by Mike | Mar 27, 2018 | News
Now that all the excitement over the new shop announcement in Keller is passed (with the grand opening celebrations looming ahead), it is time to get down to some unpleasant facts.
Easy Street staff is about to get stretched very thin. I’ve got four people working this operation, including myself if you count all my executive navel-gazing as work, and now we’re going to try to run two shops at a 200-mile distance. Yes, you can expect to see new staff come on at both shops, but not immediately. Most of you are familiar with the term “growing pains” as they apply to business. At least in the short run, if not the medium, our ability to tend to your needs will diminish. Here’s the dope:
- Showroom hours will shrink. As of April, the Austin showroom will be open Thursday through Sunday, now closed Monday in addition to Tuesday and Wednesday. We will need extra time to catch up jobs, orders, receiving, and all the other back-office stuff. I’m sure they will all be driving up from Corpus Christi on Monday to stand dejectedly with their noses to the door glass, wishing they’d troubled to look at the new store hours.
- Similarly, the Keller shop will be open from Wednesday to Saturday, closed Sunday through Tuesday. Micah will be on his own up there, with support from me when I can, but I’ve got a shop to run down here. Micah’s impression of the Dallas market is that it’s lucrative, but demanding and wants it done now. Well, too bad.
- On the events front, expect less of them for the time being. We’re going to hunker down to the bread and butter business of stocking the showroom, informing our customers, and getting their repair jobs done. Rebecca will have two shops’ books to keep, and will increasingly cover inventory management. We won’t stop doing events, and we will be throwing a grand opening for the Keller shop, but we will stop doing the more ambitious ones… for the moment. Having said that:
- The Spring Glamping trip is cancelled. I should have seen that coming sooner, but looking at things realistically I can’t pull both Rebecca and I out of the shop during our busiest time of week in one of our busiest months. I expect to return to Glamping in the fall when business is starting to slow down and we can catch our breath a little. Anyway, no one had actually signed up for it yet.
- With Micah off working his magic in Keller, I won’t be able to trot him out to consult on hi-tech gizmos any more. Yes, I’ll learn about some of this stuff, but the past few years of having him around has made it very easy for me to push stuff off on him that now I’ll have to come up to speed on. I was painfully aware of this a couple of days ago when he was fussing over a customer with an electronically shifted Catrike he’d built up with a power meter crankset. There is all this bike stuff now that talks to your smart phone. I guess I’ll be getting myself a smart phone. You may know me as a mechanical problem solver, but I’ve never been into the “hot new things” like Micah has. I’ve got some catching up to do, and here comes STEPS And Di2 and all that.
- Similarly, Micah has been able to pull on my supply of doo-hickies, thingamabobs, and other little problem solvers that have accumulated around this shop since the 90’s.
- Lastly, and most painful for me, is that our ability to do fast turnaround service drops considerably. I know some of you have to come a long way for your repair work, and I’d like to be able to drop everything and knock out your job. I may even be able to, but I can’t promise it and a part of me unwisely wishes to promise it. I mean I should be able to tune up this 1980’s vintage Inifinity in 100 minutes, and maybe I could if these yo-yos didn’t keep parading into the showroom. And Laurie needs off when? There is gonna be some unhappy people, and I’ll get to meet all of them.
This condition won’t last forever. There will be new staff. There may even be more people of Micah and Laurie’s caliber, but these are hard to shake out. Even so, new hires will first be doing build work which keeps the showroom stocked but doesn’t help us react to someone’s immediate needs. The vast variety of designs and systems on recumbents means that training people even to do check-overs isn’t trivial. Indeed, to me the simple “check over” is intended as assurance to you that no problems will spring up soon, and that takes a depth of understanding that most people don’t come in off of the street with.
Is everyone happy yet? Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. It has been bothering me now for a few months. The need to cancel the Glamping trip made this announcement more urgent, so there it is.
by Mike | Feb 24, 2018 | News
It’s not as rainy a weekend in Austin as expected, though the College Station Senior Games, farther to the rainy east of us, have been cancelled due to weather concerns. This would have traditionally been the weekend of our big annual Heart of Texas Recumbent Rally, but it would have been nerve-wracking going into it with the weather so uncertain. It isn’t cold, but everything is pretty wet.
I decided back in November to put the rally on hold this year because we’d launched the effort to get a second shop opened in Fort Worth, so I’m taking this occasion to write an update on that work. This may tax your attention span. It definitely taxes mine! On the surface little is visible, but the reality is that this has consumed me. My thanks to Micah and Laurie for keeping up with trends in the market and helping with the customers, and Rebecca for keeping up the administrative stuff.
I don’t see anything as certain until a lease is signed, and you’ll hear me crowing about that when it happens. But up till now there has been lots of driving back and forth, visiting places, rounding up contractors for estimates, writing descriptions of work, calling various city inspectors, and intense conversations with real estate agents and/or property owners. This has all been instructive and character building. :^/ I’m reminded in some ways of when I was a greenhorn bike dealer, with customers occasionally explaining the basics of bike maintenance to me. Maybe not so mortifying, but instructive.
Micah communing with Plan A
Over the past few months I’ve come up with 5 possible scenarios for a Ft. Worth shop. The first place I found I thought was going to be it, but it was the first case of dealing with a property owner whose place was in shambles and who thought it was my responsibility to fix his property for the benefit of paying him rent. I just couldn’t abide that. Is this unrealistic? That was “plan A,” in a retail strip center well situated by a decently long, but not the longest, trail. I still miss that place, just not the guy who arrived in a chauffeured Rolls Royce to tell me he had no money.
Lots of work needed on Plan D, but lots of potential
I spent a few weeks working seriously on “plan D,” a space I really liked, with great highway access and trail access, though again the trail wasn’t the longest and it was broken often by neighborhood streets. This was a case of a “light industrial” zoned auto garage that the city had re-zoned commercial. The owner had to put a lot of money into it to make it rentable and seemed agreeable to doing so. After my experience with “plan A” I was adamant about his needing to get it up to code. He had the vague way of talking, but when I finally got a firm number on what was needed to bring it up to code he couldn’t avoid the matter and finally told me I’d need to replace his HVAC system, update the electrical and insulate all the walls. The next time I do this I’ll be better at getting to the truth of things sooner.
Back on the trail, I looked back at “plan B,” which was another light industrial space well situated next to great trail. I knew I’d have to put money into fixing it up without much help from the land owner. After all the hoops I jumped through on plan D I got right to things like calling the city inspectors, only to learn that I couldn’t put a bike shop in a place zoned “manufacturing-light.” I got great encouragement from the chair of the local planning commission to get the zoning changed, but considering that the property owner (whom I’d never met) needed to sign off on it and I’d certainly end up like the owner of plan D, needing to upgrade everything, I pushed plan B to the back burner. Thinking about the owner’s leasing agent pushing the lease on me a few weeks ago, who certainly knew I couldn’t even do business there once a lease was signed, sure gives me the creeps.
Real estate agents confer while Micah communes with Plan C
So as of this last week, I began to run the numbers and make the calls on “plan C,” which is a nice retail center in a ritzy northern suburb. It is close to great trail, perhaps the best. This trail is long with lots of trees, but I’ve a 200 foot gap to it from a quiet corner at the end of the loading dock, meaning I will need to get into the trail-building business to connect my customers to it. The city is enthusiastic and the Parks director sent me a grant application to get the city to cover 33-50% of the cost of it. A list of contractors is due this coming week. I don’t yet have assurance from the board of the corporation that owns the shopping center that I can run trail across part of their property. Most of the trail would cross undeveloped parkland, and I don’t have the city council’s approval for that yet, but I’m optimistic with the Parks director so happy about it. As you might guess, the space is expensive compared to the others, but still less than I pay in Austin. I’d get a generous tenant improvement allowance, though I wouldn’t be able to spend it on my trail (makes no sense to me). I’m busy sketching out a floor plan, ready to share it with the fire marshal.
If I get the go-ahead from the management, I expect I’ll take the plunge. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the product and in Micah to make thing work. But if this falls through then there is “plan E,” which is to move all the goods into Micah’s house, get him a van, and work by appointment, at your location if necessary, or at some trail head, and work at low overhead (though with much less cash flow) until the right place comes along. I’m hoping for a more conventional approach than that. I’d like to get past this stage, not prolong it.
Me getting prettier every day
That’s it. These past few months have been some of the hardest in my life. Having done this bike-wizard thing for over 20 years now, I don’t mind having a different project consuming me. Responding to all the requests to get more Easy Streets out in the countryside has just been the impetus to this work, but I’ve been there in spirit already. It all means spending all my time doing stuff I’m not experienced at, generally feeling like a bit of a fool, spinning my wheels, working inefficiently. I’m slow, but I’m stubborn once I commit, no surprise there.
Next weekend is what I’d hoped would be “grand opening” weekend, and it certainly won’t be happening then. But it will at some point. More news to come.
Early March update: The shopping center approved the trail plan and it is written into the “letter of intent” document they sent. I’m waiting on contractors’ bids and a civil engineer’s report, as required by the city, and the trail proposal goes before their Parks Board this week.
by Culture at Easy Street | Dec 2, 2017 | News
All I can say is … we could not have asked for a better inaugural Glamping event! In fact, when I questioned one of our Glampers on Sat. evening if she and her husband had been having fun, she replied, “Oh, this is way beyond fun!” That sure made me happy. And, whether or not you choose to read the rest of this blog post, make sure you get guest perspectives by taking a look on Facebook and reading Gay Bradford’s visitor post, comments posted by various other glampers, and looking through the album of photos.
With this being our very first “Glamping” (“Glamor” + “Camping” for the uninitiated) adventure that Easy Street has ever hosted, needless to say, we were on pins and needles from the very start. Would there be enough people to sign up? Did we choose the right location? Had we planned the right number of activities? etc. etc. And, of course, the first weekend of November was pushing it in terms of what we could expect weather-wise, but I simply could not resist the idea of scheduling it to coincide with the full moon. And, it all worked … Thank the Lord and pass the mashed potatoes!
Kerrville-Schreiner Park in Kerrville, TX was just a great place for our first such event. The setting was beautiful and we were lucky enough to have the fall color just beginning to show up. The paved roadways in the Park, along with the beautiful 4-mile paved trail along the Guadalupe River connecting the Park and Kerrville, gave those who were not interested in off-road biking plenty of opportunity to ride anyway.
The off-road trails were easy enough to encourage riders new to this style of riding to get out there and experience what it’s like, and yet they were not so challenging that we had to worry about losing riders along the way due to death or injury … bad for advertising and selling the experience to future customers
And, Sunday morning a small group of intrepid adventurers rode a lovely country road out on the north side of town. Though they missed our fabulous flapjacks, sounds like they enjoyed themselves immensely.
The ride into Kerrville for dinner at Mamacita‘s on Friday evening was a great way to start the weekend,especially on the way back under that full moon I mentioned. I was a little disappointed we did not get a private room for the sake of making announcements and going over some riding tips for the next day, but the restaurant was all set up for us and, despite our large group, the service was excellent, the food was very good, generously portioned, and reasonably priced, and the restaurant provided quite a lively and entertaining setting. And — they helped us celebrate Fernando’s birthday which was important! Riding at night was a new experience for some, but with lights, the full moon, and great company with everyone watching out for each other, it was lovely. And, there was a fountain display with rotating colored lights which we would never even have noticed during the day.
I have to mention here the hospitality of Adam and Lisa, owners of Hill Country Bicycle Works, locations in Kerrville and Fredericksburg. They allowed us to stuff all of our ‘bents into their shop while we dined at Mamacita’s. (There was no safe bike parking at the restaurant.) And, they made friendly and interesting companions at dinner as well. In fact, a fellow had wandered into the Hill Country Bicycle Works earlier on Friday looking for recumbents. They encouraged him to come back in the evening with the promise that there was going to be a bunch of us showing up … and he did, along with his wife. They had a great time, he bought a used ‘bent Mike had brought along, he provided an internet connection to Mike on Sunday for his appearance on the Laidback Bike Report, and, on top of all that, he turned out to be a fellow model rocket enthusiast so he and Mike talked model rockets as well. I love to experience serendipity!
Easy Street provided breakfast Saturday and Sunday, lunch-fixings on Saturday, and the main course for a potluck dinner Saturday night. There was PLENTY OF FOOD. I will have to admit that buying food for group meals is challenging. With the word “glamor” involved as part of our promised experience, I simply could not stand the idea of running out of food — and we certainly did not! And, turns out our glampers were gifted cooks as well; sure enjoyed tasting the various dishes they contributed.
There were many pleasures to the weekend, planned and unplanned, from “Okie Golf” [you can ask me later!] provided by the Bradford’s to free massages by Fernando who set up Saturday afternoon in the Dining Room. There were experienced riders helping inexperienced riders. There were new friends made, future outings planned, and everyone pitching in to help as needed. THANKS EVERYONE! We will do it again. Cheers!
by Mike | Nov 19, 2017 | News
So our funding campaign clanks on, with me, the great communicator at the helm.
The bad news is that we’ve had only so much response from my customer base. Even with the offer of 110% credit very few are looking ahead to purchases they might make in the future. I’m sure I can be doing a better job of promotion, and on that note I’m going to thank those who have contributed. Many have asked me to expand this shop, but few have stepped up (right at the start) to support. But there is still time, and you can still invest now through December 15th. You can even bypass Indiegogo and contribute directly, saving me a few precious bucks. That won’t reflect in our campaign progress numbers, but that brings us to the other thing:
The good news, on the other hand, is that it doesn’t matter if anyone else contributes. The shop expansion has funded and is moving forward thanks to other financing efforts. Once we put Thanksgiving behind us I’ll get to work on the lease, the permitting, and the contractors. Micah will start determining what inventory will be on hand and Rebecca will start planning a major ‘bent event for DFW. Meanwhile, back in Austin, Laurie continues training to fill in Micah’s carbon-soled shoes.
I will still be honoring the 110% credit return offer, even if it isn’t explicitly needed, so buy in if you wish. I like the idea of carrying a mandate from my clientele. Micah is at work up in DFW contacting the local cycling community, and I’ll be furthering that effort. We’re here for you, and we’re out to hit the ground running.
See you in Fort Worth!
by Mike | Nov 12, 2017 | News, Products
Now that I’ve had a chance to do some off road riding on trikes, I can share a few observations. Those with more experience than I can chime in. I will posit some contrary views here. This may get a little technical in parts.
What makes for a good off road trike?
Rear wheel traction – Strangely I don’t see much focus on this, but the #1 problem I have triking on rough ground is loss of rear wheel traction. We’ve all known about this problem, it is why trikes usually don’t have a rear brake except for a parking brake. Anything you can do to move weight to the rear wheel helps off road. If you have a sliding seat and boom, like many TerraTrike or AZUB models do, move it all back as far as you can. ICE trikes have a fixed seat mount but ICE makes an accessory that will move the seat back for taller riders, which may be beneficial. Recline the seat as much as you can stand to. Rear hub electric motors and rear mounted batteries help, as does cargo loaded to the rear.
My feeling is the frames designed for 20” rear wheels have an advantage here since the rear hub will be tucked closer to the rider’s mass. Trikes like the Rambler and Rover we’re actually designed for 24” rear wheels but come standard with 20”, so they don’t get the full advantage. Big rear wheels are good for speed, but have less traction.
A caveat here is that having the seat adjusted far back on the frame works against stability because the rider’s mass is closer to the edges of the weight triangle. If that isn’t clear, imagine a triangle drawn between the ground contact points of the trike’s three wheels. Once you move weight outside that triangle, usually on a sideways sloped surface, you begin to unweight one of the wheels and move toward tipping. Still, this instability is manageable, and rear wheel traction problems are so common riding off road that you should address them, either through adjusting what you have or selecting the right trike.
