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ESR News, February 2020, with HOT Rally news, product news, and my annual round of self congratulations

EVENT NEWS

2020 Rally and Demo Day

Time to crank up the ballyhoo machine again and remind everyone about the upcoming 2020 Heart of Texas Recumbent Rally, taking place in Keller (Fort Worth) on March 21-22.  Registration is available online at https://www.bikereg.com/2020hot or by calling the shop.

The event is a little different this year.  It is smaller (65 people max), shorter (1.5 days) and costs less ($25).  Significantly, I’m mixing it with our 2020 Demo Day, so along with our other Rally events that day, Rally guests will get to play VIP recumbent expert for the crowd attending that event.  For more information, see our website:  https://www.wemakecyclingeasy.com/2020-rally/

Please, come to my party!  Expect to see (read: We hope to see) a pre-production electric-assisted Catrike and some new TerraTrike models that won’t be available until summer.  Bacchetta will have something interesting, but we can’t say what it is until they formally announce it.  Easy Load Ramp systems will be there too.  Who else?  We’ll see.

Register here

PRODUCT NEWS

Meet the Maverick

The TerraTrike Maverick, that is.

Of course I think of Samuel Augustus Maverick, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, twice elected mayor of San Antonio, and notable non-conformist in ranching circles.  Maverick was known for not branding any of his cattle, and an unbranded head of cattle in anyone’s herd came to be known as “a maverick,” as would anyone with an independent way of thinking. Never mind that gambler from the television show.  Now, it means a tricycle!

Significantly, the Maverick is replacing the iconic TerraTrike Rover, which redefined TerraTrike’s product line and took the company to the next level back in 2010.  The Maverick is essentially a lower-budget Rambler, and anyone familiar with the Rambler will recognize its form in the Maverick.

Like the Rambler, the Maverick is lighter than the Rover, but it doesn’t disassemble like the Rover does.  It won’t convert into a tandem like the Rover, and for that reason the Rover will stick around as a tandem that can shrink down to a single.  Like the Rambler, the Maverick uses “vertical drop outs,” meaning the rear wheel slides downward to come out of the frame.  This makes wheel removal much easier when a rear fender is installed.  It also makes boom adjustment less precise since the rear wheel cannot be slid backward in the frame to tension the chain.  It would be easy to add a spring-loaded chain tensioner, though one is not included.

I bring this up because having sold through most of our Rovers, we’re now starting to bring Mavericks in, and we’ve had a hard time keeping them in stock.  TerraTrike is supplying them at three spec. levels, much like they did with the Rover.  The “i3” model does not refer to Bob Marley’s backup singers, but the model with an internally-geared three-speed hub.  That isn’t a large enough range of gears for most people, but it works for some limited applications.  The “i8” model will use the good quality Shimano Nexus-8 internally-geared 8-speed hub, which we’ve been a proponent of in the past.  The “x8” model will sport an 8-speed rear derailer.

We had such great success selling the Rover equipped with the NuVinci N330 shifting system that we will make an effort to keep that system available on the Maverick.  This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve played the maverick ourselves, having first introduced the Nexus-8 hub on the Rover after disapproving of the kinda klunky Sturmey-Archer 8-speed hub used on early Rovers.  After a second major retailer introduced a Nexus Rover, TerraTrike finally got on board and produced them, before moving to the NuVinci N330, which proved to be a great match.  We have Keller shop manager Micah Simmons to thank for recognizing the strengths of the N330, and Easy Street ended up being the largest buyer of that model among all of TerraTrike’s dealers.

Battery care tips from Bosch

Bosch, who makes all the washing machines and cordless drills, has jumped into the e-bike market.  They are a major player in Europe, and are competing heavily with Japan’s Shimano Corp. selling a line of well-made, well-supported e-bike motors.  TerraTrike currently uses Bosch motors on the Rambler EVO, and in their Boost Kit, which will retrofit any TerraTrike currently in production, excepting the Sportster and Tandem Pro.  Catrike will be using Bosch motors on their E-Cats.

Anyway, I got a newsletter from Bosch about battery care, and it taught me a few things, so I wanted to share it.  This covers lithium-ion batteries, which are the standard nowadays on any decent assist system; Shimano, Bosch, Bionx, Bafang, Golden Motor, E-bike Kit, or any of that zoo of brands coming out of China.  Here is a reprint:

Do you have customers who plan to store their Bosch-equipped bikes during the winter months? Let them know that the ideal battery state-of-charge for long-term storage (i.e. over three months) is between 30%-60%, and the ideal storage condition for their battery is a cool, dry location that’s between 32°F-68°F. Note: a little warmer is better than below freezing, so when in doubt bring your battery inside; just not by the furnace.

