For those who need a really bright headlight—I mean a really bright headlight—I call your attention to the NiteRider Pro 1800 Race. Designed for mountain bike racing, there are legitimately times when I’ve felt the need for a truly high-powered light with a long burn time. For example, a long time ago I used to work 10 miles out of the city, and the last 5 miles took me up a windy country road with few streetlights and lots of fast moving pickup trucks. Not only was riding home dangerous because traffic might not see me, but the long downhill stretches allowed me to cruise at the legal speed limit. And at high speeds, more light is always better.
There are also people who just want to feel a little more powerful when they’re out there mixing it up with cars in the city at night. I assure you, you’ll be seen with 1800 lumens. I’ve actually had a lot more cars yield the right of way when I use super bright headlights, perhaps because they assume I’m on a motorcycle.
The package includes everything you would expect, including quick-release bar and helmet mounts. The helmet mount does allow for the slightest amount of jiggle, but the bar mount is rock solid. It also allows for an incredible amount of adjustment, so even if your bars have a lot of sweep or you have to mount the light on the tapered portion, you can still make the lamp point straight ahead.
At 1200 lumens you can expect to get about 1 hour and 30 minutes of run time. At 700 lumens you should get 3 hours, 400 lumens yields 4 hours, 200 lumens 12 hours, and 80 lumens 25 hours. It takes about five hours to fully charge the four cell Lithium Ion battery. Apparently a battery this powerful requires a real charger, thus it’s not USB rechargeable.
I do enjoy using the Pro 1800 Race for its intended purpose—nighttime mountain biking. While I had been quite content riding with my various high-powered commuter lights, I really couldn’t be happier now.
One last thing to mention is that the light unit has a really simple eight-step battery gauge. As long as it’s bar-mounted, you can always see how much power you have left.
The Pro 1800 Race weighs 484 g and retails for $350. Check out www.niterider.com
The Pixel Port is part of Osprey’s Portal Series, which puts an emphasis on carrying and accessing your personal technology—your mobile phone, your laptop, and of course your tablet. One thing that I can’t deny is that Osprey knows how to make a good backpack, so even though the Pixel Port isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I knew it would be someone else’s. So I handed the backpack off to a friend who just happened to be researching backpacks already. Here’s what she had to say:
Things that are cool about it:
• Adjustable sternum strap that fits my small frame
• Bright green lining
• Front zipper pocket that’s not too deep, so I never have to fish around for my phone/keys
• Key clip on the inside
• Lots of organization
• My 15.6-inch laptop fits snugly. And when my roommate’s Macbook Air was in there instead, it still felt very secure.
• iPad window—works. But when there’s not an iPad in it, I still used the pocket for small nick-nacks that I didn’t want to have to fish around for (small bottle opener, thimble, pair clips—although there are also other pockets you can put these things in). Once, I left a notepad in there that was open to my to-do list for the day, and that was awesome.
• I like how low-profile this bag is. And also how light it makes three bottles of tequila seem.
I wish it had Velcro so I wouldn’t have to use the clips all the time when I’m running around town with this bag.
The Poxel Port is available in four colors: pinot red, black pepper, chestnut brown and grey herringbone (pictured). Dry weight is 1 lb 10 oz. It retails for $119. www.ospreypacks.com
The DZR Marco is a polo-specific SPD-compatible high-top built around a nylon shank that provides a strong, stiff platform for efficient power transfer on the bike, in a style you can wear off. Polo can be a rough sport on the ankles, but the Marco’s high-top design includes a surprising amount of protection. The ankle padding feels like a cross between a lightweight hiking shoe and the pillowy interior of a skateboarding shoe without making them look like a set of clogs. I’ve never really been one for wearing high-tops, but after taking a few knocks, I have to say that I may be converted.
The Marco’s sole is well designed for both clipless and flat pedals. While I ride clipless for polo, I was impressed with the grip the sole had on flat BMX pedals. On the clipless side, the new fiberglass filled nylon shank is noticeably stiffer than earlier DZR models, and reportedly much more durable under serious abuse. The recessed cleats rarely touch the ground, a huge plus for folks using soft cleats, though be prepared to use a spacer under your cleat if you prefer clipless pedals with a platform. Another benefit of the large cleat area is that I didn’t have a problem with mud gumming up my cleats when the weather turned sour. Despite the stiffness of the soles, I was very comfortable wearing the Marcos for the full length of a polo weekend including the six-hour drive to the tournament.
Stylistically I really dig the black with gum sole, and the embossed mallet on the lace strap. The toe box and sides of the Marco are perforated to allow for better ventilation in warmer weather. Given the perforation, I was surprised to notice that my feet never felt as though they were sloshing around in the shoe, even in a torrential downpour. My feet were very wet, but the ventilation made sure that the shoes didn’t fill up with water.
The DZR team has been very receptive to comments from the polo community with regards to what players want from a polo shoe. The $130 Marco addresses the issues I’ve had in the past with other clipless shoes for polo and is worthy of being the first purpose-built polo shoe. www.dzrshoes.com
Contributed by friend of Urban Velo and ever-traveling polo player Nico Paris.
Swiftwick’s Sustain line is the only sock on the market that’s made using Repreve post-industrial recycled nylon. These American-made socks feature compression technology and antimicrobial properties, as well as all of the other features you would expect from a purpose made athletic sock.
I know from experience that Swiftwick makes a high-quality product. I got my first pair in 2008 and those socks are still in regular rotation with no real signs of wear and tear. And their merino wool socks are some of my all time favorites.
The Sustain socks have a nice bit of padding on the soles—not too much, but noticeably more than most cycling socks. Swiftwick makes a point of distinguishing themselves in the compression sock market by focusing on the food bed, not just the calf. I can’t say whether they’ve improved my cycling performance, but I can attest to the fact that they’re really comfortable.
The socks in the Sustain line are available in black or white and in a variety of sizes and cuff heights. Retail prices range from $12 to 17. Check out www.swiftwick.com
Those familiar with Five Ten know that Stealth Rubber was designed for rock climbing. Several iterations later, they’ve tuned their rubber technology for the cycling world, adding durability and additional shock absorption to their remarkably sticky outsoles. It’s hard to quantify how much traction these shoes provide, but rest assured it’s immediately noticeable.
The Contact design is treadless beneath the ball of the foot. This allows the rider to adjust their foot position without hanging up on the pins that are often used on flat pedals. While not of the utmost concern for the average rider, myself included, this feature is especially useful for technical applications such as jumping and trick riding. And rest assured, the soft and sticky nature of the Stealth Rubber more than makes up for the shoe’s lack of tread, even in wet conditions.
Speaking of wet conditions, the uppers are DWR treated for water resistance. They’re extremely well crafted with an emphasis on durability, and they feature a bit of moisture wicking insulation for cold weather riding. Honestly, I didn’t notice the insulation, I generally expect skate-style shoes to be warmer than others. Considering there is additional foam, I suppose the Five Ten design breathes and wicks better than average. One other thing worth mentioning is that the uppers feature an asymmetrical welt, which provides additional durability for the side of the shoe that faces the crankarm.
I suppose most people will either love or hate the styling. I actually appreciate the rather bold color choices for a change, as these shoes remind me of the skate shoes I used to wear back in the 90′s. In addition to the Ocean Depths color scheme pictured here, there’s a slightly more subdued Dawn Blue/Pewter model.
The Freerider VXi Elements is available in US men’s sizes 2-15 and retails for $120. Check out www.fiveten.com