BikeCommuters.com

Accessories

Rear Blinky Comparo

Since it gets darker sooner, most of us have to ride in the dark. I’m more than a little paranoid about being seen — especially from the back. Most of us know that the DiNotte lights are the brightest but they will leave your wallet very thin (about $169 bucks). So I gathered what most companies considered their brightest rear lights under $40 dollars.

The Players:

Planet Bike Superflash:

* Half-watt BlazeTM LED plus 2 eXtreme LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
* Unique, eye-catching flash pattern
* Flashing and steady mode
* Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
* Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options
* Up to 100 hours of run time on 2 AAA batteries (included)

Thumbs Up: Small, light, dual mounting options, easy to remove, really freaking bright.
Thumbs Down: None.

Blackburn Mars 3.0:

*seven superbright red LED’s inside a sleek water resistant case.
*Lens optics increase visible distance and side LED’s provide 180 degree safety-boosting visibility.
*150 hour runtime flash mode.
*Batteries included.
*Water resistant.

Thumbs Up: Small, light, dual mounting options, easy to remove, amber LEDs on the side
Thumbs Down: None.

Cateye TL-LD1000

*2 AA batteries
*10 LED’s
*3 flashing modes runs to 100 hours
*Constant mode runs to 50 hours
*18 – 44 mm seat post mounting
*Clothing clip included
*100 Candlepower

Thumbs Up: Dual mounting options, easy to remove, multiple modes, 2 LED’s per side.
Thumbs Down: Not as small or light as the Blackburn or Planet Bike and pricier.

Lightman Xenon Strobe:

*True Strobe Xenon-white flash tube with high-efficiency circuitry for maximum visibility and impact.
*Unique Pyramid Shape provides 180° of visibility. Does not have to face traffic directly to be seen.
*High-intensity model – 3 to 7 hours; Long-duration model – 7 to 15 hours. 83 flashes per minute.
*Compact & Lightweight 3.5? (9cm) each side. 1.5? (4cm) high. Fits in palm of hand. Weighs 3.9 ozs. (115 gm) with batteries installed.
*Impact & Weather Resistant

Thumbs Up: Multiple mounting options, easy to remove, multiple lenses, remote switch (optional), reflectors, big ass blinkie.
Thumbs Down: Big Ass Blinkie, battery life not as long as the others, No side LEDs, sold in very few places.

Firefly Supernova:

Its durable plastic clip enables you to securely attach it to your waistband, belt or even your shirt collar. Wear it whenever you go out at dark and be seen by motorists from up to a mile away. Available in Red, Blue and Green. Batteries included.

Thumbs Up: Small, light, easy to remove, really inexpensive.
Thumbs Down: Expensive battery, clip on only no seat post mount, only sold at www.RoadID.com.

My Opinion
All the lights performed as advertised, they are all very noticeable and very bright. However, one light outshone the others: the Planet Bike Superflash. The Mars 3.0 and the Cateye TL-LD1000 were a close second but the Mars 3.0 is half the price of the Cateye, the Firefly Supernova in third and the Lightman Xenon strobe in last. For being a single LED light and for being the cheapest, I was really surprised how bright the Firefly Supernova is, it will now become my rear helmet light of choice. As far as the Lightman Xenon strobe goes, I’ve owned this rear light for over 2 years and LED technology has come a long way so I wasn’t surprised that it was outperformed.

Here’s a video of the rear lights from about 40 yards away, I know is kind of crappy but you can definitely see which one is the brightest light.

Purple Extreme Lubricant — First Impression

RL picked up a few sample bottles of Purple Extreme bicycle lubricant at Interbike this year, and he sent me a couple to try…I’ve always wanted to try this lube, but was still nursing a bottle of White Lightning along.

Purple Extreme

This is intriguing stuff — the Purple Extreme website claims that the “secret ingredient” is a lubricant made for the harsh conditions of mining operations and offshore oil rigs, where there is a lot of potential for corrosion and dirt contamination.

