Category Archives: Favorite Products

Zipp Looks to Educate Buyers on Counterfeits

I have well documented the bike industry’s battle against counterfeit product here on the blog. (Here and here specifically, with other references throughout.)

Aside from the obvious effect it has on manufacturer/distributor bottom lines and brand perception; counterfeit product presents a dangerous safety risk. Authentic products are tested to extreme levels of performance by the brand which designs and produces them to ensure they deliver on the promises they make but also to protect the end users – us – in this inherently dangerous sport we love.

Zipp_Fake

Have you ever experienced a component failure? I know from my years behind a bike shop counter that those experiences are few. But; the ones I have seen are scary and often quite injurious to the user as well.

Counterfeit products can be hard to spot (except from the often accompanying “too good to be true” price); but the downside to the risk is huge. Learn to identify some of the warning signs that a product may not be what it is represented to be and be an advocate for your own safety.

When Traversing MTB Trails, 29er Mountain Bikes Are the Way to Go

Mountain biking allows riders to see the glory of the great outdoors while partaking in an awesome exercise regimen. Australia has some of the best trails in the world, with varying levels of difficulty and terrain suited to all types of riders, from novices to advanced mountain biking enthusiasts. Of course, you’ll need an appropriate bike to traverse MTB trails, and 29er mountain bikes offer many advantages over traditional 26-inch varieties.

29er mountain bikes

Newbies to the sport may be asking themselves what makes 29er mountain bikes so special? The 29 refers to the wheel circumference; that is 29 inches around as opposed to the standard 26-inch configuration. While some claim the 29er mountain bikes are unnecessary, most enthusiasts agree that these bikes offer many benefits thanks to the increased wheel size. 29er mountain bikes may not be ideal for every rider, but many will enjoy the enhanced ride and increased stability offered by these highly popular mountain bikes. Below are just a few of the many upsides afforded by 29er mountain bikes:

mountain-bikes

29er mountain bikes handle better than bikes with a smaller wheel size. The larger wheel means a greater surface area, which means more of it makes contact with the ground as you ride. Therefore, you have more control when climbing grades and taking sharp turns, which is crucial on advanced MTB trails.

Overcoming obstacles is much easier with a wheel this size. No matter how rough the MTB trails may prove to be, your bike will be able to fly over rocks and other debris much easier. This cuts down on falls and spills, which can be quite dangerous depending on the surrounding environment.

Allegro Cycling: Best Month Yet!

June is coming to a close and Allegro Elite Cycling is preparing to celebrate the BEST MONTH EVER of in it’s 2 year history.

I’ve been busy (if you can’t tell from how little I’m posting here) and can’t thank everyone enough. All the clients who have helped make this happen I count as friends – you are all credits to Portland’s cycling scene.

So, in light of the best month in my Allegro’s history – and since it is Friday – here’s a Friday Five of why you should work with Allegro Elite Cycling.

Help on your schedule. You are busy. How many bike shops have set hours and tell you when they will work with you and when they won’t? Yep – almost all of them.

Now, I do need to sleep sometime – so don’t make a habit of requesting the 2 a.m. slot for a bike fitting. But, honestly; if that is the only time that will work for you: I’ll be there (with a very, very large coffee in hand). Help at your location. Sometimes it is hard to load up the bike or bikes and take them to the bike shop. Let the shop come to you!

AECycling

All my prices include pick up and delivery of your bicycle to your location. Home, work, church, amusement park, coffee shop (my favorite), wherever. I have done a Platinum Elite Fitting in a kitchen; a quick-tune in a living room; I have dropped by for small adjustments to the bike; and have installed training wheels in a client’s garage.

For more detailed and time intensive work I’ll pick the bike up when it is convenient for you and drop it off the same. The effort involved for you is minimal: as it should be – you have more important things to think about.

Of course you are welcome to drop your bike with me as well – whatever serves you best.

Ride Report: First Spring Rides on the Waterford

It hasn’t been a particularly nasty winter or spring – so perhaps this is more of a admission to how little I am riding right now (sad, I know). But, for the first time since fall I have been able to get the Waterford; my main steed (or ”sunny-day go-fast bike”) out twice to stretch her legs. It was a wonderful thing to be back on my main machine after riding the single-speed ‘cross bike any time I was able to sneak away for a quick spin.

