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Assorted Fun Stuff For Your Tuesday

Here’s a collection of odd bits I’ve been emailed in the past week — or things I’ve discovered surfing the Web. Enjoy!

Artistic bike racks have been all over the news…nice to see that cities are trying to simultaneously spruce things up AND add bicycling infrastructure. Here’s a shot of a really nice bike rack just outside Millenium Park in Chicago — forwarded by our friend Ann Rappaport:

bike rack

Faithful reader Kevin Turner of Jersey City, NJ forwarded a link to the following online cartoon:

system

The complete cartoon series is called “The System” and can be found by clicking here. Based on the cartoons’ content, I can gather that the artist is a bike commuter, graphic designer and a serious smartass — thumbs up all the way around! There are several other commuter-friendly strips in his collection, too.

I spotted this on the excellent Cycleicious blog a couple weeks ago. Since then, I’ve scoured the Web looking for a high-resolution version so I can print and distribute these beauties wherever I go. No luck…but if any of you happen to find a better version out there, please post a link in the comment section:

car recall

And finally, good friend and fellow commuter Richard D. (known around here as “The Punisher” in keeping with our B-list superhero theme) sent me the following photo to let everyone know that he talks the talk even while relaxing with a bigbore shotgun. The tshirt is from KHS Bicycles clothing collection. Gas Sucks — Blast a Hole in the Sky!

gas sucks

Enjoy your Tuesday!

OSO Bike: Review

We talked a lot about the OSO Bike a couple weeks ago…and I illustrated the major features and my likes and dislikes so far of this bicycle.

oso

But, I sort of left you hanging: just how does this bike actually ride?

We’ll get to that shortly — in order to talk about the ride, we need to talk about the frame first. On the Osobike website specs, the frame is described merely as “chromoly high strength steel”. It IS chromoly, of course, but in talking to Osobike founder Shane Stock, I discovered that the main tubes are double-butted. In addition, the main tubes of the frame are teardrop shaped and then everything is TIG-welded together. Here’s a shot of the tube shaping:

teardrop

Shane specified a one-inch headtube with reinforcing rings for this bike. At first, I questioned this spec — one-inch forks and headsets aren’t exactly plentiful, but the more I thought about it and the more I looked at it from an aesthetic perspective, it makes good sense — semi-aero tubing notwithstanding, the frame evokes classic road or track bike lines. Besides, how often does a rider REALLY need to replace an entire headset? If a new one is ever needed, there are several companies making 1″ threadless headsets.

1

Because of the tube shaping, the way all the tubes come together at the bottom bracket shell leaves a very stiff junction. The downtube wraps almost halfway around the BB shell!

bb
(Ignore all the dirt…no fenders, remember?)

Couple that stiff BB junction with some very stout chainstays and you’ve got one s-t-i-f-f frame. In fact, this frame is easily the stiffest steel bike I’ve ever ridden, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve got two handmade steel frames in my personal fleet, one Italian and one Japanese. Neither of them can hold a candle to the OSO in terms of getting pedal power to the rear wheel. To put it bluntly, this bike is really fun to haul ass on — get out of the saddle and start thrashing and this bike responds instantly. I found myself sprinting a lot during my commutes!

Where’s the beef? Oh, here it is:
chainstay

Frame geometry seems to be somewhere in a happy zone between a traditional track bike and a road racer…something perhaps best described as “relaxed track geometry”. The bike exhibits a good bit of “toeverlap” as many track-like bikes do (really a non-issue…this is NOT a design flaw, just the nature of a tight frame). The bike responds to pedaling and steering inputs without any twitchiness, but it isn’t as plush a ride as a more stretched-out road frame. The OSO won’t beat you up with all that stiffness, though…it IS steel, after all.

The handlebars and saddle are both somewhat generic, but servicable. You either love or you hate bullhorns…and I suppose I fall into the latter camp. No big deal — throwing on some road drops is a 2 minute process. I thought I’d like the included saddle…it is shaped like a few of the saddles I’m fond of, but I guess I have to admit to myself that my sit bones are a little wider apart than my narrow ass would suggest. Saddles are such a personal choice that I could never give bad marks to a bike I’m reviewing just because of an uncomfortable saddle. This one’s not that uncomfortable, either…but I wouldn’t want to roll cross-country on it, either.

