Monthly Archives: September 2010

Our Village Fair and other news

Last Sunday, Mount Airy had its annual village fair, which took place in the ‘bustling’ center of West Mount Airy, the corner of Greene St. and Carpenter Lane. There were plenty of unique attractions and events, including a ‘free for all’ (basically a free garage sale) by Phillyfreecycle, a bike-powered blender at the Mt. Airy Bike Collective cranking out fruit smoothies, a pie-eating contest sponsored by High Point Cafe, and a slow ice cream eating contest sponsored by us at PHEW.

Despite some rain that eventually cleared up, the day went great. Lots of people turned out and enjoyed themselves.  I’m also pleased to announce that I am the 2010 pie-eating contest winner! There was some tough competition, but I emerged victorious (and covered with pie.) It was a classic no-hands speed-eating contest, so getting messy was inevitable. The prize for victory was, ironically, a pie. Fortunately I’m allowed to claim my pie at any time so wasn’t stuck with a stomachache and a fresh pie at the same time.

Afshin is also a two-time winner of the pie-eating contest, which means PHEW is pretty dominant in the contest. We’ll have to see what next year’s result will be…

In actual E-bike related news, last week Afshin and I dashed out to Las Vegas for the Interbike trade show, which is a GIANT annual meeting of the bike industry. We went to scout out new E-bike designs and see what was going on with bike design in general. The mainstream of the bike industry is picking up E-bikes in a big way, as a good number of manufacturers featured their electric offerings.

There were also some new names on the scene with different and interesting designs. One maker called Lightning had a very light (24 lb) singlespeed electric bike at the show, but judging by the the total lack of coverage on their website or in the media, it’s likely the bike is not ready for mass production. I guess we’ll keep our eyes out.

There was also a very nice looking electric motor design by Achiever,  which places the motor and controller in the bottom bracket, using a motor attached to the cranks to assist in turning the pedals. The company claims that this is preferable to the standard hub-motor setup because the motor is kept at an optimal RPM by the rider as they select the appropriate gear while riding. This design also makes the weight of the bike more balanced, since the weight of the motor and controller is at the center of the bike instead of at either end as it would with a hub motor.

We’ll see how these designs come along and see about getting some models to test. If we pick up any new products, we’ll let you know.

Ride Report: Bike Philly 2010

This past Sunday marked the third annual Bike Philly ride, which offers the unique opportunity for cyclists to ride a planned route around the city on streets free of motor vehicles. The ride featured three different route options of 10, 20, or 35 miles so anyone from novice riders to hardcore cyclists would have a challenging ride.

I volunteered for SAG (service and gear) support, which meant I would carry some tools, a tire pump, and patch kit and look out for any riders in need of assistance.

The morning of the ride dawned cool and damp, and I pedaled toward the starting  area in front of the Art Museum on deserted streets. I checked in with the volunteer coordinators, received my volunteer t-shirt and complimentary coffee. Rain fell intermittently, and a rainbow briefly appeared over the museum before the rain fell in earnest.

From Bike Philly 2010

Despite the rain, groups of riders of every description filtered into the starting area: racer-types in full spandex outfits, new riders grinning ear to ear, older folks on their trusty steeds, parent/child tandem teams, people piloting adaptive tricycles, and countless others on all types of human-powered transport.

From Bike Philly 2010

As the roll-out time neared, the starting area swelled with riders. Mayor Michael Nutter made a speech expressing strong support for cyclists in the city. He and his wife were taking part in the ride, so it seemed his words about cyclists’ right to the road carried more weight than if he had made the speech only to duck into an idling limousine.

From Bike Philly 2010

Roll-out time finally came, and the huge group of riders crammed into the starting area slowly stretched out into a line that stretched longer than the Ben Franklin Parkway. I was amid the ‘easy rider’ group, composed mostly of families and others who took the ride at a relaxed pace. My first roadside repair came only a few hundred yards from the start when a tag-along bike suffered a bent chain guard that I quickly bent back into shape. My second repair occurred when I got a flat tire myself soon after. I repaired my tube under an awning at the US Mint as the last of the riders and support vehicles drove by. I started near the back of the group, so by the time I got back on the road I was far behind. I rode for a couple of miles with traffic, not another rider to be seen until I finally caught up with a group just as we turned back onto the Parkway to head out to the scenic, hilly roads of Fairmont Park.

The rain eventually petered out and left the riders with a wet, slick road to contend with, but I have to hand it to the ride organizers, who stationed many course marshals at every turn and road hazard, alerting riders of any dangerous conditions.

There were also several rest stops, which featured free bike repair, food, and drink. My favorite was in front of an old mansion in the park that even featured a live bluegrass band.

From Bike Philly 2010

After the rest stop, the ride separated between the 35- and 20-mile routes, and I headed back toward the museum on the shorter route. I had only one other call for assistance when a man needed some air for his tire. In our brief interaction, he told me how he had driven from Yonkers, New York at 3 that morning to ride, and that he used to be ‘a couch potato’ before he took up biking. It was good to hear about biking making a positive influence on his life, and his enthusiasm was a great boost for the last few miles of cold riding to the finish.

From Bike Philly 2010

I was impressed by the overall enthusiasm of nearly everyone I encountered on the ride, and it seemed that no one was going to let rain keep them from having a good time. The droves of organizers and other volunteers radiated enthusiasm and encouragement, and the riders enjoyed themselves despite gray, wet conditions.

I highly recommend Bike Philly to residents and out-of-towners alike. It’s a great way to see the city and share the fellowship of riding bikes with thousands of other people. There are also a multitude of volunteer opportunities available, and you don’t have to be a mechanical whiz to help out. It’s definitely worth contributing to this great event.

More News from the Cargo Bike World

A while ago I mentioned the Trek Transport Plus and wondered what other players in the bike biz would come out with an electric cargo bike. I just found out via that Kona, another major bike manufacturer, has thrown their hat into the ring with the electric version of their popular Ute long-tail cargo bike.

The Ute uses a 250 watt motor to drive the front wheel and a lithium-ion battery mounted under the rear rack. The spec of the bike seems like pretty standard fare, with rack, fenders, triple crank and a big double kickstand. Suggested retail price is around $2600, which makes the Ute a pretty inexpensive way to get onto an electric cargo bike.

make sure to check out for lots of insight on owning an electric cargo bike.  The owner has a BionX-assisted cargo bike, but he shares his views on many different cargo bike configurations.

One interesting option is the StokeMonkey kit, which uses a motor that drives a second chainring on the cranks, much in the same way that a tandem bike connects the front rider (called the captain) with the rear rider (the stoker.) Seems like an interesting design, I wonder if one will ever make its way through our doors.