Fitchburg Cycles Partners with Spoke Haven Cycling Club

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We are super excited to announce Fitchburg Cycles as a new club supporter. The shop is providing us with a start/end location for rides twice a month as well as in store discounts for club members. Fitchburg Cycles is also lending the club space for future workshops and clinics.

Owner Edwin Benet has spent his life in the cycling industry and works to create a welcoming space for all who want to ride. He, along with his wife and kids, opened the shop nearly three years ago and aimed to make the space warm and inviting. With its bright green walls, handmade wooden displays, and large bike themed  paintings (all created by his wife Mary Benet Treleven) the space is unlike any other shop in the area. Customers are offered free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while they browse or wait for service repairs. Not to mention there’s always free treats for humans and pets alike at the front counter.

Fitchburg Cycles carries bikes from brands Giant, Liv, Momentum, Linus, Cannondale, and Borealis. The Liv brand is a dedicated women’s line of bicycles from the parent company, Giant bicycles. One of the largest and most revered women’s bike brands in the world.

Accessory lines from Pearl Izumi, Bell, Giro, Cat Eye, Topeak, Continental, Yakima, Thule, Saris, Brooks, Light & Motion, Knog, Blackburn, kryptonite, GU, Tifosi, Feedback Sports, Park Tool, Fizik, and Selle Royale offer a range of products that are well known by customers and trusted by Edwin and his staff alike. Benet stresses the importance of carrying products that are made well, have a good reputation, and he refuses to carry brands or products that he himself wouldn’t use.

We look forward to calling Fitchburg Cycles our home shop for the 2016 season! A huge thanks goes out to everyone at Fitchburg Cycles for opening their doors to us and supporting women’s cycling.

For more information on rides, please check our ride info page.

*full disclosure: club manager Cassandra works for the shop. She does not, however have any financial gain by promoting the shop or its products and services.

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Spoke Haven 2015 Gift Guide

The holidays are a wonderful time of year. If you are lucky to live in an area with all four seasons you’ll get to enjoy the world of winter biking. With the invention of fat bikes, snow bike races, and groomed single track; it’s easy to stay active all year round.

Our gift picks for this year will keep folks rolling through the winter time or help you pretend you’re riding on a 70 degree and sunny day.

On that note, let the holiday cheer begin!

10. Skratch Labs Cookie Mix
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We all know santa has a lot of houses to visit, so why not offer him up something delicious and all natural? Skratch labs has made a name in the fitness world for their great tasting hydration mixes and tasty portable treats. For $8.50 you can get some of the best pre-made cookie mix that money can buy. Take it from Allen and Bijou, you won’t regret eating these delicious treats!

Find Skratch products at your local bike shop or online at skratchlabs.com

9. Portland Design Works Owl Cage

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From the folks who brough us the famous bird cage comes the owl cage! Hold your waterbottle with style and and a litle bit of smugness. The PDW Owl Cage is the much needed flair for your drabe ride, so put on your best tweed and fly like the wind.

The PDW owl cage can be found at your local bike shop or online for $20 at ridepdw.com

8. Butterfly Universal Bike Mount by ProClip

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a new phone only to find it won’t fit in the fancy, expensive bike mount you’ve purchase for it. The folks at ProClip have found a solution to that problem. The Butterfly Universal Bike Mount allows you to mount any phone with or without a case on their mounting system. You simply adjust the holder to fit the width of your phone, pull over the butterfly tabs on the four corners and voila!

We got our hands on a free sample from ProClip and have tried our hardest of knocking the phone out of holder. So far we haven’t been sucessful. This holder is a beast, it should be. ProClip specializes in making phone, tablet, and GPS holders. The cool part is they are based right here in Madison, WI.

If you or your loved one have struggled with finding the right phone mount for a bike, look no further. For $30 you can find the ProClip Butterfly Universal Bike Mount at your local bike shop or at proclipusa.com

7. Specialized Stix Comp Lights

Who says good things don’t come in small packages? The Specialized Stix lights may be small, but they pack a big punch when it comes to lighting up the night. These waterproof, USB rechargeable lights are small and lightweight. They also don’t look like your average bike lights.
With a bright 105 lumens for the front light and 20 lumens for the back, they provide plenty of light for riding after the sun sets.

The Stix Comp lights (not pictured) have three super bright LED lights while the Stix Sport lights offer two. The lights will mount to handlebars and seatposts out of the box. Specialized also offers rack and helmet mounts that can be purchased separately.

