- #madelocal Truce Designs
I Discovered Truce Designs exhibiting their ultra-functional bags at the New Amsterdam Bike Show in 2011 and 2012. The simplicity, functionality and subtle colors of all the bags and presentation caught my attention. But by 2012 the line had developed even further to be truly striking ~ even in the over saturated sport bag market. I began speaking with design/manufacturer Luke Mathers and discovered the company uses recycled technical materials, manufactures locally in Portland and has an impressive history of technical craftsmanship.
Technical products are almost never environmentally responsible – so it’s extremely exciting to see a line of great high performance bags that are best in category and pushing the envelope of what being green can be. Luke has an active history surfing, biking, hiking and the bags reflect that with an elegant multi-functionality that I look for.
How did you begin working with recycled technical materials?
Iʼve had a lot of help in design, sewing and materials sourcing over the relatively few years Iʼve been working. The people who taught me how to sew at North Sails Oregon and North Sails Seattle, the pattern makers and sewers at Michael Curry Design, and deﬁnitely alpine-pack masters Cilogear are the people whoʼve helped me out the most.
Last year we ﬁnished a bike-building collaboration project with Portland-based bike and component builder Chris King. We came in third place in a bike building competition
called the Oregon Manifest. Iʼm always looking for new materials from the sailing world, Iʼm hoping to get some newer high-performance racing sails at some point. Iʼd love to do more things like sailing team bags and ﬁnding more, bigger used racing sails to recycle. Weʼre also working on getting some more products online… like dufﬂe bags, grocery bags, and updated versions of others.
The pictures of the shop look amazing. Can you tell me more about it?
There’s a picture of me using our ‘new’ hot-air seam sealing machine. It’s what they use to make diving suits, submersible bags etc… It’s my favorite, it expands our capabilities by a huge amount. The machine has really changed the whole way things go together! I’ve experimented with some outerwear as well, making my own sailing bibs and stuff like that…
Many of Truce Designs bags are made with re-claimed materials like old sails and drysuit material. Has an eco-friendly approach been beneﬁcial for your company or posed some challenges?
Both. I really believe in using good materials that would otherwise be discarded, and itʼs a way to differentiate myself from competitors. It does make things more difﬁcult though… the sailcloth can be dirty, and the drysuit fabric comes in all different shapes and sizes which makes cutting more time-consuming.
- Womens Specific Bicycle Fit Guide
Why it’s important
Most of us get on bikes without asking too much about fit or how a bike with a straight top tube can be made for a woman. Step through bikes were the original bikes designed for women over a century ago. For a long time the bike industry has followed by simply making mens bikes smaller or painted with girly colors. But over the last 15 years more women have gotten serious about riding and companies are making seriously awesome bikes that make riding more comfortable and competitive.
You wouldn’t buy mens pants – why buy a bike made for a man? Whatever style of bicycle you’re into, getting the right women’s bike size and adjusting it to fit your physique is critical to the comfort and handling you’ll experience.
Basic physiology and impact on women’s bikes
Bear with us, as we know we all come in different shapes and sizes but women generally have shorter upper bodies than men, with a shorter torso and shorter arms. Conversely, women have longer femurs (thigh bones) and longer legs than a man of the same height as well as wider hips. Women’s hands and feet are also generally smaller than men’s, while their shoulders are narrower.
One simple example of how this plays into comfort for a woman riding a bike is the saddle. Wider hips mean bigger sit bones. This requires a wider saddle on a women’s bike than typically supplied on a man’s bike. An illustration of this is the saddle sizes offered by Specialized. They tend to offer saddles in two sizes for men and women. Men get saddles of 130mm and 143mm. Women’s saddles are 155mm and 175mm. (Of course, saddles can be easily changed, so, if you prefer to stick with your men’s bike you may want to consider replacing the saddle).
Step-Through Frame Bikes/Hybrids
Bike fitting is less of an issue for step-through frame bikes because there is either no top tube or, in the case of a Mixte frame, the tube is heavily slanted. As the riding position on these bikes is upright the best fit is determined by the reach to the handlebars. The head tube on a step through frame tends to be quite long so to maintain an upright riding position.
