reviews

ZLOG & Bike Insiders at Interbike

I will be in Vegas all week at Interbike with the Bike Insiders crew. We will be doing as many interviews as possible and checking out the latest gear on the market. We have an editor on hand who will be putting together videos the same day and uploading them to the Bike Insiders youtube channel for all of you to enjoy. If you see Peter or myself be sure to say hello.

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Can’t Fool the Youth

Zane Meyers’ fixed gear freestyle video magazine has been premiering around the U.S. lately and I was one of the lucky few who got my hands on the DVD early. The main cast include Gus Molina, Josh Boothby, and Steven Jensen, but also has a bunch of clips from other riders as well. The thing that sets this video apart from most other videos are the interviews and documentary style filming. It isn’t trick after trick, there are people talking and doing day-to-day stuff too, which I enjoyed. Some non-riding highlights was John Watson’s interview, AJ Austin on conspiracies, as well as Gus at work as a telemarketer. Zane captures the good vibes of being a part of the culture, and most definitely captures top-level riding which has never been compiled in a video this extensive before.

I wouln’t hesitate to pick up the DVD. Bonus features included!

Shop now at Chopemdownfilms.com


Bike Check – Radio Bombtrack

Radio Bikes is a company based out of Cologne, Germany. They currently have a large selection of BMX bikes and components in their line, and in the last couple years have been busting into the Fixed Gear Freestyle market (Mainly in Europe). I have been in touch with the folks who are spearheading the Bombtrack project and I find they are very knowledgeable and excited about the future of Fixed Freestyle; not something I expected from a company with a rich BMX history. It turns out the people behind this particular frame are fixed riders. Their sponsored rider, Simon “Gomok” Andraca has played a big part in development and it really shows.

The Bombtrack is in-line with all of the current necessities of a modern fixed freestyle bike. It features a negative bb drop, sloping top tube, 14mm dropouts, it comfortably fits 2.3 inch tires and 26″ wheels. I have been able to feel a positive difference when it comes to 180’s, full cabs, and hops in general. I am loving the S&M 5″ rise bars. They are super wide, high, and strong. Thanks to Shad at GOODS BMX for helping me find the right bar/stem combo! Another new component that I need to mention is the Zontrac straps; they hold their shape amazing and are the thickest, stiffest straps I have ridden thus far.

Continue reading for the full parts breakdown and more photos.

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Freaker Fine Bottle Sweaters


Freaker sent over a little care package with some of their fine bottle koozies, known as Freakers. They are super stretchy and fit on pretty much anything. There are several different (and crazy) options to choose from. I had to snag the flannel one to match my wardrobe (NW pride) as well as the American flag version.

For $8 you can get your own Freaker, which is made in the USA.
More styles are available at Freakerusa.com


Product Review – Ignoble Cora Classic Rucksack

I have been sporting the Ignoble Cora Rucksack for the better part of two months now and it is definitely a step-up from other rucksacks. It is a very light-weight (624 g) nylon bag and is structured quite well. The straps on the side expand and compress depending on how much is being carried. The zip pockets on the top flap and exterior have nice leather pull straps and the side pockets make nice water bottle/u-lock holsters. The inside has a small pouch for small items, and there is even a slot that fits a laptop or books. The straps are well cushioned and it offers a cross-strap that helps keep it stable when riding.

The Cora Classic Rucksack is a good mid-sized bag that can fit quite a bit of stuff, but it works best as a day to day pack. Did I mention that it is made in the U.S.A. with military-grade materials?

A little over a year ago, Ignoble bags came onto the scene with their Mona Cocoon backpack, which was their only bag at the time. They now carry 5 different styles on their web store, each of which have their own unique look.

Continue to see more photos and price info.
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Cog x Chrome Southside

Both Cog Magazine and Chrome have been in the game for quite a while and both are highly involved in the bike scene. They decided to celebrate their bike culture roots by collaborating on some footwear. The Cog Southside has same beefy construction as the regular Chrome Southeside, but with an added touch from Cog on the inside foot and tongue.


