Monday, June 30, 2014

Urban Arrow 2013 versus 2014 Models

We dropped by Rolling Orange this weekend and I grabbed a couple of pictures of the 2014 Urban Arrow, currently in stock they have four rollar brake models if anyone is interested. 

Battery/Bench (2013 T, 2014 B) 

Brakes/Front Tire 

Front Light/Fender

Undercarriage/Wiring Front


Motor Casing

Rear Lock/Tail Light (2013 Light on Rack)

Assist Reader

Rear Area

Urban Arrow 2013 versus 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tabling For Firth & Wilson +Test Riding A BionX Bullitt

Father's Day Weekend for the past two years has equalled at least one day of tabling for this family. This year we went to Artspiration at Fleshcher Art Memorial to table for Firth & Wilson, our local cargo bike shop.

Armed with spoke cards for kids to decorate we dropped by F&W to pick up the bionX Bullitt for display and made our way over. We were positioned next to Wash Cycle Laundry and Little Babies Ice Cream (both are businesses by bike!). 

A crowd came and went for several hours. A lot of e-assist questions and a lot of moms who were really impressed and excited by long john style bikes. I truly believe the more we have these bikes out in public view, loaded with kids and stuff the more parents will take note and say that is so smart. One mom said I don't have a bike but I want one of those bikes! Exactly.

 Last week a recycling truck stopped in an intersection to ask me about my bike (not safe, but funny to see). People just need to see what they don't even know exists to want it. 

I also finally tried the assisted Bullitt. I had always assumed I was too short after I failed mounting it at 35 weeks pregnant. But hello I was very pregnant. So in an empty Old City parking lot I got to try it out again. First yes at 5'3 with shorter legs I'm probably at the bottom edge of someone who can ride it. And yes I still prefer the easier mounting of the the UA. 

The UA is a Dutch ride, upright, stable a luxury car of bikes, the Bullitt is a fast sports car. It feels wobbly at first with a turning radius smaller then UA. But in basic principle they handle a lot a like although you can see the front wheel on the Bullitt which is a bit distracting. 

The bike is a whip though; fast and light when using it. I actually turned off the assist because it felt too fast for my test ride. This particular build had a basic sized plywood box. My two kids could both fit for sure. With legs intertwined could fit as they got bigger as well. 

I didn't find it as comfortable as the UA for us. I actually think it is ideal if your kids are toddler + because there are a couple ways for bigger kids to ride even with smaller box. I know if we were to buy a second cargo bike it would be a rough choice between the Edgerunner or Buillitt. 

Based on J's smiles though I think she would be pro Bullitt. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Moms Are Infrastructure Watchdogs: N. 25th "Improvements"

Don't complain about new bike infrastructure they say? But how will it ever get better this mom says. 

We build city streets that fit mini-vans and SUVs (and even huge trucks, hello Ridge Ave & Washington Ave!), why don't we build bike lanes that allow space for cargo bikes? A few changes down the Art Museum area bike lanes have prompted this post. I was initially really excited to hear about improvements as that area could use a car diet but I feel like they are mediocre at best and certainly not best practice. 

This segment is about the N 25th street changes. I want to take some additional footage of the new Spring Garden Street changes as well but would prefer  to do so when not on cargo Bike as it feels too unsafe to enter that portion of EO with them. So expect a post in the hopefully near future. 

I feel the same way about sad bike lanes J.

I ride the Art Museum/Fairmount area a couple times of week, my kids attend classes in area, we go to the museums and use the city green space. I have finally got around to shooting with the GoPro when I felt it was safe enough (aka empty enough, Sunday afternoon) to use the new setup. Normally (see the picture below)  the tour buses take up a lot of room and the cars headed to Kelly Drive at higher then posted speeds make me too nervous to use the space as intended, "painted". I use the large adjacent sidewalk and crosswalk to get onto the path across the street. 

Also the allowance of right hooks is double exciting! Keep me guessing will I get pinched, rear ended or right hooked. 

The busses connect the Art Museum Buildings and other city attractions. 

**Note I cross on green >yellow and was smoothly able to turn and proceed across street on green. If I had to stop and start back up it would have taken me a couple of extra seconds more, if an impatient car/bus was behind me that can be very scary**

While watching this video I made note of two other "signage" issues. First the directional sign for bicycles is really far up the pole on the right side. I only noticed it now watching the video, not while biking. Also I only now noticed the "ENTER HERE" sign when crossing over onto the River Trail/sidewalk, it doesn't say entering for who. Now looking at it, I guess it means for bicyclists, but this entrance is also where tour buses and cars enter the Art Museum. If I was to cross and then make a wide slow right in front of them to enter the path I would be concerned about being hit from behind. Which by the way is the number 1 fatal car/bicycle crash.

