Category Archives: Bikes to Like

Summer Bike Sampler: Part 2 of 2

We’re back with Part 2 of the Summer Bike Sampler. All the bikes that follow were seen out and about in the Washington, D.C., area.

One day this summer I ventured over to Hains Point and encountered #BikeDC’s Brook and Ted out enjoying some laps in the late afternoon sun.

Ted’s primary commuter is a pretty blue Brompton folding bike. Bromptons, based in England, have become extremely popular in urban areas over the last few years, as they are easily transportable and great for multi-modal commutes.

It takes mere seconds to fold up a Brompton and the frame compacts for easy transport. I have always liked the look of the Brompton frame and the classy arc of the top tube.

I don’t know much about Brook’s bike, a gold Falcon that he has set up as a fixed gear. I know the bike is from England and I don’t believe they are made anymore. It’s a pretty frame, though, and I could not resist posting a pic of it.


Speaking of British bikes I don’t know much about, Felkerino and I saw this Carlton that had been brought in for service at College Park Bikes.


I was fascinated by the bike’s head badge. Is this original? It does not look to match any of the Carltons I saw on the world wide web known also known as the internet.

In other folding bike news, I saw this STRiDA locked up downtown and I was struck with how it easily locked to the parking pole. STRiDA bikes look like they would not be comfortable rides, but I am fascinated by how they break down and become so narrow. Perfect for pole parking.


STRiDAs look like they would be good multi-modal commuter bikes, but like I say, I don’t know how they are comfortable for rides longer than a few miles.

This Dahon Smooth Hound caught my eye as I waited outside of a downtown restaurant to meet a couple of friends. I actually did not think it was one of their folders, but according to the Dahon site, it is.


I like the Smooth Hound’s retro look and dark blue color with cream panel logo. The mustache bars are classy and, as regular readers know, I am a fan and regular user of the Brooks leather saddle.

Soma makes a bike that reminds me of the Dahon Smooth Hound sans the folding feature, called the Mini Velo. They say the smaller wheels make it ideal for riding in the urban environment, as it is significantly shorter than a bike with larger wheels.

And finally, one day as I was out enjoying a post-work chat with Felkerino and our friend Nick, this person rode by playing his piano. It made me think twice about obsessing so much about rear racks, Carridice bags, and panniers.


Hope you enjoyed the summer bike sampler, and now it’s on to fall. I think.

Summer Bikes Sampler: Part 1 of 2

Summer winds down, Congress filters back into town, and kids return to school. I thought I’d take advantage of this in-between time to share some of the bicycles I had the pleasure of encountering over the past three months or so.

Some were seen on commutes around Washington, D.C., others spied during weekend rides and events, and still others spotted during my wonderful vacation in Boulder, Colorado.


Since my commute route has changed I sometimes encounter this famous local person on his Surly Cross-Check. I know it’s hard to focus on the bike because of his awesome red Vans.

Various models from the Surly line are frequently seen on our city’s streets. They’ve become an extremely popular bike for the urban commuter.

The Surly Cross-Check is not only used for commuting, though. No!

This summer, #BikeDC’s own Crystal used her Cross-Check to travel cross-country from Washington, D.C. to California, carrying 60 pounds of gear.


Her fiancé Adam went too, riding a Raleigh Furley which is also billed as a cross bike, and hauled 80 pounds-worth of stuff along the way. #BikeDC had the pleasure of seeing Crystal and Adam ride out on the first day of their summer-long cross-country adventure.


Cross bikes are everywhere. During one ride home from the office a beautiful Land Shark cross bike pulled up beside me, painted in the 7-11 color scheme.


Land Shark is out of Oregon, and the owner informed me that the bike he was riding was the same model that Andy Hampsten rode when he won the Giro d’Italia. Here’s another look.


Enough about cross bikes for the moment. Let’s talk road. While we were in Colorado, we spent a day riding around with our friend Foon, who rides a custom titanium Moots.


Foon uses this bike for long rando rides and I believe he also rode it during the Elite Transcontinental Pac Tour (coast to coast in 17 days!) that he completed a couple of years ago.

Based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Moots has been building bikes since 1981. Foon has one of the pre-block lettering logo that Moots uses now. I think Moots makes beautiful bikes and I find the script lettering of the older models is a more elegant look.

