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Let it Rain! Sealskinz has me covered.

Hello bike commuters and fellow rain dancers! If you follow these weekly (ish) posts you probably know that I am a fair weather bike commuter. Yes, being a Southern Californian I am not prepared for rainy weather so I just avoid it.

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Well, the fine fellows from Sealskinz thought that I should stop my whining and send me some nice rain gear to test during rainy days. The problem is that it has been over 80 degrees everyday since I got the items so I have not been able to ride with the gear they sent me. Here is the stuff that they sent, I may add that all the products seem to be well made and I can’t wait for a rainy day!

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Starting from my head, I got the Halo Waterproof Helmet Cover. The cover features reflective print as well as integrated LEDs in the back of the helmet.

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For my hands, the All Weather Cycle Gloves in Hi Vis yellow should keep them dry and cozy.

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Having cold and wet feet really sucks, so I got the Road Thin Mid Socks. These socks are supposed to be waterproof and warm.

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I Doubled down on keeping my feet dry and warm so I also got the Lightweight Halo Overshoe covers. These cool covers feature a powerful LED built into the rear.

So I guess I don’t have any excuses anymore since Sealskinz has me covered from head to toes! I will report back on how the items performed in the rain.

BikeCommuters.com 2016 Holiday gift guide part 1

It seems like everyone is so excited about Christmas that stores were already flooded with trees, ornament and sales…. lots of Christmas Sales… Whatever happened to Thanksgiving? Oh, yeah, it is now called “Black Friday Eve”.

We have decided to bring back our holiday gift guide this year to help you write your yearly list to Santa Claus. Here is part one:

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Jerseys: We actually liked jerseys that were not commuter specific such as Tek Gear’s DryTek jerseys which could be found at department stores for less than $12. If you are looking for a bike commuter specific jersey, we liked CHCB wool jerseys which sell for about $30 at Performance Bike or Amazon.

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Shorts: My new favorite shorts are the Showers Pass Gravel shorts; not too baggy, not too tight, cool reflective accents. We also liked the Serfas Decline shorts and if you must use roadie shorts; we recommend Sugoi Men’s Evolution Shorts

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Shoes: It is no secret that DZR shoes have been our favorite bicycle commuting shoes. We got to review the DZR Minna shoes this year and they did not disappoint. Before the DZR shoes arrived, I was wearing Pearl Izumi Men’s X-ALP Seek VI BL Cycling Shoes. The X-alp are stiffer but they didn’t quite fit with my office attire.

Jackets/Vests: I usually ride with vests and arm warmers on cool days; the Solo Equipe Cycling Gilet vest is my choice of vest. The material is thick and it has plenty of reflective material for those night rides. I don’t really ride in the rain, but I have heard good things about the Showers Pass Hi-Vis Torch Jacket, this thing has lights!

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Gadgets: You know I love my gadgets and the Garmin vívoactive watch tops my list. The watch is a pedometer, cyclocomputer and a smart watch which met all of my cycling needs and more. I you don’t want to spend over $100, we recommend the Moov Now 3D.

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If you are one of those riders who like your smartphone in front of you and on your handlebars, we really liked the Quad Lock mounting system. The mount is very versatile and secure, your phone will not go out flying unless you eat it hard.

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Panniers/Backpacks: I like riding with panniers because backpacks will make my back sweat. But there are times that you need to ride with a backpack, like the time I was riding offroad on my Spicer Cycles Cyclocross bike. Our friends at 2 wheel gear came out with a brilliant product: the Pannier Backpack convertible. This pannier converts into a backpack in seconds and vice-versa, perfect for train-bike commuting. 2 Wheel Gear also sells the garment pannier which is big enough to carry your suit and ties without having the need to iron your stuff when you get to work. An honorable mention goes to the North St. Morrison Backpack pannier, we have not tried this bag but it is proudly made in the USA.

We will be posting part 2 on Wednesday (Black Friday Eve’s eve), stay tuned for part 2!

Garmin Vivoactive review

Hello Bike commuters, roadies, mountain bikers and anyone who found this post via Google. I hope you all had a great labor day weekend, I know I did.

