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Search Results for: nighttime

Number of Results: 20

Review: ArroWhere reflective cycling jacket

Back at Interbike in September, RL ran across the ArroWhere company. Their product line “caught our eye”, as they say — with bright colors and loads of reflective accents for nighttime safety.

We reached out the the ArroWhere company and they sent us a pre-production sample of their Solid Arrow Reflective Jacket to try out. Remember, this is a pre-production sample, so minor details have changed from the actual version for sale. We’ll get into those changes in a bit.

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First, a bit about the jacket directly from the manufacturer’s website:

-Waterproof and breathable polyester fabric
-Top quality 3M reflective material
-Patent pending ArroWhere arrow design visible at night at least 1/4 mile away
-Lower tail
-Reflective panels and striping
-Fleece lined collar and pockets
-Waterproof zippers
-Zippered armpit vents

The ArroWhere jacket has an extended tail to help fight off splashes. The arms are extra long to provide coverage when stretched out on the bike — a perfect length for me. The jacket has a fine mesh lining to help it breathe. I got a size medium to test, and while it feels a little bit large when I’m standing around, it conforms nicely to me when I’m actually on the bike. There is room for underlayers, too.

The jacket has a fleece-lined collar with a protective zipper garage that prevents throat gouges when it’s zipped up all the way. The handwarmer pockets are lined in the same luxurious fleece, too — great for when your hands need a quick warmup. All the zippers are waterproof and easy to manipulate on or off the bike, including the generously long pit zips for venting excess heat:

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The cuffs have a hook-and-loop adjustment system that snugs them up nicely to prevent wind intrusion:

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This jacket is LOADED with reflective accents. The large arrow on the back gives other road users a good visual indication of what to do when approaching, and the arrow is available pointing right for users in the UK and other areas where driving on the left is the norm. The rest of the reflective trim catches the light nicely. I would have liked reflective cuffs here, though, to help make my arm-motion directional signals more visible out on the roads.

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Now, about the changes in the final jacket: I spoke to Khyle Pinkman, the founder of the company. He said that the production jacket fabric demonstrates better waterproofing than the sample we tested, and also is nicer in terms of overall fabric quality. I did not get to try this out in the wet (yet), so I can’t make any claims about the fabric on this sample.

In addition to safety yellow, the jacket is available in high-visibility orange and in navy blue. It is available in sizes from S to XXL, and female riders rejoice, because there is a wide range of women’s sizes, too! The jacket retails for $129.95, which is right at the price point many similar jackets with fewer features live at. That makes it a good value in my book.

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For my purposes, the jacket is nearly perfect as-is. It helps keep me warm, there’s room for clothing underneath, and the reflective accents are effective at night. Add in the details like the fleece linings and trim and we’ve got a winner here. As I mentioned, if there was more reflective at the cuffs, I’d call it PERFECT.

Check out the full range of ArroWhere jackets by visiting their website. They make reflective vests and backpack covers with the same quality and patent-pending reflective design for additional nighttime safety and visibility on dark streets.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Product review: SealSkinz Fingerless Cycle Gloves

At the beginning of summer, the kind folks at SealSkinz offered us a pair of their new summerweight cycling gloves to try out. You may know SealSkinz as a maker of waterproof socks, hats, and gloves for outdoor activities such as hiking and hunting, but they’ve also got a number of cycling-specific pieces in their lineup.

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The SealSkinz gloves are lightweight, with a lycra back and a synthetic leather palm that is textured for grip. The middle and ring fingers have extra material at the tops that are fashioned as “pull tabs” to get the gloves off easier. There’s a hook-and-loop wrist closure, and reflective accents on the back of the glove.

The pair I tested is a size Large. They felt true to size, but with a small amount of bunching between the fingers (we’ll get to that in a bit).

The padding on the palm is rather thin, and at first I thought I’d have issues with that — my own hands are not particularly padded, and prefer a glove with dense padding in the palm, where possible. The SealSkinz gloves, despite the thin padding, didn’t let me down in terms of comfort, even for longer riders of 30-40 miles. Beyond those distances, I think I’d rather have something with more padding.

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For those who have read glove reviews I’ve done in the past, you may remember that the nose-wiping area of a glove is VERY important to me, summer or winter. The SealSkinz didn’t let me down there, either — the entire thumb is made of a soft microsuede material, with no protruding seams to rough up the sensitive nose area. I can wipe all day in comfort!

