Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

If you link to EpicureanCyclist on your Blog...don't forget to redirect!

Just a reminder to others who might have sites that point here, be sure to point it to the new address.

If you HAVE a blog but are pointing at neither, watcha waitng for?


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moving to

Dear Loyal Readers (that means you!),
I've been blogging EC for almost a year on blogger and I think it's time to move her to a proper home (atleast someplace where I have a little more control)! I've been playing with wordpress and am taking the jump. Excuse the dust, while I migrate everything over to....

I hope you join me during the move. If you read EC through an RSS feed (wow, I sounded so techy just then!) point your RSS thingies to (thanks J)(that didn't sound so techy). (thanks J)

Thanks for reading and I hope you join me at the new digs. I'll keep EC on blogspot, as long as they're willing to have her, but it won't be updated anymore (unless I royally screw up the new site!)

Happy Tours,

Yehuda on Hiatus

Old news for some. New news for others. Somewhere in the middle for me. Yehuda Moon is on hiatus for an unspecified time. Sad to see, but totally understandable. It was great to see a cyclist in the media (for lack of a better term) that loved wool, fine bike luggage and bikes with fenders - an epicurean cyclist if I ever saw one.

Stars and 'Stache!

Looking for a fun way to dress up your bike? These are some semi-custom designs Laura came up with for my Surly last night. Both are simple and fun and are sure to turn a few inquisitive heads (especially the 'stache!).

Both the designs are pierced out by hand, hammered to fit your headtube (or any tube, for that matter), and given a slight texture and patina. These are copper, but they are available in sterling silver for the extra bling (and contrast if you have a dark colored bike).

The star can come stock as just a plain star in silver or copper. I had her pierce out an initial. (Stock Star - $45 copper, $55 sterling / Star with monogram - $60 copper, $75 sterling).

Here's the 'stache ($45 copper, $55 sterling). I love it. Cute. Understated. Gives a sly wink to those in the know. Also great for those who are hair-impaired.

If you'd like to order your own 'Stache or Star, email her today!

Which should I put on the Surly?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review: PDW's Dapper Dans

Speaking of classing up your bike, I've been riding around the last few weeks with some Dapper Dans ergo grips from Portland Design Works. Wow, these things are plush!

I mounted the grips on my Surly Steamroller turned English 3 Speed (the bike has been through many transformations). Prior to the Dapper Dans, I was rocking some shellacked cork grips, my old standby.

I have to say, prior to the Dapper Dans, I wasn't a particularly big fan of ergo grips because they always end up looking so techy/goofy. Like, whoa, your handlebar has a swollen lymph node or aero handlebar grips. You get the picture. However, these Dapper Dans really make the whole ergo thing a lot more palatable.

Functionally, they have two constricting bands that you tighten with some pretty standard allen wrenches. The bands work well to keep the grips from moving around. It's a pretty basic feature, but is nice nonetheless. When compared to shellacked cork grips, which take all sorts of voodoo to make them stay still, the constricting bands are a blessing. Similarly, they're a lot more elegant and easy to put on then say your typical OURY rubber grips.

They fit my hand really well. The fat fleshy part of my palm rests perfectly on the flat fleshy part of the grip. The leather has a real nice tactile texture that is pretty non-slip. The contrast stitching is a nice decorative touch.

There isn't a whole lot to find fault in with these grips, other than that they are a bit longer than your average ergo grips. On my Surly with the swept back Tourist bars, they ran a little long and I ran out of handlebar bar for the grips (about an inch). Still, even with one constricting band, the grips are pretty solid.

So if you are planning to use this with bar-end shifters, be sure to measure your bar to make sure you can slip them high enough on the bar before hitting a bend. Otherwise, another work around would be to get some Paul shifter pods for your bars.


-Super nice looking. I feel like I have to wear a tie when I'm rocking these grips.
-Very tactile and pleasing to the touch (though obviously not vegan friendly).
-Constricting bands make for easy installation and removal.
-Ergonomic design truly ergonomic.

