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Tag Archive: Gear

Mandy Fender

We normally don’t do kickstarter campaigns, but we love bamboo and this company has this really unique way of setting up your own bamboo fenders, it’s called the Mandy Fenders.

mandy fender

The Mandy Fender is a sustainable bicycle fender that enhances the functionality and aesthetics of any bicycle:
Versatile and interchangeable: The Mandy Fender is the most versatile bike fender ever designed. It fits on nearly every type of bike design: You no longer need a different bike fender for each bike you own.
Easy to install: The Mandy Fender comes with all the parts and tools you need. With a simple video tutorial and a clear instruction manual, anyone can install the Mandy Fender in 30 minutes or less.
Tough and functional: Designed and made from bamboo, the Mandy Fender is light, durable and weather resistant. The mounting hardware consists of both 304 stainless steel and chrome-plated parts.
The Mandy Fender is made with a layer of memory film that allows them to retain its shape. It can be reshaped to fit onto a different bicycle using hot air (from a hair dryer). It is also designed to withstand harsh weather conditions such as snow and mud.

End of Year Rabbity Wrap Up, the Top 11 for 2011!

Ok, okaaaaaaay.  So Ghost Rider the Whip has tasked me with the year-end update to all ye mighty Bike Commuters!!! For all you non-daily readers (myself included, no excuses, just the truth yo) consider this the ultimate BikeCommuters.com Cliff Notes of 2011.  Be sure to click the extra links, so many goodies embedded in this one.  And since I love LISTS as much as tweens love Ryan Gosling and puppies, here is the Top 11 Bike Commuters Highlights (and then some) from the Year of the Rabbit …  Let the countdown begin.

My expression of my love for LISTS can only be captured with this moment!

11.  Helmet on a Diet: Among many products, including the O2 Rainwear’s Calhoun Jacket, Levis 511 Commuter Jeans, and others from Chrome, Planet Bike, Velo Orange, and Ergon, we reviewed this half-weight BMX/skater style melon protector – the Pryme V2 Lite! Removable pads allow for easy cleaning, adjustment, and with 13 vents will keep you less than sweaty. RL even said this Pryme helmet on a diet was so light he forgot he was wearing it!

10. How To’s and Ghetto-rigging: Several articles this year featured DIY and easy commuter tips like how to apply Stealthy 3M Reflective Tape to your bike frame!  Check out the before and after shots in this follow up article.  We wrote about how to make a Bike Train, last minute tips for carrying groceries home, and a friendly reminder on lubing your chain!

9.  Winterize-Me! 2011, the year of the rabbit is also the year of the snow-bunny.  All-year and all-weather rider Elizabeth has cranked out some popular tips and posts on layering, waterproofing your getup, and winterizing your manos for the harshest winter climate commutes.  Two-wheeled transporting readers like yourselves named this article a top fave in our 2000th post giveaway contest!  Check out Layering as Easy as 1 2 or 3! Elizabeth makes us warm-weather writers look like sissy lalas, she’s a BAMF commuter no doubt.

8. Hear Ye, Hear Ye: From you the readers, we had a handful of commuter profiles in the Year of the Rabbit including my posts from Hawaii, Arizona, California, and Illinois.  Thanks to Willy Campbell, Karen Voyer-Caravona, Hermes Pagulayan, and Robert Guico for keeping it real.  We love to hear from the readers themselves about their best rides, funny stories, tips, and setups…

Bike Commuter Profiles Rabbit Round-up, 2011 photocrap edition!!!

7. Travels & Adventuretimes: Jetsetting, touring, and leap-frogging through time and space, the BikeCommuters staff writers adventured far and wide including visits to Bike Shares in France, Interbike 2011 in Vegas, vacation commuting in Chicago, and historical Bike Museums in Ohio!  I guess we could say we’re bunny-hopping through time and space.  We hope to have more Bike Commuters staff travels and adventures next year; maybe we can meet up with you local readers for events or rides!

6. Five-O, Five-O! RL roped his friend, “Officer Ben” into chatting about the DOs and DON’Ts of bikes in the city.  For more bike list-lust and Five-O insight, try this article titled “My Conversation witha  Cop about Bike Traffic and Safety Tips.”  As always with officers, remember your attitude makes a difference!

5. Commuter All-in-One Review –We Reviewed some non-commuter specific bikes this year (like the Xootr Swift and the Redline Urbis) but Jack pulled the lucky straw and got his heine on this Breezer Uptown 8 back in Spring (full-on Wabbit Season)!  The Uptown 8 came fully-loaded with all kinds of commuter goodies: rear rack, chaincase, dyno-powered lights, full fenders, internal shifting, bell, high spoke count wheels, water bottle cage, and a kickstand!  And all for $999.00 MSRP, a low maintenance sturdy steed for city riding requires only one stop at the LBS.  Jack gave this all in one commuter a HIGH FIVE of awesomeness.

4.  Planet Bike Superflashy-flash TURBO! Hoo-hoo, you caught me!  My soft spot for all things blinky lights and hi-viz leads me to this post by Vince.  The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo has 1-Watt a licious power of red LEDs and a attention-grabbing flashy pattern that earned an “A” from Bike Commuters!  Read the full article here.

