Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Electric! A Case of Fear and Loathing?

Zoomi Monterey E-Bike
Every once in a while I am asked why I do not write about electric bikes, and the answer is simple: because they do not interest me. Maybe in 40 years they will, but at the moment I do not find myself longing for a sweet e-assist ride. Still, I have nothing against electric bikes and their usefulness is readily apparent to me: cargo bikes and pedicabs, upright bikes in truly hilly areas, and bikes with assistance for the elderly and others who have a hard time pedaling on their own power. What's not to like?

Yesterday I was cycling across town and a middle-aged man on an e-bike was pedaling in the bike lane just ahead of me. He was going pretty slowly, so I passed him, not giving it a second thought. Then behind me I heard another cyclist passing him, and then I heard that cyclist shout: "Get the f- out of the bike lane you retard!" There was more, and the abuse was directed toward him riding an e-bike - which the regular cyclist did not feel belonged in the bike lane. That was not the first time I'd heard this sentiment. From Interbike last year, I know that the e-bike industry is trying hard to push e-assist onto the cycling market, and I also know that there is resistance among those who see e-bikes as a threat to "real cycling." But I figured meanies will be meanies and soon forgot about the shouting incident. 

Then this morning, I saw a link to this article in the Gothamist, debating whether a $1000 fine for riding an e-bike was overkill (the previous amount was $500). I had not even known that e-bikes were illegal in NYC, but apparently they are. It is illegal to ride them and it is illegal for bike shops to sell them. And now the city is considering a serious crack-down, because the food delivery guys on their "souped up" bikes are out of control, terrorising the peaceful citizens by going as fast as 30mph. 

What bothers me about the NYC situation is not specific to e-bikes. It's that instead of the government regulating public behaviour with strictly enforced laws, perfectly useful objects are criminalised. 30mph is a speed that any decent roadie can hit on their racing bike without the help of e-assist. Yet racing bikes are not outlawed in NYC as far as I know. If speed-demon delivery boys are causing problems, set and enforce a speed limit. But the blanket targeting of e-bikes is not logical. When posting a link to the Gothamist article, a bicycle blogger wrote: "NYC is flat and small enough that no one needs an e-bike here. Ever." What she means of course, is that she does not feel the need for an e-bike in NYC. Neither do I in Boston. But that line of thinking can just as well be applied to us by others. "Nobody needs to be riding a bike on the road!" is something I've heard too many times. The fear and loathing of e-bikes is just as irrational. 

If we're going to outlaw stuff, I personally would like to see a law for motor vehicles to be stripped of doors, since doorings are responsible for countless cyclist injuries and deaths in cities. Make car doors illegal and problem solved. Maybe NYC should get on that.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Selle AnAtomica Titanico, New Version

Testing a Selle Anatomica Titanico, New Version
Last year I posted a review of the Selle AnAtomica Titanico saddle, just as the manufacturer was revamping their product. They have since sent me the new version of this saddle to try, and I am ready to post an update. I got the saddle in black, with copper rivets. I opted for the slotted version, to make it an equal comparison to the previous saddle I owned. 

Francesco Moser 2.0
I installed the new saddle on my roadbike and used it for about 450 miles over the winter. The longest single ride I've gone on over that time has been 55 miles. 

Testing a Selle Anatomica Titanico, New Version
For detailed information about the manufacturer, please see my original review. But to briefly recap, Selle AnAtomica is an American producer of leather saddles, known for their classic look, their "anatomic" cut-outs, their "watershed" (waterproof) leather, and the generous adjustable range of their rails. The saddles are available in a number of colours and there are separate models for heavier and lighter riders. There is also a non-cutout version available, though the cutout is said to be a crucial feature - allowing the two sides of the saddle to move independently, relieving pressure on soft tissue.

Testing a Selle Anatomica Titanico, New Version
All of these features have remained the same in the newer Selle AnAtomica models, and visually they look identical to the older ones. But there are two key differences. First, the rails are now made of cromoly steel (I take it they were made of hi-ten previously), which makes the saddles lighter.  Second, the standard Titanico model is now made of the heavier duty leather that was previously used on the Clydesdale model. This was no doubt in response to complaints of the saddles sagging prematurely.

The previous SA saddle I owned did sag over the first 200 miles, but after we tightened the tension it did not seem to be sagging again - or possibly it was, but very slowly. The newer version has shown very little, if any, sagging in the 450 miles I've ridden on it so far and has not required tension adjustment.

