a supported 5 day bike tour that will wind 230+ miles through New Mexico's rugged desert landscape between Albuquerque and Gallup (image right: tour topo map).

Along the tour, participants will visit 4 historic Native American pueblos (the youngest of the pueblo settlements was established in 1699), see beautiful national monuments like El Malpais, El Morro and the ice caves of the currently dormant Bandera volcano and attend the colorful 86th annual Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial (a renowned pow wow with Native American participants from across North America).

Tour of the Nations brochureThe Tour of the Nations runs from August 5-10, 2007, costs $600 and participation is limited to the first 200 registrants. This is an unprecedented opportunity for cyclists to experience the culture of the Native American peoples inhabiting the Isleta, Laguna, Acoma and Zuni pueblos. If you can go, book now before it's sold out (image right: tour brochure - click to enlarge).

The topo map with detail bullets is also available as a pdf.

Tour of the Nations website:


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Bicycle Friendly Lodging Near Blue Knob Mtn. PA

Bedford County, Pennsylvania's Hideaway Hollow

Blue Knob MountainIf you're planning to spend some time cycling in the foothills and mountains near Pennsylvania's Blue Knob State Park (Pennsylvania's 2nd highest mountain at 3,146 feet), the owners of Hideaway Hollow asked me to spread the word that their bed and breakfast is convenient to Blue Knob Mountain (see photo right) and that they're happy to accommodate cyclists.

According to owner Patty Poet-Lajoie, "Our vacation home is bicycle friendly and we can provide pre and post bike trip storage, as well as a hose outdoors for washing bikes during the bicycling season and bottled water for riders. We can easily accomodate those traveling with bicycles and will offer a discount to cyclists."

Hideaway HollowPatty also mentioned that a series of bike trail loops built by the local tourist bureau are within 2 miles from the inn and that the Tour de Toona follows many nearby roadways.

To learn more about Hideaway Hollow, visit their website at...

If you offer bicycle friendly lodging, use the link below to email me the details including what makes your accommodations bike friendly. I'll be happy to pass on the word to fellow cyclists.


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SWISSBIKE LX Photo Slideshow

If you're looking at getting a quality mountain bike, take a look at these interactive photos of the new SWISSBIKE LX full size, aluminum, folding mountain bike from Montague Corporation. The $700 SWISSBIKE LX folds so you can place it in your car instead of on a roof rack; it also fits in a carry bag you can sling over your shoulder (see photos) or even a large suitcase for travel.

Beginning on Monday, the SWISSBIKE LX will be available from RideTHISbike.com for $699 including free shipping (within the lower 48 US states). Complete specs and details will be available at that time.

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Video - How to Fold A SwissBike LX Full Size Folding Mountain Bike

Here's a video I shot this afternoon of the $699 SwissBike LX full size folding mountain bike. Designed to take the punishment of menacing city streets or rough single track, the SwissBike LX has a suspended front fork and a folding bike frame, making it convenient to take in the car when driving to your favorite bike trail (no more bike racks) as well as to store in tight places. Besides the great looks of the SwissBike LX and the high quality of its components, two innovative features place these folding bikes in a league of their own: the X Frame folding frame system and the ingenious CLIX quick release wheel levers.

The X Frame is a unique folding frame design whereby the mono horizontal tube that connects the front and rear wheels swings 180 degrees from hinges below the seatpost, allowing the bike to fold upon itself. The folding mechanism is actuated by opening a quick release, spinning the release loose, pushing down on the release (as if pushing a button) and swinging the frame. Even if the quick release somehow came open while riding, the frame is designed to remain unfolded.

The LX is one of the first bikes outfitted with the latest in quick release skewers - the patented CLIX quick wheel releases. Even if the CLIX is open, a cam on the skewer just next to the release lever retains pressure on the frame, keeping the wheel fixed to the frame. Another benefit of the CLIX system is that no spinning of the quick release is needed for tightening. In other words, no more over or under tightened quick releases!

Though my wife is not a big bicycling fan, even she thinks this bike is cool. I think her exact words were "wow, that really IS nice."

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Video - How to Fold The Gekko Folding Bike

By Larry Lagarde

Here's a video I shot this afternoon of the Gekko micro folding bike. Designed for short commutes, the Gekko folds quickly, rolls when folded and has a tough & extremely functional rear carry rack built right into the frame (so you can run errands to the store, strap stuff on the carry rack and not have to worry about the rack falling apart). A carry bag and shipping in the USA (within the lower 48 states) is also included in the price.

