Bike Commuting>>View fewer Bike Commuting
If you're a dedicated bike commuter and you ride in foul weather, you know the importance of bags and panniers actually keeping your stuff dry. This past winter I had the opportunity to test out the Detours Georgetown Dry Pannier. The Georgetown repelled everything that Mother Nature (and I) could throw at it.
Detours Georgetown Dry Pannier Features
- Interior zip pocket
- Key clip in front pocket
- Removable shoulder strap
- Haul handle
- Roll-top closure
- TPU-coated waterproof flap
- Dimensions: 9.5 x 8 x 15 inches
- Volume: 850 cubic inches
- Product Weight: 2 pounds
- Capacity: 22 pounds
- Price: $105
Detours Georgetown Dry Pannier ReviewFirst and foremost, the Detours Georgetown Dry Pannier is fully weatherproof. I had it out in heavy rains, snow, sleet, plowing through slushy puddles, and even dry, dusty dirt roads and it kept everything (truly everything) on the outside. The only thing I didn't do, was fully submerge it. The Georgetown packs serious weather protection. With the weather-protection comes durability. The pictures to the right are after the winter of use. I used the Georgetown almost daily all winter long and after it's all said and done it looks almost brand new. The Georgetown is very unassuming. Solid black, basic cube shape, and only a few key features. While it's not a feature-heavy pannier, it excels at almost everything it does have. It features a single, open compartment design. The interior does feature a slim, zip pocket and a lot of open space. The 850 cubic inches seemed to swallow gear. I could comfortably fit my lunch for the day, change of clothes, jacket, and some miscellaneous items with room to spare. The main compartment is protected with a velcro, roll-top closure. In a pinch for large loads you can utilize the roll-top for extra room, you just might not be able to close the lid. Over the top of the roll-top closure is a lid that is secured with two buckles. The lid provides extra waterproofing and two webbing attachment points for lashing on extra gear. I would have loved to seen a telescoping lid so the roll-top could be fully utilized but that does add complexity to a design that works very well. The front of the pack does feature a small velcro pocket which is good for keys or other small items you want to have handy. It does come with a shoulder strap, which to be honest, I didn't use a single time, but liked the option. Let's get to the rack attachments. This is what makes or breaks a pannier in my opinion. For the Georgetown I'd give it a B and here's why. For the top bar attachment, this was good. You have a single, spring clasp which is strong and sturdy plus two hooks. What brings the grade down for me is the lower attachment. It's a hook on an elastic. The pro is it'll fit a wide variety of racks. The con is it always requires two hands to take it on and off. When balancing a loaded bike, this was a pain. I did get use to it, but I've used other panniers that have a more "one hand" friendly attachment system. Detours also included some nice reflective accents on the Georgetown. I will admit I err on the side of "more is better" but they do include some. They also include a rear-light strap on the back of the pannier which is my favorite "unspoken feature". I love to see small features like this in design, especially for visibility. The Good
- Fully waterproof
- Lower attachment system requires two hands
Bottom Line:The Detours Georgetown Dry Pannier is hard-working and fully weatherproof. It definitely needs to be in your consideration set for a general purpose pannier. Buy Now: Pick up the Detours Georgetown Dry Pannier [gallery]... Read more...
I've been itching to test out some Patagonia trail run gear. This past winter Patagonia gave me the opportunity to test the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket, their lightweight, minimalist running and cycling jacket.
Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket Features
- Extremely breathable 3-layer GORE-TEX® Active fabric is durably waterproof and windproof
- Self-fabric stand-up collar is lined with lightweight mesh for comfort
- Upper arm zippers can be unzipped to facilitate air flow through the jacket toward the back venting system
- Comfortable articulated sleeve with fold-over cuff converts to mitt for wet/cold weather protection
- Small waterproof pocket at center back holds essentials
- Low-profile drawcord at hem
- Reflective logos at left chest and center-back neck
- Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Fit: Athletic with articulated sleeves
- MSRP: $279
Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket ReviewOff the hanger you can tell that the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket is packed with Patagonia quality and style. It features an athletic cut and fit, smooth seams and stitching, and is lightweight. The Light Flyer is made with 3-layer GORE-TEX Active and weighs in at a scant 9.1 ounces. It offers full weather protection, laughing in the face of the storm. It sheds rain, wind, and snow with ease. It features an athletic cut for optimal movement while running. Articulated sleeves help with comfort while running or riding the bike. The cuffs are cut long over the hands for some extra protection and also feature a fold-over mitt for even more protection. The Light Flyer also features a drop-tail, giving you extra protection when riding in wet conditions. In terms of fit, I am 6 feet tall, weight 180 pounds, and have a positive ape index (arms are long). I typically wear a size large for the body but need an extra-large for sleeve length. The Light Flyer in large fit my perfectly. Snug enough to not be annoying when moving with just enough extra to not restrict movement, even with a midweight layer on. The sleeves were plenty long but I did find the fold-over cuffs to be very snug. For someone without long arms they likely would be fine. GORE-TEX Active, as you can guess, is GORE's most breathable technology. It did perform pretty well from a ventilation standpoint. To help with ventilation the Light Flyer features two long, vertical back vents that are always "on" and zippered vents in the upper arms. The back vents are a nice touch but I was let down with the arm vents. First, the zippers were extremely stiff. I wasn't able to unzip them one handed, even after months of use. Next when running they almost always folded shut. It's due to the natural curve of the fabric over my arm but they almost always stayed closed. The only times they stayed open was when there was wind, either from the wind or when riding. The Light Flyer features a single pocket on the small of the back. Good placement for running, bad placement for biking if you ride with a pack. I found that the zipper would get pressed into the small of my back which was very uncomfortable. The pocket is small, literally big enough for an iPhone 4 (the iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S II wouldn't fit) OR a single key and a gel. With the pocket being so small the utility of it was very low. As a daily bike commuter, I always love to see reflective detailing. The logos on the front and back of the jacket are reflective. It's not a lot, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have that extra visibility in low light. Overall I have been impressed with the Light Flyer. Sure there are some smaller features that could be better but overall the jacket is fantastic. The Good
- High performing
- Great weather protection
- Single pocket is too small to be useful
- Arm vents are hard to unzip and don't stay open
Bottom Line:For top performance and full weather protection for running and riding, pick up the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket. Buy Now: Pick up the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
We all know that riding in a pair of jeans in uncomfortable. They're restrictive, they bunch up, and they don't breathe well. Merrell has been dabbling in bike commute clothing for the past couple of years. This year's Merrell Vagaborne Denim Pants were my introduction to the line. As a daily bike commuter I was eager to get my hands on a pair. Fortunately Merrell sent me a pair to test out this winter.
Merrell Vagaborne Denim Pants Features
- 98% cotton / 2% elastane
- Traditional 5-pocket jean construction
- Straight leg with trim leg modern fit
- Reflective, vertical interior chain print at hem rolls up to varied heights for on-bike visibility
- Price: $65.00
Merrell Vagaborne Denim Pants ReviewIn short, Merrell nailed it with the Merrell Vagaborne Denim Pants. The biggest strength of the Vagaborne is the 2% elastane. It gives the pants just enough stretch that you can swing your leg over your bike without feeling like your legs are tied together. When riding they give just enough when pedaling that you don't have to fight your pants. On top of that, the elastane makes for a very comfortable pant for everyday wear. The jeans feel softer than regular jeans but this doesn't sacrifice durability. My favorite small detail is the reflective seam on the inside of the pants. When you roll the cuffs you expose the reflective stitching on the inside seam that runs down the outside of your leg. It's an added visibility bonus. By itself it's not enough to keep you safe at night but it's a nice addition to your reflective system. Durability is strong. I thought with the softer feel the Vagaborne might wear out quickly. I've been commuting in them a couple times a week for a past few months and there are practically no signs of wear, even on the back where there's the most friction with the bike seat. I do a lot of crawling around on the floor with my kids which is usually a death sentence for pants. There are no signs of wear or fading on the knees. What would I have liked to have seen on the Vagaborne? As is, I think they are a great pant. To make them better I would have added a u-lock loop to the back of the pants. I'd also like to see a zippered option. I'm not particularly fond of the button fly. I'd also like to see an extra belt loop or two. The waist dips between the belt loops. The Vagaborne does come in two colors in the denim version and you can also get them in twill. The Good
- Stretch for a non-restrictive ride
- Reflective details
- Need an extra belt-loop or two
- Button Fly
Bottom Line:The Merrell Vagaborne Denim Pants are an awesome bike commuting pant. Don't bike commute? They are ultra comfy too. Buy Now: Pick up the Merrell Vagaborne Denim Pants[gallery]... Read more...
The Icebreaker SS Roto Zip Jersey is a bike jersey gone smell free. After a hot summer of testing here's what I found. Oh yeah, Icebreaker kicked over the jersey for testing and review.
Icebreaker SS Roto Zip Jersey Features
- Material: GT 200 (200g/m2 merino wool, spandex)
- Active fit
- Eyelet Panels for venting
- 1 rear zippered pocket
- Half-length zipper
- Recommended Use: mountain biking
- Price: $119.95
Icebreaker SS Roto Zip Jersey ReviewThe Icebreaker SS Roto Zip Jersey is almost like the anti-bike jersey. It's loose fitting bike and not flashy. With that said, it's probably more at home on a mountain bike ride than a road ride. I wore mine mainly on my daily bike commute. For mild to hot temps the Roto Zip is light and airy enough to keep you comfortable. The Merino wool fabric is light and comfortable on the skin. For extra venting Icebreaker included the half zip (which is also fantastic for showing off your hairy chest) and some eyelet fabric under the arms and at the top of the back panel for increased airflow. Performance was good. It kept me cool, wicked the sweat away, and stayed smell free. My longest time between washes came in July when I went three weeks riding daily in the Roto. Three weeks of hot summer riding and the Roto was virtually smell free. It was like the Royal Gardens compared to the smell of your typical jersey after 20 minutes of riding. A single pocket on the bottom right side is just the right size for a gel or bar or keys. I found the loose nature of the fit wasn't good for putting your phone back there. It just bounced and tugged all over the place. I like that the Roto isn't flashy, it isn't skin tight, and it performs exceptionally well. The Good
- Light and airy
- Smell Free
- Loose fit
- You won't look like a road warrior in it (if your into that sort of thing)
Bottom Line:Icebreaker SS Roto Zip Jersey is awesome for a commute or mountain bike jersey. Buy Now: Pick up the Icebreaker SS Roto Zip Jersey[gallery] ... Read more...
KEEN has been continuing to update and expand their line of bike specific shoes. The KEEN Springwater II Biking Shoe is no exception. At home on the trail or the commute, the Springwater will give you year-round performance.
KEEN Springwater II Biking Shoe Features
- Upper: Leather, synthetic and mesh
- Hook-and-loop closure
- Full-length SPD compatible plate
- Removable insole
- Midsole: EVA
- TPU cleat cap plate
- Removable metatomical footbed
- Use: Cycling
- Outsole: Non-marking rubber
- Fit Tip: Keen advises this style runs about a 1/2 size small
- Weight: 18.72 oz
- Price: $99.95
KEEN Springwater II Biking Shoe ReviewThe KEEN Springwater II Biking Shoe is a versatile shoe at a great price point. It provides good performance for the money and has held up well over a summer of daily bike commutes and other rides. On the performance side the Springwater II does well. The combination of the stiff, EVA midsole and triple velcro straps provides good power transfer to the pedals. It's not going to be all-star performance, but then again it's not made to be an all-star shoe. As a bike commuting shoe or a recreational MTB shoe, it performs well. I've found conflicting info on sizing. A little bit of research found that KEEN advises to size up a half size but this wasn't the case for me. I typically wear an 11 and the size 11 fit me perfectly. The lugged sole provided good traction in the dirt and sand for the times when pedaling wasn't an option. Riding comfort was high. The shoe has some nice padding in the upper. This does make the shoe "warmer" on hot days but is great on cool mornings. I also think it's going to do well on dry, winter commute days. My big complaint is with the velcro enclosures. I have a "normal" volume foot. To get a snug fit, I had to cinch the straps down so tight and practically ran out of velcro. The two lower straps are held on by maybe a half-inch. This has led to considerable fraying of the end of the closure with the rest of the strap practically brand new (see pic to the right). My other complaint is the shoe is very bulky. It's a very wide shoe. I couldn't find a performance disadvantage to this but it's worth noting. The Good
- Great shoe for the price
- Sole is long-lasting and provides good traction
- Straps are too long and velcro is too short
Bottom Line:For the money, the KEEN Springwater II Biking Shoe is a strong performer and a great buy. Buy Now: Pick up the KEEN Springwater II Biking Shoe[gallery] ... Read more...
The Sugoi RPM Jacket is a hardworking, full protection jacket. It'll keep you dry, even in the strongest of downpours.
Sugoi RPM Jacket Features
- Material: [shell] HydraShield (polyester), DWR coating; [collar] polyester brushed microfleece; [reflective accents] 3M Scotchlite
- Fit: semi-fitted
- Venting: core
- Seams: fully taped
- Price: $119.95
Sugoi RPM Jacket ReviewThe Sugoi RPM Jacket does exactly what it was made to do: keep water out. The DWR coated shell shed water, even in heavy rains. Off the hanger I didn't notice the jacket "wetting out" at all. I give high marks for keeping water out. Unfortunately the RPM also kept water in. It doesn't do a good job at all with breathability. Pit zips help with venting your core but thats it. The positioning of the vents isn't conducive to strong cross airflow but you do get some. Once I started sweating it was game over. Combine that with humidity from the air and you have a recipe for getting wet. The inside doesn't have a liner so the sleeves stick your arms. One feature I do like a lot is the reflective accents. They are very bright and great for getting attention of drivers in low light conditions. The accents are along the main zipper, a line design down the sleeves, and down the back. The collar is a microfleece that is extremely comfortable on your face and neck, even when it's soaking wet. The wrist cuffs are elastic and velcro. They were easy to pull on over gloves and the velcro is enough to keep the cuffs tight and prevent them from pulling up. The back of the jacket is cut a little longer for additional coverage. The Good
- Keeps the water out
- Good reflective detailing
- Not breathable
- Keeps your sweat in
Bottom Line:Great at weather protection and reflection, bad on breathability. Sugoi got many of the tiny details right on the RPM though. Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi RPM Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
The Light & Motion Urban Bike Lights are excellent examples of bike lights that don't look lame. They are sleek, powerful, and extremely bright. I've been using the Urban lights for about 6 months and here's what I thought.
Light & Motion Urban Bike Lights Features
- Bulb: LED
- Lumens: 550, 400, 200
- Modes: High, Medium, Low
- Battery indicator light
- Single-cell Li-Ion Battery
- USB Rechargeable (cord included)
- Side safety lights
- Handlebar mount included
- Prices: $159.99, $129.99, $99.99
Light & Motion Urban Bike Lights ReviewThere are three options in the Light & Motion Urban Bike Lights line-up: the Urban 550, the Urban 400, and the Urban 200. They all sport similar feature sets, the biggest (only) differences are the number of lumens and battery life. The Urban line is sleek, extremely durable, and very powerful. The metal case can handle bumps, dings, and drops. Commuter lights need to be durable to get the full value and life out of them and the Urban lights are super durable. A lot of other bike lights look clunky, but not the Urban lights. With three lumen options you can choose the level of light you need. All three models boast 4 settings: high, medium, low, and flash. They are controlled with an easy-to-push button on the top of the case (operable even with gloves on). On the higher powered models you can feel confident riding at higher speeds with the amount of light given. I didn't feel like I was "outriding the light". The case features two yellow "side lights" to give 180 degree visibility. They are nice to have but they are only eye-catching at close distances. I am a big fan of the handlebar attachment. It is a rubber strap and hook closure. It's highly adjustable and easy to swap to other bikes. My biggest grip with other lights is use them on multiple bikes you have to track down other mounts, which can be a pain. The rubber strap pulls double duty keeping the light on the bar and holding it in place. Not once did I experience the light shifting while riding. If the strap breaks you can pick up extras from Light & Motion. After months of use mine is still going strong. Second favorite feature is the rechargeable battery. Light and Motion had the forethought to use the mini-USB for charging. I no longer have to carry a special cord to charge my light. The mini-USB is the same size as many cellphone and other chargers. From dead to full expect charge time to range 5-6 hours depending on your model. Battery life is decent, depending on the model and mode being used. Below is a chart of battery life, by model. An indicator light on the back alerts you to when battery life is getting short.
|Urban 550||Urban 400||Urban 200|
- There wasn't anything bad that stood out for me
Bottom Line:The Light and Motion Urban line of bike lights is well worth the money. Buy Now: Pick up the Light & Motion Urban Bike Lights[gallery]... Read more...
As a bike commuter, trail runner, mountain biker, and general outdoors person I've been through a lot of different pairs of sunglasses. I've had a hard time finding one pair that suited all the different conditions I played in. My favorite pair to date was a pair of glasses with interchangeable lenses. I got sick of switching lenses. I needed one pair that could literally do it all. Enter the Julbo Dust Sunglasses. Julbo sent me a pair to test and review and here are my thoughts.
