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Monday, April 30, 2007

Suitcase Bike - Production Photos

by Larry Lagarde

Since last Wednesday when the animated suitcase folding bike demonstration video was posted on RideTHISbike.com, there has been tremendous interest in this revolutionary, James Bond like bike that folds into a suitcase. Based only on computer generated images of the bike, posts on Wired, TreeHugger, EcoGeek, etc. are indicating that people are forming opinions on the bike even though no Suitcase Bikes have been available for review. I think that's about to change.

Following are several photos of Suitcase Bikes in production at the factory. Obviously from the photos, a number of the bikes have been completed and will be available soon so it's only a matter of time before reviews of the bike are available. The only question is exactly when...

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Suitcase Bicycle - Video, Photos & Price

by Larry Lagarde

Well, it appears that the so called Suitcase bike that I reported on back on April 11th is more than a concept. Apparently, it's now in production and will be available sometime later this year. A prototype of the bike was on display last week at the Canton Fair in China.

Following is an animated video that demonstrates how the suitcase bike folds and unfolds (I also expect to have specs and photos soon from the factory and will post them ASAP). MSRP on the bike is believed to be USD $399.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Top 10 Reasons To Go Bicycling

If there's a Soup Nazi, why not a Bike Nazi?The Bike Nazi is a blogger and cycling advocate from Boise, Idaho that blogs about bicycling to encourage greater use of bicycles for transportation. Recently, he completed a series of posts listing his top 10 reasons for cycling. Following is the list. To read his detailed descriptions regarding each point, just click on the appropriate bullet point. By the way, the name Bike Nazi seems to be a tribute to Seinfeld's Soup Nazi rather than a political affiliation. :-)

Bike Nazi's Top 10 Reasons To Go Bicycling
1. Fun
2. Economy
3. Stress Relief
4. Exercise
5. Self Reliance
6. Sensual
7. Conservation
8. Achievement
9. Environmental Responsibility
10. Pride


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Update - Fallen Heroes Bike Tour

by Larry Lagarde

US military veteran Edward Acevedo sent me an update today regarding his bike tour to raise awareness for US military personnel that have been disabled or killed while serving our country in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here are some quotes from Ed.

I started pedaling on 23 March, and it has been a good month. I have made it to Houston, and so far so good.
Edward Acevedo - Fallen Heroes TourUnfortunately, my admin ability has not been as good as I thought it would be so it has taken me a while to get caught up on emails. I was advised against trying to cycle into New Orleans by some of my LA friends, so I wound up not going through there. I stopped at the LA War vets Home in Jackson, which was very inspiring and made me appreciate the value of what I was doing. Also passed through Opelousas and enjoyed my visit. A gentleman there has a spare apartment and rents out nice rooms to cyclists. I can pass his contact info along if you know anybody who might be interested.
Thanks for the update, Ed.

For more info about Ed's bike tour, visit Bike4Vets.org where you can find journal entries from the road, photos and media coverage including this story from an Opelousas, Louisiana newspaper.

I invite any bicyclist that is doing an extraordinary or inspirational bike tour to write me about their bike trip. Together, we can inspire more people to get out and go bicycling!


Energy Efficient Appliances - Bicycles

Ride For Climate start - Boston,MAOn Sunday, I reported that the Ride for Climate bike tour is raising awareness of steps that individuals can take to reduce carbon emissions now. Among the steps being suggested were increasing the use of bicycles for transportation as well as the use of Energy Star rated appliances. Given that bicycles are humanity's most efficient form of land transportation, I was wondering why bikes are not included in the Energy Star program.

Energy StarEnergy Star is a labeling program that was introduced in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging use of energy-efficient products. Although there are Energy Star ratings for products from dish washers to roofing materials, there is no category for transportation. Considering that transportation vehicles are among the greatest producers of greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution, it's disappointing that vehicles are left out of the Energy Star program and here's why.

EPA mpg labelThe EPA rates motor vehicles for miles per gallon but a mpg rating is only part of the story. What about the energy consumed to create motor vehicles, the huge caloric consumption motor vehicles require, the heat & chemical pollution generated by burning all those calories and the poisoning of food stuffs and ground water caused by the chemical pollutant that motor vehicles generate (both while the vehicles are in use and after the life cycle when the vehicles are discarded and in a landfill somewhere)?

Studies by various researchers have proven that there are many reasons to encourage bicycle usage. Just look at the following examples.