The grip is fantastic with the gloves, as is overall durability. I wore them all summer and racked up serious miles with the SealSkinz, and they still look pretty new, even after a couple of washings. The stitching and seams remained tight throughout the testing period.

The reflective accents on the backs are a nice touch, but I don’t know how effective they might be. The reflective effect is pretty subtle, and I was unable to get a good nighttime photo of the reflective bits in action.

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Perhaps my only gripe with the SealSkinz gloves is the cut of the fabric panels prior to sewing. I did notice a lot of extra material, especially between the fingers. I can’t help but think that the cutting patterns could be refined a bit to reduce some of this excess, helping to streamline them a bit and reduce bunching between the fingers. Since the material is naturally stretchy, this excess material isn’t needed to accommodate wider fingers than my own, either.

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The SealSkinz fingerless gloves retail for $35, and are available directly from the SealSkinz website. As of this writing, they are not in stock and do not appear on the company website even though they ARE a current product. I checked with their PR person just to make sure they weren’t discontinued for some reason. That $35 buys a well-constructed, lightweight glove that is ideal for warm-weather riding. The gloves are 100% designed in Great Britain, with much of the manufacture occurring in Great Britain as well. Take a look at the SealSkinz cycling lineup for a wide range of products to suit any rider at any temperature.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Commuter Profiles: Freddie & Vi!

Howdy from the west coast again, cyclegators!  For this week’s commuter profile series, we present to you MORE architects and Los Angeles Bike Commuters: Freddie & Vi!  Freddie and Vi are both friends of mine who responded to much internet poking and cajoling to show off their ultimate cuteness as a cycling couple.  Vi is a friend of the recently-profiled super hot strong bike chick, Sarah Eberhardt, and Freddie joined Task Force Chicago (a.k.a. me and Elizabeth) last summer for some midwestern two-wheeled excursions.  Get ready for some bikealicious fotogs and bikey adventures, peeps.  Without further ado: a combo-profile from two of my favorite kids from Ohio who ride bikes in L.A.!

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Vi and Freddie, making those god-awful groomsmen ties look GOOD.

Name:

(Freddie) Michael Frederick

(Vi) Ha-Vi Tran

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How long have you been a bike commuter?

(Freddie) since grad school at UCLA started in Fall of 2009.

(Vi) Since 2010!  Two, almost 3 whole years better!  You could say living in the LA “bicycle district” that I call Silverlake has had quite the influence…

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Bike Friends, hanging out in the neighborhood!

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Who needs freeways in Hell-A anyway!?


Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

(Freddie)  Because being on my bike is 10 million times better than sitting in LA traffic and it takes just as long! My commute is 16 miles.  I mostly commute by bike on Fridays.

(Vi) Why ride when you can walk?!   My current commute is a 10 minute walk but hasn’t always been.   Before I developed “assertive” road riding skills, I took the bus and subway to work.  I love bikes as much as public transportation and use them for fun weekend rides and utility cycling.

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How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

(Freddie)  Bike riding saves money and kills two birds with one stone. I get exercise for the day and get to work all in the same time I usually spend in my car… oh, and it’s awesome fun so that’s a double bonus. My girlfriend (Vi) and I both love our bikes so its pretty awesome when we get to share our riding time too.

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(Vi) So so grumpy in my car, so so happy on my bicycle!  I have no problems searching for a parking spot and get to fly by traffic.  It’s exercise that doesn’t FEEL like exercise, and I show up more positive to wherever it is that I’m going.  I save money on gas, and it’s the cheapest date EVER.  Luckily my boyfriend (Freddie) likes nighttime adventures on our bikes; it’s an awesome way to explore the city together.

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What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

(Freddie) I’m an architect in Los Angeles.

(Vi) Architect / interior designer in LA-LA land!


What kind(s) of bike do you have?

(Freddie) Surly Pacer

(Vi) Just my trusty hodgepodge of a road bike, Mr. Soma Smoothie.

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Freddie's blue Surly Pacer is his pride and joy: no more ghetto Costco MTB shipped out from Mom & Dad's garage that was his college campus commuter!

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Ha-Vi's Soma Smoothie. I like that front rack and the white saddle!


Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?
(Freddie) No funny stories to share yet. Just a massive hatred for extended length buses and how big and slow they are and always in the way!