Chris has been rocking out in some Southsides for a few months. He noted that he likes the super stiff soles and the leather material. The great thing about leather shoes is that you don’t get the faded toe knuckle marks cause by toe strap rubbing (aka ghost foot).


Product Review – Element ion3 iphone Case

As someone who loves the look of a good carbon weave, I have to show some love to the guys at Element Case. Their composite line of cases brings a carbon fiber touch to the iPhone.

This particular case is for the iPhone 3 (also available for iphone 4), and has saved my phone from harm on a few different occasions. The rubber sides offer up a nice ergonomic shape and the carbon backing helps the phone slide into the pocket. One thing I normally dislike about all-rubber iPhone cases is they tend to be a pain to get in and out of my pants pockets. Overall, I am happy with the case for its aesthetics as well as functionality, but I need to get the 4G version since I upgraded my phone. There are a wide range of cases to choose from in the $20-$50 range.

click through for more photos
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Put to Work – Chrome FTC Yalta

When I heard that FTC and Chrome were collaborating on a roll top backpack, I made sure to swoop one up. It is a well designed bag with a lot functionality for it’s small size. The main compartment is completely waterproof and uses a very simple closure system which I like better than the more common plastic buckle. It features a side zipper with a compartment that conveniently fits a 12″ macbook. The outside zip pocket is also pretty convenient for small items. The bag is great if you need to carry a light load, but doesn’t expand much so I wouldn’t recommend grocery shopping with the Yalta.

Chrome FTC Yalta


My digital SLR started glitching out and I ended up with an interesting diptych.
more over at my flickr


Put To Work – Levi’s Commuter Jeans

Ever since Tyler got a hold of his Commuter jeans by Levi’s they have been his primary jeans for riding. The reflective strip on the inside cuff is a nice touch.

The back has a loop for a U-Lock and a stash pocket.


Product Review – Liberty Bottleworks

Liberty Bottleworks is a maker of fine drinking receptacles with quite the laundry list of features. They make the only metal water bottle in the United States, their bottles are 100% recycled and recyclable, BPA and EA free, and made in Washington state in a green factory (to top it all off). I am all for American factories (dying breed) and green thinking, which makes Liberty an easy company to love. They sent over two of their stock bottles, a 32oz and a 24oz bottle for us to check out. The cap is a patent pending technology which allows quick access to your water with only a quarter turn. It easily pops off an on, but be careful to hear the click or else you might get some unnecessary spillage. Not only do they make a pretty advanced U.S.-made bottle, but they also do custom orders with state of the art printers that offer almost limitless color and graphic quality. With all technical jargon aside, I have really enjoyed my bottles. It is a step up from the plastic bottle I used previously and the lack of threads on the mouth make for a pleasurable drinking experience. I’ve dropped one a few times while riding and there is hardly a mark on it, which I think is worth mentioning as well.

MSRP is $16 (24oz) and $18 (32oz)

Go to Libertybottles.com to pick up a damn fine bottle

Continue reading to see what Liberty Bottleworks has to say about their bottles

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Product Review – Boombotix BB2

The speaker company formally known as Skullyboom, now known as Boombotix, sent us one of their new BB2 speaker units to test out. I was pleased with the first version, but the BB2 outdoes the last by cutting the cord. Bluetooth, being the key new feature, makes it very easy to stream music from a device such as an iphone straight to the speaker without the need of a wire. Further improving upon it’s predecessor, the BB2 has an upgraded audio jack, which is less likely to malfunction. It is a handy little speaker that really delivers some quality sound.

If you are a fan of the last model and are looking for wireless connectivity then get yourself a BB2.
$64.99 at Boombotix


Product Review: Blaq Bags – PDX


I gotta say I was very surprised when this backpack arrived, totally unexpected, from Portland based Blaq Bags. This particular model is called the PDX and features a large main compartment, waterproof lined, and a roll top. It has side pockets which work perfectly for a u-lock and water bottle, or anything else that might need to be accessed easily. The other two front pockets hold a good amount of stuff. It is really nice to have the outside compartments, because with roll tops I sometimes find myself rolling and un-rolling too much. That isn’t a problem with the PDX. Ease of availability and a simple design make it a really great bag for on-the-go. Wearing it reminds me of a rucksack, but a little more functional and way bigger. Overall, It is a great hand-made pack which I am proud to own. Not to mention, my bag is done in a pretty sweet Seattle Seahawks colorway, but if you purchase one they let you choose from a huge pallet of colors

Head to Blaq bags as they continue their Blaq to School sale (%20 off). The PDX is only $144 while the sale lasts so jump on it.


