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Commuter Bikes

Maiden Voyage-BikeBug.net Cargo Tricycle

bikebug.net cargo tricycle

This was our first outing with the BikeBug.net Cargo Tricycle. I have to say, there’s going to be a learning curve on how to ride this rig. Once the front cargo area is weighed down, it shouldn’t be too bad. One of the things we’re working on this weekend is installing a new drive train. We’ll be upgrading to a 3 speed Nexus hub and installing some white wall tires. In addition, we’ll be starting the build out for the cargo area.

bikebug.net cargo tricycle

ArroWhere Backpack Cover and Vest Review

As most of you are well aware, visibility can make a big difference in terms of the well being of cyclists on the road, particularly at night and other low light environments.

Enter ArroWhere ™, a company based out of Canada whose specialty is to produce “quality, high-visibility apparel and accessories that help improve the visibility, safety, and control users have when sharing the road with cars and larger vehicles or trails with bikes and runners.”

What sets them apart from other reflective outerwear and gear is their utilization of super bright 3M reflective material into the shape of an arrow to indicate to drivers in what direction to move to avoid the cyclist. The simplicity of its design contributes to the efficacy of the product, in my opinion.

Bikecommuters has had a good history with ArroWhere™ thanks to Jack “Ghost Rider” Sweeney who spearheaded this relationship back in September 2014 at Interbike.

Following which, ArroWhere ™ was gracious enough to let us review a high visibility cycling jacket

Khyle from ArroWhere ™ recently reached out to us to review another 2 items in their product line. Before I knew it, a fluorescent yellow cycling vest and bag cover were at my doorstep.

In so many words, I was an instant fan. The visibility of the products was intense, to say the least. The construction of both was robust and with high quality materials. They both felt like items that would last for many years of hard use.

The backpack cover (standard size 35L) fit relatively well over my Maxpedition Sitka gear slinger (I think the design of my single sling backpack made the cover a little less of a good fit as you will read later). It folded up to a nice small volume and was easily stowed in the backpack without taking up too much space.

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger

 

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Buttons came popped open at times.

Buttons can pop open at times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cover is held in place with elastic bands attached with snap buttons. The addition of the the upper zipper was well designed, making accessibility of the backpack pockets possible without having to remove the entire cover.

Furthermore, since it was made with waterproof fabric, it served as an additional barrier for waterproofing the bag (although I was unable to test out this feature since here is southern California, we are having a horrible drought).

But it wasn’t just a backpack cover; the versatility of the design made the cover useable on other items as well. In particular, I was able to put it onto my kiddo’s bike seat. It fit securely and did not come loose at all.

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This made riding with the kiddo feel a lot safer. We even took the cover for a trip to Catalina Island where we got around by bike 100% of the time. The cover was very reliable.

After about 4 months of use, I also noticed that it was quite stain proof and was easy to wash off. It looked like new; the visibility was not compromised one bit.

The only cons that I noticed on this cover were that the buttons securing the straps were not that strong, and during my rides they would at times pop open, particularly when I filled up my bag. I thought that a better design would replace the elastic straps with adjustable nylon straps and the snap buttons for standard plastic side release buckles. In this way, I feel that the cover could be used on bags of other sizes and would be even more versatile and secure.

Difficult to access the main side pocket with the cover was attached.

Difficult to access the main side pocket with the cover attached (note: the orientation of the cover is incorrect in this image, however difficult side pocket access still holds true in the correct orientation)

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger (Easy front access)

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger (Easy front access)

It would also be nice to have some molle webbing on the cover to allow for attachments of lights and other accessories, while not covering the visibility of the arrow.

And finally, I thought that an additional zipper allowing side access to the pack would also be advantageous, and a feature that I feel would not compromise the functionality of the product. I say this because a single strap backpack can be easily accessed during riding by rotating the bag from the back to the front, where a side access zipper would allow access to the bag while riding.

The vest was also a treat to use. I personally love vests as they allow for more mobility and allow for better ventilation. Despite it being a vest, it was pretty warm and windproof. It was surprisingly comfortable and was designed with a good fit.

After riding in 70 degree weather, I will say it got a little warm in the vest, at least for me.

