SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.




Kogswell 26" wheeled P/R

Hey look, there's one of 'em 26-inch-wheeled Kogswell P/Rs!



Mini Rando Bike!

This is what happens when you slam an Alex Singer and a BMX bike together...

Today is also my birthday, which has nothing to do with this photo!


Measuring Trail

This photo depicts how I measure a bicycle's trail. First I suspend a plumb bob (use a key tied to a length of string) from the very end of the threaded side of the front-wheel's Q/R skewer. Then I hook a string over/around the fork steerer or stem quill, and stretch it down parallel to the steerer and the upper fork legs to the ground, where it's held against a ruler. Measure the distance between the stretched string and the plumb-bob and you've got a rough trail value. Make sure the bike is positioned on level ground with front wheel straight, and is as vertical as you can make it.


Today was Bike to Work Day

Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
I rode my bike to work today. Fifty miles from SF to Sunnyvale. Did you?


Kogswell 700C P/R -- First Impressions

kogswell panda #1
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
Yesterday I got acquainted with my new bike by spending a few hours riding the local 45-mile route known as the "Paradise Loop", which winds from SF across the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) , through Sausalito, up Camino Alto, around through Paradise Valley Drive to Tiburon, then back to Sausalito and finally back home across the bridge.

I had an enjoyable ride, certainly partly fueled by the new-bike rush. In a nutshell, I wasn't hugely blown away by the Kogswell -- in that it
wasn't a *profoundly* different experience than riding my other bikes. A few random highlights in no particular order:

1. The tires (cheap wire-bead 700x35 Paselas) OH MY the tires are GREAT. @50psi they feel cushy, supple, and non-slow. Love 'em! If nothing else, this is the big win. I've got Riv Nifty Swifty 650Bs on my RB-1 and I usually run those near 75psi -- I REALLY need to try those at a lower pressure (although reports indicate those aren't as supple as these fat Paselas)!

2. So this is low trail? I honestly wouldn't have especially noticed it if I didn't know about it beforehand. The steering is a little slow/vague feeling especially near-center, though it doesn't feel as heavy and truck-like as, say, my Fuji CX does with mushy knobby tires. The bike feels LONG and somewhat top-heavy, but that might be due in part to my overly high (for me) handlebar position. It steers by leaning like my Nishiki Sport vs. by turning like my 700C classic road-racing-geometry bikes (ADVN and 700C RB-1). This bike MAY hold a straight line better at low speed than my higher-trail bikes, but I need to do more research on that. I was hoping that cross winds wouldn't blow me off course as readily, but as I was dropping down Polk street towards downtown SF, a big gust of wind from my left pushed me abruptly off course and nearly into the back of a parked car, so it's hard to report positively on that point yet. I also experimented with looking back over a shoulder to see if the bike wandered off it's line, and I can report that it does -- I see no difference/improvement there than with my other bikes.

3. Descending on this bike put a smile on my face. Zipping down the
north side of Camino Alto, I found that the combination of the fat cushy tires and (I guess?) the neutral low-trail handling was very confidence boosting. For the first time I feel like I might have a significant advantage in speedy descending (and since I suck at descending, every extra tool is welcome). While my 700C RB-1 wanted to understeer/go straight and I had to wrestle it away from the guardrail, and with 650B wheels the RB-1 wants to oversteer/fall into the curve requiring me to attentively hold it on course, the P/R is delightfully balanced between those two extremes. No fighting or extra-attention needed...it just goes, and mid-curve corrections are nearly effortless.

4. It may "plane", but I need to futz with stem lengths and heights to
adjust my position better so I can maximize power output on the
bike and know for certain. Even in spite of this (and #5 below), several times I found myself off the saddle, "dancing" up several hills vs. sitting and shifting to an easier gear. This is a characteristic that I enjoy very much in my RB-1, and this bike may have it also. Or it could be due to the fact that I've been commuting on my fixed-gear a lot recently, and my legs are now stronger. Who knows?

5. This bike is HEAVY. It's not the frame's fault (frame and fork weigh around 7lbs) -- I think that's mostly due to my 36-spoke rear
wheel, big (wire bead) tires, and the large/solid 11-32 cassette (my Fuji has an XTR 12-32 that is much lighter due to the spider).

6. It may just be due to the way I mounted the rear fender, but I'm kinda annoyed that I have to deflate the rear tire to remove the rear
wheel from the frame. Vertical dropouts really are the way to go for a fendered (geared) bike!

