So many places we ride these days are shared by more cyclists than ever as well as pedestrians and pet walkers, so having a bell on your bicycle to alert others of your presence is a very good thing. But a bicycle bell is a bicycle bell, right? Wrong! The Spurcycle is easy to activate, even with winter riding gloves. It’s made of brass and stainless steel right here in the U.S. of A. and is guaranteed for life. It’s just over an inch round, weighs 1.6 oz., and when activated makes a very clear piercing ping that can be heard from a great distance. Now, if only someone can invent a way to get the attention of people who have their ears plugged!
Spurcycle is available in black or raw (stainless finish), the latter of which looks great on any bicycle. The bell is easy to install and is designed to fit on nearly any diameter handlebar. Instructions, an installation video, and replacement parts information are available here: spurcycle.com/pages/faq#guaranteed.
So get one on your bike and start pinging away. All the cool kids are doing it!
While I’m no fan of the daylight savings concept, when we “spring forward” I know spring has arrived. But in many places the arrival of spring doesn’t mean warmer temperatures are necessarily on the way, so protecting yourself from the elements is still essential. The Dare 2b Enshroud Windshell is an excellent garment for doing just that. Constructed of Ilus Windshell lightweight fabric, it’ll protect you from wind and light rain. Features are fairly standard for a light shell, but there are a few standouts that may make the Enshroud of interest. A two-in-one design allows the sleeves to be removed, converting it into a vest when temps do warm up. This design also helps with ventilation as the removable sleeves/backing are connected at the top and mid-back via magnets, leaving the unattached fabric free to vent. If the weather does get nasty again, you can zip the sleeves back on and the magnet at the top helps orient the sleeves for reattachment. The Enshroud also features reflective piping front and back. Add integrated thumb loops and a loop for an LED light and you’ve got a very functional windshell.
Ibex’s specialty is outdoor clothing and apparel made of wool. The Kilometer gloves are constructed with micron wool gauge and protected my hands from frigid temperatures down to -5° F on my commute to work. The gloves feature wool backing, a ribbed cuff, a synthetic suede palm with leather overlay, reflective accents on the index and middle knuckles and a reflective logo on the back, and a silicone gripper Ibex logo on the middle finger. As gloves go, the Kilometers are excellent performers in terms of comfort and protection from the elements.
And Ibex backs their products with a promise: if you’re not satisfied for any reason, they will refund your money, repair the product, or exchange it within 60 days. Good to know.
Bike shorts are great. They protect your privates from surface vibration, and for that alone they should be valued. But sometimes you just don’t want to be seen in them. For these occasions, the Cadence Skyline shorts might be what you’re looking for. Constructed of 88% nylon and 12% Spandex, they’re water resistant and stretch in four directions. The inseam is 8.5 in. and the leggings are tapered so there’s no extra fabric flapping around. There’s a reflective tag at the waist, and best of all there are pockets both front and back, something I greatly appreciate. The Skyline comes in Charcoal grey or black, and they slip nicely over a pair of padded riding shorts.
For me the Cadence Skyline shorts offer a no-nonsense regular-looking option for riding when you’ll be making stops along the way and would like to call as little attention to yourself as possible.
I hate shaving. Always have. Fortunately for me, being sequestered at Adventure Cycling HQ doesn’t require a clean-shaven Mike Deme, and for that I am grateful. While it’s not for me, some people like to maintain a clean-shaven look at all times. As my old aunts used to say, “Gah bless.” If you fall into the daily-shave category, you’ll want a slick solution when you’re on tour, and the ShaveTech USB Travel Shaver could be just the ticket.
The ShaveTech weighs 3.3 oz. and its dimensions are 4 x 2 x .5 in., about the size of the original iPod. It charges via a standard USB port, which folds out from the bottom of the razor body, so it can be charged by plugging it into a computer or any USB wall adapter. After an initial overnight charge, it’ll take about four hours to fully charge and will provide about 30 minutes of shaving time. The ShaveTech is not waterproof, as many electric razors are, so it’s not meant to be used in the shower. If your beard is very tough and you wear the head out, it is replaceable.
If you’re familiar with electric razors, you know that they work best when you shave regularly and condition your beard to their use. They don't work very well on a three- or four-day beard and your facial hair type also matters. I found the ShaveTech to perform as well as most brands. It’s certainly the equal of my 10-year-old Braun, but I haven’t compared it to any newer models.
The ShaveTech comes with a carrying pouch and a cleaning brush. All in all, it’s a good lightweight solution for shaving on the road.
If you like to camp while bike touring as I do, having a pillow along is a necessity, at least for me. Eagle Creek produces an excellent option: Make-A-Pillow, which is basically a quilted pillow cover constructed of soft 50D polyester that you can cram clothing items into and zip closed to create a full-bodied pillow. It weighs 2.7 oz. and has dimensions of 15.75 x 10.5 in. Not much more to it than that. It comes with a stuff sack and has loops at the bottom so you can string it up to dry if it gets wet. Get the Eagle Creek Make-A-Pillow and sleep comfortably, campers.
The Esbit Titanium pot is a 25 oz. cooking pot that doubles as a drinking cup. At 3.75 oz. and 4 in. in diameter with folding handles, it’s lightweight and can be used to store various items when not in use (obviously!) including a small stove. And Nalgene bottles fit nearly perfectly inside it as well. The lid features a triangular handle and three steam holes, and the whole unit is stored in its included mesh sack. If you don’t want to carry a separate pot and cup, the Titan is the perfect solution for cooking and eating as well as drinking hot or cold beverages and is a perfect partner for an Esbit solid fuel stove such as the ST11.5-TI.
The Aspire Incognito are perhaps the most interesting sunglasses I’ve tested to date. According to their website, the “design is created with SDN-4, an incredibly thin, lightweight and hypoallergenic material.” And I can vouch for that. The Incognito sits so lightly on the face that it’s disconcerting at first with an initial feeling that they don’t fit quite right. But the longer I wore them, the more I came to appreciate what the design has achieved — such light, flexible frames that you soon forget you’re wearing them. In addition they stay firmly in place, requiring vigorous head shaking to get them to begin to wander, and unnatural head shaking at that.
The lenses in the Incognito I tested are a brown fade and are very clear and not intensely dark but offer all the UV protection of today’s typical sunglass lenses.
Aspire is a new eyeglass line that’s focused on people who, like me, need a prescription pair of sunglasses. Yes, you can get a nonprescription pair for $290 but Aspire is not making the glasses widely available and strongly recommends that you visit any eye care specialist, particularly if you have difficulty finding eye glasses that fit you properly. For those of us who wear prescription glasses, we’re used to paying a premium price for frames with prescription lenses being an additional cost. To find an eye care specialist, click on the Where to Buy link on Aspire’s website.
Because of the price, I can only recommend the new Aspire line for those interesting in prescription glasses, otherwise, there are far too many quality sunglass options widely available.