(Vi) Don’t you just love it when you’re climbing uphill all hot and sweaty on your bike and a runner passes you by?  Yeah.

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What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

(Freddie) People in Los Angeles think your nuts if you don’t get in your car to go across the street.

(Vi) You biked how many miles?!  You biked where?!  You’re going to get hit by a car!  My favorite is my dad’s reaction, “Why do you choose to ride in the street?  Couldn’t you pick a safer hobby?”

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

(Freddie) I try to encourage my friends to ride with me on the weekends and after work as much as possible. I participate and support CicLAvia when I can.

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(Vi) Isn’t the best advocacy showing up at a friend’s door so excited, sweaty, beet-red in the face, with helmet hair?   Come on, you know you want a hug and to ride with me…  I have friends come up to me all excited telling me about their weekend rides which is absolutely fantastic.  That to me is advocacy at its best.  In all fairness, CicLAvia (based on Colombia’s original Ciclovia) is my favorite holiday to gather everyone and anyone to participate in the ride for the first, second, and whatever time.

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Anything else that you want to share with us?
(Freddie) Carmageddon and CicLAvia should team up to make a annual shut the freeways down and ride your bike holiday in Los Angeles!

(Vi) I love the fact that regardless of socio-economic background, bikes give people some commonality to talk to each other.  That is such a beautiful thing.


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Well Freddie and Vi, thanks for hooking it up with your bikely adventures throughout the west coast and cute couple cycle craziness! You might have a stalker with that yellow man in red overalls… watch your backs, yo! Any of you other readers want to show us your ride and tell us all about it?  Then send an email and we’ll send you our Commuter Profile questionnaire!  Email mir[at]bikecommuters[dot]com for details.


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Review: Planet Bike’s Snack Sack

Our friends at Planet Bike sent over their handy “Snack Sack” for us to test a few months ago. Well, it’s time for a review!

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Those of you of the triathletic persuasion may recognize this style of small frame bag…it’s often referred to as a “Bento box”, and is commonly used by triathletes to store energy gels and the like. Don’t let those athletic origins scare you off though, commuters; this little bag is quite useful for a host of other day-to-day items.

First, a little about the bag straight off the Planet Bike website:

–Ideal for ride snacks, phone, keys, wallet, first aid kit, and map
–Internal padding protects cargo
–White liner material makes finding items easy
–Reflective piping
–Hassle free pull tabs and dual zipper leash makes opening easy
–43 cu. in.
–7 inches long, 3.5 inches on tallest side, 2 inches tall on shorter side

Two straps hold it onto the frame, attaching around the top tube and the fork steerer. The hook and loop straps easily slip under cables on the bikes I tried it on (underside cable routing), but those of you with top-routed brake and shift cables may run into issues with cable rub. Once attached, the Snack Sack is pretty secure, even with a full load.

Inside, the bag is lightly padded to protect goodies and lined with white nylon fabric, making it easy to spot small items.

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Up top, the Snack Sack has a zippered opening with tethered zipper pulls. Unzip the bag and leave it unzipped for quick access to items; there’s a backup hook and loop piece to secure the lid from flapping open (under the t-shaped webbing in the photo below):

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Reflective trim (in this case, the bag’s piping) is always a nice feature…Planet Bike is always careful to add some nighttime safety into most of their products, and this one is no exception. A little extra dazzle goes a long way at night!

My wife and I stored our wallets, keys, cellphones, repair kits and a number of other items in the Snack Sack with ease. It’s particularly handy for phones or cameras — easily reached mid-ride and quickly deployed as needed. The bag itself is proving to be quite durable, and at a price of $17.00 or so, it’s very affordable.

And, the Snack Sack, as its name indicates, is also a handy place to store snacks…even White Castle sweet-potato fries with extra salt, the ride fuel of true commuting champions…booya!

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Check out all of Planet Bike’s great products by visiting their website.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Review: Monkeylectric’s M210 “Mini Monkey Light”

As many of you may know, we here at Bikecommuters.com are huge fans of the creative geniuses behind Monkeylectric. We’ve been lucky enough to test out their original M132/133 wheel lights, and we’ve visited with the Monkeylectric crew at Interbike over the past few years.

When they announced the new M210 “Mini Monkey”, we clamored for a chance to get a review sample. Lo and behold, about a month after Interbike 2011, one appeared on my doorstep. I’ve been running this thing ever since and am ready to share my thoughts and photos with you.

