Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Yehuda Moon: The bike shop cartoon

If you are a cyclist and have any pleasure of comics at all - you'll most probably love the Yehuda Moon series by Rick Smith. It's available online for free, but can also be ordered as a collection in two paperback books.

Frankly, I must admit I don't know much about Rick Smith - and only recently stumbled upon the series about Yehuda Moon and his work and life at Kickstand Cyclery.

In short: I love it. Rick Smith obliviously knows the ways of the bike shop life, and not only delivers solid artwork - he also manage to combine humour and bicycle activism in his very own way.

Besides: Any cartoon revolving around utility bicycling, cargo bikes and alternative transportation deserves a big plus in my book...

You may read the strips online, and it's up to you whether or not you want to donate or pay a monthly subscription fee to support the cartoonist's work. So far, the strips are collected in two books that can be ordered on this site.

Here's how he introduces the second book collection of his strips, published February 2009:

"Yehuda Moon lives on his bicycle. With his buddy Joe, the intrepid Moon runs the Kickstand Cyclery, a bike shop that caters to a variety of bicyclists. Together, they advocate for the bicycle as a means of transportation and fun. This is the first album of collected comic strips. You’ll meet a bevy of characters whom Yehuda and Joe encounter: the bike ninja, the bike hypochondriac, their elderly compatriot Fred, the Shakers who build the bicycle frames, neighborhood kids starting riding clubs, roadies, commuters, and many more."


Follow Yehuda Moon on Twitter


Sunday, 5 April 2009

Longtail bicycles: Entering the mainstream

Ten years ago, the American company Xtracycle launched a bolt-on bicycle accessory - extending the rear end of any bicycle, converting it into a cargo carrying bicycle. Now the longtail bicycle concept are slowly entering the mainstream bicycle market, as a useful everyday transportation tool. Here is an overview.

Top photo: Madsen bicycle by Carfreedays under a Creative Commons licence

You may wonder what is the point of this bicycles. (You may also wonder why anyone will buy bicycles this ugly). Both questions can be answered rather simply: They are useful. They can carry a lot of stuff. They allow you to use your bicycle instead of your car from time to time. That's the main points of longtail cargo bicycles. If you are too bothered by the looks, you are missing the point.

There are lots more to be said about the growing longtail cargo bicycle category, and the ever excellent Bike Hugger has already summed most of it up in these three articles:


That easily saved me a whole lot of thinking and typing, leaving only the pictures left... Well, actually, I'll for sure get back to this topic (partly because it's gonna be hot in the bicycle business soon) - but for now, here is simply an overview of who makes what.

Someone is missing, I know, the question is who?
Email me at bysykling@gmail.com, and I'll put 'em up.

Surly Big Dummy
Surly has always been strong on utility, with a no-nonsene line of bicycles. The Big Dummy is built by the now open source Xtracycle Longtail Standard - meaning any of the useful Xtracycle accessories will fit directly on the rear end.

Yuba Mundo
The heavy duty bicycle truck among the longtails - this robust German longtail can handle up to 440 pounds/200 kg of load on the back wheel. A very sturdy (and heavy) frame combined with a super strong, 48-spoke rear wheel is key here.

Kona Ute
This is the 2009 version of the Kona Ute - the American/Canadian bicycle brand most known for their mountain bike lineup is among the very few mainstream companies with a longtail on the market. Not Xtracycle compatible, though.

Xtracycle Radish
Longtail pioneers Xtracycle deserves credit for being the driving power of the modern longtail movement, at least in the US market. After ten years of making the Free Radical longtail conversion kit, they now finally released their first complete longtail bicycle.

Gary Fisher El Ranchero

This is only a prototype, shown at the 2008 bike shows. But mountain bike pioneer Gary Fisher is a strong believer in the utility bike market, and the El Ranchero is expected to launch for 2010 in compliance with the open source Xtracycle standard:

The Madsen kg271 lends to the European box bike-tradition, with their very own twist - placing the box behind the saddle, and using a smaller reat wheel to maximize the capacity. The "bucket" can seat three childres without problems.

Vanilla Cycles
One-off custom build. Photo by Clever Cycles

One-off custom build.
Photo by EthanPDX at a Creative Commons licence

Hunter High Plains Drifter:
One-off custom build.

Fietsfabrik Pack Max Duo
This Dutch special model is the odd one out here, with two kiddie seats mounted and ready. The Dutch market is already stuffed with several different cargo bike models - but this one is one of a few that place most of the luggage in the back.


Saturday, 4 April 2009

Handsome Cycles: Advertising with style

I don't know much about Handsome Cycles yet, but those folks sure have sense of style. One look at these promotional quality shots is enough to wet my appetite for their aptly named model Handsome Devil.
The Handsome Devil seem like just the bicycle most people would love to have ready outside their door: Understated, classy and oozing with quality details. Totally in line with the company's convincing slogan:

People are handsome. We make their bicycles.

I gently lift my hat in respect.

Photos by Handssome Cycles