Category Bikes

Strava Nutrition is Brilliant

Strava Nutrition

If you’re not aware, Strava is like a more aggressive version of Nike+, designed specifically for cyclists and runners. It tracks workouts via sport-specific apps for smartphones and from connected GPS devices like Garmin. Its interface and community are leagues beyond competitors in its verticals; this is most evident in Strava Challenges, which draw their own community and brand support.

My cycling buddy Ilya noticed an awesome new beta feature over the weekend: Strava Nutrition. Based on the looks of the sign-up page (accessible only after sign-in), it’ll use your workouts to customize a nutrition subscription program so you never run out AND have the right food for your particular training regimen. Presumably this is another way for them to monetize the platform, on top of the paid annual membership model.

When launched, this will be an amazing opportunity for Skratch, Nuun, Osmo, CLIF and others to drive trial, and probably a lower-cost option for distribution, with built-in marketing and fulfillment.

Consideration Set: Road Bike

Modern steel from Icarus. Photo by Prolly. Frame price: likely around $2,500.

Titanium from Firefly. Frame price: $4,000.

Steel from Hampsten. Maybe the Max, pictured here, or the Gran Paradiso (La Dolce Vita). Frame price: $2,500-2,700.

Titanium from Moots. Frame price: $4,425 for the RSL, above, or $3,450 for the CR.

I need a bike with gears. I want one that’s made in the US. I don’t want carbon, partly because I’m big, and partly because I want a forever bike. And no weird proprietary standards.

I’ve leaned toward the Hampsten Max because it sounds like it’s designed specifically for me: “Maybe you’re a big guy who likes to sprint and is not afraid to grab a jersey or bump an elbow, you do ok on the short hills, better on crappy descents, maybe double espresso at the coffee stop. The spring classics are what get your blood pumping, full of rain, cobbled bergs, cow shit, and rabid fans.” The Moots is far and away the most expensive, especially if I wanted custom geometry. So it might be out.

But they’re all amazing options, some way more expensive than the others, and I’d be happy to ride them all.

More on this later.

Milwaukee Orange One, Part 2

I’ve been riding my Langster for a while now, especially after having set it up for longer-distance (up to 50-70 miles at a time) riding. It’s been fine, if a little harsh, but I wanted something that said, “Yes, I’m doing this on purpose” instead of, “I’m a crazy tinkerer.” Somehow a cheap aluminum frame with a nice(r) single-speed build says the latter to me.

For a point of reference, I compared the frame against offerings from Soma, IRO, and a few others. While it’s not truly bespoke, it’s as custom as $600-ish dollars will buy you.

Gonna build it up with as much black-anodized aluminum as I can get my hands on. US-made stuff: King, Thomson, Paul, 44rn. Sram brakes and cranks. Selle Italia saddle, Fizik tape, and Shimano SPD-SL. Not sure about the fork; trying to find something that works for the geometry of the bike. Still deciding on wheels, but I think I might go with some King/H+Son/Sapim jobs from Luxe Wheelworks.

More later.

Milwaukee Orange One

New whip alert.

Got this in the inbox today: my new Milwaukee Orange One is about to ship. It’s going to be my primary bike – a single-speed set up for road riding – taking the place of my Langster while I save my pennies for a bike with gears.

True Temper Verus, 56cm. Handmade in the United States by Waterford Precision Cycles. The folks at Ben’s Cycle are awesome, helpful folks.

Build pics coming soon.

Strava & Le Tour: Good Marketing

Not sure if any of you watched the Tour, or if you’re into cycling, but I think Strava just killed it with the promos (mostly inspiration, very little discussion of features, etc.) and featured segments.

No idea what I’m talking about? Strava is an app that runs on the iPhone (or connects to a variety of GPS-enabled devices) that tracks runs and rides. It’s easy to use and it looks tremendous. In the app, you can designate “segments” – bits of road, an entire route, whatever, that are used to measure performance: he/she who goes fastest through the GPS gates wins. Strava connected with the Tour de France to highlight key bits of the race, like the one above: the Col de la Madeleine.

Gorgeous (important in the cycling world) and smartly integrated. Quality stuff.

