Tuesday, October 6, 2015

DIYBIKING.COM is Now Writing for Blaze.cc!

Created for Good Karma Bikes using old reflectors arranged on my garage floor shot with an iPhone using the flash (if you try this and don't use the flash, it looks like a bunch of reflectors arranged on a garage floor).

Here’s something you’re going to like: I’m now writing for Blaze; the U.K. based makers of the innovative Blaze Laserlight. This changes absolutely nothing about DIYBIKING.COM except make my grin wider.

Here’s the link to my first column: ‘The First Six Places to Bike When You Move to a New City.’ Read it. Like it. Share it on social media. Follow the Blaze blog as they have a lot of talented writers working with them (and me). 

Also (and this is for my San Jose/Bay Area readers): I’m still volunteering for Good Karma Bikes in San Jose and doing a push this week to get more likes on Facebook. GKB uses Zuckerburg’s brainchild to ask for volunteers and make announcements - and there’s going to be a lot of both going on in the next few weeks, so please click her to 'like’ Good Karma Bikes on Facebook. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

#VivaCalleSJ is in a Week - Get a Bike for it at Good Karma Bikes

Open Streets event in New York City, Summer 2013

Note: I'm still riding a fixie and am still alive - but that's not why I'm posting today. Don't forget: if you have a fixed gear bike and know why you ride it (that may be a tall order, I know) Tweet the answer on Twitter with the hashtag #WhyAFixie

Viva CalleSJ is a week from today - and if you don’t know what that is I am pleased to report that not all of the knowledge I brought with me when I moved to San Jose from Connecticut a few months back is completely useless.

Viva CalleSJ is an open streets event, which means city streets (six miles of them, in this case) are closed to cars for a period of time and people can walk, bike, do yoga, juggle and just…what’s that word…play

A couple of years ago my wife and I went to one in Manhattan and it was just. Period. Plain. Period. Fun. Period. Just getting out of Grand Central Terminal and not being greeted by a swarm of angry motorists was striking. Laughter instead of car horns. Relaxing instead of rushing. Just beautiful.

Walking down a New York street we've driven or taken a taxi on scores of times before made us think differently about a city and really, for the first time, experience it on our own terms. That’s just one part of what an open street event can do (if you think it has echoes of other ideas that involve reimagining public space like Parking Day you’re right).

New York City. San Jose will soon find out just how fun and exciting six miles of city streets can be when cars are kept away. 

So for those of you who - justifiably so - do not bike on city streets because you think they are dangerous please reconsider for Viva CalleSJ: Inherently, streets are not dangerous - motor vehicles are. 

And they aren’t invited. 

And if you don’t have a bike you should absolutely go get one at Good Karma Bikes which is located (for the next several weeks, anyway) at 345 Sunol St. in San Jose. It’s open today from 11:00 - 3:00pm.  If you already have a bike but need a part, GKB will help you there as well. Have fun today and especially have fun at Viva CalleSJ a week from today. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Note: This post covers how I went about building a fixed gear bike but it will be followed up on on a later date with more information about why people use fixies - if I can find a reason. So if you ride a fixed gear bike and are on Twitter follow me at @michaelknorris and tweet your personal reason you ride a fixed gear bike using the hashtag: #WhyAFixie - and I'll cover the most entertaining Tweets in another post. 

A couple of years ago I built a single speed bike under the headline Unleash the Hipster Within. But thanks to a cheap fixed gear wheelset I bought online (and an old steel frame I bought at the always-fantastic Good Karma Bikes in San Jose) I headed to the valley between the twin peaks of hipster culture and bike subculture.

Yes, I built a fixed gear bike - also known as a fixie. 

For those of you who haven't spent time in the really cool cities like New York or San Francisco: a fixed gear bike, as the name implies, is a bike with one gear that is fixed to the wheel, which means the pedals are always turning and the rider's legs are always moving (no clickclickclickclick sound/no coasting).  If you're well-practiced, you can pedal backwards, slow down and stop just by using your legs. If you aren't well practiced you can fall harder than the coyote in a roadrunner cartoon. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Fixies have been staples of hipster culture for so long I wondered if one could objectively look at the fixie trend and see if the Tinder-using, flannel-wearing, irony-wielding, gluten-free, locally-sourced hipsters are actually onto something with fixed gear bikes…or if they aren’t.

The only way to figure that out was to build a fixed gear bike myself (even though I have no experience riding one) and ride it for a couple of weeks (hence the 1,000 Words for Sunday pic).

Now a common reasoning for building a fixie is the simplicity of the machine. So far, so good. In less time it took to get through ‘Batman Begins’ - which was playing on the DVD player in the shop for background - I had my own fixie.