Boulder, Colorado, is home to some amazing bikes, and Felkerino and I saw some pretty ones locked up in various places around town.


This classic 90’s Bridgestone MB-1 was one of them. Green to white fade paint job, I’m not sure of the exact vintage.

As many know, Grant Petersen worked for Bridgestone before founding Rivendell Bicycle Works, and Felkerino and I have a couple of Rivendells. Or more than a couple. Anyway. We like the bikes Grant makes.

As we made our way over to the coffee shop one morning, I could not stop my head from turning to admire this Black Sheep road bike.


A custom builder from Ft. Collins, Colorado, Black Sheep’s website promotes its talents with titanium, but this steel beauty sure looks delicious.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Summer Bikes Sampler, coming soon to a blog near you!

Love at First Bike at Le Cirque du Cyclisme

Felkerino and I capped off our weekend with a trip to Le Cirque du Cyclisme, a vintage and handbuilt bike show in Leesburg, Virginia. The show featured bikes throughout the decades, from steeds made in the 1940s to modern handmade steel frames.

I perused the frames as though I was at an art exhibit. See bike. Stop. Pause. Absorb. Repeat. A variety of pretty pieces that caught my eye.

One bike, though, stopped me in my tracks as I drifted through the exhibit area. I don’t know how it happened. One minute I was looking at a Stanridge adorned with Swift Industries panniers and the next I found myself standing completely transfixed, in front of this bike. THE bike.


The bike, a Rick Jones, had been painted in two colors, a pearly light lavender contrast with a darker shade that fell just shy of purple. Its tubing was sleek. The lugs integrated seamlessly into the rest of the bike. In looking at the bike, I sensed that it had been made with great care. I was mesmerized by the way the seat stays extended from the top tube toward the rear of the bike.

The divine sted stood apart from all the others in the room. My encounter was like one of those moments you see in a movie, where a spotlight shines down on THE ONE THING that you know is meant for you, and the Hallelujah Choris can be heard in the background. In my mind, I saw myself on this bike, and it was perfect.


As I stood bewildered by the bike’s beauty, the builder came over and introduced himself. Rick Jones from Long Island. I enthusiastically expressed how much I liked his bike and asked Felkerino if he would take my picture with him. In five minutes, I had become a Rick Jones groupie.

I learned from talking with Rick and from his website that he grew up around bikes, runs a bike shop in New York, and has been building bikes for a few years. You can read more of his story at


Rick’s bike aesthetic suited me. I like bikes that are fine, but not precious. I want to get my bike dirty without thinking that I’ve compromised it somehow. I also want to own a bike that I consider attractive.

My visceral response to this bike took me by surprise. I have generally pooh-poohed those who want a bike made by a custom builder. Why would you go custom if you can get the overall size, feel, and look you want from a stock frame? Why does it matter who cut the tubes for your bike and then turned it into a bicycle, as long as your bike fits you and meets your cycling intentions?

After seeing Rick Jones’s bikes I had a change of heart. Being able to connect a bike back to the person who crafted it gives the bike a unique history and feel.  There is an incomparable pride of ownership in that.


Second, bike love is not rational. Yes, you could make do with another and you would have a good life together. But a part of you will always wonder how it would have worked out if you could have been with that one bike.

All photos courtesy of Felkerino. Find the full set from Cirque on his flickr page.

Bikes to Like: Felkerino’s Cannondale T700 Tourer

Some people have inquired about the various steeds that call the Dining Room Bike Shop home. You can check out most of mine on the “My Bikes” page. Over the next few weeks (or however long that actually translates in terms of time I have to blog) I’ll be featuring the bikes Felkerino rides.

These reviews will not be uber technical so if spec description overload is what you seek, best go check out some other blog. Rather, they will be descriptions through my eyes, my eyes being those focused on the practical and other aspects that catch my attention.

First up is Felkerino’s aluminum, made in the USA, Cannondale T700 tourer. This bike, of 1992 vintage, is one of the first road bikes Felkerino ever owned as a grownup, and serves as his primary commuter.

Felkerino and the Cannondale T700

Shimano A530 pedals allow Felkerino to ride in his business shoes to any meeting.

A sturdy Tubus Cargo rear rack easily accepts the load of commute necessities contained in his Ortlieb Downtown Pannier, and his extra-long Kryptonite U-lock rests tightly on top of the rack, thanks to a strategically placed bungee cord.

