Friday, September 30, 2011

New bikes here at bikes@vienna!

We're carrying the Breezer line of bikes again! For those of you who don't know, Joe Breeze was one of the original California mountain bike guys, bombing down Mt. Tamalpais on battered old Schwinn cruisers. He was one of the first to build from scratch what ultimately became known as "mountain bikes", and started the Breezer company. About a decade ago he decided to branch off in a new direction, focusing his energy on practical bikes for transportation.

We've got several of the Uptown 8 models, part of their "Town Bike" line, which have 26" wheels and the Shimano Nexus 8 speed internally geared rear hub. Among the advantages of an internal hub are low maintenance and ease of use, as well as the ability to change gears when you are stopped. This comes in handy if you find yourself stopped and realize you're in too high or low a gear... you can simply click into the gear you want, and you're ready to go! The Uptown comes in a standard "diamond" frame as well as a "low step" frame that makes mounting and dismounting easier.

We also have a Liberty model in the shop as well, which is part of their "Range Bike" series. This bike has 700C wheels, a 27 speed derailleur based drive train, and is suitable for both commuting and longer recreational rides. You could even load it up and take it on a tour if you wanted.

Both the Uptown and Liberty come from the factory equipped with fenders, racks, and a dynamo lighting system, so they are ready to roll as practical transportation. Come on in and try one out sometime!

Basic Maintenance and Repair Class This Sunday!

Hey folks!  We still have some slots open in our next Basic Maintenance and Repair class, which is scheduled for Sunday, October 2nd, from 7 to 9 pm.  Cost is $45, and we ask that you pay in advance to reserve your space. The cost includes a small tool kit, normally selling for $22.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Interbike, Wednesday September 14, 2011

(Note - I wrote this Wednesday evening but couldn't post it until now)

Well, this was my first of two days at Interbike in Las Vegas, NV. Lots of vendors showing off all manner of products for cycling, from nutritional supplements to high end road bikes, from bells to dual suspension mountain bikes.

Today was largely a preliminary lap around the show floor, not stopping and spending a lot of time at any one booth, just more or less getting a sense of what's there.

So what caught my eye? 

First, the continuing growth of the electric bike market is impossible to ignore. Each year it seems there are more and more booths showing both complete bikes and conversion kits and motors. With the exception of the Bionx brand, it's hard to know who has the ideas that will last, but it seems a pretty safe bet that e-bikes are going to be a part of the industry for some time to come.

Another really obvious thing was what WASN'T there... recumbents! Yes, you read that right... with the exception of Sun, who are a part of J&B Importers, a major parts and accessories distributor, the only recumbent brands with booths this year are HP Velotechnik and ICE. Over the last few years, fewer and fewer of the recumbent makers have shown their products at Interbike. Why? Well, late October will bring the first ever Recumbent Cycle-Con, in Pomona, CA, a recumbent-only trade show. Given that they often seemed a bit "lost" in the mass of vendors at Interbike, I can understand the motivation behind having their own show, but I'm not sure I completely agree that leaving Interbike was the best choice. We'll see how it all plays out in the next few years.

I did spend some quality time with a few folks today, both "old friends" and new. Among the "old" were J&B Importers/Sun Bicycles, who showed a few new items... including three new models of recumbents. At the moment it's not clear whether they will replace existing models or supplement them, or when exactly they'll ship, but they look interesting. One nice feature is that they use the same attachment system as the Rans recumbents, which means it's possible to swap the seats for a Rans or similar seat. In two wheelers, there's a model with 20" front wheel and 26" rear, as well as one with 16" front/20" rear.  The third is a new variation on their delta style trike. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.

I also spent a good hunk of time with the folks at Dahon, catching up on what's coming for 2012. There are several new models, and some changes to existing models. And there are a few bikes being dropped, or put on hold for the year. In the latter, we won't be seeing any of the "mini" style bikes new this coming year, although there are still some 2011 bikes in stock. In new bikes, the Vector series takes the place of the old Speed Pro and Speed Pro TT models. There's also a new 16" bike with a really slick, quick fold, that looks quite interesting. Unfortunately, the Dahon booth had a bunch of "no photos please" signs.

In the world of folding bikes, some of you may already be aware there's a new player coming into the field... Tern Bicycles, a company founded by folks who split off of Dahon. There's a lot of "family resemblance" between the brands on the surface, but there appear to be some significant differences as well. Generally speaking, for any given model of Dahon, there's a Tern that fills the same part of the market. Among the features touted by Tern are a latching/hinging system that is identical across all of the bikes in the line and is easily serviced with standardized replacement parts. It's too soon to tell, but this looks like a line with promise.

Finally, I spent some time talking to the folks at Breezer. Some of you may recall we used to carry their bikes, primarily their urban transportation bikes, such as the Uptown 8, fully decked out for commuting with fenders, rack, and dynamo lighting system.  Well, after a lot of thought, we've decided to start carrying them again. It seems like there's a growing interest in practical bicycles, and these really fit the bill. This year they're introducing a new series, called the "Downtown" models, featuring steel frames and a few other items that allows them to sell for a bit lower prices than the Uptown series. Both lines offer internally geared 3 and 8 speed hubs, as well as a more typical derailleur drivetrain, which Breezer refers to as "external". All in all a very sharp line of bikes, worth a look and a test ride, if you're in the market for a commuter or errand bike.

That's my response to my first day at the show. Watch for more soon, along with more photos and links to even more photos.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I'm sorry if folks have been axiously awaiting word on Interbike, but Internet access at my hotel was not working well enough to post. I'm on my way back now from Vegas. Watch for photos and info in the next couple of days.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Annual Folder Frolic

Riders and bikes gather at 7am for the start of this fun ride. More later.