More About The Gekko Folding Bike:
- Gekko Interactive Photo Gallery
- Gekko Description & Specs


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bike Tours Foster Sustainable Living

Sustainable Energy in Motion Bicycle ToursDemocracyBike.com is the site for Sustainable Energy in Motion Bicycle Tours, a small tour company that leads cycling vacations with a purpose.

Part adventure, part learning experience, these eco friendly bike trips follow either Oregon's Coastal Scenic Bike Route or head inland to sustainable living communities like Aprovecho where cyclists are immersed in projects involving alternative building techniques, sustainable energy production, organic farming and more. In the process, participants of these long distance bike tours learn about nutrition, health and fitness while riding your own bike through Oregon's beautiful scenery.

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Gekko folding bike photos

Following is an interactive slide show of photos of the Gekko folding bike. To see a larger version of any of the photos, simply click on that particular photo...

See a video demonstrating how the Gekko folding bike folds...


Google Offers Folding Bikes To 2000 Employees

Google Folding Bikeby Larry Lagarde

On December 15, 2006, I reported that IKEA UK was giving away 9000 folding bikes to employees. Since then, I have been waiting to see which company would be next in line with a similar program; I received the answer today: Google.

Per a story by Mark Sweney in the Guardian Unlimited (website for The Guardian, a full color UK newspaper similar to USA Today), 2,000 of Google's permanent employees in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be offered bicycles and free bike helmets to commute to work. If every employee accepts Google's folding bike, the total value of bikes and helmets being given away will exceed US $1,400,000.

Google Germany's Holger MeyerAccording to the Guardian, Holger Meyer is the guy behind the idea. One of Google's top marketing guys in Europe, Holger was hired away from Alta Vista (anyone remember that search engine) back in 2001 and has been pivotal in building Google Germany's profitability to one of the best margins in Google's international operations. No doubt it was this track record that convinced Google to give the bike idea a go. (Photo right: Holger Meyer)

When asked about the bike giveaway, Liane Hornsey (Google's human resources director for Europe, Middle East and Africa) said "We try to innovate not just in technology for users but in the benefits we give our employees... (and) think that these amazing bikes will help Googlers keep fit and healthy, get to know their city better and reduce the environmental impact of their journey to work."

Both bikes and helmets will be branded with Google's simple, multi-colored text logo.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bike Touring Advice

Denver Post Ride The RockiesAs winter is ebbing here in the USA, thoughts of bicycle touring are on the minds of many cyclists. With this in mind, here are two recent stories with advice on bike touring. (Photo right: Ride The Rockies)

- Nathan Ward's "How to Mountain Bike Tour on Singletrack" offers specific suggestions on what to bring on the trail; his advice is based on his experiences with several previous single track mountain bike tours in the wilderness.

- Denver Post staff writer Jack Cox's "Ride early and often to prepare for a bike tour" is a story with tips explaining how to condition your body for grueling long distance tours such as the 2007 Denver Post Ride The Rockies (an annual bike tour that covers 400+ miles of mountain riding in a week).

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Nice 1 Spd $159 Folding Bike

Gekko folding bicycle- OUT OF STOCK -

Finally! A useful folder for under $160.

"For a small, one-speed bike to ride short distances to bus stops, train stations, and stores, the Gekko is hard to beat." Dr. Folder (Steven M. Scharf)

Here's a Gekko that doesn't cling to vertical surfaces; however, unfasten the safety pin and this gleaming folding bike performs a high tech ballet, folding and compacting into a minimal size that stores just about anywhere and rolls even when folded.

Gekko At A Glance
• Affordable
• Sturdy
Gekko folding bicycle• Strong, built in carry rack
• Simple drive train
• Quick to fold
• Small footprint when folded
• Rolls when folded
• Easy to carry or store
• Includes black nylon carry bag.

When To Use A Gekko
Ideally suited for short range cycling, the Gekko folding bike excels when...

- Cycling is just part of your multi-modal transportation solution.
The Gekko's easy/fast folding design, ability to roll when folded and convenient carry bag make it ideal for taking it on the bus, subway, train, boat, private plane or even in your car.
- Access is normally restricted.
Thanks to it's shiny good looks, unusual appearance, transit rollers & carry bag, the folded Gekko gains entry in situations in which concierges, supers or building managers would otherwise not allow a bike.
- Running errands nearby.
If you have places to go in the neighborhood but time is too short to walk, hop on your Gekko. If you're going a mile or less, you'll get there faster and don't have to worry about locking it up (because it's right beside you).
- Stranded in your car.
If you're car stops running and help is far from coming, pull the Gekko out of your trunk and you can be riding in seconds. You'll get a lot further than walking and if you're in a bad neighborhood, you'll be less of a target and out of the area a lot faster.

micro folding bikeFolding & Unfolding
The folding mechanism is among the most user-friendly on any folding bicycle - just spin out the safety pin and fold. Essentially, the frame folds in towards the seat tube at 12 points (like an inverted umbrella). Rollers at the bottom of the seat tube allow the Gekko to stand in place when folded and also make it easy to push/pull the bike so you don't have to carry it. To unfold, pull up on the seat and the bike slides open. Once fully open, insert the safety spin and spin it tight.

