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Tag Archive: cycling

Product review: SealSkinz Fingerless Cycle Gloves

At the beginning of summer, the kind folks at SealSkinz offered us a pair of their new summerweight cycling gloves to try out. You may know SealSkinz as a maker of waterproof socks, hats, and gloves for outdoor activities such as hiking and hunting, but they’ve also got a number of cycling-specific pieces in their lineup.

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The SealSkinz gloves are lightweight, with a lycra back and a synthetic leather palm that is textured for grip. The middle and ring fingers have extra material at the tops that are fashioned as “pull tabs” to get the gloves off easier. There’s a hook-and-loop wrist closure, and reflective accents on the back of the glove.

The pair I tested is a size Large. They felt true to size, but with a small amount of bunching between the fingers (we’ll get to that in a bit).

The padding on the palm is rather thin, and at first I thought I’d have issues with that — my own hands are not particularly padded, and prefer a glove with dense padding in the palm, where possible. The SealSkinz gloves, despite the thin padding, didn’t let me down in terms of comfort, even for longer riders of 30-40 miles. Beyond those distances, I think I’d rather have something with more padding.

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For those who have read glove reviews I’ve done in the past, you may remember that the nose-wiping area of a glove is VERY important to me, summer or winter. The SealSkinz didn’t let me down there, either — the entire thumb is made of a soft microsuede material, with no protruding seams to rough up the sensitive nose area. I can wipe all day in comfort!

The grip is fantastic with the gloves, as is overall durability. I wore them all summer and racked up serious miles with the SealSkinz, and they still look pretty new, even after a couple of washings. The stitching and seams remained tight throughout the testing period.

The reflective accents on the backs are a nice touch, but I don’t know how effective they might be. The reflective effect is pretty subtle, and I was unable to get a good nighttime photo of the reflective bits in action.

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Perhaps my only gripe with the SealSkinz gloves is the cut of the fabric panels prior to sewing. I did notice a lot of extra material, especially between the fingers. I can’t help but think that the cutting patterns could be refined a bit to reduce some of this excess, helping to streamline them a bit and reduce bunching between the fingers. Since the material is naturally stretchy, this excess material isn’t needed to accommodate wider fingers than my own, either.

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The SealSkinz fingerless gloves retail for $35, and are available directly from the SealSkinz website. As of this writing, they are not in stock and do not appear on the company website even though they ARE a current product. I checked with their PR person just to make sure they weren’t discontinued for some reason. That $35 buys a well-constructed, lightweight glove that is ideal for warm-weather riding. The gloves are 100% designed in Great Britain, with much of the manufacture occurring in Great Britain as well. Take a look at the SealSkinz cycling lineup for a wide range of products to suit any rider at any temperature.

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

Velo Transit Metro 20 Pannier

For the past six weeks, I’ve been testing the Velo Transit (VT) Edge 40 backpack, as well as the Metro 20 Pannier. My review of the Edge 40 can be found here.

The Metro Transit is one of VT’s more basic panniers, and retails for $119. However, that doesn’t mean VT didn’t put a lot of thought into this pannier. The mounting hardware – what VT calls “KlickFix” – works extremely well – I tried it on 2 very different racks and didn’t have a problem mounting it to either. Adjustment and attachment are both reliable and intuitive.

Inside, there is one unzippered and one zippered pocket – both mounted to the hard plastic shell that gives the Metro 20 its structure. The rest is all open storage. On the outside, there is one large zip pocket with a vertical zip – however, this is not waterproof, so don’t stick your laptop there on a rainy day!

Like the Edge 40, the waterproof claim is one of the high points of this pannier. Also like the Edge 40, I never got to check it out on my commute during our test period. I did subject the pannier to the same sprinkler test (about half an hour), and it passed with flying colors – no water made it in! I wasn’t surprised though – the top of the Metro 20 is designed very similarly to waterproof bags I’ve used while kayaking and hiking, although it has an extra strap to pull the top back into a nicer shape.

The Metro 20 proved to be a great regular commuting pannier. Although simple, I was able to get everything I normally carry into it – in an organized fashion – without any trouble. The one caveat I’d mention is that it might be on the small side for commuting during colder weather, when I might want to carry bulkier clothing at some point. However, you can always buy 2 (or the smaller Metro 15) if you need extra capacity!

Nor wind, nor rain, nor snow, nor sleet… (but I’m no hero)

… we continue to prove that bike commuters ride through it all. Just on the news this morning, I heard that over 2/3 of the U.S. is experiencing wintry weather (especially the Midwest).

Last night’s commute home offered me a full wintry mix of conditions. First, the wind gave me a nice push; the wind coming out of the southeast provided a welcome push and facilitated pedaling through the slush quite nicely. Then the wet slushy snow flakes completely soaked me – at least my legs (still seeking better waterproof rain/winter pants). And finally sleet pricked my exposed cheeks.

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Luckily the temps remained in the upper 30s and kept the temperatures mild and and roads wet (and just a bit slushy) but no ice.

Today as the winds pick up and bring the freezing weather, many of us can expect blowing snow and blustery (likely icy) conditions.

Yesterday when I rode in, my co-worker called me a hero for riding in the snow. I’m no hero and I know when the conditions are too dangerous. I don’t want to be a hero. I’m just out to safely enjoy the ride.

Winterizing – the Green Machine Rides Again

This morning I fully intended to ride my regular commuter bike – El Toro (as I’ve deemed her) – with new narrower bullhorn handlebars and a new stem for better reach/height (more about the commuter fitting I got coming soon). However, a few snafus during the part swap led to El Toro taking a few days off and me putting the Green Machine (last year’s winter bike) back into service. Perfect timing, too, since flurries danced through the air as I rode to work.


Lincoln Avenue on a wintry weather morning - flurries in the air.

I know it’s winter in Chicago when the extra layers get added to the wardrobe and I take time to consider the bike choice (since last year I’ve chosen to ride the mountain bike in winter) and tire choice (should I add studded tires this year?).

In fact, with my extra winter layers on, I’ve been told I’m not recognizable by folks who never see me sporting the helmet, jacket, balaclava, gloves, boots, etc. The layering process is a post for another day, but wisely selected layers are invaluable.

My choice to switch to the Green Machine came after a couple of winters on my old ten-speed and doing some research on how other riders battled the elements. Ideally, I’d love a Pugsley, especially after reading about it on the blog Up in Alaska; if she can ride in Alaska, I can certainly ride through Chicago’s winter!

What bike do you ride in the foul elements? Anyone got experience with the studded tires and their effectiveness on snow/ice? Each year and each season I continue add to my arsenal and my knowledge as a bike commuter.