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Are You in the Top 25 Percent?

If you walk or bike somewhere at least once a week*, the answer is yes!

According to a study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, less than a quarter of adults in the U.S. walk or bike for transportation more than 10 minutes per week. Pretty pathetic…


The study credits “active transportation” (mostly biking and walking) regularly with a variety of improved health conditions such as lower BMI and waist circumference, and much lower levels of hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes (up to 30%!).

From the study discussion:

Active transportation is an untapped reservoir of opportunity for physical activity for many U.S. adults. A study using the National Household Transportation Survey found similar low utilization of active transportation, with only 19% of Americans aged ≥5 years reporting walking or bicycling for transportation. In contrast to the U.S., many European countries experience high population levels of active transportation. In Germany, the proportion of individuals reporting any walking or cycling for transportation are two and seven times greater than in the U.S., respectively.These differences are in part due to policies, community planning, and infrastructure design that make active transportation appealing. Implementing similar strategies in the U.S. could have important implications for individuals with time or financial constraints that prohibit leisure-time physical activity or with professions and work environments that are not conducive to occupational physical activity.

The authors finish by noting that their research provides “additional justification for infrastructure and policies that permit and encourage active transportation.”

Is there a little bit of a, “well, duh” factor to this? Yes, probably… but it’s pretty encouraging that instead of just being told “people need to exercise more!” these researchers have come out and identified our infrastructure as a big part of the problem. If we make it easy for people to bike and walk, we’ll have more people biking and walking… and a lot fewer people with health problems.

*And also live in the U.S. of A. Sorry international readers, you’re all wonderful too but these statistics don’t apply to you!

Via everydayhealth.com

2012 Holiday Gift Guide: Our Top Picks for Your Wish List!

Well, well, well, Bike Commuters – the 2012 Holiday Gift guide is here, in case your favorite mail-order catalog is all out of Leg Lamps for you, your bikey friends and family.  We’ve reviewed a ton of products this year but only a few made the list!  Click on the images to link to the product’s shopping website.  (FTC Disclaimer)

Gifts for Under $20

Loop EVA Bar Tape

Loop EVA Bar Tape

Planet Bike 25g Twinpack CO2 cartridges

PB 25g Twinpack CO2

Jimi Wallet

Mir loves her JIMI Wallet

Fyxation Loop Eva Bar Tape: The quality, durability, low price and color choices make it a great product for any bike commuter to use. $13.95 and available in 5 colors: black, pink, orange, green, and white.

Planet Bike 25g Twinpack CO2 Cartridges:  Need to fill a high-volume tire on the go? You could carry a handful of smaller cartridges or just one of these mini-SCUBA tanks from Planet Bike and be on your way in no time!  Two for $20.99.

JIMI Wallet: clip your keys to it and stash it in your pack, jersey, fannypack, whatever.  Water resistant and with a lifetime guarantee (I’ve tried it and they sent me a new one!) and comes in many colors for $14.95.

Clothes

Hiviz yellow O2 Rainwear Calhoun Jacket

Ghost Rider's all about the Rainwear Calhoun Jacket - $119.00

Pedal Power Wind Shirt white

Mir.I.Am felt flossy-flossy in the Lululemon Wind Shirt for $59.00!

O2 Rainwear Calhoun Jacket:  This quality jacket performs admirably when the weather turns sour.  Rainproof, windproof, and you don’t feel clammy! It looks nice, it has good features and visibility, and it is packable enough that there’s really no excuse not to bring it with you.

Lululemon Duds: Lululemon makes small batches of high quality, stylish commuter clothes for women and men.  We loved the Pedal Power commuter fall lineup for women, especially this snazzy blouse/windbreaker.  The lineup is constantly changing… a nice gift with a nice price, since all the Pedal Power items are on final sale for half the price.

Planet Bike Borealis Gloves

Jack gave the PB Borealis Gloves two lobster claws up!

Novara Stratos Gloves

Matt also likes the Novara Stratos Gloves, $38.00 at REI.

We liked the Planet Bike Borealis “lobster” gloves because they bring together a warm inner liner and a windproof outer shell. They also keep your last 2 digits a lot warmer than regular separated gloves, without losing any of the function you need while riding.  All for the cozy price of about $42.00.  Matt also recommends the Novara Stratos gloves, which are along the same lines as the PB Borealis but without the removable liner, and with the addition of handy draw cords for a windproof fit!

Though this item was not necessarily reviewed on BikeCommuters.com, our sister site MtnBikeRiders.com loved these unique socks that are partially made with Possum hair…yes Possum hair! We figured the BikeCommuters.com readership would appreciate them: Pearly’s Possum Socks
Pearly's Possum Socks on MtnBikeRiders.com

Packs

Screen shot 2012-12-02 at 7.08.42 PM

Henty Wingman suit bag

Module 25 Waterproof Commuter Women's Pack

Women's Velo Transit Module 25.

