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Tag Archive: bike commuting

Product Review: Henty Wingman Suit Bag

So a while ago we were contacted by yet another small Australian company (yep the Cycle Cuffs are made by some Australian guys too… what is with all these new bike-related things coming out of Australia anyway??). Right, so as I was saying we were contacted by these guys asking if we would review the Henty Wingman commuter/carry-on suit bag (not to be confused with the Airborne Wingman, which is a dirt jump bike). We of course said yes, and I’ve been in possession of this nifty bag for some time.

What sets the Wingman apart from other bags? Well, for starters it’s meant to carry a suit without messing it up (which very few bags do). However, the thing that’s truly unique is that this suit bag doesn’t fold – it rolls up, preventing the suit from ever having to bend enough to get creased (verified, though I did not get a picture of me in a suit, sorry). It also has a smaller bag (more the size of a small gym bag) that clips inside this roll, and some pockets on the outside for things you might want access to (lock, laptop, etc.). At $179 (Australian, currently equivalent to $187 U.S.) this isn’t a particularly cheap option, but it falls very much in line with pricing on other serious commuter bags, and you do get good value for the price – I was impressed with the overall construction and quality of materials.

So what’s the verdict? Well, in a nutshell – if you need to go any distance and you want to bring a suit with you, you should probably get this! If there’s a better way to transport a suit – whether across town, on a train, or through an airport – I haven’t heard of it. The suit pocket itself is easy to get a suit in (and comes with a pretty nice folding suit hanger). The inner bag – while lacking in the structure/separation you’d normally find in commuter bags – clips into place nicely and stays there (it also has its own strap for easy carrying by itself). I originally was worried that it would sway back and forth too much, but that was not the case. The outside pocket – while not terribly roomy – has enough space for the essentials. The Wingman also comes with a rain cover, which packs nicely into its own little pocket for quick access.

That said, it isn’t perfect – I did find a few things I think could use improvement. First, the strap arrangement is a little weird – the shoulder strap buckles in the middle of the chest instead of at the hip (or not splitting at all like many bags), which can be inconvenient. The side strap works fine, but has a loop over the shoulder strap, which can easily slip off when taking the bag on or off. The length of the side strap is also harder to adjust once the bag is on, as the adjustment point is where the strap buckles to the bag. Overall, I found I was messing with all the straps fairly often to try to get everything in the right place. If a version 2 of this bag comes along, some change in this area would be my top priority.

Also – like a couple other bags I’ve tested lately – the bag interfered with my over-the-shoulder vision, especially when on a road bike and leaning further forward. Now I will be a little forgiving here, since this is after all made in Australia and they drive on the wrong side of the road there – if I had to look over my right shoulder instead of my left it wouldn’t be an issue at all! Still, if this is going to be your normal on-bike bag a mirror would be a nice thing to have, as otherwise you’ll probably injure your neck trying to see what’s behind you.

Finally, I did get to try the rain cover (thanks to Hurricane Sandy for providing some serious rainfall to test in) and while after about 45 minutes my clothes were all still dry, there was some moisture that got in and got some of the exterior of the bag damp. Again not a deal-breaker, but it’s good to note that if you’re going to be in a serious downpour for a long time, you might want to investigate other options.

No those are not bike-specific clothes

Bike to Vote (and Vote to Bike)!

As pretty much everyone in the U.S. who doesn’t live under a rock in the middle of the desert knows, tomorrow (Tuesday November 6th) is election day. While I’m sure our readers have a variety of opinions on who to vote for in the presidential election, we here at BikeCommuters.com would like to remind everyone that this isn’t the only thing on the ballot! In many cases, voters will not only elect members of Congress (who by the way can have a lot of influence over bike-related legislation and funds), but also vote on a variety of other issues including bonds. Some of these – such as the one in my district regarding funds for parkland and park administration (including trails) – directly affect those of us who ride. Please look up your ballots before you vote tomorrow, and do a little research on the other items! Some may be important to you and your fellow bike commuters!


Perhaps just as importantly, we’d like to remind everyone that filling in a circle or stabbing at a computer screen isn’t the only way to make an impact on election day. If at all possible, ride your bike to the polls!

Seeing voting-age adults biking to vote can affect others’ impressions of biking as a valid transportation option – and it will show any local candidates or staff that the ability to bike everywhere is on your priority list! Also, many polling places are at schools – so if for some reason you cannot bike to your polling place and it’s in a school, it could be an opportunity to bring up to your local elected officials funds available through Safe Routes to School and other programs to improve access to the schools.

Let’s show those around us that we’re responsible citizens and we have a voice!

D.C. Area Bicyclists: Now’s the Time to Join WABA!

WABA – the Washington Area Bicyclist Association – is the foremost bicycling-related organization in the Washington D.C. area – and as such, has a reach beyond just the D.C. area as well. Though they technically represent D.C. proper as well as Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, they have a reach well beyond that thanks to the presence of a few congresspeople who spend a bunch of time in the area. What members of Congress see in DC leaves an impression – good or bad – that they take back to their own districts or states. Lately it’s been a lot of good, thanks to things like new bike lanes filled with bicyclists, a really robust Bike to Work Day every year, and the nation’s biggest bikeshare program, CaBi (short for Capitol Bikeshare). While WABA doesn’t get all the credit for these, they have been tireless in advocating for them, and without them it’s doubtful we’d have anywhere near as much good news about biking in DC.