The Centurion frame I bought - other it being big enough for Stephen Merchant to need a spotter before mounting it - is a decent frame that had the proper dropouts that allow for a fixed gear wheel. I stripped off the derailleurs, shifters and the inner chainring before putting the back wheel on. The front fork, however, was made for a narrower axle so I had to carefully grind the opening in the fork a little larger.

I know that a big part of the fixie lore has to do with not having any brakes (like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s bike in Premium Rush) and just using your legs - or the closest tree or parked taxicab - to stop the bike. But I left both brakes on, which is the fixie culture equivalent of wearing a winter coat over a Halloween costume. 

I was lucky to find a set of clipless mountain bike pedals I bought a year earlier a Connecticut tag sale in my workshop to use with my new fixie. I mounted it with apprehension…and will detail how the first ride went - and if I'm any closer to understanding the fascination with fixies - in another post.  In the meantime, fixie owners of the world: tweet your reasons for riding a fixie to the hashtag #WhyAFixie and I’ll cover some of the findings in Part II. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Help The East Bay Innovation Academy Replace Their Bike Shop!

Distressing news last night from NBC Bay Area by reporter Jean Elle: the bike shop at the East Bay Innovation Academy in Oakland was decimated by thieves. Bikes that students had fixed that were meant to go to a women’s shelter - and the tools they used - were stolen out of a locked shipping container. 

I’ve nearly had one of my own bikes stolen and I’ve comforted friends who have lost theirs. It’s upsetting. Not just because of the loss of a machine you love and use to get around, but because it shakes the trust you have in humanity - and that can be harder to replace than the bike itself. 

But I have a theory: most of humanity is better than the few who steal bikes. 

Now 99.9% of the time there is nothing we can do to help those who’ve had their bikes stolen, but this post is about the 0.1%. So what I’m asking you to do is make a contribution at the East Bay Innovation Academy’s donation page to replace their bike shop. 

Cycling brothers and sisters: let’s put a big, Making-A-Difference story big enough to land on the desk of Lester Holt in the next news cycle. Donate here. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Follow me on Twitter: @michaelknorris

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Breaking: Today a Spare the Air Day & Good Karma Bikes is Open Sundays Again!

Fixed Gear Bike for Sale at Good Karma Bikes. Trailer by DIYBIKING.COM 

Yesterday I learned that Good Karma Bikes is open again on Sundays. That means they are open TODAY from 11:00am to 3:00pm at 345 Sunol St. in San Jose.

They still have a lot of inventory they need to sell before they move in November, so even though anytime is a great time to buy a bike if you live in Silicon Valley now is an even greater time. 

I also learned from Kron 4 News that today is a Spare the Air day (the Bay Area is once again at the start of a heat wave that has triggered an air quality alert). So hopefully readers whose recently consumed coffee is starting to kick in will put two and two together and decide not to pay lip service on Spare the Air day.

Remember Good Karma Bikes has a lot of great and ready to ride bikes to choose from as well as a few ‘as-is’ bikes and naked frames/blank canvases available. I’m also pleased to report to readers who have been patiently waiting for another build post that I bought an ‘as-is’ bike from Good Karma Bikes and this week will produce a follow-up to Unleash the Hipster Within and show you how to build a fixie. I have the frame and the fixed gear wheels but understand the beard and vintage clothing are extra.  

So go to 345 Sunol St. today from 11:00 to 3:00 and buy the bike you’ve always wanted…or if you’re me buy a frame and build the bike you’ve always been curious about. And while you're there ask how to become a volunteer at Good Karma Bikes and be absolutely sure that you Like Good Karma Bikes on Facebook. 

Remember the Thirteen Words and stay cool today. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Follow me on Twitter @michaelknorris

Monday, September 14, 2015

DIYBIKING.COM Presents: #BikeWithTheNextPresident

The short version of what I want all U.S. bicycle users to do is this: Tweet an invitation to all or just your preferred presidential candidate to go for a bike ride with you using the hashtag #BikeWithTheNextPresident. If you get to go on a bike ride with the candidate, tweet the image. If you’re a presidential candidate, tweet the image. If you’re media, broadcast the image. If you're Stephen Colbert, I could use your help spreading the word. That is all. Long version below. 

A Stamford mayoral candidate, myself, and a reporter waiting at a stop sign at a Cycling With Candidates ride.

We’re asking smart, educated people who may one day lead the United States about their hair

We’re seeing breathless news stories - news stories that were produced by people with jobs - about how Candidate A is ahead of Candidate B by 5% in the latest poll that has a margin of error...of 7.4%. 

The coverage of the presidential race is so bad that most people probably can’t name more than five presidential candidates. Even more chilling: most have never seen these candidates go biking on the campaign trail. 

That’s going to change. 

Republican Michael Fedele greeting a Stamford voter minutes before the first Cycling with Candidates ride in 2013

When I did Cycling With Candidates a couple of years back I wrote about how cycling, as an activity, knows no political party. We’ll differ on what needs building, where stuff needs to be built and how to pay for it, but sitting on a saddle and pressing down on a pedal is a joyful thing to do - and a good way to get around a city - no matter how you vote. 

