Howdy Bike Commuters! Judging by the amount of views and comments on Facebook, you guys and gals seemed to like my ding-a-ling post. I also saw an increase of fan mail offering me Viagra, Cialis and other male enhancement offers, I wonder if they misunderstood what I meant by a ding-a-ling…
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This week I tried something new on our Facebook page; y’all saw me ramble like an idiot live! Now was that fun or what! So the point of the whole “live” feed was to prove that I ACTUALLY ride my bike to work and that I do indeed take my Spicer CX on dirt trails. I am definitely not a “keyboard” bike tester.

Today’s post is all about stuffs (you probably heard me say that on the video, I know, I know, it is “stuff”, but whatever.) that I’ve ordered, read on the internets and a new gadget that I purchased.

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So we all have heard of smart phones, smart watches, smart cars and even smart water. So of course, someone had to come out with a “Smart Bike”. A particular US company caught my eye, they are called Volata Cycles out of San Francisco, CA. What is so special about this bike? It is a cross between a road bike and a gravel bike! And y’all know I love Cyclocross and gravel bikes! The Volata bike comes with all kinds of tech such as a built-in display, lights, GPS locator, Horn, Alarm, motion detector, self charging battery and a joystick, yup, a joystick.

Besides all of this tech, the bike comes with top notch components such as an Alfine Di2 belt drive transmission, carbon fork, disc brakes, Fizik Saddle and tape and crank brother pedals. So how much would this bike set you back? $3,499. Not cheap at all, but look at the specs and at all that fancy integrated technology.

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Did you know that 6% of Americans do not know how to ride a bike? Well, I just happen to be married to one of these Americans (Sorry Russian girls and MILFS, I am taken.). So how do I share my passion with someone who is afraid to ride a bike and get her to ride with me? Get a Tandem, but not just any tandem. Since I’m a condominium dweller and I own a sedan, this tandem had to be special; it had to collapse or fold so it can fit inside my closet and inside my car’s trunk. The solution: Bike Friday’s Family Tandem. This tandem is custom made in the USA, Eugene, Oregon to be precise, so I went ahead and placed an order for this tandem and I gotta tell you that Bike Friday’s Buck Olen was incredibly helpful. I can’t wait for my custom made tandem to arrive by early September.

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Back in February I wrote a post about fitness bands and how I felt that the Moov was the best choice for us cyclists. After a few months of using it, I really got tired of strapping it on my ankles (kind of made me feel as if I was on parole) so I decided to go ahead and spend quite a bit more and purchased a Garmin Vivoactive with a heart monitor.

So far I am loving this gadget, it is a mixed of a smart watch and a very robust fitness band. I will do a full review in a month or so.

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And lastly, I want to make sure that you know that my dog was indeed pissed off at me for my last choice of beer, but I have to keep my weight down and trying to drink just one stout or a porter is very hard to do.

Did you miss me? I can tell you did by the huge amount of email that I received last week. I just didn’t know that a lot my fan base was composed of Russian women, MILFS and ladies from f*ckbook.

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Today’s post is all about a very important accessory if you happen to share the riding trails with walkers, runners or hikers; it is the venerable bicycle bell. (Queue Queen’s bicycle race song). Featured in today’s post is Planet Bike’s Courtesy Bell, Timber!’s Mountain Bike bell, a cheap bell and the ORP smart horn.

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Let’s begin with Planet Bike ‘s Courtesy bell. I purchased this bell for about $16 and I really like the way it looks in the brass color, just look at it! It is so shiny! The bell also has a very distinctive sound and according to my very unscientific test, the bell’s sound is about 82.2 dB.

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Next is your typical cheap bell; the one you can get from eBay for about $2.99 or as a gift from your LBS when you purchase a bike. This little bell is not elegant, it is cheap looking but it is loud enough at 80.6 dB.

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The Timber! Mountain bike bell sparked my interest because it is unusual, just look at it… it doesn’t even look like a bell. It also does not work like a regular bell. The sound of this bell is triggered by the bike’s continuous movement, great while going down a bumpy trail without the need to use your finger to trigger it. The sound is also not as loud as the other bells at about 72.3 dB but it does the job. Another cool feature of this bell is that you can “silence” it with the use of a lever because the constant ringing will get annoying. The price of this little bell is $20 bucks, not cheap but I like it.

