Archive for the ‘Reviews And Opinions’ Category
I have a bell on my bike. It’s nice to have when you want to let the folks, especially pedestrians on my local multipurpose trails, know that you want to pass them. Because many are wearing earbuds, just saying “passing on your left,” isn’t enough.
But what about on the road? What happens if some idiot in a car doesn’t look and cuts me off? I don’t think the bell will do the trick at announcing my presence. Sure, I can yell at the top of my lungs, but I hope their stereo isn’t turned up too loud. Although I’ve never had the need, I was okay with having to do that if needed.
Over a year ago, I stumbled across the Orp Horn on Kickstarter. It’s cool little bike accessory that would reduce my need to yell in an emergency situation. Their idea was to make cyclists more visible and “hearable” with a combination dual tone, high decibel bike horn and front beacon light. The result is a really loud horn that fits into a small package.
What really appealed to me was it’s slick design. The horn has unibody construction that is formed to look good and function well. It comes in several different color options, and I decided to go with orange.
Well, after several long months after it funded, I finally got mine. It came in a really cool package that, once unfolded, doubles as the instruction sheet. I was pleased to see efforts put into the design – even in the packaging – to reduce waste. The Orp Horn came, not damaged, but it came slightly unfinished. There was a little bit of the cover that wasn’t locked into place. A quick snap and it was fine.
The Orp Horn is cleverly designed with a one-size, built-on strap. This fits perfectly on wider diameter handlebars. If you have a smaller diameter bar, you’ll need to use the included rubber strip to keep the horn from slipping.
Time to test it out. The first thing you need to do, after you mount it, is turn it on. This is done by pressing and holding the button on the top for 3 seconds. It makes a cheerful chirp to let you know that it’s activated. Tapping the button again turns on the flashing light feature. Tapping it again, gives you a solid light. To turn it off, you need to press and hold the button for another 3 seconds.
The Orp Horn comes with two sounds. When you push up on the lever, it gives you a friendly chirp. When you pull down on the lever, you get the super loud chirp. It’s not like an air horn that you hear coming from most cars, but it’s loud enough to make a statement. Given it’s compact size, the sound is quite remarkable.
This is a great accessory to add to my rides. My hope is that I will never need to use the Orp Horn, but if I do, it’s comforting to know that I can let car drivers hear that I’m there.
Where To Buy: I got mine for a deal on Kickstarter, which funded last year. You can still buy them on their site for a bit more: click here.
Believe me, I am completely grateful when anybody puts up racks for bike parking in front of their business. I appreciate it even more when it’s a major chain that happens to be a gasoline station – primarily catering to car drivers.
However, I think that the people who installed these racks must not ride bikes with handlebars. Sure, with some careful contorting of your bike, these are somewhat functional. I just feel that pulling them away from the wall, even just a few more inches, would have made much more sense.
It’s a start. I guess I shouldn’t complain. Right?
I’m not sure if you remember, but my bike mirror broke last season.
I was never a mirror user, until I actually tried one. After talking to a few folks and listening to some opinions, I decided to get a the kind that attached to my glasses, instead of my helmet or bike. I chose the Third Eye mirror which was available at my local bike shop. Overall, I was pretty happy with it.
There were only two things that disappointed me about it. The first was it’s limited positioning. I’m sure it was user error, but I could not get the Third Eye positioned right on my glasses to keep the mirror from creating a blind spot when I was actually scanning for oncoming traffic. My solve for that was to mount the mirror on the right side so that my left side scanning would be obstruction free. The other disappointment was that it only lasted a year before breaking.
After it broke, I began shopping around for a better solution – with no promising results. My goal was to find something more durable, not very expensive and not look so geeky. That led me to look into making my own, as suggested by my friend, Mike. The problem with making my own is that I never have the right parts or tools and it always ends up costing me more in time and resources – plus, it never comes out right. For now, it’ll just be one of those projects that I’ll complete later.
So, I’ve been mirror-less until a few weeks ago, when a man named Patrick McMahon, who runs the Etsy store, ReBcycle, contacted me. He stated that he might have what I’m looking for and provided a link to his store that offered mirrors that were very similar to the DIY project that I was looking into. The only difference was that his were already made.
I looked at his options, which were all nice, but I really wanted one made from the bottle cap of one of my favorite beers, Left Hand Milk Stout. We exchanged messages, and I found out that not only was he nice, but also very accommodating. He did have LHMS bottle caps available, as well as one that was older, and a bit more rare, than what they are currently using. Of course, I chose that one.
Within a few days, he had it made and shipped to me – a custom, hand-crafted, made-to-order mirror that cost the same as his other mirrors. Also, compared to other standard, retail mirrors or anything that I could have made on my own, it was pretty reasonable.