Is it cold where you ride and do you and your customers prefer to use their Bosch-equipped eBikes through the winter? Excellent! Just keep in mind that you may need to adapt your charging habits to cold weather. If it can get below freezing where you store your bike, bring your battery inside to charge at room temperature.

The performance of your Lithium-ion Bosch battery can be temporarily affected by the cold. If you’re experiencing significantly decreased range during your cold-weather rides, consider storing your battery at room temperate prior to your ride and using an insulating, neoprene battery cover.

As we often say, think of your battery as something like a living thing.  Your bike can be treated like a piece of machinery, but the battery isn’t quite like that.

We don’t have battery covers in stock since it never gets that cold around here, but if you are interested in them let us know, as we can get them from Bosch’s US distributor.  They have models to fit either Bosch or Shimano systems.

Alfine-11 and Nexus-8 hubs need an occasional oil change

Now a technical matter.

Speaking of Shimano-built internally geared hubs on TerraTrikes, we also like to put the Alfine 11-speed hub on our Rover Tandems.  This is another Easy Street exclusive.  The Nexus-8 is great, but it doesn’t have a wide enough range for the tandem application of the Rover, so we started building our tandems with the Alfine-11.

Shimano states that Nexus and Alfine hubs should come in for an oil bath every year.  We find this excessive, though we appreciate their support for our bottom line.  But having seen a worn-out, not-lubricated Alfine-11 in the hands of another technician, I think it is time to step up and remind people of this occasional service need.  If you are putting the miles on your Nexus or Alfine hub, do yourself right and drop off your wheel with us.  This is a fairly easy, $40 service job (a little more if we need to remove and reinstall the wheel), which will keep those pricey parts running more happily.  Keep it in mind.

SHOP NEWS

More self-promotion 

Besides getting TerraTrike’s dealer of the year (I think I mentioned that in the last ESR News), we were #3 in purchases from both TerraTrike and #4 from Catrike.  I could say “#3 in sales” but the rankings are based on how much they sold me, not how much trikey joy I actually spread to the people of the Earth.  Fortunately, since I’ve got such a horror of holding too much inventory, what I bought is pretty much what I sold.  I know this isn’t the case for all of my fellow dealers.

If you find me a little blasé about these honors you are right.  At the end of the day I’ve got my li’l bank account, a list of jobs to get done, and the memories of the people I’ve dealt with whom I hope got the best service I can give.  All else is fleeting.  I’m sure there is a haiku in that somewhere.

That’s all I can think of.

Come to my party!

Sincerely,
Your old pal
Mike Librik, Easy Street Recumbents

The 2020 ‘Bent Event in Keller, TX

‘Bent Event?

“Recumbent” means to lay back.  ‘Bent is shorthand for recumbent, referring to the style of trike or bike that lets the rider lean back.  ‘Bents have been around since the 1930’s, but since they aren’t allowed in the usual bicycle races, very few people know about them. Those who do know about them are hooked. Not only are they more comfortable, they have many safety advantages as well.

Easy Street, the oldest recumbent trike and bike specialist in Texas (since 1996) will host their 2020 ‘Bent Event at their store in Keller at 2041 Rufe Snow Dr. #101 on March 21st from 9AM to 5PM.  For more information, call Mike at 512-789-4118.

What can you expect at the ‘Bent Event?
  • Lots of recumbents to try.  But then you can come by the shop any day and find lots of recumbents.  But this day we’ll also have stock from the Austin shop, new models coming in for spring, and….
  • Lots of recumbent riders.  Our salespeople are very nice.  But if you come to the ‘Bent Event you’ll meet a lot of recumbent enthusiasts with their personal rides. Talk to people like yourself, our recumbent community, not just the salespeople.  See an even wider assortment of models than we keep in the store.
  • Recumbent industry people.  Get insights from recumbent trike industry guests.
  • Join us for a ride.  You can always test ride on the beautiful John Barfield Trail, that connects right up to our shop.  Our community will be playing all day, and we invite you to take a ride.
  • Community ride Sunday morning.  Join us the following morning with your own bike as we ride out to breakfast.  We’ll have two rides: 11 miles out and back to Grapevine, and 7 miles out and back to NRH.  Both rides are primarily on trails, minimally on neighborhood streets on a quiet Sunday morning.
  • Deals!  Look for closeouts to 2019 stock.  Mike the owner will be there, and he might be in an agreeable mood to make some deals with local buyers.
Who rides recumbents?

