Bike Shaped Objects

Funky bikes and news
Schwinn Median Virtual Review

Never has bike had a more appropriate name than the Schwinn Median. It occupies the exact space of crossover between mountain bike, road bike and cruiser.

Actually there is a strong trend among high-end bike makers to produce do-it-all bikes, but while those try to combine the best of each breed with a few compromises , the Median leans much more heavily in the compromise direction. Hey, what would you expect from a $200 bike?

Sitting on the bike at Target the first thing I noticed was the comfort. It may not be the position of ideal pedaling efficiency but it felt like I could ride all day with feeling hunch-backed.

The second thing I noticed was the weight. Several customer reviews have mentioned how light it is but now I’m assuming their yardstick is a cheap heavy cruiser. It’s about ten pounds heavier than a similarly-priced road bike, though it does feel like it could handle quite a bit more abuse.

Speed: It’s faster than a cruiser but slower than most road bikes. Having just the rear gears is a nice compromise. My folding bike has this set up and have only encountered a few hills that caused any problem. This simplicity will appeal to people stepping up from a cruiser and the increased speed should generate a few smiles along the way.

As with all big store bikes you have to watch out for the assembly quality. Several customer reviews have complained about the brakes and the shifting. I the one I checked out the gears were perfect but the brakes were both slightly off center. Fortunately, simple instructions for adjustments are available online and can be done with simple tools.

So if you’re not sure of what kind or riding you’ll be doing the Median might be a good choice.


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A nice overview of buying a kid’s bike

Virtual Bike Review – Worksman Trifecta Portotrike

portotrikeMy slow slide towards bike snobbery got a great slap in the face last week. I came across a wonderful cheap bike…at Walmart! OK, so cheap bikes at Wally World are nothing new, but that’s why this was such a surprise, this is not your everyday cheap bike. It’s a Worksman folding adult tricycle. (AKA Portotrike)

First of all, if you’re not familiar with the Worksman brand it’s because they are not usually associated with anything that could be considered cheap. We’re talking about a made in America, Brooklyn NY actually, quality machine.

I should mention that part of my excitement is finding this bike takes a major bite out of my planning for retirement years anxiety. Given my family history there will come a point where I can no longer drive a car, and will probably no longer keep a two-wheel bike upright. So I’m rather confident there is a three-wheeler in my future. The problem is they are either battleship anchors on wheels or bizarre contraptions that Carrot Top would be ashamed to ride. Therefor coming across a nice-looking, light three-wheeler that I wouldn’t mind riding warms the cockles of my aging heart.

Riding it up and down the sports equipment aisles I found it very comfortable. It’s just a single speed but by the time I need a bike like this I doubt that speed will be a major consideration. Unlike many three-wheelers on the cheaper scale it turns well. The pedals drive both wheels but it has some kind of differential so the rear wheels will spin at different speeds when cornering.

It’s a folding bike which is a nice perk. It doesn’t fold down nearly as small as a two-wheeled folder but I measured it and will fit in the back of my Scion XB.

The only thing that I didn’t like was the braking. There are two brake handles. One activates the caliper brake on the front wheel, the other activates a drum brake on the front wheel. Yes, both brakes are on the front wheel. While it stopped on a dime on the flat store floor this arrangement is a potential problem for the hills of San Francisco. If you were going downhill too fast and turned hard while braking hard you’d be in for a bit of a tumble. So if you but this bike you shouldn’t do that.

So now I know what bike I’m going to buy when I retire. All I need to do now is win the lottery.

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BMX Bikes Virtual Buying Guide

My goal was to identify the best cheap BMX bike on the market. Unfortunately there is no such thing. The problem is that there are so many different riding styles all lumped together under the name BMX that there can be no one bike that would be good at them all.

The types are:

BMX – Short for bicycle motocross. These are the actual racing bikes. Unfortunately again, there is no one definition here either. It all depends on your local BMX track. So if you want to get into BMX racing ignore everything below, go to the track and see what the racers are riding.

Trick – These are the bikes with axle pegs, handlebars that spin 306 degrees and frames with lots of places to plant a foot or knee. This is what most kids want and what most parents want to avoid.

Off Road – This variation features heavier but more rugged frames. Mostly they are used for kids too small for even the junior mountain bikes.

Neighborhood – It looks like a BMX bike but it has none of the things that qualify it for the categories above. This type of bike will however meet the needs of the vast majority of kids. One of the advantages of the BMX style bike is it’s adjustability. It can be made to be a comfortable ride well into the teen years.

So rather than a single bike I’m going to give a quick peek to a series of bikes I think fit the categories above. This isn’t meant to recommend these bikes as the best of the breed, simply because there are so many BMX bikes out there that I don’t have the time to compare them all. I chose one big box store and selected example for consideration.

Huffy 20” Pro Thunder – $76.99
There are cheaper BMX bikes, but not by much, and they have smaller and somehow heavier frames. This also represents a simplicity I like in kid’s bikes. It has coaster brakes so there are no cables to worry about and this makes an easier transition from little kids bikes.

Thruster Slider 20″ Boys’ Bike – $89.97
If you’re willing to give your kids a trick bike this might be a good starting point. Thruster may not be as familiar a name as Huffy, but it’s produced a couple of nice cheap genre bikes. This one has foot pegs and hand brakes front and rear. It has a lager, heavier and presumably sturdier frame than the Huffy.

20″ Boys’ Mongoose Girder BMX Bike – $119.00
This bike barely qualifies being called a BMX bike, but on the other hand I don’t know what it should be called. The girder in the name refers to the frame which actually does look like little girders. This should make the frame very strong without adding much weight. The extra stiffness is compensated with a front suspension. The other major departure is that it has a rear disk brake. These differences make this the one I would chose for sever off-roading.

DK General Lee 20″ BMX Bike – $129.00
Never heard of DK? If you follow my advice about checking out you local BMX race track you undoubtedly will hear of them. The General Lee is not one of their top racing bikes, but it is a good introduction to the brand. If your kids have bike snob friends owning this bike will cause them no shame.

So that’s my quick overview. I wish I had the time to explore BMX bikes in greater detail. Actually I’m hoping people will comment on this post with their own BMX bike suggestions.




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Virtual Review: Panama Jack Cruiser

Panama Jack cruiser bikeI am not a fan of cruiser bikes but were I to buy one this would be it. To me it is the cruiser bike on steroids, or I guess it would more appropriate to say a cruiser bike on quaaludes.

The whole woody theme tugs at my 60’s Frankie and Annette upbringing. Then there’s the can/bottle holder much better suited to beer than water containers. However, the piece of resistance is the bottle open attached to the front fork. This is a party barge for sure.

Then of course there’s all the usual downsides of the cruiser genre. It’s heavy, slow and the build quality isn’t the best. Of course if your the kind of person who would consider buying a bike like this, none of those are negatives.

Best of all it’s cheap. Not the cheapest, but at $165 at the big box stores it’s worth the few extra bucks for the style and amenities.

Reviews of this bike split into two camps. The people who own them love them. The people who would never buy one and have never ridden one hate them.

One last thing though, I’m pretty sure that in most states it would be illegal to ride ones of these while not wearing a straw hat.

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