Handling & Ride
Given the number of fold points, the Gekko is surprisingly sturdy and the ride is similar to a full size bicycle. The low maintenance single speed drive train and 52 tooth chain wheel results in the speed of a standard, single speed bike with similar effort. The alloy V type brakes provide effective stopping power and the integrated rear carry rack holds far more weight than racks on other folding bicycles.

Carry Me folding bikeHow It Compares
The most similar bike to the Gekko is the Carry Me folding bike (see photo, right) by Pacific Cycles. Though the Gekko costs $350 less than the Carry Me, the bikes have similar design elements (single speed, small wheels, folding pedals, rollers to assist when folded). The Carry Me folds into a long shape like a golf bag while the Gekko folds into a square shape. Unfolded, weight and riding stress is evenly distributed through the Gekko's beefy tubing whereas the Carry Me's seat and handlebar posts are supported at the upper end by thin metal tubes.

Selling elsewhere at $279, you can find the Gekko here for the unheard of price of just $159 with FREE shipping (within the USA lower 48 states).


Color: gleaming silver
Wheel size: 12"
Bike weight: 33 lbs (15 kg)
Carry capacity: 265 lbs (120 kg)
Folded size: 28.5"x8"x28" (724x203x720mm)
Unfolded size: 44"x22"x37" (1120x570x950mm)

Invented by Australian Jamie Herdern, the Gekko was in development for over 10 years.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Paranoia Of Bicyclists Grips Town

Photo: the family friendly 400 State TrailWith many of the 40,000 or so bicyclists that bike the 400 State Trail starting or ending their ride in the little town of Reedsburg, Wisconsin, you'd think the folks of Reedsburg would be happy to provide a couple of tent sites for cyclists. Surprisingly, a story that appeared today in the Wisconsin State Journal tells how unfounded paranoia recently defeated such a proposal.

Oh no - cyclists!In a public meeting 2 weeks ago, locals expressed fears of criminal cyclists coming into their town and molesting local children. One resident went so far as to propose that criminal background checks be run on everyone looking to use the proposed tent campsites.

It's not as if there has ever been a problem with touring cyclists in this small burg.

According to Matt Scott, Reedsburg's director of city parks, in the 12 years he has served as the parks director, he had not heard a single complaint regarding cyclists including the several times when the state's biggest bike tour came through with over 1000 cyclists camping in tents. Additionally, riders must purchase a pass from the local chamber of commerce to ride the trail; yet, only one check out of thousands purchased by cyclists had ever bounced.

Hopefully, reason will soon prevail and the people of Reedsburg will approve a site for 3 or so tents that has been proposed in another local park.

400 State Trail MapViewed by many as one of Wisconsin's best long distance cycling routes, the 400 State Trail (click on map to enlarge) is part of a 100+ mile system of interconnected trails in Wisconsin. As the trail runs northwest from Reedsburg to the town of Trempealeau, it's name changes from the 400 State Trail to the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, the LaCrosse River State Trail and finally the Great River State Trail.

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Riding The Spine AZ Trail Video

Here's a YouTube video that was just posted to the web by RidingTheSpine, a trio of 3 guys that are riding from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. Already, they have ridden over 5000 miles. In the process, they've been chased by wild animals, gotten frostbite and have even been jailed/fined by the feds (for biking down the Grand Canyon's North Kaibab Trail).

This video of the guys roaring down a box canyon and climbing the 4 Peaks above Phoenix is just as action packed as a previous video of them camping and bicycling inside the walls of the Grand Canyon. The difference is that the box canyon is on a cycling legal section of the 800 mile long Arizona Trail so the Park Service can't arrest them for posting it...

I hope they post a video of the crossing into Mexico; I'm sure it will be interesting.

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Folding Bike Testimonial: Aerlite B

Since posting my Aerlite B folding bike review, I've received a number of inquiries about this 24 lb. welded magnesium bike. Without a doubt, the review, the bike's components (like the Shimano Nexus internal hub, alloy fenders, folding pedals, etc.) and the low sale price of $299 all had something to do with this.

