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Flowfold Optimist Limited Mini Backpack review

Hello Bike Commuters! Happy “Bike to work month-week-day”! So to celebrate we have a review of a neat little backpack from Flowfold. This backpack is designed for people who do not have to carry an entire storage unit worth of stuff and it caught my interest because I like doing errands on my folding bike and short hikes.

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Let’s start with the features of the Optimimist Limited Mini Backpack:

-Made in USA
-Water resistant mini backpack
-Durable and lightweight outdoor materials
-Lifetime Warranty
-10L capacity
-Different colors

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Although the backpack seems small, I was always able to fit everything I needed for my hikes and errands. I easily carried 2 water bottles, an extra shirt, phone, wallet and energy bars. The mini backpack was very comfortable to carry around and it was very practical.

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We also tested its water resistance; my daughter used it on a rare rainy day when we headed to Downtown LA’s famous Santee Alleys. Although it was not a downpour, all the contents inside the backpack remained dry.

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The backpack is also perfect to run errands; I usually go to the post office every weekend to retrieve my mail and it works as intended. I also ride to the local market to get small stuff such as bread or “cold drinks” which fit perfectly.

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We absolutely love this mini backpack, and I mean “we” as my daughter, wife and myself use it very often. I think that $79 is a good price for a high quality American made product, I totally recommend it.

To see the other colors or purchase the bag; visit Flowfold’s site at www.flowfold.com

Flowfold Vanguard Limited Billfold Wallet review

Hello Bike Commuters! As I posted before, the nice people from Flowfold sent us some items for us to review. I specifically asked for the minimalist backpack but they sent us their wallets to review as well.

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When I first saw the Vanguard Limited wallet, I thought that I was only going to be using this wallet for my road or mountain bike rides. The slim design fits perfectly inside my rear jersey pockets as well as the front pockets of my riding shorts.

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What I did not expect was for this wallet to become my “daily” wallet. I like to carry a lot of stuff inside my wallet making it quite bulky so I thought that the Vanguard limited wallet is way too minimalist for my “needs”.

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I know that saying that this wallet is a “life changer” maybe too dramatic but this has been true in my case. How so? Well, since I had to shed quite a bit of stuff from my old wallet, I settled on carrying the following items on the Vanguard Limited wallet:

1. Drivers License
2. ATM Card
3. Credit Card Card
4. Health Insurance card
5. HSA Card
6. AAA Card
7. Cash

The biggest difference is that before I used to carry up to 4 other credit cards which fed my impulsive buying habits. Now I have to think about if I really need the item that I am considering buying because the money is actually coming from my bank account or if I decide to use the credit card that needs to be paid at the end of the month. Either way, my credit card usage has decreased dramatically. That was a life changer.

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Carrying a slim and light wallet in my front pocket took a little while to get used to, there are times that I check to make sure that I had not forgotten my wallet. My jeans will also thank me for carrying a slim wallet, my right pocket has the outline of my former bulky wallet.

What about the wallet itself? The wallet is made in the USA, it comes with a lifetime warranty AND it is also Vegan. The materials are of high quality, water resistant and very light. For those who like to know how big it is, the dimensions are 3.25″ X 4.25″ X 0.1″. The price for the wallet is $29 and it comes in other colors.

To purchase the wallet, please visit this link: https://www.flowfold.com/product/vanguard-limited-billfold-wallet. Stay tuned for more reviews of Flowfold’s products!

Flowfold backpack and wallets first impression

Hello Bike Commuters and fellow minimalists! We received a few items from a company named Flowfold, if you are not familiar with them, they make “minimalist” gear for all types of outdoor activities. The items we received were the Optimist Limited mini backpack:

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The Vanguard Limited Billfold wallet:

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and the Sailcloth Minimalist card holder wallet:

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Our first impression of the three items was extremely positive; we liked the materials, the quality and the dimensions of each item. We also love the fact that these items are made in the USA -Unlike some red hats with white lettering.

Even though I am the type of bike commuter that likes to carry the kitchen sink in my backpack, there are times that I need something small enough to run errands. The Optimist backpack certainly fits the bill. I also carry a lot of stuff in my wallet, the Billfold will be perfect to fit inside my rear jersey pocket. My wife took the card holder right away; she liked how she can keep her driver’s license, cash and a credit card and how easily fits inside her jersey pocket as well.

We will be doing rides with all three items in the upcoming weeks, stay tuned for the full review!

Review: Leg Shield’s Reflective ankle and wrist bands

Hello Bike Commuters and fellow night riders! The fine fellows from Leg Shield sent us their ankle and wrist bands to review. If you are familiar with this site and with my “modus operandi” you will certainly know that I love safety products and I really love stuff that makes me visible. I like reflective stuff so much that I plastered my Giant Expressway with reflective stickers!