These lights have been flying off the shelves at our local Specialized dealer, so get them while you can! Any commuter or roadie alike will be thrilled to received these in their stocking or under the tree.

Find the Specialized Comp Stix lights for $40 a piece at your local Specialized dealer. You can also find the Specialized Sport Sticks for $55 for a front and rear combo at specialized.com

6. Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro

In the digital age there is rarely a gadget that serves one sole purpose. The Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro is the prime example of how form and function come together for a great piece of kit. The original Buckshot (still offered by Outdoor Tech) was a simple Bluetooth enabled wireless speaker with a handlebar mount. The Buckshot Pro takes it to the next level with an integrated headlight and battery bank to charge your devices on the go. You get three wonderful features in one small package.

If that’s not a great gift, then we don’t know what is! For $80 you can scoop the Buckshot Pro or the Buckshot origninal for $40 at your local outdoor retailer or online at outdoortechnology.com

5. Wisconsin Bike Fed Gift Membership

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Advocacy doesn’t have to in the form of Critical Mass rides or by protesting. Some of the best advocates are those who support their local organizations.

Memberships to organizations such as the Wisconsin Bike Fed are a way to show support for cycling in your state. Many orgs have direct ties and relationships with local and state government and can affect change in a positive and efficient way.

We are big fans of the gift membership package that the Bike Fed has put together for this holiday season. The gift membership inclueds a year long membership to the Bike Fed as well as a Bike Fed customer bike headbadge with the W embelem as well as a cool cycling themed t-shirt. For $45 that is quite the steal, seeing as a regular membership is $30 a year and t-shirts are usually sold for at least $20 on their own.

Give the gift of bike love via bfw.org or check out your local advocacy group!

4. 45Nrth Cobrafist Pogies

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Never worry about cold digits again! 45Nrth is still fairly new to the cycling game, but they have proven themselves with high quality and high performance products. The Cobrafist Pogie is hard to beat. With a generously insulated design you will want to ditch the gloves and ride comfortably with these bad boys. With venting options, a structured donut internal stiffener, and customer bar plugs the Cobrafist is a step above all other cold weather pogies on the market.

The only thing we’d wish that 45Nrth did is create a road bike compatible version! Find the Cobrafist at your local bike shop or buy online from 45nrth.com with their Buy Local Now option.

3. Lezyne Port-A-Shop Toolkit 

Lezyne has been a brand we’ve loved for years. They not only create really well functioning products, but also very beautiful products. The Port-A-Shop is on our wishlists as it has all the necessary tools to do repairs on the fly all in an organized package.

This would be a great option for the budding mechanic, the traveling racer, or for anyone who likes to get their hands dirty.

Find the Port-A-Shop kit at your local bike shop or via lezyne.com for $140.

2. Zwift Membership

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Who says that riding on a train indoors is boring? Well, before apps like Zwift it meant either watching the same workout DVDs on repeat or marathoning your favorite movie franchise (cough cough Harry Potter cough cough Star Wars). Zwift brings indoor training into the next century with a video game like interactivity. Pick an avatar and compete against other riders on screen to see how you stack up.

Those who hit certain mileage goals, win races, and participate in competitions get the chance to unlock kit options, bike options, and more to customize your bike style.

Zwift is designed to work best with smart trainers (Wahoo Kickr, CycleOps Powerbeam, etc.) or those with dumb trainers and a power meter. You can also pair up Bluetooth or ANT+ speed/cad sensors and heartrate monitors to your computer, phone, or tablet.

Zwift is available as a desktop application and is also available on various app stores. We’re keen on using it with an iPad paired with an ANT+ dongle as you can mount the iPad onto your handlebars and even us Apple TV to wirelessly mirror it to your TV.

Giving the gift of Zwift can be as easy as supplying an iTunes giftcard or paying for a membership on the behalf of a family member. For more info on Zwift visit zwift.com

1. CycleOps Powerbeam Pro Trainer

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We know we’ve talked about the Powerbeam Pro before. It’s just such a great trainer that it’s hard not to add it to our list. The Powerbeam Pro is not only a cyclists dream trainer, but it’s also a great product for the tech nerd.

The trainer is made in the USA in Madison, WI at Saris Cycling Group. There are multiple offerings of the trainer depending on what devices you are looking to use it with. CycleOps offers the trainer in an ANT+ version that includes a micro USB dongle (best for use with a compatible tablet, laptop, or desktop). There is also a Bluetooth version for those with Windows 8 desktops and laptops. Bluetooth smart devices such as certain Windows/Android phones and tablets can also be used with the Bluetooth powerbeam. The iPad 2 and newer is what we prefer to use as the connection is pretty seamless when using the CycleOps Virtual Training application (a free app with features that you have to pay to use to get the full functionality of the application).