Knobby tires are an obvious way to get more traction, as are wide tires, even if they aren’t knobby. Reducing your tire pressure is another big factor, and of course wide tires can roll at lower pressures better than narrow ones. I’ve never had a chance to directly compare knobby vs. street tires since I’ve only taken stock trikes out. Even our shop demo Full Fat has street tires on it since it is mainly test ridden in the paved parking lot. I know from riding the Full Fat that inflation pressure makes a big difference, and the biggest advantage of fat tires is your ability to ride them at 15 PSI. Whatever tires you have, lower the pressure as far as you can.
Ground clearance — This is what you usually see touted as defining an off road trike. Some trikes have higher ground clearance by design, such as the Rover, the Rambler, or the Adventure. They don’t need oversized wheels, they just have a straight frame tube, handlebars above the frame, and no chain idlers hanging down. Catrikes have idlers assemblies hanging below the frame, and AZUB trikes have handlebars under the frame, working against ground clearance. Trikes like the ICE Sprint and the AZUB Ti-Fly have curved frames that aid stability but reduce ground clearance. But these were designed to be faster trikes, and if you are going fast on-road and carving into turns you want that stability, and higher trikes suffer from tippiness.
If you look closely at this frame and at the picture of the White Ice in Antarctica, above, you can see that the frames are not the same. The original White Ice had a bent frame tube visible beneath the near front wheel hub.
Jacking up the wheel size, like when you turn a Rambler into an All-Terrain, or an Adventure into a Full Fat, does increase ground clearance, but this further increases tippiness. My problem is that Ramblers and Adventures already had a pretty high seat before increasing wheel size. I was impressed with the prototype 3×26” Ti-Fly, because the big wheels were paired with a dropped frame and (what started with) a low seat. Remember I said the Ti-Fly wasn’t an ideal off road trike, but when you put on big wheels then it does work well because the rider’s weight is lower relative to the hub axles. While the Full Fat is based off an Adventure frame, the original White Ice trike that Maria Liejerstam rode to the south pole was built on a Sprint frame. Remember what I said about the weight triangle and stability. Just getting some of the rider’s weight beneath the level of the hubs will bring benefits in stability. The instability of putting big wheels on trikes is a problem, but it is compounded by the manufacturers’ choice of what trikes (Ramblers and Adventures) they put the big wheels on.
An anecdote is the one time I took a group of inexperienced riders out on a forest trail, the one casualty we had was the fellow riding the Rambler All-Road. He was stopped on a sideways sloping trail and he looked back over his downhill shoulder at the rider behind him. That move alone tipped the trike downhill. Crazy-high ground clearance is not necessarily your friend.
This prototype 3×26″ Ti-Fly was commissioned through ESR and has landed in Austin.
Big Diameter Wheels – I treat these separate from ground clearance though they are used mainly to increase ground clearance. Big front wheels do confer benefits that should be noted. In particular, since they come closer to the rider, it is easier for the rider to “wheelchair” the trike, laying hands on the front tires and pushing them directly, giving all-wheel drive when facing a challenging rise on loose ground. You will see my repeated concern with drive traction here. Also, “wheelchairing” gives you the ability to back up. In dense foliage it is easy to get into a situation requiring a very tight turn which the trike can’t make. If you aren’t on a trail at all then you may find yourself unable to move forward and needing to backtrack. This ability to “wheelchair” is the one true benefit I can see to big front wheels. One can argue that big wheels roll over obstacles better, but given enough traction a smaller wheel will do it too. The practice of wheelchairing argues against front fenders on an off road trike. A rear fender will keep water off you, but I’ll point out that going through water off road increases erosion and siltation. You shouldn’t be blasting through streams anyway.
I don’t see any benefit to a bigger rear wheel. It reduces traction. A wide tire is handy for not bogging down in sand and mud, but a larger diameter doesn’t help as much considering its drawbacks. This begins to paint a picture of a Full Fat with a smaller rear wheel. I will grant that this wouldn’t look as impressive as a 3×26” Full Fat, but I’m the sort who is more interested in what works than what looks good.
Suspension – Suspension is worth it, but not essential. Pay more, get more. You will cover rough ground more quickly and with less jostling to your load, less vibration on the bolts holding the trike together.
Steering type – Direct steering, like on newer TerraTrikes, turns much tighter. Its simpler construction means you can modify it for better ground clearance more easily. For example, the single steering rod on a Rambler should be mounted using longer bolts and spacers to move it as high as possible to improve the trike’s ground clearance.
Internally Geared Hubs – This is a great way to make a trike even more expensive, but worth it in this application. I’m never too concerned about rear derailers hitting the ground on-road, but on soft sand you could bury your chain in grit. I’m especially impressed with the NuVinci CVP hubs, which never lose torque during a shift. They don’t “clunk,” and even other IG hubs with discreet gears will have a moment of slip and clunk when shifting under load. And if you are downshifting then you are probably under load.
Summing up — What would I consider an ideal off road trike? Nothing yet.
I like the ICE Adventure 20”, though the quick release linkages in the handlebar aren’t rock solid and the indirect steering isn’t as tight as direct steering. (Update: ICE has improved how the handlebars lock into place) I like how the rear wheel is close to the rider. The modularity of the ICE frame would let you use an internally geared hub with a sprung chain tensioner, giving more ground clearance for the chain.
