There might be something to this Pannier thing…

The other day I finally rode my bike with a pannier. The one in question is the Banjo Brothers Market Pannier. I’ve had this bag for over 2 years and the extent that of its use was to grab groceries or to carry heavy objects like a case of beer and melons.

When I was planning my commute the night before, rather than packing my backpack full of stuff, I grabbed the Market Pannier instead. The following morning I mounted the pannier on the rear rack and off I went. I arrived at my office sweat-free (my back)! Typically when I ride, I’ll bring a back pack, but that always guarantees me a sweaty back and at times aching shoulders. Personally I never liked the whole pannier look, I’ve always thought it was kinda “old” looking.

But after my ride with the pannier, I may have to eat my words…

Oh, you rode your bike today!?!

When I show up to the office with my bike, I always get asked the following questions:

1. How far do you live

2. Is it hard?

3. Aren’t you scared?

4. How do you get cleaned up (if no shower is available)?

5. What kind of bike is that?

6. Do you bring your lunch?

I’m sure I could go on forever with all sorts of questions that people ask. But I’ll give you a run down on what I typically say when responding.

1. How far do you live
6 Miles!( I say that enthusiastically)

2. Is it hard?
Nah, I only have one big hill to ride up, but the fun part is going down!

3. Aren’t you scared that you might get hit by a car?
Not at all, as long as I’m paying attention to what’s going on around me, then I know I’ll be ok.

4. How do you get cleaned up (if no shower is available)?
I have a bag of toiletries with stuff that I use to freshen up. (this includes soap, wash cloth, cologne and deodorant)

5. What kind of bike is that?
(depends on which I ride) But I normally say its my “commuter bike.”

6. Do you bring your lunch?
Yes I did! I usually pack enough food for the day and the ride home.

What kind of questions do people ask you? Do you find that they are the same people asking the same questions?

Which is better? Craigslist or Ebay

I’ve been a fan of both sites. In recent months I’ve purchased items through Ebay such as Members Only Jackets, bike tools and many more. I’ve also used Craigslist (CL) to find things that I’d want to buy. However, when it comes to selling items, I lean more towards CL than Ebay.

Why? For starters, CL is free. Plus you don’t have to worry about shipping since your buyers are typically local. However, Ebay does offer worldwide exposure, and you have more chances of selling your item(s) at a higher price. But there are fees associated with Ebay and Paypal…

So, let me get your opinion, which is better in your book? Ebay or CL? Are there any other sites or services that can help you sell your bike stuff faster and with a higher profit?

Bontrager NCS-1 Fender Review

I received the Bontrager NCS-1 Fender Set to test out on BikeCommuters.com. As some of our readers know, fenders are items that are highly coveted on a commuter bike. In some commutes, they are a must.

I installed the NCS-1 Fenders on my Soma Double Cross. This bike serves 2 purposes for me, my commuter bike and my cyclocross bike.
Bontrager Fenders

Below is the description of the fender set via Bontrager:

* Fully assembled fenders that install in minutes, only 2 tools needed for assembly
* No-cut-struts allow for quick strut adjustment for proper tire clearance
* Made of lightweight yet super durable polycarbonate
* Double back strut on rear fender adds support and stability
* Front and rear fenders include removable mud flaps
* Stainless steel hardware
* All parts can be disassembled for recycling

Price: $48.99

Installation took about 15 minutes. All you need are 2 tools, 4mm allen and a crescent wrench or a pair of pliers. The fender set can fit 32c road tires as well as 35c Kenda Small Block 8 cross tires.
Bontrager Fenders

Adjustable struts on both sides of the fender. This allows easy adjustment for tire clearance. I personally like the fender close to the tire, to me it just looks better.
Bontrager Fenders

Removable mudflap and stainless steel hardware.
Bontrager Fenders

When I started testing the fenders, Southern California experienced a wet, rainy week. This gave me a prime opportunity to get some mileage in and see how well they worked. On the road the fender set were impeccable. In fact, I would purposely look for puddles just to see if my tire would spray me after riding through it. Needless to say they worked as designed.
Bontrager
Then I got an idea…”why not take it on the local trail system (mountain bike) to see how well they work?” So I did, I found myself riding in some light drizzle the following morning. Certain parts of the trail was moist enough to where I was riding through some mud.

