Thursday, April 30, 2009

Columbus Named a Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists

Congratulations to Columbus, for being the first city in Ohio to be named a Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists! The League awarded our neighbors to the southwest its Bronze status in its spring 2009 announcement of new BFC's, along 12 other communities, including 4 other firsts in their respective states: Philadelphia (PA), Cedar Falls (IA), Columbia (MO), and Tulsa (OK).

Information about the criteria used to select Bicycle-Friendly Communities and how to apply can be found here on the League's web site.

Bay Village Bicycle Safety Fair is tonight at 6:30 pm

Trust Scott and the crew from the Rocky River store to get an entire town ready to ride! They'll be at the Bay Village Bicycle Safety Fair tonight from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Bay Middle School, doing free bicycle safety checks for city residents. Special attention is being paid to the students from Bay Middle School and Bay High School, who are registering this week for the Bay Bike To School Challenge sponsored by Century Cycles and Chipotle on May 4 - 22.

What fun is there at the fair? Well, Century Cycles is giving away bicycle helmets to the first 40 people who receive a safety check. Krista from the Rocky River store will be there, fitting helmets and showing Bay residents the bicycle she uses for commuting, which was featured in The Plain Dealer last year. Also:
  • Bike To School Challenge organizers will register students and answer parents' questions about the program.
  • Project Earth Environmental Club will educate attendees on the environmental benefits of riding a bike, while the Bay Skate and Bike Park Foundation will educate them on the physical benefits. Both groups are Bike To School Challenge sponsors and will sell t-shirts.
  • The city of Bay Village's police department and their bike officers will be available to citizens with bike licenses and information.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Take a Ride at Sea Otter with Giant

The Sea Otter Classic is one of the biggest and most popular cycling events, with pro and amateur-level races for both road and mountain bikers, as well as the largest consumer cycling exhibition in the country. It takes place on California's Monterey Peninsula, usually some time in mid-April; this year it was a week and a half ago, April 16-19.

If you're like most of us and could not make it out there, you can ride along virtually, courtesy of Pro Men's Mountain Super D Champion Carl "The Decorator" Decker, and Pro Women's Mountain Super D Champion Kelli "The Future Mrs. Doug Charnock" Emmett, both of the Giant Mountain Bike Team.

You can also check out this interview of both Carl and Kelli before the start of their Pro Cross-Country races:

Monday, April 27, 2009

A great kick-off to another Night Riding Season!

With summer-like weather, we had over 175 people show up for our first Night Ride on the Towpath of the season this past Saturday! Look for yourself, or check out what you may have missed in the slide show below (you can click on the photos for a larger view).

Thanks to Doug for the photos!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Product Review: Old Man Mountain AC Lowrider Front Rack

A few months back, I enjoyed telling you about my satisfaction with my new Axiom Odysee FS rear cargo rack, which was designed to work on bike without traditional rack mounting eyelets. Recently, a customer getting ready for a long bike tour came into the Peninsula store looking for a rear rack to fit on his cyclocross bike with disc brakes, and this same Axiom rack worked great for him. When it came time to find a front rack, we had to do some more digging, and ended up ordering him the Ultimate Lowrider Rack from Old Man Mountain Racks.

Old Man Mountain is a small company in Santa Barbara, California that specializes in cargo racks to fit any bike, especially those that do not have standard rack mounting eyelets. Look for a review of the Ultimate Lowrider when our customer returns from his trip!

In the meantime, I had been in need of a new front cargo rack for my Surly Long Haul Trucker, which DOES have traditional rack mounting eyelets. There are a few good standard racks that would fit the bill, such as the Jandd Extreme or Jandd Lowrider, and of course, the Surly "Nice Rack." But, since we were placing an order with Old Man Mountain anyway, I figured I'd try out their AC Lowrider front rack.

The name of the AC Lowrider is in honor of the Adventure Cycling Association. It's a basic alloy front rack. Installation took a quick 10 minutes using the lower- and mid-fork eyelets on the Long Haul Trucker's fork. The rack has adjustability while retaining its elegant simplicity; you can adjust the tilt so that the rack and your panniers sit perfectly horizontal. After getting the rack installed, I rode the LHT to the shop today, and the rack (so far unloaded only), seems solid as a rock.

When I spoke to the folks at Old Man Mountain when I placed the order, they informed me that they are discontinuing this rack! They have a few left though, so if you've been thinking about getting one, act fast! They said that they sold 250 of them in the year since they released it. When they tried to order more from their factory, their supplier would only make them in lots of 1000, so despite the popularity and quality of the rack, Old Man Mountain decided that they did not want to invest in ordering a four-year supply!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Can you keep a secret?? Shhhh....

I bought my husband a bike for Father's Day. The poor guy has to put up with me all the time, so I thought he deserved something really amazing and I think I found it -- the Electra Straight 8.

It's so freakin' cool, though, that there is no way I can hold on to it until June 21. I gotta find another excuse to give it to him early....perhaps Cinco de Mayo?? Or maybe May 7? Jerry is a big motorcycle racing fan and that's Ben Bostrom's birthday.

In the meantime, it's on the floor at the Rocky River store, should you want to bask in its coolness before it takes up residence in our garage.

Happy Earth Day!

Apparently, the web server at is so overwhelmed with people wanting more information, that as I write this, it is unable to respond.

But, there are plenty of other ways to find out how to volunteer to celebrate our planetary home; check out the Wikipedia entry for Earth Day to learn more.

Speaking of volunteering, this week also happens to be National Volunteer Week, to promote the act of volunteering, and show our appreciation for those who volunteer, like the folks from Bay High School mentioned in yesterday's blog post helping to get ready for the 2009 Bike to School Challenge Sponsored by Century Cycles and Chipotle.

