The Latest From BostonBiker.org
News, Events, Updates
Sometimes people are nice enough to send me products to review. So just know I got this for free, and that might bias me in ways I can’t consciously know about.
I was sent this pump a while ago, and have been playing around with it for a couple of weeks.
Mini-pumps are the ones you toss in your bag, and rely on when you get a flat out in the middle of nowhere and need to push enough air into your tire to get you home. It obviously is never going to work as well as a floor pump, but you need them to get enough air into your tire to roll home gingerly.
The RoadAir mini-pump is certainly small enough and light enough to carry around with you, and if you want you can even mount it to your bike (I just tossed it in my bag). It feels sturdy when you grab it, and doesn’t bend of flex in strange ways when you use it. The all metal frame helps with strength, and the plastic grip isn’t too bad (my hand didn’t slip off when pumping).
The metal body does get crazy cold in the winter, but if you are unlucky enough to get a flat in the snow I would suggest going into a store with your tire and waiting until the whole works warm up…or put a glove on to grab the aluminum part. This isn’t really a problem I think a lot of people will run into.
The pump has a clever way to get around the number one problem with mini-pumps, the pressure put on the valve stem when filling. Most mini-pumps attach right to the valve stem, and because they offer little to no mechanical advantage when pumping a tire, putting 100 psi of air into a tire, requires a herculean amount of force to be applied to your tiny little valve stem.
If you have long valve stems the force from the pumping can easily bend or break them. You end up putting your leg up against them, or trying to figure out a way to brace it on something, this pump comes with a long rubber tube that pulls out of the end allowing you to bend and flex the body of the pump without putting too much pressure on the valve stem. The longer hose also allows you access those hard to reach valve stems on strollers, and other non-bike inflated tires.
The rubber of the tube is very “aromatic” (it absolutely stunk of vulcanized rubber) when you first get it, so I recommend letting it hang out open in a well ventilated area for a day or two to let the rubber smell wear off before putting it in your bag. The contents of my bag had a lovely rubber smell until I let the pump “air out” (bike pump pun!) for about 12 hours. After which the smell was gone.
All the accessories tuck into the back of the pump, and are easy to loose if you don’t carefully remove the back when emptying them out (they flew all over the room), but really the only thing you will probably want is the presta-schrader valve adapter, which is small and easy to loose, so I just leave it permanently attached to the end of the tube, even though it keeps the dust cap from closing. It would haven been nicer to have a more elegant way to switch from presta to schrader, or perhaps just a bigger dust cap, but this is not a deal breaker for me.
The pump puts air in your tire, it does it without weighing too much, or damaging your valve stems. It doesn’t feel like a cheap plastic piece of crap, and I feel like it could take a beating before it broke. All in all not a bad little pump. I would recommend this pump if you are in the market for one. The price put’s it above the average for these sorts of things, but its a quality product that isn’t too pricey.
Verdict: good pump, buy one if you want a good mini-pump that wont break your valve stems off.
Tags: free stuff, mini-pump, review, road air
Posted in Merch, reviews | No Comments »
Even though the light is better, you still need a red back light, and a white front light. Not only is it the law, it will save your bacon. Today I ran across an amazing, comprehensive, one stop shop review for all things bike light related. Check it out here.
Here is a taste:
Choosing a light can be a difficult task though – there are countless options to choose from ranging from cheap $3 flashers to blindingly bright $200 powerhouses. The internet already has some good comparisons of bike headlights, but there’s a surprising lack of comprehensive taillight comparisons, so I decided to make one. For science.
In total, I reviewed 16 different taillights from 8 of the top light manufacturers. I chose which lights to review based on a survey I conducted on the parent site for this blog – Bicycles Stack Exchange, a Q&A site for everything about bicycles, and also asked on Reddit’s /r/bicycling. The incumbent in this race is the Planet Bike Blinky Superflash. Everyone has this light (myself included). Not only is it the light most people own, it’s also the most-loved – 20% of respondents said it was their favorite. In terms of what people wish they had or are considering buying, the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo, Portland Design Works’ Radbot 1000 and Danger Zone, and the Niterider Cherrybomb were all high on the list. Many people expressed an interest in DiNotte’s lights, but unfortunately we were unable to acquire one for this review and the company declined to loan a light for the review.
I’m sure you’re all dying to know which light is the best, but first, let’s take a look at the contenders.
This review is so good it comes with a table of contents, check it out here.
Tags: awesome, bike review, lights
Posted in Bike Business, Commuting, reviews | 6 Comments »
One of the secret perks of starting a blog about cycling is that every once in a while you get free to stuff to review.
A couple weeks ago I got my hands on a Clean Bottle.
