Flat tires happen to everyone, usually at the most inopportune times. But you don’t need to fret, since it’s much easier than you might think to fix it yourself. We’ve put together this simple guide to fixing your own flat tire, specifically by patching a tube.Tweet Print
As a student of the world and a practitioner of The Manual Life it’s about making time to do things that you love and the things that need to be done, and allowing that process to take as long as it needs to, whether you’re changing a tire, making a drawing, or fixing a toilet.
As a kid, I painstakingly recreated surf, skate and punk rock band logos in pen, marker and paint. Capturing every nuance, I transcribed them onto backpacks, skate decks, t-shirts, book covers and hand-made patches.
The thought then was “I could just make that” and so I did, spending hours getting things to look right (at least in my mind). The time it took was secondary to the want of making it correct (and cool, if I’m honest).
Somewhere along the line, probably in college, I started trading accuracy for efficiency and began trying to get things done in the shortest amount of time possible. While my teachers loved me for getting things in early, it started a trend of taking the easy “A” at the cost of growth and self-discovery.
Now, I argue with myself that, because I now have kids and a job, and a dog that needs to be walked and a hundred other things that can be seen as time bandits, that I have to do things fast just to get them done, but that’s B.S.Tweet Print
The new Bend H-bar from Jeff Jones builds on a legacy of creative tinkering started over a decade ago by the man himself. The idea behind the new $85 Bend H-bar was to create a svelte version of his signature Loop H-bar without. Less material means less places to mount things like GPS, lights, bell and other gadgets, but, like Swedish design, sometimes cutting things down to their essence makes for a better product.Tweet Print
For me, the hitch mounted tray rack is what you graduate to after toying around with other, lesser types of bike carriers. The Holdup 2 from Yakima is an excellent example of what a bike carrier can and should be.
The Holdup comes in two variations for receivers of either 1.25-inch or 2-inches. Yakima supplies you with a hitch bolt and lock for said bolt. The bolt screws into a receiver inside the rack itself and tightens, eliminating side-to-side sway.
For an extra $285, you can get an extension (the Hold Up +2) complete with extra trays and wheel locks for two additional bikes. Making your potential carrying capacity 4 bikes, though not without paying for it.Tweet Print
So maybe riding around in the winter doesn’t appeal to you, or you find yourself with a limited amount of time each day to ride or you want to put in some focused training to gear up for a big ride in addition to an outdoor training regimen. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that getting on the trainer is a good idea. I can sympathize.
Here I’ve outlined some things that help me get on the trainer, maybe they’ll help you too.Tweet Print
When the folks at Fairdale put together the Flyer, they were thinking of people who ride their bikes occasionally, and casually at that. The intention was to create a bike you can pick up and ride with little fuss, little maintenance, and be happy about the experience. This bike is just as comfortable cruising the strand as it is rolling over rail-road ballast and everything in between.
Company founder (and BMX freestyle pro) Taj Mihelich says, “the whole point of Fairdale is to try and get people to find their love of cycling… I spent a lifetime on bikes and I want to create bikes that help other people experience some of that. It’s sometimes counter-intuitive to put a casual rider on a singlespeed bike. However, inexperienced riders are often confused by derailleurs and their required maintenance. Having a bike that they can keep going is a huge key to keeping them riding.”Tweet Print
By Stephen Haynes
When the folks at Fairdale put together the Flyer they were thinking of people who ride their bikes occasionally, and casually at that. The intention was to create a bike you can pick up and ride with little fuss, little maintenance, and be happy about the experience. This bike is just as comfortable cruising the strand as it is rolling over railroad ballast and everything in between.
Company founder Taj Mihelich (and BMX freestyle pro) says, “the whole point of Fairdale is to try and get people to find their love of cycling…I spent a lifetime on bikes and I want to create bikes that help other people experience some of that. It’s sometimes counter-intuitive to put a casual rider on a singlespeed bike. However, inexperienced riders are often confused by derailleurs and their required maintenance. Having a bike that they can keep going is a huge key to keeping them riding.”Tweet Print
By Stephen Haynes
In my first month or so on the Swobo Otis, I’ve come to enjoy this bike’s understated aesthetics and ride. This aluminum bike has a lot of functionality and a compliment of modern conveniences at a price ($800) that makes it easy to love.
Smaller, 26-inch wheels make for quick acceleration and nimble handling in traffic or on crowded mix-use trails. A Shimano Nexus 3-Speed hub provides enough range to get up and go from a standstill and stay at a respectable cadence before spinning out.
