Energy bar company, ProBar, have expanded their line and rebranded some of their products as of late. I got my hands on a sample box of Meal Bars and the following are my thoughts.
Described as “The Real Whole Food Bar”, the meal bars certainly deliver with a slew of ingredients that don’t simply taste whole, but can be seen as well. The fruits, oats, seeds and nuts can all be seen in the bar instead of mashed up or processed in some way before getting squished together like other bars. It lends to a “bird-seedy” texture at times, but the ingredients are held together with enough brown rice syrup, peanut butter and other fruit sugars that the sweetness is prominent, but not overbearing like a candy bar and the bird seed taste is subtle.
Interestingly, these are referred to as Meal bars and deliver 360-390 calories and 9-11 grams of protein with each bar, which allows you to actually replace a small meal. Other energy bars actually dissuade you from eating them as meal replacements, but not these. I think Meal bars would be great for cyclists always on the go who just don’t have the time to sit down and eat or haven’t prepared any bulky meals to take along. Nutritionally speaking, the whole food ingredients pack these suckers with all kinds of other good stuff (15% iron, Omegas, carbs, etc.).
I do have a critique though. It should be noted that these sell for around $3, which is about twice the price of most energy bars, but this is probably due to the bulk of the whole food ingredients more than anything else. With that said, the package size is very deceiving. As evidenced in this photo, the bar only takes up about half the packaging, which always leaves me feeling a little ripped off after dropping $3 on one of these, thinking I’m getting a large and filling meal. I wouldn’t go so far as saying these will keep you full for hours, but they are dense enough to keep you satisfied for a bit.
Ultimately, I really like the nutritional density in these bars and the idea that I can eat one on the bike in place of a small meal. I also like the whole ingredients that lend to a whole food taste (the “peanut butter” tastes like the actual peanuts) instead of an artificially flavored, over-sugared candy bar. They come in a number of flavors ranging from Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip to Superberry and Greens to Koka Moka.
At first glance the Chrome Ike looks like just another casual jacket, albeit a nice one based on the compliments I receive nearly every time I wear it. The discerning eye may notice the tech giveaways of its cycling backstory, making it equally suited for the ride to work or out at the bar. This might be the first cycling jacket I have that I can wear without being pegged as outdoorsy, even if it is windproof and water resistant, with longer sleeves and an extended back to prevent your belt from showing while on the bike.
Many mistake the Ike for wool at first glance, but it is actually a woven and brushed polyester with windproof panels on the front. The polyester wears better than wool — no snags, no runs, easier to wash — and along with the Chinese construction helps to keep the price of the jacket to $125. Classic military style shoulders, collar and chest pockets give it the style you either love or hate, while the rear kangaroo pocket with left and right zippered access gives it away as cycling specific. The rear pocket is great for carrying a minimal flat fixing kit around town or for stowing a hat and gloves indoors — you’ll need the gloves for walking around, like many cycling jackets, there are no hand pockets on this one either. A full length zipper with top and bottom pulls along with zippered cuffs allow for on the bike ventilation without looking out of place casually as pit zips might. A drawstring allows you to cinch the bottom closed when the going gets cold.
This isn’t a jacket for your next all day epic, but perfect for a night where the bike is the transportation in between the more important hanging out, or workday if that’s more your flavor. I find the jacket surprisingly warm for something officially billed as a wind jacket, taking me comfortably through the 40s and 50s on its own and down to freezing and below with a hooded sweatshirt underneath. For short rides and walking about, this has become my go-to jacket, earning a spot by the door for the bulk of the fall and winter. While on the bike I may wish for pit zips, and off the bike wish for hand pockets, I’m willing to live without either for the sake of the overall style and cut of the jacket. The Ike is available in four sizes in the pictured gray twill, and carries a 1 year warranty against materials or manufacturers defects. If you’re in New York, Chicago, Portland or San Francisco you can try this jacket on at your local Chrome store, otherwise order onlin at www.chromebagsstore.com.
About a year ago a pair of Bianchi San Jose framesets fell off a truck, and both Brad and Jeff ended up with a new bike-building project on their hands.
