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Product reviews. Probably bike related, but maybe not…

Reviews

On the Cheap: Nitto Randoneer…..Randonur….RANDO BARS!

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One of the few complaints I have about the Raleigh One Way I inherited is that the stock bars are 1) way too narrow 2) are somehow shaped too much and too little like track bars at the same time. Raleigh somehow managed to create the world’s least comfortable road bar on the market. After a couple of years riding the bike stock, I found that the only comfortable position on those bars were found when I rode no handed. But, I suffered because I liked the way Raleigh built the bike to look like a classic, and I wanted to preserve the aesthetics.

Then I took a spin on an actual classic touring bike that was built in the same decade that I was born in (I won’t say which decade, but let’s just say that it was post hippie pre-yuppie). The bars on the old bike had these weird looking humps and flares instead of traditional flat bar tops. My brain told me these were just some useless old technology that has since gone the way of friction shifters, cotter pinned cranks and unsealed hubs.

Once I placed my grubby hands atop the foam covered weirdo bars, I was convinced that not everything from the ’70’s was total crap. In fact, I was now convinced that the ’70’s were THE absolute end-all-be-all shit. In fact, I’m listening to Barry Gibb and his brothers as I type this article from the back seat of an orange Pinto.  According to the Gibb clan I should be dancin’.

But gangsters don’t dance, we boogie.

The design basics of the Nitto Randonneur bars harken back to the days when Tour riders swigged wine from bota bags and rode fixed gears. The tops of the bars feature a small flat area that sweeps up before sweeping down and out into a pair of generous drops, all of which somehow create perfectly comfortable hand positions no matter where your hands are placed. Case in point, I’ve never been able to comfortably ride in the drops of any bars on any bike I’ve ever owned for more than a few minutes. But I can ride for hours at a time in the drops of the Nitto Rando bars. Added bonus, the flared drops of the bars offer generous amounts of leverage for when you want to emulate your favorite Tour doper and climb or sprint from the drops. Nitto’s trademark quality produces a handlebar that is stiff and strong (I unfortunately put the bike down on the Nitto’s maiden voyage, so I can confidently say that these things are tough) for years of comfort for your Palmela Handersons.

At around $50 a set, the Nitto Rando bars are a wallet friendly upgrade for anyone who wants to be comfortable on long rides…or short rides. They’d probably work well for medium distance rides, too.

Just don’t feed them after midnight.

Gear, Reviews

Ryders Eyewear made a deal with the devil.

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I’m usually not a fan of photochromic lenses. Don’t know what photochromic technology is? Well, in theory it’s awesome- the lenses darken with the increase of light- allowing for use in a wider range of light conditions. Great huh? In reality you can end up looking like, well… a crappy photo of Adam Levine taken from the Internet. 

  
That said- I’m a man of function. I wear sweatpants at work. I sometimes wear socks and flip-flops (to be fair- this is mainly out of laziness, or to disgust my better half- but I have been known to do it.) When Ryders Eyewear reached out asking if I’d be interested in trying out their new line of glasses that sported hydrophobic, anti-fog & photochromic technologies- I had no qualms with volunteering. 
As a cyclist and commercial fisherman with eyes that are light sensitive, I often find my eyewear subpar. Typically the biggest issue comes from the fogging of the lens. Living in Alaska and Seattle before that, I am all too familiar with humid environments- and when doing anything athletic my glasses fog up. When riding, the issue is when I stop on the trail or at a light. When I get going again the lenses usually clear, but not always. When fishing- I’ve got rubber rain gear on head to toe, hood up and can be busting my ass in this sweatsuit for hours on end. I literally clean and coat my lenses with FogX every hour when seining. Why not skip the shades when fishing you ask? Well- When a 15 pound jelly fish falls from the block onto your head- it’s 10ft tentacles draping across your face- eye protection will save your sight. If you’ve never had jellyfish in the eye- don’t try it. It may make you cry. You may become disoriented. You will not be comfortable and you may lose your ability to focus on the task at hand which is namely- to fish. 

