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D-Tour Bicycle Safety Flag — First Impression

D-Tour Safety Flag package

Recently, Glenn Hanson of GlennAir, L.L.C. sent Bikecommuters.com a couple of their D-Tour Bicycle Safety Flags to test in California and Florida. I installed mine today and shot some photos of the very simple process.

First, a bit about the safety flag: the flag itself is made of highly reflective nylon — fluorescent yellow-green for the body and silver for the stripes and trim. 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.

The heart of the system is this finely machined hunk of aluminum — the flag bracket:
flag bracket

Installation is a breeze…if you have thin seatstays. Initially, I wanted to install this device on my dedicated MTB-framed commuter bike — it fits the “safety theme” of this bike (ugly photo here). However, the seatstays were far too fat to fit the larger of the two provided clamps, there is a brazed-on brakeline guide in the way, and the pannier interfered with placement. I tried mounting the clamps upside-down with a longer attachment screw, but I would have had to drill extra holes in the aluminum flag bracket and it still wouldn’t be quite right.

Not enough room on this bike:
This isn't gonna work!

So, I pulled my Astra road bike out of the shed and slapped this device on in about 5 minutes…all that is needed for installation is a flathead screwdriver. Voila — success!
bracket mounted

After that, the wire “arm” of the flag clips into the bracket. The orientation of the flag can be adjusted from straight out to the side, straight forward or back or at angles between these positions. Here’s how it looks deployed straight out from the side of the bike:

Deployed!

And here’s how it looks folded straight back:
Straight back

I didn’t get to test-ride it today, but I am eager to see how this device will affect the distance motorists pass me with. I get “buzzed” all the time — Tampa-area drivers are not used to seeing bikes on the roadways. When Florida passed their “3 Foot Rule” last year, my friends and I joked about bolting a brightly-painted yardstick (or a sword blade) to our bikes as a visual guide to motorists. I think this D-Tour flag device is a far more elegant and practical way to go about things, don’t you?

Stay tuned for our experiences running this device — it should be interesting!

To contact Glenn about purchasing this flag, please email him at GHansonLtd(at)aol(dot)com.

UPDATE:

Here are some pictures from the folks from California. Moe installed the D-Tour Flag on his DiamondBack Transporter, we look forward to his experiences as well.


Side View

Rear View

Seattle Sports “Fast Pack” Pannier — First Impression

Seattle Sports Waterproof Pannier

Seattle Sports recently sent us one of their waterproof “Fast Pack” pannier bags to test in the harsh summer rains of west-central Florida. Any company based in Seattle will surely know a thing or two about wet weather, and Seattle Sports is well-known for their excellent gear that is built to handle extreme wetness!

Here’s a bit about the bag, directly from the manufacturer’s website:

-10″ w, 14″ h, 5″ deep
-750 cu. in. per single bag
-18 oz.
-sold individually
-AVAILABLE IN GREY
-Price: $59.95

The bag is a simple three-roll-closure bag with nylon buckles, much like traditional dry bags for kayak and canoe applications. It is made of a radio-frequency welded nylon and rubberized fabric. It features a side compression strap for keeping loads from swaying, a smallish reflective patch on the back of the bag and a small zippered interior pocket.

The interior of the bag is lined in soft nylon. Even though the bag only holds 750 cubic inches, a lot can hide down in there, and the interior is DARK. A lighter-colored liner would help a user locate small items hiding down in the bottom. The zippered interior pocket is located on the outer wall of the inside.

Inside the bag:
Inside the bag

The rack attachment system is the real showcase of this bag. Comprised of two upper rigid clips with spring-loaded locking keepers and a sliding, rotating lower “toggle” that clamps around the bottom of the rack stays, this system is absolutely bulletproof. You will not shake this bag loose, even with a heavy load!! This attachment system is well-designed and is perhaps the best I’ve had the pleasure of using.

The bag's attachment system

Here’s a closeup of the upper clips. The keepers are on the inside — no real springs in there, but these keepers pop up and press back to release the bag from the upper rail of a rack:
The upper clips w/ keepers

I’ve only ridden with this bag once so far…and only with a light load (a pair of dress shoes). In the coming weeks, I will put this bag through its paces, including some serious wet-weather testing to check the waterproofness of this bag.

So far, my only real gripe is the reflective patch on the back of the bag. There’s room on the back for a much more substantial reflector…something I’d like to see on this bag, since so many other pannier manufacturers put loads of reflective tape and patches on their bags.

The tiny reflective patch:
Tiny reflective patch

Stay tuned for more as I torture this bag!!! I’ve got to say, though, that this bag really looks like it can handle some serious punishment. We’ll see if I’m right, won’t we?

Visit Seattle Sports’ cycling products page for more details about their waterproof bags.

Bicycle Fixation Wool Knickers Review

The great folks from Bicycle Fixation sent us their Wool Knickers to review.

Here are the quick details:

Our elegant, bicycle-friendly knickers are made in Los Angeles in a fair-wage factory from 100% wool gabardine, and will be the most comfortable clothes you own. They have been tested in temperatures from close to 20°F to over 95°F, in rush hour, over mountain passes, on Critical Mass, in the office, and at restaurants and malls, and they have proven themselves every time. Using local materials and labor when they are available reduces transport impacts on the planet.