Above photos by Jake Hanson

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(Life)Cycles Review of Zlog Vader Shades

(Life)Cycles wrote up a really impressive review of the Zlog Vader Shades. Go over and check out their story accompanied by some pretty solid shots of the product. Don’t fret if you’ve lost or broken your shades, there is a whole new shipment on the way and the price will remain at $16.


Dun’ Shredded-Holdfast FRS


When I first saw these straps at Interbike a couple years ago I was kind of hesitant to give them a try because I had been riding clips and straps since I got into fixed gears. After talking to Jeremiah from Holdfast for a while about em’ I decided I would give them a try. Now after riding these straps for the last 2 years they look and feel even better than the first day I put them on my bike. I really love how comfortable they are now, and the faded florescent yellow is sick. I’ve met all the guys from Holdfast and they are all real cool and down to earth, not to mention they all shred. With most of the bikes, and bike parts in fgfs being made overseas why not buy something thats made in America and made by people who are into the same type of riding that we are.


Vee Rubber 29er


When I was in Minneapolis staying with Jeff from All-City he brought home two of these sample Vee Rubber ATOM tires that he got from work. When I was first saw them I couldnt believe it, its the perfect 29er tire that i’ve been lookin for. They are a pretty true to size 2.1 and thats perfect for up front on my bike. I prefer to run a little smaller on the back. I’ve been running this tire since I got it a couple months back and I have no complaints whatsoever. Real solid tire, great tread, and perfect size. Apparently Jeff knows nothing about this tire because it was sent to the QBP offices as a sample. If your stoked on this tire I would e-mail the guys at Vee Rubber about it and tell them to start producing it. Best 29er/700c tire i’ve ridden by far and I think most people who are still on big boy tires would agree.


Put To Work- Outlier Pivotal Bomber Jacket

I was able to get my hands on one of the Outlier pivotal bomber jackets and within minutes of taking it out of the package, as if the gods knew, it started raining (in Seattle of all places!). As the rain drops fell they began to bead up and roll right off of the jacket. That is the 4seasons fabric at work. Outlier’s modus operandi has been to make classic clothing with modern materials. I have owned several bomber style jackets and none have been so flexible, waterproof or breathable. that is not a combination of qualities that one will find in a garment on any given day. The price is pretty steep at $290, but if you take into consideration that it is Brooklyn made with highly advanced fabrics which are sure to keep you dry all while looking good, then the price doesn’t seem so bad. They are still available at the Outlier site in certain colors so head over and check them out.



Photos by Elvia Carreon


Jordo Testing Redline Urbis Nox Handlebars

Redline wanted us to check out the new Redline Urbis Nox handlebars to see how they would hold up and I couldn’t think of anyone better than Jordan White (aka @stillridindirty for you tweeters) to test them out. He rides hard and he seems to always be breaking parts left and right, whether it be wheels, straps, or frames. He is on his second Charge frame (which is already cracked after weeks of riding). We have always joked that he would make a great product tester, and now we are putting him to work. Along with the Nox bars, he is rocking Redline lock-on grips, which do a good job of keeping them where they need to be and not allowing the grips to migrate up on the bars. Made with fairly light steel and heat-treated for extra strength and stiffness. They have a BMX clamp diameter (22.2), a 3.5″ rise, with a slight back-sweep, and have a unique shape due to their curved crossbar.

Whether you like the look of these bars or not, they definitely have some character to them. Have your local bike shop contact Seattle Bike Supply for more order information.