Julbo Dust Sunglasses Features
- Frame: nylon
- Lens: Zebra Antifog Photochromic (polycarbonate)
- Frame Measurements: (lens width) 66 mm, (bridge) 17 mm, (temple) 120 mm
- Nose Pads: yes
- Temple Pads: yes
- Protective case: yes
- Recommended Use: running, hiking, biking
- Manufacturer Warranty: lifetime
- Price: $160
Julbo Dust Sunglasses ReviewThe feature that sets the Julbo Dust Sunglasses apart from other sunglasses is the Zebra Antifog Photochromic lens. It is a lens that can literally span most all conditions. For those not familiar with photochromic lenses, they change based on the amount of light, i.e. they get darker as the sun gets brighter. With the Dust riding in low-light (not night) conditions it allows enough light to pass through so you can see. When it gets bright the lenses get nice and dark. Pair that with a reflective coating and even on the brightest days here in Central OR I haven't gotten eye fatigue. I haven't ever had to squint while wearing the Dust. The one thing that is missing in my opinion is the Zebra lens isn't polarized. If Julbo could include that I'd be 100% happy. Yes, I want my cake and I want to eat it too. The Dust does come with a removable lens option that includes a polarized lens, a low-to-medium light lens, and a clear lens. Next on my list of "extremely important" features are the "rubber" nose piece and temple pieces. They kept the glasses in place, even on my sweatiest rides and runs. Nothing like cranking through some downhill singletrack and have to push your glasses up. It wasn't an issue at all with the Dust. The frame is very comfortable and somewhat flexible. A couple of color options are available. My preference was the very "Euro" blue. The Dust is fairly lightweight, meaning that I put them on and I didn't notice them. I'm not a weight weenie so I don't know if it truly is "lightweight" compared to other frames out there. On the quality spectrum, the Dust is high. Julbo has been around for while and their background in glacier glasses have set the ground nicely for high quality products. The Good
- Photochromic lens is highly versatile
- Non-sweat-slippage rubber on the nose piece and temple pieces
- Photochromic lens isn't polarized
Bottom Line:The Julbo Dust has become my go-to all around sunglasses for bike commuting, running, and other two-wheeled pursuits. Buy Now: Pick up the Julbo Dust Sunglasses [gallery order="DESC"]... Read more...
Timbuk2 really brought it home with the Timbuk2 Stork Messenger Bag diaper bag. Finally a diaper bag that isn't lame. Let's face it, at some point most of us will have kids and we no longer have to succumb to bags that suck.
Timbuk2 Stork Messenger Bag Features
- Durable ballistic nylon exterior
- Machine washable (Hallelujah!). Remove the changing pad, wash on a gentle cycle with mild soap and hang dry
- Waterproof TPU liner with tough guy tricycle print
- True Fit cam buckle eliminates daily fit adjustments, gifting you precious seconds back into your life
- Grab strap for easy lifting
- Internal water bottle and bottle bottle pockets. A cold one for you, a hot one for mini-me
- Padded removable changing pad with an external, stretchy pacifier pocket, two internal mesh diaper pockets and one clear zippy pocket for dirty dogs
- Slightly padded internal slash pocket against the back wall for the stashing the changing pad, magazines, laptops or ipads (in a sleeve)
- Clear three-zip front organizer help the sleep deprived find what they need like now
- Napoleon side entry zipper pocket for grabbing keys or small magical toys without opening the messenger flap
- Internal zip organizer for storing adult and baby accessories
- Red key tether clips your keys or pacifier in place
- Vista loop for blinky lights (or baby monitors)
- Cross Strap for stabilization included
- Coordinating Strap Pad included
- Price: $139
Timbuk2 Stork Messenger BagReviewThe first thing you'll notice is the Timbuk2 Stork Messenger Bag looks like a regular messenger bag on the outside. Not to sound like the person says "its what on the inside that counts" but the inside of the Stork is awesome. Timbuk2 put a lot of time, effort, research, and planning to knock it out of the park with the Stork. Holy pockets galore! Timbuk2 put in pockets, the added more pockets, then added a few more just for fun. There is literally a place for everything. My favorite pockets (my wife's too) are the clear zipper pockets. The "bottle bottle" pocket is lightly insulated to help keep the bottles warm. Then more pockets to help keep you organized. Now if only you could remember where you put the pacifier... I had mixed feelings on the changing pad. It's large and very cushy which makes changing diapers a nicer job. Where I found the pad fell short was when it was packed with diapers or wipes. I could fit two size 1 diapers and a thin plastic wipe container. With just those few things the Velcro barely closed. I like to carry more than 2 diapers in a changing pad. The changing pad does have a couple of nice features: a carry handle to take it solo, a stretchy pocket for keys or pacifier, and a long, clear zippered pocket. The pocket does face the same space issue. If you put much into it the Velcro won't close. The Stork is also a great size. You can fit a ton in it, but when it's empty it doesn't look bulky. Our latest addition is twin girls and we can fit everything we need for a day about with the twins plus some items for the big sisters in the Stork plus have some room to spare. When fully loaded the wide strap and matching shoulder pad keep the Stork riding comfortably. Of course, being a Timbuk2 bag it rides exceptionally well when carried via bike. My wife commented on wishing it came in different colors...I like that it doesn't look like a typical diaper bag. I love the inside fabric. The tricycles help round out the looks and add a little fun to the design. The Good
- Pockets galore
- Well thought out features
- Great design and looks
- Changing pad falls short on carrying diaper and wipes
- Only in black
Bottom Line:Best diaper bag, EVER! Timbuk2 really knocked it out of the park. Buy Now: Pick up the Timbuk2 Stork Messenger Bag[gallery]... Read more...
For whatever reason when gearing up for cold or wet rides i never thought about my feet. I don't know how many times I finished a ride with frozen feet. Those days are gone now thanks to the Sugoi Resistor Booties
Sugoi Resistor Booties Features
- PU coated stretch fleece provides wind and waterproof protection
- Waterproof taped seams
- Durable locking zip with guard
- 3M Scotchlite reflective accents for added visibility
- Price: $50
Sugoi Resistor Booties ReviewThe Sugoi Resistor Booties are very simple, yet effective in design. They slip over most technical bike shoes and are held in place by stretchy fabric, elastic, and a rear zipper. I tried them over my Keen commuter shoes and they didn't fit, at all. On road shoes or technical MTB shoes they fit snugly. The PU coating does a good job with shedding water and wind. After a 3 hour wet ride my feet were still dry. The fleece lining provides some warmth, but it isn't substantial. On super cold days I'll pair the Resistor Booties with thick socks to keep my toes toasty. Sugoi included a couple of reflective accents, which are nice, but as a commuter I'd like to see more. If you need the booties it's probably raining which means visibility is lower. More reflective details would be a nice add. The Good
- Solidly waterproof
- Good fit
- Could use some more reflective detailing
Bottom Line:Great option for weather protection for your feet on cold, wet rides. Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi Resistor Booties [gallery]... Read more...
The Planet Bike Grasshopper Fenders aren't your typical fenders. Made of bamboo they really stand out from the crowd. Planet Bike gave me the chance to test a pair out over the winter.
Planet Bike Grasshopper Fenders Features
- Fast growing Moso Bamboo makes your bicycle adventures even more sustainable
- Durable marine grade top coat finish and 3 ply Bamboo laminate construction
- Hardware is all stainless-steel and pre-installed for hassle-free mounting
- V-stays on the front and rear fender for added stability
- Release Tabs on front fender
- 45mm width
- Fits tires up to 27"x1 1/4" or 700cx35mm
- Price: $134.99
Planet Bike Grasshopper Fenders ReviewThe Planet Bike Grasshopper Fenders are nice. Out of the box you'll take one look, give a little whistle, and say "those ae nice!". The natural look of the bamboo give the Grasshopper a visual aesthetic that other fenders don't have. I don't know how many compliments I've received on the fenders. "Woah, look at those fenders!" is a common response I've heard. If you are going for a nicer look, consider the Grasshopper. Aesthetics are one thing but if they don't perform then what good would they be as fenders? On the performance side the Grasshopper did well. I'd say 3.5-4 stars. First off I'm using them on tires that are pushing the size limit. I have them on my 29er commuter rig which run 700x38 tires. Even at that larger size performance was decent. If you stay with the recommended size limit performance will be better (obviously). I did note a few things. On plastic fenders they have more of a lip on the edges which helps channel then water down the fender. The Grasshopper has a small channel down the center but no lips on the edges. I did get some spray off the edges. It might be less with smaller tires but worth noting. One other thing I noticed, particularly on the front wheel, is I really need a mud flap. The fender doesn't quite extend low enough and my feet catch a lot spray. This could be product of running slightly bigger tires. In central OR we don't get "that" much rain so I can get by without them. If you live in wetter climes then pair the Grasshopper with some mud flaps. Being made of bamboo the Grasshopper fenders are extremely durable and hold up to the elements in a way plastic can't. After one winter of use they look just as good the day I mounted them. Installation was a cinch and Planet Bike has good supply of small parts if you ever need to replace anything. The Good
- Look great
- Made with sustainable materials
- Performance drops as your tires get bigger
- Need a mud flaps to keep spray down
Bottom Line:The Planet Bike Grasshopper fenders look great, are durable, and can perform really well with the right sized tires. Buy Now: Pick up the Planet Bike Grasshopper Fenders[gallery]... Read more...
The Detours D2R Trunk Bag is exactly what the name says...a trunk bag for the rear rack of your bike. Whether a bike commuter, recreational rider, or on a tour, the Trunk Bag is a good bag to have.
Detours D2R Trunk Bag Features
- Capacity: 800 cu in
- Rear water bottle holder
- 2 zippered side pockets
- Bungee cord top for jacket storage
- Four-point quick release buckles plus a Velcro strap keep the bag securely attached to your rear rack
- Removable waterproof rain cover.
- Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 11 in
- Price: $85
Detours D2R Trunk Bag ReviewThe Detours D2R Trunk Bag is a nice addition to your cargo hauling quiver. At 800 cu in it has enough capacity to be flexible. It can easily fit lunch, a light jacket, your small gadgets, wallet, keys, water bottle, and a few miscellaneous items. The main compartment is big and open also has an expansion zipper to give a little extra space. The outside features two slim zipper pockets. On the very back is a water bottle pocket. All in all quite a bit of versatility in such a small package. It attaches securely to a rear bike rack via four quick release buckles (two on each side) and a Velcro strap on the front. I was skeptical on the four buckles at first. I thought they'd slip over time but after a few months worth of riding they didn't slip at all. One downfall of the attachment system is it doesn't allow for quick on and off. If I have it full of stuff and need to run a few errands I don't want to leave it on the bike. It was a bit of a pain to take it on and off frequently. To help with portability Detours did include a removable padded shoulder strap and a carry handle. Detours did a stellar job with the visibility of the Trunk Bag. The sides each feature reflective strips and the water bottle pocket also has a reflective strip and swatch on it. I am a huge proponent of "being seen" when commuting. So many pieces of gear only provide a token piece a piping. The Trunk Bag has good reflective coverage. A removable rain cover is included. I never used it though. In the light rains I rode through the bag stayed dry enough. I'm sure it'll come in handy in deluges. The cover is bright yellow to help increase your visibility in the rain. The Good
- Excellent Capacity
- Good Visibility
- Highly Weather Resistant
- Isn't quick to take on/off when out running errands if you don't want to leave it on your bike
Bottom Line:Overall the Trunk Bag is a great way to get a little extra cargo capacity on your bike. Buy Now: Pick up the Detours D2R Trunk Bag[gallery]... Read more...
I've been on the quest to find my "ideal" bike commuting rig. With the Marin Hamilton 29er (2011 model) I've come extremely close.
Marin Hamilton 29er Features
- Sizes: 17, 19, 20.5, 22
- Frame: 4130 Cromoly Single Speed 29er, Double Butted Edge Steel Tubeset with Butted E4 Anti-Flex Seat and Chain Stays
- Front Suspension: Cromoly Rigid 29er, 1 1/8”
- Brakes Front: Forged Alloy Linear Pull
- Brakes Rear: Forged Alloy Linear Pull
- Brake Levers: Forged Alloy 3 Finger
- Pedals: Composite with Alloy Cage
- Crankset: TruVativ IsoFlow 1.0 G, 32T with Alloy CG
- Bottom Bracket: TruVativ with Sealed Cartridge
- Chain: UG51
- Cassette: 17T Cog
- Hub Rear: Sturmey-Archer Two Speed Kick Back, Alloy, 32 Hole
- Hub Front Alloy Double Sealed, 32 Hole with QR
- Rims: Alex CA-20, Double Wall, 32 Hole with CNC Side Walls
- Spokes Nipples: WTB 14 Gauge Black Stainless
- Tires: Continental Town Ride, 29” x 1.6” Urban
- Saddle: WTB Vigo Sport with Love Channel and Comfort Zone
- Seatpost: Alloy Micro Adjust, 27.2mm x 350mm
- Stem: Marin OS Alloy Threadless, with 31.8mm Bar Clamp
- Handlebar: Double Butted 6061 Alloy, OS-31.8mm, 25.4mm Rise
- Grips: WTB Street Smart with Drop Guard End Plugs
- Headset: FSA, 1 1/8”, Threadless
- Price: $599
Marin Hamilton 29er ReviewThe Good
- Has many commute friendly features
- Sturdy/well made
- Fun to ride
- Great price
- Fender mounts are a little off, takes some tweaking to get them to fit
- Sturmey-Archer Kickback 2 speed hub was finicky at first & standard rear cog strips out easily
Bottom Line:The Marin Hamilton 29er is an awesome commuting bike. It's sturdy, has the features to make it versatile to your commute, and hits a great price point. You'd be hard pressed to go wrong with it as your commuting bike. Buy Now: Pick up a Marin Hamilton 29er [gallery]... Read more...
I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of the most important factors to consider when bike commuting is making sure you are seen by those nearby. The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light helps ensure that you are. The updated specs and flash pattern plus 100 hour battery life help ensure that motorists will see you from behind.
Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light Features
- One Watt Power LED plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
- New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern
- Turbo flash mode is highly visible, even in daylight
- Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
- Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options
- Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on
- 2 AAA batteries (included)
- Price: $34
Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light ReviewThe Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light is very similar to the "regular" Planet Bike Superflash Tail Light. Same body design, same attachment. The main differences come in the LEDs, flash pattern, and reflector. The Superflash Turbo features a one-watt Power LED, twice the wattage of the regular Superflash. The one-watt is bright! It is still paired with two smaller red LEDs for increased visibility. Even with the larger wattage battery life clocks in up to 100 hours, same as the Superflash. I haven't run the batteries out yet! With that in mind, I haven't been able to test to see if the lights begin to dim as you near the end of the battery life. The flash pattern has been changed up from past models. It is still very attention grabbing and will get you noticed. It can best be described as an off-tempo strobe that alternates between super bright and bright flashes with the one-watt bulb. The smaller lights give a more consistent strobe. Video below demonstrates the strobe. The reflector is clear with a red cover over the one-watt bulb. It is clear on the sides, giving you 180 degrees of visibility from the rear. The Superflash Turbo does come with the bike mount along with a clothing clip on the back of the light so you can slide it onto a pack strap or onto your belt. The clip is replaceable, which is a huge plus for me. I've broken clips on similar lights in the past and have to buy whole new lights to because of this small failure. This really showcases to me the thought that Planet Bike puts into their lights. One downfall is the Superflash Turbo doesn't have a battery life indicator. The Good
- Super bright
- Attention getting
- Well thought out design
- No battery life indicator
Bottom Line:Be visible with the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light. Planet Bike makes some of the best lights out there and the Superflash Turbo is no exception. Buy Now: Pick up the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo Rear Bike Light [gallery]... Read more...
Once you make the switch to using your bicycle to run errands you will quickly find that you need a versatile bag to take care of your cargo needs. The Detours Teeco Too Pannier is just the bag for the job.
Detours Teeco Too Pannier Features
- Capacity: 1,600 cu in (26 L)
- Dimentions: 19 x 13 x 7 inches
- Materials: Polyester & rubber
- Attachment: 2 Heavy-Duty Plastic Hooks
- Price: $40
Detours Teeco Too Pannier ReviewThe Detours Teeco Too Pannier is great bag to have in your bike bag repetoire. It is built as a "market pannier" to haul groceries or gear. The most distinguishing feature of the Teeco Too is that it's a pannier but also a backpack. It has two backpack straps that stow away in a dedicated sleeve when you use it as a pannier. I love this feature! Throw the bag on the rack and when you get to your destination just pull out the straps and sling it on your back and you are ready to go. The straps are decently thick and comfortable. My heaviest load has probably been close to 30 lbs and it sat comfortably on my shoulders. To stow the straps, just unclip the buckles and stash them away. The Teeco Too also features a thick rubber bottom which is good for durability but also provides a stable base when putting the bag on the group. It won't tip over when it's loaded. Research elsewhere indicates that the rubber bottom isn't strong enough for extremely heavy loads so put something hard like a piece of plywood in the bottom. Detours also included an expandable collor to give a little more versatility for tall loads or an extra full bag. Two "cargo" handles are useful for other carry options. The Teeco Too attaches to your bicycle rack via two heavy-duty plastic hoods. I have mixed feelings about these. On the plus side, they slide right over your rack for easy attachment. They also feature a small lip to help keep the bag from slipping off the rack rails. Now for the bad...the hooks are fixed in place. Depending on your set-up this might not be an issue, however, depending on your bike geometry you could be kicking the bag on every pedal stroke if it's on your rear rack. Also along that same line, racks are built a little differently and cross bars on the rack might be in the way. The other piece I'd like to see is some form of a "sway stabilizer". On inside corners the bag will sway away from the rack. This is an issue with heavy loads as it pulls your balance off and can make navigating difficult. The Teeco Too also features a small zippered pouch on the inside which is nice to hold your keys and wallet. My favorite use for the Teeco Too has been on grocery trips. On a recent trip I was able fit a gallon of milk, 5 lbs of carrots, a stack of corn tortillas, carton of sour cream, 18 eggs, 2 Jarritos, a jalapeno, head of cabbage, two avocados, two bell peppers, a mini notebook, keys, cargo net, mini pump, and a u-lock with a short cable. I probably could have squeezed a few more smaller items in if I wanted too. I was surprised by the capacity. Another plus to the flat rubber bottom is when the bag is loaded, it can sit nicely on my flat front rack. Once again though, it would be nice to able to adjust the hooks in so it could attach when sitting on my front rack. The Good
- Great versatility - love the pannier/backpack combo
- Rubber bottom is good for sitting flat and protecting your cargo
- Lots of capacity
- Rack hooks don't adjust
- No "sway stabilizer"
Bottom Line:Even with the negatives the Teeco Too is still a great bag to have, I love mine. It's big on versatility and it's great to have the combo of shoulder straps and pannier in one. Buy Now: Pick up the Detours Teeco Too Pannier [gallery]... Read more...
