Best of (Handmade Bicycle) Show: Rob English. And Campy turns 80.

full size tikitCongratulations to Rob English of English Cycles who took home two awards from the recent North American Handmade Bicycle Show. A multiple Oregon state time trial champion, English brought his new personal time trial bike and took home Best of Show with it. Culture Cycles took quite a few pictures of the low, narrow, wind-cheating machine. This is more than frame building—English made the front brake, hub and cranks, and tucked the electronic rear derailleur’s battery inside the frame. Rob is a man of broad interests—and co-designer of the Bike Friday tikit folding bicycle. My tikit is pictured to the left.

Gates Carbon Drive awarded seven of its own prizes at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show for builders integrating the company’s belt drive into their custom creations. English won for the Best Belted Adventure Bike, built for a customer who plans to ride it on mostly unpaved roads along the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. Bike Rumor takes a look at three English machines: a rigid 29er, the Black Rainbow Divide Ride and the Best of Show time trial machine. Rob has also written about the Black Rainbow. And Gates has pictures of all the award-winning belted machines.

Rob English and his wife, Misha, are getting ready to open a bed and breakfast in Oregon’s South Willamette Valley this summer. Rob says the couple will give “a 10% discount to anyone traveling by bicycle; any English Cycles customer who would like to come for a fit or to pickup their bike can get a free night’s stay, too.” Says the Velo website: “Vegetarian. Eco. Local. Organic. Velo!” (Velo Bed and Breakfast)

Italian parts maker Campagnolo is celebrating its 80th anniversary. You’ll find a brief review of its history on its website. It also has a special anniversary website. Campy, of course, is probably the only parts maker that is seeing the value of its 50th anniversary parts group going up—as long as it has never been used.

A folding bicycle with 14 speeds and no derailleurs? Dahon says its 2014 product line will include the Mu Rohloff Sport featuring the German-made Rohloff internally geared rear hub.

Tern Bicycles is back at the Austin, Texas, South by Southwest Conference, “the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies,” running a bike share program for conference attendees. According to the news release: “The SXcycles bike share program is presented by NBC’s Revolution and will provide registered conference attendees (Platinum, Gold, Interactive, Film and Music badges) with a fun, health conscious and sustainable way to get between the conference center, outside events, and lodging, at no cost to them.” Details: “Before taking a bike, every renter is required to pre-authorize a $250 deposit at the SXcycles lot. Bikes must be returned by 2 a.m. or a $100 late fee will be applied daily until the bike is returned.” 2 a.m.? I think I could manage that. (Tern)

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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9 Responses to Best of (Handmade Bicycle) Show: Rob English. And Campy turns 80.

  1. Erik says:

    If that is what is keeping Austin weird then sign me up!

    I’ve been asked by a couple people now in the last week about bike-related affairs here in the area. A lot of people looking to get involved somehow but unsure where to turn. Do you have a list of organizations, websites, shops, etc. compiled?

    • I recommend everyone interested in advocacy in Illinois join the League of Illinois Bicyclists. I’m not saying you’ll be immediately surrounded by like-minded advocates, but this is the main group that’s moving the needle for people who ride bicycles in downstate Illinois. Not necessarily in Peoria right now, but I suspect that has to do with a localized dearth of members.

      On the national level, you’ve got Bicycles Belong (a bicycle industry group) and the League of American Bicyclists (individual memberships). These two groups do the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to advocacy on the national level. On the whole, the national picture can be very confusing—a lot of groups claim to advocate, in whole or in part, for people who ride bicycles. BB and LAB are the biggest fish.

      On the local level, the closest you come to an advocacy organization for road users is the Illinois Valley Wheelm’n, though its main focus by far is pure recreational riding. Should you join them to advocate for bicycling as an activity? Well, you could, but you may also find yourself quickly being asked to head up the effort. To judge by how difficult it was for the organization to find a new president, you have to assume there’s more energy for hard riding than heavy lifting.

      The Peoria Area Mountain Bike Association seems to have done a lot of work on area off-road trails. Not my first choice for people who want better accommodations around town.

      The Peoria Bicycle Club is all about racing. Nothing to see there.

      As far as local shops are concerned, I’d refer people to the phone book. I personally like them all—hey, they’re all bike shops!–but I can’t say that any local business is really working to expand bicycle access in the area. (Incidentally, I’d love to be proved incorrect). Like any business, their main activities are focused on selling product and keeping the customer satisfied—hard enough to do in the internet age.

      Before I wrap this up, I will suggest would-be advocates view a few other sites. Great bicycle-based journalism. This is the kind of writing that emerges from a bicycle-rich environment.

      The couple that runs The Path Less Pedaled has been promoting bicycle tourism as a boost to local economies. The positive vibes are strong with these two.

      And Erik, you’re already familiar with Strong Towns. Its focus is not on bicycle advocacy, per se, but the discussions on infrastructure and budgeting are a great background for anyone who wants to promote the local benefits of bicycle transportation. All that car-based road development of the past 50 to 60 years? Strong Roads says it’s not sustainable.

      What is? Active transportation. I always enjoy reading about communities that are starting to rethink development around people instead of traffic flows.

      All these links are in the Links section of 16incheswestofpeoria. If you find anything you care to pass along, please do.

