Take your bike on the train
 

What is a World Class Bike City?

What would it take to transform where you live into a world class neighborhood for people on bikes?

Picture the safest, most accessible and most forward thinking bicycle-oriented transportation system in the world. Now imagine yourself in that system, doing the things you normally do every day. When you go to work, what type of street would you be taking? How would your kids be getting to school? Think about going to the park with your family, talking a walk with your parents, going grocery shopping and what these activities would look like in a world class city.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance wants to hear your priorities for building a world class network of bicycle facilities in the Portland Metropolitan region.

You know your streets and neighborhoods better than anyone, so they’re suggesting you make a video to showcase your ideas. Go to the spot that needs fixing and make a 20 second piece telling who you are, where you are and what needs fixing, then submit it to the BTA. You can watch the videos of other people on their website or take a survey to share your ideas.

TAKE THE SURVEY >>

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Call for Entries and Jurors

Filmed by Bike is world-class film festival featuring bicycle-themed movies from across the globe. In April they celebrated their 10th anniversary and now they are preparing to enter their next decade, ripe with new ideas and plenty of creativity.

Once upon a time, bikes weren’t used as an accessory in fashion magazine shoots, it was consider really odd to ride your bike to work and cyclists were treated as second class citizens. A lot of that has changed, and for the past 10 years Filmed by Bike has been there every pedal stroke of the way, celebrating bikes on the silver screen.

Maybe this is your year to devote your creative energy to the production of a bike-themed movie. Submissions are limited to eight minutes and the deadline is 1/20/2013. That may seem like a ways off, but now is the time to shoot your footage before the rains hit Oregon and your actors are soggy.

A panel of jurors selects the collection that screens at the festival, which is scheduled for April 20-23, 2013 at the Clinton Street Theater.

MORE INFO >>

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Bikers: Take the Survey!

Oregon is a fairly fantastic place to ride a bike. Whether you’re cruising the bike-friendly streets of Portland or adventuring in rural Oregon, getting to your destination by bike in this state is a wonderful experience. That’s good, but Travel Oregon says its not good enough. They want to make Oregon an even better place to travel by bike, with your bike.

Travel Oregon, in partnership with bicycle and tourism partners throughout the state, is sponsoring a survey to study the impact bicycle related tourism has on Oregon’s economy. Information gathered from this survey will aid their understanding of how the spending and activities of bicycling visitors affects Oregon’s economy. The results will also help Travel Oregon distinguish bicycle related opportunities in Oregon.

Travel Oregon is eager to hear from ORbike readers. They’re hoping you take the survey to share information about your experience riding or attending a bicycle related events this year. The survey is short and only takes around five minutes. The answers you supply will be used for statistical purposes only and will be kept strictly confidential; personal contact information is not required.

“Thank you in advance for taking the time to thoughtfully complete this survey,” says Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davison. “I am grateful for your involvement and insight.”

Take the survey >>

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A Biker Brings Brazil to Portland

Augusto Carvalho Dias came from a coffee farm family in Brazil to attend the University of Portland. After spending years putting his degree to work, he realized his true calling wasn’t engineering.

Inspired by a passion for amazing coffee, social responsibility and a love of cycling, he began a new chapter in this larger family tradition. In 2006, Augusto launched Nossa Familia Coffee and began sponsoring local bike events, including the Portland Century, Petal Pedal and Cycle Oregon, to showcase his rich Brazilian brew. He has hosted several mt. bike tours of his families coffee farms and continues to ride his bike as much as possible.

In 1890, nestled beside an ancient Brazilian volcano, Augusto’s great-great-grandparents planted the family’s first coffee crop. They developed methods of cultivation in response to their environment. Without electricity or automobiles, everything was done by hand, with much care. Over a century later, these same methods are both heritage and day-to-day realities.

Now Augusto dreams of opening a bike-friendly Brazilian espresso bar here in Portland, to serve his family traded coffee and share his culture. This farm-direct coffee enjoying experience will be a unique treat for Portland coffee lovers.

