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Cardio Trek Personal Trainer
Cardio Trek
Sports Trainer
East York, Toronto, ON
Email: cardiotrek@gmail.com
Hours: Tues-Thurs 10-5:30, Sat-Sun 10-3:30
Cardio Trek is best known for teaching archery lessons.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Directory of Cargo Bike Manufacturers in Canada

Eastern Canada

Retail

BusinessTypesDescription
Allo Vélobox bike, box trikeIn Montreal, carries cargo bike/bakfietsen from Metrofiet, Bullitt, Triobike, Butcher's & Bicycles MK-1 and Gazelle. They offer Canada-wide shipping and a Cargo Bike rental service for families visiting Montreal.
Bikes on Wheelslong-tailCarries the longtail style of cargo bike, the Xtracycle Edgerunner. Longtails are inexpensive compared to a box bike and work well in many applications but won't carry nearly as much as a box bike nor are as rubust.
Curbside Cyclebox bike, box trike, electric assistImports the popular Dutch Babboe box bikes in both the two- and three-wheeled versions, and accessories such as covers and "rain tents" when children sit in the box. Curbside can also add e-motors so you can tackle big hills.
Dumoulin Bicyclettesbox trikecarries the awesome trike bakfiets, the Danish Nihola, with wheels that steer independently of the box which makes turning much easier.
Urbane Cyclistlong-tailCarries Yuba longtail bicycles, the Mundo and the lighter Boda Boda. As well they carry various accessories for the Yuba including baskets, running boards, child seats, giant panniers, and two-legged kickstand.
Urkaibox bike, box trike, cycle truck, tandem, electric assistSells Bakfiets.nl bakfietsen/boxbikes, Nihola, Gazelle Urban Arrow, Gazelle Cabby, Onderwater Family Tandem bike (carry kids and let them help pedal) and Azor cycle trucks with 440 lbs capacity. Free shipping most parts of Ontario and Quebec.
Wikecargo trike, box bike, trailersSells a box bike and a cargo trike (with variations). Wike is known for producing high-quality trailers as well. The cargo bikes frames are very similar to the Babboe brand. Middle of the road durability.

Builders

BusinessTypesDescription
Bikewrightslong john, cargo trailerbuilds custom long john cargo bikes and custom bike trailers in Halifax.
Cycles Melimlong johnBuilds strong, functional cargo bikes in Montreal. They can build them with internal gears, disc or roller brakes. Email
Intercycle, of Au Coin du Pédaleurbox trike, cycle truck, pedi-cabBuilt in Quebec. The quality looks like these cycles are made for industrial or tourist use, and not for faster on-road use - they still have an important role even if they aren't made with the lightest cromoly, etc.
Manuel Cappellong john, cargo trailerBuilds beautiful cargo bikes and trailers in his Toronto Island workshop. Manuel uses used bikes but new components to create strong bikes that can carry heavy loads. The bikes are cheaper than newer bikes with a price of about $2000 for a built bike (powdercoating extra). Give Manuel a call at 416.203.7717 to arrange a visit to his shop to discuss requirements. It takes him about a month and a half to build.
Paul Laursen of Invodanelong john, cargo trikeLaursen occasionally builds bikes such as (images: long john with double kid seats, large work trike. He uses aluminum frames with all new components in the cargo bikes. The City of Toronto Bicycle Promotions uses two of the bikes and have worked well for them. He sells them starting at $2500. Email Invodane or call (416-443-8049) for more information.
Tom's cargo bike build-your-ownlong john cargo bikeHas plans for building your own long john. Fun, but not an option for most people.
Vélo Yalong john, cargo trike, cargo truckBuilds custom cargo bike for families or commercial use like promo stands, carrying water tanks. They even make cargo "trucks" to carry really large loads.

Western Canada

Retail

BusinessTypesDescription
Bike Bikecargo bike, box trike, long-tailCarries Bullitt, Yuba, XtraCycle, Nihola. Is a Calgary bike shop that carries cargo bikes and long-tail bikes as well as other urban-friendly bikes.
Bike Doctorbox bike, long tailIn Vancouver, they carry Yuba long tails, Wike box bikes, and Babboe box bikes.
The Bicycle Familylong john, cargo trike, box bike, box trikeIn Vancouver, importing the Long Haul, Tri-Haul from CAT in Oregon in addition to making Vancouver-specific customizations (to the gearing and box) and building/customizing trailers. They say they will be fabricating cargo bike frames in Vancouver soon.
Citrus Cycleslong john, long-tailA bike shop on Vancouver Island, long-tail cargo ebikes from Felt (Bruhaul and Tote-m), long john Riese & Muller (full suspension and hard tail cargo ebikes with dual batteries), and Yuba long-tail.
Tandem Bike Cafelong john, box bike, racksA small bike cafe in Vancouver which imports CETMA (see below). They can connect people to Curious Cargo bikes and one of their mechanics builds longtails out of old mountain bikes.
Dandy Lion Cargolong johnIn Vancouver, imports the Bullitt (Danish-built, sleak, aluminum long-john).
VicBikeslong johnAn online store based in Victoria, imports and sells Douze family and professional long john cargo bikes from France (with a frame that separates and can be swapped out for other parts), Nihola family cargo trikes from Denmark and Winther family cargo trikes from Denmark.