Looking for a bike rack for your car/truck/van? Don't want to hoist your bikes on top of your ride? Want a rack that will securely hold your bikes and is wicked easy to use? Look no further than the Yakima HighLite 3 Bike Rack. Yakima gave me the chance this summer to test the HighLite and it didn't disappoint.
Yakima HighLite 3 Bike Rack Features
- One of the lightest hitch racks on the market - under 20 lbs
- Available in a 2- or 3-bike model
- Tilts away for rear-of-vehicle access
- Sliding SWITCHBLADE™ anti-sway cradles eliminates bike-to-bike contact and improve ease of loading
- TRIGGERFINGER™ technology lets you fold arms down with the press of a button
- Integrated LOCKDOWN™ security cable included so you can lock bikes to the rack
- Comes with two integrated bottle openers. Boom. And boom!
- Fits 2" and 1-1/4" hitch receivers out of the box
- Optional TUBETOP™ available to carry funky shaped bikes
- Price: $339.00
Yakima HighLite 3 Bike Rack ReviewThe Yakima HighLite 3 Bike Rack is the lightest 3 bike hitch rack that Yakima makes. The design is extremely user friendly. The lightweight made it easier to install, makes handling the swing of the rack to get into the back of your car easier, and let's face it, it's a few less pound on the back of the car. The HighLite does come in two or three bike capacities. On the three, I was able to fit three bikes without much hassle. You know on some bike racks where you have to fight to get the last bike on there? Not so with the HighLite. Sure it takes a little bit of thought to get the fit just right if you're loading different bikes to get everything to slide together nicely, but it came without any swearing. The cradles for the bikes are nice. Once the bikes were on and strapped, they held firm. The side that cradles the top-tube and seat tube is adjustable so you can get it to fit almost any angle between the two (or no angle if you're rockin' f/s). The rubber straps are highly adjustable and there was never any slippage. One of the nicest things is it fits 2" and 1-1/4" hitch receivers out of the box. At first I thought it was a little wonky, I will admit. But once I saw how it works, I was a fan. I have a 2" receiver. I just had to slide it in, make sure the depth adjustment was right, and then tighten it up. It works via a "camming device". With a few turns of a lockable knob, the cam pushes out, contacting the sides of the hitch, and securing the rack in place. Just lock the knob and the rack is secure in terms of coming out of hitch and from theft. A small safety pin inserts through one side of the hitch as insurance for the rack sliding out if you didn't crank it down tight enough. Use of the rack has been awesome. I drive a Toyota Sienna mini-van and the rack has been on all summer. It tilts far enough out that I can open the back door to load and unload without the rack being in the way. The latch to keep the rack in the upright position is spring loaded and clicks into place. Just listen for the click and there is no question if it's locked into place. I've had it out for anything from MTB missions, picking up and dropping broken bikes off at the shop, shuttle road bikes around, and it's been awesome. The HighLite also comes with an integrated cable lock. It is just enough to stretch over the top-tubes and will only deter the thief looking for the convenient steal. But it's enough to make you feel comfortable to run into the burrito shop for the post-ride refuel without constantly glancing out the window. For a little more security (particularly for your wheels) you could check out my review of the Kryptonite Modulus 1010S Lock System. If you're heading into sketchy areas or will be leaving your bikes unattended for long periods of time, lock them down tight with additional ulocks and cable locks. I used the HighLite on a 2,000 mile summer road trip and tons of day rides and it's been awesome. I seriously don't have any complaints. The Good
- Easy to install
- Wicked easy to use
- Burly - handled any combination of bikes I threw at it
- Fits 3 bikes with no problem
- Seriously couldn't think of any
- You want one? Fine...it doesn't come in a 4 bike model
Bottom Line:The Yakima HighLite 3 is one of the best hitch bike racks you can buy in my opinion. You would seriously have to try hard to go wrong with it. Buy Now: Pick up the Yakima HighLite 3 Bike Rack [gallery]... Read more...
For my 6 week bike trip down the Pacific Northwest Coast this summer, I needed to make sure that I had a waterproof way to store and carry my things. After riding for hours in the rain, nothing will really ruin your evening like unpacking your panniers to discover that your supposedly dry pair of pants is just as soaked as you are. For my trip I had the opportunity to check out Avenir's RainCity Panniers.
- Capacity: size medium= 910 cubic inches, large= 1170 cubic inches
- Includes reflective light mounting tab and reflective strips on side of bags
- Roll top opening with single strap closure
- Includes carrying handle
- MSRP: $124.99
The ReviewAfter 6 weeks of use, my panniers were still in great shape! No tears in the material, and most importantly, no leaks! They were waterproof throughout the entire trip, for the most part. Though I had no leaks, the bottom of the bag is made of a different material than the sides, and after hours of riding in the rain, that part did get a little saturated. However, I don't fault Avenir for this- it was a LOT of rain. Only on 2 days of our entire trip did I have mildly damp panniers. Avenir also makes a seatbag and handlebar bag of the same material, and I'd have full confidence that those would be waterproof enough to stand up to the PNW elements as well. Overall the access in and out of the panniers was super easy, and I was thrilled to have the RainCity Panniers on the front of my bike, where I kept things that I'd need easy access to throughout the day.
- Easy to get in and out of frequently, since the closing system is a single strap. Good for things you need to access a lot.
- The panniers come with an inner foam piece that adds a little structural integrity to them, especially when you don't have the bags totally full. They'll keep their shape whether you've got a single snack bar or a full cookset plus food inside them.
- Color selection. Most other panniers come in bright reds, oranges and yellows, plus reflective tabs for even more visibility. While the Avenir panniers are black and silver, and the silver is reflective, this doesn't add visibility for daylight hours. Anything to alert motorists to my presence earlier is a bonus, and color would have done that.
- Attachment system is cumbersome, especially if you are taking the bags on and off quite frequently. While the top attachment point is great, the back of the bag has an elastic bungee that circles around your rack to re-attach to a fabric clip on the bag. Thank goodness I had small hands, or it never would have made it on the bike. Lots of wiggling around to make it work.
Bottom LineA well constructed pannier that could use a little more color. It's ease of access makes it perfect for a daily commuter bag.
Buy NowAvenir RainCity Panniers... Read more...
As a year-round bike commuter I take bike security seriously. My bike is my mode of transportation. Being married and having a couple kids at home, taking the family car isn't an option (especially since I sold our second car to buy a bike). I want a lock that not only looks intimidating but has the strength to slow down would be thieves. I've found just that with the Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 Bike Lock.
Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 Bike Lock Features
- 13mm MAX-Performance steel shackle resists bolt cutters and leverage attacks
- Reinforced cuff over crossbar and cylinder for added security
- Improved high security, disc-style cyclinder
- High security Bent Foot(TM) design
- Center keyway defends against leverage attacks
- Anti-rattle bumpers reduce noise during transport
- Rotating dustcover protects cylinder
- Includes versatile EZ Mount transportation bracket
- 3 keys - one lighted with high intensity bulb & replaceable battery
- 3.25 in. x 7 in.
- Price: $64.95
Kryptonite Evolution 7 Mini Bike Lock ReviewThe Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 Bike Lock is a strong little lock, with an emphasis on little and emphasis on strong. With 40 years of lock design experience, Kryptonite is a leader in bike locks. The Evolution Mini 7 is the second smallest lock in Kryptonite's current u-lock line. It measures 3.25" by 7" long. It's small enough to fit in your pocket, through your belt, or in a water bottle pocket on your backpack. The benefits of a small lock include greater security against leverage attempts using pry bars or other tools. The main challenge I've found is it's rare that I can fit the lock through my back wheel, seat tube and around the bike rack I'm locking to. The width is usually just not quite wide enough to fit through and around all of that. This would be a negative for me, however, the Mini 7 comes with a 4 foot flex cable. It is just long enough to loop through both the front and rear wheels and slide onto the u-lock. Yes cables are the easiest locks to cut through, however, Kryptonite has tried to offset this by using a braided cable which is supposed to help with cut resistance (I'm taking their word for it, I haven't tried cutting it myself). That being said it's a nice addition to help secure your wheels and it helps counteract the negative of not being able to secure your frame and wheel with the lock itself. The 13mm shackle helps inspire confidence in the lock and is a stronger deterrent providing greater resistance against cutting and leveraging. The bent foot design that Kryptonite employs also helps guard against leveraging the lock apart. The locking mechanism itself is thick and tightly put together which is a security plus. It also means your lock isn't going to rattle when you ride. Kryptonite ranks the Mini 7 as "9" on their 12 point security rating system. There are a few minor aspects to the lock that are very nice: The sheath around the shackle has held up, it helps protect your frame from scrapes and help protects the lock from the weather. The dust guard for the keyhole is easy to use and helps keep it clean. Kryptonite also includes a bike mount for carrying your lock. I haven't used it, I'm skeptical of it breaking. It seems well made, but since I always ride with a pack and sometimes I ride different bikes, I prefer to carry my lock. Kryptonite also includes three keys. One of which includes a small LED light which is helpful at night when your digging around in your bag or or when locking/unlocking your bike. The nice thing about three keys is, chances are you won't have to reorder any keys (unless of course you're really good at losing stuff). If it gets to that point, you can always reorder keys. Kryptonite has a key registry so you can register your keys so if you don't have to keep track of any numbers. Lastly, if you aren't keen on orange and black, Kryptonite also sells different color sheaths for the lock. As you likely know, a determined thief with get through any lock you use. The goal is to make your bike more secure than the bikes around or to lock it in a way to deter a potential bike thief. The Kryptonite Mini 7 with the cable does just that. For most people, it'll be enough of a lock to keep your bike safe and secure. If you live in a high theft area, you might consider going with something stronger. The Good
- Strong & Secure
- Included Cable
- Small Size
- Well made
- Small size can be tough when locking to larger racks
- If you live in a high theft area, you might want to couple this with another lock or go with a stronger lock
Bottom Line:The Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 Bike Lock is a strong, well-made bike lock. It has become my daily lock and I'd recommend it for all but the most theft-prone areas. Buy Now: Pick up the Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 Bike Lock [gallery]... Read more...
Every bike commuter knows that most important accessory for the commute is a solid bike lock. Without a solid lock you won't have a bike to commute on. In recent years there's been a flood of new and different locks onto the market. One of those locks is the Kryptonite Modulus 1010s Lock System. It's a modular system that you can attach to your bike or your car rack for extra security.
Kryptonite Modulus 1010s Lock System Features
- Lock head with two keys
- Two noose cables, 3/8" x 3.5'
- Mounting bracket/transport bracket
- Price: $39.99
Kryptonite Modulus 1010s Lock System ReviewThe Kryptonite Modulus 1010s Lock System is an interesting locking system. The lock head attaches to your bike frame or the bars on your car rack. Wrap one or both of the noose cables around your bike and bike rack, insert the deadbolt end into the lock head and away you go. What I like about the Modulus is it attaches to your bike securely. Unlike other locks that use a plastic clamp for attaching it to the bike, there's no chance of it breaking off. It uses a strong nylon strap for attaching to the bike. You still have to have a place to stow the cables, though I suppose you could coil them up, velcro them together, and ride with them in the lock. I don't recommend it though. What I don't like about the Modulus is that it's a cable based lock. You still face all the downfalls that come with cable locks, namely the lower security you get with them because they are easy to snip through. Kryptonite does try to address this by using a braided cable over a twisted cable. The braided cable is supposed to increase the snip resistance but I cannot imagine it would increase it too much. Disclaimer: I haven't ever tried to snip a cable before and I didn't try to snip the Modulus so I could be completely off. Kryptonite rates the Modulus at a 3 out of 6 on their level of security. With that being said about security, the Modulus would be a nice compliment to a u-lock for a more complete security system. The Modulus also has the benefit of looking different. At first pass it looks "tough" and that in and of itself can be a deterrent. Where I really put the Modulus to use though was on my hitch bike rack. It has actually become a permanent installation for me. I feel it provides enough deterrence from someone trying to steal bikes off my rack. My rack does come with a single cable that is only good for looping over top tubes. The Modulus gives enough extra security that I don't worry if I stop for a bite to eat after a ride or leaving my bikes on the rack while running errands. It also helps secure secure wheels while on the rack. The Good
- Attaches to your bike frame
- Double noose cables give a lot of versatility for locking arrangements
- Cable lock - lower security
Bottom Line:The Kryptonite Modulus 1010s Lock System is a good option for car rack locking or is a good companion with a u-lock for a more "total" security system. If your looking for lock versatility, this is a solid choice. Buy Now: Pick up the Kryptonite Modulus 1010s Lock System [gallery]... Read more...
This past summer, I biked from Seattle, WA to Eureka, CA, with total trip mileage coming it at just over 1100 miles. We towed a trailer holding 2 surfboards and took 6 weeks to enjoy this beautiful stretch of coastline, stopping all along the way to surf and hike. No support vehicles, hotels or anything fancy. Just simple, pedal-powered fun. With me for every pedal stroke was The Specialized Tricross Comp Bicycle.
Tricross Comp Bicycle Details
- A1 Aluminum frame
- Carbon Fork and Seatpost
- Internal cable routing- minimizing exposure to the elements
- Cantilever brakes
- Roval Pave Wheels with Specialized Borough Pro Tires
Tricross Comp Bicycle ReviewThroughout the summer, I used the Tricross Comp as my touring bike for an 1100 mile bike ride from Seattle to Eureka, CA. I can’t offer a review of how the Tricross specifically performs in Cyclocross races, or for short day rides, but after 6 weeks, I have a good idea of how it performs across multiple situations. I rode the Tricross in Downtown Seattle traffic, out highway 112 in Washington, and then down Highway 101 from Washington to Eureka, CA. If you've ever driven that stretch of road before, you know the conditions vary from beautiful, freshly paved roads to eroded shoulders that have partially fallen off, leaving chunks behind to navigate around, while still avoiding the logging trucks driving 4 inches to your left. Inside of a 15 mile stretch you'll find a beautiful section of slow, rolling hills, a steep grade, and a flat section. I had a lot of "terrain variety!" Now, by no means am I a total "bike geek." I have no vehemently strong feelings about specific componentry, nor do I wish to spend hours debating the pros and cons of specific types of spokes, or something else of that level of detail. What I know about bikes is that I want mine to work. And I want it to feel nice while riding it, be responsive to how I ride it, and I don't want to battle with shifting. I can fix a flat, adjust a derailleur, recable and adjust my brakes, and lube a chain. This is about the extent of maintenance I want to do on a bike, so what I want is a bike that performs in all conditions, and doesn't present problems beyond what I am capable of fixing.
ComponentsOverall, I was very impressed with the bike. Having owned an old Specialized Dulce as my primary road bike for many years, the first thing I noticed was the difference in shifting. The Tricross Comp comes equipped with Shimano 105 STI shifters. The jump from the shifters on the Dulce (Shimano 2300s) to the 105s was phenomenal. Crisp, effortless shifting. The Tricross Comp comes with a 10-speed Shimano 105 Casette, which allows more gears than the Tricross and the Tricross Sport. More on gearing later...
Wheels/TiresThe Tricross Comp comes equipped with 700cc Roval Pave wheels and Specialized Borough Pro tires. In 1100 miles of riding, I had ONE flat. Yes, that's right. ONE. I wish I could say this was due to careful, well executed riding, or to clean, debris free roads, but, if you've ridden anywhere on Highway 101, you know that idea is laughable. These tires are burly! Glass, shell pieces, tail lights, animal carcasses and other unavoidable road debris were no match for the Bourough Pro tires. They offered great traction in the rain without being so knobby that the rolling resistance became a hassle.
FrameThe Tricross Comp frame is Specialized's standard A1 aluminum frame with a few tweaks. The top tube is wider, to make carrying your bike (for hike/bike and cyclocross adventures) easier. With 40+ lbs of gear already on it, I wasn't carrying my bike anywhere this trip. However, what I appreciated about the frame was the internal cable routing through the frame. Since it rained for a good portion of our trip, it was nice to know that my cables were safely living inside my frame, away from the mud, dirt, road grime and rain. For touring, usually a steel frame is an ideal choice as it absorbs bumps and carries weight better. However, with the exception of a few very rutted gravel roads, I felt the Tricross frame functioned fine for my tour.
