National Bike Summit 2012

Last week, like many other cyclists and cycling advocates from all corners of the country, Carol Wentworth, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Performance Bicycle, headed up to Washington, DC, to take part in the 2012 National Bike Summit. Organized by the League of American Bicyclists, this annual, and growing, event serves as a forum and meeting place for a wide variety of cycling advocates and industry leaders. Summit attendees got to meet with fellow advocates and organizers, and to learn more about both the challenges and opportunities to improve cycling safety and awareness. Breakout sessions at the summit covered topics as varied as calculating the value of bicycle tourism, mountain biking access to national parks, and even a session about pro cycling advocacy featuring cyclocross star Tim Johnson (fresh off of his Ride on Washington, an awareness and fundraising ride from Boston to DC).

Of course one of the main reasons for the summit was to take this pro-cycling message to the decision makers in government. As a board member of Bikes Belong, a leading cycling advocacy group made up of members from the U.S. cycling industry, Performance was there to not only participate in the National Bike Summit discussions, but also to advocate for dedicated federal funding for cycling projects. In addition to scheduled group sessions that included members of the Congressional Bike Caucus (which is led by cyclist and advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whom we met earlier this year during his visit to North Carolina), Carol directly met with representatives from our home state of North Carolina. In these meetings we pushed for continued support of dedicated federal funding for bicycling and walking, especially in the upcoming federal transportation budget. This dedicated funding is a tiny portion of the overall transportation budget, only 1.5%, even though 12% of trips are made by foot and bike. The message we brought was that public investment and pro-cycling policies are good for business and the community, and also essential for the continued success of programs such as transportation enhancements, safe routes to school and recreational trails.

The National Bike Summit brought together passionate cycling advocates from across the country, giving each of us a sense of the power and influence cyclists can exert when we rally together to support a common cause. Events such as the National Bike Summit help spread the word that policies and projects that support cycling are good not just for cyclists, but for an entire spectrum of stakeholders.

Product Profile: Light & Motion Commuter Bike Lights

Light & Motion has been designing and building lights for over 20 years from their home in Monterey, California – from lights that are designed to go 200 feet below the ocean, to lights that shine the way for a midnight ride on the trails. But one place where they really decided to apply their lighting talent is lights for bike commuting. In typical fashion, Light & Motion did their research, and then created a series of compact, USB-rechargeable, and seriously powerful commuter lights that are unlike anything else on the market. Light & Motion took the concept of “see and be seen” to a whole new level with these commuting lights, incorporating advanced LED lighting technology and amber side lights to make your commute brighter and safer!

The Light & Motion Urban 300 LED Headlight and Vis 180 Tail Light combo packs a serious visual punch, but they both also incorporate brilliant amber side lights to give commuters and road cyclists complete visibility in traffic – especially important at intersections, where having increased visibility from any angle is essential. Of course ease-of-use is also handy, so both the Urban 300 LED Headlight and Vis 180 Tail Light feature Micro USB charging ports and tool-free mounting for quick and easy attachment and removal. The Urban 300 LED Headlight is powered by 1 white LED with a 300 lumen output and the aforementioned 2 amber side lights that provide 180° of visibility and project clean patterns of light. There is also a battery charge indicator that accurately reports the charge status (so you know when its time to recharge), all in a package that weighs only 112g – even though the lights are housed in a solid-feeling metal body. Runtime for the Urban 300 LED Headlight is 2½ hours on High, 4½ hours on Medium and 8½ hours on Low, with an empty-to-full recharge time of 5 hours.

The Light & Motion Vis 180 Tail Light, also available individually, blazes forth with 3 red LEDs with a 35 lumen output, along with its 2 amber side lights to provide 180° of visibility. To put those numbers in perspective, that’s about 10X the power of a common AA powered tail light! And the Vis 180 Tail Light is not just another blinky light in another way, as it doesn’t blink, but instead pulses in a concentrated pattern that attracts attention from anyone on the road. You can cycle through 4 modes on the Vis 180 Tail Light: Pulse High, Pulse Low, Steady and Paceline (which eliminates the top pulsing light), with runtimes from 4 hours on high to 20 hours on the Paceline flash setting. The built-in Li-Ion battery charges in only 4½ hours, and like the  Urban 300 LED Headlight, there is a battery charge indicator to accurately report the charge status. Mounting the Vis 180 Tail Light is simple with a tool-free, adjustable mount that easily attaches to your bike frame, seatstays or seatpost without compromising the viewing angle. Alternatively, you can utilize the locking mount clip to slip the Vis 180 Tail Light on your favorite messenger bag or backpack. You can read what Bikerumor thought about this powerful tail light when they reviewed it here.

