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I’ve always thought they looked not only pretty cool, but also very practical. The first mile or so of my commute heads Southeast into the morning sun, and my tinted glasses don’t do the job on the brightest of days. No visored helmets I’ve ever used did a good job or anything except hitting me in the face in a crash when one broke off. For the sake of my eyes (i.e., keeping them in my head), I went visorless this time around.  But I assumed it was either a cap or a helmet. Because, having smashed my head into the ground before, I don’t go anywhere without my shell-hat, AKA, my helmet.

But, duh. (I’m admitting a high level of density here.) I could just wear a cap under my helmet. I mean, at least, I assume I could. I do have the largest size helmet, with the thin pads, and it’s a tight fit. I have an enormous head, seriously.  But maybe I’ll shave my head and get everything under there.

Also, if you’ve worn a Nutcase helmet, you’ve probably noticed the oddly-shaped pads. While “normal” helmets usually give you “striped” helmet head, these sorta make it look like something pooped on you or that you stuck your head into a watermelon or something. A different helmet head when I show up at work would be nice.

Anyway, came across these caps, and they even turn these out in stylish hemp. Pretty neat.

Anyone have any experience with, or recommendations for, cycling caps?

[Image, Walz Caps.]


I did!  I am almost ashamed of the bevy of bike goodies I scored this year for Christmas from my family members.  Even more than last  year.  First, there’s the Christmas bulb pictured above.

Next, there’s the Planet Bike Blaze 2 Watt LED front headlight. I’ve had the 1 Watt Blaze for a while and have really liked it. I’ve sort of always mean to “review” it, but we don’t usually do that stuff — not on principle or anything. Anyway, on the way back from Moonlight Madness, a Honda stopped while Dan and I were pulling out from getting some soda. The driver said something like, “Your light is giving me a headache. That’s a crazy light.” We didn’t know what to say, and I think she got embarrassed because she just said, “Well, at least you’re safe,” and drove off. Another time, more recently, I was riding up Roland Avenue in Hampden. There’s a lady on a motorized chair who rides in the bike lanes. It would piss me off, but she always does it against traffic, always yields to bikes and always gives you a, “Hey, Hon.” I like her.  One night she said, “Hey, buddy, I like your light!” I thanked her as I sped home in the dark. I can’t wait to see what the 2 Watt will evince from folks.


The mini pump I carry is a piece of junk. It was literally the cheapest one at the store that I picked up to have on me just in case. It’s gotten me home before when I got flats. But it’s a work-out to use that beast. My brother got me the Planet Bike Peace Pump (mini) I wanted. It doesn’t quite fit my saddle bag with my other stuff in it like I’d hoped, but I plan to work it out.

Half of the reason we all carry repair gear (I assume) is to help other people out of a jam.  This pump only does presta valves; so I almost feel like a jerk carrying it. Also, my tire gauge needs the schrader adapter anyway. I might have just made more work for myself next time I run a flat. But: It’s so pretty!


I feel like a sucker carrying my repair gear on my back, but I don’t feel like loading up (or paying for) panniers — when it’s hard enough to get my bike out of my bedroom, then apartment, then building. So my brother also gave me the Big Buddy Saddlebag. It attaches just like the Timbuk2 version I bought and returned this fall. However, it wins over the T2 version because it has reflective piping (which you can see in the picture) and because, well, it has a light loop like almost every other saddlebag out there. Timbuk2 was so worried about their logo that they did not include a light loop. I have a rack-mounted light (I run two rears lights), but most folks would lose their lights with the Timbuk2 version, since it covers up the entire seatpost anyway. Bad design, bad. The light loop on the Planet Bike version, by the way, perfectly fits Planet Bike’s rear lights, pretty securely. And the big one holds (with room to spare): 3 tire levers; tire gauge; big patch kit; multi-tool; 32×700 tube.

(Seen here with Superflash Stealth)


Finally, my winter gloves are missing since I moved in June, and my lighter full-finger gloves got, literally, destroyed in April when I crashed. (I should take some pictures; there’s still some blood on there.) From my parents, who gave me the bulb and headlight, I received the Planet Bike Borealis Winter Gloves. These suckers have the pinky and ring-finger together for added warmth and are supposed to be waterproof. The Giant gloves I had last year were very warm. But in weather like we’ve been having lately, speeding-winds usually rendered my pinkies numb and useless — not to mention that when they got wet, I froze. I haven’t gotten these wet yet, but I’m hoping they’ll help with my cracked/bloody knuckles. This one, from this past weekend, cracked like an egg in a few places and really bled a lot.