The bike weighs a bit more than one might expect for such a simple machine, but this isn’t a paperthin frame. Some judicious parts swapping (especially a set of lighter wheels) could easily put the bike in the 16-17 lb. range, if that’s your thing.

If an OSO owner gets bored of laying down hot patches of smoking rubber with that coaster brake, there’s good news…the rear bridge is drilled for a brake:

bridge

Slap a singlespeed wheel in there or go fixed and you’ve got yourself a fun little bike…which sort of brings me to my last thoughts: Just who is this bike best for, anyway? It hasn’t been well-received by the majority of the commuting community, nor has it been met with much enthusiasm by fixed-gear fans. My friends from the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club and I have been pondering the ideal demographic for the OSO, and we’re still scratching our heads a little bit. One of my club members described it as a “fixie girlfriend bike”, which loosely translates into a bike suited for someone not quite ready for the fixed-gear experience but who appreciates the simplicity and aesthetic those bikes bring to the table. Several others have derided the bike as a “poser machine” — intended to emulate everything that’s “cool” with a fixed-gear bike without the steep learning curve. I wouldn’t go that far, though.

So, let me try to pull all my observations and experiences of the OSO together: simple, fun, a blast to ride, really low maintenance. The bike needs some tweaking, to be sure — we’ve discussed that at length already. Still, none of those tweaks are terribly expensive or difficult to do.

Hits:
-Simple and low maintenance
-Fun to ride
-Great frame for the price
-Might be a good choice for an ultralight, fair-weather commuter who doesn’t need a rack or fenders

Misses:
-Some questionable parts spec
-Chainline issues
-May not do enough from a versatility standpoint for a lot of cyclists out there. This isn’t a primary bike for many of us, but might be an ok “fun bike”.
-Front brake should come STANDARD, not as an add-on. Let the owner choose to ride without the safety of a front brake!

More Amazing Utility Bikes

A couple weeks ago, I posted a set of YouTube videos that showcased some of my favorite wacky “utility bikes”.

That posting caught the eye of one of our astute readers, who forwarded us a link to an amazing article on the Designboom blog. The article is a showcase recently held in St. Etienne, France — consisting of sustainable human- and solar-powered utility bikes, from electric-assist tricycles to a solar-powered DJ booth to my favorite, the rolling human-powered bike shop:

bike shop
(photo from the Designboom article)

Spin on over to read the full article and to gaze upon some of these wondrous creations.

Mission Product Skincare: Review

Back in September, I received a set of skincare products from Mission Product. I’ve had a chance to test every one of the products pretty extensively, and I wanted to share my thoughts about them.

The blurb from the Mission Product website states:

Teaming up with scientists and skincare industry veterans, we’ve established an entirely new category — high-performance, athlete-engineered skincare™. Engineered in MISSION Labs, the entire MISSION Product line is designed, and has been proven, to meet the specific needs of athletes and sports enthusiasts across all sports.

A couple of the great features of this product line is that all of their products are preservative and paraben-free and that the products are either unscented or have a very mild fragrance. I really like that — I’m not a huge fan of introducing weird chemicals to my skin and I don’t like smelling like a perfume factory. So far, so good…so how does this stuff work?

Anti-Friction Cream
anti-friction

Of all the samples Mission Product sent to test, I’ve probably used this the most. On my days off, I like to go for long bike rides, and some type of “chamois creme” is crucial for long-distance comfort. I’ve used a lot of products, from the expensive Assos chamois creme, Chamois Butt’r and even the classic Bag Balm (no snickering, folks!). The Mission Anti-Friction Cream stands at the head of the class — every bit as good as more established competitors. This stuff WORKS…no friction to speak of, and the cream is long-lasting. The cream doesn’t dissipate or absorb into my skin like some of the other products I’ve tried; in fact, this stuff can be pretty tenacious — it takes a bit of extra scrubbing to get it off while showering.

