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News Archive 2013

News Archive 2014

 

 

6.1.14

Waving Rigs and Femme Fit: On Women's Bikes

The question of how we define a woman’s bicycle is becoming a hotly debated topic in the bicycle forums and social media circles (check out the links on this page). As an avid cyclist and custom bike builder, I offer what I hope are two useful, if unapologetically male, perspectives.

Riding long miles in mixed groups of men and women, I have certainly heard quite a lot of commentary from women road cyclists regarding fit issues. Achy shoulders, strained arms and wrists, saddle rashes, general discomfort – to name just a few. And I’ll admit I have on occasion helped out women riding buddies by swapping out saddles and stems with proper fit components. The fit issues are probably the easiest to deal with, although not always easy to diagnose.

"Men are just downright awkward as social creatures, especially when not flying about waving their mountain bike 'rigs' at each other!"

More challenging are terms like “empowerment” and “representation” that tend to show up with regard to the bicycling industry and leadership in cycling organizations. On the local level it has been my experience that women tend to organize groups and lead rides just as much as men. Men are just downright awkward as social creatures, especially when not flying about waving their mountain bike “rigs” at each other! Women tend to lead with less competitive spirit, a refreshing or disappointing experience depending on one’s point of view. But lead they do, and very well.

Regarding fit, I agree that most bicycles are designed and engineered for men, although in the real world, our bodily proportions and strength ratios are all different. Still, as a bike builder I have observed that many women find greater fit, comfort and control on bikes that feature certain key elements. These include a modestly shorter top tube, a higher bar, shorter reach controls and/or drop bar, shorter crank arms, a more narrow cockpit, thicker grips for smaller hands, and of course a women’s saddle.

Better still to allow these fit elements to remain “variable,” meaning that selection of the length, rise or reach of these components is delayed until the fitting stage or later in the build. Even then, the best practice is to accommodate fit modifications even after the bike is sold and the rider has put on some miles. A proper initial fitting will narrow down the major fit issues, at least the frame size and geometry. After that one need be concerned only with selecting the minor components.

"Our bikes are reflections of our spirits, but only if the joy of riding is not dashed by poor fit and painful discomfort."

Despite the marketing hype of manufacturers, there is no more of an established geometric standard for women’s bikes than there is for men’s bikes. Certainly the fact that the “femme” models tend to be more colorful is just a reflection of women’s less inhibited sense of expression…IMHO! Plus of course we all know gender non-conforming cyclists who show up on all kinds of rigs, uh, I mean bicycles. Let’s face it, our bikes are reflections of our spirits, but only if the joy of riding is not dashed by poor fit and painful discomfort.

So is proper bike fit a form of women’s empowerment? Damn right it is! There is absolutely no reason why anyone should have to ride a bicycle that has been partially retrofitted to make a sale. But until manufacturers offer “variable” fit elements to properly serve our beautifully varied bodies, then your best bet is to go with a custom built bicycle. Hey, I had to fit the pitch in somewhere.

 


5.4.14

VeloFest, May 4, 2014  

Evo Cycle Works took the show on the road to exhibit at VeloFest on May 4, 2014, at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center Velodrome. Located in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, near Allentown. VeloFest, now in its 38th year, is widely considered to be the largest outdoor cycling marketplace in the east. We had several demo models of the latest Evo custom built bicycles, include road and mountain bikes. 

The Lumin Rose WSD road bike made her public debut, along with the 16 pound carbon Lumin and several versions of the Terran 29er mountain bike. The weather failed to cooperate, but it is always a pleasure talking with clients and vendors alike. If you didn't make it, we'll see you at next year's swap! 


 


2.20.14

'Stop, Swap and Save' Bike Expo February 9

Evo Cycle Works exhibited at the 2014 "Stop, Swap and Save" bicycle swap and consumer expo on February 9. The event is considered the East Coast's largest indoor bicycle expo, and fills the cavernous Carrol County Agricultural Center in Westminster, Maryland. Hours are 9:00 to 2:00 and folks arrive early. This year, like last year, a long line of eager cycling enthusiasts stretched around the building just before 9:00 waiting to enter.

We brought along several demo bikes and were busy arranging test rides. The new "quick-order" custom bikes included two road bikes and six mountain bikes including two versions of the new 27.5er, two 29er XC bikes, and two Niner full suspension bikes. Special thanks to everyone to came by to chat, visit and buy or order a new bike. See you next year!

