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Wabi Cycles Lightning RE Review

I posted a first impression of the Wabi Cycles Lightning RE about two weeks ago. I mentioned that this road bike has been the most comfortable bike that I’ve ever ridden. I still stand by that statement. After ridden the bike on the streets, river trail, uphills and downhills I absolutely love the way this bike rides.

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But before I go into the specifics of why I love this bike so much, I want to get into what a buyer will experience when ordering a bike from Wabi Cycles. It all started with a call from Richard Snook asking me my measurements to ensure that the bike that I was going to receive would fit properly, after I gave him my measurements we decided to stick with a 49 frame. Richard will make sure that the bike that you will be ordering will fit properly.

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I also decided to ask Richard about Wabi, I could hear the passion that he has about his bikes by chatting with him. You can read Wabi’s story on the “Wabi Story” page. He also gave me brief explanation about the different types of steel tubing and explained to me that the Columbus Spirit Steel tubing used on the Lightning RE is the lightest in the industry. If you want to learn more about the different types of steel, click here.

Let’s get into the specs of the bike:

Frame: Hand built using heat treated, triple butted oversized Columbus Spirit super light steel complete tube set and forged vertical rear drops. Integrated, fillet brazed seat post bolt design. Rear brake cable routed through top tube. Braze ons for front derailleur and two bottle cages.
Fork: Carbon fiber blades with 1 1/8″ aluminum steerer and aluminum fork ends. FSA Orbit X headset with sealed cartridge type bearings
Wheels: Sealed cartridge bearing hubs, 28 hole 14/15G DB stainless, 3 cross lacing, 22mm depth aero section rims with CNCed braking surface. 1650g/set
Drive train: Micro Shift Centos 2 X 10 system, with 11/25T cassette
Crank/BB: Cold forged aluminum arms, 170mm, 39/50T chain rings, external bearing type sealed BB
Tires: Kenda Koncept Kevlar bead folding 700×23, 210g each
Brakes: Cold forged aluminum F&R with cartridge type pads

Why did I love riding this bike so much? Comfort, speed and handling with an emphasis in comfort. I’ve owned and ridden steel bikes before so I thought that it was going to be a subtle difference on how the Lightning RE rode. I was floored on how different the ride was right of the bat. Richard is right, the quality of the ride is unmatched to aluminum and lower grade steel bikes.

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I mentioned my reservation about the Microshift Centos drive train, I’ve never heard of them but what little I found in the internet was positive. My experience with the Centos was also a positive one, shifting was fast and crisp rivaling the feeling of the Shimano 105s. One thing that did bother me was that the shifting paddle does feel flimsy. I also had a tough time on the uphills; the Lighting RE boasts a classic 39/50T on the front and 11/25 cassette on the rear, I was left looking for more gears on over 7% grade uphills.

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Blasting down the hills on his bike was really fun. The bike was responsive with quick handling but the brakes were another story. The Tektro caliper brakes faded a bit and it took quite a bit of pressure on the brake levers to slow down the bike on the steep downhills. The saddle was comfortable and I had to issues with the Kenda Concept tires.

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At $1,950 the bike is not cheap, but if you value ride quality that easily surpasses aluminum bikes and rivals carbon fiber, the Lightning RE’s price point is actually an excellent value. If you can’t get over the Microshift Centos, Wabi also sells the Lighting RE as a frame set (Includes frame, fork, headset and seat post clamp bolt).

Our Review Disclaimer

Wabi Cycles Lightning RE First Impression

“It is the most comfortable bike that you would ever ride”

That is a big claim for bike that will cost you about 2 grand. Did I mention that it was steel? oh yes, but not just “any” steel but Columbus Spirit Steel.

(Disclosure: Wabi cycles sent us a Lightning RE for us to review.  Moe has accepted to do the review because he is roadie, loves bikes and he is just plain awesome. -RL Policar)

If you follow us on Facebook, you would have seen some of the teaser shots from the un-boxing of the Lightning RE to its first 18 mile ride to the beach. Here is my first impression of the bike:

For starters, the bike came well packaged and protected in a box via Fedex.

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It is also worth noting that the bike was pretty much 90% assembled, a simple hex tool was all I needed to put the bike together.

