Category: Commuter Bikes

Earlier in the spring we got a chance to test out something called the Companion Bike Seat. Basically, this product gets installed on your bike much like any pannier rack would. The difference is you can actually carry a passenger (up to 200lbs). In addition, it has a lockable storage area to place anything you want that could fit in there.

The only bike in my collection that I was able to install the Companion on was my wife’s Nirve beach cruiser.

Installation was a breeze; no more than 15 minutes using basic tools such as a socket set and allen keys. What you see below allows the rack to be secured onto the seat post. You can fully adjust the pitch of the seat. If the bike was bigger or the post was further away, you can adjust this strut to ensure a proper fit.

Reflectors on the rear of the seat. You can see from this angle the lock for the trunk.

Heavy duty constructions allows for a 200lb passenger. Notice the pegs? That’s where the passenger places their feet and they are what the rack mounts onto. The rack itself has a wide stance, which means that it mounts somewhat wide onto the pegs. This makes the seat stable especially when you’re turning or if you’ve got a heavier passenger. One of the tests we did was to see if it would flex/sway when taking sharp turns. When riding through sharp turns with an adult male on the back, the rack didn’t sway/flex. If anything it’s the passenger who ends up getting nearly tossed off the seat. Just keep in your mind that this rack is pretty burly and VERY stable.

Lockable storage trunk. Perfect for food, electronic devices, cigars and donuts.

It is in our opinion that the Companion Bike Seat is a well made product. During our testing phases, nothing broke or had any type of issues. Our passengers all said that the cushion was very soft and that the rack felt stable. Our only complaint with this product…actually two complaints:

The first one would be that you can’t use it with a quick release wheel. It has to be installed on a bolted axle. This means it won’t work with a Nexus hub or any other type of internally geared hub that has a shifting mechanism on the other side of the dropout. Another complaint would be the inability to hang panniers. Sure you can place things in the storage trunk, but what if you’re picking up your kids from school and they have books to carry or if you’re doing a groceries run? It would be great to see their future models have some sort of mounting/hook system that gives that option.

Other than that, it’s a pretty great idea. There really hasn’t been any other products to my knowledge that works like this. Most rear racks have a load capacity of no more than 60lbs. But the Companion
Bike Seat is capable of carrying 200lbs. If you think about the alternatives in the bike world in regards of being able to carry 200lbs, you’d have to spend quite a bit of money for a cargo bike or something like the Xtracycle. I’ve owned cargo bikes and an Xtracycle before. They’re great and all, but they’re big and bulky. Yes I do realize that the Companion doesn’t have the same load capacity of an Xtracycle, but I used mine to carry my kids about 90% of the time that I owned it. So with that in mind, having a product that costs a fraction of the price of a cargo bike, but gives you the ability to carry a passenger would be a WIN WIN in my book. Just think about it, $149.95 isn’t much. With this simple product you can now carry your kids, go on a date with the wife/girlfriend or go bar hopping (you as the designated driver).

The Companion has an MSRP of $149.95.

For more information about the Companion Bike Seat, please visit their site.

Our FTC Review Disclaimer.

As great as it is to be getting your work out on while riding your bike to and from work, I recently discovered a “bicycle” of sorts that allows you to get a more intense work out than just pedaling. I visited the 3G Bikes world headquarters in SoCal and got a chance to ride one of their 3G Stepper machines.

Here’s the description:

The 3G Stepper is a revolutionary concept developed to merge unconscious fitness with everyday cycling, which will give a healthier lifestyle to cyclists. The Stepper uses foot platforms to replace the pedals of the bike. The rider pumps the platforms up and down, rather than moving in the traditional circular motion of peddling, achieving a better toning of the whole body.

It helps shape the calves, thighs, abdomen, buttocks in a similar work out to that which you would achieve on a stationery Step machine in any gym, as well as increasing your heart rate to speed up your metabolism. The Stepper bike naturally enhances an upright posture because it has no seat unlike conventional cycles.

So the neat thing about the 3G Stepper is that it’s a tough work out and it has gears! Getting started was a bit awkward at first, but once I got going, the “stepping” motions were pretty natural. Cornering was a blast since it had a wide front tire. Of course when you’re riding something like this, you’re getting quite a bit of attention from drivers and pedestrians a like. Which is a good thing because you want to remain visible while you’re on the road.

I know what you’re thinking, this is more of a work out machine than a mode of transportation. Well check out these two guys who rode their 3G Steppers from Germany to Prague (Czech Republic)! 388.42 KM (241.35 miles) in almost 3 day. If these guys can ride hundreds of miles, I’m sure you’d be able to ride your 6-10 mile commute with a 3G Stepper.
3g stepper

We’ve had the Jamis Hudson with Slidepad on test for a few months now, and despite a lot of frigid days, and days that look like this (or snowier), I’ve managed to get enough rides in to get a good impression.


Average reviewing conditions. March 17th snow in Virginia!



You’ll remember (or not) that I did an initial review here. Overall, I can’t say that my impressions have changed very much – I still think the general setup is pretty good for the intended audience, and after a decent number of hours/miles (many at slow speed with a 5-year old out in front) I didn’t have any issues crop up. The bike is overall comfortable (though after one 2-hour ride I was getting not-so-happy with the super-cushy saddle!).