Easy Street has been selling recumbents longer than anyone in Texas.  There are a few main types of customers whom we meet:

  1. Never much of a cyclist but wants to ride.  Lots of people never like the hunched up position of upright bikes, and never got comfortable with balancing one.  But there is this beautiful trail by their house.  Their kids or spouse or friends ride.  They want to enjoy cycling, but they don’t want to deal with that bicycle.  These people are a silent majority, and they often buy casual trikes.
  2. Love cycling, falling out of love with that bicycle.  Many customers are committed cyclists who love the activity and the sport, but for some reason no longer get along with the traditional upright bike.  Often it is an injury or a disease.  To keep doing what they love they need to re-think their ride.  These people often buy fast bikes, fast trikes, or sport-touring bikes
  3. Love cycling, but not the balancing.  The committed cyclist who isn’t getting any younger and is more concerned about falls.  These folks tend to get fast trikes or sport-touring trikes
  4. Wounded warriors.  Easy Street has partnered with the Veterans Administration to provide trikes for wounded soldiers.  These hard-chargers aren’t planning to let injuries keep them from fitness goals.  These people also get fast trikes or sport-touring trikes.
  5. Wise beyond their years.  This is often a younger crowd with an interest in long-distance cycling.  Riding such as ultra-marathon, self-supported touring, century rides, or charity rides, would all be better on a more comfortable and safe bike. Some people just have enough sense to see that.  These whippersnappers get sport-touring bikes, sport-touring trikes, or fast bikes.
  6. I wish my (spouse/parent/kid/friend) rode with me.  Some customers are perfectly happy with their regular bicycle, but they know and love someone whom they’d like to bring along.  Often these friends or family are from type (1) above.  We usually set these folks up with sport-touring trikes.
  7. All the other non-conformists. Recumbent riders are a laid-back crowd who don’t have a lot to prove to anyone.  This makes for a pretty nice clientele.  We’ve got ‘bents for all kinds of riders on our main products page.

Shop news, December 2019

The bike biz is as it always has been – fun, but littered with broken dreams. Every year many shops start, many fail, and the rest struggle along in an often crowded market where no one makes much money. Many mainstream bike shops still avoid recumbents, citing the complexity of the product and wide-ranging peculiarity of the clientele.  But this complexity insulates ‘bent specialists from the competition with online sales and the “commoditization of the product.” Yes, you can often buy popular parts and accessories from England for less than I pay my distributors for them.  I’ll bet some of you already do. Fortunately for me, it takes some creativity to get some stuff to work on these wacky frames.  So the geeky recumbent specialist remains more essential than the iconic bike shop bro’.

I’ll grant that Easy Street and I had it fairly easy for a while. 1996 – 2007, the really early years, was a lot of sleepy part-time dilettantism. 2008-2015 saw steady growth of sales and paid down a big chunk of my mortgage on my tiny central Austin house. I’ve seen other regional ‘bent specialists come and go. But since 2016 the Texas market has become more crowded. One recent competitor flared and waned, but three other specialists now operate in Texas. Some of these are better built to survive than others, but that depends on how quickly they adapt, or can adapt, to realities of space, staff, and inventory. The same goes for me. I’ve had to run leaner this year, reduce space, squeeze staff, and spend more time in the trenches than, say, writing newsletters, if you hadn’t noticed.

Some years back I took some personality assessment for managers, which clarified something I already knew. I’m not a leader type with a defined vision and a ruthless will to realize it. I’m more inclined to develop those around me while cementing their loyalty through nurture. This is how I managed to spawn the Fort Worth shop and set Micah working on a long leash. Micah started with strong technical skills and enthusiasm for the product, greater than mine, and is growing his organizational skills. My Austin sales manager, Ron Blackman, whom many of you now know, came in with a good grasp of, and background in, retail management, but only passing involvement with the product. Now he sounds increasingly like the recumbent wizard that a shop needs to anchor its bona fides.

The long term goal is a mutually-supporting network of experts levering the buying power of several local and regional markets to keep product and support in reasonable range of more Texans. Shops will be no bigger or lavish than they need, and product selection will stay focused. It is hard to say how long this process will take. Opening the Fort Worth store took more out of my spiritual and financial marrow than I let on. I still have more experience than the people I work with, but I don’t expect that to last. This isn’t “Mike’s Trikes,” after all, but Easy Street, a brand that represents stable consistent service, built to last.

Product updates, December 2019

I haven’t done a roundup on these product updates for a while.  Sorry if this is old news to some.  Let me know if you have any questions or need clarifications.  I’ll try to get some images added to this, but having sat on this info long enough I think I’ll just get it posted!