  
3 pairs arrived, all with microfiber bags and zippered cases. I received the Caliber, and two pairs of the Thorns.
I’ve been wearing them quite a bit since I received them- swapping out the pairs under different conditions and mood. I think my excitement for them has sold about half a dozen pairs to friends that have similar issues with optics.
So here’s the four F’s:

Function: These glasses have been on point. The anti-fog coating has proven very effective. I wore them on a 14hr slog through muskeg and tidal sloughs- sweating like a pig, and they fogged up only once. I feel confident that any other pair of glasses would have been thrown in the pack within the first hour because I wouldn’t have been able to keep the lenses clear. I think I’m an extreme case when it comes to sweating- so most of y’all will be just fine.
The lenses aren’t really dark to start. The Thorn has a yellow, the Caliber a brown- both good for low light conditions. They enhance vision in low light and darken enough when the sun is out to help. On full sun days a darker lens would be nice, but for much of the riding around here, especially in and out of the trees and cover- I find it better to err on the side of a lighter lens. If you’ve ever ridden from an open meadow into a brushed in trail- it can be difficult for the eyes to adjust. 
I haven’t been able to really see a dramatic difference in the hydophopic fronts of the lens. In a light mist, water will get on the lens, and when I run them under the faucet along with a pair of my other glasses I don’t see much of a difference.

  
Fit: The Thorns are a bit snug for my cranium. If they were pants for the head- the Caliber would be more for the plus sized noggin- the Thorn for the hipster dome. Head shape will make a difference, but the Thorn temples pinch a little bit just above the ear. The temples extend higher and beyond the ear a little bit- which can contact a ball cap if I’m wearing one, sometimes dislodging the glasses. The Calibers are more comfortable in my opinion- the temples sliding comfortably over the ears. On the other hand, I prefer the nose pads on the Thorn. 

Fashion: Here I’ll remind you that I wear sweat pants and socks with my flip-flops. Of the three pairs, I prefer the black Thorns with the yellow lenses. The style looks like they’ve been designed by people that ride mountain bikes. They’ll go well with a pickup truck and your downhill bike hanging off the tailgate. Though the white Thorns feel better in low light (maybe something with the orange rim that brightens up the view,) I feel like they could come with a discount code for a wake board or a dinner date with Guy Fieri.

 The Caliber is semi-frameless which I’m not a huge fan of but they are comfortable.  The lack of a lower frame leaves a little more room for air flow, which helps fog avoidance. To some- they won’t buy the glasses because it won’t match their fixed gear. That’s fine. They can stick to their Oakleys.

  
Final Thoughts: The price point for the glasses I tested was $140. The question that I ask myself whenever I test a product is: “Is it worth it?” My answer?

Yes.

As far as any pair of performance eyewear I’ve used, these Ryders glasses have been my favorite. Hands down. Optically, they are clear. They are lightweight. The yellow and brown tints are useful in low lighting and the color change darkens well enough for partly cloudy days. They darken and lighten in a reasonable amount of time. Whatever black magic is used to keep the fog at bay- I’m for it. 
Though the style doesn’t suit me to a tee- it’s something I’m happy to overlook because of the other features. 

All that- and I’m giving a pair away. Yep. Over on the Instagram page. All you have to do is:

  • Follow @GOMEANSGO and @RYDERSEYEWEAR on Instagram.
  • Like the Ryders Eyewear Giveaway post.
  • Tag a friend that would be jealous if you won. 

That’s it. Winner announced 6/10. I’ll also dig around and put together a few more goodies for the lucky winner. 

So get on your bikes and ride.

Accessories, Bicycle, Gear, Reviews, Uncategorized

Fear of the Dark: Serfas TSL-1800 Trail Light Review

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If you have a day job like most people do, chances are, your only time to ride during the work week is either during the morning before dragging your ass to the office, or after work when you’re free from the evil talons of corporate America.

