Buying the Best Bike For You

A bike novice and a bike nerd talk cycling options. GOOD: I figured since you live in Portland, you must know everything there is to know about bikes. Can you help me pick one? ZACH DUNDAS: Ah, Portland's reputation as the urban cyclist's paradise precedes it, I see. Well, it is a pretty great bike..

A bike novice and a bike nerd talk cycling options.

GOOD: I figured since you live in Portland, you must know everything there is to know about bikes. Can you help me pick one?ZACH DUNDAS: Ah, Portland's reputation as the urban cyclist's paradise precedes it, I see. Well, it is a pretty great bike city. Ironically, I am probably in the bottom 20th percentile of Portland cyclists in terms of skills, strength, knowledge, and fanaticism, but maybe that makes me the perfect person for you to talk to.G: So, I'm overwhelmed by the options and by the haughty people who tend to work at bike shops.ZD: I find it appalling that you've encountered unhelpful service at bike shops. Bike-shop workers in Portland tend to be too friendly, if anything. They see a fresh customer walk in and a little evangelical gleam comes into their eye. I think the basic ethic here is that anything that gets more cyclists on the road helps all other cyclists. That being said, I do see that buying a bike can be intimidating. In my own cycling life, I've gone out of my way to avoid specialist gear and many of the trappings of hard-core bike culture-not that I don't respect it, or find it interesting, but because I want my bike to be a fairly seamless part of my life. I definitely appreciate the aesthetics and politics of cycling, but basically I need my bike to get me to work and to the store, and I suspect that's what you're looking for, as well.G: That's exactly what I'm looking for. I want something that won't break the bank, that isn't complicated in any way, and is sturdy. Ideally, this is a bike I can ride to work on occasion, and all over my neighborhood.ZD: To start, I wouldn't really recommend one of the urban cruiser styles that have come to the fore of late. I test-rode an Electra Amsterdam a few years ago, and was not impressed; I found it to be a case of style over substance. But if I had a wad of cash begging to be spent on a recreational cruiser bike, I'd probably go with the Bianchi Milano. Ladies look lovely on a Milano.

G: But they're not ideal for getting around?ZD: You'll find all that stuff a little weak when you have to make it to work through city traffic. You might look at the Surly Cross-Check, an extremely tough, durable, accessible bike that retails for about $1,000. I have heard the Raleigh One Way, a single-geared bike but not necessarily a fixed gear, well spoken of. I'm also fascinated by Rivendell bikes: Check out their website at They seem kind of crazy, but the bikes look cool and aren't too expensive.G: OK, we're getting somewhere here. What do you ride?ZD: I've had great luck so far with the Bianchi Volpe. I'm sure you'll find some caveats about it out there-I did meet a guy who said his Bianchi frame cracked really early on. But so far, for me, it's been just about ideal. I got it for less than $1,000 a couple of years ago. Bianchi's an Italian brand with a lot of history, though my Volpe was, like many bikes sold in the United States, made in Taiwan. I find the Volpe to be an excellent mix of sturdy and sleek; it's basically a hybrid bike, or maybe a road bike with a little mountain DNA, if that makes sense. It's also got just a bit of that Italian design thing going on.G: Talk to me about custom bikes. All hype?ZD: I will admit to some serious lust for custom bikes. Some day, when I'm rich and famous, I will get a tailor-made bike from one of Portland's many frame builders. I'll spring for an Ira Ryan or a Vanilla, something that costs my quarterly take-home pay and requires multiple personal fittings and a two-year wait. If you think I'm kidding, check out Vanilla's website. Their waiting list is five years, and they didn't even accept orders in 2008. Their bikes are, for the record, totally worth it.G: What if I wanted to only spend somewhere around $200? At that price are you just talking about walking into a used-bike place, closing your eyes, and pointing? Do deals exist for decent bikes?ZD: For $200, yes, you are basically trusting to luck on the used-bike market. That is not to say that you can't find good stuff. A friend of mine found a classic Schwinn in good condition for about $150. I spent $150 on a beautiful retro Schwinn from the early 1980s, which worked great-until I crashed it. I discovered that the relatively minor damage to the drive train and the pedals would cost more than $150 to repair because, of course, Schwinns of that era used a proprietary drive-train system that is no longer manufactured. If you're going to go used, I'd recommend looking for a well-maintained road bike from the late 1980s or early 1990s.

G: What about cheaper new bikes?ZD: You can look at new bikes starting at around $500. I test-rode a couple of completely respectable hybrid bikes for around that price. I just decided, after the heartbreak with the Schwinn, to spend a little bit more on a bike that I hope to ride for a decade.G: So you're saying if I plan to keep it, the best bet is investing in a good bike?ZD: I figure, with a round-trip bus fare from my house to downtown Portland costing $4, the bike pays for itself pretty quickly. Plus, it is a key component in our household's ability to own just one car, which of course is a significant savings on insurance, maintenance, and fuel. Illustrations by Taliah Lempert. See more of Talia's bicycle paintings at

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Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

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"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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