Bike Night 2012 – Minneapolis Institute of Art

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is hosting Bike Night again this Thursday, July 19, starting at 6:00 p.m, and we’ll be there!  A group ride departs for the MIA from Twin Six World HQ at 5:30 p.m.  Or just ride over to the MIA at 24th Street and Third Avenue South in Minneapolis for the cycling scene’s social event of the summer.  Bike Night includes:

  • The opening of the Bicycle Film Festival, with shows at 7:00 and 8:15 p.m.
  • Live music
  • Outdoor cocktail lounge
  • Exhibits by Speedhound, Peacock Groove and other notable home-grown bike frame builders
  • Drawings for bike and swag giveaways
  • Pedal-powered bike art activities presented by Speedhound retailer The Hub Bike Co-op
  • Local bike shop clinics and gear
  • Thousands of Twin Cities bike hipstas!

We’re planning to show some of the great Speedhounds we showed at NAHBS.  See you there!

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Just Ride: A Review of Grant Petersen’s New Book

There’s a high likelihood that you’ve heard of Grant Petersen and Rivendell Bicycle Works.  (Speedhound tends to attract riders who dig steel bikes, and nobody has done more than Grant Petersen to praise the many virtues of steel.)  If G.P. and Riv mean nothing to you, though, it’s your lucky day.  G.P.’s new book, Just Ride (subtitled “A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike”), might just change your life.  As the author says in the Introduction, “my main goal with this book is to point out what I see as bike racing’s bad influence on bicycles, equipment, and attitudes, and then undo it.”

I’d subscribed to G.P.’s Rivendell Reader for years, and whether I agreed or disagreed with his many opinions, the Reader was always entertaining and useful.  G.P. challenged conventional biking wisdom and rejected the racer as a role model.  He gave us permission to raise our handlebars, lower our tire pressure, and leave the Lycra at home.  In large doses, his writing could come off as judgmental and cranky, or sometimes painfully wordy and confessional.  It pulled you in anyway, with a vaguely cult-like vibe you wanted to be a part of, even if it just meant ordering a Rivendell handlebar bag.

The last print edition of the Reader was published in February 2009, and I hadn’t gotten around to reading the two later, on-line volumes until recently.  (Available to download free at www.rivbike.com/product-p/rr.htm.)  So when I started reading Just Ride, it was like a visit from an old friend.  All of the familiar themes were there, including G.P.’s pet equipment likes: steel frames, lugs, wheels with lots of spokes, puffy tires, flat pedals (not clipless), friction shifters, threaded forks, quill stems, fenders, saddle bags, kickstands, leather saddles, cotton bar tape, shellac, hemp twine, and wool.  Practical, durable stuff, not for racing.

So what’s new?  Part 4 of Just Ride is titled “Health and Fitness,” and G.P. says it’s his second-favorite chapter in the book.  It’s my favorite.  Here are some of the section headings:

  • Riding is lousy all-around exercise.
  • Riding burns calories and makes you eat more.
  • Carbohydrates make you fat.
  • Branch out and buff up.
  • Stretching is overrated.

Wow, G.P. has gone all low carb and paleo!  (He doesn’t use the term.)  It’s offered as his own advice, but it’s really a distillation of, among others, Gary Taubes (Why We Get Fat) www.garytaubes.com and Mark Sisson (The Primal Blueprint) www.marksdailyapple.com. These books, two favorites in my library, are offered for sale on the Rivendell site.  G.P. says “My education will be questioned.  Some will accuse me of making irresponsible, even dangerous claims, and will want to see the studies.  The studies are out there; look them up.  I’ve been careful.  I’ve read everything, seen through the BS, seen the results in others and in myself.  Do what I recommend here, and you will get healthier.”

Believe it.  I’ve followed my own primal lifestyle experiment for almost three years and it works.  You’ll disagree with much of G.P.’s advice when it comes to bikes and riding, but you owe it to yourself to read Just Ride, and when you’re done, Why We Get Fat (even if you’re not) and The Primal Blueprint.  This is life changing stuff.  Now go out and just ride!

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The Case of the Missing Bolts

Or, Don’t Try This At Home!

If you’ve checked out the Speedhound Dropout System, you probably know that the interchangeable dropouts are attached to the frame receivers with standard steel chainring bolts.  These fasteners have the benefit of a large surface area to contact the chainrings and crank spider, or in the case of the SDS, the dropouts and the receivers.  The threads on the bolts don’t come into contact with any of the mating surfaces, and the bolts do a good job of handling shear forces.