  2. Micheal Blue says:

    Nice bikes, but why would anyone want a black bike, for godness sake?
    I’ve had some thoughts of getting a Tern bike as a winter commuter, as I have studded winter tires for 20″ wheels, and they don’t make them for 16″. However, as I had the bad experience with the Dahon’s steerer tube snapping off, I’m not sure I can trust Tern. Seems like they use the same aluminum forks. They have one model using a hi-tens steel fork, but that seems like a cheep steel. Seems like nobody has figured out a 20″ folder of high quality cro-mo that folds at least as “small” as a Tern bike. 20″ BF folders are beautiful, but they fold to unwieldy packages.

    • Black wouldn’t be my first choice for a frame color, but then again, I’m not in the market right now.

      My experience with Dahon is limited to the Bullhead and with the Tern, to the P7i. No problems with frame and fork on either, though the Bullhead is closer to a standard double-diamond frame than it is to a folder. If I were in the market for a Tern, I’d buy an all-aluminum frame without hesitation, though I, like you, am a bigger fan of steel frames and forks. The P7i I tested, a pre-production model, was rock solid.

      So if I’m on track to anything, it’s a Brompton, though admittedly, not as a winter commuter. It boggles the mind to think that no one seems to be competing against the Brompton’s combination of ridability and small folded size.

      The new Bike Friday Silk looks interesting in the 20-inch size. The rear end is quite different.

      I’d agree that my tikit doesn’t fold as small as I’d like it to, though it’s great for carrying around in the car. (The Tern P7i? Pretty much the same folded length as the tikit and just a scooch taller–with 20-inch wheels.)

      I once wrote to Bike Friday and said if they ever came out with a 16-inch bike smaller than the tikit, they ought to call it a tikit stub. No response so far.

  3. Micheal Blue says:

    The Dahon Mu P24 I used to have fit in a carry bag that I bought at a bike shop (though the bag wasn’t Dahon made). When I tried to put the tikit in the bag, I couldn’t zip it – not even close. Thus my guess is that the tikit is close to the height of the Dahon, but quite longer.

    Brompton is a really nice bike. I test-rode one (just around the block) and it felt great.
    My issue with them is that there is only one bike shop here in Toronto that sells/services them.
    If something fails or break, how long would the bike be down for (waiting for parts)? If the bike
    shop decides to close, what then?
    After using the tikit for four months, I can say the bike is fantastic for riding, but the size of the fold makes it inconvenient to handle. It’s more meant for folding it and putting it in a car. Though it just about passes through the trunk opening of my Toyota Corolla. I cannot imagine taking it folded on a bus or streetcar during rush hour – it’s too big and messy. The Brompton is so compact and neat that I cannot see any problem doing it.
    If I had to do it all over again (buying a folder), I would go for the Tikit again. Even though the large and messy fold can be inconvenient, the standard parts are a huge plus.
    If I could justify the expense, I’d buy a Brommie as a second folder :-).

    You say that the P7i you tested was rock solid. My Dahon felt/was rock solid for the
    first six thousand km, too (well, the frame). It’s just that Tern looks pretty much exactly like Dahon. I think I’ll email them and ask 🙂

  4. That reminds me that I need to get another carry bag for the tikit. That way, as soon as I order it, I’ll find the original bag.

    Let me know what you hear from Tern. I assume you’ll hear that Dahons and Terns come from different factories and that the designs are quite different. I do like what Tern says about the quality of its hinges and the more-or-less standardized stem risers (which, along with their logistics strategy should mean less of a problem with replacement parts).

    As far as what to do if a shop should close, I assume you’d be in the same situation that I am right now: no one in my immediate area handles Brompton, Dahon, Tern or Bike Friday. I know of a mechanic who has replaced the stem riser on the tikit under warranty (as I myself did), so at least one of the brands is not entirely foreign to him.

    Fortunately I can draw on a (long-distant) past as a bicycle mechanic–and there is the Internet as a source of information.

    Note: If I were buying either a Tern or a Dahon as a multi-modal transportation solution, I’d probably get a single speed or one of the internal hub gear models. I like being able to use plastic chain covers when the chain is on the outside of the folded package.

  5. Micheal Blue says:

    So I heard from Tern. Their reply was very fast, and came from Steve, the GM for NA:
    “Thanks for your message and interest in Tern. While there are some similarities in
    appearance in some models I can assure you the comparison ends there. When we
    founded the company we were determined that a folding bike didn’t have to look and
    ride like a contraption – hence the good looks you commented on.

    Our frames and forks are completely different in design as well, far exceeding the
    very strict EN testing we put them each through. In terms of forks we use the
    industry proven ‘aheadset’ type design so as not to weaken the steerer through
    threading it. Our design is also superior in how it holds the fork on the bike and
    in adjustment.”

    It sounds good.

    • I do enjoy it when I hear companies talking about testing.

      For instance, when Jan Heine wrote about the numbers-driven testing of Rene Herse cranks, my interest in buying Herse cranks (sometime in the distant future) increased significantly. Here’s that link:

      I’ve seen incredibly expensive bicycles marketed on not much more than a dark picture and a dim headline. When I feel a company is sweating the details, I pay attention.

  6. Pingback: 28 March 2013 | English Cycles

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