Catrike product updates:
  • All of Catrike’s “big rear wheel” models, the DuMont, 700, 559 and Expedition, now use 12mm thru-axles to hold the rear wheel, making the rear end stiffer than the older 10mm quick release axles. This is good for people who want to corner hard.  It is not so good for people looking for alternative transmission options like internally-geared hubs or e-motor wheels.  These will no longer fit the frame unless designed for 12mm thru-axles.  However, I can fit a Rohloff $peedhub to 12mm dropouts, if your tastes run that direction.
  • Catrike announced a Bosch electric-motor option and it should be available this spring. I expect it will initially be only available on newly-ordered models, but we should have conversion parts available soon after.  Since the motor mounts at the crankset, not the rear wheel, the 12mm thru-axle from above isn’t a limitation.
  • Catrike has discontinued the fully-suspended Road model.  The DuMont is now their only suspended model.
  • The lower-priced Eola arrived earlier this year. To be honest, I’m yet to find the ideal pitch for this trike. We sell a lot of Catrikes, but have only sold one Eola in both shops (which was then returned for an upgrade). Ironically, it isn’t that this is a weak model.  Catrikes are such a good value that you can get a lot more Cat by spending not much more money.
TerraTrike product updates:
  • These people just can’t sit still. Besides a lot of changes in their main lineup, they are constantly coming out with new accessories. If you’ve been hankering after the Ergo-Luxe seat available on new ICE trikes, you should check out TT’s new padded seat cover.
  • TT has replaced the paradigm-shifting Rover with the new Maverick. This trike resembles a Rambler in construction, cutting some weight. Prices are in line with what we saw on the Rover. The Rover will still be available in its tandem version, which can still be converted into a single trike. Sadly, there will not be a NuVinci N330 shifting system option on the Maverick. We sold lots of N330 Rovers and plan to bring in our own N380 kits to keep this system available. As an easy to use shifting system it had great synergy with the Rover, as it will with the Maverick.
  • The Rambler will change considerably. It will take the Rover’s place as the 400-pound capacity trike. The trike will come standard with 24 inch wheels all around, and the track width will widen out to make the high-sitting trike safer and allow tighter turning with those big front wheels.
  • The Gran Tourismo will evolve into the GTS (I do regret when real names get replaced by abbreviations), shedding some weight and refining the design. TT has always done a good job of making trikes that are affordable but not cheap, and they are challenging themselves by pushing into the faster realm of “sport-touring” trikes. Will they succeed? I’m yet to see a TT that really sells and performs like the Catrike Expedition or ICE Sprint. But then Jeff Wiswell’s crew should never be underestimated.
  • Faster? Indeed, TT will be releasing the Spyder, an attempt at a really fast trike on par with the 700 or VTX. There will be an aluminum and carbon version. Expect to see all this new stuff at the ‘Bent Event. This wouldn’t be the first carbon fiber frame TT has made, but few remember the Edge built back around 2007 with its through-the-frame chain routing.
  • The Boost Kit, which is a Bosch e-motor retrofit, is still available, and now a Boost Kit for the Rover/Rover tandem frame will be available this spring.
  • Easy Street has been named TerraTrike’s “Dealer of the Year” for 2019. Thanks guys! I’ve been selling this product for 20 years now, and they’ve already planted a tree in my honor at the company headquarters. I’m looking forward to taking the plaque down to my local bar and enjoying some free drinks.
Bacchetta product updates:
  • The bike company that has aligned itself with ultra-marathon performance and speed has started making a trike. The CT2.0 (abbreviations… don’t get me started) debuted this year.  Production had a gradual rollout and a few hiccups, but is now rolling. If you know someone who likes to ride fast but is starting to encounter balance problems, this is the trike to see. Our experiments have not shown it to be significantly faster than the ICE VTX, but it takes the prize in looks.
  • 10-speed? Nah, who needs it? Bacchetta’s bike models are switching from 3×9 shifting systems to 2×11 systems, keeping up with the fashion. I’m sad to see those 3-speed cranksets fade from use, with their huge gearing range. You could mainly leave the chain on the middle ring and not have to think about the 1st and 3rd gears. Now I have to cook up some other kind of gear-simplification advice for my more techno-newbie customers.
Inspired Cycle Engineering product updates:
  • No new models, but some rearrangement of names. We quit stocking the FullFat, which was a striking trike to look at but didn’t sell that well.  It’s been replaced in our showroom with an Adventure HD dripping with techno-gizmos to beat the band. Come sit in the generous HD seat, with the posh Ergo-Luxe cushion, zip off with the Shimano STEPS electric assist automatic shifting Alfine 8-speed hub, yada yada. As usual for ICE the package comes together elegantly and we’ve sold a few of these.
  • The VTX remains the best established racing trike. The Sprint-X is the fastest folding trike you can buy. The Adventure is still the ultimate luxury casual trike.
  • I’m still annoyed that the electric-motor option is not available as a retrofit, but only available on new purchases. Hmmph.
AZUB product updates:
  • The Czechs continue to make this line of durable touring bikes and trikes. They probably miss out on some share of the market by not trying to make stuff meant to be “fast.” They build for the honorable tradition of piling it with luggage and setting off across the steppes of Asia, which is great. But most people who spend money on premium ‘bents are looking to be fast, or at least pretend they are. AZUB did offer a dual 700C wheel (road bike size wheel) version of their MAX bike at Recumbent Cycle Con this year. It is now in Keller being set up for a buyer.
Lightning product updates:
  • My favorite olde-timey steel framed racing recumbent is the venerable P-38, made by this little craftsman operation in California. The latest from Tim and crew is a full embrace of the disk brakes on the lower-end Phantom and flagship P-38 bikes. Of course you can still get a P-38 set up however you want, but the frames all come with disk brake mounting tabs.
Electronic shifting:

