Budget Transportation: Zebrakenko 5 speed.

15 03 2010

1980's Zebrakenko 5 speed fully accessorized for the Elm City.

When I was a little kid the bicycle shop down the street sold Zebrakenkos. Later as a teenager, when I began working at that same bike shop, The brand was long gone and the shop used barrels of old Zebrakenko t-shirts as shop rags. They lasted for years. I wish I had saved just one! Anyway, Zebras are definitely not one of the more popular Japanese brands from it’s era but it is certainly of similar high-quality. When I saw this commuter I just had to make it one of my ‘Budget Transportation” posts.

This Zebrakenko 5-speed is from the early 1980’s and has a beautiful lugged Japanese-steel frame. It sports a nicely worn Brooks saddle, factory red fenders, comfortable upright seating position, original Pletscher rack, and a single gear lever to change the gears. The bicycle is in immaculate condition for it’s age and was likely ridden very little. The owner purchased it for $225.00 in fully restored and tuned-up condition. It has been accessorized with a front basket, folding rear baskets, cork grips, MKS rubber pedals (smooth!), and a Planet Bike Superflash taillight. The cost of the accessories added was around $125 including installation. Not bad! $350.00 for a fully decked out around town commuter with lots of style to match. This is a seriously classy looking bike.

Zebrakenko 5 speed ready for the city.

The front basket is perfect for carrying your lunch, or maybe a small dog? Woof!

Rear baskets fold down for carrying larger items, like grocery bags. The Planet Bike Superflash keeps everything safe in traffic.


Great day for a ride!

9 03 2010

Cross walk Salsa.

Went out for a 20 mile ride on the Farmington Valley Canal Trail today. With the temperatures in the mid-50’s the trail was filled with all kinds of hikers, roller-bladers, and cyclists. I was riding my Salsa LaCruz that I am really loving Riding it today made me realize that I need to finish writing part 2 of my review. Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer. Yeah for spring! Yeah for an extra hour of daylight next week! Yeah for biking season!

Univega Alpina Country mountain bike and Salsa La Cruz leaning against a fence along the Farmington Valley Canal Trail.

Cyclist on Farmington Valley Canal Trail heading towards New Haven.

On top of my bike . . . on top of the world!

Budget Transportation: 1989 Nishiki Tri-A

8 03 2010

Nishiki Tri-A with Tange 1 frame tubing and original Shimano Santé shift levers.

This morning was a beautiful day for riding to work so, I decided to ride my Nishiki road bike. I picked this bike up a few months ago, and it is a great example of what you can find for a few hundred bucks. It has a high quality japanese steel tubing from renown manufacturer Tange. The frame has a lugged construction and was hand brazed by Kawamura for Nishiki. The bike itself is in really good shape and has little serious wear. Everything on the bicycle except for the tires, seat and handlebar tape is 100% original. Shimano Santé shift levers with Santé front and rear deraileurs. Shimano 600 cranks, brakes, hubs and headset. The bike even has the original Araya hard anodized rims. What attracted me most to the bicycle was the Santé components. When I first got a job working in a bicycle shop one of the owners had a 1989 Schwinn Circuit that had a full Santé component group. The memories of the elegance of that Schwinn came back to me when I saw this Nishiki.

Other than giving it a tune-up and swapping the 1980’s Bio Pace chain rings out for some round ones, the bike was ready to ride. And what a great ride it is. I have extolled the virtues of steel in the past and I will likely continue to do so in the future. A quality steel frame performs exceptionally and the ride quality cannot be matched by any aluminum bicycle. Running on 700×23 tires the Nishiki is quite fast. I have been able to average between 17 and 19 mph on the commute into New Haven. The skinny tires do make them more vulnerable to flats so, more vigilance of what is in front of you is required. I have already put close to 200 miles on this bicycle and it has been trouble free other than a flat caused by a bad tire. Anyone who is in the market for quality budget transportation shouldn’t rule out a nice used bike. This Nishiki was $1000 or more when it was new. It never saw much use and eventually was sold for a few hundred dollars. Now I get the enjoyment of a high quality steel road bike for a bargain price.

Nishiki Tri-A with Shimano Santé and Shimano 600 components.

Snow Kona

27 02 2010

Riding the Humu Humu Nuku Nuku A' Pua'A down Hamilton Street in wet snow.

After riding the Salsa in the rain for a few days the moisture has turned to snow. With the added Slipperyness I have been riding my Kona Humu for the past few days. I was really hoping for more snow. I still haven’t gotten to ride around in any decent snow this winter. All the good storms have been missing New Haven.

Cruising on the Kona.

Salsa Night

25 02 2010

Riding the Salsa LaCruz down Chapel Street in the rain.

