Category: Safety Equipment

Orp in red. Also comes in asphalt black, frostbyte white, safety cone orange, wail blue, snot green, and worm white (glorp)

With 5 days to go on this Orp Kickstarter campaign, the Orp Smart Horn is soon to go into production and we’ll be getting one to test!

As a safety conscious cyclist I value that this product attempts to make cyclists both more visible and audible on the roadways.

THE IDEA: Make bikers more visible and /or more “hearable”.
THE SOLUTION: A combination dual tone, high decibel bike horn and front beacon light.
Meet Orp.

As creator Tory Orzeck says on the page:

“Really long story short, we developed this super loud, dual decibel horn. Only after that did we discover the Piezo speaker and its circuitry barely taxed the battery to drive the sound. Sitting right there in front of us, we had everything we needed to add LEDs. So, we ended up combining two products: a beacon light and a horn into one small and (we think) beautiful product.”

This product was thought up in Portland and we’ll certainly put it to the test in Chicago.

Just the other night I was nearly right-hooked by a driver insistent on getting into the right lane to make a turn. He had just passed me and then nearly pulled in front of me. Not even my two front LED blinkies and bell got his attention; my yelling and the screeching of my squealing brakes did get his attention – “WHA…WHOA…LOOK OUT!” (or something to that effect)


Orp’s Horn has 2 modes: soft and WAY loud

The Wail Tail is the ergonomic and intuitive switch controlling the horn.

When you need to alert other cyclists or pedestrians, a small displacement {up or down} of Orp’s Wail Tail produces a friendly chirp at 76 decibels.

When you’re in traffic, and you need to let cars know where you are, then just push a little harder {up or down} and Orp’s “HERE I AM!” sound emits an ear blistering 96 decibels. This is FAR louder than the most popular bike bells.

I could use a horn!

For those of us who don’t live in SoCal or other similarly moderate climates, riding in longer pants is somewhat inevitable. If we want to keep those pants clean and not tangled in the chain, there are a couple options. One is a chain guard – and if you’ve got one you pretty much can skip this article! However, those don’t come on most bikes made in the U.S. so most of us make do with rubber bands or the slightly-more-advanced reflective velcro bands found in many bike shops. The problem is that while those keep your pants cuff out from getting caught in the chain, they generally don’t keep your pants leg clean. What to do? Well, the guys at Cycle Cuffs think they’ve got a solution to that problem for you!

The Cycle Cuffs generally come in pairs (though you can order a single if you really want). There are now several options available in terms of color (I reviewed the “future classic,” which is a basic black ripstop polyester fabric). They all come with velcro attachment, reflective stripes at top and bottom, and a large ring in the middle. The ring is so that they can be threaded onto a lock (U-lock or cable) and they stay with the bike. I was initially skeptical of this feature (and wasn’t sure about the styling), but ended up routinely locking the Cycle Cuffs up with my bike as that was the best way to not accidentally leave them at my desk!

So how did these do on the bike? Very well actually! They were easy to attach (loosely, so they don’t crease pant legs), stayed on without a problem, and kept my pants legs grease-free and crease-free. Over the past couple months they’ve become part of my normal bike-to-work gear, and overall I highly recommend them to keep your pants cuffs/legs clean and out of the way of the chain. Yes, they’re a bit more expensive than a basic reflective strap (and run about the same per cuff as the Leg Shield I tested earlier this year), but I think they’re more effective than either, and I plan to continue using mine until they wear out (unlikely to be soon, they seem quite tough!).

Will the Cycle Cuffs revolutionize your cycling experience? Probably not… but they don’t need to, because what they’re meant to do they do really darn well, and sometimes it’s the little things that can make the difference.

Photo Credit: LSJ Photography

It’s long overdue but it’s time for the final review of the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag! The folks at Brenthaven and Kona teamed up and created the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag and were nice enough to send us one to test! I wrote my first impressions of the bag awhile back and gave an opinion of it. After some time, my impression has stayed pretty much the same—I like it.