Builders

BusinessTypesDescription
Curious Cargo bikeslong john, box bike, trailerare custom, hand-built cargo bikes and trailers made in Vancouver.

Import

BusinessTypesDescription
Bike Fridayfoldable cargo bikeHaul a Day. They ship to Canada.
Center for Appropriate Transportationlong john, box bike, box trikeLong Haul cargo bike, Tri-Hauler. They can build them with a box (starting at $2600 USD) or with a cage. Tri-hauler is a tricycle recumbent cargo bike.
Update: CAT is now offering cargo bike building classes. Check their website for more info.

CETMA Cargolong john, box bike, rackIn Los Angeles, is a one man shop making versatile and very sturdy cargo bikes / long johns. The basic setup includes a large "no-skid" platform and he also sells boxes and rain covers to keep kids dry. Price: $3150 USD + shipping (around $300 in USA). Made in USA means no tarrifs! Shipping takes about 4-8 weeks.
Circe Cycleslong-tail, tandemBased in Cambridge UK, the same bikes switch easily between cargo or tandem--adults, children, or those with special needs. The Helios is upright and the front of the Morpheus is reclining.
Coaster Pedicabtrike, pedicabBuilds cargotrikes and pedicabs in Missoula, Montana. Ships anywhere.
Icycle Tricyclescargo trikeSells new and used tricycles out of Portland, Oregon.
Lightfoot Cyclesbox trikemakes trikes that can be built with a variety of custom platforms - flatbeds and boxes - for carrying cargo.
Madsen Cycleslong-tailA US company that makes long-tail cargo bikes with a large bucket in the back to provide more space for stuff and children.
Metrofietslong john, box bikemakes cargo bikes out of Portland, Oregon. They currently focus on the "long john" cargo bike. It looks pretty stylish and has a nice wooden box similar to the Bakfiets (starting at $3700 USD).
Workcyclesbox bike, sturdy city bikeAll bikes--GR8, FR8, KR8--designed in-house to be very robust with some smart additions to make them easier to service. Workcycles ships individual bikes to Canadian customers. Packing/shipping: standard format bike: €295, cargobike: €800. Import duties are additional. Another option is to purchase from an US Importers of Workcycles.
Worksman Cyclescycle truckA classic made-in-USA bike manufacturer of sturdy, basic industrial bicycles, including their Low Gravity cycletrucks.
Boxer Cyclesbox bikes, box trikesMake some interesting and stylish cargo bikes and trikes in the UK, including the unique Rocket. They ship to Canada.
Tern Cyclesfoldable cargo bikeCargo Node foldable cargo bike, a seemingly contradiction but useful for those who need carrying capacity but don't have much storage for a regular sized cargo bike.
Yuba Mundolong-tailNow being carried by distributor OGC. You can search their site to find stores carrying Yuba. As of 2014 there are 3 stores in Montreal, 1 in Ottawa, 3 in Toronto, 1 in Edmonton, 1 in Calgary, 3 in Vancouver, and 2 in Victoria.

Cargo Trailers

BusinessTypesDescription
Surlycargo trailerThe Bill Trailer is really robust trailer. Any store that carries Surly bikes might be able to order this trailer.
Bikes at Workcargo trailerTrailer comes in different lengths and is made to carry the large Rubbermaid containers. Made in US so no tarrif fees when ordered directly.
Wikechild trailer, flatbed trailer, landscaping trailer, DIYBased in Ontario and will ship directly unassembled trailers. Carries flatbed, landscaping trailer with walls and a DIY kit. Also builds child trailers, including ones specific for children with special needs.
Tony's Trailerschild trailer, flatbed trailer, custom trailer, special needs, DIYBased on Vancouver Island, will sell directly, custom buld and ship to anywhere. Sells a wide variety of trailers for almost any purpose.