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A little while ago I wrote a post about fitness bands but even though I found the Moov to be the most adequate for cycling, it was not fulfilling all of my cycling and hiking needs. A few friends recommended the Garmin Vivofit Active so I bit the bullet and I plunked $179 for one.

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So what made me spend more than twice than what a fitness bands costs? The Garmin Vivoactive’s features:

-Utra-thin GPS smartwatch with a sunlight-readable, high-resolution color touchscreen.
-Built-in sports apps, including GPS-enabled running, biking and golfing plus swimming and activity tracking¹, let you view your stats even when away from your phone.
-Pairs with your smartphone to gently vibrate and display alerts for incoming calls, texts, emails and calendar items plus notifications from social media and other mobile apps.
-Customizable with free watch face designs, widgets and apps.
-Fast Battery charge lasts through all your activities with up to 3 weeks6 in watch/activity tracking mode or up to 10 hours using GPS
-Easily sends all your ride stats to Strava once your activity has been completed saving your smartphone’s battery.
-Keeps track of your indoor activities such as indoor cycling and running

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I also like Garmin’s app; the amount of data that I can have at my fingertips is quite a bit and I love data:

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I also opted for the heart rate monitor and the handlebar mount:
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Is there anything that I did not like about the Garmin Vivoactive? Yes, it is hard to see indoors unless you use the backlight and some of the faces have very small letters that make it impossible to read if you need reading glasses.

Overall, I do recommend the Garmin Vivoactive for cycling and hiking. I know that there is a newer version that eliminates the use of the HR strap but you will have to shell out $70 to $100 more.

NiteRider Sentinel tail light review

It has been a little over eight years since we wrote our non-scientific rear light comparo. Planet Bike’s Super Flash rear light was a top favorite and it is still one of my personal favorites.

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We were offered to review the NiteRider Sentinel rear light featuring lasers. Yup, lasers! In top of the lasers, this light also features a 2 Watt LED light producing about 40 lumens. Let me tell you, even without the lasers, this light is freaking bright. Another cool feature is that the Sentinel is a USB rechargeable light-a huge plus in my book.

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I’m guilty of purchasing those inexpensive Chinese laser rear lights and they eat batteries like crazy, not to mention that the quality of the lights was horrible. Lesson learned.

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We used the NiteRider Sentinel during most of our weekly nightly off-road cycling ride. Our local ride offers a variation of horse trails, small streets and big avenues; a rear light is a must for safety reasons. The Sentinel performed with no hiccups even going through some bumpy trails.

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The Sentinel was also tested during our morning rides to the beach on Pacific Coast Highway. Although the lasers were ineffective during daylight, the 2 watt LED was clearly noticeable.

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Pros:
USB rechargeable
Super bright 2 Watt LED light
Freaking Lasers!
Mount can adapt to most seatpost shapes and sizes
NiteRider Quality
Good run time
5 running modes

Cons:
Lasers are invisible during daylight
A little pricey at $50.00

What I would change:
I think that the concept of having virtual laser bike lanes is a good one, however, I don’t really think that we need a laser on the right side since most of us ride close to the curb. It would also be a good idea if the left laser would be 3-feet away from the bike since a few states have a mandatory 3-feet passing law.

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With its super bright 2 Watt LED, convenient mounting strapping system, USB charging and cool lasers; I can definitely see the NiteRider’s Sentinel being one of my favorite tail lights.
Our review disclaimer.

The Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier by Two Wheel Gear

THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

Not too long ago we tested out “The Southwest Waxed Canvas Bike Suit Bag.” Since then, the guys at Two Wheel Gear sent us their updated version of the bag. This time around, they’ve made some changes, mainly in the material they used. Rather than canvas, they went with polyester. Here are some of the main features of the bag:

THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

MATERIAL 600D Polyester with TPE waterproof backing and UV coating
MOUNTING SYSTEM Universal RIXEN & KAUL Vario mounting system – RACK MOUNTING INSTRUCTIONS
INTERNAL ORGANIZATION Stores 3-5 garments, 3 internal mesh pockets for belts, ties, workout shorts, shirts, watches, cufflinks, jewelry, padded 15″ laptop storage
NIGHT VISIBILITY High visibility reflective accents
WATERPROOF RAIN COVER 210 HD Nylon – inverts into clip-on pouch – neon green with reflective silver accents
DETAILS  Padded removable shoulder strap, carry handles, signature monogram liner, zippered mounting hardware access, utility loops for reflective lights and accessories, YKK zippers, top bag hanger/handle, padded internal garment strap, reflective exterior pattern

Product Overview:

  • The functionality of a travel garment bag on your bicycle
  • Meets standard airline carry-on requirements
  • Stores approximately 3-5 hangers/garments
  • Hangs vertical for convenient changing and packing
  • Extra deep side pockets pack shoes, towels, toiletries, etc.
  • Bike to work with wrinkle free clothing

During our testing period we made sure we used the garment bag with our finest duds. As you can see below, the hanger hooks onto a loop and can be secured so it doesn’t fall (the hanger) during transport. Notice the mesh pockets right above the shoulders of my clothing. Those are great for storing for storing small things like jewelry, deodorant, doodads and just about anything that could fit in there. Further down the bag is a security strap; this is great because it prevents your clothing from moving around and we all know that when clothes move around, the more chances of getting wrinkled. THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition you have another mesh pocket to store your g-string or if you like going commando and don’t have a need to store underwear, you can put socks in there. Beneath that is a padded pocket to store a laptop, iPad or a slice of pizza (wrapped of course).

What you see below has to be my favorite feature of the bag. It has a reflective pattern that allows you to be seen while riding. Also you’ll notice the two large side pockets, you can put your shoes in there. I don’t know about you, but I like to wear cycling shoes when I’m riding and when I get to my office, I’ll slip on a fresh pair of work-appropriate footwear. The other side pocket can be used to store your lunch or whatever else you need to bring with you to the office. The top pocket is perfect for keeping a multi-tool, pump and snacks.

The bag is equipped with briefcase handles as well as a detachable shoulder strap. Having both options makes it much easier to carry with you. By the way, you can even travel on an airplane with this bag since it meets airline carry-on requirements.

THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice the reflective rain cover that the Garment Pannier comes with. It’s Hi-Vis to help drivers see you on the road during a down pour. I didn’t get an opportunity to test that feature since living in Southern California, we rarely see rain, all thanks to the drought. THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garment Pannier is equipped with a great locking mechanism that ensures that your bag will not fly off your rack. It uses something called Universal RIXEN & KAUL Vario mounting system. It’s pretty self explanatory on how it works, but you can read all about it HERE. Please forgive my shoddy photo, I’m still trying to convince the boss to let us upgrade our camera from 1993. But you get an idea on how it mounts from this photo.

THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that you’ve got an clear understanding on how the bag is supposed to work, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the review. I used it for a few hundred miles during our testing phase. I’ve even used it to travel to various trade shows in various parts of the country. One thing that stands out with the Classic 2.0 Pannier is that it really is a versatile and robust bag. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s pretty tough. It must be the 600D polyester they use because this bag has seen some asphalt in its day. There was a few times where I haphazardly mounted the bag without securing it and decided to jump a speed bump or ride off the curb and down went the bag. A few times it slid down the road for about 10 feet. But nothing happened to it! The material was still in great condition, none of the hardware broke, and my stuff in side was still intact.

I think the most appealing part about this bag is it’s looks. Nothing about it screams that you’re a bike commuter. I like how it’s not bulky like other panniers I’ve owned. It’s professional looking and may I add, very handsome. So if you want to look like a boss when you get to work, make sure your clothes don’t look like you just pulled them out of the hamper. No! Arrive looking crisp and fresh. But you can’t do that with just a plain pannier bag. Those other bags will leave your office attire all jacked up and molested looking. The Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier is the way to go. Consider it an investment for your career and if you’re self-employed, I’m sure you could write this bag off somehow.

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