Category Archives: Reviews
Kitted, So Kitted: The Fyxomatosis Predator Kit
Kitted, So Kitted: The Fyxomatosis Predator Kit

I think it’s safe to say that the whole camo thing is at its prime so simply slapping an ambiguous pattern on a cycling kit, or apparel isn’t going to cut it. There has to be something unique, or even vernacular about the presentation. Enter the Fyxomatosis “Predator” cycling kit.

Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform, or Auscam was developed in the 70′s and 80′s. Used by the Australian Defence Force, Auscam is very distinctly Australian. As Australian as meat pies and yes, as Australian as Fyxo himself.

Andy sent me one of these kits a few weeks back, which I subsequently shredded (literally) on the first MTB ride. Since Andy still owes me $999.99 from a bet, I told him I’d clear his debt if he sent me another one and here it is.

The kit itself is made from really nice fabric and stuff. The fabric is as Italian as a cannoli stain on an Armani suit, uses YKK zippers, J-TECK dies for crisp sublimation, UV protection SPF 25+ and has passed extensive PiNP x FYXO testing in only the finest lab conditions (i.e. the wood).

While the US dollar is stronger than the AUS, scoop one up at FYXO… and yes, this stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me.

See more photos in the Gallery and all the fit information, plus detail photos you need at FYXO.

Aug 21, 2013 12 comments
Speedvagen: Black on Black Integrated Stems in Stock

When Speedvagen first announced the Integrated stems earlier this year, people were split like a cable yoke. Some liked it, some hated it but I loved mine. I loved it so much that I paid Speedvagen to paint me a one-off (at the time) black on black Integrated stem for my Geekhouse.

Turns out, black on black looks great and so now, Speedvagen is offering this murderously-sleek stem in their web shop for $350.

Now, considering ENVE sells these stems for $280, I think that’s a fair price for internal cable routing and a sick in-house Vanilla paint job.

Need a review of the stem? Check out more below.

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Aug 12, 2013 19 comments
How Shooting Film Made Me a Better Photographer
Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Clothing Cart, China, 2013 / Mamiya 7ii / 80mm / Kodak Portra 400

Like many design students, my first experiences with photography came from an educational environment. In architecture college, we were taught some very simple, fundamental ideas to capturing space through light and composition. While I wouldn’t consider my early experiences with photography the same as actual photo students’, I would say that it greatly influenced my eye and in a lot of ways, hindered my ability to produce a decent photo.

The most pressing reason being the architectural ‘rules’ of photography: vertical lines should always be straight, view a space like a 2-point perspective, before examining other possibilities, rules of thirds, etc. We were told to idolize Francis Ching, which can make for great architectural photos but when it comes to moving, vibrant moments, can make life rather boring and stagnant. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

One of the biggest downfalls with my introduction to photography was the lack of precedents. It’s a shame for me to admit that most photographers I studied, or had any interest in learning about shot only (or mostly) buildings. Which, as I would find out later on, during a major ‘career shift’, wouldn’t apply as much as I had hoped.

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed a change in my photography. The only reason I’m even bringing this up is because multiple people have pointed it out to me. Now, I do not like talking about my ‘work’. It’s not that I’m overly confident with it, it’s that I have a hard time considering myself a photographer. I’m confident with what I do, just not presenting it in any artistic light.

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Aug 12, 2013 34 comments
My Geekhouse Woodville Touring Bike = The Right Equipment
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Photo by Kevin Edward Brown of Yonder Journal

I know I’ve already talked a lot about this bike, but I still can’t get over how much fun the State of Jefferson Brovet was last month. One of the reasons it was enjoyable was because of the equipment I used. There’s a lot to be said about the traditional randonneur events, all of which will not be discussed here. This is more a reflection on a ride that could have been hell for me, had I not planned accordingly.

After bonking and consequently pulling out of the second Brovet, due to a lack of adequate planning, I wasn’t going to let that happen on the latest ride. The stats were heavy. 250 ish miles and around 20,000′ in a day and a half was a big undertaking, especially with the weather fluctuations that you experience in California altitudes.

Check out more below.

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Aug 5, 2013 17 comments
Cool Mornings and the Endo Vest
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It’s been in the 50′s every morning up in the mountains of Vermont where I’m staying even though last week it was in the upper 90′s. As I was packing for this trip, at the last minute, I grabbed my Endo Customs wind vest and tossed it into my duffle. This one in particular is the Tracko splinter camo design, which came out ridiculously rad.

The thing about vests is they keep your core warm, without overheating you like a jacket and they’ll pack away into a jersey pocket with ease. The Endo vests have three pockets, vented sides and a large zipper pull that’s easily found through full finger gloves. I’ve only used it a few times and I’ve got no complaints. It fits better than other gilets or vests I’ve used, especially when coupled with Endo kits.

Really, the only bummer is, you can’t buy it direct from Endo, you have to wait until someone sells a design as part of a kit. Winter is coming and I think I’ve got a pretty rad idea for my next kit run, so stay tuned!