Cargo Bike Definitions and Jargon

cargo bike
  • Any robustly built bike that can carry a substantial amount of stuff, children or adults.

long john
  • A quite popular cargo bike with a flat bed in the front that first appearing in the 1920s in Denmark, Sweden, and The Netherlands. It's a long wheelbase bike with two wheels that can carry a lot of weight and can be quite easy to drive once you get used the feel. See more: "long john"

box bikes
  • Originally "bakfiets" in Dutch, literally "box bike" in English (pronounced "BUCK-FEETS"), this bike is structurally similar to the long john but has a wooden or plastic container on the flat bed on the front. This variety is popular for schlepping children and often comes equipped with seats, seat belts, rain covers and other things to increase the comfort of children.

box trikes
  • Basically a three-wheeled version of the box bike. Some people prefer the trike because of their stability but usually there's a trade-off with making it harder to make turns and more difficult to negotiate tighter spaces and avoid potholes.

long-tail
  • Made popular first by the Xtracycle add-on for mountain bikes, but now has companies making dedicated bikes, this is a bike with an extra long extension behind the seat so that a much longer rack can be installed allowing for a lot more cargo and seats for children or adults. There a variety of long-tails and accessories for different kinds of cargo.

cycle trucks
  • Are of similar length of regular bikes, a large front cargo rack attached to the frame and not the fork, and with a smaller front wheel to allow stability in carrying large loads. Cycletruck designs have been around for almost a hundred years in Europe and North America.

cargo trailers
  • A trailer with a flat bed, a box or special attachments to carry a variety of cargo. Some are really robust and long so that large, awkward cargo can be carried although with some effort if going uphill.

child trailer
  • A bike trailer that is outfitted to carry children securely, often with a cover, padding. Some varieties cater to children with special needs

tandem
  • A bicycle that can carry two+ people--adults or children. Some varieties cater to children or adults with special needs that need more support.

electric assist
  • An electric motor when outfitted on a bike, the bike becomes an "e-bike" or a "pedal-assist" to provide oomph on hills, into the wind, and with large loads.

Bicycles for Parents of Babies

To clarify, these are bicycles designed to help parents get their baby (or babies) from Point A to Point B, without using the conventional Baby Stroller or Baby Carriage, etc.

The wife and I recently purchased a stroller, which sparked my curiousity as to what else was available on the market and might be more convenient.

Baby Stroller Bicycle

Bicycle Baby Trailer

Bicycle Baby Sidecars


Recumbent Bicycle Trailer

Bicycle Baby Carrier

Personally I think I like the sidecar option best.

And then there is the problem of WHERE TO BUY?

Well one place to buy is to go to:

Manuel Cappel of Toronto Island

Manuel builds beautiful cargo bikes and trailers in his Toronto Island workshop. Manuel uses used bikes but new components to create strong bikes that can carry heavy loads. The bikes are cheaper than newer bikes with a price of about $2000 for a built bike (powdercoating extra). Give Manuel a call at 416.203.7717 to arrange a visit to his shop to discuss requirements. It takes him about a month and a half to build.

 So yeah, that probably is not in the average person's price range to get a custom built bicycle like that. Plus while he does make plenty of cargo bikes, I am really looking for a sidecar I can install myself.

I shall keep looking.

New Official Sponsor: Cardio Trek Sports Trainer

The Bicycle Mechanic has a new Official Sponsor, replacing the old sponsor (Gears Bike Shop). The new sponsor is Cardio Trek, a local sports trainer / personal trainer. Cardio Trek is best known for teaching archery lessons.



Cardio Trek Personal Trainer

Cardio Trek
Sports Trainer
East York, Toronto, ON
Email: cardiotrek@gmail.com
Hours: Tues-Thurs 10-5:30, Sat-Sun 10-3:30
Cardio Trek is best known for teaching archery lessons.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bike to Work Week, Yada Yada, Meaningless or Worth Trying?

Bike to Work Week is a "community event" in cities like Toronto and Vancouver (and doubtlessly others) that is called a "community event" because they are not sure what else to call it.

To me a community event is something where you go outside and socialize with other people - which means talking to them!

However Bike to Work Week doesn't really much socializing. Unless you count the confused coworkers who go "Huh? Did your car break down or something?"

At which point you have to explain "Oh, it is bike to work week. I am going to do this all week."

And they say "Oh. Okay. Whatever."

And then by Thursday you have given up on the whole bicycling to work thing because you have to pick the kids up after work from soccer practice and you realize that bicycling to work isn't always practical for your lifestyle.

At which point your co-workers make fun of you. "Oh, I guess you changed your mind about bicycling to work eh?"

And you mumble something about your kids and soccer practice.

So here is the thing...

The whole "Bike to Work Week" thing is designed to get people to at least TRY bicycling to work, to see if it is something that works for them. If it is convenient enough / enjoyable enough, some people may decide to start bicycling to work every day.

Depending on the type of work you do however, bicycling to work just isn't convenient. eg. Construction or landscaping, you will want a truck to be able to carry around tools, building materials, plants, etc.

On the other hand if your job is working at a graphic design firm, and the heaviest things you carry to work is your water bottle and your laptop, then perhaps cycling to work actually makes sense for you.

For example, my brother-in-law bicycles to his law office regularly (depending on the weather, time of year). He carries a brief case with his laptop and legal papers in a rack on the back of the bicycle. (A rack I helped him install.)

