Category: Accessories

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.

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.

Our FTC Disclaimer

We received a couple of samples from the folks at Rocket Pure. The first was the Friction Therapy Anti-Chafe Balm Stick with tea tree oil. The other was the Cedarwood Foot and Shoe Deordorizing Powder-REVIVE. Both are great products for cyclists and can be used in everyday life.

The first item I tested out was the Balm Stick. I don’t know about you but I hate it when my skin gets all chafed from riding or even running. I’ve used other products before such as Udderly Smooth, ButtButter and many others. One thing I didn’t like about those other items was the application of the product to your body. I didn’t like having to use my fingers to smear it on my bits and pieces that needed protection. What I like about the Rocket Pure Balm is that it comes as a stick, much like deodorant sticks out there. Application is no mess, glides on smoothly and it’s not greasy. bikecommuters.com product reviews rocket pure

I used the balm on various rides, from street to mountain biking as well as when I’d try to go jogging. It works like a charm, kept my skin from chafing and the tea tree scent is actually pleasant. Another feature Rocket Pure mentions is that it doesn’t stain clothing, yep it’s true, no stains at all. So it comes down to this, the balm works, I like how it’s a stick, no mess, no hassle and it protected my skin. In fact on the days I’d forget to use it, after my skin is already chaffed, I’d actually apply it over my skin to provided extra protection and prevent more damage.

With the stick, I simply apply it to the areas I want protection before I get on the bike or start my job. It works on its own andI don’t have that weird squishy feeling like I used to get with other products I’ve used before.

bikecommuters.com product reviews rocket pureThe other product I tested was the foot powder. Listen, I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve got a bit of a foot odor problem. My feet get sweaty and when that happens, oh boy, they can get stinky like vinegar! Just recently I bought some foot powder made by Dr. Scholl’s. It worked ok, it left my feet super dry. I guess that’s good, but my skin just felt dead, like it was too dry. Make sense? So when the Rocket Pure REVIVE powder came in for testing, I was really excited to try it. I didn’t bother putting it on my feet, I applied it right into my shoes. First it went into my Doc Marten’s then my Converse All Star and eventually into my cycling shoes.

Whoa! My feet felt cool and dry, but not dry like death, but pleasantly dry! My feet also smelled nice, like cedar. I loved my experience so much that I started secretly putting the powder into my daughter’s shoes…man who would have thought daughters can get so stinky! I even tried something crazy. Normally I’m always wearing socks with shoes. But this time I got a crazy deal on some casual canvas loafer-type of shoes, However, wearing socks with them would look totally lame. So you gotta go commando with them, as in socks that is. But before I dared to do that, I sprinkled some Rocket Pure foot powder in my shoes and then I slipped them on. After spending a day wearing my new shoes without socks, I took them off once I got home and pulled my feet up to my face, took a whiff…absolutely shocking! My feet smelled great! They smelled like Cedarwood! I wanted to shout out and tell my wife and kids to sniff my feet, but I highly doubt that they would have done it.

With that being said, I truly believe that Rocket Pure knocked it out of the park with both of these products. Each product are priced $14.99 on their website and I gotta tell you, that’s a pretty good deal for some high  quality products! Give them a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Our Review Disclaimer

 

 

 

Some time ago I received the Southwest waxed canvas bike suit bag from the folks at 2 Wheel Gear. I was excited to use this bag for a few reasons. I think it’s damn handsome and I’ve been wanting a suit bag. Below is the description of the bag per their website:

Weather-ready Staywax canvas is manufactured to be extremely water-resistant and cut-resistant, yet breathable and light. It uses a unique blend of wax and polymers to give it legendary durability without feeling oily. Unlike traditional wax cotton finishes, Staywax doesn’t transfer to clothes or skin. Machine washable.
Wrinkle Free All the function of a travel suit bag on the back of your bike. Transfer hangers from your closet to inside your bag. Hangs vertical for convenient changing and packing.
Capacity 55L of storage capacity. No more rolling clothes. Extra deep side billow pockets pack your shoes, toiletries, laptops and anything you might need for the daily grind.
Easy Rack Mounting Mounting brackets (J-Clips) on the bottom of the pannier work with most standard bike racks. D-Rings hook over the rack’s bottom post and nylon velcro straps securely fasten the pannier to the rack. Built for a long long ride and will not bounce off.

Bag Dimensions
Main Compartment 37″x 18.5″ x 3″
Large Exterior Pockets (2) 12.5″ x 11.5″ x 3″
Small Exterior Pockets (2) 10″ x 9″ x 2″
Top Ridge Pocket 11.5″ x 5″ x 3″

So let’s break this review down. Here’s how the bag looks off the bike:
The bag has two side pockets. Interestingly, one is upright, while the other side is horizontal. You’ll also notice that it has a shoulder strap and handles to make it easier to transport.