That ride revealed some wonderful things that I thought were worth sharing. Perhaps I feel that way because I am newly inspired again and doped up on natural vitamin D. Perhaps these were legitimate mini-revelations. Perhaps I am merely scraping the bottom of the barrel for writing material. Whichever the case – it is my blog so you are going to read about it anyway… 🙂

Lame attempts at humor aside; I felt there was a few things worth writing about. Some of which will come in this post – some in subsequent posts. Here’s a quick index:

First road test of the Shimano RS-80’s I got this fall. Like I said; I’ve been on the single-speed…sad, huh? However, I am now certain in my choice for new every-day wheels.

New Clif Shot Gel road test. Hmmm; after years of using Hammer Products I am now having to search for alternatives. Read more about that soon.

I am also testing Endurox R4 recovery drink after almost a decade of using Hammer Recoverite. Review coming soon.

My habitual spring shake-down of all my components…made significant by the fact that my Waterford will celebrate it’s 10th birthday this October! Keep reading for more…

How to Prevent your Bike from Being Stolen

How to Prevent your Bike from Being Stolen In the UK a bike is stolen on average every minute, with less than 6% being returned. Research studies show that cyclists are more likely to have their bicycle stolen than car owners or motorcyclists. Bicycle theft has also doubled since the 1990’s. A good combination of equipment, common sense and a bit of luck will ultimately help keep your ride exactly where you left it.

prevent-bike

Bicycle Lock

An unlocked bicycle is the most common reason a bike gets stolen; it acts as an invitation for a thief to steal and only takes a few seconds to do so. Never leave your bicycle unlocked, under no circumstances!
A poor quality lock can easily be broken. It pays to invest in a high quality lock, usually around £30-£50. It’s a smart idea to lock your bicycle to something immovable or for maximum protection use two locks.

Parking

It’s a good idea to lock your bike in a public area where there are lots of people around. Most train stations and public buildings have designated areas for bikes with bicycle racks. Plan ahead and check out the facilities in the places you are planning to leave your bicycle.
When at home it’s still important to lock your bicycle, in the garage is the safest place for your bike. If you don’t have a garage, you could invest in a ground anchor, allowing you to attach it securely to the wall or a concrete floor. Keep your bike out of view, as it could act as in incentive to break into your property.

Another idea is to lock it next to better bikes, so it appears less valuable to those surrounding it, so is less likely to be targeted.

Shimano RS-80 C24: First Impressions

The natural progression continues…

As it stands at the time of publishing this post; two of my most popular pages are my reviews on the Shimano WH-7850-c24-cl wheelset and the Shimano WH-6700 Tubeless wheelset. I am anticipating that this one will join their ranks rather quickly.

The RS-80 c24, much like the WH-6700 Ultegra Tubeless is a allegorical “shot-across-the-bow” at other major players in the road wheel market. With both of these wheels Shimano is basically saying: “We’re doing this be cause we’re Shimano and we can.” Not that other providers cannot; just that they either don’t have the guts or capital (or both) to pull it off without serious stress or anxiety. These wheels possess features of higher priced wheels at prices that you just don’t find from the competition. In the case of the RS-80 c24, those features would be light-weight carbon-laminate rims at a price usually below $900. The rims are so light in fact that you cannot get much lighter without going to a full-carbon rim and sacrificing the superior braking of the aluminum brake track.

RS80-C24-01

The RS-80 c24 can be thought of as the “Ultegra” version of the Dura Ace c24-cl. It uses the same rim but merely swaps in a lower grade hub to result in a significantly lower cost and slightly higher weight. Here’s the cost/benefit analysis:

Weight:
~Dura Ace (7900-c24-cl): 1395 grams
~RS-80 c24: 1516 grams
~ Difference: 121 grams (only 24 grams in front)

Retail Prices:
~Dura Ace: $1300
~RS-80 c24: $900
~ Difference: $400

All that for just a simple difference in hubs and spoke threading…

RS80-C24-02

In my book; that’s a pretty good trade-off. Not to knock the Dura Ace wheels, they’re great and if you read the original review I gave them you’ll remember that I raved about them and would love to have a set. Well, several years later and now I’m not just a father of 1 boy, but now 3 boys… well, let’s just say that I’m now that guy who can’t justify paying more for some things just because it says Dura Ace on it if the performance is close enough. And those 121 grams: I gained more weight from eating the ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich and crackers I had at lunch – if I really get serious then I’ll lose 121 grams myself faster than you can say WH-7900-c24-cl AND I’ll have more money in my pocket! So as far as I’m concerned – I finally got my wish and have the wheels I wanted.