We’ve had more opportunity to play with Shimano and SRAM electronic shifting systems, which are lightweight, simple, and mostly reliable. Like any electronic gizmo they sometimes don’t do quite what they are supposed to and the fix is generally a part replacement more than tuning. So, like hydraulic brakes, they work great, better than mechanical stuff, but if there is a problem then it becomes a matter for experts with special tools. This has been our experience with tubeless tires as well – lots of benefits, but more complication in setting it up and getting it going.

E-motors:

In electric assist motors, we remain impressed with both Shimano, who supply kits for ICE and AZUB, and with Bosch, who supply TerraTrike and Catrike. Both systems require special frame parts and don’t allow for a front derailer.  But they allow for internally-geared hubs and aren’t hindered by 12mm thru-axles or any other inventiveness on the rear wheel. They are also both more expensive, but well engineered and full supported, which I value highly.

We were warming up to The Copenhagen Wheel e-motor system, despite some limitations on what models it could fit on, with its simple set up and lightweight, integrated parts. But then the company suddenly went kaput, leaving one customer momentarily in the lurch. We’ve installed a few other brands, some Bafang, UT Custom, and E-bike Outfitters.  These all worked once we finished with them, but all had some part needing replacement. I’m not yet sold on any of them.

Visibility:

Lastly, my technical wizard Austin sales manager Ron has created an LED flagpole system. After some struggles with parts choices, trike frame variety, and just financing the parts orders, we’ve now released the system. It costs $214.95, but comes with a rugged mount, a rechargeable battery, and powerful set of modern COB LED lights.  If you recall the LED “whip” system we had before I can tell you that this is much more powerful for about the same price.  We checked out some cheaper systems, down to about $60, but they were just not up to the job.

See a cute video on Facebook here, and Ron’s video from a Christmas parade in Temple here.

2020 Rally and ‘Bent Event, Saturday March 21 and Sunday March 22nd

2020 Rally and ‘Bent Event, Saturday March 21 and Sunday March 22nd

For our 2020 rally and spring event, ESR will develop on an earlier concept and borrow from the Heart of Texas Recumbent Rallies we’ve done in recent years. The new ‘Bent Event will be a combination of a public demo day, where the recumbent-curious can come and try out the new spring lineup, and a rally, where the enthusiasts can share their love of this activity and the culture around it.

Saturday, March 21, at the shop in Keller, just outside Fort Worth:
  • We’ll actively promote the event with the surrounding communities in the DFW area to bring in the crowds.
  • I’ll have a lot of new models from our suppliers.
  • We’ll have manufacturers’ rep’s on hand to help show off all the neat stuff. Currently TerraTrike will be on hand. I’m yet to go after others, but that will happen.
  • We’ll be doing test rides around our test ride space, and down the Red Carpet Trail, connecting to the Little Bear Creek / John Barfield Trail system
  • Other fun stuff that I haven’t thought of yet

But that is just part of it.

