QuickFix Mudguard

full windsor mud guard.jpg

This mudguard solves the problem of wanting to keep the clean aesthetic of my bike while staying free of mud during rides. In the past I haven’t liked to clutter up my bike with permanent mudguards, etc. With the Quickfix Mudguard I can snap it on and off whenever I need it without the use of tools.

When I’m not using it, it folds away into my bag where it takes up no space, and it’s really light. It’s also easy to wash and simply requires that I take it off and run it under the tap. It’s made of polypropolene so it’s very hard-wearing while also being strong but flexible at the same time.

-- Helen Wilson  

Quickfix Mudguard
$19

Available from Wiggle
Manufactured by Full Windsor

Sample Excerpts:

full-windsor-quickfix-zoom.jpeg
The Full Windsor Quickfix Mudguard clips onto the bike frame




Origin8 CargoUnit

CLASSIC_CARGO.jpeg

The Origin8 CargoUnit is a great piece of “why did this take so long” common sense technology. These are handle bars that have an integrated basket which is large enough to hold a bike lock, a grocery bag, and anything else that will fit. The construction is rugged, true to Origin8′s line of strong/light components.

These are superior to any number of bolt-on accessories because the basket is part of the handlebars. Aftermarket baskets bounce, come loose, and scratch up the finish of whatever they’re attached to. Because the basket is one with the handlebars, there is none of that. Plus, there’s no way to steal the basket as they are welded together.

Speaking of the weld, these are not toys. The gauge of the tubing and the strength of the joints are on par with pro equipment. This product is serious, and comes at a rise & width to replace bars on fixies, hybrids, or even BMX geometries.

-- James Roche  

Origin8 Cargo Unit
Available in black, white, and silver
$106

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Origin8



Ergon PC2 Bike Pedals

ergon.jpeg

I’ve been using these larger-than-usual ergonomic bike pedals this bike riding season. I’ve always had foot problems from cycling. Almost all bike shoes are too narrow for me and clip-in pedals are small and create pressure points. The Ergon pedals are slightly concave which allows the foot to easily find a position of comfort.

These pedals are extremely comfortable all day long, and I have found that they increase pedaling power. Sure they look geeky, but they are one pragmatic tool.

-- Curtis Wenzel  

Ergon PC2 Bike Pedal
$80

Available from REI

Manufactured by Ergon



Kryptonite Evolution U-Lock

Krypto Lock.jpeg

I live in Baltimore, a city that still struggles with crime. As such, I take the security of my belongings seriously, and no place is this more evident than with the thing I most often leave in public: my bike.

In the past, and in safer cities, I have used steel cable locks without any problems. However, while locking my bike up around Baltimore I would frequently see the cut remains of thick steel cable locks. My dismay was reinforced when I saw a video of the time (mere seconds) it took to cut through even a thick steel cable lock with a pair of bolt cutters. Disconcerted, I asked my bike-savvy friends for a better solution. The universal answer was a Kryptonite U-lock coupled with a steel cable used to lock both your front and rear wheel to the bike frame and an immovable object.

I have a mixed history with Kryptonite. Eight years ago I owned and used an early version of their U-lock. Its size, weight, and ungainliness left much to be desired. In addition the model I owned had an embarrassing reputation for being picked by nothing more than a simple Bic pen. So I was wary when everybody and anybody with any knowledge about urban bike riding told me to use a Kryptonite lock.

After a few months with the new U-lock it is clear that eight years of substantial design changes have made a difference. Not only have they fixed almost every issue I had with my old U-lock, but they have made it smaller, lighter, and more secure.

Favored by bike couriers, the U-Lock is designed to couple the front wheel to the frame of the bike while locking to an external post, stop sign, or other immovable object. What Kryptonite has done to make this more usable is by shrinking the width and length of the U-lock so that it fits snugly into most back pockets (while the shorter length means it doesn’t fall out while riding). This subtle change makes it far easier to carry the lock thereby avoiding the need for a bag, or even for attaching it to the frame of the bike through a plastic connector (which are, at best, unreliable and prone to breaking).

In shrinking the lock for portability Kryptonite has also made it more difficult for bike thieves to steal the bike by preventing them from fitting a car jack between the lock and the steel bar (the main technique used to bust larger U-locks).

The one downside to Krytponite’s U-lock will always be its significant heft. The lock is predominantly made up of a solid chunk of hardened steel, and as such it weighs a considerable amount. But the knowledge that my bike is safer is much less of a burden than the few ounces of steel.

