Bicycle Fixation Weblog

Home » Archives » April 2009 » First Shorts Feedback

Tuesday, April 28th
First Shorts Feedback
The first orders of the Town & Country Shorts went out a few days ago, and we already have feedback from a happy customer. Mr. Lynn M. of Missouri writes:
I've come to appreciate Richard's products, as well as his promptness...but to order MID-DAY FRIDAY, then have the shorts MONDAY in the mail???!!!

In the center of the Continent, too!

Oh, and the shorts are simply fantastic. Fit great, comfortable, etc, etc...
And we are confident his pleasure will not only last but grow as he uses them...we've been testing our sample for nearly a year, and they've proven themselves both comfortable and tough. We'll be doing close to forty miles in them today, on our run to South Pasadena to pick up a T-shirt and some bike cult gossip from Chuck Schmidt, Mr. Velo-Retro himself, at Buster's Coffee.

So take a break and check out our Town & Country Shorts, 'cuz summer's almost here. (And about time, too!)

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 28 Apr 2009 07:28:21 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, April 23rd
The Town & Country Shorts Are Here
It took us a while, but the Town & Country Shorts are finally here. The cloth we'd chosen for them--much tougher than our previous hemp cloths, yet still smooth and elegant--is made in fairly limited quantities, but we finally got some.

It's a twill-weave blend of hemp and thread made from recycled polyester water bottles, and seems to have a lo-o-o-ng wear life. We've been riding the sample for about a year, and you know we ride a lot!

The short is great for any sort of warm-weather riding, with or without padded shorts underneath. (Like all of our pants, they have room for padded shorts if you want them.) Four standard pockets plus a mini flap-top pocket high on the right thigh for cellphone, powerbar, tool, knife, whatever. Cut higher in the back with an elastic insert there to accommodate even an aggressive riding posture if that's how you roll. And great looking on or off the bike, of course!

And, to make life even better, you can throw them in the washer and dryer with your normal load--once you can convince yourself to take them off, that is!

Check 'em out!

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 23 Apr 2009 07:53:46 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, April 21st
Summer Preview
Looks like we got a sneak preview of summer heat today, with temperatures hovering, as they did yesterday, mighty close to 100°F. I left on my rounds a little before 8 to beat the heat, as I had a lot of miles and some hills to climb, and it already felt hot at that hour--the heat was palpable as it often is in desert lands such as ours; you had the illusion that the sun's light was physically pressing on your arm.

I rode easy on my way eastward, as I wanted to visit Harv Woien of CICLE and the Bike Oven, who was indisposed today and so likely not to have skipped out into the wilds of northeast LA. He also lives atop a hill with a long, winding climb--one that is also, at this time of year, fragrant with jasmine. Lovely views, too!

The it was over to South Pasadena to pick up a shirt and an hour or two of gossip from Chuck Schmidt of Velo-Retro. I sipped a couple of arnold palmers while we chatted, then headed back into the blaze of noon to come home, perhaps a bit less sprightly than I'd been when I left a few hours before.

So, not very regretfully, I put off organizing the pile of Town and Country Shorts that presently obscures our dining table. Yes, they are here at last! And I promise you they'll be on the website by tomorrow sometime...though perhaps with only one photo, till I can coerce a couple of friends into acting as models. They're nice, nice shorts....I wore the sample for today's ride. (Along with a sample of the upcoming summer jersey, which was nearly perfect....)

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 21 Apr 2009 15:42:08 -0800 [link]  

Friday, April 17th
We've been noticing an increase in the number of US-based micro-manufacturers serving the bicycle world lately. A lot of them are T-shirt printing operations, but several are, like us, making serious efforts to create a freshly-designed line of clothing (or other items) that are made, as far as it is possible, in the US, to serve the US market.

This not only supports the local economy (which needs all the help it can get right now!), but helps lower the company's, and the buyers', carbon footprint, by reducing shipping costs. (Even if the cloth, for example, is foreign--and it's hard to find US cloth, though our charcoal gabardine is domestic--shipping cloth in bulk is less energy-intensive than shipping finished products, which take up more room and require more containers.)

A quick off-the-top-of-our-head listing:These are just a few that we know that make a point of local manufacturing; there are surely others (and if you know of them, send us a note).

Every country needs to make the preponderance of what it uses for itself; the US is no exception. Let's hope this trend--which we see glimmers of in product categories as diverse as quality beer and elegant bike frames--not only continues but accelerates. (It would be nice to see some home-grown electronics and appliances too.)

It'll make a better life and a cleaner world for all if every country has a foundation of self-sufficiency, and trades out of choice, not desperation.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 17 Apr 2009 08:00:18 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, April 14th
Coincidence, or...?
Okay, technically it's not a ripoff, since there is specifically no copyright or patent protection for clothing designs, but it still feels a little like identity theft: just found a new website offering "city knickers," by that name, knickers that look a lot like our own City Knickers, which we've been selling for two years now. Hemp blend fabric, like our originals, articulated knee, similar silhouette though tighter, "double stitching throughout" (to quote them), which we pioneered--and they're advertising in Fixed Gear Gallery, where we've advertised for the last two years as well! Some differences--no drawstring, one rear pocket is a set-in, and there's a butt patch--but not enough.