Testing a Selle Anatomica Titanico, New Version
In my review of the older model, I described the Selle Anatomica saddle as being the most comfortable saddle I've ridden, except when it wasn't. Most of the time the slotted design worked really well, with a wonderful hammocking effect. But once in a while, seemingly spontaneously, one of the sides of the cutout slot would decide to pinch my crotch and that did not feel good at all. The SA representative thought that the stiffer leather of the new model would resolve the issue, but the same thing happened this time around. Just as with the previous saddle, there was no break-in period and it felt perfect from the start, and I mean purrrrfect - no pressure on the sitbones, no pain, just pure comfort... until suddenly, in the midst of a 40 mile ride, the right side of the slot began to dig into my female tidbits in a most unwelcome manner. I'd try to adjust my position on the saddle this way and that, but to no avail. It would pinch pretty badly, until, just as suddenly as it started, the pinching would stop and the saddle would feel perfect again. To be fair, this has happened less frequently with the new saddle than with the older model, but it still happened.

I think Selle AnAtomica is onto something with their unique design, because I cannot stress how comfortable the saddles are when the mysterious slot-pinch is not happening. The waterproof feature is also quite handy - especially for someone like me who always forgets or loses saddle covers. All of that is very cool, and I am glad that they appear to have resolved the sagging issue with the new models. Maybe the slot cutout can be optimised or customised somehow, I don't know. As it stands, I cannot trust the saddle on super-long rides in case the cut-out starts pinching again. But it is also the only saddle I can trust to be comfortable out of the box, with no break-in period. Whether the version without the cut-out resolves the pinching problem without detracting from the saddle's overall comfort would require further experimentation. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Revisiting the KHS Green

KHS Green
If anybody out there has been reading this blog from the beginning, you know my fondness for the KHS Manhattan Green. A simple, inexpensive steel 3-speed, the KHS Green is the bike that got me back into cycling after a 12 year hiatus. For months I had been visiting local bike shops, but in 2008/2009 there was not much choice out there. The KHS Green was the first bike that I felt comfortable riding. I rented it from Cambridge Bicycle, rode around Boston, and experienced the born-again moment that led to this blog. Ultimately I did not buy this particular bike, because I wanted something with more features and fell in love with lugs. But the happy memories of its simple ridability remained with me, and it is the bike I suggest to anyone who tells me they have a tiny budget. At the moment the KHS Green retails at $365. For that price you get:

KHS Green
a welded steel loop frame, made in China, size 14" or 17" in subdued black or silver colour schemes,

KHS Green
set up with 700C wheels, city tires, fenders,

KHS Green
upright handlebars, sprung vinyl saddle,

KHS Green
partial chaincase,

KHS Green
3-speed coaster brake hub,

KHS Green
front v-brake, ergo grips, bell,

KHS Green
large rear rack, platform pedals, kickstand,

KHS Green
and a "cafe" lock.

KHS Green
It is my understanding that Cambridge Bicycle contributed to the design of the KHS Green, and that the New England based distributor was instrumental in these bicycles coming to exist as well. Maybe that is why there are so many of them in the Boston area (though this begs the question why it has "Manhattan" in the name...). 

Gazelle & KHS Green
KHS Green bikes are so ubiquitous in my neighborhood in fact, that I have made a game of snapping pictures of them. They are usually black, and are left parked overnight on the streets with abandon. Here is one locked up next to my Gazelle. And here's another. And another. A friend of mine has one. A neighbor has one. I've even seen two seemingly unrelated ones locked up to the same rack at the grocery store. The ones from a few years back are a bit rusty, sure. But they appear to be fully functional and well-used. 

KHS Green
It's been nearly 3 years since I rode a KHS Green, so I thought it would be useful to refresh my memory and see what I think of the bike now. After all, I've gained considerably more cycling experience and have tried many different bicycles in all price ranges.

I rode my own bike to Cambridge Bicycles, left it with them, and then took the Green around town on some of my typical urban routes. Clipping my pannier to the rear rack was easy, and I carried all my stuff just like when riding my own bike.

Test Riding a KHS Green
The bike I rode was quite small, because they only had the 14" size in stock, but it was ridable with the saddle all the way up. There was no toe overlap for me on the 14" frame - but it was very close and whether you experience it may depend on your shoe size and how you hold your foot on the pedal. My positioning on the bike was bolt-upright, with a short reach from handlebars to saddle - though of course on a larger frame it would be somewhat different. The seat tube angle felt fairly steep, with the sensation of the pedals being directly below the saddle. I started riding in the bike lane along the very busy Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, rode home to Somerville, circled around and returned via the MIT campus where I snapped these pictures. All in all it was about a 4 mile ride on busy roads and side streets.