Another way to can lend a hand locally is to join the Cleveland Area Mounting Bike Association at their next trail maintenance day this Sunday, May 3, 9:00am at West Branch State Park. As always, tools and a free lunch are provided. See their trail-building schedule for more details.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The time it takes to make a difference

Turns out it takes just under two hours. That how long it took members of the Project Earth Environmental Club at Bay High School this afternoon to stuff 1,400 registration packets for the 2009 Bike To School Challenge sponsored by Century Cycles and Chipotle, which will start on May 4 to encourage 5th through 12th graders in Bay Schools to kick the car habit and ride their bikes instead.

That's 11 packets per minute, but you also have to throw in the assistance of one assistant principal, one math teacher, one bike store owner, one founder of a bike and skate park, a few moms, and a couple siblings.

First Night Ride is this Saturday!

Everyone I talk to has two topics they want to discuss -- the Cavs and the weather forecast for this weekend. Even more unusual for Cleveland, both look very promising.

It's those 70-plus-degree temperatures on Saturday that make it the perfect evening for our very first Night Ride on the Towpath Trail of 2009. Scott and Doug are leading the ride, and most likely leading the march next door to the Lizard upon the ride's conclusion.

Plus what else you gonna do? The Cavs ain't playing that night.

More Night Ride details:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fewer Roads = Less Congestion?

Have you heard of Braess's Paradox? It's the principle which states that adding capacity to a network in which all the moving entities rationally seek the most efficient route can sometimes reduce the network’s overall efficiency. It can be applied to many systems, such as computer networks, sewer drainage, and, most apropos to this blog, traffic flows on roads. Articles from the Sightline Daily newspaper in the Pacific Northwest and The Christian Science Monitor point to a study titled "The Price of Anarchy in Transportation Networks: Efficiency and Optimality Control," which looked at traffic flows in Boston, New York, and London and found that, when individual drivers seek the quickest route, they sometimes end up slowing things down for everybody. By carefully selecting roads for closure, overall travel times could be reduced. This was actually put into practice and shown to be true in London, as well as Seoul, South Korea.
Note that this cannot be generalized to ANY system of roads; it only works in certain special circumstances. But it's a great example of how thoughtful analysis can sometimes yield better, cheaper solutions to common problems. Lately, many pundits have decried the use of federal economic stimulus funds for improvements to biking and pedestrian facilities instead of more enhancements to the motorized vehicle infrastructure. But, if nothing else, this exercise might help debunk the idea that the only good way to make traffic faster is build bigger, wider roads.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cyclists to be detoured by work on Chagrin River bridges

The Cleveland Touring Club sent this informative email this morning:

Work on Chagrin River bridges will add to detours and extra miles already necessary for cyclists to avoid the closure of Old Mill between County Line Road and Mayfield Road. (When taking Old Mill east, the current cyclist detour it to take County Line Road south to Hillcrest Road east to Westchester Trail north.)

Two additional projects to replace or repair deteriorating bridges over the Chagrin River will overlap the work already begun on the Mayfield Road bridge. Mayfield Road is a good road for cyclists to avoid in ideal conditions because of heavy traffic. With the construction, only one lane will be open in each direction through August 31, 2010. Preconstruction work is scheduled from mid-April through mid-July on the River Road bridge near Old Mill Road in Gates Mills, which is scheduled to be replaced. There will be a temporary traffic light, and traffic will be reduced to one lane. A good detour for cyclists is the pedestrian bridge that is a hundred yards north of the bridge off the west side of River Road. You access it from a short sidewalk, and it’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. Once you cross the bridge, you can turn left on Old Mill to return to River Road or turn right on Old Mill, left on Epping, and right on Beverly or Berkshire to bypass a blind turn on River Road.

The biggest challenge for cyclists will be the third bridge project--on River Road where Wilson Mills jogs from south to north. Construction will probably start in May and will take about three months (if we're lucky). The road will be completely closed during that time. Cyclists who take the trail through North Chagrin Reservation to Wilson Mills (or Ox Road to River Road going south) will only be able to turn north on River Road or west on Wilson Mills.

Win this bike at EarthFest from Century Cycles and The WAVE!

This morning at 10am, EarthFest 2009 opens at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It's Ohio's largest environmental education event and one of the longest-standing continuous Earth Day celebrations in the country.

Look for the The WAVE radio station booth in the Welcome Plaza, where Century Cycles is teaming up with The WAVE to give away a Raleigh Mojave 2.0. The bike comes decked out with Avenir rack and panniers, water bottle and water bottle cage, and a "Define your life. Ride a bike." t-shirt -- all ready to ride all around town!

And riding around town to errands and visits can make a big difference -- a short, four-mile round trip by bicycle keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out the air.

So stop by The WAVE's booth and enter to win either the bike or tickets to see the Moody Blues, plus guitarist Brian Henke will make a special appearance!

