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THE BIKE SHOP YOU CAN COUNT ON: RIDER STATS ON THE CAPITAL CITY TRAIL

You may have noticed it outside our shop: a monitor that counts the number of cyclists that go past on the @Capital City Bike Trail. Installed by the @Moreland City Council in 2013, it helps us keep track of changes in rider traffic.

Each year there’s been a fairly steady increase of riders going past, but this year there’s been some changes in the stats.

January saw a 26% decrease from last year. Closure on the bike trail and poor air quality from bushfires would have contributed to the drop.

February was also a little quiet with 4% less riders than last year.

This month the numbers have picked right back up. Since we began counting in 2013, March has been the busiest month of the year, with numbers always topping above 100,000. March marks the end of summer cruising and time for uni students to click back into gear. The cooler weather is also a great excuse to get pedaling and blood pumping.

SUPER TUESDAY is the first Tuesday of March, and has consistently been the busiest riding day of the year. Last Tuesday, the numbers topped the charts with a whopping 5,263 people riding past.

There’s one day that has us all a little puzzled. On the 15th of Feb 2020 only 981 cyclists rode past, that’s less than ¼ of the daily average. Has it got something to do being right after Valentines day? It’s a bike riding mystery that’s yet to be solved.

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Wombats and Bicycles | Velo Cycles Melbourne

It’s time, here at Velo, that we tackle one of the big issues that has gripped the cycling world in recent times-wombats and the threat they pose to cyclists. Let us explore this matter with a couple of anecdotes.

Our assistant manager Ollie was riding the Great Victorian Rail Trail the other week – in the dark – when he had a run-in with one of these ground-hogging balls of muscle. It came flying out of the bushes – our theory is that it was startled by Ollie’s sudden presence-and slammed into his rear derailleur, the most fragile part of the bike. The derailleur then went into the spokes but somehow-and I’m really stressing this somehow because it really is quite miraculous-the derailleur remained attached to the frame and only broke one spoke.

They were flying down a hill – the steepest on the ride – when the waddlesome, furry outline of a wombat suddenly appeared in the ghostly light of their headlamps

Considering Ollie’s bike was laden with panniers, and that he was moving along rather smartly (due to his thunder thighs and huge aerobic capacity), it’s amazing the result wasn’t worse. Usually when a derailleur finds the spokes it is caught in the wheel, ripped violently from the frame and spun around until it is stopped by the chain or a seat stay. It then tears through spokes like a hot knife through butter until the bike comes to a skidding stop. At this point the rider then mutters something like “bugger me” and carries her bike home.

But the damage to Ollie’s bike was minor, and he was thus able to limp on to his grandmother’s place further along where he and one of our former mechanics, Omar, spent a couple of days drinking whisky and building a fence.

Troublingly, this isn’t the only wombat-related incident experienced by one of our staff members. One of our sales team, Peter, was out riding with a mate one night on the Main Yarra Trail. They were flying down a hill – the steepest on the ride-when the waddlesome, furry outline of a wombat suddenly appeared in the ghostly light of their headlamps. Totally oblivious to the speeding riders, the wombat continued onto the path in front of them, prompting white-knuckled evasive action from the riders.

“Sh******t,” said Peter, as he whizzed by a couple of inches from the wombat’s nose.
“F************k!”said Peter’s mate, who whizzed by a couple of inches from the wombat’s tail.
If either of them had collided with the wombat, things would not have been pretty. Wombats are so solid you’d be better off slamming into a pile of bricks. There would have been bent forks, crumpled front wheels and a jolly old trip over the bars. Fortunately, no people or wombats were hurt in this near-miss.

These two incidents clearly point to a concerning and widespread increase of Wombat run-ins across the state. As always, Velo Cycles are take the interests of cyclists and native animals to heart, and we are now lobbying the state government to introduce mandatory helmet laws for all marsupials. The picture below is from a preliminary trial of new wombat helmets.

An image from wombat helmet product testing

That being said – at least we don’t have to deal with these!

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Livin’ in the 70s – Peugeot Mixte rebuild

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Sometimes, when a job is finished here at Velo there is a moment of excitement that is mixed with sadness by our staff. This is what happened when we recently finished Erin’s bike.

