Friday Musings: Skunk Stripe

skunk stripe
The common variety of this bike commuter species is known as a "Skunk Stripe"

Buenos días de Costa Rica once again lindisimos Bike Commuters! In honor of Friday and my stream of consciousness blog-barfing, I decided to muse on the unusual phenomenon that is the Skunk Stripe – prevalent throughout the downhill aguacero commutes of Turrialbeños.  As I am (gasp!) shamefully still bikeless for over a month now, I’ve been forced to commute by foot.  However, I’ve turned each bout of foot commuting into an opportunity to practice my new hobby… Similar to the popular hobby of bird watching (a.k.a. “birding” for short), I like to call my newfound sidewalk speculation bike watching (a.k.a. “biking”).

bike watching
Bike Watching - on the lookout for Skunk Stripes!

In my biking adventures here Ive spotted a resurgence of skunk stripe bikes in this rainy season! It seems that fenders here area luxury not afforded by most Turrialbeños… Other varieties of skunk stripes can be seen migrating through the Central Valley this winter such as the yellow-tail poncho, and the umbrella crest.

Bike rider in yellow raincoat
Costa Rican Yellow-tail poncho bike spotted by flostof.
Bike and Umbrella, Costa Rica
And the Umbrella Crest variety captured by gimblett.

We’ve reviewed quite a few different types of fenders on our site, (see here, here, and even here for rooster tails).  So let’s put together a basic breakdown of all things fender fantastic for any rookie winter riders – ticos or otherwise- who want to say adios to the skunk stripe.  Let the winter bike commuting begin!
Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 10.16.32 AM

DIY Fenders – for the third world countryman in you!

For those of us with more time than dimes, check out Ghost Rider’s DIY po-boy Fender project here.  DIY Fenders can be customized to fit your needs and can washed away that skunk stripe with some bent aluminum, corrugated plastic, a can of spray paint.  This tutorial is a great option for some road bikes that don’t come with fender mounts built into the frame.

Ghost Rider's DIY po boy fender
Ghost Rider's DIY po boy fender

Clip-on Fenders – great for muddy commutes

Clip-on fenders could be a good option for muddy commutes or bikes without fender mounts build into the frame.  The idea is to protect the rider from the water or mud from the top of the bike: front fender can mount via the steer tube and rear fender can mount via the seat tube.  Since there is plenty of clearance between a clip-on fender and the wheel, you won’t have a problem with mud jamming up underneath.  Prices can range between $20 -$50 for a set.  They also make removable clip-ons like these in case you’d like to groom your fender plume regularly.  To do away with the skunk stripe on your roadie, take a look at this article for other clip-on options.

clip-on fenders
rendoza's commuter clip-on fender setup

Full-Coverage Fenders – staying high and dry

Full coverage fenders get the best coverage for any rider who is encountering lots of rain this season.  They mount onto fender stays that are usually built in to the frame of touring, hybrid, or bike frames targeted towards utility cycling.  I used to commuter on my Kona Dew with a pair of yellow planet bike full fenders.  They kept me dry through the Seattle winter and I was never caught with a skunk stripe like those tricksy hipsterses on fenderless fixies…  The only problem with full fenders is they can require frequent adjustments to keep from rubbing on the wheel – if you will be cramming your bike into car trunks or cinching the front wheel on a bus rack, you may be better off with the clip-ons and wet legs.

Raiyn Storms fender setup
Raiyn Storm's full-on fender setup

So, dear Bike Commuters, do you rock the skunk or do you skip the stripe with a pair of fenders?  Why or why not?  Post to the comments box if you have any DIY tips for readers, or other fender ideas to share…!  Muse on and enjoy your weekend!

Supplemental Bicycle Accident Insurance Policy for Cyclists

At Interbike 2012, we met up with Jay Paul of Balance Insurance. He told us about his company and what he does. But that was a few months ago and I didn’t take notes. So I’ve asked him to provide our readers a brief explanation of what Balance Insurance does.

balance insuranceAs cyclists we all know that at some time we might come off our bikes and hit the ground hard. Most cycling accidents are relatively minor. Some will require medical attention. And then there are those life altering accidents that can cause hospitalization, permanent injury or death. For those latter injuries we created Balance For Cyclists. Balance For Cyclists pays large lump sum cash benefits over and above other insurance to cyclists who are injured in serious cycling accidents. Limits are available between $50,000 and $250,000 and all benefits are paid directly to the insured or their family.