Only one person will get the bike, but everyone can also pick up Century Cycles coupons in The WAVE's booth, good for 15% off bicycle accessories (like those cool racks and panniers for commuting), $20 off ANY bicycle, and a FREE safety check (in case you want one of our expert mechanics to inspect the bike you already own).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A fabumouse bike adventure

If you know or love someone whose age is still in the single digits, this blog post is for you. If not, then move along. Nothing to see here.
If a little one is in your life, then you probably already know Mr. Stilton, Geronimo Stilton. He's publisher of The Rodent's Gazette, Mouse Island's most famouse newspaper, and an author who's latest book, The Race Across America, finds Geronimo on a bicycle. If you're familiar with his oevre, you know that Geronimo is no George Hincapie at the start of this adventure. Far from it, unless George whines a lot and likes nice cups of hot cheddar -- neither of which is revealed in his tweets.
Along the way, Geronimo's book teaches young readers about the history of the bicycle, training for a bicycle race and the Race Across America. And needless to say, it's a whicker-licking-good tale, especially if you're in the single digits.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Scott Cowan: On the cover of Ohio Sports and Fitness magazine

If it seems like Scott is everywhere lately, it might be because you've seen his smiling face on the cover of Ohio Sports & Fitness magazine this month. He was profiled about his extensive bicycle collection by our very own Kevin Madzia, whose writing talents have long been featured on this blog. You can read the profile below, or click here to read the complete April issue. Many thanks to Stacy Rhea, editor of OS&F, for her interest in featuring Scott's passion for bicycles in the magazine's annual cycling issue. Thanks, too, to Ruggero Fatica (who took the cover photo of Scott) and to Century Cycles' own Doug Charnock and Mike Petcher, who photographed some of the bikes in the collection that were featured in the magazine -- some of which they couldn't include due to space constraints, but which I will post on the blog in the days to come for your viewing pleasure.

Scott Cowan is passionate about bikes By Kevin Madzia If you wander around Scott Cowan’s house, his passion for bicycling is apparent on the walls and shelves of virtually every room, which are adorned with his extensive collection of more than 100 bicycles and countless components, books, signs and memorabilia. His passion extends to all parts of his life, including his work as the owner of three Century Cycles bicycle shops.

Cowan discovered his passion for bicycling as a kid, and did not give it up once he got old enough to drive. His first bike was a copper-colored Schwinn Typhoon that he rode all over town. When he finally outgrew it, he bought a 10-speed, which he rode throughout high school and college. He wanted to buy himself a college graduation gift, but without an immediate job he could not afford a new car, so he bought a new bike instead.

Cowan started collecting bikes in 1993 when he came across a J.C. Higgins balloon tire bike that he found at an antique store. A few years later, he was delighted to come across a copper-colored Schwinn Typhoon, just like the one he had as a kid.

Most of his bike acquisitions came about serendipitously, often as tips from friends who saw them at garage sales. and, as Scott says, “just thought I might be interested.” A few have been scavenged from tree lawns, but not one of Cowan’s bikes have been purchased on eBay.

With one such serendipitous find, Cowan didn’t realize how lucky he was until after the fact. He was looking at a vintage bike collector’s Web site, which described a Monark Airman Comet with a rare twin suspension that was sold out of the Spiegel catalog in the early 1940s. The Web page said there was only one surviving example of the model known to exist, and as Cowan read it he realized, “Holy crap, I’ve got one of those!”

One of his favorite bikes is an old tandem that is still ride-able. It has a mechanism that allows it to be steered from the rear seat.

“It’s such a blast to ride, and it freaks people out when they see me on it,” he says.

His oldest bike is a mid-1930s tricycle with wooden rims. The newest vintage bike is a blue Miyata racer. His newest modern bike is a track bike with an old-school design, the Giant Bowery ‘72.

An important part of Cowan’s collection is a hard-cover notebook, which contains handwritten records of bike acquisitions. The location, price and other details of each transaction are described in detail.

One entry reads, “A bottle of single-barrel Jack Daniels and $370 for an old Raleigh Chopper.” About another bike, Cowan wrote it took one week to finalize the deal.

The collection is not limited to complete bikes. There are piles of old wheels, crank sets, shifters, brakes, handlebars, you name it, Cowan has it.

Sitting next to a like-new Roadmaster cruiser is a 6-inch die-cast model of it, identical in detail down to the red and black paint job. Look closer and you notice a 3-inch Christmas tree ornament version of the same bike. A couple of small boxes sitting on a workbench contain several lifetimes’ supply of old 1-inch pitch chain links. “Someday, I will own them all, and then they will all have to come to me,” he says with a grin, while rubbing his hands together mock-villain style.

Scott's passion for collecting, like his passion for bikes, started during childhood. When asked what he collected as a kid, Cowan says, "What didn't I collect?" He runs down a short list: stamps, seashells, Matchbox and Hot Wheels, coins...

In the basement, your eyes will catch other collections and odds and ends. A giant plastic bin of marbles. An antique rotary-style telephone. Bottles of wine. Cigar boxes. Neon signs. Model trains and airplanes. Several boxes of card files "for when card files come back in style," Cowan says.

Cowan's pack-rat tendencies stem from his love and appreciation of the art in everything, especially in the design of practical things. He has always been a fan of Viktor Schreckengost, an industrial designer and sculptor from Cleveland how lived to the ripe age of 102. Cowan says Schreckengost was "very creative, forward-thinking and ahead of his time."

Schreckengost designed pottery, dinnerware, engines and of course, bicycles. In Schreckengost, Cowan sees the embodiment of his philosophy of life, a philosophy that he also recently found expressed in a quote by Howard Thurman, a noted philosopher and civil rights leader.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who come alive."

And it's bicycles of all shapes, sizes and eras that make Cowan come alive.

Kevin Madzia has a passion for cycling himself, with several long bike trips under his belt, including one from Seattle to Boston, and another from Cleveland to Guatemala. He is the Web master for Century Cycles and the editor of the bike commuter blog

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Different Kind of Bicycle Built for Two

The guys in our Medina store recently put together this fine rig for a couple who enjoy riding on the trails at Buckeye Woods Park in Medina County. It consists of:
  • Two Sun EZ-1 SX recumbent bicycles ($899.99 each)
  • Two Sun canopies ($69.99 each)
  • One Sun quad bike kit ($909.99)

Here are Adam and Don testing it out in the parking lot around the store:

Thanks to Petch for the pictures!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Check us out at The Winking Lizard Tavern!