The third option is to purchase the trainer with a Joule GPS+ head unit. The head unit allows you to use the Powerbeam Pro without having to hook it up to a smartphone, tablet, etc. in order to control the resistance. You simply pair it up to the Joule GPS+ to set target wattage or target incline and you’re set.

The Powerbeam Pro can also be used with Zwift and other new interactive applications such as the CycleOps Virtual Training (CVT) application to replicate routes that you can ride outdoors.

The possibilities are pretty much endless with this trainer and it’s backed by Saris’s lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects.

We know the price tag on this item is a little more hefty, but it’s worth the investment for the cyclist in your life. It’s a great way to stay fit during the winter months and is also fun to show off to your friends!

Find the CycleOps Powerbeam Pro starting at $799 at your local bike shop.  You can also find the less expensive PowerSync trainer with similar functions to the Powerbeam Pro, just with none of the additional accessories that come with it starting at $719. Check out cycleops.com for more details on both trainers or to purchase directly.

*Please note that all items chosen for this list were hand picked by Spoke Haven contributors and we were not given monetary incentives to promote any of these products. Spoke Haven promotes honest reviews and product opinions and any questions about anything we feature on our site can be directed to info@spokehaven.com.

 

Soma Doublecross Build Longterm Review

A year ago I had an idea for a fun winter project, build my own bike up from parts. I’ve had some experience wrenching on my own bikes over the past few years, but never built a bike from the ground up. I was looking for a bike that I could use as a commuter, light tourer, and something I could use for century rides.

I had a Surly Crosscheck in my stable, so it may not have made sense to buy another steel framed cross bike. The Doublecross is a bit of a different slightly different breed. The frame itself is about a pound lighter, the geometry is slightly more slack, the quality of the powder coat was noticeably better, and the frame also had more included braze ons. To be fair Surly has since improved upon their powder coat and newer models also come with more braze ons, but I owned an older model and had been lusting over Soma’s frames for a long time.

I pulled the trigger on the frame. This was before Soma offered any complete bikes, but I’m glad I went with a custom build as it allowed me to a) learn new bike skills and b) allowed me to spec the bike the way I wanted it.

Over the winter months I started buying up parts for the bike. I knew I wanted to reuse some of the existing parts that came off of my Cross Check and also source some reliable, classy bits for it as well. If you’d like to see how the build started, click HERE.

My final build list is as follows:
Frameset- 48cm Some Double Cross (I’m 5′ 5″ and it fits nicely with a 90mm stem)
Wheels- Suzue RXC Touring Wheelset (Incredibly smooth bearings and true out of the box)
Skewers- Salsa Flip Off Purple
Tires- Resist Nomad 35c (Supple, fast rolling tires- not a lot of flat protection though)
Crank- Shimano Tiagra Triple
BB- Shimano Tiagra
Pedals- Crank Brothers Candy 2 Orange
Front Der.- Shimano 105 Triple
Rear Der.- Shimano XT 9 spd.
Shifters- Shimano Bar End Shifters 9spd
Chain- Sram 9spd
Cassette- Shimano 9spd
Shifter Mounts- Paul Thumbies
Headset- Tange Sekei Purple 1 1/8″ (Very nice looking and smooth bearings)
Handlebar- Nitto Noodle 41cm (Much more comfortable than the Randonneur bars)
Handlebar Tape- Velo Orange Leather
Bar End Plug- Fyxation Locking
Stem- No Name Silvery Goodness
Brakes- Tektro CR720
Brake Lever- Tektro Short Reach
Cables- Jagwire
Seatpost- Ritchey Classic
Seat Clamp- Salsa Lip Lock Purple
Saddle- Velo Orange
Front Rack- Nitto M18
Front Light Mount- Paul Threaded Braze On Mount
Fender- PDW Origami (I swap these from bike to bike as I hate full coverage fenders)

I’m extremely happy with the build. The only real changes I made from the original build was the saddle and the brakes. I wanted to re-use the Paul Mini Motos I had on the Cross Check, but the way some of the cable routing was on the bike…I just couldn’t quite get them set up as they way I liked. They are currently living in my parts bin awaiting a future project or I may opt to sell them off.