Think of a crank spider and chainring as the blades of a pair of scissors, trying to cut through the bolts.  As you jump on the pedals, your power is transmitted from the crank spider to the chainring, which pulls the chain forward.  A large, powerful rider could generate 500 pounds of pulling force at the chain, especially on a small chainring and long cranks.

Once in a while I like to do some sprints to rev up my heart and keep my legs sharp.  I’ll do hill sprints, on the bike or on foot.  Other weeks I’ll just make sure to include some focused accelerations during my rides.  During the winter, I get it done indoors on a trainer, rotating through five spinning CDs.  I aim to average 10 minutes of actual sprinting every week (not counting warm-ups and rest periods).

I rarely get on the “nowhere bike” during the summer, but last week a heat wave hit, and I was feeling short on sprints, so I went down to the cool of the basement to catch up.  I’ve got a fixed-gear Speedhound that I use on a variable-resistance fluid trainer.  It’s got a Gates Carbon Drive belt and 50X20 sprockets and it’s very smooth.

We’re finishing up the development of the production version of a slider-style dropout for the SDS (more on that in a future post).  I needed three chainring bolts for a meeting at the machine shop that’s helping us with the project.  I didn’t have time to go to Speedhound HQ, so I pulled the bolts from the Sugino RD-2 cranks on my Speedhound fixie.

The other day, a panicked thought crossed my mind – had I done my last 40 minute spinning session with only two chainring bolts in the crankset?   Yikes.  I ran down to the basement to look.  Here’s what I saw:

Missing Chain Ring Bolts

The two bolts were next to each other, leaving 288 degrees of the sprocket unsupported. But the sprocket ran true and there were no clicks or any other signs that parts were missing, other than three empty holes.  Nothing bad happened, no sprocket tacos, no noises, nothing different at all.  Why did it work?  Spot-on alignment between the front and rear sprockets, the lateral stiffness of the Gates Carbon Drive belt, the meshing of the teeth and sprockets, and the location of the sprocket centerline to the inside of the shoulders on the spider.  Oh, and the ability of those two chainring bolts to resist the shearing forces as I pedaled.  I’m back to five bolts now.  And please, don’t try this at home!

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Speedhound Dealer Profile: Hiawatha Cyclery

Hiawatha Cyclery is a small shop in Minneapolis, MN, specializing in products for the cyclist who uses his/her bike for serious transportation, as well as for recreation. They pride themselves on their selection of distinctive, high quality bicycles and accessories for the cyclist who doesn’t accept the widely held notion that the latest technology is necessarily the best choice. Their catalog is full of items that fly under the radar of most of the bike industry because they don’t generally meet volume or price targets.

Fixie, Belt-Drive Commuter SpeedhoundHiawatha is a perfect fit for Speedhound.  Their loyal clientele appreciates unique bikes and bike accessories.  Jim and Mark have built and sold several Speedhounds, including geared and single-speed versions, internal and external geared styles, commuters and touring rigs.  One of our favorites is this belt-driven fixie

Hiawatha Cyclery has been serving the commuters and touring riders of South Minneapolis since 2006.  Their unique showroom features steel steeds of all varieties, but there’s not a carbon or aluminum bike in the place!  They appreciate the comfortable, reliable ride that only steel can offer.

Jim Thill, the owner of Hiawatha Cyclery likes the Speedhound because it’s a high-end, but approachable bike.  It doesn’t demand “celebrity parts” to justify its existence.  It’s durable and versatile – just the thing for the all-season conditions facing Minneapolis cyclists.  Jim notes, “If I were doing a long ride, I’d definitely choose the Speedhound.”

We’re proud of our relationship with Hiawatha Cyclery.  Stop by and say hello to Jim and check out the Speedhounds on the show floor.  Learn more about Hiawatha Cyclery on their website.

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Do You Like Messing Around with Bikes?

As a kid, I was always fascinated by how things worked.  A broken toaster was an invitation to explore:  I had to take it apart to figure out what made it pop.  Discarded TV sets, clocks, lawn mowers, electric mixers, and tape recorders were some of the subjects of my screwdriver autopsies.  With my knack for mechanical things, bikes were a breeze.  When I was 12, I assembled my new 3-speed right from the box.

Yes, I got my driver’s license when I was 16, and anything with an internal combustion engine had a certain allure.  But cars were too big, dirty and expensive to mess around with.  Now, a bike – I could store that in the kitchen or carry it into the basement.  I could clean the chain, disassemble and repack the bearings, or adjust the derailleurs just about anywhere.

