The first bike horn to talk about is the “Loud Bicycle” by Jonathan Lansey. This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Most people know what Instagram is by now, whether they use it themselves with their iPhone, or are bombarded by their friends’ photos being posted on their social media of choice. It’s a nice way to take photos with some style and post them quickly. StickyGram is a company that will take your Instagram photos and make them into magnets. There are a growing number of other companies out there that do similar services, but I decided to go with StickyGram magnets as a Valentine’s gift for Angel. I ordered them on the 13th and got them the 21st, just over a week to get them, which is great, especially since they came from London, England. The overall quality of the magnets are really nice. The magnets are strong and the image quality is great (although I assumed they would be glossy, and they are matte). The image has a white border around the image. It would be nice if the image had a full bleed (image goes to the edge) so there would be no added white, or an option for a black border. I will say one of the magnets dropped and hit its corner. In that corner the image is slightly peeling back. 😦 Other than that, they are great. When I get more nice photos, I will probably make some more.
You can purchase the StickyGrams for $14.99, with free shipping, for a sheet of 9 photos.
Over my years of cycling I have accumulated many different bicycle lights. Everything from the small little blinkies to some heavy duty, from wheel side lights to rechargeable lights. I would recommend almost all of these, especially the Planet Bike Superflash and Turbo rear lights. Angel has recently gotten a new front light to replace her clunky Light & Motion Vega 120. She got the CygoLite Expilion 400. First thoughts: it looks to be really well built and extremely powerful, I might get one myself. Everyone needs a good bicycle light if they plan to ride at night. It’s nice to have extras to pair lights for the best setup, or as backups and lend them to friends. Stay safe when you ride your bike, use good lights. These are the bicycle lights I have, but there are many more lights out there to choose from.
What bicycle lights do you have, like, or would like to use?
I will write review for most of these coming soon.
I got a pair of Novara Arosa Bike Gloves at the REI Year-End Garage Sale. The gloves MSRP at $29.50. I already have colder weather gloves, the Novara Stratos, but I wanted some suited for cool/dry weather wearing. They are built very similarly to the Stratos gloves. They have synthetic leather palms with nice grip, and a small amount of padding, with added grip on the finger tips of the thumb, index and middle fingers, to allow added grip on brake levers. These are cool weather gloves, so they won’t cut the wind, or repel water, like the Stratos but they are extremely breathable. There are large reflective accents across the whole back, and a nice amount of fleece on the outer part of the thumb for wiping your face. The cuff allows for a good fit, with no bulk or hassle with straps. They have a pull tab to help fit them on and elastic cuffs. They fit very nicely. These are size XL, the same size as the Stratos I own. I think these are great gloves and I am happy I got them. If you are looking for excellent cool and dry weather gloves, you won’t go wrong with these. Disclaimer: I bought these at the REI Year-End Garage Sale so I got a great deal on them, and paid a sale price of $9.83. I would still be willing to pay full price for them. The reason for return on them was “not warm enough”. They might not have realized they are cool/dry weather glove, and they are fine for me, and do what they advertise. If you need gloves warmer than this, think about the Stratos.
Ortlieb has recently added some flair to their beloved Back-Roller Classic Pannier, as mentioned in a previous review on the panniers. (HERE) The new Back-Roller Design-Editions come in 3 new styles: Wave, Dot, and Splash. Each design comes in 3 different colors, MSRP $170 per pair. Angel chose the Splash in the Aubergine (purple) with pink splash graphic. The Design set panniers are the same as the Classic panniers, other then the cosmetic changes, graphic, color, and Ortlieb logo now in the plastic clips. I will say it is interesting to see a crisp, clean, new set compared with my well warn 2 year old set.
This color of pannier looks amazing on Angel’s Sky Blue Linus Mixte 3speed. Angel has wanted to get a set of Ortliebs for a long time, but didn’t love any of the original classic colors. And after seeing these new designs/colors, she knew she would get one of these. Angel loves them now, and hopefully soon she will get a Ortlieb Carrying System to use these more easily off the bike. These Panniers are sure to treat Angel well for many years, just like mine have.