-A little on the long side and may not work with some handlebar/bar-end shifter setups...use a ruler to confirm.


Spotted: Axiom Wood Front Rack

Popped into the local Bikestation today and spotted this curious Axiom "DLX Front Rack." It's a mini front rack with a wood platform.

It looks to be functionally very similar to the Nashbar mini front rack, but with a touch more class.

The finish is sort of a blasted silvery color. It's ok. For me, I would have preferred chrome or something more metallic, but it's not too shabby.

The rack appears to have pretty adjustable fittings, so there's a good chance you'll be able to dial in the fit to your bike.

A downside is that the rack is not shaped to play well with certain randonneur bags that are meant to be slipped over the back of the rack. It will still support them from the bottom, but it won't have that added stability.

I believe retail is about $45.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Great Western Bike Rally

If you live in central/southern California and you like cycling, you owe it to yourself to go to the Great Western Bike Rally. It has been described as church picnic with Bike as the religion. It's 3 days of camping at the Paso Robles fairgrounds (or moteling).

I'm planning to go this year because I had such a blast last year. There's a Huffy toss, a bicycle swap meet and a bicycle show (my Bilenky won 1st last year!). There are "rides" but they're all unorganized. You grab a route sheet and you go. Cycling in the Paso area is just beautiful.

Of course, it wouldn't be enough if my friends and I went JUST for the rally. We're going to turn it into a week long bicycle tour. We're riding up from San Luis Obispo and camping at Moro Bay. We're also going to ride back from the rally, up and over the range into the Carizo Plain, following the San Andreas fault to the 33 into the Sespe Wilderness and down to Ventura. Phew. Can't wait.

Hope to see some readers out there!

Here are some snaps from last year:

Rene Herse

Another short multimedia bit from the San Diego show. Enjoy!

Epicurean Cyclist - Rene Herse from Russ Roca on Vimeo.

The Pedal Museum

Ok..I finished this one a little earlier. I took some audio and snaps at the San Diego Show and have one or two more of these to put together. The person that is speaking is Richard Bryne (atleast I'm pretty sure), the CEO of Speedplay. Super cool! On another note, what video player do you think I should use for future vids? Youtube or Vimeo or ?? Youtube seems to have the most users, but dang if it ain't ugly as sin.

Epicurean Cyclist - The Pedal Museum from Russ Roca on Vimeo.

For more on Speedplay's pedal museum, click here.

Posts in a few days..

Hey all...I've been in the fog of some mystery cold/flu/sickness the last week, so sorry about the lack of posts. I'm working on some more epicurean goodness very soon. Thanks!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Ian Hibell Video

Sent in by a reader Scott! Great find. Up until now I had only seen the grainy Darrien Gap video. This is awesome!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Your Dream 5

A twist on the "who would you like to have at a dinner party alive/dead/real/made-up" parlour game. Who would be your dream 5 touring partners?

Laura Crawford
I write this, not just because if I don't, I'll be sleeping on the lawn tonight, but because, she's been my greatest touring (and life for that matter) partner. We both got into touring at the same time so our riding styles and rhythms are the same. We can tell when we're each getting tired, we like to ride at the same pace and we both have a love for serendipity, gravelly roads and uncertainty. We've toured with a few people, enough to know that everyone has their own touring style and most likely it won't synch up with yours.

Chris Quint
I've mentioned Chris a bit on the site and even shot a video of him and his Carradice/boat cleat trick. A lot of what I know about touring came from him. In his pre-retirement life he was a teacher. He still is. There's never a dull ride with Chris. He's one of those persons with encyclopedic knowledge that will talk about foliage and fauna you're riding by and about the minutiae of beer brewing in the same 5 minute span.

