Category Archives: Reviews

Bike Horns On Kickstarter

There are 2 bike horns on Kickstarter right now.

The first bike horn to talk about is the “Loud Bicycle” by Jonathan LanseyThis bike horn is fueled by a rechargeable battery that powers 2 differently toned horns (with an output of 120dB), that look very similar in design to what a modern car horn looks like. This is great, because it truly makes it sound like a car horn, something most drivers are used to hearing. Drivers automatically react when they hear the noise from a car horn, as opposed to a bike bell or a single toned horn.  The 2 horns and battery are one unit which is mounted to the downtube of the bicycle frame, with a wire leading to a button trigger that you can place wherever it’s convenient on your handle bars. I really like this design, and wouldn’t mind trying it out. Though it might take up a a decent amount of space.

Loud Bicycle: Car horns for cyclists
Loud Bicycle
When the Kickstarter is over you can view the production on LoudBicycle.com.

The second bike horn is the ORP Smart Horn, also known as the “SMORN”, by Tory Orzeck. This more compact bicycle horn is great and comes loaded with a couple of nice features. The first thing I like about it is it’s not only a horn, but a 87 lumen bike light, with some functions of modern bike lights (constant on, slow strobe, fast strobe). This is perfect for the people who don’t like to deal with a lot of items on their handle bars; one unit does 2 things. The horn functions by toggling the lever in the rear of the unit. Toggle down, and it’s a friendly sounding 76dB(usable on pedestrians and cyclists). Toggle up, unleash the loud 96dB(usable on motor vehicles). All of this is packaged with a rechargeable battery in a nice looking silicon package, mounting easily on to your handle bars.

Orp Smart Horn {Smorn}ORP

When the Kickstarter is over you can view the production on ORPland.com.

I really hope that both these horns get funded and are produced. I really love seeing bicycle safety devices like these out on the market. I have a true belief that all bicycles need bells, at least for pedestrian and other cyclists’ sake. And if you interact with large motor vehicle on the road, it’s great to get their attention with horns like these. So stay safe out there.

If you can’t wait or want something in the mean time before either of these come out, you should be happy to know there are some other horns available already.

Delta Airzound Bike Horn, I have one of these, Reviewed Here. This was one of the first bike horns on the market that would actually be audible to people in motor vehicles. It’s a great horn, powered by compressed air. Some things that I have found after using it for some time is I don’t tend to air up the canister much, so I never have use of the horn when I really need it. I also have found cold weather really does mute the reed that makes the sound when the PSI is not to the max. So having a rechargeable battery powered horn would be much nicer.

The Hornet, This is a newer electric horn created in 2011 by a former London lawyer and cyclist. The horn has a high pitched, ear bursting 140dB. I think this is too much power for this horn. Horns should have a deeper sound if they’re going to be that loud.

Is Krampus here to eat your children, or to just go for a bike ride?

First there was the Pugsley
Surly Pugsley
Featuring huge 26×3.7-3.8 tires, it was the birth of the “Fat Bike”. Named after Pugsley Addams if I were to guess.
Wednesday-and-Pugsley-Addams

I would hope it might have been named after something cuter like this.
Pug

Then there was the Moonlander.
Surly Moonlander

Featuring even wider 26×4.7 tires allow you to float over everything you could imagine. More likely named for the Lunar Rover because of the massive tires, & not the Moon Lander (Apollo Lunar Module).

LunarRover

Now they have a new one.
Introducing the Surly Krampus!!

Bike is features 29×3.0 tires, This is not a “Fat Bike” according to Surly(HERE), to them it’s a “29+“. I could imagine it might be known as a “Chubby Bike”. This tires are wider than any other 29in tires(larger sizes can be 2.1-2.3). This will be great for people who want a wider tire, but don’t want a truely “Fat Bike”, or want a a 29er with fatter tires.  This one is nicely named after Santa Claus’s helper Krampus, this lovely fellow.
Krampus
Hopefully the bike won’t be carrying you off and eating you for Christmas dinner.

Here are more photos of the Surly Krampus: One, Two, Three

I’ll admit I don’t mountain bike, but I love the idea of the Pugsley and would really like one for myself. I do tend to explore dirt and gravel trails with my LHT, 26×1.5 tires aren’t great for that, it would be a lot easier with wider tires & why not get a “Fat Bike” Maybe someday I will treat myself to one of these bikes.

My Surly LHT Turns 2 Years Old

I have had my Surly Long Haul Trucker for 2 years now, and I have never doubted myself for choosing it over a different bike. The love story between me and the LHT began long before I got her. For years I knew I wanted the bike. I would try out other bikes at shops and never be happy with how they felt or how they were set up. I knew I wanted to do long rides and touring so why not go with a full out touring bike such as the LHT? The one thing was I already had a decent amount of bikes and not a lot of money. Also, I didn’t like the colors it was offered in for a couple years. They were dull colors: Utility Blue, Olive Green, Truckaccino Tan, I wanted something brighter, and then they showed off the new color at Interbike in October 09, Blue Velvet (also known as Hill Street Blue) and I knew I really wanted it.

First Photo of My Surly and I

I moved to Oregon in late March of 2010. A month later, on April 25th, I bought my Surly Long Haul Trucker. I was so happy that day, finally getting a super comfortable bicycle to ride for a long time.

Rain Cape

This year on April 25th I happily was able to do a nice 20mile ride with a friend in the morning. Then after he left to go home I kept going, ending up riding just over a metric century that day, 67.58miles in total.

Happy Birthday Surly 2 Years Of Good Rides Together, And Lots More To Come. Birthday Breakfast Only I Can Enjoy, Sorry Surly.
Ride With A Friend Bill's Bench Right When It Starts Raining
Ride Treat Rain Cape Tent
Taking A Break From The Rain Fox Hollow and Lorane
Untitled A stop at the end of the Fern Ridge Path, then back into town.
Surly's Metric Century Birthday Ride, and I still have 4 more miles and need to get some groceries. From after Surly's Birthday Ride on the April 25th
Surly Birthday Bike Route

Last year on Surly’s birthday I got him the Surly Rear Nice Rack, and this year I got him the Surly Front Nice Rack to Match. This rack is massive, and will certainly see a lot of use. Now I just need to get myself a set of Ortlieb Front-Roller Panniers to match my Back-Roller.

Surly Front Nice Race First Ride With My New Surly Front Nice Rack

Happy Birthday Surly!!!

Velo Cult, Pedal Nation, & Great Portland Food

Velo Cult Bike ShopYesterday Angel and I got a chance to hang out in Portland after taking her sister back from a visit. We started out the day by going to the newly opened Velo Cult Bicycle Shop. Started in 2006, the shop originally is from San Diego, but decided to move the entire shop to Portland, employees and all. We visited them Sunday, on the morning after their Grand Opening Party. (They were still cleaning up after it). The shop caters to commuters, tourers, randonneur riders, and other subcultures of cycling with refurbished and new bicycles, but this is not just a place to sell and service bikes, but a place where all “bicycle culture” gets to meet. There is a large and open floor plan. They have some amazing mechanic work stations, with benches for customers to talk with their mechanic right in front of them; a bar offering local beer and food, a photo booth (which sadly was shut down when we were there), and even an authentic castle drawbridge (which doubles as a stage) in the shop!! I believe the drawbridge is from Canteburry Castle, after it was demolished in 2009. This is a really cool shop and you should check it out if you have a chance. They plan on hosting shows, and screening movies there in the future, as well as putting on other fun events for cyclists.
Tool Wall at Velo Cult Velo Cult

Also while at Velo Cult I got the chance to check out the Complete Surly Troll. I wouldn’t mind getting one of these as my first mountain bike. I also think it would make a great touring bike for Angel. It would be a good companion to my LHT. If only the Troll came in some color other than orange (her least favorite).Shouldn't Angel Get A Surly Troll?