My first real racing bike was a Gitane Tour de France, orange with chromed fork tips and stays and gaudy Mylar stickers.  That bike taught me what it means for a bike to be alive (especially compared to the Schwinn Varsity that I took on my first century ride).  Turns out those old European racing bikes from the 1970s were great all-around rides, which is partly why you see so many of them resurrected for duty around town today.

I was constantly experimenting with my gear, trading one bike for another, always searching for the “magic ride.”  I worked for awhile brazing frames at Trek, when all of their bikes were lugged steel, made in Wisconsin.  I made my way through school wrenching in bike shops, because I had a passion for bikes and a talent for fixing them.   I also loved to ride bikes, and working around them gave me the opportunity to try hundreds.  Later, when I could afford it, I began collecting lightweight racing bikes, many from the 1950s.

One thing I always wanted was a bike frame that could do just about anything on the road or a light trail.  A kind of universal bike.  About 10 years ago, I noticed that people started buying cyclo-cross bikes, but not for racing.  The extra clearance in the frames for muddy knobbies also made them suitable for fenders and puffy road tires.  Like the old racing bikes from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  Although a C-X bike is a lot better than a contemporary road racing bike for the riding that 99% of us do 99% of the time, it still involves some compromises.  There must be a better way, I thought.   How might a bike frame be made to work for every rider in a variety of situations?  I decided to design a frame that could be a flexible platform for any type of drivetrain and a wide variety of riding styles.  A frame that would expand a rider’s choices now or in the future.  I thought, “What if we made it modular?”  I began experimenting and made a prototype of an interchangeable dropout system that would meet the particular demands of belt drive, but could also be used with derailleur gears.

All those years of experimenting inspired me to create Speedhound Bikes.  Our patent-pending Speedhound Dropout System is a unique departure from conventional thinking.  With this system, the ONLY ONE offers a degree of flexibility not found in any other bike frame.  Now, you no longer have to settle for one type of drivetrain or brake system.  You aren’t stuck with a track frame when you decide you want gears.  Want to go low maintenance, ditch the chain and go belt drive?  Be our guest.  You pick the drivetrain you want and build your Speedhound in any configuration you like.  Cantilever brakes or calipers?  We don’t make any decisions for you.  And if you want to repurpose your Speedhound to do something completely different, the choice is yours.  If you like tinkering with bikes, you get it.  “Go Your Own Speed” is our motto and the principle we live by.  The quest for the magic ride never ends.

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What Length of Belt Should My Bike Wear?

A lot of well-dressed bicycles are wearing belts these days.  They make a clean, crisp fashion statement on the runway, the road and the bike path.  Unlike a chain (or the belt on your pants), though, the length of a bike’s drive belt can’t be adjusted.  The length of the belt depends on the size of the front and rear sprockets, and the distance between them.

Gates Carbon Drive Belt Drive Belt Length CalculatorSo how does the well-heeled bicycle owner decide what is the right belt length for his or her bike?  Fortunately, our friends at Gates have created a handy belt length calculator.  It’s an easy to use Excel spreadsheet you can download to your computer.  You can find it here. Once you arrive at the Tech Info Page, select “Belt and Sprocket Size Calculator” under the heading “Technical Manual.”  (Skip the Carbon Drive Systems Calculator also appearing on that page – it’s not nearly as useful.)

If you are setting up a single speed, calculate which combination of front and rear sprockets will give the ratio you want.  In general, a smaller front sprocket will give better clearance with the chainstay.

For internal gear hubs, consult the manufacturer’s data on ratios.  Select a combination of front and rear sprockets so that you will have the low gear you want.

Make sure your combination of sprockets and belt length work for your bike’s chainstay length.  The calculator will give you the required range of adjustment to take up belt slack.

With the right belt length, your bike will be well-appointed and give you years of carefree riding.

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News Flash: Belts Are Now As Efficient As Chains!

The diamond-framed “safety” bicycle replaced the high-wheeled “ordinary” by the end of the 1800s.  Apart from a few shaft-driven bikes, chains have ruled since those early days.  Although belts have been used to transmit power since at least the 1870s, when flat leather belts linked steam engines to farm equipment and industrial machines, it’s taken over 100 years since then for belts to be successfully adapted to bikes.  The reason has to do with efficiency.