From a moment when her ambitious boyfriend decided to strip and “rebuild” her lovely 70’s vintage Peugeot Mixte, because it was quote “heavy as balls” he didn’t know what he was getting himself into.

The strip only took an afternoon with a few beers and a close mate, however that is as far as the project got.
For almost 3 years.

After far too long without her lovely ‘Pipsqueak’ Erin got fed up and got her other half to bring it to us. Now there was already a clear vision of where the build was going and some things were already done…well, provided. We had BB and hammered fenders from Velo Orange; one of the only companies on earth still doing French Threaded Bottom Brackets. As well as a beautiful set of SUNXCD cranks with almost the prettiest chainring I have ever seen from a local company called Bespoke Chainrings.

As we were going over what needed to be done it was clear this guy loved his ‘cheese-and-kisses‘, advice was taken and no expense spared. As Erin was not the most confident rider and her riding meant she didn’t use many of the 10 gears that were on the bike originally, it was mutually agreed to keep it simple. So we went with a 3 Speed internal Sturmey Archer with trigger shifters. This would mean there is no reaching down to the old style downtube shifters, which makes for a much simpler gear change.

We needed wheels to house this drive train, but not just any wheels – they had to be handbuilt. So we called around and found some beautiful 27” Aerohead rims from Velocity (back from when they were made in Qld) and laced them to the Sturmey 3sp rear hub and matching High Flange front hub. Velo Orange Milano bars were always the right choice for this cockpit, with Ergon grips and minimalist Tektro brake levers that are a very close resemblance to the plastic Mafac levers.

This build really pays homage to the classic French designed Mixte. Keeping things like the OG Mafac Racer center-pull brakes, stem, seatpost and saddle, (there isn’t many companies making these old French sized things). But dropping the old steel rims and heavy cranks make it the perfect balance of original parts and new shiney components.

It’s a bike you really want to ride just after the rain has fallen and the sun is poking it way back thru the clouds. You can put to work those damn-pretty fenders but still get to show off the polish to anyone who is looking. It’s that perfect Sunday ride or a nice leisurely cruise to work. Why wouldn’t you want one!?

 

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The Velo Carlton – designed by us, for you

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In our nine years of supporting Melbourne’s cyclists, we’ve stocked (and continue to stock) quite a broad range of bikes for different purposes.  However, most have the ability to work very effectively as transport – perhaps even a daily commuter.  However, when we looked at what we could offer, we saw a gap – something that handled well, was light, a good price, rode effortlessly and most importantly, was versatile enough to work for many purposes, and have the ability to be further accessorised to meet an individual’s unique requirements.

Designed for Melbourne by the team here at Velo the Carlton is an affordable, quality urban steed. With a clean, understated look that reflects Melbourne’s style, it’s durable, practical and fun to ride, ready to handle all your commuting duties with aplomb. Perfect as a commuter for your ride to work or school, cruising down to the park, or pedalling the Yarra Trail on the weekend.

It’s available in four sizes, 15″ and 17″ in silver, or 19″ and 21″ in black and is great as is, but it’s also built to be able to have a multitude of uses.  There’s plenty of room for adding full-length mudguards and all but the 15″ can have a rear rack easily fitted. And, of course, there’s a multitude of options for grips, saddle or tyre upgrades to suit your requirements.

KEY FEATURES

  •         Aluminium frame is light and nimble
  •         Wide range of gears to get you over any hill
  •         Mounts for racks and mudguards-carry luggage, carry children, stay dry.
  •         Tough, v-section wheels stand up to harsh treatment

Lifetime frame warranty (by Adventure Brands, importer of Jamis, Rocky Mountain, Eastern and others, and built in the same factory as one of the big four bike brands). Two year component warranty. Check them out here.


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Colin’s Soma Double Cross Disc

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Colin came into Velo looking for a quality flat-bar commuter for his ride to work, plus a bit of rail-trail type riding on the weekend. I was taking him through the range of complete bikes that we had on the shop floor, when he noticed the Soma frames hanging in the window.

“They look nice.”

“Yeah, Somas are superb bikes,” I said. “We generally do our custom builds with them. They’re a fair bit pricier, but you’ll end up with something really great that’s just the kind of thing you want.”

