BikeCommuters.com

Author Archive: RL Policar

As one of the original founders of BikeCommuters.com. He has helped build this site into one of the leading and oldest bicycle commuting blog sites. Filled with passion for everything two wheels, RL Policar covers a multitude of subjects from product reviews, news, articles and technical how to's.

Why Every Biker Needs a Cool Wallet

What makes a biker wallet so special? On the one hand, it’s a well-known pocketbook that folds in two or three and has several pockets for bills, business cards, receipts, credit cards, and change. Like the accessories for men, biker wallets are capacious, solid and durable. On the other hand, a biker wallet differs from its leather counterparts about the same as a motorcycle differs from a car. Both are vehicles but they have their own character and personality, so to speak.

Looking at every biker wallet you can tell that a craftsman put his heart into it. It is because they are most often made by hand. Each product comes out individual and unique. You can get a custom wallet that has a one – of – a – kind look but even off-the-shelf products are capable of wowing passers-by thanks to the bold embellishment and daring designs. Biker wallets are never mass-market products with uninspiring cookie-cutter looks.

Biker Wallets – Durable and Tough

Many people consider bikers to be tough, badass and serious men and these assumptions have their ground. All their accessories carry the imprint of the biker culture and they are just as serious and cool as the men on motorcycles. Biker wallets are no exception. They are massive but convenient so that a biker can shove one into a back pocket of his jeans and it won’t cause troubles during the long rides.

Practicality is another sign of biker wallets. Remember, a real wallet for a biker is made only from genuine leather. Bikers do not tolerate fakes by their nature. Additionally, real leather is incredibly durable, it will serve its owner for many years. Rare items are even inherited. If a leather biker wallet gets weathered with time, it won’t make in item worse. In fact, small scratches, abrasions, or traces of oil or gasoline are able to make a wallet even more valuable since they add more individuality. They are able to turn a billfold into an item with a history, which everyone would like to find out.

When Looks Matter

Every biker wants to stand out from the crowd to emphasize his individuality and status among the brethren. An original wallet is of great aid in this matter as well. Bikerringshop offers an excellent variety of design options and finishes. Wallets can be embellished with silver rivets, clasps, embossing, carving, embroidery, etc. They often carry familiar symbols found in the biker culture – skulls, crosses, totemic animals, as well as intricate patterns resembling bizarre tattoos.

Sometimes wallets do not have additional decorations if they are made of exotic leather. The skin of a snake, crocodile, stingray, lizard and other reptiles is attractive by itself thanks to its relief and sometimes voluminous patterns. Did you know that crocodile or snake scales are unique, just like human fingerprints? Therefore, you will never find two identical wallets even if they carry the same design. As a bonus, exotic leather has an outstanding durability, which is several times higher than the finest calfskin.

Finally, each leather biker wallet comes complete with a grommet for a chain attachment. A chain fastens to a wallet on one side, and its other end is attached to a belt. The most common are steel and silver chains but you come across leather chains as well. Chains are not just fancy ornaments. They help to reliably fix a wallet to a biker so that it always stays at hand even when driving fast.

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.

 

Father’s Day

I’m a single father of 3 amazing daughters and with Father’s Day coming up, I made some “demands” with my kids on how I want to celebrate this glorious day. I’m a pretty simple guy so I told them I want a combo pizza from Costco, maybe some chicken wings, a beer and a cigar. Oh and I want to go on a family bike ride to the park. Unfortunately my girls don’t like bikes or bike riding. Wait I take that back, they don’t like the idea of it. But once they start going their smiles make it obvious that they’re having fun.

I’ve heard them say “I hate riding bikes!” But about 1/4 mile down the road, they’re all racing each other. Being involved in the bicycle industry for several years, I’ve amassed a butt load of bikes. From Ebikes, mountain bikes, fixed gear bikes, road and cyclocross bikes. I even have a electric sidecar that I had custom built.  Picking which bikes to take is like picking out which shoes to wear with your clothes. I mean, usually its women who think about those things, but this morning I wasn’t sure with Doc Marten’s boots I should wear, the black or the cherry red. I went with the black since I didn’t have a belt to match the cherry red.

