NiteRider has taken their very successful Lumina headlight and made a lighter, more compact version. They’ve kept many of the features the same, including the mounting system and the one-button control. The styling is also virtually unchanged.
The Lumina Micro 220 is still impressively bright—220 lumens, as you might have guessed—but it’s notably smaller and at 126 grams it’s 46 grams lighter than the Lumina 650 we reviewed last year.
Burn times are similar to its high-powered brethren—1:30 on high, 2:45 on medium, 4:00 on low and 14:00 in “walk” mode—but remember it also has a smaller battery. The upshot is that it’s fully charged in 3:30.
Even on low power, the Micro 220 does the job admirably in the city at night. If you feel as though you need more power, NiteRider has plenty of offerings including the Lumina Flare, which we’ll be looking at soon.
The Micro 200 retails for $70. Check out www.niterider.com
Designed in cooperation with San Francisco’s Mission Cycling Club, the Mission Cycling Wallet protects your smartphone from the elements without losing the ability to use the touch screen. The weatherproof zipper is highly water resistant, and the 840D nylon construction elsewhere creates a durable, lightweight product. On the back of the wallet there are three pockets that can hold your license, a credit cards, cash, etc.
At less than 3″ x 5″, not all mobile devices will fit. My iPhone 4 fits just fine, but it’s a relatively trim fit. Call me clairvoyant, but as larger smartphones become increasingly popular, I envision Timbuk2 releasing a larger version in the coming months.
The Mission Cycling Wallet retails for $29. Check out www.timbuk2.com
I’m going to come right out and say that I’m not a folding bike aficionado. Whereas folding bikes are the norm in ultra-dense metropolitan areas, I live in a small, rebounding rust belt city where many of the neighborhoods within a 10-mile radius of downtown could be mistaken for the suburbs. Multi-model transportation is seldom a concern, and that seems to be the major benefit of bikes like the Formula S18.
I am, however, an unapologetic lover of bikes. And so when the opportunity to temporarily add a Dahon to my stable arose, I jumped at the opportunity. At $1399, the Dahon Formula S18 is designed for folding bike riders who want more than just convenience—they want performance. This is most clearly illustrated by the inclusion of Avid BB5 disc brakes. Along with its color matched Schwalbe tires the bike simply looks more serious than some of the other folding bikes out there.
The one size fits all frame is made from 7005 aluminum alloy, which is stiffer and lighter than 6000-series alloy, and of course more expensive. Though it’s hard to imagine that the same frame can suit such a wide range, Dahon claims that the Formula S18 is designed for riders between 4’8” and 6’4” (though not over 230 lbs).
There is a massive amount of adjustability afforded by the 580 mm seatpost. Really short riders may actually need to cut the stock seatpost down in order to get the seat low enough. The bike features a telescoping “handlepost” that allows you to tailor the handlebar height via quick release. This is a good place to mention that the lack of a traditional stem makes the steering feel quite unique. The bike’s geometry is tuned so that the bike is stable, even at speed, but to me it just feels a little twitchy, especially when I need to stand up and climb.
It’s interesting to think about how 20” wheels effect the performance of a bike. With a 56/46 crankset and an 11-25 9-speed cassette, you’ve certainly got the gearing to get up to speed (26-95 gear inches, to be exact). But what I seem to notice is that the small wheels are pretty ineffective at smoothing out road vibrations. Pebbles, broken concrete, manholes, and the like all seem like significantly larger obstacles than on a 700c equipped bike. More than anything, the “feel” of 20” wheels limits my willingness to go really fast. I should note that some popular folding bikes use 16” wheels, so maybe I should count my blessings.
All in all, the bike is rather fun to ride. It accelerates quickly and the disc brakes make it stop on a dime. The frame feels solid enough to forget that your entire bike is designed to quickly fold in half. The aforementioned handlepost assembly does occasionally creak, but not so much in a disconcerting way, but just enough to remind you that it’s probably not a good idea to wheelie drop any tall curbs.
The Formula S18 weighs in at roughly 26 lbs, which isn’t exactly light, even for a fully geared city bike. But when it’s folded it feels lighter than it actually is. Folding the bike is an absolute breeze, and the folding pedals and magnetic tabs that hold it closed are just plain cool, in my humble opinion. When folded the bike measures 11.3” x 31.2” x 25.7”. While not the most compact folding bike on the market, it’s still plenty versatile.
