Well hello, everybody. We’ve been busy- enjoying pleasant weather and lots of fun rides. As you can see, my husband is totally digging this “his and hers” cargo bike thing we have going on, and so are the kids. And so am I. We’ve covered a lot of miles in the past week. The pictures might be a bit out of order, but I’ll share what we have here. We bought a Fuji waterproof camera awhile ago at Costco, and the kids have been my designated photographers, which is cool.
You can see in the picture above that we improvised another seat to go on the deck, and I think it’s sort of genius. Our Bubblebum booster works GREAT. I took an old tube and tied it around the deck, then feed it through the side hooks like a seatbelt. Voila! And we’re street legal if we need to use a car for some reason. Yay!
All the above pictures are from Bike the Drive, which was on Sunday- EARLY. We aren’t an early rising bunch, but it was worth it. There was bad weather in the forecast until almost the last minute, and my pre-coffee brain totally forgot to throw our raingear in the backpack, so we only did the North segment of the ride this year. The kids had hoodies, but it was raining and windy for awhile, and they said they were cold, so… We can easily use the Lake Front Path to head South, but the northern section is usually so crowded I thought we should definitely take advantage of the ride to head that way. If you aren’t from Chicago or familiar with the event, it’s a fundraiser held every year for the Active Transportation Alliance where they close Lakeshore Drive to cars for about five hours in the morning for registered cyclists. We did about 20 miles, but the whole route is over thirty and you see bikes of all kinds. A friend of mine is training for a triathlon and said she had a blast. My friends who carry kids also had fun, and it looked like a lot of people opted for Divvy’s or rentals just to try it out. Good times for all! One thing I was grateful for was our fenders, as I saw lots of people ‘striped’ on the ride.
We’ve ridden both bikes a lot already. I saw the rear tire was low on the new bike, but only pumped it up a bit with a hand pump and paid the price- a pinch flat. Keeping your tires in the suggested range of pressure is important, people. Luckily, it was super easy to fix the flat, even without levers. I’ve had some bad experiences in the past. (which ended in bruised and raw thumbs, lots of cursing, and ultimately a shameful visit to the bike shop…) I don’t know if it was the 20″ wheel or the fact that it’s really new and not too grippy to the wheel, but it was a breeze to replace the tube, and I was pretty dang proud of myself.
Okay, one more change I made- my husband loves the straight bars, I love the cargo bars. So I switched them out. It takes hardly any mechanical inclination to do this, I promise. I just took photos of how my shifters looked before with my phone so I could check my work. The toughest part, I swear, was getting the darned grips off without scratching or gouging anything- but a measuring spoon and a bit of water did the trick. I’ve learned to like the new shifting/gearing on the new bike, and I especially appreciate that it’s quieter. Without the foot plates and with a new kickstand that doesn’t bang, I’m feeling kinda ninja when we ride. I really don’t prefer one bike to another, but the larger bar in the back of the most recent model means more room for kids, and since I’m most likely to carry two, we switched things up.
I have big plans. One involves using a product called “sugru” to dampen some of the noisier parts of the old bike- funny I never even noticed this until I started riding the new one- and another is a themed Kidical Mass ride we have coming up in early June.
The bike business is also underway. I’ll tease with the logo, but will fill you in with another post- soon!
Have a great weekend, everybody!
It came! Once again, the box was smallish, and the bike was pretty much built for us. You don’t need too much expertise to put together this bike, the toughest part is threading the chain (and that’s pretty easy.) I did have my fork on backwards, and a little trouble lining up my cables, but I rode off to the bike shop for a second opinion on a few things just 90 minutes after we opened the box. (And again, 20 minutes of that was carefully removing bubble wrap!)
I sent the kids to the park with dad, promising to meet him in under two hours. I made good on my promise. They’re just dying to help, but I needed my parts to not run away.
I’m contacting Bike Friday about one issue that made it a bit tough- the main bolts that hold the frame together were an odd size this time, and I had trouble getting them tight with my (awful, stubby, multitool) wrench. The guy at the bike shop commented on it too, but was able to get more traction than I was.
Again I used my paperclip trick to get the chain on, it helps a lot. I hook one end near the crank set while I pull down the rear derailleur and then pull them together to put in the link pin. Done! The brakes were perfectly adjusted this time, but I’m still messing with the front gears a bit. I got totally spoiled with the other bike, after the spa day it’s riding perfectly.
Off to the park! The kids insisted I get the hoop and seats on immediately so they could sit on the new bike. Actually, my girl wants to ride it in a bad way, and I’ll definitely let her try sometime soon. I commented a few weeks ago that I squeezed onto my first HaD at the Women Bike Chicago Event, and though it handled my weight just fine, my thighs barely fit under the hoop. This time there’s more clearance and length, I fit on comfortably even with my four year old in front of me.
So here’s the really exciting part: my husband still loves his Bianchi fixed-gear bike. He warned me not to pressure him into riding the new one when it came, and explained that he rarely gets free time to ride and wants to have time with his beloved Bianchi. I think I talked him into trying out the Yuba only once or twice, and he didn’t care for it at all, saying it felt “dangerous.” He rode my Haul-a-Day briefly one time, saying it was better, but that he just didn’t like the cargo bikes. Well- this new one is much more to his taste. I was surprised that he volunteered to take it for a second and third ride over the weekend, and the kids were over the moon. I think the main factor is the different bars- mine are the Bike Friday ‘cargo bars’ with an H shape, and I love them. In fact, I called BF right away after riding the new bike on Saturday asking if I could trade in the straight bars (standard on HaD) for cargos, and they quickly created the order. By Monday morning, I was calling back canceling because I realized the straight bars were his preference.
Our forecasts have been way off all week, and they were calling for thunderstorms, so we packed in quite a bit of riding. We’re still tweaking the front gears, though I plan to swap out the bars on the bikes anyways, so it’ll wait. Here are the things that I think are much improved, and I’ll follow up with more info as I think about it, for those of you researching Haul-a-Days…
-the kickstand has been improved on the new model, with bumpers that prevent the “SLAM” sound when you fold it up and keep it silent over bumps. It’s also a bit easier to find with my foot, it’s like a luxury kickstand now.
-the front part of the frame has braze-ons for a mounted basket, something I haven’t purchased yet but suspect will be a purchase in the near future and add even more cargo room.
-the whoopie bar is longer and wider, with higher clearance. I actually haven’t had both kids on the back of the new bike yet, but I think they’re going to appreciate the extra room! This was a big one for us. The previous bike was big enough, but just a bit cramped for longer rides. The bike doesn’t seem bigger overall with the larger hoop, so win/win.
– the frame seems subtly different, but both bikes are feeling solid. Any flex I felt in the first one has been gone since I found my sweet spot as far as fit goes. I’ll comment on this more as I get used to it.
– Bike Friday included some cork tape for the rear bars this time, which I hadn’t even thought of, but will definitely add to my kids’ comfort! I picked up some red sport tape at my LBS to put on the other bike.
– I went with the rear rails/ running boards without the foot plates this time, because I’m still trying to figure out how to tow my daughter’s bike occasionally. It’s a lot quieter without the metal foot plates (or maybe it goes back to that kickstand issue…)
We rode just a few blocks to a nearby playground and were approached by several people in the first ten minutes- and I passed along my referral cards and Spinlister promo codes. I have to update our Spinlister account now, but I’m happy to report it’s now possible to rent one or TWO of these amazing bikes. I’m also working on getting a Yepp seat to mount to one for those with smaller kiddos. Definitely contact me if you’re thinking of a trip to the Windy City, and I’ll help you out. 😉