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Overall, I would recommend the company and the products. If you like riding with a backpack, the cover is a good deal and makes commuting that much safer by making you significantly more visible. It doesn’t take up that much space when stowed away in your backpack and is very light. Being the shape and size that it is, the cover can also be placed on other things as well such as a rear child bike seat.

Do good and ride well.

About the author: Andrew is a full time physician and enjoys bicycles, both riding on and writing on. He has been commuting since 2000.

Combine Cycling and Sightseeing for a Spectactular Spanish Experience

So your annual holiday is approaching and you’re wondering where to go. You usually lie in the sun, eat and drink too much on an all inclusive — then feel lazy or guilty returning home. You hop on your bike for some activity and wonder: why didn’t you book a cycling holiday in the first place? On a bike, you can enjoy unparalleled freedom, take in spectacular scenery, discover hidden gems, and face challenging ascents with exhilarating descents. Sold? Great. Now, where to go?

Tough choice — but Spain is one of most awe-inspiring countries, and it also offers cyclists a truly varied experience. Think: stunning mountainous road routes, flat-cycling through idyllic countryside, delicious authentic cuisine, and the option of luxury hotels or basic camping accommodation. The beauty is: on a cycling holiday, you choose the experience you want. And if you’re going to spend money on all the necessary cycling gear, you could invest in these Spanish cycling holiday routes:

Northern Spain – cycle like a pro

The north of Spain is known for its awesome cycling routes — it’s the setting of the famous La Vuelta a Espana race. Here you’ll find genuinely breath-taking scenery as you make your way through the Basque country, past the Cantabria mountains, towards the renowned Alto de L’Angliru — also known as one of the toughest climbs in Europe, and not for the faint-hearted! However, with over 8000m ascent available, this area of Spain also has thrilling descents!

Coast along coastal routes

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For a more laid-back cycle, the south of Spain and the Costa del Sol provides excellent stretches of road paths, which are adjacent to stunning beaches and can lead you to bustling villages like Torremolinos. There there is no shortage of restaurants and bars in which to re-fuel, whet your whistle or unwind. A popular route begins at Malaga’s beach promenade towards Torremolinos, taking in the local bird sanctuary, sandy beaches and bars. On arrival at Benalmádena town, you can opt to return via Metro train to Malaga. Spanning a largely flat route of 40km, you won’t be judged for taking a train back!

Urban cyclists welcome

If you enjoy the buzz of a city, you could cycle the Bilbao to Barcelona route. This is a fantastic path from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean coast. If you want to see panoramic Spain in all its glory — and in one journey — then this route is for you. Expect a dramatic Pyrenees backdrop, historical villages, family-run rural restaurants, natural canyons and a climactic, stunning view of Monserrat. Alternatively, the city of Seville recently enjoyed new cycle path upgrades. With 75 miles of (largely flat) segregated lanes, novice and seasoned cyclists can enjoy the city on their own terms. It’s worth investigating the Via Verdes — also known as Greenways.

So whether you’re racing up the Angliru, or coasting along the Costa del Sol, cycling in Spain is really one of the best ways to see a country filled with highs and lows — cycle paths, that is!

Your Next Biking Adventure Destination

Minorca is known as one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations. However, it’s also a great place for cycling enthusiasts. From viewing the island’s impressive forests, to its beautiful bays; there are a variety of cycling routes that will allow you to enjoy the sights of the island to the full, for more information on what to do when on the island visit Saga Navigator.

Mao/South Coast

This is a route that will allow you to see the La Mola fortress in Mao, then the city’s bay and port, before heading on to Mao city centre. From there, you can take the opportunity to see more of the south coast of the island. This will include a visit to Cales Coves, with its notable caves, before you enjoy the lovely beach at Cala en Porter. After a trip to the ancient Torre d’en Galmes settlement the ride concludes in the centre of Minorca at Alaior. The whole ride will be around 25 miles in length.

Cap de Favaritx Area

This is a circular route, some 25 miles in length which wraps around the Northern part of the island, and has some of Minorca’s most spectacular scenery as a backdrop. Along this route you’ll see holm oak and pine forests, before the journey ends at Cap de Favaritx. Here, you’ll encounter not only a unique lighthouse, but the lunar landscape that surrounds it.