So for him bicycling to work makes sense part of the year. Other times of the year he might be more concerned about those precious legal documents and decide taking the TTC bus/subway makes more sense, as does staying warm.

So Bike to Work Week serves a single purpose - to get people who have the option, ability and the type of job where they could potentially bicycle to work to give it a shot and see if they like it.

It is NOT a community event. No matter if cities try to push the idea by offering free drinks, snacks, etc at "Celebration Stations" like the city of Vancouver is currently doing.

The people who show up at these Celebration Stations drink the free drink, eat the free food, and then they leave. They don't usually stick around and socialize.

Most of them will be people who fall into the following categories:
  • They already bicycle to work.
  • They are outside for a recreational ride.
  • They are currently conducting an errand.
The percentage of people who are actually bicycling to work for the first time will be very low. So really this "community event" is mostly for people who already ride their bikes to work, ride for recreational reasons, or just like running errands on their bicycle.

When I lived downtown I used to bicycle around doing errands constantly. I also rode my bicycle to work regularly during the warmer months.

Now that I live in Leaside (basically uptown suburbia) I really only ride my bicycles (I currently have 11) these days for recreational purposes. I don't ride them to work any more because I have too much things to carry, and I don't use my bicycle for errands any more because if I am running an errand I am either: Close enough to walk there, or far enough that the wife and I take the car.

And in the near future, with a baby on the way, I will be barely working at all and on diaper duty instead. Maybe then I will get a sidecar or trailer to carry the baby in and I might be outside running errands with the bicycle+sidecar.

Or maybe I will just take the stroller. We shall see.

In related news, I am browsing options with respect to sidecars or trailers suitable for babies.

MEC looking to hire bicycle mechanics for Victoria, B.C.

MEC is looking to hire a couple new bicycle mechanics for their shop in Victoria, B.C. They are looking for bicycle mechanics with training and have good attention to detail.

Job Posting Link
https://trr.tbe.taleo.net/trr01/ats/careers/requisition.jsp?org=MEC1&cws=1&rid=1720

If you have any questions regarding the position you can direct them to:

Patrick Humer
Product Team Leader (Cycling, Packs)
250.386.2667 / Patrick.Humer@mec.ca

MEC
Victoria Store
1450 Government Street
Victoria, BC Canada V8W 1Z2
mec.ca

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ways to Store your Bicycle

Need a way to store your bicycle indoors within your house or apartment that reduces how much space it takes up / makes your bicycle fit the decor? Here are 13 ways to store your bicycle(s) so they take up less space and makes them look very stylish.














Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bicycle Mount Cellphone Holder


Earlier today I went for a ride around Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto and the surrounding area. With me I took my cellphone and decided to try out a new accessory:

Taotronics Bicycle Mount Cellphone Holder...

Which I purchased via Sunvalleytek Canada / via Amazon.ca. They also make cellphone mounts for cars and a variety of other devices. The name of the device on Amazon is really long, apparently because Taotronics is trying to squeeze as many keywords into the title as they can.

They also sent me a follow-up email to make sure I received the package in the mail, and some additional information:

Dear Charles,

We’re sending this email to check in and make sure that your order arrived and is working well for you.

Just so you know, the bicycle phone mount are covered with a 1-year warranty which can be extended by another 6-month if you register the product online with warranty card included in item package.

If you have any problems or questions about our product, please respond to this email and we will do our best to resolve your issue within 24 hours.

Below are some tips before you install the phone mount to your bike.

1.Do not ride for long time on road with too many bumps which is not good for your phone and also the mount. Put a piece of cloth to the handlebar before you try to install the clamp to the bicycle which could prevent the clamp getting loose after a period time of riding.

2.If you are not able to fix the clamp to your bicycle handle bar, please check the below picture.

3. If the cradle which holds the phone comes off from the clamp which is fixed to the handle bar, please try to put the cradle into the clamp oppositely to have a try.

Finally, we hope that you will be willing to leave an honest review of our product on Amazon. User reviews are vital to our research and development, and having your input will enable us to continue making a product that you enjoy using.

Thank you again for choosing TaoTronics. We are committed to providing you quality products and top notch customer service, and hope to serve you for years to come.

Best regards,

Ella

So yes, a review. But I shall be posting it here, not on Amazon.

Review Note #1.

The most important part of any product is that it needs to work. This product works. So that is a success right there.

Review Note #2.

I managed to purchase this bicycle accessory on sale. $13.99. Regularly priced at $29.99. So huzzah. I got a deal. Sucks to be the people who have to pay full price.

Review Note #3.

The stretchy rubber device did not completely fit my Samsung Galaxy S6 (plus case), height wise. It had no problem fitting width wise, but it was too short to go over the top of my phone, over the back of the mount, and over the corners of the bottom of the phone. So instead I simply placed it over the top of the phone and then jury rigged it to the side clamps, thus ensuring that my phone wouldn't bounce out while riding over bumps. (I also double checked how tight it was

A smaller phone would not have had this problem, but I managed to get it to work.