 


2.15.14

Seven Reasons to Choose ‘Custom Blended’ for Your Next Bike

What is “custom blended?” It refers to a custom built bicycle assembled by blending new components with reconditioned, rebuilt or new-old stock left over from last year’s models. At Evo Cycle Works, we call this the "custom blended" build package, and it is one way to produce high-quality, custom bicycles at a price most anyone can afford. Due to the rise of cycling as an American popular sport and manufacturers’ marketing trends, there has never been a greater abundance of high quality used and late model new-old stock available. Why should you consider custom blended for your next bike? Here are seven very good reasons.

1.       The Custom Experience

If you are accustomed to buying bicycles off the shelf or perhaps used, chances are you have never experienced purchasing a custom bike. Custom is an experience in which you the rider are involved at every step, from fitting to component selection, frame material to color scheme. A custom bike is built to your specifications, your precise fit, within a budget you set, and to best serve the kinds of riding you enjoy doing. Not mechanically inclined? Not to worry, we will take the time to explain the differences between one component choice and another.

2.       The Perfect Fit

Whatever you may have heard about attaining the perfect fit on a bicycle, there is simply no better way to achieve this than by building the bike to fit your body. At Evo every custom order begins with a conversation about how you ride. We’ll take a few simple physical measurements and discuss your most frequent fit issues. If you are currently riding a bicycle, we may invite you to go for a short test ride so as to observe you riding your old bike. Frame and major components are then selected for the best possible fit. Then when the bicycle is structurally assembled – frame, fork, wheels, tires, handlebar, cranks and saddle – you are invited to ride the bike on an indoor trainer, and each element is fine-tuned until perfectly dialed in, before assembly is completed.

3.       Saving Some Green

A custom blended bike is affordable, and often less expensive than a comparable new “off the shelf” model. Even if you choose mostly new components, your custom bike is rarely as expensive as a similar new bicycle from the local bike shop. The fact is late model new-old stock and used/reconditioned components offer drastic savings over new parts. And if the bike you have in mind even slightly deviates from this year’s new model trends, then there is simply no contest. Most new bicycles will need retrofitting at significant extra cost to achieve what we can custom build straight up.

4.       Being Green

The proportion of recycled components included in the build you choose represents a significant savings in carbon emissions. None of these parts were manufactured, traded or transported for your new bike. To the extent that these components were already available via the resale marketplace, or were already used by a previous cyclist, places them very low on the carbon footprint scale. “Reuse” is a respected green practice because it offers maximum utilization of manufactured products. You get a bike that looks and rides like new, only it isn’t.

5.       No More ‘New Bike Customer’ Headaches

Searching for the right bicycle, with the right mix of components, in your size, with the correct fit, and at a price you can afford may be fun at first, but very soon results in a throbbing headache. You may try to avoid the headache by ignoring the bike shop salesperson working very hard to sell you a bike. Or you may try ordering a new bike online to save some money. The first option is futile and second is pretty risky. With all due respect to the bike shop salesperson, he or she must make a living and to do that needs to sell you something. Ordering online will often save money up front, but achieving proper fit is an adventure at best.

6.       Better Than Used

There is a long and respected tradition of cycling enthusiasts purchasing used bikes in order to get the level of performance desired without spending a great deal of money. While an honorable tradition, most used bikes are compromise solutions in one way or another. In most cases proper fit is “seat of the pants” – literally! – and the bike will need at least some retrofitting to accommodate its new rider. All of the components are used and with rare exception, none have been reconditioned for re-use. So there are usually repairs or needed upgrades ahead. Meanwhile the major components continue to wear and these will be either very expensive or impossible to repair.

7.       The Bling You Know You Want

Few new bikes, and even fewer used bikes, offer just the right combination of bling elements you dream about. Sure, you can retrofit some color, finish or detail elements, but this is going to cost extra, and is terribly difficult to justify after plunking down a week’s salary for a new bicycle! When you order custom, the bling elements may be integrated into the build at little or no additional cost to you. Have in mind a particular color scheme? Dreaming about bright red tires? Gold quick release levers? Pink bar tape? A purple headset? Apple green wheels? Few bike shops will stock these “specialty” items, whereas when you order custom, you may select all the bling you want, no problem.

So there you have it. Call it custom blended or just "custom," here you have a genuine alternative to purchasing a new bike "off the shelf." Contact Evo to set up an appointment, or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.



1.2.14

Custom: New, Used, Recycled, Green?

When I was a kid there were two bike shops in my town, one a corporate store and the other a neighborhood shop. I liked hanging around the neighborhood shop as there was always a lot of activity there and they let me drink the coffee. Like a lot of smaller bike shops at the time, this one offered some new exotic "imported" bikes on one side and lots of used and rebuilt bicycles on the other. The extent to which the latter were "used" or "rebuilt," or whether they utilized used, new or otherwise "recycled" parts was always fairly obscure to me, and I believe, to most customers. The fact is that these bicycles were affordable, often in "like new" condition, and backed by the same shop warranty as the exotic and expensive new bikes.

