Thursday, December 29, 2011

Special Projects? You Bet!

Many times during the winter months we have some special projects going on at Europa Cycle and Ski. This winter is no different.Take for instance, a recent restoration of a Trek 520 touring bike from the early 80's which went home with one of the shops' customers recently.

Salsa Cycles Ti Mukluk
One of the latest projects at the shop is something that I am currently building up, a Salsa Cycles Mukluk Ti. This is Salsa Cycles premium fat-bike frame.

Salsa Cycles Mukluk is a flotation bike meant for off road pursuits on terrain that may be very difficult, or even impossible, to ride with a standard mountain bike, yet it can do everything else a standard mountain bike can do as well.

These bikes are fitted with large volume, 3.8"-4.7" wide tires on rims from 65mm wide to 100mm wide. This configuration lends float and suspension all from your tires. The titanium version of the Mukluk is even more special.

The frame can be set up as a single speed, or a geared bike. (Standard aluminum Mukluk frames do not allow for single speed set ups without a tensioner.) The titanium frame is U.S. manufactured to Salsa Cycles specifications. It comes with a steel, "Enabler" fork, seat collar, and a right side single speed specific drop out plate and a geared specific one.

My project will feature a premium build and will have a single front chain ring driving a 10 speed cassette. I'll post details later, but if you are interested, stop on down to the shop, and I will be glad to discuss this bike with you, and how you could hop on a Mukluk aluminum or titanium fat bike of your own.

Maybe you've got something else in mind that you've always wanted to have built up? Just let us know. We can do restorations, new buike builds, or we can overhaul or spiff up that favorite older bike you may have. Just let us know, we love special projects.

Hope to see ya soon! We'll have the coffee and tea on for you when you come.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's New?

6.9 Madone Project One Di2
Every once in awhile we get asked, "So, what's new?" Well, pretty soon, we'll have something really new.

That will come in the form of a custom spec Trek 6.9 Madone Project One bike with the new Ultegra Ui2 group. What is "Ultegra Ui2"?

Only the most cutting edge group for a racing bike you can buy, that's what. It is a shift by electronics bike. In other words, you simply move a lever, and a servo motor takes it from there. No more cables and housing! No "tune ups". Once a Ui2 system is set up, you can be assured that you will have a dialed drive train for the lifespan of the components.

But that isn't all- You will not have to struggle to make a front shift. The servo motor makes the shift for you, and it does it in a blindingly fast manner. (And wait until you hear the "space age" whir the motor makes when it shifts!)

Our shop's new rig should be in sometime in January for you to check out. It won't look like the image here, you'll have to stop in and see what we spec'ed. Then take a demo tour of the system and see it in action. It's really a revolutionary thing, but you have to see it to believe it.

Again- it should be in mid to late January. Stop by to see the latest stuff from Trek and Shimano. We'll have the coffee and tea waiting for you......

Monday, December 12, 2011

Product Profile: Salsa Cycles Vaya

Salsa Cycles Vaya
Moving along now with our next Product Profile. As many of you know by now, Europa Cycle and Ski is now a Salsa Cycles dealer. We have brought in a nice range showing off the "Adventure by Bike" theme Salsa has designed their line up around.

We already showed you the fat tire Mukluk here, and today we're going to profile the Vaya.

The Vaya is Salsa Cycles answer to those of you out there that want to ride a bike that can eat up road miles, carry a rack, or a full bagged set up, has drop bars, has the more powerful, easier to use disc brakes, and can go on gravel and smooth dirt just as well as on pavement.

In short: A do-it-all road bike with options!

Salsa took a traditional touring bike and tweaked it for better handling and more versatility. They used steel, which rides really well, and put a taller head tube on it to keep your hands up more. No "racer boy" positions here! The tire clearance is enormous here. Want fenders? No problem! Salsa dialed in plenty of room and mounts to accommodate. Do you want skinnier tires? You bet! Wider tires? The Vaya can swallow rubber up to 1.8" wide. Front or rear racks? Yep. Got mounts for that too.