Well, the hotel Internet connection isn't working tonight, so I haven't been able to upload photos or post a large message here. Hopefully, I'll be able to post in the morning.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Bit of History

J&B Importers, our source for many of our parts, accessories, and recumbent bikes and trikes, is celebrating 40 years of business. They have one of the largest "booths" at Interbike, and tucked into the middle of it is this bike... A model they sold way back when. It's a typical "bike boom" 10 speed, with mostly steel parts and a lugged steel frame. Definitely entry level, but a nice bit of nostalgia.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wild Riding on Bromptons!

Folks often ask "Are those folding bikes sturdy? How do they hold up?" Here's a video that should give you some idea of just how rugged the Brompton folding bike is... some guys doing BMX-style tricks on Bromptons! Enjoy, but as the saying goes, don't try this at home! (Thanks go to Bob, a customer, for sending this link.)

Friday, September 09, 2011

Changing Hours!

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, we're changing our hours a little. Starting the week of September 11th, we will be CLOSED both Monday and Tuesday.  Please make a note in your calendar!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Customer feedback on the Xootr Swift folding bike

Since the Xootr Swift is new this year to our lineup here at bikes@vienna, I wanted to post some feedback from someone who bought one a while back and has been riding it and enjoying it. I think it's a very fair, even-handed review, so it's worth a read:
Dear Tim,

Thanks for doing my "30 day" service on the Xootr Swift.  It was very thorough and professional, and one reason why people should come to a professional bike shop rather than order over the internet :-)

For the record, I wanted to offer a few reflections on the Xootr Swift.  I agree with the collected wisdom of all the articles you'll find online about the Swift and its folding competitors.  
Since and before buying the Swift I had ridden - some more intensively than the others - various Dahons and a Brompton.  So, here are a few reflections.

On riding performance the Swift is superb.  To paraphrase one review I read, people tend to think it's a slightly weird, a little bit cool bike, but, well, it's got small wheels and it's not a "real" bike.  Until, that is, you rocket past these skeptics, often leaving them with a "what the..." look on their faces.  

The gear change is extremely smooth, the gears are spread well over a large range.  The eight gears are plenty for most folk, although you can get an add-on front derailleur.

So, if you don't need it to fold too small, and you want a performance , seriously-zip-around-town road-folder, with decent downhill and hill-climbing gearing, that you can fit into the trunk of an (old-style) Honda Civic Sedan, this is your bike, at a not-too-expensive price for a quality folder.

But, I would add a few caveats.  The fold is mediocre, but that's your trade off for exceptional performance that does fit in the back of a Civic (so you don't have to lock the bike when you leave the car, etc. etc.).  It doesn't really fold down as bend in half.  And to get it in aforementioned Civic boot the handlebars do have to come off and "dangle".  I also pull the seatpost out (although you wouldn't have to do this for a slightly bigger car).  This is because a small saddle pouch and fenders make the seatpost stick out a little further.

On the subject of fenders, the Xootr Planet Bike "adapted" fenders on their website don't work: when you fold the Xootr in half it will rest on the rear fender.  Not good.  Instead, buy the Dahon mudguards which are shorter with a flap sticking out at the back that stops the edge of the spray.  When you fold the Xootr with them on, it is the tyre that is in contact with the ground, not the fender.

Also, the Xootr website will explain that you can get it disassembled into a 29" hardshell suitcase.  Well, yes, but it's definitely not as stress free as it looks.  For those interested, the only real folding bike that will fit into an airline legal suitcase (62" for three dimensions) without any disassembly is the Brompton.  For that and the spectacular fold the Brompton is unrivaled; and the Sport versions ride very tightly - so try out Tim's demo of that if you have the extra money!  And, by the way, even if it does fit into an airline legal suitcase or special bag, if you actually tell them it's a bike, the United rep says they will STILL charge you the $200 bicycle fee!!!!!

Two final points on the Xootr. First, you should get some small bar ends to improve wrist comfort and hill-climbing.  Second, the two quick release levers that hold the (structural) seatpost in place are quite tough to open especially if you don't angle them correctly when closing them.  You'll see what I mean when you do it the first few times!  And the quick-releases do have to be tight, or the seatpost will move.  

Overall, I am very happy with the Swift, and the fact that it fits in the boot of my Civic whenever I need it to.  Performance is spectacular.  And Bikes@Vienna's advice, delivery and after sales service were all excellent, and are why you should buy a Xootr (or any other bike) from a good local bike shop, especially Tim's!


A few comments from bikes@vienna now...
First, I'd like to thank Carl for his kind words about the shop. We try our best to provide quality service and sales here, and it's gratifying to know when we've succeeded.
On the Xootr, I'd agree with all of Carl's observations. A couple of comments about the air travel issue - it's true, many airlines will charge extra for a bike, regardless of how it is packed, which I think is grossly unfair. If it's under the size and weight limit for luggage, why is there a fee? The best course of action is to check with the airline BEFORE booking your flight to find out their policies. I know at this time that Southwest does NOT charge a fee for a bike if it is under the 62" limit, nor did Virgin Atlantic two years ago. But policies change like the weather, so it's best to check. I also know folks have gotten past the fee by simply describing the contents of the suitcase as "exercise equipment" or a "mobility device", so that's worth a try if you discover the word "bicycle" is a red flag for your chosen airline.
Also, it's worth noting that by shopping carefully, you can find a good Samsonite Oyster suitcase for under $100 online, so the combined price of the Xootr and case can actually be less than the cost of even the most affordable Bike Friday without a case. The Friday will have better components and some extra features, but it's something to think about.