Strava’s featured Tour segments

Me on Strava (let’s be friends?)

Bike Porn 5

I love the bike industry. I grew up around bikes—my aunt and uncle(s) own a bike shop in the town where I grew up—and I continue to love them to this day. But as someone who tinkers with marketing, I have to say the leaders in the industry (small and large companies alike) really understand how to use their resources to make an impact.

Case in point: the Specialized Shiv Tandem concept, pictured above and below. It’s like someone took a time-trial bike and a Ferrari F1 car and mashed them together.

Check out that fairing over the head tube – it normally provides an aero shroud for the front brakes, but in this case, they’re discs.

It’s a work of really, really fast art. Hydraulic disc brakes, shaft drive connecting the stoker and the pilot (not that I’ve had good experiences with shaft drives before), and amazing aerodynamics. Clearly this thing is for show—concept bikes are rarely rideable—but at least it’s a good show.

And then there’s the belt-drive single-speed Corvid that Independent Fabrication brought to the National American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) this weekend, which is gorgeous in a different way.

See how the wheel paint matches up with the paint on the fork? Rad.

That’s a Gates Belt Drive, which requires no lubrication, is reportedly silent, and will last for 10,000 miles without maintenance. You can see that the seatstay is bolted to the dropout. So…don’t get a rear flat. According to IF, Chris King supplied a set of one-off hubs just for this application. Pretty dope.

Zero-Gravity brakes actuated by SRAM carbon-fiber levers made specifically for single-speeds. Hot.

But if you’re not into bikes, you’re probably missing out on some of the subtle things that make this bike so sexy. For me, it’s all in the construction: it’s lugged carbon fiber, meaning that the tubes are bonded to lugs (bike jargon for “joints”), rather than the bike being made in one piece. That gives the bike builder more flexibility to do fun things, or to customize a bike to a particular rider by changing the geometry of the bike. And in handmade bicycle culture, the lugs are where the art happens, and are an important call back to the older ways of making a bike.

So look again at the picture above, at the lugs: IF has used their logo—a crown—to bring some style to what is ostensibly a functional piece of the bike. So cool.

Just in case you’re curious, these are lugs. Portland-based bike-builder Jordan Hufnagel posts pictures of his lugs on Flickr, and I’m always stupefied by their beauty.

In the opinion of this writer, the coolest thing a company can do is to share of itself, to let people see how things are made and to use products to put the culture of the company on display. Both of these examples—Specialized’s crazy tandem and IF’s gorgeous single speed—are extreme, conceptual artifacts that help me understand what each of the companies are about.

Both bikes tell me that the companies are willing to spend time and money on things that have no use in the real world. Both tell me that the companies care about the spirit of bicycling. The tandem is a ridiculous foray into technology; the Shiv single-person bike is purpose-built for winning Tour de France time-trial stages, with a design that’s been honed in a wind tunnel, and the tandem incorporates bleeding-edge bike tech into the mix, including shaft drives, disc brakes, integrated electronics, and star-flange hubs. And the IF bike is a seamless blend of old-timey craftsmanship and philosophy with newfangled materials and tech. It clearly articulates that IF knows what the f*ck they’re doing when it comes to making bikes by hand.

If you’re reading this and have a company that makes things, do this for me: spend some time making things that show me how you think. I’d much rather figure out your positioning for myself than hear about it from an ad.

References:

Bike Porn 4

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First, one I saw outside Equinox this very morning. It’s a Cinelli Vigorelli, cut from Columbus Aluminum. It’s a bad-ass track-only frame. Here it’s been kitted for the street with a vintage Campy crank, Velocity Deep V rims laced to Phil Wood hubs, and white-painted stem and handlebar. Thoroughly modern save the crank. In my eyes, this is at the pinnacle of street-machine cool. It’s like a cafe racer: stripped down from its full race shape, capable of high speeds and certainly not really built for NYC streets. Very cool.

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Next, the 2010 BMC SLR. Hot. Photo yanked from CyclingNews. BMC has also teamed up with Hublot recently to create the following, the “All Black” bike.

This is quite literally bicycle pornography.