The Wild Coast

For riders looking to enjoy a wide range of interesting views of the island, this route will definitely appeal. On this 23 mile route there will be woods, lakes, dunes, lowlands, and eye-catching gorges to see, as well as pristine beaches and the cliff-face at la Vall; which is several hundred feet high. The natural harbour at Cala Morell, on the Ciutadella coast is noteworthy, as is the prehistoric burial site in the area.

Off-Road Tour

For the more ambitious cyclist, travelling all the way round the island is an option. Utilising the Cami de Cavalls is the best way of doing this, though using a mountain bike will be advisable, considering the sometimes rocky nature of the path. Mostly a coastal route, it does occasionally go inland. The whole route is over 150 miles long, and offers sights of coves and cliffs, although there won’t be any really steep climbs.

Image by MontanNito used under the Creative Commons license

Image by javimorenoe used under the Creative Commons license

Dahon Mariner: Final Review

If this is your first time reading about this bike, check out our initial impressions on the Dahon Mariner D7.

So the time has come… to tell you all about the hair-raising adventures I’ve had on the D7!

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You wish you had these skills.

And… that time is now over. Because there really weren’t any. Sorry… you can take another sip of your beverage now. And close your mouth, the popcorn’s about to fall out.

What I WILL say is that this bike has been rock-solid, and has introduced into my life the idea that maybe I should have a folding bike permanently. Because it’s been pretty sweet! It has continued to be easy to use (biking, folding, unfolding, lugging around) and hasn’t needed any maintenance to speak of. The only issues have been with fenders getting bent out of shape due to bad packing in the car (fairly easily bent back), and once when the handlebars somehow got spun all the way around and braking was wonky for a couple minutes ’til I realized what had happened. So… yeah, user error.

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Main folding mechanism and bottle bosses

Speaking of user error, in the initial review I said there weren’t bosses for a bottle cage. That was incorrect: there are, I missed them somehow, and they’re on the top of what would be the top tube if there were more than one tube. So ignore that complaint… it’s invalid!

Since the initial review, this bike has been in and out of cars, to the library, to the grocery store, and just generally wherever we need to ride. The one thing I haven’t yet done on this is take it on public transit… I simply haven’t headed DC-wards recently, so I can’t say how it is. I imagine it would work fairly well, but can’t 100% verify.

My wife and I both like it, and because it’s easy to hop on and go, it’s one of the first picks out of the garage. My wife also had the amusing experience of using it when she had to drop the car off for some maintenance – and seeing all the car repair guys watch in amazement as she pulled the Dahon out of the backseat, unfolded it, and rode off to do a couple errands while she was waiting. Apparently they’re not used to that!

Our very own Jack (Ghostrider) also got a ride on the Mariner D7… here’s what he had to say:

I really enjoyed my (short) time aboard the Mariner. I have a soft spot for folding bikes, although there’s not one in my bike fleet currently. For multi-modal commuters, or people who live in small apartments, a folding bike makes a lot of sense. And this Dahon really fits the bill.

I didn’t try my own hand at folding the bike, but Matt demonstrated the ease with which it folds up into a tidy package. One of the things I noticed during the folding was that the seatpost didn’t have reference marks etched into it; the lack of those marks means that getting your saddle height right the first time is a bit of a challenge. A strip of tape or a silver Sharpie marker makes short work of that omission, however.

As with most small-wheeled bikes, the Dahon accelerates quickly. It feels really nimble while riding around city streets and tight spaces, too. Gearing was adequate for around-town use — we didn’t get to try it on any monster climbs, but it handled the inclines of northern Virginia without too much effort. Standing up to pedal up a rise was, well, rather awkward…that’s the only time when the short wheelbase and compact fit were an issue. The overall fit and finish were excellent, and there weren’t any mechanical problems throughout the duration of our review period.

Overall, the Dahon Mariner makes a great choice if you’re in the market for a folding bike.

Did I mention we had a lot of fun riding it?

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You also wish you had these skills.