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Divoom Bluetune Bean Review

This was sent to us to review recently — it’s called the Divoom Bluetune Bean. It retails for $29.99. We agreed to test this because I know there are many of you, including myself, who enjoy listening to music…especially when riding.

Here are the features so you can understand what this is:

    Pocket sized speaker
    Built in Microphone
    Big wireless sound
    Clip on design
    Built-in rechargeable battery
    Sporty look

Bluetune bean

The contents of the package reveal the Bean, clip, USB cable and instruction booklet.
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With the clip, you can pretty much attach this thing anywhere, such as on your backpack or your basket.
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Here are the specs just in case that kind of stuff tickles your fancy:

    Output: 3 w
    Speaker Dimensions: 68L* 45W* 92Hmm
    Frequency range: 80Hz-20000kHz
    Impedance: 4 Ohm
    Charging Voltage: 5V
    Charging Voltage: or AC/DC,
    adaptor=4.2B ; 0.3A

So let’s get down to it. The Bean is cute, it’s pretty durable for what it is. I’ve accidentally and purposely dropped it in my kitchen, on my back porch, and on the street to see how well it would hold up. So far so good. The Bean is still playing music. What’s surprising is how well the sound is coming from this little Bean. The bass is pretty deep and the treble isn’t so high that it distorts at higher volumes.

What caught my attention with the Bean are the Bluetooth features and microphone. I liked that I didn’t have to attach it with a cord to listen to music. Plus I liked the idea that I could take phone calls with this and use it as a speaker phone — that is what sold me on it. Before I go on, I do want to mention the music quality on the Bean is superb! Bluetooth connectivity is pretty easy and battery life is also impressive. They rate it at 6 hours between charges. I’ve had it on at my desk for going on 8 hours and the life indicator still shows about 1/4 left.

The only down side to the Bean is the microphone’s capability. What the caller will hear is a loud buzzing sound. In fact, one of my friends called me on it and he asked if I was shaving. I said “no, why?” He explained that it sounds like I’ve got an electric shaver on. I wanted to hear what he was talking about, so I called my cell phone from my home phone. Sure enough…BBBBBZZZZZZZZZZ. It was pretty loud and the actual mic levels were pretty low. This means that whoever was talking with the Bean would have to raise their voice a bit louder just so the other person can hear you.

If I were to rate the Bluetune Bean from a scale of 1-10, I’d give it around a 7. Like I said, sound quality is excellent, but it was the buzzing sound where the Bean lost points.

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Review: Hickies Elastic Shoe Laces

Have you ever had your shoelaces get caught in your chain, or wrapped around your pedal, or gotten chewed up by your cranks? I have…all three scenarios and a few more. Sure, there are a couple of creative shoe-tying techniques one could use to minimize such entanglements (or one could just get a chaincase), but accidents DO happen.

What to do? How do we keep our shoelaces protected from the ravages of our bicycles’ drivetrains? Enter Hickies, an elastic shoelacing system. The kind folks at Hickies graciously sent me a couple pairs to try out…one for me, and one for my school-age child to test.

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The Hickies are made of a stretchy and durable elastomer. They basically consist of a looped length with a plastic “head” on one end that the loop goes around. 14 come to each package…enough for a pair of shoes with seven lace eyelets. The packaging is neat (and recycleable!) and comes with clear instructions. Simply lace the Hickies through the shoe’s lace holes and pass the lopped portion around the head. Viola — instant slipons!

All laced up and ready to go:

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The Hickies work quite well — they are incredibly stretchy, so they accomodate a fairly wide range of shoe sizes. How the shoe fits after installing the Hickies, though, will be up to the shoes themselves and your feet. I have fairly narrow feet, and the Hickies were secure without binding. My son LOVES his…no more shoe-tying squabbles in the morning, and plenty of security for playgrounds and P.E. classes! As you can see from the photo below, if the Hickies prove to be too loose, you can try weaving them differently (all covered in the instructions and company website). In our case, the top runs were too loose, and crossing them as shown in this picture took up just enough slack to work:

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If they are too tight, though, there’s no way to lengthen them — I had to remove the topmost run on my shoes since they were too tight to allow my foot to enter the shoe. No worry…the shoes now fit like slippers, with even snugness the length of my foot. This was especially handy during plane trips, where I could slip in and out of my shoes at TSA checkpoints and on the planes themselves.