Overall Mechanical ImpressionMechanically, over 1100 miles, I had next to no problems. Some initial cable stretch, which is to be expected of any bike, was about the only issue I ran into. The front derailleur was getting a little sassy about 300 miles in, but that was nothing that some minor adjustments couldn't fix. I also had a small plastic ferrell near the micro adjust for the front derailleur bend (and subsequently break), but that was it! The snapped ferrell necessitated a re-cabling around Astoria, Oregon, but all in all, cost me less than $20 bucks for the ferrell, a new cable housing, and the labor for the bike shop to run it through for me. NO complaints here, as I was hammering this bike into the ground on a daily basis. You find me another piece of equipment that performs with so few problems when seeing hard use every day for 6 weeks.
Tricross As a Touring BicycleFor those of you looking for a touring bike, you know you've got a longer list of "things my bike MUST have" than your average consumer. Some opt to purchase a bike specifically for touring, in addition to the road bike they already own, plus their bike for cross competitions, and oh, yes, probably a mountain bike as well. Don't have the cash to buy multiple bikes, but wanting some flexibility in what you can do with the one you do have? Look into the Tricross. The Tricross is a fantastic option if you're looking to just own one bike, and wanting to have some versatility. With minimal modifications, the Tricross Comp becomes a great touring bike. It's equipped with braze-ons for mounting a rack on the back, and the 2012 model will have front fork braze-ons as well. If you're looking into used models, be sure to investigate which year it is, as all years but the 2011 model have easy front rack capabilities. I rode the 2011 model, which does not have braze-ons on the front fork. Not the end of the world, but it took a lot of work to find a rack that was compatible with the bike, the carbon front fork, and zero front mounting points. In the end, a rack from Old Man Mountain that mounted through the skewer and to the cantilever brake bolts was the solution. The 2012 model will include braze ons on the front fork, eliminating this problem entirely. The gearing of the Tricross Comp functioned fine for my long distance, fully loaded tour. There were some big hills when I would have given anything to swap bikes with my boyfriend, whose lowest gear was about 4 lower than mine, but for the most part, I had no complaints. I was also carrying much more gear than your average tourer, due to surfing equipment (you'd be amazed how much weight two wet wetsuits add...). With an average touring load, the gearing that the Tricross comp comes with will be fine. The Tricross and the Tricross Elite have a rear cassette with 8 and 9 gears, respectively. I'd recommend opting for the comp if you'll be doing longer distance tours on your bike. That extra gear is nice to crank up big hills. Since the Tricross is primarily a cross bike, features like internal cable routing and a wider frame to allow for easier carrying are already built into the bike. The A1 aluminum frame held weight well up to a certain point. If I had loaded my bike wrong, boy, I'd know it. The bike would go from handling an extra 40+ lbs gracefully to riding much like a plastic spoon. With careful loading, the bike carried the weight of me and my gear well, especially for not being a steel frame, as most touring bikes are. Though bumps weren't absorbed as well as they would have been on a steel frame bike, the A1 aluminum frame allows for more versatility in other realms of cycling. My only true complaint about the Tricross as a touring bike comes in when we talk about fenders. Don't worry, yes, it is fender-compatible. All the mounts are there, so you can be sure to toss on a pair and keep you and your gear relatively dry even in the wettest of conditions. However, if you order the Specialized fenders, the Tricross comes equipped with metal fenders, as opposed to plastic ones. Originally, I was stoked- I figured they would be more durable than plastic ones. However, 2.5 miles into a gravel section of road we biked to get to some surfing, I thought otherwise. Metal fenders chatter. Incessantly. Adjustments don't help, it's just the metal moving as you go over rougher terrain. The noise was deafening at times, and my least favorite part of the Tricross setup that I road. That being said- get yourself some plastic fenders and the Tricross is still a great option to take on your tour.
Bottom Line: Specialized TriCross Comp BikeThe Good
- Your "quiver of one" bike. Take it on a tour. Take it to your local cross series. Toss some skinnier tires on it and use it as your road race bike. Use it as your daily commuter in all weather. For a very reasonable price, you've essentially got yourself 4 different bikes.
- A1 Aluminum frame absorbs the majority of bumps but keeps a fairly lightweight profile.
- At $2000 MSRP, a screamin' deal for the frame, componentry and versatility that you get.
- No braze-ons on the front fork on the 2011 model- makes finding a front rack for touring difficult.
- 700cc wheels make the stand-over height taller, making the Tricross a bit harder to fit if you've a short person with short legs.
Check it outSpecialized Tricross Comp Bicycle SHOP: Search for more bike gear.... Read more...
Isn't a seat/seat post bag a seat post bag? In the midst of a lot of alternatives, you'll find some well made and practical options from Detours. Detours gave me the opportunity to review a couple of their seat bags, the Guppy and the Bike Midi.
Detours Guppy Seat Bag ReviewThe Detours Guppy Seat Bag (show in blue and green to the right) is a great commuter/city saddle bag. I've put it through a few months a testing on my daily commute. The Guppy is slender and connects tightly up under your seat. I'll admit that my first perception out of the box was that the straps for connecting the bag to the bike seemed hokey. The seat post strap is a thin rubber strap with a hook and loop closure. I thought that it would either come undone, stretch, or snap with very little use. So far after three months of using it on my daily commute it has held strong and secure. The seat rail attachment consists of two Velcro straps that attach down the sides. These hold securely and offer easier entry than the "wrap around" style you see on many bags. Another plus is you don't have a long tail to worry about. One thing about the Guppy is it has very limited space so size accordingly. I have the size medium and had just enough room for a road tube (700 x 32), multi tool, small patch kit, tire levers, and maybe an energy gel. With the gel it was stuffed full. I tried fitting in a mountain tube and I couldn't get anything else in. Space is limited so this will be a single bike use unless you go up to the large. The bag does feature a key fob which is nice. The flap zipper allows entry without loosening the straps. And Detours included some reflective materials which is always a plus in my book for the added visibility. The Guppy does come in three sizes: small (25 cu in), medium (40 cu in), and large (100 cu in).
Detours Bike Midi Seat Bag ReviewThe Detours Bike Midi has many of the same features as the Guppy but with one major difference. It is a clamshell design featuring a second zipper that offers a 30 cu in expansion. While this is a good idea I haven't ever come across a time where I suddenly needed extra room in my saddlebag. Detours states the intended use of the Bike Midi as "Commuting, around town, touring, event rides". Maybe the expansion has application with touring or events? The Bike Midi has many of the same features as the Guppy including the same mounting straps and reflective piping for increased visibility. There is plenty of room in the Bike Midi to fit a mountain sized tube, patch kit, multitool, keys, tire levers, and more without using the expansion. To really test out the mounting straps I took it on several mountain bike rides. While the bag stayed on the bike I wasn't able to get it snug enough against the seat rails so it did swing around. Yes the Bike Midi isn't meant for MTB but it could still be a concern on a commuter/city bike. The Bike Midi comes in one size that expands from 50 cu in to 80 cu in. Overall I was impressed and pleased with the quality and utility of the Detours seat bags.
Bottom Line:Detours makes some great seat post bags, you couldn't go wrong with them. Buy Now: Detours Guppy Seat Bag or the Detours Bike Midi[gallery]... Read more...
Sugoi Firewall LT Glove ReviewThe Sugoi Firewall LT Gloves are a running/aerobic glove meant for cool weather. The outer is wind resistant and slightly water resistant. While it's made for running, the wind resistance made for warm hands while bike commuting. The inners are a nice brushed fleece which is comfortable. Reflective accents on the index finger and pinky side of the back of the glove help give a little additional visibility in low-light conditions. The thumb features the a "super absorbing" nose wipe which is easy on the cold nose. A velcro closure helps keep the glove on. The drawbacks on this glove for me are sizing and the inter-finger fabric. First and not really important, the fabric used to wrap in between the fingers is sparkly and makes me feel a little bit like Michael Jackson (no bueno). On a more serious note, the sizing seems a little small. I do have big hands with long fingers so take this with a little bit of a grain of salt. The overall length is a little short but not too bad. The fingers aren't cut deep enough. In between the fingers ends up about 1/2-3/4 of an inch short. The width of the glove was a little tight...it's on the verge of being too tight. Overall, this glove provided good hand protection and warmth on cold weather runs. Just be sure to check the fit and keep in mind they run a little small.
Sugoi Firewall GT Glove ReviewThe Sugoi Firewall GT Gloves is the cold weather version of the Firewall LT. The GT has many of the same features as the LT: reflective accents, nose wipe, velcro closure, soft fleece inner, wind resistance. The difference come with more insulation (slightly more), padding in the palm, a nice pull tab, and leather palms. This glove is truly at home at the bike and on the run. The padded palms help with comfort on the bike, sticky logos on the palm help give additional grip for the bike. Fit is a little better than the LT. The width is a little wider but is still a touch on the tight side. The fingers still aren't long enough, about 1/2 in too shallow for me. I did use the gloves in 20 degree temps on the bike and my hands were plenty warm. Aside from the fit, these gloves performed very well and I'll be using them again next winter.
Bottom Line:I think both of these gloves are on their way out or are being updated so now's a good time to pick some up. Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi Firewall LT GLoves Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi Firewall GT GLoves[gallery]... Read more...
Just got back to the Rockies from another week of work meetings on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Every time I've gone out there in the past year or two, I'm reminded that hipsters (of the same ilk that flood the streets of San Francisco) love to look like they are lumberjack camping aficionados from the 60s. High lace-up leather boots, plaid flannel shirts...and skinny, skinny jeans. Don't forget the thick-framed Ray Bans. This style is all over middle America now, too, of course. Not bad-looking, to be honest. Beats several other styles by a country mile. But you know what's missing from the usual camper look you see? A vintage day pack backpack that is true to the period. None of this fake or new-fangled stuff. I mean the real deal. I mean the Kelty Vintage line. Kelty is a true brand from the heart of the golden age of American camping in the 60s and 70s. Founded in 1952, they turned out some of the original daypacks and other backpacks that defined the era. And Kelty is bringing back their vintage line of original daypack designs ---- and I love it. I grew up in the 80s in Seattle near the tail end of 8 boys. With that many older brothers (all of whom went camping in the Cascades or the San Juan Islands at least once a month), I had many of the original 70s-era Kelty packs sitting in the family gear closet. I distinctly remember the Kelty Daypack -- a pyramid-shaped, simple pack for car camping or day hikes. Now Kelty has brought it back, in all it's simple glory (even in the original red), to haul the iPads and Macbook Pros of hipsters born in the 80s and 90s. And I love the thing as much now as I did then. Next in the Vintage line from Kelty is the Mockingbird. In olive, this pack is destined to be a classic. Frankly, in my opinion it already is --- in high school, Kelty re-did this original Mockingbird in a black nylon and my friends and I used it repeatedly as our go-to day pack for backcountry skiing. Many-a-time it hauled the video camera up Mt. Rainier to Camp Muir with us to document the turns on the way back down. Functional then, and fashionable now. The Mockingbird has side bags that are removable, and is a top-loading pack with a cinch string. It has shoulder straps that are fastened to the pack with removable pins, making it versatile to convert from daypack into canoe-friendly gear bag. And did I mention how cool it looks with the olive with red and metal zippers with leather accents? Oh yes, this bag is classic. So keep your eye out for the Kelty Vintage packs in 2011. They are authentic and nostalgic, for sure. But that authenticity is also what makes them oh-so-hip in the second decade of the 21st century. SHOP: Search for more Kelty gear....Read more...
The Timbuk2 Shotwell Backpack can haul more than you think. What seems like a smaller pack can mysteriously pack everything you need for a day at work, school, or errands. The Shotwell is lightweight, voluminous, waterproof, and made with the usual Timbuk2 high standard of quality.
Timbuk2 Shotwell Backpack Features
- Material: Lightweight Mission6 nylon, TPU
- Volume: 20 L
- Pack Dimensions: 11.8 x 20 x 5 in
- Laptop Pocket Size: 12.4 x 17.5 in (Fits most 15" laptops)
- Ergnomic Shoulder Straps
- 3 external zippered pockets
- Internal organizer pockets
- External water bottle/u-lock pocket
- Bottle opener
- Super secret stash pocket
- Price: $79.95
Timbuk2 Shotwell Backpack ReviewWhen the Timbuk2 Shotwell Backpack first arrived I thought there was no way that I'd be able to use it for my daily commute to work. Once I started loading it up I felt like the guy in the movies packing the bottomless bag. Starting with the outside: the Shotwell features three zippered pockets. The bottom pocket is meant for your laptop power supply, I found it perfect for my repair kit, pump, and bungees. The two upper pockets are perfect for lights, sunglasses, or small items of the like. The one water bottle pocket remains empty for me but it would fit a standard bike bottle or a small u-lock. I have a larger u-lock and no amount of cramming could get it in (nor would I have had the confidence in it staying there if I could have gotten it in). They also have a strap for you to slide on a rear light for the extra nighttime visibility. The backpanel gives just enough padding so your laptop isn't uncomfortable against your back. The big downfall is sweaty back. There's very little breathing with this one. The shoulder straps strike the right balance between padding and comfort. They are just thick enough without creating mirco sweat-forests underneath. They also feature the signature bottle opener and straps for accessory pockets. Inside is where the money is. The stretch laptop sleeve will hold your 15" laptop securely but it isn't fully padded so careful how you load everything else. The big open pocket just keeps eating up your gear. So far I've managed to cram in my laptop, running shoes, running clothes, lunch and snacks, my u-lock and cable, and a couple of books. The inner organizer features the usual pen/pencil slots, a couple of open pockets, and a big zippered pocket. Timbuk2 nailed the style of the Shotwell. It's a mellow design without looking like it came from home ec class. It still keeps the Timbuk2 style but it's nice enough that you could wear it into the office without your boss nagging you about not looking "professional". Overall the Timbuk2 Shotwell is a solid choice for an all-around pack for your daily rides whether that's to work, school, or around town. The Good
- Compact looking design that can fit a lot
- Lots of pockets to keep you organized
- Great Style
- Sweaty Back
Bottom Line:It'd be hard to go wrong with the Timbuk2 Shotwell. Great pack for daily use. Buy Now: Pick up the Timbuk2 Shotwell Backpack[gallery]... Read more...
The Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket is just the jacket to help take the chill off a morning ride or to help increase your visibility while commuting home from work. It's lightweight, breathable, and visible. Sugoi gave me the opportunity to test and review the Zap.
Brand Item Name Features
- Full separating zip with guard
- Sleek invisible zip chest pocket
- 1 invisible zip back pocket
- Contrast elastic bound cuff
- Hemline finished with dual adjustable shockcord
- Engineered collar detailed with shaped back neck and soft brushed inside surface for comfort
- Perforated for ventilation
- 3M Scotchlite reflective accents for added visibility
- MSRP: $99.95
Brand Item Name ReviewThe Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket is good jacket to have on hand. The Zap is lightweight and is just enough to help take the chill away on a cool ride. It can roll up small enough to fit into a jersey pocket or in your pack. While it doesn't specifically claim this, the jacket helps block a light wind as well. To help with ventilation there are two mesh screens that are under the arms and wrap a little towards the back. The Zap is also a great jacket for urban rides. It is highly visible, espeically if you get the yellow color. The Zap features reflective striping along the zipper, reflective accents on the chest, sleeves, hips, and back, and a long reflective piping down the back. In terms of being seen, the Zap in yellow is one the best jackets I've worn. There is a single chest pocket and rear pocket at the bottom of the jacket. The chest pocket is big enough for a cell phone or an iPod (if you ride with one). The rear pocket is larger...big enough for a small water bottle (for context). The Zap is extremely comfortable. The collar is lined with what feels like a microfleece that is soft on the skin. The cut helps keep it out of the way of the helmet as well. The cut is just right for the bike. The front of the jacket is a little short to help keep it out of the way and back is cut long for extra coverage. I typically wear a large jacket and the body fits nicely. It's slim but not snug so there's no flapping in the wind. The sleeves would be the perfect length for me if I was just wearing the jacket around. I have a positive ape index (my arms are long than I am tall) and I usually have issues with sleeve length. Like I said, if I was just wearing the jacket they'd be perfect. But when I ride in the hoods the sleeves pull up some. If I ride on the flat bars they only pull up a little. The Zap will also shed a light drizzle as well. I haven't had it out in heavier rains, but I'm fairly certain it would soak through. For light drizzles though, it's good. At $99.95 it's affordable as well. The Good
- Extremely Visible
- Fits well & comfortable
- If you have long arms, the sleeves can be a little short
Bottom Line:If you need a cycling jacket to help cut the chill and make you more visible, the Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket is a sure bet. Buy Now: Pick up the Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
Is it a hat? Is it a face mask? Neck warmer? The balaclava is kind of weird piece of gear, but it's extremely versatile and well worth having. The Patagonia R1 Balaclava is about as straight forward as it gets. I picked mine up for bike commuting this winter and I won't get another winter without it.