Registration will open for a “mini-rally” that day, which includes:
  • VIP status as a Recumbent Ambassador at the ‘Bent Event. Bring you ride, bring your recumbent homies, and be a recumbent elder statesman to help guide and energize the crowd that arrives. I’m all about giving people someone to interact with who isn’t a salesman. Come give the crowd someone to deal with on their level and show them what the culture is about.
  • VIP lounge, snacks, and other perks
  • After the main event, we’ll meet for dinner and talks, a mini-‘Bent University, for those who are familiar with that part of our former HOT Rallies.
  • I might come up with other ideas.
  • I will probably not have an opportunity to put on the chicken suit this year. 🙁
Then, Sunday March 22
  • Rally registrants will get overnight bike/trike storage at the shop, if needed
  • Meet up for a ride down our fabulous trail system. I’m still designing the route, but I’d anticipate a 1 hour ride, a stop for food at a restaurant (that will be expecting us) and a ride back. Anyone wanting to turn around sooner can, since the ride would mainly on trail except maybe at the very end.
  • This ride will be open to everyone in the community, so I’d expect a mix of recumbents and not-so-recumbents.

Why the change? I need to get more exposure for the Keller shop, so I need a public event. The Rally is great, but it doesn’t reach new people and, honestly, to do it up the way I’d think proper was a lot of work. Though it broke even on paper, I could never compensate for the amount of time my Minister of Culture put in to organizing it.

I’ll probably bug you with more announcements as this event approaches, but you can also keep up by going to the HOT Rally Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HOTRecumbentRally/

A Bird Walk, Sat. at 8:00 a.m., has been added …

A blue birdSo … Saturday, March 2nd, is our biggest Rally day and now … it’s bigger!   One of our neighbors at the Business Park is Wild Birds Unlimited, run by owner, Donna Berry.  It is just a lovely shop with a whole variety of Nature-focused items as well as, specifically, bird seed and all things birdie.

If you want to start your Saturday with a Bird Walk before all those pesky recumbents take over the nearby trails beginning about 9:00 a.m., join her and others at 8:00 a.m. for a chance to see and have identified for you the local bird population.  When asked which birds you might get to see, she mentioned cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, and a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron has been sighted in the neighborhood.  Meet the group  at the Wild Birds Unlimited shop, around the corner from Easy Street and next to another exciting store you might want to visit which is all about fish and aquariums.

If we are lucky, Donna be contributing a raffle prize or coupons … we have our fingers crossed.

2019 HOT Rally schwag

Having gone to so much work to design this stuff, I think I’ll take a moment to show you the fabulous items that will dispensed to those lucky recumbent riders with enough taste and discernment to come to my big tricycle party.

  1.  Rally-themed Purple Sky Flag.  Our first custom flag designed with help from the multi-talented Raina at TerraCycle:This lovely number features our HOT logo cowboy mingled deftly with our ESR logo wheel, spangled with reflective stars and of course a Texas icon, just to get everyone’s ego inflated.  Safety with style!
    .
  2. Rally t-shirt.  Everyone needs another t-shirt, right?  This one will be a silver-gray District brand t-shirt, which we brought in a sample of to make sure it was of good quality.  I, for one, do not do cheap in this regard.  The front features our new chicken roping graphics which I personally find cute and maybe someone else does too:
    The back of the shirt will be where all our groovy sponsors will have their logos crammed.  We’ll also have those badass Shootout trikes.  I may be the only one here who remembers the 2010 Rally shirts, which I borrowed on for that Shootout image:
    Not like anyone can see the back of your shirt when you are riding your recumbents
    .
  3. Goodie bag.  We mainly used the shirt images for the bag, but since Catrike sponsored the bag we gave them an extra bonus impression:

Pretty cool, huh?  Of course the schwag is just a bonus.  People mostly come for the Easy-ritos and the guy in the chicken suit.

If you think you are fast…

basso-gs… then if you are reading this you are probably mature enough to race in either the Dallas or College Station Senior Games.

The reason I bring this up is because Bacchetta Bikes has gotten a wild hair to support athletes racing Bacchettas in the Senior Games.  Currently, only the Dallas games (cycling event in mid-March) and College Station games (late February) allow recumbents, being less benighted than their state- and national-level comrades.  Do you own a Bacchetta?  Willing to break a little sweat on one?  Here is the deal:

If you compete in a Texas senior games event this spring (2019), then Bacchetta and Easy Street will make it worth your while.  Download and complete the form below and submit it to Bacchetta with proof that you competed.  One of two things will happen:

  1. If you plan to race on your current bike or trike, then Bacchetta Bikes will give you 10% off the purchase of a new Bacchetta from Easy Street (including the new Pelso).  And, upon purchase of a new Bacchetta, Easy Street will give you a shop credit equal to 10% of the value of your new bike for upgrades, accessories, spare parts, and service after the sale.
    -or-
  2. If you buy a new Bacchetta from Easy Street to use at the games this spring, once you have raced then Bacchetta will send you a 10% refund on the bike.  Easy Street will offer a 10% credit.