Dr. Marcia Lowe's figures of energy consumed per passenger mile (as published in "The Bicycle: Vehicle for a Small Planet" (Worldwatch Institute, 1989)

Calories Burned Per Mile Of Travel:
Automobile (1 occupant) - 1,860
Transit Bus - 920
Transit Rail - 885
Walking - 100
Bicycling - 35

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Study Comparing the efficiency of various modes of transportation for the US Department of Defense:

Transportation Efficiency Comparisons
Means of TransportationLoad CapacityDaily RangeSpeedDaily Fuel Requirements
Walking50 pounds 25 miles@ 3 MPH3 lbs. MRE for rider
24 lbs. H2O for rider
Bicycling50 pounds 75 miles@ 10 MPH3 lbs. MRE for rider
24 lbs. H2O for rider
Horseback100 pounds 100 miles@ 15 MPH40 lbs. Hay
150lbs. H2o
3 lbs. MRE for rider
24 lbs. H2O for rider
Motorcycle100 pounds 300 miles@ 40 MPH55 lbs. Gas
? oil + pumping/storage
3 lbs. MRE for rider
25 lbs. H2O for rider
5-Ton Truck10,000 pounds 300 miles@ 40 MPH710 lbs. Dsl.
? oil + pumping/storage
3 lbs. MRE for rider
25 lbs. H2O for rider
Armored Personnel Carrier10,000 pounds 240 miles@ 30 MPH1,234 lbs. Dsl.
? oil + pumping/storage
3 lbs. MRE for rider
25 lbs. H2O for rider

For a dizzying variety of stats that demonstrate the growing & dangerous impact of fossil fuel consumption, visit the Transportation Energy Data Book, a project of the US Dept. of Energy. Another interesting resource I found is the Victoria Transport Policy Institute's Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis or for something a bit less scientific and at times amusing, try Mrk.'s 469 and counting.... Reasons We Must Eliminate Automobiles.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ride For Climate USA

Boston's Old North Churchby Larry Lagarde

Yesterday, global warming experts David Kroodsma and Bill Bradlee embarked on the Ride for Climate USA, a bike tour to raise awareness of global warming. As did Paul Revere over 200 years ago, David & Bill started their ride from the steps of Boston's Old North Church but they're riding much further, pedaling 5,000 miles around the USA.

Bill BradleeAlong the bike tour, David and Bill are making time to speak at presentations about global warming, encouraging everyone they meet to reduce fossil fuels usage and promoting workable suggestions for doing so. Among the solutions they propose are driving more fuel efficient motor vehicles, exchanging incandescent light bulbs with more efficient fluorescent or LEDs, using energy star rated appliances and commuting to school or work by bicycle.

David & Bill are encouraging locals in communities along their route to host events that tie into the theme of their tour. David KroodsmaThis afternoon, the Northampton Cycling Club hosted 2 group rides to welcome the cyclists into Amherst, MA. Tomorrow, there will be a private global warming presentation at an Amherst area school followed later in the day by a public presentation at Amherst's First Congregational Church. The presentations will include stories and photos from the Ride for Climate: The Americas, the 15,000 mile international bike tour David just completed from California to the tip of South America.

For more about the Ride for Climate USA bike tour including news updates or suggestions how you can help or participate, visit RideForClimate.com.

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High Intensity LED Bike Headlight Systems

by Larry Lagarde

carbide acetylene bike lampSince the invention of carbide or acetylene lamps at the beginning of the 1900's (photo right), bicyclists have mounted head lights on their bikes; however, problems regarding brightness, burn time, durability and cost have plagued bicycle lighting systems for a century. Now, advances in LED semiconductor chips are resulting in a revolutionary generation of high output bike lights that convert electricity directly into light, improving visibility for bicyclists pedaling at night by allowing them to see and be seen better.

High intensity LED head lights (such as those using Lumiled's Luxeon line or Seoul Semiconductor's P4) are a far cry from all other bike lights (see these beam shot comparisons). rear LED blinking lightLike the Vistalite style blinkey LED bike lights that have been around for over a decade, hi output LEDs last 10,000+ hours before requiring replacement (versus under 1000-2000 hours for most incandescent lamps). The main difference is that hi output LEDs are 10 to 25 times brighter than the standard LEDs used in blinkeys, running longer and producing light more efficiently even as battery power ebbs (incandescents fail once the electrical current is insufficient to heat up the filament). Since all LEDs are solid state semiconductors free of moving or loose parts, high output LEDs are very robust and resistant to damage from shock, falls or vibrations too.

When powered by rechargeable AA batteries, high intensity LEDs provide hours of continuously bright light, emitting 85 lumens (the brightness of a 25 watt halogen spotlight) to 300 lumens dependent upon the version of LED used. They're light in weight/small in size, cool to the touch even when lit & can remain on for days at a time before the batteries wear down; they're also becoming better all the time (next generation hi output LEDs producing in excess of 1000 lumens will be available this summer).

