Reviews

Foo Review | Aventon Mataro Low


A few weeks ago Aventon sent me a Mataro Low to checkout, ride and review. I built it up from the stand point of Fixie Foo, with my twists (carbon bro). What that means, is that I built it up with the everyday rider in mind, decent parts on an affordable frame, which is Aventon’s customer base in LA and outside of LA. The average street rider, isn’t putting HED wheels on their build or super high-end parts. They are building their bikes up with hand me down parts, friend trades, eBay/ CL deals and are making their bikes look damn good while doing it budget style. So, that’s how I built it and my dude Rafael Hernandez came out last weekend and shot it. Here’s my thoughts on the Mataro Low, enjoy.


First impressions, out of the box, it’s light weight frame (3.5 lbs), comes with no fork (that’s a bummmer, but it brings down the cost and you can spend some dough on a nice fork, plus in the near future, there will be a Aventon carbon fork paired with it), with slight pursuit geo. I say slight, because, until I built it, I couldn’t really tell that it was pursuit geo. I’m used to real pursuit or low pro style, this didn’t have it. It ever so slight and maybe on the bigger frames, you can tell, but for me it wasn’t there. I ride a 52 and it just didn’t have enough pursuit slope (even fake pursuit) for me. Oh well. The Mataro low is made from 6061 series aluminum and is great for street riding, racing and what ever else you might do on this frame, don’t let anyone else tell you different, it’s good stuff and most frame are made from it. The over all look of the frame is great, clean lines, welds, simple graphics. A Plain Jane with a polished look, I like it. Moving on to the build and how it rides.

I built it up with the following, Deep V’s laced to Surly hubs, Easton carbon seat post, Fizik airone, Sugino Messenger cranks (46/17 ratio), IZUMI Eco Track chain, MKS GR-9 pedals, Rider’s Way double straps, plastic double cages and finished it off with china carbon MTB risers, paired with a china carbon stem. A real street Foo bike. Once I got back into the mode of whip skidding in sneakers (my whole life is clipless) I was having fun on this frame. It’s solid underneath you and eats up the road, responsive handling and can take a beating. It really brought me back to the early days of riding with friends and going dumb. That’s what this frame is good for, dorking around the neighborhood, skidding for days and having fun with the homies.

My only issue with this frame is the integrated seat clamp. It’s the worst thing ever. I have heard about this the clamp issue on Aventon frames for the last year or so and now I experienced it first hand. You really can’t get the damn thing tight enough, so for the first couple of rides, my seat post slipped and slipped and slipped again (hence the scratches on my carbon bro). Once I finally found the sweet spot and got it tight enough (you really can tighten the clamp for a good while), a new problem has arisen. While the seat post won’t slip, the clamp actually comes off the frame. So, you hop on your ride and what do you see? The damn clamp rising off the seat collar, creating a gap between the clamp and the collar. Not very pleasing to the eye and more frustrating than you can imagine. This is their 2nd frame with this issue, Aventon needs to address this and fix it.

If you’re looking for entry-level frame and want to build up a street machine this could be the frame for you. For me, it lacks a little something and it will be what it is to me, a Foo bike. Something for me to shred around on and do errands with or ride over to the homies house on. Throw down sweet skids in sneakers and call it a day. Go forth and Foo young men.

Specs from Aventon

Features:
Triple-butted aerodynamic 6061 aluminum tubing
Hydroformed top tube
Smooth welds
Integrated headset Included
27.2mm Seatpost
Integrated seat clamp
Double sided stainless steel dropouts
68mm Bottom Bracket, English Thread
Estimated Frame Weight: 3.5 lbs

Cost:
$289
$299 Polished

I wanna say thanks to Rafael for coming out and shooting this bike for me, it’s always a pleasure to work with you my friend!

Product Review | Abus U-Mini 40


I have been using the Abus U-Mini 40 for a few weeks now and I thought I would do a review on it. I’m also in the midst of using another Abus lock and will be doing a side by side comparison in a few weeks. Abus has become my lock of choice, with the Granite Futura being my main lock of choice. So when Abus sent me the U-mini 40 to peep, I was stoked.

Right out of the packaging, this lock is heavy. The Mini 40 weighs in at 980g while the Futura weighs 726g and the kryptonite Evolution Mini-5 weighs in at 975g. Does heavy equal security or just a heavy lock on your hip? I would like to say yes to security, but any lock can be beat, with the right tools. It’s alway been my policy to lock better then guy next to you. It seems to work, I have never had a bike stolen (knock on wood). Bikes are my life and I count on locks to protect them, while I’m not around. Abus locks do that. Anyways, back to the review.

