Friday, December 30, 2011

The mighty, MIGHTY Beach Cruiser

We're in, over our heads, people.

...Carbon fiber

...DW-Link Rear Suspension

...Dropper Seat Posts

...Electronic shifting


...and let's not even begin to venture into road bikes (!)

...all destined to be obsolete in a matter of a few years.

Do we really need all this stuff to have a good time? Weren't we just raving about Shimano V-Brakes and 100mm travel suspension less than a decade ago? When browsing the pages of Mountain Bike Action (MBA) and, I feel like I'm a 17 yr. old male watching a parade of hot, Los Angeles 10's in bikini's and high-heels... it just seems all unobtainable without the immense wad of cash. Meanwhile, the nerdy, Battlestar Galactica-loving brunette (who kind of likes you) goes unnoticed.

I'm going to take a little time to put that cute, nerdy brunette on a pedestal in all her glory; I am talking about the simple (yet mighty) beach cruiser. Loyal and low-maintenance, there is no reason why you shouldn't have a $100 beach cruiser among your Los Angeles 10's. Now, before you close this tab and move on to reading MTBR's review of the latest carbon fiber 29'er gadgetry, hear me out.

I've owned a number of beach cruisers in the last few years and I've made the mistake of "fixing them up". It always begins with a basic coaster brake beater, but after a few months, the bike becomes a garage queen - something that I wouldn't think about leaving parked and locked outside of a grocery store. After awhile, I become bored with it and end up selling it. Or, on the other side of the coin, I will buy a "high-end" beach cruiser in the $400-$500 range that looks more like a chopper than a bicycle. Pretty, but not practical.

The purpose of owning a beach cruiser is to keep it simple (believe me, I am correcting those bad habits) and to enjoy a bicycle in its simplest form. In terms of bicycle riding, there are very few options that take away all but the bare essentials of drive train and braking with the fixed gear coming in at a close 2nd place.

Beach cruisers are designed for comfort and single speed simplicity - yet still have the maneuverability and speediness of a large BMX bike. After hitting the trails over and over again with your fancy pants 29'er or destroying your legs and lungs on a century ride with 10,000 ft. of climbing, the beach cruiser will cleanse your riding palette. You will slow down and take it in. You will stop and chase the ducks, take a picture of a flower, or talk to old people. You'll perform the most epic coaster brake skid, ever. You will recall what riding is supposed to feel like when you've just about got burned out on yelling at iPod zombies on the trail.

There are many variations of the beach cruiser, as I mentioned earlier, but I've found the most basic to be the most fun. My brother turned me on to "BMX" inspired beach cruisers some years ago when he told me about the "Beers, not Gears" ride they do in the Santa Cruz mountains on beach cruisers in stormy weather. He had built one up as a big BMX'er, but when Swobo came along with their Folsom bike, I really came to notice that there was a revolution going on in regards to recreational bicycle riding.

The Swobo is big, bad, sturdy and ready for some serious action. However, this is nothing you can't build on your own with a little ingenuity and some extra parts.

This is my new incarnation - a basic cruiser, purchased from Target for $150. After re-building it with some correct torques and added grease, I replaced the tires (needed), the stem, handlebar, seat post and seat - all were laying in my parts-bin. The next upgrade will be some BMX pedals (old-school Bear Traps, perhaps?). Done. Finished. Go ride. More interesting builds can be found HERE.

If you're feeling a little burn-out or need something for fun, active recovery when you're not destroying King of the Mountain records, consider a beach cruiser. It's one of those things that you'll continually be telling yourself, "I love this bike!".

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! (NOT "Happy Holidays")

"Happy Holidays!"

F*ck that... it's Christmas and that what most people are celebrating today. We took the beach cruisers down to my home town of Santa Cruz and did some Instagram'ing; here are the results.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some Instagram'ing

If you're not on Instagram... it's time to be.

Where else can you witness photos of the wild proclivities of Justin Bieber and JWOWW? If that doesn't interest you, you can go ahead and follow me "dionridesbikes".