To help fund this project, Nossa Familia is raising funds through Kickstarter. Watch the video to learn more. You can make a donation here. (see project update below the video)


UPDATE

Thanks to ORbike readers, coffee and beer lovers all around Oregon, Nossa Familia successfully reached their goal! In fact, they exceeded it by an additional $7,000. Now, we can’t wait to bike on over and savor that first Brazilian espresso. We’ll keep you posted on their progress.

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The Quest for the Perfect Bike Pannier

You might think you’re a messenger bag person through and through, until you discover the un-bridled freedom of riding with a bike pannier. There’s no weight on your back, no sweaty spot and no strap digging into your summer-bare shoulder. At first it may seem like a heavy bag on one side will feel lopsided, but take it from this klutzy rider, you get used to it in no time – whether it’s a single pannier or double.

Not all panniers are created equal, and for the last year I tested three very different, quality panniers. I was rather rough-and-tumble with all of them, stuffing them full, stressing the straps, trudging through mud and rain, daily commuting, etc. I carried a laptop and intentionally rode over rubbled streets and potholes at high speeds.

Here’s what I found.

ORTLIEB CLASSIC

Classic indeed. These bags have stood the test of time and have been on the pannier scene for many years. I have a set of these that just might always be my go-to bike touring bags.

Pros:

  • Durable as all get-out.
  • Because of their superior waterproof material and roll-to-close technology, they can double as water sports bags.
  • Reflective patch on the back side where you need it most.
  • There is a back pack attachment that makes it very easy to pull off the bag and walk in the store.
  • Extremely easy to wipe down, spray out, you name it.
  • Replaceable, adjustable, quick-release mounts, pull the pannier’s strap to release it from the bike. Never going to fall off your bike.

Cons:

  • Without the back pack attachment, they’re very awkward to carry, though they do have a strap.
  • The standard bag is one large cavern. Can you keep your stuff organized in there? There is an optional outer pocket you can add on.
  • The bag does not stand up on its own.
  • They look like gear (they’re ugly).

    WEBSITE >>

    DETOURS FREEMONSTER FLAP PANNIER


    This is a very cool pannier, different from a lot of what’s out there. It is attractive, carries well and performs nicely. As a 15 year bike commuter, I really put this bag to the test and was pleasantly surprised. I’m on a continual quest for gear that offers a balance of style and functionality in Pacific Northwest weather, and I think this bag hits the mark. Off the bike, you can carry this with a shoulder strap or by using the handle. The bags are made in Seattle.

    Pros:

    • The fabric is attractive so the bag doesn’t look like gear. I have the brownish tone, but also comes in the funkier bright fabric pictured here.
    • Very slim though it holds a lot; it is surprising how much you can fit in this bag.
    • Extremely light weight.
    • The bag zips shut, then the flap folds over to close (unless you’ve filled it to the zipper; the flap part is space in the bag). This creates a nice look and a securely closed bag.
    • Exterior pocket is very handy – it fits a u-lock.
    • Padded material on the backside prevents the mounts from digging into your body and conceals the mounts when carrying the bag off the bike.
    • Built in lap top sleeve.

    Pro and Con:

    The mounts seem like they won’t do the trick, but they do. Magically, there is no bottom hook like on most panniers, and it turns out the Detours bags don’t need it. It takes a little use to get the hang of how the mounts slip onto your rack (mine barely fit, but they do). I’m at a loss for words to describe the functionality of the mounts, but trust me they work well and are solid once you get used to the system down.

    Cons:

    • Inside there is a convenient mesh bag at the top for easy access. If you have a few things in there, it’s hard to slot items into the main compartment of the pannier (such as sliding in a laptop). Because the bag doesn’t have any structure, the mesh pouch droops into the bag and you have to pull the bag open wider to slide things in. It’s just another step that can be frustrating, but I wouldn’t consider it a deal-breaker. Once everything is in there, it works nicely.
    • This bag is water resistant, and then fully waterproofed by using a neon cover that tucks neatly under the bag – you’ll forget it is there. But, NEON. No thanks.
    • Because the bag has no structure, your innards are not well protected if you knock over your bag. That just means it is a little more delicate. The bag does not stand up on its own, so you need to be mindful when setting it down.

    WEBSITE >>

    NORTH STREET WOODWARD CONVERTIBLE


    Thought you couldn’t have it all in one? Think again. This fantastic bag blends style, flexibility (built in back pack straps), personal choice (custom order), safety, durability, waterproofing and much more.

