Archive for the ‘Reviews And Opinions’ Category
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.
I like watching movies with bicycles in them. I especially love movies where riding bicycles is the main theme, like Reveal The Path. From the makers of Ride The Divide, another favorite of mine, Reveal The Path is a documentary-like, adventure film that follows some bike riders on a tour around the world.
Reveal The Path is a genre-defying adventure film that contemplates what it means to live an inspired life using the bicycle as a mechanism to explore, dream and discover.
Regions explored include Scotland’s lush valleys, Europe’s snow capped mountains, Morocco’s high desert landscapes, Nepal’s rural countryside and Alaska’s rugged coastal beaches. Ride along and get lost in the wonders of the world… Meet the locals living modest yet seemingly fulfilling lives, leading us to question what it means to live an inspired life – however humble or extravagant. Read more.
This is an amazing film to watch on the big screen. You get to see some breathtaking shots of some incredible landscapes, meet some interesting people and get a sense of how spectacular our world is. Paired with an extraordinary soundtrack, the move transports viewers to places they might have only dreamed about. Reveal The Path does a great job of putting things in perspective, especially with all the horrible news that we’ve been hearing about. Perhaps the world wouldn’t be such a bad place to live if we all had a chance to ride our bikes around the globe – or, at least, experience it though a great movie like this.
My only criticism of the movie is that there wasn’t enough. I was left with wanting to see more destinations, meet more people, and perhaps more self-discovery with the riders. I would love to see a sequel to this expedition.
The journey in the movie is not an actual non-stop global tour, but rather a select grouping of rides that take place at different locations around the world. This is how I would like to do a world tour. I’ve often romanced about taking the full journey by pedal, family in tow as my sag-wagon. However, the reality is, there are places that I’m not ready to ride. Somehow, world-hopping to select locations, seems like a much more manageable idea. Of course, all I would need is time and money. Until then, I can just pop in my copy of Reveal The Path, and live the adventure through them.
I admit it, I am horrible with remembering to stay hydrated when I ride. But, as consistant 100+ degree temperatures hit north Texas, my body is making it easy to remember.
My typical hydration method is a standard sized water bottle caged to my bike frame. It works, but there are some problems and limitations with that:
- Not convenient while riding – Sure, I’m capable of grabbing it and taking a sip while rolling, but I’ve been trying to keep all my focus on riding – while riding. Gotta stay alert, right?
- Limited Amount – For most rides, a single water bottle is sufficient, and I hardly use much (I did say I was horrible at hydration). However, on the longer, hotter commutes, there is barely enough to get me home. I find myself having to conserve when I shouldn’t.
- Hot Water - I’ll put refrigerated water and ice in my bottle, but 3 miles into my commute, it’s ready to hard boil eggs. I’ve seen insulated bottles, and I may still look into getting one.
The solution: Camelbak backpacks. Anybody who has been on a bike or done anything remotely athletic has heard of Camelbak hydration products. Camelbak backpacks provide more storage for water that’s easy to consume through a convenient ‘feed tube’. The packs also provide a good amount of insulation to keep your water cooler for much longer.
I have one of their earlier models from my mountain bike days, which is basically a neoprene-like pouch with some narrow nylon straps, containing a tall, plastic water reservoir with a feed tube. It keeps me hydrated, but is incredibly uncomfortable. The narrow straps cut into my shoulders while the pouch sloshes all over my back. Quite frankly, it’s so uncomfortable, that I prefer not to use it for long rides.
Well, Camelbak has come a long way since the neoprene pouch. They’ve since, redesigned their packs to be more ergonomic – with wide, comfortable straps, better ventilation and a water reservoir that better distributes it’s weight across your back. The packs are also multi-functional, with extra compartments to carry stuff.
The Rogue is completely awesome – and one of my best commuter accessory so far. It’s so comfortable that I barely notice that it’s there. With the exception of the bit that’s in the exposed feed tube, the water stays cool for my entire commute. The handy compartments are great for storing keys, tools and snacks – there’s also a slot for my U-Lock (although not spec’d for it). Even fully loaded, the balanced distribution of weight across my back makes it less of a burden than my messenger bag.
It’s not perfect. Having your water out of sight makes it harder to gauge how much you have left. For now, I’ll be carrying a spare bottle in the cage as a backup. Also, on my first long commute with the Camelbak, I over rotated on the hydration and got a little waterlogged. I’ll be sure to dial that down as well.
They’re also pretty high maintenance. Unlike a water bottle that can be tossed into a dishwasher, the Camelbak‘s water reservoir needs to be drained and thoroughly dried (when not in use – for extended periods of time) to prevent mold buildup. Fortunately, the newer reservoir has been better designed to make it easier. It features: ”1/4 turn – easy open/close cap, lightweight fillport, dryer arms”…and…”easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening.” It’s a lot easier than the water reservoir in my old Camelbak pack.
Overall, the Camelbak backpack is a great investment. You don’t need to be a hardcore rider to use one – just the need to stay well hydrated.
We were at a BMW dealership this weekend – for a non-bike related event. They host a monthly Cars and Coffee event and my wife loves to shoot pics of old cars. As we were leaving the event, I spied a couple of BMW cruiser bicycles in their show room – I had to take a closer look.
