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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tue
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Thu
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Your basic B-Cycle, with fenders, chain guard, basket and bell.
Your basic B-Cycle, with fenders, chain guard, basket and bell.
A B-Cycle representative explains the basics.
A B-Cycle representative explains the basics.
No part of the bike was overlooked.
No part of the bike was overlooked.
The coil lock, which is built in to the bike and attaches to the basket, was designed to act as a bottle or coffee cup holder.
The coil lock, which is built in to the bike and attaches to the basket, was designed to act as a bottle or coffee cup holder.

The B-Cycle bike share demo proves idea has legs (or wheels)

As an avid bicyclist (as some of you may know), I have to admit I was unsure about the bike share system known as B-Cycle. A lot of questions immediately popped into my mind: Who needs to rent a bike? How often would they get returned? Won't these things get destroyed? How can one bike accommodate all body types? I just wasn't so sure about the whole system. But today I had a chance to give it a spin while they gave a demonstration at Discovery World. I have to admit my mind changed pretty quickly. With new forms of alternative transportation growing in Milwaukee (bus, trolley, rickshaw, streetcar, bicycle), the B-Cycle system would be a perfect addition.

B-Cycle is a bike share program that was created by Wisconsin-based Trek, Humana Health Care and ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky and was based around other successful programs in Europe and Canada. The system has already worked quite well all over the country from Denver to Des Moines, Minneapolis to Madison. Patrons can buy a membership (daily, monthly or yearly), swipe their card and just like that, they're off. The first half hour is free to members, but in order to guarantee there are plenty of B-Cycles available to the public, if the bike is borrowed beyond the set limit increasing fees are charged.

While vandalism is unavoidable, it has been surprisingly minimal. Some neat features to keep vandalism down are the adjustable seatpost, which cannot be removed from the frame, and the wheels, which are locked in by a proprietary nut encased in a sleeve that prevents even locking pliers from being able to twist it off. The bikes are locked into the kiosk using a three-point system, so if one lock were to fail the bicycle still can't be removed.

Additional features include a built-in lock (which innovatively doubles as a coffee cup holder when not in use), full fenders, a chain guard to prevent dresses and pant legs from getting chewed up or oily, a bell and a front basket.

The hubs of the wheels are packed f…

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A sample of the new Schlitz Park Varsity Bike Dock Rack system
A sample of the new Schlitz Park Varsity Bike Dock Rack system

Schlitz Park improves bike facilities in time for criterium Tuesday

On Saturday evening my options for entertainment had run dry. After contacting a few friends over dinner I decided that the night was apparently going to be a night in. But a block before home I was suddenly passed by a group of about 15 people on bicycles.

"What’s going on here?" I shouted across the street.

"It’s ‘Bike Like A Beast.’ A Bike bar crawl."

"Oh, mind if I join you?"

"Welcome aboard!"

Things were starting to look up. We enjoyed a round of mini-bowling at Koz’s before heading off to the East Side to check out the remains of North Avenue’s Summer Soulstice and enjoy some Ian’s Pizza.

For most of the trip we stuck to the Lakeshore Park and Lakefront trails. It was a six-mile haul, but with such a fun and friendly group and on such pleasant paths it felt effortless.

It’s pretty amazing how easy it is to ride around this city when the right accommodations are in place, and Schlitz Park is getting on board in recognition of that with state-of-the-art upgrades to their bicycle facilities.

The 46-acre commercial property is investing nearly $50,000 to make their part of the city more bicycle-friendly. This includes doubling the amount of bicycle parking, installing a state-of-the-art safe and secure bike rack system, and providing other tenants bicycling amenities desired to meet the growing demand for alternative ways to commute to work and meetings.

Schlitz Park is taking a three-pronged attack in making themselves bicycle-friendly: infrastructure, community and hygiene.

Already the office park has increased bike parking from seven to 11 locations with three more in the works (for a total of 14 locations). Forty racks may not seem like a lot until you realize they are the first commercial property in the country to install the patented Varsity Bike Dock Rack system to provide parking for 80 bikes.