The original saddle I had on the bike was a Brooks Flyer. The saddle had been good to me over the years, but it’s heavy as hell and has started not being as comfortable. I adjusted the tension on it somewhat just to see if that would help and it hasn’t, so it’s going to be used at wall art in my home office or at the shop when it opens. I received the saddle as a gift, so I don’t want to sell it off.

The new Velo Orange saddle is incredibly comfortable right out of the box. The only thing I’ve done to it was put a little proof hide on it to protect it from the elements. It’s a big improvement from the Flyer. The textured top and laminate they use to help the saddle hold its shape make a big difference. Also, you can’t beat the price! The saddles aren’t made of English leather, it’s Australian, but the quality matches Brooks for a fraction of the cost. I would definitely buy the saddle again and recommend it to anyone who is leather saddle curious.
The handlebar tape I have on the bike is leather as well. Kind of fancy, I know, but I really wanted to build a beautiful bike. There’s nothing like having a matching saddle and bar tape. The bar tape is actually Velo Orange branded as well. It’s the same color as the saddle and is super comfy. Much like a saddle, it does take a little time to break in, but proof hide helps. Once the tape has been broken in, it feels like an old baseball mitt. It just feels right on the hands. I’ve been working on learning to ride without gloves over the past couple of years and have enjoyed it so much better with this bar tape. It’s not super padded, but for me that’s a good thing because too much padding actually pinches and doesn’t feel good on my hands.

The Paul thumbies have made me really happy. I used to nail my knees on the bar end shifters when I had them on my Cross Check. They’d also get scuffed up and were just not in a great spot. Having the shifters mounted on the top of the bar makes for a cleaner look. I also don’t have to worry about real estate on the handlebars as Paul makes a super kick ass light mount that threads into braze ons. The shifters themselves are in friction mode. When mixing and matching road and mountain parts, it just makes things easier. There’s not as much tweaking you have to do on the derailleurs, you can just use the shifters to trim as needed. I also like that I can dump several gears at once without having to index.

The bike rides really smooth and is extremely comfortable on long rides. The bike is a little on the heavy side. Mostly because the wheel set is a very sturdy 32hole build with a 24mm wide rim. The wider rims are nice for putting fatty tires on. I’d like to experiment with the new Soma Cazadero tires on it at some point, but I will probably wait for the weather to turn before swapping tires out.

I also have all alloy parts and absolutely no carbon on the bike. I do see the potential in the frame for being a good, comfortable cross racer. Throw a carbon fork, bars, seat post, and carbon railed saddle on the bike and it would ride like the wind. Currently I own an aluminum Raleigh cross bike, but it’s not the most comfortable thing to ride on weather beaten roads. Steel may not be the lightest material in the world, but it sure is a lot more forgiving!

Soma has done a fantastic job on their overall bike line up and the Double Cross is no exception. I get tons of compliments on the bike and the color of the frame. The pearly blue is extremely classy looking and the powder coat has held up incredibly well. The logos and the frame badge are also gorgeous. Color me in love with the bike and the Double Cross frame. I should note that the newest color of the bike is more of a gunmetal-ish grey, but still very beautiful.

If anyone reading this is debating between the Surly Cross Check and the Soma Double Cross, I would highly recommend considering the Soma. It does has a taller head tube on it which means it’s not as aggressive, but for the price I think it’s just a slightly nicer frame. That’s not to say I’m not down with Surly. I love them as well and would buy a dirt tourer or one of their many cool fat bikes,  but I just love the Double Cross more if doing a straight comparison. One other major plus, for me, is the fact that Soma uses vertical drop outs and not horizontal drop outs. I know why Surly uses horizontal dropouts and it makes for a more versatile frame, but they can be a pain in the ass when changing a rear flat. I also used to have issues with the wheel pulling to one side no matter how tight the rear skewer was on the Cross Check. I haven’t dealt with that what so ever on the Double Cross.

To wrap things up,  I plan on owning my Soma Double Cross for years to come. The bike is an absolute pleasure to ride and is a true stunner. Keeping a steel bike in your stable is always a good idea, especially a cyclocross bike as they are incredibly versatile and can allow you to ride places your skinny tired road bike wouldn’t. So, if you don’t already own one…I highly recommend looking into a good steel steed 🙂

Soma Doublecross Build

Every so often you make the decision to purchase a bike for fun. Not out of necessity, not to replace an outdated model, but just because you love the idea of having some new eye candy to roll on.

