Archive for category accessories

Element Case Vapor Pro Chroma iPhone Case Review

An iPhone might not be your idea of standard cycling equipment, but your cell phone is one of those things (like your keys) that pretty much go with you on all your rides. I recently got an iPhone 4s and was very happy when Kurt sent me the Vapor Pro Chroma case to review.

I had not put a case on my iPhone yet. There’s just something about being a mechanical engineer and a cyclist that makes me cringe at covering up beautiful stainless steel housings with brightly colored silicone rubber or plastic covers. I’m also a bit skeptical with the fact that you are putting in extra effort to protect something that probably will not be an heirloom in your family passed down from generation to generation.

Here is where the Chroma comes in. If you’re going to cover up a nice metal housing, what better than to use machined and anodized aluminum? And despite my “heirloom” comments above, nobody wants to accidentally drop their phone and crack the screen or accidentally scuff it across the parking lot.

So, here’s what came in the box. A black anodized case, a nice little zippered case (more on that later), a little keychain/hex wrench for assembling and with a couple extra screws, a microsuede cover for the back, a smaller one for the front, and a screen protector.

A couple of features on the case that I liked was the integrated button on the top, and the dove-tail press fit (see below). I did notice that on the black phone, most of the housing has a slight matte finish but the dove-tail piece is more of a brushed finish. It’s different enough to notice but not different enough to look like it was intentional. Some of the other color cases use a completely different color for this piece.

Installation was pretty easy. The installation tool has a nice little o-ring for grip. I am willing to bet that the small diameter of the installation tool is designed to try to prevent you from stripping out screws so use it! The frame really doesn’t add much physical size to you phone, but the phone feels much bigger. It’s a lot easier to grip and hold, especially with your full-finger cycling gloves on. The frame has a generous cutout around the headphone jack but a standard 90 degree non-Apple one may not fit.

I was pretty skeptical of the microsuede back cover. It’s just kind of weird to go from smooth glass to living room sofa. I was curious if over time it will start looking like my living room sofa, but a couple months in it looks fine. So what is it for? Want to put your phone on your legs while your sitting legs-up on the couch? The microsuede grips your jeans perfectly. Also the thickness is just close enough to the frame height that if you set your phone on flat surface, the frame contacts the table but you can’t accidentally slide it around and off the table due to the friction from the back cover. It’s different but it’s really grown on me. With that said, I chose not to install the little microsuede cover for the front. At first I put the screen protector on the front instead. Then I decided that de-resolution of the screen wasn’t worth it. Maybe the front cover would help with grip but the frame is already doing a great job on that.

Another thing I was skeptical of at first was the zippered case. Looks nice but why do I need a zippered case for my phone? I pretty quickly figured out why the case is awesome. I use my iPhone on all of my commutes and lunch rides and runs to track miles using the Strava app. I don’t have a handlebar mount or anything. I don’t really care where I am or how fast I’m going in the moment (that is until someone invents the hands-free bluetooth heads-up display), but I’d like to track my miles and see how I did when I’m done. This means starting the app, stuffing my iPhone in my pocket or bag and heading out. Not a problem in nice weather, but when you’re talking about a lunch time mountain bike ride in the rain, I need something better. I didn’t test if the case is waterproof, but it’s in my bag anyways. I figure the added protection against water and the added padding protection against any superman-over-the-bars moves are totally worth it.

As far as durability goes, While changing for one of my lunch rides I dropped my iPhone about 3 feet onto a hard tile floor. If I look hard I can find a little dent in the frame. No issues with the phone. As with most cases, you will get some dust between the case and phone over time, so you might want to take the case off every once in awhile and dust.

My main gripe is actually the difficulty I had finding an armband for running. The frame is not big, but it’s big enough so you won’t be able to fit it in most iPhone specific armbands. I found one from Cygnett which sort of works. Maybe if you got one for a larger phone. You do have the tools to take the frame off, but that’s not something you want to do every time you go for a run.

So if you have an iPhone and you are looking for a case that doesn’t totally ruin the looks of your phone you should check out the Vapor Pro Chroma. Being a machined metal cover, it’s going to cost more than an injection molded silicone cover, but you probably already guessed that.

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RoadID | review

How do you write a review for something you hope never to use as intended? I mean, I can give you all the details about the bracelets and the ordering process and the laser engraving, but let’s face it, nobody orders a RoadID because it’s the cool new trend, it’s not a Power Balance Bracelet, it actually serves a purpose, one that we never want to test.

It’s a little bit like your insurance company, you hope it works well, but would be happy never to find out.

With a few promo codes sent by the folks at RoadID, the Tread Heads ordered a Wrist ID Sport (Sam), Wrist ID Elite (Kurt), and Wrist ID Slim (Michael). Here’s the rundown:

Wrist ID Sport ($19.99): Basically a nylon strap with RoadID tag and Velcro closure, is probably the most durable of the three we tested. According to Sam (this is the only style of the three we’ve tested that I’ve never worn) it’s more comfortable than it looks and it has the added advantage of being easily identifiable to any medical personnel that might need the information. Available in six colors and supports up to six lines of text.

