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Accessories

“The Southwest” Waxed Canvas Bike Suit Bag by 2 Wheel Gear-Review

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
suit sak

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

Product review: SealSkinz Fingerless Cycle Gloves

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.

Product review: Adventuress Sunscreen Swipes

Even though summer is winding down, those sun’s rays can still damage your skin. If you spend any time on your bike in the daylight, sunscreen is a smart option.

Right at the beginning of the summer, the good folks at Adventuress send some of their handy sunscreen swipes for us to try.

sun_pads

These Adventuress sunscreen swipes easily stash into a jersey pocket or saddlebag — or really anywhere you might want to have one on hand for some sun protection. They are quite compact and well-sealed.

My favorite feature of these is their packaging, which offers a convenient “finger pocket” to keep your hands grease-free (very important while cycling). Simply peel off the seal, slip your fingers into the pocket and apply:

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I found that each swipe had enough to cover my forearms, neck, nose, and ears — all the places that bear the brunt of sun exposure at this time of the year. With careful application, I think a few more square inches of skin could be covered, too. The sunscreen formula is paraben- and fragrance-free, and didn’t feel at all greasy on the skin. The manufacturer claims the formula is gentle on sensitive skin, and it protects against UVA and UVB rays. It seemed to work, too — rides in the full sun left me burn-free every time I used a sunscreen swipe!

The Adventuress Sunscreen Swipes retail for $24.00 for a box of 24, and can be purchased directly from the Adventuress website. That’s pretty pricey, for sure, but you can’t beat the convenience of being able to stash these in a pocket for on-the-go use. They’re good to have on hand for emergency use, but I wouldn’t rely on them for daily full-coverage application on account of the price.

Check out the Adventuress website for a range of other skincare products.

Chatter Tunes Review

We received the Chatter Tunes a few months ago and once I got in my hands, I knew the perfect bike to install this on. The Sidecar!
chatter tunes on bikecommuters.com

Here’s a product description:

This is a portable speaker that supports Bluetooth® version 2.1. With this Speaker, you can:
1. Play music from a Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phone or audio source that is compatible with A2DP, such as an iPod/iPhone/iPad, Android Smartphone, PC or Mac.
2. Use the ChatterTunes as a speaker phone for a Bluetooth® connected mobile phone.
3. Play music from an auxiliary device connected through the supplied 3.5mm audio cable.

Mounting was pretty easy. The adjustable clamp has rubber grabbing points where it securely held a strong grip on the frame. What I like about the Chatter Tunes is placement if your Smart device. In my case it was an iPhone4. There’s a detachable sleeve that has a clear window to allow you touch access to your apps. The sleeve is strongly attached with a Velcro surface. During our testing period the sleeve never came undone even when we rode over rougher roads.
chatterbox chatter tunes

Connecting to the Chatter Tunes via Bluetooth was seamless. All I had to do was turn on the unit, then turn on my BT on my phone and viola! I’m playing my tunes! One of my favorite features of this device is that it acts as a speaker phone. With the built in mic, it makes it very convenient to use in my home office while speaking on the phone with clients while needing to type.
chatter tunes bikecommuters
The sound is powerful, crisp and very clear. Chatter Tunes delivers premium sounds. Even when you’re riding in the street, you can still hear your songs.

One of the things we tried was to take a phone call while riding the sidecar. The sidecar only goes about 12mph, so taking a phone call was rather interesting and fun. The person on the other end of the phone can hear a noticeable sound from the road. I can only assume that the vibration from the sidecar traveled through the frame and onto the unit. Wind noise was surprisingly low since the microphone isn’t in direct line of the wind.

Would I recommend Chatter Tunes? Sure! It’s a great device that delivers premium sound and made my rides more enjoyable. It’s great if you just want to cruise or take a leisure ride down to your favorite coffee shop or bars.

With a price tag of $59.99, this makes for an affordable, multipurpose Bluetooth speaker set up. You can use it for your rides or bring it into your home or office.
sidecar bicycle bikecommuters.com chattertunes
FTC Disclaimer

Review: Wind-Blox wind-reducing strap attachments

If you spend enough time zipping around town on a bike, you may enjoy the sounds of the city around you, and the sound of the wind whistling past your ears. Have you ever noticed, though, that sometimes that wind noise can block OTHER sounds, like the sounds of approaching cars or other hazards?

That was the idea behind the invention of Wind-Blox, a device that helps block some of that excess wind noise and thus improving safety on the road.

w_blox

In a nutshell, Wind-Blox are soft fabric “envelopes” that wrap around the front straps of a cycling helmet. The envelopes are filled with a cushy foam and attach with hook-and-loop material. The Wind-Blox serve as a baffle, channeling excess wind noise past the ear. They attach easily in just a few seconds, and are adjustable along the length of the helmet strap by sliding up or down to maximize wind reduction. The material and the construction is soft against the skin and there was no irritation to speak of.

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Does it work? Take a look at the video Wind-Blox has on their homepage:

While riding around my city, I experienced much the same effect — the “roar” of the wind was lessened, and I felt as if I were able to discern cars approaching sooner and to hear some of the other city sounds that get drowned out by the wind. It seems like a really silly sort of invention, but it does work!

The Wind-Blox come in four colors: Black, Silver-Grey, Neon Green, and Pink, and retail for $15.00 right on the Wind-Blox website. They make a lovely stocking stuffer or small everyday gift for the cyclist in your life.