iPhone Phridays – iBattz Mojo Refuel Aquaseal case

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Editor’s note: Smartphones are a great tool for cycling that can track your ride, navigate you to a destination, or even call for a rescue. iPhone Phridays is a roundup of some of the most interesting or useful iPhone cases we’ve been testing over the last few weeks.


Ever since I ruined one phone’s screen by putting it in my pocket while riding I have been using a waterproof iPhone case, since it protects the phone not only from drops, but from splashes and sweat. I was especially intrigued by the iPhone 5/5s iBattz case ($120) because it is not only waterproof, but has an extra battery pack to extend your run time.

That battery is 2,200 mAh, effectively doubling the size of the stock battery power. With my iPhone I get most of a day of normal use out of one charge, and maybe half a day of heavy use (this is the iPhone 5 with the lousy battery). With the iBattz case I can get multiple days of normal use and at least a full day of heavy use.

Read the full review.

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Roundup: Three pairs of women’s riding pants from Giro, Club Ride and Ibex

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Though it may come as a surprise to some, women do ride bikes. We’ve all heard that number is growing (Hooray!). They also, sometimes, wear pants. As a lady in the bicycle industry I’m frequently asked by other ladies I know, who ride either occasionally or everyday, where are the women’s specific cycling pants? Pants that don’t look like a riding kit or have a chamois? Does such a thing exist?

Yes it does.

Here are three pairs of women’s pants that I’ve been using on and off the bike this spring that I think are pretty awesome.

See them here.

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Introducing Salsa’s new Blackbarow adventure fat bike

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When the Salsa Mukluk first burst onto the scene in 2011, it was designed for backcountry exploration moreso than actual mountain biking. Well in the past few years things have changed quite a bit, and as fat bikes have become more specialized, tires have gotten bigger, and customers’ desires have changed, the bikes have had to evolve quickly.

See what makes the Blackbarow unique here.

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First ride: Salsa’s full-suspension fat bike, the Bucksaw

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We had seen it coming. There were spy shots and rumors tossed around about a full-suspension fat bike. In fact, the Bucksaw isn’t even the first one—several smaller brands have built bikes that qualified as “full-suspension”, but this one is different. This is a major brand making a big commitment to a new product segment, and bringing an advanced suspension design with it. Mike Riemer, Salsa’s Marketing Manager, said that Dave Weagle, the creator of the Bucksaw’s Split Pivot suspension, told him it was the most complex project he had ever worked on.

One thing is for sure, this is not a “stealthy” bike. From the big tires to the candy-colored paint, the Bucksaw is breaking a new trail in mountain biking. But how does it ride?

Click here to find out.

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Review: Swiss Side Gotthard wheelset

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Swiss Side, started by a Formula 1 engineer and an award-winning sports equipment designer, produces only handbuilt wheels for road bikes, and nothing else. Their products already sound astronomically expensive—but they’re not. Founders Jean-Paul Ballard and George cant deliberately structured the company to be lean and mean to avoid overhead. (It also helps that the wheels are handbuilt in Taiwan, not Switzerland.)

The Gotthard wheelset is intended for rougher roads or heavier riders. The name, as it turns out, is not slightly offensive, but is in fact an homage to the Gotthard Pass in Switzerland, a twisty and treacherous pass that is one of the highest paved roads in Europe. This isn’t exactly a touring or rough-road wheelset, but is certainly more durable than typical racy road sets, and quite light to boot, at 1,465g for the pair.

Read the full review here.

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First ride on the Lapierre Overvolt FS900 Bosch-powered e-bike

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If you don’t think e-bikes are a real mover in the bicycle marketplace? Look no further than the entry of Bosch in the marketplace to prove that some big brands are willing to invest serious resources in the growing market. For 2015 it has paired up with a few key brands to bring e-bikes with Bosch motors and control units—already a huge hit in Europe—to U.S. dealerships. Look for bikes from Haibike, Felt, and Lapierre, including this Overvolt FS900.

Read the full story

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First Ride: New GT Grade gravel/road/adventure bike

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Photos by the author and Dane Cronin, courtesy of GT Bicycles.

Let’s face it, the vast majority of us are never going to need the kind of elite-level performance that modern race bikes are designed for. We want other things, like bigger tires, maybe some fender mounts, and a slightly more comfortable ride for our real-world behinds. GT is jumping into the fray with a new model aimed at the core the recreational road bike market with the new Grade.

The frame is built around GT’s famous Triple Triangle design, with carefully shaped tubing to create a compliant ride. There’s also room for tires from 23c to 35c knobbies and fender eyelets front and rear. Featuring carbon and aluminum options with complete bikes starting at just $799, there is likely to be an build spec for everyone.

Get all the details here.

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First Impression: Trek Domane Classics Edition and 6.9 Disc

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Twice this year, an unsolicited bike box from Trek arrived at our West Coast editorial office. The first was the 2014 Domane Classics Edition, a Wisconsin-made carbon road bike stoked to the gills with (almost) all the latest gear to set a racing cyclist’s heart aflutter: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting, aggressive-positioning carbon frame, fork, and deep-section wide rims with the popular 700x25c tires. What sets it apart from the Domane 4.5 we reviewed is the smaller, more aerodynamic head tube, 1cm longer wheelbase and top tube.

All that’s missing on the Classics Edition are tubular tires, an SRM power meter, a gargantuan set of lungs and slow-twitch muscles, and it’s the exact duplicate of Trek Factory Team superstar Fabian Cancellara.

The second was the 2015 Domane 6.9 Disc, a similar design platform on paper, with a taller head tube (by more than 3cm), shorter top tube but similar wheelbase to accommodate much larger tires (up to 32s), and disc brakes with thru axles front (15mm) and rear (142×12), like a mountain bike. It also has the full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting drivetrain, but with a more amateur-friendly 50/34 compact crankset and 11-28 tooth, 11-speed cassette for most terrain.

Why disc brakes on a high-zoot road bike? To move beyond the century-old caliper rim brakes and provide more slowing and stopping power for tired hands over the long haul in all conditions, it appears, and to shake up the staid and slow-evolving road bike market to reflect what most non racers want from a high-end machine.
Read our first impressions here.

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First Impression: Pivot Vault gravel/cyclocross

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I’ve been a drop-bar, off-roading rider for a couple decades, so the whole ‘gravel’ category is a little late-coming and a bit cliché for me. Who wouldn’t want to ride a properly-specced and comfortable performance bike anywhere and everywhere? Isn’t that the point of adventure seeking?

What’s new for me and others is the marriage of drop bars and disc brakes, which makes perfect sense for many reasons, including better speed control and less hand fatigue. I’m more comfortable on drop bars, and make use of all the hand positions afforded by the extra real estate, so having better control at the levers gives me more confidence. The Pivot Vault caught my eye as a modern carbon all-rounder to stack up against my 24-plus years of off-road riding experience, and it offers several interesting features.

Read the full story

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Inside Line: Lazer Genesis SMART helmet with heart rate monitor

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Not everyone wants or needs to monitor their heart rate while bicycling, but for some it’s an important health and fitness gauge. In my case, after two false alarms for anxiety or stress-induced heart issues in less than three years, I’ve turned to heart rate monitoring for safety’s sake as well, but have been turned off by the dreaded chest strap.

So imagine my interest when a helmet-based heart rate monitoring system appeared. I’ve worn Lazer helmets for five years, and the Belgian company’s partnership with LifeBEAM, comprised of pilots, engineers and cyclists, began to make sense.

Learn more here.

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