Tag Archives: Klein Aura V

2011 Bianchi Camaleonte Uno

I’ve been dreaming of getting a new bike to use for commuting to work. Yeah, my Klein Aura V is a sweet ride, but she’s been difficult to work with, being very stiff and inflexible (And no surprise! She’s a racing bike, not a commuter!) . I needed something with a bit more weight, something that could handle having a rack, wider tires, fenders. I needed something that I wouldn’t be afraid of banging up too easily.

The answer?

2011 Bianchi Camaleonte Uno

Mark, at Truly Spokin’, told me that this would be an excellent bike for what I was looking to do. This is the 2011 Bianchi Camaleonte Uno, a hybrid bike (“hybrid” meaning sporty, but also practical – road bike & commuter bike in one). I tested his faith back in July 2011 by asking if I could test ride this bike for 3 days, and with only raised eyebrows and a curious look, he said, “Sure. Come get it Friday, bring it back to me Monday.” It was a great 3-day test ride! Rainy, windy, sunny, warm, calm – the whole shebang. I took that thing out and rode it all over and in all weather conditions because I wanted to make sure.

I test rode 4 other bikes as well (among them, Giant & Torker) but none of them quite had the ride that the Bianchi did.

Bianchi Camaleonte Uno

(“Camaleonte” is Italian for Chameleon. I admit to having more than just a passing love of the chameleon on the top tube. It makes the bike just a little bit more fun, a bit more out there.)

After paying a little bit here, a little bit there, since July for the bike, I was finally able to pick up this sweet thing on 11/11/11. Obviously, I’m quite excited about giving her a run on the commute this coming week!

Things I like about the bike:

  • It’s slick looking. Sexy. Sleek. Truth is, though, most of Bianchi’s bikes are slick.
  • It rides well. It’s not like the Klein, but it’s not meant to be! It’s got more weight to it and the steering is stiffer (a plus).
  • It’s got a shorter top tube. It’s going to take some getting used to, but it’s not as much of a stretch from the seat to the handlebars. It’s more of an upright position than I’m familiar with on my previous bikes.
  • The flat handlebars. I like ‘em. The shifters & the brakes are easy to access and quick to respond. I’ve been riding on dropbars for the past year, so my arms are a bit stiff from the different position, but it’ll be a good change.
  • An adjustable stem. The handlebar stem is adjustable so that it can drop or rise a pretty significant amount. I’m going to play with this a bit, but it was definitely a selling point!
  • 32mm tires. I started off with 25’s, then went to 28’s on the Klein. These fatter tires make a big difference when it comes to dealing with carpal tunnel in the wrists.
  • Mini-V brakes. When I hit the brakes, this bike stops, even when it’s wet. I’m impressed.
  • Racks & Fenders! It can handle a rack on the rear & front, plus there’s plenty of space for fenders for the wet Pensacola commuting days. I’m having a rack installed this week – I’m getting too old to carry a backpack full of books, a laptop, and all the other stuff I need to teach!
  • Good handling in various conditions. With the Klein, I’m afraid to do some things (riding in the rain, banking turns hard, going over particularly rough patches / railroad tracks, etc. at higher speeds) but with the Bianchi, I’m a lot more confident of  its ability to handle these conditions.
  • It’s just a fun ride. Seriously.
Bianchi Camaleonte Uno

Will I eventually go car-free? I dunno. I’ve been working towards a reduced-car existence for the past year (and with over 2600 miles on the Klein since November 2010, I’d say I’ve gotten a decent start). This bike will help me increase my bike commuter miles, and reduce my carbon footprint, not to mention continue a healthier lifestyle and influence others in myriad ways. I’m excited!

Ask me questions, or stay tuned for more on this bike!

Overcoming Biking Fears

i’ve been riding a bike since i was a little kid. fearless, reckless, i destroyed bikes & parts of my body in jr. high by not thinking about anything except having fun and taking risks while riding. as i gained as much weight as i did in my adult years, my riding declined to the stopping point until 2 years ago when i started to reclaim my health and lose that weight. i had bought a cheap Mongoose and now rode in the neighborhood up to 18 miles a day, but only for health.

i’m 42 now, 90lbs lighter, in a lot better shape than i’ve been in many years, and… i’m kinda scared.

i bought The Bike (2004 Klein Aura V) back in November ’10 with the intention of commuting to work, saving money, helping the environment, and continuing my journey to better health. when the commuting didn’t work out because of gang-related issues (another time / another post), i committed to using the bike as much as i could for errands, pleasure, short trips and riding to Pensacola Beach.

Pensacola Beach is less than 10 miles from my house as the crow flies. it’s a gorgeous drive getting there,  and without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

the problem? to get to the beach, you’ve gotta cross the Pensacola Bay Bridge, a narrow, 3 mile long bridge that crosses the Pensacola Bay, is subject to some strong crosswinds, and can be a little scary to drive over depending on the volume of traffic.

i spent months looking longingly at that bridge from the seat of my bike. i’d make it to the bridge, then turn towards town and ride around there. i made all sorts of excuses as to why i was scared to cross it on the bike. i mean, seriously! look at how people drive across that thing! and what about garbage in the road? if there’s lots of trash, i’m stuck! and crosswinds? c’mon! my lack of balance due to hearing impairment is legendary! one burst of wind from the bay and i’m either pushed into traffic or i’m over the side and in the drink. let’s not even talk about the fact that i can’t wear my hearing aids when i ride, so can’t monitor traffic well! all i needed to do was keep telling myself these things and i’d be sure to not risk anything by crossing that death trap.

but then the jr. higher in me has been calling. and The Bike? oh, man. i honestly had no idea how awesome riding a bike could be until i bought a Klein. such a sweet ride! i had to suck it up, get past the fears and excuses, and just ride the damn bridge!

i enlisted my friend Chris Baskind to ride with me, soothe my fears, steel my resolve, and not let me back out.

with klein aura v on the beach

and 14 miles after leaving home, we arrived on Pensacola Beach in one piece. and it. was. awesome.

that old bridge doesn’t scare me any more. i’ve ridden across it 3 more times since my first ride a couple weeks ago. i took my Flip UltraHD video camera with me and shot the crossing, sped it up some, added some smooth background music, and put it up:

as i’ve become more confident with riding and with my ability to monitor what’s going on around me while riding, i’m branching out more and feeling good about using the bike for more than just getting healthier.

i’m NOT, however, riding like a jr. higher. pretty sure i’d be dead by now if i were!

Cycling Commute

my latest change in habits on the road to continued good health (mine as well as the environment’s)?

Klein Aura V Bike

that, my friends, is a 2004 Klein Aura V road bike. she’s taking the place of that clunky old mongoose mountain bike i’ve been riding the last several years. she comes courtesy of chris baskind, a car-free, cycling-enthusiast, cool dude here in Pensacola who maintains www.ecominima.com. i had been looking at bikes, chris mentioned on Twitter that he was selling his Klein, we talked, he made me an offer i couldn’t pass up, and i’m now rockin’ the road on this sweet thang.

and let me just say this: i figured that a high-end road bike would ride nicer than a $150 wal-mart bike, but holy crap! i had no idea it would make this much of a difference!! i have had so much difficulty reining myself in sometimes while out riding – it’s so much more fun, comfortable, smooth, exhilarating… i could go riding on and on!

i’ve been cycling to and from work (7.5 miles each way) several times a week for the past few weeks and am LOVING it! i’m committing to commuting by bike at least 3 days a week (the other two days i cannot due to other obligations).

more on the rationale and motivation soon.