I talked Colin through the Soma Wolverine, the Soma Fog-Cutter, and the Soma Double Cross Disc.

It was a case of not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

The Wolverine (view our Wolverine builds archive here), whilst there are many things to recommend it, was probably more bike than Colin was after. He didn’t need the sort of heavy-duty, load-carrying capacity that it offered, nor the off road chops that its monster tyre clearance allows. Neither was he after a belt-driven drivetrain, which the Wolverine allows via its frame-break in the seat stay. The Fog Cutter (view our Fog Cutter builds archive here) was also tempting, but with its carbon fork and shorter wheelbase, was a bit too aggressive. Also, it only came in fire-engine red, and Colin was after something more subtle. The Double-Cross Disc was a nice mid-point between these two bikes, offering a solid utilitarian platform with attractive ride characteristics. And it came in black.

“Yeah, I can do black,” said Colin. “With some blue bits. Can you put some blue bits on it?”

I laughed. “Yeah, totally!”

This request for blue bits was like a red rag to a bull for our store manager Matt “bling bling” Jackson. Matt is forever decking out his own bikes in shiny, colourful, high-quality components, so he was all over it. After a bit of back and forth, we settled on a quote and began ordering parts. This little ditty is what we came up with. If something like this tickles your fancy, give us a tinkle on 9381 0088, and one of our friendly staff can walk you through some options.

Soma Double Cross flat bar

 

OK, let’s take you through it.

Soma Double Cross Disc slick black

Soma Double Cross Disc frame 54cm in slick black. Tange Prestige heat treated Cromoly steel front triangle, butted Cromoly rear triangle. Tange Prestige is a lovely tubeset that is lightweight, durable, stiff, and provides a beautiful ride quality. With a matching Tange Infinity Cromoly steel fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1X11 speed Shimano SLX drivetrain, 11-42 tooth cassette. Single chainring, or 1 x (one-by) drivetrains have been popular in the mountain bike scene for a while now, but have more recently started reappearing on a range of different bikes in recent years. This setup gives you ample range for commuting, without the weight, expense and complexity of  front derailleur, shifter, and extra chainrings.

 

 

 

 

 

Wolf Tooth elliptical narrow-wide chainring with Shimano non-series crank and Shimano Saint flat pedal. A narrow-wide chainring prevents the chain from coming off, and is essential for a ‘one-by’ system. Its elliptical shape makes pedalling easier.

 

 

Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes with blue Hope Pro 4 hubs and blue Hope floating rotors. Hydraulic brakes are the gold standard of bicycle brake systems, and Shimano make some of the best. They provide excellent power and modulation, as well as consistent braking in both wet dry conditions.

 

 

Hope Pro 4 wheels with Schwalbe Marathon tyres 700X32mm. Cross-country mountain-bike wheels are well-suited to commuting duties, as they are both sturdy and lightweight. The result is a wheelset that can be relied upon for daily duties, but retain a lively and enjoyable ride. Schwalbe Marathon tyres remain our most popular choice for commuters due to their value and puncture resistance, as well as their fast-rolling, all-surface tread, and reflecto striped sidewall for visibility.

 

 

 

 

Chris King headset and bottom bracket in blue (of course). Superb quality bearings for buttery smoothness and long service life. What more can you say?

 

 

Thomson finishing kit: stem, handlebar and seat post. Lightweight, high quality and durable. Looks sweet too!

 

Build overview

  • Frame: Soma Double Cross 54cm Slick Black
  • Wheels: Hope XC Pro 4
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon 700X32
  • Groupset: Shimano SLX Hydraulic 1X11
  • Chainring: Woolftooth Oval 42t
  • Cassette: 11-42
  • Headset: Chris King NTS Navy
  • BB: Chris King Threadfit Navy
  • Stem: Thomson Elite 80mm
  • Seat post: Thomson Elite 27.2 setback
  • Disc rotors: Hope floating rotors Blue
  • Rear Rack: Tubus Vega Evo – added after we did this photo shoot

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Sam’s Di2 Alfine Wolverine super-commuter

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Soma Wolverine orange Di2 Alfine

Soma Wolverine Dis Alfine

We’ve done quite a few custom builds with the Soma Wolverine now (check out our custom build archives here), but this is one of the more interesting ones. Interesting because it’s running an internal gear hub, made possible by the Wolverine’s sliding dropouts. But it ain’t any old hub gear, it’s a Shimano Di2 Alfine 11-speed hub gear. That’s right, electronic shifting baby.