The Great GP
I've never met The Great GP in person, but from what I've read from the Riv. Reader, he sounds like he would be loads of fun to do a tour with or atleast an S24O. That happens to be on my "bucket list" btw, to do a S24O with Grant. Before I discovered Rivendell, I was a bit lost. Trek, Specialized, Giant and Schwinn and the kind of riding they really promoted didn't speak to me. I knew there had to be something else, but what? That's when I discovered bike touring which eventually led me to Riv.

Barbara Savage
If there's any one thing that really got my blood moving about bike touring it was Barbara Savage's "Miles from Nowhere." For me, she seemed like the most approachable and kind person. She seemed honest about her short comings but still persevered. Here is someone that did something epic in scale but wasn't necessarily epic in stature. She made bike touring feel like something I could really do. It became accessible and not just some unreachable fantasy.

Ian Hibell
I would have loved to just sit around a little wood fire and listen to Ian Hibell talk about his adventures all night. Crossing the Darrien Gap, pushing through the Sahara. Maybe he'd even give me a copy of his book Into Remote Places, which is now ridiculously expensive on the trader's market. I just want to read the darn thing, I'll give it back! From what I've read and the little footage I've seen of him he's a traveler through and through. It would be great to hear what makes him tick and keeps him moving despite the harshest of conditions.

So who and why are on your top 5?

Mini Review: Esbit Stove

I'm becoming a bit of a stove geek, I think. I find something utterly satisfying about small simple mechanisms that you can use to cook food with! Anyway, I picked up this Esbit Stove at an Adventure 16 in Oceanside, CA. The two guys that were there were just opening up and didn't have a problem with me rolling in my fully loaded Bilenky.

I have read about the Esbit and was always curious. It seems to be sold pretty widely (compared to the Trangia) and you can get it from Campmor, Riv and REI.

The stove itself is small and remarkably simple. Two pot supports unfold on rivets. It has two "settings", indents really, that keep the supports at either 45 or 90 degrees. I'm assuming this is to fine tune the supports to match the surface area of the pot you're using.

In use, all you do is put one of the individually wrapped fuel tablets in the center and light it. You can light it with a match or a lighter. I wanted a "matchless" experience on this trip, so what I did was put a little vaseline soaked cotton ball on the top and popped a few sparks on it with a ferro rod. Worked like a charm.

Stated burn times run from 9 to 15 minutes. I found that I got burns somewhere in the middle there. About 12 minutes seemed right. It took about 8-9 minutes to bring about 20oz to boil in my GSI kettle. It worked well for making boiling some water for tea and for my freeze dried dinner.

The Great GP really describes the stove's use well when he says "this is the perfect stove to bring when you're not sure you want to bring one, but aren't sure you want to do without, either." With a stove system this small and easy to use, it almost seems like a no-brainer to take along, if even just for emergencies (the fuel tabs can also double as fire starters). In fact, I'm considering getting another one just to put in our Post-Apocalypse Survival Bag.

Some things to consider.
The Esbit seems to really do its one intended purpose really well, bring some water to a quick boil. If this is all you need a stove to do, then it's a good choice. However, because of the limited burn time of the tablets, it would make it difficult to cook anything that won't be done in about 10 minutes.

For example, Laura and I usually make a version of corned beef hash and potatoes when we go camping. We need constant burn times in the 30-40 minute range to soften and brown the potatoes. We can do this with the Trangia. However, this would be a difficult task for the Esbit.

If you can accept the limitations of the Esbit, then you'll be happy. It's great for making a quick cup of coffee or tea in the morning, or boiling some water for your MRE. It's small, simple to use and really has little to break. I would consider taking one and 4 tablets along every trip just as an emergency stove when you're in between population centers.

Highly Recommend

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Some snaps from the road...

Picked up an Esbit stove at an Adventure 16 store located conveniently across the street from Pacific Coast Cycles

Holds up the GSI kettle pretty well.

Inside Pacific Coast Cycles, home for any epicurean cyclist. Need an obscure part? Walk around long enough and you'll probably trip on it.

TA cranks anyone?

