A day in Toronto

Day One of the Toronto International Bicycle Festival yesterday was great experience. More than 3,300 kilometers away from our Seattle roots, it was encouraging to get a warm welcome… even matching a face to a Canadian who had already corresponded with Flatbike about specs.

All set up and ready for business in Toronto…

My hotel is clear across town from the convention hall. So by default, I planned to rent a car, then realized a taxi would be cheaper, or maybe public transportation, and suddenly realized the obvious: I already have a bunch of bikes in Toronto, so why not ride them? And just like that, I had become a Toronto commuter.

In the end, the bike I chose for commuting across Toronto was our only 612 mountain bike at the show, which was great for these conditions. I loved the commute, except for one thing. It was the extra small model, and at 195cm, I am anything but extra-small, so it was a bit like riding a typical folding bike. I can guarantee your sizing will be better!

My trusty steed, ready to enter the hotel lobby and elevator in the Bond hotel, across Toronto from the bike show.

One thing to know about Toronto is… this city runs on streetcars. At one red light, I counted no fewer than seven sets of tracks converging on one intersection! In a bike commute, there is no way to hit all of those safely at right angles, so a wider tire is essential. Combine that risk with a perceived plethora of potholes in a generally flat city and the CHANGE 611 rugged hybrid was the most discussed bike by far at the Flatbike booth—along with wishes for a future high-geared rugged folding commuter bike with wider tires.

Streetcars in action, courtesy of the Toronto Star

A scintillating discussion about valve caps?


Bike shows are fun not only for what Flatbike can offer others, but also for great ideas that others have. At one point, a man came up to me and wanted to discuss quality valve caps. Seriously??? Valve caps? I could not imagine a more boring discussion, but the concept of valve caps offering any high-end value value to anyone intrigued me.

Who knew valve caps could be so high-tech?

It turns out your valve stem is where a lot of physics happens. With Arofly, a finely tuned, miniaturized measurement system installed on your rear valve stem can apparently calculate your mass (by pressure differential when you sit), your speed (by wheel revolutions), cadence (still not sure how that happens), and convert that by math to watts expended and calories burned. Oh, and send it by Bluetooth to a super simple cycle computer or your smartphone. It’s a whole fitness system! There has been at least one skeptical review of an early prototype, but it’s worth tracking this product to see what data it delivers.

As expected, there are also bikes at all price points…

Clearance prices like this on other bikes make a high-end CHANGE bike look like a steal.

Out of sight!


At another booth, the Trailblazers Tandem Cycling Club, oddly promote themselves as “out of sight since 1987.” A club of shy people? Hardly. In this club, the rear riders (called stokers) are expert cyclists who can’t ride alone because they’re blind.

If you love biking but are sight-impaired, Toronto is the place to be.

So the club has four tandem-holding lockers stationed strategically throughout the city, and volunteers sign up for excellent social bike rides with a willing and ready cycling partner. I wish our city had one of these.

How can biking be better in your city?

Bob Forgrave's Signature

Bob Forgrave




P.S. And if you’re in the Toronto area or Seattle this weekend, come by the Toronto International Bicycle Show or the Seattle Bike Show for a test ride. Yes, we’re at both shows at the same time!



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