Before we went to Pedal Nation, we stopped by the Off The Griddle food cart. With super nice staff, they offer amazing veggie burgers from their solar-powered cart. Angel went with Vegan Cheeseburger, and I went with O.T.G Burger (no lettuce, tomato) just grilled onions and added BBQ sauce; I like my burgers simple. It’s always fun waiting for your food to come out while you read through some Trivial Pursuit games.
O.T.G. Burgers Trivial Pursuit at Off the Griddle

After we arrived to Pedal Nation, I spent a lot of time talking with different people about their products and learning whatever I could. There were a lot of cool things there. The spectrum of booths was across the board, with everything from wooden helmets, a fat tire recumbent, to an upcoming indoor mountain bike park (The Lumberyard) and other great cycling groups. Full list of exhibitors HERE. One thing I thought was really cool is that Nutcase is coming out with 4 bell designs based off of their helmets, which will be available for purchase in the near future (possibly June), along with a new visors to attach to their helmets and even cycling jerseys to match the helmets. Those should all be great. I’m sure Angel will want a watermelon jersey.
Pedal Nation Recap Nutcase Is Coming Out With Bells Nutcase Helmets Wooden Helmets

Before leaving Portland we had to get our favorite pizza at Sizzle Pie. I went with 2 slices of cheese, and Angel got a rabbit salad. There was no Spiral Tap in the case, (our favorite) so we got one to go that we could eat at home. It was a super great idea. Angel wanted the pins, and I thought I might put the patch on my safety vest. This is truly good pizza.
Sizzle Pie!!! YUM!!!

Shimano Alfine Di2 Electronic System

Everyone loves new electronic gadgets (except Luddites), what about when they are added to something as simple as bicycles?  Shimano did that a couple years ago with the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 system. It really interested me when it first was announced, and I have had a couple of chances to try it out on trainers at a couple different shows, never on the road. It truly is an amazing system, and if I was a pro-level racer I would really like to take advantage of the perfect and quick shifting. They are coming out with an Ultegra Di2 now, helping to lower the price and allowing for more people to take advantage of the electronic shifting system.

Who would have ever guessed Shimano’s next step with the Di2 system would be to put it on an Alfine internal gear hub? The Shimano Alfine Di2. To me this system seems confusing, but at the same time it makes some sense. This could be a system that works with some commuters, but probably just those who are already riding carbon bikes to work.

Alfine Di2
The system is only a prototype right now; the finished product should be out in September of 2012 (no idea on price). It looks like there will be no big changes to the internal hub itself. Instead it will just have an electronic shifting mechanism on the outside (though I could be wrong). It will be offered in a 8 speed and 11 speed, and will offer 2 different brake/shifter lever set ups: road and flat bar. They will offer a road lever system, similar if not the same lever as the Ultegra Di2, allowing electronic shifting with the right lever, while the left will just be a brake. This will be Shimano’s first road lever shifter for an internal hub. They will also have a flat bar system, with a Rapid Fire electronic shifter. The system will also have an electronic display screen to show the gear you are in and battery life. The Dura-Ace Di2 currently only has a small battery indicator. The system will use the same battery system as the other Di2 systems.

Alfine Di2 Shifter Alfine Di2 Battery
Alfine Di2 Display Alfine Di2 Demo Bike
Photos from BikeRadar.com article (Here)

I hope Shimano realizes if they want this system to actually work for commuters and people who bike tour, they will need to do something better about the battery. The advantage of an internal gear hub is they are maintenance free. If you throw a battery in picture you are going backwards. It keeps the hub maintenance free even more so by removing the cables, but you have to make sure your battery is charged, and that you have enough power for long rides, and even short tours. The system would probably have a lot more battery life than the Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2, because it only deals with shifting the hub, as opposed to two separate derailleurs. It would really boggle my mind and probably a lot of others if they don’t make a way for the Alfine Di2 to be powered from a dynamo hub. I think that would be a necessity for this system, as it would keep it so much simple. If you can power your light, and electronic shifter, then I think the system would work well. If they only offer a battery set up, then there must be a way to lock the battery in place. On BicycleRetailer.com, they mention a battery placement of a “seatpost-mounted battery”. I don’t what that means, and I can’t find anything else about it. I don’t know if that means the battery could be mounted in the seat tube or just to the seat tube. If the battery could go in the seat tube you would keep it safer. If it’s on a commuter then it should be locked down, no one want to deal with taking more stuff off their bike that could get stolen, so lock it down. The dynamo would be easier though.

