Sunday, February 28, 2010

I survived my first Chilly Hilly!!! (and first group fun ride!!!)

33 miles, 2 hours and 30 minutes, over 3,000 kCals burnt.

My friend, Rob, uploaded ride data from his Garmin here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

product review: GloGlov

To enhance my visibility to drivers while doing low light bicycle commuting, this past fall I bought a pair of reflective gloves manufactured by the GLO GLOV company. Also, it seemed most of my cycling jackets did not have a lot of reflectivity or visibility to motorists when I was signaling to make a turn.

I purchased the regular "original" version, designed more for traffic cops or construction flaggers, and it cost me about $20 for the pair. [I'd figured if these were bright enough for cop to direct traffic with, they'd be suited for me making my intentions known to drivers]. I found them at a shop which specializes in police and medic uniforms and gear. A friend who rides motorcycles also told me he has a pair of these when he's out riding in similar low light conditions.

Me sporting the Glo Glovs before a ride...

As the manufacturers' web site details, these gloves are "USA-made retro-reflective glove for multiple uses." The product has shown it is "breathable and lightweight" and it does "stretch... for wearing over most gloves". That's the biggest issue to get around for me. The style I bought has a big stop sign in the palm which can hamper your ability to grasp handlebars or braking/shifting controls and this might be even more pronounced if the wearer's hands are smaller. However, the enhanced visibility offered by the reflective material surpasses the potential bulkiness of the palm. Worst case, someone could in theory remove the palm reflective piece.

The Glo Glov people must have had similar comments from other cyclists, as they have a different product with a padded palm and no reflective piece on the palm. It's the Sport Glo Glov. It is described as a "specially designed USA-made cycling glove for outdoor sports with an added sure-grip palm." With short fingers, it is designed to fit over a thinner cycling glove if necessary. At sbout $23, I likely would have bought this product instead of the original Glo Glov, had I known it was available.

Note: I am not sponsored by or otherwise affiliated with the manufacturers or marketers of this product.

Added note 3-3-10: from the manufacturer of GloGlov "the Original GloGlov has the triangle palm and not the Stop Sign, which is for police,etc traffic control. I wasn't aware of it slipping if they are worn over other gloves. The reflective is not only sewn on but is strongly adhesived to the material, like you said it would be better to use the Sport for serious riding."

Friday, February 26, 2010

interesting lock jobs

Bike Hacks recently featured a single spoke lock job. I found something similar in our city.

The bike is a cheap NEXT brand full-suspension mountain bike and the owner secured the front wheel (nutted) and frame to the bike rack (hitching post style) with a skinny cable lock.

The back wheel is not secured with the cable lock, but it appears to have some other theft-deterrent employed.

A closer look reveals the owner has secured a HUGE keyed padlock around one or more of the spokes of the rear wheel, ala "parking boot" style.

If you want some guidance on bike lock products or techniques, Scott Elder on The Slate web site did this write-up a while back.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

video from a training ride last weekend

My friend, Rob, shot a short video of some of our training ride last weekend from Renton to Leschi (Seattle) and back. I'm Nate (probably obvious...) and our other friend is Dan. We all went to high school together more than 20 years ago and recently reconnected and are now riding with a few others to train for the STP this summer.


sweet ride from AndersonCentral on Vimeo.

excited for the upcoming Bike Expo in March

I checked out the vendor list for the Seattle Bike Expo today. I'm excited to check out the vendors' products.

Specifically, it will be cool to see Alchemy Goods' latest products and maybe check out what Baron is building. [My friend Rob has a disc-equipped Baron for a rain bike... what a nice-looking bike].

And I'll be able to figure out what the heck is a Zigo?

More info on the Bike Expo...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

my Bike BrightZ (flashing LED lights) demo

Here's a video I shot to show the effectiveness of the Bike BrightZ at night. Watch it and judge for yourself.

Just for clarification, I mounted two lights on the bike in the video, one on the left and one on the right of my rear rack, pointed at an angle to the rear. If I was to do this permanently, I think I would have used two of the Bike BrightZ red flashing LEDS rather than a yellow and green as shown in the video.

Bike BrightZ can be ordered online for $19.99 each with free shipping in US and Canada.

Here's what I found from my testing evaluation on adult and kids' bicycles (note: Bike BrightZ provided me with samples for my testing and evaluation - I did not purchase these nor receive compensation for this review)...

Fairly easy to install.
Package comes complete with batteries.
Easy to operate.
Different LED colors available.
Multiple flashing patterns (or steady).
Kids love them - it's easy to get them to use them.

The unit can rub against down tubes and scratch paint when grit gets between unit and the bicycle tubes.
Since it mounts low, it could be obscured by mud/muck/sand/grit/grime.
It might not fit flush on more radical designed frames or curvy frames or smaller kids' bikes.

I am of the opinion that any visual enhancement in low light or dark conditions, especially as a bicycle commuter, is a good thing. This said, this product would be a good thing to consider in your "visibility toolbox" along with a headlight and flashing rear red LED or reflector (per many states' laws). Additional reflectors and/or lights are also beneficial. I would avoid the colors other than red, and especially not combine the red and blue Bike BrightZ, as to avoid drivers thinking you're posing as a cop.

As for kids' use of this product, there is a coolness factor that they really enjoy which makes it easier to get them to turn them on. (Note: the kids sampling this were 5-7 years-old and were not actually riding in the streets at night).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"bike hoboism"

I recently submitted a few pics to Matt at the bicycling blog known as Bike Hacks regarding my co-worker's obsession with duct taped gadgetry and doo-dads. Matt's been accused of being a "bike hobo" by adding trinkets to his bike and my co-worker also could be cut from the same cloth.

Here's my co-worker's Jamis... click here to check out the detailed pics Matt posted to Bike Hacks.

As a side note/update from this morning, yesterday afternoon this co-worker with the Jamis wiped out while riding, dislocating a shoulder. He's OK though and his bike is OK too. Apparently, while grabbing something that fell (I'm a bit unclear on this part - fell off his bike? Fell out of a pocket?) he clenched his brakes to stop, but grabbed the brake for the front brake and flipped the bike over, dumping him on the ground. Wishing him a speedy recovery...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

how could I grow up here and never know about this opportunity???

I've been reading up on the Marymoor Velodrome Association lately. Not only do they have racing on a banked track (during better weather conditions March through the summer) but they also have classes!

If you don't own a track bike, don't fret, they rent bikes inexpensively for events there.

Here are a few videos of the Marymoor Velodrome...

follow-up post --> installing Bike Brightz

I recently mentioned I received a package from a company that makes and markets Bike Brightz to have me and my kids install them on our bikes, test out, and review the product.

I installed the lights this week and shot some photos of the process.

Here's a photo of the Bike Brightz packaging. I liked the fact it is easy to open - something rare in this day and age when you find a product that isn't either completely encased in a near bulletproof plastic or boxed up in a styrofoam cocoon.

What's included in the Bike Brightz package... two AAA batteries, two zip ties, a protective rubber "gasket" (to fit between the light and the bike frame to protect the bike paint), and the lighting unit.

Installing onto the downtube of a kids' bike with the supplied zip ties (bike pictured upside down). If you can fasten a zip tie, you can install this light unit. Not pictured was me slipping the batteries into the unit just prior to this shot.

The installed product... turns on with a simple push of a button on the unit. It cycles through steady or multiple speeds of flashing.

Here's another I mounted to the downtube on my Cannondale road bike.

One issue I had with one of the kids' bikes related to the downtube installation location. Since her chainstays (another manufacturer's recommended installation location) were short and/or cluttered with a chain/chainguard, I only really could install the light on the downtube. Her downtube is curved a bit allowing for a gap between the frame and the light unit as in the photo. I am sure I can fashion something a bit thicker to pad the area (like a piece of old/extra thinner helmet padding) and keep the unit from slipping around - however, with the zip ties tightened, it is still pretty secure as-is.

Next and final installment: riding impressions.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Bike Brightz company in any way. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review from BB or anyone else. I did, however, receive this product for testing purposes at no cost to me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

new bike(s)

I got a new 2009 model close-out bicycle - a really nice bicycle recently - more on that eventually. What I also picked up (from a guy selling off lots of stuff since he's moving to Europe) recently are two new-to-me older bikes: a '96-ish Cannondale R600 and a 19?? Gary Fisher Big Sur.

The Cannondale has some rough spots, but frame is in good condition with only minor paint scrapes, and as seen below, is still pretty dirty. It goes through the gears well and stops fine - though I am replacing the brake pads ASAP and need to true the rear wheel slightly. Of course, I am noticing that an aluminum frame road bike is very different feel from the steel Allez I was riding last weekend (25 miles around the south end of Lake Washington - sold it this week since the frame was considerably small for me) and for a few rides prior.

I was principally interested in the Cannondale but the Big Sur was sort of an impulse buy, like buying batteries at the grocer's check-out stand. For the price, it couldn't be beat. It was like the price of two really decent road bicycle tires. Also, I figured even in the general dirty condition it was in, it rode well (like the Cannondale) and being a GF, would be worth fixing up if it needed a lot of R&R. Plus, I am always eager to take a new bike up each summer camping season for running trails with the family or friends.

new lighting product: my first review pending

I received my first item from a manufacturer for real-world product testing and review. Bike Brightz sent me a few samples (red, green, yellow, and blue) of their flashing LED lights to test out with the kids and on my commuter bike.

They are able to be zip-tied to the bicycle frame, such as the down tube or chain stays, and run off of two AAA batteries (included). The lights are activated by button and have a steady or a variety of flashing modes (generally varies by speed of the flashing). The affect appears to be similar to the Down Low Glow but for a lot less coin (BBz are about $20 + shipping). I am not certain whether the Bike Brightz offers the same level of lighting as the DLG, since I don't have any for side-by-side comparison. Plus, the installation is super easy and easy to transfer to a different bike, since re-usable zip ties are provided with the Bike Brightz kits. Note: I have not used the DTG lights but have only checked out other web pages about them.

I will post pics (day and night) from my kids' bikes and my commuter soon and give a fuller review after I have a few commutes (including some rain commute days to test for water resistance) with them installed.

Disclaimer: these products were provided to me from the Bike Brightz company for testing and review at no cost to me.