Although the fabric feels light, our testers in Minnesota and Illinois have reported that they are comfortable in temperatures down to just over 20°F, and we have ourselves tested them in heat up to nearly 100°F. The wool transpires sweat better than synthetic so-called “wicking” materials, rarely (so far, for us, never) shows sweat-spotting, and does not hold body odors–you can wear these for several days of riding before you need to clean them.

Retail Price: $99.00

Overview:
Let me being by saying the Knickers are not my style, I prefer to ride with Hoss MTB shorts to work. I rode with the knickers on cool mornings and on hot afternoons. The knickers were most comfortable during the mornings, I really liked that my knees were shielded from the cool air. On the afternoons, well, I did get hot. However, I did find that the fabric absorbed my sweat and it was somewhat breathable.

Thumbs Up:The quality of the fabric and the workmanship is top notch. The knickers are also super comfortable, there was no itching, and the knickers didn’t ride up my butt. The price of the knickers is very competitive as well.

Thumbs Down: I personally didn’t care for the burgundy satin cut out on the bottom of the legs.

Bottom Line: If wool knickers are your style, check out Bicycle Fixation’s wool knickers, you won’t be disappointed.

For more information, go to www.bicyclefixation.com

KHS Green Review

KHS Green

Overview: When KHS unveiled the Green, I knew I had to test one. The KHS Green is a no frills, no thrills bicycle that will basically haul you and your stuff from point A to Point B. What is the major point of this bike? Price. I’ve seen the KHS Green sell for below $275 at bike shops. It is very hard to find a bicycle under $300 that comes with all the goodies for bike commuting. I used the KHS Green for my 4.6 mile one way commute, how did it fare? Read On..

KHS Green
A nice Sturdy rack for your panniers is a standard feature of the Green

First, here are the specs from the manufacturer:

Frame:Hi-Ten Classic Mens or Ladies Step-thru frame
Fork: Hi-Ten
Headset: 1″ Treaded
Rims: Weinmann ZAC21 silver anodized alloy 700 x 38c
Hubs: Shimano 3 speed Nexus Coaster Brake Rear Hub
Tires: Staad 700 x 38c
Spokes: 14G UCP, 36°
Front Derailleur: N/A
Rear Derailleur: Shimano 3 speed Nexus Coaster Brake Rear Hub
Shifters: Shimano 3 speed Nexus Revo Twist
Chain: 1/2″ x 1/8″
Crankset: 3-piece with complete chainguard
Pedals: VP alloy w/steel cage w/boron axle
Saddle: Dual Density with Elastomer Springs
Handlebar: 4″ rise
Stem: Alloy w/Tall Quill
Grips: Kraton
Brakes: Coaster Rear, Hand Brake Front
Color: Black
Frame Sizes: 17″, 21″ Men’s and 14″, 17″ Ladies
Extras: Fenders, Alloy Rear Carrier, Kick Stand, Bell and Rear Wheel Lock

KHS Green
Front and Rear Fenders, a must for soggy commutes

The Looks: The Green will definitely not win any beauty contests, but this could be a blessing in disguise since the bike will be less desirable to thieves. I personally like the solid Black with Green Accents paint scheme. The fenders and the chain guard kind of reminds me of a dutch style bike. I didn’t really care much for the handlebars, a more subtle riser bar can make the bike look better.

KHS Green
Full Chain Guard

The Ride: The bike felt very comfortable, the plush, wide saddle is a big plus for those who care about their butt not being so sore. The upright position was also comfortable, I didn’t experience any neck, back or wrist fatigue. I was expecting the Green to be a slouch due to the upright position, but I was cruising the streets at 16-17mph. I was actually surprised at the speeds that I reached even though I was not pedaling super hard. As far as handling goes, well, this is the Green’s weakness. The high center of gravity and the 700 cc wheels made it hard to turn on tight bends, I almost fell down once when I overshot a turn on the river trail as I was going a little too fast. Braking was not an issue, the front hand brake/rear coaster brake combo worked beautifully.

KHS Green
3 Speed Nexus integrated hub, adequate for short commutes

Hits:The bike comes with fenders, chain guard, rear rack, lock, suspension saddle and a bell. Just add your favorite lights! The bike is also low-maintenance, I never had to anything to the bike.


Integrated Wheel Lock

The integrated lock is also a plus, for those quick stops for a Slurpee or a 40oz (of Gatorade, of course), simply lock up the rear wheel and anyone that will try to run away with the bike will easily be caught. Cost, As I mentioned before, you can find this bike for less than $275.

KHS Green
Not a beauty Queen, but a great short commute bike.

Misses:Weight, yeah, this bike is a tank but what do you expect for less than $275??

My recommendation:Are you a person that wants to start bike commuting? Are you in a budget? Is your commute less than 5 miles and want to leave your $1,000 bike at home? The KHS Green is the bike for you!!! The Green may not win beauty contests or set speed records, but it will get the job done. I also think that this bike has potential to be a longer commute bike if a Nexus 7 or 8 speed is used instead of the 3, that will help out with climbing hills as well as the flats.

For More information, check out www.khsbicycles.com.