HALO is also from the City by the Bay. Their first product, a fiber optic LED belt, was especially well suited for urban cyclists. The HALO ZERO pairs a custom HALO LED optic strip with Rickshaw’s medium size Zero Messenger bag.
The Zero Messenger is an exercise in simplicity. The bag is made from Classic Cordura fabric with no additional liner. This mean’s the bag is light, albeit not waterproof. The bag has just two front pockets and the main compartment—no secret compartments or anything of the sort. In fact, the bag comes with neither a strap pad nor a cross strap—it doesn’t even have closure buckles on the flap. You do, of course, have the option of adding these things and more. But it’s kind of interesting to strip a bag down to its bare essentials and see how well it performs.
And the bag does perform pretty well. At about 11″ high and more than 18″ wide, it holds a decent amount of cargo for a smaller sized messenger bag. Its light and flexible nature allows it to easily conform to your body, making it stay in place relatively well under most circumstances. I do personally like the added stability of a cross strap, but I’ve begrudgingly made due without one. You can order one separately that attaches to the bag’s existing D-rings. I also kind of like having buckle closures, but they can be purchased separately at the time of order. Additionally, an optional padded laptop compartment can be conveniently attached to the existing Velcro strip inside the main compartment. It’s all very well thought out. I do rather wish that the bag came with larger Velcro strips, though.
The HALO component attaches via Velcro to the outside of the bag. The illuminated portion is about .5″ tall and 12″ wide, and is covered by a translucent fabric so that it’s essentially impossible to tell that it’s a light when not in use. It’s also removable, should you desire. The unit is powered by two standard CR2025 batteries which should last between 20 and 75 hours, depending on whether you use ride in solid, strobe or flashing mode.
Unfortunately, my one big nit to pick with this bag is that the light just isn’t very bright. Most high visibility rear lights will temporarily blind you if you stare right at them. This is not the case with the HALO light. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice addition to an existing nighttime safety system, but unfortunately I don’t feel as thought it’s bright enough to rely on by itself.
The bag is available in black with red, yellow, green or blue accents, and the HALO strip shines in the corresponding color. The HALO ZERO retails for $150 and comes with a lifetime warranty. Check out www.rickshawbags.com
It’s become almost embarrassing that I spend so much time staring at my iPhone. But I swear that I’m not just playing Angry Birds and posting my lunch on Instagram. Having a smart phone puts an unfathomable amount of information and incredibly versatile communication at your fingertips. There are times when you may want to have better access to your mobile device while riding your bike, especially with all of the available navigation and tracking apps available. Enter the DRiKASE.
The DRiKASE is a simple yet well-executed design that holds your smart phone on top of your stem. It features urethane and nylon construction, and it seals and attaches via Velcro fasteners. There’s a small pad attached to the fastener, and another removable pad inside to further protect your smart phone from shock and vibrations. The inside pad is removable so that you can still fit many phones, even with a protective case such as an Otter Box. It’s just a hair too small for a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to fit (though an XL version is in the works that will fit larger phones). The DRiKASE is claimed to be “nearly waterproof” and I imagine it would take a storm of biblical proportion for rain to get inside.
Despite my fears, the DRiKASE held my phone safely and securely, even on rough city streets. I didn’t think such thin pads would provide so much shock resistance, but they seem to do an admirable job. I don’t envision using this for every ride, but I’ll definitely feel comfortable using it when I’m looking for a specific address or riding in another city. It’s also nice to note that the mounting strap is removable, so you can use the DRiKASE on or off the bike.
The urethane window not only allows you to see your phone, you’re completely able to operate the touch screen. I was impressed at how little it interferes. It does create an additional glare in some situations, but that’s understandable.
The DRiKASE retails for $30. Check out www.alt-gear.com
There was a time when Timbuk2 was the only brand of messenger bags you would see on a daily basis. But times have changed and there are more bag manufacturers than you can count. Hence, the old dog has had to learn some new tricks, so to speak. In order to stay competitive in today’s market they’ve had to innovate with design, materials and customer service. With the Especial series Timbuk2 set out to showcase their best materials and workmanship, and the Especial Messenger bag may very well be the best bag they’ve ever created.
As you might imagine, Timbuk2 went with tried and true Cordura ripstop nylon construction. They also made significant use of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane laminate) inside and out. The result of the black on black fabrics is both subtle and striking at the same time. What’s more, the entire bag is highlighted with black reflective trim.