We've been copied before, but not by folks who were specifically targeting our core market, and not so closely--both cut and material diverged more from our stuff back then. Third cousin, rather than fraternal twin.

And this new bunch even has a short design that looks too much like the Town & Country Shorts that Bicycle Fixation is coming out with this month--down to what they call the "baby cargo pocket," though their pocket looks a little less practical than ours, and there are some styling differences. We put photos of our design online a year ago, when we thought we'd be able to get it to market sooner than was the case. It looks like they're getting their hemp blends (using the same two hemp blends we've used) from the same supplier, too.

It's hard enough to make a living in these recessionary days without having your product styles and--worse!--your product names pirated. Because product search engine traffic is based on product names, of course. We've spent years researching, refining the product, responding to customer feedback, and building up the product name for word-of-mouth and search engine optimization. So this doesn't feel as flattering as it might otherwise--not when there are bills to pay. It hasn't been an easy haul, by any means.

I've written them, to see whether they'll be gentlemen about it. I don't expect them to dump their inventory, of course, but they ought to change the name.

Heard from the owner of the company in question, who testily asserts pure coincidence. And it could be. We'll see how it plays out. Indignation's easy. I was pretty testy myself when I wrote him, and perhaps unjustly so.

Addendum II
Well, after a correspondence that became a bit contentious on both sides, I've come to believe that the design similarities really were a coincidence, and the other fellow's come to realize that the name problem would work against us both, and will be changing his product's moniler.

Guess I jumped to conclusions. (And guess he didn't scan the 'Net for potential conflicts!) We both learned a little something, and it looks like it'll work out.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 14 Apr 2009 08:19:15 -0800 [link]  

Friday, April 10th
Lane Brains
I've lived in LA a long time, and it feels as though I've ridden every street twice, and not a few of them a thousand I like to mix up my commutes as much as possible.

Yes, I know I work from home most of the time, but I do have regular destinations; the Garment District, South Pasadena, Larchmont, Hel-Mel (the "Bicycle District" where you find the Bicycle Kitchen, Pure Luck, Scoops, and Orange 20), and, often of Fridays, the Bridge at Playa del Rey where I hang out with Bill G.

Today was a Bridge Day, and to mix up the route I went down Culver Boulevard, which I hadn't ridden for at last a couple of years.

About halfway to the beach I saw the beginning of an ambitious bike path, and decided to see what the powers-that-be had granted to us pedalers there on the unchic half of the westside.

Imminent doom it what it looked like to me after only a mile or so!

It's an odd place for a Class I separated bike path anyway, lying as it does between a wide, freshly-surfaced, and lightly-trafficked stretch of Culver on one side, and a nearly-unused frontage road on the other. Not only that, but wide Venice Boulevard with its wide, fast bike lanes is only a few blocks north, and the Ballona Creek bike path, with no traffic, no stop signs, and no intersections, is a few blocks south--and both go to the same general area.

I suspect it's because there was an old railroad right-of-way there that made it easy to build. Myself, I'd rather see the railroad--meaning a tram--back in operation instead of a redundant bike path. As it was, I saw no other cyclists on the path itself, though I did note a few on the adjacent streets.

Good thing, too. The intersections of this bike path were deadly. Each one fed the cyclist into the path of right-turning motor traffic--at one point traffic gunning onto a freeway onramp. Yep: the green light releases you into the path of distracted drivers accelerating through a turn!

There are few more dangerous situations for a cyclist than coming off a sidewalk at an intersection. That's what gives sidewalk riders a far higher accident rate than street cyclists. Motorists are barely able to look out for pedestrians shuffling into the crosswalk; there is no way they will be aware of cyclists coming into the street at fifteen miles per hour from their blind spots!

Only one of the intersections gave any hint that cyclists did not have clear right of way with the green light--and that one had a stop sign and dismount instruction where the path met the sidewalk--nothing where riders would enter the street.

The rest of the intersections--nothing at all. Just a ramp and a green light, feeding you into the path of right-turning drivers--drivers who, once they began the turn, would never be able to see you either directly or in their mirrors.

A death-trap every block, for twenty blocks--built in the name of "safety."

And it's slower than riding the street lane right next to it.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 10 Apr 2009 16:54:31 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, April 9th
Bicycling and Image
Well, for a while there was hope, as I'd ordered a new compact camera from an eBay seller, a Fuji E550. They're now out of production, but I favor them because they have almost no shutter lag, the sensor quality is high, and you can shoot in RAW format if you wish. And they're small enough to carry around when you're not going out specifically to make photos, but want to have something handy because...well, because you can see so much from a bike saddle, and some of it is well worth recording!