Here is a review I wrote on my Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Panniers.
Moleskine is a producer of legendary notebooks. Originally handmade by French bookmakers, Moleskine has a lot of history behind them, being used by the likes of Oscar Wilde, and Vincent van Gogh. Sadly, in 1986 the Moleskine style notebook died out. In 1997, a small company started reproducing these notebooks, and in 2006 Moleskine became the company we know today. Making a wide range of notebooks, planners, travel notebooks, and other specialty notebooks. Now there is even a digital form of this beloved paper book as an App.
I have used a couple different notebooks, using the larger notebooks for drawing and note taking, and the pocket sized notebooks for ideas. But the one I use the most is my Moleskine 12 Months Weekly Notebook Diary/Planner, red hard cover, large. I have used this same planner each year for the past 3. Angel had given me the first one in 2010. I used it for it at first just for writing down events, but after I moved to Oregon in the spring and bought my LHT it has been used everyday to keep track of my miles and time ridden on my bike for that day. Angel got her own extra small (pocket sized) Moleskine 12 months Daily Diary/Planner, with a black soft cover.
Moleskine consists of great features for useful planner. The first few pages consist of a list of international codes, holidays, conversion charts, time zones, and travel log. The pages are nicely organized, whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly planner in any size. In the back they have a small pocket to store loose notes. The larger planners come with a removable lined booklet that can be used for anything. When I got my first Moleskine planner you could get any color, as long as that color was black (a la Henry Ford). The red was special, so that is the one I got. In the past 3 years Moleskine has started producing planners and notebooks with covers in every color imaginable, as well as embossed designs to choose from, with multiple page layouts (graphed, lined, blank, ect.). So you’re likely to find one that fits your style and need.
Saturday December 31st, 2011 was the REI Year-end Garage Sale in Eugene. This is a big sale at REI, where they sell slightly used gear, returns, and display items. This was the first time I have been able to go to one myself, and let me just say it was well worth the short wait in line to get in. There was a lot of great gear to pick up there and I got myself some presents that I’m quite happy about.
ALPS Mountaineering Mystique 2.0 – MSRP $199.99 bought at $9.83
This is the first real tent I have ever bought, but it seems like it will be perfect for me: 3 season, fits 2 people, pretty light at 5lb 2oz total, packs pretty small. I’m quite excited, the only thing is the tent was not cleaned up before packing away after the last use, so it smells like the outdoors (Angel claims it smells like mossy earth and radishes). No visible mildew, but I should clean it as soon as possible. If anyone has any ideas on how to clean it in the middle of winter, indoors let me know. The biggest problem right now is all the rain we’re getting, so I can’t set it up outside to clean it out and hang. So I’ll need to do this inside maybe in stages. If I can’t get it cleaned out well enough it’s no big loss, it was $9.83.
Novara Arosa Bike Gloves – MSRP S29.50 bought at $9.83
These gloves fit very well and should be a great cool and dry weather glove, when my Novara Stratos Bike Gloves are just too warm. On the tag, the reason for return was “not warm enough”, but these will work well for me. They just needed a little stitching fix, and now they are perfect. I can’t wait to get to use them this coming spring.
Merrell Chameleon3 Stretch – MSRP $120 bought $19.83
The shoes are hardly broken in and all the tread is there, including the fine tread that wears off fast. They should be great for hiking and walking.