A front Wald wire basket provides the perfect space for him to stash his suit jacket so he does not sweat up riding around town on warm days. Felkerino’s not worried about the anything popping out of the basket at the first pothole he encounters. He bought some netting from BicycleSPACE to prevent any untimely suit jacket escapes.

A good look at the T700. Flat pedals, Ortlieb rear pannier, front Wald basket (with suit jacket inside!)

The ever-important bike tools are stashed snugly in a Velo Orange Croissant bag, which fits just under the saddle.

Felkerino doesn’t ride this bike around much in the dark, but just in case, he’s set the bike up with a rear Spanninga taillight (oo la la, I love those lights) and an easy-on easy-off battery-operated LED front light from CatEye. That light doesn’t cast a big bright throw, but it does just fine in the street-lit city. He is able to see the road immediately in front of him, and his front light makes him visible to others.

SKS fenders protect him from the puddles. Yeah, they don’t match (one is black, one is chrome), but they both work equally well at keeping him dry.

The bike is currently set up with drop bars, but there’s been discussion among the Dining Room Bike Shop staff about switching those out for bars that sweep back to allow a more upright ride. That might do a better job of keeping the shirt from wrinkling and reducing any pull on shirts’ shoulder seams.

The Cannondale’s rear Tubus rack, Spanninga light (oo la la), and Velo Orange Croissant saddle bag, Kryptonite U-lock

This is a perfect commuter bike. Not too priceless or dear to be ripped off, dinged up, or locked to a post, but carefully set up to comfortably manage the daily commute.

Hope you enjoyed this summary about Felkerino’s Cannondale T700 Tourer and the introduction to the first of a few of the bikes I’ll feature from the other half of the Dining Room Bike Shop.

Bikes to Like: Rick R.’s Trek Elance 300 (650B Conversion!)

It’s all about bikes this week, and today features a guest post from Rick R. about his Trek Elance 300.

A North Carolina rider, Rick completed a full Super Randonneur series with the D.C. Randonneurs. Felkerino and I rode many miles with Rick (and Christian) on this spring’s Warrenton 300K. Felkerino and I joked that we were under attack by the 650B brigade, as both Rick’s Trek and Christian’s Terraferma are set up with 650B Grand Bois Hetre tires.

Riding similar paces allowed me to thoroughly admire Rick’s bike, and I’m so glad he agreed to be a guest contributor for Bikes to Like.

1. What kind of bike do you ride?

My bike is a 1986 Trek Elance 300. I purchased it over the internet, complete & original for $125. Then I converted it to 650B.

Rick’s Trek Elance 300

2. Where do you ride it?

I live in Wilmington, North Carolina, and do a lot of riding locally. I also do training rides in the Raleigh-Durham area to get in some hills.

My main purpose in building this bike was to ride brevets in comfort.

3. What do you like about your bike?

I like the comfort level I have on long rides. With the steel frame, wide tires, fenders, and Brooks saddle, I’m living the good life. Plus, I have a place to put my stuff with the two bags.

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?


5. Fenders or no fenders?

Definitely fenders. In 2010 I rode for four days in the rain with no fenders. That experience made me realize fenders are good!

Riding some wet roads on the Warrenton 300K

6. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

My first “hill ride” on the bike was at Morrow Mountain State Park. Ride 30 miles of rollers, climb Morrow, then ride 30 miles of bigger rollers back to the start.

At the top of Morrow, a young guy pointed at me and said to his friends, “This guy is my hero for riding that heavy bike up this climb.” He and his friends were all riding lightweight carbon bikes.

7. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

Yes, his name is KERT.

Editor’s note: It took me a minute, but I get it.

8. What is one of your favorite accessories with this bicycle?

I like all of my accessories but the one that gets you the biggest bang for your buck is definitely the Velo Orange front bag. Everthing you need while your rolling is at your fingertips and it holds the cue sheet.

The bell gets a lot of attention, and it’s really useful.

Storing the essentials in the front bag. The bell just peeks out below the handlebars.

9. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

Why did we stop?

10. What did I forget to ask you that you want to tell me about your bike?

“If you had it to do over, would you build the same bike?” The answer is, yes I would.