Full Specs:
Redline Urbis Nox Handlebar
3.5” rise
10 Degree back sweep/ 2 Degree up sweep
1.6 Heat treated chromoly with welded crossbar
635 mm (25”) Wide
Fits BMX stems
633g
E.D. Black Finish
MSRP $44.99

Previously: ZLOG Exclusive : Redline Urbis Handlebars


Being Prepared – Avenir Care Package

When a bicycle becomes the main mode of transportation a certain level of preparedness is necessary. There are many undesirable situations that can arise when on a long ride or commuting. There is no way to predict what will happen, but having the right tools to efficiently fix the problem is the key to having a stress free ride. I picked up some essential accessories from Avenir that I carry with me to easy my mind about any trouble that I might come across on the road.

First item I grabbed was the Cinco De Fixie wrench. It is a combo of 14 & 15mm wrench, bottle opener, chain whip and lockring tool. Something like this is handy for the average fixed gear rider.

Lights are always important and are a requirement in most places after the sun goes down. Most small LED lights are good enough to increase visibility, but on dark streets they provide almost no illumination to the road. That can result in hitting a pothole or debris in the road. After blindly riding down the curvy cliff-side road of Interlaken at night I immediately realized the need for lights with some wattage. I grabbed the City Light combo, which cuts through the darkness like a champ.

A good pump is hard to find, and changing a flat on the go is never fun, but with the right pump it can be quick and painless. I suggest getting  patch kit, a spare tube, and a travel pump for long rides to avoid being stranded with a flat tire far from home. With that said, this MTB shock pump is the best travel pump I have ever used. It has a heavy duty braided steel hose, with a high pressure gauge. The pressure release button ensures the air will make it into your tire with minimal air loss. The main thing I like about this pump is that it screws onto the valve stem. It works so much better then most clamp styles, which often pop off the valve when the pressure gets into the higher digits.

These are just a few things that can make life easier on the road, so pick up the essentials and get used to toting them around. Avenir makes just about everything which can be ordered through your local bike shop.


Product Review: POW gloves

POW sent over a few riding gloves for us to check out and I must say, they make some quality hand-wear. There are many uses for gloves when it comes to riding, but the main two are grip and warmth. Palms get hot and sweaty while riding, so the gloves need to be breathable, flexible, and must offer good grip. Fixed gear freestylers often wear gloves to combat sweaty palms. The last thing someone would want is their hand to slip off the handlebars when attempting to land a trick. Other riders prefer to keep their drop bars unwrapped for aesthetic purposes and gloves are handy in that case as well. Being that it is cold and rainy this time of year in Seattle, gloves are a necessity for anyone planning on riding comfortably throughout the dreary season.

First up are the Rake gloves. They feature a mesh fabric in a plaid pattern on the backhand, which offer the best ventilation out of the 3 gloves we reviewed. The tacky palms give them a excellent grip and a bit of cushion. These are not the most ideal for cold weather, as the wind cuts right through the fabric. I suggest using them when windchill is not a factor.

Second up is the Skinny. The name says it all. They are a slim fitting and very light weight gloves with an elastic wrist band that easily slides over the hand without any velcro or closure device. The sticky grip print offers great consistent grip, which are sure keep hands stuck to the handlebars where they belong.

The Mob glove is the most interesting out of the bunch, which is due to the carbon fiber knuckle guards. They are no doubt modeled after Keirin racing gloves, but with the everyday rider in mind. Keirin gloves can be as pricey as $300 dollars. Pow offers a cheaper and less bulky alternative. Made from goat leather, these gloves do a good job defending against cold winds. The carbon will protect the knuckle from whatever obstacles one might face. The Mob gloves would have came in handy for Tyler Johnson. He recently severed a tendon in his hand when his knuckle met an uncapped bar-end. The bar sliced through his glove and it filled with blood before realizing he was injured.

Lastly, I want to mention a feature apparent on the Mob and Rake. They both have ventilated inner-finger panels. This allows for controlled ventilation by simply tightening or relaxing ones grip. When the fingers are relaxed and slightly spread apart, air is allowed to pass through the glove. When fingers are clenched into a fist, the vents become blocked and heat can be trapped for better heat management. It is a very nice touch that one might not notice until riding into a bitter headwind.