GoPro HD HERO Camera – MSRP $239.99 bought $99.83
It was a big surprise for me to find this, and it was a hard decision to get it but I did. Angel and I shoot lots of videos together and we have always talked about getting one. This price was too fair to pass up. I can only imagine no one got it before me because: A. They didn’t know what it was, or B. They don’t do video editing themselves. The camera is in perfect condition. The reason for return was “didn’t like product”, and I don’t really know why they didn’t like it, but I like it already. It has HD video up to 1080p at 30fps, with 127º wide viewing angle. 60fps at 720p and WVGA resolutions allowing smooth slow motion playback with 170º wide viewing angle. With a waterproof case allowing it to go to depths of 180ft (60m), my Fuji XP10 depth is only 10ft (3m). Comes with mounts, including a one for vented helmets. This should get a lot of good, fun video footage that we can use. Great for long bike rides, or trips to the coast. Can’t wait.
I’m excited to get to use these new items and after I will write reviews for them, so stay tuned. There will be new videos as well with the help of the GoPro Hero.
I got my Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Panniers shortly after getting my Surly Long Haul Trucker in May of 2010. I tried one other set of cheap panniers for a short time, but decided I needed something a lot better. Ortlieb is one of the best cycling/waterproof bag companies around. The Back-Roller Classics MSRP is $165 for a pair. The panniers are made of a PVC-coated polyester fabric, with 2 inner pockets: 1 large, and a smaller mesh zippered pocket. On the outside there are large reflectors. These panniers roll closed and latch, and come with a shoulder strap that can be secured by a hook on the front. The bag is completely waterproof. The Back-Roller Classics use Ortlieb’s QL1 attachment system. These are super simple panniers to take on and off the rack.
Here is a cool video showing how to attach the bags, with some funky music.
I’ve had the panniers for almost 2 years, and they have held up really well. They fit almost everything inside, and have a capacity of 2,441cu.in. (40L). I have been able to carry tons of groceries. If a little added space is needed I just keep the top open and it stays pretty stable. I also tend to use the shoulder straps to strap down the odd items onto the rack, which is an added bonus. In my main pannier I keep my small essentials in the mesh zippered pocket: spare patches, lights, pens, and my spork. All my other repair essentials are in a small saddle bag. In the larger open pocket I keep my map, bandana and wrench. At the bottom of the main bag, I keep my rain cape and jacket, then anything else goes on top of them. Everything else goes in other one when I need to carry more, or balance the weight. Being waterproof is a must for the Pacific Northwest weather.
The QL1 System is perfect. It keeps the bags secure on the rack without rattling around. There is no fear of them falling off, but they are still super easy to take off when you pull up on the release handle. The shoulder strap is easy to use, but if you want something more comfortable, try out the Ortlieb Carrying System (read more about that lower on the page). I would recommend these panniers to everyone. I hope to get the Ortlieb Front-Roller Panniers to match once I get a front rack for my LHT.
Ortlieb has come out with new graphics on their Back-Roller Classic Design sets, MSRP $170 per pair. The Wave, Dot, and Splash designs come in 3 different colors each, more than doubling the Classic color choices from 6 to 15, 19 if you include the 4 special Civia/Ortlieb Designs (only sold in singles). With all the colors and designs you should be able to find the right set for you. Angel plans to get herself one of these new designs. I think they look great. *Update: Angel chose the Splash in the Aubergine (purple) with pink splash graphic. Read about and see photos HERE.
I also use the Ortlieb Carrying System which allows you to attach a removable backpack mount to any single Ortlieb Pannier. The panniers work well on the bike, but could be a little easier to carry off the bike. That is where the Carrying System comes into play, turning your pannier into an excellent backpack. I recommend this system for anyone who wants a pannier on the bike and a backpack off the bike.
If you are looking for a lighter PVC-free pannier, Ortlieb has a Back-Roller Plus version of the same pannier design made of strong Cordura fabric and their QL2 System. The Plus come in 4 different colors and cost $200.
Ortlieb (and Ortlieb’s sister companies: Tubus, and Racktime) have lots of other useful products and accessories.
I grew up in central Illinois. In August of 2007, I bought my first real “adult bike” after needing a bike to save money on gas. Since then I have had many bikes. In April of 2010, after moving out to Oregon, I got my beloved Surly Long Haul Trucker. I have put a lot of good miles on the bike. This blog is about my life in Eugene.