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As soon as the bike was assembled, I couldn’t help to notice how beautiful the bike is. The frame is traditional with a carbon fiber fork, the parts are polished and that Red… quite captivating. The bike got a few compliments as I was riding the bike to the beach, it is definitively a looker.

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There is one thing about this bike that I’m still on the fence; the Microshift Centos shifting components. I’ve never heard of Microshift before, a quick google search yielded few results, some of these results comparing this grouppo with Shimano 105s. Well, my current bicycle is equipped with 105s so a comparison will be a must.

So what about that claim that this is going to be the most comfortable bike I’ve ever ridden? So far it is totally true. The bike blew my mind, I just could not believe how different the ride is from my Giant TCR SLR 2.

The ride to and from the beach is relatively flat with minimal shifting and braking so I still need to put the bike through some uphills and descents. Stay tuned for my full review.

The Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier by Two Wheel Gear

THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

Not too long ago we tested out “The Southwest Waxed Canvas Bike Suit Bag.” Since then, the guys at Two Wheel Gear sent us their updated version of the bag. This time around, they’ve made some changes, mainly in the material they used. Rather than canvas, they went with polyester. Here are some of the main features of the bag:

THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

MATERIAL 600D Polyester with TPE waterproof backing and UV coating
MOUNTING SYSTEM Universal RIXEN & KAUL Vario mounting system – RACK MOUNTING INSTRUCTIONS
INTERNAL ORGANIZATION Stores 3-5 garments, 3 internal mesh pockets for belts, ties, workout shorts, shirts, watches, cufflinks, jewelry, padded 15″ laptop storage
NIGHT VISIBILITY High visibility reflective accents
WATERPROOF RAIN COVER 210 HD Nylon – inverts into clip-on pouch – neon green with reflective silver accents
DETAILS  Padded removable shoulder strap, carry handles, signature monogram liner, zippered mounting hardware access, utility loops for reflective lights and accessories, YKK zippers, top bag hanger/handle, padded internal garment strap, reflective exterior pattern

Product Overview:

  • The functionality of a travel garment bag on your bicycle
  • Meets standard airline carry-on requirements
  • Stores approximately 3-5 hangers/garments
  • Hangs vertical for convenient changing and packing
  • Extra deep side pockets pack shoes, towels, toiletries, etc.
  • Bike to work with wrinkle free clothing

During our testing period we made sure we used the garment bag with our finest duds. As you can see below, the hanger hooks onto a loop and can be secured so it doesn’t fall (the hanger) during transport. Notice the mesh pockets right above the shoulders of my clothing. Those are great for storing for storing small things like jewelry, deodorant, doodads and just about anything that could fit in there. Further down the bag is a security strap; this is great because it prevents your clothing from moving around and we all know that when clothes move around, the more chances of getting wrinkled. THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition you have another mesh pocket to store your g-string or if you like going commando and don’t have a need to store underwear, you can put socks in there. Beneath that is a padded pocket to store a laptop, iPad or a slice of pizza (wrapped of course).

What you see below has to be my favorite feature of the bag. It has a reflective pattern that allows you to be seen while riding. Also you’ll notice the two large side pockets, you can put your shoes in there. I don’t know about you, but I like to wear cycling shoes when I’m riding and when I get to my office, I’ll slip on a fresh pair of work-appropriate footwear. The other side pocket can be used to store your lunch or whatever else you need to bring with you to the office. The top pocket is perfect for keeping a multi-tool, pump and snacks.

The bag is equipped with briefcase handles as well as a detachable shoulder strap. Having both options makes it much easier to carry with you. By the way, you can even travel on an airplane with this bag since it meets airline carry-on requirements.

THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice the reflective rain cover that the Garment Pannier comes with. It’s Hi-Vis to help drivers see you on the road during a down pour. I didn’t get an opportunity to test that feature since living in Southern California, we rarely see rain, all thanks to the drought. THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garment Pannier is equipped with a great locking mechanism that ensures that your bag will not fly off your rack. It uses something called Universal RIXEN & KAUL Vario mounting system. It’s pretty self explanatory on how it works, but you can read all about it HERE. Please forgive my shoddy photo, I’m still trying to convince the boss to let us upgrade our camera from 1993. But you get an idea on how it mounts from this photo.

