BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: bike commuter

Review: Detours all-weather bags for your bike

Detour Bags_Stallion2

I almost felt bad testing out these bags in San Francisco. Detours bags are made to handle the constant drizzle, mud and muck of a Pacific Northwest commute—which makes sense, since the company hails from delightfully drizzly Seattle, WA—the misty fog of the Bay just doesn’t seem like enough of a challenge for the tough, all-weather gear. I said “almost,” because the truth is, these bags are awesome regardless of the weather.

Detour Bags_labeled

Fair warning, there are going to be a lot of photos in this post. The Detours gear is just too stylie to not show off. I had a chance to try a small selection of bags of various styles, sizes and uses. I’ll start from smallest bag and work my way up to the magical three-in-one pannier bag.

Roadie Stem Bag

iphone holder collage 2

I have been on the hunt for a contraption to hold my phone so I don’t have to dig into my backpack to consult the route before getting hopelessly lost. The Roadie definitely does the trick. A simple ratcheted attachment allows you to securely affix the bag to the stem of your bike (my bike, Stallion, who finally gets to be featured in a post, does not have room for Roadie on the stem, but plenty of other spots work great as well).

The clear, water-repellant phone pocket is touchscreen friendly making it easy to access information or refer to your phone as needed. The phone pocket is really more of a flap with a magnetized closure to the main utility pocket. The zip pocket has plenty of room for minor necessities. I fit my patch kit, allen wrench, levers, keys, and ID in there, no problem. The Roadie also comes in gray with a bright green interior (pictured here) and in red with a grey interior. The Roadie retails for $32.

Coffee Dry Bag

coffee bean bag

Yes, you can definitely put your coffee grounds in here and keep them safe and dry. But that’s not the only use for the super versatile Coffee dry bag. Throw in your mid-ride snacks, any electronics you want to keep safe (besides your phone since it’ll be in the Roadie), or maybe protect your other belongings from damp, sweaty bike spandex? The adjustable straps make it easy to secure the Coffee dry bag wherever needed. However, while the top strap is a quick release buckle, the bottom strap must be undone completely, which can be a bit of a hassle.

Detours offers the Coffee dry bag in several different state designs:

• The Evergreen Blend: ride through the forests and around Mount Rainier in our home state of Washington.
• The Mile High Blend: ride through the alpine wonderland of Colorado.
• The Highway 1 Blend: ride down the Pacific Coast Highway in California (pictured here).
• The 10,000 Lakes Blend: ride through the 10,000 lakes and Twin Cities in Minnesota.
• The Lighthouse Blend: ride along the rocky coast in Maine.

The Coffee Bag retails for $20. Or $80 for the set of five. 

Rainier Handlebar Duffel

Rainier Handlebar Duffel Collage

The Rainier Duffel has two adjustable straps to secure the bag to your handlebars and, when you reach your destination, it can transition seamlessly into a cross-body bag thanks to a built in shoulder strap. Plus, the clever folks at Detours designed the duffel with a little side pocket just to hold the shoulder strap so it doesn’t flop around when attached to the handlebars. Attention to detail—I love that. Speaking of detail, the flap of the duffel, which like the Roadie has a magnetic closure, features a sparkly banana design (you can see a better photo here). I think this is a great touch. The zipped interior compartment also contains a smaller zip pouch and two slip-in pockets. The Rainier Handlebar Duffel also comes in black and “Golden Gardens,” a cheery floral pattern. Retail price is $50.

The Ballard Market Pannier

Stallion Kitted Out

Ok, I might have saved the best for last. The Ballard Market Pannier is the most versatile bag of the bunch with three different carrying options (Elizabeth reviewed and loved this pannier back in 2012). First and foremost, it is a pannier bag, which attaches with two simple, yet secure rack clips. The bottom is a heavy-duty waterproof material to reduce wear-and-tear and keep belongings safe. The interior space has a small zip pocket, key hook, and a laptop compartment, making it an ideal commuter bag.

Ballard Panier

As promised, the Ballard Market Pannier is not just a pannier! The bag also has padded straps to carry as a shoulder tote. And the tote straps convert into backpack straps for heavy loads! So clever.

bag to backpack

Overall, the Ballard Market Pannier is a large enough (11”W x 15”H x 5.5”D) to easily accommodate commuter gear—for me, that includes my 15″ laptop, running shoes & clothes, notebook, wallet, and a few other essentials. Plus, this nifty 3-in-1 setup comes in black (pictured here) and two colorful patterns. The Ballard Market Pannier retails for $80.