The San Jose is a TIG welded, 100% chromoly steel frame and fork. While it’s not as popular as Bianchi’s Pista, the San Jose is a well loved bike. If you ask anybody who owns one they’ll more than likely regale you with tales of how durable it is and how nice it rides.
For a $399 frameset (frame, fork and headset) you would be hard pressed to find fault with the finish quality. The welds are clean and the paintjob flawless—a testament to state of the art Taiwanese manufacturing.
Designed with versatility in mind, the San Jose has a shoulder-friendly flattened top tube with top-mount cable routing and clearance for at least 35 mm tires, yet it’s also ready to accept a rack and fenders like a good commuter bike should.
While the San Jose could be used as a cyclocross racing bike, most serious racers would likely consider any off-the-shelf chromoly frame too heavy. The geometry is an even bigger factor, as the seat tube angle is similar to that of a touring bike. While this promotes an upright riding position that puts less pressure on the rider’s hands, the tradeoff is less power transferred to the pedals. The bottom bracket is higher than that of a typical road bike, but lower than a typical cyclocross bike. A lower bottom bracket generally equates to increased stability, while a taller bottom bracket allows you to pedal through corners or hop logs with less chance of getting hung up.
Ultimately, the great thing about the San Jose frameset is that it can be built up to suit a variety of riders with different needs and riding styles. Let’s take a look at how two different cyclists built theirs.
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It never ceases to amaze me that something that’s breathable and thin enough to fit under my helmet can be effective in both retaining heat and blocking the wind. But time and time again, it’s carried me through the coldest rides I’ve ever been on… Look, ma, no frostbite!
Granted, on its own this thing isn’t going to keep your head as warm as a knit cap, but combined with a helmet it seems totally adequate for me in temperatures down into the 20° F realm.
After seven or eight years of using the same balaclava, I can certainly attest to the quality of Craft’s materials and workmanship. The PZ Protector retails for $30. For extreme conditions, Craft makes a model with additional wind-stopper fabric. Check out www.craftsports.us
The Portland Design Works Danger Zone is their flagship blinkie light, with a pair of half-Watt LEDs preventing anyone behind you from missing your location. It’s a fresh take take on the clamshell, AAA powered blinkie and a step up from what you used last decade.
It’s easy to overlook AA and AAA powered lights in this era of USB rechargeable versions, but there is something to be said for conventional power cells. The price of the light can be reduced since a relatively expensive rechargeablle battery and the charging circuit aren’t included, and the overall lifespan of the blinkie doesn’t depend on potentially flimsy charging ports or limited battery cycles. Easy to replace and readily available, they’ll never leave you dark on a trip away from home due to a misplaced power cord or lack of available USB ports. Alkaline cells have a longer shelf life than rechargeables, and in my experience last much longer (especially in cold weather) and give a longer fading warning period that your lights are going to die. I can’t even begin to count how many times rechargeable lights have left me riding home in the dark having only been charged a day or two earlier and used sparingly in between. If you don’t address the gradual dim of an alkaline going dead over a matter of days, there is no one to blame but yourself.
The two half-Watt LEDs of the Danger Zone can be set in steady on, a calm oscillating flash or a more hyper “a-HA!” mode that matches the beat of the only A-ha! song you’ve ever heard. It is a good looking light, and snaps together tight while still being able to be opened without tools or broken fingernails. In some two years of use of one of my Danger Zone lights I’ve yet to have it open up over a pothole or leak enough water to short out, unlike most other clamshell designs I’ve used. I do wish the clip on the back was more robust given the $38 price — hate to have it fall off without warning. While a locking clip may be asking a lot without an increase in MSRP, a couple of holes to securely tie the light to a bike or bag with zip-ties aren’t too much to ask. I like the positive clicking, easy to find switch that I can work with even the thickest of my riding gloves.
It’s bright, it blinks and I’ve not managed to break it. One more step in the quest towards a safe commute. Watch video of the Danger Zone here, and find out more or order your own at www.ridepdw.com.