Monday, February 25, 2008

Spring hours begin March 20

Oooooooh, am I ready for Spring. Beginning Thursday, March 20th bikes@vienna will return to being open on Tuesday and lengthen hours to be open until 7 PM except Wednesday and Sunday. Wednesday we will continue to be closed. Sunday we will close at 5 PM. So here is the schedule beginning March 20th:

Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat 10 AM to 7 PM
Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM
Wednesday Closed

As always, we will be happy to open earlier or close later by appointment.

In Praise of Fenders (aka Mudguards)

If you come by our shop, most days you'll see one of my bikes sitting out front, since I ride in most of the time. Folks that know me and know my bikes can pick them out by a couple of key features, one of which is the fact that most of my bikes have fenders on them. In this region, that sets my bikes apart from the vast majority of bikes, since folks here generally shy away from fenders. So why do I buck the prevailing style? It's not simply curmudgeonly behavior... there's a practical reason.

Take a look at my Bridgestone to the left there. Look closely at the tires and the inside of the fender and especially the black mudflap at the bottom. Notice the plethora of mud caked on the tire on the inside of the fender/mudflap? That's the accumulated goo from two recent rides on the C&O Canal after rainfall. What you don't see is any appreciable gunk on the rest of the bike, or on me, after the ride. In marked contrast, on both rides I saw a number of other folk riding bikes without fenders who had amazing mud streaks up their backs.

Aside from the forays on the towpath, one of the things I enjoy about having fenders on most of my bikes is that I never have to think about whether or not it's going to rain... I'm always prepared. It makes my bikes ready to go any time, any place... in other words, versatile. And honestly, they don't add significant weight or air resistance or anything like that. Sure, you probably wouldn't put them on a high end carbon racing bike (you probably can't fit them anyway), but on many other bikes they are a great feature.

I used to think in terms of having a "rain bike"... now I suppose I have a couple of "sun bikes"... the few without fenders that I only ride when I'm reasonably sure the weather is clear, while most of my bikes are fendered. It just makes it easier to have fun on my bikes. So give some thought to adding them to your bike... I don't think you'll regret it, and you may very well find it helps you get out on your bike more often, and that's always good!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Molly Raymond in the Inside BIS quarterly newsletter

Molly - BIS Newsletter0002
Originally uploaded by bikes@vienna
This weekend I was given a story about Molly Raymond who purchased an EZ-3 trike from bikes@vienna late last year. It is such an inspirational item that I want to share it with you. I contacted Mike and Molly Raymond to get a copy of the profile that appeared in Inside BIS which is the quarterly newsletter of Brain Injury Services, Inc.

Molly sent me this note which tells you more about her level of energy and how much she is enjoying the trike:

"hi john,
i dont mind if you use my story and photo. i am soooo enjoying the bike. freedom!! i used to ride a mountain bike 5-15 miles sometimes everyday for many years. so not being able to ride for the last 3 years -and then now. feels so great. my Physical Therapist is thrilled and says i am getting stronger. they have my photo up in their practice. my Neurologist is thrilled too and has the photo and gave both of them your web site. i gets lots of questions as i drive around the area with it on the back of my car. everyone wants to know where i got it so i tell them. one of the ladies at my church just this am -has a disabled daughter-she said in their special school one of the older kids was wanting one-the mom had looked into it and they were the real expensive ones-so she took down your number and website off my bike and will share it with the school this week.

attached is my photo.

molly raymond"

Molly inspires me. I hope you will enjoy reading about her progress. Click on the article to gain a larger sized image and then click again where it says "All sizes" for an even larger text.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Our Change in 2008

Our Change in 2008
Originally uploaded by bikes@vienna
n 2008 bikes@vienna is moving away from selling conventional bikes. For an extended time we have not stocked road bikes and had just a few entry level mountain bikes. Our offerings have included hybrids and comfort bikes.

Our forte has been recumbents, tricycles, tandems, and folding bikes. I've decided to take us more that direction. Through several sales we will sell our more conventional bikes and end having those models in the store.