The bike felt fairly easy to ride, with the 3-speed hub being more than sufficient for the urban environment. It does not have the luxurious ride quality of a Dutch bike, but it is not terrible over bumps either. It is not a fast bike, but fast enough for local commutes and errands. The brakes and gears worked without problems. Nothing rattled or came loose during my test ride. The bike rides as it looks: simply and with no frills.

KHS Green
The KHS Green is missing lights, but otherwise it is fully equipped for transportation cycling. While I cannot personally comment on its durability, the dozens of exemplars I have seen parked around Boston don't look too shabby and I have not heard any feedback about component failure tendencies. Having test ridden the bike 3 years after I last tried it, my impression has not changed much. It is not a gorgeous or an especially fast bike, but it is perfectly decent and functional. With a price tag in the mid-$300s, it is a great deal if you are in the market for a step-through city bike on a tiny budget. Many thanks to Cambridge Bicycle for the test ride! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Redefining Sunday Mornings

Ride Studio Cafe, Sunday Ride
Apologies for the over-abundance of road themed posts lately, but I need to write this down before the details fade, or before I get too embarrassed. This morning, instead of sleeping in like normal people I woke up at 7am to get ready for the Sunday Morning Ride at the Ride Studio Cafe. I have done their Women's Rides, but never the mixed gender Sunday rides. While some have tried to lure me to join, others warned that these rides are faster and more difficult than described. Especially after reading this, I was inclined to believe the latter and sensibly steered clear. So why now? Well, I need to train for the Hell's Gate Hundred and time is running out. And also these people convinced me that I could do it. With a straight face they said: "Oh you can definitely do it." And I believed them - figuring that since they were designated to lead the ride this weekend, they ought to know. 

So, could I do it? That really depends of your definition of that concept. I mean,  I finished the ride. I didn't crash. I didn't walk uphill. I didn't throw up or cry (though I came close). So in that sense I guess I did it. But it was such a humiliating struggle, that I can hardly think of it as an accomplishment. It was worse even than my first paceline ride last May, when I showed up on a touring bike and everybody else rode racing bikes. Only this time I did not have the "slow bike" excuse - it was all me. At least now I know where I stand.

When I left the house this morning it was 25°F outside with a brutal headwind. Of all the mild Sundays we've had this winter, I just had to choose this one. As I pedaled the 10 miles to the ride's start my eyes were watering and my lungs were burning; doing this was beginning to seem like a terrible idea. But I'd already told people I was coming and didn't want to back out.

As cyclists arrived bundled up and in good spirits, I felt more relaxed. By the time we got ready to ride, it warmed up to 30°F and the sunny morning made me optimistic. "This will be just like the Women's Rides," I told myself, "only with men." There were only 4 of us in the slower group; this was going to be fun and social.

Trying to analyse it in retrospect, I am not sure what exactly made this ride so difficult for me. It was probably a little bit of everything. The speed in itself would have been fine, if it weren't for the headwinds we were continuously assaulted with. The hills would have been fine, if there weren't so many of them. It was also difficult to breathe the cold air while already struggling to breathe from exertion. 

We rode 34 miles through the towns of Lexington, Weston, Wayland, Sudbury and Lincoln. We climbed two substantial hills, with lots of littler hills in between. I was without a doubt the weakest member of our group, and on hills this was especially apparent. I wheezed. I whimpered. I swore out loud. I almost fainted from pushing myself to try and keep up. And still I lagged behind. My legs felt like lead. Flats and downhills did not offer much respite, since I had to work harder than everyone else to keep up the pace. My face was bright red from shame and effort.

I employed various coping techniques to get through the ride. At one point, I mentally talked myself through it. "It's okay... Pedal, don't think... Look at the pretty trees... Focus on the wheel in front of you... What doesn't kill you makes you stronger..." After that stopped working, I began to play Bach in my head until the repetitive harpsichord pieces started to feel like a seizure. Then I tried to separate my mind from the physicality of what I was doing, as if it were happening to somebody else. Some time after that delirium set in and I don't remember anymore. 

At some point - I think this must have been closer to the beginning - something really cool happened. The faster group caught up with us and "swallowed us" before speeding away. I have never experienced this before and it wasn't the same as merely riding in a group. Suddenly, the faster cyclists were ...everywhere. On my right, on my left, in front, behind - some seemingly no more than an inch away. I felt carried along, swept away - it was scary and exciting at the same time. "Like a school of fish" said a rider in our group later. Is this a taste of what racing is like?