Jul 25, 2013 7 comments
Review: Swift Ozette Randonneur Bag
Initial Reaction: Swift Ozette Randoneur Bag

When I first came across Swift Industries, I didn’t even have a use for the Ozette randonneur bag and yet, I really, really wanted one. My last touring bike was set up for a handlebar-mounted bag. At the time, I chose Arkel as a manufacturer and I still have it, but I wasn’t happy enough with it to put it to use on the new Geekhouse tourer. I wanted my front weight as low as I could get it and the Arkel sat too high. The older model bag also wasn’t water proof. Or even water-resistant. Not ideal for a touring rig. The 2013 model is water proof, however.

Two large panniers and a large randonneur-style front bag is all I need for touring portage. The Ozette randonneur bag has so far, been the perfect choice for the Geekhouse. Without leaping to any great tech-overview, I’ll just say that Swift and Geekhouse are a good pairing and when it comes down to it, the 10.5 litre capacity of this bag is a large improvement over what I was used to with the Arkel (which has 10 litres of space but the aforementioned weight distribution makes it a less than ideal option).

Along with the large compartment, there are five external pockets and a top map-case. The two back pockets will fit an iPhone, a point and shoot camera, film and anything else you’d need to access without reaching under a jacket and into a jersey pocket. The front pocket is out of reach while riding, so things like first aid, camping supplies, or what have you would go there. The map-case is big. Big enough for maps or cue sheets. Each of these are covered with a loop-secured, top-flap. For quick stashability, the two side pockets do wonders. All in all, I fit everything I’d need for a long ride, like a Brovet, just fine.

All of this from a classic design and a waterproof construction. Now, securing the bag to the appropriate rack is the most important part. My Geekhouse rack is wide enough to where the velcro straps hold the base of the bag just fine. With a “tombstone” rack extension, I could slip it in the bag’s sleeved support but it wasn’t enough to keep the Ozette laterally-stable. Two zip ties did the trick but I’ll still use a decaleur for increased support, at which time, I’ll remove the zip ties. This will enable me to use the handy shoulder strap Swift supplies.

Right now, out of the box, so to speak, the Ozette randonneur bag is a customizable, modern-spin on a classic design. I picked my colors, added it to the shopping basket on Swift’s site and it showed up under a month later. All for $210. I have nothing against Berthoud, Ostrich or other manufacturers, I just wanted to support a new, smaller company in Seattle. Plus the olive looks great on the bike. See more at Swift Industries and if you’re still reading without clicking through the Gallery, check out more detail photos there!

Jul 9, 2013 18 comments
Product Review: Bruce Gordon Rock N Road Tires
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If you need scientific data to support tire purchasing, you need not continue reading. Just look at the pretty photos and move on. This is not a controlled test on rolling resistance, aerodynamics or puncture protection. I don’t do that kind of product review. What I do is actually use something until I feel like I can sign off on its quality, before I choose to write anything.

Let’s look at this tire’s history before we go any further. Bruce Gordon was arguably one of the first builders in the USA to support “gravel grinding”. His bikes were straight-forward, utilitarian beasts that sometimes were painted like an 80′s hotrod, or even adorned with animal print. They are wild. In fact, one of the first BG bikes I ever saw was a flat bar cross bike, with these tires and tiger stripes that was well before any 29′r hit the market. A lot of bikes back in the 80′s couldn’t even fit these tires. There weren’t exactly stock framesets that fit a 700c x 43c wheel, so these stood out from other offerings of the time.

Bruce’s Rock N Road tires are iconic, much like his bikes. Originally designed by Joe Murray, a well-known figure in the MTB community. These 43mm (1.72″) tires were designed to be high-volume, fast rolling and rip through gravel like I rip through a Frito Pie. Are they slow on the road? Of course. They have decent tread. Are they good for loose and sandy conditions? Mostly, yes. They move as fast as you pedal them.

The Rock N Road tire is one that’s at home on chip seal, paved, gravel, rock, sand and just about everything else you can throw at it on a ride. It’ll handle great at 60psi on asphalt and excel at 40psi in gravel. I had a great time ripping through the cedar-topped trails here in Austin, as well as a few gravel roads and even rocky terrain. All save for one flat (snake bite in a rock garden), I’ve yet to have any issues. Let me add however that if all you do is ride sealed roads on your rig, I would go for something else, mostly because you’ll probably wear through the tread too fast.

Puncture protection? It’s not thorn season here in Austin, so I’ve yet to tackle anything like that but I’d say they’re pretty resilient to the normal road and trail debris. Some tire liners would help and I read somewhere that people have been successful at running these on a tubeless wheel. If anyone has insight to that, share in the comments!

If you want a big, fat tire for your cross, touring or even MTB with 700c or 29′r wheels, look no further. $50 a piece is a great deal for anything coming out of the Panaracer facilities in Japan I might add! For the weight-conscious, they’re 540g each. One major note. They’re BIG and wouldn’t come close to fitting on my cross bike, so MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CLEARANCE!

