On the Cheap Reviews Pt.2.–Rock Out With Your Rock Hawk Out

Written by Neal Poland on . Posted in Bicycle, Bike Parts, Reviews, Seattle No Comments

As a lover of all things two wheeled and pedal powered (a bike-sexual if you will), I’ve been spending more and more time in the dirt than on the road.

Since mountain bikes and mountain bike parts have become increasingly more technologically advanced and expensive over the years, it pays to do your research and get the right parts the first time.

One of the, if not the (IMHO), most important parts on your MTB is a set of tires. After all, tires do a lot of work keeping you upright and shredding when the going gets gnar. With the ever changing trail conditions of the Pacific NW, it’s best to have a few sets of tires laying around the studio apartment for mud, rocks, dry trail, blue groove, snow, and sandy conditions.

Oh, and one set for night racing on Wednesdays.

But, if you’re on a small budget, all those tires add up. Then you can’t pay rent and you’re living in your Subaru.

Even a single set of high end tires can set you back a few hundred smackers.

Continue Reading ...

Critical equipment: Boot dryers

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Gear, Reviews 2 Comments

There are many places in the world that have no need for them but where I call home, boot dryers are critical for comfort and arguably- safety. A child of the Northwest- I wasn’t fully prepared for the amount of precipitation that I would be living with in Cordova. With over 148 inches of rainfall each year- if you go outside much you’re going to get wet.

The importance of quality outdoor gear is paramount when living in the rainforest. Even then, more preparation is crucial. Our average temperature range throughout the year is a 38° low and a 48º high: prime temperature range for hypothermia. It can be difficult to ensure that you end your ride with dry gear, but you can be prepared and least start with dry feet and hands.

Drying shoes can be done a number of ways. The lowest tech of which involves just leaving them sit in a warm, dry place. This doesn’t necessarily work well if you have to head back out in a couple hours, even the next day. Loosely stuffing the shoes with newspaper does help absorb the water, speeding up the process a bit. Though I’m sure some have done it- I would not suggest putting your shoes in the oven or dryer. Because they aren’t shrinky dinks, they shouldn’t be in the oven as the plastic and rubber could melt. Also- if you have fancy shoes with real leather, the higher temp isn’t good for them. You’ll end up baking them, which can cause cracking. I’ve dried my sneakers in the dryer and that works fine, but cycling shoe soles are much harder, and if you run clipless- you’ve got a metal chunk in there potentially messing things up.

So be a grown up- get a boot dryer. I’ve had one of mine for nearly 15 years and it still works wonderfully.

We have two different model dryers in our house and I’ll compare them here:

FullSizeRenderOriginal Peet Dryer MSRP $49.99

This was my first dryer. The tubes are long enough to fit rubber boots, and you can get extensions that will allow waders. There is no fan, so it relies on science. Through convection, the warm air rises and pushes moisture out of the opening of the boot. Super mellow heat, it’s safe for all your shoes- and effective. Also check out their other models- some with multiple drying tubes and for drying things like your water bladder, which can get pretty gross.

It’s made in the USA and will last a long time. It comes with a 25year warranty. With no moving parts and a lower cost- if you are looking for something that will just work- this is your best bet.

This dryer doesn’t have a switch- if it’s plugged in it’s on. Not a huge deal as it only uses 36W and is totally silent.

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading ...

AK Codepak- hard sided framebags for your bike

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Alaska, Bicycle, fat bike, Gear No Comments

There are a few items that seem to be standard purchases for those that buy fatbikes.

  • Flat pedals- if you ride in snow much- clipless pedals have a tendency to get ice in tight spots so the pedals won’t engage. A good set of flats prevents this- as well as enabling you to wear warm boots.
  • Pogies- you’ve seen them. The oven mitts that people put over their grips to keep their booger pickers warm. I hate the look of them and thankfully don’t live in an area that they’re necessary. Not saying that I won’t use them ever- I just don’t need to in Cordova. I wear my kit (spandex) when I’m racing cross- not when I’m riding my cruiser to the grocery store- know what I’m saying?
  • Framebags- frame bags of some sort are used to carry stuff in the void that is your main triangle. Long used by bikepackers and the swiss military and anybody else that saw all that space as wasted- there is a new option out there- made right here in Alaska.

