A warm bikey glow

Last weekend, a collection of cargo and family bike folks gathered at our place. Aaron Naparstek, streetsblog founder, is here in Cambridge instead of Brooklyn for the year, and he and I put together the event to contribute to the Revolutions per Minute crowdsourced documentary by Liz Canning. If you haven’t seen the trailer, check it out, and consider contributing footage! Cambridge MA may not be Portland OR, but we’re not doing half bad judging by the looks of our driveway. The short ride we took to film out on the minuteman bikeway definitely inspired us. We’re planning for more group rides as the weather gets more reliable. Many thanks to the many friends¬†who joined us, and especially to Dan Lovering for providing his filming equipment, time and journalism skill for the project.

It was quite the weekend, because the next day, a friend of ours, Sam Christy, had arranged a bike light skillshare, where he taught a collection of about 10 of us how to make his design of a simple, very bright, generator powered bike light. A local worshop¬†contributed space, expertise and tools, and I got to spend the afternoon soldering, filing, and wiring with old and new friends. The lights aren’t done yet, and we’ll still need to buy or build a wheel to power them, but after we get that worked out, they’ll be going on our Xtracycle. It was so empowering to spend time with such a generous and enthusiastic bunch.

If this was just one weekend in the middle of winter, I can’t wait to see what spring and summer bring. Both events were a great reminder of just how vibrant our biking community is around here.

About Nathan

Nathan lives in North Cambridge, MA with his wife and two kids, and prefers never to be in cars if he can avoid it. Nathan thinks parenting is way more fun when you don't have to worry about car seats.
This entry was posted in Biking, Cambridge and Boston area, Links and reviews, Living locally. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A warm bikey glow

  1. Ash L says:

    What’s the brand of that blue fabric box bike? Shuttlebug?

    • Liz canning says:

      Hi Ash- yeah, we love our ShuttleBug. Such a pity Joe does not make them anymore…

    • Michael Richters says:

      I’m pretty sure that’s a Gazelle Cabby (the “blue fabric box bike”).

      • Dorea says:

        Michael’s right, that’s a Gazelle Cabby that belongs to some friends a couple blocks away. It also happens to be the bike that we test rode that convinced us a kids-in-front box type bike would be great for us at this phase. It’s similar in weight to our workcycles short, has a slightly cushier box for two kids, and the box can fold up if you need your bike to be skinnier, say, for storage (though it’s still a big bike even with the box folded).

        @Liz– Any word on what’s up with Joe Bike? The shuttlebug is such a lovely bike and it doesn’t seem like they are selling any box-style bikes right now. My hope is that they’re just sitting on something better that’s not quite out yet…

  2. Jen (yup, another one) says:

    That collection of bikes is awesome! What’s the one with the white frame between the two Bakfiets?

    My only experience with a generator powered light was that it created a *very* noticeable drag when it was engaged. I’ve avoided generators ever since but maybe it was a bad design. I’m having a hard time coming up with the language to describe the setup properly, but basically you flipped a lever down and a small wheel rolled along the rim to generate the current. Is this a different type of design? If it’s a similar design, have you tested a bike using it?

    • Dorea says:

      The white one is a Bullitt: http://www.splendidcycles.com/products/bullitt

      It’s on the more “performance” oriented end of cargo bikes — meaning it’s relatively light (for a cargo bike, which means not really all that light at all…) and designed to go faster.

      As far as generators go, my understanding is that the way to do this right is with a generator built into the hub of the front wheel. Here’s some very basic info:


      Our bakfiets came with this built in (as do many European and higher end city bikes) and it is extremely convenient, and you really feel no drag. Years ago, I rode with a really cheap generator like you are talking about, and it was definitely draggy. These are different. I’m really really sick of managing lights and batteries for our small fleet, so I jumped at the chance of learning how to do this. Since Sam is teaching us how to make up the lights from basic components, those are going to be pretty cheap (~10-15 bucks each for components, plus a fair amount of hanging out in the shop with friends — I’ll take it!), so our major cost will be in the wheel (you have to buy or build a whole wheel for this kind of generator).

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