Unfortunately, despite, having advertised a "new, never opened" camera, the seller sent me a refurb. I complained, and they sent a call tag and sent a replacement right away. Very nice!

Only the replacement didn't work--the images were striped and overexposed. And it too showed signs of having been opened, though at least the serial numbers on camera and box matched.

So they're sending another call tag, and will refund my money.

But that leaves me only my "formal" camera, a large Olympus DSLR. works beautifully, but it's not something to tote around on spec.

So you may have to put up with Crappy Cellphone Pictures for a little while longer.

I was twenty years in photo retail, and always treated my customers according to the Golden Rule. So I'm particularly disappointed. There is so much I see while riding that I want to record...! And most pocket cameras these days are either strictly for family photos, or out of our budget for now.

But soon, I promise you....

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 09 Apr 2009 17:39:37 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, April 4th
Flying Pigeons Land in Los Angeles
There are many more bicycles than cars in the world, and among bicycles the most popular brand is one you've probably never heard of: China's famous--or perhaps infamous--Flying Pigeon. This may be the most prevalent single vehicle model on this planet. It's cheap, it's primitive, it's sturdy, and it's usually black--but it gets more of the world's commuters around than any other mode of transport outside--perhaps--walking.

Now Los Angeles bicycle advocate Josef Bray-Ali, founder of the Bike Oven, has teamed with his brother Adam to become the importer of the Flying Pigeon, which they sell online and through their brick-and-mortar shop at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park, just two doors away from the Oven itself.

They had a Grand Re-Opening Party today, and we were there to take a few snapshots for the blog:

A phalanx (or should that be a flock?) of Flying Pigeons

Friends and family, neighbors and strangers

Yes, they're not all black

All-around great guy, Josef Bray-Ali

Working on a neighborhood bike

Josef (who himself counts a bakfiets, or Dutch heavy-duty cargo bike, among his rides) sees the Flying Pigeon, at less than $300.00 complete with dynamo lighting, fenders, full chaincase, rack, and basket, as an affordable alternative to cars for local travel and shopping.

For the less-straitened among us, he will eventually offer the real Dutch deal, Batavus commuter and cargo bikes--but at five times the price, they will never supplant the Flying Pigeon in the local economy.

Truly a bike for the times! See it online, or drop by and see Josef at the store if you live in Los Angeles:
Flying Pigeon LA
3714 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 04 Apr 2009 21:18:16 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, April 1st
The Bailout Bicycle
One day after the White House asked for, and received, the resignation of GM Chairman/CEO Rick Waggoner, the man who held the reins as the stumbling giant collapsed under the weight of its own fat, General Motors has announced the formation of a new bicycle development group?

For those of you who are on top of things, this is not news, but for me it is a revelation. And for those of you like me, here's the scoop.

Organized under GM Design, the new frame line would bear the brand "Altairus". From this periodic blogger's perspective, it is a lovely coincidence! GM Design's chief is Ed Welbum and his previous job was as the head of "body-on-frame architecture" at GM.

Don't worry. GM will still build cars, but according to automotive news sources, the idea behind Altairus is to "reimage" GM as a healthy company in more ways than one. With the auto giant's reputation in tatters and its market share shrinking, the new effort is designed to create positive buzz about the company. Besides going green, speaking to the growing healthy living demographic, the move gets them into a new emerging market.

Welbum's predecessor, Wayne Cherry, who retired from GM in 2003, agrees with the move. "The startup costs are small, and the concept-to-production cycle is short when compared to cars. [GM] can have these vehicles in dealerships before the end of 2009."

Which is one thing that won't change. After looking into what it takes to get an Altairus franchise, it turns out that mot likely only big regional chanis like Helen's and mail order giants like Performance will be able to afford it.

Organized under GM Design, the new group will create both commuter and competitive designs. "Race circuits is a great way to get out the word on a new vehicle brand," Sr. GM Design Engineer Walter Fredricks is reported to have said. "Having our bicycles in the Tour de France and in the mountain bike championships says a lot about comfort and durability."

Every aspect of the bike will be on the table for redesign at GM. Frames would run the gamut of materials, with the possibility of new alloys being developed exclusively for GM bikes. Alternative geometry will be explored. Tandems and something they're calling "tandem+" (with room for kids) and trailers will be made.

Altairus will also design their own components, like new automatic transmissions and generators for lights. In addition (ready for this?) new accessories will be created, like a solar powered Blu-Ray player, voice recognition GPS, integrated automatic locks, and built in push-to-talk systems. Ah, the sweet vestiges of their automotive past!

Will the future see a space in your garage for a Altairus? Who knows. This is America, and as everyone knows, anything is possible in America...

That is the news for today, April 1, 2009. April Fools!

Gina Morey on Wed, 01 Apr 2009 10:02:02 -0800 [link]  

Search the Blog Archives

Browse the Archives

Environmental Activism Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

A Few Good Blogs....

Kent Peterson
LADOT Bike Blog
Lovely Bicycle!
Saddle Americana