Thank you to The Winking Lizard Tavern in Peninsula for letting us display some of our "propaganda" in their entryway! Shown is the Electra Women's Townie 7D in Orange Pearl ($439.99).
Needless to say, the Lizard is a favorite spot of the CC Peninsula crew for lunch, dinner, and after-work refreshments. Thanks to Doug for the above photo; rumor has it that he spends his fair share of spare time at the Lizard...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Latest eNewsletter

The latest edition of the Century Cycles eNewsletter is making its way across the Internet at this moment, so if you're a subscriber, look for it in your Inbox any minute now!

If you aren't receiving our monthly eNewsletter, you can read it online here. From there, you'll also find links where you can sign up to receive your own copy, or forward it to your friends!

Staff Profile: Joshua Ronschke

Many of us fondly remember an event Century Cycles held about three years ago with legendary cyclist and author Bob Roll. For mechanic Joshua Ronschke, 24, it was a life-altering experience when his brother invited him to attend it. At the time, Josh was working as a baker at Heinen’s. Shortly after he got a glimpse of the world of bicycling at Century Cycles that night, he quit Heinen’s, was hired by Century Cycles in Rocky River, and whole new livelihood was born.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about working at Century Cycles?

Every morning when I wake up, I look forward to going to work. Everyone is happy – the employees, the customers, everyone. Cycling is something we all want and love to do, and it makes everyone happy. Plus I don’t have to wear a tie.

Q. Road or dirt?

That’s really hard to choose. It depends on my mood. I do a lot of road riding, but if I had to choose only one to do, it’d be mountain biking. In fact, I just ordered a new mountain bike, a Surly Karate Monkey.

Q. How many bikes do you own?

About five complete bikes, but there are probably 11 in our apartment altogether [Josh shares an apartment with Brad, another mechanic at the Rocky River store]. We have about six in the living room, two in the dining room. They’re all over.

Q. What’s your biggest accomplishment on a bike?

After college graduation last year, I took a few months off. During that time, I rode my Surly Long Haul Trucker from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon, then took the train to Colorado and rode from Denver to Boulder. Before working here, I never would have considered riding 100 miles, much less 1,000. But it was great and I loved it.

Q. What is your favorite trail or ride?

I just rode the new trail at East 49th and Grant, the Erie Canalway [in the Cleveland Metroparks], and that was nice to go mountain biking in Cleveland.

Q. What’s your college degree in?

Last May I graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in Communications.

Q. What was your first bike?

You guys pictured it on the blog. That was it.

Q. What are three words that describe how you feel on a bike?

Free, independent, carefree.

Q. What do you do when you’re not on a bike or at Century Cycles?

Basketball is it. It’s my first love.

Q. What’s your favorite beer?

Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Summer Solstice. I’ve only had it once – in Mendocino, CA – but I remember it as the best beer I’ve ever had. I don’t know if it was just because it was after a long bike ride or what, but it was the best beer ever.

Q. What’s your favorite bike?

My Surly Long Haul Trucker I took out west.

Q. You recently were the driving force behind getting an Electra bike from Century Cycles displayed at the VANITYLAB hair salon in Westlake. How did that come about?

My girlfriend, Rachael, works at VANITYLAB and obviously I work for Century Cycles. We work at locally-owned businesses and we like to shop at them, too, instead of going to the big chains. We got to talking about how we can help other small shops and that’s when we came up with this idea.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about cycling?

That it’s something you can do from the time you’re 3 years old to 83 or 93. Never stop riding. My dad had a bunch of really bad health problems a few years back, but now he rides a bike we got him and his health has improved. He feels better than he has in a long time.

Q. What does your dad ride?

He and my mom live out in the country and they both ride Raleigh Ventures.

TechTalk: Crankin' on Cranksets

Even to novice bicycle buyers, one of the most obvious features that distinguishes one bike from another is the number of gears it has in the front area where the pedals are. These gears are referred to as chainrings, and the chainrings are a part of the whole assembly known as the crankset.

A crank set consists of two crank arms and one or more chainrings. The crank arms are the levers on the right and left that connect the pedals to the bottom bracket. Sometimes the bottom bracket itself is also included when you purchase a crankset assembly.

Except for singlespeed bikes and fixed-gear/track bikes, most bicycles have either a double crankset (with two chainrings) or a triple crankset (with three chainrings). In either case, cranksets come equipped with different-sized chainrings based on the gear ranges needed for the intended use of the bicycle. Chainrings are measured by the number of teeth they have; the more teeth, the large the chainring is, resulting in higher gears (harder to pedal). The less teeth the chainring has, the smaller it is, and the easier it is to pedal using that particular gear.

Most casual bicyclists prefer a triple crankset, because it provides the widest range of gearing, especially on the low-gear end, for the easiest-possible pedaling up steep hills. Regardless of the size, the smallest chainring on a triple crankset is often called the "granny gear."

Triple chainrings can come in many different configurations. On road bicycles, a typical setup is a 52-tooth large (outer) chainring, a 42-tooth middle chainring, and a 30-tooth small (inner) chainring. This gives a good high gear for really accelerating on flats and descents, and a good low gear for spinning up all but the most brutally steep of climbs on paved roads.