AK CODEPAK

codepak

 

Is manufacturing hard sided frame bags made for your fatbike. Using either aluminum or carbon, you can get one built specifically

Continue Reading ...

Mountain House needs a feedbag accessory.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Alaska, Bicycle, Bike Camping, Gear 2 Comments

The wife and I went on an overnight trip out to Sheridan Glacier the other day and this time I was going to do the cooking.

This meant that I had to do a little preparation. What should I make? My wife eats food like someone that actually cares what it tastes like. I couldn’t mess it up, or she may not want to go bike camping with me again. Thankfully, I had reached out to Mountain House a while back and they were kind enough to send over some samples. In my backpacking, touring and vagabonding over the last 20+ years it occurred to me that I had never eaten a prepared, freeze dried meal. I’ve eaten instant hummus, rice, oatmeal, MRE’s and various other snacks- but never a freeze-dried meal in a bag. I thought I may wait and use them for a trip I have planned for the spring but there’s not time like the present, especially when a critic with such a refined pallet was to be there to share.

DSCN0842

First of all- since I had the meal plan on lock, it took an element of stress off the trip to be sure. There is something to be said for only having to add water to a meal. You don’t even need to bring salt. I left my cook pot behind in favor of my lightweight Optimus kettle. We brought the pizza that was made the night before for lunch, and though I brought more calories than needed, what the hell- we were going to eat well. And of course there was the possibility that the meals would be gross. Thankfully they weren’t.

Continue Reading ...

Is 29+ the next fat?

Written by Ryan on . Posted in 29+, Bicycle, fat bike, Gear No Comments

Those that have ridden a fatbike know how much fun it is. The ability to float over soft surfaces is amazing when cruising on a 5″ tire. They make a bicycle more “omni-terra” than was previously possible. That said- riding around on a 5″ tire and a 100mm rim can make one feel a little sluggish when riding in hardback conditions. When I’m riding on my fatbike I’ve got 2 speeds: Slow and steady. And that’s fine. But sometimes I want to go… faster.

The beauty of the float has another side, rolling resistance and added weight. Enter the world of 29+.

What is 29+? Though there isn’t a standard (because the bike industry hates standards) for our purpose here I’ll say it’s a 29″ rim with a width of 45mm and wider, and running a 29×3″ tire. There are frames built around this platform (Surly Krampus and others.) I’m going to venture to say that the 29+ market is one that will be expanding at a fast rate. Many frames (not sure about asymmetrical frames) that will allow for a 5″ tire will fit a 29+ tire- giving you more cushion and float as well as speed and a reduced rolling resistance. I think they’ll be great for adventure touring and though you need a different wheelset, it damn near gives you a different bike.

Switching wheelsets can change the geometry, specifically the bottom bracket height of the bike- which some builders have tried to counteract with adjustable dropouts. I think it’s a fair trade off for most of us, myself included.

As I started looking into build a 29+ wheelset for my fatty, I had to look at a few things:

  • Width. As an emerging category- “wide” is being redefined. Though you’ll see some offerings at 35mm wide (which I’m sure is awesome,) I don’t think anything less than a 45mm rim should be considered a “29+.”
  • Weight. As a rider over 220lbs, I err on the side of durability- especially if you’re going to be headed off the beaten path, but that isn’t a reason to bring an anchor with you.
  • Price. I’m not a rich guy. Sometimes I can get a pro-deal or industry pricing on stuff which is great. But this blog doesn’t generate any revenue to speak of and I got bills to pay, so there. In fact- one of the reasons that I can argue to get another wheelset comes from the need for studded tires. With 45Nrth Dillingers costing an upwards of $225 each, and a 29″ set of studs running half that- I can put that $200+ I “saved” towards a new wheelset.  That’s how that works, right?

In all that, I put together the lists below to help those that may be in the market for a 29+ wheelset for their fat bike.

