Category: Gear

Based on our poll, a reliable bike is what matters most, being comfortable is second. So, how can you make your existing bike reliable AND comfortable?

Maintenance is the key to a reliable bike. Check out Jack’s article on Commuter Bike Maintenance. Inspecting your bike before a ride is also really important, check the spoke tension by running your hand over them, check your tires for proper inflation and inspect them to make sure that there’s no glass or thorns stuck in them.

Maxxis Over Drive tires with reinforced Kevlar Belt

I can guarantee that everyone of us has dealt with a flat tire, and they usually happen at the most inopportune time. There’s a slew of products that help minimize flats, the most common is Slime. You can either buy a bottle of Slime at your LBS or at Wally World and simply follow the instructions, got a presta valve? Check Out RL’s article on how to slime tubes with presta valves.

Heavy Duty Tube on the left, regular on the right

Heavy duty tubes and reinforced kevlar tires work really well too, the penalty is added weight but the trade off for piece of mind is certainly worth it.

Single Speed kit from Performance Bike.

For all of you that are mechanical inclined and your commute is not that hilly, you may consider “simplifying your drivetrain?. Turn that multi-speed commuter onto a singlespeed. Not only do you eliminate the need to tune derailleurs, you also save yourself weight in components. If your commute does not feature Monster hills and you still have the need for gears, consider a 1X9 or a 1X8 setup.

The NuVinci Hub, wide range of gear ratios, totally bombproof.

Hilly commute? The NuVinci hub that we are testing was not difficult to install, with a super wide range of gear ratios and it’s enclosed hub this setup is bombproof.

A comfortable bike can be a matter of individual preference. For example, a saddle is a very individual choice, myself, I can’t really deal with wide saddles, they rub against my inner thighs. Some people swear by cut outs, often referred as ‘love channels?, they are supposed to eliminate the “numb nuts? syndrome on men. Other people use those gel covers and swear by them, my suggestion is just to try stuff and stick to what works for you.

Suspension post, standard on Breezer Villager Bikes

Gel Inserts absorb road vibration and are really comfortable

Your choice of seatpost and handlebars also affect your comfort level. Suspension seatposts and raised handlebars do help to eliminate fatigue on your back and on your wrists. If your ride with drop bars or bullhorns, gel inserts are the way to go. I installed them on my F20-R and my wrists are really thanking me for it.

Carbon Fiber Seapost on my Swobo Sanchez

If it fits your budget, I swear by carbon fiber seatposts, bars and forks. Carbon Fiber is supposed to absorb some of the road chatter.

Giant Cypress with a suspension fork

Suspension forks are often used in ‘comfort bikes’, yes they are plush, but they are not as efficient as a rigid fork.

SweetSkinz tires: low pressure, comfortable and super stylish.

Lastly, tires. High Pressure tires are supposed to have less rolling resistance, but they can be rather jarring on rough pavement. Switching to low pressure tires will give you a more comfortable ride.

Thanks to all that participated on our poll, polls help us write articles and pick test bikes based on your choices.

OYB Saddle Bag

Since I hate riding with a backpack, I thought of adding a saddle bag to my Swobo Sanchez. Brooks and Carradice offer a few saddle bags, but they are on the pricey side. So I found Jeff from He makes multipurpose bags out of old Military surplus canvas, best of all, this bag is made in the USA.

The saddle bag is compatible with my Brooks saddle and it is big enough to carry my shorts, a T-shirt, wallet and a tube. This saddle pack also has the ability to turn to a pannier bag, handlebar bag, a man purse and a back pack, talk about versatility!

The price? $35 bucks with S/H included, yeah, that’s it! I find it to be a good deal for an excellent USA made product. The material maybe recycled, and a little worn, but that just gives the bag a little more character.

Click here for more information and to purchase the bag.

D-Tour Safety Flag package

Recently, Glenn Hanson of GlennAir, L.L.C. sent a couple of their D-Tour Bicycle Safety Flags to test in California and Florida. I installed mine today and shot some photos of the very simple process.

First, a bit about the safety flag: the flag itself is made of highly reflective nylon — fluorescent yellow-green for the body and silver for the stripes and trim. The flag “arm” appears to be made of stainless steel, and the attachment bracket is machined aluminum with plastic frame clamps. The flag comes with two pairs of two different sizes of Cateye plastic frame clamps and very clear and concise instructions for mounting the assembly. Once assembled and deployed, the flag device sticks out about 24″ to the side of the bike. It then folds straight back when not in use.

The heart of the system is this finely machined hunk of aluminum — the flag bracket:
flag bracket

Installation is a breeze…if you have thin seatstays. Initially, I wanted to install this device on my dedicated MTB-framed commuter bike — it fits the “safety theme” of this bike (ugly photo here). However, the seatstays were far too fat to fit the larger of the two provided clamps, there is a brazed-on brakeline guide in the way, and the pannier interfered with placement. I tried mounting the clamps upside-down with a longer attachment screw, but I would have had to drill extra holes in the aluminum flag bracket and it still wouldn’t be quite right.

Not enough room on this bike:
This isn't gonna work!

So, I pulled my Astra road bike out of the shed and slapped this device on in about 5 minutes…all that is needed for installation is a flathead screwdriver. Voila — success!
bracket mounted

After that, the wire “arm” of the flag clips into the bracket. The orientation of the flag can be adjusted from straight out to the side, straight forward or back or at angles between these positions. Here’s how it looks deployed straight out from the side of the bike:


And here’s how it looks folded straight back:
Straight back

I didn’t get to test-ride it today, but I am eager to see how this device will affect the distance motorists pass me with. I get “buzzed” all the time — Tampa-area drivers are not used to seeing bikes on the roadways. When Florida passed their “3 Foot Rule” last year, my friends and I joked about bolting a brightly-painted yardstick (or a sword blade) to our bikes as a visual guide to motorists. I think this D-Tour flag device is a far more elegant and practical way to go about things, don’t you?

Stay tuned for our experiences running this device — it should be interesting!

To contact Glenn about purchasing this flag, please email him at GHansonLtd(at)aol(dot)com.


Here are some pictures from the folks from California. Moe installed the D-Tour Flag on his DiamondBack Transporter, we look forward to his experiences as well.

Side View

Rear View