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Review: a Must-Have Mini Pump by Planet Bike

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And it’s a shiny blue/gun-metal gray color, oooOOooo, aaaAAAAaahh.

Hey bike commuters new and old, crunchy and green, or bright and shiny! For anyone out there who has had to change a flat on the go between work and home, check out this must-have flexible mini pump from Planet Bike: the Air Smith Mini Comp.

At the beginning of summer, RL hooked me up with a “welcome back to the U.S. of A.” Planet Bike care package including mad blinky lights and the Air Smith Comp. Now, although I am typically a fan of hitching a ride on the bus, walking my bike back towards my house, or flagging down strangers with a truck bed (don’t tell my Grandma) anytime I get a flat tire on my bike commute, sometimes you just gotta have a portable bike pump. A floor pump is usually my preference for any flat tire repair kit, but you can’t ride around town looking like this, now can you?

So, if you’re looking to add another staple to your commuter saddlebag/toolkit, check out the specs below on this clever stroke of PB genius:

Planet Bike Air Smith Mini Comp

  • Rotating valve head and hose makes it easy to use.
  • Retractable hose protects tire valve and allows for a powerful and comfortable pumping position.
  • Stow-a-way adaptor converts Air Smith to presta mode.
  • Using adaptor head with compressor is helpful if you have tubeless tires and need to reset the bead.
  • Stashes easily in a jersey pocket or backpack and mounts to your bike with included bracke
  • Composite handles
  • Includes mounting bracket

SKU #1037

$16.99

Those guys at PB have done it again. It may not seem like it, but that little flexi-hose at the nozzle makes this compact pump a must-have for commuting. “Why?” you ask, “Please, Mir, tell me it’s the bestest in the westest?!” Okay, I’ll tell you, but only because you asked so nicely…

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See that little shadow in the corner? Yeah that’s me. SPLADOW! Check out this rad mini-pump with flexi-nozzle action!

After you have given your flat tube a good 50-100 pumps (or 49-99 pumps), the flexibility of the hose allows you to spaz out as much as possible without accidentally disconnecting the nozzle from the presta/schrader valve. And let me tell you, am I some kind of spaz. Pumping up a flat tube enough to get me to my destination with this guy went from pain in the ass (translation: skitching with strangers would be preferable) to not so bad (translation: not worth a potential kidnapping).

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Anyway, not every roundabout comes with a tune-up station like this one in Asheville, so hold on to your pumps, bike commuters, you better have a flat tire solution on you at all times! It turned out, in the second to last week of our summer class, I got a nasty flat riding down the steep hill near my house. Since the bus in Asheville is less than rapid and nowhere near convenient, I hoofed it back up the hill, only to realize there was no floor pump in sight. Luckily, I had the Air Smith Mini Comp and a spare tube.

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Here is a pic I took when I changed the flat at home, pumped up the tube enough to get me down to the gas station and the 25 cent air compressor machine on my Asheville Bianchenstein.

The flexible nozzle would also be helpful if you just needed to pump up your tires if they were a little low. The rotating valve head also limits spaz-related disconnections mid-pump. And for its size, the Air Smith Mini Comp doesn’t wear you down to the point of annoyance, but is pretty reasonable for those of us who don’t carry CO2 cartridges at all times. The pump is lightweight yet durable, and, like many PB products, comes with a mount if you’re opposed to stashing it in your backpack.

As for the Bianchenstein, we made it down to the gas station for the air compressor with only minutes to spare and rode in to work on time.

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Hey, a cycle ladies gotta do what a cycle ladies gotta do… when she has a flat tire and no floor pump in the house in Asheville, NC. Thank you, Planet Bike, for getting my back tire back in business!

Overall: This bike pump is a must-have for any commuter toolkit. If you don’t wanna get stranded like Dave Matthews, for less than $17, get yourself a Planet Bike Air Smith Mini Comp and get back on the road! This pump will forever be in my backpack from now on.

 

 

Elizabeth Joins the Bikecommuters.com Family

Please give a warm welcome to our newest staff member, Elizabeth Adamczyk! You may remember her from when we profiled her in 2007.

E.A.

Elizabeth will be “filling some gaps” here on Bikecommuters.com — as a resident of Chicago and a year-round commuter, she knows a thing or two about winter commuting (something the rest of us can only guess at). Also, she will be covering women’s commuting issues, something else that is woefully under-represented here and elsewhere on the Web. Elizabeth will also be doing product reviews, event coverages and whatever the heck else she feels like!

We’re very excited to have her in our happy extended family, and we look forward to lots of good information coming our way from her. Put your hands together and say “howdy” to her!