Soma Wolverine with DI2 Alfine

Soma Wolverine with Di2 Alfine

Electronic shifting has a couple of key advantages. The first is of course super-consistent, super-easy gear shifting. The second is the lack of any cables, which reduces maintenance and ensures precise shifting in any conditions. Over time, cables can get gunked up and corroded from adverse conditions – rain, mud or dust. Gear shifting suffers and you need to invest in new cables and housing to restore original performance. The electronic Shimano Di2 system, however, will keep shifting perfectly no matter how much rain you ride through. Just remember to recharge the battery when required!

A gear hub (or ‘internal’) system also works better in wet weather than the more common derailleur (or ‘external’) system. Its workings are hidden away inside the hub, out of the weather, rather than being stuck on the side of the hub like a cassette. There is weight penalty with an internal system, and it does make it harder to remove and install the rear wheel, but it will run smoothly with less maintenance. The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are impervious to the weather as well, maintaining their stopping power in wet conditions and again requiring little maintenance. They use a hydraulic hose instead of a cable, and are the gold standard of bicycle braking systems.

The Shimano Alfine rear hub is matched by a quality Shimano front hub, and both are laced to solid Alex rims. The tyres on this bike deserve a special mention, being Soma’s fantastic Supple Vitesse in a 700X42c. The flexible casing and high volume of these tyres provide plenty of grip and unparalleled comfort, whilst maintaining a low weight and rolling resistance. And tan sidewalls almost never fail to look spectacular.

Sam has been thoroughly enjoying his new steed. If you’re interested in doing a custom build, you can give us a hoy on 03 9381 0088, or even better, come and say hi!

 

 

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I am serious, and stop calling me Surly

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Summer is fast on the approach, and as the weather turns warmer our attention once again falls to dreams of new bikes…

Here at Velo we have been stocking Surly almost since the day we first opened, and are big fans of this American bike manufacturer for a number of reasons. Firstly they’re super versatile – you’ve got eyelets for racks, fenders – you name it, you can fit it. Secondly, tyre clearance. Because bigger is better, we like to rock wide tyres for better comfort and grip and, with their fatties fit fine (FFF) rear seat stays you can have 40+c tyres no problem; even with fenders! Lastly but not leastly, the ride. Surly’s 4130 CroMo tubing offers a lovely smooth ride across all terrain, and will last you a lifetime, no fatiguing tubes here!

As the days grow longer we have some gorgeous Surly frames on the menu for you to feast on over the summer. Our current lineup includes the ever popular Straggler, the tried and tested Cross-check, the veteran Long Haul Trucker, and its modern cousin the Disc Trucker.

However along with our regular menu this year were offering some tasty designer dishes, namely framesets and custom builds! Want to design your own dream build? Or have an old groupset lying around that you want to use? Or even just want to do it yourself, no problem! We sell them as frameset as well – after all, that’s how Surly themselves first started! If you do want a custom build just talk to one of our friendly staff members or send us an email (bikes@velocycles.com.au), and they can give you a rough idea about costs options etc.

Our Framesets are as follows

We’ve got the the Cross-Check which is Surly’s Cyclo-Cross / touring / Adventure bike Crosscheck

  • (Grey) in Sizes 50,52,54,56,58,60

The Straggler which is similar to its function as the Cross-Check except with disc brakes and a slightly revised geometry

  • Black 54, 58
  • Glitterdreams (now rare) 58 gler (Mint) 54

And last but not least Surly’s single speed offering the Steamroller Steamroller (Blue) 53, 56 Steamroller (Black) 53, 56, 59

If you don’t see what you’re looking for send us an email (bikes@velocycles.com.au) and we can see if we can find something that tickles your pickle.

 

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National Ride2Work Day Breakfast (and RideHomeFromWork Day celebration)

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This year, National Ride2Work Day is on Wednesday 12th October and as usual, we’re holding our popular breakfast out front of Velo from 6:30 until 9:00am.