Velo Transit Edge 40

Men's Velo Transit Edge 40.

For those of us who don’t have the option of dressing down, the Henty Wingman is the best suit-carrying pack we know of.  A pricey option, but if you are wearing suits to work, it’s worth it for a $180 suit bag. For any distance on a bike that requires carrying a suit with you, this pack is the way to go.

We reviewed two Velo Transit packs (women’s Module 25 and men’s Edge 40)  and came away really impressed by both. Waterproof, comfortable, and with pockets for everything, the only reason not to get these is price (about $160 for the women’s and $225 for the men’s)… but we’d still recommend getting these and scrimping elsewhere (ramen really isn’t that bad…). Get one and you’ll thank us! Velo Transit has several size options and colors to fit any commuter’s wish list.

Bikes and Components

Xootr Swift

Mir's new best friend: the 8-speed Swift folding bike.

Freedom Cruz 29ers

Matt upgraded his ride with these Freedom Cruz 29ers!

Xootr Swift: If you know anyone who’s looking to get into the fold, without sacrificing the speed on their commute, the Xootr Swift could be your new best friend!  Hills are a breeze with the multiple speeds and the BMX tires ensure a durable commute.  The Swift packs up fast and light for $750.

Freedom Cruz Tires proved to be great for those with 29ers (or 700c bikes with lots of clearance) wishing for a road-oriented tire. Big and smooth-rolling, they’ll make you question why you ever thought 700×25 was a good idea.  $34.99 to upgrade your ride.

Motiv Electric Bike

RL was a big fan of the Motiv Electric Bike starting at $1749.00 with customizable colors for frame, rims, and tires.

Motiv Electric Bicycle. We liked Motiv because there are so many options you can go with when ordering a bike. From tire, rims, cockpit colors and battery/power options, a person can customize their bike to have it built just the way they want it.

Ridekick E-Trailer. We liked it because it turns any bicycle into an e-bike, plus it has storage capabilities.  The RideKick is a great way to repurpose your old ride with extra speed and extra space. The price for the trailer ranges from $699 to $1359, depending on features.  It’s a blast to ride, too!

ridekick

RL's test ride on the Ridekick was a blast. Put it on your wish list if you want to upgrade to electric.

Miscellaneous

We recently featured Balance Insurance for the sake that it would be a great thing to have for bike commuters. With annual premiums as low as $63, you just can’t go wrong.

Balance insuranceAs cyclists we all know that at some time we might come off our bikes and hit the ground hard. Most cycling accidents are relatively minor. Some will require medical attention. And then there are those life altering accidents that can cause hospitalization, permanent injury or death. For those latter injuries we created Balance For Cyclists. Balance For Cyclists pays large lump sum cash benefits over and above other insurance to cyclists who are injured in serious cycling accidents. Limits are available between $50,000 and $250,000 and all benefits are paid directly to the insured or their family.

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

Product Review: Cycle Cuffs

For those of us who don’t live in SoCal or other similarly moderate climates, riding in longer pants is somewhat inevitable. If we want to keep those pants clean and not tangled in the chain, there are a couple options. One is a chain guard – and if you’ve got one you pretty much can skip this article! However, those don’t come on most bikes made in the U.S. so most of us make do with rubber bands or the slightly-more-advanced reflective velcro bands found in many bike shops. The problem is that while those keep your pants cuff out from getting caught in the chain, they generally don’t keep your pants leg clean. What to do? Well, the guys at Cycle Cuffs think they’ve got a solution to that problem for you!

The Cycle Cuffs generally come in pairs (though you can order a single if you really want). There are now several options available in terms of color (I reviewed the “future classic,” which is a basic black ripstop polyester fabric). They all come with velcro attachment, reflective stripes at top and bottom, and a large ring in the middle. The ring is so that they can be threaded onto a lock (U-lock or cable) and they stay with the bike. I was initially skeptical of this feature (and wasn’t sure about the styling), but ended up routinely locking the Cycle Cuffs up with my bike as that was the best way to not accidentally leave them at my desk!

So how did these do on the bike? Very well actually! They were easy to attach (loosely, so they don’t crease pant legs), stayed on without a problem, and kept my pants legs grease-free and crease-free. Over the past couple months they’ve become part of my normal bike-to-work gear, and overall I highly recommend them to keep your pants cuffs/legs clean and out of the way of the chain. Yes, they’re a bit more expensive than a basic reflective strap (and run about the same per cuff as the Leg Shield I tested earlier this year), but I think they’re more effective than either, and I plan to continue using mine until they wear out (unlikely to be soon, they seem quite tough!).

Will the Cycle Cuffs revolutionize your cycling experience? Probably not… but they don’t need to, because what they’re meant to do they do really darn well, and sometimes it’s the little things that can make the difference.

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!