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Interbike 2013: Axiom Performance Gear

Axiom Performance Gear is probably not a household name in U.S. bike circles…but it should be. They make a HUGE variety of bike products and accessories, but may not have the same brand recognition here in the U.S. as other bike accessory companies. That’s a bit of a mystery to me; for as you will see, the products they make are well-designed, stylish, and readily available through the major bike shop wholesalers like QBP and Seattle Bike Supply.

Prior to our trip to Las Vegas, we’d be Facebook-chatting with Andrew Belson, the product manager and designer behind a lot of Axiom’s products. He gave us an extensive tour of Axiom’s display, focusing on commuter-friendly items we could share with you.

Axiom specializes in products designed to fit a wide range of bicycles, particularly their panniers and cargo racks. Let’s take a look at some of them first:

From the modular Grandtour Series, these panniers feature a host of high-tech features like adjustable pannier hooks, load management straps, and streamlined shaping. The best part of this series of bags is that they are totally modular, with a main bag and detachable accessory pockets. Strap on tent and toiletry pockets for long overnight or cross-country tours, then strip off everything but the main bag for errands and commuting. What a great setup!

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The Grandtour Series comes in three sizes: 60 liters, 45 liters, and 30 liters, with accessory pockets that bump up the cargo capacity.

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Here’s Axiom’s “Journey” series…panniers for front and rear, grocery bags, rack-mountable briefcases and even a handlebar bag for your iPad!

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Need a rack to carry those bags? Axiom has you covered with a wide variety in both expedition-grade steel and aluminum flavors:

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A LOT of thought went into the mounting hardware for Axiom’s racks. Most had offset mounts to prevent heel strikes, and they all had a huge range of adjustability to accomodate bikes of several wheel sizes. Take a look at their Uni-Fit mounting plates, which I referred to as “dial a size”. Find the appropriate holes for your wheelsize and bolt into place:

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That’s pretty cool right there, and is a perfect example of the details sweated out by the folks at Axiom. With their mounting options, one would be hard-pressed indeed to find a bike these racks wouldn’t fit!

Axiom also makes a line of travel and floor pumps…some of the best-looking ones I’ve laid eyes on, and packed with great features.

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These pumps have knurled aluminum bodies, extendible hoses and the “ReValver” that twists to adjust for Schrader and Presta valves. Slick!

Perhaps my very favorite thing I spotted at Interbike was this gorgeous floor pump called the Annihilateair G200A. It was a work of art, with a mirror-polished aluminum body, Headrush dual-valve head, replaceable MTB-style grips and traction pegs on the base. This pump just oozed quality, and if I had a spare $135.00, I’d run out and buy one right now! RL can attest to my interest in this pump…sort of an odd thing to get so excited over, but hey, I’m a bike geek with a serious tool problem:

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Axiom showed us so much more…other waterproof panniers with ultrasonic-welded seams, great commmuter accessories, etc. We really had an enjoyable time with them in their vast display. And, we may be able to get our hands on some of Axiom’s products for the purposes of reviewing, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, swing on over to their website for further details on these and their many other products.


Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Interbike 2013: Commuter accessories from Serfas

We ran into our pal JT at the Serfas booth today — and he was happy to show off a variety of commuter-friendly accessories.

The handsome JT:
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A HUGE array of headlights in various outputs:
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A matching array of taillights and front/rear light combos, including some with flexible mounting options:
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Even more taillights:
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Here’s a great headlight (to be released soon) where the battery pack doubles as a powerful taillight:
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Serfas lights are known for their true lumen outputs. The light pictured above is rated at 1000 lumens, and when Serfas claims an output, that’s what you get — no fudging the numbers like other companies do.

Need to light up the night on a dark commute? Serfas offers this 2500 lumen monster, complete with bar-mounted remote control!
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There were tons more accessories for the commute and for the home shop. Take a look at the wide variety of floor pumps and travel pumps Serfas offers:
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Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Review: Kaufmann Mercantile’s Canvas Saddlebag

We had a chance to spend a few weeks with a review sample of Kaufmann Mercantile‘s new waxed-canvas saddlebag…the folks there only gave us a short time to test it out before it had to go back to them, but I got a good feel for the bag and wanted to share some thoughts and photos with you.

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Here’s some of the basic bag information straight from Kaufmann Mercantile’s website:

Materials
–Waxed canvas
–American tanned leather
–Brass buckles and rivets

Features
–Water resistant
–Bridle leather strap for lashing larger objects on the outside of the pack
–2 leather and brass buckle straps (secure and easy to remove from bike)
–Inside pocket
–Inside flaps with grommets
–Adjustable closure

Dimensions
–Height: 8.5 inches
–Top width: 10.5 inches
–Bottom width: 3.5 inches

Handmade in Duluth, Minnesota

The bag is made for Kaufmann Mercantile by Frost River Softgoods.

