Browsed by
Author: greghxc

Photos: A Walk in the Park

Photos: A Walk in the Park

IMG_5431

No one will ever confuse me for a competitive cyclist, and any time someone talks about an upcoming cyclocross race, I can only think of Clubber Lang’s pre-fight interview from Rocky III:

But there is something incredible about watching riders push themselves beyond their limits, often with nothing more than pride or their own expectations on the line. This past Sunday, I got up early (my own little sacrifice, it’s ok to be in awe) to head out to MFG Cyclocross’s Woodland Park GP to capture riders facing the course, their peers and themselves. These are some of the results.

IMG_5569

IMG_5371

(Lots more after the break…)
More photos after the break…

Chrome: New Kicks & New Store

Chrome: New Kicks & New Store

IMG_2913
A few weeks ago, we were invited to drop by Seattle’s new Chrome HUB at 1st and Seneca to check out the new space and get a peek at some new products. We hadn’t had the chance to drop by since the soft opening, and, with a suspicion we may also get a free beer or two out of it, we found ourselves on our way late one Friday afternoon.

Friend of Go Means Go, Billy, poses behind the bag bar because we bring you real human interest stories.
Friend of Go Means Go, Billy, poses behind the bag bar because we bring you real human interest stories.

Featured prominently at the front of the store is the custom bag bar, where you can choose to get your right or left handed bag custom assembled here in Seattle from a big stack of materials. The fee is small, and the turn around is less than a week.

The rack of materials would allow for some some seriously eye-melting combos if that's your thing.
The rack of materials would allow for some some seriously eye-melting combos if that’s your thing.

The bag bar also offers Chrome’s custom military salvage program, which is cooler than you might guess. Instead of reusing random surplus (which they’ve already done for some time), Chrome HUB locations allow military and police/fire veterans and their families to bring personal military duffels, fatigues, uniforms or fire jackets in to be used as the material for one of their bags.

Chrome was showing off some of their new shoes, up for release in the very near future.

You had me at camo.
You had me at camo.

Chrome’s new line of shoes (both lace-ups and slip-ons) are their first without an insert reinforcing the sole, making them less bike-specific but more comfortable off the bike. They are also the first to use repurposed boot making machinery for forged rubber soles, fusing the rubber directly to the upper and in theory making them harder to split. Which is awesome, but really if you put anything in camo, I’m already sold.

There are other colors, I’m not sure why:

This is not camo.
This is not camo.
This is also not camo.
This is also not camo.
Nice branding, but still no camo.
Nice branding, but still no camo.

I believe these are out this month, I’ll certainly be trying some one when I can.

Seattle’s new Chrome HUB is located at 1117 1st Ave where they are open every day.

Introducing Wraith Fabrications

Introducing Wraith Fabrications

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 4.17.15 PM
Checked my inbox this morning to find this sexy snap from Adam Eldridge’s new project Wraith Fabrications. Wraith is launching a line of hand-made, stock-sized frames made here in US. It looks like Adam is hoping to bring the philosophy used at Stanridge to a frame/fork combo with less of a price barrier.

Wraith is offering both a road and cross frame constructed from triple-butted Columbus Life (and a Zona backend on the CX) tubing. The frame/fork combos run $1090, and have a limited quantity available for pre-order with a $300 deposit. Frames set to ship next month. Check out the site for sizing and details.

Review: 200+ Miles with the Chrome Bravo Night

Review: 200+ Miles with the Chrome Bravo Night

bag-cross

From the start, I knewI was in danger of this being as much a review of riding with a backpack as it was the bag itself, but it’s unavoidable. I am a fan of the practicality and aesthetics of shoulder bags, and despite being interested in a dual-strap bag, I had yet to find one I cared for. Enter Chrome’s Bravo Night.

Billed as a commuter backpack, the bag consists of one large, welded/waterproof roll-top main compartment with a weather-proof large, flat outer compartment divided into two deep pockets, nearly the size of the bag (the outer has some organizer inserts, the inside without) and a smaller zipper pocket. Judging by the description, and the photo on the site of this guy happily stowing away his MacBook:

bravo_ls_3_2_5
(on second glance, maybe it’s not his)

…the intention is to use the unadorned of the two outside pockets for your laptop. In practice, I never use it for that. I find it a little tight even for my 13″ HP, and I’d just rather have it in the roll-top compartment that I trust to be waterproof (although even in downpours, I’ve still had no problems in the outer compartments).

The main compartment itself is bigger than it initially seems. Not only do I find myself being able to stuff more in than seems physically possible, if you do manage to fill it to the point where rolling is impossible, there is a built in nylon extension that folds out and Velcros shut to hold even more.