WABA’s mission is: creating a healthy, more livable region by promoting bicycling for fun, fitness, and affordable transportation; advocating for better bicycling conditions and transportation choices for a healthier environment; and educating children and adults about safe bicycling.

Not much to argue with there!

THIS WEEK ONLY, WABA is offering discounted membership – both individual and family rates are $10 less than usual! If you live in the area (or heck, even if you don’t) I HIGHLY encourage becoming a member of WABA. Not only will you be supporting an organization that’s been doing great things for bicyclists, you’ll also (if you live in the area) get nice stuff like shop discounts. My local shop offers me a 10% discount on parts – and I think that’s almost paid for my membership in the last year!

So what are you waiting for? Go get (or renew) a membership already!

Commuter Profile: Dave Simmons

Name: Dave Simmons

Dave goofing around on a bike that was raffled off at the Tour of Elk Grove

How long have you been a bike commuter?
20 years. I’ve commuted by bike since high school. I used to commute to my after school jobs, then at

Dave created a Lego version of himself

college, and finally to my job.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
I started biking to work at my last job for the exercise, to pollute less, and save money (and wear and tear on the car). Now that I work closer to home, it’s a no-brainer. I bike to work almost year-round.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?
Biking to work has saved me some serious cash over the years. I haven’t quantified it, but if I had to guess, it’s somewhere in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. I’ve always been active, so biking fits my lifestyle quite well. Biking has been great to my family too. My wife and kids bike quite a bit. The kids don’t even realize how much it helps them in sports from a conditioning standpoint. Cyclists are definitely a different breed. I’ve met quite a variety of cyclists over the years and have built a nice network of like-minded individuals.

Dave & family sporting their Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove shirts

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?
I am the manager of Technical Production Services at Riverside Publishing. I bike from Elk Grove Village and commute to Rolling Meadows. I have a great route – through Busse Woods each day.

Dave's commute on a foggy morning through Busse Woods. A good part of his route includes the trail at Busse Woods. He used to commute from Elk Grove to Skokie!

What kind(s) of bike do you have?
I have a 1993 Trek 820 mountain bike and a 2002 Felt SR81 road bike. The majority of my miles are on the Trek. I love the stability of the steel beast!

All smiles on a ride in central IL in 2010

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?
I bike through Busse Woods even during the winter. Of course, I don’t always leave work before dark. I really enjoy biking at night (with a bright LED headlight, of course), but the forest preserves are closed at dusk. So, there have been lots of times when I’m racing along the trail while being hollered at by the police to leave. That makes for a more exciting ride home.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
They are very interested in how I make it all work. So many people think that commuting by bike is difficult, but that’s just not true. I tell them that, in order to commute by bike, they have to stop thinking like a motorist. The route that is best for cars is not always best for bikes.

How about bicycling advocacy?
Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups? I started the Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove. We’re a local advocacy group that is working to “promote, support, and improve cycling in Elk Grove”. We’ve been around for just about a year and have made some real progress in the community. I am excited about the future of FCEG. Aside from that, I am a member of Active Transportation Alliance, League of Illinois Bicyclists, and League of American Bicyclists.

The cycling advocacy group he created, the Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove

Anything else that you want to share with us?
I was certified as a League Cycling Instructor (LCI) since 2009. I’ve had the opportunity to teach cyclists of all ages the benefits of Smart Cycling. I see education as the most important piece of advocacy. The most enjoyable aspect of being an LCI is teaching first time riders, most of who are adults.

A photo of the Traffic Skills 101 class Dave taught on 9/16/12

To see the smile of someone who just learned to ride a bike is truly priceless!

Dave with his nephew after he taught him how to ride a two-wheeler

Thank you, Dave, for sharing your commuting story and photos with us. If you’d like your glory of minor Internet stardom, just drop us a line at elizabeth [at] bikecommuters [dot] com and we’ll send you the details about sending in your own profile!

Interbike 2012-It’s coming up!

If you didn’t know, America’s largest bicycle trade show is in less than 2 weeks. Last year I had the pleasure of providing the good looking readers of BikeCommuters.com media coverage of the show.

This year we’ve partnered up with our super awesome friends at Planet Bike so we can host our very first (cue the echo sound effects) BikeCommuters.com Interbike SWAG Giveaway Contest, brought to you by the handsome folks of Planet Bike!

So here’s how it’s going to work: Our Media Crew, yours truly and Hermes, will be working hard at Outdoor Demo and Interbike, collecting swag stuff from various vendors to accompany the GRAND PRIZE that Planet Bike has generously provided. What’s in the Planet Bike Grand Prize? Dunno, sexy Chris F. of PB said he’d surprise us, but whatever it is, it should be really good!
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We’ll provide more contest details as we approach closer to the show date.