BikeCommuters.com

Accessories

Minnehaha Bags — Retro Flavor and Serious Style!

Our friends from Banjo Brothers sent a little tidbit of information our way today. They’re announcing an offshoot company called The Minnehaha Bag Company which will specialize in classic (and classy!) canvas and leather bicycle bags.

These bags evoke many of the styling characteristics of classic bike bag makers such as Carradice, Gilles Berthoud and Ostrich…stout canvas and harness-leather strapping. Mmmm, it’s some good-looking stuff. Details are a bit sparse just now, but the Bikecommuters.com crew will get their dirty little hands on these bags when we meet with the Minnehaha crew at this year’s Interbike. Stay tuned for more details…and in the meantime, feast your eyes on these beauties:

Small Saddlebag:
small bag

Larger Saddlebag:
larger bag

Grocery pannier:
grocery

Traditional pannier:
pannier

Shoulder bag? (not sure what this one is…but that’s my guess; perhaps the folks from Minnehaha will chime in with some additional details):
shoulder

Also, keep your eyes on the Minnehaha Bag Company website for additional details and more photos of these gorgeous bags.

Featured Product: Monkeylectric LED Wheel Light

From time to time, we get some cool and fun products to ride with and feature on the site. The Monkeylectric M132 is such product.

Here are the product’s features:

· Unique and powerful graphics synthesizer system:
generates thousands of constantly changing patterns and colors
instantly customizable colors, patterns and activity to fit any situation
· 32 Full color, wide angle, ultra-bright LEDs provide nearly 360-degree visibility
· 8 mounting options fit nearly any Road, Mountain or BMX bike wheel
· Ruggedized construction designed for daily use and frequent wet weather
· Vibration-proof 3-point mounting system
· High strength fiber composite construction withstands rough riding
· Hook & loop battery strap keeps batteries secure and easy to replace
· Lead-free, RoHS compliant environment-friendly construction
· Only 65 grams without batteries
· Clear hardcoat over all LEDs keep the lights fully waterproof for the deepest puddles
· Lasts up to 30 hours on 3 x AA batteries, rechargeables provide best performance

I installed the Monkeylectric LED on my DB Transporter-Xtracycle, I figured that the bike is an excellent candidate since I like to cruise with it in the dark.

The LED is fairly easy to use, simple push the power button, select a color, pattern and speed and you are ready to go. One of the things that I really like about the LED is that is really bright and it really attracts attention. As I rode through my neighborhood during 4th of July, I got a lot of cheers from the people that were enjoying the 4th of July festivities outside in their driveway.

The only drawback of this light is that it may make your wheels imbalanced, since I don’t ride very fast on my Xtracycle, I don’t really notice, but here’s what Monkeylectric says about how to handle such imbalance:

Our more casual test riders can’t tell the difference when riding. As with any product you attach to your bike wheel or bike – it can affect the handling especially at high speeds. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the handling of your bike after installing the m132s.

Any imbalance is more noticeable on high-performance lightweight wheels, and at faster riding speeds. If this is important to you there are a couple things you can do: (1) mount the m132s closer to the hub of the wheel – this will dramatically reduce any imbalance, (2) remove the batteries when you are not using it. the bare unit is only 65g, the batteries usually add another 100g. (3) mount a second m132s, or similar weight, on the opposite side of the wheel.

Here’s a short video of the Monkeylectric in action (Sorry about the fuzziness, my camera is not really equipped to shoot in the dark):

At $64.95 it may not be cheap, but Monkeylectric seems to be sold out due to high demand. I think that if your commute is a short one or a slow one and if you ride at night, you could benefit from the Monkeylectric M132’s brightness making you more visible at night.

Review: Ryders “Oasis” Sunglasses

A couple months back, the folks at Ryders Eyewear sent me a pair of their “Oasis” sunglasses to try out. I’ve been wearing these sunglasses exclusively for all that time…to the beach, to work, on recreational bike rides, to events and out on the town. So, I think I’ve developed enough of an impression to write something about them.