When I got the mirror, I was really impressed as to how well it was packed. The product, itself, is well-made and much more durable than it’s plastic predecessor. Being mostly all metal – both bottle cap and bicycle spoke attachment – I can already tell this is going to last longer. What really impressed me about the Beer-View Mirror is how well it fit my glasses. ReBcycle offers both long and short attachments, and I opted for short. Not only does the short attachment fit firmly on my glasses frames, it keeps the mirror far enough out to prevent that scanning blind spot. I am really impressed with this new mirror, and it was well worth it.
If you are thinking about getting a mirror for safer riding, I recommend that you take a look at ReBcycle.
This post starts with a little rant and ramble about cycle clothing, so feel free to skip ahead.
For many years, I’ve been wrestling with the idea of looking the part of a cyclist. My general philosophy with cycling is that you shouldn’t have to wear special clothes to ride a bicycle. Looking the part is just another barrier – both in stereotype and cost – that keeps folks from wanting to get back into, or trying out bicycling.
That being said, I’ve also come to some realizations about cycling that have convinced me that bike clothes SHOULD become part of my wardrobe. There are times when clothes designed for cycling, simply, just work harder and feel better. Comfort and visibility have become key factors in my clothing choices. However, for the record, you will never see me wearing a complete race kit – but, that’s a topic for another post.
For now, let’s talk about PANTS.
Riding in the summer is not a problem since I have enough shorts and padded liners to keep me covered. Winter is another story. Until recently, my cold weather riding attire has consisted of jeans, jogging pants, cargo pants and an old pair of stretchy leggings that I picked up during my mountain bike days. Back to my point above, a good pair of fitted cycling pants is expensive – so instead of having it as a barrier for cycling in the winter, I just use what I have.
Why I Think Street Clothes Don’t Work As Well:
I love the idea of just jumping on my bike with whatever I’m wearing, and I do it quite often. You shouldn’t have to get ‘outfitted’ to ride down the street. However, I’ve discovered that when you are commuting or taking long rides, street clothes aren’t always the best solution.
In my case, my jeans and cargo pants are not fitted well. I don’t have the body type to wear skinny jeans, nor am I young enough to pull it off. Sometimes, I wish other people exercised that same restraint. Because my street pants aren’t fitted, I need to roll the leg up or ‘peg’ it so that it’s not getting caught in the chain.
The cut, material and stitching of street pants are another issue. Most of them are cut low and droop in the crotch area, which always catches on my saddle as I mount. When I ride, the back end isn’t high enough to cover the lower back side – which makes it a bit breezy and some might mistake me for a plumber. Jeans and cargo pants don’t seem to flex very well, either, which makes it harder to get my cranks turned. Finally, the stitching at the crotch of street pants isn’t ideal for resting on a saddle for an extended period of time. You start to notice – even through padded liners.
Why I Don’t Like Typical Bike Pants:
Bike pants, although very expensive, are great. They’re cut and fitted for cyclist to optimize the best comfort for long rides. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find the right pair that fits well, but doesn’t look like yoga pants. Again, I’m too old and not fit enough to “pull them off” – literally and figuratively. The biggest problem I have with typical bike pants is that even when you are off the bike, they scream CYCLIST!, LOOK AT ME, I’M A CYCLIST!
Rozik, The Best Of Both Worlds:
Since cycling has become more trendy and less of a sport, there is a new category of non-traditional bicycle clothing that has become more available. Some call it cycle chic, while others call it urban. I call it brilliant. It’s well-design cycling clothes that don’t look like cycling clothes. The styles are more like street clothes, without all of the fit and discomfort issues associated with street clothes. Still a bit pricy, like most bike clothes, but you are no longer just limited to only wear them when you ride.
Rozik Wear is a new brand that makes this kind of urban cycling clothes. Based out of north Texas, Rozik clothes are all made in the U.S.A. and designed to “go in any direction that life take you.” Since I was in need, I got a pair of their black Analyzer pants from Richardson Bike Mart. So far, I’ve been pretty impressed.
Here are some features about the Rozik Analyzer pants:
– Reflective back pocket for safety that hides when not needed
– Gusset crotch for all-day comfort
– Slim fit, Euro-style cut – not ‘Skinny’
– Raised back for increased coverage
– Leg tabs for a secure pant roll-up
– Coin pocket that fits a cell phone
– Fabric that moves “every wear” you go
– Fabric: 97% Cotton 3% Viscose
– Colors: Black | Olive | Khaki
– Inseam: Regular: 32″ Long: 34″
– Shrink: expect the fabric to shrink approximately 1/2″ to 1″ in length; the waistbands are made so that they will not shrink
– Made in the USA
The size of the waste was pretty accurate. I chose the size that I wear in jeans, and they fit nicely – loose where it counts for flexibility and fitted where it was needed for optimized riding. No drooping crotch or low back, here. Since I have a 32″ inseam and they state that the length will shrink, I opted for the long (34″). If they don’t shrink to fit, I can always roll the cuff up once (as seen in the pics below – before their first washing).