This was also the shop to take your bike if it needed repairs, or as we all grew up, to pick up tubes, chains and other parts for DIY repair jobs. Gradually by hanging around I learned a good deal about bicycles, and about superior customer service, and later would purchase one of those exotic imports as my first serious bike, a gleaming blue Miyata ten speed. Nevertheless, most of the bikes sold by the shop were from the used and rebuilt side of the store, since this is what many of the town cyclists and parents were able to afford. 

Many urban bike shops today are returning to this retail strategy to best serve local clientele. The key feature of bikes on the "used" side of the shop is that they have all been repaired or rebuilt as functional and reliable rides, and make ideal choices for students, kids and many others looking for basic transportation. The other side of the shop may offer complete new bicycles from various manufacturers, or "new custom" bikes shop-built from mostly new components.

Some of these retailers promote the idea that their used or "new custom" bikes are in fact recycled and "green," at least to the extent that they incorporate components that are somehow other than "new." When I was a kid, the word "recycled" was not yet in common usage. Those bikes were simply used or rebuilt, and that was good enough. 

Then there are some micro enterprises today that focus entirely on restoration and upgrades of vintage bicycles. Restoration is almost entirely a green practice since most components remain intact and replacement parts usually come from other vintage bicycles, although one must take care with the chemicals used. There are also some outstanding service organizations that focus on job training and youth development through bicycle recycling. One of these is Recycle-A-Bicycle with several shops and numerous school-based programs in New York City.

So the idea of a recycled bicycle is not new, hardly! Nor is the recognition that high-quality used bicycle components may be reused if they are carefully selected and matched to a particular bike.

Today, thanks largely to manufacturers' marketing trends, the availability of quality used, recycled and new-old stock bicycle components has never been greater. In contemporary parlance, utilizing these components is a "green" practice to the extent that such components are already available, and were not manufactured, transported or marketed for the new custom bike which receives them. Reusing bicycle components produces near-zero greenhouse emissions, and the extent to which a bicycle may be considered a "green" product is directly related to the proportion of used, recycled and new-old stock components utilized in the build. Not to mention, of course, the inherently green aspect of riding the bike!

Finally, let's throw in the idea of the "custom" bicycle: a bike built for one particular cyclist, to suit her or his specific size and physical proportions, particular preferences and specific riding style. Also not a new concept, this is something that mechanically inclined cyclists have long accomplished on their own by retrofitting or upgrading their bicycles to fit better or to perform with enhanced capabilities. And in cycling, fit and performance are what it's all about.

Frame builders know this better than most. Working with high-grade steel, aluminum alloys, titanium and other materials, these skilled craftsmen and women create exquisite frames precisely fit to each custom order. Perhaps an ideal choice for some cyclists, but we should not be surprised to learn that these are some rather expensive bicycles.

Now we are ready to combine something old with something new, to mix it up with new, used and recycled components, and to reconsider the custom possibilities inherent in low-cost green practices. When I started building bikes for friends and family, I knew that those custom bikes would be considerably less expensive, offer overall higher quality and better fit than their similar new counterparts. Even when I began building on commission, this was still true in almost every case. The advantages of a custom built bicycle are obvious. But combining "custom" with "green" is one of the great challenges of our times.  

This is the essence and "new idea" behind Evo Cycle Works: building high-quality custom bikes at a price point that is within reach of the average club rider, and accomplishing this in part by incorporating green sourced components whenever possible. Is green the next evo-lution in custom bicycles? Stay tuned.


6/1/14

Website Makeover

Welcome to the new Evo website, a collaborative effort between Evo Vic and Openmenti's Vic Beltran. Openmenti is a start-up web marketing and consulting firm. The look is polished, the graphics professional, and the concept refined. Very special thanks to Vic and the many hours of hard work that went into this makeover of Evo Cycle Works' online front page. And I am pleased to report that there are more changes to come, so stay tuned!

If you are new to this website, please have a look around. You will find the latest Evo news and events on the News, Latest Projects and Sponsorship pages, and interesting discussions of cycling related issues on the Shared Insights page. Enter through any of the "News" tabs on the home page. The Gallery pages offer discussions and detailed specifications for many of Evo's custom bicycles. For the latest commentary and up-to-date news, I encourage you to follow Evo on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 


6.1.14

Niner Models Custom Built from Evo

The Niner Jet 9 frames left over from 2011-2012 are flying off the shelves. Now's the time to get yours custom built by Evo Cycle Works. Niner has moved on and replaced their flagship models with newer, more expensive mountain bikes, leaving behind a great many Jet 9 and RDO full suspension frames available on the resale market. Evo is making these available as custom builds for a limited time, and at very special prices.