Wrist ID Elite ($29.99): A little more expensive and a lot more stylish. For $10 more than the sport you get a band made from “Fashionable Rubberized Compound” (think sports watch band) with metal clasp. The elite is comfortable and easy to size. The watch-like clasp makes putting it on and off a breeze. Our only complaint was the slight rattle in the clasp when riding on rough roads and the tendency for grime (sunscreen, dirt, soap scum, etc) to build up on the clasp. That said, when asked what he would change, Kurt suggested adding a bottle opener. Available in eight colors and supports up to six lines of text.

Wrist ID Slim ($15.99): In my humble opinion, the best of the three. Basically, a high quality Livestrong bracelet (far more durable, however) with a smaller stainless steel ID tag. More stylish (in that it’s less obvious) and more comfortable than the Elite, the Slim is designed for people, like me, who, either, can’t be bothered to take it off or have trouble hiding the inevitable tan-lines that came free with every Wrist ID (somewhere around here there’s a photo of my mid-summer RoadID tan-line…). Of course, the tradeoff for the small design is that, perhaps, it’s less likely to be noticed by medical professional. Available in seven colors and supports up to six lines of text.

All three IDs come with laser engraved stainless steel tags that can be customized with whatever information you think might be helpful in the event of an emergency. Choosing who or what to put can be daunting and the limited amount of space makes it likely you’ll offend the person you didn’t choose to include. Mine looks something like this:

MICHAEL SMITH
ALICIA XXX-XXX-XXXX WIFE
MOM XXX-XXX-XXXX
DOB 19XX * ORGAN DONOR
O POS BLOOD TYPE

Kurt drops the organ donor and blood type info and includes a home phone number (because he thinks it’s 2003 and still has a landline), drug allergies, and an inspirational quote. Sam has included me on his list of contacts, which is only a little silly because we ride together so often – or, that’s what I tell him so his feelings aren’t hurt. But, don’t fret, the RoadID website also offers examples and suggestions for how to abbreviate things so you can fit as much as possible in the small space.

If you’ve got a long medical history or your emergency contact keeps changing his/her phone number, you can also get an “Interactive” RoadID which has your name and a phone number/url for medical personnel to call/access in the event of an emergency. The pin # printed on the back of the tag will give emergency responders access to the information you’ve uploaded to your Emergency Response Profile. The first year is free with purchase of a new RoadID, each additional year is $9.99.

I’ve had my RoadID for…a long time and ridden over 3000 miles with it. Except for a few minutes here or there, it’s been on my wrist 24 hours a day. It has been exposed to heat, cold, sand, salt water, chlorinated water, soap, grease, yard work… The bracelet itself still looks new but, most importantly, the laser engraving is still as clear and easy to read as the day I took it out of the box (I’d take a photo, but then you might call my wife and talk her ear off about how awesome I am and she gets enough of that from me).

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Ryders Eyewear Seeker Sunglasses | Review

Ryders-Front
Ryders Eyewear got their start twenty-five years ago in 1986 when neon was everywhere. Those times have passed, but Ryders is still bringing to the scene eyewear for cyclists, skiers and snowboarders a like. Ryders eyewear sent over a pair of their photochromic and polarized (polarphoto) Seeker sunglasses for our review.

The Seeker sunglasses are available in a multitude of options. First, frames are available in either black, white or red. Lenses are available as either standard, polarized, photochromic, polorphoto (polarized and photochromic) and interchangeable. Keeping connected to your face, the thermoplastic frame is aided by hydrophilic (non-slip) nose pads and temple tips, which essentially provide the grip and work better when wet. Weight of the Seekers are not bad at 32 grams. Seekers provide a larger lens coverage area and most likely would be a bit large for a smaller faced rider, front bridge measurement is 135mm. The photochromic grey lens offers 34%-12% visible light transmission, which for my review I barely saw the difference, I would have liked to see the lens move slightly darker for middle of summer sun. The polycarbonate lens offers 100% UV protection, is shatterproof and as well has a scratch resistant coating. The lenses held up very well to the “Kurt test” (I occasionally drop my glasses), I didn’t see any scratch from my fumblings, but they are not completely scratch proof so do take care.
Ryders-angle

The Seekers are great for either road cyclist or mountain biker that is looking for a higher-end, but affordable sunglasses. They stayed well connected to my face without the need to push them up during a ride. The design and look is fitting both on and off the bike. Being someone with light sensitivity I appreciated the lens coverage and while I would have liked to see the lens have a slight darker end point, they worked well for the partly cloudy to full sun rides. At a $89 price point for a photochromic and polarized lens, they are affordable, which I see is because the frames, very-slightly, are more flexible than other higher priced similar glasses. My only issue with the frames is that the ear piece tips would occasionally come into contact with my helmet head basket, so on next versions if they were shorter, this would be an improvement.

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Dirty Dog Designer MTB Rotors | Review

DirtDog-Rotors

Dirty Dog MTB is a California based company bringing “Made in the USA” rotors to your mountain bike. They sent a set over for review.