In the early days of mountain biking, bike builders realized that riders would need much lower gearing for steep off-road climbs, and so typically used a 48- or 46-tooth big ring, a 38- or 36-tooth middle ring, and a 28- or 26-tooth small ring. Around the early 1990's, mountain cranksets were redesigned to accomodate even smaller chainrings, and a new "compact" mountain crankset became popular, with 44-32-22 chainrings. This became the de facto standard for mountain bikes within a couple of years and continues through today, and so the term "compact" is rarely, if ever, used any more to refer to this setup.

Meanwhile, people riding fully-loaded touring bikes wanted something that was a happy medium between a road bike triple and a mountain bike triple, and so the 48-38-28 or 46-36-26 setup became popular on those bikes, providing a relatively high gear for cruising on flat roads, but still a pretty low gear for pulling the weight of their tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear, etc. up hills. This setup has now become commonly known as a "touring" crankset, and it's also found on many hybrid bikes.

In the racing world, a double crankset is the standard. The two chainrings provide a much simpler and more reliably-operating system compared to a triple, plus the overall weight is slightly reduced. Even on steep climbs, a small granny-gear is not needed by racers with super-strong legs and super-lightweight bikes. A bicycle designed for road racing usually has a 53-tooth large chainring and a 39-tooth small chainring.

Over the past 5 or 6 years, the "compact double" crankset has become popular with cyclists looking for the weight and efficiency advantages of a double chainring, combined with the low-geared hill-climbing ability of a triple chainring. The compact double usually has a 50-tooth large chainring and a 34-tooth small chainring, and depending on the size of the cassette used on the rear wheel, provides a lowest gear combination that is almost as easy as what you find on a triple setup, thus giving you the "best of both worlds."

What would prevent you from using a double crankset with a very large chainring combined with a very small chainring, giving you even better of the "best of both worlds?" The limiting factor is that you can't have too much of a difference between your smallest and largest chainring, because it would be impossible to position the front derailleur without having the chain always rubbing it while in one chainring or the other. Another design consideration is the rear derailleur must have enough chain wrap capacity to take up the slack required when switching from the large to the small chainring (a topic for a future TechTalk...).

Many cyclocross racing bikes use another version of a double crankset, with a 46-tooth large chainring and a 38-tooth small chainring. Since cyclocross race courses typically don't have long, flat sections, and the racers dismount and run up the short, steep hills, they choose to sacrifice both the very high and very low gear ranges in order to have a smaller tooth difference between their chainrings, thus providing smoother and quicker shifting.

In addition to the number of teeth, chainrings and crank arms have an important measurement called the BCD, for bolt circle diameter. Chainrings are held in place on the right crank arm by a set of four or five bolts. The BCD is the diameter, in millimeters, of the circle formed by these 4 or 5 bolts. On a 4-bolt system, you can just measure the distance between two opposite bolts to get the BCD, but on a 5-bolt system, a special tool is used to measure the diameter of the virtual circle formed by the bolts.

Typical road cranksets have a 130mm BCD, with an additional set of bolts with a 74mm BCD for the granny gear if it's a triple. Most mountain cranksets use a 4-bolt 104mm BCD for the outer and middle chainrings, and a 64m BCD for the granny gear. Compact double cranksets usually have a 110mm BCD. 130mm is the de facto standard BCD for track cranksets. As always, there are exceptions! For example, most road cranksets from Campagnolo use a 135mm BCD.

The chainrings on most modern multi-gear drive trains have specially-designed features that aid in shifting from one chainring to another. Some teeth have special shapes on just a few teeth per chainring. Some chainrings have extra plates, called ramps, attached below the teeth, plus pins on the sides in strategic locations, both of which help move the chain along as you shift.
Finally, you do have some choices for the length of your crank arms. They are measured in millimeters, and the measurement is taken from the center of the bottom bracket spindle to the center of the pedal mounting hole. Most road, mountain, and hybrid bikes come with 170mm or 175mm crank arms, which the majority of riders find acceptable. Riders of much shorter or much taller stature can sometimes opt for 165mm or 180mm cranksets. If you're really particular, some models are available in 172.5mm. Not all manufacturers make all of their crankset models in all sizes, though. Many track bike riders use the shorter 165mm crank arms in order to help avoid striking their pedals on the pavement while going around sharp corners, and so most track-specific cranksets come in this length.

Century Cycles named a 2008 Shop of the Year

For Immediate Release

The League of American Bicyclists Announces Century Cycles as a 2008 Shop of the Year

Washington, DC - April 13, 2009 – The League of American Bicyclists is proud to announce Century Cycles as a 2008 Shop of the Year, as determined by the League’s members.

The League’s Shops of the Year award recognizes only eight outstanding shops in the U.S. for their commitment to customer service and dedication to encouraging cycling. Andy Clarke, President of the League, said, “The League is delighted to recognize Century Cycles as a 2008 Shop of the Year for their efforts to promote cycling in their community. In addition to their outstanding customer service, Century Cycles is involved in advocacy, education and encouragement activities that have an impact well beyond their shop’s walls.”

In 2008, Century Cycles was also named a Top 100 Bicycle Retailer in the U.S., its seventh straight year being honored by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, the trade publication for the bicycle industry. The local bike chain, which just celebrated its 17th anniversary, was also recently ranked in the top 10 among 1,200 Raleigh dealers in the United States.

“All of us at Century Cycles are honored to be recognized by such an esteemed group of cyclists,” said Scott Cowan, owner and founder of Century Cycles. “We’ll keep striving to provide world-class customer service and will continue to bring bicycling to as many people as possible.”