I was impressed with the stock TerraTrike Rambler, though the frame design keeps the rear wheel pushed back too much. It has high enough clearance with its 20” wheels, and the direct steering will get you through very tight turns in a switchback trail. It could use an IG hub without a chain tensioner by tensioning at the boom
I was impressed with the 3×26” Ti-Fly, though I’d like to see it done with a 20” rear wheel. Again, the indirect steering is a limitation. I don’t like how the handlebars are set under the frame, and some of its chain management drops too low as well. But its adjustable seat and boom give great flexibility in set up, and also the ability to use an IG hub without a tensioner.
How knobby a tire do you need? If your trike will only be used off road then I see no reason to go completely knobby, but if you will be on some pavement these will limit your efficiency. One compromise is to only put a knobby on the rear wheel. While there are semi-knobby tires with a smooth center and knobby edges these are aimed at two-wheelers who need the extra traction cornering. Front wheels are highly loaded by the rider’s weight and don’t have much problem with traction.
A big thanks goes to Martin Kreig and bikeroute.com for preserving this image of the L.A. Pipeliner
I’ll take a moment to tip the hat to a nearly forgotten design from S&B, the scruffy custom recumbent house from the Los Angeles ghetto town of Compton. S&B built a trike called the L.A. Pipeliner which was designed to be folded and dropped down through an 18” manhole into a sewer pipe, where it allowed inspectors to pedal their way through the L.A. sewer system. Note the extremely tight wheelbase and track. It had a very simple chainline and the USS steering was above the frame. S&B trikes had their cheap aspects, to be sure, but I’d be interested in putting a NuVinci N380 on that puppy and taking it down the trail.
I do have a few extra TerraTrike All-Road wheelsets around, and the All-Road is going out of production, succeeded by the All-Terrain, whose semi-fixed seat is more solid than its predecessor but lacking in useful adjustability. And the new Gran Turismo models are coming in. Direct steering, dropped frame. The semi-fixed seat is the same as the All-Terrain, but once can adjust leg length through seat recline. Hmm. Change out the crankset on the 2×10 model for an MTB compact crank. Hmm.
by Mike | Oct 26, 2017 | News
Well, here goes. Without much warning, on my own sense of logic and timing, I’m launching a crowdfunding campaign to open a second Easy Street Recumbents in greater Fort Worth, TX.This campaign runs through December 15th.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/esrnorthtx-bicycle/x/17329196#/ (watch the cute video and read all about it)
Despite the suddenness of this announcement there has been quite a lot of ground work behind this, some going back years. I’ve located an excellent space, well-positioned, right on paved trail, accessible, well laid out, and affordable. I’ve got the staff to manage it and the supplies to equip it. If this goes on schedule we’ll be up and running by spring.
I’ve always flown by the seat of my pants, knowing no alternative, and this crowdfunding campaign is no different. I’m sure it would look better if I went public having $15K of some rich uncle’s money in the kitty, but I don’t. I’m just launching it and getting to work on it.
Please have a look at all this. You’ve got until December 15 to contribute. If you see the value then please share this, as my own voice won’t be enough. Honestly, please share this if you want to see this succeed.
If you’ve been wanting an ESR in Houston or San Antonio don’t despair. I’ve reasons for starting with Fort Worth. If you can help me get a second shop going then that makes the next one all the more do-able. DFW will absorb a lot of my attention over the next year, but if you are serious about getting a shop closer to you then talk to me.
by Mike | Oct 20, 2017 | News
So a couple of weeks ago I found myself in the van with Micah and he started his data dump from Recumbent Cycle Con. I’d sent him up to Philadelphia to pester my suppliers, and this is what he learned. Mind you I doubt that this is everything that was to be found and learned at RCC, this is just what Micah finds interesting. My apologies if not all of this makes perfect sense. If you’ve talked with Micah you’ll know this is to be expected:
AZUB (Micah’s favorite brand)
Micah gets down with Honza Galla of AZUB
AZUB is applying the Shimano STEPS e-motor technology to their trikes. Mounting the STEPS motor requires a special boom to carry the motor up at the crankset. You can’t use a front derailer with the motor system, but there isn’t much need to have an extra wide gear range with an assist. Anyway, rear derailers are handling wider ranges on their own now. Faster road trikes don’t need the lower gears since the motor will help with climbs, and off-road trikes don’t need the higher gears. Though the STEPS motor has less overall power than a Bionx, it still has high torque for acceleration. Paired with a NuVinci continuously variable transmission AZUB is seeing great efficiency in this motor, and that means range.
A challenge with motor systems on recumbents, like many accessories on recumbents, is setting up the controls in an elegant manner. ‘Bents often don’t have handlebars like a mountain bike does, and that can make it a challenge to elegantly arrange the controls so that everything is at your fingertips and the wiring is concealed. I saw some clever new parts from AZUB that aided this, and which could work on other e-motor systems on other makes of recumbents.
This prototype 3×26″ Ti-Fly was commissioned through ESR and has landed in Austin.
I also saw Shimano’s new application of the Di2 electronic shifting optimized for use with the STEPS motor system. It is very flexible in application, which is a good thing for recumbents. The controls are compact and can be arranged for a variety of handlebar arrangements. The controls can be set to work on internally geared hubs or derailers.