Bag wide open. You can place your suit, or a dress shirt and slacks right in there:

This is how it looks with my leisure suit inside the bag:
 Canvas Bike Suit Bag

The bag works pretty much like any other bag with the exception of holding your suit inside. The side pockets can also carry a laptop; on the top of the bag there is a small zippered compartment where you can place your toiletries, belt, or whatever you want to store in there.
canvas suit bag

Mounting the bag onto my rack was a breeze. The J-hooks fit perfectly and to secure the bag from falling off, the D-rings are attached to Velcro straps. So all I had to do was place the ring on the mount of the rack, cinch the strap and I was on the road!
commuter bag

Here are the J-hooks and the Velcro strap. It’s a great fit, nice and snug. This bag isn’t going anywhere!
commuter bag review
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The canvas material is weather resistant. Here’s a few shots of my “rain simulation.”
water resistant bag
water repellent bag

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the Southwest Canvas bag. I simply LOVE this bag for its classy stylings and easy to use features. The zippers glide easily without catching any material. By the way, you know those water photos above? Well I checked the contents of the bag after getting it wet and they were completely dry!

Another feature that I liked about the bag is that once you get to your destination, you can hang the bag on a door hook and you can start changing. But one thing about this bag that stands out to me from all the other bags I’ve reviewed would be the “grown up” look of it. I feel that I’ve out grown the whole messenger bag thing. I do like backpacks, but my back always gets sweaty. Not to mention my shoulders start to ache after a long ride. So with the Southwest, I arrive with a dry-ish back, the bag looks so good that an executive could confidently walk into his/her office with it and have it pair very well with their office attire.

The Southwest is priced at $279 CAD or $247 USD. Sounds pricey? Well you have to keep in mind that most garment bags out there use nylon fabric and that material easily frays or tears. The waxed canvas used for the Southwest is weather resistant and designed not to tear. In addition to the high quality canvas, they also made all the straps and hardware with military grade materials. Now you know when people say “military grade” that it means it’s going to last a long time.

I’ve been using this bag for the last few months and it actually bothered the guys at 2 Wheel Gear that I wasn’t publishing a review so quickly, that’s only because I wanted to really get some time with it. I’ve even used this bag on my motorcycle to carry my clothes. Even at 80 MPH, the bag held up well. I never experienced any type of craftsmanship issue, none of the zippers or other hardware broke or gave me problems. Oh, here’s another great thing about the Southwest, it’s completely machine washable! Yep, you can was this thing in cold water and let it air dry. The waxed canvas isn’t going to lose its characteristics — in fact, you’ll gain more character in the appearance of the bag.

All in all, I was really pleased with the Southwest waxed canvas bag by 2 Wheel Gear. I like that they also design and manufacture all their products in Vancouver, BC and Calgary, AB, Canada. To me that’s great because they’re helping their local economy grow. The bag also comes with a 2 year warranty against manufacturer defects or craftsmanship issues.

Our review disclaimer

At the beginning of summer, the kind folks at SealSkinz offered us a pair of their new summerweight cycling gloves to try out. You may know SealSkinz as a maker of waterproof socks, hats, and gloves for outdoor activities such as hiking and hunting, but they’ve also got a number of cycling-specific pieces in their lineup.

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The SealSkinz gloves are lightweight, with a lycra back and a synthetic leather palm that is textured for grip. The middle and ring fingers have extra material at the tops that are fashioned as “pull tabs” to get the gloves off easier. There’s a hook-and-loop wrist closure, and reflective accents on the back of the glove.

The pair I tested is a size Large. They felt true to size, but with a small amount of bunching between the fingers (we’ll get to that in a bit).

The padding on the palm is rather thin, and at first I thought I’d have issues with that — my own hands are not particularly padded, and prefer a glove with dense padding in the palm, where possible. The SealSkinz gloves, despite the thin padding, didn’t let me down in terms of comfort, even for longer riders of 30-40 miles. Beyond those distances, I think I’d rather have something with more padding.

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For those who have read glove reviews I’ve done in the past, you may remember that the nose-wiping area of a glove is VERY important to me, summer or winter. The SealSkinz didn’t let me down there, either — the entire thumb is made of a soft microsuede material, with no protruding seams to rough up the sensitive nose area. I can wipe all day in comfort!

The grip is fantastic with the gloves, as is overall durability. I wore them all summer and racked up serious miles with the SealSkinz, and they still look pretty new, even after a couple of washings. The stitching and seams remained tight throughout the testing period.

The reflective accents on the backs are a nice touch, but I don’t know how effective they might be. The reflective effect is pretty subtle, and I was unable to get a good nighttime photo of the reflective bits in action.

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Perhaps my only gripe with the SealSkinz gloves is the cut of the fabric panels prior to sewing. I did notice a lot of extra material, especially between the fingers. I can’t help but think that the cutting patterns could be refined a bit to reduce some of this excess, helping to streamline them a bit and reduce bunching between the fingers. Since the material is naturally stretchy, this excess material isn’t needed to accommodate wider fingers than my own, either.

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The SealSkinz fingerless gloves retail for $35, and are available directly from the SealSkinz website. As of this writing, they are not in stock and do not appear on the company website even though they ARE a current product. I checked with their PR person just to make sure they weren’t discontinued for some reason. That $35 buys a well-constructed, lightweight glove that is ideal for warm-weather riding. The gloves are 100% designed in Great Britain, with much of the manufacture occurring in Great Britain as well. Take a look at the SealSkinz cycling lineup for a wide range of products to suit any rider at any temperature.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.