Buying the Soma Doublecross frame was one of those purchases. It wasn’t like we needed anymore bikes. I have a Raleigh RX 1.0, a Surly Cross Check, a vintage Raleigh fixie conversion, a vintage Peugot fixie conversion, Keri’s Fuji touring bike, and Keri’s Trek Lexa SLX. All fantastic options for going out and riding about town.

The purchase of the Doublecross frame couldn’t be helped. It was love at first site and with a bank full of tax refund, there weren’t any excuses not to buy. Once it was settled, I gave a call to the wonderful folks over at Merry Sales. They are one of few Soma distributors and work closely with the folks at Rivendell to import some quality bike goods. I placed an order for a 48cm Soma Doublecross frame, matching fork, purple IRD headset, a Suzue touring wheelset, and a Nitto front rack. The order was placed and there was no turning back.

The next step was ordering some items from QBP. A new triple crank from Shimano, a matching Hallowtech bb, Jagwire cables in white silver, a Sram 9spd chain, and a new Shimano XT 9sp rear derailleur. The rest of the parts were transferred over from the Surly Crosscheck.

It took a few weeks for the build to be completed. Tools to complete all the tasks were the biggest hurdle, so each week a tool would be purchased that was necessary to get the job done. The purchases would probably seem a little unnecessary to the casual cyclist, but since we plan on opening a shop and all…it’s going to end up being a write off anyway!

If there was one task that was the most difficult or I guess rather annoying…it would be setting up the rear brake. Soma went about placing not only a built in hanger for canti brakes on the frame, but also a braze on for if you wanted to use V brakes. The only thing is that with the noodle design of the Paul Mini Motos, you can’t really get a nice clean line coming off the noodle to the cable housing. There was lots of experimentation to be had with housing length. It seemed like the more streamlined/shorter it was made, the more difficult it was to set up the brake properly. In the end it was decided to leave the housing on the long side and just deal with it. Maybe someday when the schedule allows that issue will be tackled, but for the time being the bike works and so do the brakes, so that’s all a girl can really ask for.

This build was officially the first that was completed without the help of anyone else. Usually I grab a more mechanically inclined friend to assist, but I decided it was about time to suck it up and do it on my own. I knew how to install everything, I knew how to lube, grease, and tighten everything to spec. In most cases when it came to assembling a bike it was the lack of tools that really made me lazy. I’d take the bike into a shop or ask a friend if I could come hang out to work on my bike and they usually did all the work for me. Not this time. I’m proud to say this is the first of MANY bikes that will be built by me. My goal is just to improve upon my mechanical skills and hopefully pick up some tips along the way to make things a little speedier and easier along the way.

For all the bike nerds, I’ll list all the parts below.

The official build list is as follows:
Frame: Soma Doublecross 48cmFork: Soma painted to match
Wheels: Suzue Touring /Cyclocross
Skewers: Salsa Flipoff purple
Tires: Resist Nomad
Crank: Shimano Tiagra
BB: Shimano Tiagra Hallowtech II
Front Der: Shimano 105 triple
Rear Der: Shimano XT 9spd
Chain: Sram 9spd
Seatpost: Ritchey Classic (cut down to fit in the frame)
Seat clamp: Salsa Liplock purple
Saddle: Brooks Flyer
Stem: Dimension +- 17 degrees (give or take) 90 or 100mm 26.0
Handlebars: Nitto Noodles 41cm/42cm depending on source
Headset: IRD/Tange-Sekai purple
Brake Levers: Tektro short reach
Brakes: Paul Mini Motos
Cables: Jagwire
Shifters: Shimano 9spd bar ends mounted on Paul thumbies
Handlebar tape: Velo Orange leather
Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy C
Bottle cages: Velo Orange Moderniste

Last night the bike was tested around our parking garage and it was such a smooth ride. I don’t like comparing two different cycling companies, as they both have their strong suites…it’s just that the Soma was a great improvement from riding the Surly. The frame tubing is higher quality, the welds are smooth as butter, the paint is gorgeous, and using vertical dropouts instead of horizontal made for much easier assembly. The vertical drops will also be appreciated should a rear flat ever occur. The frame felt zippier and a little more responsive than the CC.

Spring can really arrive any day now. The Doublecross is itching to get out on some road rides and rail trails. A full write up on the long distance ride quality will be added once we get some miles racked up. I’m still looking for a name for my new found love. The Surly was always lovingly known as Foxy Brown. Give us a shout on Facebook if you have any suggestions!