As questions of bias can pop up in a review, I thought I'd post this testimonial I received from a customer in Ohio. He liked the folding bike so much that he took it over to show a friend. Now, both are Aerlite B owners. Here's the testimonial...

My Aerlite B arrived in a sturdy, heavy-duty cardboard box. The components were well cushioned and protected for shipping. I examined the frame, wheels, cables, brakes, etc. Everything was in perfect condition. I was impressed by the quality of the components. The welds on the magnesium frame were smooth and solid, and the locking mechanisms on the handlebars and frame were firm and worked easily.

The real thrill, however, was in the ride. The bike glided along effortslessly as I pedaled down the street. The magnesium frame is fantastic at absorbing shocks, and I found the seat and ride very comfortable. The gears worked smoothly and efficiently and were well spaced for a variety of speeds. I could hardly tell I was riding a folding bike.

After experiencing the ride I folded up the bike and easily lifted it into the trunk of my car then drove over to a friend's house. Upon arriving I took it out of the trunk, unfolded it, and in a few minutes my buddy was riding it. He immediately asked me to order one for him. We often ride together, and we're looking forward to having two folding bikes that we can take with us on trips. We like to expore different cities, and there is no better way to see a city than on a bike.

This is one great bike, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quality, light-weight, compact folding bicycle.

Bob D
Brecksville, Ohio

The $299 sale on Aerlite B's only applies to the few 2006 models still in stock so you'll need to act soon to snag this deal.

Cheers :-)

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Folding Bikes On UK Trains & Subways

Why Folding Bikes Are So Popular In The UK

Last week, a story titled "Why get stuck when you can fold" appeared in Life and Health section of The Guardian (a London newspaper). Essentially, the story explained that more commuters and travelers in the UK are looking at alternatives to traveling by car. Since folding bikes are more portable and are allowed in many situations where full size bikes are denied, their popularity is exploding.

If you're thinking about traveling to the UK with a bike that folds, you'll probably want to read the story as it details the bicycle policies of transit operators serving the London region (such as railways like Eurostar, bus lines like National Express, the Underground, ferries such as P&O and even airlines like British Airways).

The Guardian Folding Bike Story

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Friday, March 09, 2007

SwissBike - The New Folding Mountain Bike

By Larry Lagarde

SwissBike photosBack around Christmas, I was speaking with Dave Widing of Montague Bicycles. Dave shared with me that they were working on some exciting new products and would soon be launching a new line of full size folding bikes. Known as SwissBike, these are full size folding mountain bikes based on Montague's famous X bike platform.

Earlier this week, I followed up with Dave about the SwissBikes and learned that 2 of the 3 models in the line are now shipping so I'll be getting one to ride and review here. Hopefully, I'll have the bike (a SwissBike LX; click on the photo to enlarge) in time to take with me to Gallup, New Mexico when I do an advance ride of the Tour of the Nations route and the great single track in the mountains above Gallup (a.k.a. the High Desert Trail System) with Matt O'Mara of Adventure Gallup and Beyond.

(Image Right: Map of the High Desert Trails; click to enlarge)

Based on the awesome rides I've experienced with bikes such as Montague's MX & Paratrooper (the Army Recon folding bikes), I look forward to offering the entire SwissBike line in coming months. Meanwhile, here's the press release that Dave sent to me regarding Montague's SwissBike line.


New SwissBike Unfolds To Be The Perfect Mountain Bike

SwissBike LX folding bikeThis new mountain bike combines high-performance with a patented folding technology that makes access to, and enjoying cycling easier than ever!

CAMBRIDGE, MA - Spring 2007 - Montague Corporation, the world leader in full-size bikes that fold, announces the launch of a new line of bicycles bearing the SwissBike™ brand. These full-size, high performance bikes fold in half like a Swiss knife for easy storage or transport using a patented technology originally developed for the U.S. Marines.

The SwissBike is perfect for cyclists who demand the performance of a full-size mountain bike, but also need the convenience of folding for travel, commuting and storage. SwissBikes are unique as they combine elegant design and precision engineering to provide cyclists a high level of convenience without sacrificing performance.

There are three models of SwissBike. The SwissBike XO is the flagship model, sporting the Sram XO drive train, and Montague's patent pending CLIX™ wheel retention system, www.clixqr.com this model is made in Switzerland at the foot of the Alps, and can climb any mountain or tackle any trail with ease. The XO has an MSRP of $1,995.00. For those who like the folding feature but are on a budget, the LX (MSRP $795.00) and the TX (MSRP $645.00) offer the same Swiss knife-like folding with Shimano's 21-speed and 24-speed drive trains and Montague's patent pending CLIX™ wheel retention system.