I spent a lot of time with AZUB. I got to meet the owner and saw Honza, their sales manager, again for the first time since the HOT. Honza seemed cheerful and relaxed. I checked out their fat tire T-Tris for the first time. There’s more to be said about that, and you may be getting a chance to try one out on an Easy Street glamping trip soon.
I got a look at the new Catrike 700, but I never had much chance to talk with a Catrike employee. The one person at the booth seemed to spend a lot of time talking on the phone to his girlfriend. :^( The two big changes to the 700 are the thru-axle rear wheel for greater frame stiffness in cornering (like AZUB did two years back on the TriCon) and the SRAM WiFLi wireless electronic shifting. I never got a chance to ride the new 700 since the booth was poorly staffed. I was disappointed to see that Catrike developed their own thru-axle system instead of using an off-the-shelf system, like the Syntace axle that AZUB uses. The SRAM WiFLi transmission uses a compact double crankset, more modern, more standard, but not as wide a gear range as the triple cranks used on other Cats. The way the industry is going we’ll just have to put up with this unless someone starts making a recumbent specific component group.
Micah shows his NuVinci pride with the ICE trikes crew.
Like AZUB, ICE was showing off trikes with the STEPS motor system. ICE paired their motors with Shimano internally geared hubs, and this gives you the option of switching on automatic transmission, helping you to “make cycling easy.” It was on ICE’s electric trikes that I got the sense of how “get on and go” the STEPS system could really be. Like AZUB there were no new offerings in their model line up, but lots of experimentation with and application of Shimano’s electric motor system.
My concern about all this Shimano stuff is Shimano changes their specs and their designs so often that by the time this stuff is really available and supported in the US market it may be completely different. Sometimes they come out with some parts that work really good for something and then suddenly you can’t get them any more. I start recommending something and getting them on customer’s trikes, and suddenly I can’t get parts. We’ll see, and I’ll hope for the best, but too much Shimano worries me.
Micah with John Dehate, our new inside rep from TerraTrike.
TT had a lot of their new line of bags, which I’m pretty familiar with now. They also had the EVO, which I think shows great promise but isn’t as supported as it can be. I got a first look at the new Gran Turismo, intended as the replacement for their classic Tour model. The most significant thing on the GT is the stiffer rear frame.
Lots of electric assist stuff on a variety of brands. Some were brands that only sell direct. Lots of trike brands were there with assists installed.
TerraCycle was there, of course, and in keeping with the electric theme of the show they were showing off newer, more highly adjustable battery mounts. Keeping TerraCycle parts in stock is a hassle, not because of TerraCycle but because of recumbents. As usual, there is such a variety of frame designs, especially main frame tube width, that we’re always finding we don’t have what we need in stock. Any time they can make an accessory that is more flexible in application it is good news.
by Mike | Oct 6, 2017 | News, Products
FYI, we just received shipment of Catrike’s new alloy front fenders, which are $150 for the set. I still have some of the older plastic ones in stock that I’d like to get rid of, so I’ve marked them down from $125 to $100 for the set. FYI.
by Mike | Oct 5, 2017 | Events, News
The Outlaw 100 ride is still taking place in Round Rock on October 14th, but since we haven’t had many clear commitments from our recumbent riders I don’t see a point in hosting a hospitality tent event. We’ll take another stab at this at another time. I find these organized ride events to be only so good for expo purposes, as the road racing cycling crowd is less interested our fabulous trikes than ordinary folks are. On that note, the RV show was a lot of fun.
by Mike | Sep 24, 2017 | News, Policies
The truth is that I’d still prefer you to come and test ride stuff here at the shop, and let us work with you getting it all kitted out. But sometimes that just won’t work out. Some people just hate to drive, and if you aren’t used to it Austin traffic can be overwhelming. Sometimes you don’t have a suitable vehicle to transport what you are buying, or maybe you just don’t want to drive 4 hours in that beat up old pickup. And we’ve got this spiffy van now. And We want to Make Cycling Easy for you, so we’ll deliver.
What you get
We will deliver up to 300 miles from Austin, and we will give one free hour of time getting you fitted, riding with you to take you through your paces, and instructing you on features and maintenance. We’ll spend additional time with you for $60 per hour, if needed. We’ll consider traveling longer distances, but we’d be hitting you up for a motel room and a meal.
We can bring some parts and accessories for you to look at, and we can install them at our usual service rates. Service work is not included in the 1 free hour. Of course we can’t bring everything, and it would be best if you could be settled on just what you want before we hit the road.
If you don’t quite know what you want we can bring up to two additional trike or bike models. See more about that below.
We can work out what schedule works best for you, but the farther we need to go then the more planning we’ll need. Don’t expect next day service on a 200 mile run. We need to consider our schedule as well.
What it costs
This depends on both distance and how much we are delivering. These are introductory prices and may be revised once this program starts.
The basic formula is a $20 service fee plus $1 per outbound mile up to 200 miles. We will reduce the mileage by 2% of the dollar value of your order. So, a $3000 (before tax) order gets you 60 free miles. If you live within 60 miles of Austin then you’ll pay the $20 service fee and that is all. If you live 100 miles from us then you’ll pay $20 + $40 = $60 for the delivery. That still gets you 1 hour of set up and practice time.
For distances from 201-300 miles, the miles over 200 are at $2 per mile. Should we allow for a delivery over 300 miles you’ll pay the $2/mile cost and we’ll charge a $50 fee.