The Clean Bottle’s claim to originality (because lets face it we all have a million water bottles) is it’s unique second “lid” on the bottom. This allows for super easy cleaning out of all that nasty goop that seems to form in the bottom of your water bottle (especially if like me you never clean your water bottles ).
I was a little skeptical when I got the bottle. I mean really does anyone need another water bottle, even one with a fancy removable bottom? So I determined to give it a good testing, I threw it in my bag (with and without liquid in it), tossed it in the bottle cage, drank from it at my desk, drank from it while riding, tossed it on the ground, etc.
I was pleasantly surprised by its rugged nature, and was also pleased that it didn’t seem to have any trouble with leaking. The mouth bit is nice and rubbery so you can open it with your teeth while riding without chipping a tooth. The top seals well so there is no dripping when you drink from the bottle (something I hate about cheap water bottles). The bottom part provides a nice seal on the bottle even when you squeeze the life out of to get that last drop of water out. And yes its a breeze to clean.
The only thing I found wrong with this bottle is that it might be a little too solid for some. I think they had to make the body plastic a little tougher than a normal water bottle so that the threading of the bottom cap would provide a watertight seal, this means you have to squeeze it a little harder to get the water to come out.
I also found that just sucking on the mouth part didn’t get enough water out because my mouth wasn’t able to get enough suction to bend the tougher plastic. Both of these are very minor issues, that got better as the plastic got a little worked in from me using the bottle.
Overall I would recommend this product. Especially if you regularly drink non-water (Gatorade, Cytomax, etc) in your water bottle, as these tend to cause the most nasty to form.
Tags: clean bottle, review
Posted in reviews | 2 Comments »
I nearly had to perform rescue breathing on Greg from Geekhouse the other day, but luckily for all of us he is immune to cars, and bounced instead of splatted. Lovely Bicycle has a wonderful blog post up about her recent visit to the shop.
Today I had the pleasure of visiting Geekhouse Bikes in Allston, Mass. A region of greater Boston that’s just across the river from Cambridge, Allston is notorious for how dangerous it is to cycle there and I was fully prepared for a journey fraught with peril. Instead, I found myself pedaling along a bike lane followed by a series of quiet streets – at the end of which was Geekhouse, nestled picturesquely between a white picket fence and a rusty chainlink fence, amidst rows of family homes with tidy back yards offset by a sinister-looking warehouse in the distance.
Tags: geekhouse, lovely bicycle
Posted in Bike Business, reviews | 2 Comments »
From time to time I get sent books to take a look at, I guess running a bike blog has some small perks. Usually they are pretty formal stuff, weight training, repairs, stuff like that. Once in a while however you get a real gem.
The Spring Classics, Cycling Greatest One Day Races is a fantastic coffee table book full of amazing pictures of time of yore. With todays heavy focus on a few big flashy races, and tours we sometimes forget that cycling has a long history of one day “classics.” Sure a lot of die hard cycling fans love the start of classic season, but your average biker has never heard of most of these races.
And races they were, this book is resplendent with amazing black and white photos of old time bike racers showing their all. Through snow, over cobbles, in the wind, rain, you name it these guys just kept pushing (and none of them had helmets either). This book is a treat for anyone who likes cycling, or old pictures of cycling, or both.
Seeing a couple guys from the 20’s pushing fixed gears through a blizzard, or seeing Eddie Merckx DESTROY people in the way only he could while his face looks like someone just punched him in it, gives you a real sense of the heroics of cycling.
It was a real joy watching some of the old school races (which look like a lot of alley cats I have ridden), and to see that even back then they understood that if you want to win you have to suffer. Seeing people covered in muck riding the Paris Roubaix, or even some of the colorful pictures from modern times, really makes you want to go ride your bike a couple hundred miles over cobble stones in a blizzard…really. This is a great gift for the cycling enthusiast in your home.
Tags: book review, coffee table, pictures, spring classics
Posted in reviews | No Comments »
Lately I have been seeing a lot of the following. Some guys (almost always men) who think they have found the “new thing” get together and start selling electric bikes to people. They don’t actually ride bikes, they don’t even like bikes, they just thought “hey this bike thing is getting popular, you know what would make us a crap load of money, electric bikes!” I am guessing they are thinking that fat/lazy Americans will be more lured towards riding something that moves without much effort. So they contract with some shitty bicycle maker in China, who takes a sub par 40 pound POS mountain bike frame that you can buy at Walmart for $150 and straps an additional 30-40 pounds of batteries and electronics to it, and sells it as the next best thing (for thousands of dollar.)
There are so many things wrong with this business model. One, because the bicycle is so heavy you NEED to have an electric assist on the damn thing or you wont be going up anything higher than a mole hill. Two Americans are not fat/lazy, they just have never been shown how awesome it is to ride a bicycle. Selling them a super heavy, poorly designed, crapcycle isn’t going to inspire a lifetime of cycling.
Oh and did I mention the price…for the “privilege” of carrying around all those heavy batteries, and riding that shitty mountain bike, you get to pay WAY more than you would had you purchased a high end custom bike. I mean why spend $1000 on a very decent road bike, when you can drop $4500 on a super shitty mountain bike with electric assist. I am honestly flabbergasted that anyone would pay what most retailers are asking for electric bicycles.
You might say, “But doesn’t this help the environment?” You might argue, “they will be on a bike and not in a car, so umm that’s good right?” No. The batteries are filled with highly toxic materials, the manufacturing process is highly toxic, and the shipping of heavy batteries from china incurs a lot of emissions. Basically take all the environmental impact of creating a bicycle, then strap the environmental impact of a bunch of toxic batteries on top of that. This is a trade off I might be willing to make, if these electric bicycles were better (in any way) than a normal bicycle.
In every way these electric bicycles are inferior to a regular bike. They weigh too much, they have short ranges, take energy to recharge, and are so poorly designed that most people will find them falling apart soon after they purchase them. In short these are gimmick products destined to end up in a land fill, or sit unused in a basement.
People will quickly realize that the power in their own legs is far better than any battery on the market. Even if you are riding a heavy city bike you will be better off because after 20 miles on a heavy city bike your bicycle doesn’t suddenly lose functions because the battery died, a heavy city bike doesn’t have a bunch of electronics that can get ruined either.
To be fair, I can think of a couple people who would do well with an electric cycle. Anyone with mobility problems would welcome the freedom that a little electric boost might give, if they can deal with the high price tag, and poor performance, and massive weight. Most people however don’t have mobility problems.
Many people have never ridden a bicycle, and think that its going to be super hard, and that they would do better with a nice battery assist. They are ignorant of the ease and enjoyment of riding a normal old pedal with your legs bicycle. They don’t need any sort of electric assist, but are told that it will open up a world of excitement for them. Ride for miles with out moving your legs! Go up hills without breaking a sweat! At 60+ pounds the only excitement you are going to have with most electric bicycles is the excitement of hearing your spine creak as you try to hoist it up the steps to your house.
Electric bicycles are in my opinion not ready for prime time. They cost too much, are poor quality, are worse for the environment than a normal bicycle, weigh too much, and don’t have the range. Perhaps in the future when batteries magically get light, and electric motors get tiny, and the whole thing gets cheap, and they figure out a way to make it without using toxic materials, then we will be ready for e-bikes. Until then, get on your bike, and move your feet.
Tags: e-bikes, electric bikes, scam, suck
Posted in bostonbiker, reviews | 43 Comments »
In his latest book “Come & Gone” Joe Parkin (author of Dog In A Hat) tells the tale of a blue-collar bike racer in America.
This book picks up where his last left off, Parkin is back in America after failing to do much in Europe. He tries his hand at American racing but fails to really break through. He eventually moves to mountain bike racing, and well… I wont ruin the ending for you. Parkin has a unique diary like style. He tells events in a “this happened, then this, then this” style, that could easily become boring, but doesn’t.
Its almost like you are a rider inside his head, and he is going to share all sorts of intimate details with you about his racing. You feel his legs getting tired, and you feel his elation at the victories, and his frustration with each loss. And lose he does, a lot. It is kind of hard to read as over and over (and over) again he tries so hard to win races and over and over again he looses. In a way this book teaches you that only one person can win a race, and most of the time, that person isn’t you. But again if you love your sport, and you are trying your hardest you don’t always need massive success to be happy.
Come & Gone is an insightful and enjoyable window into the world of early 90’s American cycling. Plus the pictures of people in mullets in the middle of the book are priceless! This book was fairly enjoyable, and does offer a true perspective into what it is like for the non-super stars of cycling. Give it a try, you wont be sorry.
Tags: book review, come and gone, joe parkin
Posted in reviews | No Comments »
After looking around a bit, I discovered that Boston Biker is a metal worker and makes splendid bicycle headbadges.
What I like about Boston Biker’s work is that it is artisanal: every badge is hand made, which I think is a good match for the “expressionist woodcut” style logo I have chosen. In the course of making arrangements with him to create my headbadge we also discussed the process itself, and I paraphrase it here in case others are curious how this works.
At some point I am going to put up some of my creations in the shop, but until then, if you are interested in a head badge, contact me. I also do other assorted bike jewelry/stuff with metal.
Tags: art, aww shucks, headbadge, lovely bicycle
Posted in fun, Merch, reviews | No Comments »