Patagonia R1 Balaclava Features
- R1® stretch fabric (made from 41% recycled polyester) provides wicking warmth, breathable comfort
- Lightweight and very compact
- Face opening can be worn above mouth or under chin
- Fit is smooth and clean without being restrictive
- R1: 6.8-oz 93% polyester (41% recycled)/7% spandex. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- 56 g (2 oz)
- Price: $35.00
Patagonia R1 Balaclava ReviewOut of all the balaclavas I researched the Patagonia R1 Balaclava was about as simple as they get. There's a ton of options with a lot of "specialized" uses, depending on what you want it to do. I was looking for something that I could use mainly for bike commuting but could also work for other cold weather pursuits. I liked the simplicity. The R1 fabric is a lightweight fleece with a small waffle pattern on the inside. It's extremely soft to the touch and didn't irritate my face at all. The face mask is big enough and stretchy enough that I could wear it either under my chin or pulled up to my eyes. It was very warm and yet slim enough to fit underneath my bike helmet. With that in mind it would also fit under a ski helmet, sled helmet, or even a climbing helmet. It was warm enough that on my coldest commute day (-7 degrees F) it kept my head and face warm. The extra bonus is when you wear it, you feel like a ninja. The Good
- Face mask could fit under your chin or pulled up to your eyes
- Looks really cool
- I couldn't find anything bad
Bottom Line:What's there to say about a balaclava? The Patagonia R1 Balaclava is a simple, versatile design, warm, well made. Buy Now: Patagonia R1 Balaclava Name ... Read more...
After three winters of bike commuting with regular tires I decided it was time to throwdown for some studded snow tires. I was on a bit of a budget and the Innova 700C Studded Snow Tires (AKA the Innova Tundra Wolf Studded Snow Tire) gave me what I needed without breaking the bank. With a softer rubber compound, 110 studs per tire, and a deep tread, the tires excelled through one winter of use.
Innova 700C Studded Snow Tires Features
- Sizes: 700x35, 700x38, 26x1.75
- # of Studs: 110 (700x35 & 38) 104 (26x1.75)
- Weight: About 900 grams
- Recommended PSI: 65 PSI
- Use: Winter time commuting & riding
- Price: $37.99 each
Innova 700C Studded Snow Tires ReviewIf you are going to be doing any kind of road riding do yourself a favor and get a studded tire. There are a lot of options out there. The Innova 700C Studded Snow Tires came in towards the bottom of the price range, but still provide a good quality tire. I used mine for one full winter and will get at least another winter out them before I have to replace the studs. I'll probably get 2-3 more winters before I have to replace the tires. The studs fall in a parallel lines down the center of each tire with a stud alternating placements on each side of center. On icy and snowpacked roads I found the studs provided enough traction that I could ride with confidence without losing traction. They even held up going around turns. The only time I was slipping and sliding around were the times with deep, icy wheel ruts and the time riding through 16 inches of snow and the snow kept giving way. Judging the wear of the studs, I should be able to get another winter out of them before they have to be replaced. It'll depend on how many dry roads I ride on. The tread is fairly deep and gave good traction in snow and slush. The softer rubber compound also help provide additional traction when it's slick. Rolling resistance is high. I didn't realize how high until I made the switch back to cross tires. The combo of soft rubber, deep tread, and lower PSI made it a lot more work when roads were dry. I know there are a lot more expensive tires out there, maybe next year I'll get some in to review. But for $38 bills a tire, the Innova's were good enough for me. The Good
- Good tire for the price
- Good traction
- Good life
- More studs or different placements might have helped with the deep, icy ruts
- High rolling resistance makes riding on dry roads extra work
Bottom Line:The Innova 700C Studded Snow Tires are a great tire for the price and will help you continue to bike commute through winter time. Buy Now: Innova 700C Studded Snow Tires Name... Read more...
The Light & Motion Vis 180 Light is bit unlike any other rear bike light that I've seen. The slim-vertical design, flash pattern, and mounting system differentiated it from anything else I've seen. Once again, I was super stoked that they sent this over for me to test and review.
Light & Motion Vis 180 Light Features
- Power Source: Lithium ion
- Burn Time: (steady) 4 hours, (pulse - high) 8 hours
- Modes: Pulse (high & low), steady, side-lights only
- Lumens: 35
- Weight: 110 g
- Price: $99.95
Light & Motion Vis 180 Light ReviewOut of the box you can instantly tell that the Light & Motion Vis 180 Light is different from most other rear bike lights, the design is tall and slim. This is both good and bad. Depending on your mounting location, it might be a little too long to fit. The most distinctive (and my favorite) feature of the light is the flash pattern. Most lights strobe blink, but not the Vis 180. The main red light pulses on and off in a "post nuclear attack warning light" sort of way. It is definitely eye catching. The single, 35 lumen bulb is surprisingly bright too. Another standout feature is the yellow "side-lights" which give the Vis it's 180 degrees of visibility. The goal and purpose behind these flashing yellow lights is to promote side visibility for when you are passing streets and driveways. They do a pretty good of it too. They seem to be brighter than the front light version. One thing to note, depending on your set-up, these lights might get obscured (though this is less of a problem if you are mounting to your seat post). The mounting system is fantastic and one of the best rear light mounting systems I've seen so far. First off, the attachment strap is rubber which gives great adjustability and security. Pair this with the small rubber lining of the light mount itself and once you have it on the bike it's not going to slip around at all. The most ingenious part though is the mounting clip on the light itself. Light & Motion calls it the "Pivot Lock". The slender piece of plastic (sturdy plastic mind you, none of this wimpy thin crap you find elsewhere) pivots up and down and locks into place on some teeth on the back of the light itself (see the second image on the right). This gives the ultimate in adjustability. No matter what your seatpost angle is, you will be able to easily adjust the light so it's facing straight backwards. You could almost strap the mount horizontally and still have the light face straight back. Battery life is good. At 8 hours for the high-pulse it'll have you covered for a long time. It does feature a rechargeable lithium ion battery (hooray) which recharges with a mini-USB cable that matches most cell phones that were manufacture 2010 or later (hooray). The Good
- Awesome, bright flash pattern
- Extremely versatile and strong mounting system
- Good battery life
- Rechargeable with a common cord
- Light is skinny and tall, it might not fit depending on your set-up
Bottom Line:100 clams might seem steep but with the Light & Motion Vis 180 Light it will be money well spent. It is hands down on the best tail lights I've used to date. Buy Now: Pick up the [gallery]... Read more...
KEEN is forging farther into the bike commuting realm with the KEEN Steel Bridge Backpack. They have a good offering in clipless sandals and shoes and are making headway with packs. It's not surprising for a company that is based in Portland, OR. While the Steel Bridge isn't necessarily a bike commute specific pack that's precisely how I tested it when KEEN sent it to me to review.
KEEN Steel Bridge Backpack Features
- Shell: Polyester Ripstop
- Dimensions: 19.75" x 12.5" x 5"
- Capacity: 1648 cu in | 20 l
- 2 extra deep side bottle pockets
- Front zippered organizer pocket
- Main compartment has secure zippered pocket
- Padded laptop sleeve hold most 17 inch laptops
- Quick access zippered stash pocket on lid
- Reflective hits for safety on front and sides of bag
- Removeable hip belt
- Waterproof liner and hood for weather protection
- Price: $129.95
KEEN Steel Bridge Backpack ReviewThe KEEN Steel Bridge Backpack has the city streets in mind. This pack has just about anything you could want in a backpack for the commute. A big main compartment, a padded laptop sleeve with a strap to hold it in securely, smaller front pockets, organizer for the small stuff, a lid pocket, and water bottle pockets. It is extremely versatile and can carry just about anything you want. The shoulder straps are nicely padded with mesh to carry loads in comfort and with good breathability. They also feature an adjustable sternum strap that slides up and down to get it just where you want it. The lid/hood is secured with two metal "hook-style" loop closures to keep everything secure and snug. Once it's cinched down it isn't coming undone on it's own and it's not going to loosen. You also don't have to worry about getting pilfered either. The laptop sleeve was big enough to hold my massive work laptop. I will say though, the sleeve doesn't offer full coverage so if you bag tips over or lands top down, your laptop might get rocked. The bottom of the bag is stiff which helps provide additional protection for the contents and it features some non-slip pads to keep it from slipping around. The organizer compartment features a lot of little pockets and sleeves to keep the small stuff in order and a zipper keeps everything stowed away. At just over 1600 cu in it's big enough for most commutes and most trips. I was able to easily carry my laptop, u-lock & cable, tools/repair kit, pump, lunch, lights, rain gear (jacket and pants), wallet, iPod, phone, keys, water, and a few other things with room to spare. The pack also has a small daisy chain to give you a couple options for lashing stuff to the outside. The Steel Bridge has decent reflectivity. There are reflective swatches on the front at the bottom and on the sides on the water bottle pockets. As a bike commuter I'd like to see a little more reflective elements all around and on the shoulder straps. I'd also like to see a place to clip a rear blinkie. I had the pack out in the rain and in the snow and it kept everything dry. One important thing to note: when closed, the sides of the main compartment like to stick out past the lid (you can see this in the main image to the right). This is an invitation for water and disaster. When closing the lid and strapping it down be sure to tuck the sides in. Hopefully future designs will fix this so you don't have to worry about it. The Good
- Lots of pockets and organization
- Big enough to carry everything for the daily commute
- Could use more reflective elements (thinking of the bike commute here)
- Main compartment sides hang out past the lid and water could get in if they aren't tucked back inside
Bottom Line:The KEEN Steel Bridge is a good pack made to get you around the city streets with all your gear. Whether it's running errands, cruising to school, or commuting to work the Steel Bridge will take care of you. Buy Now: Pick up the KEEN Steel Bridge Backpack[gallery]... Read more...
The Princeton Tec Push Bike Light packs a powerful little bike light punch. The Push is a headlight offered by Princeton Tec that falls between a blinkie and a high-powered headlight. Its 100 lumens help make sure you're seen and that you can see.
Princeton Tec Push Bike Light Features
- Bulb type: LED
- Number of bulbs: 1
- Max light output (lumens): 100 lumens
- Battery life flashing: 63 hours
- Battery life on high: 4 hours
- Battery life on low: 14 hours
- Batteries: 3 AAA
- Mounting: Handlebar
- Weight with batteries: 115 grams
- Price: $49.95
Princeton Tec Push Bike Light ReviewThe Princeton Tec Push Bike Light belongs to the line of bike lights that fit between blinkies and "eye-searingly bright" headlights. It features a solid, cylindrical design with a 100 lumen LED. Operation is simple with an oversized on/off button positioned at the base of the cylinder. This design is nice for making changes while riding. It's easy to push while riding fast. It cycles through high, low, flash, and off modes. The case also features two "light pipes" along the sides that emit a flashing red light to help give side visibility. I love the design and thought behind this, but the execution lacked in this instance. The pipes are low to the handlebars and can be mostly blocked from view by your hands. Also the light was fairly dim and not very noticeable. The logic behind the design is sound, hopefully future iterations will include design with the pipes higher up with brighter lights. Flashing mode is highly visible. Take the bright light, add a unique flash pattern, and you will get noticed by vehicles. The handlebar mount is awesome. I've been a fan of the handlebar mount from another company but Princeton Tec stepped it up here. It's easily adjustable and it is extremely easy and fast to install/remove. This is awesome if you have multiple bikes you switch between. The mount is secure and kept the Push pointing right where I wanted it even when riding over rough roads. Battery life on flashing mode is good but I was a little disappointed with the life on 'high' mode. Only four hours? Especially on disposable batteries? Do yourself a favor and buy some good rechargeable batteries and keep spares with you. It is a price you have to pay for brighter lights. One other note: hopefully it was just the light I was sent to test but I came across an issue trying to change out the batteries. A short, partial turn of the light cap is supposed to release the light and allow access to the batteries. On mine the partial turn didn't release the bulb compartment, it just unscrewed the cap. While fiddling around trying to be able to change the batteries the "tabs" that hold the bulb compartment on broke (see the photo to the right). Come to find out the "tabs" are made of plastic. Just keep this in mind and be extra gentle when changing the batteries out. The Good
- Fast, easy, secure handlebar mount
- Battery life on high is a little short
- Mine broke when trying to change the batteries
Bottom Line:If you are looking for that "in-between" light that can act as a blinkie but is bright enough to see by when on steady mode, the Princeton Tec Push Bike Light fits the bill. Buy Now: Pick up the Princeton Tec Push Bike Light [gallery]... Read more...
Want 360 degree coverage from a bike light? The Light & Motion Vis 360 Light delivers a helmet mounted front and rear light. I had seen some press about the Vis 360 and wondered if it really did provide 360 degree coverage and how well it did it. So as you can imagine I was stoked when Light & Motion sent me one to review.
Light & Motion Vis 360 Light Features
- Number of bulbs: 1 (front) / 3 (rear)
- Bulb type: LED
- Light output: 110 lumens (front) / 4 lumens (rear)
- Battery Life: 2.5 hrs (high), 5 hours (low), 20 hrs (flashing)
- Batteries: Lithium ion (rechargeable)
- Charge time: 4.5 hours
- Weight with batteries: 135 grams
- Mounting: Helmet
- Price: $169.95
Light & Motion Vis 360 Light ReviewThe Light & Motion Vis 360 Light is a pretty awesome light. The claim to 360 degrees of visibility rings true. Let's start off with the headlight. The single 110 lumen bulb is bright! It does have three modes: high, low, and flashing. The light-throw pattern is a more focused spot as opposed to a wider swath of light. It was bright enough for me to ride fast and be able to see the details of the road ahead of me. It is also bright enough to catch the attention of motorists. One night my wife had to come and pick me up after I broke the axle in my rear wheel. As she was driving up she said "I didn't think it was you, that light is as bright as a car headlight". I think that sums it up well. The front light features a transparent yellow "window" on each side of the light that light up when the the light is on. The goal here is to give increased side visibility, especially at intersections. These do give additional visibility, however, they are fairly small. When doing ride-by tests I could see them but they didn't scream "hey I'm on a bike and I am here" to me. When paired with the rear light (more on that below) visibility is better. Overall, don't just rely on these side "light windows" for your side visibility, work them in as part of your system. Next let's look at the rear light. The rear light features 3 red LEDs and 2 side facing yellow LEDs. The rear light only has a flashing mode. This is just fine with me. The LEDs are bright and are attention getting. My one concern with the helmet mount rear light is it may be hard to see. Depending on where/how you can mount it to your helmet and your body position while riding, the lights may mostly just point up. So when you are mounting the light to your helmet keep these two factors in mind. The two side LEDs also flash. These are more attention grabbing than the headlight side "lights". When paired all together though, it does give some good side visibility. Once again though, don't just rely on these lights, make sure you have good side visibility throughout your whole system. Here's a short video that highlights some of the main features and includes some video of the light at night: The helmet mount was versatile. The front light is mounted with a rubber strap for threading through your helmet vents and a couple of plastic mounting plates that help sandwich everything together. It was simple to get the light positioned and securely strapped on. The rear light has a mountain plate and long velcro strap. This allows for versatility in threading through the rear vents and sitting squarely on the helmet. The placement of the rear light is a little more tricky as you have to take into account helmet design and body position while riding. Make sure the light points back, not up. Battery life is decent. The Vis 360 is USB rechargeable and was sized to work with one of the more common sizes for USB charging (fits a lot of newer phones). When battery life starts getting low the front light will flash intermittently. It took me a while to figure out what was going on as I was riding and the high beam would flash a few times and then go back to the high beam. This is a great way to let the user know that the batter needs to be charged. I've had the light out in some pretty bad weather and it's totally weatherproof. One concern I have about helmet mounted lights is what about when you wreck? Chances are you are going to hit your head. Wrecking (your own fault or someone else's) isn't fun, but it's a fact of bike commuting. How will the light hold-up to the impact of smashing your dome on the pavement? You're going to be in pain and probably have to fix/replace your bike and possibly pay some doctor bills. It would stink to have to throw in a $170 light as well. This is a point I am curious about but don't plan on testing (and hope that I don't find out first hand, **knock on wood). This is just another thing to consider. The Good
- High visibility
- Bright headlight
- USB Rechargeable
- If you don't like helmet lights this light isn't for you
- Unsure of light durability if you wreck
Bottom Line:The Light & Motion Vis 360 Light has become my main headlight. It's a great light, full of good features, and passed my personal test for everyday use. Buy Now: Pick up the Light & Motion Vis 360 Light ... Read more...
The Pacific Outdoor Equipment Anchorage Courier Bag is the most weatherproof bag I've used for the bike commute. It's what you'd expect from an outdoor company that is packed with bike fanatics. The Anchorage is weatherproof, has tons of capacity, durable, and comfortable. As always I was stoked to receive this bag from Pacific Outdoor Equipment to review it.
