BikeCommuters.com

The Bike Geek

So I bought a bike from Amazon

Hello Bike Commuters! It has been a while since I posted, but things have changed quite a bit. Unfortunately I am no longer doing the Bike-Train commute thing, I am really bummed about that. I used to take the train so I would avoid spending up to an hour and a half stuck in traffic but now I have a carpool buddy and that has reduced my commute time to about 40 minutes.

This meant that I no longer needed my Giant Expressway folding bike so it was sold to a person who travels by plane and needed a bike to get around town. I gave “Gravel” riding a try with my old 26″ Hard tail mountain bike but I was not able to keep up with riders with fancy Gravel/CX bikes and 29rs. New Gravel/Adventure bikes start about $900 so I started perusing Craigslist to see if I could score a cheap gravel bike.

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And there it was…. a Raleigh Bikes Preston Classic City Bike, a vintage looking bike with modern parts and a copper finished handlebar! So I started searching for a local bike shop that may have it in stock -No Dice. I noticed that Raleigh was selling this bike in Amazon.com for about $395 (cheaper than their own site and around the same price as a used one). I did not buy it right away, my budget was about $200 so it was over my budget.

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Amazon does this thing that if you leave an item in your cart it will tell you if an item has gone down or up in price if when you go back to your cart. I checked my cart periodically and lo and behold the Raleigh Preston was selling for $295! That was still $95 over my budget but I remembered that I had an Amazon gift card and points accumulated on a credit card. I went ahead and pulled the trigger, the gravel bike will wait.

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I also purchased a few accessories for the bike such as the a leather tool bag by Projekt Bikes, the Retro Front Vintage Bike Light,

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and the Portland Design Works Sparrow Cage, Copper

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So how was the Amazon experience? The bike arrived 3 days after I purchased it and assembling the bike with the tools that Raleigh provided was a breeze. You don’t have to be a bike mechanic to assemble this bike so save yourself the $80 assembly fee if you consider purchasing a Raleigh bike from Amazon. The only thing that was disappointing was that the bike arrived a little scratched up, this is not Amazon’s fault but if the Raleigh folks are reading this; please put extra padding on the top tube!!!

So far I’ve done errands on this bike and it gets a lot of looks and thumbs up, I can’t wait to take this bike to the beach!

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!

Two Wheel Gear’s Convertible Bike Briefcase

Hello Bike Commuters! It is rare that we get behind a kickstarter campaign but once in a while comes a product from a reputable company that we can definitely support.

This is Two Wheel Gear’s new product: The Convertible Bike Briefcase:

The Convertible Bike Briefcase is designed for professionals that bike to work. Its smartly organized, weatherproof design features padded protection for a 17” laptop, four separate pocket sections, fully adjustable, zip-away mounting system and comes with removable padded shoulder strap and monsoon ready rain cover.

Two Wheel Gear president Reid Hemsing says, “We launched as a full time company out of my basement in 2014 with the little money I had in savings. But we’ve been at it building home-made bike bags since 1999. We are 100% privately funded and have experienced some serious growth over the last few years. But we hit a cash shortfall launching our new bag and have reached out to the kickstarter community for help.”

You may recall that we reviewed Two Wheel Gear’s pannier backpack convertible a little while ago and to this date, we totally love it.

If the briefcase’s quality and ease of use is as their backpack, there is no doubt that the product will be top notch. Here are a few pictures of the briefcase:

They only have 5 briefcases left at the introductory price of $99 CDN so hurry up and get yours! Here is the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/857141940/convertible-bike-briefcase

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/

The Floyd’s of Leadville experience

Welcome back Bike Commuters! Today’s post is not really a review but more of what I experienced using Floyd’s of Leadville’s CBD Oil capsules. Before I actually get into the experience, I have a disclaimer and some background on why I decided to try this product.

First of all, I actually bought this product from Glory Cycles and I am in no way being compensated by writing this post. In fact, at over $60 per bottle, this stuff is pricey! There are plenty of options for CBD oil and some are actually cheaper, so why did I go with Floyd’s of Leadville? Good marketing of course! Think about it, this product is being pushed to cyclists by a cyclist who knows about drugs and who helped catch the biggest doper in cycling history!

Why CBD oil? Well, I happen to have a form of arthritis called Ankylosing spondylitis and years of taking NSAIDs (Aleve) created a hole in my stomach and now I am not allowed to take them. I still suffer from joint pain in my wrists and ankles so needless to say, the idea of having an “organic” anti-inflammatory really caught my eye.

So does it work? I’ve been taking one 25mg capsule daily, and yes, it works. Here is what I can equate the experience to: You have joint pain and your doctor prescribed an opiate such Vicodin since you can’t take NSAIDs, so you pop one in and then you feel the pain to start to fade away and feel warm and fuzzy inside. That is exactly how it feels after I take a capsule of CBD oil. The issue that I have with Vicodin is that it can make me queasy and then it wires me up leading to the equivalent of bonking out. None of this happens with CBD oil.

