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Book review: ‘Streetfight’ by Janette Sadik-Khan

Posted on April 12th, 2016 at 11:30 am.

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Our reviewer hard at work.

This is a guest post by Kiel Johnson.

A specter is haunting our cities — the specter of street life!

Our streets make up the vast majority of our public space in cities. How these spaces are designed have profound impacts on how we think about communities and the policies we create. Janette Sadik-Khan’s “Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution” is a necessary chronicle and persuasive argument for giving street space back to people. She writes “streets are the social, political, and commercial arteries of cities … These are the spaces where life and history happen.”

Last week, I presented to a group of business leaders in the Lloyd District, most of whom commute by car from the suburbs. I was talking about the Better Broadway project that will open one auto lane of Broadway up for businesses and people for one week next month.

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Product Review: Aquilo full-fingered gloves from Planet Bike

Posted on February 5th, 2016 at 9:58 am.

Aquilo Glove by Planet Bike
Hello Aquilo.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you ride year-round in Portland, you’ve pretty much got to have a pair of gloves — or two, or three, depending on the weather. With temps ranging between 30 to 50 degrees and skies going from sunny and cold to wet and mild and every other combination you can think of these past few months, I’ve been rotating through five different pairs. Yes five. I’ve got two pairs for when it’s raining, two that I use either on their own or as liners if it’s really cold, and my newest pair: the Aquilo gloves from Planet Bike.

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Product Review: A warm winter cap from Bella Capo

Posted on January 6th, 2016 at 11:49 am.

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A functional hat that also looks nice off the bike.

I love hats! As someone who bikes almost every day year-round, hats do many things for me. They keep out the elements (rain and sun being my biggest threats), they soak up my sweat in summer, they keep me warm in winter, and they also hide my sometimes disheveled hair.

I’ve worn hundreds of hats over the years, and it takes a lot of little things to go right for one to become a keeper. For the past few weeks I’ve been wearing one that has become my go-to this winter.

The Bella Capo winter cap is made in Italy for Portland-based Cyclone Bicycle Supply (suggested retail is $35.98). Unless you’re in the industry, you probably haven’t heard of Cyclone. That’s because they’re a parts and accessory distributor that sells to bike dealers and other retailers all over the country. All the Bella Capo caps stocked by Cyclone are made just for them by hand from a source in Italy.

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Portland’s former urban bike farmer releases new book

Posted on December 11th, 2015 at 10:37 am.

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If you’ve lived in Portland long enough you’ve probably caught site of someone on a bike hauling yard and home improvement tools around. We have organizations that plant trees by bike, businesses that do landscaping and carpentry by bike, and we even have farmers who’ve replaced the iconic work-truck with a work-bike.

One of those farmers, Kollibri terre Sonnenblume, has now written a book about it. Adventures in Urban Bike Farming from Macska Moksha Press is what Sonnenblume calls, “Equal parts historical document, confessional memoir and social critique.”

Don’t let the title of the book fool you, based on an excerpt made available by the publisher Sonnenblume has just as many insights to share about Portland’s cultural upheaval in the past decade as he does about how to increase potato yields. “If you’re looking for a message of ‘rah rah, look how sustainable we are!’,” he says, “you won’t find it here.”

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Gimmick or godsend? My review of the NiteRider Sentinel with “Laser Lanes”

Posted on November 17th, 2015 at 1:59 pm.

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The light has two lasers that project a bike lane on the road alongside your bike.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A bike light that creates virtual bike lanes wherever you go? That’s the promise behind the NiteRider Sentinel 40, a rear light that comes with a special “laser lanes” mode that projects two bright lines on the ground around your bike.

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Product review: Turn Siri into your mechanic with the OTTO Tuning System

Posted on November 6th, 2015 at 10:54 am.

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My bike’s profile in the app.

One of the cool things about having a good friend or a partner with a different knowledge set than you is that it gives you access to expertise without having to be an expert in everything yourself. Since my partner is a bike mechanic, it means I don’t have to master a headset press — and he doesn’t have to master WordPress.

Although I’m very familiar with basic bike maintenance, I’m by no means an expert. Sure, I understand how to adjust my derailleur, but I’m always going on guesswork. And un-expert guesswork, at that.

That’s the problem that the new derailleur tuning system from OTTO DesignWorks, a startup based a few miles south of Portland in Wilsonville, is trying to solve. Their OTTO Tuning System uses an iPhone’s camera, visual alignment technology, and a set of gauges to help you quickly adjust your derailleur. It’s compatible with most Shimano and SRAM 9-, 10- and 11-speed cassettes, and costs $39.

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Riding the latest e-bike system from Bosch

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 1:16 pm.

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Murdered out e-cargo bike.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Electric bikes have a very bright future in Portland. There are many reasons why: Many Portlanders love cycling and our city encourages it, we have hills and steep bridges to pedal up, our expensive housing is forcing longer bike commutes, and e-bike technology — as technology tends to do — is always getting better/lighter/cheaper.

On that note, I had the opportunity to test ride the Bosch eBike System last week. From what I’ve heard around the industry, their new mid-drive system is the best on the market. As the largest automotive parts supplier in the world and with over a century of experience, it’s not hard to fathom that Bosch could jump into this market and deliver a solid product.

I also noticed that Xtracycle decided to spec the Bosch system on their Edgerunner cargo bike. That alone is a good sign that the Bosch system is worth paying attention to.

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First look at Yuba’s new ‘Spicy Curry’ electric-assist cargo bike

Posted on May 12th, 2015 at 1:31 pm.

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Yuba Bikes Founder and CEO Benjamin Sarrazin on his new Spicy Curry e-bike.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

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Wilsonville company promises ‘perfect shifting’ from phone app and hardware combo

Posted on May 5th, 2015 at 2:34 pm.

OTTO Photo Shoot Freddy
The smartphone camera uses the targets on the
gauges to create 3-D models of your gearing.
(Photos courtesy OTTO DesignWorks)

The rising tide of products that combine physical objects with mobile apps has come to do-it-yourself bike maintenance.

OTTO DesignWorks, a startup based a few miles south of Portland in Wilsonville, says its first product will offer “perfect shifting in under five minutes” for people with Shimano and SRAM 9-, 10- and 11-speed gear cassettes.

As the video below shows, the company sells gauges that can be attached to a cassette and derailleur. Its free mobile app then uses a smartphone camera and photogrammatry — the mathematically intensive process of turning images into three-dimensional modeling — to diagnose the situation and walk someone through the tuning process.

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On-bike air conditioning system and a periscope: Two things you didn’t know you needed

Posted on April 21st, 2015 at 1:34 pm.

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Hit the Spruzza for a quick cool mist.

Here at BikePortland we get a fair amount of product pitches (especially since the advent of crowd-funding). Just when I think I’ve seen it all, something new pops up. Cases in point are two products that have found their way into our inbox in the past few weeks: A periscope and an on-board mister for your bicycle.

Yes, you read that right.

The Spruzza ($59) is described as, “an on-board cooling system that attaches quickly and easily to your bike. Spruzza ‘air-conditions’ by allowing you to spray just enough water to cover and cool your head, face and neck. The relief from the heat is immediate.”

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