THE CLASSIC 2.0 GARMENT PANNIER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that you’ve got an clear understanding on how the bag is supposed to work, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the review. I used it for a few hundred miles during our testing phase. I’ve even used it to travel to various trade shows in various parts of the country. One thing that stands out with the Classic 2.0 Pannier is that it really is a versatile and robust bag. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s pretty tough. It must be the 600D polyester they use because this bag has seen some asphalt in its day. There was a few times where I haphazardly mounted the bag without securing it and decided to jump a speed bump or ride off the curb and down went the bag. A few times it slid down the road for about 10 feet. But nothing happened to it! The material was still in great condition, none of the hardware broke, and my stuff in side was still intact.

I think the most appealing part about this bag is it’s looks. Nothing about it screams that you’re a bike commuter. I like how it’s not bulky like other panniers I’ve owned. It’s professional looking and may I add, very handsome. So if you want to look like a boss when you get to work, make sure your clothes don’t look like you just pulled them out of the hamper. No! Arrive looking crisp and fresh. But you can’t do that with just a plain pannier bag. Those other bags will leave your office attire all jacked up and molested looking. The Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier is the way to go. Consider it an investment for your career and if you’re self-employed, I’m sure you could write this bag off somehow.

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Rocket Pure Review

bikecommuters.com product reviews rocket pure

We received a couple of samples from the folks at Rocket Pure. The first was the Friction Therapy Anti-Chafe Balm Stick with tea tree oil. The other was the Cedarwood Foot and Shoe Deordorizing Powder-REVIVE. Both are great products for cyclists and can be used in everyday life.

The first item I tested out was the Balm Stick. I don’t know about you but I hate it when my skin gets all chafed from riding or even running. I’ve used other products before such as Udderly Smooth, ButtButter and many others. One thing I didn’t like about those other items was the application of the product to your body. I didn’t like having to use my fingers to smear it on my bits and pieces that needed protection. What I like about the Rocket Pure Balm is that it comes as a stick, much like deodorant sticks out there. Application is no mess, glides on smoothly and it’s not greasy. bikecommuters.com product reviews rocket pure

I used the balm on various rides, from street to mountain biking as well as when I’d try to go jogging. It works like a charm, kept my skin from chafing and the tea tree scent is actually pleasant. Another feature Rocket Pure mentions is that it doesn’t stain clothing, yep it’s true, no stains at all. So it comes down to this, the balm works, I like how it’s a stick, no mess, no hassle and it protected my skin. In fact on the days I’d forget to use it, after my skin is already chaffed, I’d actually apply it over my skin to provided extra protection and prevent more damage.

With the stick, I simply apply it to the areas I want protection before I get on the bike or start my job. It works on its own andI don’t have that weird squishy feeling like I used to get with other products I’ve used before.

bikecommuters.com product reviews rocket pureThe other product I tested was the foot powder. Listen, I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve got a bit of a foot odor problem. My feet get sweaty and when that happens, oh boy, they can get stinky like vinegar! Just recently I bought some foot powder made by Dr. Scholl’s. It worked ok, it left my feet super dry. I guess that’s good, but my skin just felt dead, like it was too dry. Make sense? So when the Rocket Pure REVIVE powder came in for testing, I was really excited to try it. I didn’t bother putting it on my feet, I applied it right into my shoes. First it went into my Doc Marten’s then my Converse All Star and eventually into my cycling shoes.

Whoa! My feet felt cool and dry, but not dry like death, but pleasantly dry! My feet also smelled nice, like cedar. I loved my experience so much that I started secretly putting the powder into my daughter’s shoes…man who would have thought daughters can get so stinky! I even tried something crazy. Normally I’m always wearing socks with shoes. But this time I got a crazy deal on some casual canvas loafer-type of shoes, However, wearing socks with them would look totally lame. So you gotta go commando with them, as in socks that is. But before I dared to do that, I sprinkled some Rocket Pure foot powder in my shoes and then I slipped them on. After spending a day wearing my new shoes without socks, I took them off once I got home and pulled my feet up to my face, took a whiff…absolutely shocking! My feet smelled great! They smelled like Cedarwood! I wanted to shout out and tell my wife and kids to sniff my feet, but I highly doubt that they would have done it.