The perfect firewood getting bike.

What it looks like from the cockpit.

Prototypes of some Rene Herse rando bags.

The vegan B-17?

Getting a tour of Speedplay's Museum of Pedals.

A tight fit for the Bilenky.

Back from my San Diego Sojourn

Just a short update. I just got back into town a few hours ago and I'm tired and sick (again!). I had a pretty good time, all things considered.

I rolled into San Diego a little before 11am on Sunday. When I was at Union Station I saw two other tourists. We sat next to each other on the train and they told me of their trip thus far. Tony and Clarence had just ridden from Florida to El Paso. They hitched a ride to LA because the winds were killing them. They were great company and full of entertaining stories.

After some talk, I convinced them to join me to the hand made bike show in San Diego. At the show, I met Simon Firth and Bina from Bilenky. A historic meeting! I also talked a bit to Chuck and Gretchen from Pacific Coast Cycles. I did some audio interviews with Speedplay regarding this cool display they had of antique pedals, Calfee and some bamboo bikes and Mark from Rene Herse.

Those should be ready in a day or two.

When I got back to the hotel from the show I felt like crap. Fever, chills, sore throat, coughing the whole bit. My trip wasn't looking good. Somehow I managed to sleep and when I got up I felt a little better so I rode out to San Elijo campground and spent the night there. Not before having breakfast with Tony and hearing about some great bike adventures he had in Egypt (for example, accidentally riding through a live mine field in the desert!).

On my way up and over Torrey Pines (it's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be, btw), I ran into Chris Kostman from and AdventureCorps. What a small world. I was pulled over the side of the road drinking some water when I see a van veer into the shoulder and start backing up towards me. Out he jumps and from his AdventureCorps shirt I put one and one together pretty quickly.

At San Elijo were two other tourists, an uncle and nephew pair on their first outing, Craig and Lucas. Craig was great fun to talk to. He was heavily involved with the Boy Scouts and knew a lot about camping. I tested out my Wetterlings Axe and Mora knife. I used both to split wood with good success. I'm surprised all the things the Mora can do for a $15 knife!

The next day, I decided to ride to San Clemente for the night. I stopped at Pacific Coast Cycles in Oceanside and chatted with Gretchen and Chuck some more. They're great people and I highly recommend their shop. Chuck worked with Masi and knows as much about bikes and has as many opinions as even The Great GP.

Across the street was an Adventure 16 shop where I picked up an Esbit stove. I ran out of fuel for my Trangia and decided an Esbit and 6 tablets was about the same price and quite a bit easier to carry than a tin of denatured alcohol.

I rode into Pendleton and got lost! I figured I rode about 30 extra miles around the base. By the time I got out of the base I was starting to bonk pretty bad. Being sick all weekend and not having enough food and water with me, plus riding around with the Bilenky and TOO much gear. It was not looking good.

When I got into camp, Craig and Lucas were there. I felt like on the verge of blacking out. I quickly boiled some water with the Esbit and ate two dehydrated Mountain House meals in quick succession. That brought me into near consciousness, but I felt pretty tired the rest of the night. I went to bed early but had a tough time sleeping because I was coughing all the time.

Today, I soft-pedaled to San Juan Capistrano and picked up an Amtrak back to Los Angeles and I took the metro home. Whew. I'm tired, my throat hurts and I feel a little bit delirious.

I think it was a fun trip. It was certainly a social trip. I had never met such interesting people before while I was on the road. I just wish I wasn't sick again. Enough for now.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Goin to San Diego!

It's 11pm and I'm beat. Just shot two full days of Bike Fest for the city of Long Beach. I had a wonderful evening with fellow bike blogger Gary and Megan tonight. We've emailed a few times but it was good to meet them in person. They've got the touring bug, so I hope to do a trip with them in the future.

I have a train to catch early in the morning and I should be in San Diego for the custom bicycle show. So, I'll be out for a few days (planning on riding back). I'll try to post on the road, but we'll see. Haven't quite decided whether to bring the computer or not.