    Pros:

    • They’re locally made by Curtis, a skilled craftsman with a workshop in SE Portland.
    • Extremely well made and durable.
    • Perfectly waterproof so long as you close it well and open it carefully (you don’t want pooled-up water running inside).
    • Converts very easily from pannier to back pack – very sleek.
    • Excellent customizable features like a loop to mount a light, lap top sleeve, extra pockets, colors, and much more.
    • Nicely placed default pockets for easy access.
    • The bag stands up on its own! Very solid, not likely to fall over. It’s surprising how often this is a handy feature.

    Cons:

    • Not as low-profile and light weight as the Detours. This is a heavy, big bag. It holds a lot but you’ll pay for it.
    • Doesn’t slim down much when it is empty. You get what you get.
    • Converting to the back pack isn’t hard, but it does take a few motions to get there. It seems like there might be a better method to come in the future.
    • Metal hook and bungee style mounts which are good, but not great. My bag has bounced off more than once. Crimping the metal hooks to be tighter would likely prevent this.

    WEBSITE >>

    What do you want?

    A solid, durable, bag to use on the bike through all conditions. I don’t care about aesthetics. – ORTLIEB
    A light weight bag – DETOURS
    A nice-looking bag I can take to formal meetings – DETOURS
    One bag that does it all – NORTH ST.
    To be able to choose where my pockets and features are – NORTH ST.
    To choose personalized colors – NORTH ST.
    I’m not a mindful person and want the best waterproofing possible – ORTLIEB
    A locally-made bag – NORTH ST. or DETOURS
    To be able to use this for non-bike purposes – ALL OF THEM!
    To be able to use this for water sports – ORTLIEB IS YOUR BEST OPTION
    Something that doesn’t look like gear – DETOURS

    When I set down my bag, I don’t want it to fall over – NORTH ST.
    A durable bag – ALL OF THEM
    A well made bag – ALL OF THEM

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Oh, STOP It!

When it comes down to it, your bike only really needs to do two things.
1) Go.
2) Stop.

The second one, however, is most likely to save your life – so give yourself (and your brakes) a little TLC.

Clean your Rims

The grayish-black “dirt” on your rims is created from the friction of braking wearing down your rim – and can be a big pain. It not only makes a mess, but also significantly decreases your braking power.

Luckily for you it only takes but a moment to wipe down the braking surface every 100 miles or so. This black grime tends to smear if you use a spray cleaner, so a dry rag is usually best.

If your rims are completely covered in grime and in need of a deep cleaning, use a bucket of soapy dishwater, a gentle hose and a big sponge to rinse the grime away. While a small amount of water will make it smear, a sopping sponge will help it run off the rim. Pay special attention to the crease between your rim and your tire where grime can build up and hide.

Clean your Pads

That same nasty grit tends to build up on your brake pads, as well, creating a slick, shiny braking surface that’s terrible for stopping and can cause an outrageous squeal. Remove your wheels and check the pad braking surface. If it looks shiny, buff it with a piece of sand paper or emery cloth until you’re down to the dull rubber.

If you find small flecks of metal imbedded in the pads, it’s best to replace them. The pieces of metal are tiny fragments of your rim. By braking with it in your pad, you’re further damaging the rim braking surface and wearing out your wheel.

The best pad for the Pacific Northwest is a softer, wet weather pad. These softer compounds wear down a little faster, but increase your braking power in wet conditions and help prevent the black stuff from forming. They also increase the life of your wheels, which is a bonus since wheels of the most expensive parts of your bike.

Check your Cables

Most brake cables need to be replaced every year or two, depending on how much you use them and what conditions you ride in. For example, a wet weather commuter – frequently stopping at lights and stop signs – will need new cables more often than a fair weather distance rider who mostly rides on country roads with fewer stops.

Still not sure about your cables? Pull slowly on your brakes and slowly release them. It should feel smooth and release as quickly as it pulls. If your brake lever is slow to retract, you feel a gritty sensation, see any kinks in the housing, or notice that your cable is frayed, it’s time for a new cable and housing .


Tori Bortman is a bike mechanic and the instructor/owner of Gracies Wrench.

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