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.

Read our review.


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.

 


Review: Blackburn Flea 2.0 Lights and Solar Charger

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I tested and liked the original version of the Flea lights back in Bicycle Times issue #3. This diminutive light set has been updated with a new USB charging system, and Blackburn is also offering a solar charging option for space-age convenience.

Each light has four LEDs housed in a sturdy body. The front’s 40 lumens put it in the “be seen” category (rather than “to see”), and it has two steady modes plus a flash. The rear has two flash modes plus steady and is disco-bright. Both have fuel gauge LEDs in the on/off buttons. Run times were at least as good as advertised—one hour on high for the front and six hours on steady for the rear.

Read the full review here.


Review: Trek Mountain Train 206 trailer

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Trek refers to the Mountain Train 206 as a “pedal trailer,” and that may be one of the more apt descriptions for this type of kid-hauling device I’ve heard. Whatever you call them, these attachments are great equalizers, allowing young kids to keep up with adults while still contributing to forward propulsion.

The Mountain Train 206 gets it name from the wheel size (20 inches) and the gearing (six speeds). The beefy steel frame has multiple mounting points for the handlebar stem and an extra-long seatpost, allowing a lot of adjustability. I was able to fit kids from age four to almost nine comfortably.

Read our full review.


Review: JetBlack Z1 fluid trainer

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This is the time of the year where I fully embrace the duality of my interests. These are the months that I, somewhat less passively now, spend profuse amounts of time in sloth-like 1080p absorption. If I didn’t have a canine friend who forces me outside during the cold, dirty, wet season Pittsburgh calls a winter, my gaming would go on until I shame myself into physical activity.

But by the time you read this I will have remembered what is fun about riding a bike. Those thoughts get me off the couch and on a trainer. It’s a love hate thing. I hate every second of riding a stationary trainer. Unfortunately, a lot of us can’t (or simply choose not to) ride outside all year. But I love being fit enough to enjoy every ride. Especially early season outings.

So here I am during another off-season; waking up early a couple days a week to ride a bike in-doors. Fluid stationary trainers and I have a history. JetBlack’s Z1 is the latest succubus.

Read my review.


Review: Biologic Joule Dynamo Hub and Trelock Lights

Lighting is a crucial element for bicycle safety. While there are plenty of battery-powered lights on the market, they only last for so long before the batteries need to be replaced or recharged—plus you have to remember to bring the light with you! Dynamo hubs offer endless electricity, powered by your pedals. The only trade-off is that the small amount of rolling resistance you get while generating that electricity can be, well, a drag. A new hub from Biologic has a way to get around all that.

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Read our review of the hub and lights here.


Review: Yakima Holdup 2 rack

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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.

Read our full review here.


Review: Osprey Pixel Port backpack

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Raise your hand if you have a bag obsession. Me! Me! Backpacks are great for my shorter rides and I’ll take a two-strap pack over a briefcase for work any day.

The Port in the name refers to a clear window under the main flap, designed for accessing a tablet’s screen without removing it. This could be a great feature for folks who use public transit or need to find directions around town; either way, not having to take out your electronic device during a rushed time period is very cool. For me, the front window was useful for displaying my “to do” lists everyday. Open the bag and—BAM!—list of things I should have done yesterday.

Click here to read more.


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