29+ Rims Updated 1/17/15

BrandModelWidthWeightHole PatternPrice per rim
Stan's No TubesHugo5252mm622g32h$145
SurlyRabbit Hole 2950mm699g32h$150
VelocityDually45mm675g32h$134
SchlickNorthpaw47mm645g32h$129
Kris Holm29" Freeride unicycle rim47mm840g36h$95
DerbyAll-Mountain Carbon35mm485g32h$329
NextieJungle Fox Carbon50mm510g28-36h$230
NextieSnow Fox Carbon50mm500g28-36h$220
Light Bicycle29er plus Carbon50mm490g16-36h$210
SarmaNaran Carbon50mm550g32h$600
Nox CompositesFarlow 29 Carbon35mm430g24/28, 32h$479
Ibis941 Carbon41mm488g32hsold only as wheelset

29+ Tires Updated 1/17/15

BrandModelCasingWeightPrice
SurlyDirt Wizard27tpi wire beadTBD$90.00
SurlyDirt Wizard120tpiTBD$90.00
SurlyKnard27tpi1240g$65.00
SurlyKnard120tpi980g$90.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty72tpi wire bead1025g$100.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty72tpi folding bead950g$110.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty120tpi folding bead920g$120.00
BontragerChupacabra120tpi Aramid bead850g$119.99
MaxxisChronicle60tpi1040g$79.00
MaxxisChronicle120tpi folding bead1050g$96.00

So when I get these things built up, I’ll fill you in on which direction I went. Until then I’ll be rolling around on my 4.8″ Lous on 80mm rims, slow and steady- like old people fucking.

Continue Reading ...

Humpday news.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Gear No Comments

It’s been a busy week and it’s far too wet to plow. First- you should listen to this song by Orion. He’s been called the best bartender of Anchorage for a couple years, likes whiskey and sings songs. Songs that make me want to drink whiskey. He also rides bikes. I won’t show pictures of his bikes because the only bikes of his I’ve seen are beautiful tragedies. But here’s his music:

In other news- do you race bikes and want to race for a handmade builder?
unnamed

Get some information about the Rouge Roubaix HERE

Or how bout a bike ride with some really great people- eat some amazing food and chill harder than the day is long? They do a tour in my hometown of Oakridge, OR- truly great place. The spots are few, so get after it.

limberlost

More info about Limberlost HERE

And if you’ve got a drop bar bike that you’re looking to run Shimano 10speed without brifters on, then check out the new ish from Gevenalle Gravel Shifters. They look amazing- because that’s what Gevenalle does well: Amazing.

gevenalle

 

Also- shout out to Minnesota, just because.

Continue Reading ...

Review: DeLorme inReach Explorer

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Accessories, Bicycle, Gear, Travel 2 Comments

It doesn’t take long to go off the grid here in Alaska. You can be a couple miles from your house, in the shadow of the mountains- and out of cell range.

Last year I purchased a DeLorme inReach Explorer- for my own safety as well as the piece of mind of my loved ones. Put simply, the inReach is a 2-way satellite text messaging unit. The inReach Explorer model offers mapping (though no maps,) whereas the inReach SE does not. There are other options out there, such as those offered by SPOT- but I chose the DeLorme because you can actually have a 2-way conversation. Whether on the boat or in the woods, I’m often out of cell range and the ability to keep in touch with my lady puts her mind (more) at ease. The SPOT can send out preset messages, but that can be limiting if you want to let people know you’re somewhere in between “OK” and “SOS.”

IMG_0699

With the DeLorme- it can be synced via bluetooth and you can email or text from your phone easily, accessing all of your contacts. When you send a message, your Lat/Lon is given as well as speed, elevation etc. For those that are interested, you can update to Twitter or Facebook as well. There is a 160 character limit on sent messages.

This past fall I made my trip across the Copper River- a place that can feel as desolate as the planet Mars. At about mile 32, cell phone coverage stops. Traveling alone in wild Alaska is exhilarating, exciting and potentially dangerous. With the inReach, I was able to keep my lady, as well as Elmer (the guy with a plane that could come save my ass if need be) apprised of my location, what my intentions were, and Elmer kept me updated as to what the weather was going to do on the ever changing Copper River Delta.

When I head out- I track my route, and then when I come home and sync with the online DeLorme site, it brings my track into a map that is far better than Google Earth- at least for the locations I’m traveling in.

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 7.51.05 AM

This is the zoomed out route I took on a raft/bike trip to Sheridan. (The one on the right is a bike/raft loop I did to McKinley Lake)

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 7.52.00 AM

Zoomed in, the detail gets considerably better than what I’ve seen on Google Maps.

After the MSRP of $379 for the inReach Explorer, you pay for service. You can elect to go with the $25 annual “Freedom Plan” and shut it off when you’re not using it, or sign up for a 12-month contract which starts at $12 a month- and keep the safety plan on (I use the “Expedition” plan in the summer and the “Safety” plan in the winter.) I won’t focus on the monthly charges, they are a bit confusing on the DeLorme site, but they do make a little more sense when you get your bill.

