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Poli-wonkies and Pants – a Bikely Update

Hello loyal, curious, or bored-at-work Bike Commuters readers!  Here to report from the island of Oahu is Mir.I.Am.  A couple of enthralling bikely updates are in order regarding two of everyone’s favorite bike-related topics:  A) Political two-wheeling and 2) Pants-wearing.

Disclaimer on Adulthood: When trying to balance adulthood, I frequently find myself writing lists to prioritize where I will spend my time.  Some recent lists of things that matter/hold my attention span for longer than 17 seconds:

Fist Pump for gettin' things DONE.

Fist Pump for gettin' things DONE.

Back to Two-Wheeled Mayoral Rides:

When I tried to insert meeting politicians for bike advocacy into the equation we end up with a list like this:

  1. Boyfriend
  2. Food
  3. Sleep
  4. Bike Stuff …

10.  Farmer’s Market
11.  Cartoons
12.  Meeting up with Politicians to talk about Bikes

13.  Tanks of Bullfrogs in Chinatown Markets

14.  Getting Dressed

As you can see, it took quite a while for me to come up with something more compelling than #13 (Meeting Politicians) , even though this particular event is involved in #5 (Bike Stuff) and #7 (Volunteering).  Tanks of bullfrogs were added to put things in perspective.  Actually, tanks of bullfrogs are pretty cool but they are a little icky especially knowing that they are being sold to Asians as food and not pets.  Getting dressed is worse than tanks of bullfrogs and politicians.

Tanks of Yumfrogs in Honolulu Chinatown

Needless to say, Chad Taniguchi (my apparent hanai bike step-dad of HBL) convinced me via email to volunteer to represent the HBL in a meeting with Mayor Peter Carlisle of Honolulu last week.  In some circles, meeting with politicians may be considered “advocacy”, which is leaps and bounds better than just promoting “awareness“.

We went over some policy wonkiness (a.k.a. poli-wonkies) as follows:

  • Mayor recognizes HBL is an active, large, diverse, responsible organization that can help Honolulu become a bike friendly city
  • Mayor is willing to work with HBL, support us publicly, including riding on a high profile ride
  • Mayor embraces vision for bike friendly Hawaii and is willing to have departments work together with HBL to make it so
  • Mayor supports Complete Streets ordinance and vulnerable users’ bill in principle; provides channel to work on it with HBL
  • Mayor is willing to meet with HBL again in 6 months

Oops, I missed the note to make a serious face.

A “great success!” resulted from our meeting with the Mayor, in that he agreed to ride with HBL this Sunday for the Zach Manago Ride in Paradise, a two-day ride around the island in support of bike safety on Oahu.  Surf Mayor Peter Carlisle will join us at the beginning of the ride from the State Capitol to Waikiki – on a loaner bike despite sarcastic complaints of his pants needing a squishy seat.  Although poli-wonky advocacy is not my favorite type (see “how-to” on profuse hand-waving technique from my original commuter profile), this one turned out pretty good.

On to Pants:

Speaking of pants… Review coming up soon for these amazing Chrome Vanya Knickers that arrived in the mail yesterday!  (Cue pants fanfare…)  As you can see from the above list of adulthood priorities, “pants” falls under the category of #14: Getting Dressed, not one of my favorite activities in the land of bikinis.

Vanya Knickers - you shall house my lower half for the ZMRIP ride this weekend.

Vanya Knickers - you shall house my lower half for the ZMRIP ride this weekend. Thanks Chrome!

As far as clothing goes, I can say that it’s pretty enjoyable to be inside these knickers like an Anchorman Pants Party!  I plan to ride/sweat in them for a solid 20-30 miles on Sunday during the Zach Manago Ride in Paradise.    Passing on the sham-crotch-spando wear in favor of pants that actually looks like, well, PANTS!

Until next time, or until I get a real camera so I can show an updated photo of my awesome 3M ruban reflechissant as well as said pants in action, please enjoy the following scan:

On a day with a more sturdy xerox machine, I would have put them on and scanned my butt, but this is probably less obscene. Vanya Pants Scan!