In either case, a good set of trail lights are in order to make sure you make it out of the woods alive. They’re also a good addition to the road bike if you ride in rural areas with little or no artificial light.

On top of being a cheap ass, I also have terrible night vision. I’m the guy who gets up to piss in the middle of the night and ends up busting his head open on the door frame–true story.

So, when shopping for trail lights, I spent hours scouring the interwebs, innerwebs, outerwebs and spider webs reading reviews on sub-$200 light sets.

After changing my mind approximately 235,000 times, I settled on the Serfas TSL-1800, which happened to be on clearance at my semi-local bike superstore BikeTiresDirect.com for half-price.

Total out the door price: $160.

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Bicycle, Bike Parts, Reviews, Seattle

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

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.

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Bicycle, Gear, Reviews

Critical equipment: Boot dryers

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Commuting, Reviews, Washington

On the Cheap Reviews Pt. 1–Use Protek, son!

 

 

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(Disclaimer: The lawyers told me to inform the readers that this is not a sponsored product endorsement. I am not sponsored by any brand, manufacturer or other type of equipment company. I buy all of the gear, products and parts I review with my own monies. My reviews and opinions are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GoMeansGo or any other sane people who may be reading this.)

To piggyback on Ryan’s recent article, Tire Repair 101, sometimes you have to say “uncle” and give into buying new tires.

Tires are probably the most expensive consumable in cycling…right behind massive quantities of micro-brewed IPA’s.

Historically, the cycling masses have been indoctrinated  into thinking they need ultra thin, ultra skinny, ultra light racing tires on their road bikes, regardless of their riding style or environment. After all, we’re all aspiring to win the next Tour, despite the facts that we’re pushin’ 40 and just commuting to our soulless desk jobs at big corporations.

Right?

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Gear, Reviews

Review: GU Energy supplements

One requirement of survival is food. Another is water. When cycling or doing anything physical, you need to make sure that you’re hydrated and you’re consuming calories to give you energy- to stay doing awesome stuff. A balanced meal? Sure. But who’s got time for that?

If I’m going to go on a ride, chances are I’m not going to take the time to pack a home cooked meal for the road. I’ll grab snacks and throw them in my pack and roll out. GU ENERGY has made it easy for you in making smart little energy boosts in an easy to carry package. For my overnight century ride across the Copper I threw in a handful of stuff that Spencer over at GU sent over. I haven’t used energy gels much, but they’ve come in handy just before a cross races so I figured what the heck, seems as good a time as any… I threw out a few of the wrappers, but started saving them to refresh my memory on their taste.

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GU ENERGY GELS: Box of 24 gel packets – $31.50 These little gels are easy to eat, and don’t feel like a lump in the throat as you may expect. They’re super easy to pack and give over 20g of carbs, as well as potassium, sodium, and other stuff that you need to keep the engine running.

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter.  It tasted like Chocolate AND peanut butter. Go figure. It didn’t taste chalky at all, and
  • Salted Caramel. This one was actually pretty damn good. The salty sweet was quite good.
  • New Flavor! I don’t think it really helped me out that it just exclaimed “New flavor” without giving any warning as to what was held within. It was salty, but fruity- I can only imagine that it’s their “salted watermelon” flavor that is now announced. I wasn’t a fan on my ride, but like I say- if I was expecting it maybe I’d think higher of it.
  • Caramel Machiatto. A little too sweet for me. The coffee flavor was good- it reminded me of those sweet coffee candies that my grandma used to have during the holidays.

 

 

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GU BREW. 24 single serve stick packs – $32.40

When you sweat, you need to replenish your electrolytes. Some light carbs, why not- you need them to keep going. I know that myself at least- I don’t hydrate as much as I should to maximize my energy levels and bounce back I exert myself. In my hydration pack I like to have plain water and it’s nice to have a water bottle with one of these little guys adding a little more oomph.