Style meets function

The first thing I noticed about it is how stylish the bag is. To my hipster friends who treat bicycles as an accessory like some who purchase cars that “fit” their personality, this messenger bag is a good complement to their everyday life. Like I mentioned before, it’s got a very streamlined design—nothing looks out of place from the trapezoidal shape of the bag to the inclusion of metal buckles and emblematic light in the middle.

It’s quite a spacious bag. Even the two zipper-pockets (shown below) were quite roomy; in the larger zippered compartment I was able to put in two medium-sized shirts unfolded without a problem. In the smaller compartment, a wallet, cell phone, toothbrush and toothpaste can fit. The bag’s main compartment is kept closed by three things—Velcro, two buckles and two side magnetic flaps. Inside, the bag is separated into three compartments with the middle being a “pouch” that can be closed via Velcro.

15.4 inch Laptop, Size 10 Shoes, 34×30 Jeans, 2 Shirts + Book (not shown)

Cellphone holder + 2 Adjustable Straps

Turned around, the bag maintains its functionality. The wide adjustable strap is held together by a big metal buckle. The strap also has a pouch for a cell phone. The bag also has an additional smaller strap that buckles onto the main strap to keep the bag stable while riding.

Here are the specs (again):

  • Name: Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag- Blue
  • Model #: 6102
  • Weight: 3.2 lb.
  • External Dimensions: 21.5″ W x 16″ H x 8″ D
  • Fits laptops up to 16″
  • Built in safety light with replaceable battery compartment
  • Bomber, water-shedding 1000D Cordura fabric
  • Waterproof internal compartment for laptop, electronics
  • Comfortable shoulder strap with quick release phone pocket
  • Large capacity, expands to 1300 cubic inches
  • 100% lifetime guarantee and then somePatent pending magnetic Hydro FlapsTM keep your gear dry

Very much a cyclist’s bag

Static/Intermittent Light

“Okay, okay, we get that it looks good and functions like any other bag but how is this a cyclist’s bag?”

When I first received the bag, the first thing that I wanted to know was how this bag was any different when compared to my current laptop-backpack. This meant: did I notice how uncomfortable I was with the bag on during my commute? Or is it such a good fit that I don’t even notice that I have it on? I did a couple tests to find out. One test was to overstuff the bag, and the other test was to only put in essentials for work.

For the first test, here’s what I put in the bag (about 30 pounds):

  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • Pair of Shoes
  • 5 shirts
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • Toothpaste, toothpaste
  • Bike supplies: oil, degreaser, naval jelly, chain-tool, Allen keys (I know it’s overkill)
  • Laptop + charger

And then I was off for a short ride. During the ride, I found the bag to be so heavy that I had to stop to give my shoulder a break. With each bump in the road, the pain I felt increased. I had to stop and switch shoulders three times in order to finish the ride despite the well-padded strap.

Loosely Worn

Even though the bag is durable enough to withstand over thirty pounds of load, I would only recommend a lighter load equivalent to a laptop + charger, a change of clothes and a pair of shoes. In other words, try to keep the bag’s weight under fifteen pounds.

That said, I think my opinion on how much load I would carry with the Kona Project 2 would change if the bag had two straps that distributed the weight better like a backpack.

On a side note, I used the bag much like a duffle bag while spending weekends at a friend’s and it served me well. Since it could hold more than my backpack, I found the Kona to be much more useful than my backpack.

So, in short, the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag is well-designed and quite suitable for the commuter on a bicycle. The guys at Brenthaven designed the bag with storage, visibility and style in mind and it shows. For the commuter who does not have to carry that much stuff and can afford a hundred dollar bag, this bag is worth a look.

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

Mark from Planet Bike sent me some of their new 25g CO2 cartridge refills a couple weeks ago to try out. PB introduced the 25g cartridges at Interbike last year, and they were so popular that the company started selling twinpacks of them.

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Bike tires are getting bigger so our C02 inflation cartridges are rising to the challenge. Planet Bike’s new 25 gram threaded CO2 cartridge is the right tool for the job when it comes to 29ers and cross tires. It packs enough punch for two large volume tires. You can’t prevent the untimely flat, so you might as well be prepared to fix it fast. We offer the 25g CO2 in a single pack (with insulator sleeve) and in our new 2-pack!