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Needless to say, I jumped at the chance of reviewing Leg Shield’s reflective ankles and wrist bands. Let me start with saying that I am very impressed with the quality of the bands. These bands are made out neoprene fabric (the same stuff that wetsuits are made out of) with a very large reflective area. The ankle bands are 13.5 inches long by 1.9 inches wide and the wrist bands are 11 inches long by 1.9 inches wide. Both the wristbands and anklebands were wide enough to accommodate my rather average size wrists and ankles.

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Most of my night riding happens to be offroad so I am happy to report that the bands never fell off even when riding on rough terrain. As you can see from the pictures, the bands are super reflective.

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To be honest with you, I rarely ride to work with pants on, it is just not my style but do ride my bike to the post office, local burger joint or the liquor store with pants on. Check out how well the ankle bands wrapped around my pant leg preventing it from touching the chain.

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So how much of this reflective goodness will set you back? Both the wristbands and the anklebands sell for $10.95 per pair at Amazon.com. Now, I know they are more expensive than your typical reflective plastic band, but let me tell you that there is really no comparison in comfort and reflective area. I have lost at least 5 of the cheap reflective bands in less than 10 rides.

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Are these perfect? Well, no. The only drawback is that they are not visible during the day but you can still use them to guard your pant legs from the chain.

For more information check out Leg Shield’s site at http://www.bikelegstrap.com/

Ravemen PR600 Review

Hello Bike Commuters and fellow night riders! Dark afternoons have descended upon us so it is time for us to start using our lights for us to see AND to be seen. It is unbelievable how many cyclists are riding in the dark with no lights, no reflectors and dark clothing! There is no excuse for riders to be riding in the dark, lights have become more compact, more powerful and more affordable.

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A great example is the Ravemen PR600 rechargeable light which sells for about $55.00 in Amazon. Ravemen sent us this light for us to test during our dark commutes mainly because of its DuaLens design which features a low and high beams. In my opinion, the low beam is one of the greatest features of this light. The “low” beam’s output is a generous 400 lumens and it is quite wide.

This picture shows the Ravemen’s wide beam:

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This picture shows a NiteRider’s beam:

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The wide beam is perfect for bike commuting; powerful enough to see the road yet it will not blind incoming vehicles or pedestrians. Need more power??? Enter the high beam which can be used in conjunction with the low beam and it produces 600 lumens of light:

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Yeah, this thing is powerful. In fact, I decided to test the light in a mountain bike ride to test it in total darkness and to test if the light would handle all of the bumps of a dirt trail. The light did great, it did not slip, flicker or died. Using the low beam and high beam was great while riding single track, the wide beam allowed me to see better on tight corners and the high beam let me see way ahead. There was one drawback with using both beams at full 600 lumens; the battery only lasted about an hour:

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Another cool feature of the Ravemen PR600 is the “remote button”. I thought it was kind of gimmicky but once I started using it I totally loved it. The button allows you to keep your hand on the grip and change modes without having to mess with the button on top of the light.

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The last feature that I also really liked was the pulsating mode. The Ravemen PR600’s wide beam pulsates so you can ride during daylight and be seen by traffic and pedestrians.

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So in summary, here are the Pros of this light:

The light is a good deal for bike commuting at $54.95
The Wide beam is excellent for bike commuting and riding singletrack
Remote button allows you to maintain your hand on the grips
Pulsating mode for riding during the day.

No product is perfect so here are the cons of this light:

Battery only lasted one hour running at full blast
Light is a little on the heavy side if you are a weight weenie
The light mount is “old school” so it takes time to remove and install on another bike
The darn nut from the mount is easy to misplace

Overall, the Ravemen PR600 is great for bike commuting and I would definitely recommend it.

For more information, please visit www.ravemen.com. To purchase this light in Amazon.com for $54.95, click here.

Disclaimer: Ravemen sent us this light to review at no charge because they felt that this product would benefit bike commuters. We were not compensated to write this review.

Insulated water bottles, are they worth it?

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My wife dragged my ass to a big box store and as I always do, I hit up the bicycle section to see what kind of crap they sell. Well, this time an insulated water bottle caught my attention and for about 8 bucks I said why not. So then it occurred to me to do this extremely unscientific test to see if the bottle actually works:

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I grabbed 20 ice cubes (chips?) from my fridge and placed 10 in the insulated bottle and 10 on a non-insulated bottle, I then proceeded to fill both bottles with water and placed them outside in 80 degree heat.

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It took 40 minutes for the ice to melt in the non-insulated bottle, I also checked the insulated bottle and it still had plenty of ice left.

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The ice lasted 18 minutes longer in the insulated bottle and it kept the water cool another 20 minutes, not bad! There is one drawback though; if you notice, the insulated bottle is significantly bigger than the non-insulated bottle yet they both hold the same amount of water.

A damp commute

Greetings fellow bike commuters and super bike commuters! You are considered a super commuter in my book if you ride five days a week rain or shine. Well, I am not a super commuter by any stretch BUT I did try commuting on the rain this past week.