I’ve been having a lot of fun riding my Salsa LaCruz shod with the awesome Axiom RainRunner Trekk Reflex fenders around in the rain the past couple days. And, with myself shod in my Showers Pass Hybrid Zipoff pants I have been dry as can be. Here are some photos from riding home tonight in the pouring rain.

Salsa LaCruz riding in the rain.

NiteRider headlight lights the way down Chapel Street in the rain.

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Review: Salsa La Cruz

19 02 2010
Salsa LaCruz commuter

Salsa La Cruz commuter bike.

Last fall as I began to commute to New Haven more often by bicycle I quickly found the need to have a long distance commuter bike. I had ridden my Humu to New Haven several times but the singlespeed wasn’t really ideal for the 14 mile commute. I was getting to New Haven in under an hour but on the days there was a heavy head wind on State Street in Hamden, I would suffer badly. My only other options were off road mountain bikes and cruisers. I decided to disassemble the mountain bike that saw the least (no) usage and use the components to build my commuter bike around. I had some semi-specific details I wanted to satisfy with the commuter. First and foremost the frame material had to be steel. Steel is for real folks. Aluminum is light but the ride quality can’t match the comfort of steel. Next, I wanted disc brakes. Disc brakes have superior stopping power wet or dry, work well with heavy loads (panniers), and the donor bike had discs so, I wanted to reuse them. I wanted tire clearance for a 40c to 45c tire so, I could have the option to run anything from a 28c to 32c road tire, a 32c to 38c road or cyclecross tire, or a narrow 29er tire if I wanted. It had to have fender mounts and I wanted rack braze ons. Finally, I wanted the fit to be right. I wanted a road bike like fit. For my height I ride a 58cm frame with a top tube close to 23″ (58.4cm). After doing much research I discovered that the only frameset that satisfied my needs was the Salsa LaCruz. THEN I found out it was only available in Pop Orange. How sweet! Orange! Have I mentioned . . . nevermind.

I ordered the frameset and eagerly awaited it’s arrival.

When the Salsa LaCruz frame and fork arrived I was really stoked. I hadn’t built up a new ride for myself in a while. The LaCruz frame was beautiful. The finish quality, top notch. The paint looked great. And the color couldn’t be more perfect. The fork has gorgeous legs that taper to the dropout. There are no cantilever bosses on the frame or fork, only disc mounts and , it makes for a very clean look. The frame is constructed using True Temper OX Platinum tubing. It is a steel of the ‘air-hardened’ variety with a very high tensile strength on par with Reynolds 853. The tubing is all oversized and makes for a sturdy overall look. Salsa even did a fantastic job with the frame prep. I chased all of the threads with a tap but, they had all been perfectly cleaned by Salsa. Great job! The only other thing I did before starting my build was to spend some time using J.P. Weigle Frame Prep. Frame Prep is a product that rust inhibits the INSIDES of the frame tubes. You spray the prep into all the little weep holes in the frame tubes and the Frame Prep sticks itself to the inside walls of the tube creating a barrier to prevent rust should water find it’s way inside your bike. A very common concern for those who commute in inclimate weather.

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Humu Humu Nuku Nuku APua’A

5 02 2010

Kona – Humu Humu Nuku Nuku Apua'A

Why, Yes! It is the state fish of Hawaii. But, it is also the longest bicycle model name in the cycling world. And, my Humu is the bicycle in my fleet that I have loved the longest. I have reconfigured this orange beauty (I love orange) many, many times to suit my needs. She has seen time as a single speed mountain bike, casual lunch bike, rail trail tourer, and most recently my bus commuter. Right now the Humu is set up to be a little mountain, a little BMX, and a whole bunch of ultra-durable commuter bike. Profile Racing BMX hubs(w/hockey lace hub polishers) laced to Sun Ringlé Rhino Lite rims wrapped with Tioga Factory MTB tires. I decided to go with knobbies for inclement weather since I don’t ride more than a few miles at a stretch when I am taking the bus into New Haven, otherwise I would have kept my Kenda Cross tires. BMX cruiser bars get my hands high and my back upright for safe riding around New Haven. Shimano XT cranks with the big ring mounted in place of the middle ring and a Girvin Rock Ring mounted where the big ring used to be. I have run this setup for years. I don’t think you can get Rock Rings anymore. Too bad! It does a great job of keeping your pant leg away from the chain and sprocket teeth. 48t Chainring and an 18t freewheel for gearing. Crupi BMX chain tensioners keep the Z-chain ideally tensioned. Platform BMX pedals with steel pins. Blackburn rack. SKS fenders. Planet Bike Beamer 3 up front. Planet Bike Superflash and a Cateye Blinker out back. Oh, and did I mention it’s orange? Did I mention I LOVE orange? I love orange.

Shimano XT cranks with Girven Rock Ring

Profile BMX hub with hockey lace hub polishers.