You may ask why not just do the “real” thing since it is now fully legal in California. Well, it may be legal but my employer still considers it as a drug so if I happen to be sent for a drug test, I will be dismissed from my job.

Since I can’t really guarantee that my experience will be the same for others, I can only share it and you can make your own decision. If you happen to be a CBD oil user and can recommend another reputable seller, by all means share it with us.

V brake conversion and Travel agent installation.

Hello Bike commuters and fellow DIY bike mechanics! Yes, as much as I like my local bike shop, there are some repairs or upgrades that I am able to do myself. My Spicer CX had one weakness; its cantilever brakes. Even though I replaced them with new Avid Shortys, I still was not comfortable with their stopping power on a steep downhill.

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So what did I do? Well, I went with V brakes instead. The process of installing V-brakes was pretty straight forward; the only issue I ran into was that I needed to replace the cable housing so it can run all the way to the brake noodle.

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But there was a problem with my conversion; the brake levers from my Spicer CX are designed for short pull brakes and the V brakes that I installed are long pull brakes. I figured that I could get away with it by adjusting the tension on the brakes and having the pads really close to the rim. Well, I was wrong. The rear brake is OK, but the front brake was not grabbing.

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I did what every respectable DIY mechanic would do: “I Googled it”. So Google came up with a little gadget called “Travel Agent” by Problem Solvers and since I had a problem to solve (pun intended) I ordered one of this shindigs online. Mind you, the travel agent was not cheap but braking is sort of important after all.

Installing the travel agent was pretty straight forward thanks to the video and the right tools. If you happen to work a lot on your bikes, I highly recommend the Park Tools Cable and housing cutter.

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I did a quick test ride around the block and man, the travel agent works as advertised! I have now plenty of stopping power on my front brakes! In case you are wondering why I am making these changes to my bike, well, that is because I am training for the Strada Rossa V ride this coming March. More on that later on.

Every cyclist safer

Greetings fellow riders! Today’s post is all about helping out less fortunate cyclists and try to make them safer. If you follow us on Facebook, we shared a video from “Goat Rides Bikes” explaining how he gives back to his community and makes cyclists safer by simply giving out a tail light and the “Smart Cycling Quick Guide” from The Bike League of American Cyclists. Here is the video in case you don’t do Facebook:

I really admire this person for spending money and taking his time to talk to less fortunate riders. A few years ago, the BikeCommuters.com and MtnBikeRiders.com crews used to go to downtown Santa Ana and we used so setup a “mobile bike repair shop”. We used to repair and clean a lot of bikes from the local homeless population, the majority of those bikes lacked brakes let alone having blinkies. We stopped going to Santa Ana because a Non profit community bicycle center known as The Bicycle Tree opened which helped a lot of these riders by helping riders fix their own bikes.

We have also seen a few “Firefly” operations setup by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, if you are not familiar with firefly operations, volunteers setup at different intersections and give away free rear and front blinkies to those who need them.

We also shared a “Rules of the Road Legal Clinic” event on our Facebook page hosted by “The Street Trust“. This a free intensive clinic concerning Oregon bicycle and pedestrian laws, insurance information, and what to do if you’re in a crash.

Here is another resource about safe cycling: its a Guide to Cycling Safety by Bikemunk.com

So how can you help? The easiest way is to either volunteer your time or donate to your local bicycle advocacy group or Co Op.

2017 Stats

Hello Bike Commuters, roadies and mountain bikers! 2018 has sneaked up on us so it is time to review my 2017 stats. You may know that I love gadgets and I am currently using a Garmin 520 and a Garmin VivoActive watch to keep track of all my activities. Nice thing about both gadgets is that they automatically sync to Strava so no need to waste cellphone battery! So here are the stats according to Strava:

As you can see, I came waaaaay short of my 2,000 mile goal for the year and a bit short of my 1,000 mile yearly average. But here is the thing, this year I focused more on riding tandem with my wife and also mountain biking. In fact, out of the 85 rides 15 rides were on the Tandem and 20 rides on the Mountain bike; both of these activities yield about 15 miles per trip. No biggie, I love spending time riding with my wife and also riding places where cars are not out to squash me. Also, more than 20 rides were on the stationary bike (yes, I do log those rides too) and those yield zero miles but helped me stay fit.

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Sadly, my bike commuting miles really went down this year; roughly 50 miles were spent riding on my commuter bikes. My lack of commuting miles also affected the number of posts on this blog; after all this is a bike commuting blog! I did manage to ride different types of bike on the train; my Spicer CX, the Awnry Jackson and lastly the Giant Expressway folding bike. I found that riding the train with a folding bike is the way to go, just fold the bike and sit down!

So what are the goals for 2018? Ride more of course!