The Vaya we carry has the SRAM Apex group which gives you mountain scaling low gears out back and a fast shifting, high geared double crank up front. The wheels and tires are smartly spec'ed for a wide range of riding, including gravel roads and touring. The Vaya would make an outstanding RAGBRAI bike or a great commuter.

Salsa also offers the Vaya in a titanium version which is lighter, rides nicer, and still retains all the versatility the Vaya 2 we carry in the store does. If you want the finest in all around road/gravel/touring bikes, look no further.

Stop in and check out our Vayas on the floor, or talk to us about any of our great road and pavement bike options.

As always- the coffee and tea is on! Stop by for a cup.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Big Sale This Saturday!

Sale Flyer
The minions at Europa have been busily hacking prices, and getting everything lined up for this big to-do coming up early Saturday morning.

This is a one timer, two hour only dealio that you should check out. If you have a bicycle in mind, it'll be well worth your while.

I have the opportunity to "over hear" some of the goings on behind the curtains, and I happen to know that these prices are slashed down to the point that the shop isn't going to be able to do any better. If you want the absolute best price ever on a close out, this is your time.

In fact, if you miss getting in on the two hour sale event, don't even bother asking for these prices on the 2011 bikes. That's how good it is.

Other stuff is marked down as well. If you have a cyclist on your list for a gift, this is the day and these two hours are the time to get in and buy that gift. You won't get better pricing than this!

Okay, you've been told! I'll say this much, Europa doesn't have sales like this very often, so if you miss this opportunity, it'll be a long time before anything like this happens again.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Riding In Winter? You Bet!

While it isn't for everyone, some of you might want to consider not hanging up the bike for winter. Many of us at Europa Cycle and Ski continue to ride all throughout the winter months. While we do ride bicycles, most everything else we do is unique in several ways. So, I am going to offer my tips on Winter riding, and the other guys will chime in with their tips later.

So, let's dive in and see what it will take, (from my viewpoint), to get out and enjoy the winter months on two wheels.

Planet Bike Borealis Mittens
Layers, Layers, and More Layers: 

The biggest obstacle to riding outdoors in winter is staying warm. I suggest that you consider your clothing options using the "onion approach". Onions have layers, and so should your clothing for outdoor activities in cold months. You can break down the onion theory into three basic parts, or layers.

Base: This layer should be form fitting. It also should be made from a wicking material. That means that it needs to be something that transports sweat from physical exertion away from your skin, and to the next layer. Typically base layers are poly-propylene, silk, wool, or some blend of these materials. They tend to be garments that are thin, like underwear, if you will. You can get base layers at the shop, just ask and we'll set you up.

Insulating: This is the layer that keeps you warm, and serves as the transport destination for sweat, coming from the base layer. Sweat needs to get off your skin, since it can cool you off to the point that you will be chilled to the bone and uncomfortable. A good insulating layer can absorb this perspiration and transport it to the outer layers from the base layer. These garments are typically Lycra based, or fleece, and can also be made from wool. We like wool a lot, since wool still keeps you warm when it gets wet. Synthetic materials have a difficult time with this.

Me. Happy. Layered.
Outer: The outer layers can be dual purposed, or matched to conditions. These typically are technical garments for the feet, legs, torso, head, and hands. They are your first line of defense against the elements, and the last stop for perspiration before it gets evaporated into the atmosphere. (Hopefully!)

These garments are often windproof, water resistant, and in some cases water proof. Keep in mind that the more wind resistant and water proof a garment is, typically the less it breathes. This can be bad, or it can be good in winter. Normally I am not a big fan of total wind and water proofness for winter riding. However; there are times you will want that, for example- when it is snowing.

So- there are the basic layers. The "Onion Theory"! But there is something you should strive for when layering up, and that is temperature management. To start off with, you should be slightly chilled at the beginning of your ride. Don't worry! Your exertion will warm you up. Start out on a ride feeling all nice and snug, and you will be asking for a disaster, possibly a dangerous one. Why? Because starting out warm will lead to getting hot after a bit, then your sweat kicks in big time. Once you sweat a lot, it gets a chance to get cooled down by the ambient air temperature all around you. That cools down the garments, gets next to your skin, and then you are freezing. Hopefully not literally!