Overall I think the Alfine Di2 will find its place, just like the Dura-Ace Di2 has. If the Alfine Di2 system can work with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive, it could make an amazing mix. I would really like to try the Alfine Di2 out for my self when it come out. Maybe then I will understand it more.

Sources:
BikeRadar.com – Shimano Alfine Di2 – First pictures
Road.cc – Shimano to launch Alfine Di2
Singletrack Magazine – Shimano 2013 – Alfine Di2 and other Shimano Tech
Bicycle Retailer – Shimano announces Di2 Alfine option, more

Review: IKEA PATRULL Reflective Vest

My mother sent Angel an reflective vest from IKEA after coming across one there on a trip a couple weeks ago. Yes, IKEA, the Swedish company known for affordable flat pack furniture with obscure names that no one knows how to put together. It turns out IKEA carries a reflective vest called the PATRULL.
Angel's New Safety Vest Ikea Patrull Safety Vest - comes with a 31 page instruction book

Most other vests come only in a M, L, XL, & XXL. It’s normally hard to find a Medium, and they all seem to be one size up, so they never seem to fit right. The IKEA PATRULL is the first vest I have ever seen that comes in a full range of sizes, 5 different sizes to fit almost anyone.
‌• PATRULL 3 Adult Sizes: S/M, L, XL
‌• PATRULL 2 Child Sizes: 3-6 years, 7-12 years

They are also the most affordable vest out there, retailing for $4.99. They are not sold online, so if you want one you must brave the IKEA maze or just ask a friend or family member to send you one. It might be worth it if you are a smaller person that doesn’t want a bulky vest, or have kids that you want to wear them. A normal 3M reflective vest you would pick up at your average hardware store will cost on average $15-20, and be of really low quality. Dickie’s Reflective are $27. My reflective vest I wear is a Work n’ Sport, only sold at Blain’s Farm and Fleet in central Illinois (oh, how I miss F&F), but it retails for $20, which is cheap for how amazing it is. (I will write more about the Wn’S in the future maybe)

Safety Fox With Her New Vest and Pocket Patch My Bike Takes Me Places That School Never Could
I have some nice patches on my reflective vest to add some style and flair, and Angel wanted some style and flair as well. We added a nice patch on the front which doubles as a front pocket because I hemmed the top and only sewed the bottom and two sides to the vest, leaving the top open. Making a nice little front pocket for Angel if she ever needs it, and making the vest a little cooler. Overall the IKEA PATRULL is really nice, and you can’t really beat the cost and size options.

Everyone should remember, Reflective is Cool.

Yehuda is Here

Yehuda Moon IconI received my Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery comic books in the mail today. They had great success with the Kickstarter Campaign that raised money to get volumes 3, 4, and 5 printed, as well as help Rick and Brian bring the comic back from a long hiatus. Rick Smith and Brian Griggs have been working hard to keep the comic going. Right now they offer the comic as a $1 a month paid membership, with the occasional free comic for the public.

Like I said, I received volume 3, 4, and 5 along with the patch today in the mail (a great addition to my collection). I bought volume 1 a while back. I also got the burnt piece of the Kickstand Cyclery (yes, a burnt piece of a fictional building) along with a signed drawing of Yehuda from a previous offering by Rick. I’m not a big comic geek, but I really like these comics. Obviously because they are bike related, and I really like the style and storyline of the comic. Even if you are an occasional bicyclist or don’t ride bikes at all they are still great comics and great stories. You can still buy all 4 volumes and some other merchandise in the Kickstand Cyclery Shop.

Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery - Patch and Books Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery - Collection
Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery - Inside Covers Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery - Signatures and Drawings
Top Left: Patch and Books
Top Right: Books, Patch, Burnt piece of the Kickstand, and a drawing a Yehuda
Bottom Left: Inside Covers of Books
Bottom Right: Drawing of Yehuda that came with burnt piece of the Kickstand, and the all books signed, newest 3 have drawings.

And again, just like my previous post about Yehuda Moon: If you haven’t heard of Yehuda Moon you can still get started reading them; they are all online still. Here is a link to the first strip. Yehuda Moon 01-22-2008

Yehuda Moon 01-22-2008