When we finished the ride I could hardly walk. I vaguely recall being hugged and given high-fives as I rapidly chewed a croissant. I had done a Sunday Morning Ride. It was hard, and it was embarrassing, and I will do it again. I rode 55 miles total by the time I got home. Sunday mornings will never be the same.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Sock for Your Lock?

image via thelocksock.com

A while ago, some of us began noticing knitted "u-lock cozies" on bicycles, and I always thought it would be neat if someone were to start selling them. Turns out a Lovely Bicycle reader recently did.

The Lock Sock is a hand-knitted sock that will fit a mini or standard u-lock - its function to prevent the lock from scuffing the bicycle's frame. I think these things are adorable, but never made one for myself because I don't use u-locks.

If you do use a u-lock and are longing to dress it in a knitted sock, one of these could be yours. Leave a comment describing how you lock up your bike and include your email address, and I will pick the recipient at random. Deadline is 11:59pm tonight, Pacific Standard Time. You will be able to choose a sock from the colors available and Stephen of The Lock Sock will mail it to you directly from Brooklyn, NY.

Thanks for reading and have a good weekend!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Roadbike Shopping Complexities

Patria's Serotta, RSC
I've mentioned before that I've been shopping around for a road/racing bike since last May, and that I hoped to write about the process once I bought one. With Spring just around the corner, I am getting emails from readers who are going through the same ordeal and feeling lost, wondering whether I plan to post a guide of some sort. The quick answer is "no." I am sorry to disappoint, but I can offer no helpful advice on this topic at the moment.

Many roadbike shopping stories I hear or receive from readers are very similar to my own experience. It starts with a decision to buy a roadbike. Nothing unusual - a fast modern roadbike for paceline rides, group rides, and so on. So at first you're thinking "Well, since I don't necessarily want anything 'lovely,' this should be easy. There are bike shops filled with roadbikes and nothing but roadbikes after all." And optimistically you head to these bike shops... only to discover that there really aren't as many options as you thought. 

Most guides to buying a new roadbike will tell you that fit is the main thing, and that once you have that down everything else will fall into place. Okay. So I've been fitted by several different professionals now, with the consensus that I have fairly standard proportions for a woman of my height and that I require a road frame that is 52cm x 53cm or thereabouts. It is not difficult to find a stock roadbike with these dimensions, so in theory I should be all set. In practice however, there is much more to it. 

For one thing, there is the dreaded toe overlap. I do not want to spark a debate on this topic yet again, so let's just say that some cyclists dislike TCO and leave it at that. I happen to be one of those cyclists, and it is not easy to find a stock frame in a small size that does not have this issue. So even though the right frame size is easy enough to find, the right frame size with no TCO limits the pool of available bikes considerably.

But a much larger issue that tends to be glossed over in bike shops, is that roadbikes don't all handle the same and don't all have the same ride quality. These factors are important to me.  I would be miserable on a bike with a harsh ride or on a bike that I cannot control on turns. Realistically, I need to test-ride a roadbike for at least 20 miles on hilly terrain in order to determine whether I am comfortable with it - essentially, I need to simulate the sort of ride I would normally be doing on the bike. And that is usually not possible. 

Apparently many bike shops expect you to test ride a bicycle either in their parking lot or around the block. At most they expect a test ride to be a couple of miles. Taking a bike on an actual 20 mile ride? In my experience, only a handful of shops will allow this, and those shops tend to be high-end with expensive bikes. 

An additional problem for me personally, is that I cannot use Shimano STI levers - what the vast majority of demo roadbikes in the vast majority of bike shops are fitted with. There is something about the shape of Shimano STIs that my hands don't like, and I cannot safely brake on a bike with these levers. This limits me severely on the bikes I am able to test ride, even if I am allowed to take them on a long ride.

The problem of testing before buying is also what made me wary of going custom. Framebuilders are wonderful, but no matter how much you communicate there is no guarantee that the bike they make will feel and handle as you want it to. Very few framebuilders offer demo bikes, and most of us are not lucky enough to have acquaintances whose custom bikes we can try. A blind purchase of a custom roadframe seems risky to me - especially if you are relying on it for a particular date/event and do not already have a roadbike to fall back on if something goes wrong (or takes longer than expected).