Thank you so much for being part of Bikes to Like, Rick. Your Trek is a great bike and you have definitely put it to the test this year with all the brevets you have ridden. Well done!

Bikes to Like: John R.’s Surly Long Haul Trucker

If you regularly read this blog, you probably know of my great affection for the Surly Long Haul Trucker. My Surly has proven itself to be a comfortable, reliable companion that doesn’t talk too much and will always offer to help carry my stuff.

This past year I met John R., who writes the thoughtful and engaging Porta-John blog, and is also rides a Surly for around-town riding as well as century rides. His bike has a beautiful setup and is in my favorite color Truckachino. Of course, I had to ask him if he’d guest post for me. As you can see, he said yes. Thanks, John!

1. What kind of bike do you have?

I ride a 58cm Surly Long Haul Trucker decked out in the truckaccino color, SKS fenders, a Brooks B17 “Imperial” saddle, Jandd and Nashbar racks, and Acorn Boxy Rando and Medium bags. I bought it in April of 2010 at Ace Wheelworks in Somerville, Massachusetts, as a present to myself for successfully passing the Professional Engineering licensing exam (which I hadn’t actually taken yet – thankfully I passed!).

John and the Surly LHT at the D.C. Randonneurs ’12 Populaire

2. Where do you ride it?

Before I moved to DC in February 2011 I generally rode through the northern suburbs of Boston with occasional commutes to my office (If it wasn’t 46 miles round trip, I would have commuted more!). Over the last year I’ve ridden through DC a lot to explore the rich history and culture of my new home, including exploring new shops, bars and restaurants in different neighborhoods, educational trips to monuments and making new friends along the way.

I also really enjoy riding the Anacostia Tributary Trails and through southern Maryland. With any luck I’ll be able to do a handful of commutes to/from work in Tysons Corner this spring and summer.

The Truckachino Surly Long Haul Trucker

3. What do you like about your bike?

The quality that I most appreciate from my bike is that it serves nearly every function that I can imagine, and does all of them reasonable well. Weekend tours, centuries, riding around town, getting groceries, exercise – it is well equipped to handle all of these things. In fact, since I have had this bike I’ve gone from owning 4 bikes, to 2 (and one is rarely used). Don’t mistake me, I would love to increase the number of bikes I own, but given my limited storage space it is a pleasure to have an all-in-one bike like the Surly.

Another look at the Surly LHT

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?

Fun. This bike allows me to explore, to challenge myself, to spend time with friends, and turn mundane errands into adventures. Who could ask for anything more?

5. Fenders or no fenders and why?

Fenders, though I can count on one hand the actual days that I’ve been riding and needed them.

Editors note: Uh oh. Now you’ve done it!

6. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

I’ve had a lot of great memories, but the one that immediately comes to mind is 4 day, 3 night tour Kate and I rode in the fall of 2010 from Plymouth, MA to Provincetown, MA – along the entire length of Cape Cod. We shared a lot of ups and downs on that ride, hills became mountains under our loaded frames, high heat and not enough water, uncomfortable campsites – but also cold beers and ice creams, seafood dinners, and spending time together motivating each other to keep pushing on and sharing an experience that we won’t forget anytime soon.

7. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

I suppose that my bike is called “the Surly” pretty often, but I wouldn’t consider that a name.

The only bike that I’ve played a part in naming was a Jamis Coda called “Shelby”… named because “Shelby comin’ ’round the mountain” – she sure as heck won’t be comin’ over the mountain!

8. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

My Acorn Boxy Rando Bag. It has space for nearly everything, it looks good, and is well constructed by folks right in the USA.

The delicious Acorn Boxy Rando bag

9. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

“Ride me more.”

Bikes to Like: Lauren K.’s Dahon Speed D7

Welcome to March, my favorite month of the year. What better way to kick it off than with another Bikes to Like? Yippee!

Lauren, a D.C. bike commuter and regular member of the #FridayCoffeeClub, rides around the city on small wheels. I haven’t seen too many small wheeled commuters out and about and when I spied her bike, I thought it would be an excellent addition to the Bikes to Like stable.

Thanks to Lauren for guest posting and sharing your bike with us. Enjoy!