See ya'll soon.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Battle of the Baskets

Wald is pretty much synonymous with the bicycle basket. They make all shapes and sizes for every conceivable load you can imagine (ok, probably not that many..but a lot). I spotted these SunLite baskets at Bikestation in Long Beach today.

But a basket is a basket, right? Well, yes, but you have to appreciate nice touches. This SunLite basket has some nice looking tubular stays! Many of the Walds I've tried use what basically looks like a crowbar with drilled holes in it.

The SunLite basket has cleaner looking stays that allow you to adjust the height by screwing in the inner tube. Nice. Elegant. Better than the crowbar look. The stays end in loops that can attach to nutted axels and perhaps fender eyelets with some spacers and washers. Not too shabby!

On bike touring magazines....and other stuff

Spotted on the ACA website, a little video donation pitch for their map department.

Also on the ACA site was a link to a Bikecentennial Flickr group! Ah the good old days!

And speaking of the good olde days, I just took a peep at a friend's copy of Bicycle Quarterly and its chock full of historical photos and stories about touring in Europe in the 30s! (As a side note, I think we're primed for a touring re-birth! The economic conditions are just right for people to start to look at simpler, less expensive and more adventurous ways of travel!)

If you like EC, you'll love Bicycle Quarterly Magazine (subscribe today!). Jan writes some of the most thorough reviews of the most interesting bikes and bike accessories I've ever seen. It really puts that other "bicycling" magazine to shame (you know which one). It's sort of like reading Shakespeare after flipping through the National Enquirer.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Upcoming Reviews: Dapper Dans and EOS Bike Light

Some upcoming reviews for you in the next few days.

Dapper Dan Ergo Grips

These grips, made by Portland Design Works just arrived so I popped them out of the box for some quick photos before I put them on a bike and run them through the paces. Initial impressions? Wow. These look great and feel great on the hands. I'm super impressed. The leather is thick and plush and seems to give a lot of cushion. Can't wait to ride with them.

Princeton Tec EOS Bike Light

Could this light by Princeton Tec be the ultimate bike touring light? One minute it's on the bike, the next it's on your head helping you set up camp in the dark. Popping it out of the box, the light felt good in the hands. Nice and dense. This is no flimsy girlieman light, but something that should last the rigors of a bike tour. It comes with accessories to mount it on your bike, your head and your helmet. I'll be taking it with me this weekend on a quickie excursion to San Diego and back.

Sweet new Swobos...

Spotted on BikeRadar (why do they get everything first!), some new designs from Sky (chick designed!) for Swobo. Check the link out here. I'm really digging the Baxter, an 8spd IGH bike with swept back bars and matching chain guard. It has some more modernish touches such as a carbon fork and discs (love 'em or hate 'em) but it is still pretty classed up with a minimalist paint job that is more nuanced than nuisance. Not shown with fenders but the description says "Clearance for fat tyres and mudguards."


Looking at the pic, the off the peg bike looks good. Though, if it were up to me, I'd throw on a Brooks, change the seatpost to a silver VO, ditto for the stem, and maybe toss on some dapper dan ergo grips.

San Diego Custom Bicycle Show

Anyone else going? I'm planning to go on Sunday and finally meet the Bilenky folks in person. I think it is the coolest to actually meet the people that built my bike. I'm going to take a ton of photos, of course and hopefully do some interviews while I'm out there.


Completely new to me, but looks like loads of fun is The Chap magazine (thanks Colin!). It appears to be full of tweed, trousers and loads of irony. Here's an excerpt from the Chap Manifesto:

Society has become sick with some nameless malady of the soul. We have become the playthings of corporations intent on converting our world into a gargantuan shopping precinct. Pleasantness and civility are being discarded as the worthless ephemera of a bygone age - an age when men doffed their hats to the ladies, and small children could be counted upon to mind one's Jack Russell while one took a mild and bitter in the local hostelry...

