GPS Trackers for Bicycles

Another great question from one of our local customers:

Hi Dana! Happy Sunday! Wanted to ask if you knew if a bike/trike could be chipped (maybe like LoJack)? If so, do you know how much it costs? Do you think it’s a worthwhile investment? Thanks, Lisa.

Hi Lisa,

This is a great question, but unfortunately I do not have a great answer.

In the past year, a few different manufacturers have released models on the market that have moved away from looking like large, obvious boxes on your bike to normal bicycle components. They can look like lights, seat posts, or fit in your handlebar or headset. They all seem to cost around $125ish. Some come with a subscription, some require that you purchase a subscription. I have not tried any of them (but would love to), so I cannot speak to how well they work.

I can tell you that products like Tile and Trackr are NOT good GPS trackers. They are Bluetooth units and only work if the unit (bike) is in Bluetooth range of your phone. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my Tiles. As a constant looser of keys, wallets, etc., the Tile makes it easy to relocate it when it is just around the house. If I left my wallet at work, and I am at home, it will tell me the last place I left it when it was in range of my phone. But it will NOT GPS track as a thief moves my Tile around. If I leave my keys at work and Kate grabs them to drop off at my house on her way home, I will not know where they are.

I hope that is helpful. I CC’d Kate since you included her in this conversation and to remind her not to try bringing my keys home. 🙂

Have a great night.

The Mulholland Loop

We do this ride frequently around here. It is a great way to see some of the iconic sights of Los Angeles, and starting early ensures minimal traffic. The climb up to the top of Mulholland is challenging, but once up there it is miles and miles of rolling terrain with great views of Hollywood, the Hollywood sign, Universal Studios, the San Fernando Valley and all of the beautiful homes along Mulholland.

Map of the Mullholland Loop

The ride starts with a quick trip down Lankershim and up Cahuenga. The climb up Mulholland starts at its east-most end in Universal City. Only a half mile or so up, look to your left to see the Hollywood sign. Another .5 miles and there is a great turn off to the left to see spectacular views of Hollywood.

Another mile or so up the climb (basically at the top), you will encounter lots of people heading towards Runyan Canyon. Runyan has great hiking and is one of the few off-leash dog parks in LA. The ride continues along, with the views of the San Fernando Valley starting shortly. You can look down to Universal Studios with ease. Look a little farther and you might notice the unmistakable Ikea in Burbank. It is so large and blue, it is hard to miss!

As you cross Mulholland along Coldwater Canyon, don’t miss the left turn back onto Mulholland. TreePeople, a great area for hiking and learning about our SoCal environment, is located on the right at the intersection.

As you continue along Mulholland, note the spectacular views off to the left. If it is a clear day, you can see the ocean and out to Catalina Island. You will soon approach the American Jewish University, Milken High School and the Skirball Center as you cross the 405. The ride along Mulholland ends with a screaming descent down Encino Hills Dr. for a well-deserved break at Gelson’s (there is also a Starbucks across the street).

Getting back to the shop is easy along Valley Vista. This road is quiet and rarely used, but features beautiful homes, trees and fantastic pavement!

The full route is here on Ride With GPS. We hope you join us one of these days!

 

Bacchetta Bikes – An Industry Powerhouse

Bacchetta is the third brand that has been with us since day one. Bacchetta Bikes is made up of a few powerhouses in the recumbent industry. Its leaders, Mark Colliton, Mike Wilkerson, Jermey Massey and Rich Pinto, all have decades of experience building and selling recumbents with such well-known companies as RANS and Barcroft.

Bacchetta was out to revolutionize the recumbent industry with sporty, fast designs and unique recumbent parts and accessories. Their own website gives a succinct history of their successes and accomplishments.

Their most well-known feature is their teardrop-shaped frame.

Using a computer program to do a “section moment of inertia” (SMOI) for custom tube shapes (or more simply stated… the stiffness potential of a tube shape) we calculated our tubing at 2.5” x 2” at .039” thickness, cubed, to be 1.95. (Tubing stiffness varies with the cube of its depth and because our tube is not symmetrical we needed to calculate the SMOI in both directions first.) The SMOI of a 2” round tube at .035” thickness is 1.04.

Our tube is about twice as stiff vertically, and also substantially stiffer laterally and in torsion than our competitors 2″ round tubing. But we want to stress the vertical direction here because this is where most of the boom wagging forces would come into play with unsupported boom tube designs. Anyway, this shows that our custom main tube is 2 times more vertically stiff than a 2″ round tube of the same length.