Lauren and the Dahon on the Commute

1. What kind of bike do you have?

I have a Dahon Speed D7. I think the manufacturer calls the color “denim.” Everything is standard on it, except the seatpost, which is pretty neat. The post has an internal pump. Once – in it’s greatest moment of sneaky usefulness – the seatpost rescued someone on the Mt Vernon Trail who had a flat, which was awesome (for the seatpost. More fortunate than awesome for the person with the flat).

Dahon Seat Tube Pump

I also ride a 1968 Columbia Bromleigh , but spend most of my commutes on the Dahon.

2. Why a folder?

I got the Dahon when I was bouncing around between tiny dorm rooms and tinier apartments. It’s always been able to tuck neatly into a closet or corner. I have much more space at home now, but I do like that the folder means I can park it inside at work – it fits under my desk in my cube. And, when it’s at rest at home, we can use it as a coffee table!

The Dahon at Rest

3. Where do you ride it?

I live in Mt Vernon Square and work in Rosslyn, so I typically ride between the two. However, the Dahon has also been all over D.C. (especially because my other ride is only 3 speeds, and North D.C. gets hilly!), and all over the world. It fits into a suitcase or duffle bag.

4. What do you like about your bike?

I like that it’s engaging. I don’t think people encounter folders often, and I always get questions at stoplights. If the countdown clock is more than 30 seconds, I might fold and unfold it for the people on the curb. It’s like my own magic show!

I often get asked by marveling teenagers if a Mary-Poppins-Dressed young lady like me is really riding a trick bike.

5. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?


6. Fenders or no fenders?

Of course fenders! I’m not a racer (nor have I ever ridden more than 20 miles at a time), so I’m not concerned with extra ounces. Fenders are a no-brainer for me.

Lauren and the Dahon at Swing’s

7. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

When I moved to China after graduation, I gave the bike to my parents (who live in Switzerland) to use. A few Christmases later, I have fond memories of watching YouTube after YouTube instructional with my dad so we could figure out how to fit it into a way-too-small suitcase when I demanded it back.

8. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

No. I’m pretty sure it’s a guy, but no name has ever stuck. I’m open to suggestions!

9. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

It’s an even tie between the seatpost pump (see story above) and the carrying bag. I used to carry my bike in an IKEA bag (those big blue ones), but finally my mom broke down and told me that wasn’t classy, and got me the official carrying bag as a Christmas present. Because of that bag, I bet half the people in my office have no idea I bike to work. They just think I carry way too much stuff.

Dahon Carrying Bag

10. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

It may look like a clown bike, but it performs just like a regular bike. The small wheels don’t mean I have to pedal more. I can go just as fast as the next guy with the same effort.

It also has surprising carrying capacity. I have a pair of Ortleib front rollers that I’m obsessed with (they fit on my rear rack perfectly). The greater distance between the rear wheel and the seat means I can have a huge trunk or wedge bag. The greater distance between the front wheel and the handlebars means that I can even put a backpack in front (with the handlebars as “arms) without issue.

The Dahon visits the Mall (with Tales from the Sharrows button)

It’s truly incredible how multimodal a folder is. Despite the obvious public transit options, I’ve also used it to bike to and from U-haul lots when moving/returning trucks; to, on and from Amtrak stations when going on trips; in and out of suitcases for trips on planes; once I even strapped it to the back of a friend’s motorcycle.

The Dahon is just really good at completing one part of longer journeys, while at the same time making them more fun and convenient. (All that said, does anyone know if a folder fits on the metrobus racks? I’ve been wanting to try for ages, but I’m too afraid to hold up a bus while I figure out if it’s a failure. Sometimes it’s just too crowded to bring my bike inside the bus).

11. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

“I fold for a reason! You could give me a break and let me ride the Metro more often.”

Bikes To Like: Pedro Gringo’s Surly Troll

Avid cyclist and stalwart commuter Pedro Gringo is one of my favorite people from the flickrverse. I regularly check in on his two-wheeled activities, which range from power naps and puppy rescues to mountain biking and gear tests.

When I saw his fat bike (see how hip I am saying fat bike?), I knew it would make a great contribution to Bikes to Like. Thanks, Mr. Gringo!

1. What kind of bike do you have?

This bike is a weird one. The frame is a Surly Troll. The fork is from a Surly Pugsley. The rest of the parts come from an assortment of other bikes and boxes of parts that I’ve collected over the years.

