Bicycle mechanic Sam Tracy is no stranger to the urban cycling realm, he’s been at it as a ‘zine publisher since the early 1990s and wrote an early no-nonsense repair guide, the pictured out of print How to Rock and Roll – A City Riders Reapir Manual. Now he is back with the second edition of Bicycle! A Repair and Maintenance Manifesto, with the same mix of digestable DIY tech advice and humor. Sam isn’t scared to tell you to use a hammer and duct tape when called for — this isn’t the manual for those with plastic bikes and torque wrenches, this is more geared towards keeping your bike working in the real world, sometimes with scavenged parts, sometimes by forcing the issue to keep the wheels rolling. This book is more about low-cost and no-cost repairs than upgrades and weighing your bike. Make no mistake, Sam is an accomplished mechanic and his tech advice is spot on. An ideal book for novice mechanics put off by the tech jargon of other tech manuals, experienced wrenches will also find solid advice from his experience working in bicycle co-ops and in the less than ideal conditions of Mauritania. Available for $20 from PM Press.
Sam Tracy wrote about his time in Mauritania in Urban Velo #15, On The Road To Azougui.
DZR has been busy releasing a bevy of new styles, including variations on some of their popular models. Such is the case with the Pigeon, a riff on their popular Jetlag shoe. Billed as the “first and only SPD compatible slip on” the Jetlag has found its way into the hearts of people who are both too lazy to tie their shoes, yet appreciate the benefits of clipless pedals.
Of course to call them a true slip on might be a little off the mark. Unlike the classic Vans slip ons, the Jetlags feature a wide Velcro closure seatbelt strap that secures the shoe and gives it just enough support to work as a cycling shoe. But make no mistake, these shoes still go on and off in a flash, and they’re nearly as comfortable as casual slip ons.
As I alluded to earlier, the Jetlag is not a high-performance shoe. It’s designed for comfort and convenience. That’s not to say that they don’t work, but if you’re looking for a form fitting shoe with zero heel lift, you might want to look elsewhere in the DZR line. The sole is firm enough to allow for good power transfer, yet flexible enough to remain comfortable for short to moderate walks.
The Jetlag Pigeon retails for $95 and comes in sizes 37–47. Check out www.dzrshoes.com
The Blinder 1 represents the minimalist spectrum of Knog’s light offerings. It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed one of their lights, and I’m nothing shy of impressed with this. Gone are the days of watch batteries and 100% silicone construction. The Blinder 1 features a slick anodized aluminum face with raised logo detailing. Of course the light still attaches via Knog’s signature industrial-grade silicone construction (fits 22 – 32 mm bars) but the Blinder 1′s lens, housing and latch are made from polycarbonate. The whole unit measures 25 x 25 x 33 mm, and weighs just 15 g.
The surface mount LED puts out a reported 20 lumens on the front headlight model (tested) and 11 for the rear version. The beam is especially well tuned for a small light, in my opinion. It’s wide and soft, illuminating the area immediately around you without casting distracting patterns on the road in front of you. Of course it’s not bright enough to ride country roads at night, at least not at speed, nor is it going to be much use off road. But the main reason to have a light like this is for being seen, and Knog claims this one can be seen from over 500 meters.
The USB rechargeable lithium polymer battery is rated at more than two hours on high, and 11 hours in flashing mode. Unlike many rechargeable lights, which have a female connecter thus requiring a cable, the Blinder has a built in male connecter. This means you plug the light itself into your computer to recharge it. The entire unit is also waterproof, and carries an IP66 code.
The Blinder 1 retails for $30. There are a total of six faceplate styles also available, including a heart, cog, flower and more. A twin-pack of front and rear Blinder 1 lights is available for $55. Check out www.knog.com.au
But I thought this was a track bike magazine? Nah, we ride it all—fixed gears and road bikes, geared wünder mountain bikes and cheap single speeds. Bikes, they’re cool. Surly wanted to send in the stock Karate Monkey with slick tires for ripping around town, and I was like, “Here’s the address.”
These days mountain bikes are not in fashion for city riding, even if in some ways they make a lot of sense. This was not always the case, at one time in a more renegade city riding age it was fairly common to see mountain bikes tackling potholed streets. The single speed, disc brake Karate Monkey with giant 29” x 2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple slick tires is an unorthodox choice as a city bike, and not really the best choice for long distance commutes, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more fun bike to shoot through alleyways and parks with on your way to hang out and ride some more. Riding the Karate Monkey throughout town took me back to when I first moved into the city during college and had a fleet of mountain bikes quite different than my current selection. I regularly rode my pre-Surly 1×1 Rat Ride single speed to campus, hopping curbs, hitting staircases, navigating forgotten alleys and small bits of greenspace devoid of cars. The Karate Monkey has taken me right back, and I’ve found myself finding different ways to ride the neighborhood I’ve called home for almost ten years.
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Helmets are cheap insurance against potentially terrible outcomes and are as personal as shoes, might as well find one that fits the use you have in mind in a style that you’ll actually wear. The Giro Reverb pulls from the past to make a helmet for today with modern fit and lightweight construction in the style of the Giro Air Attack worn by the likes of Greg Lemond in the early ‘90s peloton.
The Reverb benefits from over 20 years of helmet evolution since the original Air Attack—the throwback paneled graphics and original Giro logo make it easy to forget how heavy and unwieldy those old helmets really were. While some commuter helmets draw from skate style versions, the Reverb takes its cues from the Giro performance heritage. The helmet is remarkably light at 300 g due to the thin In-mold shell that covers the protective EPS foam and provides some protection from daily off the bike bumps, but not as much as the much heavier, thick plastic shells of skate helmets. I’ve certainly managed a few dings in my Reverb. The shell has nine vents and inner air channels to move air across your head, proving (almost) as comfortable as a helmet gets when the sun in blazing. I found the strap system comfortable, though I wish the y-connectors were locking and that there was some adjustment available to the rear yoke even if I found the light elastic fit quite comfortable. While you either love or hate the fully rounded profile there is a strong argument that helmets without pointy protrusions are safer in certain accidents as they are less likely to dig in and cause your neck to violently twist. The helmet ships with a removable visor, which I promptly removed.
Commuters with longish rides will welcome the lightweight Giro Reverb. More roadie than skate, it retains an understated look and won’t lead to the neck and shoulder fatigue that heavier helmets may. The Giro Reverb retails for $60 and is available in three shell sizes in ten different graphics packages. See more at www.giro.com