It is time for Chaps and Chapettes from all walks of life to stand up and be counted. But fear not, ye languid and ye plain idle: ours is a revolution based not on getting up early and exerting oneself - but a revolution that can be achieved by a single raised eyebrow over a monocle; the ordering of a glass of port in All Bar One; the wearing of a particularly fetching cardigan upon a visit to one's bookmaker. In other words: a revolution of panache. We shall bewilder the masses with seams in our trousers that could cut paper, trilbies angled so rakishly that traffic comes to a standstill; and by refusing the bland, watery substances that are foisted upon us by faceless corporations, we shall bring the establishment to its knees, begging for sartorial advice and a nip from our hip flasks.

Is Mixte the new Fixie?

Well, probably not yet. Though I did see a really nice one at last nights bike advocacy meeting (photos soon). SOMA seems to think there's some interest. Check out their blog about more information on their Buena Vista. (thanks to RL from for the tip.)

* The Buena Vista is a true mixte with the double top tube/stays.
* This is not just for the ladies. "Mixte" (pronounced "MEExt") is French for "mixed" or "unisex"and fully envisioned for both men and women from the beginning. North Americans have come to pronounce it "mix-ty". Both are acceptable to use.
* Ride characteristics/geometry is somewhere between road sport and touring
* An oversized butted downtube makes this frame stiffer than the mixtes of the 70's.
* Removable decals make it easier for you to customize your ride
* Four sizes to start: 42, 50, 54, 58cm
* Horizontal dropouts w/hanger allows you to run it with a rear derailleur, with internal geared hubs, or single speed
* Downtube shifter bosses
* Rack and fender braze-ons
* Bosses for single bottle cage

You'll probably like this book...

Still on pre-order, this book looks to be bike p0rn for an epicurean cyclist. Not to mention, there's a photo I took of my Bilenky cargo bike in it (thanks to Richard Masoner for the tip!) I hope to get a look at the book soon to see what other goodness is in there.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What's in your BikeBurrito?

Wait. Don't have one, yet? Well, whatareya waiting for? Order them online here. And when you do, take a photo and upload it to the BikeBurrito Flickr Group.

Don't know what a BikeBurrito is? Well, watch this video with OhSoCatchy music. You'll be humming it all day...week...month. Trust me.

Sigg vs. Kleen Kanteen

While we're on the topic of water bottles. Here's a post that discusses the differences between Sigg and KKs.

Kleen Kanteen week?

Something must be in the air...or the water bottle this week. Another quickie mod with a Kleen Kanteen. Reader, Paxton shows a Kleen Kanteen given the good ole' twine and shellac treatment. Quiets the rattle, gives the KK a little more grip and a touch of diy earthiness to it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DIY Wood Burning Stove....from Surly?

Probably NOT something that will be in the QBP catalog anytime soon, is this DIY wood burning stove I spotted on the Surly blog (of all places!). Made from a paint can, it has two large holes to accept the chimney and a Kleen Kanteen for boiling (pretty darn cool).

Check out the post for more.

Some things I like and some that are ok...

In my short time interested in cycling and bicycle touring, I've gotten to try out quite a lot of stuff. I'm the sort of person that has a need to experiment and get to know things intimately before I can make a decision. But even when the decision is made, I always have an eye out for other alternatives. Here are some quick notes about different things I've tried and some conclusions.

Trek 520 vs. LHT - prefer the LHT
I owned a Trek 520 for a few years and it was good but had a tendency to shimmy. Plus, it was sorta ugly with the welds on the frame and fork. No pizazz at all. Bought a LHT and found it to be superior to the 520. No shimmy. Super stable when loaded and descending. Haven't looked back.

SWOBO wool gloves v.s Ibex wool goves - prefer Ibex
I loved my SWOBO gloves when I first got them. They were the bee's knees. However, when I lost one of the gloves I decided to give the Ibex ones a try. Now I prefer the Ibex gloves, especially for cold weather. The knit is thicker and tighter and it doesn't seem to pill as much. They're noticeably warmer than the SWOBO ones. That said, the SWOBOs are still fine gloves, but if I were to just own one pair it would be the Ibex gloves.

SWOBO Merino Bobby vs. Ibex Frisko - prefer SWOBO
I bought both the SWOBO bobby and IBEX Frisko on sale. They're both polo style shirts with a collar. The SWOBO has buttons and the Ibex has a zipper. The Swobo has a useful pocket, the Ibex doesn't. In terms of weight of wool, I thought the Ibex was a little thin. The SWOBO one was just right. Light but had enough weight to it to keep you warm and last a long time. Plus, it has nice contrast stitching and a little chain plate on the sleeve.

MKS Touring Pedals vs. Rivendell Grip Kings - Tie
Simply put, it depends on the shoe I'm wearing. The MKS ones seem to work with the wide toe-box of my Keens better. The Grip Kings seem to support every other shoe except the Keens really well.

Plastic vs. Kleen Kanteens - prefer KK
Plastic still wins in squeezability, of course. However, the KKs will last forever and don't impart a plastic taste. More importantly, you can put coffee, tea or juice in a KK, wash it out and it won't have the same residual taste that plastic would. Just don't bite down on the hard sport top of a KK.

Jannd Rear Rack vs. Tubus Cargo - prefer Tubus
The hardware on the Tubus is tubing, which is super stiff compared to the flexy stays of the Jannd. Didn't think I would notice, but the first tour with the Tubus, the load just felt "tighter." Also, the two sets of rails lets me put the panniers on a lower tier, not interfering with things I have to tie to the top. The Tubus racks also wear a lot nicer. The paint doesn't flake off as easily.

Acorn Bag vs. Ostrich - prefer Acorn
The Ostrich is a good bag in its own right. Affordable. Available. The Acorn is just nicer and there are a lot of great details. Better closures for pockets, main bay opens toward the rider, a lot stiffer fabric and stiffeners. Plus the tan one totally matches my LHT.

Riv Wool Undies vs. Justin Charles Wool Undies - prefer JC
The Justin Charles boxers seem to be a wee bit thicker and more robust wool. I've had to darn my a few of my Rive ones, but the JC ones are still going strong. The extra length of the JC ones also prevent the legs from riding up AS much.

GSI Kettle vs. boiling in a pot - prefer GSI Kettle
The kettle is small and lightweight and looks good. You'll always have nice non-food tasting water for tea with the kettle, instead of washing out a pot you used for dinner.

Dirt roads vs. Paved Roads - prefer Dirt
Though a lot tougher, more remote and demands more from you, I prefer the dirt roads. Less traffic. You can ride two or three abreast. And no doubt, wherever you go it'll be an adventure. Just have a good map and sense of direction and you'll be ok.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday reminder...

Apologies for the repost from my other blog...just a friendly reminder ;)

We broke 100 votes! Awesome! Thanks so much to everyone that has voted and left a word of encouragement. It means loads to Laura and me. Special thanks to EcoVelo, Team Potter Cycling, Cycleicious and Bilenky for putting something up on their sites!

We've still got a ways to go, so if you haven't voted yet, then click HERE!

And if you want to post about it on your respective site/blog/tweet, then that's just more awesomeness!

A little montage...

Decided to make a small vid with some photos. The opening footage is one of two videos I shot while in Joshua Tree before my Flip stopped working. Luckily, it was good take and makes for a great intro! We haven't quite been everywhere (yet), but we've been a few places and I took some pictures to prove it :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Planet Bike Dynamo Light - Part 2

I know what you're thinking. Finally, the follow-up to my first article about the Planet Bike Dynamo light! Well, I try to be thorough and really try to put a product through the paces before I post about it.