I am sure someone is bound to tell me I am using the bike box wrong. However I am using my bike right and know how much radius and speed it needs to turn.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bike to Work Day and Manayunk Bike Race

It has been a bit busy around here so these two events are almost a month apart but showing up in the same post. Oh well.

First bike to work day! The nation wide BTWD was rather rainy and the local Nike Coalition made the call for a very sunny Monday instead if the original Friday. My H decided to take off and join us for a nice three day family bike weekend (same weekend as Kinetic Sculpture Derby).

 We were up early and out the door. On my descend down Ridge Ave. my kleen kanteen came flying out of my cup holder! As my husband put it, it look and sounded like a grenade. He nicely retrieved my banged up coffee cup as my general rule is can't stop safely can't get what fell out off bike. 

We made our way to Lloyd Rec Center along boathouse row and met up with he organizers, friends and other riders including Philly's mayor. We made our way on route and even had a small run in with a car around Eakins Oval see vimeo (coming soon!) for that. We ended at Love Park, where two Philly cops carried my bike up the steps. Swoon.  We then heard from the mayor, head of MOTU, parks and rec and the ED from the Bicycle Coalition.

Afterwards we made our way to breakfast and the Academy of Natural Sciences. Later that afternoon I actually biked to my part-time job in Germantown. 

Bike Race Weekend! 

Usually Manayunk Bike Race is a one-day affair for us. We have lived on route the past three years. We go to the end of our block to watch usually, but this year we got adventurous. 

First on Saturday I checked out a Women Bike PHL event at Cadence Cycling Center on Main Street. It was a chance to meet the pros, listen to them speak and eat some tasty food. It was a really great event and got my excited for watching the women's race the next day. 

Sunday we started our bike race day by walking the reverse of the route from our house off of Ridge/Main. We walked up to the Wall and watch the women climb and then made our way down to Main Street. We stopped to have drinks with my H's coworkers who doesn't love an Amstel Radler or three before noon. After seeing the last lap go by we walked back home so we could regroup and I could change my shoes for the men's race. Pro tip if you haven't worn a specific pair of shoes in seven years your feet maybe angry. 

After some debate we decided to ride our bikes down to our second location to meet up with more of my H's coworkers. I was honestly against riding just with congestion and you are forced to ride on sidewalks (to the path). Literally the cops tell you to but it was quicker and my feet really hurt. Stupid shoes. 

So my H road the UA and I road my Vanmoof down. It was congested and honestly a bit harder on the littler bike. Shout out to the roadie who felt the need to correct my mumbled ( I don't want to talk, trying to get by on tiny bridge) pronunciation of bakfiets.

We drank more afternoon beers, hung with friends and some of my H's coworkers and watched some bike racing. Once my kids were hitting meltdown zone we packed them in and headed home. 

A successful bike race day if I do say so myself. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Urban Arrow One Year Later

I know this is coming a bit late but finally a one year review of the Urban Arrow (2013 model, rollar brakes, 250 Daum motor). First I have never found a bike so perfect for our family as the Urban Arrow it has moved our family over the past year with an infant, during heat, in a polar vortex and more. I am so grateful that we were able to own this bike and glad to see them spreading across the states and the world. It is a gold standard bike.

The Box:
The Foam of the box has been indestructible. I fell on ice this this past winter on it's left side and not a twinge of an impression was made on the box. The kids are tough on it and nothing. The pulling in and out of a carseat for several months no wear what so ever. The size of the box accommodates at least three kids but I muse I could stick a fourth if required. At this stage I love the kids facing each other and my younger facing me. (Biking With A Baby Post)

The Kickstand:
With the exception of the fall which rattled it out of place, a simple tightening fixed it, we have found it very stable.  I also scraped it up a bit from
use and it caused a bit of rusting, we just lightly sanded off ride and hit with flat back spray paint. 

The Lighting:
Unlike the eBakfiets the Urban Arrow has standing lights if you are stopped and all
Hub generated so no battery replacement. They are nice and bright too. 

The Gears:
The NuVinci N360 is seamless I love it. I never worry about clicking in and out of specific gear I just let it flow to feels comfortable. I love how it visual with the bike person on flat or hills. All cargo bikes need it and really is step up over the ebakfiets.

