March 22, 2014

Commuter Season - can you see me now?

Spring.... ahhh, spring!  Finally!

That means commuter season is upon us...!
Sure, there are some - used-ta be me - die-hards out there for whom the season never stops, but, for the rest of the 90%, this is when we dust ourselves off and re-mount for the next nine months.  It's time to get your steed, and yourself, ready:

Please give your local bike shops a chance to earn your business.  The one GIANT thing your Amazon account can't get you is the vast compendium of experience, class, expertise and genuine, hands-on customer service which our local shops deliver.  For the southern KC-area, I highly recommend the following, in no particular order:

Either shop has a great selection of racks, bags, front & rear lights, locks, clothing, and knowledge to help make your commuting experience a success.  Check them out!

If you're not in the immediate area, however, or they just can't get it, check this out:  first off, I didn't even know Amazon HAD such a thing, but it's pretty slick - and sorta how I'd set up my own fantasy bike-store that I'll own in the future:

Amazon's Bike Commuter Store

Now that you know where to go... today, I'll focusing on a few quick tips:  
This episode:  reflectivity and safety.

1)  Reflectivity is good, and passive:  you don't

March 17, 2014

UPDATED: Grand what? (a tire report)

UPDATE:    Nov 1st, 2014:

I'm filing this under "do better research."  I'd made some assumptions in the post below, and this comment (immediately below) from "PB" corrects those assumptions.  Compass Tires and Grand Bois tires are distinct from one another - the Compass-branded tires are NOT, as I'd indicated in error, a replacement of Grand Bois.  Grand Bois tires are still made and sold.  I'd also blended Compass and Boulder Bicycle together in some early sentences - they are also distinct entities, which happen to nicely complement each other.  My apologies to the companies referenced, and to my readers for the confusion.  No miss-information had been intended!  I learned quite a bit about both Compass, Boulder Bicycle, and Grand Bois after receiving this comment, and I remain grateful for "PB" having taken the time to set me straight.

The reader's valuable comment:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Grand what? (a tire report)": 

Hi Keith, nice write-up! You've got a few details smushed together. No harm done, but it may be helpful to your readers to sort it out.

Executive Summary: Compass tires did not replace Grand Bois, they are a new/different line of tires. Jan Heine at Compass sells tires and other parts, but doesn't sell frames. Mike Kone at Boulder Bicycle sells Boulder & Rene Herse frames, and also sells parts.

The Compass tires are a new line spec'd by Jan Heine, who owns Compass Bicycles and publishes Bicycle Quarterly. They do not replace theGrand Bois tires, which are still being produced, and Jan still carries Grand Bois. His Compass tires have some modified designs and improvements, best to get the details from his site.

The Boulder and Rene Herse frames are spec'd and sold by Mike Kone, at Boulder Bicycle in CO, not by Jan. The Boulder frames are built to Mike's specs by Waterford, the Rene Herse are custom-built for Mike by Mark Nobilette. 

Mike does also carry both Compass and Grand Bois tires, along with a bunch of other components.

We are in a Golden Era of awesome hardware made for unracers. Lots of steel frames designed for wider tire clearance, for fast but comfy riding. Lots of incredibly awesome lightweight and supple wide tires. Wider rims, wider gearing, great saddles, racks, bags--I could go on and on. But I'll spare you.



Other notable links relating to this post:

ANY reference to Compass Bicycles actually "making" the Grand Bois tires is incorrect;  so please forgive me if any untouched passages re-state that impression.  I have re-worded and crossed out many things to show the original notion, and the truth.  Some passages have been removed entirely, as they no longer offered relevance to the review of the tires themselves.

Thanks, all!

...and now, the original post:
Welp, I drank the kool-aid and bit the bullet on a set of tires offered by Compass Bicycles, purveyors of fine cycling goods and Bicycle Quarterly magazine. 

In possibly BQ's most-read and referred-to article series, they tackled putting to rest all the conjecture, tribal-knowledge, and wives'-tales about the rolling resistance of bicycle tires, all things considered:  width, volume, air-pressure, contact patch size, tread composition, casing, construction.  Exhaustive research revealed interesting results, well worth the read.  The culmination of that research, spanning eight years of data-gathering and testing, has yielded   the Grand Bois line of tires, now simply sold as   "Compass" tires.  These, however, are not the tires I'm reviewing.  The Grand Bois tires are available from Compass Bicycles, but are produced by a different company and are imported and sold by Compass Bicycles.  The tires I'm posting about here, specifically, are produced/commisioned by Cycles Grand Bois, and have the model name of "Cerf."

I wonder how much of the name change had to do with the   I'm not really sure how to pronounce this name, as I imagine it would be sometimes comical to answer the phone at Compass and struggle with all the variations of the "Grand boys"  vs. "Grand bwaa" pronunciation conundrum.  ...and that's only taking the 2nd word into consideration.  Gran?  Grand?  Grawn?  

They're Compass tires now.  Problem solved.    Nope!  Grand Bois tires are still being made, and they are sold by Compass Bicycles.  The Compass-brand tires are different, and are the real culmination of BQ's research.

March 5, 2014

Take it as it comes

Taking into consideration the recent posts about biting off more than I can chew, etc., ad nauseum, so-on... so, take this as it is, but; some decent ideas have floated to the surface.  

2014 needs to see some organized rides from this camp - however non-frequent.

- DSR:  these are SUCH a good time, but it seems the full moon always sneaks up on me, and - of late - every time I *think* I have an evening free, something is on the calendar requiring my attention.  However, even if it's just ONE ride, in July, far apart from any other local rides... heck, all I need to do is put something on the calendar and commit to it.  That's do-able, and not biting off too much.  

- OCC:  Who's down with OCC?  Yeah, you know me... (played...)  The Olathe Commuter Club should come to fruition, and - again - it'll be non-frequent enough to avoid being front-loaded with schedule conflicts and personal stress against something that SHOULD be a blast.  Once a month - haven't decided when, but something like "First Friday" or "Third Thursday" or... something else alliteratory in nature... The micro-tiny constituent of Olathe-based residents who happen to work in