The rental program will also change. Rental bikes have always been a way for customers to test their interest in cycling and a way for us to sell bikes. The plan is for that idea to continue, but that means we will not rent hybrids this year. The yellow Fusion shown in the photo will be our most available rental bike. These crank forward bikes are very comfortable and I hope will provide hours of enjoyment on the W&OD Trail. Forgive me for pounding on this point, but we are NOT renting road, mountain, hybrid, single speed, cruisers, or ten speeds.

This shift in bicycles available for sale will prompt people to ask if we will do service work on all types of models and the answer is YES. We will continue to do repairs on all types of bikes and we will honor our commitment for "Continuing Care" for the bikes that we have sold regardless of style.

2008 is bikes@vienna's 10th year in business. We are moving towards "All Ability Cycling". This is an exciting change in a year when the word "change" holds hope for many people.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Live from Portland!

Tim here, coming to you from Portland, Oregon, at the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show.
To the left here you see one of many amazing limited production bicycles at the show.  You're not seeing things... it's made of wood!  I don't recall the specific species of wood, but it's from Brazil, and I'm told it's being harvested sustainably.  It's from a company called Renovo Hardwood Bicycles, and it looks really lovely.  And they had one of their bikes hanging from a scale to show that it weighs in at just under 18 pounds!

This is just one of many very cool bikes I've seen so far at the show.  Many of the builders are working in steel, which is the material I am gearing up to work with myself.  There are a surprising number of small framebuilding outfits springing up around the country these days, and several of the "grand old names" in the business are still actively building, like Richard
 Sachs, Peter Weigle, Brian Bayliss and Bruce Gordon, who are all at the show.  In addition, there are a number of companies showing framebuilding equipment, which is of particular interest to me.  I got to meet Joe Bringheli, who built the jigs that I recently bought, as well as Hank Folson of Henry James Bicycles, who manufacture some of the most popular and well designed fixtures in the industry.  I had a really enjoyable chat with him at his booth today... a fascinating and very nice guy.

Finally, to the right here is a City Bike from Pereira Cycles, here in Portland.  He (Tony P.) builds some truly lovely bikes in steel.  He won awards at this show last year in three different categories, and I can see why.  Amazing work.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

New at bikes@vienna.....Hase Tagun

I'll get a photo to go with this item.

James Anderson has been working this winter at bikes@vienna. Yesterday James assembled the first Hase Tagun that we've had come into the store. The Tagun has underseat steering, rear suspension, and it folds to fit more compactly in your vehicle or on Metro. James was out riding the Tagun in the parking lot and it was obvious that he was enjoying the bike so I suggested that he write a paragraph about his view of the Tagun.

Here's James' view:

Just wanted to write and express my thoughts on riding the Tagun I just built. Oh! What fun it is to ride! I know you asked me to keep the hyperbole to a minimum but I might have a really hard time. The highlights: A long wheelbase that feels like a short one, the SRAM dual drive gearing felt like the perfect set of ratios for the bike, I mean low down and dirty for the climbs and woah! widen that baby out and you're flying man! The motorcycle-esque-brake setup was ideal and sensible in a bike like this. I really liked the low center of gravity, It made all the crazy Hase promotional material (you know X-games style riding) seem like a great idea! Responsive all around. You know I'm pretty much an out and out road frame guy but this bike was nimble and quick reminding me of my super-lean Raleigh Supercourse.. Just fun, fun fun. Like the HP Veloteknik Street Machine fun, only more primal. The Street Machine feels like a leather lined BMW, the Tagun is like a Porshe.


I think this tells you a little about the Tagun and a little about James.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Your opinion..... Which icon suggests "recumbent"?

Originally uploaded by bikes@vienna
I would like your opinion. The adjacent graphics are meant to be icons suggesting a recumbent bike. Although there are four examples you'll note that the two at the top are the same shapes and the two on the bottom are the same shapes with the difference being the a positive or a negative.

Be part of my focus group, please and tell me which better symbolizes a recumbent bike in your opinion. Send me an email at

In the near future I will be asking about icons depicting the other styles of bikes in which we specialize. Yes, this is our tenth anniversary and I'm working on a new look.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Rans Dynamik Duo on order

08Dynamik Duo
Originally uploaded by bikes@vienna
I have struggled with the issue of "upright" tandems since we lost Burley as a supplier. I used a good deal of my time at InterBike investigating available tandems.