We shall see if pants-worthy political advocacy moves up on the list of adulthood priorities after the Sunday ride – to my Hawaii Bike Commuters, see you this weekend!  Later, Cycle-gators.

DZR GMT-8 Urban Cycling Shoe review

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I’m a simple type of guy when it comes to shoes; no fancy Nikes or Reeboks that have gels or springs and cost over 100 bucks. I’m a Vans guy — I’ve been wearing them since high school. Cool thing is, Vans haven’t gone out of style, they are inexpensive and they come in hundreds of styles. So when RL told me that he had some shoes for me to test that have the same style as Vans shoes AND are SPD compatible, I got excited.

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So here they are, these are the DZR GMT-8 Urban Cycling Shoes. Check them out, they are beautiful and simple. The DZR GMT-8 have nifty details such the reflective rear badge, chain link sole and two- tone design.

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Before I installed the cleats, I wore the shoes for a couple weeks, I wanted to see how comfortable they felt and wanted to break them in. The shoes fit me just right, their width was adequate for my feet and I didn’t feel any funny bumps on the bottom of my feet. These shoes are outright comfortable.

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Installing the Cleats was a straight forward process. I simply cut out the plastic cover, screwed in the cleats and I was ready to rock. Notice how the cleat does not protrude at all, this means no click-clack noise that is incredibly annoying when you wear standard road shoes. I was concerned that the comfort level was going to change after I installed the cleats, I’m happy to report that installing the cleats did not change any of the comfort characteristics of this shoes. They are still super comfy.

So how did the DZR GMT-8 perform as a road shoe? Right off the bat I had a few concerns; the long laces, the white toe area and the softness at the top of the shoe.

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The shoe lace concern proved to be wrong, I never had issues with the laces getting tangled on the crank while pedaling. I did make sure that my shoe laces were quite tight.

The white area of the shoes got quite dirty thanks to all the riding and walking I did in them. If you like your shoes looking like new, you are going to have to clean them often.

The DZR GM-8 shoes provide adequate stiffness on the sole area, you could easily forget that you are riding with cleats. But if you are a roadie or if you use road cycling shoes you will notice something off about the DZR GMT-8 shoes; the shoes lack stiffness on the upper area. Although this makes the DZR GMT-8 shoes quite comfortable, they do sacrifice power transfer while pulling on the pedal stroke. This is not a big deal for non Cat 6 commuters but if you are looking for these shoes to be high performance road shoes, they are not.

What this shoes are, these are awesome shoes for those bike commuters who don’t want to carry extra shoes but must ride with cleats. The shoes look great on and off the bike (just leave your TdF lycra kit at home) and they are very comfortable on and off the bike as well.

With a price point of $85.00, I consider the shoes to be a good value due to their versatility and comfort. I highly recommend them.

DZR offers more styles and colors of shoes , please visit their website at www.dzrshoes.com for more information.

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

Review: Giro Surface Helmet


Over the past several years, a number of bicycle helmet manufacturers have added more urban-friendly lids to their lineups…in colors ranging from understated to 100% funky. Urban cyclists were growing tired of wearing racing- or racing-inspired helmets and wanted something with a more polished look…or they wanted something that really expressed their individualities with bright colors and patterns.

The kind folks at Giro Helmets contacted us a few weeks ago and offered to send us their take on the urban helmet — the new “Surface” model — to check out.

DSC05461s

As you can see, it’s rather “skateboard lid” in styling, with a gently rounded shape and a short brim. Volume-wise, it’s fairly massive; about 1/3 larger overall than a similarly-sized Nutcase helmet in my collection. The Surface helmet comes in a variety of colors from mild to wild…Giro didn’t offer me a color choice, but the matte titanium-finished sample they sent me was just the color I would have chosen — understated and rather classy. And, on first glance, the helmet vaguely reminded me of the helmets worn by Imperial Scout Troopers in Return of the Jedi. As a lifelong Star Wars nerd, I can live with that!