When it comes to Mixte frames, the typical frame has road bike geometry. Road bike geometry on such frames can present a problem like toe overlap making tight turns trickier but are suitable for shorter women. A touring Mixte with its larger wheel base can overcome this problem, while on road bike Mixte frames look for a bike that has smaller 650 size wheels.
A standard unisex road bike is built to fit a man. It may, in some circumstances, actually fit a woman well but generally it’s not ideal. For example, the extended top tube length of unisex bikes means that women generally have to stretch to reach the handlebars. In addition, cranks tend to be too long and handlebars too wide.
As bike manufacturers have begun to recognise the demand for women’s bikes they have started to build bikes with a geometry tailored to the female physique. A women’s bike tends to have a more pronounced sloping top tube as well as being shorter in length across the top to give women a more comfortable and less extended reach to the handlebars.
However, shorter top tubes do present problems. On the smallest frames there is a risk of toe overlap (This is where your toe can hit the front wheel when you turn a bike at slow speeds), which no rider likes, according to Julian of UK specialist frame fitting company CycleFit. To deal with this, Julian tells us, manufacturers often steepen the seat tube to push the front wheel further away from the bottom bracket and create more clearance.
When buying a road specific women’s bike, it’s necessary to pay attention to the seat tube angle. This should be around 70°-73° (whereas men’s bikes tend to be 72°-75°). This will result in the saddle being positioned behind the bottom bracket in order to accommodate women’s proportionally longer legs and to make sure the rider has an optimum knee over pedal position for efficient pedalling.
It is also important to ensure there is a long enough head tube on a short top tube bike so that the drop between saddle and handlebars is comfortable.
Other changes that can be made to create the perfect fit for a women’s bike are: shorter cranks (manufacturers generally offer a range between 165mm – 175mm), narrower handlebars (c380mm – 460mm) and shorter brake levers. A shorter handlebar stem (c70mm – 130mm) can also aid reach on a standard or a women’s bike.
Fit issues encountered by women with mountain bikes are similar to those with a road bike setup. As a result of most bikes being designed with the male market in mind it is often necessary for the relevant contact points to be adjusted to fit a woman’s physical differences.
The advice provided above for a road specific women’s bike is relevant here. A wider saddle can be fitted, slimmer handlebar grips put on and narrower handlebars used.
The key feature of a specifically built women’s mountain bike frame is a shorter top tube. Some bike manufacturers have designed curved top tubes on their bikes to aid stand over height for women. As for any rider the springs on any part of the suspension for a mountain bike will need to be adjusted to take account of the weight of the rider.
Women’s Bike Sizing
Our own bike frame size guide is simple to use and suggests bike frame sizes based upon your height. It is a good starting point if you are looking for help with women’s bike sizing. You need to get a measuring tape and calculator to hand if you want to get more sophisticated with bike sizing.
For an accurate women’s bike sizing measurement on a road bike, get your inseam leg measurement in centimetres and multiply it by 0.67. This will give you a recommended frame size in centimetres.
For an accurate women’s bike sizing measurement on a mountain bike convert the inseam measurement from centimetres to inches and multiply by 0.67. This gives your frame size in inches.
Other things to note:
- Women’s road bike sizes generally run a few sizes smaller than men’s bikes, accommodating cyclists between 4’10 to 5’10 inches in height. Road frames range from 42cm to 57cm. When it comes to choosing the correct frame size for women’s bike sizing, whether you choose a male bike or women’s specific design, it’s always good to do the stand over test. Make sure there is at least a 1 inch clearance from your crotch over the top tube.
- Women’s mountain bike frames range from 13 to 19 inches. When doing a stand over test, you should have 3 to 4 inches clearance over a top tube.
- Step through frames are typically measured in inches as opposed to centimetres with sizes going up from 17 to 22 inches typically. A smaller frame isn’t always necessary though with women’s bike sizing on a step through frame. As a general guide, a 17’5 inch frame will fit a lady with a 24’5-28’5 inch inside leg measurement, a 20 inch frame will fit a lady with a 27-31’5 inch inside leg measurement and a 22 inch frame will fit a lady with a 30’5-38 inch inside leg measurement.