I keep coming back to the Rans Dynamik Duo. Our success last year in selling Crank Forward models has continued in 2008. People like the Crank Forward models. They are a wonderful combination of comfort and performance.

So Monday I ordered a Dynamik Duo. If you are interested in a tandem then I'd like for you to click on the adjacent fact sheet and read through it. We should have the Corvette red Dynamik Duo here late in February. Could it be a belated Valentine for the one you love?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

VTRCC's March 1st Casino Night

Originally uploaded by bikes@vienna
The Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce will hold their fifteenth Casino Night on Saturday, March 1. The site is the Westwood Country Club which is on the east edge of Vienna on Router 123. This is an enjoyable event which bikes@vienna supports with certificates for bike rentals.

Click on the adjacent poster for more information about the event.

Monday, February 04, 2008

In Praise of Dynamo Wheels

What you are looking at is the front end of my '93 Bridgestone XO-2, which I frequently use for commuting. While most of the bike is original, one big change I made was installing a dynamo (generator) hub on the front wheel, and a light to go with it. Specifically, the hub is from Shimano and the light is from a German company, Busch & Mueller. In a nutshell, the spinning wheel sends electricity to the light, thus negating the need for batteries. The advantage of the hub dynamo over the older style tire-driven style you may remember from days gone by, is that the mechanism is impervious to weather and requires no adjustment. The tire-drive units are prone to slippage, especially in the rain, are noisy, and less efficient than the dynohub.

Now, some of you are saying "but the light goes off when you stop moving, doesn't it?" Well, the more observant might notice that the light is glowing (hard to tell in daylight) with the bike sitting still in this picture. That's because the light has a capacitor that charges while you ride, which powers an LED which comes on when you stop. Not all dyno lights have that, but it's a nice feature.

So, how much does this all cost? I knew you'd ask. Since it involves a new hub and building a wheel, it's true, it's not cheap. However, it's not out of line with other high quality lighting systems. Assuming you start from scratch, and have us build you a whole new wheel around the hub, you're looking at around $250 or so as a starting point. This gets you the high end Shimano hub, new double butted spokes, and a good quality, strong rim, as well as a dynamo headlight. Depending on specific options you choose, it could be a little lower perhaps, or higher. But a good investment for the long run. I can just hop on the bike and know I've got light without having to worry about batteries being dead or forgetting my light altogether.

Come on in and talk to me (Tim) about your options if you're interested. We have a demo wheel built up for you to look at and a couple of bikes in the shop that come with a dynohub stock. And there's a good chance that one of my 3 dynohub equipped bikes will be around.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Fun in the Service Area

Winter is a relatively slow time in the service area here at bikes@vienna, since many folks aren't riding their bikes much. On the other hand, because they aren't riding as much, we do get a few people who bring in bikes that are sometimes longer-term, more involved projects for us. While they are a lot of work, they can also often be among the more fun projects I tackle here.

A good example of that is the bike you see to the left. It's a 1980s Alpine, a brand of bicycle made and sold right in the DC area back in the day. This one came in needing some serious TLC. The owner loved the bike and rode the heck out of it in days gone by, but over time his riding fell off, and the bike sat for a long time. He's back on bikes again, zooming around on a Rans "crank forward" design... but he really wanted his old friend back in riding form, so he brought it in to us. I have an affinity for classic steel road bikes, so this one appealed to me immediately, especially with the idea of "reconnecting" the owner with the bike he had enjoyed so much in the past.

It took a LOT of time and work and care, but it was worth every second of it when I saw the look on the owner's face after his first loop around the parking lot on the bike. Based on discussions with him, I had put a set of "butterfly" bars on the bike, and a new stem, to raise his hands up compared to the position on the old drop bars, and that seems to have really worked out well. A really fun project, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from the owner about his re-discovery and enjoyment of his bike.

Funny thing is, around the same time this bike came in, another fella brought in a '73 Motobecane Grand Jubilee, a really nice bike of the era, with a very similar story. Again, it was so much fun to work on the bike, and most of all to see the owner's face when he rode it after it was finished. It really gives me a lot of joy to help connect or re-connect folks with the joy of riding a fine bike.