Going semi-custom, building up a stock frame from scratch, or refurbishing a vintage frame with new components, similarly involve risking the unknown, albeit at a lesser cost.

So what solution am I proposing? Well that is just the thing, I am not. Ultimately everyone will need to find their own solution and for many that will involve trial and error. Not everyone is sensitive to a bike's ride quality and handling. Not everyone cares about things like toe overlap. Individual preferences and skill levels play into it a great deal. As does simple luck. Some get lucky and buy a roadbike they are comfortable with on their first try. And reading this, they will no doubt think I am overcomplicating things. But others will face one frustration after another, and may even give up roadcycling as a result of not finding a bike they are comfortable with. If you find yourself in that category, I can only encourage you to be patient and not give up. Try to identify the problems you are having with your current bike or with the bikes you are trying in stores. It may, after all, be something as simple as trying a different brand of levers you never realised existed.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dirt Trails on Skinny Tires?

Redline & Moser
Earlier today I went on a "welcome back to roadcycling" ride with Fixie Pixie and the route she planned out had us going though some short stretches of dirt trails. FP was riding a Redline cyclocross bike with 30mm tires and I was riding the Moser with 23mm tires.

Pamela, Charles River Trail
Now in the past I've been on rides with others where I've refused to go off road on narrow-tired bikes, thinking that surely this was unsafe - at least for someone like me. But for better or worse I've come to trust the Pixie and to agree to whatever she suggests. And so we went.

Moser Yearns for Spring
Riding off road on the Moser was surprisingly nice. In some ways it even felt easier than the bikes I have with fat tires, and I am trying to understand why. Possibly it is because the Moser is fast and doesn't get bogged down as much. But also, one thing I've noticed about bikes with racy geometry is that they "like to stay upright" more so than relaxed bikes. Maybe this is specific to me and my style of riding, I don't really know yet. But whatever the bike lacks in tire size it seems to make up for by recovering easily in instances where other bikes I own seem more prone to wiping out.

Stone Tower, Red Bikes
Maybe it is not as much about the tire size as it is about the bike itself - with certain geometries feeling more stable both on and off road? I do not understand the topic well enough to speculate. But it's interesting to discover that I do not need my 42mm tires to have fun and feel safe on dirt trails. Being able to go anywhere on one fast bike is simple and liberating.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ANT Headbadge in the Making

Making an ANT Headbadge
Visiting ANT yesterday, I got to see something very cool: The making of a headbadge from start to finish. The ANT headbadge looks like a piece of antique jewelry - resembling an oxidised copper brooch. I've been wondering how Mike Flanigan makes them, and now I know:

Making an ANT Headbadge
Turns out the headbadges are brass, not copper. While initially Mike made them by hand, for years now he has been getting them laser-cut in batches. But on this occasion he needed a headbadge for a bike with a short headtube, so he made a smaller one from scratch, starting with a blank plaque.

Making an ANT Headbadge
The headtube was not only small, but had decorative lugwork around the edges, limiting the space for the badge quite a bit. To start with, Mike measured the available space and cut down one of the blanks to size with a saw.

Making an ANT Headbadge
Using one of the laser-cut badges as a model, he then drew the design on the smaller blank freehand in black marker. Because of the difference in scale, the ant on the smaller badge came out slightly differently - chubbier and shorter, with a rounded head. We decided it was a juvenile ant.

Making an ANT Headbadge
Not sure whether this is obvious, but the rendering of the insect actually spells "ANT" - the head being the "A," the torso the "N" and the bottom the "T." It's a clever logo.

Making an ANT Headbadge
Using a variety of files and an awl, Mike carved out the ant and "distressed" the plaque.

Making an ANT Headbadge
The remaining traces of marker were then removed and the surface smoothed down.

Making an ANT Headbadge
Once the headbadge was ready, the patina was applied. This is the stuff that gives the headbadge the look of oxidised copper. 

Making an ANT Headbadge
This is a liquid patina goes on blue, but turns rusty-green as it air-dries. The process can be speeded up by putting the patina-covered headbadge in a plastic bag for a few minutes.

Making an ANT Headbadge
As the "oxidation" completed, Mike attached the badge to the headtube and it was done. The process took about 30 minutes total and was pretty exciting to watch. I don't think that many headbadges are carved out freehand anymore, and doing it this way gives them a distinctly hand-made look. A big thank you to Mike for letting me observe and share the process! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shadow of My Former Self

It's been a strange winter season. In previous years, I'd stop riding "sporty bikes" some time in December, and not start again till late March. Both winters, I would gain about 10lb over that period of relative inactivity, which I'd then easily lose before June. No big deal, and I expected the same to happen this time. Instead, when I took a break from roadcycling a few weeks ago, I began to lose weight. At first I was glad: looking slender instead of dumpy, what's not to like! Must be all that skating and walking.

