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Riding in the dark

Aren’t you glad is Monday? Me neither but I hope that our weekly Monday post will bring some cheerfulness to your day and in case it doesn’t, drink more coffee, I do.

One of the things that I avoid as a bicycle commuter is cars, riding in the rain and riding when is dark. Rain is not much of an issue in Southern California but darkness is unavoidable. Why don’t I like riding in the dark? Well, because the most popular response by a driver when they hit a cyclist is “I didn’t see him”.

This time is going to be different, I am going to venture doing my train-bike ride when is dark but I will be preparing myself to see and to be seen by doing the following:

Light up!
Can’t tell you how many riders I see on the streets without any sort of front or rear lights. Front and rear lights vary in pricing and in my case I rather spend a little more for lights that I know will allow me to see and be seen.

My choice for a rear light is going to be the NiteRider Sentinel rear light that we reviewed early this year.

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For my front light, I will be riding with the NiteRider Lumina Micro 600 that we just received to review.

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I will also ride with “side blinkies” on my wheels. These reflectors are motion sensitive and light up as I’m riding. Unfortunately these are no longer available but there are a lot of choices out there such as the Monkey Light Bike lights by Monkeylectric and other inexpensive spoke lights.

Reflect!

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Although my Showers Pass Gravel shorts come with reflective accents, some of my “commuter” jerseys do not. A company called Brilliant Reflective happened to follow us in Instagram so I went ahead and checked out their products. They sell Iron-on and stick-on reflective strips so I went ahead and ordered their iron-on strips pack. More on that later.

Am I being a little paranoid? Probably, but I certainly do not want to give any driver the excuse that he could not see me.

Basic bike hygiene and protection

Welcome to Monday! This means it is time for our weekly post! This post is dedicated to giving love back to our trusty steed(s), yes, they need love too after we have ridden them hard during the week or weekend.

Now, some of us do not have the luxury of a backyard, heck, there are some of us that we don’t even have access to a freaking hose! Yeah, Condo life sucks sometimes. So what do I do to clean my bikes? Well, first of all, I usually don’t clean my bikes often because “Condo Life” but this weekend I dedicated some time to clean my Mountain bike, Road Bike and my CX/Commuter bike.

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These are the three products I use: Simple Green degreaser, FastWax Wash Wax and water. Yeah, no fancy bicycle specific cleaners.

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My daughter had ordered a CoreGear USA 1.5 liter Mister to cool off during the summer but it never left her room. So I figured I could use it to wash my bikes and boy did it work like a charm! The mister is pretty cool, it has a variable nozzle that allows you to change the flow of the water from a wide mist to a stronger stream that will get rid of that nasty road grime or dirt.

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For that nasty tough-to-get-rid-off grime or grease; the Simple Green All-purpose cleaner is hard to beat. I use it to clean the cogs, derailleurs, the chain and anywhere else that needs a good cleaning. I usually spray the components, let it set in for a couple of minutes and then simply rinse.

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I usually use a microfiber towel to dry the bike and then I use FastWax wash wax to give the bikes that new showroom shine. My story about the FastWax is that I bought a couple of bottles at a gas station after a couple of pretty girls did a demo of how well it cleaned some areas of my car. I tried it on the bikes and I noticed that it really did a good job at making the bikes shiny. I’ve used bicycle specific silicone sprays but I think this product does a better job.

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So now that my bikes are all clean, this is a great opportunity to add some protection to the frames. I invested on 3M 8mil protective adhesive film and applied it to every place where cable housing or cables touched the frames.

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I really can’t stand the sight of cable rub on the frame and this tape is practically invisible and it does a great job at protecting them.

The last step is to re-lube the chain, derailleurs and other moving parts such as suspension pivots. I usually use Tri-flow bike lubricant but I can’t find my bottle so a trip to the LBS is in order.

Riding the Bike Friday Family Tandem

Happy Monday Tuesday Bike Commuters! I tried finishing this post yesterday but I had a crazy Monday so here is your Monday post on a Tuesday.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my purchasing experience of a Bike Friday Family Tandem. Today’s post is about my first impression of how it rides (something that a few of you have asked), how it collapses and the overall experience of riding a tandem bicycle.

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So far the wife and I have ridden the tandem 3 times for a total of 34 miles. Yeah, that is chump change for most of us but remember that my significant other does not know how to ride a bike and this is a totally new experience for her. What is the first thing we all complain when we started riding or when we start riding again from not having ridden in a bit? Your ass gets sore. My wife’s main complaint was her rear end being sore and after 3 saddles and multiple adjustments, we found a sweet spot for her butt.

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Twenty inch folding bikes tend to be a little twitchy when you ride them due to their short wheelbase, riding a 20″ inch tandem is no different; any little input from either myself or my wife will make the bike a little unstable. I just have to make sure that I am in constant communication with my wife to avoid any sudden movements when we are about to turn or when we are riding downhill fast.