First, let me say, BMW isn’t the first auto manufacturer to offer up bicycles in their ‘lifestyle’ collection and this isn’t the first bicycle offered by BMW. It’s all about making the after-sale, sale with branded products and parts. Being brand loyal myself, I completely understand how people get obsessed seeing their favorite logos on clothing and accessories – and paying top dollar for them.
I found it ironic that a German car company that obsesses on perfection in engineering, can stick their logo on something so sub-par (please note that I didn’t test ride them and that this judgement is made by observation). At first glance, you can see that the bikes are well made. However, on closer inspection, I noticed that the drivetrain was built around a Shimano Alivio 24-speed Derailleur. Now, I know Shimano doesn’t make bad products, but I feel that if BMW is going to ask $1200 for a hybrid type cruiser bike, they should – at least – stick some mid-range components on it. Quite frankly, given the brand, I’m surprised they didn’t just put some high end components on a carbon framed bicycle and charge accordingly.
Oh wait, they did.
Personally, I think they should stop wasting their time on bicycles and just bring back the classic 2002:
Years ago, long before my suburban assault rides, I used to be a mountain bike rider. I still am in spirit, just not so much with the body. After all those years of hitting the trail in the late 80s and early 90s, I had no idea where mountain biking started. So, when I heard about Billy Savage’s movie Klunkerz (released in 2007), I bought a copy and really enjoyed discovering how it all began.
You’re probably wondering why I’m just now doing a review of this movie, especially when you can probably Google a dozen, well written, reviews about it already. First, I thought I had already done a review. However, checking my archives, I discovered that I haven’t. Also, I like to support independent film makers who take the time to do stories about the things that I love – especially bicycling. I hope that the more we support these film makers, the more we’ll get stories like Klunkerz.
Klunkerz is a brilliant documentary that does an excellent job of telling the history of the mountain bike. The movie takes you back to the early 1970s (20 years before I was into it) – where it all started in Marin County, California. Adventurous thrill seekers were dragging old, stripped down, Pre-World War II newsboy bicycles to the top of Mount Tamalpias and riding them at full speed to the bottom and into the pages of bicycle history. What they didn’t know at the time was that they were ‘re-inventing the wheel’ and starting a new era of bicycling.
Eventually, through necessity and innovation, the bikes evolved from single speed ‘Klunkerz’ to custom built mountain bikes with gears and stronger frames. By the early 1980s, it had grown so much that almost every bike company was making mountain bikes. By 1986, mountain bikes were outselling road bikes.
Among those thrill seekers and innovators were folks like Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, Alan Bonds, Charlie Kelly, Tom Ritchey, Russ Mahon, Mike Sinyard, Bob Burrowes, Wende Cragg, Charlie Cunningham, Otis Guy, James McLean, Steve Potts, Jacquie Phelan, Chris Lang, Robert Stewart, Fred Wolf and John Finley Scott - some names you may recognize, some you might not.
Every time I watch this film, I’m inspired to get on a mountain bike again and hit the trails.
Now that I’m commuting by bike more, I’ve found myself becoming a bike gadget geek – especially with safety gear. The irony is that I told myself I would never be one of ‘those’ types of cyclist. For me, riding a bike wasn’t supposed to be that complicated – just get on the bike and go. I didn’t need special clothes or equipment, just my helmet and a destination.
Lately, I’ve been discovering that the reason people use bike gear is because it makes cycling better, especially when it comes to safety. In addition to the skills that I’ve learned from TS 101 and Cycling Savvy, my goal while commuting is to stay visible. Along with my front and back lights, I’ve started wearing a bright orange vest. Maybe it’s psychological, but I really feel that drivers notice me more. It certainly doesn’t hurt.
This last week, I’ve added a new accessory for safety – the rear view mirror. Talk about nerding out, but this thing just screams GEEK! I don’t care. By far, this is one of the best accessories that I’ve added to my bike commute. Sure I can scan, but I prefer to do that when I’m ready to turn or change lanes. Also, my body isn’t as flexible as it used to be. The mirror gives me a quick and effortless read on what’s behind me.
It isn’t just about more visibility with my surroundings. The rear view mirror also gives me a better piece of mind on the road. Part of my stress while riding has always been the uncertainty of what’s behind me. Yes, I’m still in a mode where I’m concerned about minimizing my obstruction of the traffic around me. Because of that, I found myself pushing harder on certain routes and tiring out faster. With the rear view mirror, I’m realizing that most of the traffic behind me, isn’t behind me. This gives me the mental freedom to ride at a manageable pace, conserving my energy for when I actually need it.
I opted for an inexpensive Third Eye mirror that attaches to my sunglasses. It’s pretty lightweight and barely noticeable. Placement can be a bit tricky. When done wrong, it actually creates a blind spot while scanning. Pushing the mirror further away from the lens gives me enough of a gap to fix that. I’m also going to try it mounted on the right side, since I usually scan to the left.
Geeky? Sure. But when I’m riding and folks SEE me and say “LOOK at the nerd on the bike with the flashing lights, bright orange vest and the mirror on his glasses.” – I’m going to think, mission accomplished.