The housing is a nice touch (and could be the source of all the weight), Abus calls it the “soft touch” and it protects your frame from “paintwork damage” coming from using the lock. Of course, if you ding your frame against whatever you are locking up, it won’t protect against that abuse, but at least the lock is covered.

The Mini 40 comes with four keys, I like that. I lose shit, it’s nice to have extras. I have a couple locks sitting around, just waiting for the time I find that one spare key that might still exist in my house.

It’s a durable lock, I have tossed it, dropped it, smashed it on the ground and it still looks new (must be housing), with no issues. The Mini 40 does have a ergonomic shape, but it’s a lock, does being ergo really come into play? No. It does feel good in your hand though.


All in all, Abus has a good lock in the Mini 40 and continues to push great locks onto the market for our bicycle protection needs. While I’ll stick with the Futura, mainly due to the weight, but the Mini 40 will still be in rotation at our household.

Product Review | Knog Blinder 4 Standard & Blinder 4V


A few weeks ago, Knog sent me a set of their Blinder 4 Standard and 4V lights. I have horrible night vision and I am always searching for different and more lights to help me see at night. I have been a fan of Knog since the early days, but haven’t used any of the new blinder lights they have been producing, so having a chance to see the improvements that Knog has made since the Frog and Gekko days, I thought I would give it the old college try.

I’ll start off with the Blinder 4V (rear light). Powerful and long-lasting, four bright red lights in a row to make sure your back is covered. Then 4V has 5 light modes, Steady, Fast Flash, Organic Flash Slow, Organic Flash Fast, Eco-flash. Each mode is just as good as the next and it depends on what and where you are riding or on your own preference as to how it flashes, but the bottom line is, all of them work well and you be very visible from the rear. The 4V has 44 lumens and a price point of $45 dollars, not bad for a sleek stylish rear light.

The charge for the 4V lasted me for several rides and commutes, so no complaints there. The Integrated USB Plug works great for both lights and I have plugged each of them into to my laptop or my iPhone wall brick while on the road. Perfect.


I also dig the new bike attachment for these lights, flexes, grips and holds on. The attachment fits all handlebars/rear-posts and frames with diameters of 22 to 32mm. The new on button is good change (pictured on the second photo above), no more opening your bag, just to see your lights flashing on and on and then having it go out, just when you need it. You now have to hold the on/ off button down for a solid .75 of a second to active. Good stuff in those departments.

Now onto the Blinder 4 Standard. This is one front light I wasn’t impressed with. I need bright, road illuminating front lights. With only 80 lumens, the 4 Standard just didn’t cut it for me. It was good for short trips on bright lit streets and was very useful as way for cars to see you (with the pulse on), but as a way to light up the road ahead, it just wasn’t enough for me and my bad eyes. That’s what is meant for, to be seen by traffic, not for you to see traffic. With the same 5 light modes as the 4V, it’ll keep you visible to traffic, but that’s about it. With a price point of $45 dollars, you are getting what you pay for, a light for you be seen with. One major issue I had with this light was the charge. It barely held a charge. I would have this light last for about a commute and a half, before it going dark. You need a light that will last more then a few rides and with my 9 miles of commuting every evening, this light should last all week (I have heard this from several other riders who have the Standard 4, big issues with the charge). The design and look of the light is great though, it’s not in your face with colors or silicone and has a modern feel and looks good on a set of handlebars. It just needs to hold a charge longer!

Both lights are also 100% waterproof, but I live in Socal, where it doesn’t rain, so if and when it does, I’ll let you know what happens. All in all, great new lights from Knog, the rear 4V is as good as it gets for a rear light, with the Standard four coming up short in the road lighting department, but being great in the way it keeps you visible to traffic, just supplement with another light and you’ll be good to go. After all, you can never have too many lights or be brightly lit out there. Stay safe and lit up, darker nights are ahead.

Purchase Knog lights at your Local Bike Shop or direct from Knog here.

Product Review | ILE | Transfer Race Day Bag


About two months ago, Philip from Inside Line Equipment sent me their Race Day Bag. I have steady used it for my commuting needs and my training/ race day needs at the track. I have been wanting to get a ILE bag since seeing them in person at the MASH store in SF last year and I’m kicking myself for waiting after the use I have been getting out of Race Day Bag.

I approached this review from two angles, race/ training day and commuting. Before I get into that, lets run down the specs and take a look at the bag empty.

At a price point of $240 dollars, it’s an investment, but one that I recommend. ILE hand makes each bag right here in California, exclusively from US made materials. It’s made of made of XPAC sailcloth, 11x20x6″ (21 Liters), it has 7 storage compartments. Let’s go through the features.

A top access pocket for phone and wallet.