There is one significant difference between that initial review and now, concerning the brake setup. After reading my initial impressions, Ian at Slidepad was concerned there might be something wrong with my brake setup. He gave me a call, and we determined that the sliding-pad bit of the brake system had gotten (to use a technical phrase) hung up on something internally – so it wasn’t kicking in full-force. After wrestling with it a bit, I managed to pop it back into place without damaging anything, and voila! I had improved braking performance.

So – that bit of my initial review can be revised. Braking works pretty effectively,the rear wheel does not lock up as much as it was before, and the front-wheel braking kicks in reasonably quickly.

While I was talking with him, Ian also explained that their “improved braking efficiency” claim was made against a bike with rear-brake only (like a lot of the coaster-brake cruisers out there). I’d agree that this definitely beats that setup. However, I think a fairer comparison is against something like the Electra Townie 7D, which is extremely comparable in price (within $20), as well as components (with the exception of the brakes) and general intent. In that case, I don’t think that there’s going to be a big difference unless the rider of the Electra isn’t using their front brake well/at all.

The Hudson in drier (and warmer) times

This brings me to the whole “one brake lever is easier” thing. Yes, it works. Yes, it’s a valid option and frankly I can see it working out for some people (and hey, you have your left arm free to signal turns!). But in general – I still don’t quite buy it. When using Slidepad, it does take a bit of trial and error to adjust to the point where the front brakes kick in, as you go from a light “back only” to a significantly stronger “back and front combined.” When riding at speed, I did sometimes find myself unintentionally slowing much more than I meant to when that front brake kicked in. So in my mind, learning to deal with this isn’t really much less difficult than learning to deal with two brakes. Finally, I really think the whole risk of doing an endo/losing control by means of front brake, on a bike like this, is pretty minimal – the weight balance is so far back that it really takes a lot of effort to get the back wheel to pick up much at all.

In terms of the “simpler” idea on the brakes: my experience with the whole setup having a malfunction didn’t leave me more confident. I was happy it was fixable, but it definitely took more effort than getting a regular set of V brakes set up. Additionally, it’s a lot more obvious what’s wrong with a set of V brakes. I’m sure Jamis dealers will get their mechanics all set up on how this system works – but if an owner of this type of brake system walks into a shop that hasn’t seen it before, I have no idea what their results would be. If all is working fine, it’s not going to be an issue, but I can’t say how often issues might come up.

In the end, this really all comes down to personal preferences (as it so often does!). In this case, I’d prefer independent brake levers for the greater degree of control. However, if a prospective buyer is purchasing from a Jamis dealer, intends to continue to use that shop for service, and likes the whole “one hand two brakes” concept, I’d say go for it.

Did you catch any of the Sochi Paralympics this year? Wowza. Olympic-level athletes are hardcore, but paralympians take it to a whole new level. Just goes to show that often, the only limiting factor of human ability is the speed of innovation and current technology. The human mind and body together can tackle the most demanding, rigorous sports—and that includes road and mountain biking.

This fact was most recently brought to our attention by a company from North Carolina, Outrider USA, which is launching an innovative adaptive-use bike, the Horizon. The electric cycle is a rugged all-terrain trike designed to allow riders of different abilities, including many paraplegics and quadriplegics, to get out on the roads and trails.

Though the company has been building electric trikes since 2011, it wasn’t until teaming up with Christopher Wenner, Ph.D., a quadriplegic adventurer, a little over a year ago that the Outrider team focused on adaptive technology. Chris Wenner wanted to recapture the feeling of riding his mountain bike prior to an injury that made the sport inaccessible until now.

“The driving mission behind the Horizon trike is simple: Just because an individual has a physical disability, doesn’t mean they don’t still crave the adventure and freedom of riding a bike,” says Jesse Lee, Outrider Co-founder. “When we combined that mission with our experience building the world’s highest performing electric bikes, the Horizon was born – and the feedback on the prototypes has been incredibly positive.”

The Horizon adapts to the abilities of the rider – from riders with full leg and arm function to riders with limited function such as paraplegics and quadriplegics. It is possible to ride the Horizon:

  • with full function of your arms and legs
  • with left hand/arm only
  • with right hand/arm only
  • with upper body function but limited leg function
  • with upper body function but no leg function
  • with limited function in both your arms and legs (you’ll need some amount of arm function for steering, braking and throttle.)
  • with any combination of the above

Horizon: Like No Other Electric Bike

Horizon is not your typical electric bike. Outrider describes the Horizon as “the bike for your super-hero alter ego.” With its adaptive-use design and powerful electric assist technology, Horizon is ready for adventures on the street or the road less traveled.

Features of the Horizon: Adaptable and customizable for a range of physical abilities

  • Foot Pedals or Hand Pedals (with foot-tray)
  • Standard hand controls or adapted use hand controls (tri-pin)
  • Actuated seat (rising) to make getting in and out of the seat easier
  • Fold down handlebars for side entry to the seat
  • Three wheels and low center of gravity make balancing simple

Electric assist:

  • Twist the throttle when you want a boost, pedal when you want, or do both together. It’s totally up to you.
  • Horizon is capable of tackling steep mountains and seriously long distances
  • Speeds reach up to 30 mph.
  • Forward and Reverse

In order to get the Horizon into production, Outrider recently launch a Kickstarter campaign to “help with the tooling and production costs of the first production run” and to get feedback directly from adaptive sports and rehabilitation centers. With the help of crowd-sourced funding, the Outrider team aims to get the Horizon into production and delivered by the end of the year.

Interested in learning more about the Outrider Kickstarter campaign? Read more here.