Dirty Dog MTB rotors come in all popular rotor sizes, 160mm, 185mm, & 203mm with a thickness of 0.070″ and weights ranging from 147 g to 248 g, depending on size. Since they utilize the popular sizes they are compatible with major caliper manufactures, but always check the specs for your caliper before ordering. These are laser cut from stainless steel and come in several different designs, Dragon, Gecko, Skull, Ace of Spades, Spider Web and Bone Burner. The designs are look great and are well cut with plenty of braking surface. Burn is of course required as with any new disc brake set, so after a few go and stops, you are on your way. How do they stop? Very well!

If you are looking to set your ride apart from your friends and looking for easy upgrade, these rotors fit the bill with prices ranging from $69 to $80, depending on size, but searching the internet you can find some great deals. Even with the designs choices already available, it would be great to see a few more options.

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Bikase | Review

Bikase

Bikase is a universal smartphone or mp3 pouch that attaches to your bike to allow you to listen to tunes, track your rides, or keep on eye on your social media efforts, all by keeping your device safe and dry. Alt-Gear sent over the case for our review.

Constructed of neoprene, your phone or mp3 player will avoid scratches and dings. Easy access is provided by a zipper at the top side of the case and can be opened slightly for headphones. The clear screen cover allows you to still control your iPhone or Droid with swipes and touch. Attaching to your bike is done by velcro neoprene straps which you can mount either horizontally or vertically (handlebar or stem, for example).
I am one that always has my iPhone with me. Whether it is using it for logging the miles with Strava or for the occasional cycling tweet. I toss it in my jersey pocket and check on it through-out my ride to make sure it hasn’t slid out. For me, having the iPhone mounted to the bars can be bulky, so if I’m on the trainer, I’ll mount it, otherwise I put it in the jersey pocket and with the neoprene grip of the case, I know it isn’t going anywhere. The case fits your iPhone even with a protective case, as opposed to other smartphone mounts where you have to remove the protective case to mount. Cost of the Bikase will set you back only about $24, which is a great price.

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Zixtro Wing Case | Review

Zixtro-Wing-Case-Closed

Zixtro Wing Case is very simple saddle case to attach and remove. It easily attaches to your saddle rails and the case can be quickly disconnected from the mount for taking with you into the cafe, store or work. Alt-Gear sent over the case for our review.

Constructed of durable plastic this case can take a beating on and off the bike without the worry of breaking and is also light weight. With a weather resistant Velcro closure your goods are kept dry and out of the elements. Overall capacity of the case will put you at about 24 cubic inches and fits a tube, tire lever, patch kit and ID/credit card and a CO2 canister with nozzle.

I found the closure to work well with the occasional bumpy roads while carry aforementioned goods. Upon opening the case you notice a pocket to hold your items well so they don’t all fall out when you need them. Mounts worked well and stay locked in place without sliding held by the quick release Z-locks.

The Zixtro Wing Case is a great case whether you are a mountain or road biker. At $19, this case is priced accordingly and won’t break your wallet. I would like to see an additional pocket for the top section of the case so as to be able to store your ID or cards, thereby separating your “wallet” items from your “bike” items.

Zixtro-Wing-Case-Open

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is that a DSLR in your shirt…

Photographer Justin Olsen wanted a better way to take high quality MTB images, so he rigged up a chest mount for his DSLR. 

I can’t really imagine riding around with full sized DSLR strapped to my chest – but Justin is getting some pretty cool shots.

via

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trusty steed

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If I could read the website (or be bothered to use Google tranlate) I might learn that this is, in fact, a joke. I think I’m better off not knowing.

via.

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Lightning Vest

I seem to be on a visibility kick, I know, but really I just happened to see this over at Swissmiss. It’s a good idea, I guess. Not nearly as ugly as some of the hi-vis yellow clothing I see out on the road. But it seems you could just make one yourself and save $80.

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now you see me…

It’s dark at 6:00 am (and cold, but that’s a different story). The darkness (and the cold) has thinned out the already svelte bike commuting crowd. Of the bike commuters left, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who refuses to wear a neon yellow top. I have my reasons.

They’re ugly.

Random San Jose cyclist

And, I’m not even sure hi-vis jackets and vests work all that much better than other visibility solutions. There doesn’t seem to be much out on the interwebs linking blindingly yellow clothing to cycling safety, “there seems to be even less research on the effectiveness of high-visibility clothing for the bicyclist than for the motorcyclist.”

Much of the clothing I wear is black or gray but also has built in sections of reflecting fabric making me, at least somewhat, visible in the dark. But, more than that, the flashing white headlamp and the red taillight I ride with in low light should do more to make me visible than even the brightest yellow (and unlike reflective clothing, my lights don’t rely on others having their lights on).

Many cyclists out there probably look at my refusal to wear hi-vis clothing and think it’s foolish (much the same way I look at people who eschew helmets). In fact, one thing “research” turned up was a high number of websites suggesting, with no data to support the claim, that wearing hi-vis clothing is a must. Some may even feel that Hi-Vis clothing is the most stylish and fashionable trend in cycling since spider helmet covers. Which helps explain the guy I saw this morning in a bright yellow jacket without any lights on his bike.

I’m not convinced on either count.

Image by Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious

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