BikeCommuters.com

Bike Your Drive!

So I bought a bike from Amazon

Hello Bike Commuters! It has been a while since I posted, but things have changed quite a bit. Unfortunately I am no longer doing the Bike-Train commute thing, I am really bummed about that. I used to take the train so I would avoid spending up to an hour and a half stuck in traffic but now I have a carpool buddy and that has reduced my commute time to about 40 minutes.

This meant that I no longer needed my Giant Expressway folding bike so it was sold to a person who travels by plane and needed a bike to get around town. I gave “Gravel” riding a try with my old 26″ Hard tail mountain bike but I was not able to keep up with riders with fancy Gravel/CX bikes and 29rs. New Gravel/Adventure bikes start about $900 so I started perusing Craigslist to see if I could score a cheap gravel bike.

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And there it was…. a Raleigh Bikes Preston Classic City Bike, a vintage looking bike with modern parts and a copper finished handlebar! So I started searching for a local bike shop that may have it in stock -No Dice. I noticed that Raleigh was selling this bike in Amazon.com for about $395 (cheaper than their own site and around the same price as a used one). I did not buy it right away, my budget was about $200 so it was over my budget.

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Amazon does this thing that if you leave an item in your cart it will tell you if an item has gone down or up in price if when you go back to your cart. I checked my cart periodically and lo and behold the Raleigh Preston was selling for $295! That was still $95 over my budget but I remembered that I had an Amazon gift card and points accumulated on a credit card. I went ahead and pulled the trigger, the gravel bike will wait.

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I also purchased a few accessories for the bike such as the a leather tool bag by Projekt Bikes, the Retro Front Vintage Bike Light,

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and the Portland Design Works Sparrow Cage, Copper

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So how was the Amazon experience? The bike arrived 3 days after I purchased it and assembling the bike with the tools that Raleigh provided was a breeze. You don’t have to be a bike mechanic to assemble this bike so save yourself the $80 assembly fee if you consider purchasing a Raleigh bike from Amazon. The only thing that was disappointing was that the bike arrived a little scratched up, this is not Amazon’s fault but if the Raleigh folks are reading this; please put extra padding on the top tube!!!

So far I’ve done errands on this bike and it gets a lot of looks and thumbs up, I can’t wait to take this bike to the beach!

Flowfold Optimist Limited Mini Backpack review

Hello Bike Commuters! Happy “Bike to work month-week-day”! So to celebrate we have a review of a neat little backpack from Flowfold. This backpack is designed for people who do not have to carry an entire storage unit worth of stuff and it caught my interest because I like doing errands on my folding bike and short hikes.

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Let’s start with the features of the Optimimist Limited Mini Backpack:

-Made in USA
-Water resistant mini backpack
-Durable and lightweight outdoor materials
-Lifetime Warranty
-10L capacity
-Different colors

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Although the backpack seems small, I was always able to fit everything I needed for my hikes and errands. I easily carried 2 water bottles, an extra shirt, phone, wallet and energy bars. The mini backpack was very comfortable to carry around and it was very practical.

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We also tested its water resistance; my daughter used it on a rare rainy day when we headed to Downtown LA’s famous Santee Alleys. Although it was not a downpour, all the contents inside the backpack remained dry.

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The backpack is also perfect to run errands; I usually go to the post office every weekend to retrieve my mail and it works as intended. I also ride to the local market to get small stuff such as bread or “cold drinks” which fit perfectly.

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We absolutely love this mini backpack, and I mean “we” as my daughter, wife and myself use it very often. I think that $79 is a good price for a high quality American made product, I totally recommend it.

To see the other colors or purchase the bag; visit Flowfold’s site at www.flowfold.com

Flowfold Vanguard Limited Billfold Wallet review

Hello Bike Commuters! As I posted before, the nice people from Flowfold sent us some items for us to review. I specifically asked for the minimalist backpack but they sent us their wallets to review as well.

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When I first saw the Vanguard Limited wallet, I thought that I was only going to be using this wallet for my road or mountain bike rides. The slim design fits perfectly inside my rear jersey pockets as well as the front pockets of my riding shorts.