Pacific Outdoor Equipment Anchorage Courier Bag Features
- Material: WXtex fabric
- Volume: 1709cu in (28L)
- Bag Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 7in (51 x 32 x 18cm)
- Shoulder Strap: Yes
- Access Types: Top
- Pockets: [External] 1 flap; [Internal] Multiple organizer
- Weight: 48oz (1361g)
- Price: $169
Pacific Outdoor Equipment Anchorage Courier Bag ReviewThe most notable feature of the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Anchorage Courier Bag is the WXtex fabric. Pacific Outdoor Equipment describes the fabric as being "Durable, abrasion resistant 420 Denier Thermal Welded Nylon". Yeah, nothing's getting through this fabric. I had it out in rain storms and snow and the water would just bead and run off. I had no concerns about my stuff getting wet from water soaking through. The WXtex fabric is abrasion resistant as well. I dropped the bag, dragged it on the concrete floor picking it up and setting it down, and there wasn't any scratches or scuffs. Let's talk about size next: this thing is huge! It was able to hold everything on my biggest commute days. One note, being a messanger bag, when the loads got heavy my shoulder did start to hurt (this is an issue with messenger bags in general, not just this bag). The interior features one big open pocket with hard bottom, a zippered-mesh pouch, and three small stash pockets. The interior is covered with the flap but also secured with a big waterproof zipper. **Update: while the Anchorage only comes in one size, Pacific Outdoor does make a couple of other messenger bags, the Vancouver and the Sitka, with similar features that come in smaller sizes. The flap features two zippered pockets. Both are slim with one accessed from a zipper on the outside and one from the inside. To use both pockets you'd have to only put slim items inside. I just put my u-lock in the outside and called it good. On the front of the main pouch there is a zippered access pocket with organizational pockets inside. All of the zippers are burly and waterproof which add more weatherproofing to the bag. The back panel is padded mesh which increases comfort and helps wick away sweat. The shoulder straps features a slideable pad which gives riding comfort but also helps with getting the bag on and adjustments. My favorite feature of the bag though is all the reflective materials throughout the bag. Check out the picture at the right to get an idea of all the reflective materials. The biggest is the logo and stripe on the flap. There's no way a car wouldn't notice this when you riding at night. The main buckle strap features two reflective stripes. The female buckles on the cross-strap are little reflectors. The downsides to the bag are: the combination of the flap and zipper meant that I had to take the bag off to get anything in and out. As a messenger bag, carrying heavy loads on one shoulder can cause pain. It does only come in one size so if you don't want huge, you are out of luck. The Good
- Extremely weatherproof
- Tons of capacity
- Good reflection
- Hard to get stuff in and out without taking the bag off
- Only one size option
- Heavy loads=sore shoulder (product of messenger bags in general)
Bottom Line:Big, weatherproof bag with awesome reflection. Buy Now: Pick up the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Anchorage Courier Bag [gallery link="file"]... Read more...
Planet Bike knows their stuff when it comes to bike lights. The Planet Bike Blaze 2-Watt Front Bike Light is a powerful little package. This light steps up the traditional blinky game with a 2-Watt LED.
Planet Bike Blaze 2-Watt Front Bike Light Features
- Bulb: 2W LED
- Modes: High, Low, Flashing
- Battery Life: High=5 hrs, Low=12 hrs, Flashing=18 hrs
- Batteries: 2 AA (included)
- Mounting: Handlebar Quickcam
- Weight with batteries: 122 g
- Price: $60
Planet Bike Blaze 2-Watt Front Bike Light ReviewMy biggest complaint with blinkies is they are usually only good for just that, blinking. If you're ever in a pinch and you need a light to see by most blinkies fall ridiculously short. Not so with the Planet Bike Blaze 2-Watt Front Bike Light. While it isn't my top choice for a primary light it's at the top of the list if you can only have one light and you're on a bit of a budget. The Blaze 2-Watt features a super bright (my terminology) 2-Watt LED bulb. This bulb is brighter than most all of the blinkies I've used on steady mode. For my personal preference it wasn't quite bright enough for me to deem it as my primary light (I ride with one light on steady mode to see by and one on flashing mode to be seen by) it does feature a nice light throw. It provided a nice light throw on the road (partially due to the optically correct lens on the front of the light) but I did find that I could still out-ride the light. What I do like about the light is it is bright enough to work as a solitary light if needs be (most blinkies fall short in this regard). On high steady mode it is bright enough to see by and be seen by. In flashing mode you will definitely be seen during the day or at night thanks to the "SuperFlash" pattern. It features a fast flash pattern that has an alternating "super bright" flash that is definitely attention grabbing. The light does have some side cutouts to help with side visibility. I'm not sure just how much it helps but it's better than nothing. The QuickCam handlebar mount is awesome. As I said in my review of the Planet Bike Beamer 5 Headlight: "This is the best mounting system I’ve used for a handlebar light. At first it does take a little adjusting to get it just right, but then it’s literally two seconds to get it off your bars and onto your other bike.". There is a user error downside of accidentally flipping the cam open, but like I said, it's due to the user. So far battery life is good. I've been using this light (mostly in flashing mode) and I haven't had to change the batteries. Like I've said for most all lights I wish it was rechargeable. Yeah you can use rechargeable batteries but I'd like to have a way to charge it at work if I needed (and yes I could carry spare batteries). If I used it in steady mode more often I would have had to change the batteries a number of times. Five hours of battery life seems low, especially on a light where you potentially need to change batteries. The Good
- Bright enough in steady mode that you can see and keep a decent speed
- Superflash flashing mode is awesome...good enough to be eye-catching even in the day
- QuickCam handlebar mount is the best handlebar mount I've used
- Not rechargeable
- If you ride fast all the time you can outride this light
- Battery life in steady mode isn't the greatest
Bottom Line:If you are on somewhat of a budget or you only want one headlight the Blaze 2-Watt would be at the top of my list. Buy Now: Pick up the Planet Bike Blaze 2-Watt Front Bike Light ... Read more...
The Keen Austin Pedal Shoes are a far cry from the clown shoes that most people will picture when thinking of bike shoes. The Austin Pedal is a bike commute focused shoe that is stylish and performs well. Gone are the days of click-clacking through the grocery store or slipping around on tile floors.
Keen Austin Pedal Shoes Features
- Upper: Leather
- Lining: Leather/nylon
- Midsole: EVA
- Outsole: Rubber
- 3/4 length SPD-compatable plate
- Avg Weight: 2 lbs 4 oz
- Weather: Wet-water resistant
- Price: $120
Keen Austin Pedal Shoes ReviewFor the past 2 years my bike commuting shoe has been my MTB shoes. My search for a 'normal' looking clipless commuting shoe turned up surprisingly few acceptable results. So imagine my excitement when KEEN offered to send me a pair of the Keen Austin Pedal Shoes to review. Out of the box I am impressed with the Austin Pedal. It's a good looking shoe (my opinion which I've validated with a few others), it feels solid, a look at the stiching and soles and you can tell it's a well made shoe. The Looks: It looks like a 'normal' shoe. If you work in an office where you have to wear shoes nicer than Chaco's or trail running shoes, the Austin Pedal will get you by. The Materials: The leather upper is going to be durable. If your rides are going to be wet it would be worthwhile to treat the leather to help it keep going. The rubber outsole is grippy, despite not being lugged at all. Still be careful in the snow and ice. The mounting plate for your clips is solid and gives solid performance. Performance: As a non-technical, non-performanced based shoe it performs really well. The mounting plate is solid and I didn't notice any flex in it. The rest of the shoe does flex but whatever, it's a commuting shoe. I can still crank hard and the shoe responds. I do cinch down the shoes to get a snug fit. Comfort: The shoe feels good while riding and afterwards. I've worn this shoe all day without any discomfort. One thing I did notice when I first wore the shoe is when walking you can feel the mounting plate through the footbed. This is a little weird but wasn't too bad for me. Walking comfort is pretty good. With the mounting plate the shoe doesn't flex under the forefoot like a normal shoe. This took some getting used to as well. If my day job has me walking all over the place this might be a problem. Other notes: Sizing runs true to size. In a month's worth of use I did wear through the sheathing of one shoelace. Yes this is extremely minor, yes it isn't a make-or-break point but it needed to be noted. This shoe is awesome. The Good
- Awesome commuting shoe
- Looks like a 'normal shoe'
- Great craftsmanship
- Performs well on the bike
- Feeling the mounting plate through the footbed when walking was weird
Bottom Line:If you bike commute or run errands on bike and are tired of carrying a separate pair of shoes (or if you are tired of click-clacking through stores in your clown shoes) do yourself a favor and pick up the Keen Austin Pedal Shoes. Buy Now: Pick up the Keen Austin Pedal Shoes ... Read more...
When it comes to tail lights for your bike there are all other lights and then there's the Planet Bike Blinky Superflash Tail Light. Hands down this has turned out to be one of my favorite tail lights, if not my favorite tail light. The combination of super bright (my terms) LEDs, the "sear your retinas" ultra bright LED, flash pattern, and design and this light has earned it's way into my bike light heart.
Planet Bike Blinky Superflash Tail Light Features
- ½-watt Blaze™ LED plus 2 eXtreme LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
- Unique, eye-catching flash pattern
- Flashing and steady mode
- Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
- Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options
- Up to 100 hours of run time
- 2 AAA batteries (included)
- Price: $29.99
Planet Bike Blinky Superflash Tail Light ReviewTo be more specific Planet Bike sent me the Superflash Stealth model to test and review (black case with clear cover). This is essentially the second generation of the Superflash but an updated color scheme (I like it better for what that's worth). Hands down the Planet Bike Blinky Superflash Tail Light is seriously one of the best rear lights I've used for commuting. It has everything I'd want and expect from a tail light: It's super bright, the flash pattern is eye catching, long life, weather proof design, excellent on/off button design, and a couple different attachment options. To say all that needs to be said about the flash pattern, check out the video below: Need I say more? As you can see the flash pattern is different, it is eye catching, and the addition of the 1/2 W Blaze LED is bright and mixes it up enough to get noticed (exactly what you want when riding at night). I love the on/off button design. It's a flat button which helps prevent the 'accidental powering on' whilst in your bag. The case is weatherproof and will protect everything from the elements. It's also durable. I've dropped the light a handful of times and it hasn't broken or cracked. It comes with a bike mount as well as features a clothing clip attached to the light. Battery life is long. The one downfall I would say for this light is there is no recharging option. Yes you can get this with rechargeable batteries but I'd like to see a rechargeable option. The Good
- Super bright
- Strong Design
- Eye catching
- Not rechargeable
Bottom Line:One of the best bike commuting tail lights I've used. Buy Now: Pick up the Planet Bike Blinky Superflash Tail Light ... Read more...
Polar Bottle is the original insulated water bottle. It was an innovation that was so simple I'm betting a lot of companies were wondering why they didn't do it first. Take a regular water bottle and put some insulation around? I bet it seemed too easy and simple that nobody gave the idea merit. Turns out, they were all wrong. Tons of companies have their own variations but there can only be one original. It's finally nice to go out for summer rides and not be drinking 90 degree water when I'm done.
Polar Insulated Bottle Features
- Capacity (fl. oz.): 20 or 24 fluid ounces
- Average weight: 5 ounces (20 oz bottle), 6 ounces (24 oz bottle)
- Material(s): Polyethylene
- Water bottle cap type: Push/pull
- Bottle opening: Wide
- Fits in cup holder
- Fits into standard cycle bottle cages
- 100% BPA free
- Price: $10 (20 oz), $12 (24 oz)
Polar Insulated Bottle ReviewThe Polar Insulated Bottle is essentially your standard water bottle with an insulated jacket on it. The cap is your standard bike bottle type with a push/pull cap that is easy to open and close with your teeth on a ride. The bike friendly design fits securely into bike water cages and provides a comfortable area to grip if you decide to run with it. The key differentiator is the insulation. The bottle features double-wall construction with a foil-lined insulation layer in between the walls. The double-wall construction acts just like your vacuum sealed thermos keeping your beverage cold (or warm) with a layer of air insulation and protected from the swings in outside temps. The foil liner reflects solar heat which is awesome on the cloudless days of summer. The claim is that it will keep your drink cold twice as long as a conventional bike bottle. I didn't break out the lab coat, thermometers, and stop watches but I will say that my drinks stayed colder a lot longer than regular bottles. The less touted use that I found recently is keeping your drinks from freezing when it's cold out. I just tested this on a 10 degree F bike commute. The water in the bottle didn't freeze. Yeah there was a little bit of icy build-up trying to keep the cap from opening, but it was still pretty easy to open. Now that winter is full-on here I'm excited to still be able to bring water on the commute and not worry about it freezing solid. Coming up soon I have a sub-zero commute so we'll see how it goes. The Polar Insulated Bottle comes in 20 oz or 24 oz sizing. The foil liner comes in different designs so you have some options to choose from. The bottle is 100% BPA free. It also comes with a plastic carry loop but as soon as I received my tester bottle from Polar Bottle I took it off. It'd be nice if you were going hiking or any other time you'd want to clip it to your bag. Oh yeah, and it's made the USA. The Good
- Keeps your drinks cold (or warm in the winter)
- Simple, time tested design
- No gimmicks
- Secure, bike-friendly design
- Really couldn't think of any negatives
Bottom Line:The Polar Insulated Bottle is definitely a step up from your standard water bottles. It's worth throwing down the extra cash for the insulation. The first time you finish a hot ride and your drink is still cold (or when your bottle doesn't freeze in the winter) you'll be glad you did. Buy Now: Pick up the Polar Insulated Bottle ... Read more...
Planet Bike is a very reputable company when it comes to bike lights. The Planet Bike Beamer 5 Headlight is no exception. It is in a lot of ways your standard front blinkie/headlight: It blinks, has a steady mode, uses LEDs, and attaches to your handlebars. Throw in good quality, some nice design features, and a great handlebar mounting system and you have a solid blinkie.
Planet Bike Beamer 5 Headlight Features
- New 4X brighter Nichia eXtreme V 2.0 LEDs
- 5 white LEDs make you visible and illuminate your way
- Flashing and steady modes
- Quick CamTM bracket mounts, adjusts or removes in seconds w/o tools
- Up to 100 hrs run time on flashing, 50 hrs on steady
- Batteries: 2 AA batteries (included)
- Weight: 95 grams (with batteries)
- Price: $34.99
Planet Bike Beamer 5 Headlight ReviewThe Planet Bike Beamer 5 Headlight is a great blinkie. The 5 LEDs are bright. I haven't used the previous model to see if in fact the "300% brighter than traditional LEDs" claim is true, but I can definitely say that they are super bright and brighter than some other LED blinkies I've used in the past. My preferred use for this light is in flashing mode as a light to be seen by. I tried to use the steady mode as a light to see by and I found that it was inadequate in this scenario. It was easy to out-ride the light and it didn't give enough light to really see the details of the road ahead. In steady mode, it is still a good light to be seen by, although I prefer flashing mode. There are a couple of design features that I really like about this light. First and foremost is the power button. The button is flush with the casing and you have to press it in past the casing to operate it. Seems very minor, but this has prevented the light getting turned on inside my bag as things gets jostled around when riding. I haven't had it come on by accident once. With some previous lights I've used the power button is raised off the casing the light was get turned on in my bag frequently. I am very happy to not pull this light out of my bag at night to find the batteries dead. Second design feature that I really like is the cut away on the sides of the light. Combine that with the super bright LEDs and you have good side lighting to help you be seen from the sides. The third thing I really like about this light is the Quick CamTM bracket mount for your handlebars. This is the best mounting system I've used for a handlebar light. At first it does take a little adjusting to get it just right, but then it's literally two seconds to get it off your bars and onto your other bike. It locks down and won't rotate while you are riding. One downside to this that I've come across is there have a been few times when I've flipped the cam lever open while riding and the light has rotated around the bars. This was mostly my own fault as I was monkeying around while riding. The lock to hold the light in place is secure and is strong. I don't think I'll run into any issues with it breaking during the wicked cold months. Battery life seems good. I haven't run it out yet and I've been using it daily for awhile now. I would prefer a rechargeable option, but of course that would increase the price. Definitely pair this light with rechargeable batteries. Overall this is a great light. It is a lot better as a blinkie as opposed to a light to see by. The Good
- 5 LEDs are super bright
- Good side lighting
- Good battery life
- Quick CamTM bracket is amazing
- Lower chance of accidental power on in the bag with the flush power button
- Isn't bright enough to light up the detail of the road, use this as a blinkie
- No rechargeable option
Bottom Line:The Beamer 5 Headlight is a great blinkie. If you're looking for something to help increase your visibility the Beamer 5 is a great option. The price is good, the design is good, and the Quick CamTM bracket is superior to other handlebar mounts that I've seen. Buy Now: Pick up the Planet Bike Beamer 5 Headlight... Read more...
While most people are down with the run-of-the-mill helmet options from their local bike shop, sometimes a special-edition lid catches their eye. So, for those interested in a special-edition helmet designed by renowned designer Paul Smith, check this out.
(Scotts Valley, Calif., November 5, 2010)--Giro, the cycling world’s design leader, have teamed up with fashion iconoclast Paul Smith to release three special editions of the Giro Section. An avid cycling fan, Paul Smith fell into fashion as a teenager after a cycling accident put an end to his hopes of becoming a professional racing cyclist. However, to this day Paul remains an strong supporter of the cycling world. Drawing upon Paul’s interest in cycling, Giro invited Paul to design the ultimate, inspirational protective helmet. Paul chose the already edgy, skate-inspired Giro Section helmet which he then customized in three different styles - each feature unique Paul Smith designs. The result was three simple, striking and colorful designs that debuted at the Milan Furniture Fair this past spring. “With cycling becoming ever more popular especially in cities, making a bike helmet which we feel good in is quite difficult,” said Smith. “I think the shape of these helmets is really great and the matt finishes are really good. Apart from offering them in plain colors I have also added some colorful designs to them which I hope add more fun to something which could save your life!” The Paul Smith for Giro Section is available exclusively in Paul Smith shops and online (www.paulsmith.co.uk) for $95.00 About Giro Sport Design Giro®, based in Scotts Valley, CA, is a worldwide leader in the design, development and marketing of premium, high-performance protective gear and accessories for action sports and active lifestyles. We are an innovative and consumer-focused brand, with a mission to create products on the leading edge of inspired design that help you to look and feel your best.... Read more...
You'd think that when a backpacking and hiking company tried to make a cycling specific pack they'd essentially just make another daypack. Well, with the Gregory Vibe Daypack all the naysayers can take a seat. I will admit that I was a little skeptical when I first heard about the Vibe. But when Gregory sent one to me to test and review I was in for a pleasant surprise.