On the outside, the helmet is simple: the aforementioned short brim, four vents up top and two in back. Inside, the padding and suspension system is very much like their racing helmets…sweat-wicking pads and the excellent In-Form System that consists of the suspension and a rotating dial that allows up to 6cm of adjustability. This helmet is easily adjustable…from fitting to my freshly-shaven head to the fleece helmet liner I wear on cool days and all the way up to the helmet liner/wool balaclava combination I wear on truly frigid workdays. A quick spin of the ratcheting dial adjusts the helmet so that it fits snugly without tipping or rocking. Thumbs up!

Here’s a look at the back of the helmet and dial:

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Ventilation is adequate — although I haven’t tested the Surface on a truly warm Florida day, which to me is the real make-or-break test for a helmet. If I had to guess, I’d say that the Surface is probably a lot like other skate-styled helmets on the market…a bit stifling on a hot day. There’s room up front for a couple of discreet vents, and that’s something I’d like to see. Coupled with the internal channeling and the existing vents, a couple more small ones would definitely help. Not all is lost, though: I DID notice that the brim helps bring some breeze into the front of the helmet. We’ll see how this helmet does as Florida’s springtime temperatures ramp up.

Interior channeling and pads:
DSC05486s

The straps are made of a soft nylon.. no bells or whistles here, just a simple quick-release buckle and sliding strap adjusters like on most other helmets. The straps feel nice against my skin, at least.

Has anyone ever complimented you on your helmet? Yeah, me neither…but a few friends and riding partners have made fun of my patriotic-themed Nutcase. Well, that all changed when I started wearing the Surface to work. I’ve had three coworkers compliment me out of the blue on my helmet…and they even appeared serious about it! Will this helmet make you look dashing and debonair? Perhaps not, but at least it doesn’t scream SPORTING EQUIPMENT the way a racing helmet might. And, by carefully choosing the color, this Surface could pass for “office casual”; it doesn’t clash with my work wardrobe, in any case.

DSC05463s

Because of its overall size, the Surface is rather heavy. That can be a drawback for some. I can be sensitive to heavier helmets but the Surface hasn’t bothered me too much because it fits so securely.

So, the helmet isn’t perfect — I have concerns about warm-weather ventilation and the overall size and weight might not appeal to everyone. Otherwise, though, the Giro Surface is a nice helmet…the adjustability alone tips things over to the positive side… and is worth considering if you’re in the market for an urban bike helmet. Check out Giro’s many other offerings by visiting their website.

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

Review: Loeka’s Waterproof Shell Jacket

When the weather first started turning cooler and wetter last fall, I began testing a new waterproof jacket from the women’s mountain bike clothing company Loeka. This company makes women-specific gear primarily for mountain bikers, but this jacket is designed with commuters and everyday riders in mind helps them achieve their mission to simply “help build a strong community of female riders from beginners to professionals by encouraging more and more females to try/take up cycling.” With this jacket, the nasty elements certainly are one less excuse to not get out and ride. And with this company’s attention to fashion, riders will definitely be getting compliments on their chic “look”; I know I have received more than a few compliments while wearing this jacket (never before received while sporting my other waterproof commuter jacket) – nice!

It certainly holds up its end on being waterproof! After a rainy ride home you can see that all the water beads up on the surface and kept me dry underneath.
rain
Despite the higher visibility color (noted online as “Peppermint Figgy”), it doesn’t scream blinding yet still provides the rider with a light-colored jacket that stands out on the roads. (Loeka also offers this jacket in a blue color they call “Hey Ocean“.)

Originally I received this Loeka commuter jacket when the weather was still wonderfully warm and pleasant and couldn’t start testing until the fall/winter weather descended upon Chicago.

