Don’t Call it a Girl’s Bike

Just because your bicycle has a sloping top tube doesn’t mean you have to call it a “girl’s bike.” That slope can make it easier to cycle modestly while wearing a dress, sure, but it also comes in handy once you start carrying any sort of cargo on your bicycle.

Adding cargo adds weight to your bicycle and the “step-through” frame design makes it easier for you to balance your packages or children while mounting and dismounting your bike.

Here are just a few “step-through” bicycles for women and men that can help you carry your cargo and avoid the delicate dance of getting on and off your bike:

The above Linus Mixte comes with a rear rack ready for you to strap a basket to, available at Bikes on Wheels.

The Globe Live 1 Mixte will stand out in the crowd, if not for the bright red colour but also because it comes stock with a huge front rack, available at Urbane Cyclist.

While the Dutch may call this design by Electra an “omafiets” (literally, grandma’s bike) both men and women have benefited for years from this easy to step through design. Available at The Cycle Shoppe.

When it comes to really maximizing your cargo carrying capacity, the Kona Ute certainly stretches the limits. Available at Sweet Pete’s.

And that’s not all… you’ll find even more sloping step-throughs at Curbside Cycle who carry models from Batavus, Pashley and Abici.

Coaster Brake Love

Single speed Globe Live 1 with coaster brake

For some, it’s all about stopping power. Endos, skids, POWER! However, if you’re just taking your bicycle around town, running errands, getting to work, do you really need fancy expensive disc or super-powered v-brakes?

Nope.

The coaster brake is something you’ll find on bicycles for children and on many vintage city cruisers. This simple braking mechanism is gaining popularity again as upright city cruisers and daily use bicycles are becoming the bike of choice for many urbanites. My girlfriend’s Globe Live 1 has a rear coaster brake and she loves it. You simply pedal backwards and your rear hub becomes your brake. I don’t really understand the mechanism behind coaster brakes, but on a regularly maintained bicycle then can keep on slowing you down even when the roads get wet and the temperature drops (otherwise challenging conditions for low-end v-brakes).

There’s a fantastic post on Lovely Bicycle! with all the reasons to love coaster brakes:

Why I love coaster brakes:
. I find that coaster brakes deliver softer (no sudden jolts), smoother, and more consistent stopping power in city traffic
. I like to have one hand free in traffic, so that I can signal while braking
. I find it easier to modulate coaster brakes at finer increments without totally losing momentum
. I have problems with the nerves in my hands, and find it painful to use hand-operated brake levers frequently (like in stop-and-go traffic)
. I find coaster brakes intuitive and stress-free to use: it makes sense to both accelerate and slow down with my feet
. I like it that coaster brakes require virtually zero maintenance or adjustments

What about you? Do you have coaster brake love?

Read the full Lovely Bicycle! Coaster Brakes: Yay or Nay! post here.

Covet: Globe Bikes 2011 Daily Models

Globe Daily 01 via Bikerumor.com

Globe Daily 03 step-through via Bikerumor.com

While I’m a big fan of the Globe bikes I’ve ridden, I’m still a sucker for the newer models.

For 2011, Globe is releasing the new Daily model with a steeper head tube, mustache handlebars, stock front basket and covered drive train. While I’m not a huge fan of the small rear rack and derailleur shifting of the other models, the Daily 01 singlespeed and Daily 03 step-through singlespeed are pretty great looking daily use bikes.

Now, I’d just like to see Globe use steel for the frames as the alloy, while lighter, doesn’t really dampen bumps as well as steel could.

Photos via Bikerumor.com

Alleged Bike Thief Foils Bad Lock Job

I certainly don’t want to pour salt on anyone’s wounds with this post. Having your bicycle stolen is a painful, soul-crushing experience that leaves you feeling helpless and probably pissed off since you must now walk or transit home, the two things you were trying to avoid by riding your bicycle in the first place.

Below is a cell phone photo of an alleged bicycle thief holding a Globe Roll bicycle with dubious bell placement.

Alleged bicycle thief http://ow.ly/i/2JjB

And this is the dubious bell placement:

Crotch placed bell

Ummm… you ring that how (or with what)?

And here’s the “opportunity” this alleged bicycle thief chose to exploit and obtain a new, albeit single-wheeled, bicycle:

Kryptonite and the wheel

And here’s the end result:

Just a wheel and a lock http://twitpic.com/275j04

Of course, if you’re the inventor of the wheel (and comb) you’ve got your ride home. If not, you’re left with a painful reminder of the ride home that could have been.