Over the past couple months, the Hickies have proven to be very durable…no breakages to note. If I had anything negative to say about the Hickies, it’s this: I had the topmost loop pop off the head of the device a couple times when pulling my shoe on. The Hickies sort of roll a bit as my foot slides in, and that was enough to pop them loose. If the groove that runs around the circumference of the Hickies head was a little deeper or wider, that may ensure retention.

Hickies come in a rainbow of colors to match nearly any shoe, and the heads are interchangeable so you can mix-and-match to your heart’s desire. Match your bike, your bag, your shirt, your shoes! The Hickies retail for $19.99 per package, and offer a fun and effective way to eliminate shoelace tangles.

Please take a look at the Hickies website for more details, instructive videos, and their creation story.

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

Review: a Must-Have Mini Pump by Planet Bike

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And it’s a shiny blue/gun-metal gray color, oooOOooo, aaaAAAAaahh.

Hey bike commuters new and old, crunchy and green, or bright and shiny! For anyone out there who has had to change a flat on the go between work and home, check out this must-have flexible mini pump from Planet Bike: the Air Smith Mini Comp.

At the beginning of summer, RL hooked me up with a “welcome back to the U.S. of A.” Planet Bike care package including mad blinky lights and the Air Smith Comp. Now, although I am typically a fan of hitching a ride on the bus, walking my bike back towards my house, or flagging down strangers with a truck bed (don’t tell my Grandma) anytime I get a flat tire on my bike commute, sometimes you just gotta have a portable bike pump. A floor pump is usually my preference for any flat tire repair kit, but you can’t ride around town looking like this, now can you?

So, if you’re looking to add another staple to your commuter saddlebag/toolkit, check out the specs below on this clever stroke of PB genius:

Planet Bike Air Smith Mini Comp

  • Rotating valve head and hose makes it easy to use.
  • Retractable hose protects tire valve and allows for a powerful and comfortable pumping position.
  • Stow-a-way adaptor converts Air Smith to presta mode.
  • Using adaptor head with compressor is helpful if you have tubeless tires and need to reset the bead.
  • Stashes easily in a jersey pocket or backpack and mounts to your bike with included bracke
  • Composite handles
  • Includes mounting bracket

SKU #1037

$16.99

Those guys at PB have done it again. It may not seem like it, but that little flexi-hose at the nozzle makes this compact pump a must-have for commuting. “Why?” you ask, “Please, Mir, tell me it’s the bestest in the westest?!” Okay, I’ll tell you, but only because you asked so nicely…

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See that little shadow in the corner? Yeah that’s me. SPLADOW! Check out this rad mini-pump with flexi-nozzle action!

After you have given your flat tube a good 50-100 pumps (or 49-99 pumps), the flexibility of the hose allows you to spaz out as much as possible without accidentally disconnecting the nozzle from the presta/schrader valve. And let me tell you, am I some kind of spaz. Pumping up a flat tube enough to get me to my destination with this guy went from pain in the ass (translation: skitching with strangers would be preferable) to not so bad (translation: not worth a potential kidnapping).

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Anyway, not every roundabout comes with a tune-up station like this one in Asheville, so hold on to your pumps, bike commuters, you better have a flat tire solution on you at all times! It turned out, in the second to last week of our summer class, I got a nasty flat riding down the steep hill near my house. Since the bus in Asheville is less than rapid and nowhere near convenient, I hoofed it back up the hill, only to realize there was no floor pump in sight. Luckily, I had the Air Smith Mini Comp and a spare tube.

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Here is a pic I took when I changed the flat at home, pumped up the tube enough to get me down to the gas station and the 25 cent air compressor machine on my Asheville Bianchenstein.

The flexible nozzle would also be helpful if you just needed to pump up your tires if they were a little low. The rotating valve head also limits spaz-related disconnections mid-pump. And for its size, the Air Smith Mini Comp doesn’t wear you down to the point of annoyance, but is pretty reasonable for those of us who don’t carry CO2 cartridges at all times. The pump is lightweight yet durable, and, like many PB products, comes with a mount if you’re opposed to stashing it in your backpack.

As for the Bianchenstein, we made it down to the gas station for the air compressor with only minutes to spare and rode in to work on time.

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Hey, a cycle ladies gotta do what a cycle ladies gotta do… when she has a flat tire and no floor pump in the house in Asheville, NC. Thank you, Planet Bike, for getting my back tire back in business!

Overall: This bike pump is a must-have for any commuter toolkit. If you don’t wanna get stranded like Dave Matthews, for less than $17, get yourself a Planet Bike Air Smith Mini Comp and get back on the road! This pump will forever be in my backpack from now on.