The cream has a very mild fragrance and goes on smoothly. A little bit goes a long way to providing real comfort for long bike rides. Commuters may or may not need this product (depending on your ride distance and the kinds of clothing you wear), but if you are a fan of chamois creams, this one’s worth a try.

Besides, there are few finer things in life than buttering up your crotch and heading out for a therapeutic bike ride!

junk

Revive Gel
revive gel

The Mission Revive Gel is intended to soothe wind- and sun-burned skin after exercise. I’ve used it as a moisturizer, but I find it especially nice after shaving my legs (yes, I DO shave my legs…say whatever you want but know that it makes my wife very happy). The Revive Gel cools my razor-irritated skin and it really locks in moisture.

smoothy

This gel really lasts, too — the moisture-sealing properties are evident hours after application. The gel’s magic ingredient is aloe vera, which has long been touted as the perfect remedy for burned skin. Like other aloe-based products, it leaves behind (in my opinion) a vaguely unpleasant stickiness. This isn’t a deal-breaker, of course, because this gel does what it is supposed to do with aplomb.

Foot Synergy Gel
foot synergy

Mission’s Foot Synergy Gel is intended for use on the feet before or after exercise — reviving and moisturizing your dry, tired feet after a grueling workout or event. Many such products on the market have a minty scent and a tingly effect after application, but the Mission gel is scent-free. I’ve used this on my feet but I’ve found that it is quite effective on my knees, which get achy after a long day on my bike.

I was expecting an “Icy Hot” sensation with this product — many such products for soothing feet and joints are on the market. The Revive Gel doesn’t tingle or heat up…but it seemed to do what it was intended to do just fine without that sensation. I wonder how much better it would be with a little added “tingle” — a soothing sensation I’ve come to enjoy after exercise — in the gel?

Lip Protector
lip protector

Now that the cold weather is here (even in Florida), lips can get chapped pretty quickly in the chilly, dry air. I work in a heavily-conditioned building, as well — humidity and heat are the enemies of a library’s collection. So, my lips get an environmental “beatdown” on a daily basis.

Mission’s Lip Protector to the rescue! The Lip Protector is packed with antioxidants, moisturizers and sun protection, and the stuff works great. My lips are as smooth and slippery as if I’ve just eaten a plate of ribs at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in the ATL, and that’s a good thing!

The only thing I didn’t really like about this product is that it has a cloying, grapefruit flavor…not one of my favorites. I got a little bit on my tongue and the taste is pretty overwhelming to this grapefruit-hater. I noticed that Mission Product has a new line of flavored lip balms in more “Jack-friendly” flavors like mint and sweet vanilla…I’d sure love to try some of those, too.

Daily Offense Stick
daily offense

You want some sun? Florida’s got it in spades, and with our longitude, the sun’s angle of attack on our area is vicious for most of the year. It’s entirely possible to get a wicked sunburn deep into November here. If you value your skin, sunscreen is critical for protection.

All that being said, I’m not as careful as I should be. Sure, I’ll slather some on before going to the beach or if I know I’m going to be out in the sun all day. One gripe I have with a lot of sunscreens on the market is that they tend to clog pores and remain greasy on the skin. Not so with this Daily Offense SPF stick. Boasting of a sun protection factor of 30 and a host of skin-friendly features, the Daily Offense stick does quite nicely. I tend to use it on my face and ears, the areas that are exposed to the sun no matter what I’m doing. This product goes on and STAYS on without feeling greasy or migrating into my eyes, and it keeps the damaging rays of the sun away. Why, this stuff saved me from a wicked sunburn at this year’s Bicycle Bash! Despite our ample (and shady) tent, I spent most of the day out in the blinding sun, and the Daily Offense stick helped me survive out there. No irritation or clogged pores afterward, either! Thumbs up in my book…

If you value your skin and spend a lot of time in the outdoors, you owe it to yourself to try some of these products. They live up to the claims presented by the company, are wonderfully skin-friendly and are filled with many natural ingredients. Check out Mission Product’s website for even more information, and happy riding!