If you see this Globe Roll with a spoiled blue/grey colourway then be sure to alert the proper authorities.

And, to be constructive, you can get away with locking just one wheel and not return to have in your possession one locked wheel. Bike thieves look for opportunities. A thin coil lock is an easy target if you have wire cutters. If you’re out thieving with just a wrench, you look for nuts you can unscrew. While you can never completely “thief-proof” a bicycle, here’s how to prevent this type of theft by locking through the rear triangle:

Final photo via commutebybike

Alleged bike thief photo via Twitter.

Social Cycling: Go Green, Go Dutch, Go Bike! Toronto 2010

Go Dutch ShirtWhen people mention nations that are leading the way for cycling and cycling infrastructure, most often you’ll hear a thing or two about the Dutch.

In the Netherlands, 60% of the population prefers to make daily trips by bicycle. There are more bicycles in the Netherlands than there are people (1.11 to every person) and you don’t have to look far to find some of the best and most-used cycling infrastructure on the planet here.

Started in 2007, the Dutch Consulate in Toronto has been organizing a annual bicycle ride to raise funds and provide bicycles and resources for city children whose families are unable to afford them.

Go Green, Go Dutch, Go Bike! is also an excellent opportunity for Dutch ex-pats to get together, ride their bikes and enjoy some Dutch foods.

My girlfriend, mother and I rode our bikes to Etienne Brule park along Toronto’s Humber River on a sunny Sunday:

Orange Shirts

Mom and Cat

King of the Dutch

Speedy Gazelle

Dutch Family Car

Orange Under the Bridge

Orange Over the Bridge

Green and Orange Path

White Bridge Orange Shirts

Orange You Glad You Bike?

Lake Ontario

Snaking Along the Martin Goodman Trail

Looking Back Along Martin Goodman Trail

Riding Together

More Bike Lanes Please

Dutch Pride

Dutch Parking at City Hall

Kroketten

Presentation

Cycle Chic

Fourth Floor Cycle Chic

Deadly Nightshade Prairie Cycle Chic

And, did you know that as part of the Lets Go Ride a Bike Summer Games you could win your own Batavus BuB? Participating is fun and easy, in this post along you saw me join a group ride and go cycling with my family. Click on the image below to learn more and participate as well:

Something New for Spring

Jane Fonda Globe Headbadge

Lone Ranger Bell

Panda shot on the Martin Goodman Trail

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Mother and son took the omafiet and the Globe out for a sunny spring ride.

Cruisers, Cargo bikes, Handmades and More – The Toronto International Bicycle Show

On Sunday, March 7, 2010 I took a bike ride down to the Toronto International Bicycle Show held in the Better Living Centre on the CNE grounds.

For the most part this show is a spectacle of the latest road racing, BMX, trials and mountain biking products and accessories. Major Toronto and GTA retailers set up shop here to blow out last year’s inventory and highlight the latest designs from top brands.

While I recently started mountain biking again (I know, an oxymoron in Toronto) I was looking for the day to day cycling options at the show. Road bikes made of carbon composites and mountain bikes equipped with long-travel suspension are impressive, but I wouldn’t give them more than 20 minutes locked up to a post and ring downtown Toronto. And I think rear racks would look a little out of place on the back of a Trek Madone.

Much to my delight there were plenty of exhibitors who understand that cycling isn’t just about sport. Although, looking back of some of my morning commutes, I’d say a trip to work on Toronto’s busier streets can be a sport itself. Here are photos by Huy Le with a few words about what I discovered at the Toronto International Bicycle Show.

Until Sunday I had never straddled an electic-assist bicycle. The Sanyo Eneloop Bike looks like a regular step-through commuter with a battery pack tucked nicely behind the seat tube. And that’s the point. This is a bicycle first and foremost yet it also provides battery assistance to help commuters take on challenging hills and headwinds.

The battery connects to a surprisingly powerful front hub-motor as well as both front and rear lights. I took the bike for a quick spin around the carpeted test area at the show. As I lined up to head out I had the battery on and after a half pedal forward the motor kicked in and I thought the bike was going to take off on it’s own. Applying the brakes quickly kept me from taking an embarassing flat land spill. The reps from Sanyo suggested waiting until I was in motion to turn on the battery, and I recommend it.