Gregory Vibe Daypack Features
- New proprietary TPU based water and abrasion resistant fabric
- Zip closure and overflow strap
- Large front access organizer
- Interior slit pockets
- U-lock compatible
- Side stash pocket
- Padded mesh backpanel
- Front clip loop for light
- Can fit a laptop up to 17"
- Volume: 1342 cu in / 22 L
- Dimension: 10.5 x 25 x 46 cm
- Weight: 835 g
- Price: $89.49
Gregory Vibe Daypack ReviewThe first thing I noticed when I put the pack on for the first time was that in a lot of ways the Gregory Vibe Daypack felt like a hiking pack. The mesh backpanel helped the pack ride comfortably and the mesh shoulder straps were contoured to fit around the shoulders and hug my body to keep it in place. These are a couple of features that a seasoned, well-respected pack company would have. The best part of the mesh panel was it helped cut down on the dreaded sweaty back a lot! That's the biggest downfall of using a pack for bike commuting, errands, or any general bike riding is your back will always be sweaty. The mesh backpanel on the Vibe helped keep it to a minimum. My back still got a little sweaty but it wasn't as bad. The Vibe does come with a lot of features that make a great commuting pack. The outer fabric is a tough TPU fabric (think vinyl but it's not vinyl) that is extremely water and abrasion resistant. It would literally stand up to years of use and abuse. The large, main compartment has an inner organizer sleeve (I used this for my u-lock), the top zips shut, and it has an overflow strap. The zip-top gives extra protection from the elements (with messenger bags and flap-top backpacks it always looks like water could come in the sides of the top if the wind was blowing the rain sideways). It also helps keep the small valuables from spilling out when you lay your bag down. The overflow strap is one of my favorite features. Instead of having to lash the extra gear that won't fit in the bag to the outside, just pile it on the top of the main compartment, strap it down and you're good to go. The closure strap for the top flap is extra long so there is no worries about getting the flap down. The front of the bag features an organizer sleeve that has a velcro closure on the top and zipper down the side. It has good organization for keys, lights, wallet, iPod, etc. I like the closures because, once again, it keeps the small stuff in and organized. One of the sides features a narrow, long zippered stash pocket. Lastly, on the front there is a loop for hanging a rear blinkie. I had no problems keeping my everyday stuff organized. I was able to easily fit my phone, wallet, keys, pump, small tools, array of three lights, iPod, and a few other things in and organized. It does feature a laptop sleeve that the specs say can fit a 17" laptop but my 15" laptop didn't fit very well. Another downside to the sleeve is it isn't padded and leaves your laptop vulnerable to the jolts and jostles with the other stuff in your bag. A couple of other minor downsides is the pack lacks any kind of reflective materials. I received the white model which is brighter in headlights, but if you get the blue or black you are out of luck. There is opportunity to work in reflective striping or piping. Also the shoulder straps lack any loops to hook small pouches for your phone, radio, etc. When the pack was fully loaded it carried well. It was a little small for my usual commute (I do carry a lot of stuff so for the average person the size would be just fine), but even so it rode well on my back. There is a sternum strap which I thought was superfluous, but having it strapped helped keep the pack in place. Even on my heaviest days and biggest loads the pack was comfortable. I didn't feel any constrictions or pressure points from the straps. The mesh backpanel also kept uneven loads from jabbing me in the back. Overall I was impressed with the pack. It has the craftsmanship of a well-respected pack company, it is comfy, carries well, and overall is a good pack. There are some opportunities for some small additions to make it a great commuting pack. It is a little small for my typical commute, but I carry a lot of stuff. It did excel when I used for errands and my general riding around. The Good
- Well-made from a company with a killer reputation for packs
- Less sweaty back than other packs
- Fabric is burly, will stand up to downpours and abrasion
- Good organization, secure closure
- Overflow strap for securing the big loads
- Laptop sleeve was a little on the small side and it wasn't padded
- No reflective materials
- No accessory straps on the shoulder straps
Bottom Line:It's a pack made by Gregory, you really can't go wrong with it. It's a great pack for smaller loads, errands, and general riding around. Buy Now: Pick up the Gregory Vibe Daypack ... Read more...
Since I started bike commuting four years ago I've wanted to get a bike computer but I never knew what to get. It seems like there are so many companies, so many styles, and the range of what they track is so wide. I couldn't ever make up my mind. I was stoked when Planet Bike sent me a Protege 8.0 Computer to review. The Protege 8.0 gave me all the info I wanted to know for my commute and kept it in a simple, clean design that is extremely easy to set up and use.
Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer Features
- Auto start/stop and LCD shut off
- Large LCD screen that shows 5 pieces of info at one time
- Heavy-duty, oversized wire harness and ultrasonically welded case ensure a durable, weatherproof unit
- Fits handlebars 25.4-26.0mm
- Current speed
- Speed comparator
- Ride time
- Trip distance
- Dual odometer (for 2 wheel sizes)
- Average speed
- Maximum speed
- Price: $29.99
Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer ReviewThe two most noticeable features of the Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer are the large LCD screen and the lack of buttons. The screen is big enough that it shows 5 pieces of information at one time. Your current speed always stays on screen as well as the speed comparator. The speed comparator is just and up arrow and a down arrow. It shows how you are doing compared to your average speed. If you are faster, you see up, if you are slower, you see down. It's as simple as that. You can toggle through a few different combinations of the ride time, trip distance, trip odometer, bike odometer, overall odometer, average speed, max speed, and clock. For my bike commute, and all of my rides actually, this is all the info that I want to know. I don't really care about any other fancy metrics that other cycling computers tout. The lack of buttons was the second feature that I noticed. While riding all of the screen views are controlled by pushing the computer forward in the mounting bracket and releasing. Super easy to control and the functionality is simple. Just push to change screens. Want to erase the current ride information? Just push the computer forward and hold for three seconds and voila! No press this button and hold and then press this and blink five times to clear it. Set up is a breeze. The instructions that come with the computer are easy to follow and the set up process is simple. It details how to mount to the bike, gives you the programming information for about 8 common wheel and tire sizes (if your tire size isn't listed the directions to measure are simple), and walks you through everything step-by-step. The back of the computer does feature one small programming button. Another feature that I like is you can program two different tire sizes (essentially two different bikes) into the computer and use the same computer for two different bikes and be able to track your stats for both bikes as well as an overall odometer for the computer. To switch between bikes just press the button on the back of the computer. The display shows you which bike the computer is currently running for. But it does only come with mounting hardware for one bike, you have to purchase the mounting hardware for your second bike. The computer is waterproof which is great for bike commuting. I had it out on a few rainy rides and didn't experience any problems at all. There are a couple of drawbacks that I did find. It is really hard to remove from the mounting bracket. Every time I take it out I have to push so hard I think I'm going to break it. Also it'd be nice to have a backlight when commuting in low-light conditions. And it'd be nice to have a wireless option for this computer. Planet Bike does offer a wireless option for the Protege 9.0 though. Overall, this is a great, basic bike computer. The price is fantastic, it's very easy on the wallet, it provides the functions that I think most users would want, the display is big and easy to read, and it is very user friendly. I don't need to look anymore for a bike computer, I have one that I'll keep using for a long time. The Good
- Big Screen
- No Buttons
- Program for 2 Bikes
- Easy to Use
- Easy Setup
- No Backlight
- Hard to remove from mounting bracket
- Only comes with one mountain bracket
Bottom Line:The Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer is a fantastic cycling computer. It provides the functions that most people will want, it doesn't have the stuff that you don't need, it's extremely user-friendly, and features a great design. Buy Now: Pick up the Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer ... Read more...
The Timbuk 2 Swig Backpack is awesome. I received one from Timbuk2 about a month or so ago to review. I've had one of their classic messenger bags for about 9 years and have wanted to try out some of their other offerings. Needless to say I was wicked excited to get one for review. The Swig takes the classic messenger bag style and functionality and blends it into a backpack that suits the needs of bike commuters and messengers.
Timbuk 2 Swig Backpack Features
- Super lightweight Mission6 nylon fabric.
- Padded, low profile internal laptop compartment for full protection without the bulk
- Timbuk2's trademarked Swing Around Access; grab your laptop without taking off your pack.
- Lightweight ergonomic shoulder straps are designed to fit people, not robots
- On-strap bottle opener for party tricks and quick refreshment
- Accessory loops on straps for attaching gadgets and gizmos
- Padded back panel with secret small zipper pocket for easy key storage
- Two large internal compartments and an organization panel for keeping your sh*t together
- Waterproof TPU center panel
- External U-lock pocket doubles as a water bottle holder
- Price: $90 MSRP
Timbuk 2 Swig Backpack ReviewFrom the daily commute to errands the Swig backpack excels at it all. Out of the box the bag seems huge. Once I had it loaded and on my back it didn't seem too big. I ordered the medium and was glad I did. So far it has had the capacity to haul every load I've had to carry, plus a room to spare. One of the photos on the right gives an idea of what my daily load looks like. In terms overall capacity, it can fit a lot. When I stop at the grocery store on the way home from work, I can also fit my helmet and gloves in the pack and still have room. The day I received the pack I had to run to the store to get some toilet paper. Found it on a killer sale and was able to fit a total of 24 double rolls in the bag. Yeah some got squished a little and my lock was halfway hanging out, but I was able to get it all in there. That is the absolute limit of what I could fit. See the photo on the right. There are so many little details that I love about this bag. The laptop compartment is nice and padded. The open-top sleeve makes it easy to get it in and out and the Velcro strap keeps it snug. I do have a 15" laptop and there's room to spare in the laptop sleeve. You could probably fit a 17" laptop in it. The bag does feature an outside zipper to the laptop compartment so in theory you can get your laptop in and out without having to take the pack all the way off. Because of the way the fabric folded it was hard to get the zipper to start. To get it to go the first couple of inches required an awkward reach. Yeah, I just took the bag off. I like the thought though. I've tried to use other daypacks and backpacks for commuting but they always lack the cycle-friendly features. So many of the tiny details that I love are these cycle-friendly features (what would you expect from a bike bag company?). The internal organization pockets for your wallet, keys, iPod, cords, and other valuables. The sleeve surrounding these pockets is big enough for a u-lock and cable. Wide shoulder straps to help disperse the weight of the load without cutting into your shoulders or cutting off circulation. The accessory straps on the backpack straps for hooking on gadgets and gizmos. The pack riding high and flat on your back that helps prevent lower back pain when carrying heavy loads. The small loop sewn towards the bottom of the bag meant to hold a rear light. There were very few things that I found wanting in this bag. I did have the pack out in a couple small rainstorms and it kept everything inside dry. The bag has been tossed around and the fabric is showing no signs of wear. Of the things that I would have liked to see with the pack they were all minor. A "load extender" strap. For those times when you have way too much carry and you have so much that it's coming out the top of the bag, a strap to help cinch it down would have been nice. Also I like to have a few places to hook straps on the outside of the pack. Somethings you gotta haul something big and awkward and you left the bike with the rack at home. The key fob. One thing that I don't like is rooting around in the bottom of the bag for my keys. There are other pockets in the accessories sleeve where they could go, but sometimes those are full. One thing that would be killer is a padded light sleeve. I haven't seen this anywhere, but somewhere you can put your lights where you don't have to worry about something accidentally turning them on and burning out your batteries. The one big downside, which is a downside of backpacks in general, is sweaty back. You know when you get to your destination your shirt is going to be wet. The Good
- Tiny details that make the daily use of this pack awesome
- Huge capacity without feeling like you're wearing a duffel bag
- Timbuk2 quality and reputation
- Did I mention the tiny details
- Could use additional load lashing options
- Sweaty back
Bottom Line:Seriously the best backpack I've used so far for bike commuting and errand running. If you bike commute and you wear a pack, go for the Swig. If you already have a pack, switch to the Swig. Buy Now: Pick up the Timbuk2 Swig Backpack today ... Read more...
Every bike commuter needs a cargo net. It's almost a universal truth. Even if your bike doesn't have a rack, if you wear a pack of some sort, you still need a cargo net. Enter the Delta Cargo Net. Having this net on hand has saved me multiple times when the loads I was carrying wouldn't fit in my pack or panniers.
Delta Cargo Net Features
- Four tough nylon molded hooks
- Strech-web secures those hard to hold items
Delta Cargo Net ReviewFirst off, the store pictures only show two hooks, it really comes with 4 (the description says so and mine came with 4). Having this cargo net is better than carrying a bunch of bungee cords. I've use this net to hold stuff down on my rear rack, to hold stuff on top of my panniers, and to even strap stuff to my backpack. Sometimes the path to securing whatever you're hauling isn't clear, but a little ingenuity goes a long way. With four hooks you have so many possibilities for strapping things down. So far I've successful strapped and hauled: books, a box of ski boots, lunch box, various size shipping boxes, my backpack, and clothes. At first I was skeptical of the hooks. I thought for sure they'd break within the first couple uses and definitely after a few months of use. I was completely wrong. I've been using the Delta Cargo Net for awhile now and the hooks haven't broken. I've had it out in the sun, heat, rain, snow, and below freezing temperatures and haven't had any problems with the hooks or the net. The Good
- Four hooks give more secure connections
- Hooks are strong
- Size (if you have a huge load one net might not secure it down enough)
Bottom Line:If you commute or even use your bike for any kind of utility, you need the Delta Cargo Net. Buy one, put in your pack, and always keep it with you. On more than one occassion you'll be glad you did. Buy Now: Pick up the Delta Cargo Net ... Read more...
Osprey Packs is diving deeper into the cycling market with some additions to their Hydraulics hydration pack lineup as well as two new offerings in the expanding bike commuting market. The all-new Osprey Momentum and Metron packs will include commuter-friendly features and weather protection that urban hipsters and cubicle junkies will appreciate. Here are the details from Osprey:
The Momentum and Metron series incorporate the superior fit and comfort of an Osprey Pack with the functionality that is particularly geared to the needs of a bike commuter. Momentum The Momentum series is designed with the avid bicycle commuter in mind. Whether the commute is beating city traffic or on rural roads avoiding highway speeds, these packs offer practical solutions for the bike commute lifestyle. Momentum features include:More Info: Visit OspreyPacks.com... Read more...
Metron The Metron brings a street look to bike commuting with a messenger bag inspired flap design. Beyond biking across town, the urban styling of the Metron offers an easy transition to days spent riding transit, hitting the coffee shop, or traveling by air or train. Metron features include:
- Built-in snug fitting high visibility raincover
- LidLock™ helmet clip
- Separate, padded laptop sleeve, with file sleeve
- Large cell phone pocket on shoulder strap
- Key pocket on shoulder strap with retractable key clip
- U-Lock slot
- 2 side compression straps
- Padded top and side grab handle
- Tuck-away shoulder straps
- Reflective print to front panel
- Blinker light attachment
- Front stash pocket with organizer
- Internal organizer for pump, tubes and tools
- Zippered Side Pockets
- Colors: Bamboo and Carbide
- MSRP: Momentum 26 at $129; Momentum 34 at $149
- Integrated Raincover in Lid
- U-Lock storage pocket
- Padded laptop sleeve
- Large cell phone pocket on shoulder strap
- Key pocket on shoulder strap with retractable key clip
- 2 side compression straps
- Blinker light attachment
- Reflective detail to front of pack
- Colors: Black and Earth
- MSRP: Metron 25 $139; Metron 35 $159
The Crank Brothers Multi-17 Tool is the second largest in the line of multi-tools offered by Crank Brothers. While it is big, it's not actually very big at all. It'll fit easily into the palm of your hand. It features literally almost every tool you'd need to perform simple maintenance and repair on your bike, whether on the road, trail, or in your garage. I actually used the Multi-17 for a few years at my home-shop because I didn't have any other bike tools. With a battalion of 17 tools on it, there's not much the Crank Brothers Multi-17 Tool can't do.
Crank Brothers Multi-17 Tool Features
- Weight: 168g
- Length: 3.5" / 89mm
- Frame: 6061-T6 aluminum
- Tools: 6050 high tensile steel
- Chain tool: 8/9/10 speed compatible
- Spoke wrench: #1, 2, 3, 4
- Hex wrenches: #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
- Screwdrivers: phillips, flat
- Open wrench: 8mm, 10mm
- Torx: t-25
- Warranty: lifetime
- Price: $27
Crank Brothers Multi-17 Tool ReviewThe Crank Brothers Multi-17 Tool literally has just about ever tool you'd need to wrench on your bike on a ride or at home. While you won't want to rebuild your bike with it, the Multi-17 can tackle most tasks. I've used it to swap handlebars, swap clipless pedals, adjust spokes, repair broken chains, adjust brakes, tighten saddles, you name it. When I first got into biking a few years ago I couldn't afford a tool set at home. The Multi-17 handled the job. Pair with with another small multi-tool and most tasks got done. The Multi-17 is burly. It's solid and well-built. All of the tools are made with high tensile steel and the frame is aluminum. The Multi-17 will literally last forever. I've been using mine for a few years and it looks about as good as new. One thing I like about the Multi-17 over their other tools is it's wider, which is easier for me to hold. The frame is etched with a diamond pattern, giving extra grip to what would otherwise be slippery metal. The Multi-17 also comes with a big rubber band that holds the tools in place, but also provides extra grip. With the chain tool I have found that it can be hard to keep a hold of the metal tab when cranking it down when using only your hands. If you have pliers it makes the job easier. You can hold onto with your hands, it's just a little difficult. It is compact enough to easily fit in a saddlebag, no matter how small. You could just as easily throw in your pocket or in the back of your jersey. It's small enough and light enough that you won't notice it. The Good
- Tons of tools
- Steel construction will last forever
- If you're concerned about weight, maybe it's a little bulky
Bottom Line:The Crank Brothers Multi-17 Tool is awesome. It has the tools you'll need to make those mid-ride adjustments and fixes. If it can't do it, you've got bigger problems to worry about. Do yourself a favor and Buy Now: Pick up the Crank Brothers Multi-17 Tool ... Read more...