Balance For Cyclists is supplemental accident insurance designed by cyclists specifically for cyclists. It is now available in 26 states and should be in 45 states within three months. Coverage is placed through The Zurich American Insurance Company.

“As an active cyclist for many years, I have a number of friends who have been critically injured as a result of cycling accidents”, says Jay Paul, creator of Balance For Cyclists, “Even though they all had good health insurance, there were many uninsured costs associated with their recovery. In some cases the family’s life savings were wiped out by these unexpected and uninsured medical expenses. This at a time when financial distress should be the last thing on a families mind. With the help of The Zurich Insurance Company we were able to create an inexpensive coverage that helps protect cyclists from financial hardship.”

Balance For Cyclists is the first insurance product to ever insure against an injury resulting in Severe Traumatic Brain Injury, a devastating injury that happens to cyclists in large numbers.

To learn more about Balance For Cyclists and purchase coverage, visit there website at

I’m looking forward to the day when he’s approved to sell policies in California because I’ll be his first customer! Thanks Jay for taking the time to share about your company.

Win A Footbike!

FootbikeUSA has graciously offered one of their famous machines to be given away in a contest exclusive to! You can enter to win this beautiful, fun and practical machine just by providing us the correct answer to our trivia question. We’ll be picking a random winner with the correct answer on 12/17/2012. This contest is only valid for US Residents, no and sister sites Staff are allowed to enter. Multiple entries will void your chances of winning. Basically if you spam us, we’ll block you.

Here’s the trivia question.

Question: What American footbiker in 2004 covered the longest commute distance on a performance scooter(footbike)? Total time of commute was 21 hours 37 minutes. Make sure you provide the name and distance.

footbike contest

Submit your answer to: Include your contact info.
Contest ends on 12/17/2012 12pm PST. We’ll announce a winner by 6pm PST that same day! Heck if you win, you might be kicking around a footbike just like Holland MacFallister! Good luck!

Here’s a hint: FootbikeUSA

News – Modern Day Bike “Hitching Post” at Rapha SF

Bike Radar Rapha Park
Image courtesy of Bike Radar

Check out this article from the Atlantic Cities website about a modern day bike “hitching post” in San Francisco.  An old Citroen touring van, originally used to clean up after the Tour de France has been transformed into a temporary pop-up shop and park for local cyclists!  Bike Radar also snapped some photos in their article following the grand opening and stated:

The Rapha parklet was designed with tables, bicycle parking and a Citroen H Van deconstructed by Rebar and used to bookend the space directly in front of the store. Rapha has adopted the H Van as a symbol of its Cycle Clubs.

Rapha Citroen Van
Image Courtesy of Rapha
Rapha Parklet Rendering
Image courtesy of Atlantic Cities

So, Bike Commuters – pedal over to Filbert and Fillmore in San Francisco for a cup of joe at SF Rapha Cycle Club and lock your bike up to the Citroen!

Rapha Coffe Cup

To check out more pics and the original articles, click on the following links:

Use an Old Phone to Locate Lost/Stolen Bike.


The app is called Prey. It’s similar to Lojack.

You may know Lojack as the service that locates lost or stolen cars. But what about bicycles? I’m not sure if people care nor have a need for such a device, but as someone who has had a bike stolen, the Prey app for phones, laptops, and tablets is intriguing. It was created for use with an old smartphone in mind but should you have left your new device on your bike, that new device can also track the bike.

I’m sure plenty of other apps are similar to this. And other theft-deterrant options are available like ReuiniteIT by Lojack. Be sure to mention them in the comments below if you know.

Is it necessary to use an old phone? No. But the idea is, if you’re going to lose a smartphone, it might as well be your old one and not the new Iphone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S III.

Click here, to find out more about this open source anti-theft project, Prey.