Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pitlock Your Bicycle Components

High Security German U-locks

I spent the first 19 years of my life living in the country. Not sprawl, not suburbia but true country living with gravel roads, fields of grain, and small dairy farms. I moved to the city the first chance I got and stayed put. But all is not paradise especially the maddening bike thieves. After having my bicycle stolen the first week I moved here I have been religious about locking my bicycles with a U-lock (or better).

Now that bicycle components are getting more expensive, and in turn bicycle thieves more evil, it is prudent to utilize additional locking mechanisms with your standard bike lock. A set of hand built wheels can easily cost $600 plus, a Brook's saddle another hundred or two, a Rohloff 14 speed hub $1850. High end brake systems also cost hundreds.

bike components at risk for theft

  •    Wheel sets
  •     Saddles
  •     Front fork
  •     Brakes disc or high-end V brakes
First every bicycle owner can plan to budget 10-15% of the cost of their bicycle towards an anti-theft system. A bicycle costing $900 would translate to an additional $100 for a lock(s). An investment for sure but a good lock will offer peace of mind. Bicyclists who plan to lock their bicycle outside of a shopping mall, school, place of employment, restaurant, or bar should especially heed these cautions.

Secondary locks are used protect your high-end components and should be considered part of your anti-theft system. Your auxiliary system may comprise a seat leash, locking skewers, or an extra cable looped around your wheels. At Queen City Cycle we use Pitlocks, a German system of skewers and bolts, to secure various bicycle components.

Pitlocks can secure:

  • wheel sets
  • headset
  • brakes
  • seat post
  • hubs

Case Study. We have installed multiple upgrades to this single speed in order to add convenience and safety measures for the owner. Since this bicycle is often transported to Boulder from Denver on RTD we have made several modifications with the light install. Pitlocks were added for extra security

Pitlock for headset top cap,
prevents thieves from stealing the fork and front wheel.

Pitlock for front dynamo hub

Pitlock for seatpost

dynamo rear light installed under saddle with custom mount

Headset spacer mount for dynamo headlight,
the Edelux is nestled under the handlebars for protection.

Secure, city commuter
entered by Michelle

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hey Denver Cyclists! Bicycle Tune up Special.


Now-Feburary 28, 2014

Bicycle Tune up Special

Our Deluxe bicycle tune-up package is discounted to $85 from 125.

Let’s get your bicycle(s) ready for Spring!

Labor includes for:
Thorough cleaning of bicycle
Removal of drivetrain for complete degreasing
Lubrication of all drivetrain components and chain
Adjust brakes
Adjust derailleurs
Wheels are removed to true and tension
Adjust bottom bracket, headset, and hubs
Lube and adjust cables, brakes, and pivot points
Complete safety examination.

Once Ethan tunes your bicycle it will ride so well that you won’t be inclined to buy a new one!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review of Xtracycle’s Longtail on my City Cargo Bike

 Let me paint the picture first…

on a different, joyous ride
Very rarely is my day off totally free. It’s generally a very short day of chores, errands, and paperwork. All those tasks I didn’t quite complete during the previous work week. Sound familiar? I woke up Monday morning carefully reviewing the tightly choreographed day that lay ahead. It was to be one of those infrequent days, maybe once every 4 months kind of day, when I would be driving about town. I had an appointment 30 miles north of Denver and would be incorporating 4 other errands in that direction.

Then the cancellation of my professional appointment came in at 8AM. OK. All of the other errands planned around this cancelled appointment could be delayed to the new appointment day if I completed my work week errands today, my day off.  So I shifted gears, dressed for the cold and jumped on my bike to knock out a few chores.

After recently completing the rebuild of my cargo bike (posted about here) I am always looking for an excuse to ride. We winterized my old city bike so well that I have been Winter riding more this year than ever before.

The whole enchilada 

winterizing features include:

  • Internally geared rear hub, Shimano Alfine-8
  • German SKS, full coverage fenders
  • Chain guard
  • German Dynamo light system
  • Finnish studded snow tires.

This is the first bike that I have owned to sport all of these components on one frame and I really couldn’t pick my favorite feature, for as a package they create a fun, easy riding bicycle. Painting my old bike frame may seem odd. Some may ask, “why not just buy a new frameset?”
But I have ridden that old, off the rack, frame for so many years that it fits me (or I fit it) like a glove. And with the handlebar switch to a sporty NITTO ATB bar, which led to a new seat choice due to a more athletic seating position, my bike feels new again.