How To Buy the Right Cycling Shoes

Some may have read my guide on helmets, and if you are in that group you will likely find this guide a little familiar. It’s just because I’m getting lazy and I don’t feel like writing more – so I just copy and pasted the content below. Just replace the word helmet with shoe and you’ll be good. Have fun!

Kidding! It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s because the theory is actually pretty similar. Both items are something that you’ll wear potentially for hours at a time and how well they fit will determine whether you’re distracted and have a miserable ride or can enjoy your ride without thinking about your gear. (I’ve said before that the right gear is the kind you don’t notice. Saddles, shorts, gloves, helmets and yes: shoes.

Cycling-Shoes

First – I wrote about pedal and shoes systems a long, long time ago. It’s a pretty concise yet comprehensive post that addresses some of the terms, jargon, and general knowledge that I leave unexplained in this particular guide. If you are new to clipless pedal and shoes systems – start with that post first, then come back to this one.

I do want to reiterate one thing from my above mentioned post on shoes and pedals and that is this: Choose your shoes first and then choose among the many pedal options that are compatible with that shoe. In my opinion; picking pedals before shoes is putting the cart before the horse. By choosing a pedal first you limit your options with shoes for the intended use. For example: for bike touring you’ll spend almost all of your time riding on pavement; so you might choose a road pedal for that purpose. Then when you go to pick your shoe you’ll find that most if not all of the models you have to choose from do not feature a recessed cleat and therefore are difficult to walk in. The pedal is important, but only has to work for you while you are riding and will never have to do anything for you when you are not on your bike.

Road Frame Testing: Interesting Video

Giant has posted a video explaining frame testing protocol within the bicycle industry and it is really rather fascinating.

You have to wade through a bit of manufacturer propaganda, but many of us have heard it all before (and I rather like Giant’s road bikes) so it’s not that bad. Once you sift through the subjectivity you’ll see that there are some cold hard facts and some interesting insights into how all these data points that we are bombarded with are actually created – and why some companies test the way they do.

So, have a peek and see what you learn – I’ll bet there’s something new in there you didn’t know before. Enjoy:

Specialized Purist Water Bottle Review

Nasty, funky, water bottle.

purist

We’ve all probably had one. That bottle that no matter how much you washed it just wouldn’t seem to come clean or stop stinking like foot. If you’re lucky its just that this bottle seems to always taste like that energy drink you used a while back. Whatever it is; your average water bottle has a tendency to become “funky”.

The solution: replace it – you will likely never get that stain or stink out. However, while we used to have to settle for replacing the funk bottle with the same kind of bottle with the same propensity to get nasty. Specialized Bicycle Components has presented a solution though and I think it is a good one.

A GLASS BOTTLE?
puristThe Purist bottle uses an ultra thin (a few microns if that means anything to you…) layer of food grade silica to isolate whatever you’re putting in the bottle from the plastic it is made out of. This coating is basically like a thin layer of glass and addresses several things;