This past week I received a Timbuk 2 Swig Backpack to review. I've been a fan of Timbuk 2 for a long time and have had one of their Classic Messenger Bags for about 9 years. I'm stoked to finally check out one of their backpacks.
Timbuk 2 Swig Backpack Features
- Super lightweight Mission6 nylon fabric.
- Padded, low profile internal laptop compartment for full protection without the bulk
- Timbuk2's trademarked Swing Around Access; grab your laptop without taking off your pack.
- Lightweight ergonomic shoulder straps are designed to fit people, not robots
- On-strap bottle opener for party tricks and quick refreshment
- Accessory loops on straps for attaching gadgets and gizmos
- Padded back panel with secret small zipper pocket for easy key storage
- Two large internal compartments and an organization panel for keeping your sh*t together
- Waterproof TPU center panel
- External U-lock pocket doubles as a water bottle holder
- Price: $90
One thing that I learned very quickly, the hard way, when I started bike commuting is you have to carry a pump. I thought I could get away with not taking one with me every ride. I also thought the same thing when I got my mountain bike and was going for a "quick" ride during lunch one day (that was a long walk back to the office). In the world of mini-pumps there's many options. I knew my pump would mostly get hauled around on the daily bike commute so I needed something that wouldn't take a year to pump a tire, it had to be burly to stand up to the daily abuse of commuting, and it needed to have a gauge. I searched around and found the Crank Brothers Alloy Power Pump w/gauge. I chose this particular pump because out of Crank Brothers line of mini pumps it was the one that best fit my needs.
Crank Brothers Alloy Power Pump w/Gauge Features
- Maximum Pressure: 130psi (9 bar)
- Valves: Presta & Schraeder
- Material: 6061-T6 aluminum
- Air switch: high volumn / high pressure
- Mounting Bracket: included
- Weight: 173g
- Price: $38
Crank Brothers Alloy Power Pump w/Gauge ReviewThis was the first mini pump that I have purchased and I have only ever used one other (another Crank Brothers model) so keep that in mind. In terms of my needs: burly, ability to pump up a tire in less than a day, and have a gauge, the Alloy Power Pump has met my expectations. I've been hauling mine around for about 2 years now and so far the name and some paint have rubbed off the handle. It definitely holds up to the rigors to daily use. I've handled both metal and plastic pumps before and I like metal. Yeah it may weight a little but I think the metal is definitely more durable. The Alloy Power Pump does feature a twistable head with a Presta adaptor on one side and a Schraeder adapter on the other. Just a simple twist and you can pump up either valve. Probably my favorite feature is the adjustable air switch. Located at the base of the handle there's a dial you can turn to one of two positions. The first position is 'high volume'. You use this when first pumping up the tire and you want to get a lot of air in with each pump. The second position is 'high pressure'. When the going gets tough just turn the dial and you start pumping less air with each pump but it comes in at a higher pressure. With mini pumps without this feature getting a road tire above 30 psi is a rough, I couldn't do it. With the air switch it's no problem. I chose the Alloy Power Pump because of the longer handle. This has it's pros and cons. The pros are you get more air in with each pump, thus taking less time and less work to fill up your tire. The cons are it's longer and weighs more. The pump either has to strap to the bike (mounting bracket included) or go in a pack. It doesn't fit very well into a jersey pocket and it definitely won't fit into a saddle bag. Second favorite feature is the gauge. I had a floor pump once without a gauge. Nothing quite like the 'squeeze test' to see if your tires have enough air. The gauge takes all the guess work out. Plus when I'm using a mini pump I like to know how much longer it's going to be to get the right pressure. The Alloy Power Pump is well made. It's been strapped to a number of bikes, been thrown in the bottom of panniers for a year, dropped on the road a few times, and the thing keeps chugging. I haven't broken anything on it and it still works like brand new. My main gripe with the pump is the mounting bracket. It mounts via a couple of zipties. While I love zipties, the big drawback is what to do if you have multiple bikes. I don't always ride with a pack or panniers. Nor do I always ride with a jersey. I'm not one to buy a pump for each bike so switching from bike to bike is a pain. A velcro strap for attaching to the bike would be killer. What I do like about the mounting bracket is it's also a protective cover for the gauge and pump head. The Good
- Burly, has stood up to 2 years of abuse
- Air switch
- Longer pump action
- Mounting bracket only attaches with zipties making multiple bike attachment a pain
- Weight (if you're counting that)
- Takes more effort than a CO2 inflater
Bottom Line:The Crank Brothers Alloy Power Pump w/gauge is burly, durable, and great to use. In the world of mini pumps it stands near the top. Buy Now: Pick up the Crank Brothers Alloy Power Pump w/gauge ... Read more...
I was a little skeptical when I picked up the Camelbak Podium ChillJacket Insulated Bottle. It's seems too simple, why haven't companies been doing this since the beginning? Camelbak made the promises and then they delivered.
Camelbak ChillJacket Bottle Features
- Insulation to keep drinks colder longer
- JetValve: i.e. No spill lid
- Hydroguard coating to inhibit the growth of bacteria
- Price $12
Camelbak Podium ChillJacket Insulated Bottle ReviewThe ChillJacket looks almost like any other bike bottle. To not sound like a cheesy, feel-good person, it's what's on the inside that counts. The bottle is wrapped with double-walls filled with insulation, providing the insulation to keep your drinks colder longer. The tags on the bottle claim 2x as long, the Camelbak website says "hours". I didn't get out the thermometer or the stopwatch, but the difference is significant. Kept my water cold all day while playing at the river. Camelbak also coated the inside of the bottle with HydroGuard. It's a coating to inhibit the growth of bacteria. This doesn't provide an excuse for keeping a funky bottle, you still have to wash it often. The JetValve (no-spill lid) is awesome. Just twist the nozzle one way and the water flows smoothly. Turn it the other way and nothing will come out. I gave it the highly scientific and precise "tip upside down and squeeze hard" test and not a drop came out. This would be killer on MTB rides where it always seems your sugary, electrolyte drink always seems to seep a little making a sticky mess. I am skeptical about how well the bottle will stay in a bike bottle cage. The indentation on the bottle doesn't seem significant enough to keep it in place. I plan on testing it out as soon as my bikes arrive from across the country. I am also skeptical about the JetValve use one handed. If the valve was open would it really keep everything in on a bouncy cross-country ride? It'd be fairly difficult to hold onto the bottle and open with one hand while riding. I'll probably just keep it open the whole time. The Good
- My drink isn't warm after sitting in the sun for 5 minutes, or even 30 minutes, or even an hour
- No spill lid keeps everything inside
- Did I mention keeping your drink cold?
- Might not sit in a bike cage very well
- One hand opening while riding would be hard
Bottom Line on the Camelbak Podium ChillJacket Insulated BottleI can't wait to be able to drink cold drinks in the middle of the sweltering summer rides. I'm definitely picking up a few more of these bottles. Buy Now: Pick up the Camelbak Podium ChillJacket Insulated Bottle and keep your drinks cold.... Read more...
To me a saddle bag is a saddle bag is a saddle bag. What really sets them apart from each other? Capacity, attachment, and materials. The Pedro's Blowout Bag nails it with all three. You get large capacity (If you buy the large), seat and seatpost attachment that is solid, and it's made from recycled tubes. It's hard to beat that.
Pedro's Blowout Bag Features
- 3 sizes: 25 ci, 35 ci, & 50 ci
- Materials: Recycled tubes & nylon
Pedro's Blowout Bag ReviewThe thing that drew me to the Pedro's Blowout Bag was the recycled tires. I loved the idea of it. In terms of durability I think the nylon will wear out faster than the tubes. I bought the large and I have enough room to fit a spare tube (mtn or road), tire levers, patch kit, two multi-tools, some change, a gel, and room to spare. If I had one I'd be able to fit a CO2 inflater and a couple of cartridges. I do have a friend who has fit a Crank Brothers Power Pump in hers. The bag also features a small reflective strip around the logo on the back of the bag, increasing your rear visibility at night. The Good
- Recycling old tubes
- Large has good capacity
- Durability should be high
- Have to loosen the strap a lot to unzip it
Bottom Line:A saddle bag is a saddle bag. Get one that reuses materials, holds what you need, and should last a long time. The Blowout Bag is it. Buy Now: Pick up the Pedro's Blowout Bag ... Read more...
The Park Tool Multi-Tool - MT-1C is about as minimalist as you can get with a bike multi-tool. The thing reminds me of a skeleton key or something you'd see on an Indiana Jones movie or MacGyver. It may look simplistic but it's got the Park Tool quality and name behind it. It has the basic of the basics that you'll likely need when out on a ride.
Park Tool Multi-Tool - MT-1C Features
- Cast Steel
- 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 mm hex wrenches
- 8, 9, 10 mm box end wrenches
- 1 flathead screwdriver
- Weight: 54 grams
- Price: $9
Park Tool Multi-Tool - MT-1C ReviewReally what is there to say that hasn't been said above? Simple multi-tool for carrying around with you on every ride. I did buy a bigger multi-tool but that really became my 'at home bike tool' (what can I say, I don't really have shop tools at home). Out on a ride though, I haven't used anything on the larger tool that I didn't have on the MT-1C. That's not to say that something won't come up. I have had a couple of times where it's been nice to have more than one tool. When it really comes down to it this is a great back-up tool to have with you. At $9 I have one in each of my saddlebags. It's been useful and has the basics of what I need. Park Tool designed it in a way to have the most useful configuration. However, there have been a handful of times where the tool has been awkward to use or almost didn't fit where I needed it to go. That being said if you want a back-up to take with you or only have $10, this is the tool to get. The Good
- Basic sizes of the most common tools
- Park Tool Quality
- Limited number of tools
- Can be awkward to use
Bottom Line:Bottom line is this is a handy tool to have on hand with you. It can handle the basic jobs and most of the most common issues while out on a ride. If you are only going to have one tool though, it'll be worthwhile to get something a little bigger. This is a good secondary tool to have on hand. Buy Now: Get the Park Tool Multi-Tool - MT-1C ... Read more...
Every person who rides bikes on the road should have a front and rear blinkie. We have a hard enough time getting seen by drivers and pedestrians when it's full daylight, why take chances when it's night or the light is low? Enter the Cateye Liteset EL135/LD130. The EL135/LD130 is solid front and rear blinkie set that is reasonably priced and will help increase your visibility with others on the road.
Cateye Liteset EL135/LD130 Features
- Front Light:
- Three LEDS
- Wide Beam
- Flashing & Steady Modes
- 320 Hours Life on Flashing Mode
- 80 Hours Life on Steady Mode
- Handlebar Mounting Clamp
- 94 grams
- 2 AAs, included
- Rear Light:
- Three LEDs
- Three Modes (Two Flashing, One Steady)
- 150 Hours Life on Flashing Mode
- 75 Hours Life on Steady Mode
- Seatpost & Clothing Clamps
- 35 grams
- 2 AAAs, included
- Price for the set: $30
Cateye Liteset EL135/LD130 ReviewWhen it comes down to it the EL135/LD130 is a no frills, standard blinkie light set. It's a workhorse. I've put it through hot summer days, high humid days, freezing winter rides, snow, and monsoon-like rain and they keep right on flashing. The front light in steady mode wasn't bright enough to light up the road for me by itself, but I do use it in combination in flash mode with another brighter light to light up the road in front of me. One thing I will say about the front light is the 'lock' that keeps it in place when in the clamp is a thin piece of plastic, if this breaks (which mine did when I went down somewhat hard on an icy day) then there is no way it will stay in the clamp. I think it was the combination of the impact of the fall and the plastic being frozen. I only use the rear light in flashing mode. There are two flashing modes. One is where all three LEDs flash on and off at the same time. The other is a pattern where one LED lights up at a time. I prefer the former because I feel like it's brighter than the other, but that's just my opinion. The seatpost clamp does adjust on a horizontal axis so you can adjust it to point straight back, regardless of the angle of your seatpost. Like most things I've reviewed so far I've been using these lights for a couple of years now and they've been solid. They are made to be blinkies, that's what I've used them for. If you're looking for something to see the road by, then buy a different in addition to getting these blinkies. These will definitely help increase your visibility. The Good
- Long Battery Life
- Bright in Flashing Mode
- At 30 bills, you can't go wrong
- Clamps are have a large adjustment range and come with a few rubber shims to accomodate slimmer bars
- Overall long life
- No battery life indicator
- No rechargeable option (unless you use your own rechargeables)
- If 'locks' break then you have to buy a new set
Bottom Line:Everyone needs a set of blinkies and at $30 everyone can. The Cateye Liteset EL135/LD130 is a set that you can't go wrong with and can stand up to years of use. Buy Now: Pick up the Cateye Liteset EL135/LD130 ... Read more...
The NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB Bike Light came out right when I was needing a new bike light. It's super small, lighter in weight, and packs a retina searing punch for such a small light.
NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB Light Features
- Light Output: 110 lumens
- Battery Life: 3 hours
- 1 LED Headlamp
- Li-Ion Battery Pack
- Handlebar Mount Strap (Mine came with three)
- Wall Charger
- USB Charger
- Battery Charge Indicator
NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB Light ReviewI bought the MiNewt as a handlebar light to replace the hiking headlamp I was using on my helmet. Prior to that I had been using a front blinkie on steady mode. The MiNewt Mini-USB packs a powerful punch for being such a small light. It gives strong light output for almost the entire lenght of the battery. I didn't really notice any light dimishment until the very end of the battery life. Some lights give a wide swath of light but that isn't the case with the MiNewt Mini. The beam of light is a focused, spot beam. Within that spot of light I could see the road very well. I felt comfortable riding at higher speeds knowing that I would be able to see what was coming up. The regular MiNewt Mini is meant just for handlebar mounting, they made the MiNewt Mini-USB Plus for helmet mounting...it comes with a strap to mount to your helmet. With the regular MiNewt, though, I was able to get it on my helmet securely. I just used the handlebar strap for the light and the battery mounting strap around some of the vent holes and it works just fine. I did ultimately decide to use the MiNewt as a helmet mounted light. I use a light that gives a wider swath on the handlebars and like the focused beam of the MiNewt on my helmet to shine where ever I am looking. I also get the added benefit of being able to look at motorists who are about to turn onto the road and know that they are definitely seeing me. As a single, solitary light the MiNewt Mini-USB wasn't enough for me. However, I do err on the side of more light to see and more importantly to be seen. NiteRider does make a whole family of MiNewt bike lights that range from 100 lumen single lights to 200 lumen single lights to 400 lumen double lights. My favorite feature is the USB charging capability. I was able to charge the light while at school if I needed and it was easier and more compact to carry the USB cord as opposed to the wall charger. An added bonus for me was the USB cord was the same size as my Blackberry Pearl charger. The Good
- Bright Little Light
- USB Charger
- Worked on my helmet without the Helmet Kit
- Not as bright as other lights
- No dimmer settings to help conserve battery life
- Spot beam is bad if you want a wide swath of light
Bottom Line:If you are on a budget and need a bright light, the NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB Bike Light is the light to get. Buy Now: Light it up with the NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB Bike Light. ... Read more...
Hehehe, you're wearing knickers. Yes, yes I am. Yes you may get teased by the unaware when you wear the Cutter Tech Knickerbocker but on the inside you're laughing at them. The Knickerbocker is one of the greatest products for bike commuters.
Cutter Tech Knickerbocker Features
- Polartec Power Shield Stretch Woven with Hardface Technology
- 6 pockets (2 front, 2 back, 2 cargo)
- Ergonomic Fit
- U-Lock Snap on the back pocket
- Price: $149.95
Cutter Tech Knickerbocker ReviewFirst off, in the interest of disclosure, I used to work for the company that owns Cutter. In no way have I been compensated or otherwise influenced for this review. Now that's out of the way lets get to the good stuff. The Knickerbocker features the Polarguard Powershield Stretch blah blah blah...big fancy name for super stretchy fabric. I have had zero restriction problems, Polarguard absolutely slayed it with this fabric. You can swing your leg over your bike without busting a seam or feeling like you have 80-year-old joints (sorry 80-year-olds). You can also move around on the bike (stand, sit, pedal, etc) without any restriction. I used to commute in plain clothes and riding in khakis was a pain. I have about 75 days riding in the Knickerbocker and they look as good as day 1. They are extremely durable and have held up well to the daily abuse. I've worn them in all conditions from hot humid days, to cold rain, and in a couple of cases, snow. They do repel light moisture so offer protection in a light drizzle. Another big benefit of the Knickerbocker is the length. During cold weather rides they keep your knees covered and warm. Nothing like cold, creaky knees to take the fun out of a ride. The Knickerbocker has killer style that works commuting, road riding, mountain biking, walking around the grocery store, whatever you want. No more getting mocked when you show up in your 'bike pants'. In regards to fit I normally wear 34" waist pants and I wear a medium in the Knickerbocker. They fit nicely and are just a little big (read: just right) around the waist and they hang just below my knees. The Good
- Super stretchy fabric
- Killer Style
- Lots of Pockets
- Only near black color (gets hot in the sun)
- A little spendy