Peace Coffee: Birchwood Breakfast Blend Review

We recently received some samples of Peace Coffee to review. I know that when you think of a bicycle website, coffee wouldn’t come up as a “review” item. Well hold your horses, Peace Coffee has to be the world’s most bike friendly coffee company. Before I go into the review of the Birchwood Breakfast Blend, let met give you some history on Peace Coffee.
peace coffee

Here are some excerpts from their site…

In late November 1995, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) invited a small group of Mexican farm leaders to Minneapolis to discuss the U.S. Farm Bill. At the end of the meeting, Luis Hernandez from La Selva, a Mexican coffee cooperative, complained that during all the talk, he hadn’t sold a single coffee bean. He looked at IATP and said, “You guys should be selling organic fair trade coffee.”

Peace Coffee continues to grow out of experiences in the coffee regions, time spent working in local cooperatives and a desire to push fair trade to the highest level. Since the first batch of Guatemalan coffee, we have made connections with coffee cooperatives in Mexico, Sumatra, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Peru, Nicaragua and Colombia. We have also changed the supply chain by co-founding Cooperative Coffees (www.cooperativecoffees.com), a coop of roasters formed to import 100 percent fair trade coffee direct from the farmer coops that grow it.

Peace Coffee today includes a staff of twelve and coffee varieties of fifteen and growing. We roast, pack and distribute our coffee beans all under one eco-friendly roof in Minneapolis. In the Twin Cities metro, Peace Coffee still delivers by bike year-round and our suburban accounts get their coffee from a big, bright biodiesel van. What remains unchanged is our complete devotion to the idea of a fairly traded, farmer-friendly product and the wonders of a great cup of coffee.

So now that you know that Peace Coffee is super cool and way GREEN, let’s go on with the coffee review.

They sent us 3 types of coffee to review, the Guatemalan, Columbian and Birchwood.

Since we had 3 types of coffee, we figured we can post a review of them each week. So for this week’s review, we started off with the Birchwood Breakfast Blend.

peace coffee

Here are some “specs” of the coffee:

A pleasant echo in the woods. Easy sipping, slightly sweet without the sugar. The floor of this wood is dusted with hints of clover. All things in natural balance. Truth.

Roast Level: Medium
Acidity: Medium
Body: Heavy
Aroma: Molasses
Flavor Notes: Well rounded, bright yet heavy, citrusy yet earthy, mellow with a touch of punch.
Source: Peru, Sumatra and Mexico.

Named after the quirky and delicious Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis.

The Birchwood Blend is a light roast, so it means its not super bitter compared to other roasts such as Sumatra and French. Usually the lighter the roast, the flavor is not as strong. I usually LOVE dark roasts and prefer a French from Starbucks. So that means I’m looking for the maximum flavor in a coffee.

Before you start wondering why I think I should be giving a review on coffee, well I’m what you could call a “coffee snob.” I turn my nose up to crap coffee such as Folgers, Sanka, Flavia, Maxwell House, MJB, Hills Brothers and more. Even if I were to drink coffee at a restaurant and I didn’t know what kind it was, usually the water flavor, lack of aroma and acidity levels will give it away that its a cheap brand. Besides, crap coffee usually gives me a wicked stomach ache due to the high acidity levels.

Ok back to the Peace Coffee! So I cleaned out my coffee grinder just so I wouldn’t contaminate the flavors of the Birchwood. After griding a few beans, the grounds looked very light and earthy, almost like dirt…hey I did say earthy.

In my opinion, the best way to enjoy coffee is with a French Press or an Espresso Machine. I made enough grounds so both Priscilla and I can enjoy some Peace.
peace coffee

What’s great about the French Press is that you get a rich full bodied cup of coffee. What do I mean with those pretty fancy words? Basically the coffee is a bit thicker, you can taste more flavors than you would with a standard drip machine since you don’t have a paper filter catching some of that goodness.

So how does it taste? Are you ready for this…an absolute dream! The Brichwood Breafast Blend is so friggin’ smooth that I couldn’t believe it! At first I had the coffee black…(the same way I like my bikes)just so I can get an idea of what it is I’m dealing with. The flavor is very mild, not too strong and its not one of those blends that makes you balk because the flavor is too strong. But what was nice about the Birchwood Blend was that it went down well, not acidic at all and its one of those that after you take a few sips you say…”wow that’s good!” Priscilla and I were raving so much about the coffee to each other, our kids heard us and insisted on trying it. I refused to give up my cup since it was soooo good, but Priscilla, the wonderful mom that she is, allowed the girls to get a few sips. They loved it too.

If you’re into light to mild roasted coffees and don’t like the darker stuff like, then the Birchwood Breakfast Blend is perfect for you. I think that some people get turned off by the bitter taste of coffee, but I have a feeling that the Birchwood is the perfect blend to get someone to fall in love with coffee or even to just enjoy it for a mid day coffee break.

So if you’re still drinking crap coffee, please give Peace a chance…get it…But seriously, its really good stuff and its only about $9.99 per pound.