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And then there’s this concept bike, from Seattle-based design company Teague. They sought to re-think the idea of a commuter bike, complete with style, function, and an understanding of what makes bikes great already. Thus, it’s not over-complicated in its approach, looks great, and probably would live up to its billing in real life. The main triangle is a C-channel, which would trap water on rainy commutes. I’m not sure how stiff it could be, but with enough money it could definitely be made rigid with today’s composite technologies. And while I’m not yet sold on integrated electronics, they’re becoming a reality in the ProTour peloton, so I suppose we’ll see them trickling down to our everyday bikes. Pretty cool stuff. Check out their paper on it here to see all their design thinking.

Bike Porn 3 – Trek’s “Stages” Bikes

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shepard fairey trek

marc newson trek

yoshitomo nara trek

Trek and Lance have been doing a lot of big things lately, from staging a massive comeback in the Tour de France (latter) to being the ride of choice for this year’s tour favorite, Alberto Contador (former). And now there’s The Bikes of Stages, a collaboration between Mr. Armstrong, the kind folks at Trek, and a bunch of highly-talented artists. From top to bottom, there are collaborations from Damien Hirst, Shepard Fairey, Marc Newson, and Yoshitomo Nara. Lance rode Nara’s take on the Trek Speed Concept today in the individual time trial of the TDF. Pretty cool to see a big(ger) bike brand like Trek playing around and doing cool stuff. I hope Lance takes the Hirst bike up Mont Ventoux.

My favorite, though, is this one-off by Barry McGee for the introduction of the Stages project.

mcgee madone townie

So bad-ass. A top-end (admittedly, not in the components, which look to be SRAM Rival) Madone with a flat bar and platform pedals? With gold chainring bolts and a painted-on fork crown? Rad.

Sign me up. Nice work, Trek.

Bike Porn 2

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It’s not that often lately that you see a fixie with box-section wheels that looks so damn stylish. And that’s a shame. While deep-section rims just look plain ‘ol bad-ass, there’s an art to classicism. Whoever put this one together got all the pieces right. The San Marco saddle has a subtle print on it, I dig the smallish chainring, and the ITM quill stem (into a Time carbon fork) is decidedly old-school without going too far. And the radial lacing up front is a nod to modern, if deviant, wheelbuilding practices. I’m totally digging the full-drop ergo road bars (and hoods), especially given that this is a traditional road frame, with derailleur-ready dropouts and shifter bosses. Nice work. Crosby & Prince, NYC.

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Apologies for the blurry picture, but I didn’t want to be “that guy” holding up foot traffic. A couple things here: large-diameter aluminum frames look better on larger frame sizes, and this is a monster of a bike. And I’m feeling the modern/classic component mix, from the San Marco saddle to deep-section rims. Dare I say…dope fenders? Outside Equinox, NYC.

Bike Porn

steel fixie

Totally rad. Old-school OCLV fork, stripped steel frame, gears, and a super clean King headset. Nice work, whoever this is. Outside Gimme! in Manhattan.

UPDATE! This bike is owned by Gimme! barista Theo, and now features sweet clear platform pedals.

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A little more affected here, but the Paul brake lever, straight purple ano bar and grey paint kill it. A King headset, this time in gold, and a Mavic front wheel skewer, really bring the room together. Digging the SLR saddle and the American Classic post. I bet a girl rides this, and I bet she looks super hot while she does so. Outside Equinox, Manhattan.

UPDATE! I was right! A girl does ride this. She has curly blonde hair and a white Specialized helmet. I like being correct. ;)

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A steel Colnago with a basket? Nice. And everything, down to the hubs, is vintage Campy. While my uncles used to call that stuff “Cramp and go slow” (instead of Campagnolo), it’s still totally perfect on an aging classic frame. Outside Equinox, Manhattan.

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This bike oozes style, but in all the non-affected ways. Celeste is beautiful.

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On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s this totally affected, totally hipster machine found in SF, at the Blue Bottle Coffee. Cool hubs, cool rims. But the cork grips and freewheel are pretty lame on a bike like this. Best part? The re-painted Felt frame: cool tube shapes, fatty chainstays, very cool.

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My ride is lame in comparison. But I’m fast on it.