-- Oliver Hulland  

[For those interested in something even more secure and don't mind the extra heft, Kryptonite makes an overbuilt U-lock that is a bit more expensive available at Amazon.--OH]

Kryptonite Evo Bike Lock and Steel Cable
$49

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Kryptonite



Knog Boomer Tail Light

knog boomer.jpeg

I have had countless bike lights stolen over the years. Part of this is due to forgetfulness, but also to the difficulty of quickly removing the light from the bike when I’m finished with my ride.

Knog lights have fixed this problem through the use of silicone cases. The stretchy silicone easily wraps around any bar on the bike, providing a secure, but flexible, attachment on even the bumpiest of roads. In the past, Knog has been criticized for producing lights that were were more ornamental than functional given their under-powered LEDs. However, the Knog Boomer changes that.

Unlike previous Knog lights I’ve seen, the Boomer tail light is super bright. The three LEDs produce 15-lumens on their highest setting, which, while not significant compared to many high-end flashlights, is plenty for its intended use as a rear tail light.

The unit’s battery life is respectable (12-hours flashing on full brightness) and is made even more palatable through the design’s inclusion of a USB-port that allows for easy charging on any powered USB hub. It might seem strange to rely on a USB-port for charging, but the ubiquity of the interface has made it almost more commonplace than outlets (and even without an outlet you can substitute any iOS charger). Not only does my laptop have two, but my desktop monitor has six, while my external keyboard has another.
knog-usb-boomer.jpeg
Being able to quickly charge my tail light means that it is more likely charged when I ride. Recently, however, my light ran out of juice on a bike ride to a friend’s house. Not only did she not have spare batteries, but she didn’t own a battery charger and so I would have been out-of-luck with most traditional non-wired lights. A quick plug-in to her computer meant that I had a charged light to get me home. While many may complain about the lack of versatility that is associated with using AAs or AAAs, the convenience of a built in charging unit has, for me, far outweighed the benefits of quickly being able to switch out batteries. For those less inclined to charge via USB, Knog makes a non-USB version.

At a time when I am riding my bike more than ever the Knog Boomer tail light has earned its place as one of my favorite bike accessories. It is representative of smart functional design that makes me more likely to be seen, and with any luck a bit safer while out riding.

-- Oliver Hulland  

Knog Boomer Tail Light- USB Rechargeable
$30

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Knog



Dero Track Rack

TrackRackDiagram.jpg

I bought this hanging bike storage system on a recommendation from a bike junkie friend who owned 8 or more bicycles. Tandems, single speed, mountain bikes, road bikes: you name it, he had one, and he stored it on his track rack.

My friend did the heavy work with the research and ultimately recommended the Dero Track Rack when I asked him how to solve my bicycle storage problem. The track went into the basement ceiling with no problem at all: lag bolts into the overhead joists. The track is super strong. The rollers that install in the track look like they are machined to aircraft standards. In short the whole getup is first rate.
dero track rack.jpg

The track has rollers that glide along the track and suspended beneath are a number of “S-hooks” from which you hang the wheel of a bike. What is amazing is how you can move the bikes along the track much the same way you slide shirts in your closet…only easier. The Track Rack has been a lifesaver for me, and now all my bikes are neatly organized and hang from the ceiling.
track rack.jpeg
They are secured so there is absolutely no chance they will be knocked over by anybody. The Track Rack has moved from the basement to the garage, and when I sold the house I made sure to take the Dero Track Rack with me. I can’t see ever parting ways with my Dero Track Rack. It is THAT cool.

-- Bruce Tunno  

Dero Track Rack
$259-539 (price varies based on dimension, call for a quote)

Available from and manufactured by Dero Bike Racks



The Art of Cycling

330.jpeg

While there are thousands of books on bicycling, this is the best book I’ve come across that offers lots of hard-earned, practical advice for staying alive. A former bike messenger, Hurst interviewed many expert cyclists and accomplished what a great how-to book should: he distilled years of experience into a readable, understandable book that can help those with less experience gain tremendously—without having to make all the mistakes themselves.

Readers learn what to be most wary of in city traffic, where to position yourself (not always to the right), how to do hand signals (not what you learned in driver’s ed), the surprising benefits of glancing back, the danger lurking behind gaps in traffic. These and many other practical tips might save you from painful first-hand experience.

I take special delight in how-to books that delve into the counter-intuitive aspects that seem to be part of doing many sports well. For instance, Hurst tells us that vigilance while cycling can actually be relaxing rather than tiresome; it requires light but constant attention and thus ideally takes you away from other thoughts and cares. The more you ride the better you can become at vigilance—although riding will never be a time to totally relax, nor a place to daydream.

If you cycle, or love someone who does, get this book.

