Review: Jones Bikes Bend H-bar

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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.

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Review: Kelty Ignite DriDown sleeping bag

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When you’re camping out in winter, your sleeping bag is one item you do not want to skimp on. The Ignite Dridown 0 bag makes use of Kelty‘s new DriDown coated down, which helps retains the fluffy features’ loft and warmth. While I certainly didn’t sleep out directly under the rain, I did get it plenty moist on some rainy nights to be convinced that DriDown works. Another bonus: if you’re on an extended journey, it also dries more quickly, which is essential when you have limited opportunities to dry your gear.

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Review: Sierra Designs Super Stratus jacket

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There’s no denying the superior warmth of natural goose down, but it doesn’t exactly play nice with moisture. A synthetic insulation handles perspiration and precipitation, but doesn’t compress as easily and doesn’t offer the warmth to weight. Enter DriDown, a down treatment process that treats the fibers with a hydrophobic polymer at the molecular level to repel moisture. It stays drier, retains loft better and dries faster than untreated down.

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Review: Lupine Piko 4 Light

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As LED lights continue to pack more lumens in smaller packages, the line between lights for road riding and for mountain biking gets more blurred. Case in point is this diminutive powerhouse from Lupine, the Piko 4. Its 1,200 lumens are plenty to see by when traveling down a dark trail, but its small size and setting options make it a versatile choice for street use.

The Piko’s German-made high quality and precision are evident right away. They’d better be, for $335. The machined aluminum light head is finished with shot-peening and hard anodizing to toughen the surface. The LEDs, lens and circuitry are similarly top-notch.

The Piko comes packaged ready for helmet use; while it mounted to my helmet easily enough, 1,200 lumens is a lot to shine in drivers’ eyes. (For trail use, however, helmet mounting would be great.) So I opted to procure an optional quick-release handlebar mount ($40), which scores points for being the most svelte I’ve used, just 4mm wide, while also being solid as a rock. The process of switching from helmet to handlebar is quite fiddly, though, involving tiny screws and O-rings.

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Like other Lupine headlights, the settings offered by the Piko’s switch can be programmed from a multitude of choices. The beam has a brighter spot in the center transitioning smoothly to a wide halo. Runtime is at least as much as claimed (two to 58 hours, from 1,200 to 50 lumens)—one charge was good for a full week of evening commutes on the 470-lumen setting with occasional boosts up to 1200. The switch has blue and red LEDs to indicate how much juice is left, and there’s a reserve mode available after the low-battery warning blinks.

Lupine is like the BMW of lights, with a high level of design and construction, and a price to match. But it’s a great choice for those who use and abuse their lights, especially if you’d like one light to go from road to trail and back.

 

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Review: Dahon Formula S18

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This bike isn’t like most folding bikes. On first glance, it looks similar to the standard 20-inch-wheeled folder seen on the streets and public transportation in every city. Closer inspection reveals some standout features: disc brakes, high-end Schwalbe road tires, and an 18-speed drivetrain with gearing suited to spirited riding.

The ease with which the Formula folds—a trait of the highest importance—reflects well on Dahon’s three decades of folder manufacturing experience. Within a few attempts I had the Formula folded up in under a minute. A small magnetic clasp keeps the bike closed when carrying it, and when closed, it supports itself upright. High marks all around, particularly for the simple and sturdy metal folding pedals.

Dahon designed the Formula for riders “with tougher commutes that demand speed, portability and endurance.” Claiming to fit riders from 4-foot-8 to 6-foot-4, the handlebar and seat height adjust easily with quick-release levers. I found the handlebar height adjustment particularly useful—slide it up for comfort and a heads-up position for short trips, drop it down for more speed and leverage on longer rides. The frame has mounting points for a rack and fenders, and Dahon sells versions of each designed specifically for 20-inch wheels.

Read the full review here.

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Review: Kitsbow apparel

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Kitsbow’s mantra is “Impeccable mountain bike wear for obsessives”. This is expensive sounding language, but it captures much about what makes Kitsbow stand out from the rest of the mountain bike apparel crowd while remaining tastefully understated.

There are no garish colors to be found in the Kitsbow catalog, mostly grays and blacks and blues, all finely tailored and sewn from expensive materials in British Columbia by folks with years of experience manufacturing high end outdoor garments. Kitsbow is headquartered in Larkspur, Calif., having been founded by two friends with background in mountain biking and clothing design.

Read more about some of the finest cyclewear you can buy.

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Review: Spank Spike pedals

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Flat pedals are something of a rare sight around the Bicycle Times office. From full-lycra to full-face mountain bike rides, chances are we’re clipping in.

All this cleat-lovin’ makes it even more interesting that when the Spike pedals from Spank showed up at the office there was a bit of a scrum to see who would get to ride them. With a massive platform and 10 adjustable pins per side, it was pretty clear they would be taking traction to a whole new level.

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