What this says in layman’s terms is that you are going to get a compliant, efficient, comfortable ride!

Racing

Two 4-Person RAAM Teams on Bacchetta

In 2012, I raced for a Bacchetta-sponsored Race Across America (RAAM) Team. Training and racing for this kind events puts the bike through grueling tests of durability. Quite frankly, I don’t think there is a better test of a bike than RAAM. Throughout the entire year of training and racing, the Carbon Aero was efficient, quiet, comfortable and fast!

Year in and year out, Bacchetta proves itself on the race course. Whether it’s a 24-hour race, a brevet, the 508, or your local century, no other brand has a more successful racing history.

Florida-made trikes since 2004

I distinctly remember my first Catrike experience. In early 2004, a customer traded in an early model Catrike Speed trike when purchasing his new bike. At the time, trikes were not popular. This trade-in would give me the trike experience to see if they were worth putting on our sales floor. I recall climbing up La Tuna Canyon. But what stands out is the descent back down! The early Catrike Speed was a bit touchy – it really required a light touch to avoid shooting off to the other side of the road at high speed. But it was exhilarating! At that moment, I understood the trike potential and contacted Catrike to start selling their trikes.

Early models

Catrike’s first model in our shop was the Speed. It had a 20″ rear wheel, 16″ front wheels, and sat really low and laid back. For a newcomer, it felt like a go-cart with pedals (I’ve described it as such since then). It felt dangerous being so low, but it wasn’t too different from the Velokraft recumbents we were importing. For us, they were the start of our love affair with trikes.

Development

Paulo Camasmie, owner, went through many changes in the early years. He started small and always seemed to have a hard time keeping up with production. He eventually stepped out of direct involvement with sales/manufacturing to focus his time on development. He brought in some wonderful staff to work with dealers, create new models, and build his brand. From 2004 thru 2007, Catrike released the Pocket, Trail, Expedition and 700. These models are still in production.

Since then, Catrike has also introduced new seat designs, a brilliant folding mechanism and full suspension. They pride themselves on their production techniques, borrowing from the automotive industry’s lean manufacturing processes. Every frame is still hand-built in their Orlando facility. We proudly support this innovative company in its quest to produce the best trikes in the world.

 

HP Velotechnik Recumbents – A timeless relationship

In 2004, a customer came to see me in my garage workshop to order an HP Velotechnik Streetmachine. I was not familiar with the company, but I was intrigued, contacted them, and ordered his recumbent in March of 2004. The recumbent they sent was gorgeous (the customer continues to ride it to this day), and a great relationship began.

At the time, HP Velotechnik was all about building comfortable, stable two-wheeled recumbents to ride all day long on tour. They focused on ergonomics, suspension for comfort over varied terrain, and custom builds with quality components to meet anyone’s needs. Over the years, I got to know Paul, one of the co-founders, and a few of the sales staff who were always available to help. I found a company dedicated to building durable, beautiful bikes that would last a long, long time.

Trikes Emerge

Paul riding an HP Velotechnik Scorpion

In 2005, HP Velotechnik made two major changes. All of their bikes were now being produced in aluminum, and they  introduced their first trike. In a time when the trike market still looked a bit clunky and home-built, HP’s Scorpion was as sleek and curvaceous as it was functional and comfortable. With amazing handling, rear suspension, and the usual selection of custom options, we found ourselves ordering more and more out of this amazing German company. Needless to say, HP Velotechnik trikes were here to stay.

Trikes Evolve

Trikefenders in Carbon Fiber

By 2010, the trike world was in serious evolution, and HP Velotechnik was right there with it. Their line of trikes had expanded to include multiple options for folding and suspension. They also focused on developing their accessories, always thinking about what was needed, NOT what was easy to produce. Enter the HP Velotechnik mudguard. Who could imagine that a mudguard could be anything but a Planet Bike or SKS fender with a custom mounting system. HP took this rather mundane part and left everyone else thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” And so it continued.

Electric Assist?

An early Pedelec with BionX

I will never forget the first time I rode an HP Velotechnik Scorpion FS26 S-Pedelec at the Recumbent Cycle Con in Pomona in 2013. It was a revelation! I had always mocked electric assist – I have two legs for a motor! I rode their demo around the test track and took it back to the shop at the end of the weekend with promises that I would sell tons of these. It became apparent to me that electric assist didn’t mean the motor does all the work. Rather, you get a great workout while going faster and farther than previously possible. To this day, most of my Saturday mornings are spent with friends and customers riding electric assist in the foothills around Los Angeles.

