Monday, November 6, 2017

BSNYC Field Trip: 2017 Philly Bike Expo

***Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Election Day.  Election Day means no school.  No school means I have to put on my parenting gloves.  Parenting means I won't be updating this blog tomorrow, but I'll be back on Wednesday, November 8th with regular updates.  The Bike Forecast shall continue uninterrupted.***

Hello!  Let's jump right in with some bike blogging, because this is a bike blog and in these trying times I find great comfort in that.  So first of all, you'll remember that on Friday I took delivery of the Renovo Aerowood:

Well it's all together now and I've managed to get a couple of 20-ish mile rides on it so far:

Naturally the first outing revealed some stuff that needed minor adjustment, and that included a hideous screeching from the wheels under hard braking.  Well I'm pleased to report I've sorted all of those out--including, it seems, the hair-raising crabon banshee wail, and I must say that's the first time ever in my life that toeing in the brakes actually worked.

I was so ready to blame all the ills of society on those decadent crabon wheels that I'm almost disappointed.  They even seem to stop well in wet conditions, which really pisses me off.

Anyway, at this early stage I'm not going to say anything other than that the bike is really fun to ride and makes me feel super fast even though I'm not--though for the basis of comparison I hopped on my trusty Ritte and that too felt pretty damn good, cheapo wheels and all:

Clearly some wheel-swapping and other experimentation is in order, and rest assured I'll keep you apprised of how I'm getting on with the Renovo over the duration of the testing period.

Oh, and I've checked with my tech department, and right now the plan is to get the Jones H-Bars installed on the Marin by Friday so I can start testing those babies out too.

Though I can't promise anything, for I am only one Fred.

Either way, I'm very much looking forward to to switching back and forth between a $10,000 wooden aerobike and a stock no-frills 27.5+ bike with wide-ass alt bars on it that costs about 1/10th as much.

Moving on, this past weekend I headed down to the Philly Bike Expo.  Usually I only visit for the day and give a seminar, which basically involves me bloviating in an ostensibly humorous fashion, showing a bunch of slides, and giving away some goofy prizes--including, last time I was down there, a crabon frame that may or may not have been cracked:

While I'm no Carrot Top, people generally seem to have an OK time, so I keep doing it.

This year, however, show organizer Bina Bilenky had a different idea, which was for me to speak at an "Industry Party" she was putting together for Saturday evening, so I figured I'd do that and then spend the night in Philly:

My "presentation" was basically a disaster, but more on that later.

Anyway, upon arriving in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon the first thing I did was take a photo of where I parked, because I have been known to lose my car:

And yes, even though I hate cars now I totally drove to the Expo, but only because I was traveling with a $10,000 wooden bicycle, and if I took the Bolt bus I'm sure that upon stepping off of it in Philly they'd hand me a bag of sawdust.

While you may see this as hypocritical, I maintain it only reaffirms my central point, which is that all drivers are assholes.  

Once I'd gotten the car and hotel room sorted out I headed over to the convention center, where the Expo was in full swing, much to the delight of the local news:

I then made straight for the Engin booth, for I am a big fan of Drew's bikes, which is why I ride one of them:

And wouldn't you know he had on display pretty much exactly the road bike I'd want if I were currently in the market for a custom road bike, which as the father of seventeen (17) children I am most assuredly not:

This bike has it all, precisely because it doesn't have it all--monochromatic paint, rim brakes, metal wheels, and even mechanical shifting:

The wood bike of course has electronic shifting, which all sarcasm aside is pretty amazing and extremely fun to use--the front shifting in particular is so good that when you press the button you say out loud, "Are you fucking kidding me?"  Even so, if money were no object I have to say I'd still go with the mechanical shifting, mostly because I like actually feeling the shift, but also because I resent having to plug in a bike.

Anyway, I was sure I'd just seen the perfect road bike until I walked by the Richard Sachs booth:

At which point I realized I had to look at a bike I'd never want in a million years or else I'd do something I'd end up regretting, so I stared at this thing for awhile until I regained my bearings:

Speaking of bearings, isn't the real reason we go to bike shows so we can stand around spinning them?

As it happens, I'd left my fidget spinner in the glove compartment of my car, so I was extremely grateful for this display.  They also had some cranks you could spin:

And I made a mental note to pick up some cured meat over at the Reading Terminal Market across the street and bring it back here for slicing.

Next I checked out the custom cycling shoes:

Though Renovo has already set me up with a pair so I didn't bother placing an order:

In addition to custom shoes there was also art:

Though I didn't buy any of that either because I'm saving my money for Froome Chasing Geese:

But the Philly Bike Expo isn't all about custom exotica, and one of the more noteworthy companies there was 1854:

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (BRAIN) — Brandale Randolph's goals for the bike brand he founded last year would be unfamiliar to some entrepreneurs.