"The SwissBike range of bikes offers a great ride for all levels of riders," said Jonathan Vandenberg, Sales Manager for the SwissBike. "We have incorporated all of our patented technologies into the SwissBike to provide the cyclist with improved performance, convenience and safety. At the same time these bikes are fun, healthy and good for the environment."

The Montague Corporation is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is dedicated to advancing cycling through the development of inventive technologies that provide its customers with an unprecedented combination of safety, performance and convenience. Visit www.swissbike.com or call toll free (617) 491-7200 for more information about Montague products and technologies.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chicago Village Reverting Outdoor Mall Into A Street

Long Standing Outdoor Pedestrian Mall Soon To Become A Street Again

by Larry Lagarde

Right on the mass transit corridor just 10 miles due west of Chicago's downtown loop is Oak Park, Illinois. 30 years ago, a short section of street directly across from Metra's Oak Park station and the L's Harlem/Lake station in downtown Oak Park was rebuilt as a pedestrian mall excluding motor vehicles. Now, the village has voted to turn back the clock and revert this urban pedestrian haven into a street again.

According to village president David Pope, "We want to have a vibrant downtown. At the same time, we want to have it be pedestrian oriented and pedestrian friendly."

Protesters find it ironic that the village is prepared to spend $5 million ripping up the mall so cars can again drive the 100 block of North Marion Street. Since the construction is expected to take a year to complete, business owners on the mall are unhappy too and at least one is planning to move away so they won't go bankrupt during the street work.

Given the cost in taxpayer dollars and lost business revenues, the proximity of ample parking, major thoroughfares and the mass transit station across the street, it's surprising that a village that calls itself progressive towards bicyclists and walkers would take such action.

Map: The affected area of Marion Street runs between Lake St & North Blvd just 1 blk east of N. Harlem Ave. in Oak Park.

Relevant Links In Chicagoland:
Oak Park- one of the most progressive bike-friendly communities in Chicagoland
Downtown Oak Park's Website
Oak Park Cycle Club
Parks & Facilities in Oak Park, Illinois
Maps & Trail Info - League of Illinois Bicyclists
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation

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China Bicycle Tour

Have you ever dreamed of touring China by bicycle?

What if you could fly to Beijing where an English speaking guide would meet you, fit you with a brand new folding bike and lead you on an amazing cycling journey? What if the trip included bicycling amongst a sea of cyclists on great bike lanes to places such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall? What if the trip included an overnight rail journey via sleeper train to Xi'an where you would unfold your bicycle and pedal to see the Terracotta Warriors in all their glory? What if you could then fly to Shanghai or Hong Kong to see and cycle through these amazing mega cities and their rural surroundings? What if you had the option to take the folding bike home with you at the end of the journey?

Based on an exchange of emails with Jason Williams at Grasshopper Adventures, all the above and more can be arranged through his company without breaking the bank.

I first heard of Jason and Grasshopper Adventures through the blog of a Bike Friday owner that toured southeast Asia recently by bicycle. The blogger (Yvonne Armstrong of Australia) bragged about how helpful Jason was so I emailed him about bicycle touring in Thailand and touring via folding bikes. Jason's replies have been prompt and encouraging so I'm going to see what he can come up with on a bike tour of China (I've wanted to visit there since I was a child).

Once I have more info such as the cost, duration, etc. of a bike tour of China, I'll post these here.


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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bicycling Ohio's Miami Valley Trail Network

by Larry Lagarde

The Little Miami Trail Network
One of the most extensive networks of non-motorized, multi-use trail bike trails in the USA can be found in and around Dayton, Ohio. Known collectively as the Miami Valley Trail Network, this series of bike trails extends from eastern Cincinnati to Buck Creek State Park near Springfield.

The center of the trail network is the former railroad hub of Xenia, Ohio. From Xenia Station, the Creekside Trail, Jamestown Connector, and the Ohio to Erie Trail radiate out like spokes on a bicycle hub. Including additional connected bike trails, cyclists have access to over 200 miles of non-motorized trails from Xenia.

Southwestern Ohio

Where to stay:
Xenia, Ohio. The trail head there makes it an ideal base for exploring the entire Little Miami network.

Following are some recommendations courtesy of Ernie Conner (another bike trail enthusiast) of Gulf Breeze, Florida...