The 2008 Shops of the Year:

Region 1.
Belmont Wheelworks. Belmont, Massachusetts
Region 2.
Genesis Bicycles. Easton, Pennsylvania
Region 3.
Revolution Cycles. Arlington, Virginia
Region 4.
Century Cycles. Medina/Peninsula/Rocky River, Ohio
HubBub Custom Bicycles. Cleveland, Ohio
American Cycle & Fitness. Commerce Twp., Michigan
Region 5.
Bicycle Sport Shop. Austin, Texas
Region 6.
Bike Gallery. Portland, Oregon

The League determined the 2008 Shops of the Year winners in a recent membership survey. The League’s members were asked what their favorite bike shops were and why. The shops with the most mentions in each region won. Typically, six awards are given – one per region. However, 2008 proved to be a great year for bicycling. Two additional shops were recognized in Region 4 where there was a three-way tie.

The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America's 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thank you, Bike League!

Cycle your way to a longer life

As a person who wants to blow out 100 candles on a birthday cake, I was happy to read the PDQ section of today's Plain Dealer list all the ways to improve the odds for a long life. As a person with a few bikes, I was even happier to see this make the list:
Take up cycling: A report by the British Medical Association concluded that folks who cycled regularly live an average of two years longer than noncyclists.

Lots of other things you might also like (wine, sex, chocolate, pets) were on the list, as well as a few things that are never high on any list (um, castration, anyone?).

Meet the Giant TCR Advanced SL 1

Meet Ray Hradek, and his brand new Giant TCR Advanced SL 1 road bike. It's one of the nicest bicycles we've ever sold, and fittingly, to one of the nicest people in Medina! The bike is Giant's lightest, fastest, stiffest road racer ever, and features Giant's formulaOne carbon fiber technology frame, a Shimano Dura-Ace drive train, and premium Mavic Ksyrium wheels. Thank you, Ray!

To learn about how the formulaOne technology in Giant's carbon road bikes stacks up against the competition, check out the Giant Road Report Card (pdf document; requires Adobe Reader software).
Executive Summary: The three primary factors that determine the quality of a road bike frame are weight, stiffness, and comfort. Giant engineers compared their TCR Advanced SL frame to the top-of-the-line frames from their competitors, including Trek, Specialized, Look, Scott, Cervelo, and Cannondale using objective, scientific tests to measure all three of these characteristics in each frame. While some frames scored higher in individual categories, the Giant TCR Advanced SL had the highest overall rating, with a B+ rating for weight, an A- rating for stiffness, and an A+ rating for comfort.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Don't try this at home

A friend of ours came across this while out and about. Nice "quad" (four-seater tandem bicycle)! We're all for unique and whacked-out bike configurations; whatever it takes for you to enjoy the ride. What we don't recommend is how it's being transported. That much weight without any support under the rear wheel can NOT be good for that bike's frame!
As a reminder, all three of our stores are CLOSED on Sunday, April 12 for the Easter Holiday! Hopefully, we'll be out on the bike trails practicing our bunny hops!

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Fistful of Surlys

Our bicycles from Raleigh, Giant, Masi, and Electra have been selling well as usual, but we've also had a good run on Surly Bikes already this year. We received four Surlys yesterday, including the two Olive Green Long Haul Truckers shown here. The one on the left is decked out with matching front and rear Jandd cargo racks, and the one on the right had the bar-end shifters replaced with down tube shifters, black bar tape replaced with tan, and topped off with a Brooks B-17 Honey saddle.

The hit of the season so far has been the Long Haul Trucker in the new color known as Truckaccino. The coffee-with-cream shade is really set off well by the all-black decal set (see photo below). We've special-ordered two or three of them already for our customers.

Surly has taken a lot of flack over the years for their unique color choices, and none has generated more controversy than this year's Cross-Check in Beef Gravy Brown (middle, above). It actually looks a lot better in person than the pictures can do justice to. We've got a 54cm model in stock in Peninsula, so come check it out!

We've also got a 62cm Cross-Check in Misty Mountain Gray in Rocky River, a 56cm Cross-Check in Black in Medina, and a 54cm Long Haul Trucker in Blue in Peninsula. Availability and location are subject to change, so call us first before you take the day off work to come in for a test ride!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Home Tours by Bike

I'm not sure if this is another good example of "Define your life. Ride a bike." or just another great green idea, but a real estate agent in Georgia is offering his prospective clients home tours by bicycle. It gives home shoppers the chance to see more than they would if arriving by car, such as local parks, neighbors, and the chance to see the roads and streets that their children will be playing near.

Read the full story in this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Century Cycles has bikes as sweet as cupcakes!

And Main Street Cupcakes has sweet treats to satisfy anybody after a good bike ride!

Located at 238 North Main Street in historic downtown Hudson, Ohio, they offer a daily selection of cupcakes from their menu of over 160 flavors! Just like Century Cycles, they are locally-owned, so stop by to try their tempting tasteful treats and support businesses of Northeast Ohio! (From our Peninsula store, just take Route 303 east to Hudson, then turn left on Route 91.)

While you're enjoying your cupcakes, look for our Electra Townie Holiday 3 cruiser bike in Apple Green! It's perfect for cruising around town for errands, such as picking up some coffee, and of course, some cupcakes! It has 3 speeds and coaster brakes for simple operation, and it comes with the matching front basket!

Matching some cupcake flavors to the Townie's Apple Green color was no problem for Main Street's Cupcake's creative baker. We can't match their variety of colors and flavors, although the Townie Holiday 3 also comes in Sky Blue and Khaki!

Check back for a special offer for our rental bike customers to redeem this summer at Main Street Cupcakes!

Define everything. Ride a bike.