The bags I review here are only a small portion of the overall variety that Detours offers—from ultra-tough touring rack trunks to playful, more petite seat post bags. I’m confident that riders will find a bag to suit his or her need whether for trips to the farmer’s market, daily commute or more rigorous rides.

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

Free bike registration program aims to safeguard San Francisco bikes

I was more than a little alarmed to read the statistics for stolen bikes in San Francisco. In 2012, one bike was stolen every three hours. Over 4,000 bikes were stolen in that year alone. And of the bikes that were recovered (about 850), less than 17% of bikes found their way back home. So many lonely bikes and wheel-less bikers!

safebike_sf-statistics

Thankfully a new and free bike registry — SAFE Bikes — aims to improve those numbers. According to a recent update from the SF Examiner, a San Francisco police advisory board and safe-streets advocates are launching the free registration program this month to help reunite bikers with stolen bikes. The SAFE Bikes program allows riders to register a bicycle’s serial number, make/model, and color into a secure database that’s connected to the police department. The owner will receive a unique and permanent ID tag to place on the frame. If a registered bike is ever stolen and recovered, SAFE will identify the bike and contact the owner.

SAFE Bike SF

A quick survey of some of my fellow San Francisco bike commuters (ok, a group of friends at a dinner party) reveals that not a-one has registered his or her bike. That goes for me, too. This particular group of riders use bikes as a main form of transportation around the city, and we’re not naive—we are well aware of the dangers, even of just leaving your beloved bike locked up in front of a bar while you run inside for a quick pint of Pliny the Younger.

When I asked my cycling cohorts why they had never registered their bikes, the most cited obstacles included “hassle,” “cost,” and the belief that registering a bike “wouldn’t make a difference.”

But I believe SAFE bikes will go a long way to overcome these registration issues. In fact, I’m leading the way––I’ve registered my bike. And it was easy!

Is your bike registered? If so, what program have you registered with? Does it provide you peace of mind?

Also, side note, SAFE has a great graphic showing the best method for locking up your bike. Check it out.

Going to Europe? Rent a bicycle!

Since Mir.I.am did such a great job on the bike share by the bay article, I wanted to provide our readers this infopgraphic that was provided to us by momondo.com to help those who are planning on traveling to Europe, to take full advantage of the bike sharing programs in several European cities. What’s even more interesting, the bike share program in Paris has about 18,000 bicycles available for rent and 1200 bicycle stations. Wow, that’s pretty impressive!
bike share

Commuter Profile – Christian P. Kittelson

Lookout, cycle gators: it’s commuter profile season again! This bike commuter is one of my original bike heroes, and good, good friend, CPK. Not California Pizza Kitchen, I’m talkin’ Christian P. Kittelson, yo. Hailing from Seattle, where riding a bike to work is what all the cool kids do… Kittels makes pale look good!

DSCN0542

On the bike path leading towards the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle – sweet commute captured by a sweet photographer! (Okay… that was Mir behind the lens, not even looking in the direction of travel.)

Name:

Christian Kittelson

How long have you been a bike commuter? 

13 years

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute? 

I started commuting when I was in college in San Luis Obispo, California.  I continued when I moved to Seattle because I was tired of being dry and warm.  I quickly learned the importance of fenders with mud-flaps.  My commute is 4 miles each way, and I ride year round in all weather.

 

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)? 

Biking helps me afford good beer so I don’t have to drink cheap, crappy, PBR.

kittelson pano

Yachts along the bike path towards Belltown in the Emerald City

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute? 

I am architect in the Emerald City, Seattle.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have 6 bikes:

  1. Red Bike – built for commuting
  2. Blue Bike – built for looks
  3. Black Bike – built for distance
  4. White Bike – built for speed
  5. Chrome Bike – built for hipness
  6. Mini Bike – built for travel
846_10151995052627366_1015091952_n

Red Bike – Commuting with Skis… why not?

602565_10101060701342878_1910685919_n

Blue bike is perfect for picnics

6212_108821852365_7147449_n

Black Bike kills it for team riding!