Lodging Recommendations:
"I recommend the Holiday Inn given its proximity to the trails, but we took the cheap way out and stayed at a Knights Inn. I would stay at the Holiday Inn next time."

Trail Rides:
- Our first ride was north to Springfield via Yellow Springs and a stop at Young's Jersey Dairy for ice cream (38 miles RT).
- Our second day was west from Xenia to downtown Dayton via the Creekside and Mad River Trails (39 miles RT).
- Our third day was south from Xenia to Corwin, Ohio (39 miles RT).

"Downtown Dayton has a beautiful minor league baseball park only a block or two off the trail. Its a must see. We drove back to Dayton one night and watched a ball game."

More information can be found at these websites:
Miami Valley Ohio Rails to Trails
Excellent site offering mile by mile descriptions of all 260+ miles of trails in the network including locations of trail heads, parking, water fountains, restrooms, restaurants, ice cream shops, hotels, motels, B&B's & campgrounds near bike trails in the Little Miami Valley.
Map & List of Ohio Bikeays Courtesy of ODOT
Detailed and up to date information pertaining to all of Ohio's bike lanes, paths and trails including maps, trail mileage and much more. One of the more useful state bike sites I've seen.
Bike Miami Valley
A 501 (c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting, enabling and creating safe bicycling for recreation and transportation in a 10-county region known as the Miami Valley in southwestern Ohio.
Little Miami State Park
50 mile trail corridor owned by the State of Ohio that focuses on bicycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, rollerblading, backpacking and horseback riding. The corridor also provides access to canoeing the Little Miami River.
Little Miami Scenic Trail
Multi-purpose scenic trail running from Xenia, Ohio to Yellow Springs.
Little Miami Scenic Trail Users Study
This study estimates that there are 150,000 to 175,000 trail visits annually on the 27 mile section between Loveland and Corwin in Warren County, Ohio. Sixty-six percent of trail users are bicycling; 25% are walking or jogging; and 8.5% are in-line skating. These trail users spend approximately $3.1 to $3.7 million annually on trip-related expenditures and trail-related durable goods.

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Fun Bicycling Patches Promote Cycling

Powered by SweatA few days ago, I happened across some colorful and fun patches advocating cycling. Made by Jim & Stephanie Gagnepain of Fort Collings, Colorado, these embroidered patches are based on Stephanie's original artwork promoting cycling.

In Jim's opinion, the best way to advocate alternative energy sources and means of transportation (like bicycling) is by wearing or displaying subtle and fun visual reminders (hence the patches). Here's more from Jim on the subject:

Oil Free and Happy"The prevalent attitude in this country is that the ONLY means of viable transportation is the automobile. On nice days, the roads seem to be more crowded. I saw a Letter to the Editor in newspapers, in relation to air pollution, that started with: 'We all need to drive...'. I hope to do what I can to disspell these notions in this country. I've been commuting for over 20 years, and this comment made me realize that non-cyclists don't understand why we cycle. They might think that we're too poor to afford a car, or that we lost our Driver's License. So with (these fun bicycle patches), I'm telling people that I'm happy without driving a car on this trip, that I ride the bicycle by choice, and that this lifestyle is very rewarding.

So much of our Political policy in the US is based on OIL, including wars, covert operations, and globalization. I dislike all the subsidies that this industry enjoys, and more than that, I despise the way the 'deck is stacked' against Rail transportation.

Getting There is Half the FunOriginally I only wanted a very large 'Oil-Free and Happy' message on my back, so I put the design on a big, beautiful embroidered patch. In this way, I could have my message more visible than a bumper sticker on any car. After talking to a number of people, it became apparent that not everybody wants to make such a bold statement. So we created 'Powered by Sweat,' and some smaller versions of the designs. We try to keep the messages fun, so we don't get motorists upset. That would serve no purpose. For example, our latest design is 'Getting There is Half the Fun.' This design attempts to capture the Social aspect of Cycling, Walking, and other methods of Alternative Transportation versus the isolation that is prevalent in the single-person auto, which represents the method of transportation for most Americans."

Since these patches are interesting, unusual and related to cycling, I'm thinking about offering them here. Pricing would run between $6 to $16 including shipping/handling. Please let me know what you think of the patches by participating in the free poll displayed below. I'll decide whether or not to offer the patches based upon the poll results.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Locust Folding Bike Clone?

Okay, this would be a bizarre ride. Looking strangely similar to Josef Cadek's Locust folding bike concept (the green & yellow bike to the right), the 'One' folding bike by British designer Thomas J Owen makes turns via a center pivot mechanism (see photo below right).

