Category Archives: Reviews
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
Review: Search and State S1-A Jersey and S1-S Bibs
This kit is as comfy on the bike as it is in the grass.

Without a doubt, green is a color of spring…

I’ve been a supporter of Search and State since I first caught wind of their operations in New York City. Their S1-A jersey is a staple in my daily rotation (see my older product review here) and now, the S1-S bibs have been providing me with comfortable rides on all my bikes. S&S’s line is minimally branded, made in New York City from technical fabrics and is far from your standard cycling apparel.

So far, I’ve logged about 10 rides in the shorts, washed them, hung them out to dry and even dried them on medium heat. They still look brand new and they hold their black dye. I know the price might seem a little steep, but bibs are something you’ll wear much more than a jersey. Plus, they’re each made by hand in NYC and domestic production is a little more expensive for a reason.

As far as fit is concerned, I’d rate their sizing a bit like a club cut. If you’re unsure which size to get, go down. I usually wear an medium or large in club bibs and XL in race cut. Here, I’m wearing a large and the fit is comfortable, without being restricting. What I’m most impressed with though is the detailing and how soft the fabric feels. That and they look great with any jersey…

While this particular color-pairing looks great on the road, it also beckons for the ‘wood, so I took to the trails yesterday afternoon before shooting these photos. Check out my thoughts on these two garments in the narrated Gallery.

Search and State S1-A Riding Jersey $125
Search and State S1-S Riding Short $210

May 9, 2013 4 comments
I Reckon It’s Almost Time
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For a new cap? Maybe not… At this point, US Customs could sample it and find bacteria from four different countries. Long live the magic of riding bikes.

Apr 16, 2013 1 comment
Review: Shinola Runwell Porteur – Made in the USA
Initial Reaction: Shinola Runwell Porteur

Detroit has a long tradition of US manufacturing and it’s this very tradition that Shinola is looking to continue with their brand. The company began with watches, a common, everyday object that hasn’t been mass produced in the United States for decades. But Shinola knew that in order to bring that industry back to Detroit, they’d have to enlist in the help of true craftsmen. Ronda AG, a Lausen, Switzerland-based movement manufacturer is working with Shinola on their Argonite 1069 watch movement assemblage and that’s only the beginning.

Similarly, when Shinola began to design their bicycles, they looked to Wisconsin and the Waterford facilities for fabrication. Inspired by French porteurs and light tourers, the Shinola Runwell is an ideal city bike and you don’t need any fancy Swiss movement to get these bikes rolling. An 11-speed Alfine hub effortlessly shifts this mid-trail bike through your city or countryside. Load up the front rack with groceries, post office runs, beer, or what have you and just go! If you need to stop on a dime, the mechanical disk brakes will do the trick.

The Runwell has details. Waterford’s simple and classy lugwork, along with a bright Cherokee red paint job (it’s really bright!) really compliments the mostly chrome components. Even the gusset on the non-drive fork leg resolves any stress riser issue you might have with disk tabs on a mid-trail ride. Shinola went the extra mile with their branded saddle and grips and the 32c Continental Contact tires will roll without getting flats from thorns or glass.

Check out more below.

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Feb 20, 2013 20 comments
An Ode to the Grifo

I have a love / hate relationship with this tire. Last year, I had a bad batch. The tread pulled off almost immediately but luckily, they were easy enough to return. I swore them off, claiming they were just popular because of their gum-colored side wall. It took me going to LA and seeing how people rode their Grifos on everything: asphalt, dirt, rock, and even mud (yes, there’s mud in SoCal).

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Feb 15, 2013 19 comments
Initial Reaction: Chrome Niko Camera Pack
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The years I spent in New York make me appreciate two concepts: mobility and real estate. Observing both, in the literal and figurative sense, can teach you everything you need to know about anything, even products. They are key deciding factors in determining something’s usefulness. Quite simply put: how you use the product while moving through space and how the product uses its own space.

When I heard that Chrome had picked up a designer from Lowepro to design their new Niko Camera Pack, I had high hopes that it would be an improvement over last year’s Niko Messenger Sling bag. The design seemed to be simple enough and the product shots made it look like the Niko Pack was just an enlarged by 200% Niko Messenger.  I shoot multiple formats and travel a lot with my camera equipment, so I’m always looking for a new bag that meets my needs.

Surely with all this space, it had to be the bag I was looking for?

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Feb 12, 2013 11 comments
Fix it Sticks: Made in the USA Minimalist Bicycle Tools
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Look, I don’t like posting Kickstarter projects. I believe in a good old fashioned pre-order or a loan. Crowd funding has gotten out of hand in the past year and the amount of utter garbage that makes its way to my inbox is embarrassing for the human race. Ok, I’m overreacting here but when I got an email from Brian from Fix it Sticks, I almost deleted it without reading past the word “Kickstarter”. Call me a cynic. What I do appreciate about Kickstarter is many individual’s desire to bring fabrication back Stateside, for even the simplest products.

Cynicism aside, bicycle tools are something we all need, whether at home or on the road. I’m partial to Leyzne’s ultra mini SV tool line for the jersey pocket but sometimes you need a little more leverage (yes, even on the road). The Park tri tool is great but too bulky to take with you. That’s why I dig the Fix it Sticks “tinker toy” design. I put them in my zippered pouch I carry with me on rides and hardly notice that they’re there. There’s no moving parts and you don’t have to worry about losing the tool head (they’re in there!).

Simply arrange the sticks in any order to gain the leverage you prefer on the tool head you need. It’s so simple that I’m surprised Craftsman or someone didn’t already think of it. Check out more photos below and more information at the Fix it Sticks Kickstarter.

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Feb 11, 2013 5 comments
New Bling for the Bishop
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Last summer, Chris King gave me one of their soon-to-be-reissued purple NoThreadSets and all I could think was “this will be perfect on the Bishop”. For whatever reason, it sat on my desk, staring me down until the other day when I finally broke out my headset tools and installed it. This, along with the new Tune Skewers I ordered from Fairwheel Bikes (hey, no one could order them locally) brought just the right amount of purple to the already classy Bishop road.

See a few more shots below.

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Feb 11, 2013 10 comments