• Our CO2 cartridges work in Planet Bike inflators as well as our competitors’ inflators
• Our CO2 cartridges are tested to the highest standards for durability, safety and reliability. They contain pure CO2 with no oils or contaminants
• 100% recyclable steel cartridges
• 25g CO2 Cartridge, quantity 2

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As PB states, these cartridges are suited for higher-volume tires…something I’m sure many of us commuters can appreciate. Here’s a comparison shot of the 25g cartridge next to a standard 16g unthreaded one (in the middle) and a “Copperhead” unthreaded 12g cartridge at the bottom. The 12g is currently my favored size because it fits completely inside my inflator, and because I can buy a 12-pack of them for about the cost of 2 16g ones (the 12g carts are sold for use in BB pistols). When you’re faced with filling a big tire like a cushy 38C touring tire, a DH monster or a fat ‘cross tire, 12g carts just aren’t going to do the trick.

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The inflator I use is a Genuine Innovations “Second Wind IH”…no longer available, but able to swallow threaded or unthreaded cartridges and also serving as a low-volume hand pump to get things started. I tested the PB 25g carts on my wife’s Electra shod with voluminous Schwalbe “Fat Frank” tires:

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Starting from a dead-flat tire, the Planet Bike 25g cart worked like a charm! I even had to stop to correct an escaping tube, bleeding off some pressure from the valve stem and reattaching my CO2 inflator “mid stream”. The 25g cartridge had plenty of oomph left to finish the job even after my screwup.

Before:
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After (the photo’s a bit deceptive, but the tube is at full riding pressure):
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So there you have it…need to fill a high-volume tire on the go? You could carry a handful of smaller cartridges or just one of these mini-SCUBA tanks from Planet Bike and be on your way in no time!

One word of caution, though: these cartridges get FROSTY in a hurry. Wear a glove or keep a spare piece of innertube in your saddlebag to cover the steel cartridge, or it will freeze to your bare hand.

DSC06454

Looks like PB has another winner on their hands! A twinpack retails for about $21, so they’re not cheap, but they are competitively priced with other cartridges on the market. And remember, you only need one to get the job done.

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

In two of my semi-recent posts, I laid out some of the choices in traveling by bike with kids, and in choosing a helmet for those pint-sized commuters. Since then, we’ve acquired both a front-mounted seat and a helmet for our youngest, R. We’re in the early stages of use still… but so far so good!

First… the seat. It’s a Yepp Mini we got with our REI dividend (yeah, we shop there a bit!), and it is the coolest bike seat I think I’ve ever seen. I’d assumed it would be plasticky, but it’s actually a pretty soft – but shape-holding – rubber texture. R thinks it’s about the coolest thing ever, and couldn’t stop grinning during our first test ride! The only bad thing about it is we don’t have a bike that it fits really well on – right now it’s on my wife’s hybrid, but she has to pedal carefully so she doesn’t bang her knees, the footrests affect her turning radius (although not terribly), and she can’t slide forward too easily when she comes to a stop. So… we’ll see how it works out. We’re huge fans of the seat itself, but not quite as big fans of how it works with us and our bikes. I’ve got my eye out for a bike it’d work better with though – I figure I can find a used city/cruiser-style bike with a friendlier geometry for less than the cost of the Yepp mini! These seats are hugely popular in Europe for use with Dutch-style bikes – but the Dutch-style bikes here come at a prohibitive price point. I’ll be reporting back in the coming months on what we end up doing!

For the helmet, we went with the Lazer BOB infant helmet, and it’s working out pretty nicely. It fits R a lot better than other helmets we’ve tried, though it’s not as easily adjustable as some (you have to remove the helmet completely to adjust the straps, which is less than ideal), and… yeah, it still looks kinda huge! We’re still working on getting the fit 100% dialed (we make a small adjustment every time we put it on her), but overall we’re pretty happy with it.

Post-ride Contemplation