Supposedly, the bike offers a "revolutionary" means of power assist. By the looks of the mock up, that would probably be a hub motor and batteries built into the enclosed wheels. How mechanical energy is transferred from the pedals is anyone's guess.

When the user is finished cycling, the wheels are designed to fold into the two hatbox like frame members which fold over on one another into a package slightly larger then the wheels. Apparently, the handlebar stem folds down to form a carry handle too.

FYI, I learned about the "One" via a post on Yanko Design. Following is the text that caught my attention:

"'One' provides a real solution to the problems involved with urban transport. With congestion rapidly clogging up the roads the need for products that can free individuals from their car are in real demand. When open, 'One' is a comfortable stylish bicycle that not only offers all the benefits of cycling (like cheap travel and exercise) but with its revolutionary power assist system the user can cruise around with ease. When folded, 'One' turns into a smooth, light and compact case free of all dirty and protruding parts. 'One' can be easily carried, stowed and stored. 'One' is truly a bike for eco and money minded individuals alike. Its stylish design strips it from the folding bike stigma and makes it a bike for the 21st century."

I'll believe it when I see and ride the 'One'.


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Do It Yourself Bicycle Repair Tips Online

Bicycles are fairly simple mechanical devices; however, bikes do break down. At times like these, a little knowledge can make the difference between a looooong walk or a short bike ride home.

Free advice on how to fix your bicycle
Gerry Lauzon is a Canadian with a deep passion for bicycles - so deep that he's spent countless hours creating free bicycle repair and bike maintenance tips online. Gerry's step by step tips are basic and to the point. Some tips include photos or a video to drive the procedure home but all are designed to save you money and time so you can get on your bike and ride more.

To learn more, visit Gerry's bike tips blog (http://howtofixbikes.blogspot.com). A French language version can also be found at http://reparetonvelo.blogspot.com.

Thanks Gerry for all the hard work. Next time I'm in Montreal, let's go cycling!


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Folding Bike Sale: Aerlite B For $299

Great Folding Bike Deal - Save $100

While they last: here's a quality folding bike for under $300!

Weighing in at just 24 lbs including carry rack, fenders, kickstand, folding pedals and Shimano Nexus internal hub, the Aerlite B has been attracting a lot of attention since my folding bike review back in January.

For a limited time, Betst Bikes' Aerlite B is now available for the ridiculously low price of $299 INCLUDING shipping/handling. Also included at no additional charge is the optional rear carry rack; that's a savings of $100 off of the @ $400 price (bike, rack & shipping) available elsewhere!!! This deal is a RideTHISbike.com exclusive.

Please note that this special only applies to the new 2006 models still in stock and that supplies are limited. Also, the seatpost on the 2006 model is 2 inches shorter than that on the 2007. If you're taller than 5'9", I'd suggest you go for the 2007 model.

Regardless which model you want, the factory limited lifetime warranty still applies and you'll be getting one of the best folding bikes for the money.

More About This Folding Bike...

- photos of the Aerlite B magnesium folding bike (3 January 2007)
- review of the Aerlite B magnesium folding bike (11 January 2007)

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bike Tour Video - California Coastline

The California coastline between San Francisco and Santa Barbara is a beautiful sight to behold. Save for communities like Santa Cruz, Monterey and Big Sur, rugged mountains and cliffs edge the Pacific most of the 400 or so miles, making the coast highway anything but straight and level.


Although driving this scenic roadway may take just a day, bicycling it in a few days is a grueling challenge even for experienced long distance cyclists. Look at Jason Womack's experience (the cyclist that posted this California coast bike tour video). Last summer, Jason rode 500+ miles across the Rocky Mountains; yet, he met his match somewhere along Highway 1. Cycling horror stories about pedaling this route abound so I'm not surprised by Jason's tale.

I applaud Jason for testing his limits; it's something we all need to do sometime. Frankly, riding 250 miles of flat land would tucker out just about anyone and flat is not a word that comes to mind when describing this coastline...

Read more about Jason Womack's bike tour. For a more detailed description of bicycling this route, visit Thomas Driemeyer's San Francisco to Los Angeles bike tour page.


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Bicycle Tours Thailand

Yvonne Armstrong is a 48 year old Australian cyclist that recently toured southeast Asia solo via a Bike Friday. In Vonny's blog about her bike tour, she mentioned taking a Bangkok bike tour with Jason Williams, a bicycle tour operator in Thailand. (Photo right: Vonny & Jason after their tour.)