The front wheel is from a snow bike with a 26×3.7″ tire. The rear wheel is a single speed hub built on a Downhill mountain bike rim with a 26×3″ tire. It has road bike drop handlebars and is set up with the same dimensions as my road bike with the exception that the handlebars are about 3/4″ higher.

The drivetrain is also an odd mix. It has 2 chainrings up front (20/32T) and there are 4 cogs in back (17-23) and Shimano Ultegra STI levers to do the shifting duties.

Surly Troll at Fountainhead (c) Pedro Gringo

2. Where do you ride it?

It is my townie bike. It is great for liquor store runs. I’ve taken it mountain biking many times and have found that it handles VERY well on rough, rocky trails. It is a bit scary on bigger drop-offs.

I’ve done roadie hill workouts on it. Nothing like hauling a 37 pound bike up a 17% gradient to really get your blood flowing. The gearing isn’t really friendly to doing much of a long ride. Top speed is about 17 miles per hour on the flats if I’m pedaling really fast.

3. What do you like about your bike?

Surly’s description of the Troll model ends with this line, “Build it up, ride it for a while, then reinvent it.” I take that to heart.

This bike has started its life as a drop-bar, fat-tire, snow bike that gets ridden all over the place. Next week it will likely be a fixed-gear commuter with fenders. By spring it will have touring wheels, racks, and fenders on it. It will definitely be pulling a 7′ utility trailer later in the year. It won’t do everything, but it does almost everything I love doing on a daily basis.

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?

Huh? (I know that’s more of a syllable than a word. It is, however, people’s reaction when they see it for the first time.)

The Surly Troll at Patapsco (c) Pedro Gringo

5. Fenders or no fenders and why?

Today? No. No-one makes fenders that will fit it. I have been building a set for a while now by going old school with sheet metal, a hammer, dolly and sand bag to pound out my own fenders for it.

So far I’ve just managed to mangle up a lot of perfectly good sheet metal. When it goes fixie in its next incarnation, I’ve got fenders and mud flaps ready for it.

6. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

Crossing Seneca Creek in 30 degree temps in the middle of January because I’m too stubborn to ride a bridge that was built that ruined my favorite creek crossing.

7. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

Tuna Casserole Surprise. When I was a kid, tuna casserole surprise was made by taking a can of tuna and mixing it with whatever was in the fridge, stirring it up, putting breadcrumbs on top, and shoving it in the oven. 1970′s Americana cuisine at its best… or worst when mustard and raisins got their call to duty. “But you said you liked raisins!”

That describes this bike perfectly. The frame is the can of tuna. The mixture of roadie and mountain bike components came out of the fridge. The fat tires are the raisins and the drop bars are the mustard. My brain is the oven.

This bike is utterly ridiculous and should be horrible to ride. I can’t explain why it is so much fun. It must be experienced to be appreciated.

No road needed when you ride the Surly Troll (c) Pedro Gringo

8. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

It is a tie between the unofficial Lance Armstrong “Livestrong” Truck Nut and the Hello Kitty stickers. Neither serves any purpose except to amuse.

9. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

“Feed me, Seymore!”

10. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

Why? I have no answer for that question. There’s no good reason for this bike to have come into existence. I’m glad it did though. I can’t help but have a huge grin on my face while riding it.

Bikes to Like: Dan’s 1987 Trek 330 Elance

I recently met Dan during a lunch stop on a 200K permanent that Felkerino and I were doing. Dan was riding a populaire with some friends out of Frederick, Maryland, and his group had stopped for lunch at the same establishment.

Everyone had placed their bikes wherever space allowed alongside the restaurant. Amid the menagerie of bikes, Dan’s Trek caught my eye. Subtle and elegant, with a thoughtful build. I asked Dan to be a Bikes to Like guest contributor and, as you can see from what follows, he was up for it. Thank you, Dan, for sharing the story of your bike!

Dan and his Trek

1. What kind of bike do you have?

I have a 1987 Trek 330 frame with a whole bunch of non-original parts. In fact, NO original parts. It’s one of the ‘Elance’ series, which I believe were some of the first Taiwanese manufactured Treks.

Originally, it was a decent, middle of the road, steel sport bike, and the most basic in Trek’s stable for the year with things like SR cranks and basic Suntour components. It’s made of Reynolds 531, as all of the Trek sport frames were that year.