I am very pleased that I got to play around with so many cool gloves. I never before realized how much variety is out there. Go over to POW gloves and find a pair that matches your style.

Thanks to Anthony for being a gracious hand model.


Resist Parts

I recently got my hands on the Icon pivotal saddle, cranks and integrated headset from Resist and I couldn’t be more pleased. I wasn’t sure how I would like the Icon saddle compared to my UGP. At first glance it seemed weirdly short and fat, but that extra padding makes it far superior when it comes to comfort. As far as pivotals go, this one is the cushiest I have ever ridden. If your seat has ever been a literal pain in the ass, this might be the thing to pick up. The headset looks really clean and the spacer compliments the shape of my head tube quite nicely. The Icon cranks are made with heat treated CRMO and come in 165 length. When comparing the icon cranks to Demolitions, there isn’t much difference. So far, everything is feeling rock solid. I will be sure to post an update in the future regarding durability over time.

Be sure to check out the full range of parts at Resist.

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Product Review: Black Market Molly Hatchet Handlebars


When I first saw these at Interbike this year I was really excited about them and knew that I wanted to try these things out for myself. After talking to Carter from BLCK MRKT he eventually sent me a little package that contained these bars and some other goodies. Right away I noticed how wide the bars are (28 inches) and the chrome finish. I’ve been riding these bars now for the past month or so and they are probably the best bars I’ve ridden so far. By “best” I mean they are stiff, they have a 3″ rise, and they are very shiny. I’ve purposely been jumping lots of stair sets, gaps and whatever just to try and get these things to bend but it doesnt seem like thats gonna happen anytime soon.The rise and width of the bars(which i cut down an inch or so)are what really make the difference to me. It makes lots of tricks and just riding around alot easier. I feel like if these parts are good enough for MTB and DJ bikes then they will definitely hold up for fixed gear freestyle. These bars are made from 100% double butted chromoly, come in either 2″ or 3″ and have a knurled 22.2 clamp area so your bars will never slip. These bars should be available early 2011 and for more info on BLCK MRKT check their site.


Product Review: Skully Boom

Leif gave me one of these lil’ guys in LA. Don’t be fooled, this odd creature of a speaker packs a punch! It is perfect for group rides and trick sessions. I had it hooked on my belt while hanging at the park and then took it to Future Tense, where it provided us with sweet tunes. The battery didn’t die and the beats were loud within a 15ft range. It comes with a retractable headphone jack and is chargeable by USB cord. With all that said I think they could do with a line of less cartoony looking ones, I kindof felt like I had a “My Little Pony” hooked on my belt for a second. A murdered out option, or even a simpler speaker box might cater to an older demographic who still want to bump jams when they are on the grind.

Go get your hands on one at SkullyBoom


Product Review: Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Repair Stand

If you have been working with bikes for a while you have probably found the need for a repair stand at some point. Living and working out of my very small studio apartment I couldn’t fathom owning a repair stand, until the Pro-Elite stand came along. By the name alone “Pro-Elite” sounds, well, kind of elitist and with good reason. It has the strength and clamp style of a high-end stand and also folds down for easy storage or travel. To test it’s ease-of-use I called upon my friend Amy. She had never used a bicycle repair stand before and in no time she had the stand up and running. The clamp has a patented quick release clamp that also utilizes a nob to dial in the clamp pressure. Weighing in at 12 lbs. it is fairly light for how sturdy it is. For the mechanic on the move or for doing repairs at home this is the stand to own.

Check the out stand and all of the accessories at Feedback Sports

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First Look: R.E.Load Lock Down Foot Straps

I got my hands on the new Lock Down straps made by R.E. Load. The construction seems really sturdy. There is one giant D-ring and a lot of velcro.  Attaching them to the pedals proved far easier than Hold Fast straps. The D-ring allows for easy adjustments and there aren’t any metal pieces on top of the strap that could potentially cause blistering or discomfort to the top of the foot. They are pretty new, so I will re-post when I have broken them in and see how they wear over time.

The straps are available now at the R.E. Load web store for $47. Get em!