Farmington Canal Trail high wheel bicycle ride.

4 05 2010

Spent May 1st riding on the Farmington Canal Trail with The Devil’s Gear Bike Shop and their high wheel bicycles. We covered 33 miles, very impressive for a high wheeler! There was a stop at the halfway point to consume the incredibly delicious Sweet Claude’s ice cream. A great day!





Critical Mass – April 30, 2010

2 05 2010

Critical Mass working it's way through the streets of New Haven.

A wide variety if bicycles come to Critical Mass including high wheelers and box bikes.

Marty Waters riding his tall bike through New Haven.





Restoration of the Irwell

22 04 2010

Irwell rear cog.

Restoration of the 1890-1896 Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Irwell has begun! Story to come.

Irwell chain showing the connecting pin.

Irwell front and rear wheels.

Irwell tire.

Irwell tire showing soldered inner wire.

Irwell radial laced spokes thread in at the hub.

Irwell hygenic saddle.

Irwell left pedal.

Irwell right pedal.





Locking Your Bicycle: Good and Bad 2.0

22 04 2010

U-lock around front wheel and post with cable lock through rear wheel? FAIL!

The U-lock must be used around the frame and post to be effective. FAIL!

I was out walking around New Haven yesterday and once again I came across some horribly locked bicycles. So, to recap the U-lock needs to be around your frame AND the post you are locking to. If you use a cable it should be a secondary form of security to leash your wheels. The cable should never be used to attach your bike to the post. Cables can be cut!! If you lock your bicycle to a post or rack in New Haven with a cable the chances of it getting stolen go up dramatically. U-lock frame to post. Again. U-lock frame to post.
Please visit my How to Lock Your Bike page for detailed locking instructions.

Inexpensive Master Cable locks around frame and post? FAIL!

On closer inspection one of the cables has already been cut! This bike is already half-stolen. FAIL!!

U-lock around frame and post? Cable looping BOTH wheels? Locking skewers? Cable lock on seat? GOLD STAR!!





Pennies from heaven.

13 04 2010

The Devil's Gear Bike Shop's six high wheel penny bikes parked outside the shop.

Six penny bikes ready for action.





Review: Portland Design Works – RADBOT 1000

30 03 2010

Portland Design Works – RADBOT 1000 1 watt taillight with built in EU approved reflector.

The RADBOT 1000 has one directive: to defend you and your bike from rear collisions.

I have found a new favorite taillight. Sorry Superflash. You are still my faithful number 2 but, there is a new number 1. I have been using the Portland Design Works RADBOT 1000 for the past month and I must say I am very impressed with the design and flashing power of this light. The RADBOT 1000 features a 1.0 watt red LED made in Japan by Nichia brand. Below the LED flasher RADBOT also has an EU approved rear reflector. Some communities require a rear reflector whereas the use of a flasher is optional. Combining both into an attractive and smart package is a great move by the PDW designers. The RADBOT comes with a the standard seatpost or seat stay mounting option but, PDW also includes a rear rack mount. The really cool thing is that they are all identical to the clip mounts used by Planet Bike. So, if you use multiple mounts on different bikes you can swap the PDW and Planet Bike lights as you please. I’ve been using a combination of the RADBOT and a Superflash lately and am quite pleased with the adverse comments from ‘some’ motorists. Like most lights the RADBOT 1000 also has a belt clip on back and also comes with AAA batteries included.

The light itself is very well designed. There is a 1.5 second delay built into the on/off switch. The need to hold the button down to get it to turn on helps to prevent accidental turn ons when the light is in a bag or pocket. The japanese LED is the same one used in the brake lights of new automobiles! It has three modes. Rock Steady, zZz, and zZz POP! It runs for 30 hours flashing and 15 hours on steady. You can view each mode in the PDW RADBOT 1000 video below (click link).

RADBOT 1000 from PDW on Vimeo.

RADBOT 1000. 1 watt japanese LED. EU approved rear reflector.





Irwell – Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited

19 03 2010

The Irwell safety bicycle made by the Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited, Manchester, U.K.

Irwell - Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited headbadge.

This is an Irwell safety bicycle made by the Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company, Limited in Manchester U.K. I have been able to find out very little about this manufacturer. They appear to have made bicycles starting in the mid to late 1880s and by 1901 they were out of business. I found an 1887 advertisement from a Luxembourg newspaper advertising a three wheel safety/high wheel. And, there is another safety bicycle from Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Co., Ltd. called a claviger in the Pinkerton Collection that resides at the Manchester Velodrome.

The bicycle itself is in excellent condition for it’s age. It’s present owner purchased it as a 13 year old boy from a bicycle shop in Greenwich, Connecticut. He had been eyeing it for a few years and knew it had been hanging over the door in the shop for a long time. He convinced the shop owner to sell it to him for $4. That was a lot of money for a boy . . . in 1948. He rode the bike frequently for the next 10 years. He regularly rode it from Greenwich to Norwalk, a trip of about 17 miles. Each way! He has kept it lovingly for the past 62 years and, it has recently come down from it’s place in his barn for the first time in 40 years. Before he stored it he lubricated the entire bicycle utilizing the numerous lubrication fittings installed by the manufacturer. It must have worked, everything on the bicycle is in working order. The cranks spin freely. The pedals spin freely. The wheels spin freely. It is almost ride-able, almost. The chain needs to be inspected. The rear wheel is missing two of it’s straight pull spokes that thread at the hub. They need to be custom manufactured exclusively for the bicycle. And, the seat needs new leather.

As best as I can guess the bicycle is from the 1890s. It is an amazing example for it’s age. The straight pull, radial laced wheels are marvelous. The adjustable bottom bracket, to tension the massive chain, features a set of cranks with an 1874 french patent. The rear dropouts are cast pieces with vertical dropouts. The left dropout is cast to include a foot peg for mounting the bicycle, a holdover in design from the high wheel era of the decade earlier. The solid rubber tires are slowed through the hooded front tire scrubber. The headset is tensioned through a combination of springs mounted both above and below the headtube. The saddle features the cutout design that has become popular again called a hygenic saddle. Other than the obviously poor early frame geometry the quality of the external lugwork is amazing.

Claviger Safety c1887 – 1890
The Claviger (meaning “one who carries a club”) was added to the at the Velodrome later than the rest of the colection and little is known other than it was designed by William Golding and produced at New Bridge Street, Strangeways in Manchester by the Manchester cycle Manufacturing Company Ltd.
The machine was lever driven (as against chain) and was considered better than a pedal driven machine in many ways.

Irwell – Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited bottom bracket.

Irwell – Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited bottom bracket.

Irwell – Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited brake.

Irwell – Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited cog and chain.

Irwell – Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited rear dropout and footpeg.

Irwell – Manchester Cycle Manufacturing Company Limited crank.