Accessibility

Special pedals and exit assist bars

Over time, HP Velotechnik added a selection of accessories for riders with special needs. In 2014, they went all-out introducing a complete line of products, including hand rests, walking aid mounts, exit assist bars, three different types of special pedals, and more. We have used these accessories extensively on work we do with the the Veteran’s Administration in Long Beach. We are able to fit riders onto trikes who never thought they would be able to cycle again.

If you want to read more about their history and development, click here.

Recumbents now and into the future

It is clear to me now, 14 years later as I look back, that HP Velotechnik has always remained true to their vision. They continue to be an innovative force in the recumbent industry. HP builds quality bikes and trikes for the long haul by investing in development, providing exceptional support for their dealer network, and taking pride in their products long after the sale itself has been consummated.

They are one of two brands that we sell that I never have to worry about selling directly to customers. They realize that the local bike shop is the best way for a customer to try and purchase a recumbent. As the owner of a small business, I can’t tell you how much this means to me. In this age of buy-it-now and internet sales, they still realize that the touchy-feely approach is best when purchasing a bike.

We have worked with many companies in Europe, with limited success. The 8-10 hour time difference will really strain a relationship when you are trying to get something resolved immediately. HP Velotechnik’s staff make this a non-issue. They are always responsive in a timely manner and a language barrier has never been a problem. We have shared many meals together at trade shows and I had the pleasure of visiting their factory for several days during a trip to Germany in 2016. Every time, they went out of their way to make me feel important to their own success.

I have seen exactly two HP recumbent frame failures in 14 years. One was an older Streetmachine with a steel frame that rusted through and broke. The other was a broken folding mechanism on a trike being ridden by someone over the weight limit. In both cases, HP Velotechnik was not at fault. But in both instances, they took care of our customer. That is commitment to your product.

We have many choices when it comes to which manufacturers we work with. We are proud to work closely with HP Velotechnik.

The Grand Finale – the VTX with SRAM etap!

It’s been built for awhile, but we want to share with you the final results of the ICE VTX with SRAM etap.

I have been riding SRAM etap on my personal bike since last summer. I absolutely love it! It shifts like a dream, has a much cleaner look and works like it was made for recumbents. The sporty, fast VTX is the perfect platform for this drivetrain.

The Blipbox is mounted just in front of the seat on the stem. Blips run through the handlebars all the way to the mounts on the end of the bars. The front derailleur runs with an FSA SLK Light compact double crankset. The SRAM Red rear derailleurs shifts perfectly on a SRAM Red 11-32 cassette. 11 speeds ensure tight spacing on this wide range cassette.

Hope rotors rock! The red anodizing matches the red accents on the frame perfectly.

The build is finished with the ICE carbon fiber seat/pad and their extra strong wheels (perfect for flying through the corners on your favorite technical descent).

$6999 never purchased so much trike!

 

The holidays are here – let’s talk nutrition!

As the holidays approach, there is one thing that we are all thinking about – nutrition. More specifically, we want to know how to maintain the great results we had from a summer of exciting cycling adventures!

As some of you know, I regularly attend Fit Body Boot Camp in Burbank, California. In addition to getting a great workout, the owner provides fantastic nutritional advice. Here is a link to his article on quitting junk food. Let me know what you think.

Choosing the Right Recumbent

So you’ve finally decided to start looking at recumbents. Perhaps your back or neck hurt when you ride, or you are tired of numb hands and groin while cycling. You might have been recommended to us from your chiropractor due to overall back issues or you are concerned about your balance as you get a little older. Whatever the reason, a recumbent is a great way to get all of the benefits of cycling without the pain. Unfortunately, choosing the right one can be a somewhat challenging task.

We’ve put this series of articles together to help the new rider make an informed decision before purchasing. First, though, we have a couple of recommendations:

  • Nothing beats a test ride. You can look at specifications on-line, you can talk to other owners, but ultimately each recumbent fits a bit differently and you should try to test a few different models before making a decision.
  • There are no recumbents that do everything well. Just as you would not expect your beach cruiser to double as a touring bike, your ultra-fast sport recumbent is probably not going to be your best commuter bike.
  • Buy from a recumbent specialist. What do we mean by this? Any shop can order a “recumbent” from Sun Bicycles and call themselves a recumbent shop. We recommend that you go to a shop that carries a minimum of 2-3 brands of recumbents and has a history in the recumbent industry. These bikes are definitely specialized and you will appreciate a shop that knows how to work on them and make sure they are set up correctly.
  • If there are no local shops available, be willing to travel. If you are going to invest thousands of dollars in your purchase, don’t you owe it to yourself to  make sure you are getting the right bike? Our shop is located a few miles from Bob Hope Airport in Los Angeles and there are a few different hotels in the area that we can recommend. Make a weekend out of it and spend some time exploring Los Angeles!

