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Just Ask Jack — Spandex on a Commuter?

An anonymous reader sent the following question:

“Is it OK to wear spandex to work? I usually ride a road bike, but occasionally ride my MTB to work.?

My feeling is to wear whatever you like that makes you comfortable — whether it is spandex jerseys and shorts or tight leather pants and a puffy pirate shirt . Spandex cycling wear wicks moisture and feels pretty comfortable…which is why so many “serious? cyclists and racers swear by it.

However, there are certain conditions where spandex cycling gear does not fit the bill. First, wearing a full team kit is pretentious, loud and annoying. You should only wear team gear such as Liquigas, CSC or Discovery Channel IF YOU ARE ON THE TEAM! Similarly, wearing a Cervelo jersey while riding a Trek is a big no-no. If we see you, we’ll report you to The Bike Snob. Stick to the brand of bike you own if you absolutely must wear a team jersey and shorts. For everyone else, cycling-specific clothing comes in bright solid colors, too.

Another exception is wearing spandex clothing on a one-speed beach cruiser, Kmart special or any bike that even vaguely resembles the bike ridden by the “40 Year Old Virgin“. You’re not fooling anyone into believing that you are some badass fitness freak or serious racer…mostly, you just look overprepared (and a bit silly) to go fast on a bike that is physically incapable of going fast.

Finally, leave the spandex alone if, after putting it on, you look ANYTHING like this guy:

(Picture “borrowed? from How To Avoid the Bummer Life)

Seriously, no one should have to look at that!

Have a cycling-related question? Just Ask Jack! Click on the link in the right-hand column to send me your questions.

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

Hope for the Tampa Bay Bicycle Commuter

If you’re a bicycle commuter in the Tampa Bay area, things can feel pretty lonely at times. There’s only about 6 daily commuters in our area (just joking!), and there isn’t much in the way of moral support around these parts.

But wait, there’s hope!
Tampa BayCycle homepage

Tampa BayCycle is a joint effort between the New North Transportation Alliance (Julie Bond, the executive director, is one of our featured commuters) and the Tampa Downtown Partnership, as well as a host of other corporate sponsors. This organization has provided the Bay Area commuter a wonderful resource for advocacy, communication and information exchange, and recently wrapped up their first year’s “Commuter Challenge”, where riders were encouraged to recruit fellow bike commuters or newbies in exchange for the chance to win prizes. They even had a kickass party to celebrate their first Bike To Work Month, where activists were invited to enjoy pizza, billiards, bowling and prize raffles (my wife and I both won light sets for our bikes and I won a Cateye wireless computer — very cool).

In June, Tampa BayCycle rolled out their very own blog, which is geared towards providing the Tampa area commuter another way to communicate amongst themselves and to spotlight local news, commuter profiles and other information of interest to bicyclists. It’s a great resource, and you should check it out and add comments…let’s get some traffic headed their way (after all, they did put a permalink to www.bikecommuters.com on their blog site)!!

Tampa BayCycle Blog homepage

From the dumb ass Hall of Fame…

Laura gave us this heads up on this link from John Prolly’s Blog. His post is about what Congressman McHenry from NC thinks about democrats suggesting to ride a bike instead of driving a car:

http://johnprolly.blogspot.com/2007/08/north-carolinas-disgrace.html

Here’s a quote of what Congressman McHenry stated:

Oh, I cannot make this stuff up. Yes, the American people have heard this. Their answer to our fuel crisis, the crisis at the pumps, is: Ride a bike.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Democrats, promoting 19th century solutions to 21st century problems. If you don’t like it, ride a bike. If you don’t like the price at the pumps, ride a bike

Thanks Laura for the comment and the link