Custom Bike Build and other joys

by michelle bontrager in

Pooh asked “What day is it?” “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.
— AA Milne

We are back home and open for business. After many months of reading, planning, and researching we managed to pull off an unprecedented 2-week camping trip abroad.  It was time to explore a different corner of the world and what a phenomenal trip it was. We experienced a few bumps in the road but doesn’t this speak to life in general?!

This lesson learned certainly applies to bicycle shopping. You can easily spend many months reading, planning, and researching about different bicycles. Picturing yourself breezing along on a crisp spring afternoon, with a friend, enjoying the bright sun on your shoulders, a true Zen moment. Bicycling brings joy to your daily grind but it may require a bit of work, maybe even a little sacrifice. I gently ask you to consider a few of the following recommendations in your quest for the perfect bicycling experience;

  • Practice bicycle handling skills
  • Purchase a bicycle that fits the terrain you plan to ride.
  Gallus Cycles  custom frame set

Gallus Cycles custom frame set

Bicycling is the keystone to an active lifestyle. I can't think of a more efficient way to explore our neighborhood, complete errands, and stay energized. Whether you are physically fit or not bicycle handling skills take thought and practice. If you commit to riding your bicycle at least 3 times a week in a matter of 3 weeks you will become a much more confident rider. I am always looking for an excuse to ride my bicycle and try to add a few core workouts in-between. Flexibility and strength will allow you the confidence to ride and the more you ride the easier it becomes.

 lug detail

lug detail

Selecting a bicycle that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle is an important step to achieving your bicycling Zen moment too. We'll happily offer you ideas for your next perfect bicycle be it a city specific bike, a gravel bike, a fixie, or a custom steel-frame road bike. It isn’t necessary to own 4 different bicycles but it does pay dividends to own a bicycle that reflects your personality. 

Since cycling brings fitness and joy I would not regard the purchase of a custom built bicycle as an unwarranted extravagance, how could you? Which leads to the next story.

Nine years ago, at our previous location on Lowell Blvd, we met our neighbor Treasure. After many visits to another bike shop she was totally frustrated with her bike because the derailleur would not hold its adjustment. I convinced her that Ethan would be able to diagnose the problem and in turn help her avoid purchasing a new replacement bike. She agreed and for all these years she has pedaled her bike reliably around town, on week long bike tours, and throughout Colorado trails without a peep from the derailleur.  This year Treasure decided to purchase a new bicycle for the sheer joy of it. 

 Phil Wood rear hub and bottom bracket

Phil Wood rear hub and bottom bracket

 After much contemplation she chose to have Gallus Cycles build her steel frame set and have Ethan complete the component selection. Ethan carefully chose her components balancing the weight, reliability, and cost of each piece. With this particular build Ethan heavily considered reliable and durable components that will withstand cycle tours through the remote regions of the Southwest, areas in which Treasure enjoys riding with family and friends. Treasure’s bicycle is a beautiful machine, may it lead her to that Zen state all cyclists strive for.

 Schmidt's Edelux front light, Soma New Xpress tires, Paul's Components rim brakes, NITTO stem

Schmidt's Edelux front light, Soma New Xpress tires, Paul's Components rim brakes, NITTO stem

 NITTO handlebar, Cinelli cork tape

NITTO handlebar, Cinelli cork tape

 Paul's rim brakes are solid

Paul's rim brakes are solid

Component Highlights

  • Front Hub Schmidt SON Delux SL
  • Rear Hub Phil Wood
  • Rims Soma Weymouth
  • Crankset Sugino Touring 3-ring
  • Bottom Bracket Phil Wood
  • Headset IRD polished
  • Stem NITTO Crystem
  • Handlebars NITTO Randonneur
  • Dynamo Lights Schmidt Edelux front

Cycling in the city of Frankfurt, Germany

by michelle bontrager in


A few weeks ago my brother, our friend Chris, and I had an unavoidable eight-hour layover at the Frankfurt airport while traveling to our vacation destination. Typically I don’t get excited about such layovers I simply utilize the time to nap before the next leg of the journey but Chris was adamant that we all trug into Frankfurt’s town center for a look and with furthor encouragement from our Lufthansa agent we agreed to accompany her.  After tucking our bags into the airport’s luggage-hold center and figuring out which of a dozen trains to catch from the terminal we were off to town for the day.

 most cyclists have bonnets on their saddles to protect them from the rain

most cyclists have bonnets on their saddles to protect them from the rain

It’s been over six years since I’ve traveled through Germany and was immediately reminded of the cycling culture that I had enjoyed on those visits. Even on a grey drizzly February morning the Frankfurters were out and about on their bicycles!