The Light & Motion Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light package is the first all-in-one light with a powerful LED headlight, amber side lights, and a four lumen tail light, that delivers a full 360° of visibility to the rider. Easily mounted on your helmet with an easy-on, easy-off snap mount, the Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light improves your visibility while riding, even to passing SUV’s! At only 130g, its balanced fore/aft weight makes it barely noticeable on your helmet, but the 1 LED headlight with a 110 lumen output (and amber side lights) combined with the 3 LED tail light with a 4 lumen output means that you will definitely see and be seen out on the road. Runtimes vary from 2½ hours on High, to 5 hours on Low and 20+ hours on Flash (all settings adjusted via the single headlight button), with a recharge time of 4½ hours. To get a better feel for the Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light in action, check out this video from Chris, who has been commuting 15 miles each way with this lighting system for the past few months, and is a big fan of it’s versatility and power:

Wordless Wednesday

Spin Doctor Tech Tip: Maintenance on the Fly

Spin Doctor

In a perfect world bikes would never get flat tires or need periodic repair. But the world is not perfect, and besides it’d get boring if there were no routes, roads or trails that challenged both rider and bike! Instead, dealing with the occasional mid-ride repair is part of the sport. But don’t fret, with a little know-how and the right tools you’ll be ready for just about any problem that comes your way. Here are some tips and tricks to assure you never (well, rarely, anyway) finish a ride by walking your bike back to the garage or local bike shop.

BEFORE YOU RIDE

It’s impossible to prevent all riding mishaps, but a little preparation goes a long way! Before each ride, complete a quick check of your bike and gear: squeeze the brakes and rock the bike back and forth to make sure the brake calipers are tight and that there is no play in the headset; check bolts for tightness (stem and seatpost in particular); look for any frayed brake or shifter cables; check pedals to make sure they are tightly fastened to the crankset (the right pedal tightens clockwise; the left pedal tightens counter-clockwise); lube your chain, then wipe away excess lubricant; check tires for wear, cuts, blisters or lodged glass; pump tires to the manufacturer-recommended pressure (you can find this info on the tire’s sidewall); if you use clipless pedals, check that your cleat bolts are securely fastened. If you notice anything wrong during your check, either fix it yourself or take your bike to your local Performance Bicycle store before your ride!

WHAT TO BRING ON EVERY RIDE

1. Seat Bag or Hydration Pack: To hold the gear below.

2. Tire Levers: Although if possible, install the tire using just your hands (since levers can pinch the tube).

3. Spare Tube: Patching tubes can be tricky.

4. Patch Kit: Your back-up plan.

5. Pump or C02 Inflation System: C02 systems are light and compact, but if you’re planning a long ride, take additional C02 cartridges or a back-up pump as well.

6. Multi-tool: These come in multiple shapes and sizes and configurations – know the bolt sizes on your bike and cleats and find a tool that has those (a tool with 4, 5 and 6mm Allen wrenches, plus flat and Philips head screwdrivers is a good start).

7. Spoke Wrench: These come on many multi-tools.

8. Chain Tool (also on many multi-tools): Broken mountain bike chains are not unusual, and even road chains occasionally snap. With a chain tool you can make a temporary fix to get you home. Don’t forget a replacement chain pin (Shimano) or a chain link connector (i.e. SRAM Power Link).

9. Tire Boot: A large cut in a tire’s sidewall can end your ride. Park Tool’s Tire Boot will adhere to the inside of the tire between the tire and tube to provide a temporary fix to a cut sidewall.

10. Cash: Call this the ultimate multi-tool – you can buy food and drinks, make a phone call if cell service doesn’t work, and even use a folded bill as substitute tire boot!