This article is a modification of an original article that appeared on Going Going Bike, an online online social marketplace that helps people find the right bike for them or sell an unwanted bike. They originally posted this article on 8/25/2011. They also have a smart size guide and a twitter feed.
- Wooden Bike Helmets?!
Thanks to Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland I learned about the latest in manly bike projects making use of lovingly crafted wood parts. I’ve seen wood fenders, baskets, rims and even a frame, but this one definitely grabbed my attention.
Seen at this year’s PDX Bicycle Show:
- By far the most talked about item at the show were these “Tree Piece” wooden bike helmets made by Dan Coyle of Coyle Design and Build in Corvallis…
Coyle hails from Corvallis and is a self-described “DIY addict” and outdoor sports enthusiast with a background in biological science and experimentation. He started making wooden helmets 15 years ago for use in kayaking. Back then he used a chainsaw to make each one. He now uses computer-aided design and a CNC machining process and he’s looking toward the bike market to expand his business.
To put safety fears to rest, Coyle has done extensive testing on his helmets. Through a partnership with the Forestry Sciences lab at Oregon State University he has found that his helmets meet and exceed the CPSC requirements. “Wood can absorb energy in a way plastic can’t,” says Coyle. Tests show that 10-20% of the impact is absorbed by a wooden shell, thus leaving less work for the inner liner.
Coyle owns the patent on wooden helmets, but he’s even more excited about his development of a cork inner liner. When his wooden shells are combined with his patented cork liners, Coyle says, “There’s a chance we can make it perform even better than EPS [expanded polystyrene] foam.”
At the moment, Coyle still makes each helmet to the custom specs of his customers, who pay from $270-$300 a piece for the unique items. Even with the CNC process, Coyle says each one takes him about 7-8 hours to complete. And much like one of Portland’s custom framebuilders, it’s a process Coyle enjoys. Customers can choose what type of wood, shape, ventilation, staps, and liner they want. While he’s looking to raise awareness for his helmets, you won’t find Coyle’s creations at your local bike shop any time soon. “I’m not looking to make tens of thousands of these, just to get the price down,” he says.Thanks, Jonathan!
- MER Bags
#madelocalis all about the amazing products that are not only being designed in New York City, but manufactured here too. Staying true to our roots the first company we visited is MER Bags out of Bushwick, Brooklyn a company that started making messenger bags in 2001 and has quietly gone on to produce a colorful and intensely utilitarian line of bags for people who are serious about durability. Nona went to MER Studio to meet Rob, check out the current line, gawk gorgeous bolts of fabric, vintage industrial machines and an adorable shepherd doggie named Max.
MER Bags is designed and stitched by Rob Nelson, a former mountain bike racer, skateboarder and messenger who learned to stitch, from his mother, and then in art school at minneapolis college of art and design. He began making bags out of necessity when working as a messenger in NYC. Soon friends were making requests and MER Bags was born.
NONA: “Ok, you’re Rob. Why name the company MER?”
ROB: “I get asked that all the time, and there isn’t a good answer. I
liked the way the letters looked together, from a purely aesthetic
standpoint, and liked that the French meaning of the word is “sea.”
But really, it just made sense aesthetically from a design and
NONA: And you just happened to have an industrial sewing machine?”
ROB: “No, I needed one and got really lucky. My first machine was
bought from this eccentric guy in the garment district. I went to his
studio and he talked to me for at least an hour about his very strong
and conservative religious ideas. After an hour of listening to him
and somehow abstaining from debate, he seemed to like me and he ended
up giving me a great deal.”
NONA: “That’s funny because it seems like everyone has a story about
how they got their (industrial) machines.”
NONA: “There’s only one mess bag in the whole studio! The totes look
amazing and the roll-top backpacks are the perfect size for me!”
ROB: “Yeah, roll-tops are very popular at the moment. Sometimes
people, including myself, don’t refer to them as messenger bags
anymore because it’s too exclusive, I just call them waterproof,
weatherproof utilitarian bags. They’re heavy duty and meant to appeal
to an active consumer. The totes started off as beach/surfing bags.
I’m currently experimenting with a tool and garden version as well,
which should be available soon.