3.  Nice Paint Job, oh and Nice Bike Too – RL reviewed some single speed and fixed gear rides this year like the Torker KB2 and the 2011 Redline 925.  The KB2 is a fixie with a 2-speed kick back hub and a pearly green paint job.  The Redline 925 is a single speed city slammer, excellent stopping power in the breaks, a smooth ride, clean lines, and commuter staples like fenders, chain guard, toe clips, and rack mounts!  For those of you in the market for a single speed or fixie ride, put these mamas on your bike lust list and ride these velos non-stop like bunnies in springtime.  Now for some bike p0rn with the Redline 925 in “Pearl Dark Brown”:
and in the KB2 Torker in “sparkly green”!

2. Ok, So Interbike is Kinda a Big Deal –  So we can’t pass up the year of the rabbit without highlights from Interbike 2011!! RL was all over this event sorting through the good, ze germans, and the goofy to make us feel like we were all there too!  He even bumped into some other traveling bike bloggers!  There’s a lil som’n som’n for everyone at Interbike…What about Urbana Bikes commuter with belt drive?  And for us nighttime commuters LED by Light’s got light kits with turn signals?  How ’bout you been broke phi broke all year and wanna haul a lotta stuff with an affordable Dutch Cargo bike?  Sign us up!
1. 2000th Post Giveaway! The countdown ends with a big-timey milestone, the 2000th post hit us in December 2011.  Thanks to all our staff writers this year and in years past that made it possible!  We celebrated with a giveaway of awesome stuff as readers posted their favorite articles on facebook and in the comments. It was really cool to dig up older articles and see feedback from readers who don’t usually post (without enticement of free bike goodies).  Hopefully, our winnder John Leddy from Burlington, VT is enjoying his Banjo Brothers backpack, Planet Bike lights and accessories, a Bikecommuters.com tshirt and sticker pack and a Chainspirations zipper pull.
Special thanks go to Banjo Brothers and Planet Bike for helping sponsor our prize giveaway.  So here’s the part where we say goodbye to the Rabbit and hello to the dragon!  Thanks for sticking with us Bike Commuters readers, Ride ALOHA!

Photocredit to Papajka on Flickr! Take that you toasty rabbit!

Waterproof enough

Last night’s commute home in Chicago was a wet one. Last year I dreaded commutes in this kind of springtime weather – cold, damp, soppy and windy. Somehow, though, I find myself enjoying the rides this week so far. (For me, it beats the snowy commutes that our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin are facing – and I wish you a return to springtime soon.)

But – the wet weather commuting brings its challenges: namely staying comfortable (reasonably dry and warm) while riding. During a summer rain, I don’t mind just getting wet, especially during my commute home. But when the thermometer reads 39-degrees and the wind is whipping out of the northeast and in my face at 15mph (gusts up to 35mph), I must strategically dress for my commute.

This evening, my layering went accordingly:
* first thing I put on was my cycling cap with visor to keep the rain out of my eyes.
* then my fleece balaclava to keep my head warm (and dry)
* helmet
layering for my head in rain

* I had worn light wool long underwear (top and bottom) since wool dries quickly and insulates well even when wet
* On my bottoms I wore a newly acquired pair of Marmot rain pants that I picked up from an online sale last fall; tonight was my first chance to really test them in a steady rainfall
* my usual hi-vis yellow commuter jacked (windproof and waterproof) from Endura covered my torso
* on my hands I wore simple wool gloves I picked up from an army-navy surplus store, covered by an outer windproof, water-resistant lobster style shell mitt.

The full outfit – upon wet arrival at home:
full rain gear

By the time I got home, I was reasonably dry. The good news:
My visor had done its job of keeping the rain out of my eyes. My waterproof pants performed excellently; too bad they aren’t cycling-specific… as they could have been a bit longer with better movement in the knees, but my legs were dry and they breathed well.

Unfortunately, some not so good news:
Seems the my waterproof jacket needs to be re-waterproofed. Thinking back, this jacket is two-years old, so it is time to wash and reapply a waterproof coating to the jacket. Water had seeped through to my arms but the rest of my torso did remain dry. Luckily, I was home, so I quickly changed into dry, comfortable loungewear for the night.

Earlier in the day my mom had sent me an email after her wet, messy morning commute (by car) saying “I thought about you as I drove … in the rain. I don’t know how you do it! Ride to work in the rain.” I responded that my commute was invigorating and so much more enjoyable than being stuck in a car (or a bus) – at least it seemed that way from the glum looks on peoples’ faces in their cars or waiting at the bus stops I pass along my route.

Overnight, my bike served as a drying rack for all my gear to dry before my commute today.
bike drying rack

And today I’m recharged for another day – dry! – of bike commuting.

What are your best stay dry/warm tips for this season?