So let’s start by exploring the different kinds of recumbents available.

Short Wheelbase Recumbents

Two HP Velotechnik Grasshoppers cruising the river

Short wheelbase recumbents are more compact and easier to transport than other recumbents. They easily fit on most traditional bicycle racks, and are shorter for transporting inside a vehicle. Like all bikes, they come in a variety of types. Are you looking for the ultimate touring bike with full suspension and the ability to carry cargo? Look no further than an HP Velotechnik Streetmachine GTe or Grasshopper Fx. Are you looking for a sporty road bike capable of knocking out a club century ride with the A group? A Bacchetta Carbon Aero 3.0, Corsa or Carbent HPV Raven may be in your future. Do you really just want to cruise around in comfort to enjoy the local bike paths and beach? The Bacchetta Giro or Barcroft Ti Virginia is the perfect bike for you.

Boarding the train for an Alaskan adventure!

Long Wheelbase Recumbents

Pamela’s Bella, courtesy of the Bacchetta Blog

Long wheelbase recumbents are less popular than their short wheelbase brethren, but it isn’t due to comfort. The Bacchetta Bella cruises in style with a lower seat and pedal position for easy starts and stops. Unfortunately, they are more difficult to transport due to their size.

Trikes

Trikes are the most popular choice in recumbents. Ease-of-use and stability are cited as the most common reasons that customers gravitate towards them. Like other types of recumbents, there are trikes for every style of riding. If you are looking for a folding trike that is easier to transport, ICE, HP Velotechnik, Terratrike and Catrike all produce fantastic trikes that fold up to fit in the back of your SUV or truck. For sport riding, the Catrike 700 and ICE VTX are fast and comfortable. Are you really just looking forward to relaxing rides along the beach? The Catrike Villager, Sun EcoTad,  and Terratrike Rambler  or Gran Tourismo provide exceptional riding and value. 

So now it’s up to you. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a private, one-on-one appointment, give us a call! Let us help you build your dream bike.

Everything you needed to know about hardshell seats. Part 1

Almost every week I know I can count on two things: Someone is going to ask me about seat sizing and I will see a rider on a hardshell seat that is too small for them.

Fit on a hardshell seat is a very personal preference. Most performance riders love the feel of a fully supportive seat behind them. If you are one of them, then read on! This article is for you.

There are a variety of seats on the market today. We build our own Carbent HPV seats in-house and they are based on the Velokraft seats of old. Bacchetta supplies a seat that has the same shape but slightly different sizing. HP Velotechnik’s BodyLink seat is the only adjustable hardshell seat on the market. Finally, ICE makes a beautiful seat designed specifically for trike use.

Inside the Airpro Seat – day 1 from ICE Trikes on Vimeo.

(The process we use to build our seats in-house is almost identical, but we vacuum bag the pieces to get rid of excess epoxy.)

In terms of fitting, the general guideline is that when the pad is on the seat, the top of the seat should sit right at the base of your neck. Note, the seat pad needs to be installed. So, changing your seat pad can also change the fitting of your seat. For example, if you are ordering a Carbent HPV seat and plan on using the basic foam pad, we will suggest a seat size that is one size larger than if you are using a Ventisit pad.

Bacchetta seats are approximately 1/2 size smaller than the Carbent HPV seats, and are available in medium and large. The Carbent HPV seats are available in medium, large and extra large. So, between the two brands, we can supply five lengths of seats in half-sizes.

The ICE seat has a similar size to the Carbent HPV seat, but in has built-in wings to provide lateral support for trike riders. Unfortunately, the ICE seat will not work on other brands as some of their mounting hardware is built into the seat and is not removeable.

The beauty of the BodyLink seat is that it is adjustable. So, one size fits 95% of the riders out there! The BodyLink seat uses three supporting points that are built into the HP Velotechnik seat. It may work on other bikes, but we haven’t tried to know for sure.