Actually riding the bicycle was a pleasure. The motor is on the front wheel hub, so after a few pedals the electric-assist starts up and you feel a gentle pull forward. The first couple of boosts were a little terrifying on the short test track, but I quickly learned when to anticipate them and use them to my advantage for building up speed with little extra effort on my part.

In the manufacturer’s showcase Opus brand bicycles from Quebec had their commuter rides on display. If you speak/read French then be sure to check out their Urbanista Blog.

For cyclists with kids and basically anything else they need to haul around, WIKE from Guelph, ON had their line of trailers on display.

Around the corner and also from Guelph, True North Cycles had several handmade touring and cargo bikes on display.

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Trek had some bright and shiny Madones on site… but the multi-thousand dollar price tag makes for expensive roadie dreams. On a more affordable note Trek also had their Eco steel bikes on display.

As part of the Globe blogger team I was hoping to see a few models at the show. Unfortunately all I found was this Globe Roll.

Sweet Pete’s had up on high, overlooking their booth, their Kona collaboration bicycle, the “Door Prize.” With tongue planted firmly in cheek this bike is named after the unique to Toronto term for colliding with a car door is outfitted with city riding essentials and is priced under $600.

On to accessories. Zef Kraiker (not pictured) was at the Urbane Cyclist booth with plenty of WIPT (Wear It Proud Toronto) cycling caps and Push The Envelope bags for sale.

Energetic reps introduced me to the iBert safe-T-seat that allows you to carry small children up front, improving rider stability and giving your child a view of more than just your back. The seat can be removed quickly and easily when not in use and is made of 10% recycled materials.

Introducing his alternative to panniers, Winnipeg year-round cyclist (you read that right!) Aphirath Vongnaraj had his Hybrid Backpack on display. He demonstrated the pack’s ability to secure all sorts of items to a rear bike rack. The unique “velcro” locking system ensures that what you want to carry stays with you for your whole journey.

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many commuter cycling options on display at this year’s Toronto International Bicycle Show. Of course, there was much more to be seen, but I’ll save that for another post.

Things You Can Do By Bike – Go To IKEA!

There’s a long, boring story that leads up this sunny, Saturday morning ride to Etobicoke. It involves hidden inventory and an obsessive search for a very simple piece of organizational furniture. That said, I had an exchange to make at IKEA. The Etobicoke store being just 13 km from my home, my girlfriend and I loaded up our Globe bikes and set off.

Shadows! Even after such a mild winter in Toronto, the first time you really see your shadow again is exciting.

Because traveling like a Toronto cyclist involves more than just roads, we took a detour through High Park.

Seriously, spring shadows are great!

After a quick ride along still icy and tree covered paths in High Park we arrive along the Queensway. Bike lanes here take you into Etobicoke.

Just as things get roomy with space between the bike lane and other traffic…

… our bike lane travels come to an end.

In Etobicoke they want you to know that there is to be no cycling on the sidewalks. Sidewalk cycling is illegal in Toronto too, but these signs at every sidewalk intersection almost appear as though there is simply no cycling allowed at all. Which isn’t the case, of course.

Once the bike lane ends the motorized traffic gets heavier, and closer. The vast majority of drivers did change lanes to pass us and only when we were close to intersections did a few motorists pass a little too close for comfort.

It’s amazing how wide the Queensway is. I didn’t stop to take a photo, but the road quickly widens to seven lanes across. There are new condos and townhouses lining much of the Queensway, but I simply couldn’t imagine living along a highway. The area is rapidly changing and is just a short bike or transit ride into the city, so this area does have many benefits. (Note: The photo below is from the less wide section of the Queensway).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from simply too many IKEA trips it’s that you never use the front entrance. There may be bike parking at the Etobicoke IKEA, but since we had a return, I decided to get a little creative and lock us up near the service doors.

Exchange made, bungees secured and we set our sights on home.

Looking back at our simple trip, it’s amazing just how much we were able to accomplish in the morning while on our bikes. We got to experience one of the sunniest days of 2010 in Toronto so far. We got a little bit of exercise, especially when crossing the bridge just before you get to IKEA. We got the best parking spot. And we smiled the whole way there and back… when’s the last time you did all of that on a visit to IKEA?

The Least Expensive Winter Cycling Accessory You Need

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At least in Toronto, this accessory costs just 5 cents. It’s free with a purchase in many other cities.

The plastic bag!

That mighty little bag is a lifesaver as winter turns to spring and you never know what will fall or drip on your bicycle seat.