Review: Loeka’s Waterproof Shell Jacket

When the weather first started turning cooler and wetter last fall, I began testing a new waterproof jacket from the women’s mountain bike clothing company Loeka. This company makes women-specific gear primarily for mountain bikers, but this jacket is designed with commuters and everyday riders in mind helps them achieve their mission to simply “help build a strong community of female riders from beginners to professionals by encouraging more and more females to try/take up cycling.” With this jacket, the nasty elements certainly are one less excuse to not get out and ride. And with this company’s attention to fashion, riders will definitely be getting compliments on their chic “look”; I know I have received more than a few compliments while wearing this jacket (never before received while sporting my other waterproof commuter jacket) – nice!

It certainly holds up its end on being waterproof! After a rainy ride home you can see that all the water beads up on the surface and kept me dry underneath.
rain
Despite the higher visibility color (noted online as “Peppermint Figgy”), it doesn’t scream blinding yet still provides the rider with a light-colored jacket that stands out on the roads. (Loeka also offers this jacket in a blue color they call “Hey Ocean“.)

Originally I received this Loeka commuter jacket when the weather was still wonderfully warm and pleasant and couldn’t start testing until the fall/winter weather descended upon Chicago.

I debated about which size of this jacket would best fit me; their website provides detailed sizing charts, but I still found that my measurements fall somewhere in between, and after talking with the kind folks/owners of Loeka to help me sort out my sizing questions, I was more comfortable sizing down rather than up, since the cut on the torso for me was more than spacious and long enough; if I had gone with the larger size, the sleeves would have been a bit longer and shoulder area roomier for bulky layering underneath. According to the owners,

“The jacket has been designed to fit a little looser, that way the jacket can accommodate more girls, you can wear a soft shell or other layer underneath comfortably. The jacket can be used for crossover such as running, snow shoeing, spring skiing if you wanted, casually ect. Now depending on the girls body style and how she likes the jacket to fit, loose, fitted going up or down a size will most likely accommodate that girls specific fit preference.”

The cut on this jacket is long enough all the way around so as not to allow nasty road spray sneak up on your rear (not a longer tail on the back) and you can see how it fits while on the bike.
fit on bike

This jacket offers bike commuters/around town riders waterproof/weatherproof protection in a fashion-forward design. Unlike my previous waterproof jacket designed in a more (non-stylish) unisex manner, this shell offers the same 3-season protection from rain or snow or clear, cold and windy days – basically to “tackle all the not very nice weather” with a unique look. The most obvious feature that stands out is the angled zipper down the front (as opposed to all the other commuter jackets that have a straight zipper down middle front of the jacket). Beneath this zipper, a windproof flap (in a curvy design) blocks any wind/rain from sneaking through the zipper.
loeka flap

This angled full zipper down the right side of the jacket is balanced on the the left with another small zip at the neckline that not only provides visual symmetry to the design but also (according to Loeka) helps to provide easy ventilation while keeping you protected from the elements. Personally I found the ventilation offered by this smaller zip to be negligible at best, but visually it succeeds from a design perspective. There are also ventilation flaps on the front side of the jacket (along the chestline) but no equal venting on the back. Luckily the lack of the rear venting is not an issue since this jacket does boast the essential pit-zips for added ventilation – and I appreciated their length and the added breathability they offered to prevent overheating.
pit zips

From the functionality perspective, this jacket sports a hand pocket on either side of the angled zipper; the left side pocket reaches across the jacket and offers ample room for gloves, keys, etc – just don’t put too much in it since it stretches across the belly area in the front. The right-hand pocket (though small due to the angled zip) provides just enough room for your keys or any small accessory. At first I missed having a handy chest pocket which I’ve had on other jackets, but I soon came to appreciate the pockets at hip level (especially when just walking around town on my lunch break). There is also a rear zippered pocket (covered with a flap) to store extras while riding (cell phone, snack, etc) that doesn’t call attention to itself when not in use.

One bothersome feature for me was the lack of a higher/more fitted neckline, especially since I don’t like getting any drafty wind (or rain) sneaking in at my neck. (For full disclosure, my neck is one area that I like to keep warm in order to keep the rest of me warm, so this may not be an issue for other ladies.)
neck line
Loeka purposely left the neckline a bit looser to help accommodate a layer underneath comfortably and for 2010 they have made the neckline closer and not so loose. For the coldest days, I really appreciate the ability to comfortably layer-up under this jacket. All photos on their website reflect these adjustments for their 2010 line.

Technical Specs on this jacket from Loeka:

FABRIC
100% 75-denier polyester.
Lined with 100% polyester mesh.
TECHNICAL FEATURES
Waterproof up to 10,000ml with taped seams.
8,000ml breathability, armpit zippers and natural chest vent.
Reflective piping built in to back panels and sleeves.
Adjustable wrists and rear zip pocket.
Longer arm length designed for sports. (When you reach out, the sleeves do not creep up to expose bare skin.)

According to the owners of Loeka, the jacket should easily last 3-5 years of heavy use if properly maintained or even longer. If the jacket is being worn occasionally then it could last who knows how long. For care instructions, please see their site for care info which basically directs using a sport wash like Nikwax or Grangers to help keep the waterproofing last. Then hang dry, do not tumble dry.

With the winter thaw setting in and the rainy spring season on its way, this jacket is a great outer layer addition to any female cyclist’s wardrobe. (And fashion savvy, too!)

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