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Category Archives: Bike Gallery

A Closer Look: Phil Wood by Sycip Custom Road Bike

Some people covet them for the precise fit. Some have them built to perform a specialized task. Some seek the status of riding a one-of-a-kind item. For my husband Dick, treating himself to a custom built bike meant choosing exactly what he wanted like a kid in a candy store: frame material, tubing, joining method, geometry, paint scheme and application method, components and more. And of course, to fit him precisely.

I don’t know if Dick caught the custom bike bug at any of the North American Handmade Bike Shows we’ve attended over the years in San Jose, Austin and Sacramento, but it certainly hastened the symptoms. It’s no surprise. Dick has had a soft spot for lugged steel bikes since he bought his 1987 Bianchi Super Corsa with its flashy chrome lugs, and the NAHBS showcases some of the sexiest lugged steel bikes found anywhere.

With a generous offer from a close friend at Phil Wood, weeks of planning and painfully long months of waiting, the reward was sweet: a SyCip road frame built with Richard Sachs lugs, branded as Phil Wood & Co.

Phil Wood Sycip Road Bike

Dick set the bike up originally with a carbon fork, but switched to a custom steel fork made by Steelman Cycles, which he had chromed vintage-style by Superior Chrome in San Jose. That’s a lot of custom work by a lot of master craftsmen. But to Dick, the result is well worth it. It fits like a glove and rides like dream. His dream.

Location: Historic Woodside Store, Woodside, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Bike Gallery

 

Make It Your Own: Soma Double Cross Commuter

When I saw this Soma Double Cross I did a double take, and not just because of its flashy orange accents. Soma designed the Double Cross for cyclocross racing, trail rides, commuting and light touring. That usually means drop bars and a rigid fork, so when I saw swept-back bars and a suspension fork I knew it was special.

As we pedaled from Caltrain to his office at San Jose’s Martin Luther King Library, Jon filled me in on his bike’s story. Born a traditional cyclocross-style commuter in 2006, its transformation began with when couple of broken spokes led to a bent rim and new wheels with bright orange rims. Why not add a little pizzazz?

John with SOMA Double Cross Portrait

From there it spiraled: a hard-to-find suspension fork for 700c wheels; bullhorn bars first, then swept-back bars with flame grips; downtube shifters; a springy new Brooks saddle for the more upright stance; a cable to secure the saddle; bright orange Ortlieb panniers and a helmet to match. No need for a high-viz jacket here.

And no need for Jon to hold back on making his Soma Double Cross his own. What customizations have you made to your commuter bike? Did you make them all at once or did your bike’s style evolve over time?

Location: Martin Luther King Library, San Jose, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Bike Gallery

 

Make It Your Own: Jessica’s Custom Trike Crate

Jessica’s grandfather must be proud of her. A German immigrant who made his living as a cabinet maker, he knows the satisfaction of sawing, nailing and sanding to build something practical and attractive using his own two hands. I know I was impressed by the cargo crate she built for her trike. It seems the basket that came with her trike didn’t meet the standards of a craftsman’s granddaughter so she hand-built herself a new one.

Portrait

Jessica built the custom crate because the original basket wasn’t big enough or sturdy enough for everything she wanted to carry, like groceries, gardening supplies, and most importantly hay and feed for her bunnies.

Location: Horace Mann neighborhood, Downtown San Jose, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Bike Gallery, Gear Talk

 

Bike Spotting: Electric-Assist Urban Arrow Cargo Bike

I’m not a mom. Unlike Cherie and other parents I’ve been chatting with lately, I don’t have kids that I need to drop off at school in the morning, or to take to soccer practice, swim lessons or dance class in the afternoon. And yet I find cargo and family bikes intriguing, like this Urban Arrow I spotted parked in downtown Palo Alto.

At first glance it looks like just another variation on the traditional Dutch bakfiets (box bike), this time with a hard foam box instead of wood. A closer look reveals much more: a factory electric assist motor. That sounds like a winning combination to me. After all, not all parents are like the unstoppable Emily Finch of Portland, who’s determined enough to carry her six kids and way to much cargo on her box bike.

Urban Arrow Cargo Bike

The Urban Arrow looks long, but it’s about the same length as a traditional bakfiets. The passenger box can be replaced with a cargo box, or the box section can be replaced with a new front end to form a standard bike.

Location: Lytton Plaza, Palo Alto, California, USA.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 

A Closer Look: 2009 Trek District Singlespeed

Every once in a while one of the big bike manufacturers steps out of their comfort zone to offer something super-flashy with the latest technology that costs less than the average monthly rent for an apartment in Silicon Valley. That’s about $2100 and climbing monthly now that the valley is heating back up.

In 2009, that manufacturer was Trek, America’s top selling bike company, and the bike was the Trek District. My friend Brian was intrigued at first glance. And when he got a job in downtown San Francisco that meant a Caltrain bike car commute, he jumped at the chance to buy this belt-driven, singlespeed beauty. Who wouldn’t?

Trek District 2009

Flashy as a hipster’s fave fixie, but with modern technology and carefully planned little details.

