Hello Bike commuters and fellow DIY bike mechanics! Yes, as much as I like my local bike shop, there are some repairs or upgrades that I am able to do myself. My Spicer CX had one weakness; its cantilever brakes. Even though I replaced them with new Avid Shortys, I still was not comfortable with their stopping power on a steep downhill.
So what did I do? Well, I went with V brakes instead. The process of installing V-brakes was pretty straight forward; the only issue I ran into was that I needed to replace the cable housing so it can run all the way to the brake noodle.
But there was a problem with my conversion; the brake levers from my Spicer CX are designed for short pull brakes and the V brakes that I installed are long pull brakes. I figured that I could get away with it by adjusting the tension on the brakes and having the pads really close to the rim. Well, I was wrong. The rear brake is OK, but the front brake was not grabbing.
I did what every respectable DIY mechanic would do: “I Googled it”. So Google came up with a little gadget called “Travel Agent” by Problem Solvers and since I had a problem to solve (pun intended) I ordered one of this shindigs online. Mind you, the travel agent was not cheap but braking is sort of important after all.
Installing the travel agent was pretty straight forward thanks to the video and the right tools. If you happen to work a lot on your bikes, I highly recommend the Park Tools Cable and housing cutter.
I did a quick test ride around the block and man, the travel agent works as advertised! I have now plenty of stopping power on my front brakes! In case you are wondering why I am making these changes to my bike, well, that is because I am training for the Strada Rossa V ride this coming March. More on that later on.
Hello Bike Commuters!!! This week we have the full review of the Showers Pass Gravel shorts that I featured a couple of months ago. These shorts have pretty much become my “go-to” shorts for mountain biking, bike commuting, train riding, tandem riding, cyclocross riding, hiking and drinking beer.
Disclaimer: Showers Pass sent us the shorts free of charge so we can give you an honest and unbiased review. You can also read our FTC Disclaimer here.
I’d mentioned that these shorts did not come with a chamois liner, turns out that this was actually a good thing because I was able use the shorts for other activities besides cycling. Cool thing about these shorts is that then don’t really look like your typical baggy mountain biking shorts and they are not as tight as lycra so they look cool on and off the bike.
The shorts are made of breathable stretch fabric with additional cooling vents at the thighs which came in handy on hot days. Another favorite feature of mine are the pockets which are secured with velcro, I don’t have to worry about my cellphone or keys flying out when I am riding.
Do I have any complaints about these shorts? None whatsoever, I highly recommend them.
As most of you are well aware, visibility can make a big difference in terms of the well being of cyclists on the road, particularly at night and other low light environments.
Enter ArroWhere â„¢, a company based out of Canada whose specialty is to produce â€œquality, high-visibility apparel and accessories that help improve the visibility, safety, and control users have when sharing the road with cars and larger vehicles or trails with bikes and runners.â€
What sets them apart from other reflective outerwear and gear is their utilization of super bright 3M reflective material into the shape of an arrow to indicate to drivers in what direction to move to avoid the cyclist. The simplicity of its design contributes to the efficacy of the product, in my opinion.
Bikecommuters has had a good history with ArroWhereâ„¢ thanks to Jack â€œGhost Riderâ€ Sweeney who spearheaded this relationship back in September 2014 at Interbike.
Khyle from ArroWhere â„¢ recently reached out to us to review another 2 items in their product line. Before I knew it, a fluorescent yellow cycling vest and bag cover were at my doorstep.
In so many words, I was an instant fan. The visibility of the products was intense, to say the least. The construction of both was robust and with high quality materials. They both felt like items that would last for many years of hard use.
The backpack cover (standard size 35L) fit relatively well over my Maxpedition Sitka gear slinger (I think the design of my single sling backpack made the cover a little less of a good fit as you will read later). It folded up to a nice small volume and was easily stowed in the backpack without taking up too much space.
The cover is held in place with elastic bands attached with snap buttons.Â The addition of the the upper zipper was well designed, making accessibility of the backpack pockets possible without having to remove the entire cover.
Furthermore, since it was made with waterproof fabric, it served as an additional barrier for waterproofing the bag (although I was unable to test out this feature since here is southern California, we are having a horrible drought).
But it wasnâ€™t just a backpack cover; the versatility of the design made the cover useable on other items as well. In particular, I was able to put it onto my kiddoâ€™s bike seat. It fit securely and did not come loose at all.
This made riding with the kiddo feel a lot safer. We even took the cover for a trip to Catalina Island where we got around by bike 100% of the time. The cover was very reliable.