 

 

Need to carry a suit? Here’s a product for you

There’s a lot of Eurobike coverage all over the web right now…tons of new bikes and parts being revealed in advance of our own Interbike visit in a few weeks.

Almost all the coverage I’ve seen has been racing-oriented — new race bikes, new racing kit, new racing components. What about us commuters? What’s new for us?

One thing that DID catch our eye, thanks to the good folks at Bike Biz, is a clever new way to deal with fancy work duds. Do you happen to work in an office where formal attire is required? Struggling to juggle your bike commute and your need to wear a suit? Enter the Freefold:

Presumably, the Freefold works on business suits/attire for men AND women.

There are a couple of kludgy bags on the market now that purport to make suit-carrying easy…and while they work adequately, this Freefold system seems very simple and VERY versatile (you can fit the folded assembly into any messenger bag, backpack, or pannier). This might be just the thing suit-wearers have been looking for!

We’re going to reach out to the Freefold people and see if we can run into them at Interbike. Who knows, we might be able to score a test version to show you.

Review: ADS Sports Eyewear’s prescription Oakley sunglasses

Ok, it’s been a few weeks since we gave you our first look at the prescription Oakley sunglasses provided by ADS Sports Eyewear.

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As I mentioned earlier, the process to select a pair of prescription cycling sunglasses is easy — ADS walks you through the entire process, from selecting the frames, to entering your prescription. As many of you may know, ordering things online without the ability to try a product on can be daunting. Luckily, ADS offers a “Try Before You Buy” program, where they will send samples of the frames you choose before making the the prescription lenses. The only cost for that program is the return shipping (details available in the link above).

One thing that ADS does, unlike some other companies, is grind their own Oakley sunglasses lenses…even lenses that are outside Oakley’s own limits in terms of prescription strength. And ADS has some technology tricks up their sleeves; they use a couple of techniques to make the lenses clearer and thinner than a number of their competitors. They use a combination of free-form digital lens surfacing and lenticular free-form lens shaping (best explained by visiting ADS’s handy tech pages). I will say this: gone is the distortion and nauseating feeling I got from another pair of prescription wraparound sunglasses. The ADS iteration, with the free-form surfacing, means I have a much larger “sweet spot” that isn’t distorted in the corners and edges of my vision. This makes a HUGE difference to me.

I had my kids pick out the Oakley frame color and lens color from the many choices on the ADS site. Being children fascinated by bright colors, they chose white frames, blue earsocks and lurid violet “Iridium” lens coating. Alas, since these aren’t Oakley factory lenses, Iridium coatings were not available. Perhaps that’s a good thing; my fashion-sense is already somewhat impaired. I’m not sure I could pull off loud Bootsy Collins reflective coatings! On the plus side, my new glasses DO match my helmet:

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I was, however, able to get polarized lenses. Those lenses also make a giant difference in vision quality for me. Many of my rides go from bright sunlight to darkened wooded trails and back at the blink of any eye. Also, there’s a lot of shiny tarmac around this part of Ohio. Polarized lenses cut the sheen off the pavement and seemed to help with the transitions between light and dark as I rode. So, I felt as if I was able to ride with more confidence. An unanticipated benefit: I now have a sizeable advantage when I go fishing; I can see those little swimmers under the surface of the water with these polarized lenses!

As for the glasses themselves, they are Oakley’s usual high quality: stout frames, great slip-proof earsocks and nosepieces, and rock-solid hinges. The Half Jacket 2.0’s lens shape is, I feel, a substantial improvement over the previous version. There’s a little bit of extra coverage in the lower corners that keeps eye-watering winds to a minimum. The frameless lower portion of the lens is great for cyclists, as well…a nice unobstructed view of the road ahead while you are in a riding position.

ADS Sports Eyewear glasses aren’t cheap…prescription eyewear featuring name brand frames and lenses never are. In my case, the frames and lenses ran around $400. ADS does have some great warranties and “best price” guarantees, but what they really excel in is “value-added features”. They offer a huge selection of frames and coach the buyer through every step of the process…before, during, AND after purchase. I was rather blown away by their customer service; they answered a bunch of questions of a technical nature without me identifying myself as the reviewer, and they made sure I was satisfied with my prescription. They even offered to regrind the lenses if I had so much as a doubt they were incorrect (my lenses weren’t…right on the money the FIRST time). So, the whole package is worth the price of admission.

If you’re in the market for some sport-specific prescription (or even non-prescription) eyewear, ADS is a fantastic source. They have a huge selection and so many positive features that you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to get outfitted. Swing on over to their website to get a feel for the wide variety of brands and colors they offer.

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