If you don’t quite know what you want we can bring up to two additional models, but there is a $50 fee per extra trike brought. It will take more time for you to test out several models so you’ll probably have to pay extra fitting time.
How you pay
All delivery sales are paid for at our Austin shop. Austin sales tax must apply to all orders unless you have a sales tax. Contact us with your card info. We will run your card for the delivery charges based off our calculation of distance. We will retain your card info until the delivery is done in case there are additional charged for time or items added to your order.
by Culture at Easy Street | Sep 23, 2017 | Events, News
After a lot of hand-wringing and brow-knitting I’ve decided to not do the Heart of Texas Recumbent Rally in 2018. I’ve several reasons for this. We’ve been doing them steadily for 7 years now, and even a good thing requires a breather. This gives us more time think up fresh ideas for it. Also, I’ve got Rebecca working on a busy events calendar for the winter and into spring. I haven’t had this level of support in planning events before and it is nice to see my calendar filled like it is, but it does no good to overload her. This new “Glamping” idea is one I’d like to put through the paces. Lastly, I’ve got some big projects that I need to focus on for the shop’s overall benefit, so I’m putting aside this annual rally project for this year. Enough dithering on the matter. Ain’t gonna be no HOT for 2018, so there.
Apologies to all who were looking forward to it. Stay tuned for fun, trikey events coming from ESR, where We Make Cycling Sneezy, or something like that.
by Culture at Easy Street | Aug 25, 2017 | Events, News
Dates: Friday, Nov. 3 – Sunday, Nov. 5
Register on Bike Reg.
Place: Kerrville-Schreiner Park
2385 Bandera Hwy, Kerrville, TX 78028
830-257-5392 or 830-257-7300
Click on this link:
The Vision: See Mike’s article on “Glamping” here. We want to make Mike’s vision happen. You KNOW how he likes to throw a party! And, we are hoping a group of our friendly recumbent riders (families, friends, upright riders are all welcome) will join us for a weekend of fun that includes socializing, eating, riding, and … well, we’re working on other stuff!.
The Plan: Easy Street sets up Operations Central in Midway Mini Cabins 17-18. We have also rented the adjacent Group Dining Hall as a central socializing, eating, and gathering place for Saturday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Y’all call in to their reservations number, 830-257-5392 or 830-257-7300 (speak to Jackie if possible) and reserve a campsite, a mini-cabin, or an RV site nearby (and reservations appear to be wide open at the moment). Our suggestions would be:
Mini Cabins #19-23 (around the Dining Hall) or #9-16. (Cabins sleep 4 in bunk beds, but you can have up to 6 people per cabin site.)
RV sites according to your preferences. They have Full Hookups (50/30 amps), Full Hookups (30 amps), and sites with water and electric, no sewer.
Reservations are very reasonably-priced and, if you cancel at least 48 hrs in advance, the cancellation fee is only $20.
Check-in time for the Mini-Cabins is 3:00 p.m. For everyplace else it is noon.
Proposed Schedule of Activities:
* Afternoon: Arrive and get settled.
* Evening: Meet up and ride the 4-mile paved trail into Kerrville for dinner (not included in the event price) at a local restaurant. Ride back under an almost full moon. (Actual full moon is Sat.)
* Morning: Meet up for a breakfast prepared by Easy Street. Get ourselves organized for the day.
The more adventuresome will head out to discover the unpaved trails within the Park; off-roading on a recumbent–exciting!
Others may choose to ride the approximately 5 miles of paved Park trails or … choose your own experience of Park or other local activities (we will have a list of suggestions)
* approx. Noon: Sandwich fixins will be available for lunch. Those who are going on the Winery Tour probably want to clean up and get ready. Exact pick-up time is not yet decided. Those who are not choosing that option can get together and decide what they want to do individually or with each other.
Afternoon: We have arranged to have Hill Country Wine Tours provide a 4.5 hour guided Winery Tour for those who so desire and who have paid the additional $185 as part of their registration on Bike Reg. Our fun-loving group will be picked up at the Park in a Lincoln Town Car Limousine. We will be visiting two exciting boutique wineries (wine tasting fees paid by Hill Country Wine Tours). One of the wineries will pair food bites with wine selections. Hill Country Wine Tours will provide a snack tray of assorted meats and cheeses at the other winery. Bottled water will be provided in the limo throughout the tour. (Mike Kasberg, owner of Hill Country Wine Tours, and his crew have received rave reviews. I’m excited!)
And, if the Winery Tour does not appeal, further exploration of the Park, shopping in Kerrville, playing on the Guadalupe River, are all possibilities and we will provide a more complete list of suggestions as well. If kayaking on the River appeals to you, I would make those arrangements in advance by calling Paddle Kerrville.
Evening: We all join up and gather ’round the Easy Street grill for burgers, weenies, the ‘fixins, and drinks. We would ask you folks to bring potluck dishes to share, e.g. salads, beans, casseroles, vegies, desserts. (The Dining Hall only has a couple of microwaves (no stove or oven), so keep that in mind. We can also manage some space on the grill if needed.) Easy Street will not be providing any alcohol, so plan accordingly!
We are thinking we will all have stories to tell about our day’s adventures and what better way to do that than around dinner followed by a campfire.
If there is interest in a Tech Clinic by Mike, we can do that this evening or maybe Sunday morning after breakfast.
