21 April 2010

Our First Madsenversary

One year ago today, our Madsen Cycles kg271 "Bucket Bike" showed up in an enormous box.

We quickly realized that this bike was going to do everything we had hoped, and more.  I was looking for a bicycle that would help this a stay-at-home dad get out of the house more often, carrying three small children on errands and outings around the neighborhood.  We already had an Xtracycle, but this would be a back-up for when our minivan wasn't available and we needed to mobilize the whole gang.

It may sound funny, but the bike gives me a physical outlet that is key to my parental sanity.  I went from bike commuting 100 miles/week to my old office job with hauling 100 lbs of precious cargo between neighborhoods, and those seem to be comparable challenges.  For me, it's far more mentally stimulating to ride a bike than drive a car and the kids certainly keep things interesting.  Plus the they have had a chance to interact more with their neighborhood since we're moving at slower speed.  We play I Spy or wave and say hi to people that we pass by.

In the summer we took the bike to the parks and the library and the farmers market and a wedding.  We took great-grandma and her great-granddaughter for a spin (at the same time.)  We tricked it out with leather and cork and rubber.  We used the drive-thru windows at the bank and the donut shop.

When fall rolled around, we rolled the Madsen to pre-school and play-dates and tea parties.  A friend borrowed it to move house.
By winter, we were scheming ideas for a bucket cover, so that we could just keep on riding through the rainy months.  We're doing that now, over 250 miles of Tacoma in 2010 so far.  It's been a wonderful ride.

We bought a "scratched" model direct from Madsen at a discounted price and also took advantage of a free shipping offer.  Over time, I made a few changes to the stock setup:

-Avid BB5 mechanical disc brake caliper up front
-VO Tourist Bar and cork grips (amber shellacked)
-VO Saddle Model 8
-Schwalbe Marathon 1.75" front tire
-Schwalbe Big Apple 2.0" rear tire
-DIY Rain Cover

I've appreciated the simplicity of the 1x8 drivetrain and mostly use the lowest five gears.  The 42T chainring is welded to the crank, and I always figured that I'd swap it out for a nicer crankset with a 36T ring.  However, I kept putting that off and simply became a stronger rider instead.  I've been able to make the climb up St. Helens from downtown Tacoma with two kids in the bucket, my litmus test for cargo hauling.  Remember that the rear wheel is 20", so a gear calculator is helpful to compare gearing options.

For the kind of work it does, the bike and components are holding up well.  I estimate that we've put 700+ miles on it (I only started keeping track of mileage in September.)  It's frequently been ridden in the rain, though the fenders keep it relatively clean.    The full length cable housing has kept everything smooth.  I've just replaced the rear v-brake pads.  It still shifts great - no adjustment ever that I can recall.  The kickstand tension has also never needed adjustment, though I've had to re-allign the kickstand when it has occasionally twisted in it's clamp.  Though it has always been garaged, a few bits have a slight tinge of rust.  I've tightened and trued the rear wheel twice, but had no flat tires.  It's been semi-dropped only once when it tipped hard onto a brick planter box while loading a queen-sized mattress on the bucket.  The dented head-badge is now a badge of honor.

Overall, I've been very happy with the bike.  It's a purchase I would make again.  However, I've already got one...so to celebrate our Madsenversary, I would like to share with you...


Yeah, I'm pretty excited about this.  A while back, Madsen Cycles sent me a $400 coupon towards the purchase of another Madsen bike, a coupon that we could give to a friend.  To date, I'm still the only Madsen owner in Tacoma.  :(  So, in order to share the love, Jared Madsen has agreed to apply my coupon to the next person who calls to order a kg271 directly from Madsen Cycles and mentions "Tacoma Bike Ranch".  Here are the details:

The coupon cannot be applied towards any already discounted bike (i.e. the "scratched" ones) and cannot be used in combination with any other coupons or discounts.  So a $1299 bucket bike would only be $899.  That's less than I paid for ours!  At that point, you could add the "Classic Dutch Upgrade" and an extra seat bench and still come out ahead.  Call Madsen Cycles at 1.800.206.0941 and tell them Tacoma Bike Ranch sent you!

Only one person gets to use this special offer, so don't delay.  I'll post an update here once the coupon has been used.

[UPDATE: The coupon has been claimed! Another bucket bike is on the road!]

Cheers to another fun year of family cycling!

16 April 2010

Cabin Fever Grindout - April 24

A cryptic message was received on the wires today:

Bicycle Booze Cruz
Saturday, April 24th
Meet up at: MAGOO’S
Spread the word! 
We Own the Streets!!!

I think by now you all know what to do...Get Thy Velosteeds Ready!  Meanwhile...

04 April 2010

A PDX/TAC Connection

I'd like to give a HUGE shout-out to my friends behind A Most Civilized Conveyance.  Katie, Dave and their son Jasper are a car-free family living in Portland, OR. They recently adventured to Tacoma with their bikes via Amtrak and have an inspiring story to tell about the joys and perils of traveling.

I could say "traveling with small children" or "traveling by bicycle" or "traveling in the Pacific Northwest in March," but travel under any circumstances involves planning, flexibility, and a bit of blind faith.  In then end it's not always about where you go, but how you get there, and even how you got back from where you went.

I'm certainly inspired to attempt a similar trip with my own family thanks to Katie and Dave.