The bag is nearly ten inches at the mouth, and tapers gently down to the foot. The overall length of the bag is about nine inches. It fit nicely between saddle and rack as shown in the pictures below. The leather straps are supple and are adequately supplied with holes to get everything snug (additional holes are easily punched with a leather awl if needed). Solid brass hardware in the rivets and buckles means this thing is going to last for years. And hey, it looks classy as hell!

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This is a water-resistant bag…the waxed canvas shrugs off light rain and snow, but won’t stop the contents from getting wet in a downpour (mostly because of the seams and the loose opening at the top of the bag). It’s weatherproof enough for year-round use, though, and sensitive items such as electronics should always travel in plastic bags even if your own bag is rated as “waterproof”.

Inside the bag, there’s a sleeve at the base to store pointy tools or small items that need additional protection from the rest of the contents. Otherwise, it’s just a gaping maw, waiting to swallow your spare tubes, your lunch, your phone and your rainjacket.
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And, unlike most “minimalist” saddlebags, this one takes all that load without any wrestling or Tetris-like stacking. If you do happen to run out of room inside the bag, there is a stiff leather band riveted to the top of the bag. Simply lash items onto the top and be on your way. You ARE carrying spare toestraps, aren’t you? They’re handy for any impromptu gear wrangling you may face on your journeys.

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Once loaded and hitched down tight, the bag does not sway…I rode with this bag stuffed with items in a brutal 30 MPH headwind and fierce crosswinds, and the bag never budged despite my “out of the saddle” efforts.

The overall quality of the bag is fantastic…the seams are tight, the materials are top-notch and the overall look is, as I mentioned earlier, classy. It’s a pricey bag at $95.00, but this is an “heirloom” type item, expected to last years and years. And there IS a market for such bags, what with Carradice and Ostrich, Berthoud and Brooks. These kinds of bags are for folks who want something handmade, who care about the materials used and the places where they’re made. It’s tough, sometimes, to have to pay a premium to get a handmade-in-the-U.S. item, but I think this one is worth it. Still, it’s a bit steep for us frugal commuters.

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This is the only bike-specific item Kaufmann Mercantile carries, but there are other items in their online store that may appeal to you. Really, there’s a LOT of cool handmade tools and other useful gadgets there, so you should swing on over for a visit.

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

Wonder what all those planes are doing in the background? I am lucky to live right up the street from the National Museum of the United States Air Force, and their outdoor static aircraft display area makes a fun backdrop. You’ll probably see a lot more of this in future articles…I love that museum and the grounds are spectacular.

Review: Ergon GP1 BioKork Grips

As a member of the 2011 Ergon Commuter Team, I am in a somewhat unique position to be able to test some of Ergon’s products in real-world bike commuting conditions. As you may recall, we have reviewed some of Ergon’s products before, and I’ve been a user of their GP1 grips since the birth of my Xtracycle a couple years ago.

The first product I got my hands on was the GP1 “BioKork” grip set, part of Ergon’s Performance Comfort Series of grips:

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From Ergon USA’s site:

The GP1 BioKork uses 40% cork, sourced from sustainable forests in Portugal which is certified for its ecologically sound production. This ecological theme is continued throughout the rest of the grip.

The inner core is plastic reinforced using natural fibre, which make up 40% of its mass. In place of mineral oil, the gel in the palm section of the grip is vegetable oil based.

The clamp can also be 100% recycled. It is all a result of Ergon’s “GreenLab” initiative.

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The barend plugs are natural-fiber reinforced plastic, too. Nice! Even better, the folks at Ergon have listened to the complaints about their packaging — what used to be an abomination of unrecycleable plastic display packaging is now made from recycled/recycleable cardboard. Bravo, Ergon…that GreenLab initiative is good stuff!

Time to replace my weatherbeaten old GP1s…they served me well, but they were way past their prime. 2+ years in the Florida elements ate them alive:

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Installation is a breeze. The GP1s slip right on and are held in place by a simple aluminum clamp torqued to a max of 5nm. They don’t slip or throttle once the clamps are snugged down, and no additional glue or lube is needed to get them on/keep them on.

The new grips feel the same — same size and shape as the old GP1s, and are supremely comfortable. This is purely a perception, but the cork material “feels” a bit warmer than the old grips. Perhaps that is because it has been cold and rainy in my new home of Dayton, Ohio. Got to say also that the new BioKork grips add a certain elegance to my otherwise mongrel of an Xtra:

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The GP1 grips come in both small and large sizes. I have giant hands and really long fingers, so the large size suits me better. Oh, did I mention how comfortable ergonomic grips are? If you play with the angle until they feel right, they are pretty amazing. Chalk up another win for Ergon!

To check out more of Ergon’s product offerings, take a swing over to their website. And, stay tuned for more product sneak peaks and reviews in the coming months.

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

Interbike 2010: PDW and Their New Goodies for 2011

We had the chance to talk to Dan Powell of Portland Design Works (PDW) at Interbike last week. Dan was gracious enough to allow us to shoot a short video of the product highlights in the pipeline for the coming months…personally, I’m very excited by the front rack and clip-on fender Dan showed us. Take a look for yourself: