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RoadAir Mini-Pump Review

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 26

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.

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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.

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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.


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Product Review: Clean Bottle

Written by Boston Biker on Mar 17

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.


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Book Review: A Dog In A Hat

Written by Boston Biker on Nov 07

a dog in a hat

I have to admit I am much more into urban cycling than bike racing. However after I read A Dog In A Hat, the new book by Joe Parkin, I found myself much more interested in the crazy world of European Cycling.

Written almost as a series of diary entries, Parkin takes us through the wild, hard working, and often crazy world of European cycling in the 90’s. Told from the perspective of a transplanted American in Belgium, Parkin reveals that cycling is not what it might seem to you and me on the TV. Drugs, shady deals, grueling training, and brutal conditions all make for an entertaining story.

The book is written in such a way that you feel a part of the drama, and while Parkin is not Lance Armstrong, and doesn’t win every race (or really hardly any races at all), he is a strong competitor and you find yourself rooting for him. I especially enjoyed the tales of crazy drugged out competitors, wild inside deals so that the home town boy could win a certain race, and the eloquent descriptions of just how much suffering it takes to be a good racer.

If you are looking for a book that can really get you into European cycling, or if you just want to read an entertaining tale of racing, drugs, and an American in a strange land, pick up this book.

Don’t be surprised however when you get to the end and feel a little let down. Parkin never really breaks through and doesn’t ever really get the “Big Win.” It is a tale of love for the sport, and of a talented man who does his best. It is however written in a a fast and entertaining style. You feel the excitement, and you will enjoy the well realized descriptions of the land scape, the race, the crashes, and the pure joy in knowing that you did good enough to continue to compete in the toughest racing circuit in the world. Parkin does a great job of bringing the reading into his world, you won’t be sorry.


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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Neighborhood Slow Streets: Construction, New Zones Updates September 14, 2017
      Tweetfrom the email: CITY OF BOSTON Vision Zero Update NEIGHBORHOOD SLOW STREETS Our first two Neighborhood Slow Streets projects are heading into construction, and we’re getting ready to begin community walks with each of the five communities that were selected … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Hubway Is Expanding In Boston Voice Your Input On New Station Locations September 13, 2017
      TweetHubway is getting bigger and even better! The Boston Transportation Department is adding more than 70 new stations over the next two years. The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) needs your help finding new locations in Boston for bike share stations! Starting this … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Squirrel Head Badge Installed August 30, 2017
      One of my customers sent this awesome picture of my squirrel head badge installed on a bicycle. I think it looks awesome! Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Your Hard Work Paid Off! August 23, 2017
      Tweetfrom the email: ————–   We emailed, we called, we showed up – and we won! Due to the tremendous support for protected bicycle lanes over the past 3 weeks–in emails, calls, and in-person testimonies–on Monday, August 7, the City Council … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Defend Protected Bike Lanes In Cambridge From Being Removed! August 6, 2017
      Tweetfrom the email:   This Monday, August 7th, the Cambridge City Council will vote on a policy order which could put a moratorium on all new “pop-up” protected bike lanes. Earlier this month, Cambridge installed a new 2-way protected bike lane on … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • 8th Annual World Naked Bike Ride July 21, 2017
      TweetStarting location: 45 Danforth Street, Jamaica Plain, MA – 6PM Saturday! Final details for World Naked Bike Ride BOSTON! Pass it on! We've a pre-party location and will release that info 24 hrs prior to the ride. pic.twitter.com/dx15bKNZIh — WNBR Boston (@WNBRBoston) … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • 2017 Midnight Bike Ride – Saturday August 12th July 21, 2017
      TweetBoston by bike… at night. Saturday, August 12, 2017, Midnight ’til dawn Twenty ninth annual tour of architectural and historic sites. Meet at 11:15 pm in front of Trinity Church in Copley Square Bring a bicycle with a light and wear something reflective.  … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Action Alert: Send Thank Yous For Brattle St And Mass Ave Popups July 21, 2017
      TweetFrom the email: Safe protected bike lanes for all ages and abilities are here on sections of Mass Ave and Brattle St. We’re so excited about the latest two segments of what needs to be a network of protected bike … Continue reading →
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    • Bikes Not Bombs Update July 21, 2017
      TweetFrom The Email: We’re Hiring! We’re hiring! Please help us spread the word about our openings. Development Manager – Works to increase the organization’s visibility and cultivates, stewards and expands the relationships between Bikes Not Bombs and its donors at all … Continue reading →
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    • Commonwheels Partners with Scouts to Help Homeless June 19, 2017
      This time we have guest authors from Girl Scout Troop 75006 who we partnered with this spring: This year, we really wanted to do something that would help our wider community. After looking into some issues we care about, we learned that there is a se... Continue reading →
      commonwheels