I debated about which size of this jacket would best fit me; their website provides detailed sizing charts, but I still found that my measurements fall somewhere in between, and after talking with the kind folks/owners of Loeka to help me sort out my sizing questions, I was more comfortable sizing down rather than up, since the cut on the torso for me was more than spacious and long enough; if I had gone with the larger size, the sleeves would have been a bit longer and shoulder area roomier for bulky layering underneath. According to the owners,

“The jacket has been designed to fit a little looser, that way the jacket can accommodate more girls, you can wear a soft shell or other layer underneath comfortably. The jacket can be used for crossover such as running, snow shoeing, spring skiing if you wanted, casually ect. Now depending on the girls body style and how she likes the jacket to fit, loose, fitted going up or down a size will most likely accommodate that girls specific fit preference.”

The cut on this jacket is long enough all the way around so as not to allow nasty road spray sneak up on your rear (not a longer tail on the back) and you can see how it fits while on the bike.
fit on bike

This jacket offers bike commuters/around town riders waterproof/weatherproof protection in a fashion-forward design. Unlike my previous waterproof jacket designed in a more (non-stylish) unisex manner, this shell offers the same 3-season protection from rain or snow or clear, cold and windy days – basically to “tackle all the not very nice weather” with a unique look. The most obvious feature that stands out is the angled zipper down the front (as opposed to all the other commuter jackets that have a straight zipper down middle front of the jacket). Beneath this zipper, a windproof flap (in a curvy design) blocks any wind/rain from sneaking through the zipper.
loeka flap

This angled full zipper down the right side of the jacket is balanced on the the left with another small zip at the neckline that not only provides visual symmetry to the design but also (according to Loeka) helps to provide easy ventilation while keeping you protected from the elements. Personally I found the ventilation offered by this smaller zip to be negligible at best, but visually it succeeds from a design perspective. There are also ventilation flaps on the front side of the jacket (along the chestline) but no equal venting on the back. Luckily the lack of the rear venting is not an issue since this jacket does boast the essential pit-zips for added ventilation – and I appreciated their length and the added breathability they offered to prevent overheating.
pit zips

From the functionality perspective, this jacket sports a hand pocket on either side of the angled zipper; the left side pocket reaches across the jacket and offers ample room for gloves, keys, etc – just don’t put too much in it since it stretches across the belly area in the front. The right-hand pocket (though small due to the angled zip) provides just enough room for your keys or any small accessory. At first I missed having a handy chest pocket which I’ve had on other jackets, but I soon came to appreciate the pockets at hip level (especially when just walking around town on my lunch break). There is also a rear zippered pocket (covered with a flap) to store extras while riding (cell phone, snack, etc) that doesn’t call attention to itself when not in use.

One bothersome feature for me was the lack of a higher/more fitted neckline, especially since I don’t like getting any drafty wind (or rain) sneaking in at my neck. (For full disclosure, my neck is one area that I like to keep warm in order to keep the rest of me warm, so this may not be an issue for other ladies.)
neck line
Loeka purposely left the neckline a bit looser to help accommodate a layer underneath comfortably and for 2010 they have made the neckline closer and not so loose. For the coldest days, I really appreciate the ability to comfortably layer-up under this jacket. All photos on their website reflect these adjustments for their 2010 line.

Technical Specs on this jacket from Loeka:

FABRIC
100% 75-denier polyester.
Lined with 100% polyester mesh.
TECHNICAL FEATURES
Waterproof up to 10,000ml with taped seams.
8,000ml breathability, armpit zippers and natural chest vent.
Reflective piping built in to back panels and sleeves.
Adjustable wrists and rear zip pocket.
Longer arm length designed for sports. (When you reach out, the sleeves do not creep up to expose bare skin.)

According to the owners of Loeka, the jacket should easily last 3-5 years of heavy use if properly maintained or even longer. If the jacket is being worn occasionally then it could last who knows how long. For care instructions, please see their site for care info which basically directs using a sport wash like Nikwax or Grangers to help keep the waterproofing last. Then hang dry, do not tumble dry.

With the winter thaw setting in and the rainy spring season on its way, this jacket is a great outer layer addition to any female cyclist’s wardrobe. (And fashion savvy, too!)

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