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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.

Flowfold backpack and wallets first impression

Hello Bike Commuters and fellow minimalists! We received a few items from a company named Flowfold, if you are not familiar with them, they make “minimalist” gear for all types of outdoor activities. The items we received were the Optimist Limited mini backpack:

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The Vanguard Limited Billfold wallet:

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and the Sailcloth Minimalist card holder wallet:

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Our first impression of the three items was extremely positive; we liked the materials, the quality and the dimensions of each item. We also love the fact that these items are made in the USA -Unlike some red hats with white lettering.

Even though I am the type of bike commuter that likes to carry the kitchen sink in my backpack, there are times that I need something small enough to run errands. The Optimist backpack certainly fits the bill. I also carry a lot of stuff in my wallet, the Billfold will be perfect to fit inside my rear jersey pocket. My wife took the card holder right away; she liked how she can keep her driver’s license, cash and a credit card and how easily fits inside her jersey pocket as well.

We will be doing rides with all three items in the upcoming weeks, stay tuned for the full review!

Two Wheel Gear’s Convertible Bike Briefcase

Hello Bike Commuters! It is rare that we get behind a kickstarter campaign but once in a while comes a product from a reputable company that we can definitely support.

This is Two Wheel Gear’s new product: The Convertible Bike Briefcase:

The Convertible Bike Briefcase is designed for professionals that bike to work. Its smartly organized, weatherproof design features padded protection for a 17” laptop, four separate pocket sections, fully adjustable, zip-away mounting system and comes with removable padded shoulder strap and monsoon ready rain cover.

Two Wheel Gear president Reid Hemsing says, “We launched as a full time company out of my basement in 2014 with the little money I had in savings. But we’ve been at it building home-made bike bags since 1999. We are 100% privately funded and have experienced some serious growth over the last few years. But we hit a cash shortfall launching our new bag and have reached out to the kickstarter community for help.”

You may recall that we reviewed Two Wheel Gear’s pannier backpack convertible a little while ago and to this date, we totally love it.

If the briefcase’s quality and ease of use is as their backpack, there is no doubt that the product will be top notch. Here are a few pictures of the briefcase:

They only have 5 briefcases left at the introductory price of $99 CDN so hurry up and get yours! Here is the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/857141940/convertible-bike-briefcase

How to Restore and Transform Your Old Mountain Bike into a Brand-New Ride

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By Amanda Wilks

Are you in the market for a new bike but not quite ready to give up your old standby? Have you spent too many hours perched atop your mountain bike while overlooking scenic vistas or winding country roads to want to give it up?

There’s no shame in wanting to save a bit of money and hold on to an old friend for a little while longer, but a proper restoration job on even the most beaten and battered of bikes can be accomplished if you’re willing to spend some time and put in the effort to treat your mechanical friend just right.

Step One: Survey Your Bike

 

The first step of any restoration project is to take stock of what needs to be fixed. Is your bike’s frame damaged? Are there visible spots of rust or worn-away paint that are likely to rust if not treated promptly? Are your bike cables frayed? Do your gears look like you left them underwater for six months? Have your reflectors cracked or been lost entirely?
Jot down everything about your bike that you aren’t happy with and keep that list handy while working on it. If you aren’t comfortable with your own surveying skills, take your bike to a bike shop and have them give it a once-over for you, just to make sure you don’t miss something that could become a health hazard down the line.

Now is also a good time to take note of anything you might want to add to your bike later to make it more rider-friendly, like a high-performing mountain bike computer or a more powerful forward-facing light for night riding.

Step Two: Disassembly

Feel free to skip this step if your bike only needs a new tire or a tightened chain, but something like rust on the frame or grungy gears is going to require a tear-down. While intimidating it is entirely possible to get the hang of pulling your bike apart and re-assembling it as long as you have the right tools and take proper notes.

If it moves, requires grease, shows rust or otherwise needs help, you’re going to need to take it off. Chances are you’ll want a bike stand and a handful of basic tools including a variety of screwdrivers, socket wrench heads, lubricants and grease rags.

Step Three: Cleaning

If you needed to peel your bike apart, this is where you give those parts a thorough cleaning. If not, you may be tempted to blast your bike with a garden hose, but this may do more harm than help unless you’re ready to completely re-grease every moving part on your bike.

Rust removal may require rust removal spray and steel wool at the very least, but the assembly guide above can run you through what to do if you find yourself needing to de-rust a bike with several decades of neglect to attend to. For everything else, soap and water should do the trick!

Step Four: Reassembly, Replacement and Re-Greasing

Optionally, if your bike needs to be repainted you’re going to want to attend to that before you start putting it all back together, but you probably already knew that.

Once you’ve cleaned your mountain bike and double-checked to ensure you’ve found every possible part that could use a replacement, now’s the time to put it all back together with those replacements.

Some of those replacements are going to be easier than others; Rear reflectors often attach to your bike’s frame with little more than a single bolt or screw but replacing a damaged brake assembly may take a thorough guide produced by the maker of your bike or brakes of choice. Whatever you do, make sure you properly grease any metal parts that will be touching other metals to ensure they aren’t worn down too quickly or rendered impossible to remove the next time you need to perform routine maintenance.

Step Five: Maintain

This will either be the easiest or the hardest part for you, depending on your personality type. Keeping a bike up and running can take a library of maintenance knowledge but pays off when you don’t have to spend a week tearing down your favorite trail bike to track down the source of a strange grinding noise.

Keep things lubricated, check parts for signs of wear, ensure your brake cables don’t fray and always watch out for unusual tire wear or signs of damage. Now’s also the time to add extra reflectors, light sources or bike computers to help you keep your bike in proper shape without expending extra energy.

If you find yourself lacking in the memory department when it comes to maintenance, sharing your hobby with the ones you love may be just enough to help keep your eye on the prize over time. Some cyclists even tout how their hobby directly helped their marriages and it’s always nice to have a few pastimes in common with the important people in your life.

Conclusion

It may sound daunting at first but restoring a mountain bike to its former glory really isn’t the hardest job in the world.

If you have a working knowledge of how the bike’s parts fit together and enough time to scrub away the rust and caked-on dirt of trails past you’re already halfway there.