With that being said, I truly believe that Rocket Pure knocked it out of the park with both of these products. Each product are priced $14.99 on their website and I gotta tell you, that’s a pretty good deal for some high  quality products! Give them a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Our Review Disclaimer

 

 

 

ArroWhere Backpack Cover and Vest Review

As most of you are well aware, visibility can make a big difference in terms of the well being of cyclists on the road, particularly at night and other low light environments.

Enter ArroWhere ™, a company based out of Canada whose specialty is to produce “quality, high-visibility apparel and accessories that help improve the visibility, safety, and control users have when sharing the road with cars and larger vehicles or trails with bikes and runners.”

What sets them apart from other reflective outerwear and gear is their utilization of super bright 3M reflective material into the shape of an arrow to indicate to drivers in what direction to move to avoid the cyclist. The simplicity of its design contributes to the efficacy of the product, in my opinion.

Bikecommuters has had a good history with ArroWhere™ thanks to Jack “Ghost Rider” Sweeney who spearheaded this relationship back in September 2014 at Interbike.

Following which, ArroWhere ™ was gracious enough to let us review a high visibility cycling jacket

Khyle from ArroWhere ™ recently reached out to us to review another 2 items in their product line. Before I knew it, a fluorescent yellow cycling vest and bag cover were at my doorstep.

In so many words, I was an instant fan. The visibility of the products was intense, to say the least. The construction of both was robust and with high quality materials. They both felt like items that would last for many years of hard use.

The backpack cover (standard size 35L) fit relatively well over my Maxpedition Sitka gear slinger (I think the design of my single sling backpack made the cover a little less of a good fit as you will read later). It folded up to a nice small volume and was easily stowed in the backpack without taking up too much space.

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger

 

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Buttons came popped open at times.

Buttons can pop open at times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cover is held in place with elastic bands attached with snap buttons. The addition of the the upper zipper was well designed, making accessibility of the backpack pockets possible without having to remove the entire cover.

Furthermore, since it was made with waterproof fabric, it served as an additional barrier for waterproofing the bag (although I was unable to test out this feature since here is southern California, we are having a horrible drought).

But it wasn’t just a backpack cover; the versatility of the design made the cover useable on other items as well. In particular, I was able to put it onto my kiddo’s bike seat. It fit securely and did not come loose at all.

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This made riding with the kiddo feel a lot safer. We even took the cover for a trip to Catalina Island where we got around by bike 100% of the time. The cover was very reliable.

After about 4 months of use, I also noticed that it was quite stain proof and was easy to wash off. It looked like new; the visibility was not compromised one bit.

The only cons that I noticed on this cover were that the buttons securing the straps were not that strong, and during my rides they would at times pop open, particularly when I filled up my bag. I thought that a better design would replace the elastic straps with adjustable nylon straps and the snap buttons for standard plastic side release buckles. In this way, I feel that the cover could be used on bags of other sizes and would be even more versatile and secure.

Difficult to access the main side pocket with the cover was attached.

Difficult to access the main side pocket with the cover attached (note: the orientation of the cover is incorrect in this image, however difficult side pocket access still holds true in the correct orientation)

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger (Easy front access)

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger (Easy front access)

It would also be nice to have some molle webbing on the cover to allow for attachments of lights and other accessories, while not covering the visibility of the arrow.

And finally, I thought that an additional zipper allowing side access to the pack would also be advantageous, and a feature that I feel would not compromise the functionality of the product. I say this because a single strap backpack can be easily accessed during riding by rotating the bag from the back to the front, where a side access zipper would allow access to the bag while riding.

The vest was also a treat to use. I personally love vests as they allow for more mobility and allow for better ventilation. Despite it being a vest, it was pretty warm and windproof. It was surprisingly comfortable and was designed with a good fit.

After riding in 70 degree weather, I will say it got a little warm in the vest, at least for me.

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Overall, I would recommend the company and the products. If you like riding with a backpack, the cover is a good deal and makes commuting that much safer by making you significantly more visible. It doesn’t take up that much space when stowed away in your backpack and is very light. Being the shape and size that it is, the cover can also be placed on other things as well such as a rear child bike seat.

Do good and ride well.

About the author: Andrew is a full time physician and enjoys bicycles, both riding on and writing on. He has been commuting since 2000.