Though there are hi intensity LED bike head light systems for sale now, these systems only produce from 85 to 120 lumens and are priced from $150-$300 (see 3 typical examples below). Knowing that LED lighting guru and machinist extraordinaire Wayne Johnson could produce a brighter, better quality high output LED bike light at a much lower cost, I've been asking Wayne to produce a top grade bike light for distribution through RideTHISbike.com. This week, Wayne agreed and the specs on his bike light are just incredible.

Introducing The Roadster Bike Headlight System
Roadster 150 lumen bike lightTo the right is a photo of the bike light prototype. Code named "Roadster", this light will produce 150-180 lumens for 2.5 hours using just 3 rechargeable AA batteries! Life expectancy on the LED is 50,000 hours and the LED can easily be retrofitted with an even brighter LED when they become available in the future. Custom built in the USA by Wayne's Elektro Lumens light works, the Roadster is water resistant; it's built with a high impact mineral glass lens and beefy case made from hardened, anodized aluminum.

super bright P4 LEDThe basic Roadster high intensity bike head light system will include the bike light (outfitted with a Seoul Semiconductor high output P4 LED), handlebar mount, 2 sets of battery holders and coiled wiring. Cost in this configuration will be $119 including shipping and a carry bag for the battery pack will be optional.

$99 Presale Price Through 22 May 2007
The initial production run of the Roadster will be limited to 50 and the lighting system will be available for a month at the presale price of just $99, shipping included. If you want to become a member of the bicycling illuminati, act now and snap up one of these blazingly bright lighting systems before we're sold out.

For comparison, following are 3 other hi output LED bike head light systems:
Vega LED head light mounted on handlebars- Blackburn System X3 LED Headlight
85 lumens w/4 hrs burn time
(currently $150 + shipping at PerformanceBike.com)

- Light & Motion Vega LED Headlight (photo right)
85 lumens w/2 hrs burn time
(currently $160 + shipping at PerformanceBike.com)

- DiNotte Ultralight LED Headlight
120 lumens w/1.6 hrs burn time
(currently $169 + shipping at DinotteLighting.com)

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Folding Bikes Reach Mainstream

by Larry Lagarde

Two excellent ways to measure when a product has hit the mainstream are police reports and the actions of an industry's major manufacturers. This week, we have examples from both arenas concerning folding bikes.

London's Canary Wharf financial district viewed from the River ThamesPolice warn cyclists
There was a report yesterday that police in London have issued an alert to folding bike owners in the Canary Wharf area (London's hip new banking & financial district). A number of folding bike riders have been jumped and attacked for their bikes. The police are stepping up patrols and reaching out to cyclists to be more alert.

2nd Cannondale Folding Bike Concept
Cannondale has released a second, ground breaking, full size, folding bike design concept via masters students of Eco-design at the Elisava Escola Superior de Dissseny in Barcelona, Spain (the same place Cannondale's Jacknife came from).

Cannondale Urban Plafon full size folding bikeKnown currently as the Plafon, this folding bike appears destined for Cannondale's Urban bicycle line. The design sketches show the bike equipped with an internal rear hub so there has been speculation that the Plafon is Cannondale's answer to Shimano's push for Coaster bikes.

Given the bike's edgy looks and front/rear disk brakes, I see the Plafon appealing to bicycle messengers and/or upscale urban cyclists, not bicycle newbies (which are what Shimano is going after). With a carbon fiber frame, this bike will not be cheap either.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Charlottesville Virginia's Coming Bike Beltway

by Larry Lagarde
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Recently ranked by Sperling and Sander as the best place to live in the USA, Charlottesville, Virginia (pop: 118,400) is best known for the 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located there - Thomas Jefferson's home (Monticello) and the university he founded (the University of Virginia). Also the southern gateway to Shenandoah National Park (just 20 miles west off I-64), Charlottesville offers a wealth of recreational opportunities which soon may grow to include a bicycle beltway trail that will encircle the city.

According to a story yesterday in The Daily Progress, Charlottesville is acquiring easements for 20 miles of bike trails that will parallel the existing Rivanna River hiking trail system. City planners hope to begin construction by the end of the 2007 and complete the system by 2015. The city is budgeting $100k/yr over the next 5 years for trail construction and is counting on state, federal & private grants to cover much of the multi-million dollar total cost.