Some of you may remember our recurring advertisments from a couple of years ago, where we helped drive home the point of "Define your life. Ride a bike." by illustrating definitions of sometimes-obscure bicycle-related terms. You can see some of those old definitions on our Define your life. Ride a bike. web page.

For those of you who just can't get enough of definitions, we have a whole brand-new glossary of cycling terms for your education and entertainment. You can find it by going to:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's a Pink Sweetheart miracle!

We were able to get our hands on another Electra Pink Sweetheart Pajama Party bicycle and it's now on the floor at the Rocky River store. If you know somebody crazy for pink, or crazy for hearts (down to the rims and hand grips!), or just crazy for cool bikes, then steer them our way. Steer, too, any resident Easter bunnies or Mother's Day gift-shoppers -- this bike would brighten any of those upcoming holidays.

The last two Pink Sweethearts we had in stock were sold to avid Electra fans in California and Idaho, who found us through this little ol' blog. Here's hoping this one stays in the area, if only so we get to see it's heart-covered loveliness brightening our Ohio streets.

Bay Bike To School Challenge sponsored by Century Cycles and Chipotle

For Immediate Release
2009 Bay Schools Bike To School Challenge sponsored by Century Cycles and Chipotle begins on May 4; program seeks to inspire over 1,600 students to ride their bikes to school

BAY VILLAGE, Ohio (April 7, 2009) -- Back for its second year, Bay Schools Bike To School Challenge sponsored by Century Cycles and Chipotle helps students in Bay Village kick the car habit by challenging them to ride their bikes to school during three weeks each spring, to improve their health, get more exercise and help the environment. It is expanded in 2009 to include Bay Middle School as well as Bay High School - a combined population of over 1,600 students. With a lot of fun and a little friendly competition between the schools, Bike To School Challenge shows students (and the community as a whole) that "going by bike" is a great way to go.

Students who register for Bay Schools Bike To School Challenge sponsored by Century Cycles and Chipotle carry a redemption card that is stamped each day they ride a bike to school. The more days they ride, the more they get - including free t-shirts and bicycle accessories from Century Cycles bicycle store in Rocky River and free burritos from Chipotle. They also qualify for Bike To School Challenge's grand prizes - two Raleigh and two Giant bicycles (one each per school, courtesy of Century Cycles, Raleigh Bicycles and Giant Bicycles) and free Chipotle burritos for a year.

Bay Schools Bike To Challenge starts on May 4, dubbed "Free Burrito Day" -- each student who registers for Bike To School Challenge and rides the first day receives a free burrito from Chipotle. It concludes on May 22 with a pancake breakfast prepared for participating students by teachers and staff, plus assemblies at each school to show the students the impact of their efforts and draw the grand prize winners' names.

NEW IN 2009: The Golden Sprocket Award: The Golden Sprocket Award is the brainchild of BHS Assistant Principal Jason Martin and BMS Principal Sean McAndrews (and the trophy itself is the creation of the mechanics at Century Cycles). Bay Middle School and Bay High School will be competing during Bike To School Challenge to see which school has the greatest percentage of bike-riders on the three Wednesdays of the program, with the winner receiving the Golden Sprocket Award. It will be awarded weekly during Bike To School Challenge, on May 6, May 13 and May 20. The award will be displayed in the main office of the winning school building for as long as the school holds the title. On Friday, May 22, the Golden Sprocket will be awarded to the school with the greatest average percentage from the three dates, which will then be the permanent home of the award until the 2010 Bike To School Challenge. In order to be eligible for the Golden Sprocket Award, a building principal or assistant principal at each school must have ridden a bicycle to school on the date of the challenge.

Support from around the community: In addition to the Golden Sprocket Award and the prizes provided by Century Cycles and Chipotle, the program is receiving support from the community to encourage students to ride their bikes to school. The Parent Teacher Student Association at Bay Middle School and the Parent Teacher Association at Bay High School will provide free water bottles to the students as a prize. Friday, May 15, is Free Caribou Drink Day. Every student who rides that day receives a free drink voucher from Caribou Coffee. On Tuesday, May 19, Mitchell's Ice Cream will give free ice cream cones to 20 lucky students, randomly drawn from those who ride that day. On Friday, May 8, Studio VANITYLAB will give free haircuts to 25 Bay High School students, randomly drawn from those who ride that day.

Why a short bicycle ride can make a big difference: In 1969, approximately half of all students in the U.S. walked or bicycled to school. By 2001, only about 15 percent of U.S. students make the trip to school by walking or bicycling. Today, the habit of driving kids to school is so pervasive that, in some communities, parents driving their children to school represents between 20 and 30 percent of peak-hour morning traffic. (Source: Safe Routes to School: 2007 State of the States Report)

Success in 2008: Launched in 2008 as "Bay High School Bike To School Month sponsored by Century Cycles," the program was inspired by a student car boycott in 2007, when Century Cycles owner Scott Cowan approached his alma mater about encouraging more bike-riding to school. It was enthusiastically embraced by the students and faculty. Participation exceeded organizers' expectations - 543 students (66 percent of the school) registered for the program and on average 224 students per day biked to school during an unusually cold and rainy May. At its conclusion, Bay High School students rode an estimated 15,566 miles, saved $2,883 in fuel costs, and reduced carbon emissions by 14,350 pounds. Students said they rode their bikes more even after the program ended and the BHS faculty organized their own team for the MS 150, an annual 150-mile bicycle ride.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Five hours and counting...