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I was a little concerned about the bike’s frame’s flex, yes, there is some due to the couplers but nothing too extreme, in fact, the frame’s flex makes the ride really comfortable. So how fast is it? Not fast, but I have to keep telling myself that I’m not in any type of competition and it is all about enjoying the ride with my wife. How well does it climb? Surprisingly good. The gearing allowed us to tackle a short 5% ascent with ease.

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One biggest reason why I bought this particular bike was because it can be “collapsed” into something that can easily be transported in my 4 door sedan. I must admit that this part kind of sucks since it takes about 10-15 minutes to assemble/dis-assemble the bike but paying the extra grand for the folding feature was not in my budget. Other than that, the bike fits in perfectly inside my car with the seats folded down since I don’t take the bike fully apart.

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Here is my favorite part of owning and riding the Bike Friday Family Tandem: I spend quality time doing something I love with someone I love. I does not matter if I’m not beating my Strava speed records or if I am not riding 50 milers, it is the fact that I get to ride to some of my favorite breakfast spots with my wife.

Showers Pass Gravel Shorts Review

Hello Bike Commuters!!! This week we have the full review of the Showers Pass Gravel shorts that I featured a couple of months ago. These shorts have pretty much become my “go-to” shorts for mountain biking, bike commuting, train riding, tandem riding, cyclocross riding, hiking and drinking beer.

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Disclaimer: Showers Pass sent us the shorts free of charge so we can give you an honest and unbiased review. You can also read our FTC Disclaimer here.

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I’d mentioned that these shorts did not come with a chamois liner, turns out that this was actually a good thing because I was able use the shorts for other activities besides cycling. Cool thing about these shorts is that then don’t really look like your typical baggy mountain biking shorts and they are not as tight as lycra so they look cool on and off the bike.

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The shorts are made of breathable stretch fabric with additional cooling vents at the thighs which came in handy on hot days. Another favorite feature of mine are the pockets which are secured with velcro, I don’t have to worry about my cellphone or keys flying out when I am riding.

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Do I have any complaints about these shorts? None whatsoever, I highly recommend them.

Buying a Bike Friday Family Tandem Traveler

Hello and welcome to The Bike Geek’s weekly cycling post. This week I am going to share my experience of purchasing a Tandem bicycle sight unseen and making my decision based on the manufacturer’s reputation. But before I start, I want to make it clear that Bike Friday did not in any way compensated me nor gave me a “pro deal” on this tandem.

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So how do you share your passion for cycling with a significant other who does not even know how to ride a bike? You purchase a tandem! You may have noticed that tandem bicycles are usually classified as “specialty” bikes so there are not many choices out there. Full size tandems are also bulky, heavy, take a lot of room and not easy to transport so that is why I went with the Bike Friday Family Tandem traveler. The Family Tandem has 20″ wheels, it is rather light and it can be quickly disassembled for storage and transportation.

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Bike Friday has two choices when it comes to tandems; the cheaper Bike Friday Family Tandem which “collapses” with the use of an Allen wrench and the Bike Friday Tandem Two’sDay. The latter being a folding tandem and about a grand more.

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Ordering my Bike Friday Family Tandem was easy; I simply visited Bike Friday’s website, clicked on the “Build this bike” button, chose my components and clicked on “Reserve Date”. A day later I received an email from Bike Friday and I got in contact with one of their sales persons who went over my order, took my payment and placed the order. A quick note about the payment: The payment is made in full, you don’t put a “down payment” and then pay the rest when the bike ships. This was aI little unnerving but again, I was relying on Bike Friday’s reputation as a bike maker.

I placed my order on July 21st and my bike did ship on the “Reserve Date” of September 2nd, meanwhile, there were no updates in between and I did have to email Bike Friday to confirm that my bike was indeed being shipped on promised date. They quickly replied confirming that my bike was going to ship and a Fedex Tracking number was going to be provided which I did receive via email. I do understand that Bike Friday is busy making bikes, but I would have felt better if a couple updates would have been communicated to me regarding the progress of my bike.

Here is a tip if you are thinking of purchasing a Bike Friday: Get on their email list. As my bike was being built, I received a couple of emails with “special offers” if you buy a Bike Friday, none of these “special offers” were retroactive to when I purchased my bike which was a bit of a bummer. Also, it does not hurt to ask your salesperson if they have any special offers.

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My Bike Friday Family Tandem arrived 3 days after it shipped since California is right underneath Oregon, I was really excited when it arrived so I opened the box to inspect the bike which was really well packed and protected.

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Overall, I am very satisfied with the purchase, my wife and I took the Tandem on its maiden voyage and it did not disappoint.