After about 4 months of use, I also noticed that it was quite stain proof and was easy to wash off. It looked like new; the visibility was not compromised one bit.
The only cons that I noticed on this cover were that the buttons securing the straps were not that strong, and during my rides they would at times pop open, particularly when I filled up my bag. I thought that a better design would replace the elastic straps with adjustable nylon straps and the snap buttons for standard plastic side release buckles. In this way, I feel that the cover could be used on bags of other sizes and would be even more versatile and secure.
It would also be nice to have some molle webbing on the cover to allow for attachments of lights and other accessories, while not covering the visibility of the arrow.
And finally, I thought that an additional zipper allowing side access to the pack would also be advantageous, and a feature that I feel would not compromise the functionality of the product. I say this because a single strap backpack can be easily accessed during riding by rotating the bag from the back to the front, where a side access zipper would allow access to the bag while riding.
The vest was also a treat to use. I personally love vests as they allow for more mobility and allow for better ventilation. Despite it being a vest, it was pretty warm and windproof. It was surprisingly comfortable and was designed with a good fit.
After riding in 70 degree weather, I will say it got a little warm in the vest, at least for me.
Overall, I would recommend the company and the products. If you like riding with a backpack, the cover is a good deal and makes commuting that much safer by making you significantly more visible. It doesnâ€™t take up that much space when stowed away in your backpack and is very light. Being the shape and size that it is, the cover can also be placed on other things as well such as a rear child bike seat.
Do good and ride well.
About the author: Andrew is a full time physician and enjoys bicycles, both riding on and writing on. He has been commuting since 2000.
Back at Interbike in September, RL ran across the ArroWhere company. Their product line “caught our eye”, as they say — with bright colors and loads of reflective accents for nighttime safety.
We reached out the the ArroWhere company and they sent us a pre-production sample of their Solid Arrow Reflective Jacket to try out. Remember, this is a pre-production sample, so minor details have changed from the actual version for sale. We’ll get into those changes in a bit.
First, a bit about the jacket directly from the manufacturer’s website:
-Waterproof and breathable polyester fabric
-Top quality 3M reflective material
-Patent pending ArroWhere arrow design visible at night at least 1/4 mile away
-Reflective panels and striping
-Fleece lined collar and pockets
-Zippered armpit vents
The ArroWhere jacket has an extended tail to help fight off splashes. The arms are extra long to provide coverage when stretched out on the bike — a perfect length for me. The jacket has a fine mesh lining to help it breathe. I got a size medium to test, and while it feels a little bit large when I’m standing around, it conforms nicely to me when I’m actually on the bike. There is room for underlayers, too.
The jacket has a fleece-lined collar with a protective zipper garage that prevents throat gouges when it’s zipped up all the way. The handwarmer pockets are lined in the same luxurious fleece, too — great for when your hands need a quick warmup. All the zippers are waterproof and easy to manipulate on or off the bike, including the generously long pit zips for venting excess heat:
The cuffs have a hook-and-loop adjustment system that snugs them up nicely to prevent wind intrusion:
This jacket is LOADED with reflective accents. The large arrow on the back gives other road users a good visual indication of what to do when approaching, and the arrow is available pointing right for users in the UK and other areas where driving on the left is the norm. The rest of the reflective trim catches the light nicely. I would have liked reflective cuffs here, though, to help make my arm-motion directional signals more visible out on the roads.
Now, about the changes in the final jacket: I spoke to Khyle Pinkman, the founder of the company. He said that the production jacket fabric demonstrates better waterproofing than the sample we tested, and also is nicer in terms of overall fabric quality. I did not get to try this out in the wet (yet), so I can’t make any claims about the fabric on this sample.
In addition to safety yellow, the jacket is available in high-visibility orange and in navy blue. It is available in sizes from S to XXL, and female riders rejoice, because there is a wide range of women’s sizes, too! The jacket retails for $129.95, which is right at the price point many similar jackets with fewer features live at. That makes it a good value in my book.
For my purposes, the jacket is nearly perfect as-is. It helps keep me warm, there’s room for clothing underneath, and the reflective accents are effective at night. Add in the details like the fleece linings and trim and we’ve got a winner here. As I mentioned, if there was more reflective at the cuffs, I’d call it PERFECT.
Check out the full range of ArroWhere jackets by visiting their website. They make reflective vests and backpack covers with the same quality and patent-pending reflective design for additional nighttime safety and visibility on dark streets.
Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.