The Brakes:
Super sturdy rollar brakes have worked really well! I carry no small weight of
child passengers up and down hills. Although if you do splurge on the 2014 higher motor power go for the hydraulic brakes too. It's a nice upgrade together. 

The Wheels:
Bombproof. The schawalbe big apples are not joke.  Not a single complaint. I rode all weather in them with the exception of ice. I think in ice I'd like a studded front tire.

The Motor/E-assist:
It is just enough to get me slowly up big hills and plenty of speed on flats and stretches. It lasts about 50-60 miles per charge on medium/high setting. In winter the cold makes it 30-40 miles per charge. Charging takes a bit but no complaints. I did have an issue with the reader I still don't know why it happened by UA/RO replaced it for me. The assist is now a Bosch and you can upgrade it to a higher motor. I would if you have some bigger hills you are constantly riding or use to a BionX type system. But really the 250 is really just enough.

The Seat:
I still haven't upgraded and it has taken me the whole year of riding postpartum so I think that speaks well.

The Pedals:
Wide and grippy. Wouldn't even bother upgrading them.

The Rear Rack:
ORDER IT. It is a great add on.

The Fenders/Mudflaps:
Did I mention I took it through a mud pit recently? They work excellently. All winter long I had no complaints. They did need slight adjusting when within the first month to stop scrapping front tire.

The Rain Canopy/Flat Cover:
Worked great all winter. The only flaw is it is hard for the kids to see through the grey netting, but then again it is so nice to open the flap for air on certain days I don't want to say it was a total flaw. The flat cover looks great we use it right now to keep rain out.


I highly recommend ownership of this bike, I truly think it is a game changer. Aesthetically there is no two wheeler on the market as modernly beautiful it is winner. The 2014 Urban Arrow's retail for $5300, even at 1k more I'd pay it in a heart beat for this lovely bike.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Not the Children" or How Kidical Mass Rode in the Kenzo Kinetic & Had a BLAST!

Marni & I setup the schedule for Kidical Mass Spring rides somewhere in the middle of the snowiest winter we had seen in years. For May we thought about doing a Mother's Day ride but then we thought let's just ride to the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby so we set the date May 17 at the time which seemed an eternity of snowy days away. But this weekend it finally came and it was an amazing time.

Sometime in the last few months I tweeted the KKSD and asked if we could just tag along at the end, they said sure why not so a ride originally planned to ride to KKSD was now putting KM into the parade.  
The bike ride between Manayunk and Kensington is about an hour, we rode the kids through the city and down to Norris Street just off the EL. Taking an hour long car ride is boring, going by bike we transversed our city in and out of nooks and neighborhoods. We interact with people on the streets, at one bus stop in Fishtown a women calls out to me how great the bike was and then goes you could put like 4 kids in there I turn and tell the stop please don't wish 4 kids on me, they erupt in laughter, that just doesn't happen if you are driving in a car.
By the time we got down there a couple other KM families had arrived and I signed us in and hunted about for a couple other families. 

While waiting we were told the Philadelphia Brewing Co. Sculpture would actually be behind us, but in the shuffle we somehow were put  between a school and Neighborhood Bike Works, which made us literally in a mass of kids, so fitting since it was #youthbikeride week! I am sure a lot of drunk Kinetic folks were shocked by all those kids. 

We rode the route which was about 3.3 miles which is the usual amount for KM rides however it was a parade and took about 2 hours to complete the whole route and there are obstacles! The first obstacle was new this year and it was a "Derby Wash", with foam and water spraying, it was great! M was asleep and was woken by foam poor kid was so confused but it was awesome. We rode down Frankford Avenue to cobblestone streets and since we were on regular bikes it was pretty easy peasy. We finally loop around and wait in line for the final challenge a mud pit. I SWORE I WOULD HAVE DIVED OUT BY THIS TIME. But before I knew it all of us parents were riding the kids through. I wound up hopping off and walking my bike through but it was so much fun. I think all the kids agreed mud pits at the end of every KM ride from now on. 

Word got back to me that someone screamed "NOT THE CHILDREN" before we went. YES the children :), mud is their favorite. Also word got back to me so I am making the following statement no we were perfectly safe and we are all pretty smart cookies who ride bikes with kids a lot but thanks for asking/judging. 

NOW next year KM will have to actually compete. I look forward to it. Thank you to KKSD for a wonderful event every year and for letting us participate. We are so grateful. 

PS Some GoPro clips of the event and YES my battery died literally ten seconds before the mud pit! BOO.