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Reviews

G-Form Pads first impression

First of all, let’s get the mandatory ‘National Bike to Work Day’ Picture out of the way:

Now to the G-Form comfort pads. Let’s begin with addressing the hood pads – although I’m not built like Il Pirata, some of us like the aero position of our road bikes. So how did the hood pads perform? I like them. I found them very comfortable and they didn’t slip at all.

I didn’t need the saddle gel pads, but since they were part of the kit, I installed them on my saddle since I didn’t have anything to lose. How did they perform? I like them as well. They did add a little comfort to my derriere, specifically when I rode through bumpy rough terrain.

The shoe pads were a different story. I didn’t care for them. Although they were not uncomfortable, I had that sensation that they were not in the right place. Oh well.

Time will tell on the durability of the glue; I do share the same concern on how long they pads will stay stuck to the hoods and saddle.

The Bilenky, 300 miles later…

Well, I’ve been riding my Bilenky every day since I got it and have put on at least 300 miles on it. Enough, I think to write a review of its performance on the short term.

Two quotes run through my head when I ride the bike. First, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost. Second, a quote from the article on Large Fella on a Bike in the latest Rivendell Reader. He was recalling what a music teacher once told him, “We honor our instruments through use.” The bike is so pretty I don’t want to scratch the paint. However, it’s meant to be “well loved.”

Needless to say, I’ve already taken a few chunks of paint out of it so it’s getting used. However, it does hurt a little to see the pretty bits of orange flake off.

Out of the box, the Bilenky isn’t going to carry a whole lot (unless what you’re carrying happens to be larger than the dimensions of the front rack). This is where something like the Xtracycle shines with it’s bags, which I think are some of the most well-designed pieces of carrying luggage ever invented. In the pics above, I’ve used some electrical tape and old tubes to help cover the paint, but to also create a more tacky surface for loads on the rack.

In this pic, I’ve wrapped some 2 foot wide marine safety netting around the rack. It goes around the rack about four times and acts as a soft bottom sling. This stuff is actually pretty cool. Very light weight, sturdy and I can adjust the tension of the surface by either making the wrap really tight or loose. I can also slip things in between the layers. Granted, this wouldn’t carry a fistful of nickles, but for everything else it works great. I’m working on creating a new sling made out of Cordura with adjustable cam straps so it doesn’t look like Spiderman pooped on the front of my bike.

Here’s a shot of my tripod and a canvas wrap containing a lightstand, umbrella and softbox. They are a bit longer than the rack and perfectly under the sling.

On top of that goes my Pelican case, all of it held together with some nice strong tie-downs.

The view from the cockpit when the bars are turned. Notice you can’t see the front wheel at all.

Handling:
The first question I get asked is, “Is it weird riding that thing?” Yes. Like any new bike, the handling characteristics are unfamiliar. I can say, however, after 300 miles it’s second nature. It steers more like a Cadillac than a Porsche. I find it is better to lean into turns than to twist the handlebars. It is a little disconcerting at first to turn the bars and not see a front wheel turn. You realize how much of a visual indicator the front wheel is for your steering.

When unloaded, the front feels a little light and squirrelly. Once you get a load on front, the steering gets dampened and its a joy to ride. You feel like a ship’s captain.

Climbing:
My biggest concern about the bike was that I wouldn’t be able to stand while climbing. I have found that this is not the case. Granted, I was wobbly the first week, but now I can climb sitting or standing without a problem. It’s actually easier than with the Xtracycle in some ways because the load on the Bilenky is always centered. With the Xtra, I found that I had to get the rear bags relatively evenly loaded to be able to climb well while standing.

Why the Bilenky over an Xtracycle, Bakfiets, Long John?
I prefer the Bilenky over the Xtracycle because there is no flex. The “boom tube” on the Bilenky is huge and really inspires confidence as to carrying large and heavy loads. The Xtracycle wins in terms of the bags, but with some ingenuity the Bilenky can be modified with bags or a sling. I also find that I also like being able to watch my gear while riding. After doing standing climbs on both the Xtra and Bilenky, I prefer the Bilenky again for the lack of flex and also the fact that the load is always centered.

Compared to a Bakfiets and LongJohn, I prefer the Bilenky for many reasons. One of them is weight. I think my Bilenky weighs in at about 45lbs. A Bakfiets with a box is about 90lbs. Not sure about the Long John, but I am almost positive it’s more than 45lbs. The Bilenky is also made to take a derailleur system (or can be customized to whatever you want). The Bakfiets is limited to an 8spd internal. Most Long Johns are 3spd. I think the biggest advantage of the Bilenky is the ride geometry. My setup is relatively upright but not Dutch upright and also allows me to stretch out by changing hand positioning. The Bakfiets and Long John, from what I have seen and read are pretty upright and can be a bit cramped.