"If we can employ at least 20 people at a living wage making bikes here, we'll be doing great," Randolph told BRAIN this week. "If three or four years from now, our employees can see one of our bikes out on the road being used, and say, 'I built that bike,' that would a success ... if we can go into bike shops around the country and see our bikes on display, that's a win."

Randolph, who calls himself a social entrepreneur, founded 1854 Cycling Company specifically to employ formerly incarcerated people, as well as those on work release from jails and prisons. The company is named for the year that the Anti-Slavery Society met for the first time, on July 4 in Framingham, marking the start of the abolitionist movement. The company is a for-profit business that donates a portion of all proceeds to charities and organizations that provide support to the formerly incarcerated.

Then there were the test tracks.  Not only was there one just for the kids, but there was also another one for Electric Bike Expo, which took place directly adjacent to the regular analog Philly Bike Expo:

You know what's fun?  I'll tell you what's fun: zipping around on a smooth cement floor on a pedal-assist bike.  Even more fun?  The ramp:

The first bike I tried was a garden variety hybrid equipped with a Copenhagen Wheel:

If you're unfamiliar with the Copenhagen Wheel, basically you just throw it on the bike you have now and let 'er rip:

The Copenhagen Wheel is a sleek red hub that turns almost any bike into a smart electric hybrid. It contains a custom motor, advanced sensors, control systems, and a battery. Bluetooth connectivity enables you to personalize your cycling experience from your smartphone. Simply replace the rear wheel of your bike or add it to a new bike. Distances shorten, hills flatten and the experience becomes uniquely you, ride by ride.

As you know, with kids to haul and nothing left to prove I've been pining for an ebike, and if I still had the Big Dummy I would have bought one of these things right then and there, since retrofitting one to a bike with a derailleur drivetrain seems incredibly simple.  Not only is it like having a gale force tailwind, but it also has regenerative braking, so when you pedal backwards you slow down.  The sensation is like riding some kind of cosmic space fixie in the best possible way.

Next I tried an Urban Arrow in the "Shorty" configuration:

And did my best to catch some air with it:

I absolutely love my current kid-hauler, but as I schlepped my younger child to the iPhone factory this morning I spent the entire ride thinking about that Bosch pedal assist paired with a NuVinci CVT.  Seriously, just wow.  With the WorkCycles Fr8 now available in a pedal-assist I may have to think about a retrofit.  In fact, as I cruised around the test track I caught myself thinking that if anything has the ability to bring everyday riding to the lazy, complacent American masses then pedal assist is it, and if this doesn't do it then we're all dying in our Hyundais, end of story.

Soon it was time for me to leave and get ready for Industry Party, where I was to be the speaker.  As it turns out, the last thing a bunch of industry people want to do after standing on their feet and answering questions about bikes all day is listen to some bike blogger prattling on about nothing--especially when there's a buffet and an open bar:

Yet I'd been asked to do a job, so inanely I pressed on in the face of obvious indifference and annoyance until someone politely told me I should wrap it up.  If you've ever been lapped at a cyclocross race, yelled at by the leaders, and then unceremoniously pulled from the course then you have a good sense of what it was like.  Nevertheless, I regret nothing, because the occasional strong dose of abject humiliation is good for the character.

I was also glad I stayed the night, because I had the opportunity to ride the next morning before heading back.  Initially I had planned to do a dirt ride that was in the offing, but with the weather looking questionable I figured sticking to the road was a safer bet, so I said "Screw it" and brought the Renovo with me:

And after a delightful Sunday morning gallop I struck out on the New Jersey Turnpike for home.

See you next year, Philly, but not at the Industry Party.


N/A said...

The Bosch pedal assist/ NuVinci CVT seems really interesting for schlepping bikes. I would like to take one for a spin, out of curiosity. It is currently the only exception (aside from lighting of course) to my general disdain for any bikey thing that needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet.

nahmean said...

Riding home the other day I kept getting passed by a guy on one of those shortys with a kid or two in the bucket. It just didn't register at first that I was shoaling him every block, because it doesn't make sense that a guy with kids in the basket of a cargo bike is going to keep passing you over and over again. I finally realized it was e-assist and took my rightful place in the human-powered slow lane.

dancesonpedals said...


Charles said...


bad boy of the south said...

Nice commentary on the Philly cheese steak. I meant Philly bike expo.

christian said...

1854 might be the start of the Abolitionist movement in Framingham, but it is decidedly not the start of the movement, which started in this country around 1830.

ken e. said...

confused as to celebratory status...