Actually, all of the sport frames of that year- top to bottom of the line- also had the exact same geometry and materials as well. The only differences seem to be the parts they put on them and the paint colors and the decals.

2. How did you come to own this bike?

I occasionally work with the fine folks at The Bike Doctor in Frederick, Maryland, and came to know the local Trek representative, who is a collector of old Trek frames and bikes in his service area. If any old ones come available, he usually picks them up for not a whole lot of money, or sometimes free.

This one came to him on one of his missions abroad, and he’d converted it into a fixie long before I knew him. I had a modern steel Masi I’d been riding that really didn’t fit the bill for me super well, and when I saw it in his basement, it being a 55.5cm (close enough to my size), I asked him if he’d ever consider selling it.

I’d set up a couple of guitars, recorded some music, and done a favor here and there for him and friends so he decided to give it to me (!). It’s my musical good-karma bike.

I’d been dreaming of a custom Mercian or a Weigle or Waterford (or a Singer or Herse)- pure unobtainium. But when I looked up the specs of this Trek frame, it wasn’t so far off from what I was looking for, especially for the price! So I dove in.

3. Where do you ride it?

I ride this bike wherever I can, within reason! It’s certainly seen it’s share of non-paved roads, as the folks I typically ride with up here in Frederick tend to ride stretches of substandard-to-modernity road at least as often as they ride on blacktop.

It’s more my sport rider than anything else. I have a couple of others for townie purposes and commuting but the Trek has done duty for those as well.

Trek 330 Elance

4. What do you like about your bike?

I’m pretty fond of the familiar ride of the Trek. It reminds me a LOT of a used and ragged old 531 Alpine road bike that I scavenged back in the mid 80′s, which I really really loved, as it was my first ‘real’ road bike.

I like the fast, but stable handling. I love that the frame climbs well and has a comfortable amount of flex, both up and down AND side to side. I love that it had all the necessary bosses for fenders. I love the color. I like that it’s paid for without having needed to win the Lotto.

I’m also very partial to the fact that my friend/neighbor James and I had prolonged discussions/arguments/beer drinking sessions/one-sided ride “discussions”/ book and catalog swaps/ internet link-o-metry/ email battles/repair stand circumspections about it for over a year.

In a way, it’s a monument to research, discourse, cussing, patience for overdiscussion, and male bonding idiocy, as well as a bicycle.

5. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?


6. Fenders or no fenders?

Fenders absolutely, yes, indeed.

Another look at the Trek 330

7. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

The first half-mile ride around my block after getting all my parts put on it. I didn’t even have brakes on it yet! I just remember going from a stiff modern steel bike to this and feeling like I was riding something that was very much more alive and spring-ish and, for lack of better words, proper.

I remember feeling like I’d come home again in a lot of ways and having a full-on Frankenstein “IT’S ALIVE” moment.

8. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

Sadly, I’ve never given it a proper name. I do refer to it as “Bea” more often than not. A Mazda truck and an old cat of mine, both of which are the same color as the bike, are also called by the same name.

9. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

I’m pretty fond of the Brooks handlebar tape, which was recycled from a Bianchi whose owner had shellacked it, hated the look, and was throwing it away (!). I soaked it in denatured alcohol for a couple of days, which at first looked as if it had TOTALLY ruined it.

I then oiled it repeatedly with proofide until it resembled something not made of beef jerky again. Somehow it has survived two years of use with me, and seems like it’s got quite a few more to go.

10. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

“How much did Velo Orange have to do with [said bike]?”

A whole bunch. Thanks Velo Orange!

Another one might be “How many coats of automotive wax did it take to make your bike shiny again?”

A number that might make me seem as if I have OCD were it to be disclosed.

Or maybe “How many ounces of simichrome did it take to make your front derailleur not look like it was dragged behind a truck?”

See answer to previous question.

I think, in general, though, this bike has been a project of finding lots of practical solutions to the “problems” of riding and it’s gone through a few iterations.

The parts selection was one of figuring out what I needed versus what I could afford and also, what was available, pretty much like everyone else doing a custom build.

My particular needs were keeping a narrow stance (which I prefer over wide-set modern cranks), wide gearing without a triple crankset, a lively ride with durable parts, and having a front bag.