Ergonomic shoulder straps (my favorite straps ever, so comfy) with a sternum strap,


Your helmet or shoes can be carried in the elastic exterior pocket, with a drawstring sleeve within main compartment for dirty laundry or shoes (perfect for a laptop).

Access to your goodies are made either through entry from sides (double zippered main compartment, as well as through the top (if left unzipped).




Two side pockets for water bottles, cargo pockets inside and tons of zippered pockets for anything and everything.

I first used the Transfer as a commuter bag. It’s always the test of bag for me. If I can use it to carry my shit form home to office and back, then it’s over before it even starts. While this bag isn’t labeled as a “commuter bag” it’s works very well as one. The drawstring “dirty laundry” pocket in the main compartment, is the perfect laptop sleeve. The ergo shoulder straps are the best and most comfy straps I have used in a long time on my commuter bags, I want all of my bags in the future to have these. The bag is beyond big enough to fit all you need for work or school and still have room for what ever you might be picking up on the way. The elastic exterior pocket is meant for a helmet, but on those work days, my shoes fit great and aired them out… My one issue was sweat. Wearing this bag and getting a sweat on is no good. The XPAC sailcloth or the backpad would soak through near the bottom of the bag, if I was getting my sweat on. I lost a couple of papers, due to this and it makes me think that this bag prolly shouldn’t see rain or wetness at all if you can help it. After all, it’s meant for traveling and race days, not a 20 miles commute through hot LA streets.



This is what I normally pack for a race day or a training sessions at Encino. I ride a good 22 miles before I get there, so I really need a bag that fits all my gear and isn’t killer on my back. This bag does that. The many zippered compartments, hold everything you need and keeps it separated or broken up into their specific uses (tool pocket, gloves and warmers, food, etc) all those pockets are mesh and see through, so no more searching or losing items in the depths of your bag. Having everything separate and organized for race day or training day and easily accessible makes this bag for me. It has yet to fail or present a problem and I’ll keep you updated as the months progress. The Transfer bag is as good as gets, I was very impressed in all by the bag and I’m keeping my eye on ILE for any future releases, you should too.

Product Review | 904 Fixed Lanyard


A few weeks ago, Kirk put these 904 Fixed Lanyards up for sale. I swooped up one, not because I needed one, mostly to support what Kirk is doing in Florida and to help out a brother in need. One of his boys, Steve Ob. is currently in jail for Graffiti (weaksauce) and proceeds from the sale of the lanyard were going to benefit Steve directly, with what ever he needs. As for the review, it’s an adjustable sliding wrist lanyard! It works great, keeps my ulock key nice and handy. It hasn’t fallen apart and is maintaining beautifully. What more can you ask out of a handmade in America product?

904 Fixed

Product Review: Leg Lube


I hate saving my legs. I miss spots of hair, I nick myself, bleed all over and it just never looks good. I had heard about Leg Lube from a friend, he had nothing but good things to say about it and I had to give it a try. I have used this product twice in the last few weeks and I’ll never use anything else. I have shaved my legs while showering and while just sitting on the side of the tub for touch ups. Color me impressed with Leg Lube. It basically works as a gel for shaving. Just a little drop here and there and the razor glides over your legs very well lubricated. The smell of the gel is wonderful, there really is no mess and my skin feels soft and moisturized after. It really cuts down on shaving time and helps to do a perfect job. I suck at shaving my legs and Leg Lube makes me want to shave, keep my legs looking clean and smooth.