Pleasures enjoyed by City Cyclists in Frankfurt, Germany

  • German city dwellers ride slowly in regular street clothes, not a stitch of lycra was seen
  • All of the bicycles featured a cargo carrying area, either a rack or a basket or both
  • Most of the bicycles have fenders
  • Bicyclists have the right-away in traffic, above cars and pedestrians, in fact cyclists are free to ride on streets, bicycle paths, and even on the sidewalk with pedestrians
  • Everyone is totally calm and paying attention to traffic, neither pedestrians nor car drivers exhibit anger or impatience with cyclists.
 Abus locks, Schwalbe tires, as German as Curry Wurst

Abus locks, Schwalbe tires, as German as Curry Wurst

I haven’t ridden a lot in German metropolitan centers like Frankfurt but have completed two bicycle tours through the German countryside with my husband. On those trips we primarily rode on bicycle paths. The government designed an all-national, intricate bicycle path system that leads cyclists along scenic countryside routes and seamlessly through the small cities and towns in-between.  The few times we chose to ride on tarmac the motorized vehicles gave us plenty of berth.  

It was so refreshing to be in a bicycle centric culture if only for a day. I ask, why can’t our communities adopt some of the German bicycle infrastructure design?  

My bicycle rights wish list

  • Bicycle boulevards that crisscross Denver's city center enabling cyclists to reach their destinations without the hassle of yielding to motorized vehicles at every intersection
  • enforcement of the existing traffic laws that support cyclists
  • Alert and attentive car drivers.

l will continue to ride my bicycle throughout my home city even if cyclists aren’t allowed the same rights as our Northern Europe brethren. The more of us that are on the streets the more likely are rights will be recognized.

Recommendations for riding with city traffic;

  • remain cognizant of your surroundings
  • obey the traffic laws as much as possible
  • hold your line
  • remain calm.  

Riding a bicycle designed specifically for city riding makes the entire experience all that more enjoyable. At Queen City Cycle we sell the Breezer brand of transportation bicycles which are specifically designed in the European tradition. For as little as $450 you have a solid bicycle sporting an upright riding position that handles well in traffic and allows the rider to observe her surroundings easily. A city bicycle, like a Breezer, is the first step towards incorporating cycling to your daily, active routine.

We're open Weekdays and Saturdays: 10-6, Sundays 11-4, closed on Tuesdays.

Aggressive Automobile Drivers are Dangerous

by michelle bontrager in

 Photo credit:   The Truth About Cars

Photo credit:  The Truth About Cars

I was in such a good mood this morning while getting ready for an upcoming trip although my “to do” list has been a force to reckon with for the last few weeks before leaving town.  Early this morning I decided to go for a bike ride and clear my head. As I was traveling with traffic on 32nd  Avenue, towards Golden, a nice pick-up truck pulled up alongside in the adjacent traffic lane.  Gosh, I think I even smiled at the driver because I was in such a silly-good mood. Then suddenly the driver of the pickup truck gunned his engine and sent a plume of exhaust and diesel smoke in my face.

This is a very aggressive act that is used all too many times towards cyclists. Fortunately the driver was soon stuck in traffic as he waited in the line to drop off his daughter at middle school. I remembered that my friend, Charlie, who is involved with Bike Jeffco told me that this is illegal behavior so I took a snap of his license plate, while he was idling in traffic, in order to report this incident to the police.  

One rude man is not going to ruin my day but I believe it is important that cyclists know their rights on the road. I have attached part of Bike Jeffco's Memorandum specifically about this type of behavior known as “Rolling Coal” so that you may be informed if this situation ever happens to you.  Peace.