Anyway, so the bike ride to the park isn’t even the best part. I simply like to just hang out and either go fishing or picnic. My kids like to do the same. Mind you my kids aren’t little anymore, I’ve got 2 in college and one in high school. To them relaxing and doing nothing is as enjoyable for them as it is for me. Oh and another thing, my oldest is 22, so that means she’s my drinking buddy. So during our picnic, we’ll bust out some wine, vodka or anything that has alcohol, except mouthwash and Nyquil.

These father’s day bike ride to the park has no set schedule or agenda. I just want to be there with my kids and relax. But if you’re like most dads, when your kids start to bicker, then it can be stressful. So that’s why I make sure to give them the following rules:

  1. No fighting.
  2. No complaining.
  3. No whining.
  4. No asking “can we go home now?”
  5. No stressing out dad.

By the way, remember how I mentioned I wanted a combo pizza? Well, to me that’s got to be the best deal for a delicious pizza out there. Not only is it fresh and cheap, but it’s also convenient! Speaking of Costco pizza, I was in Taiwan for a week during the Fall, my last meal in that country was a Costco pizza, but not just a regular pizza, I had a seafood pizza! If it sounds weird, it sorta is. Just think of it as a cheese pizza topped with crab meat, corn, peas and shrimp. Though I ate the whole thing, it just wasn’t all that tasty.

Alright so that’s about the end of my Father’s Day rant about bicycles and stuff. From one dad to another, we want to wish all you handsome fellas and moms as well, a very Happy Father’s Day.

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Affordable Cargo Bikes

cargobikestore.com

Our friends at BikeBug.net who helped us build the Cotton Candy Trike, just let us know that their business is growing. They announced a new website called CargoBikeStore.com where they’re offering remarkably affordable cargo bikes. Take a look at these fine specimens.

Look at these Bakfiet style cargo bikes called the Boxter. Prices start at $800…which is pretty competitive if you ask me.

cargobikestore.comcargobikestore.com

We’ve had some inquiries about the Cotton Candy Trike build and what’s going on with it. Well I’m happy to say we’ve been busy making cotton candy for various fund-raising events. We’re also stepping up our game by acquiring a generator to pull on a trailer in the near future. That way we can be a fully mobile cotton candy trike. No that doesn’t mean we can make cotton candy while we’re riding, but that means we can be self sufficient, we don’t have to be plugged into a wall socket to produce the sweet stuff! Stay tuned!

Rad Power Bikes-RadWagon Electric Cargo Bike First Impressions

We took delivery of the Rad Power Bikes RadWagon for testing. After a 45 minute assembly session, we were on the road. Yes, you read it right, this is an Electric Cargo Bike. Reminiscent of my old Xtracycle, but electrified.

radwagon radpower bikes bikecommuters.com

This bike is powered by a brushless direct 750w drive motor,  48V 11.6Ah Li-Ion With 30 Amp Continuous BMS Samsung 29E Cells. Battery life, depending on mode ranges from 15-50 miles. They say top speed is is 20mph, but I got it up to 21.5mph on the flats.RadWagon

It’s a steel frame with entry level Shimano components. The electronics give you 5 pedal assist modes and a walking mode. The RadWagon weighs 75lbs, but handles really well. Comes with Tektro Mechanical disc brakes with 180mm rotors. Oh yes, it does come with fenders and a rack, which makes it a strong candidate as a “commuter bike.” To read more tech/spec info, simply go HERE.

My favorite feature on this bike would have to be the rear cargo area. It has a wood deck and floor boards so you can carry passengers or cargo. Check out the fender skirts on this bike, that’s in place so your fingers, legs, dress or anything that could get caught in the rear wheel…doesn’t. I like how they made it clear so it doesn’t take away from the look of the bike.

The total payload, that includes rider and cargo is 350lbs. I’ve yet to load it up with cargo, but I know when I had my Xtracycle there was some twisting that could feel. So I’m going to make sure I look out for that on the RadWagon.

radpowerbikes

 

 

This is the control panel. You can set your pedal assist, check your speed, ODO and max speed as well as battery life. The panel also has a built in USB charging port, just in case you want to plug in your device while riding.  IMG_5640

As you can see on the control panel, there’s ZERO miles, that’s because we just finished putting the bike together and we’ll be testing it out in the next few weeks. So stick around for the review.