For a city the size of Charlottesville to embark upon such an ambitious bicycle facility building program speaks volumes towards the importance of bicycling. Obviously, this is a city that wants to remain among the best places to live for years to come.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bike Lights

night bicyclingEnjoying Safe Bicycling At Night

by Larry Lagarde

Night riding is a form of cycling I really enjoy. Here in sultry New Orleans, the temperature at night is regularly more comfortable; there's also less auto traffic in the streets and fewer bikes or pedestrians on the bike trail. As a result, the ride is far more enjoyable - but only because I have an intense lighting system that enhances my safety by providing incredible visibility.

Hokey SpokesI ride with a custom made Luxeon LED lighting system, Hokey Spokes side lights (see photo at right) and several red LED rear lights. With so many lights, I cannot help but draw attention and for the sake of safety, that's just the way I like it. I've been stopped on the bike trail by law enforcement that thought I was a motor vehicle (the officer complimented me on the lighting system and claimed to have seen me from a mile away). When I ride by, kids squeal and adults smile (or even clap). Rather than chase me down, dogs run away from me barking and looking over their shoulders. If only daylight riding was this much fun...

Super bright LED lights from Elektro LumensTo help others enjoy safe night bicycling, I'm writing a multi-part series on visibility for night riding. In the first segment (coming next weekend), I'll concentrate on bike headlight systems and introduce a great new system from Wayne Johnson (seen at right with one of his custom lights), the lighting guru and machinist extraordinaire at Elektro Lumens.

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French Quarter Fest

The French Quarter Fest is a great opener to the Jazzfest. Taking place in the French Quarter 2 weeks before Jazzfest, there are stages on the Mississippi riverfront (at Woldenberg Park), Royal Street, the Old US Mint and more.

With the weather being absolutely gorgeous today in New Orleans (65 F w/a breeze, sunny skies and low humidity), it would be a shame not to be out enjoying this festival. So with baby sitters (my wonderful parents) and the older kids busy, Robin & I are off on the folding bikes. Hopefully, we'll get some great photos.


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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kent Ultralite Folding Bike Photos

If you are interested in the Kent Ultralite (the 23 lb., 6 speed, diecast magnesium/aluminum alloy folder that sells for $169 including shipping), following is a slide show of photos of this folder. The photos depict the bike folded, unfolded and inside an aftermarket suitcase.

Each image in the slide show is accompanied by a text description. To view the caption for any image, mouse over the image when it appears and the caption will appear below the image. Additionally, you can enlarge an image by clicking on it.

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Kent Ultralite Folding Bike Warranty

Kent Ultralite folding bikeIf you are interested in the Kent Ultralite folding bike (the 23 lb., 6 speed, diecast magnesium/aluminum alloy folder that sells for $169 including shipping), following is a scan of the warranty details straight from the Ultralite's owner's manual.

To enlarge the warranty for legibility, simply click on the Warranty Statement image below.
Kent Ultralite Warranty Statement

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Suitcase Folding Bike

For several years, I have been hearing rumors about a folding bike that's integrated into a suitcase and is designed so that the wheels fold into the suitcase when not in use. Today, I received an anonymous message with the title "Coming soon" and the following computer generated sketches.

Below is a slide show of the images with accompaning descriptions. To view the caption for any image, mouse over the image when it appears and the caption will appear below the image. Additionally, you can enlarge an image by clicking on it.

The folding handlebars and handlebar stem remind me of Sir Clive's A-Bike folding bike but the wheels are larger (they look to be similar to those on a Mobiky Genius). I like the idea that the cranks are detachable and everything folds up cleanly within a rollable case. Certainly, this would come in handy for flying or for use on the subway...

So I put it to you: Is this really in production or simply someone's pipe dream? If it's for real, would you ride a suitcase folding bike. Let me know.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gekko Folding Bike Warranty & Instructions

Gekko WarrantyIf you are interested in the Gekko folding bike, following are 2 scans from the Gekko Owner's Manual. On the left below is a scan of the instruction sheet demonstrating how to fold and unfold the Gekko. On the right is a scan of the warranty page. Simply click on either image to enlarge.

Gekko folding instructions

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Folding Bikes - manufacturer warranties & instructions

Folding Bike Warranty & Instructions

A number or RideTHISbike.com visitors have inquired about the warranty and folding instructions for the various folding bikes we offer. Much of this info is contained in the owner's manuals that accompany the bikes; however, that does little good for a reader that does not have the bike.

Up to now, I've been emailing warranty info but for clarity and wider access to the info, I have decided to scan and post important printed product info on RideTHISbike.com.

Since I received a request today for more info on the Gekko folding bike, I'll start with the Gekko warranty and folding instructions.