So what kind of awesome bike gifts did ya’ll give/receive? I gave someone awesome a nice rear light for a birthday in December, but I can’t say I gave a single bike-related holiday gift this year.

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I usually try to keep my ride pretty clean. I’ve been a little lazy about it lately, and it really needs a good bath. This got me thinking.  My dad has always said, “Before winter sets in you should put a good coat of wax on you car.” One of his points being is that it helps keep the salt off the car’s finish in the winter months. This does make sense to me. So I’m thinking of cleaning up the old horse and putting a coat of wax on the seat/chain stays, down tube and fork. Can anyone think of a good reason not to do this?

Also with winter on the horizon does anyone have any cold weather riding tips you would like to share with the cycling community? One I use, I got from Sheldon Brown. Use clear tape to block off a few air vents on your helmet. It’s a easy and very inexpensive way to help keep your head a little warmer and  not compromise the fit of your brain bucket.

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(My former set-up. I used to run the smaller light at the left seat-stay, and even jerry-rigged to the back of my rack.)

It’s been said in several places on the byke innernetz that if your LEDs are a few years old, you might want to replace them. Why? LEDs last nearly forever, no? Because the technology is getting cheaper, brighter, more efficient, more durable and easier to mount!

These are Giant lights that I had on my (crashed) Giant bike. The larger one ran me nearly $30, and the small one was about $10 I think in 2006. The big one was bright enough to do the job fairly well, but it ate batteries like I drink coffee — as they said in Lost in Translation, “with much intensity!”  The smaller one died pretty quickly, too.  Both fell off the bike several times.  In fact, that larger one was actually stolen from ElRo (click here to see image of baby in her tummy) since mine fell off in traffic and got destroyed.  When I crashed that bike in April, someone who got to the scene handed me my pump and this smaller damned light.  I can vouch for its durability — it fell off a few times and took quite a big roll a couple of those.

When I got my new bike this summer, I wanted to get new lights, too.  My five LED headlight was Okay for being seen, but it went dim in a few hours and had a very narrow beam.  I wanted some improvement in that area, too.  The light I had was about $25 in 2006 also.  There were some very awesome lights out since then, and I was excited to try some out.

Planet Bike all the way.  Not only are they brighter and easier to mount.  They also were cheaper, and they haven’t fallen off yet.  I should really get around to posting something about my cheap/simple light set-up.  Maybe next week.  Stay tuned!

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Did anyone get any awesome cycling presents this year? I scored three pairs of long underwear; no, I don’t like lycra, no offense. Warm socks. Flannels. A big Thermos for coffee, soup, booze or whatever will keep me warm commuting through the winter. Some new and very deluxe fenders. And, best of all, some winter-weight gloves that my wife had sent from the bike shop in Carbondale where we bought our bikes in 2005 (mine was stolen in 2006) when we went car-free. I’m all set to freeze my nuggets off riding everywhere all winter. Or, rather, to not freeze my fellas off.


Shoes. In my opinion one of the most important articles of clothing you wear while riding. They are the contact point between human and bike. Transferring the power to the pedals, keeping your feet gripped to the pedals, and keeping your feet protected from hazards and the elements. I’m not talking about cleated bike shoes. I’m just talking about shoes you wear when riding. I know some people that prefer sandals and some that prefer tennis shoes and some that wear flip-flops. Of course the weather may dictate what kind of shoes you wear while riding. Myself, I prefer high top chucks, year round.  Anybody have a love for a particular shoe to wear while riding or have ever ridden in a particularly strange shoe? My most unusual would be a pair of tuxedo dress shoes at a friend’s wedding.


Two members of the North Baltimore Bike Brigade were out of commission last week, including Eleanor R.  One Tuesday afternoon, I was rushing to make a meeting (for which I was already late) and hopped on ElRo without noticing that I had a flat front tire.  I still didn’t notice after falling off of ElRo and riding her a few feet, at which point I finally heard the crunching sound of rim-on-gravel.

Luckily, another NBBB member was close by and rode down to my office to replace the tube.  I got home safely and was practicing replacing a tube on my own when . . .

POP!


As it turned out, I had a tear in the tire as well as the tube.  Two replacement tires arrived this past week, and they are securely attached to ElRo.  I was back in the saddle riding to work on Thursday — and now I know how to change a tire!


I love my fenders. Anyone who has a set knows what I’m talking about. This is a picture of my nice wet fenders after they did their job for me again today. I got caught in the rain on the way home from the store.  They kept all that dirty road water off of me and my ride. If you don’t have a set I seriously recommend getting a set. They make riding in wet conditions much more tolerable. I’m giving a Saturday toast to fenders. Salude!

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