The Niner Jet 9 full suspension alloy model features Rock Shox suspension front and rear, Sram X-7/X-9  2 x 10 drive system, Avid Elixir hydraulic brakes and Continental Trail King tires. 

The Niner Jet 9 RDO features a remarkably light full carbon frame, Fox suspension front and rear, and Sram X-9/X0 2 x 10 drive system. Available for a limited time. 

 


6/1/14

Evo Road Bikes: The Lumin Series

In the staunchly competitive world of road bikes, launching a new road series might seem overly ambitious. It might, that is, if we failed to remember that these are custom built bicycles. The idea behind the Evo Lumin line is not to create advanced technology bikes that few can afford, nor to produce "new and improved" versions of the many off-the-shelf models already available. Quite the opposite. The driving force here is to offer a line of custom road bikes that most everyone can afford. 

This was the genesis of the Lumin road bike series. The first was the Lumin men's bike, a mid-level, high performance bicycle built up from a superb carbon frame. The demo included a complete Sram Rival groupset, including Sram DoubleTap STI shifters with carbon brake levers, Oval 327 wheels, stealthy naked carbon finish and black on black color scheme. Weight of the frame and fork is 1430 grams or 3 pounds, 2 ounces, and the completed bike just 16 pounds. Ride quality may best be described as compliant with exceptional acceleration and stable front end control. 

Road cycling buddies of both genders greeted this bike with a wide range of reactions, among which were two fairly specific challenges. First was to create a women's specific version of the Lumin, the second to create a custom-built road bike - presumably aluminum - for under $1000. I eagerly accepted both challenges, and the result is the first edition Lumin Rose WSD. 


This entry level version of the Lumin Rose WSD features a 6061 double-butted aluminum frame in pearl white and is available in a range of five sizes with a carbon fork and integrated headset for a sleek, polished look. The frame weight is just 3.5 pounds and features a top tube 20 mm shorter than a comparable men's frame. A Shimano 105 mixed group and Truvativ Touro crankset serve up a wide range 3 x 9 drive system that will make this bike a fun ride for any level of ability.

This is a blended build for true performance at a modest price, but as with all Evo custom bikes, the "critical wear" components are all new: headset, bottom bracket, chain, control cables, tubes and tires. The wheels are Ritchey Zeta clinchers in brushed aluminum with Duro Pro 700 x 25c tires. The carbon/alloy seatpost, brushed aluminum stem, ice gray Jagwire control cables and Ritchey Lady saddle are all new components as well.

The Lumin Rose features a women's specific build package that includes a riser stem (107 degrees and 90 mm on the demo), narrow cockpit, shorter crank arms, and fuchsia and pink highlights. The latter include premium Lizard Skins bar wrap ensuring superb grip for smaller hands.

Of course these are demo bikes, examples of the "perfect fit" custom bikes available to most any club rider, depending on rider preferences and desired performance characteristics. They represent four basic models, both the women's and the men's are available in full carbon or light weight aluminum, and may be selected with a range of component specifications. 

So if you are tired of sticker shock when shopping for a carbon road bike, or disappointment at the low-end components of moderately priced bicycles, or if you have been riding a bike that just doesn't fit you very well, now is the time to consider custom built. Men's or women's, custom fit and reasonably priced, take your pick and give us a call for a free, no obligation test ride. The Lumin Rose is available in five sizes in super lightweight carbon or aluminum. 

See details of the Lumin and Lumin Rose in the Gallery.

 


10.10.14

MoCo Epic 2014

Following years of honing my mountain biking skills on these trails and riding in the epic, the premiere mountain biking event in Montgomery County, Maryland, and now recognized as an official "epic" by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), beginning in 2013 I decided it was time to throw in my hat as a sponsor.

This year's event was bigger than ever with some 1000+ riders, volunteers and exhibition ride participants, and 44 sponsors. The IMBA epic had grown into a two day Saturday-Sunday festival event, with the epic rides on Sunday. Although its origins stretch back to a 2007 MORE group ride, the MoCo Epic's first official year as an organized event was 2010. I rode in each of the first three MoCo Epics, 2010, 2011 and 2012. So it is time to give back.

Evo Cycle Works was one of the small, "local" exhibitors setup across from such corporate giants as Niner and Diamondback. If you are into mountain biking, this is not an event you want to miss in the future!

Photo: My partner Martine and me, with Gilbert and family, a satisfied client and mountain biking enthusiast from Evo's first year.


 

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Cycle-recycling friends from across the pond.

 

 

 

 

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The Budget Bicycle Center in Madison, Wisconsin claims to be the world's largest used bicycle store.
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