MEC Releases Bike Line

The Toronto Mountain Equipment Co-op store is known for many things. The massive climbing wall, the green roof and the overwhelming array of backpacks. Now, they can add an expanded bicycle section that includes a brand of bikes.

Geared towards commuters, mountain bikers, casual riders and cyclocross racers, the new line features subdued graphics and a range of price points. Hopefully we’ll start to see some reviews from riders across Canada, but until then here are a few photos and a video from the launch day at the Vancouver MEC location.


Along for the Ride

Quick word of warning. If shaky video makes you feel ill, this video will make you lose your lunch. Otherwise, it is pretty amazing:

Trends in Bicycle Design and Use: Associated Press

Passing by

In the minds of many people there are just two categories of bicycles; road and mountain. A few know of a third category, the hybrids. And that’s about it.
The problem is that each of these categories present a barrier to visualizing bicycles in everyday use, and in fact they don’t even address that bicycles can be and are used daily as a method of transportation.
For example:
Mountain bikes are seen as weekend use, off-road only, daredevil tools.
And road bikes need to be accompanied by a matching spandex outfit, solid abs and massive quads.
Fortunately, neither of these beliefs are true as there are dozens of styles of bicycles and any one of them could help you get where you’re going, deliver your groceries and take the family to school in the morning.
The Associated Press helps explain the newer trends in bicycle design and their use:
Where bikes are heading: a look at the trends
By MEGAN K. SCOTT (AP) – Oct 6, 2009

Bicycle technology doesn’t stand still.

Bike makers keep tinkering to give us a smoother, more convenient, more stylish ride: bikes long enough to carry another passenger and groceries. Bikes with batteries so you don’t have to break a sweat. Aerodynamic bikes with little wind resistance.

“In the bike world, there have always been a bunch of trends going on at once,” said Loren Mooney, editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine. “It’s because a bike is such a multipurpose tool. It’s a toy. It’s a piece of exercise equipment. It’s a mode of transportation. And so really it’s very common to have many trends at once.”

Some bike trends on the horizon:

STYLISH UTILITY BIKE: The biggest trend is casual city riding, said Mooney, “where the person doesn’t look like a spandex-clad cyclist, but rather like a normal person. And his or her bike looks like a cool, often retro object of design and casual fun — maybe it even has a basket.”

FITNESS BIKES: An evolution from the hybrid bike — a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike, which was “too cumbersome for true fitness riding,” said Mooney. (Fitness bikes are sometimes referred to as flat-bar road bikes.)

PEDAL-ASSIST ELECTRIC BIKES: A bike with a boost. Pedal-assist bikes combine battery power with pedaling so you can ride farther and faster without getting as tired.

It’s an ideal bike for someone who rides for transportation, as opposed to fitness, and when the distance is far, the terrain difficult or the rider short on endurance.

ECO DESIGN BIKES: Bike manufacturers are coming out with eco-friendly bikes. For example, Trek’s Belleville and Atwood models have grips on the handlebars, a saddle and a steel frame that all can be recycled. The bikes also come with front and rear lights that are generated by pedaling, not batteries, said Trek spokesman Sam Foos.

FOLDING BIKES: These have been around for years but the technology is getting better. Traditional folding bikes, which have small wheels, were better for folding than riding, said David Montague, owner of Montague Bicycles in Cambridge, Mass. The company introduced SwissBike TX earlier this year, a full-size bike that folds in half.

XTRACYCLE: a kit that makes a bike 15 inches longer so you can carry a passenger, groceries, books. Some people use it to carry camping gear, said Nate Byerley, president of Xtracycle, in Oakland, Calif. He said he knows a home inspector who uses his Xtracycle to carry equipment including a 10-foot ladder.

LINK

Does your bike fit in to any of these categories? Share your ride in the BikingToronto Forum.

Don Valley Mountain Bike Trails in Crothers Woods

When you think of mountain biking, Toronto is rarely one of the major destinations that comes to mind. I mean, really, mountains in Toronto?

While we may not have mountains here, we do have ravines. And, if you’ve ever climbed up one of the steep roads leading out of the Don Valley, you know that a ravine can feel like a mountain at times.
Recently, I dusted off my old mountain bike and made my way to Crothers Woods in the Don Valley. Crothers Woods has the designation of being an Environmentally Significant Area, and this poses a problem for trail users. How do you continue to use trails on bicycles and foot when repetitive use adds to the problem of erosion?
Since 2004, the International Mountain Bicycling Association has been involved in building sustainable trails in this area. By using special tools and carefully planning routes, these trails are meant to reduce user impact throughout the woods, while still providing challenging terrain for all users.
Below are photos from my recent ride through Crothers Woods, click on each photo for a larger view.
At the bottom of the Bayview Extension and Pottery Road is where the trail begins:

Trailhead

The map in detail:
Map Detail Crothers Woods
The trail starts with a steep climb, turn back to the south and you get this view of the Don Valley from the top of the hill:
Overlooking the Don Valley, Bayview Extension, Pottery Road
Trail maintenance is ongoing, here’s one of the tools of the trade:
Sustainable Trails
The choice is yours:
Advanced or Intermediate Trails, the choice is yours
Hmmm… the advanced trail seems to be blocked:
The Advanced Trail Gets Difficult Right Away
Trails wind up and down the ravine walls:
The challenge of creating sustainable trails in the eroding Crothers Woods
To further challenge cyclists, many man-made obstacles are found along the route, this one crosses a gully:
The Valley of the Log Rides
And to get across you have to keep your bike straight:
Keep your line straight and fast
Duck!:
Not all obstacles are under you in the Don Valley Crothers Woods
No children playing on this teeter-totter today:
This teeter-totter is not for children
At the end of the trails I wanted to find the dirt jumps I’ve heard about. Taking a hidden path from within a parking lot leads you first under a bridge:
Under the bridge to the dirt jumps
The trail follows the west side of the Don River, and you can stick to the trail, or get creative along the way:
Why go around, let's go through the trees
The dirt jumps are impressive to say the least. This spot has been active for at least 15 years, with changes to the jumps happening all the time. This one was less dirt, but all jump:
A dirt jump, now with less dirt
Watch for overhead power lines:
Watch for power lines
The jumps get plenty of use:
Enjoying the jumps
You can learn more about Crothers Woods here and here.