Oasis

Here’s a little bit about the glasses from the Ryders website (these glasses are part of their “Chill Collection“):

    FRAME: GLOSS BLACK, DURAFLEX
    LENS: GREY, POLYCARBONATE, 100% UV PROTECTION
    TINT: 15% VLT
    FIT: MEDIUM
    FEATURES: ANTI-SLIP NOSE PADS AND TEMPLE TIPS
    PRICE: $39.99

Although these glasses are not sport-specific, they seem well designed for active lifestyles. The lens material is tough, the hinges and finish are durable and the temple and nose pads do their thing without slipping.

There are three major attributes I really liked about these sunglasses. First, the lens is almost completely uninterrupted by the nose bridge…that bridge is just a tiny vertical strip of plastic, giving the wearer a great field of view with no obstructions. Here’s a shot of the lens as viewed from the inside:

nose bridge

Secondly, the shape and curve of the lens gave me great peripheral vision. While the temples and hinge area of these glasses are chunky, they are set back far enough in my field of view that I can barely see the edge only if I really crank my eyes over to the side. With other sunglasses I’ve tried, my peripheral vision tended to be obstructed unless I turned my head. Not so with these glasses — I get the full sweep with no head-turning!

Third, the glasses fit very tightly to my face. I have a very narrow face, and sometimes sport glasses stick out past the sides of my head, giving me a rather “insect-like” appearance. Also, if there’s a big air gap at the top or bottom of the lens, this can cause my eyes to tear up when the wind hit them at speed (I like to ride fast…what can I say?). The Oasis lenses curve both horizontally and vertically, snugging up to the contours of my face. In fact, the tops fit so closely to my eyes that I actually have to tuck my wacky, Leonid Brezhnev-style eyebrows in!

Untucked:
untucked

Tucked:
tucked

For those of you who live in hot, humid environments, have no fear…the hydrophilic nose pads and temple inserts WILL NOT slip, no matter how much you sweat. Sunglass slippage is the bane of many a cyclist — it’s a safety hazard! And, while many reasonably-priced sunglasses have rubber pads that claim to be slip-free, they don’t often deliver; good pads are usually in the realm of really expensive sport-specific eyewear. Not so with Ryders…these rubber pads are the real deal.

So far, I’ve been incredibly pleased by these sunglasses. They filter out a good amount of light and glare on sunny Florida days, they stay in place and they keep my eyes from watering. Sure, they look a little “pimp”, but hey — that’s how I roll!

Check out the full collection at the Ryders Eyewear website…oh, and Ryders, if you’re reading this, I’d sure love to try out some of the other models (hint, hint).

G-Form Gel pads Review

What:G-Form Gel Saddle kit, Gel Brake hood Over-Grips, Bike Shoe Inserts:

About G-Form:

About me and my commute:
I’m 5′7″, 160lbs and 37yrs young. My commute is 23.6 miles round trip and it is mostly flat. I ride from Whittier, CA to Downey CA in Los Angeles County. 90% of my commute is ridden on the street and the rest is on the San Gabriel River Trail Bike path.


Brake hood overs freshly installed.


Gel Saddle pads freshly installed

Overview:I installed the G-form saddle pads and the Gel brake hood overs on my trusty and reliable Ibex X-ray cyclocross commuter bike. I was looking for a little extra comfort, specifically in the brake hood area. Although I didn’t need the extra comfort in the saddle area, I installed the saddle gel pads to see if I could feel a difference. I’ve ridden with the G-Form pads for over two months and put over 200 commuting miles on them. Here’s the skinny:

The pads work as advertised, they do add the extra comfort and they absorbed and dampened some of the imperfections of the road. I really liked the hood overs — they gave me the comfort that I was looking for and my hands were not fatigued at the end of my commutes. I was also pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the saddle gel pads were; I used another type of gel saddle cover once, but I really hated it because it moved all over the place.


