19 December 2014

I Don't Get It

My daily commute frequently starts before the sun rises - and durning the winter months, ends after it sets. To wit, I have lights both front and rear on my bike.

At times, I will see other commuters out there that have a tiny little red blinkies on the rear of their bike, and nothing else.

I don't get it. 

Cars turning on to the road from side streets, and oncoming cars making left-hand turns may not see - or be looking for an unlit shadow on the side of the road. 

Also, I use my lights not only to be seen, but to see. It's hard to see potholes and other debris at gets pushed into the bike lanes and the sides of the road without lights - heck, it's hard to see them even with! A few weeks ago, I slashed my tire on some broken glass in my lane, because I didn't see it. 

If you're dedicated or committed enough to be out there riding every day, invest in your safety. Buy some lights for the front of your bike. 

08 December 2014

Sunday Funnies - Except it's Monday

This one was too good to wait. It speaks to me on so many levels. Well, at least two levels.

Does that mean that I am doubly arrogant?

31 October 2014

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! 
How 'bout a skeleton pennyfarthing/freakbike from Tommy Atoms for today's post. This is a seriously cool freakbike.
Go put on a costume, and ride your bike!

28 October 2014

Product Review: Pinhead Locks

One of the main concerns - at least for me - about commuting by bike is making sure that you have a ride home at the end of the day. 

To assure that, you want to either keep your bike somewhere where you can keep an eye on it at all times, such as next to your desk (which my work does not allow), or securely lock it to something immovable. But, locking it to something secure isn't always going to guarantee your bike will be rideable when you leave the office...

I'm sure the only reason there are still crank, pedals, and a seatpost is the theives did not have a crank puller or the right size of hex wrench with them.

To make sure your bike remains intact, you could use multiple locks and chains...

Or, you could invest in a system that secures the individual components on your bicycle. Pinhead Locks is one such system.
I met with the folks from Pinhead Locks at Interbike, and they sent me their Total Bike Protection package, as well as a saddle lock for review. The Total Bike Protection package comes with front and rear locking skewers, headset lock, seatpost collar lock, their frame lock, and two keys.
Unlike some other locks, the Pinhead system replaces your skewers, headset bolt, seatpost collar, etc... with their uniquely keyed bolts. The design of the bolt heads make it extremely difficult to remove except with the correct key.
Installing the new locks is as easy as performing any regular maintenance on your bike (be sure to note your saddle height). Replace your existing hardware with the Pinhead locks, tighten them down with the key, and you're good to go!
Headset lock.

Wheel skewer locks.
 Seatpost clamp lock.
This carbon post is the only one I have that has a single, downward-facing bolt - which is needed for the saddle lock to be effective, as it restricts access to the hex bolt.
Frame lock.

The shackle shape on their gold-rated bubble frame lock is designed to be more resistant to jacks and crowbars. It is made from hardended steel and has a double bolted shackle. It also has a hidden key entry for additional security.

The keys have a unique serial number in case you need to replace them, or order additional locks and have them match your existing set.

And an added bonus, the key works as a bottle opener!

I haven't tested out the effectiveness of the locks as I don't feel like putting my bike up as "bait", but I won't be as paraniod with leaving my bike out of sight when I'm downtown with my bike now. 

The only suggestion I would have is if Pinhead could include a mounting bracket for their frame lock. I found the bag it came with bulky, and as for now, the lock resides in my backpack when it isn't securing the bike - which means I have to bring my bag, or use another lock for quick trips.

The Pinhead locks start at $39.99 for the seatpost or saddle lock, and go up to $149.99 for the Total Bike Protection package. Check out www.pinheadlocks.com for additional information.

17 October 2014

It's Friday. How 'bout a Video?

I for one am ready to be done with this week. It hasn't been horrible, but there has been enough stuff going on to make it exhausting.
To cap off the week, I give you a video that has been making the rounds on the innerwebs recently. Called The Comedown, it is basically a scaled-down version of the Human Powered Roller Coaster from the late 90's. It is currently installed in Glascow, Scotland, and unfortunately only there for a limited installation, from October 11th to November 1st.

I couldn't find any more information about it except it is the creation of artist, sculptor, and cyclist Stephen Murray
 This looks insanely fun!

10 October 2014

Food Friday: Justin's Nut Butters

What do you look for in on-the-bike food?
Well, for starters, it has to be portable, It also should provide some nutrition and energy, and it should taste good - not only at mile 10, but at mile 100. 
Justin's nut butters cover all the bases. 
Developed in 2004 by mountain biker and skier Justin Gold in his kitchen armed with a simple food processor. He developed a line of nut butters that used simple, all-natural ingredients and avoided many of the high-processed ingredients found in similar products available.
Plus, they just taste great!
My favorite is the chocolate hazelnut butter.  It's like a better, healthier version of that popular Italian hazelnut spread that doesn't have any dairy in it (yep, it is vegan!). Really, all of them are fantastic!
You can find single serving squeeze packs - which fit nicely into a jersey pocket - in almost every grocery store (I've seen them at the local Wal*Mart). Each 1.15oz packet provides about 190 calories, and 4-6 grams of protein.

Think of that popular European hazelnut spread, but with 50% less sugar, no skim milk, and in my opinion, better tasting.  Yes kids, this is vegan!

Who's hungry?

29 September 2014

Product Review: Torch T1 Helmet

Two years ago, during my first visit to Interbike, I came across a startup company who was showing a pre-production model of a helmet that had integrated front and rear lights. I was completely impressed by the potential of this helmet, and couldn't wait till they were available.

Fast-forward two years, and the Torch T1 helmet is out in the market.

I talked again to the Founder/CEO, Nathan Wills at this years Interbike, and he said that after 2012, they took the next year to refine the product, and get it ready for production so they could show the production model, and be ready to ship by 2014. 
I was able to get a helmet for review, and I am still as impressed as I was when I saw that pre-production model in 2012. The helmet has 5 lights each front and rear, protected by a frosted polycarbonate lens, which does a good job of difusing the light across the entire lens. The four modes (high and low steady, slow and fast flash) are accessed by a button on the side of the lens. The button has a good, positive click so you know when it is on or off, and is easily used while wearing gloves.  The lights are individually powered, and run times are estimated at 2 hours for high steady up to 12 hours for the slow flash.  I have been running the front on low steady, and have been getting about 4-5 hours. The front and rear have their own power supply, so one will not affect the run-time of the other.

The helmet doesn't throw off enough light to be used as a primary light source (there was mention of a mountain helmet in the works that would have that feature). It's more of a "hey, see me!" light, but it does illuminate the surrounding area enough to see something on your bars.

The only thing on the helmet that causes me some concern is the charging system. As I said above, each light has its own power source, and the helmet comes with a y-cable that will charge both batteries at the same time via USB. my hesitation is that this cable is fairly product-specific, and if you were to lose or break the cable, well... I would be happier to see a more standard USB/miniUSB charging system used on future models, because who of us doesn't have a bazillion of those cables lying around?

That being said, I love this helmet. It is a perfect helmet for early morning/late night commuting where any extra visibility is a plus.

The helmet comes in 3 colors: red, white and black.  The black also comes in their "Midnight" color scheme with smoke-tinted lenses front and back.  The msrp is $140 for the helmet, and $150 for the Midnight edition.