NONA: “The one with pockets looks like an old man’s tool bag, but so
modern. If the colors were different I could see it as a woman’s bag,
with all the accessory pockets on the outside. Change the colors to
pastel or something and it would even be the ultimate diaper/family
ROB: “It’s true. You experiment with colors or pockets and by
customizing the colors or placement of accessories, the bag takes on
all these other characters. I have a friend who used his bag on his
bike for years, and he just had a baby, and is now replacing his work
bag for diapers and other things you suddenly need when you have a
NONA: “I’ve been in NYC riding and racing bikes for almost as long as
you’ve been in business it seems strange that I’m not more familiar
with MER. Where do you sell?”
ROB: “Well if you haven’t heard of us it’s my fault that I haven’t
been better at promoting the brand. Sometimes it’s hard to make a big
name for yourself in pretty niche communities. It can be tough to make
the products daily, order materials, take custom orders/deal with
customers as well as making sure to stay on top of all the
marketing…being in the blogosphere etc., but it’s obviously very
important, and my hope is for MER to be more recognizable, especially
as a long time New York City brand. But we’re truly a small business,
and that is great, but it means that it takes a lot longer and is a
lot slower when you’ve to to do it all yourself. I like to sponsor
alleycats regularly, that’s the heart and soul of MER, but we need to
make sales as well, and we do through our website and stores. We are
fortunate to work with some local shops like King Kog, and Continuum.
I mostly sell bags in new york, california, texas, Japan and canada.
NONA: “I don’t know about you, but I can’t sell to bike shops, or if I
do, it’s not a sustainable retail relationship because they’re geared
to selling cheap bike parts, wrenching services or …bikes. Things
that are more expensive or lifestyle have had a better time in fashion
boutiques with people outside a small messenger or bike enthusiast
communities. I like to imagine that it encourages more people to ride.
How do you handle trying to sell the products that appeal to
non-messengers, like the totes? It’s really hard to compete when your
labor costs are USA based.”
ROB: “Definitely, but there’s a lot of new people getting into biking
and willing to buy things just based on the fact that they’re made in
America. I get a lot of business from ‘The American List’ a list of
stylish and cool brands that are American made, compiled by A
NONA: “I love this roll-top with the buckles!”
ROB: “It’s meant to hold a skateboard, it’s a new bag model that will
be available soon. super low profile, just the basics.”
- Bicycle Mounted Speakers
The problem with bicycling isn’t a lack of infrastructure, kind and responsible drivers and pedestrians… It’s that there’s not enough music cranked to 10 when riding to work or where ever. And sadly you’re probably not serious enough to do it in the traditional style:
If you can’t cruise through Brooklyn blaring “My Way” or “Born to Run” Through NJ, the Beach Boys in California or whatever it is that seems like a good time, you might be in danger of NOT having a good time. Terrifying.
But lucky for you, it turns out there are a lot of ipod based cheap & fast options out there:
CycleTunes $49.99, Horn Bike passive amplification $30, iHome iH85 (it’s a waterbottle that blasts sound at you!), Goal Zero (solar powered $29.95, Cy-Fi ($160 but amazon has it for $35), boom botix ($45 & $65) and a billion other weird options from china or jerry rigged contraptions from various guys on the internet. The biggest bummer in sorting it all out? They all look kinda awful. I mean, most of them are so ugly they make an accidental Phil Collins song seem not so bad.
If you’re not ready to custom paint and install a gorgeous neon pink boom box on the handle bars of your banana seat cruiser like Jacoti Sommes (…and rock a matching arm band? That man is AMAZING!)
Then really there’s only two options for cute, quick, easy, cheap and works with your ipod. The funny horn thing and the boom botix. And the horn bike, besides being kinda awesome in not requiring batteries is also a bummer in that the sound quality and volume isn’t going to work in a loud urban atmosphere. The iHome was kinda cool (like your cool black waterbottle was possessed) but it seems to be no longer for sale. Though if you’d like to find poetry in completing a cycle of style there’s another iHome product that will allow you to have the best of both worlds: an ipod powered bright pink boombox:
I’m not sure how you’re going to mount it to a bicycle or power it, but isn’t that what will impress everyone who witnesses such a triumph? Plus, I’m sure some of those guys on the internet will give you some pointers.
Now, don’t forget to send me pictures when you’re done.