Archive for the ‘Bike People’ Category

Bike Pirates is a long standing DIY community bike shop in the western part of downtown. Unfortunately, they have been driven out of Parkdale by rising rents, and are moving to their new location on Bloor St just west of Dundas. (1564 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1A4)

This is what the old location looked like Tuesday night during the packing and reorganizing before the move.

Today was the day when they had two big rental trucks, and they put the word out for volunteers to help haul stuff. This is what the place looked like after two trucks had been loaded with stuff.

Loading up out front.

Out the back as well. I’m going to miss that mural.

Unloading at the new place.

Many hands make light work.

Keep on truckin’ Ainsley!

The new place is filling up fast. It is considerably smaller than the Parkdale location.

Many drawers made this cabinet really heavy.

Basement of the new place. Sorry that this photo is blurry, Tom.

By this point, people were noticing that I was taking pictures, rather than really helping.

Planning what to do next.

There is still plenty to be done, both at the new and the old locations. If you would like to help out, take a look at their facebook page for additional calls for volunteers.

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I’ve been using a pair of pogies on my winter bike for a couple of seasons now. They were designed by someone in Toronto under the original name “Handlebar Booties” but at some point the production was moved offshore, and the company name was changed to “Metal Tiger”. They are still available at Urbane Cyclist.

IMG_3588Overall I’ve been satisfied with them, but they’ve never worked very well with the swept back bars on my Garneau. This picture illustrates the problem:


These pogies are really designed for straight bars, and they don’t provide a lot of hand coverage with my setup.I had admired a bigger set of pogies that I saw on a group ride a couple of years back by Dogwood Designs.DSC01985However, I recently saw a tweet from my favourite bike shop in Calgary that there was an alternative that was made in Canada, and so I discovered the Coldbike pogie. These are made by Doug in his basement, and by the way he has an awesome blog as well. His most recent post is all about keeping your hands warm while winter biking. (they come in black as well, BTW)IMG_3586IMG_3587The grey hems are made out of reflective material. Here is the comparison with the handlebar booties. Which one looks warmer?IMG_3592Each one has an integrated bar end that is meant for a straight bar.IMG_3585Here is a test fitting on the bike.IMG_3590IMG_3591Interestingly enough, the bar ends appear to have been 3D printed.IMG_3593Given that I have swept back bars, I decided to relocate the bar ends closer to where my handlebars actually end.  I put them on the underside of the pogie, and here you can see what the installation looks like with it turned partially inside out.IMG_3627The pogies have a stiffening rib that runs close to the original location of the bar ends (where you can now see a little hole). I bet this works really well if you have a straight bar.IMG_3628These pogies do a much better job of keeping my hands warm. Ironically, I installed them just as the weather turned warmer, and so I won’t be able to report on how they do down at -20°C for a while. I will say that when it is warm, the shell and pile lining are flexible enough that I can just grip my bars outside of the pogies, and I have no issues with braking or even using the grip shifter on the right hand side.IMG_3625I’ll report back again when it gets seriously cold, but for the moment I am very happy with my new purchase. Doug has recently released another version of the pogies that are compatible with drop bars. In the meantime, my Handlebar Booties have migrated to my cargo bike.IMG_3636

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15°C and sunny: every weekend day like this is precious at this time of year. An ideal time for a bike ride with the good folks from Urbane Cyclist.

The starting point is Wallace Espresso. Sam is taking the picture so she is missing.

Owen is our fearless leader. He tells us that this is a no drop ride and there is going to be a little rough stuff in the Don Valley.

Lots of interesting bikes in this group, with many tending towards the retrogrouch, so I fit right in.

Prospect Cemetery.

Cruising along the Beltline.

A pre ’93 Ivory Bridgestone XO-1! I used to have a red one of these (not the more famous orange ’93)

Riding the gravel trails just north of the Brickworks.

Instead of continuing onto the Brickworks, we turned left up a series of steep switchbacks. We were rewarded by the scenery from this viewpoint.

Headed north from here, off the main trail.

Down a gully to some old railway tracks.

We were advised to ride along a narrow dirt path beside the track, rather than on the track bed itself. In the narrow bits, I was having a fair bit of pedal strike on the railroad ties, which was a new thing for me.


The tracks are really overgrown on this stretch.

Down another short chute to some regular mountain bike trails.