Here are some shots:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rewind to June: I forgot to post about how I dealt with a Craigslist Scammer...

Original post was June 16th, 2011

I posted a bike for sale on Craigslist and I got this e-mail this morning:
Hello good day.i read about your post on CL i do have interest in the AD.I hope its in good condition stated and still available? get back to me with more pics so i can take more look at it thanks
My response:
Which item are you talking about?
His response:
Hey what item did you have forsale?
My response:
I am interested in doing business with you. However, before I present my items to you, I need a commitment from you that you are willing to do business. Can you commit to doing business with me?

Once you confirm that you are willing to do business, I will forward a picture to you of my item for sale.
His response:
Yes i want to do business with you get back to me
My response:

This is the bicycle I have for sale. It is very special to me as it introduced me to a whole new world of cycling combined with sexual pleasure. I wish for any user of this bike to experience the same pleasure I felt when riding it. I will not except low offers and I only speak to those who are serious about purchase.

As part of the transaction, I must receive commitment from you that you will not alter this bike in any way nor install a regular bicycle seat. As part of this special art project, I received grants for creating this project and by contract, cannot have this bike altered in any way.

Unless you provide confirmation that you will ride this bike in its current form, I cannot do business with you.
His response:
Hello yes i will ride itHello thanks for the swift response, Nice reading from you again,Am Scott Papesh.i want you to assuring me that's in good condition and am paying $750 through PayPal.Do you own a PayPal account? get back to me with your txt #Have a lovely day,Scott
My response:
Hello Scott,

I do not have a PayPal account, but I am still willing to do business. I must mention another aspect of this bike before proceeding. The blue fake penis must be inserted into your anus and you must simulate homosexual sex when riding this bicycle. You MUST play disco music very loud, yelling, "I'm the Queen of the WORLD!".

You must understand that this bike is an art project and I received grant money for it, so contractually I cannot sell it to anybody who is not willing to do this.

You have to be handsome when riding this bike to attract lovers. Are you handsome? Please provide a picture of yourself so I may judge whether you are the appropriate buyer. If I don't receive a picture of you, I will NOT do business with you.
Still waiting for a picture to see if he's "handsome" :)

24lbs of Rigid 26"

Sounds like a pretty interesting porn actor!

I'm actually talking about my Leader 510, built on the cheap with whatever I had lying around my garage. I've since sold my black Kinesis SS, and while posting and posting and posting this bike for sale, I said F* it - I'm going to the "dark side" and just ride the snot out of it. I tossed the gears and went SS via a chain tensioner for the vertical dropouts.

Going from my 29'er (with trail bike geometry) to this with smaller wheels and XC geometry makes riding the two very different. The 29'er manages to climb the rocks more efficiently, descend a bit faster and sop up the bumps a little better. The Leader 510 climbs the fire roads a bit better, turns on a dime, whips around easier, but is a much harsher ride. If the question is "Which one is better?" the answer would be "Yes..."

The frame is aluminum with a heavy steel front fork. Ideally, I would love to upgrade to something much lighter up front - but I don't think I'll be turning laps any faster.

A lot of people think I ride rigid bikes to be "hardcore", but that isn't the case at all. The true reason is because it is what feels most comfortable for me, my riding style, and where I ride. I'm also a cheap bastard who doesn't like fiddling around with a lot of bike technology. When I ride suspension bikes, I think I fiddle around with lock-outs, U-turn adjustments, etc. more than I actually ride.

Suspension is great, but unless I go with a very high end, expensive bike (like an Ibis), I don't feel it's worth going that route. For me, it's all or nothing. And because I have other financial priorities... I go with nothing - bare bones, grit your teeth and hang-on-for-dear-life bikes.

So, let's see how long the Leader sticks around. Maybe I will keep it until it dies, or maybe put it up on the chopping block in the future - but given that it's worth more to me than what I can sell it for (a few hundred bucks, maybe?), I probably will keep it. Upgrades in the next few weeks will be Avid disc brakes (on order) and blingy, metallic red brake housing.