Pick up a pair at Bruce Gordon’s online shop in skinwall or blackwall.

Jul 2, 2013 7 comments
What Shoes are Those?
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I know I’ve plugged the Giro Privateer shoes numerous times on the site before and yet I continue to get emails from people asking what shoes I wear on my cross and mountain bike. These days, I travel exclusively with my Mudville cross bike. For road rides, I bring Jack Brown tires, for dirt, I bring Grifos. Spending serious saddle time in shoes will either make or break your relationship with them but spending a lot of time on the road in MTB shoes is sure to test their comfort.

In dirt, you tend to move around a lot more, stop, hike and the time you spend actually sitting and climbing is limited. At least in my experience anyway. Especially when I come to California, I find myself climbing mountains on my cross bike, in these shoes. People often comment on how they hate riding road in mountain shoes and I used to hate it as well but then I got the Giro Privateers. I’ve been amazed at how comfortable they are, at such an affordable pricepoint. They also come in HV, or “high volume” for wider feet.

This isn’t a “paid advert”, this is just me sharing with you something that I use a lot more than I anticipated…

Jun 24, 2013 14 comments
Review: SWRVE BLK Japanese Canvas Trouser Shorts
A Short Review with SWRVE's BLK Japanese Canvas Trouser Shorts

I feel like over the past few years, I’ve begun to appreciate a good pair of shorts. So far this spring, I’ve had a few pairs on heavy rotation but since acquiring a pair of the SWRVE BLK Japanese Canvas trouser shorts, I’ve barely taken them off and I’m pretty sure that’s what SWRVE wants you to do.

This Japanese canvas is coated with a special treatment to give them a broken-in look after a few weeks of wear and riding. The fabric took only a day to loosen up and break in, something I wasn’t expecting as they’re kind of stiff feeling when you first put them on.

A 9″ inseam is what many would consider too short for comfort but I’ve taken a liking to their fit. When walking or riding, they sit a few inches above the knee caps, but when you sit down, they tend to hike up a bit more, usually around your riding tan line and cyclists love to show that off, right?

Two pockets on the rear will hold your wallet and what have you, with one zippered pocket to ensure you don’t lose your keys. Signature SWRVE detailing like a soft lining around the waist, durable belt loops and one reflective loop strip set these apart from many other “cycling-specific” shorts. All this with a zippered fly.

I’ve only had these for a little over two weeks now, so they’ve yet to show heavy signs of breaking in, but as with all of SWRVE’s products, especially the BLK line, I’m sure they’ll hold up fine to daily use.

Since these are Made in the USA and small batch, you can expect a retail of $100. Money well spent if you ask me…

Scoop up a pair at SWRVE and check out a few more photos in the Gallery!

Jun 17, 2013 22 comments
Summer Essential: The Rapha Lightweight Bib Short
The black and white design matches just about any jersey, including my favorite one...

It’s usually hotter than hell in Texas come this time of year but lately, we’ve been lucky. The 90′s have only just now crept in, but with all the rain and cloud cover, the roads and trails are still busy, even at the peak times. Naturally, with rain comes water holes, rope swings and excessive #Corndogging, meaning you’re usually spending some wet chamois time on the ride home. My usual kit of choice comes from Endo, but I’ve also been enjoying the Search and State bibs and these Rapha Lightweight Bib Shorts. All of which get heavy rotation from me, as I usually ride in the morning and evening come the summer months.

For the past few weeks, I’ve had the Rapha Lightweight bibs on more than I expected. As the name implies, they’re lightweight, super comfortable, fast drying and quite minimally branded. The signature asymmetrical leg band and classic fit can mesh quite well into any jersey combination and with a few extra details, you can tell Rapha took some time to think of the people who live in miserably hot conditions. A high-wicking mesh, more breathable fabric, SPF protection and a “thank god” cut-away back section keep your spine cool and ready for a cold water bottle squirt.

But my favorite feature of these shorts is how fast they dry. With all the rain we’ve had in Austin, a mid-ride dip in the Greenbelt, Barton Springs or other hole is inevitable, and sometimes a creek crossing depending on how dialed your route is. Regardless as to how you find yourself getting wet, these shorts dry out faster than any other bib I’ve had and that goes for the post-ride wash as well.

One concern is the fit. Since they’re a bit stretchy, you might consider going down a size, depending on how tight you like your shorts. The fit on the Lightweight bibs is a lot like the Classic bibs, with a little more room than the Pro line but since the fabric is lighter, I find it stretches about 30 minutes into a ride. I wear a large here, but could probably squeeze into the medium. This is also probably do to my own weight loss as well though. Bottom line is: try them on first if you can.

Bibs are one of the most essential items in one’s kit. Options are great and all the bibs I mentioned above are worthy of anyone’s drawer, so next time you see these in your shop, feel them, try them on but don’t be afraid to pull the trigger… Check out some more narrated photos in the Gallery.

Jun 7, 2013 10 comments