However if I were to give the manufacturer a piece of advice, I recommend including two of those stretchy rubber devices in the packaging, that are two different sizes. At present they do give the purchaser two of them, but they are both the same size. A larger version of the stretchy rubber thingy that fits taller/larger phones would be handy.


The Stretchy Rubber Thingy, Horizontal

Review Note #4.

Build quality and usability. It was well designed and well built. I have no qualms about the quality of the materials. It was very easy to use and install. Takes less than a minute to attach to a bicycle, even less to remove it. (Which unfortunately means thieves might grab it. I decided to remove it from my bicycle after I was done cycling today, which means the next time I intend to use this accessory, it will at least be easy to use.)

Review Note #5.

I like how when you press the side button the side clamps slowly go outwards, releasing your phone in a nice, slow and orderly manner. It was so cool I showed the wife. Oooooooo!

Overall I give this product 4 stars out of 5. If they included a larger rubber thingy that fits larger phones it would be 5 stars.

SAFETY NOTE

Don't play on your phone while cycling. Avoid the urge to press buttons. If you have to do something on your phone, slow down and stop, go to the sidewalk and do what you need to do.

Distracted Cycling Kills Cyclists.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

30+ Bicycles Donated from Condo for Youth Program "Charlie's FreeWheels"

Press Release from Charlie's FreeWheels

Received the following earlier today:

Hello!

This Friday, at 10 a.m., staff from Charlie's FreeWheels will pick up 30+ bicycles from Merchandise Building. These bicycles will be built up by young people in our Build-a-Bike programming.

For more information, please see the media release, attached.

Warm regards,
Katherine McIlveen-Brown
Director

242.5 Queen Street E. M5A 1S3 Toronto, Ontario
t. 416.546.2200
www.charliesfreewheels.ca

Charlie's FreeWheels
Inspiring a spirit of exploration in youth




The historical Merchandise Building (located at Dundas St. E and Church) will donate 30+ abandoned bicycles to Charlie’s FreeWheels’ Build-a- Bike programming. The bicycles will be given a second life by youth who will learn to re-build the bicycles from the frame up. Youth participants of Charlie’s FreeWheels’ free programming will get to keep the bicycles they build and they will also learn how to safely ride and maintain these bicycles.

A student metropass costs $112 per month and so each bicycle donated has the potential to save youth ~$800 per year, assuming they ride for eight months of the year. Bicycles that are beyond repair will be stripped for parts.

When: On Friday August 12 th at 10 a.m.

Where: The Merchandise Building: 155 Dalhousie St, Toronto, ON M5B

Bicycles will be picked up from the loading dock on the east side of Dalhousie Street just north of Dundas St. E

MEDIA CONTACT
Sohel Imani
sohel@charliesfreewheels.ca / t. 416.546.2200 / c. 647.295.5496

ABOUT CHARLIES’ FREEWHEELS

Charlie’s Freewheels is a non-profit organization on a mission to inspire a spirit of exploration in
the youth we serve, largely from the Regent Park and Moss Park communities. With our Build-a-Bike, Group Rides and Mentorship programs, we support young people to build new confidence, connections and skills.

Charlie’s FreeWheels operates out of Ya Bikes! on Queen Street East at Sherbourne Street.

Visit charliesfreewheels.ca for more information and updates about our current programming.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Arrogant Cyclists give Cyclists a Bad Rep

Just moments ago I was nearly hit by a cyclist who had the arrogance to think I was at fault. I was standing on a walking path in a park and giving directions to two lost strangers.

We were not blocking the path and there was plenty of space for the cyclist to go around us and still be well on the path. The path was paved and approx. 14 feet wide (more than enough space for a garbage truck to drive on).

So the cyclist had plenty of space. More than enough.

So why did he make a big fuss and claim we were "blocking the path"?

The incident got me thinking about why cyclists have such a bad reputation amongst car drivers and even amongst pedestrians we have a bad rep.

And I think it really comes down to arrogance and a sense of entitlement (and those cyclists who ignore safety don't help our reputations either).

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yikes! Sam Reynolds Mountain Biking

This video is scary to watch. You half expect to see him fall to his death. Fortunately he does not, but still. Wow!

The video is from October 2015 so I am a bit late sharing it, but oh well.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Martyn Ashton's Bike Stunts

Move over other bicycle stunt riders, it is Martyn Ashton's turn to shine. Along with friends like Danny Macaskill, who may be familiar with already from past posts I have done about Danny Macaskill.