Looking around the bike there are an equal number of house brand and name brand parts, all of which seem to be on par with what you should expect from a bike at this price point. I know from years of personal experience that WTB makes quality rims, and Shimano’s Tiagra drivetrain components are built to last. Avid’s mechanical disc brakes set the standard for the entire industry, and even their entry-level BB5’s perform exquisitely. Dahon’s house-brand cockpit components are comfortable, and seem to be as durable as their name brand counterparts. Schwalbe’s Kojak tires are high-performance commuter slicks with puncture protection and reflective labels so you get from point A to point B quickly and safely.
Check out www.dahon.com
The market for commuter backpacks is saturated to say the least, but few companies have dedicated as much energy and effort to the almighty backpack as Osprey. Founded in 1974, Osprey has built their reputation by making premium backpacks for serious backpackers. Initially, every pack was sewn by owner and founder Mike Pfotenhauer. Eventually he moved to Colorado and expanded his fledgeling business by hiring local women from a nearby Navajo reservation (one of whom now oversees all Osprey repairs, some 20 years later). When outsourcing became inevitable, Mike moved his family to Vietnam and stayed for four years, overseeing the overseas operation that Osprey is unabashedly proud of.
I’ve been using an Osprey Talon backpack for a number of years, and I’m confident in their product’s materials, design and durability. I’ve yet to find a need for their All Mighty Guarantee, which seems to be one of the best in the outdoor industry, but it’s refreshing to know that my pack is covered for life.
In recent years Osprey has ventured further into the bike market, and the Radial series represents their take on the ultimate commuter backpack. It offers 30+ liters of cargo capacity (including a padded laptop compartment), an incredible array of organizational capabilities, and a number of features that are seldom seen all in one pack.
One thing many companies try to accomplish but fall just short of is creating a backpack that allows air to pass between you and your pack. Osprey’s AirSpeed backpanel does this better than any pack that I’ve ever used. It uses a combination of stretched mesh which rests against your back and a curved, rigid panel with contoured padding to hold the pack away from your back. The packs main straps are also made with mesh and perforated foam to increase ventilation without sacrificing comfort.
I was pleasantly surprised by Osprey’s unique LidLock helmet holder. When you’re off the bike, you can use this elastic mounted plastic clip to securely hold your helmet to the outside of the pack. It’s incredibly simple, and undeniably effective.
The Radial 34 features an exterior lock pocket which I found incredibly handy. I also like the zippered side pockets, which are great for items that you take on and off such as gloves, arm warmers and sunglasses.
Rather than attempt to build a waterproof backpack, which typically compromises the pack’s accessibility and aesthetics, Osprey opted to include a retractable rain cover. While this may not be the ultimate solution for extreme situations (for example, a rolltop with a floating liner is almost certainly the most watertight), it’s definitely effective and it’s completely out of the way when not in use.
The size M/L Radial 34 measures 22″ x 15″ x 12″ and weighs just under 3 lbs. With such a lightweight design you might suspect its durability, but as I said earlier, Osprey packs are built to last. My Talon pack has been ridden hard and put away wet for years, seen its share of brambles and tumbles, and save for a smattering of mud stains, it’s still every bit as good as the first time I put it on my back. I have no reason to expect anything less from the Radial 34.
The Radial 34 is available in S/M or M/L and comes in black or green. There’s also a smaller Radial 26. The Radial 34 retails for $169. Check out www.ospreypacks.com
The NiteRider Stinger USB taillight uses a single high power ½ watt LED to keep you visible from up to a half-mile away. Designed to be mounted on a seatpost, the tool-free mounting system works on both traditional and aero posts.
The Stinger USB features a 25 lumen output and four modes that should cover you in most situations: High steady (4 hour run time), low steady (16 hours), flash (16 hours) and flash 2 (10.5 hours). NiteRider is a believer in using lights during the day, as well as at night, and so they refer to the 16 hour flashing mode as “daylight safety flash mode”. They also refer to low steady as “group ride mode” for obvious reasons.
Aesthetically, I think the Stinger USB looks pretty cool. More importantly, it’s easy to use. You actually press on the light itself, and single clicks cycle through the four modes as well as on and off. You know when you’ve reached the “off” mode because the bulb flashes momentarily before the unit powers down completely. If the battery charge is greater than 20% when the Stinger USB is turned
off, it will flash blue 10 times. If the battery charge is 20% or less when
turned off, it will flash red 10 times. It’s simple enough to operate with gloves or even mittens.
The Stinger USB retails for $35. Check out www.niterider.com