They provide three points of contact for security, feature materials that prevent metal on metal contact and includes a wheel support system, w…

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These bottom brackets will eventually become the heart of the drive train.
These bottom brackets will eventually become the heart of the drive train. (Photo: Sam Dodge)
An unfinished Rivendell Hunqapillar. These bikes have two top tubes to be ultra bomb-proof.
An unfinished Rivendell Hunqapillar. These bikes have two top tubes to be ultra bomb-proof. (Photo: Sam Dodge)
Waterford revolutionized the rear triangle with vertical dropouts.
Waterford revolutionized the rear triangle with vertical dropouts. (Photo: Sam Dodge)
Many bikes awaiting finishing.
Many bikes awaiting finishing. (Photo: Sam Dodge)
One of the many heavy duty pieces of machinery.
One of the many heavy duty pieces of machinery. (Photo: Sam Dodge)
The silver cuff on this bike is an S&S Coupler, which allows the frame to be broken down into two pieces for more convenient packing.
The silver cuff on this bike is an S&S Coupler, which allows the frame to be broken down into two pieces for more convenient packing. (Photo: Sam Dodge)
One customer wanted lugs that looked as though they were melting.
One customer wanted lugs that looked as though they were melting. (Photo: Sam Dodge)

Waterford Precision Cycles: Handmade Bicycles in Wisconsin's Heartland

This week is the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin's Bike to Work Week. In celebration of this event, OnMilwaukee.com will run new bike-related stories each day.

In the mind of a cyclist, Waterford, Wis. is a bit of a magical spot on the map. It's the home of Waterford Precision Cycles, one of the last few high volume, high quality, handmade, customized bicycle producers in America. All of the big guys, such as Giant, Schwinn, Huffy, Specialized and even Trek, with their headquarters in Wisconsin, are now produced overseas. Waterford Precision Cycles manufactures frames for, among others, Gunnar, Fleet Velo, Boulder Bikes, Rivendell Bicycle Works, our own Milwaukee Bicycle Company and, of course, Waterford itself, which, according to owner Richard Schwinn, retains "unquestioned dominance" in tube construction.

The Waterford factory was originally an offshoot of Schwinn outside of their Chicago factory. It is a fairly non-descript building and quite small considering its notable reputation. But it was there that Marc Muller, who worked for Schwinn, revived and produced the now much sought-after racing bike, the Schwinn Paramount. A few turns down the road the factory stopped producing Schwinns, as everything was moved overseas. The factory stopped production until it was purchased by Muller, George Garner and Richard Schwinn, the great-grandson of Ignaz Schwinn, founder of the Schwinn Bicycle Company.

From there, Waterford started pioneering work on oversized tubing such as Reynolds' 753 and 853 chromoly steel tubesets - a difficult task since the materials can be finicky if not heated and treated properly. But according to Richard Schwinn, when Reynolds came knocking for a quality control check they admitted that they had "never seen work so consistent, so good." The oversized tubing allowed for much lighter bikes while still retaining their strength. Waterford also formulated single bend chain stays and vertical dropouts for better wheel stability.

Waterford bicy…

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Learning to ride without training wheels can be fun and rewarding.
Learning to ride without training wheels can be fun and rewarding.

Help kids say goodbye to their training wheels with First Ride

This week is the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin's Bike to Work Week. In celebration of this event, OnMilwaukee.com will run new bike-related stories each day.

First Ride is a group class designed to help kids ditch their training wheels and empower kids to ride on two wheels. It's a free community event and the first of its kind in the area. It happens Saturday, June 11 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Atwater Elementary School in Shorewood. The event will be hosted by Rainbow Jersey Bicycle Shop and the Shorewood Business District.

It's easy to question whether a child is ready to take on the bicycle when they can still barely cut the food on their plate or tie their shoes. Riding a bike can be a bit of an unusual sensation for a child and initially requires concentration and coordination to move in a new and unique way.

On the bike their feet have to move in circles while they attempt keep their arms stationary to control the bike. They have to learn to turn their heads without turning the rest of their body. They also have to figure out how to navigate obstacles in the street. Is that crack too wide? Is that acorn too big to roll over?

First Ride is a special workshop designed for kids 10 and under to learn how to ditch those training wheels. It's based on a unique 'balancing first' method that involves removing the bike pedals during practice. This method is less about the forward momentum and more about just feeling comfortable with their training wheels off.

Removal of the pedals means kids have more room to put their feet down and less of a chance of banging up their shins. And less banged shins means a much greater chance of smiles. Maybe even inspirational speeches?

Once they've got the basic concepts down, the children will start to learn pedaling, steady starting and stopping, and steering with control. First Ride will even properly fit your child's helmet, too.

Kids and parents from around the Milwaukee area are invited to come to the workshop. Staff from Ra…

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