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Trippy Bicycle with Lights and Other Bizarre Extras

A friend and I were in Leaside at a shopping plaza and saw this bicycle outside of a South St Burger place. The bicycle was covered in accessories, lights and lots of bizarre weirdness. I am not sure what half of the stuff on the bicycle was for, I can only guess. If you know whose bicycle this belongs to please let them know and maybe they can leave some comments below explaining all the stuff they have on their rather trippy weird bicycle.





Saturday, January 30, 2016

Why do people put up with shoddy bicycle assembly?

By Smokey Dymny,
of the Quadra Bike School

Edited by Charles Moffat,
The Bicycle Mechanic

Just before I closed up my shop on Quadra Island, B.C. for the Christmas break a young woman brought me a $3000+ downhill bike to straighten the derailleur hangar she had bent for the second time. (The bike was three months old.) She said the first time it had been straightened by the shop in Squamish, B.C., which had originally sold her the bike. Now she was living on our island off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

I cautioned that I could only straighten the derailleur if the back wheel was true, and she agreed I could true it if necessary. (A minor truing usually takes less than 15 minutes.) Now, this wheel was actually laterally true, but the spoke tension was terrible. Half the spokes on the drive side were close to the correct tension, and the alternate spokes were drastically low. After I re-tensioned this wheel I had to check the front wheel too, hoping it wasn’t as bad. But it was.

In under half an hour I saved her wheels from a potential catastrophic failure. What was deplorable was that a bike shop in a town known for hard-hitting downhill riding, a bicycle shop there would let an expensive cycle go out the door in such pathetic mechanical shape. They even had a chance to correct their sloppy work when she returned to get her derailleur hangar straightened.

I urge everyone buying bikes anywhere in Canada to start demanding that their local bike shops prove the proficiency of their mechanics. Take every bike from a “professional shop” to a community bike shop or clinic, get the volunteers to show you how to use a tension gauge and use it to check every spoke on the drive side of the rear wheel to see if it measures close to 100-120kgf. The front wheel should measure 80-100kgf (measure on the left side if it has a disc brake). If the wheels are not close, go right back to the shop and ask for a proper wheel truing or your money back.

Up till now bike shops have been slow to send their mechanics to professional training schools. I think they’re afraid they’ll have to pay them more. And they will. This has been an industry sleazing by with minimum-wage starting salaries, and only rising above that in minuscule increments. The riding public is suffering, only they don’t know it. When a wheel or other component fails drastically, I’ve seen service managers blame the customer for the fault and then charge them for the repair even within the very short warranty period offered by most shops.

Only bike riders who won’t take bad treatment will make these shops shape up.

Being a rider on the streets of Canadian cities is not for the faint-hearted. Riding a bike assembled to shoddy standards should be an offense under your local highways act.

Editor's Note: Some bicycle shops don't even have a spoke tension gauge. A true sign they don't know what they are doing. They're not even expensive, and they really should be mandatory in every bicycle mechanic's bag of tools. There are many different kinds of spoke tension gauges (like the three shown below) and there is no excuse for not having one and learning its proper use.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Taxi Hooligans attack motorists and block ambulance

I chose the word hooligans because I feel it more accurately describes what happened in Toronto yesterday. Taxi drivers, upset at ride sharing app Uber (which promotes carpooling / ride sharing and other features to make it easier for people to get a ride to work) decided to organize a city wide protest.

Which apparently includes blocking ambulances from doing their job (as caught on video) and attacking motorists' cars / attempting to assault motorists (also caught on video). Clearly hooliganism like that should not be tolerated.

As an advocate of bicycles (and a first hand observer that taxi drivers are ***holes that don't know how to drive) I am going to state that I support Uber's efforts to get more cars off the roads and get more people into cars due to the extra efficiency. Not as good as bicycles, but hey, if it reduces congestion then it makes more room for us cyclists.

The staff at Toronto City Hall in my opinion should scrap the taxi regulations and fees - which are antiquated and obsolete - and embrace Uber as a method to solve Toronto's congestion problems.

More subways and more bicycle lanes would also be nice, but an endorsement of Uber would go a long way to send the message that it is time the taxi industry enter the 21st century.

In the photo below it shows a similar protest in Madrid in 2014, wherein taxi hooligans were attacking motorists while police just stood back and watched.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Catch-22 of Bicycle Mechanics

Back in 2011 Matt Faulkner (a bicycle mechanic) sent me an email praising my website, but also bringing up an issue he had had problems with in the past.