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Monday, April 09, 2007

Cycling So Cal's San Juan MTB Trail

Awesome, Exciting Mountain Bike Single Track

The San Juan Trail is one of Southern California's top mountain bike trails. Located in the Cleveland National Forest about 12 miles east of San Juan Capistrano, CA, the run is 22 miles long when done as an out and back; however, some shuttle to the top and coast down 11 miles. Regardless, we're talking sweet single track free of intersecting pavement or fire roads. The mountain scenery offers an impressive panaroma but is best admired when stopped as the trail demands your complete attention.

This trail is definitely on my must do ride list for bike tours on the Paratrooper full size folding mountain bike.

For more about the Old San Juan Trail, try...

SingleTrack Mind
Mountain Bike Bill's Ride Report
GeoLadders Map


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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sea Otter Cycling Festival - Monterey, CA

2007 Sea Otter ClassicThis Thursday is the kickoff of the Sea Otter Classic, one of the largest bicycling festivals in North America. Held just outside Monterey, California at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, the Classic draws nearly 10,000 professional, amateur, beginner and recreational athletes as well as 50,000 spectators.

Sea Otter recreational mountainbike tourA family oriented event, the Sea Otter offers more than great bicycle racing action. There are special activities for kids, bike tours and shopping at an outdoor trade show with hundreds of vendors offering products of interest to cyclists. Best of all, proceeds from the Sea Otter Classic support programs that combat the growing epidemic in the USA of childhood obesity by encouraging youth participation in sport and recreation.

Sea Otter Classic Details:
When: April 12-15, 2007 (Thursday-Sunday)
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Where: Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, CA.
Fees: $10 for a day pass or $30 for all four days. Kids 12 and under enter free when accompanied by an adult.

To compete in any of the bicycle races or for more info about the event, visit www.seaotterclassic.com.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

NYPD Still harassing Critical Mass Riders

by Larry Lagarde

This weekend, more cyclists were arrested or ticketed by the NYPD for riding in NYC during a Critical Mass bike ride. Though the intimidation is unfortunate for the individual cyclists that were picked upon, the unjust hassling of bicyclists has led to millions of dollars worth of free publicity for bicycling advocacy.

Critical Mass is a non-commercial, peaceful, bike ride that takes place in cities around the world on the last Friday of every month after rush hour. In some cities, Critical Mass rides attract a handful of riders; in others, thousands of cyclists can turn out.

Since bicycles are legally considered vehicles, cyclists have the right to ride on roadways; however, most streets are typically too dangerous for a cyclist to ride alone due to traffic from motor vehicles. Thus, Critical Mass rides present an opportunity for cyclists to ride safely. Unfortunately, some governmental leaders either fail to grasp the law or view the law as irrelevant, leading to situations like the arrests of hundreds in New York and San Francisco just for riding their bikes in or near a Critical Mass ride.

In a free society with free press, unfounded arrests, ticketing and confiscations of private property (bicycles in this case) cannot help but make the news. The harder authorities clamp down, the more publicity the cause receives. For example, years of harassment by the NYPD of Critical Mass riders have led to ongoing headline coverage of the story in major print and video media far beyond the confines of NYC. Had the same authorities allowed the Critical Mass rides to take place unimpeded by police bedeviling riders, the rides would be far less newsworthy.

Though members of the cycling community hold differing opinions regarding the value of Critical Mass, the rides have focused mainstream attention on a legitimate, useful form of transportation that is quiet, affordable and pollution free. Law abiding cyclists everywhere are in debt to riders that have been intimidated for doing nothing more than legally riding their bicycles during a Critical Mass.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Santa Cruz County Folding Bike Subsidy

Program To Spur Mass Transit Usage
by Larry Lagarde

In an effort to decrease pollution, Santa Cruz County is taking an unusual step - they're subsidizing the purchase of folding bikes.

Why Subsidize Folding Bikes?
Quiet and non-polluting, bicycles are an ideal means of transportation for rides of 3 miles or less; however, for traversing longer distances, most people would rather use a motor vehicle so they don't arrive sweaty or worn out. Officials reasoned that if people are going to use motor vehicles for longer distances, the key to reducing pollution is to make mass transit more inviting.

Studies have shown that mass transit riders will only walk so far to get to or from a transit stop. Using a bike to cover that "last mile" changes the equation, making mass transit becomes more convenient for most Santa Cruz residents.

Although Santa Cruz has bike racks on their buses, the racks only accommodate 2 bikes. The only feasible way to get more cyclists onto buses was to encourage use of folding bikes that could be carried onto the bus.

Cyclists that participate in the discount program must take a bike safety class and are offered a discount to use local mass transit.

More... Folding Bikes In Buses

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