Rolling Coal is Prohibited but Cyclists are still Being Blasted

.... “Getting choked out by a blast of black soot isn't very fun…and sadly, living in Fort Collins, this is a somewhat regular occurrence.” These dangerous incidents occurred in spite of the Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-314 (3) (a) that prohibits tampering with an emissions control device and 42-4-314 (6) (a) that prohibits engaging in a nuisance exhibition of motor vehicle exhaust. This makes rolling coal a Class A Violation.
The dangers associated with rolling coal are not benign. Besides the diesel soot cloud being considered carcinogenic and a possible crisis trigger to asthmatics and others with respiratory disorders, the dark cloud could completely obscure a cyclist’s vision of the road and cause a crash.
Colorado State Patrol recommends reporting the incident just as you would with an aggressive driver incident as indicated below:
Action to Take if Coal Rolled
Call: *277 (CSP) Immediately
Provide the dispatcher the following information: the violation of rolling coal, vehicle description, license plate number, location and direction of travel, driver description, and the aggressive driving behavior being demonstrated. You do not have to have the license plate to report. The aggressive driver should be avoided, not making eye contact or giving any indication of disapproval of their driving behavior.
As drivers become more aware of the law prohibiting rolling coal and cyclists are clear on how to report, we should see a reduction in these dangerous incidents that can feel like an assault.
Bike Jeffco would like to thank the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol for their clarification and review of Action to Take.

Dynamo Light System and the components to consider

by michelle bontrager in

 head light placement for best illumination of the road ahead

head light placement for best illumination of the road ahead

We have received a lot of questions about dynamo lights since my most recent blog post regarding bike lights. I would like to outline the options to consider when choosing the components for a new generator light system.

A dynamo system includes:

  • Front hub which generates the power to the light system.
  • Rim: when we build a new front wheel we recommend a new rim.
  • Spokes.
  • Front light.
  • Rear light.

The first step is to decide which generator hub is best. We willingly offer recommendations based upon the bicycle frame style you ride, and your expectations. 

 shimano alfine dynamo hub

shimano alfine dynamo hub

which dynamo hub for your bicycle frame?

  • disc or rim brakes
  • type of fork
  • do you want to add a charger in order to charge your phone or device?

We have utilized Sanyo and Sturmey Archer dynamo hubs but the Shimano and Schmidt hubs are the brands that work the best for most of our customers.  

Shimano Alfine vs Schmidt SON hubs

Shimano Alfine hub

  1. efficiency at 15km/h:  53%
  2. energy required of rider while light is turned off:  2.2 watts
  3. weight of hub:  680 grams

Schmidt SON hub

  1. efficiency at 15 km/h: 64%
  2. energy required of rider while light is turned off: 1.5 watts
  3. weight of hub:  575 grams
 SON hubs are manufactured in  Germany

SON hubs are manufactured in Germany

Once the hub is chosen we will discuss other options for your new light system delving into the types of head lights and rear lights that are available.  A dynamo light system with a new wheel may cost about $250 to more than $800, depending on the components chosen.

  B&M  rear light mounted to rear rack

B&M rear light mounted to rear rack

When you consider not having to worry about;

  • recharging your bike lights,
  • batteries wearing down in the coldest of Winter mornings, or
  • having your lights physically falling off of your bicycle

a modern dynamo light system makes perfect sense. While it’s fun choosing the extra bike accessories like colorful bar wrap, bells, or baskets, for safety’s sake a dynamo light system is the first upgrade that any bicyclist should complete.

Xtracycle's Leap kit and Cargo Bikes

by michelle bontrager

 Xtracycle was on the forefront of the cargo bike evolution in the U.S. and are remain the most relevant

Xtracycle was on the forefront of the cargo bike evolution in the U.S. and are remain the most relevant

Some 14 years ago, as our retail business was growing and responsibilities were accumulating, we found ourselves becoming car dependent. Standard bike racks and panniers were not offering the cargo capacity that we needed.

In order to relieve our car dependency we researched cargo bicycle options and categorized them in the following manner;

  • Bike trailer: A bike trailer needs to be attached and then dismounted from the bike in order for it to fit into my bike storage area.  The additional trailer tires need to be maintained and fixed when they flat out.  Not the solution for everyday cycling but we eventually bought a Bike at Work trailer for extra large loads.
  • Front cargo: The long john style of bike proves to be the ever-popular option in Northern European cities where cyclists commute through dense city neighborhoods on flat terrain.  Soma Fabrication's Pick Up Artist is a practical take on this genre.
  • Trike: slow, unstable, impractical.
  • Long tail: stable, sporty, and durable. The most popular brands include; Kona's Ute, Yuba, Surly's Big Dummy, Bike Friday's Haul-a-Day, and XtraCycle.
 Xtracycle Long Tail kit on a mixte

Xtracycle Long Tail kit on a mixte

In 2003 Xtracycle's FreeRadical stood out as our best option. A long tail cargo kit that attaches to any bicycle you might own. We both installed FreeRadicals to our 8-speed city bikes.

 Xtracycle long tail on a Surly Long Haul Trucker

Xtracycle long tail on a Surly Long Haul Trucker

In the following years Ethan moved on to Surly’s Big Dummy, a complete long tail cargo bike that accepts Xtracycle accessories. I am still riding with my problem-free Free Radical.