We’ll have fresh fruit, juice, artisan coffee and pastries from our good friends at Green Park Dining. There will be the odd giveaway as well as special sale items.  All that’s required is a gold coin donation. All proceeds from the morning will be going to the Amy Gillett Foundation. It’s always a highlight of our year and we see it as a great way to give something back to all of you who ride past every day.

 So much so, we’re also doing something new.  We know that National Ride2Work Day is a lot more than just getting people to ride to work that morning.  It’s a celebration of commuting by bicycle.  And of course, that means getting home again too.  So, we’re also running a RideHomeFromWork celebration – the Ride2Work day afterparty!  In the shop from 5:30pm until 8:30pm we’ll have savoury finger food, again by Green Park Dining, with Bicycle Beers from Temple Brewing to help wash them down.  Who wouldn’t appreciate a crisp local beer and a bite to eat on their ride home?

Our donated amount from our ride2work day totalled $258.90.  Thanks so much for throwing a few coppers in our buckets.  These have been forward to the Amy Gillett Foundation to further their work towards road users respecting each other.


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RideHomeFromWork Celebration (the National Ride2Work Day afterparty!)

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National Ride2WorkDay has been around for twenty-two years, so being of that age we reckon it’s high time to celebrate that, as well as your regular commute. So, we’re having a National Ride2Work Day afterparty!

That’s right, on Wednesday October 12th starting at 5:30pm, for three hours we’ll be playing some bike-related movies, chatting bikes and bike stuff, sharing some finger food from Green Park Dining and,

for anyone who likes us on Facebook or follows us on Instagram, you’ll get a free Temple Brewing Bicycle Beer!

Not only that, you’ll then go into the draw for a year’s free scheduled servicing for your bike! It’s all just a way to give a bit back to all of you, and celebrate our favourite way of getting about the place.

Here it is on Facebook, and don’t forget to give Green Park Dining and Temple Brewing a bit of love too, eh?

Note – Year’s free scheduled servicing equates to three standard services. Free beer and finger food only whilst stocks last. (We’re getting quite a bit, but no guarantees!)




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What makes a good commuter bicycle?

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One of the great things about the bicycle is how efficient it is – for the amount of energy required, there is no more effective mode of transport than your humble bike.  And yes, you really can use pretty-much any bike to commute to work.  However, there’s certainly a variety of things you may want to consider to make your ride2work a little easier.

Clothing.  All around the planet, people ride to and from work in their work clothes.  And certainly, if your distance is not too far, and the weather is amenable, it’s very achievable.  However, on wet or warmer days, or if you commute is longer, some more activity-oriented clothing is handy.  Regular active wear is great but, again, the longer the distance the more that bike-specific clothing makes sense.

All weather? No matter what the season, there’s always the risk of rain or even water on the roads and paths from other means.  If you want to keep the muck off you, and your bike (for lower maintenance) then we’d always suggest your bike should have mudguards (or fenders, if you prefer the American term).  There’s various different types available however the most effective are full length guards on front and rear – a good front guard will even be quite effective at keeping your feet dry.

Your cargo. Many riders use a standard backpack, something like what you probably already have.  They’re convenient, and effective.  However, they position the weight high, and ultimately, on your tail, so can increase any issues you may have with your saddle.  Also, coming into the warmer months, that interface with your back and shoulders will always be a source of sweat.  So, if you find commuting by bike is for you, consider putting your load on a rack. You can ride sweat-free more often, and your undercarriage will thank you.

Puncture resistant tyres. No-one likes punctures.  Puncture-resistant tyres may cost a little more, and may be a little heavier, but most regular commuters are  more than happy to offset that with the piece of mind that they provide.  Also, most premium tyres come with reflective sidewalls, to aid in you being seen.

What’s your distance? For short distances, it really doesn’t matter what you ride – any bike can be your commuter.  And indeed, a more upright ride can be more comfortable, and provide better vision  around you for safety.  If your commute is longer, then a bike more-suited to distance, potentially a flat-bar bike with a more streamlined geometry or even a bike with drop bars like you’d find on a road bike could serve you better.  Even longer distances? Consider going multi-modal with a folding bike, or get a bit of help for a sweat-free commute on an eBike. Carrying a more of load?  An adventure bike or a tourer could well be worthwhile!

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