Location: San Carlos Caltrain Station, San Carlos, California, USA

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 

Bike Spotting: Real Men Ride Pink Road Bikes

I spotted the ice pink vintage road bike on Caltrain, obviously too large and too old to be designed for women. “Who owns the pink bike?” I asked the group behind me. “It’s mine,” said Dean.

Dean’s no girly man, nor is his 1987 Schwinn Prelude a girly bike, as you can see in his feat of strength outside the station. Dean’s lovely pink bike was built lightweight for racing speed, and with a 25″ frame, built for a rider well over six feet tall. That’s 63.5 cm for you folks too young to remember when road bikes were measured in inches. In 1987, Schwinn still made their bikes at their headquarters in Chicago, you see.

Real Men Ride Pink Bikes

Dean isn’t the only manly guy I know who rides a pink road bike. There’s Ron who has a 1991 Diamond Back Master TG bike in a far less demure shade of pink. I found many others, like this 1972 Sekine, this La France, this Miami Vice inspired Centurion and these two by Francesco Moser. Lovely, lovely, manly pink bikes.

1987 Schwinn Prelude 25"

Location: Caltrain Diridon Station, San Jose, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 

Bike Spotting: The Intuit-ive Way to Bike Share

Bay Area Bike Share may be gearing up for its launch next month, but I’m seeing little reminders that bike sharing isn’t exactly new here in Silicon Valley. Like this lovely blue Dutch-style bike that’s been parked at the Mountain View Caltrain station for the past few days. A quick glance at the chain guard gives away as a campus bike for Intuit, the software company that brought you Quicken and TurboTax.

Campus bikes are perfect for company sites that grow so big that walking between buildings is tedious but driving is silly. With 1800 employees at their bayside campus, Intuit is much smaller than its neighbor Google who has higher-profile bike sharing program. Like the Google bikes, Intuit bikes are built tough and practical for short trips by Republic Bikes. And like the Google bikes, they sometimes show up far from campus. I guess what’s good for getting across campus is good for getting across town. Good thing there aren’t any late fees.

Intuit Bike

Republic Bikes specializes in sturdy fleet bikes that can be easily and colorfully customized for your business.

Location: Downtown Mountain View Caltrain Station, Evelyn Avenue near Castro Street.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 

Bike Spotting: Caution! Looooooong Load

My friend Irene saw a side-by-side tandem recumbent trike pulling another recumbent trike pulling a baby trailer pulling a flatbed trailer. The rig was carrying two garbage bags of who-knows-what plus something that looks like foam mattresses and more. It’s a good thing Irene had a camera. No one would believe her otherwise.

Maxi Trailer

Location: Palo Alto City Hall. Click here to see the photo at maximum resolution.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 

Bike Spotting: Pointer Classica Typical Dutch Bike

If I were back in the Netherlands I wouldn’t have given it a second glance: a sturdy city bike locked up outside an apartment building with a heavy chain. But it was chained to a lamp post in Menlo Park, California, not Amsterdam, so I had to stop and investigate. I’ve never seen the brand before and I can’t guess its vintage, but I was pretty sure it was Dutch even before an internet search. How so? The evidence is in the tell-tale details.

Pointer Classica

Strip away a few accessories and this typical Dutch bike could pass for an American bike from my childhood.

Note: An internet search revealed very little about Pointer except that it’s a Dutch brand like Gazelle and Batavus. If you know more about Pointer bikes or what vintage this bike might be, please leave a comment!

Location: Linden Oaks neighborhood in Menlo Park, California, USA, near Stanford University.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 

A Closer Look: 2008 Lemond Poprad Cyclocross Bike

Way back in 2007 I was a triathlete, century rider and mountain biker who heard about this thing called cyclocross and was intrigued. Cyclocross is the steeplechase of bike racing, with barricades where you dismount and run, steep run-ups where you shoulder your bike, and loose corners, sand pits, and soul-sucking grass to keep you on the ragged edge. And in our local scene, doing all this in costume for bragging rights.

I had both skinny tire and basic dirt skills, I could run (not fast) and loved costumes and the irreverent attitude that comes with it. Races are 30-45 minutes of all-out effort I felt I could manage since the pain may be intense, but it’s mercifully short. So I bought a steel Lemond Poprad cyclocross bike and raced it. It was a blast.

The Poprad was replaced by a lighter steed who stole her drivetrain and her place at the starting line. Retired from racing and outfitted with low gears, she has been reborn as Liberty, the ultimate all-terrain touring machine.

Poprad on the Trail
Faster than my mountain bike but hardier than my road bike, Liberty is made for the dirt trails and gravel roads that criss-cross the hills around San Francisco Bay. She’s no stranger to off-road rides and has hauled overnight gear, but I have yet to fully test her strength. Where should we go? How deep into the wild can she take me?

Lemond Poprad 2008 b

Configuring the gearing on this bike was no easy task since I wanted low mountain bike gears with road levers. So I took it to Charles at Passion Trail Bikes. He and his staff found the right front derailer (Tiagra, no less) that would shift properly for this unconventional setup. Thanks, Charles, for doing what Sheldon said was impossible!

Location: Enid Pearson Arastradero Preserve, Palo Alto, California, USA

 
11 Comments

Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 
 
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