11. Other Essentials: Cell phone, ID card and any special medical alerts you may have.

FLATS HAPPEN

Whether you ride on the road or trail, you’re bound to get a flat tire once in a while. Make sure you’re comfortable changing a tube by yourself, so you don’t get stranded. Watch our handy How-To video below for a few tips (just remember that if you’re working on a bike with hydraulic disc brakes, never compress the brake levers with the disc removed, as this will push the caliper pistons inward and make it difficult to reinsert the disc).

And now a few IN-A-PINCH PRACTICES:

1. Got a flat and forgot your spare tube? Here are 2 emergency techniques to get you home:

Cut the tube at the puncture then tie it tightly back together. Stretch it into place, re-install the tire and inflate.

No tube, no pump? No worries! Pack your flat tire with as much grass and leaves as you can and pedal gingerly back to your car (this does work, for a little while)!

2. You ignored our suggestion to carry a tire boot and flatted when your tire sidewall got cut. What to do? Place a folded Power Bar wrapper or dollar bill, or a piece of plastic soda bottle between the tube and the cut, then carefully inflate the tire.

3. While shredding the righteous single track at Moab, you taco your front wheel and the tire is now rubbing on the fork. You’re not stuck yet! Remove the wheel from the bike and locate the apex of the bend. With the inflated tire still on the rim, strike the tire at the bend on a hard surface (that shouldn’t be hard to find in Moab). With care you can knock the wheel back into reasonable alignment (at least so it is not rubbing on the fork blades). If you have disc brakes, you are good to go. If you have rim brakes, disconnect them and carefully head back.

4. If you’ve broken a spoke, carefully remove it or, if necessary, wrap it around the nearest intact spoke on the same side of the wheel. Then true the wheel so it doesn’t drag on the frame or brake pads.

5. And finally here are a double speed and a single speed solution:

First, your rear derailleur gets destroyed on a rock. It has come apart and is unusable. Using a chain tool, you can rig your bike up as a single speed. Select a cog in the back that lines up with a ring on the crank. Usually the smaller rings in the front are better. Now cut the chain, drape it around the two rings you have selected, pull it tight and cut it again so the ends just reach. Reconnect it and pedal your new single speed the hipster way home.

Second, you are riding in the mountains and the rear gear cable snaps. The rear derailleur shifts to the highest gear so you and your bike grind to a halt. Are you stuck? Nope, screw in the “H” limit screw on the derailleur while turning the cranks. This will shift the rear derailleur to an easier gear. Continue tightening the screw until you have the easiest gear you can reach. Now pedal your semi-hipster, double-speed way back to the car.

Wordless Wednesday

Photo courtesy of Joel O'Malley (via Facebook)

Community Events: February Recap

Who says February is a slow time for cycling? Our shops were hard at work running clinics, supporting rides and otherwise getting more people excited about cycling in their communities. We’ve got over 100 stores all across the country, so let’s take a moment to find out what a few of them were up to last month. Remember, you can always check your local store page for regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics & group rides.

We thought that a good way to start this recap was with this shot of the Spin Doctor mechanics from our Colorado stores at SRAM Technical University in Colorado Springs. You can read more about their training in a previous blog post – but our guys were able to get some advanced hands-on training on SRAM suspension and component technology, and they’re excited to apply their advanced skills back in their home stores.

These next photos chronicle a special project in our Santa Rosa, CA store. The owner brought in this classic 1986 steel Fuji and wanted it rebuilt for the modern era.

As you can see, our team brought this vintage ride back to life with brand new Forte components, and we think that the combo looks awfully good!

Now this quarter-century old ride is ready to turn some heads at the next group ride or local crit!

Speaking of racing, our Woodland Hills, CA store volunteered to run some neutral support at the “Carson Crit” in Ontario, CA.

Our guys helped out the local racers, and also got a front row seat for a day of racing action.

This next event is slightly more laid back than the Carson Crit, but how could you not love a ride called the Tour De Cookie, in Tucson, AZ! The managers from our Speedway Tucson and Broadway Tucson stores led the charge in helping out with this great event (come on, bikes plus cookies is two of our favorite things).

But the Tour De Cookie is more than just a fun ride for people to eat cookies and ride bikes. This fourth annual event is also a fundraiser for Wheelchair Athletes and supports the kids try-athalon. Our Broadway Tucson store was one of the ten stops on the Tour. Our Performance team was there to support the riders, and Matt, one of our sales associates, brought along his entire family to help out.