Rear rack mounts have come in handy and have made the Otis an easy choice for mid-week grocery getting. While I haven’t yet had two fully loaded panniers on the back, the bike hasn’t lost any zeal or handling ability with small loads.
The Otis gets up and over most hills in my neighborhood really easily. I could say something about wider bars, or more gears, but I think that would be silly. This bike provides enough of a low gear to be more than capable in most uphill situations, even with a case of beer tied to the back.
A simple, silver paint job and lack of flashy graphics will appeal to those who wish to remain incognito while out and about, yet will inspire the sticker whores of the world to go berserk. Look closely at the Otis though, and the Swobo branded items become clear, tastefully gracing a few select parts.
I’m enjoying my time on the Swobo Otis and I look forward to the rest of my review period. Check out the full review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times.
By Stephen Haynes
There are very few cycling goods out there that live up to the perceived reputation inherent in the name given to them. The Wolvhammer winter boots from 45NRTH are a fine example of performance actually meeting perceptions.
“We started from the conceptual standpoint of making a mountaineering boot work for cycling, rather than taking a cycling shoe and trying to make it warmer” says Daivd Gabrys, brand manager at 45NRTH, a rather new brand that specializes in cold-weather cycling products. It is this focus that makes the Wolvhammer boots stand out from the competition.
The inner boot is lined with 45NRTH’s Monster Fur, a super soft and warm layer that makes me think of some masochistic plush doll hugging my feet. The inner boot is laced up with a cinch closure that can be tightened up with gloves on. No need to tie laces. The Aerogel Jaztronaut insoles are noteworthy as well for their suppleness and resistance to the cold coming up through the bottom of your foot. These insoles can be purchased separately for $50.
Getting my feet into the inner boot has been the biggest chore for me. There is a little pull tag to gives you a little purchase while cramming, but it always seems to be a bit of a struggle. I hardly consider it anywhere near a deal-breaker though, more like the price of admission, and a pittance at that.
Once you’ve got your feet secure in the inner boot, the three-part (Cordura, Sympatex, and fleece), water-resistant outer zips up with a water-resistant zipper that is locked down with a Velcro strip. A Velcro ankle strap also secures the upper of this mid-calf boot.
A nice mudguard on the heel, over the toe and surrounding the lower foot, keeps the really nasty splashback at bay. These things even have a gaiter hook should you need extra protection.
An SPD-compatible Vibram sole rounds out the bottom of the boot and reiterates the fact that “robust” doesn’t seem adequate it when talking about these things. On the dozen or so rides in the Wolvhammers they’ve not yet disappointed; keeping my feet both warm and comfy (and this from a guy who generally has cold feet issues). I can confidently say that they are, without a doubt, the most comfortable riding shoes I currently own as well.
The Wolvhammer’s are stiff yet responsive while pedaling. What I mean is, they interact well with the pedal as far as stiffness is concerned and seem to spring board you out of each pedal stroke. Plus, they’re oh-so-squishy comfortable. The one setback I’ve had while wearing them is walking in them. Despite looking at the construction from a mountaineering boot point of view, they hike more like a cycling shoe. Which is ok because, well, they’re cycling boots!
I look forward to many more rides with the Wolvhammers. I only hope that our winter here in Pennsylvania gets a bit more winter-ish to give me the opportunity.
By Stephen Haynes
P.R.O. Series Transfer Thermal
Zip Neck LS Base
- MSRP: $80
- Country of Origin China
- Lifetime warranty
The Pearl Izumi Transfer Zip Neck LS Base is part of the brands’ multi-tiered system of baselayers and outerwear. Athletes can choose from three levels (Select, Elite and P.R.O) to fit their personal needs. The levels range in both price and form starting from the lower tier Select, moving to the upper tier P.R.O., while maintaining the intended purpose of each item (i.e. a waterproof P.R.O. jacket is also waterproof in the Select line)
The P.R.O. Series Transfer is at the upper end of technology and warmth. Constructed with P.R.O. Transfer fabric that incorporates volcanic matter known as Minerale to aid in the transfer of heat and moisture. Volcanic matter is very porous and thus aids in the materials breathability and is claimed to be up to two times more breathable than Gore materials.
The XL fit me snugly around the chest and forearms and the material, though breathable, isn’t super stretchy so check the measurements online before you buy. Thermal fleece lined, this long sleeve base layer was almost too warm for me. Personally, I would reserve this piece for the very coldest days or perhaps as a standalone piece. An 8in zipper on the front of the piece is mandatory due to the non stretchiness of the material.