But deep down I knew that it wasn't true. I was probably losing weight because I was losing the muscle mass I'd built up roadcycling. And that meant that once I did get back on the bike I would be weaker than when I'd left off. Considering that I am doing this in just over a month, that isn't good. Still, for a woman who has never been an athlete before it is very difficult to break the "weight loss = great!" association. I did not take my own sense of foreboding seriously enough.

...Until I emerged out of hibernation and went on a 12 mile ride in a strong headwind a few days ago. Yikes am I in trouble. Winded, legs hurting, just overall ridiculous. And it's been only weeks off the bike, with some half-hearted trainer attempts in the meantime. Let me tell you, I've never been so unhappy to fit into a smaller jeans size. I want my legs back!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A JP Weigle Classic

JP Weigle Touring Bike
A week or so ago, I came across a picture of a beautiful J.P. Weigle bicycle that got my attention because of its small size - "small enough for me to try!" was of course my immediate thought. And that is when I noticed something else: The location of the photo looked familiar... Could it be? Good Lord, this bike was in Boston! Turns out the owner (Mark) was not only local, but "wicked local" - his woodworking studio is 10 minutes away from my art studio. A visit was swiftly arranged and soon I was swooning over this bike in person.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Connectictut-based J.P. Weigle is a legendary framebuilder best known today for his exquisite randonneuring bicycles.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
With a multiple year waiting list and prices to match the builder's status, Weigle bikes don't exactly grow on trees. I was extremely excited to see this one.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Based on the aesthetics I had assumed this was a recently made low trail 650B randonneur. But in fact the frame was built in 1982 as a sports-touring bike with 700C wheels, narrow tires and mid-trail geometry. This bike has an interesting, bitter-sweet history. It was made as a birthday gift for Mark's father - who at that point was in his 70s. Shortly before he passed away, he gave the bicycle to his son. Prior to this Mark had not been especially interested in cycling, but inheriting the bicycle drew him in. The bike was comfortable, fast, beautiful, and served as a tangible reminder of his father. 

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Over time Mark rode the bike more and more, eventually getting the frame repainted and updating the components. The current set-up is comfortable and racy in equal measure - reflecting the owner's enjoyment of spirited cycling, as well as his preference to ride in everyday clothing.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
As I examined the bicycle, it was overwhelming to realise that the frame was 30 years old - a testament to the builder's commitment and consistency.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
The lugwork, the craftsmanship and the overall aesthetic are impressive. 

JP Weigle Touring Bike
There is a crispness, precision and sense of harmony to everything that is just right. 

JP Weigle Touring Bike
And this is carried through in everything from the lugwork to the colour scheme and decals.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Mark's choice of components enhances the elegance of the frame further still.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
A harmonious, personal, functional and beautiful build.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Being a custom frame, the proportions were made to suit the original owner - who was of short stature with a long torso. Mark's proportions are similar, though perhaps he is a bit taller. Having quickly measured the frame, the figures I got are 50cm x 54cm, which makes sense given how this bicycle felt to me. With the saddle set back and the handlebars considerably lower than the saddle, I was leaning forward much more than I normally would.

Riding a Peter Weigle Bicycle!
To say that I test rode this bicycle would be to overstate the fact. I rode it up a gentle hill, circled around a pothole-ridden parking lot, then rode it back downhill. Mark's saddle height was just right for me. The brakes were difficult for my hands to squeeze, but doable. The downtube shifters I did not even try, not that I needed them for the duration of this ride. The ride felt great over potholes, very easy uphill, and stable downhill. The tires felt much more cushy than 23mm, which was interesting. The bike did not have toe overlap with the 23mm tires and fenders. Though I would need to make some adjustments before I could confidently take this bicycle on a proper test ride, I can certainly see why the owner enjoys it so much.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
It is not every day that one gets to see, let alone ride a 30-year-old J.P. Weigle that has been passed on from father to son, and once again I feel extremely lucky to live in a region where such a thing is within the realm of possibilities. I enjoyed meeting Mark, the bicycle's owner, who is an interesting person and makes some beautiful chairs I now crave. Some day I hope to meet Mr. Weigle and talk to him about his work, which I have great respect for. More pictures of this bike here!