Matt brought along reinforcements, since his family is involved with the Girl Scouts. Thanks to them, our store stop was well-stocked with Girl Scout cookies ready to give away to the riders! The riders each had a sheet attached to them and at each stop they got the spot number marked out and were allowed to take as many cookies as they wished.

At the end of the event the person that stopped at every stop with the shortest time won. But just to keep things fun, there was also an award for the last person, first female and best cookie stand.

Our store was the farthest away from the start/finish line, but they still had a huge amount of people stop by (having Girl Scout cookies on hand didn’t hurt)! So a special shout-out to Matt and his family for making our store’s stop such a success!

Our Peoria, AZ store was active last month in support of the 207 Miles Between Poverty and Hope Ride, a non-profit fundraiser dedicated to raising money for housing for those in need. Our store team was busy right up to the start of the 2 day event, and probably worked on about half of the bikes from the 32 riders!

The route of the ride stretched from Peoria all the way across the border into Mexico, and the riders raised over $31,000 with the efforts – great job guys!

Of course our stores also support many regular group rides right from their doors – like this picture from the first group road ride of the year at our Bonita, CA store. Check with your local store to find out more about local group rides.

Our store teams were also busy supporting indoor events last month, like our Columbus, OH store, who participated in the Endurance Sports Expo at the Athletic Club of Columbus. It was a great turnout, and over 400 people come through our booth to talk bikes – all under the elegant lighting of some fancy chandeliers.

Of course it didn’t hurt that our friends from Diamondback donated a bike for a giveaway! We had a ton of entries for the giveaway which generated a lot of excitement at the expo, as the winner would be riding the bike home that day!

Here’s the moment when our winner was announced and came bounding out of the crowd – needless to say, he was excited. Our team met a lot of new people, and even recruited many new faces to attend their in-store clinic the following weekend.

Speaking of clinics, last month’s Basic Bike Maintenance Clinic was a busy one across all of our stores.  Attendees got a quick lesson on the basics for keeping their bikes in prime condition, plus were treated to a special discount on our Spin Doctor tools just for attending. The shot above is from the clinic in our San Antonio, TX store.

Here’s the crowd in our Oceanside, CA store.

Attentive clinic-goers in our Chandler, AZ store.

There was a big crowd for the clinic in our Long Beach, CA store.

And here in our Oxnard, CA store.

Our Columbus, OH store was standing room only during their clinic.

While our Boise, ID store had more of a comfortably seated crowd.

Of course our stores also put on more specialized clinics for smaller groups, such as this bike maintenance clinic for a local Cub Scout group at our Oceanside, CA store.

Or this interesting Safe and Confident Urban Commuting Clinic in our Seattle, WA store – moderated by local cycling advocate David Smith of BicycleDriver.com.

Indoor cycling classes are also going strong in many of our stores, including this group in our Novi, MI store. In front on the right is sales manager Roger, leading the class.

Our  Speedway Tucson, AZ store has also got a strong group going with their indoor cycling class, lead by Brandon from our store team. Two of the three participants in this class were new to road biking, but Brandon pushed their limits. They had a great workout and are looking forward to more cyclists joining the sessions in the coming weeks.

Finally, we thought we’d share some pictures from a trail-building event that took place near our home office here in North Carolina.

Cisco and Jaime from our Raleigh, NC store pitched in to help build a new trail at the popular Lake Crabtree trail network.

Spin Doctor Old Tools Quiz – Answers

Spin DoctorEarlier this week we posted a visual “old tools” quiz here on our blog – we had many responses, but here are the official answers from our head Spin Doctor, Gaynor. So how did you do?

Tool #1:

VAR 17 Spoke Nippers cut spoke ends that extend beyond the head of the nipple.

Tool #2:

Replacement ends for the VAR 370 headset race remover.

Tool #3:

Crank remover for cranks with stripped dust cap threads.

Tool #4:

Chain pliers. Cradle on the left holds chain & the pin on the right pushes the rivet out.

Tool #5:

Pliers for holding direct pull spokes (it keeps them from turning). 

Tool #6:

VAR freewheel vise.

Tool #7:

VAR, Campy and Shimano fork crown race removers. These grip the race from below the fork crown, and are then struck with a hammer to remove. 