First off, a bit about the new M210:

– 10 Ultra-bright color LEDs
– Hub-mounted battery pack
– Stainless steel anti-theft strap
– Waterproof!
– Up to 40 hours runtime

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The M210 comes in simple packaging — a bag for the light head and battery canister, a smaller bag for the hardware and a simple header card that unfolds to reveal complete instructions in a variety of languages. While the light head is smaller than the original M132/M133 (10 LEDs — 5 on each side — down from the 32 LEDs on the original model), it still packs a nighttime punch. This new model addresses most of the concerns some of us had over the original model — particularly waterproofing, balance, and theft prevention.

Here’s the light head — covered in a thick, rubbery waterproofing material that seals all those chips and circuits from the elements. The switches are beefy and easy to manipulate:

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Here’s the battery pack — a canister that straps to the hub with zipties and a soft rubber cradle. The battery canister holds a cartridge of 3 AA batteries (alkaline or rechargeable) and seals up tight:

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One cord travels from the light head to the dongle on the battery canister, and the connection between the two is waterproof. And this connection is TIGHT — it is quite difficult to separate the two parts once they’ve been connected.

Splitting the light head and battery compartment into two components over the original’s “all on one” approach has greatly helped with the overall balance of the light. With the original M133 installed, I was able to discern some faint high-speed wobble on lightweight wheels (that wobble was mitigated when I installed the unit on some heavy disc wheels on my Xtracycle. With the new unit, I didn’t notice any wobble, even at relatively high speeds. Score a win for the folks at Monkeylectric!

Another plus of the split configuration is this: back in Florida, I was forced to traverse some DEEP rain puddles from time to time. Old streets, heavy rains and a substandard drainage system meant that some of the roads on my commuting route were flooded. Some of those flooded areas were nearly hub-deep, and my old unit would get submerged. I had to be diligent about cleaning the battery contacts to keep them from rusting. I don’t have to worry about that anymore — the truly sensitive parts are encased in waterproof materials and the contacts are inside the sealed canister at the hub.

The light can be programmed to display up to 15 different 8-bit patterns (skulls, hearts, and many more) in a choice of colors, or you can do as I did and skip the button-pressing and let the light cycle itself through all the choices. As with the original M132/M133, the M210 has two intensity modes — regular and “turbo”. The “turbo” setting blows through batteries much more quickly and is eye-searing in brightness, but the regular setting is bright enough on its own to spill out a pool of light to either side of the wheel. I took some still shots so you can see just how intense and colorful the M210 is when spinning:

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And, as is my style, here is an unedited and rather crappy video of the Monkeylectric light in action — believe me, the “real life” effect is vastly more stunning. It doesn’t help that my neighborhood is lit up like an airstrip (streetlights every 50 feet or so):

Mounting the light head is a breeze — it sits between spokes and is held in place by rubber pads and zipties. Getting the battery canister mounted on the hub is somewhat more difficult…the more spokes one has, the more difficult it can be. Even with my long fingers, getting everything set and cinched up took a few tense moments. Once the canister is mounted, you will only have to worry about changing the batteries from time to time, and that isn’t as difficult…screw off the cap and replace the cells. Here’s the canister mounted to my front hub:

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I was happy to see the addition of the stainless steel “anti-theft” strap — basically a metal ziptie — in the package. While I’ve never had a Monkeylectric light stolen, I am sure others in more urban areas might have to worry about such things. The steel strap is surprisingly difficult to cut with wire cutters (I sacrificed mine in the name of science), so it really does provide a measure of theft deterrence.

As I mentioned earlier, the instruction sheet foldout is detailed and easy to follow. And, it comes in several languages:

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As we’ve discussed over and over again here, there are not enough products on the market to help with that crucial “side visibility” — while many front and rear lights spill to the sides, additional safety for nighttime commuters is always a good thing. And this is where Monkeylectric’s products really shine (pun intended). The M210 provides an incredibly effective means to get you noticed out on the darkened streets where you live, all the while having fun with patterns and colors! The Monkeylectric M210 retails for around $50.00, and is worth the price of admission. Another hit from a great bunch of creative folks!

Now, if we can only get the crew to let us borrow one of their “PRO Series” models….

Visit Monkeylectric for more details, images and video of their lights in action.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.