The human engine doesn’t develop much power, and when we jump on a bike, we want our pedaling effort to translate into maximum forward motion.  Until the development of modern cogged belts, nothing could compete with the transmission efficiency of roller chains.

Often called timing belts or synchronous belts, cogged belts are popular in applications that require precision, durability and efficiency.  Many cars use a timing belt to drive the camshafts that control the opening and closing of the engine’s valves.  In 1962, the German Glas 1004 became the first mass-produced vehicle to use a cogged timing belt in place of a chain.

CenterTrack on the OUR Blue Speedhound

CenterTrack on the OUR Blue Speedhound

Our two-wheeled friends in the motorcycle world are also fans of cogged belts.  In 1980, Harley-Davidson introduced a Gates Kevlar reinforced belt as a replacement for its chain drives.  That year, they debuted the FXB Sturgis model featuring the belt drive in honor of the iconic motorcycle rally.  Other motorcycles, including BMW and Victory, use final drive belts.  Snowmobiles are almost all driven by belt transmissions.

In about 1985, Bridgestone introduced a belt-drive folding bike for the Japanese market.  The STRiDA folding bike was designed around the same time and also uses a cogged belt drive.  But despite all this cogged belt history, high performance belt drive for bikes only became available in 1997, with the Gates Carbon Drive system.  http://www.carbondrivesystems.com

According the U.S. Department of Energy, cogged belts are about 98% efficient.  http://www1.eere.energy.gov/manufacturing/tech_deployment/pdfs/replace_vbelts_motor_systemts5.pdf This means that 2% of the input power is lost, which is about the same efficiency as a roller chain.   Kidd, Matt D.; N. E. Loch, R. L. Reuben (1998). “Bicycle Chain Efficiency”. The Engineering of Sport conference. Heriot Watt University.

Belt drives have been used for decades to drive vehicles much heavier and more powerful than Speedhounds.  Now that belt technology has finally caught up with bicycles, we think belts are a perfect choice for getting you up those hills and through the rain and snow you might encounter on your rides.

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Mary Queen of Scots Had a Speedhound!

Speedhound fans know that our mascot is an Italian Greyhound (IG) named Cooper.  His ancestors have been a popular breed for millennia.  Evidence has been found of IGs at Pompeii! Mary Queen of Scots was a big fan of the little speedsters too.

Speedhound BadgeIGs are light, quick and nimble.  They’re a perfect mascot for Speedhound bikes.  In fact, Cooper, who weighs in at only 10.4 lbs (4.7 kg), is still over twice as heavy as an ONLY ONE frame!  That’s what we call light and nimble!

Our inspiration from IGs goes beyond our need for speed, though.  IGs are agile sporting dogs – our “running dog” graphic is inspired by an IG competing in a lure coursing event.  And since we insist on making our own forks that match the frame geometry, both parts of a Speedhound frameset have matching serial numbers starting with the letters “IG” for Italian Greyhound.  You can find the serial numbers stamped in the bottom bracket and on the fork steering tube.

Speedhound Serial Number

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The Wolf Pack

The Speedhound OnlyOne™ frameset is an incredibly versatile bike – but it was designed first and foremost for fun! And what’s more fun that riding bikes with your friends before relaxing with a couple of cold ones?

For our third video, we asked the guys behind MPLS Bike Love to send us some fun-loving guys for a group ride. And just to make it interesting, we brought them out to Saint Paul thinking it would take them out of their element. Think again.

Special thanks to Adam Turman, Charles Youel, Matt Appleman, and Ben McCoy for helping us out!

Riders:

Chris Cleveland (www.speedhoundbikes.com)
Ben McCoy (www.mplsbikelove.com)
Adam Turman (www.adamturman.com)
Charles Youel (www.artcrank.com)
Matt Appleman (www.applemanbicycles.com)

Shot and Edited by:
Paul Moehring (www.paulmoehring.com)

Produced by:
Bicycle Theory (www.bicycletheory.com)

The JenNastix Experience

One of the most impressive things about the patent-pending Speedhound Dropout System™ is that it allows you to easily and elegantly use a belt drive.

For our second video, we recruited fixed gear enthusiast (and Banjo Brothers model) Jenn ‘JenNastix’ Gallup to put the Speedhound OnlyOne™ frameset with a Gates Carbon Drive to the test. And, oh yes she did!

Rider:
Jenn Gallup

Shot and Edited by:
Paul Moehring (www.paulmoehring.com)

Produced by:
Bicycle Theory (www.bicycletheory.com)