That’s it for now. I’ll write another review when I break a 1000 miles.

First Impressions: Zoic

It sure is nice to see more and more companies catering to the commuter women. Some time back Zoic sent me a little ensemble from their Streetside collection to test out on the roads. I had to wait for it to warm up a bit around here, but sunny days are back and so are my skirts! Yea! I was really blown away when I heard about this company. I love the whole earth friendly clothing line they have here. Zoic has been known for their mountain biking clothing lines, but now make clothing for the ladies that commute or just love to ride their bikes everywhere!

First is the Zoic Namaste Hoody:

I cannot express enough how GOooodd this feels on the skin. Immediately I was impressed with the feel and loose fit of this hoody. Very comfy. I have received lots of compliments on this hoody. And my favorite part about this hoody is the materials it’s made from. 62% poly, 12% spandex and 26% Bamboo charcoal. How cool is that? Bamboo!!!

I also received the Zoic Streetside Damsel Skirt:

I love how feminine and fun this skirt is. Also very practical with the removable short liner. The material is a nylon/spandex combo.

I am testing out the Cuello Tee also.

This is a really functional tee that pairs well with the damsel skirt and hoody. Perfect for a casual ride and trip to the store.

And last but not least, some sweet socks:
The womens Dazzle Socks!

These are super cute and let me just say one thing: arch support. It’s a beautiful thing!

I love how nice everything coordinated together and am looking forward to getting some wear out of these items! I’ll have my full review up in a couple of weeks. In the meantime check out some of their other adorable pieces at Zoic.com.

Biria “Easy Boarding Top 3” — Guest Review

Here’s a design straight out of Europe…Biria’s “Easy Boarding Top 3” city bike. With its innovative step-through frame and comfort features, the bike is ideal for around-town errands, neighborhood cruising and light commuting.

Biria Easy Boarder 3

Here are the manufacturer’s specs:

Frame – Aluminum 7005 – 40 cm (15.5″) and 46 cm (18″)
Fork – Hi-Ten unicrown
Rims – Aluminum
Tires – 26×1.75
Gear – 3-speed Shimano Nexus internal gear with coaster brake
Stem – Adjustable Aluminum
Handlebar – City cruiser
Brake – Rear coaster foot brake and front alloy v-brake
Weight – 31 lbs.
Colors – Red, pearl white, Satin Blue, Aqua Blue, brushed aluminum, black
Standard – Chain guard, kick-stand
Option – Rack, fenders

Biria’s wild stepthrough frame configuration — no leg-swinging required. Just step across and GO!

step on through!

I’ve only ridden this bike around the block a couple times…it was a Valentine’s Day gift to my wife. She’s the one who spends a lot of time on it, so we figured, “what better way to get a review of it than let her use her own words?” So, here goes:

This past Valentine’s Day, I was presented with a lovely Biria “Easy Boarder” bicycle by my most thoughtful husband. I wanted a utilitarian commuter bike that would serve as an errand-runner as well, but would also cater to my girlie need to wear a skirt if I damn well wanted to. The Biria delivers, baby!

This is not a bike designed for the “extreme�? sport enthusiast. It weighs approximately 622 pounds and does not at all make you look like an ass kicker. It does not inspire you to perform “sweet jumps�?. But it rates high on the Eurochic meter, with a very styling leather seat and matching handlebar grips. It is, indeed, easy to board with its cutaway frame, and the covered drivetrain makes grease stains on the hemline unheard of.

Three speeds are all I need on the relatively flat terrain of the Tampa urban jungle, and there’s plenty of room on the handlebars for pimping your sweet ride with a Basil basket. That basket comes in especially handy on account of the frame is too chunky to affix a bottle cage. Not a problem for me, as I’m sort of gawky (in the most charming and feminine way possible, of course) and fear colliding into whatever may be handy as I struggle to pull my squeezie bottle free. I’ve also got some flashy panniers on the backend, ‘cause I’m a girl what likes to accessorize.

The only source of irritation is the coaster braking system. For those who are in the habit of backpedaling whilst you coast, you could be in for a nasty surprise as you come to a screeching halt. It does, however, have a front brake that is of the more conventional handlebar variety, which I favor in order to avoid horrible 7th grade flashbacks.

All in all, I am thrilled that Jack beat the crap out of that 70-year-old couple that were eyeing my fine German-designed machine and snagged it for me first. I ride it to work every other weekend and get to feel invigorated while I’m looking all snazzy. Now if I could only master cycling no-handed so I could randomly flash the “jazz hands�? to passing motorists, I’d be the coolest girl ever!

Euro-chic, indeed…stylish and functional for those who aren’t in a hurry to get anywhere fast and who appreciate some comfort along the way.

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