Tool #8:

Alignment gauge for machined frame alignment table.   

Wordless Wednesday

Spin Doctor Old Tools Quiz

Spin DoctorOur head Spin Doctor, Gaynor, likes to create challenges to test the Spin Doctor mechanics in our stores. Last week he created this tricky “old tools” identification quiz, although perhaps “old” is the wrong word – let’s just call them “seldom-used”. In any case, we thought you might like to play along at home, so here are 8 images to test your obscure bike tool knowledge.

Post your answers (or guesses) in the comments below. We’ll even give you some hints to get started: Tool #2 is actually parts of a tool (think steering) and Tool #5 is not a 4th hand cable puller (think wheel). Good luck!

Tool #1:

Tool #2:

Tool #3:

Tool #4:

Tool #5:

Tool #6:

Tool #7:

Tool #8:

This Weekend in Pro Racing

We’re definitely cycling fans here at the Performance Bicycle home office, so we’re always excited for another weekend of pro cycling action. Yes, we know that there’s already been drama this year with the Alberto Contador case, but  we still love watching the pros do battle out on the road – it inspires us to go out and push ourselves when we ride! And this weekend kicks off a flurry of pro racing, starting with some great European events.

First up, on Saturday, is the Strade Bianche in Italy. Last year Phillipe Gilbert won (and started his amazing season) this relatively new race that races across the fabled “white roads” of Tuscany and finishes in the hill-town of Siena. This race feels like a “new classic”, since it was inspired by the famous l’Eroica bike race – an amateur Gran Fondo-style event where participants ride vintage bikes and gear. Although the pros ride their 21st century technology, the Strade Bianche still has a fantastic combination of beautiful Italian countryside, a tricky climb to a finish on the main square of Siena (the same place where the Palio horse race is contested), and those infamous “white roads”, which are treacherous whether wet or dry! Gilbert will be back to defend his title this year, bringing along teammates Alessandro Ballan, Greg Van Avermaet, Cadel Evans and George Hincapie, while the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Christian Vande Velde, Johan Vansummeren, Dan Martin, Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali round out a star-studded field of “all-rounder” riders. Check out the highlights from last year:

Is stage racing more your style? Then you can settle in to watch Paris-Nice, which starts on this Sunday and ends the following Sunday. Nicknamed the “Race to the sun”, Paris-Nice starts near Paris and then winds its way south through the French countryside to the French Riviera (not a bad way to spend a week, if you’ve got the time). The first true stage-race test in Europe, Paris-Nice offers up a solid mix of rolling stages, mountains and time-trialling to find out who’s got good early-season form. Tony Martin will be back to defend his title, but his new teammate Levi Leipheimer will also be there to back him up. They’ll face a tough lineup of Grand Tour contenders, such as Frank and Andy Schleck, Andrea Kloden, Bradley Wiggins, Janez Brajkovic, Damiano Cunego, Christian Vandevelde (in back to back races), Denis Menchov, Ivan Basso, and Tejay Van Garderen. Check out highlights from Stage 5 of last year’s race:

Interested in more of a Spanish flavor for your stage-racing action? Then you’ll want to check out the Vuelta a Murcia, a short stage race that features a climbing stage on Saturday and an individual time trial on Sunday. Spanish favorites Juan Jose Cobo and Samuel Sanchez will be lining up to challenge for the title, but last year’s champ, Alberto Contador, will not be back to dominate like he did in the highlights below (although this result was wiped out as part of his suspension):

Finally, if mountain bike racing is more your style, then we’ve got you covered there too! The Mellow Johnny’s Classic will take place this weekend on a ranch outside of Austin, Texas. The first race of the USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour, the Mellow Johnny’s race will be the first test for the array of racers battling it out for spots on this summer’s Olympic Mountain Bike teams. Contenders on the women’s side include Heather Irmiger, Emily Batty, Katie Compton, World Champion Catharine Pendrel, and defending champ Georgia Gould . On the men’s side, last year’s winner Max Plaxton will battle Todd Wells, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Jeremiah Bishop, among others. You can check out highlights of the 2011 race on Cycling Dirt.

Phew, kind of a busy weekend – just don’t forget to get outside and ride your own bike!

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