Xtracycle: Riding with a longtail is fun, it’s fun to corner, it’s fun to ride in the snow due to it’s increased stability, and there is always room for even more fun with it’s cargo bags.
The alloy xtracycle frame is light and durable, I have mounted it to several different bikes over the course of the last 12 years and really prefer it on its current bicycle frame. (click here to see their site).

Shimano internally geared hub (IGH), Alfine-8: I rarely use the entire range of this IGH unless I am climbing a hill with a load of cargo then I’ll utilize that lower gear. Although this hub offers more gears that I usually require, the range is great to have ‘just in case’ the hill ahead is a daunting end-of-the-day climb. It’s been a long time since I have owned a bike with a IGH and I just love the cleanliness of it. No more frozen derailleurs jammed with ice! An 8-speed IGH is ideal for any city bike but especially for a city bike that will be ridden up and down hills in all weather conditions. Other brand options to consider; Rohloff, Sturmey Archer, or NuVinci. All of which we have installed, overhauled, and maintained at Queen City Cycle.
(If you are considering an IGH for your bicycle, come in for a recommendation)!

Dynamo Light System;
I have always owned a dynamo sidewall generated light system. You know the little generator that you have to move into place manually so the roller drum hits the tire sidewall when it turns dark. This type of generator is battery-free, lightweight, inexpensive, durable, and they work phenomenally well but in comparison, a hub generated light system is the cat’s meow.

There are different brands of dynamo hubs to choose from, Sanyo, Shimano, SRAM, IRD, or SON. When making this initial investment for a hub generator I strongly recommend Schmidt’s SON hub. Any dynamo hub is weather-proof but the drag from the SON hub is inconsequential and it requires nominal RPMs to ignite my lights.  The convenience of simply turning on your bike lights with a flip of the switch is indescribable. And I should note that my new Schmidt Edelux headlight is small but mighty. The beam far outshines any battery-operated light of similar size, it outshines most battery-operated lights period.

Why did I wait so long to improve my light system? There is absolutely nothing wrong with my dynamo sidewall generator! It’s not as reliable in incremental weather, it’s not as convenient to turn on my lights, and it offers slightly more rolling resistance but other than that it works perfectly well and I don’t discard working components very easily.

My Monday ride consisted of spotty iced intersections on the way to the library.

Then a eerily quiet ride down the South Platte bike path to the Englewood warehouse.

And the last stop was at the grocery store for milk and essentials.

It was a fun morning of riding and even though the thermostat hovered around 20 degrees I wasn’t cold after the first warm up mile.

 Later after lunch, as I drank my cocoa, I heard on the news that Denver is going to have a temperature warm up tomorrow. I wonder if I have the time to ride 30 miles to my professional appointment this week after all? 

by Michelle at Queen City Cycle

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Taking the Fat Bike to the Paved Road

handmade loaf of bread by Ethan

Ah, January for a bicycle shop owner means time to read, bake bread, hike, and maybe take an morning-long bicycle ride.  Don't get me wrong, Ethan has had some great custom bike work come into the shop this month but it isn't the same busy commotion we enjoy in the Summer months.

Me? Well I have been aching to go Nordic skiing but my husband Peter, who is my ride to the mountains and I would say skiing partner but he’s so darn fast that we don’t really ski together, we just meet up at the end of the day, had a pile of work at his office, so a day on skis wasn’t meant to be. I considered spending a day at the art museum for cultural enrichment then my Boulder friend suggested that I deliver his bicycle to his office. A chance to take his Pugsley fat tire bike for a 30 mile bike ride was the tempting offer of the day.

The last time I rode bike up to Boulder I was buzzed several times so I decided to try the “Katie” technique. Katie bought her Soma Buena Vista from us and rides her bicycle everywhere.  She has noticed that when she wears a skirt she receives more respect from vehicular traffic. It actually helped a bit (but I think it might be even more effective if a guy cyclist was wearing the skirt).

My goal of arriving to Boulder from Denver in 2 1/2 hours turned sour. Part of my route was closed on Tabor Street.  I was forced to dismount, carrying the Pugs through a ditch and over some railroad tracks. Then the wind started up at Standley Lake continuing all the way to Boulder.