This year's Spring Break Sale has only five hours left! We're open from noon to 5pm today for you to get the best prices of the year on everything from bikes to bells. Plus today is also the last day to enter to win the Masi Soulville.....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ringing In The New Miles - from is a new local company whose mission is to take their experience, enthusiasm, and personal knowledge of all that Medina County offers, and commit to the craft of creating high-quality multimedia stories to inform and entertain you.

Their first project just happens to be cycling-related; a story about the Medina County Bicycle Club's annual ABCDEFGHIJ! New Year's Day Ride! Click on the image below to see the slide show.

Friday, April 3, 2009

This Sunday: FREE FUN with Transportainment

Sunday April 5 - 2:00pm - 5:00pm

Location: Downtown Cleveland, from Public Square to Playhouse Square. This is the day after the Rock Hall inductions. Let's show them that downtown has some life to it and have some fun, too!

Open to all creative, eco-minded, fun loving fun living folks - free. Go play in the street. Discover downtown. Try transportation methods like walking, biking, skateboarding, car-sharing, car-pooling, trains, busses, scooters and maybe even ponies. Show the Rock Hall inductees that Cleveland's Cool.

  • Designarosa: the future location of the Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Center will be the site for DESIGNEROSA, a book release party for the CUDC's latest release, Pop Up City.
  • Mr Mustache's Magic Mountain
  • Bike polo from The Pedal Republik of Cleveland
  • Tall bikes
  • Ice cream bike from Century Cycles
  • Cleveland Institute of Music performances
  • Heelsplitter bicycle-traveling bluegrass band
  • Bike station by ClevelandBikes
  • Bike decorating for adults and kids
  • Video/photo contest using RTA bike racks with prizes from Ohio City Bicycle Co-op
  • Announcement of 2009 Walk+Roll schedule
  • Bike maps from NOACA
  • House of Blues is planning something
  • Erie Island coffee is planning something
  • Phat Car Autorama
  • City Wheels
  • University Circle Living is planning something
  • Progressive Urban may have residential units open
  • Downtown Playground with hula hoops, double dutch, 4-square, kickball, hopscotch
  • Poets on the RTA Healthline
  • Costumed bears on the Healthline
  • Glenda the Goodwitch
  • Free pedometers from COSE
  • UltraMission is planning something
  • Less Talk More Monkey apparel for sale
  • Big Fun is planning something
  • Geocaches
  • Erie Street Cemetary tours

We are trying to make it participatory and spontaneous, encouraging everyone to be part of creating the fun rather than providing scheduled entertainment that you just watch. Join in as much or as little as you like!

It is open to anyone and can be spontaneous or structured. Want to be an underwriter, sponsor, advertiser, donate prizes or create an activity? E-mail

This is being pulled together on two shoestrings and some loose change. Walk+Roll is a non-profit entity; if you support making greater Cleveland more bicycle and pedestiran friendly, please make a tax-deductible donation. No amount is too small and any amount will help.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Celebrate 20 Yeas of Dirt Rag at Ray's MTB

Celebrate 20 years of Dirt Rag Magazine at Ray’s MTB Park. Anytime is a good time to ride at Ray’s, but the weekend of April 4-5 will be extra special. Want to join in on the fun? Here is the low down.

The Dirt Rag crew will be riding Ray’s both Saturday and Sunday, perhaps a bit of Friday for good measure. Paid entry to Ray’s on Saturday will net you a 20th Anniversary spoke card. This spoke card will also get you in the door at the party Saturday evening at the Holiday Inn. Food will be provided, along with beer from Troeg’s and Pabst. Space is limited at the party, so get to Ray’s early to ensure your entry into the after party.

Dirt Rag will have a booth set up also, where you can stop by to renew your subscription, pick up some new Dirt Rag or Bicycle Times merchandise, or score some killer deals on closeout items from the Dirt Rag archives.

Always looking out for you, post party accommodations are available at the Holiday Inn at a very reasonable rate. More info at Ray’s website. There will be shuttle buses running between the hotel and Ray’s.

Dirt Rag says, "Come on out and celebrate with us. We couldn’t have made it this long without you."

Spring Break Sale Starts Today!

Don't forget that our Spring Break Sale starts TODAY and ends this Sunday, April 5!

  • At least 10% OFF all bicycles; some models marked down even more!

  • 20% OFF all accessories

  • Even bigger discounts on our Beach Blanket Bargains! In addition to the items listed in our post from a few days ago, look for these bargains, too (all while supplies last):

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Century Cycles Introduces SECOND New Bike Line in 8 Years!

For Immediate Release

April 1, 2009

Rocky River, Ohio - Following on the heels of the Breaking Away Party with Masi and Century Cycles, where the store officialy launched Masi Bicycles, their first new bike line in eight years, owner Scott Cowen today announced the addition of another new bike line.

Beginning today, look for quality bicycles from Huffy at all three Century Cycles stores in Medina, Peninsula, and Rocky River. Said Scott, "Because of their rich history of success in racing and other events, we are going to focus mainly on Huffy's high-end line." One such featured model is the Towanda-1, with full carbon-fiber frame and fork:

Owner of Century Cycles changes his name

Scott Cowan, owner of Century Cycles, has officially changed his name to Scott Cowen (with an "e"). After over 40 years of reminding people over and over again that "It's spelled C-O-W-A-N" and still getting addressed in print as Mr. Cowen, he has decided to give up the fight.

"I considered 'Cohen' and 'Cowin,' but 'Cowen' just felt right. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," said Scott. "Now I'm trying to talk my parents into changing to 'Cowen,' too."
In related news, Derrick Kortvejesi in Peninsula is changing his name to Derrick Smith and Mike Petcher in Medina has officially changed his nickname from "Petch" to "Peach."
(April Fools!!!!)