Oh, and as little black anodized stuff as I could get away with, mostly because I grew up with silver metals on bikes and prefer it. Beyond that, I just wanted it to be a classy ride with a classic randonneuse sorta look to it.

A final look at Dan’s Trek

11. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

Pardon me sir, do you have any Grey Poupon? Kidding…

It might ask me why I don’t convert it to a 650B so I stop denting my front fenders with my feet.

Bikes to Like: Bob W.’s Kogswell Porteur Randonneur

Bob W. is one of the people who regularly organizes longer rides (centuries) up in the Baltimore area. I have not ridden with Bob (yet!), but regularly follow his travels through flickr. One of his randonneur bikes caught my eye, as he had recently put it through its paces on the well-known and challenging Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee. I asked him if he’d guest post about his bike, and he agreed. Thanks, Bob, for being part of Bikes to Like!

1. What kind of bike do you have?

A Kogswell P/R (porteur/randonneur). 2nd generation, 40mm offset fork, made for 650b wheels.

This was a fillet brazed steel production bike created by Matthew Grimm. The P/R was designed around a a low trail fork which gives the bike excellent handling with front loads. Originally produced for 650b wheels only, the later generations had options for 26″ and 700c wheels and forks available in 50mm, 40mm and 30mm offsets. Sadly, Kogswell is no longer making bikes.

Bob and the Kogswell on the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee

2. Where do you ride it?

Mostly: between home and work
Frequently: long distance riding in and around Baltimore
Occasionally: grocery and liquor stores
Recently: dirt roads in York County, Pennsylvania

3. What do you like about your bike?

The Kogswell is such a steady, easy ride that it urges me to explore. The low trail fork design and the stability of 650b tires make it able to ride fast on good pavement, nice and comfy on dirt roads, like a train when loaded up with beer and groceries, energy efficient on the steepest climbs and like a toboggan on big downs.

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?

Glidey (did I just invent that?)

Bob’s glidey Kogswell

5. Fenders or no fenders?

The Kogs is meant to wear fenders and the P/R frameset came with a handsome pair. That said, I haven’t put the fenders back on him since a rebuild last year. I expect that some winter slush up my back will change that quickly enough.

6. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

The 2011 Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee (D2R2). This ride scared me– and it should have with 14,000 feet of climbing on 115 miles of unpaved roads.

I trained myself hard before the ride with the goal of completing the ride while enjoying myself. I was not interested in suffering through it. I met many great people during the ride, but the Kogswell was the only familiar friend I had.

There were many many miles of steady, hard, seated climbing where I mentally thanked the Kogs for it’s climbing prowess. I loved “showing up” the roadies with their huge quads and over-geared bikes by slowly, steadily cruising past them on the hills.

The Kogswell was a handsome bike on that ride. I probably couldn’t have, nor wouldn’t have done that ride on any of my other bikes.

7. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

The Kogs, the heavy bike, the grocery getter. Nothing that really sticks, though.

One more look at Bob’s Kogswell

8. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

The Dinotte 120L rear light, the brightest rear light I’ve ever seen. Peace of mind.

9. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

My Kogswell setup is a bit different than most other bikes I ride with. The drivetrain has 44/28 chainrings and a 9-speed 11-34 cassette. For all but the very sharpest of grades, I’m using the 44 in front. This turns the bike into a 9-speed with a range of 33-104 gear inches using approximately 15% jumps. Shifts of less than 10% are just fiddling IMO.

When I climb, I like to suss out the grade early, make a shift- maybe two and then carry myself up the hill with whatever power is needed. I don’t like shifting mid-way on a hill and if I must, I certainly don’t want a little bitty shift.

I also prefer downtube shifters. They are lighter, less complicated and much easier to fix on the road. Their downside is shifting when climbing, which is no downside to me.

Aside: do we set up our bikes to function in a way that we like, or do we like to function according to the way in which our bikes are set up?

Last year I had a front rim blow-out from excessive rim wear. (rider is fine) I decided to have a new wheel built up around a Sturmey Archer generator/hub brake. It’s a very strange animal and one I’m still getting used to. It’s not the best at emergency stopping, but it allows for extremely consistent modulation during light braking. And, my rim should have a much longer life.

10. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

“Let’s see what’s up ahead.”