As a stand-alone unit, there are four buttons and a lock switch used for the SOS feature. Simple- though if you are trying to text, it can be time consuming. There is predictive text, which helps- but it’s really hard to beat using the phone (iPhone or Android compatible.)

The DeLorme Explorer boasts a long list of features including:

  • Digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer
  • Odometer and displays useful trip statistics while in the field, such as trip time, max speed, moving average, trip distance
  • Color screen and virtual keyboard with predictive text for standalone two-way messaging
  • GPS accuracy to +/- 5 meters
  • Water rating: IP67 (withstands incidental water exposure; tested for submersion at one meter for 30 minutes).
  • Rugged, dustproof and impact-resistant (Mil-STD-810G for shock; IP67 for dust).
  • Internal lithium polymer battery (2,450 mAh capacity at 3.7 V)
  • SOS messages are received by GEOS, a worldwide emergency response coordination center with 24/7/365 staffing
  • Email, SOS and tracking functions work anywhere in the world; SMS availability may vary by country.
  • 100% global coverage via the Iridium satellite network, which is the world’s furthest-reaching satellite communications network.
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces

It’s advertised that the unit has a battery life of up to 100hrs on 10minute tracking- I haven’t tested the full time, but from the 36hrs that I used mine on my trip across the Copper River, with texting and using other features, the math didn’t quite add up that it would last that long.  After 36hrs I was down to 45% battery life, and that was shutting it off over night.

Though DeLorme claims that the unit has a water rating of IP67 (withstands incidental water exposure; tested for submersion at one meter for 30 minutes,) when I was riding, and the sun came out- the whole screen fogged up- presumably from water that got inside. It didn’t affect the functions and eventually went away- but I have to question the water rating- having not dunked it underwater at all.

One thing that bums me out about the unit is there is no map feature. You can plug in waypoints and routes, but they are just on a white screen. A topo map would be pretty handy- bridge the gap between the communication and a separate GPS unit. You have to go home and plug back into the computer to see what the terrain was.

Side note: I also purchased the DeLorme Topo North America map set but was disappointed to learn that it isn’t Mac compatible, and it doesn’t do a damn thing with the InReach. It was a waste of money in my opinion.

If you find yourself going off the beaten path and out of cell range- this unit is a great investment. I’d be curious about ways to charge it (they seem to work with Goal Zero on some power options) or else a dynamo hub (which costs an arm and a leg.) It seems costly, but it is more dependable than a cell phone and it may just save your ass. So go do something awesome.

Continue Reading ...

Review: 1UPUSA Quik Rack

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, fat bike, Gear, Travel 1 Comment

Last winter, after a disappointing run with my Thule hitch mounted rack, I reached out to 1UPUSA to see what they had to offer. I was out to test a rack that would work with a wide selection of bikes. From a 25c road bike to a 5” tire fat bike, I was looking for one rack to rule them all. Well it’s been about a year and the rack has lived on the truck since day one- through rain, sleet, snow, sand and the salt air of my seaside fishing village.

Enter the Double Bicycle Quik Rack.

IMG_6119

Continue Reading ...

Cadence Denim.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Gear No Comments

Last week I gave away a Cadence hoody that has seen some wear, though had lots of life left in it. Yesterday I was sent an email with a video attached, showing a little of what Dustin has been up to. I’m glad that he’s making stuff in the US, and though the fit won’t likely be right for us Clydesdales, you skinny fuckers should love these.

Cadence Denim from cadence studios on Vimeo.

They are raw denim, so expect some break in (they do have 2% lycra which is great for cycling pants)- but after that, the double seat should maintain their “strong as shit” characteristic, because of some stitching that I didn’t understand after watching the video twice.

Personally, I’ve never worn raw denim. Dustin says they are pants for people that live in them and they will take the shape of the person. Maybe I can get a pair of these and a raw denim shirt and build a denim person that will go to work for me.

Cadence Raw Denim (18 of 21)

These here pants retail for $110. Not outrageous when you consider made in the US raw denim. Like lots of pants sewn by cycling companies, I’d suggest trying them on if you can find a shop that carries them. Or just roll the dice and buy them here.

Continue Reading ...