  • Lemon Lime. A decent blend of tart and sweet. I found it was important to let it sit a while to make sure they fully dissolve.
  • Blueberry Pomegranate. It sounds great- and doesn’t taste horrible, but often times with powdered drinks as in this case- just calling it Purple Drank might be better. I just couldn’t get the blueberry pomegranate complete taste.

I also tried the Raspberry Chomps, Box of 16 packets – $31.75. I think I would prefer to carry the gels to the Chomps- they had a tendency to stick to my teeth.

Eating packaged food like this of course isn’t suggested for every meal. It is helpful though to have things like this around for rides, races or just to carry in your pack if you decide on an impromptu jaunt into the woods. Great to have in a safety pack in your truck in case you get a flat tire somewhere far off too.

Not attending Interlake this year, it was nice of GU to send these along to I could give ’em a go. Thanks again guys.

 

Clothing, Gear, Reviews

Chrome WARM vest


Fall is here and I got my first insulating layer in the mail the other day to test out.  The Chrome Warm™ Vest is a new product, with a long sleeve Work Shirt available as well. Meant as a stand alone piece as well as for layering, here in Alaska I’ll likely be using it as an under layer.

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A ripstop nylon shell with diamond quilting gives the appearance of a classic vest.  It’s filled with poly insulation, so it’ll keep you warm if you do get wet by rain, beer, fire hydrant, swimming or running through a sprinkler.

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Bicycle, Gear, Reviews

First Look: 1up USA- Double Bicycle Quik Rack

1up USA, nice rack.

I’ve been saying that every time I see the thing on the back of the truck.  After the love faded for my Thule Apex rack (which happened rather quickly,) I was on the lookout for a better option to carry bikes- especially these new beasts that have been welcomed into the family, with 4 and 5 inch tires, respectively.  I came across 1up USA and reached out to them.  We set up some product for review and SHAZAM! We’ve got a slick new system to carry 2 of our bikes handily.

Some highlights on the Double Quik Rack

  • Made in the USofA!
  • Built heavier duty- using a 2″ reciever.
  • Has add-ons available to carry up to 4 bikes
  • Anti-theft hitch lock that tightens to eliminate vibration and bouncing (better for offroad use)
  • Rated for bikes up to 75lbs each
  • A work of art

It came (nearly) fully assembled, and was a breeze to put on the truck.  I promptly put my Fatback up and was super impressed with how easily it was secured.  That with 4.8″ tires and 82mm rims.

So there you have it.  I’ll be putting this through the paces for a while- stay tuned for a proper review and the long term test.  I’m really impressed so far- it looks like this is going to be a great rack for this climate and the bumpy roads that rural Alaska has to offer.

1up USA 2″ Double Bicycle Quik Rack- 48lbs- 38″ x 14″ x 10″ folded – Retail $559

Accessories, Gear, Reviews

Review: ABUS Granit X-Plus U 54 Mini

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The ABUS Granit X-Plus U 54 Mini (quite a mouthful isn’t it?) has been my daily use lock for the last three months since ABUS sent it over for review. When it originally arrived it looked a little more like this: First Glance. I used it for about a week, and while it did its job well (my bike was secure), the bulky plastic cover over the main body of the lock was bothering me. It made the lock unnecessarily bulky and in my opinion looked tacky.

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Here is how I removed the plastic cover: unlock the body of the lock from the shackle and remove the key. Take a flat head screwdriver starting at the small tabs on either end of the plastic body, and carefully pry the silver and black plastic pieces apart, starting at one end and working to the other. I was able to separate the black and silver plastic pieces without damaging them so they could be reinstalled if I so chose. Underneath I found the bare metal body of the lock, which had a nice clean appearance and resulted in a more compact lock. To be specific the body of the lock measured 170mm x 50mm with the plastic cover and 155mm x 36mm with just the bare metal. Continue Reading