I was shocked at how much the bag could hold when you need it to. After one particularly overzealous grocery run, I found my bag maxed out to the limits of even the extension:

bag-full

When I arrived home, I figured I would document exactly how much stuff that was:

stuff in bag
(this is the proper ratio for a Red Bull and vodka)

As a means of comparison, I decided I’d take the contents and shove it into my Bagaboo – a full-sized custom messenger bag – and was surprised to see it nearly filled that as well.

mbag-full

While the Bagaboo carried the load more comfortably (the Chrome’s extension tends to impede looking up when wearing a helmet), it still got my goods home.

One other cool feature on this bag (and all the others in their “Night” series) is the 3M reflective panel on back. Visibility is an extremely important part of bicycle safety, but not all of us want to show up for a day-glo dinner date either. The 3M panel is undercover reflective. In indirect light, it just just looks like a black bag. When light hits, you get a face full of pure white reflection. Below is a demo using a crappy AA powered headlamp:

Pretty cool, right? And it’s small enough to bring into the bar or restaurant without taking out the other patrons around you.

Negatives? I found very few. I occasionally missed the accessibility of the shoulder bag, and I do wish it had a dedicated loop for a light. The compartments are so deep, I often found myself carry around more stuff than I intended to because I simply forgot what was buried at the bottom. Unpacking the full bag to find a wayward tire lever is annoying, but I appreciate the having the space instead of useless and unused organizers.

At $180, the Bravo Night is not a cheap bag (neither in cost nor quality), and one I think the average commuter might find themselves using on a daily basis for a long time. It’s comfort, collapsible size and downplayed looks make it bag I don’t mind carrying even when not on bike. In life past the 200 mile review mark, I do find myself going back to my shoulder bags sometimes, but overall it has won me over to commuting with two straps.

cats stuff(it looks like I’m not the only one)

Cycling Tweed Rally this Saturday

Cycling Tweed Rally this Saturday

better tweed

It’s not every day that you get an email from an actual haberdasher, but Ty over at Goorin wrote in to tell us their shop at 1st and Stewart will be hosting a Cycling Tweed Rally this Saturday at their shop on 1st and Stewart. After a couple emails of what I assume is genuine tweed-speak, I’m still not 100% on how they plan to include bikes, but Hub & Bespoke and Wrench Workshop are featured, as are adult libations. You might want to brush up on your British-ism’s as I expect making up your own is frowned upon. FB invite can be found here. Clip clop! Pollywog! Bally-who!

Review: The Abus U-Mini 40 U-Lock by Comparison

Review: The Abus U-Mini 40 U-Lock by Comparison

IMG_0510

For most of us, our locks are often overlooked. I give mine hardly any thought until the day I accidentally leave it home. That’s not to say I don’t have opinions about locks. Some are too garishly styled. Others have “sticky” keys. Still others have a shape or size I find too big or too small to work the way I’d like. But when it comes down to it, availability is generally what dictates what I ride with, despite using it every day.

When I sat down to review the new U-Mini 40 by Abus, I figured it was time to take a more critical (or at least more informed) look at the other locks I use as well. After a few weeks of riding with the Abus, I decided to compare it to the current versions of two other locks I’ve been using for years, Kyrponite’s Evolution Mini and OnGuard’s Bulldog Mini.

IMG_0500

Right off the bat, the Abus is a more intimidating lock. Both barrel and shackle look thicker, and it seems heavier in the hand as well. Because it is:

Abus OnGuard Kyrptonite
Width (A) 4 3/8″ 4 3/4″ 4 1/2″
Weight 2 lb, 4.3 oz 1 lb, 12.4 oz 1 lb, 14.9 oz
Shackle (B) 13.9 mm 12.8 mm 12.7 mm
Inside Length (C) 5 1/2″ 6 1/8″ 5 3/8″
Indside Width (D) 3 1/8″ 3 9/16″ 3 5/16″


lock-measure

The lock mechanism itself is smooth. After a week or so of riding with it, I realized the only time I was doing the “key-jiggle” I was so used to with my other locks was when I inadvertently used the wrong key. With the right key in hand, using the lock feels like a step up from the others.

The barrel locks to both posts of the shackle, which means it does not employ the “hook” end on on side like the Kyrptonite does:

IMG_0506

I’m okay with this. The hook end can give you leverage in a tight spot, but also forces you to put the barrel in one direction (which can be a pain when the keyhole is off center like it is on the Kryptonite).

Overall, the Abus seems to fill a niche between these u-locks and the beefier Pitbull (OnGuard) and New York (Kryptonite) series locks, and the price reflects that at $60. If you’re looking for a little extra peace of mind or just a more “premium” feeling lock, this could be the place to find it.

TdW Registration Now Open!

TdW Registration Now Open!

tdw-reg

The Tour de Watertower uses a staggered start, with one racer leaving every two minutes. If you’d like to get your start assigned ahead of time, you can pre-register here. You will receive your assigned time within 24 hours. If you do NOT pre-register, that’s fine, too. Just show up before we start releasing racers so we can assign your time before we’re occupied getting riders out the gate on time.

Tour de Watertower 2013 Pre-Registration