Although I haven’t taken them on a really long ride, I can already tell the difference between these and my street pants. The Analyzer seems to fulfill all of my riding pant needs – from comfort to style. With the reflective flap, safety gets a nod, too. They’re well made and I expect them to last a long time.
The only thing I would change is the zipper for the back, right pocket. When closed, the pull-tab for the zipper is towards the middle and rubs on most things that I sit on. It’s even gotten caught in the crack of a bench seat. Flipping it so that the zipper pull is towards the outside when closed, might help this.
As I’ve been walking more this year, I’ve discovered a few things about being an active pedestrian. What stands out the most is my misperception of distance.
When I started riding regularly, I discovered that the distances between my cycling destinations were actually closer than I would estimate. Riding wasn’t as difficult, time consuming or challenging as I had assumed.
However, as I started walking more, I realized that the distances between my pedestrian destinations were actually farther than I would estimate. There have been a few trips that caught me off guard, requiring me to take longer and work harder to reach my destinations.
Walking is hard. Cycling is much more efficient.
I’m in this weird place with my cycling gear. Part of me wants to remain anti-spandex/synthetic and wear just my everyday clothes when I ride. I don’t want to be one of those guys in the ‘kit’, screaming to others, “I’m a cyclist.” However, everyday street clothes are pretty uncomfortable for riding anything more than a few miles. Plus, given how your body changes it’s core temperature while riding, and sweat kicks in, street clothes aren’t very practical.
I’ve looked into the cool cycling gear that looks like street clothes and I’m highly interested. I love the styles and the usefulness, bringing cyclist-friendly cuts and fabrics into a look that I can appreciate. Unfortunately, that stuff is really expensive for a guy on my limited budget.
Visibility is another issue. When I ride around town, I want drivers to see me, so I’ve been seeking clothes with some brighter colors or reflective accents. There are some great options at my local bike shops, designed for cyclist – still very expensive.
I like when I run across alternate options that are within budget. I found this Starter brand running jacket at Walmart for $12. It may not be cut for a cyclist, but properly layered, it will deflect cold, wind and light rain well enough to get through winter. The high-vis yellow on top (although I wish it were lower) is a bonus.
Well, it’s been just over a year since I got my bike mirror and it’s already broken. Other than this unexpected death, I was quite happy with this mirror. It was small and – as far as bike mirrors go – pretty discrete. The interesting thing is that I never realized how much I used it until my ride home yesterday. Although I did not use it for lane change scans, I did use it to gauge the amount of traffic behind me – which was apparently quite often.
I plan on replacing this with something built a little better. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Based out of ‘The People’s Republic of Portland”, hosts Brock Dittus, Aaron Flores and (yet to be heard by me) Brandon Rhodes “bring you somewhat irreverent conversations about the intricacies of thinking locally with a global perspective, and enjoying the best that life has to offer along the way. This includes day to day life, food, alcohol, bicycles and alternative transportation, arts and culture, communication and the Internet, camping and travel, and many other things!”
Sure, it’s not all about bikes. But to me, it’s a lot about why I ride – simplifying the good life. Talking about arts, culture and alcohol is pretty cool, too.
Of course I’m late to the party. They’ve been producing the show since 2010 and on their 126th episode (as of this post). As with my other ‘bike’ related podcasts, I’ve been playing serious catch-up. I’ve decided to only limit my listening to this year’s episodes – which is enough to get a good sense that I relate to the content, enjoy the hosts and their guests and have become a true fan of the show.
The weekly show covers a wide range of bike topics, from advocacy, news and events to sports and fitness. Hosts, Diane Lees and Greg Priddy, do a great job keeping those topics relevant and captivating as they bring on many interesting guests and share some really good discussions.
They’ve just released their 134th show, so I haven’t been able to review them all. Even though I’ve only listened to the latest ones made for 2013, and I’ve already been exposed to some cool, new (to me) bike stuff.
Sure, because they cover such a wide range of subjects, you run the risk of coming across a show that is less entertaining than others. Since I’m not into sports cycling, I personally found the sports and fitness topics a bit unexciting – but, I can see how others would find them engaging. The great thing about a podcast, is that you can be selective with what you listen to and fast forward through the rest.
Overall, the podcast is a nice way to geek-out about bikes, even while you’re commuting by car.
My only question is, why haven’t I heard of this show before? According to their Facebook page, they have over 1,100 fans – but only one of them is a mutual ‘Friend’. Perhaps I can change that. I’m hoping that if you haven’t already heard about the show, you’ll go check them out:
As promised here are a couple of tests for the Minoura Camera Mount.
Snowy Christmas day:
A local bike lane (note the paper bag rock dodge):
These videos are not altered to reduce the vibrations or shakes – not great, but not bad. I just enjoy having both hands on my handlebars.
Overall, the videos are pretty noisy, but that could be my camera.