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Kenyan Traveling Bike Mechanic with Homemade Tools

If there’s ever a Bike Mechanic Hall of Fame, this guy should be on the first round of inductions. Mohammed Makokha makes his own tools and travels around truing wheels and repairing bikes. The video includes some tedious explanation on how to true wheels, but the guy’s setup is pretty sick (plus he only charges about $.05 to true your wheels).

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New Electric Bike Motor Unveiled at Global Warming Summit

copenhagen bike wheel New Electric Bike Motor Unveiled at Global Warming Summit

Researchers at MIT have developed a new way to bring an electric-assist motor to your ride. The new Copenhagen Wheel works similarly to hybrid cars in that it stores up a charge when you hit your brakes and then later turns on the motor when you need a boost. What’s interesting about this new design is that the motor and battery is entirely encased within the back wheel and controlled from your iPhone or Blackberry via Bluetooth. There are no external wires or batteries, and installation is as simple as putting a new rear wheel on your bike. Unfortunately, the setup is still a bit ugly, but it’s an important step in the right direction. They have yet to list a price or distribution, but it’s not like you’d want to buy a first generation version of the wheel anyway. What’ll be more exciting is a few years from now when they get the size of the hub down a bit and start selling them at reasonable prices.

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They Finally Got Me: ‘Drunk Cyclist Arrested with Stolen Christmas Tree’

biking christmas tree They Finally Got Me: ‘Drunk Cyclist Arrested with Stolen Christmas Tree’

Quick stop at the bar and we're all set.

Indiana police arrested a local man who was riding home from a bar with a Christmas tree balanced over his handlebars. The guy claimed to have bought the tree from a local farm, but changed his story to saying he bought it at local bar when police informed him the farm was closed. The officers noticed the price tag was still on the tree, and they told the guy the bar wasn’t selling any trees.

If this guy had been driving home, he probably would have gotten away scot-free. Police returned the tree and arrested the man on public intoxication. At least they didn’t also hit him with a DUI for riding his bike while drunk.

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Hipsters Arrested Trying to Repaint Bike Lane in Brooklyn

bike lane gone 225x300 Hipsters Arrested Trying to Repaint Bike Lane in Brooklyn

Bike lane erasure.

The NYPD arrested two men who were trying to repaint a 12-block stretch of bike lanes that runs through South Williamsburg at 4am yesterday. The bike lanes have been a major point of contention between the Hasidic population of S. Billburg and their northern hipsterati neighbors whose women ride through the hood in tight jeans and revealing shirts. If you want to get an idea of the outrage, just check out the 115 comments on the Gothamist article about the guerrilla bike lane addition.

While I hate to see us lose any ground in the city, I also understand that mapping the city’s lanes is an organic process and there will be some give-and-take. Painting our own lanes probably isn’t the best way to garner support among the car-driving city dwellers, but I support the painters’ gusto.

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Bike Messengers That Will Live in Infamy: Pearl Harbor

messenger 300x204 Bike Messengers That Will Live in Infamy: Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor skid contest.

Today’s the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Apparently the Japanese planned to deliver a declaration of war 30 minutes before the bombs were to rain down, but due to some slow work from the Japanese embassy in Washington, the message didn’t arrive in time. The good news is that the Japanese embassy was under surveillance, and Washington had the message unencrypted before the embassy did. They contacted Hawaii and sent a bike messenger to deliver the message, but the bad news is that it was two hours after the start of the attack. If they find this messenger, they should put his skinny jeans and Chrome bag in the messenger hall of fame.

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Tips for winter biking

ice bike1 300x299 Tips for winter biking

The City of Minneapolis web site has some good tips for making it through the winter on your bike safely. And, apparently a fucked up storm is going to hit the midwest this week. Bummer.

Travel slowly when snow and ice are present. Riding a bike on a street can be challenging, particularly when snow has been compacted by vehicles. Ride in bare patches of pavement when possible. Take turns and curves at a slower speed, and allow longer distances for braking. Also, be sure to plan ahead for extra travel time.

Take the off-street trails. Since Minneapolis has so many miles of trails (60 miles and counting!), urbanites from across the country often suffer from “trail envy.” To top it all off, the Park Board and Public Works Department have policies of clearing snow from off-street trails soon after the end of a snowfall. In most cases, this occurs in less than 24 hours. Leave the grime and compacted snow of the streets behind, and head for the trails!