38152_421407992365_1597922_n

White Bike for intense Mountain Climbing adventures

1006159_10152356208642366_306941525_n

The vintage folder – travel friendly and guest bike

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

My commute home is a major bike path that goes along the rail-yards.  In the winter when its dark, there tends to be a few rats that hang out on or along the path in the bushes.  Its not uncommon to see one from time to time, but a lot of times I don’t see the glow of their eye until it is under my wheel.  I have started to add a tick mark to the chainstay of my bike for each rat I hit, and have subsequently coined it “the exterminator”.

Untitled

Watch out rats, you’re about to get EXTERMINATER’d!

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

I usually don’t bring it up, but most people can usually tell because I am always wearing Velcro shoes with my jeans rolled up to the knee.  Sometimes I will walk around the office all day like this not realizing it until someone laughs at me and asks me where I am going.

How about bicycling advocacy?  Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

As part of bike to work month each May I organize teams for my office for the Cascade Bike Club Commute Challenge here in Seattle.  We track miles to encourage people to ride more.  It’s been so popular I have started organizing the “Pineapple Challenge” in November.  Similar to the commute challenge, we have teams that log mileage, but November is the rainiest month in Seattle so its intended to reward pain and suffering my multiplying the total mileage times a ‘misery factor’ for the day.  The misery factor is based on daily rainfall amounts.  It’s epic.

Editor’s note: Here’s a plug for Christian’s fledgling bike blog: BikeCascadia.Blogspot


Anything else that you want to share with us?

Rock Flannel:  Not only is it comfortable and fashion forward, it also makes the best bike wear for the Northwest.

I luff it.  (P.S. – did you see the Mir.I.Am making a cameo face in that commute?) Arigato for sharing your bike love with the world of Bike Commuters, CPK – I’m gonna check that red bike next time for the latest “Exterminator” stats. So kiddies, if any of you cycle ladies and gents want to show your ride to the world, hook it up with an email to Mir and we’ll plaster your bike goodies all over the webby-web! 

Product Review: WTB Freedom Cruz 29er tires

So as I previously mentioned, I’ve been riding the WTB Freedom Cruz 29er tires on my Redline Monocog 29er – and I’ve now got enough time logged on them for a review!

The basics: at a 29 x 2.0″ size (they come in 26″ as well), these are not for your typical city bike or hybrid! Per product description, they’re meant to “turn your 29″ dirt-crusted steed into a quick and nimble commuter workhorse.” While in general I prefer to keep my mountain bikes on mostly dirt, I had the bike available and a new bike I was riding more, so on the tires went!

A (rather technical) caveat up front: these tires are mounted to Mavic A317 rims, which only have a rim width of 17mm. WTB recommends (per the tire sidewall) rim widths of 25mm+ (which is somewhat standard – but not universal – for mountain bike rims). So right off the bat, my experience with handling may be different than someone else’s, as a wider tire on a narrower rim doesn’t hold its shape quite as well as a wider tire on a wider rim or a narrower tire on a narrower rim. I never felt super comfortable on these on sharp turns – but that might change quite a bit if they were used with the recommended rim size.

Now back to riding impressions!

After a couple months of solid riding, I can definitely say the Freedom Cruz fits the bill for commuting! Very smooth-rolling for sure. They also seem to track well on surfaces ranging from pavement to hardpack dirt – I wouldn’t want to try them out in a lot of mud or loose dirt, but on smooth surfaces they work well (wet or dry). The suggested tire pressure is 35-65psi – after some testing, I ended up running the rear at 40psi and the front at 35psi (this for an average guy+gear load of around 160-165lbs). I also found that the tires held air pressure pretty well – I only had to add a small amount of air every couple weeks. My typical experience is that I need to add a more significant amount of air once a week, so this was a pleasant surprise. It may simply be due to the lower pressure – tire pressure on my other commuter bikes ranges from 55psi to 100psi – but it was nice nonetheless.

The hard rubber compound and sidewall on the Cruz did seem to lessen the bump-absorption properties normally associated with wide tires to some degree – I think most of my mountain tires provide a bit more cushion than these do. However, they do seem durable – after about 350 miles of riding I can’t really see any signs of wear.

For the price (MSRP is $33.99 per tire and they can be found for $6-10 less), the Freedom Cruz 29 tires are a very reasonable way to convert a mountain bike into a smooth-riding city bike. They aren’t overly beefy, and once I had my bike up to speed I felt like it took very little effort to keep it at speed. If you’ve got an extra MTB sitting around and want to give it some new life, $50-60 can get you a tire that will give you a smooth ride for a long time… and the all-black styling means your “mountain” bike won’t be hurting too bad for street cred even without the knobbies!

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