Elite Thermafleece Tight
- MSRP: $135
- Country of Origin China
- Lifetime warranty
The Elite series Thermafleece Tights make you feel invulnerable to the cold. I used to get the same feeling when I’d climb into my wetsuit as a kid before surfing on cold “Dawn Patrol” sessions. Slightly heavier front/rear quad and knee panels keep your pistons insulated and an 8in zipper makes them easy to put on or take off. A silicone strip on the ankle keep the lowers in place. Riding in the Thermafleece tight was great; strategic panels over the quads and knees made for great articulation through each pedal stroke. I paired these with the Elite Barrier WxB Pant for and incredibly warm combination down into the teens and would sever you well even colder I’m sure. A simple drawstring waist keeps thing secure up top and the Elite 3D Chamois is as good as any of my riding shorts. Reflective IP logos and strips on the calves round out a very well equipped pair of tights.
Elite Barrier WxB Jacket
- MSRP: $300
- Country of Origin Vietnam
- Lifetime warranty
The Elite Barrier WxB Jacket is a water resistant, cycling specific soft shell designed to ward off the worst of what Mother Nature can throw at you. The fabric itself is made of three layers. Two layers of stretchy material that PI calls “titanium thermo-regulating technology” sandwich a third middle layer that has been treated with polyurethane to make it waterproof. In the 2012/13 version of the Elite Barrier Jacket, PI will employ the same volcanic Minerale material used in the Thermal Base layer in place of their titanium thermo-regulating technology. This will allow for greater breathability.
Taped seams further ward off moisture and are employed on the full zip front and the jackets two pockets as well. Speaking of pockets, there is one larger-ish pocket on the back, good for energy bars, wallet, keys, bigger stuff. There is also a pocket on the left chest, big enough for an mp3 player and has a little cut out for internal headphone routing. While I like jackets with pocket on either side of the front, the storage capabilities found here are ample enough for just about any outing and are bike specific.
Overall the jacket fits well. A somewhat sporty cut is comfortable without being overly tight or overly flappy. The collar is a tad higher in the front for good coverage and has snaps in the back for a hood you can purchase separately. The back of the jacket extends lower than the front as do most cycling specific jackets, but the Elite Barrier has an auxiliary drop down that can be used for and extra 5in. worth of posterior coverage. The flap can be folded into the jacket and secured via Velcro when not needed.
The waist has a cinch chord and the wrists have a half elastic half Velcro closure that works really well. The first 6in. of wrist also have an extra interior sleeve of stretchy fabric that locks in heat around the wrists. I found this to be just a tad too much warmth personally and resulted in super sweaty wrists.
Reflective accents along the arms and back round out this very capable jacket. Look for a mountain bike specific design in the coming season, which utilizes the same high-tech features and may sweeten the deal for those willing to cough up the coin for this well made jacket.
Elite Barrier WxB Pant
- MSRP: $250
- Country of Origin Vietnam
- Lifetime warranty
The Elite Barrier WxB pant utilizes the same semi-stretchy “titanium thermo-regulating” material as does the Elite Barrier jacket, giving them water resistance and breathability. The semi form-fitting cut of the pants is great in that they are performance oriented, but are loose enough that modest folks needn’t blush.
Fully taped seams keep water from sneaking in and an 8in zippered ankle makes getting in and out of them easy, even with shoes on. On the interior portion of the ankle there are abrasion patches that help keep contact with moving parts from being destructive.
A bonus feature is that these pants have zip off lowers, allowing you to covert them to shorts should your ride heat up unexpectedly. The waist has elastic around the back and elastic belt-like tabs on either side that allow you to tighten up as needed.
These pants are super comfy and versatile whether it’s cold outside or if the forecast calls for rain.
Elite Barrier MTB Shoe Covers
Country of Origin: China
The 3mm, neoprene, fleece-lined Elite Barrier MTB shoe covers were a welcome edition to my cold weather kit. I can generally keep my body warm but my extremities always suffer when the thermostat takes a dive. Being that I don’t yet own a pair of cold weather riding boots, shoe covers seemed like a good interim step.
My size Large fit over my size 9.5 shoes well. The Kevlar bottom has enough give to squeeze your foot into place and is hearty enough to withstand continued abuse. Your shoes are held securely in place by way of a toe closure and a band across the arch of your foot. This is enough to keep things tight while allowing you to use your preferred clipless setup. Reflective accents along the sides and back of the covers make them versatile on road as well.
A 7”x 3.5”in. Velcro closure on the back secures the cover in place and while it seemed like it would be a pain to operate at first, is actually quite easy. The whole process of jamming your foot in, shifting as needed for desired fit and closing up the back takes about 30 seconds per foot, totally worth it in my opinion.