His comment was the following:

"Being dedicated to the profession of bike mechanics and seeing the pathetic hack jobs that come out of some shops (and occasionally mine, unfortunately), I am a firm supporter of programs like the short lived BAM course, Winterborne, and the hope of government recognized bike mechanic certification.  The only issue I have with these courses and schools, is that the mechanics coming out of them just plainly are not skilled enough.  We brought in a number of co-op students from the BAM program, and had a handful of Winterborne graduates come in for tryouts, and simply none of them met the standards for us to give them permanent positions.  A friend of mine who owns another shop also had to let go of his Winterborne graduate because the amount of returned repairs was far beyond what is acceptable.  I understand that people of different mechanical and cycling backgrounds will come away from these courses differently, but the sheer number of shoddy mechanics I've seen some through these courses makes me a little suspicious of their curriculum.  I'm sure a school with the pedigree of Barnett's would have different results, but obviously their graduates are hard to come by up here.  I have heard talk lately, though, that BTAC (I may be wrong, but I think it was BTAC) is in the works with George Brown College to implement government acknowledged bike mechanic certification.  Keep your eyes peeled!"

Now what Matt brought up essentially, perhaps without realizing it, is the old Catch-22 of training bicycle mechanics. You have to train bicycle mechanics in order to get bicycle mechanics that are "up to snuff".

Bicycle mechanics who failed to meet the standards set by the shop or not acceptable simply ended up being let go at later dates because the shop didn't feel compelled to train the new recruits to the level they wanted - or to use the techniques that the head mechanic preferred to use.

This is something I have noticed about various bicycle mechanic shops, the head mechanic always has their own opinion about the "correct way" to fix something in a particular way. That means a student, recently graduated from a bicycle mechanic program will be doing the methodology they were taught in class - including methods outlined by the esteemed Barnett* - and the head mechanic will disapprove of the method the graduate uses, but doesn't bother to actually teach the new recruit the so-called "proper way" that the head mechanic prefers to use. And these so-called proper methods will vary from shop to shop, with the differences largely being issues of how much time a particular method takes.

* Note - Matt also mentions Barnett's pedigree and reputation, although it is important to note that the BAM program followed the same curriculum and the same course book's that Barnett teaches. I cannot speak for what Winterborne program does however. If anyone knows if the Winterborne program copies the Barnett curriculum, please post a comment below.

So for my example, when I studied bicycle mechanics we were taught the Barnett method of doing everything - which unfortunately, is also the slowest method - which is to say, it is the "true proper way" of fixing something, in an effort to make sure it is done absolutely properly. However bike shops often skip over many of the steps that Barnett uses in order to save time and make the process more efficient. This in turn means that some bike shops are churning out shoddy repair jobs that are done hastily.

Now back to the original problem, how to get bicycle mechanics that are up to snuff.

Honestly it really comes down to training them in person, which means the head mechanic needs to get off seat and actually teach for once. Which means the owner of the bike shop needs to make teaching bicycle mechanics part of the job description.

Every graduate bicycle mechanic coming into a shop is going to have a different background, different training, and if they went through Barnett's or only program that is replicating Barnett's then they are the ones who actually know the "proper way" to do a particular task. It is up to the head mechanic to teach them the fast / efficient way that they personally approve of.

Writing about this reminds me of my interest of becoming a helicopter mechanic. Why? Because of the following reasons:

#1. Helicopter mechanics don't skimp on time when it comes to repairing the helicopter. If they fail to do the job properly, people fall out of the sky and die. Thus they have to do everything "by the book" and each repair is recorded, dated and logged.

#2. Helicopter mechanics are better paid, although not always by much.

"The average salary for a helicopter mechanic was $54,500 annually in May 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure breaks down to $26.20 per hour. The top 10 percent of mechanics made an average of $74,210 annually, or $35.68 per hour. The lowest 10 percent made an average of $34,630 annually, equivalent to $16.65 per hour."

Bicycle mechanics get barely minimum wage and treated like dirt, because people don't value a skill they could do themselves (in theory) but are too lazy to do themselves.

People working at McDonald's get paid better than bicycle mechanics.

No seriously, McDonalds workers get paid $15 per hour. Although we should note the same month McDonald's agreed to start paying their workers $15 per hour they started decreasing the staff by introducing automated kiosks.

The minimum wage in Ontario is currently $11.25, whereas the average bicycle mechanic in Ontario makes between $12 and $14 per hour - and often works part time, which means they are struggling to pay bills, to pay rent, and they are saving nothing for retirement.


The only real way for a bicycle mechanic to be saving for retirement is if they open their own shop and start charging whatever rates they want, building bikes and selling bicycles, bicycle parts, tools, etc. Which is what many bicycle mechanics eventually do, because they realize working for minimum wage and being treated like dirt just isn't enough.

In theory bike shops should also be offering private lessons in how to fix bicycles, which means they could then hire the best students as permanent staff. And they couldn't complain about what methods they use for fixing things, because it was the same methods they taught them.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Charlie's FreeWheels Annual Open House

Hello!

Charlie's FreeWheels is a non-profit organization in Regent Park that empowers youth by teaching them how to build bicycles and ride them safely. We are having our annual Open House this weekend and wanted to invite you to attend! Please forward this message and the attached media advisory to anyone you think may interested.

