PROPEL BIKES A couple of years ago we dropped into Propel Bikes in Brooklyn, New York. It was an amazing shop in an up-and-coming neighborhood in New York City. Interestingly (and ironically), while it was legal to buy an e-bike from the shop, it was technically illegal to ride an e-bike in the city. Ridiculous for sure, but that’s the way the law is currently written in the state. Luckily, that’s finally changing. NYC has over 500 miles of bike lanes and greenways, and there’s now a mandate to expand the 85 miles of protected bike lanes in the city by 100 miles every year. After visiting the Big Apple last year, we can attest to how much faster it is to get around the congested streets with an e-bike. In a week that we were there, we covered more ground in half a day on an e-bike than we did in the rest of the week we were there using trains, cabs, ride-share and walking. In a very efficient, small space, Propel shows off a huge variety of bikes. HOW IT STARTED Chris Nolte grew up in Long Island, New York, and like any right-minded kid, he was always into riding bikes. When he was just 13 years old he got his first taste of the working world when he began tagging along with his dad, who was a manufacturer’s rep in the sporting goods industry. Being his dad’s sidekick would only last so long, and by the time he turned 18, Chris decided to join the military. He would go on to serve in Iraq and Kuwait where he drove big fuel trucks. His back was injured in an accident, seriously diminishing his mobility. “It looks very modern, with hanging LEDs highlighting the bikes and a very clean space.” Following his time in uniform, Chris returned home in 2003 where he found a job selling luggage in a local store. Lucky for Chris, the store also had a burgeoning e-commerce site, and that was where he first began to see a future in e-commerce. It was that experience that led him back to school to study computer science. While still in school, he started a web design business, which took off in more ways than he could’ve ever imagined. Like any well-stocked store that caters to the needs of commuters, there is an abundance of accessories, including Abus locks, Hexlock, Yepp seating and a multitude of helmets to choose from. It was during his many hours spent online that Chris discovered electric bikes and became an instant fan of them. Before long, he ended up building his own e-bike, which not only satisfied his enthusiasm for the new category of bikes, but more important, got him back on a bike for the first time in years. It didn’t take long before those early e-bike rides set him on a new course in life; he opened an e-bike store. Located on the second floor of an industrial building in Brooklyn, the “showroom,” as he called it, was open on an appointment-only basis. It was using his background with e-commerce where the store’s success really began to build. MILLION-DOLLAR IDEA In his first year doing business, the shop enjoyed $50,000 in sales. A year later Chris moved to a larger space and the sales tripled to $150,000. By 2013 he was doing $350,000 a year in sales and moved to a small warehouse. But that wasn’t his dream. The dream was to have a real bike shop in the city. That dream began to take root while riding down the bike path on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn. This was where he passed by the old Brooklyn Navy Yard, which was being transformed into office buildings and, lo and behold, out in front was a “for lease” sign on a building that looked just right. Chris’ dream of having a bike shop in the city was thus fulfilled. Their way of displaying bikes maximizes floor space and shows off the bikes extremely well. Since then, it’s been a booming business, thriving because of his customer-focused business model. He carries mostly Bosch-powered bikes, finding that system very easy to work on and being very reliable. He limits the brands he carries, but often has the full line to offer customers the greatest variety possible. He does worry about longevity and parts, and how that affects his customers. Some will replace their $15,000 car with a $7000 e-bike, and they’ll want it to last 10 years. During that time, will they be able to buy a new battery? With rapidly changing technology, some companies stop supporting their products after a few years. In California, there’s a law that says they must support it for seven years after it has been discontinued. THE BIG MOVE Last year Nolte decided to expand his business westward by moving his family to Long Beach, California. They moved into the new space in August of 2018, and he and his family have done all of the construction. It looks very modern, with hanging LEDs highlighting the bikes and a very clean space. The store just recently opened the store, and to maximize the floor space for the ever-expanding line of bikes sold, he made stair-stepped plinths to better show them