The Especial Messenger is available in two sizes, and I had a chance to try out both the small and the medium (pictured). The small bag measures just under 14 x 16 inches, and is a great size for a laptop bag, airline travel, etc. It will work as a commuter bag, but I definitely prefer a bit more cargo capacity. At 18.5 x 16.1, the medium bag suits my needs pretty much perfectly. I can fit a change of clothes, shoes, tools, spares, etc. It’s big enough to do handle light grocery shopping, and yes, it can hold a case of beer (cans).
I think I’m still discovering all of the pockets on the Especial Messenger. Suffice it to say there are a number of external pockets with waterproof zippers, a handful of internal organization pockets and a padded laptop compartment.
The Especial Messenger is loaded with features, so many that I’m bound to forget one or two. The most obvious are the magnetic buckles on the flap. They aren’t as big of an improvement as they are when used on a bike helmet, but they’re pretty cool. On the more elemental side, the flap has nice gussets and the main compartment is topped with a unique stiffener that helps make the closure extra water resistant. Like most good bags, the liner is fully floating, so you can ride in the rain with confidence.
The main strap is completely reversible (for left or right shoulder) as is the removable stabilizer strap. The main strap features an awesome pad that extends well beyond the upper connection for superior comfort. You can also adjust the angle of the strap thanks to some slick use of Velcro on the back of the bag. And Timbuk2 took pains to provide various clips and such to keep the excess straps from flapping around erratically.
The back panel of the bag features molded pads that both cushion the bag against your back and provide some air flow. And while I don’t often need them, the Especial Messenger has three handles.
My only real criticism is actually more of a suggestion: There should be a size large, and maybe an extra large. No professional bike messenger (that I know, at least) would use a small or medium sized bag. And if I could only own one bag, I would want one that’s just a hair bigger for true grocery shopping and such. But as I said earlier, for daily use, the medium size suits my needs just fine.
The medium sized Especial Messenger retails for $199, the small for $179. All Timbuk2 products carry a lifetime warranty. Check out www.timbuk2.com
I don’t like to look a gift horse in the mouth, but frankly it’s my job. When these new Crank Brothers pumps unexpectedly showed up, I was a little less than excited. In my experience, short pumps are fine for pumping up mountain bike tires, but they’re all but useless for 700 c commuter tires, let alone bona fide road bike tires.
So imagine my surprise when I managed to adequately inflate a pair of 700 x 28 tires without breaking a terrible sweat. I can’t say it was a quick affair, but both the Sterling S and Gem S managed to get the job done. Sure, it takes a lot of pumping to achieve 90 psi, but it’s a matter of patience, not upper body strength.
Of the two pumps, of course the Sterling S is the nicer one. It’s a hair shorter (171 mm), a bit lighter (116 g) and at $35, more expensive. It also feels a bit more powerful and boasts a sleeker design with a CNC machined body. Its universal head works with both presta and Schrader valves with no need to adjust the pump head. The Sterling line also includes a long version, as well as a pressure gauge option, both of which sound like appealing upgrades to an already desirable pump.
The Gem S pump is an exercise in value. At $22 it’s a good looking, affordable pump that will get you home after a puncture without taking up a ton of space in your bag. The Gem S measures 176 mm and weighs 128 g. The head is reversible to accommodate presta or Schrader valves. For a few dollars more you can upgrade to the Gem L, which is 205 mm long.
Both pumps carry a five year warranty. For complete details, visit www.crankbrothers.com
Not every problem requires an expensive solution. For years a plastic baggie has worked quite well to keep my phone protected from sweat and rain on long rides, but a grocery store zip-lock is far from perfect. Easily punctured and not the best shape for storing a phone and couple of bucks, it also doesn’t work to prevent a key or change from damaging delicate glass and plastic phones. The Banjo Brothers pocket cycling wallet is an affordable solution at a mere $6, providing a water resistant pouch for your phone on one side with two pockets on the reverse sized for an ID and a key or two and a few dollars all accessed through the same full length zipper. The clear window is touch screen compatible, and the bag itself is contructed of waterproof materials though it isn’t seam sealed for total immersion, nor is the zipper a fancy waterproof one. Perfect for putting into a jersey pocket or bag and not worrying about it in anything but a full on downpour, I’ve been using the wallet for a couple of months without much to note other than finding it incredibly handy. I run my phone without a case, and this provides just enough protection to drop my phone in my bag, use it with wet hands or fumble it into the dirt trailside. Add your own carabiner to the loop and clip it to your jersey or inside of you bag for even more security. The wallet fits a phone and case up to 5.75 x 2.75 inches, so it should work with everything but the largest smartphones or oldest dumbphones on the market. See more or order direct at www.banjobrothers.com