Now in the Don River trail system. People have figured out that they should smile when I wave my phone vaguely in their direction.

Back on the mean streets of our fair city.

The end of the first segment of the ride at Muddy York Brewing. There are worse things in life than having a beer at noon on a Sunday.

I was not able to join the group for the second half of the ride which was to the Leslie St. spit. (in fact where I was last weekend) I was glad to enjoy the new routes that we were shown this morning, and happy that I was able to keep up with all these young folk.

Thanks to Owen for organizing this ride. Nice to put some names to some of the faces that I’ve seen at Urbane.

Update: here is Ben’s video of the ride.

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Upper Tantallon to Halifax

Once again, my starting point is the Train Station Bike and Bean at the head of St. Margaret’s Bay.

The total mileage to the end of the trail that we will follow is about 25 km.

If you go to the Rum Runner’s Trail website, you will see that the trail changes names a few times on the way into town.

After a slow, barely perceptible climb heading east, at the 6.5 km you cross Route 3, where the St. Margaret’s Bay trail ends, and the BLT trail continues.

Some nice lake views.

Otherwise, much of the trail is wooded on both sides.

Passing through a Halifax exurb, I see this sign. “Second prize is a set of steak knives”.

The BLT trail ends in an industrial park. This is the end of the trail, looking back west.

Looking the other way, the path is now the Chain of Lakes Trail, and it is paved. The first section is not so nice is you are in an industrial park.

You still get some lake views, but now there are houses present.

After this view of First Chain Lake, the trail turns to the north and becomes wooded on both sides for a while, even as it cuts through outer Halifax.

This is about as far as I got on that day. The overpass for HWY 102 is ahead.

Beyond this point, you can see that the trail continues as a regular separated multi use path, and from the way finding, it extends about another 1 km. I was not interested in riding the last section, so this is the point where I turned back.

I saw quite a few cyclists today, since it was a beautiful sunny day. The round trip from Halifax to the Bike and Bean would be a nice, flat 50+ km ride.

One other Halifax note: I dropped in on Martin Beaver, who is affiliated with Cyclesmith bike shop. He is the frame builder from which I ordered my Tamarack almost 20 years ago. He was pleased to hear that it is still my main road bike. He and his former frame building partner did PBP this past summer for the nth time.

For the final entry in this series, I’ll be exploring points further west, to Chester, Mahone Bay, and perhaps Lunenburg.

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As a prelude to RSVP, I had to make my way to Seattle. The plan was to fly into Vancouver, and then to take a bus down to Seattle. The Brompton would fly in a hard case, and then I would take it on the bus with a soft bag from Radical Designs. Here I am waiting for the UP Express on the way to Pearson.

Skipping a few steps, here is the Brompton on the way to the airport on the Canada Line.

Even though the Radical bag has a shoulder strap, I found that the easiest way to carry the bike was to put the regular handles over my shoulder, drape my arm over the bag, and to support the bike from underneath by grabbing the rack.

I’ve arrived in Seattle. Bike unfolded. The last time I was here, there were green Lime e-bikes all over the place. This time, these Jump e-bikes were very common. Although the indicator light showed that this one was dead. A postcard in the basket revealed that UBER is behind these bikes, which to me is not a selling point.

I noticed before I left, that my favourite bike shop in Seattle was between where I was going to stay and downtown. So off I went, while checking out some of the local bike infra. Here I am on 8th Ave headed north.

Bike infra should be obvious to the user. WTF Seattle, apparently at Virginia St I’m supposed to bike diagonally across the intersection while dodging cars?

On the other hand I enjoyed the MUP that runs along the west side of Lake Union.

A brief pause at the Fremont lift bridge to let some rich person’s powerboat to pass.

Arriving at G&O Family Cyclery.

The last time I visited, I noted that a good deal of the stock was e-bikes, and from what I could see, this trend has continued. BTW biking up to the Greenwood neighbourhood, I was reminded of how hilly Seattle is.

Davey was busy attending to real customers, but I did have a nice chat with Robert about a few of their newer bikes. Here is the e-assisted version of the Big Dummy, the Big Easy, which is still not available in Canada, although Morgan and Stephanie have one because they are special.

Robert said that they are popular because the riding position is more aggressive than other designs, but there were some minor issues with it as a family bike. For one, the position of the optional second battery makes a centre stand impossible.

