BikeCommuters.com

Commute

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:

MVIMG_20180328_132330

The Vanguard Limited Billfold wallet:

IMG_20180328_132421

and the Sailcloth Minimalist card holder wallet:

MVIMG_20180328_132500

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

Image source

 

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.

 

Review: Leg Shield’s Reflective ankle and wrist bands

Hello Bike Commuters and fellow night riders! The fine fellows from Leg Shield sent us their ankle and wrist bands to review. If you are familiar with this site and with my “modus operandi” you will certainly know that I love safety products and I really love stuff that makes me visible. I like reflective stuff so much that I plastered my Giant Expressway with reflective stickers!

20171023_165846

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance of reviewing Leg Shield’s reflective ankles and wrist bands. Let me start with saying that I am very impressed with the quality of the bands. These bands are made out neoprene fabric (the same stuff that wetsuits are made out of) with a very large reflective area. The ankle bands are 13.5 inches long by 1.9 inches wide and the wrist bands are 11 inches long by 1.9 inches wide. Both the wristbands and anklebands were wide enough to accommodate my rather average size wrists and ankles.

20180221_162614
20180221_162635
20180221_162643

Most of my night riding happens to be offroad so I am happy to report that the bands never fell off even when riding on rough terrain. As you can see from the pictures, the bands are super reflective.

20180207_184805
20180207_184801

To be honest with you, I rarely ride to work with pants on, it is just not my style but do ride my bike to the post office, local burger joint or the liquor store with pants on. Check out how well the ankle bands wrapped around my pant leg preventing it from touching the chain.

20180221_162242

So how much of this reflective goodness will set you back? Both the wristbands and the anklebands sell for $10.95 per pair at Amazon.com. Now, I know they are more expensive than your typical reflective plastic band, but let me tell you that there is really no comparison in comfort and reflective area. I have lost at least 5 of the cheap reflective bands in less than 10 rides.

20180305_194624

Are these perfect? Well, no. The only drawback is that they are not visible during the day but you can still use them to guard your pant legs from the chain.

For more information check out Leg Shield’s site at http://www.bikelegstrap.com/

The struggling cyclist.

Before I explain where I am let me mention where I came from.
I was always an outsider to sports. I had the determination and heart but I never had the raw skill. In golf they use the term L.O.F.T. Google it . Baseball, football, soccer, whatever, I was not really very good. I came into cycling after an injury. It was meant to be rehab for my back. That lead to the idea of commuting. Well, what it would lead to  was an obsession. At my lowest point I was fighting multiple addictions and cycling was what kept me going the streight path. I began racing and riding daily. I would race for a few years for a few teams and even for myself (unattached) when I lacked the fitness to race for a team .

Fast forward 10 years, I’m now married, a father of 3, and I have a dog to boot. In many ways I have what I want. I still have the drive to go out and test myself when I’m riding but there are many weeks that I just can’t ride, some weeks I’m just too tired, and yet others I’m not willing to make the sacrifice to get a ride in.  The fire is still there but the time/motivation/will is at times lacking. I set goals but get confronted with realities. Sure I could ride Saturday but one son has practice and the other has a soccer game. Did I mention my two-year old? So my choices are 4am ride or no ride. I made my choice before I typed it.

I don’t think I’m alone in my position nor do I think I need a small violin playing “sad romance”. What I need is a spark, something to convince myself to ride when it’s difficult to get going . As it turned out that spark that made me want to ride was a ride. That and something I heard on a podcast, something about second degree fun. It’s fun, just not from the idea or start. Like a climb, not really fun as a idea but as you get to the top, you can look back at the climb as a good time. Albeit a miserable, painful, good time .

So what keeps you going? Do you ever need a break or time to miss riding? Are you the type of rider who just wishes they had more time to ride? Let me know as that’s one of my motivations (I love hearing about others passion to ride).