The party will take place on Saturday October 17th from 2-6pm at our shop at 242.5 Queen Street East. We will be thanking our volunteers, promoting our programs, and there will be a raffle, video screening, and refreshments. Please visit our website for more information about the event: www.charliesfreewheels.ca/2015/09/22/open-house-and-volunteer-appreciation-party/

Hope to see you there!

Best,
Rachelle Walker
Charlie's FreeWheels
Communications Coordinator

www.charliesfreewheels.ca

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What To Do When Hit By A Car - Legal Steps to Protect Your Rights

So you are riding on your bicycle and wham, you get hit by a car. What do you do next?

Oddly most of us don't know what we should and should not be doing. Pay attention and read closely so you remember this should it ever happen to you.

DOs

If the driver asks if you are okay say "I don't know. I think I need to see a doctor." You might feel unhurt, because of the shock of being struck, so you don't always know when you are injured. You might notice until hours later that you have a cracked rib, an injured ankle, a torn ligament, etc.

Do get the driver's phone number.

Do get the driver's insurance info.

Do write down the driver's license plate.

Do call the police and report the accident.

Do document the scene, photograph your bicycle, the car, any injuries, the driver's face, your face, etc. Take photos of everything you can think of.

Do locate witnesses who saw the accident and get their contact info / phone numbers if possible. Or alert the police to which witnesses saw the accident.

Do go see a doctor as soon as you are able. You might have an injury you didn't notice at the time. If you do have an injury get copies of all medical reports relating to the injury.

Do report any injuries, no matter how minor, to the insurance company. Insurance companies take that stuff seriously, even if it is only a minor injury. If you only claim property damage and no injuries, insurance companies take it less seriously and are less likely to pay anything at all. You don't want to fake any injuries obviously, but you shouldn't be pretending not to be injured just because you don't want to cause extra trouble. As long as you record any injuries and see a doctor ASAP, you are preserving your rights. Let your doctor decide what is worth noting on your insurance claim.

Do follow through on protecting your rights.

DON'Ts

Do not accept the driver's word when they say they will pay for any damages. They can easily change their mind later, and change their story to claim that the accident was your fault: "He just came out of nowhere! He was going ridiculously fast and it was impossible to stop on time!" After all, why should they risk paying higher insurance rates if they can get away with paying nothing and pretending the accident never happened?

Never admit to being "okay". Just keep saying that you don't know and that you need to see a doctor.

Do not refuse to go see a doctor. See one ASAP.

Do not let the driver leave before the police arrive. If they attempt to do so record their license plate and report it to police as a hit and run, as they clearly didn't stick around at the scene of the crime. If a driver gets out of their car, asks if you are okay, and then immediately leaves that still counts as a hit and run.

Do not get your bicycle repaired immediately. Preserve the evidence and record all the damage. Get a bicycle mechanic to give you an estimate for the repairs, but don't have them fix it yet.

Do not assume that everything will be taken care of properly. Insurance companies and deadbeat drivers would much rather not have to pay anything if they think they can get away with it.

Do not mention the value of your bicycle. The price of the repairs will be determined by your bicycle mechanic. Just say "It depends on the repair bill."

If it is a friend, a family member, or even a random stranger that you see get hit stop and help them and then follow the above advice. It could happen to any of us. See the video below of strangers stopping to help a little girl after she gets rammed into by a car.



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How safe do you feel when a car nearly hits you?

Car drivers often pass ridiculously close to cyclists. So close they almost hit them and sometimes do hit them. So you have to wonder how safe they would feel if it was reversed, if they nearly got hit by a Mack truck going 4 times your speed.

Sometimes car drivers cut off big rig trucks without signaling - or even while signaling - and those trucks cannot stop on a dime. They ram into, and over, anything that gets in their way. And the truck driver won't be at fault. The police know these sort of accidents happen ALL THE TIME due to stupid car drivers who think they can cut off a big rig truck without getting hit. Sooner or later they will get hit and their car will be so much dented and twisted metal the drivers upper torso will be on Yonge Street and the bottom of their torso will be on Bay Steeet.

So unless you want to get some instant karma drivers of all stripes need to be thinking this: If it too close for a pedestrian to feel safe, why would you think it was safe for a cyclist, a fellow car driver, or a truck driver? Share the road. Drive safe.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Bicycle Morgan Hybrid


What you are looking at above is a recumbent tricycle - merged with a Morgan car. It is not exceptionally complicated, but it does cost about  $3,300 USD + shipping costs.

Although to be fair, recumbent bicycles in general tend to be in the $3,000 to $9,000 range, so paying at least $3,000 is pretty normal for a recumbent bicycle.


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Looking for a bicycle mechanic school in Canada? The Quadra Island Bike School in British Columbia is a Canadian bicycle mechanic school that trains professional bicycle mechanics against the backdrop of the beautiful Quadra Island.