Hood overs after 2 months and over 200 miles


Saddle Gel pads after 2 months and over 200 miles

Some of you shared some concern about the durability of the gel pads; I was also a little worried that the glue of the pads was not going to last. After 200 miles, the saddle gel pads needed a little ‘patch kit’ that G-form is now including with their saddle kit. These little patches MUST be installed or the tips of the saddle pads WILL unglue.

The hood over pads are showing their wear and tear; the edges are not sticking to the hoods anymore and when is really hot outside, they tend to soften up and bunch up a little. The bunching up does not really affect the comfort of the pads, they tend to firm up after a while. I’m guesstimating another month of commuting before they become totally unglued. I still don’t care much for the shoe pads — after correctly installing them, I didn’t feel any added comfort.

So the big question is, are they worth it? For those who are seeking comfort from their saddle, the gel saddle pads are comfortable and durable. You can try to buy another saddle, but that would be a hit and miss and those other gel saddle covers are just horrible. The gel hood over pads durability is questionable, but they may be worth it to you if you don’t mind shelling $12.95+ shipping about every 3 months. I can’t say much about the shoe pads, my guess is that if your feet experience discomfort, give the pads a try.

G-form sells all three items for $47.85 and shipping is included, if you are thinking about trying the pads, this would be the way to go. If you want to buy an individual item, ask your LBS to carry G-form pads — you’ll save a few bucks in shipping and handling.

For more information or to buy the G-form pads, go to www.gformcomfort.com

Peace Coffee Review: Guatemalan Organic Dark Roast

This week’s coffee review is the Guatemalan Organic Dark Roast

Here are the specs:

Hang with a smooth Guatemalan. Well-rounded and complete. Layers of deep solidarity from a dark roasted chocolate place. A fat favorite all around. Big.

Roast Level: Dark
Acidity: Medium – Low
Body: Heavy
Aroma: Dark chocolate
Flavor Notes: Bitter-sweet chocolate with dark roast smokiness and a slight remainder of citrus.

Farmer Cooperatives: ADIPCO, Apecaform, Nahuala, Rio Azul & Chajulense

Here’s how the beans look. Now I’m no Starbucks Barista but from what I’ve learned over the years, the darker the roast the more visible oil is on the bean. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but these beans are glistening as if they’ve been sunbathing on the beach with baby oil.
beans

Once the beans were grounded, the sweet scent of a fine dark chocolate hits the air. Eventually the whole room smells awesome.
grounds

Much like the last reviews we did with Peace Coffee, the French Press has been the standard for the test. Look how rich the coffee looks. You just can’t get that with an automatic drip. Oh and here’s the thing, I TRIED to use my Mr. Coffee Auto Drip machine for this test…you know to be different. But those machines literally murder the flavor and texture of the coffee. It wasn’t until I used the press that the flavors came back to life and greeted my taste buds.
french press

What’s great about using a press is you get a full bodied and richer coffee. Usually if you use a drip machine, the coffee looks more like a shiny dark tea. But the press gives you texture, flavors and that nice little frothy foam..
pour

So here’s how this coffee did…the specs show that this has a bitter sweet chocolate flavor. As I sipped my cup of sweetness…well not really since its a dark roast and it was black…anyhow, the certain flavors do jump out then lounge on your tongue; think of a Dove Dark Chocolate Bar. If you’ve ever had one of those then you’ll understand that this is the exact flavor the Guatemalan provides. It’s smooth, rich…oh wait, I already said that, and overall delicious. Though it’s a dark roast it doesn’t mean that it is super bitter. No, not at all — what happens is when you drink this, you do get the smokey flavor that it has been roasted longer than other beans, but it’s not like it is a kick in the mouth where you feel violated because the “dark roast” is taking advantage of your mouth. No the Guatemalan is very smooth and easy to drink. Acidity level is rated at low to medium, not bad considering darker roasts typically have a higher level. Plus I never experienced any stomach aches or heartburn after drinking it.

From this coffee lover to another, my gift to everyone reading is this review. You really have to give Peace Coffee a try. I’ve been really blown away on their coffees. They’re nice people too! Peace sells the Guatemalan Organic Dark Roast for about $9.99 per pound, and I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!