Just a quickie recap. The Blaze Dynamo is the dynamo powered version of the very popular Blaze 1W light by Planet Bike. They share a nearly identical form factor. For all practical purposes, it is almost the same light with these two exceptions 1) the Blaze Dynamo runs on a dynamo (duh) 2) the Blaze Dynamo only has two settings, a high steady light and a strobe setting. The original battery powered version had three settings 1)high beam 2) low-ish beam 3) strobe. I'm assuming that the thinking is that since there is no need to worry about batteries, you'll just run it on high...which just makes sense.

So, if the Blaze 1W is great, shouldn't the Blaze Dynamo be great +1? Well, yes and no and it depends on your expectations.

Let me explain.

Blaze Dynamo as City Light
If your expectations are that this will be a Blaze 1W that you don't have to bother with batteries, then you'll be perfectly happy. The Blaze 1W, I feel, is one of the best in-city bike commuting lights there are for the price. The dynamo version is just as great without the need to worry for batteries. The strobe mode gives you plenty of fire-power to BE SEEN. I've even taken to leaving the strobe mode ON during the DAY as sort of a daytime running light.

The high beam is pretty bright, though to be honest, a bit narrow and focused for my taste. It will work just fine in the city with ambient light, allowing you to anticipate pot-holes and other road irregularities.

If you judge it within those parameters, then you'll be pleased. It fulfills its promise in delivering the same quality of light as the Blaze 1W without the need to worry about batteries.

Blaze Dynamo as High End Touring/Rando Light
There are A LOT of new LED-based dynamo lights out there. When I was shopping around for one a few years ago, the only decent looking one was an Inoled 10+ that I bought from Peter White. Now there is quite a few to choose from. Just check out Peter's page on "lighting systems" for pete's sake.

You've got the Edelux, the Supernova E3, B&M Fly, IQ Cyo, InoLed Extreme, etc., No doubt in a few months, we'll see the introduction of the Suprem-elux, SuperDuperNova E10, InoLed get the picture.

The Blaze Dynamo is not in the same class as these lights, but nor was its designed to compete with them. I say this because if you're looking to find a cheap Edelux in the Blaze Dynamo, you ain't gonna find it there.

That said, I have taken the Blaze Dynamo on tour and have ridden with it at night in some areas where there wasn't a whole lot of light. The light was pretty bright, maybe a little less bright than my InoLed 10. However, the issue isn't really brightness as it is beam spread with this light. If you could take the same amount of light and just make the coverage broader, the light would be exponentially better. Because it is so narrow, I had a tendency to be a little more cautious when riding with it if there wasn't sufficient ambient light.

Design Issues

The problem with using the same exact form factor as the battery version is that it looks too much like a removable battery powered light. The thinking is that if it looks like something you can swipe, people are going to try to swipe it. It's a point I can understand, so I went a little out of my way to make it seem like a more permanent light. I more or less field stripped the handlebar mount and made the light into a bolt on light on my front rack.

I think it works. It isn't as readily identifiable as a removable light, I think. However, I do agree with many readers that future iterations should have a more stubby, permanent looking form factor.

OR, if they are going to keep the same form factor, there should be some sort of in-line release mechanism for the cable. A few readers suggested splicing an inline connector like the ones pictured below. I think this would be a good design change, if PB decides to still produce it with the QR handlebar bracket.

Conclusion - The Pros and Cons

The Pros
-Affordable (if you've got a dynamo wheel already). A good LED dynamo light from reputable company that will not kill your wallet. What you pay up front you save on in batteries.
-If you liked the battery version, you'll also like the dynamo version.
-Good light for city and commuting. Very eye-catching strobe mode (something you can now leave on during the day as sort of a day-time running light!)

The Cons
-Looks like a "steal-able" light, might tempt someone to rip yer cables out.
-The light has QR bracket but there is no in-line QR for the cable!
-Bright light but narrow beam, not the best for riding with no ambient light.

Recommend with some caveats.
As an in-city Commuter light - B+
As a touring light for use on roads with no ambient light - C