Steve Leveen

 

The Art of Cycling
Robert Hurst
2006, 288 p.
$12

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

draisienne.jpg
Before the Leonardo controversy, the invention of the bicycle was most often credited, quite erroneously, to a German fellow named Baron Karl von Drais de Saverbrun, or just Drais. Drais built a wooden, two-wheeled vehicle in 1816 and patented it as the draisienne.

arrow See another excerpt




Topeak Joe Blow Floor Pump

toppeak-joeblow.jpg

After breaking four or five “rugged” bike pumps in four or five years, I made the hefty investment into a Topeak Floor Pump four years ago, which cost about half what I had paid for the “cheap” ones before. It’s still going strong and doesn’t show any sign of wear.

As to which model to choose, it depends on the bike. For a racing bike you’ll want a pump with a small-diameter cylinder, e.g. “Topeak Joe Blow Sport II” while for a commuter bike or a mountain bike you’ll want one with more volume, e.g. “Topeak Joe Blow Max II”.

These pumps are well-built, large enough (that includes handles, too) and have a good pressure gauge. The tube is long enough. But probably the best thing is the “TwinHead”. Depending on the valve type, either side fits. One side for Schrader valves, the other one for narrow valves. No adapter, no hassle, just push on and turn the lever.

-- Bernhard  

[This tool was also recommended by Brian Singer, Alex Beard, Cynthia Norris, and Brad Evans.]

Joe Blow Sport II Floor Pump
$37

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Topeak



SkateMate

skatemate2.jpg

For recreational hockey players keeping your skates sharp isn’t always easy. A good skate shop can be hard to find. The SkateMate is a hand held skate sharpener that helps keep skates in shape between professional sharpenings. It is adjustable, but can, at times, be a bit frustrating.

Using this tool over the last year or so I’ve been able to go about twice as long before needing to go in to a skate shop for a touch up. While not a replacement for a professional, it’s good to know I can use it when my skates get a bit dull.

skatematec.jpg

-- Jonathan Coupe  

Skate Mate
$18

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Sport Mate



Park Team Race Stand

park-race-stand.jpg

Bicycles need routine maintenance to perform safely and efficiently. But without a bike stand you end up kneeling in a contorted position on the cement floor of your dimly lit garage. And this torture, on your knees and your back and your elbows, which no knight of the Inquisition had the genius to invent, is what causes many of us to abandon bicycle maintenance, and eventually our riding.

Serious riders get the idea. But for the rest of us more casual riders, a bike stand, let alone a Park, seems like a ridiculous expense. After all, a bike stand does nothing more than hold your bike firmly at a height and angle that is convenient for you while you work on it.

Until you’ve used a bike stand, it’s hard to communicate what a difference this makes. Your bike now moves, easily, to a position that is convenient for *you*, rather than the other way around. I think I’m an average primate, and the fact is, I’m not going to do jack squat unless it’s easy. And that’s what a bike stand does for bicycle maintenance. Once you remove the physical agony from the picture, working on your bike becomes something you actually look forward to. Would you believe that I actually enjoy cleaning my bike now? Well, you shouldn’t, because that’s crap. But I do keep my bike clean. I do regular maintenance and make significant upgrades to my bikes; all because I know that the bike I am working on is firmly held and at an angle and height that lets me work in comfort. It’s such a small thing, but it makes such a huge difference.

park-race-stand2.jpg

The Park Race Stand was designed to be portable, but without sacrificing strength or stability. It’s equally at home in your garage or in the field. It’s moderately heavy, and a bit ungainly. Getting it in and out of your car is not difficult, but it ain’t enjoyable either. To give the unit its strength and stability, it doesn’t really fold. Instead you just lift it up and the legs sort of drop downward by themselves. There are heavy plastic clips to secure the legs, but a Velcro strap does a better job.

There are a few add-ons that make using a bike stand truly paradise:

01. Get some decent lighting where you keep your stand. A cheap, 4 foot, plug-in fluorescent fixture will give you all the general illumination that you need.

02. You also need some kind of spot illumination to make the tiny part you are adjusting visible. My current favorite is a cheap led head lamp from Home Depot, since it puts the light right where you are looking.

03. If you get a stool, preferably one with wheels, you can adjust the height of the bike to match the height of your stool and work sitting down in tremendous comfort.

04. Get the Park Handlebar Holder as well. This tool holds the handlebars of your bike steady as you are lifting the bike into the stand and also while you work on the bike. Without this tool the handlebars will rotate as you watch with fascination, and helplessness, since both your hands are usually occupied, as the handlebars crunch your fingers or swing with amazing accuracy and momentum into your crotch. After that happens a certain number of times, you buy one of these.

You now have good lighting, a bicycle that is firmly held at the exact height and angle that is convenient for you, and the ability to maintain your bike in comfort. A bike stand is a *transformative* tool. It really changes the experience of working on your bike, and the Park Race stand is the best.

-- Verner  

Park Team Race Stand PRS-20
$200

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Park Tools