Use an old bike in good working condition. Salt and sand can wreak havoc on your treasured bicycle, resulting in rust and breakdowns. Use an older but functional bicycle in the winter months. Two elements of a well functioning winter bike include effective brakes and a well greased chain (wet lube is ideal for snowy conditions). Wider tires with good traction are also essential.

Dress in layers. Just like other winter sports, bicycling can heat up your body rapidly. Apply layers to your torso and legs, and be prepared to strip them away as your body warms.

Cover your extremities. All of us have experienced the extremes of a sweating torso and numb ears or toes. Don’t ignore your head, neck, hands, and feet when you bike. Comfortable stocking caps, scarves, socks, and gloves (which allow dexterity) should be considered. And if you want to look extra cool, use goggles.

Ride defensively around motorists. Cyclists are more invisible in the winter (with fewer cyclists riding), and roads are more narrow (when curb-to-curb plowing has not occurred). Always be prepared for motorists to make a mistake. Follow traffic laws and be as considerate as possible. Educate yourself and your friends (motorists and bicyclists alike!) on traffic laws and safety. Please note, it is legal to ride in a general traffic lane when a bike lane is filled with snow.

Stay visible. Riding in the winter months means more darkness. Brighten your ride by using headlights, taillights, and reflective clothing and gear.

Use 311. If you see a bicycle-related problem, which involves plowing, shoveling, signing, or another traffic concern, call 311. The City relies on the public to flag problems. If you live outside of Minneapolis, call 612-673-3000. For problems occurring on park property, call 612-230-6400.

Use transit. When the going gets tough, give yourself a warm break by using the bus or train. All Metro Transit buses and trains are equipped with bicycle racks.

Embrace winter. Our identity is shaped by our weather. Snow and cold temperatures add diversity and beauty to Minneapolis. Riding a bicycle in the winter can be exhilarating and practical. It keeps you in good health, it’s good for the environment, it’s cheap, and at times, it’s even the fastest mode of travel.

Hopefully these can help out a bit. Good luck!

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Wisconsin's Finest on display through Craigslist

I scoured the local Craigslist ads for great bike buys while hanging out at my parents’ house in Wisconsin over Thanksgiving. I didn’t find any $25 bikes that would be worth the hefty shipping costs to send them back to NY, but I did find some interesting bikes people are willing to part ways with.

van halen bike Wisconsin's Finest on display through Craigslist

A kid's bike modeled after Eddie VanHalen's guitar. I guess it could be worse. It could be a Sammy Hagar bike.

three wheel scooter Wisconsin's Finest on display through Craigslist

This is sold as a "3-wheel pedal scooter with seat," but normal people call it a 'trike.'

pedal car Wisconsin's Finest on display through Craigslist

Pedal car priced to move at $800. Great if you have a few DUIs under your belt.

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Cranksgiving in NY This Saturday

cranksgiving Cranksgiving in NY This Saturday

Cranksgiving 2008

This Saturday New York plays host to one of the largest alleycats of the year. Last Cranksgiving brought out 106 riders who hauled ass all over town to pull down a bunch of food donations. Cranksgiving is the odd marriage of messengers and Saint Mary’s soup kitchen on the Lower East Side. Instead of normal drops and pickups, the riders need to go to grocery stores all over town and buy specific cans of food. At the end of the race, they’re all donated to the soup kitchen. Last year they also raised $1680 for City Harvest and $420 for the New York Bike Messenger Foundation. So help us out this Saturday and don’t get pissed when a biker blows a red light or cuts in line at the grocery store.

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YouTube Video Shows Minneapolis Bikers Getting Beaten Up and Pushed Down

greenway YouTube Video Shows Minneapolis Bikers Getting Beaten Up and Pushed Down

Greeway slugfest.

Minneapolis police are working hard for a big PR win. A YouTube video that has been removed from the site showed eight young men running down kids and cyclists. The 6-minute video shows one man wearing boxing gloves punching a cyclist on the Greenway, and similar incidents in St. Paul at the intersection of University and Lexington avenues. The man who posted the video describes it as, “a group of Somali black males pulling pranks on people.”

Running up to a biker and punching them with boxing gloves on is a bold move. A more interesting video would be the guy with gloves on desperately trying to get them off while the biker he approached ruthlessly beats him with a U-lock. These guys should stick to chasing little kids walking home from school and pushing them down hills; much safer.

A Star Tribune article on the video puts the pressure on the MPD to find these assholes quickly.