* Wake up to another Easy Street breakfast. Visit. There may be something you wanted to see or do that you did not yet get to. We might squeeze in another organized ride, we’ll see. Check-out time is noon.
We are open to other ideas you might have about things to do. Just share them with us.
We are asking for $35.00/person (less for children) for the weekend to help us re-coup some of our costs for the 3 meals and the Dining Hall rental, but MAINLY we want you to come! So, I hope you will make your reservations, let me know who you are, and I will put you on a list of attendees and keep you posted as details are worked out. email@example.com
by Mike | Aug 25, 2017 | Community, News
It is rare for me to take vacations, but I usually have fresh ideas when I do. A few months ago I went out to the Davis Mountains in west Texas. I had my trusty P-38 along and used it to move around the campgrounds at the park, but it was not much use on the more rugged hiking trails they have there. There was a significant mountain biking trail there, 11 miles round trip, and I thought about how some of the all-terrain trikes we sell might do there, like the ICE Full Fat and Adventure and the TerraTrike All-Terrain. I also thought about bikes like the AZUB MAX and the Mini. (I expect the next bike I get will be a fully-suspended USS Mini, just for the heck of it.) Given these new choices in off-road recumbents, the wealth of trails we have in our Texas state parks becomes more of an option for the adventuresome rider.
When I visualize shop events, I remember the advice from Jane Knight who held that people can ride their bikes wherever, but what they really like at events is meeting with other people. Riding is nice, and the exploration of new trails is something you can’t do at home, but we need a chance for people to interact at their own pace. Parks are nice, but I expect that many of my customers aren’t the “roughing it” sorts. Some drive RV’s. Maybe they’d like it better with some creature comforts provided. So this vision starts to form. “Glamping,” or Glamorous Camping, came to mind. I thought of supported bike tours where someone sets up your tent and cooks your food. (Rebecca adds: Ok, ok, now don’t get too excited. The vision does not extend quite that far — yet!)
So how about a glamping trip weekend? We set up in a state park. You bring your RV, or else a tent, or you rent a shelter. Depending on the park’s facilities, we’d get a common area cabin with a bathroom and a kitchen, or else work with what we’d bring. At least some meals would be provided, giving you more time to play. Bring the right trike or bike and you can explore the trails. Or else ride the quiet park roads. Beyond that, we’d arrange for outings in the area, like carpooling on a winery tour, or shopping, etc. Maybe we’d have a tech clinic, invite industry folks to share knowledge, what else? Or else just hang out in the park and walk around. Facilities, amenities, and off-site recreation options varies by park, but we’ve got lots of parks to choose from, and I’ve got customers all over the state. Something would be close to someone.
Many of my customers prefer paved trails, but there are only so many of them. Not everyone has good equipment for riding rougher trails, but that too is variable. The right tires make a big difference. Nearly any trike would clear most obstacles, trails vary widely in roughness. Having a sense of adventure and willingness to take on a challenge is a factor, but I know that isn’t everyone. From a business standpoint I’d just as well develop interest in good off-road recumbents and the off-road trails that they open to recumbent riders. I’d want to charge for the event. Working to make money is my job and I’d plan to work to support attendees. I’ve felt for some years that event support is a direction that specialty bike shops need to go in, I just need to learn how to make it profitable.
Does this sound like something interesting to you? Well, we are going to find out! See what we have been working to put together in the next section of this newsletter. Every detail is not yet worked out, but there is enough information so I think you will be able to decide if this sounds like fun to you. I hope so. And — it’s not too late to throw your ideas into the mix.
by Culture at Easy Street | Aug 25, 2017 | Events, News
There are a couple of promotional events coming up and … if you’d like to come join us, socialize, show off your ‘bent and talk to the uninitiated about how great they are, we would love to have you.
Sun City Vendor Fair: Friday, Sept. 15, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
This is a fun event where vendors who have products and services to offer the Sun City Community show up and strut their stuff. And, historically, it has been good for the shop. And, it is really useful to have Easy Street customers show up. The address is: 2 Texas Dr., Georgetown, TX 78633. Click on this link for map and directions: Sun City, Georgetown.
The 2017 Austin RV Super Sale: Friday, Sept. 29 – Sunday, Oct. 1
We have wondered how to get the word out to more RV’ers about how recumbents could add to their lives; providing additional fun, exercise, and transportation while they are on the road. So, we are going to give this a try. It will be at the Dell Diamond. Once again, we’d love to have you join us (admission is FREE) for some portion of the three days … they are going to be long! One couple with an RV and ‘bents has volunteered to join us on Saturday — for which we are grateful! For additional information (like hours!), click the link: Austin RV Super Sale
Do you have an RV? Could you provide us with any pictures that show you and your ‘bent(s) and your RV? We would love to have them. Email them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Culture at Easy Street | Aug 25, 2017 | Events, News
Come join us (and a bunch of other people!) to Ride with the Mayor of North Richland Hills.
When: Tuesday, September 5, 6:30 p.m.
Where: This ride leaves from Cross Timbers Park, 7680 Douglas Lane.
For more complete information, go to the website: https://www.nrhtx.com/766/Round-the-Town-with-Oscar
Micah has been regularly showing up at this ride. However, this time Mike and Rebecca will join him. Look for the Easy Street van. We will be there at least by 6 and are looking forward to joining in this fun.
Oh, and there is something on the website about this being a “Healthy Heart Ride, Wear Red.” So, let’s support them in that too.