Now that’s one seriously good looking bike, and why I may not be riding mine anytime soon

Tuesday afternoon the heat let up a little, and I finally made it over to my local bike shop for some long delayed work.

I’d been having some stability issues on my bike, part of which I blamed on a bad rear tire. And part of which seemed to stem from a front end that chattered every time I grabbed the brakes, yet which defied my best efforts to pin it down.

It had gotten to the point that I no longer trusted it on fast descents, and found myself feathering the brakes to keep my speed down so it wouldn’t slide out from under me.

Ray's Specialized Langster Tokyo; click to enlarge

Which is no way to ride.

So there I sat, cooling my heels in the waiting area while the store’s wrench banged on my tires and measured the tension on my spokes, looking for anything that could cause the symptoms I described. Meanwhile, I started talking with one of the shop’s other customers, a real nice guy named Ray.

As usually happens in such places, we started talking bikes, which lead to a game of you show me yours and I’ll show you mine. As soon as I saw his ride, which he identified as a Specialized Langster Tokyo, I was in awe.

And suffering from a case of serious bike envy.

If there’s a more beautiful bike rolling the streets of L.A., I haven’t seen it yet.

Meanwhile, the velo diagnosticians were done with my bike. And as it turned out, while they’d made some adjustments, the problem wasn’t due to a bad tire or some sort of issue with the front end.

Instead, it stemmed from a handful of hairline cracks that allowed the wheel to flex in ways the manufacturer never intended. Which explained why I’d felt it give underneath me a couple times, which I’d unfairly blamed on the tire, and why my bike had felt squirrely descending at speeds it had previously handled with ease.

Just one of the cracks that may keep me off my bike until I get a new wheel

So now the guys at the shop are looking into whether the wheel qualifies for replacement under warranty. And I’m questioning the wisdom of riding a wheel that could blow up on me at any time.

Which would not be a pretty thing if I found myself sprinting through traffic when it happened.

Or moving, for that matter.

So I rode home back home a little gingerly, perhaps. But I did have a new GatorSkin on the back.

And a front end that one again rode as smooth as the day I bought it.

Even if the back didn’t.

If you happen to read Japanese, Ray would love to know what his bike says

………

Rising American star Taylor Phinney clinches the under-23 world time trial championship, while Brit Emma Pooley wins the women’s time trial title — and Jeannie Longo adds to her legendary career by finishing 5th at age 51. Fabian Cancellara goes for a record 4th world time trial championship. India’s cycling competitors in the Commonwealth Games must agree to be personally responsible for any damage to their bikes. Floyd Landis says he put off admitting to doping because it would affect his credibility. And the head of the French anti-doping agency resigns, but only after offering to turn Lance Armstrong’s B samples over to investigators.

………

Gary questions why drivers are willing to risk a collision to save a few seconds, and notes that many will try to dangerously pass riders even when they’re traveling the same speed as traffic.

I’ve noticed the same phenomenon myself. Are they just unwilling to be behind any bike, even if we’re moving as fast or faster than they are? Or is there something else going on in those gasoline-addled brains?

………

The Westside bike plan hearing takes place tonight at the Felicia Mahood Senior Center (map courtesy of Gary Rides Bikes); barring any work complications, I plan to be there. And there may still be time to pre-register for today’s 11:30 am webinar.

Maybe a good plan will help our rate of bike commuting, which rose 11% last year (download the PDF) to just under 1% of overall commuters, barely below the average of 1.2% for the nation’s 70 largest cities. Meanwhile, New Orleans shows a whopping 174% increase while Honolulu rockets up the charts.

………

A new L.A. bike blog says traditionally bike un-friendly Beverly Hills may consider a grade-separated bike lane on Santa Monica Blvd. Part of the CicLAvia course will travel the future 4th Street Bike Boulevard. A trio of El Segundo bike thieves attack a man trying to defend his girlfriend’s bike; thanks to Jim Lyle for the link. Damien Newton says L.A. Critical Mass isn’t dying, but it is changing. At least they don’t point guns at CM riders here, but maybe what they need is a no hands bagpipe playing bike rider. Here’s your chance to help design a more bike friendly Figueroa. The secret to a long life could be biking every day. LADOT Bike Blog introduces a new writer with a look at New York’s Summer Streets program. California cracks down on chronic drunk drivers.

Rare bi-partisan support for a national Complete Streets Act. What do you do when bikes thieves catch on to the tricks? Making biking as normal as brushing your teeth. When someone says bikes need to pay for our share of the roads, tell them we’re already paying for theirs. A look at new wheels from Interbank. A Portland study shows bike boxes really do protect cyclists. Even in my bike-friendly home town, the battle of car vs. bike goes on. St. Charles County MO votes unanimously not to ban bikes after all, which means the council member who proposed it voted against his own ban. St. Louis plans a new downtown center for bike commuters, including bike parking and showers. Louisville KY cyclists are still being targeted by a homicidal driver, with the most recent assault taking place on Monday. Why the outrage in the exceptionally rare cases when cyclists kill pedestrians, but none when hit-and-run drivers do?

A scientific study suggests you may not be as visible at night as you think you are. First aid tips for off-road riders. Toronto’s most bike-friendly candidate for mayor drops out of the race. Windsor, Ontario commits to becoming Canada’s first bike friendly city. Australia plans to double the number of riders on it’s roads by 2106; it might be easier if they stop running over the ones they already have.

Finally, in a classic example of fiscal responsibility in action, St. Paul decides they can’t afford to put sharrows on a new bike route — so when they go down by mistake, they paint them over. But when the Anonymous Cyclist invests his last dollar in patching a tire to get home, he gives up his own snack and offers a prayer for a stranger.

Nice.

7 comments

  1. Digital Dame says:

    Ooo, purdy. ;) There are a couple people here at work who know Japanese, let me see which one I can track down.

  2. Brandon says:

    The Japanese that’s there is written in Katakana which is used for foreign words. It says:

    “Su pe sha ra i zu do” which I believe is supposed to be Specialized

  3. Bronwyn says:

    Yep, the bike says “Specialized.” Simple and straightforward!

  4. bikinginla says:

    Thanks all. I kind of figured that, but was kind of hoping it would be something more mysterious.

  5. Joe Anthony says:

    Ah, one should have to know how to read Katakana before buying the Tokyo Langster, haha ;0)

    Definitely a pretty bike.

  6. tracywilkins says:

    Specialized! Oh, that’s just too benign. I’m guessing most of us would never know if he just made up something exotic to tell those of us who had no clue!

    I’m in your same situation with my road bike. Cracked rim that I’m not doing anything about just yet because that bike’s just sittin’ most of the time because we’re too busy preparing for a marathon for much fun stuff on a bike!

    Take care if you do ride it…

  7. The Japanese characters say “KICK ME.” [sorry, old joke]

    The most beautiful bike in Los Angeles is Saam Gabbay’s Argon 18 track bike which was tragically stolen from him in Venice about eight months ago.

    Here’s a tire failure story that results in a jaw fracture. I think I’d stay off of that wheel, though I guess that’s obvious advice. But then this is coming from the guy who willingly rode this home one night.

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