Carsick bags come in many different colours, and G&O stocks “tie dye”.

I couldn’t leave empty handed so I got one of their bottles with their new slogan.

Now a short night’s sleep before the first day of RSVP.

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Today was the first Open Streets TO event of the year, and the Toronto Brompton Owners group used the occasion for a group ride. Here we are by Bloor and Spadina.


Actually shortly before we took off, I had a chance to catch up with Angela, who is now also a Brompton owner. However, I was admiring her new helmet with lights, by Rock Bros.


Here’s a rear view with the control panel. It has lights on the side and rear as well as the front. She said that it was both cheaper and lighter than the Lumos.


If I didn’t already have two other helmets on the way via Kickstarter and Indiegogo, I’d be tempted.

She also had this sweet sticker that she had made in memory of her husband, Gary.


Here we go down Yonge St. The pavement has gotten pretty bad.


We stop to chat with Andy and Elise who are Bromptonless today, but had their new dog Teddy with them.


Pier showing off a bit. He was blasting some disco music from a speaker at his hip that we figured out was released the year before he was born.


Riding back up Yonge.


Where should we go next?


We decide to wrap up the ride at home base for Bromptons in Toronto: Curbside Cycle.


BTW didn’t know that Curbside now rents Bromptons.

and here we are at Curbside with a few more members.


Thanks to everyone who came out today, and thanks also to Heather who got us organized on Facebook.

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Given that I was on the left coast, I managed to clear a day to head on over to Vancouver Island to visit Naked Bicycles. More precisely, I went over to Quadra Island, which is an island off the coast of Vancouver Island. I wonder if Quadra residents consider Vancouver Islanders as mainlanders?

Starting from Vancouver, two ferry rides and a drive later, you encounter these signs deep in the woods at the end of a road.

Here is builder Sam Whittingham, of WHPSC and NAHBS fame.

He took over this workshop from his dad, who was a cabinet maker.

The space is 99% given over to bike production. Here are some of his NAHBS awards piled up near the ceiling.

Tucked away in a corner, some of his racing awards, including traces of the fact that he was the world’s fastest cyclist for over a decade.

Near the center of the room: his latest build, a steel framed bike for a larger rider.

A frame welding fixture, and Ti main triangle visible to the right.

Lots of interesting stuff hung from the rafters. Here is a Ti mountain bike with belt drive and Jones bars.

A full suspension art bike with wood rims and seatpost, back from the days when Sam says he was still showing off at NAHBS.

Back in a corner, I find the cargobike that Sam used to pioneer the concept of a 20″ rear wheeled longtail cargobike. This showbike is the basis for the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and all other longtails that have gone the small rear wheel route, including my Haul a Day.

A whole wall of Naked bikes.

Sam and I have a chat about bike fit. Tip: if you are going to visit him for a bike fitting, bring your regular saddle, shoes, shorts, etc.

If you have more time that I had, then you can also arrange to go for a ride. There were some nice looking MTB trails literally meters away from the front door of the shop.

It was great to see Sam again. I don’t think we had crossed paths in Battle Mountain since about 2011 or so.

My visit was a little shorter than intended due to a three hour delay for the ferry going over to Nanaimo. If I had even more time, I would have also tried to squeeze in a trip to Gabriola Island to visit Varna Innovations as well.

As a side note, here is a picture of me in line waiting for the ferry during that delay. Fortunately, I had saved an emergency Stroopwafel (served to me as snack on a recent United Airlines flight).

What made part of the long wait fun was that I noticed a couple of interesting looking bikes mounted off the back of a car a few vehicles ahead of me.

It turns out that the owner was an avid cyclist, Morgan, who reviews bicycles for Radavist. These fat tired tourers were evolved versions of the bikes he described here. Lots of details to geek out about, including Swift Industries bags, prototype welded construction Porcelain Rocket frame bags, and bottle holders from RandiJoFab.

Here is the under bag support for the Swift Industries saddle bag.

I didn’t know that Honjo made wide fenders.

It was a pleasure talking to both Morgan and Stephanie. They were enroute to cycling on Cortes Island, with kid in tow in a one wheeled trailer of Danny MacAskill fame. If you want to run into Morgan himself, he is often on the Friday morning rides for coffee in the Vancouver area.

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