After my ride, I took a few photos of the bike. This is the front fender, check out the mud. Check out the downtube, notice its cleaner than the bottom bracket area? That’s because the downtube is directly behind the fender’s protective path (make sense?).
Bontrager

Rear fender is all muddy from the inside.
Bontrager

But this is what sold me on the Bontrager NCS-1 Fender Set, look how clean my rear stays, seat tube and post as well as my saddle. Not one spec of mud! Well, there’s a few spots, but nothing that I’d cry about.
Bontrager

Here’s the Pièce de résistance, my clean butt! The photo quality isn’t all that great, but LOOK! NO MUD! Now I’m really impressed.
Bontrager
Now check out my hydration pack, CLEAN!
Bontrager

In conclusion, the Bontrager NCS-1 Fender Set works pretty darn good if you ask me. The photos provide enough proof that they prevent spray back from your tires and the fact that they are durable enough to be used on a mountain bike trail, then I can easily recommend them. Another feature that I enjoyed about these fenders, I can go from my 32c tires and onto my 35c cross tires without having to adjust the the struts or mounting bolts.
Bontrager

Review Disclaimer

I Got My Second Wind

This morning I was on my way to work with a new test bike (more on that later) that we received and as I am riding, I noticed to my left was my neighbor’s car. She honked the horn, I waved. We approached Cal State Fullerton, traffic gets a bit heavier. With hundreds of students on the streets, the road can become a parking lot really fast. As I was rolling along, I kept tabs on my neighbor’s Dodge Neon. I wanted to see if I could either keep up with her car or beat it. With all the street traffic, I was able to keep moving on the right side the of road as she sat stuck in her lane. The stretch of road we were both on was about 1.5 miles long. At a certain point I was leading the way. But when the road opened up and the speed limit went from 35 to 45mph, she took off leaving me behind.

But the story doesn’t end there. When I got to my office, I checked my watch and saw that I had actually arrived 5 minutes faster than I would have if I drove. I began to think, “could my bike be faster than my car?” The obvious answer to that is YES. Well, technically its not. But for my commute to work it is. Plus its cheaper too!

I’m sure most of you already know this, but I’ll say it again. Bike Commuting is way cheaper than car commuting. But before I get on my tangent, let me give you some background. I’m an IT 2.0 big wig for my employer. I oversee various locations in SoCal as well as throughout the US. On any given day of the week, I may have to jump in my car to take care of things at our Factory or retail stores. So that leaves me in the car most of the week. If I want to bike commute, I’d have to do some careful planning on my schedule and in the event I have to drive somewhere, I’d have to make sure the company car is available.

Ok now back to the whole bike/car cheaper thing. Recently, my aging car has been in need of some major repairs. My clutch needed to be replaced, that was $500, then my suspension is going out, another $550, my brakes, $100, a wheel bearing $50 and I had to replace my tires at $300, that’s friggin’ $1500!!!! With that in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that my bike is cheaper than my car. That doesn’t even include the cost of gas, maintenance, and insurance.

Now that the initial sticker shock of the cost of repairs has subsided, I’ve decided to start relying less on my car than I normally do. I’m not about to sell my car. Why? It’s because I do need it to make a living. So don’t start ranting and raving that I should go car-free and all that jazz. Some people can do it, but personally I can’t (due to my profession). Anyhow, I’m getting all side tracked. What I’m trying to say is that I’m going to start limiting my time with my car.

For starters, if I can get on the bike at least 2-3 times a week, then that should make some sort of difference in my wallet as well as my health. I told my wife about my idea and she was all for it, she even said, “Wonderful! You can lose weight at the same time!” Not sure if she was implying that I am fat….regardless, I have her support.

I know that my efforts aren’t as grand as some of you who are on bikes 10 days out of the week or the kind like Ghost Rider and Russ Roca who don’t actually own a car, but this has invigorated my bike commuting spirit once again. Funny thing is, as I was riding in this morning, I kept singing to myself with a made up Adam Sandler-esque song…”I’m riding my bike…oooh yeah, I’m on my bike and you’re not! (as I pass cars in traffic)….I couldn’t believe how happy I was on the bike. It felt like I was high! Not that I’d know what that feels like since I’m a good boy, but I think you can relate.