So I invited - via Twitter - all sixteen Republicans and all five Democrats to go for a bike ride.I want you to do the same (with all of them or just your favorite) using the hashtag #BikeWithTheNextPresident

My feeling is if enough people ask the candidates to go for a bike ride they are going to do so - and will tweet an image of the activity to all of their followers. And the rules of the original Cycling With Candidates applies: absolutely no mocking anyone’s attire, choice of equipment, or confidence level.  

These are the actual tweets I sent to the candidates in random order. The invites are real and I’d be happy to ride with any of them in Silicon Valley at anytime (preferred meet up spot is at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose so the candidate can help them pack for their move or buy a bike from them). 

If they don’t ride with me I’ll repost responses from their campaigns (if any) and links to pictures and videos of them on bikes if I get them:


Jim Webb 
Twitter: @jimwebbusa 
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @JimWebbUSA I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident.The State of the Union is we need to see more leaders on #bikes  #cycling 

Martin O’Malley 
Twitter: @martinomalley
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @MartinOMalley I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. Urge your opponents to join you without debate. #bikes #cycling 

Hillary Clinton
Twitter: @HillaryClinton
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @HillaryClinton I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. Don't use the email server behind the grassy knoll to respond. #bikes #cycling 

Bernie Sanders
Twitter: @BernieSanders
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @BernieSanders I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. It doesn't have to be a long ride; we can stop when we #FeelTheBern. #bikes #cycling

Lincoln Chafee 
Twitter: @lincolnchafee
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @LincolnChafee I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. We can ride 1 mile. Or 1.6 kilometers if you prefer. #bikes #cycling


Donald Trump
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @realDonaldTrump I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. If you want you can wear a helmet w/ #MakeAmericaGreatAgain on it. #bikes #cycling

Bobby Jindal
Twitter: @BobbyJindal
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @BobbyJindal I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. Knowing how to ride a #bike is a pre-existing condition. #bikes #cycling 

Scott Walker
Twitter: @ScottWalker
Tweet from @michaelknorris 
Hi, @ScottWalker I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. You survived a recall. You can survive #cycling #bikes

John Kasich 
Twitter: @johnkasich
Tweet from @michaelknorris 
Hi, @JohnKasich I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. It's good practice B4 you speak @ UR great #cycling city of #cleveland in 2016. #bikes

George Pataki 
Twitter: @governorPataki
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @GovernorPataki I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. I think you'll enjoy it. That's no long shot. #bikes #cycling 

Rand Pau
Twitter: @randpaul
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @RandPaul I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. 5 out of 5 libertarian-leaning eye doctors agree #cycling is good for your health. 

Ben Carson
Twitter: @realbencarson
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @RealBenCarson I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. It doesn't take a gifted brain surgeon to know how much fun #cycling can be. #bikes

Jeb Bush
Twitter: @jebbush
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @JebBush I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. Borrow some #cycling socks from your dad. I hear he has some sweet socks. #bikes

Chris Christie
Twitter: @chrischristie
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @ChrisChristie I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. Time for some traffic solutions in Fort Lee (and everywhere else) #bikes #cycling

Ted Cruz
Twitter: @tedcruz 
Hi, @tedcruz I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. Good chance to stretch your legs before the next filibuster. #bikes #cycling 

Jim Gilmore
Twitter: @gov_gilmore
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @gov_gilmore I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. We can stop for @pizzahut & beer on the ride if you like. #bikes #cycling 

Rick Santorum
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @RickSantorum I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. Have a supporter knit you some #cycling gloves to match your best sweater vest. #bikes

Marco Rubio
Twitter: @marcorubio
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @marcorubio I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. I suggest you secure the endorsement of @CamelBak before we go. #cycling #bikes

Mike Huckabee
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @GovMikeHuckabee I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. You'll have fun & inspire people to go #cycling. I have faith. #bikes 

Lindsey Graham 
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi @LindseyGrahamSC I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. BTW 'I met her while #cycling' is a great meet-cute 4 UR future first lady. #bikes

Carly Fiorina
Twitter: @CarlyFiorina
Tweet from @michaelknorris
Hi, @CarlyFiorina. I want to #BikeWithTheNextPresident. If you come to #siliconvalley we can #bike by HP & yell something. #bikes #cycling

Cycling brothers and sisters: it’s a new week. Before the media has a chance to talk about the next meaningless poll log onto Twitter and send a quick message to your favorite candidate. Invite them to go biking with you and invite your friends to do the same. 

Let’s give nightly news anchors something non-divisive to report and have images of presidential candidates biking retweeted millions of times over. We had countless people pouring buckets of ice on themselves last year so this seems in reach. Let’s go for it. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Follow me on Twitter @michaelknorris