Category Archives: Initial Reaction
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
Initial Reaction: Chrome Niko Camera Pack
ChromeNiko-9

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
Mad Fiber’s High Tech Wheels are Made in the USA
Mad Fiber's High Tech Wheels are Made in the USA

A wise man once said “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades” and those words still hold true today but for those who are looking for cutting edge wheel technology to aid in their performance, the name Mad Fiber might come to mind. Now, I am the last person on the face of the Earth that wants or needs carbon wheels like this but they’re not even mine. So technically, “Don’t buy upgrades, borrow them from the rep” fits here.

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Jan 8, 2013 23 comments
Review: White Leather Specialized 74 Road Shoes
Initial Reaction: White Leather Specialized 74 Road Shoes

I have a problem. I can’t seem to turn down a pair of road shoes. Especially the 74 road from Specialized. These shoes have all the bells and whistles of a modern road shoe but are clad in a supple kangaroo leather. Complete with Specialized’s Boa technology, the only thing that’s throwback about the 74s is their material.

Right off the bat though, you’ll notice that the silhouette is lower than other shoes. By comparison, the heel is a centimeter lower than others I own. I thought it would be an issue with rubbing but all it took was putting the shoes on, tightening the two Boa lace systems and immediately, you can feel how different these shoes are.

It doesn’t end there. The Full Body Geometry system features in the outsole and High Performance Footbed change your alignment while pedaling, while reducing hot spots. Without going too far into this fit theory, it essentially straightens your legs as you pedal. Basically it feels like your cleats are wedged towards the outside of your shoe. A sensation that disappeared after a few miles.

The Boa system is easy to adjust on the fly, after you’ve done 30 miles or so (my feet swell during riding). While some have complained about the heel cup and ankle rub, I will say that like a good work boot, fit is essential. You’ve really got to nail down your size, so buy from a local dealer, or be prepared to send a pair back if you ordered online. At $400 a pop, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper fit. A shoe that’s properly fit will not rub.

For instance, I normally wear a 47 but ended up sticking with a 46. They’re were a bit tight on the sides of the shoe but have already begun to form around my foot. There is no fore and aft movement when I pedal: they’re snug but comfortable. Since I have only ridden these a few times, I’ll have to leave this Initial Reaction where it stands, with a follow up to come. Until then, check out some more photos in the Gallery.

Dec 14, 2012 16 comments