off instead of just leaving them all on the floor. The store is the first-ever Riese & Müller experience store, carrying their full line, including their big cargo bikes. They also carry cargo bikes by Tern and Butchers & Bicycles (Propel is the exclusive seller of the latter). They have only one e-MTB in the store, because Chris prefers to stick to the more city-oriented bikes. Other bikes they carry are Mustache, Gazelle and Haibike. As of now the shop has yet to set up any demo rides from this store, and the idea of offering rental bikes is still up in the air. There’s a storage area in the back for parts, and a larger space for a workshop, complete with a hydraulic lift for the heavy bikes. This hydraulic lift lets any mechanic lift and work on any weight of e-bike. CUSTOMER SERVICE While plenty of customers travel to the store and pick up the bike directly, just as they do with the East Coast shop, the West Coast store often delivers bikes to customers. Chris still laughs when he tells of an early customer who arrived by boat to pick up their bike after sailing down from Santa Barbara. When the bikes have to be shipped out, the shop uses custom boxes that require only that the pedals be removed and handlebars turned sideways to fit. Not only does this make the packing job quicker, but it’s also easier for the customer to assemble the bike and get out riding. The West Coast shop is located at 100 West Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802. Their number is (718) 643-4542, and their website is www.propelbikes.com THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. 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We’re well versed in electric bikes and we’ve all seen adventurous looking bikes laden with bikepacking kit, but e-assisted adventuring could well be the next big thing (possibly). Marin recently launched its Pine Mountain E, a trail bike with a definite hint of adventure about it. Now, the brand has teamed up with Apidura to create a, thus-far, one-off frame bag specifically for the bike. The Pine Mountain E, based on the do-it-all Pine Mountain, is a steel adventure-cum-trail bike with geometry that suggests it should be ideal for spins round your local woods. A Shimano STEPS motor gives you that big-mile range. All our Eurobike 2019 coverage Top 5 bike packing bikes All you need for a bikepacking adventure Shape wise, the Pine Mountain E’s frame is long, with a 475mm reach (on a size large), 66-degree head and 75-degree seat angles, and fairly lengthy 450mm chainstays. If anything, this bike should be nice and stable, laden or not. Shimano’s motor drives the bike. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Up front, there’s a 120mm fork (the new RockShox 35 on the pricier Pine Mountain E2 model), while the bike also rolls on plus-sized Vee Rubber tyres — 27.5 × 2.8in. The Pine Mountain E is driven by a Shimano SLX/XT 12-speed groupset, with a Sunrace cassette, and Shimano’s four-pot M520 brakes bring it all to a halt. The frame is packed with adventure-ready details, not least the 11 bolt bosses inside and outside of the main triangle. The standard Pine Mountain has even more, with Marin envisioning that its bolt placement could help form a bolted standard for bikepacking accessories. Marin has added a number of bolt bosses to the frame to make fitting bags and accessories easy. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Further to the number of bosses are the handlebars, which have an extra cross-bar across the riser section, onto which a bar roll could easily be slung. Apidura’s prototype custom frame bag Apidura has included a compartment for a spare battery. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Thumb screws should make fitting or removing the bag nice and easy. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Marin has added a number of bolt bosses to the frame to make fitting bags and accessories easy. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Apidura’s hydration system is easily removable for refilling. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media The tube exits the front of the bag, and loops round to clip on to the bike’s cables for easy on-bike access. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media The bottle sits neatly in the front of the frame bag. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Marin is using a down tube mounted 500Wh battery. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media RockShox’s 35 fork offers big hit chassis capability. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Shimano’s 4-pot brakes should offer ample stopping power. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Vee Tire Crown Gem tyres in their 2.8in width. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media The added strut across the top of the bar should be handy for strapping bits and pieces to. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media The Pine Mountain E could well be a great addition to a fleet of bikes, but it’s the Apidura prototype bag that finishes this particular package off. Apidura has a widening range of high-quality bike-packing bags, from frame bags to saddlebags. This one has been designed specifically for this bike, with the most obvious feature being its cut-out around the battery. Hidden within the ripstop nylon bag though are a couple of smart touches. By the seat tube there’s a compartment designed specifically to carry a spare battery — after all, if your ride is long enough to need luggage, there’s a fair chance the standard 500Wh battery won’t be enough. Apidura has included a compartment for a spare battery. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media Held neatly at the front of the pack is an integrated drinks reservoir, with the hydration tube popping out of the front of the pack and looping round to a clip on the bike’s exposed gear cable outer. Attaching the bag looks like it could be a hassle, however inside is a plate with thumb bolts to attach it to the frame’s bolt bosses. Both zips and magnetic tabs are used to close and secure the bag. At present, this is just a concept or prototype bag. Demand is likely to be relatively limited, so it’s unlikely to come to market. However, this demonstrates the possibilities that are there for integrating frame bags into a wide range of bikes, and may hint at a potential future for longer distance adventuring (though, we’d recommend you also pack your bike’s charger…). More details on the Marin Pine Mountain E are available on Marin’s website, while Apidura has plenty of packs already available on its site.
Brompton has today unveiled the Brompton Explore, its own take on an adventure bike that’s designed to take you on longer expeditions out of the city. If adventuring on a Brompton strikes you as odd, let’s not forget that the small-wheeled folding bike has already been pedalled around the globe by Heinz Stucke, ridden at the South Pole by a research scientist and completed countless journeys between Land’s End and John O’Groats over the years. Here’s what you need for a bikepacking adventure 5 reasons why you should get your friends into cycling With the bike’s compact nature lending itself well to upping sticks and heading out of the city with only the essentials in hand, Brompton has drawn upon its surprisingly rich heritage of exploration. Developed with micro-adventurer Alastair Humphreys, the Brompton Explore is claimed to be purpose-built for expeditions, with increased comfort and carrying capabilities, and adventure-friendly spec choices. “The Brompton Explore provides unparalleled freedom to those with a sense of adventure,” says Joel Natale, Brompton’s head of product. “It’s as simple as packing the bag and jumping on the nearest bus, train or plane to escape the city for a long weekend.” The Brompton Explore will retail from £1,525, with several options available direct from Brompton’s website. Brompton Explore specifications, price and options With its compact design, it’s a great option for packing light. Brompton While the bike itself is still recognisable as a Brompton, it’s had some subtle spec changes to make it more suited to loaded and long-distance riding. It comes with several buying options, and a choice of M-type or H-type handlebars. These are the best suited options for long-distance comfort according to Brompton. What seems to be missing, however, is a set of mudguards. According to the brand, this is to reduce weight, as well as the risk of dragging on uneven surfaces, but it does mean that all-weather adventurers need to brace themselves for soggy bottoms. Lower gearing The Brompton Explore has a 6-speed internal gear hub with what is claimed to be reduced gearing, though the actual gear ratio is yet to be confirmed. We do know that it’s paired with a 44t chainring, though. A 6-speed internal hub gear promises lower gearing for longer and more complex journeys. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Schwalbe Marathon Racer Tanwall folding tyres The Explore sports 16 x 1.35in Schwalbe Marathon Racer folding tyres to give the best all-round comfort and durability. Plus, it’s bang on trend with the tanwall. Matching the tyres are gum rubber grips in the same tan colour. Their softer compound is claimed to provide a more comfortable ride over long distances. The folding Schwalbe Marathon Racer Tanwall tyres are exclusive to Brompton. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Saddle upgrade Keeping things comfy at the rear is the Brooks Cambium C17 All Weather saddle. This is a good choice for longer riding, and when we reviewed it we found it to emulate the comfort of a broken-in leather saddle, but straight out of the box. The Brooks Cambium C17 saddle doesn’t need breaking in. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Adventure essentials Brompton has tried to make sure the Explore is equipped with everything you might need to get out on your first adventure. It comes with a decent-sized bag, a pouch with essentials included, and a brochure to inspire you to plan your journey. 28-litre roll-top bag Up front there’s a custom Camo fabric roll-top bag with a 28-litre capacity. It features Fidlock closures on its rear pockets, a dedicated water bottle sleeve and an extra load strap system for securing additional accessories. In keeping with the brand’s long-standing bag mount system, the roll-top bag fits securely to the front of the bike. The 28L capacity bag comes included. Oli Woodman / Immediate Media Explore pouch The Brooks Cambium C17 saddle and essentials pouch. Brompton If you’re heading away from civilisation, you need to take your essentials with you. Brompton has made this super easy by supplying each model of the Explore with a purpose-built pouch, complete with the necessary contents, which include: Two Impac inner tubes Four spokes (two front, two rear) One chain quick-link Replacement brake pads (front and rear) Rim tape One 3-speed gear cable One rear brake cable One folding Marathon Racer folding Tanwall tyre Brompton toolkit with extra repair patches Brompton pump The essentials pouch comes fully equipped with everything you might need. Brompton
This month the UK’s best-selling mountain bike magazine brings you another packed issue featuring Chris Akrigg, one of the world’s best bike handlers, a bike packing adventure along the Cambrian Way, and BikeRadar‘s women’s editor Aoife Glass heads to Whistler to discover how they’ve managed to encourage so many women into the sport. Best mountain bike: how to choose the right one for you In addition, you’ll find a carbon superbike test, 15 trail shorts get reviewed and the MBUK team rides three of the latest bikes from Yeti, Santa Cruz and Thok. There are also insights from pro photographer Geoff Waugh on his favourite shots and the team chat with Rachael Walker, Hope Technology’s brand manager. Chris Akrigg Chris Akrigg has a style few can imitate. Mick Kirkman There are very few people who can handle a bike like Chris Akrigg and even fewer that make trails look as smooth or can ride and conquer what most of us would consider un-ridable. MBUK catches up with the Yorkshireman at his local spot to see just how he does it. Wheel science Can a mixed wheel size set up compete with a pair of 29in wheels? Will Soffe heads to the track to find out. Andy Lloyd After the UCI removed the rule that wheel sizes need to be the same for gravity racing, there have been several riders experimenting (with success) with a mixed wheel set up. MBUK sent out suspension expert and bike coach Will Soffe to see if there’s any advantage to the ‘mullet’ bike set up against its big-wheeled counterpart. Carbon superbikes Just how good are top-of-the-range trail bikes? MBUK puts four ultimate trail bikes from Scott, Yeti, Mondraker and Specialized to the test. Mick Kirkman This month MBUK puts four money no object superbikes from Scott, Yeti, Mondraker and Specialized head to head to see if these ultimate trail-rippers have any flaws, and which one is just a little more ‘super’ than the others. How to… Nikki Whiles teaches you how to get your pump on. Andy Lloyd Learn a heap of pro-tips from some of the UK’s best coaches — Chris Kilmurray, Olly Morris and Nikki Whiles — on how to rip around a pump track, improve your car-park skills to impress your mates, improve your trail riding, and learn how to climb easy so you can descend hard. Ahead of the curve Whistler is a bucket list riding destination regardless of gender. Mark Mackay Whistler has always been at the forefront of the mountain biking scene, leading the way in terms of trail development and inclusivity. It’s also one of the areas where women almost equal men in numbers on the trails. Aoife Glass takes a trip to the ‘promise-land’ to see just what they are doing so right. Extra extra… Features editor Ed and MBUK buddy Ben take on the beautiful but challenging Cambrian Way in a bike packing adventure. Anthony Pease That’s not all, this month’s magazine pages are crammed with first rides on the new Yeti SB 165 T2, Santa Cruz Chameleon C SE+ Reserve, plus new Italian brand Thok, with its e-bike the MIG-R. The testing team reviews six of the best multi-tools, and 15 pairs of trail shorts feature in the mag’s grouptest. Tons more gear and kit get put through the wringer to bring you the best advice on what cuts the mustard and what doesn’t. Also, features editor Ed and former MBUK tester Ben, bikepack their way along 175km of the Cambrian Way, and there’s much much more besides. Free gift Free rainbow anodised valve caps are this month’s MBUK free gift. MBUK This month MBUK blings up your bike with some rainbow anodised valve caps.