N/A said...

Looking forward to the eventual review of the Jones bars. I've finally got most of the pieces together for a new mountain-ish bike, and I've been on the fence about bars. I have long liked the Jones bars, but Velo Orange's Crazy bars and now their Klunker bars both look like contenders, too. It'll be nice to read a review from somebody that's not trying to be epic and have a gnar ride and what-have-you.**

**my apologies if you are, in fact, planning on getting gnar and having epic rides with your new bars.

Anonymous said...

When I saw the picture of you carrying the possibly slightly cracked crabon frame I thought: “you didn’t take that back from the young woman who won it last your did you!?!?”

Next year Bina should throw your talk back to your adoring fans who appreciate the Lights, hats, #whatpressureareyourunning BSNYC journal, and broken frames.

Chuckles on a rainy Monday said...

I am pining for that renovo.

I have a woody for that renovo.

As a lover of all things Woody Wood Pecker, . . . . ah - forget about it. Nice bike. I wood (ha ha) expect that you get a lot of "hoots" from the owls, right?

N/A said...

As I linger over the pictures of the Philly Cheez Bike Fest, that Sachs bike would have had my hands all over it. I am not interested in skinny-tired road bikes too much these days, but a man can lust after a beautiful classic steel frok every now and then, right? I would take that frame and go full-retrogrouch with it, though. All silver metal bits, and a Brooks saddle.

janinedm said...

I am working on my reflexive aversion to e-bikes. Getting to draft off of one for a mile like I did this morning surely helps generate some goodwill. It was a big guy too. I'm not great at drafting because I usually think it's rude, but 1) e-bike 2) HUGE wake.

Grump said...

Snobby, we have wireless charging for phones, so within a few years, we will have wireless charging for bikes. Just lean your bike against a wall where you have the wireless charger and BAM, charged batteries within a few hours.

Freddy Murcks said...

"[I]f anything has the ability to bring everyday riding to the lazy, complacent American masses then pedal assist is it."

I recently purchased a cargo ebike - it's a Felt, but it's like a Big Dummy - and I have been using it for schlepping my daughter to school, commuting to work, light errands, etc. Granted I am bike crazy and at least slightly less lazy than the typical American, but it sure has made it easier to ride and harder to find excuses to not ride. For instance, it was raining lightly this morning. Pre-ebike Freddy would have made up some lame excuse for not riding and driven the gas guzzling SUV instead, but post-ebike Freddy and child of Freddy hopped on the bike and braved the conditions. Except for the fact that the people in their cars are still stupid assholes who seem to be bent on killing me and my offspring, we were none the worse for wear and I managed for another day to not spew gasoline emissions into the air.

BikeSnobNYC said...


Wireless charger still needs to plug in. I store my bikes in the basement, don't want to have to bring them up to charge.

--Wildcat Etc.

SoonerNate said...

First I’m worried about cars, now I have to be worried about termites?

bad boy of the south said...

Oh yes, before I early vote often.

Serial Retrogrouch said... can one 'feel' your humiliation at the 'party' if one has never raced cross?

...Hopefully you perused the open bar after they asked you to wrap up.

...and, you're onto something recently... I think 2018 will be a new chapter... perhaps carless, with a wooden chariot, a pedal assist cargo bike, and many more (wood) chips on your shoulders.

leroy said...

Dear Mr. BSNYC - My dog wishes to apologize if he gave you poor advice for your industry party presentation.

In his defense, he notes that explaining things to folks like they were four-year-olds, worked for Denzel Washington in Philadelphia.

dancesonpedals said...

somewhere, there's a joke about woodcocks and splinters.

e-RICHIE said...

Next time say hello huh.

We're two altacockers cut from the same bolt of cloth.

Unknown said...

I got them Jones sg 2.5 aluminum loop h-bar for the Yuba Mundo(the Big Dummy's heavier brother)and the bars are extremely comfy.

Anonymous said...

That Renovo woody is a pretty little Philly . . . wait . . . this is so confusing.

Dooth said...

The guy in the blue sweater in the Sachs photo seems to be really taking in the Atmo.

Old Timer said...

Huh? What?

Francois said...

Wow, your first picture of the show is of Jay Kinsinger, you're a true wood Fred now!

Anonymous said...

Brian Chapman’s personal bike (reviewed in Bicycle Quarterly No. 61) uses a hub generator to provide power for its Di2 system in addition to the headlight and taillight. That’s the most sensible approach to electronic shifting, in my view.

George Krpan said...

Mount your Jones bar upside down, it looks better.

Pist Off said...