7. To be fair, I purposely loaded this bike "wrong" -- I mounted my
usual Banana Bag at the saddle and Candy Bar bag at the front, with
their usual contents (tool kit/first aide/spare tube in rear, food/gloves/camera/jacket/misc up front). The heaviest stuff was in the rear bag. The bike may handle better/differently with the weight biased towards the front, but that'll have to wait until I figure out a front rack + bag solution.

8. I like my V-O bell, although I think I'd rather mount it on the
stem or on the handlebars vs. on a spacer mount. It's awkward to
reach when you need it, and I bump it with my knee during
out-of-saddle riding.

Someday soon I need to do back-to-back loops on the Kogswell and a couple of my other bikes...that might really highlight the differences
in their character.



Done! (for now at least)

side view
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
Spent most of the afternoon today wrestling, er, installing the Velo-Orange 49mm fluted-style alloy fenders on my brand-spankin' new 59x700C Kogswell. I think it's actually ready to ride, and then I get to futz with the handlebar/stem arrangements...! Click on the photo for a bunch more.



GT Tachyon. A Great Idea that Happened Too Soon.

According to this forum posting, Bill Duehring was the VP of Product at GT around the time the GT Tachyon was produced (later he was promoted to COO). Props to this guy! Who is he? Where'd he go? [Update: Looks like he's at Felt Bicycles now...]

Now read the text contained in the purple block in this catalog scan. I'm assuming Mr. Duehring wrote this, or at least was influential in authoring it. You might want to mentally substitute "650B" for "700D" since those wheel sizes differ by only about 3mm in radius:

Some quotes from the above:

...manufacturers and consumers alike assumed everyone wanted an ultimate off-road machine. Well, assumptions can be wrong...

Why doesn't anyone make a bike that's as tough as a mountain bike, yet as functional on the road as your old ten-speed?

Such sensibility and practicality is rare in today's bike market!

Now check out the other page of that catalog scan:

Note especially the inset photo of the front fork dropout, featuring adjustable offset:

New design Cross fork with adjustable offset offers four different front wheel locations and lets the rider choose.

I argued for exactly this type of multi-position dropout on the KOG list during the initial discussions about the design of the P/R frameset, but Kogswell instead decided to offer multiple fork options instead of this convenient design.

Now oogle the bike:

Hot damn!

I remember these things sitting on the floor of one of the shops I worked in during the early 1990's...I dismissed them due to the funny 700D wheel size, and the fact that they were (ugh) "hybrids". Ugh, indeed -- if I knew then what I know now, I'd have held them in as high regard as I do now. Of course I want one!

Apparently GT also made a few tandem models using the 700D wheelsize as well...



Undermining the SF Bike Advocacy Movement

The SF Bicycle Coalition is the infamous juggernaut of bicycle advocacy in the city of San Francisco. As a resident of SF, I have a love/hate relationship with this organization. While I generally and certainly espouse the use of a bicycle for fun, healthy, green, sustainable, social-positive, whatever everyday transportation and would like to align with SF Bike on that goal, this organization seems to take every opportunity to subtly promote antisocial bicycle behavior that only reinforces negative stereotypes about cyclists and bicycle use.

SFBC's bylaws state
...[to] promote a healthy environment and community including specifically the promotion of the bicycle for everyday transportation.

yet this organization mostly seems to "advocate" anti-establishment cycling activities. Critical Mass is always included in the upcoming-events calendar listing in the Coalition's email newsletter with the tongue-in-cheek admonition
While this ride is not organized nor endorsed by the SFBC, we have a keen interest in happy bicycling every day in San Francisco. To that end, we encourage all participants to ride courteously and respectfully.

Yeah, riiiight. If you've ever watched a Critical Mass ride in SF, it doesn't take long to realize that it's an excuse for a rolling party circus, with marauding packs of "bikers" disrespectfully overwhelming streets, toting beer and mobile soundsystems, and urinating all over public property (yes I've witnessed this on more than one occasion).

And now I'm reading that there's a new fixie-punk film called Mash SF, a screening of which is being held locally next week...in part sponsored by none other than the SF Bike Coalition. The trailer for this movie shows the typical disrespectful, scofflaw behavior associated (especially) with the fixed-gear punk-hipster stereotype: trick riding, skidding, weaving in and out of moving traffic, blowing stop signs and stop lights, stupid daredevil stunts, riding around the city at night without lights, etc. Since they're helping to promote this film and sponsor its screening, it makes me question whether this type of riding is condoned by the SFBC? Is this what "safe commuting" is all about? I think not.

True, the SFBC has done a significant amount to promote urban cycling and get bicycle commuting on the local government's radar, but supporting and advertising these other types of activities does NOT support the "promotion of the bicycle for everyday transportation". Sending these kind of mixed messages simply undermines their goals!