Friday Musings – Baggage Claim and Bicycles

Summer Bike Love
Summer Bike Love - courtesy of Oh Shoot

Cycle ladies and gents of the planet, let’s talk about summer travel and bikes, and how you get it done!  Friday means it’s time to muse, and I’m wondering how everyone’s summer has been so far… have you caught some extra rays, enjoyed commutes home sans blinky lights, and pedaled to destination  both near and far during balmy evenings?

I Miss My Bike
Vacation withdrawls... Bike Commuting Addiction?!

After spending quite a bit of time in the airports this summer (Dad’s wedding, teaching assistant programs, Eurail passes, and waaaaay too much MSG consumption with my family) I got to missing my bike quite often!  And don’t get me wrong, doing air cycling (like air guitar, but I do it lying on the couch instead) and borrowing ill-fitting bikes from friends has gotten me through my moments of withdrawls.  “Hi everyone, my name is Mir.I.Am, and I am a Bike Commuting addict.  I snort chain lube, always carry a backpack with a rain slick, wear zebra spandex, and get impatient while walking anywhere.”  Sometimes, when you’re away from home, you just want YOUR bike, because a commuter and her bike are bonded like an Avatar’s braid and one of those flying dragon things.

Flying Avatar
Commuter attachment issues: I braid my hair into my bike, just like this guy.

Elizabeth and I met up in Chicago last summer, and I rented a MTB from Bike n Roll – which allowed for scenic views along the Lake Front path.  Marion and I hit up the streets of Paris on the “best” fit we could claim out of the three working bikes in her garage.  And, while testing out the Xootr Swift, said Xootie and I hit the baggage claim and Pualani Platinum club so I could enjoy a week of car-free goodness between Venice Beach and Santa Monica over the winter hell-a-days.  And of course, there’s always the endless bike share options that I still have yet to straddle…

Paddle Bike
Oh yes, this will get me from Waikiki to Belize, easy!

But, there is a part of me that wonders if it’s worth it to make MY bike into a baggage-claim-friendly-beast with custom installed couplings from S and S!  Since I live in Hawaii, the challenge is to fly with my bike, since it’s the only way to get off the island (no trains, no road trips, and definitely no bike touring to other states).  Unless I get me a floating paddle bike and pack an enormous bag of shrimp chips.  What’s your best advice for bike commuting and jet setting? Anyone out there rocking a custom frame with renovated with S and S couplings, packable travel bikes, a folding MTB, or a chainless folder with teensy wheels?  Do you have a bike away from home that you rely on?  Would it be worth the $350-$700 extra and baggage claim hassle to make your bike more airplane-friendly?  Or are you down with renting bikes, borrowing two wheels, or resorting to transportation dogs?!  Bring on the comments, bike setters!

Commuter with Couplings
Holy Sexy Chocolate Espresso Moly - I'm pretty sure this commuter set up is outta my price range, but look at those S and S couplings, and what a rack!

Review: Planet Bike’s Snack Sack

Our friends at Planet Bike sent over their handy “Snack Sack” for us to test a few months ago. Well, it’s time for a review!

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Those of you of the triathletic persuasion may recognize this style of small frame bag…it’s often referred to as a “Bento box”, and is commonly used by triathletes to store energy gels and the like. Don’t let those athletic origins scare you off though, commuters; this little bag is quite useful for a host of other day-to-day items.

First, a little about the bag straight off the Planet Bike website:

–Ideal for ride snacks, phone, keys, wallet, first aid kit, and map
–Internal padding protects cargo
–White liner material makes finding items easy
–Reflective piping
–Hassle free pull tabs and dual zipper leash makes opening easy
–43 cu. in.
–7 inches long, 3.5 inches on tallest side, 2 inches tall on shorter side

Two straps hold it onto the frame, attaching around the top tube and the fork steerer. The hook and loop straps easily slip under cables on the bikes I tried it on (underside cable routing), but those of you with top-routed brake and shift cables may run into issues with cable rub. Once attached, the Snack Sack is pretty secure, even with a full load.

Inside, the bag is lightly padded to protect goodies and lined with white nylon fabric, making it easy to spot small items.

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Up top, the Snack Sack has a zippered opening with tethered zipper pulls. Unzip the bag and leave it unzipped for quick access to items; there’s a backup hook and loop piece to secure the lid from flapping open (under the t-shaped webbing in the photo below):

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Reflective trim (in this case, the bag’s piping) is always a nice feature…Planet Bike is always careful to add some nighttime safety into most of their products, and this one is no exception. A little extra dazzle goes a long way at night!