Curious as to how a tour company in Asia (where most folding bikes are actually built) could afford to rent pricey, custom crafted Bike Friday folding bikes made in the USA, I wrote Jason to learn whether Grasshopper Adventures led any tours renting Bike Fridays or other folding bikes. Following is his reply.

"I am the founder of Grasshopper Adventures and am the proud owner of a Bike Friday 'New World Tourist' which I use whenever I lead tours.

We don't use Fridays as rental bikes, they are just too expensive to use for tours in our price bracket (a Friday would actually cost more than the tour!). I would love to be able to do this though and perhaps when I by myself a new Friday I will make my old one available to people to try out. It is so hard convincing people that they are fantastic to ride and no you don't have to pedal harder :)

I used to use cheap Dahon folding bikes for a tour in Bangkok but they proved too cheap for the regular tours. I would love to by some of the better Dahon's that are now available here in Bangkok but I need all purpose bikes and these city commuter style ones cannot be used on long multiday tours so for now it's regular old mountain bikes...

As I lead many tours on my Friday I have managed to influence a few people into buying their own. The Friday in the blog you read is a "son" of mine plus there are a few others now be ridden in Australia that I inspired.

Here in Bangkok I am a member of the Thailand Cycling Club. A few years ago a turned up to a 6 day, 780km ride on my Friday - there were many funny faces being pulled but after the first day of me being near the front they started to come around. On the final 2 days which were all in the mountains I was easily out in front of everyone. Now there are many people riding folding bikes in the club. I (not too modestly) take part of the credit for convincing them :)

Jason Williams
Grasshopper Master"

Thanks Jason for writing back. I look forward to cycling around Bangkok with you one day.

For more info about Grasshopper's bike tours, visit GrasshopperAdventures.com. And if you've recently returned from an exceptional bike tour, email me at the link displayed below. Perhaps I'll feature your story.


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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bicycle Touring In Wisconsin

Recently, the owner of Earth Rider Cycling and Hotel (Sharon Kaminecki) was recognized for her contributions to tourism, cycling and economic development in Green County, Wisconsin. In 2004, Sharon retired from an IT job in Chicago, bought a 130+ yr old structure in the downtown historic district of Brodhead, Wisconsin, renovated the building and opened it a year later as Earth Riders. A combination of a bike shop on the ground floor and a bed & breakfast above, the business is an outgrowth of the popularity of the Sugar River Rail Trail just steps away.

Later this week, I'll be writing more about Earth Riders, the Sugar River Trail and a do it yourself B&B to B&B bike tour known as the Tour of Green County.


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Friday, March 02, 2007

Busted For Bicycling The Grand Canyon

Gene Bisbee, a fellow bicycling advocate that I correspond with periodically, reported today on RidingTheSpine's brouhaha with the National Park Service regarding the cyclists' traverse of the Grand Canyon. Gene described the tour and some of the trials they've endured as well as the outcome with the Park Service.

By presenting the Spine's missteps against the larger tapestry of cycling thousands of miles in the wilds of the West and on their own, bicycling down the North Kaibab Trail was obviously within the skills of these bicyclists. Unfortunately, it's also illegal.

After reading Gene's post, I felt inclined to comment; here's what I wrote:

"I learned about RidingTheSpine several months ago and have been following their tour closely, corresponding and speaking by phone with Jacob Thompson as regularly as possible.

Although I can appreciate the concerns of the National Park Service, I was really hoping that the feds would not come down so hard on the trio.

With a gritty resolve and youthful exuberance, these guys have pedaled further than most people will ever drive on a road trip. For months, they've gone head to head with nature and the elements, neither making a big deal of the challenges they've overcome nor causing any trouble. Their hearts are in the right place too.

Several weeks ago, Jacob, Sean & David dedicated their ride to promoting and assisting the Friends of the Lafitte Corridor, a non-profit group looking to create a bike trail through New Orleans neighborhoods ravaged by Katrina's floodwaters. Though short in length, getting this trail built post Katrina is no small feat. The city is trudging along from one emergency to the next; most homes along the trail route stand vacant awaiting rebuilding.

$500 may sound like a small amount for a fine; however, their tour has already consumed their savings. Hopefully, they'll be able to put this setback behind them and continue all the way to the southern tip of South America.

Larry Lagarde
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future."

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Video - NHTSA Bicycle Safety Tips

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bicycle Poll - Bicycling On Vacation

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Video - Bicycling in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a haven for cyclists. How else could you explain a place that has a multi-story parking garage for bicycles or a national holiday honoring bicycles? Watch this video of bicycling in Amsterdam and see for yourself.

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