But you have to race this spring.  If you have any questions about this, call me, Mike, at 512-453-0438.

Click here for information about the Dallas Games
Click here for information about the College Station Games
Click here to download the rebate form
Click here to ask Mike a question

The Laidback Bike Report is coming to The HOT!

Gary Solomon, Laidback Bike ReportSo, this just in … Gary Solomon and crew from the Laidback Bike Report are going to be at the HOT and we are EXCITED!  The Laidback Bike Report puts together a monthly program followed by many in the recumbent community.  As they describe it, “a monthly live video webcast of recumbent interviews and news.”  Well, they are going to have more material than they know what to do with when they join us in March!  We are looking forward to having them be a part of the fun.  And, if you are there and asked for an interview, just say “yes!”  If you’d like, take a look at the announcement they made in Facebook on December 20 about their plans to attend.  Are we going to see YOU there too?  I hope so!

                              Best wishes of the season to you,

Rebecca, your Easy Street Minister of Culture

Rebecca

“New Stuff” by — surprise — Mike Librik, the low-tech guy himself

You do see the sledge hammerIt has been a while since I had a chance to talk over some new products in the shop. This may be old news to some. Sorry if some of this is “long attention span theater.” Just read until you are bored.

TerraTrike EVO-Bosch:  Last year, TerraTrike introduced their first version of the Rambler EVO, a trike with a factory-installed electric conversion kit. Despite a few rapid price hikes during its first months of availability, it remained a good deal on an electric trike. I had some disappointments with the design. Though TT created an elegant mounting system for the battery, we still didn’t have a frame that was really built from the ground up, ready to mount a battery like you see on more finished upright e-bikes. No biggie. I was concerned about the Falco motor they spec’d since, as a former Falco dealer, I’d had a few problems with these systems. TerraTrike used simplified, pre-programmed control software intended to avoid all the fussy fidgeting with motor parameters that ate up a lot of my time. OK, we’ll see. Once we started getting EVO’s out on the street, we had some complaints from big people with steep hills that the motor didn’t have the torque to get them up their worst climbs. Hmmph.

Lately, my greatest fears were realized and TT got reports of motor systems doing some unpredictable things. This was my experience from my days selling Falco kits. TT asked us to stop selling the EVO, leaving both them and us with expensive, but unsellable inventory sitting on hand.

But, good news… the revised EVO has arrived with a Bosch motor system. Like the Shimano STEPS system we’re seeing on ICE and AZUB trikes, this system replaces the crankset, not the rear wheel. This means you lose your front derailer, but with an electric assist your low gears are much less important. It gives greater low-speed torque, so for the critical business of getting you up the worst hills, it is better suited. Since it doesn’t affect your rear wheel, you have a greater number of choices in transmission. The new EVO-Bosch comes with a plain old 8-speed derailer, but we’re working on them to pair the Bosch motor with a NuVinci continuously-variable transmission which has proven to be such an effective combination with the STEPS systems we’ve sold on AZUB trikes.

Once again the price went up, since the Bosch system costs more than Falco, but you get what you pay for. We’re expecting a retrofit kit for the lower-priced Falco system so we can clear out our remaining inventory of that model, and I expect we will focus on the Bosch-equipped EVO’s. More about that as we start playing with the new systems. I wish TT had used STEPS since we know it better, but here comes another learning experience for us.

Bionx crumbles: I tried to stay optimistic about a revival of Bionx, our Canadian e-motor supplier, but I’ve lost heart. We’ve liquidated our remaining inventory, mainly to existing Bionx customers to get them reserve parts. Much like when BikeE went under 18 years ago, I’m reluctant to create new dependent customers, even at a discount. I want to support what I sell.

The big question is “what next?” We need a reliable e-motor conversion system.