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And lastly, I purchased this horn for $49.99 and I have mixed feelings about it. I like the fact that it doubles as a front blinkie light, it is rechargeable and it looks sort of cool. But the issue with the ORP is its sound; people are not familiar with it and they won’t get out of the way. People think that is a ringtone coming from my phone or some sort of video game. Everyone knows the sound of a bell but not some sort of alien sound. It is also pricey, $50 bucks was a little painful to pay for what ended up being an average blinkie. If you look at the sound charts, the ORP was indeed the loudest but not close to the 96 claimed decibels.

Here is a short video of the sounds:

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A little note about my unscientific test: The Sound Meter app was used to measure all 4 items, the mic was held at about 10 inches away from each bell/horn at an ambient noise level of 52.5d dB.

Hello Bike Commuters and welcome back to your weekly dose of The Bike Geek. As y’all know, here at BikeCommuters.com headquarters we love cyclocross bicycles. We have deemed them as our ultimate commuter bikes because not only can you ride them on pavement but you can also take them off-road.

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You may also have heard of “Gravel Grinder Bikes”, they look a lot like cyclocross bikes, but the geometry of the gravel bikes is different. Although not technically a “gravel bike”, I can certainly ride my Spicer Cycles Cx on gravel roads so Showers Pass sent us their Men’s Gravel shorts to feature on this site.

I took the Spicer Cycles Cx on its first dirt ride so this was a good chance for me to try out the Showers Pass Gravel shorts. I received a large size which fit snug for my new-to-me 34″ waist. I also noticed that the shorts were shorter and not as baggy as your typical mountain biking shorts.

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The material felt soft, stretchy and durable. The adjustable waist cinch allows for the belt to stay home

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The two side pockets feature a velcro enclosure which would not let your wallet and keys fly off.

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Another “cool” feature is the zippered thigh vents and four reflective accents.

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I really like these shorts, the fit is great, the material is great, the features are great BUT… yes, there is a BUT; the shorts do not come with a liner with a chamois like most mountain bike shorts do. Not a big deal for me since I have plenty of chamois liners, but if you don’t own a liner make sure you order one, your balls and ass will thank you.

This is a public service announcement for all Irvine/Tustin California drivers.

I know that it has probably been years since you got your driver’s license but let us turn to page 39 of the California Driver Handbook. Now let us focus on the “Bicycle Lane section”:

A bicycle lane is a designated traffic lane for bicyclists, marked by a solid white line, typically breaking into a dotted line ending before it reaches the corner. Different from a simple white line showing the edge of the road, a bicycle lane follows specific width requirements and is clearly marked as a bike lane.

Treat a bicycle lane the same as other traffic lanes.
Do not turn into the lane if there is a bicyclist in the bike lane.
Do not obstruct bicycle traffic by reducing the width required for safe bicycle passage, typically 3 to 4 feet.

When you are making a right turn within 200 feet of the corner or other driveway entrance, you must enter the bicycle lane only after ensuring there is no bicycle traffic, and then make the turn. Do not drive in the bicycle lane at any other time.

Not one, but three times were drivers driving on the bike lane while I was in it!

Irvine/Tustin drivers, I know you are probably in a hurry to get somewhere, but let’s look at a video that I took from my last commute:

Notice the wrong way and the correct way of merging into a bike lane and making a right turn, there is no need to buzz by me and merge into the bike lane when you have over 200 feet to go.

Thank you.

Welcome back to The Bike Geek’s weekly post, I hope all you dads had a great father’s day. Although my father’s day weekend did not involve any cycling, I ended up doing some work on the Spicer Cycles Cyclocross bike.

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The work involved swapping a handlebar, installing new brake cables and housing, new Avid Shorty 4 brakes and new bar tape. Now, I really like my LBS but when they charge about $10 to install new bar tape and about $40 to install the brakes, I rather do it myself.

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Most of the work you can do it yourself with basic “household” tools but investing in a couple of bicycle specific tools is totally worth it. One of these tools is the Park Tools CN-10C Cable cutter, at about $34 is not cheap but this tool gets a lot of use.

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Another must have tool is a decent floor pump with a gauge, riding a bike at 50% PSI is not only prone to flats but is also inefficient. My choice of pump is a Planet Bike ALX floor pump, I’ve had this pump for over 5 years with zero problems.

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I won’t bore you with DIY videos, simply search YouTube for any type of repair and you will find quite a bit of information. Besides saving yourself money for beer or coffee, another benefit of working on your bike is that you get to know your bike quite well and you will be ready for any emergency road repair.

So now that I can actually stop (the brakes were horribly stuck on the Spicer CX), it is time to take the train again and take the CX on the dirt trails too!