Being slightly cool to start with means that your exertion is necessary to stay warm. Sweat doesn't happen as readily, and you never get "too hot", but you attain a state of "just right". 

Also, your garments should have venting capabilities that allow you to manage your temperature according to exertion levels and weather conditions. Keeping on top of your temperature keeps you out there longer safer.

Okay, that's it for this edition of "Riding In Winter? You Bet!" We'll be back with more winter riding tips on clothing and hardware for your bicycles soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tales From The Shop: They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

  Note: This entry first appeared on Guitar Ted's personal blog dated 11/30/11

Have you ever wondered why it was that your old bike when you were a kid hardly ever needed air in the tires? Have you noticed lately that tubes for bicycles, (that is- if you still use tubes), are seemingly smaller than you remember? There's a reason for all of that.

First of all, tires were a lot heavier than they are today. No......a lot heavier as in waaaay more than you think. We get to repair a lot of bicycles at the shop where I work, and there are a lot of oldies being drug out of the woodwork. Not 70's bikes either, I'm talking about 1960's and previous stuff, like this Carlisle tire I have pictured here.

There is an order of magnitude to how much lighter things have gotten in the past 40-50 years in regard to many of the bicycles average folk use. The first level was achieved when we got the "lightweight" bike boom in the 70's. Remember Schwinn Continentals and Varsitys? Yes, they were "lightweights" for the day. The 80's and 90's came and things got even lighter, but that's another story, and I think you get the picture here.

The point I am trying to make is that the heavier tires didn't leak air as fast as the lighter, thinner tires of today. Then there are the tubes that go inside of these tires. Once American Made, they are also much lighter and thinner than before.

Old tube on the left...
The Carlisle tire had its original 26" X 2.125" tube inside of it. For fun, I compared it to what goes for a 26" X 2.125" tube today. See anything different here?

There is more rubber in that old tube than there is in the replacement tire I put on the old rim! The wall thickness of this old tube is just about akin to what the thicker part of a thorn-proof tube has for rubber. Obviously, what passed for 2.125" in the 50's and 60's is not what we have for that measurement today. (Gee....I wonder if my old elementary school rulers were actually longer too?)

The combination of really heavy, thick tire and really heavy thick tube resulted in a product that obviously weighed far more than similar combinations today, took more effort to ride, and had far worse rolling resistance than modern tires and tubes. The upside here was that stuff lasted forever, (to wit: This tire and tube could still feasibly be ridden), and you hardly ever had flats or needed to maintain air pressure. Bad ride quality, more effort to pedal, but dad-gummit, that stuff lasted fer-ever, and I never had ta put air in them thar tires neither!

Oh how the times have changed!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Keepin' Busy

Every year around this time we find ourselves looking for things to do to keep busy.  There are the usual suspects like cleaning and organizing that get put off for far too long during the season, but it is always nice when some sort of a project comes along that requires some special attention and experimenting that can keep us busy working on bikes.

Enter Mike's randonneuring rig.  This is a 1985 Trek 510 that Mike purchased from our shop owner's personal collection last year and got it set up to tackle really long rides! After a season of brevets, Mike wanted to make some changes.  He wanted to fit bigger tires if possible, replace his headset and seat post, and install a front rack to support his beautiful Gilles Berthoud handlebar bag. The combination of wider tires and adding a front rack meant that a lot of experimenting was in order.  The goal was 32mm tires with all of his other accessories.

Lots going on near the fork crown!

After lots of experimenting and seemingly great ideas gone wrong we were able to get the bike set up to Mike's specifications. The clearances were pretty cozy, especially on the front end.  The Velo Orange front rack was pretty well thought out and included a braze-on on the underside to attach a fender to.  This allowed the front of the fender to be pulled up away from the tire.

The 2Nut.  Chris King's first model from 1976
still made today!