My wife and I stored our wallets, keys, cellphones, repair kits and a number of other items in the Snack Sack with ease. It’s particularly handy for phones or cameras — easily reached mid-ride and quickly deployed as needed. The bag itself is proving to be quite durable, and at a price of $17.00 or so, it’s very affordable.

And, the Snack Sack, as its name indicates, is also a handy place to store snacks…even White Castle sweet-potato fries with extra salt, the ride fuel of true commuting champions…booya!

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Check out all of Planet Bike’s great products by visiting their website.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Vulnerable on the Road Awareness Message from PeopleForBikes.org

In my inbox this morning from PeopleForBikes.org was an interesting public awareness video message – “Vulnerable on the Open Road” – in which “five professional U.S. cyclists reflect on their experiences with bicycle safety.. The riders share their visions for better bicycling conditions and lessons for safer motorist-bicyclist interactions.”

Their advice:
* “Slow down” – this goes for bicyclists and drivers, too
* “Drivers need to understand that cyclists are traffic on the roads”
* “Get more people on bikes so that it’s a normal thing for you(drivers) to pay attention to cyclists on the road”
* “Education”
* “Training or living in a community with really good bike infrastructure with bike lanes, with easy routes in and out of town to be accessible on your bike…. above all it keeps everyone safer – it keeps the motorists moving smoothly and it keeps the bike riders safe; if things are safe and things are easy, we’re going to ride our bikes more, for sure.”
* “I think it’s crazy for people not to ride bikes. Bikes are just amazing things that can transform your life. The benefits of riding your bike definitely outweigh the risks of being out there with cars for me.” (this advice is my personal favorite!)
* “I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that people think that as a cyclist that we don’t drive cars”
* “You have to respect everybody on the open road and if we all work together, we can all enjoy exactly what we’re doing and go along with our lives without interrupting each other.”

Even though these riders are the top 1% of bicyclists, their advice—slow down, be aware, don’t blow through red lights, build more infrastructure, get more people riding—applies to anyone who likes to enjoy the simple pleasure of a bike ride.

Would you add any points to this advice list? I think it applies to all road users… especially the need for RESPECT by all and for all on our roadways.

Have a respectful ride.

First Impression: Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag

First Impression.

I like it.

After using it for a couple of weeks, I’ve found the bag to be quite useful.

Regarding it’s look, it’s stylish–the main zipper streamlines a clean-looking design. The Kona logo is visible along with the 2 buckle-harnesses that keep the contents of the bag secure.

Upon opening, three separate compartments are visible. One being a “divider” where it has a velcro flap to secure the contents from the rest of the bag. The inside of the first compartment has more pockets and zippers similar to an inside of a backpack to put in smaller items.

Opened

When closing, one can see that there are magnetic flaps that secure to make sure that the sides stay closed.

On the sides are the magnetic flaps

The adjustable strap has a cell phone holder, and an accompanying buckle that couples with another strap to make sure the bag secures to the wearer.

Cell phone holder, adjustable strap and additional strap for stability.

Here are the specs from the manufacturer. It should be noted that Kona tapped the talents of Brenthaven in order to create this bag.

  • Name: Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag- Blue
  • Model #: 6102
  • Weight: 3.2 lb.
  • External Dimensions: 21.5″ W x 16″ H x 8″ D
  • Fits laptops up to 16″
  • Built in safety light with replaceable battery compartment
  • Bomber, water-shedding 1000D Cordura fabric
  • Waterproof internal compartment for laptop, electronics
  • Comfortable shoulder strap with quick release phone pocket
  • Large capacity, expands to 1300 cubic inches
  • 100% lifetime guarantee and then some
  • Patent pending magnetic Hydro FlapsTM keep your gear dry

I’ll upload some photos of me actually using it when the review is done!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Cycling Proficiency License?

Biker's License
Not the best example but you get the idea.

I recently saw an article discussing bicycle safety and the need for, wait for it…. bicycling licenses. I know, I know, such an idea is outrageous but it isn’t to me when I see people riding recklessly either because they’re clueless or they arrogantly believe the road is theirs. That said, as much as I want cyclists to be proficient (so those that are reckless don’t give me a bad name) I’m not sure where to take a stand here since there are glaring questions that would need to be addressed before any legislation is written.

Here’s a couple:

1. Would you need a license even if you ride only a handful of times a year?

2. What kind of test (written and behind the handlebar, haha) would you be running to determine proficiency?

3. Who would run the tests? The DMV? A local bike shop certified in testing?

These are some concerns I have. Personally, I lean towards having no license since laying down infrastructure for it seems impossible. On the other hand, I also think a lot of people need help with bicycling naivete!

What about you guys? What do you think?

Original article