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You may remember that Sealskinz sent me some products for me to ride while is raining so I went ahead and grabbed my trusty Spicer Cycles CX and slapped some “fenders” and headed off to work.

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Although the meteorologists predicted about a half inch of rain, my morning commute to work was just cloudy and breezy but no rain.

Rain came and went throughout the day and when it was time go home it was just drizzling. Armed with my Sealskinz gloves, helmet cover and rain socks I headed to the train station. So how did the Sealskinz gear do?

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Sealskinz waterproof helmet cover: The cover fit perfectly over my Cannondale helmet and it kept my noggin dry the entire time. The LED lights were visible on my cloudy commute.

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Sealskinz All weather Gloves: My hands were dry and toasty during my ride. The gloves grabbed really well and did not slip from the hoods or brakes. I also love the bright color and the reflective accents, my co-workers were teasing me on how bright they were.

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Sealskinz waterproof socks: OK, so when I first grabbed the socks they felt weird. The socks felt stiff and had a rubbery feeling to them. I was really concerned that my feet were going to sweat and chafe as well. To my surprise, the socks breathed well and they were really comfortable and kept my feet warm and dry.

I was not able to use the Sealskinz shoe covers because my DZR Minna shoes were a little to big for them but the covers fit perfectly on my road shoes.

So how was the ride? Riding with the right gear makes a huge difference. All of my previous rides on the rain sucked because I was not expecting for it to rain and I was not prepared at all. If I had something to complain about was the visibility because my sunglasses would get wet and it would be hard to see at times. Does any one have a trick for this?

Again, big thanks to Sealskinz for the rain gear, check out their site at https://www.sealskinz.com/US/bike for more information and for more of their waterproof stuff.

Let it Rain! Sealskinz has me covered.

Hello bike commuters and fellow rain dancers! If you follow these weekly (ish) posts you probably know that I am a fair weather bike commuter. Yes, being a Southern Californian I am not prepared for rainy weather so I just avoid it.

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Well, the fine fellows from Sealskinz thought that I should stop my whining and send me some nice rain gear to test during rainy days. The problem is that it has been over 80 degrees everyday since I got the items so I have not been able to ride with the gear they sent me. Here is the stuff that they sent, I may add that all the products seem to be well made and I can’t wait for a rainy day!

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Starting from my head, I got the Halo Waterproof Helmet Cover. The cover features reflective print as well as integrated LEDs in the back of the helmet.

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For my hands, the All Weather Cycle Gloves in Hi Vis yellow should keep them dry and cozy.

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Having cold and wet feet really sucks, so I got the Road Thin Mid Socks. These socks are supposed to be waterproof and warm.

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I Doubled down on keeping my feet dry and warm so I also got the Lightweight Halo Overshoe covers. These cool covers feature a powerful LED built into the rear.

So I guess I don’t have any excuses anymore since Sealskinz has me covered from head to toes! I will report back on how the items performed in the rain.

HED Ardennes Plus first impression

Hello fellow roadies and bike commuters! We finally got a sunny day here in Southern California and I took advantage by riding my Bianchi Impulso with the new-to-me HED Ardennes Plus wheels. There are times that you think to yourself; “self, I deserve a new pair of shoes”, but in our case; “self, my bike deserves a new pair of wheels”. In a deal that my buddy could not resist, he bought these seldom used HED Ardennes Plus wheels for his road bike. The problem was the “Plus” since these wheels are wider than the normal wheels and he was not able to make them fit on his bike.

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My buddy was kind enough to let me test ride these wheels to see if I like them. Mind you, they were a little over my budget but based on HED’s reputation I said what the heck, why not, let’s try them.

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I encountered clearance issue as my buddy, but with careful brake pad adjustment, I made those suckers fit. What is the big deal with these wheels? The rims are 25mm wide, 2 mm wider than the “normal” wheels. The HED Ardennes Plus also came with Continental Grand Prix tires which looked like big ass tires.

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I have always considered reviewing road wheels and tires very hard to do. I mean, how can you really tell the difference, right? I picked a route with small climbs and descents, rough asphalt, a railroad crossing and sweeping turns to get a feel of the wheels. The first thing I noticed was this humming noise as I rode on the flat surfaces, not a bad noise, a noise that I assume was created by the bladed spokes. Then came the angry bees, yeah, that noise the rear hub creates as you stop pedaling and coast. Some riders like that noise, some hate it. I like it. As I kept pedaling and rode the rain beaten asphalt, I noticed how comfortable the wheels were. There was no jarring when I rode on top of small cracks or loose asphalt, no “thunk” noises when you hit small pot holes it was just… bliss.

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Rear wheel weight -HED Ardennes

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Rear wheel weight -Shimano RS010

I consider my self “old school” when it comes to tires, I would not ride anything bigger than a 23 because of the minimal weight savings and the theory of lower rolling resistance. These new 25mm wheels and tires have totally changed my mind and I can’t wait to take them on longer rides.