I really enjoyed the component selection for this bike.  Chris King headsets are not only aesthetically pleasing, but are perfect for bikes like these that are going to see lots and lots of miles. A 10 year warranty on a bike component is pretty rare, but these headsets carry one.  The drivetrain is an Ultegra/Dura Ace 9 speed downtube shifter set up and the Dia Compe center pull brakes really helped with tire clearance. While the bike does have a great overall look, all of the parts were selected first and foremost for function. Mike needs parts that he can rely on for rides as long as 1200K, and having a straight forward 9 speed drivetrain and durable parts ensures many miles of worry free riding. Oh yeah, the total bike weight came in right around 25 pounds.  Pretty impressive for an older steel frame with metal fenders, front rack, and a full generator light setup. 

Speaking of generator lights, I have become a believer in this set up. The lights integrate beautifully into your set up and there is never a need to worry if your lights are charged or if your batteries are fresh. They are always there when you need them and they are as bright as most rechargeable lights out there. On Mikes bike we worked hard to get the wires hidden.  We used some rubber plugs for a secure hold where the wire entered and left the fender and secured the wire under the fender giving a nice clean look.  Come ask us about lighting and hub options that are out there.  It's really a great system.

If you have anything sitting around you have been thinking about working on, maybe an old bike you want to restore or some experimenting with changes to your set up now is the time to do it.  We have the time and it gives time until next season to test everything out.  Shoot even if you just want to come get some advice or just have us help with part of a project we would love to help.  It sure beats doing inventory on spoke nipples and brake ferrules :-) 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Product Profile: Salsa Cycles Mukluk

At Europa Cycle and Ski, we have several kinds of bicycles, but maybe none quite as unique and attention getting as the Salsa Cycles Mukluk. Let's take a look......

My personal Mukluk: Stock Muks differ slightly.
The Mukluk was born out of a need for cyclists to be able to traverse terrain that ordinarily would be impossible on any other bicycle. Places that feature things like snow, mud, and sand are all types of terrain that the Mukluk would excel at covering.

Many people try to pigeon hole these bikes into the "winter/snow bike' category, but they are not just for winter. Not by a long shot.

So, just what is going on here with these tires? Well, think "flotation", and you've pretty much nailed it. There is also the side benefit of traction and comfort that come along with these nearly 4 inch wide tires. The key to unlocking all the potential here is to use really low air pressures. I'm talking single digit low! I typically run somewhere around 7-9psi, but I have ridden down to 5psi and slightly below that. The softer and looser the conditions, the lower the pressure goes!

Going places, (like the beach/lake side above), where I couldn't normally pedal is a whole lot of fun. I have ridden sand and muck that would have stopped a normal mountain bike dead in its tracks. Of course, snow is another thing the Mukluk can tackle, and this leads to a cycling season that doesn't have to stop when the weather turns cold and snowy. I like that!

If you are interested, the shop has a Mukluk 3 model on display now. Come by and check it out, and if I am around, I will gladly tell you about some of my rides. The Mukluk has become one of my favorite bikes for anytime I want to go exploring and have fun!

Want to learn more right now? Go to Salsa Cycles' Mukluk 3 page here.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Head Mechanic: Guitar Ted
Hello! (And why this now?) 

 For many years, I thought that the shop where I have been wrenching at, Europa Cycle and Ski, ought to have a blog where we could communicate with our customers in the way that many have been accustomed to these past years- namely, by digital means where you the rider are, when you the rider want to check us out.

For whatever reasons, despite much prodding and cajoling, that never happened on an official level. So this is a disclaimer: This blog is not sanctioned by Europa Cycle and Ski and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of its owner. 

So, there is that. Now, for what the purposes here are: We strive to communicate with anyone that cares to check in on what we are stoked about, what is "new" at the shop, and to share ride tips, and tech tips. We are not going all "pirate radio" to slag our employer, or cause mayhem. That isn't our desire at all.

So, check out the blog, see what we have going on at Europa Cycle and Ski, and maybe stop in at the shop when you can. We'll have the coffee and tea ready for you.