Unsolicited bike setup advice is always unwelcome. The only thing about sweep bars that I think is universal is that setting them up horizontally level helps for trail riding and technical gnar shredding, bro. Makes it easier to shift weight and get your elbows up when needed.

N/A said...

I suggest trying something new, and mounting your bars parallel with the top tube, and with the handles pointing skyward. Use it to steer your bike like a tiller.

GreySpoke said...

"I'm being told that The Bike Snob NYC is taking the wood bike even though it looks like rain."

"It's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for 'em."

dnk said...

Hey everyone! For longer than I can remember I've been proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free

I've got an extra ticket to the big Lee Greenwood concert at MSG tonight. Backstage passes and everything. We may even get to pray with Lee! And I already know what I am gonna pray for...

Tix/backstage pass free to the first comer -- you just have to provide the blow.

Spokey said...

the first time ever in my life that toeing in the brakes actually worked.

i think i got it to work years ago. but not sure.

more recently, i had a real shrieker in the front. so bad, i was pretty much relying on the rear brakes which concerned me given reduced stopping power. i had two shops try to tame the thing to no avail. radical toe-in didn't help. tried new kool-stops. nope. went back to a new set of oem (avid single digit 7). nope. tweaked and greased the mountings. nope.

finally last fall i gave in and in a desperate last ditch effort bought a new set. put 'em on in the spring and life was good. a little sound during pad break-in and now i can stop without waking my and all bordering towns.

happy ending? nope. got an email from amazon last week. seems that these brakes have been recalled. a rivet may come loose and the brakes fall apart. not sure but I think there is only one rivet. the noodle holder thingee. sram doesn't want to deal with me directly so the co-motion went down the road this morning to a bike shop.

i'm taking bets as to whether it comes back with silent brakes or not. maybe a loose rivet is the answer to quieting the things?

Anonymous said...

Brian makes some fine bicycles! Really nice guy, too. You should see him on his Freestyle bike!

Anonymous said...

missed the philly expo again this year. Love that city. I was a bike messenger back there for a couple of years in the late '80s. My bike of choice was a Trek 800 Antelope. I loved that god damn bike literally road it into the ground and eventually had to replace almost every part, including the frame. served me well. Don't make them like that anymore, thankfully.

Anonymous said...

that wooden bike is fugly. sorry.

Anonymous said...

Hey,nice meeting you at the expo (Mike and his brother Mike). You were very gracious. Also, the Tramway was fun,I highly recommend it,the island is just okay,also do not try to lift the lighthouse, it is not very light #dadjokes take care, Mike (or is it Mike?)

Anonymous said...

Screeching brakes may wake your town and bordering ones but they sure seem to send pedestrians scurrying to the side of multi-use trails and bike paths, in case you’re looking for a silver lining.

bad boy of the south said...

I know it's a little too late,but I remember,when visiting the Philly cheese expo back a few years,groovy cycleworks had these pretty cool bars.luv bars,if I can remember.

bad boy of the south said...

Did I say luv handles?

bad boy of the south said...

Nope.i said something else.luv handles it is.anyway, there it is.

dancesonpedals said...

No Parking? Forget Your Lock? Just take your bike with you, into the C-Town in Tarrytown, NY

Knüt Fredriksson said...

When you were motor-pacing the guy on an e-bike, was it like being behind a tall person riding a vespa scooter, a chevy chevette with the hatch open, or a school bus? I'm trying to imaging how huge HUGE is...

JLRB said...

$1,500 for the Copenhegan wheel is just pricey enough to make it not tempting enough. Flurking about, I see similar knock offs on Amazon for $219.00 - anyone try one of those relatively cheap motorized wheels? Perhaps you should slap one on the back of the woodie to really create an oxymoron

Skidmark said...

JLRB @6:08pm, considering $219.00 a reasonable price for a commuter quality rear wheel, seems like a fair price for motorized/electrified self propelled auto gyrating model may have to commensurately require a modest “upgrade” upcharge.

Canadian Incognito said...

Chuckles must really be Babble

Pist Off said...

I have experience with the Hill Topper Ranger e-bike wheel kit. Built up on my mother-in-law’s city bike for errands. 350W is a very noticeable amount of power. Like having Lemond as a stoker on demand with a thumb throttle. The wheel that comes with the kit is pretty crap- the 13G spokes are too short and the rim is single wall. But overall the rest of it has been high quality and no problems. Very useful 20mi range and it convinced me that e-bikes will be everywhere soon.

Anonymous said...

No way, someone so vain and self promoting would never post using another name.

JLRB said...

@Skidmark - Looking a little closer, it requires 4 12 volt batteries, which cost about $100 and weigh about 8 pounds in the lead acid variety - not sure if there is a lithium option.