  1. Isolates your beverage from the plastic of the bottle to keep it from tasting like plastic or whatever was in the bottle before.
  2. Isolates the bottle from the beverage so that the plastic will not pick up the flavor or color of that beverage.
  3. Makes the bottle noticeably easier to clean and keep clean.
Let’s look at each of these points a little closer.
Your average plastic bike bottle often receives complaints about making water and other drinks taste like plastic. I don’t recall noticing this; so perhaps I’ve been drinking out of them for too long or I’m not sensitive enough, but either way I can see where this is undesirable. Since the Purist is essentially glass-coated it is more like drinking out of a glass – not flavoring your drink at all!
Additionally, these bottles can pick up the colors and flavors of some of the drinks that were in them before. I’ve had a few bottles turn a brownish color after I used them for iced tea in the summertime. Additionally, the flavor from a particularly “flavorful” drink will sometimes stick around for a few wash cycles, influencing whatever you may subsequently put in the bottle. This thin glass-like layer also helps prevent these conditions.
Finally, just like things rinse right out of a drinking glass – Specialized says you should be able to simply rinse out the Purist bottle with hot water and be ready to go again. I can say that I tested this for a little while with the first bottle I got – drinking everything from tea, to Hammer Recoverite and Perpetuem, to water and lemonade from that vessel without a single scrubbing or trip through the dishwasher. Not the most scientific test (nor potentially the most sanitary); but I can attest that I had no lingering flavors or coloring and didn’t even get sick! Good enough for me…
WATERGATE AIN’T JUST A HOTEL IN D.C.
sp-purist03Let’s talk quickly about the other new feature: WaterGate. (Will that get me some hits from political searches?)
The no-drip valve has been tried a few times with mixed results. Lately, the hydration system pioneer CamelBak probably had the best success with their Podium bottle. I tried the Podium, but found the valve action to be a little firm for my liking; taking too much effort to open resulting in a harsh stream of water with a similarly harsh closing action.
Specialized seems to have addressed this nicely as well. The WaterGate valve opens and closes more gently – a feature that I think cannot be truly appreciated until you compare the two. Additionally, it seems to live up to its no-drip promise. I have opened the valve and turned the bottle upside down and could seemingly wait minutes without a drip unless I squeezed the bottle. Push the valve down to its locked position and nothing is getting out – a motion that is identical to traditional bottles unlike the twist-lock motion of the Podium which requires you to learn a new habit to lock the bottle.
sp-purist04I also really like the “fuel gauge” – a streak of clear material that runs down the side so you can see how much and what is in your bottle (for those days when you have trouble distinguishing between the bottle with the water or energy drink…) For those of us who like bottles with some color as opposed to the clear ones; this is a nice feature I got hooked on with another bottle (which I’ll discuss in a moment) and was happy to see Specialized adapt.
LOOKS GREAT, BUT WHAT’S MISSING?
sp-purist06So, is the Purist the perfect bottle? Nearly. It addresses a lot of the issues many of us have had with our bottles for a long time. And, they’re slowly becoming the majority in my bottle collection. But; with all of the thought that went into these bottles they seemed to miss one important item: grippy bumps.When Trek re-vamped their bottles a few years ago and added these relatively big bumps to their bottles; I fell in love… and the Trek bottles quickly became my favorites. Truthfully, while working at a Specialized dealer – I would drive 10 minutes to the Trek dealer to buy those bottles at full price because of these bumps.  You see; on a cold and wet day those bumps make the bottle much easier to get out of the bottle cage without fumbling and potentially dropping it.Specialized has had some tiny bumps – just shy of a lightly textured surface – on their bottles for some time but nothing on the scale of the Trek bumps. So – if you’re reading; Specialized – the absence of even these little bumps is a mistake on the Purist bottle. If you think of adding them back; go a step further and make them bigger and you have the perfect bottle!

 sp-purist07
 Do you have a Purist bottle? What do you think? Or, tell us about the nastiest, funkiest bottle you’ve had or seen…

Headlights for Cycling – Are There Better Options?

As I was riding my bike down dark neighborhood streets to my weekly pick-up basketball game last night I got to thinking: Are lighting options for the bike industry keeping pace with other industries?
I had decided to use my NightRider MiNewt light this time as it is now dark enough that I need more than the simple “blinky” I had been using. The MiNewt was a good light for its time and I feel pretty safe with it. Lighting options have improved lately though – getting brighter with longer battery life and some new options. But how do we compare to other industries needing lighting for similar purposes?

I turned to the ATV industry; as I had seen a friend’s setup on his Polaris Ranger and I figured they deal with similar speeds and in the case comparing the needs of lights for mountain biking they encounter similar environments and obstacles.  My search for Polaris Ranger accessories led me to SideBySideStuff.com and particularly to a page for lighting products. Among their respectable selection of lights; the ones I found that mimicked what we see in cycling were the Rigid Industries Dually LED set.

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