 Surly Big Dummy enables you to tote your loved ones.

Surly Big Dummy enables you to tote your loved ones.


Bene.s of the Xtracycle Long Tail

  • Removable, my FreeRadical has been mounted to different bicycle frames.
  • A sporty option, rides as well as the bicycle it is mounted to.
  • Up to you but I need low gear options to accomplish hills.
  • Fits onto any bicycle from a 20” wheel size to 29ner.
  • Many accessories are available to purchase like the sidecar.

 Bike Friday's Haul-a-Day is a stable and sporty family option

Bike Friday's Haul-a-Day is a stable and sporty family option

Bike Friday of Oregon entered the cargo bike field with their Haul-a Day (HAD) in 2016. This complete cargo bike is the lightest and sportiest model that we have encountered. If you need to get your day rolling this is a cargo bike that will keep you on schedule.

Bene.s of the Haul-a-Day

  • a smidgen more compact so it fits on most trains and bus racks.
  • chromoly frame set is amazingly light weight.
  • the 20" wheel set is durable.
  • accelerates quickly.
  • adjusts to fit riders of all sizes from 4"6' to 6'4".

Bike Friday’s HAD is an excellent option for the household that needs a new cargo bike and does not have an extra bicycle to devote to Xtracycle’s long tail attachment.

The Leap and the Haul-a-Day come with: 

  • Cargo bags
  • Top decks
  • Baby seats can be purchased to attach to their top decks.

Since we first began our research several of the early cargo bike options are no longer available.   XtraCycle, on the other hand, has kept up with consumer demands. There is not one long tail cargo bike that can compare to the versatility of Xtracycle’s Leap kit.

Cargo bicycles are a fun way to transport yourself around town, they aren't complicated. Drop us a line or stop by the shop if you have questions about cargo bike options. We've tested out a lot of different bicycles in the last 14 years and can offer you an educated recommendation for your cycling needs.

Breezer Radar Bike Review

by michelle bontrager in

 Breezer's  Road and Dirt Adventure Rig  or simply the Radar

Breezer's Road and Dirt Adventure Rig or simply the Radar

A Bicycle for all occasions

A bicycle designed for multi-uses has my attention every time.  Why should bikes to be boxed into categories? They should be able to withstand all kinds of conditions and any seasonal whim. I have been known to take my 8-speed city bike out for a 25 mile ride, and why not? Lately my mixte with 650Bs has been in heavy rotation. From my morning mental health excursion up Look Out Mountain to that ride out to Boulder for lunch it simply suits me this month.

 the 25% flare out is wide and stable

the 25% flare out is wide and stable

I suppose this explains my affinity for Breeze's new multi-tool of a bike, The Road & Dirt Adventure Rig (The Radar).  Queen City has been a Breezer retailer for going on a decade primarily stocking their city trekking bikes. Their Uptown model is still the best riding city bike and with its complete city-centric accessory package (read dynamo light system) any city dweller can appreciate the usefulness of the Uptown. When I saw that Joe Breeze is designing adventure road bikes I had to go on a test ride. 

 nice price point- $890.00

nice price point- $890.00

 Chromoly tubing specially designed for this solid gravel bike

Chromoly tubing specially designed for this solid gravel bike

The Radar’s slack geometry is well designed for touring yet there’s a sportiness to its ride, just in case life’s adventure takes you down a gravel road.  You’ll want to take this bike out to complete your weekend errands then go off to explore those dirt trails just east of town. There’s no reason not to because this bike is designed for enjoyment. Although the Radar has a certain gravel bike aesthetic there is no need to put it in that box. It is simply a well-designed bike geared for all around bicycling whims.

The Breezer Radar in a nutshell

  • Double butted ChroMoly frame set designed by Joe Breeze
  • Dirt oriented, mildly knobby 700x37 tires although will accept even wider tires  
  • Easy maintenance with quick release skewers and eternal cable routing suddenly those technical adjustments are that much easier to address
  • 2x9 drive train is appropriate for the Rocky Mountains heck it’s appropriate for Denver’s Highlands neighborhood
  • Drop bars feature a 25% flare out for a stable ride anywhere
  • Accepts fenders, racks, and has mounts for multiple water bottles
  • Heel clearance for panniers

There are plenty more delights that the Radar offers for it’s not a one trick pony and the price point is pretty to boot.

Up for world class adventures? It may new bike time!