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What I did not expect was for this wallet to become my “daily” wallet. I like to carry a lot of stuff inside my wallet making it quite bulky so I thought that the Vanguard limited wallet is way too minimalist for my “needs”.

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I know that saying that this wallet is a “life changer” maybe too dramatic but this has been true in my case. How so? Well, since I had to shed quite a bit of stuff from my old wallet, I settled on carrying the following items on the Vanguard Limited wallet:

1. Drivers License
2. ATM Card
3. Credit Card Card
4. Health Insurance card
5. HSA Card
6. AAA Card
7. Cash

The biggest difference is that before I used to carry up to 4 other credit cards which fed my impulsive buying habits. Now I have to think about if I really need the item that I am considering buying because the money is actually coming from my bank account or if I decide to use the credit card that needs to be paid at the end of the month. Either way, my credit card usage has decreased dramatically. That was a life changer.

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Carrying a slim and light wallet in my front pocket took a little while to get used to, there are times that I check to make sure that I had not forgotten my wallet. My jeans will also thank me for carrying a slim wallet, my right pocket has the outline of my former bulky wallet.

What about the wallet itself? The wallet is made in the USA, it comes with a lifetime warranty AND it is also Vegan. The materials are of high quality, water resistant and very light. For those who like to know how big it is, the dimensions are 3.25″ X 4.25″ X 0.1″. The price for the wallet is $29 and it comes in other colors.

To purchase the wallet, please visit this link: https://www.flowfold.com/product/vanguard-limited-billfold-wallet. Stay tuned for more reviews of Flowfold’s products!

What’s the Deal with Gravel? (In a Jerry Seinfeld voice)

So I feel like the kid in the 1950s pot commercial; I rode gravel once and now I’m hooked and my whole life has been turned upside down. I just can’t see the road the same. I now see cars and replace them with trees, signal lights are now steep hills, cement streets are now dirt paths… Everything has flipped and I love it.

I had tried cross and it was plenty fun. Not like every day fun, but fun once-in-awhile-fun. I will/must/don’t want to admit how bad I am on a mountain bike. On a road bike is where I was the most comfortable. Gravel does not come natural for me even if I’ve tried most of what cycling has to offer. For me it’s not the descents because I’m not all that confident in my skills. It’s the views as I suffer and drag my 200 pound butt up these climbs that normally lead to some hike-a-bike situations. The climbing can be brutal but like the Instagram inspirational quote with a majestic background says, “It’s just a hill, get over it.” If you can, then you will get a new perspective; your eyes will open to everything you’ve missed on a road bike or a mountain bike.

On a road bike you ride with your eyes wide shut. That’s the appeal for me, a lot of it is just not thinking and just going; you can zone out on a climb and even forget about the views. On a mountain bike you are more aware but there is still a level of letting the bike do it’s job and going for it. The closest thing to riding gavel (on a rigid bike with drops), in my opinion, is riding a fixed gear bike. On a fixed gear bike you have to be aware of everything around you. From the cars to the road conditions, the signal lights to the pedestrians, you are on full alert all the time. Not having real brakes will do that to you. Gravel is somewhat like that, you have an idea of control but it’s more controlled chaos then precision.

The real beauty of gravel [(…and I get a ten-cent commission every time I type G R A V E L)- Gravel] riding is that it’s not just about riding, hiking is also a big part of the experience. On a road bike you can take another route, on a mountain bike you have a lot of gearing and a more capable bike, so when you get to a section that’s above your pay grade you either push yourself or hike-a-bike. You go on a ride and you really don’t know if you are going to be able to ride every section of it. How much of a route you can manage changes as you improve and get more confident/stronger. I tend to fall more on the climbs than the descents. I’ve also done a lot to improve my gearing.

Nonetheless, gravel is my new obsession. So much so that this summer I am planning a Summer Adventure Gravel Series (SAGS) around the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. The adventure part is that there will be no routes given out. We will have to stay together, this will help avoid douchebagery. This is not a race. This is not about being first, fast, or better. This is about the people next to you, the landscape that surrounds you, and the route in front of you. Aside from maybe the Cannondale Slate [(with a gearing upgrade) no pun intended] there will not be a perfect bike for every situation. After, I hope we question our bikes but not our time in the saddle. I’m currently doing recon for the S.A.G.S ride- details will come.