I took one of the 1 oz. sample bottles and slapped it onto my singlespeed’s chain. A word about the singlespeed drivetrain I’m running: I mixed a 1/8″ BMX chain with a 3/32″ freewheel, a 3/32″ chainring and a 1/8″ fixed cog…mixing the two sizes often creates a lot of noise, and my bike’s drivetrain was noisy as hell! As soon as the chain was well-soaked in Purple Extreme and it was allowed to set for a few minutes, the drivetrain was absolutely silent! Hmmm…this stuff might just work!

The lube itself is a very thin purple liquid. It feels slippery, but is so thin that I was skeptical about its power to do the job — I’m used to thick, goopy liquids like the White Lightning I’ve been using for years (which actually starts off pretty thin, but thickens up as it cures). Well, after about 100 miles, with a couple of rainstorms thrown in for good measure, my drivetrain is still smooth and silent! Skeptic no more, I say!

RL tried some on his mountain bike, and reported that he had to reapply it every 20 miles or so. Apparently, his experience indicates that it doesn’t do quite so well in dirty, dusty conditions. I haven’t been able to try this lube in the dirt, but I can say that at least it doesn’t attract dirt like other lubes I’ve used in the past.

We’ll keep you posted on how this stuff performs over the long haul. So far, though, I’m pretty impressed!

One Bad-ass Lunchbox

This has very little to do with bicycle commuting, but the other day my wife bought me a truly BAD-ASS lunchbox that I just had to share with you. For folks who have traveled abroad, you may recognize it as an Indian “tiffin box”, designed to carry multiple courses of a lunchtime meal, or multiple servings of the same meal for a number of people.

Badass lunchbox

Basically, it is two stainless steel bowls with a separating plate — and a lid for the small bowl. The whole thing clamps together with a hinged carrier and integrated carrying handle, keeping everything together. In the above picture, I have my “Russ Roca-approvedtitanium spork wedged under the clamp.

Here’s what the lunchbox looks like when it’s separated — sorry, I ate everything inside. You’ll have to look at your own lunch!

unpacked

The whole contraption (with carrying handle) is about 10″ tall, and the two bowls hold PLENTY of food (RL, I’m thinking of you and your “super-buffet” appetite!). Two drawbacks, though. First, it isn’t liquid-tight (like Tupperware), so it must be carried upright. Second, it’s heavy. Empty, the thing weighs about a pound. For me this is no big deal, since the bike I carry it on weighs about 50 lbs. What’s another pound between friends?

The lunchbox sits on top of my rear rack, or sometimes I slip it into one of the panniers — it’s small enough to fit and still leave room for other goodies. I just throw a bungee cord over it when it’s on the rack and it stays in place.

Ready to roll

My wife found this box on a website called Reusablebags.com, which also sells lots of products made out of sustainable and/or recycled materials, if that’s your bag…ha ha. While we were shopping there, we also bought our son an insulated lunchbag made out of recycled soda bottles…keeping 10 2-liter bottles out of landfills. Yeah!

D-Tour Safety Flag Update

Last month, we posted a first impression of the D-Tour Bicycle Safety Flag. For those of you who missed the article, the flag itself is made of highly reflective nylon — fluorescent yellow-green for the body and silver for the stripes and trim. This fabric flag and “sock? fit over a springy metal arm. 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.

It’s really a clever and simple device. Better yet, it seems to work! We’ve ridden with these flags on the streets of California and Florida, and can honestly say that it seems motorists WILL give you a bit of extra room when you have this flag deployed. Another phenomenon I noticed while riding around the mean streets of Tampa is that motorists seemed to be less likely to turn left in front of me when the flag is extended. Apparently, the bright yellow flag captures more motorists’ attentions than a cyclist rolling full-tilt towards them! It was certainly a nice phenomenon to experience…I don’t know if it was the “placebo effect? or something, but I did notice it.

I must admit — intially, this is not something I would have bought for my bike. To be honest, I prefer less hardware and gadgets on my “fast commuter? bike…a couple of lights and a rear reflector are the only safety equipment it has on it. But, now that I have experienced the benefits of this flag, I am forced to reconsider. The flag retails at $20.00 + shipping — is that worth a couple extra feet of passing room from motorists? I think so!

Overall, this seems to be a great product — solidly constructed, reasonably priced, and surprisingly effective at its job. For more information or to purchase a D-Tour Safety Flag for yourself, please email developer Glenn Hanson at dtourltd(at)aol(dot)com.