Archive for the ‘Reviews And Opinions’ Category
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.
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.