The winds we get in the West are piercing. It’s a dry wind that sends clouds across the sky ever so quickly. Tumbleweeds and topsoil blow by filling my nostrils with grit. These are the type of wind gusts that I imagine one would experience in the Steppes of Mongolia or down in the Tierra del Fuego.
First I had a cross wind, gusts so strong I had to walk up one of those steep hills just past Standley Lake by the little airport on Simms Street. As I turned to Boulder from Superior on Marshall Road, usually a pleasing, scenic ride, it was head down against a straight-on head wind.
Too late to turn back now, I thought about a hot lunch at a new chicken restaurant that Peter recommended. Then I though about hot cocoa with a chocolate chip cookie. This usual half hour ride to Boulder turned into an hour-long fight against the wind.  I arrived to Boulder late and missed lunch. I dropped off the Pugsley at my friend’s office and quickly turned around to catch the next bus to Denver's Market St. Station, arriving back to work several hours later than anticipated.
But it is January and no one really seemed to miss me at all.

Later I checked with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) Wind Technology Center and they had recorded 30 mph gusts.

My Boulder friends assumed I was late because of the Pugsley’s fat tires, 26x3.8. But with the fat tires fully inflated they didn't really create that much more resistance. Big tires do slow my initial accelerations and progress up hills a bit, but truthfully that is more a problem of the engine than the tires. What the fat tires do offer is comfort on the road, they are like riding on balloons, absorbing bumps and potholes for the rider.  No, it was definitely the winds from the West that slowed my progress. Fighting the winds coming across at 30 mph takes some work on the cyclist’s part just to stay upright.  While my slow approach to Boulder caused me to miss my hot lunch I gained a fun morning of riding bike with the blue Colorado skies above. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

City bike ride, following the traffic laws

Route from Northwest Denver to Commerce City

From 1998 to around 2006 I made a weekly trip to Commerce City to pick up Colorado grown lilies, flowers and bouquets. At that time our retail store was called Lily's Herbery, later evolving into Lily's Kitchen and Garden, and we always had fresh cut  flowers in the store for sale. Locally grown lilies are the most beautiful, aromatic flowers to be had, though we did not sell enough of them, in fact I am sure we lost money in that endeavor. But in the name of beauty, it was part of the rhythm of my week to hop on my cargo bike at 7 AM ride out on West 46th Ave past Federal to Pecos over I-70 to 58th then to Washington arriving at Balistreri's Flowers to hand select my lilies and flowers for the week.
Kind of funny thinking of it now how I rode purposefully through morning commuter traffic with lots of truck traffic on my cargo bike. Nary an incident that I can recall as I was part of the traffic flow myself.
Balistreri's no longer grows flowers commercially instead they have turned their endeavors to wine making. We stopped selling flowers when we opened the bicycle shop in 2007.

I was back on the same route early Tuesday morning for a different mission. We have established a relationship with the owners of a powder coating facility just off of 58th Ave., they do a fine job with bicycle frames. I rode out on my established route quickly remembering the flow of traffic Northeast of my Highland neighborhood; old, narrow bridge over the railroad tracks with absolutely no shoulder so I just ride as fast as possible, ahh wide shoulder on Washington with lots of room for trucks to pass, narrow hilly route down 58th but it's only a short distance to my turn off. There aren't bicycle lanes out here, I conscientiously watch traffic and follow the rules.

Once at the powder coating facility I interrupt the owner, he emerged from the powder coating room with paint on his glasses, beard, and moustache.  He hasn't seen me since I had my own frame set painted so we chatted a bit before I gave him my request. "We need a sample of a grey/blue but more blue than grey?" "This is going to be custom," he says. "yeah, I know, see what you can mix."
I halfway expect that Jerry thinks I am a bit of a nutter riding out to Commerce City for such an errand. I do have to admit that I was the only cyclist out that direction. But we were having one of those clear Colorado days when the winds blew the pollution out towards the Eastern plains. Why would one drive when there is a bicycle ride to experience?

Fortunate for me that I had more errands to complete downtown, overall I probably could have saved 10 minutes by driving for each trip but instead I exercised and enjoyed the blue sky of Colorado.
Denver Public Library, Central branch