  • I don’t see myself picking up Falco again. See my article on the EVO above. Hub motors offer great versatility, but I’m not looking to go down that path again.
  • With “mid-drive” motors like STEPS and Bosch delivering better climbing torque, and with bike component design catching up with this new innovation, I’m ready to embrace mid-drive motors. I was strongly resistant to earlier systems for recumbents that actually had the motor at “mid drive,” halfway back on the frame. I didn’t like seeing the motor, with all its torque and force, bolted haphazardly onto the frame of the trike in some place that the frame maker never intended for torque to be placed. Mounting the motor at the crankset makes sense. STEPS would be my choice, but like Bosch, it requires the frame to be built specially for the purpose of holding the motor. “No problem,” I think, since on most trikes nowadays that just means a re-designed boom, not a whole new frame. Unfortunately, the trike makers aren’t helping. AZUB will sell us STEPS booms, so no problem. ICE only wants to sell STEPS booms with new trikes and won’t let us do a retrofit. TerraTrike has thrown in their lot with Bosch. Hopefully I’ll be able to get Bosch TT booms for retrofits on newer TT models (no dice for Rover or older Tour models). Catrike has been keeping a low profile. They doubtless have something planned, but so far, they are no help.
  • There is a whole zoo of retrofit mid-drive kits, which is the most likely replacement. Bafang is the one most people are familiar with. These replace the crankset on any trike without needing special frame fittings. Currently, no company selling these is set up like Bionx was – which was to specifically support dealers like me. I can do like many online dealers do and track down someone in China and have them ship me a pallet-load of them, but that isn’t what I’m looking for. We’ve talked with some Bafang retailers about giving us a small discount and selling the kit for a competitive price, charging for installation (we never needed to do this with Bionx which sold at a more respectable margin). There are many other companies making similar things, but they are all sold direct to the consumer online. Several customers are waiting for me to decide on something, but I remain the same plodder I’ve been since 1996.

When I finally make up my mind, I’ll let you all know. But if I am going to sell a product, then I’m damn well going to support it. I’ve been fiddling with and using e-assist for nearly 20 years now, and I know about the range of quality and the problems which can arise. I’m not going to put my stamp on something without demonstrated quality and manufacturer support. More on this as it develops.

TerraTrike Gran Tourismo: TerraTrike’s new flagship trike is establishing itself as a popular model, as it should. It isn’t their most expensive offering, which suits me fine. TT has always been, in my mind, the trike for the masses and it is good of them to put their focus at a lower price point in their range. And best of all, the way the GT comes shipped makes it easy for us to offer a range of colors and spec level without having to special order. We can get you the GT you want quickly.

I’ve not much else to add about that. It is a good trike at a good price. You have to ride it to see if it is really for you, but offering that service is why we’re here.

Lightning Phantom: One of my favorite 2-wheelers has received an upgrade. The Phantom now comes with hydraulic disk brakes standard, as well as better tires. Yes, the price went up, but that’s how it always goes. On the flip side, I’ve still got some older model Phantoms and I can cut a deal. Talk with me directly if you are interested.

Adventure HD with STEPS: We’ve sold a few STEPS systems, but finally got a demonstrator model on the floor. This means we also have the scaled-up Adventure “HD” model permanently in the showroom as well. As an ICE demonstrator, we’ll be able to rent this out for people considering a purchase who want to see if it will carry them up that godawful hill in their neighborhood. I haven’t gone through and priced that yet, but as usual rentals would be 5% of retail for a 24-hour overnight rental, or 2.5% for an afternoon “get it back today” rental. ICE has gone insanely cushy on the Adventure seat. This company does nothing by half-measures.

More Electronic Gizmos: Mike Librik (me, that is) is this low-tech guy who just wants to see your bicycle run forever. He is not into sophisticated electronic gizmos, even though many of his customers are. So I hire people like Ron and Micah who are more gee-whiz than I am.

So it is with a sort of reserved professional enthusiasm that I tell you that new Cateye Sync lights can be synchronized and controlled through a smart phone app, or through each other. You can also monitor battery levels in the lights through the app. I’ll have to go get one of those smart phones some day. I’m still getting over buying the laptop computer. Never mind that SkyNet, or the Cylons, or the HAL 9000, can now turn off your bike lights from some satellite somewhere when you are trying to cross a busy intersection in the rain at 2AM during the lush rush. I’d better just let you call Micah and ask him about this.

Speaking of gee-whiz electronic gizmos, the Cycliq cameras (“cyclic?” “cycle IQ?”) have either a headlight (the Fly12) or taillight model (the Fly6), and they store the last few minutes of riding footage. Why do this? While we’d like to assure you that motorists and cyclists always co-exist in mature harmony, this isn’t always the case. If you are harassed on the road, you will wish you had some evidence, and now you do. Indeed, if you are hit by an irresponsible driver who then flees the scene, you really need evidence. Cycliq cameras also have a security alarm that will complain if the bike is moved with the alarm active, and it will “bluetooth” connect to your phone to alert you, if you are in range.

Well … I surprised myself.  Didn’t know I had that much to say about the newest gizmos, but there ya go.

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