Leg Lube

Product Review | Mission Workshop | The Shed

A few months ago, Mission Workshop hit me up to do a review on “The Shed“, the first ever “Rolltop Messenger Bag”. After taking this bag back and forth from work, Las vegas for interbike, and SF for the BFF, I figured it was time for the write up. I really took my time with this bag, I would love it, then out of nowhere I would just hate it, (the Gemini in me) and not use it for a few days. It was my travel bag, meaning I would pack clothes in another bag, and bring this as my roll around the city bag. Fill it with my shopping, tools, camera and other shit I would need during the trip. As for commuting, I liked it. It has a real professional look to it. Coming into a professional work environment, it made me feel legit, and very proud to be riding my bike to work. Almost like a briefcase, but more badass. As a working bag, i.e. Bike Messenger, I wouldn’t use it (I’ll explain below), for a commuter or Student, where you are in and out of your bag very little, and need to carry a bunch of stuff at one time. I highly recommend it. Read on for the full explanation.
The profile of the bag is sick. It looks good on, so many compliments from people on the street. At interbike, I was getting stopped left and right from industry folks wanting to know what bag company it was from.
I really liked the shoulder strap/ pad combo. Feels good and looks great on. I have carried a ton of weight in this bag, and always felt secure on my body. No real issues. At interbike, after having 30+Lbs in it, for over Ten hours my shoulder was feeling the pain, but most sling bags would have had the same issues after that much time. The width of the shoulder strap, really came into play when there was a lot of weight in the bag. It kept the bag on your shoulder not digging into it or in your neck. One of the features I liked.One of the features I didn’t like. The chest compression strap. It needs to change. Even after a few months, it never broke in, it was impossible for me to tighten or loosen while riding, with out going all over the road or almost crashing. I would have stop riding or before I got going, use both hands to muscle it through to get it how I wanted. I would curse it on a daily basis. Please fix it, or change it up.
The Rolltop feature. Never used it. I did once and it was very uncomfortable to ride with. I like how deep the bag is, but for me the rolltop was something I could do without. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I kept it traditional. The Buckle system, very nice. Made for tightening and loosening the bag very easy. Looks flashy as well. You can now upgrade the buckles to various colors. The only I would add to this system is another buckle or D-ring to the end of the compression strap. Just a little something more to grab onto as you cinch the bag tight on your chest.
This photo is from my Shed update a bit ago. It really shows how deep the bag is, and also why this is not a working Bike Messenger’s bag. The bag’s fold over flap/ rolltop part, creates a huge pocket to fill, but it is impossible to get into while riding or standing, you can’t really dig around in the bag or reach far into it, while it is on your body. Some many times, I had to take it off just get something out. This bag is perfect for commuters or students who want to look clean and have to carry a bunch of stuff while riding. That what I use it for, going to work or the grocery store, not for getting in and out of quickly and a lot of times through out your day.650I loved this pocket. The Laptop pocket. So good. This is what really makes this bag good for commuters and students. The laptop pocket creates a safe place to store your laptop, without sacraficing space in the main comparment. I have carried so much in the main pocket, had my laptop in it’s cubby hole, and have forgotten it was there. All messenger bags need to adapt to this. I can’t sing it’s praises enough. Great work there. I have crashed, and the machine was perfectly protected, no worries at all.The Shed, the new Urban Briefcase.

Product Review |Study Shoes | Bike Drops


A few months ago I picked up a pair of Study Shoes, Bike Drops to ride in. Study Shoes were sponsoring the LOG III and were releasing a “fixed gear” specific riding shoe at the time. I copped a pair and away I went. While I loved the feel of shoe (super comfy) and how classy they looked (I have used for dress up shoes) as a riding shoe, they didn’t make the cut.


The Bike Drops have a great profile. Black on black or the Tan on tan colors look smooth and sleek. Just the way I like to run my riding shoes. The sole is pretty thin, but you can’t really tell. You get a little bounce in your step, feel crispy while rocking these.

As a riding shoe, they fell short. The damage to the toe box came from the first time riding in these. A couple of whip skids and I had already eaten two holes in the toe box. I was running plastic cages too… I quickly stopped riding in these. After all they were a good-looking sneaker. They quickly became my “dressy” shoe.

That has stopped too. I tore the heel loop off, putting these on the other day. Fail. I will, however go back to riding in my Bike Drops, just to destroy them. Shouldn’t take long. As a riding shoe, the Bike Drops weren’t the business. Since getting these, I have since acquired a few other pairs of Study shoes and rock them on the regular, I just keep them far away from my bikes.

Product Review | Chrome Industries | Welded Rucksack


I have been using Chrome’s Welded Rucksack exclusively as my commuter bag for the last month. While it is billed as a utility bag and it functions quite well as that, a commuter bag it is not. I’ll get into that down the line in this review. Aesthetically, it is very please to the eye. The industrial look of the bag is what got me right out of the box. Very pleasing lines and the grey color way kills. Now on to the functions and my thoughts on the bag.



My first issue with this bag is the D-ring used to fasten the shoulder straps to the bag. As you can see in the second photo, the D-Ring shifts as you ride. This cause the straps to move into uncomfortable positions or creates an annoyance on and around your neck and shoulders. You can’t really fix the problem as you ride, it tends to happen no matter what you do or how many times you adjust the bag. This is fine if you are just using for short rides or wearing it as a day bag, but for me and my longer commutes, plus I tend to go the long way home most evenings, it really became an issue for me. The weight in the bag would shift and just wouldn’t sit right on my back. At times it drove me crazy.

These industrial metal cam lock under arm compression buckles are legit. Holds the straps perfect and no movement at all. This is a great upgrade on the old buckles of Chrome bags past. The Daisy Chain mounting loops on back panel, make it mountable on a rack, something I plan on trying out once my touring rig is up and running again (I’ll update with another review then). There is minimal padding on the back of bag, which wasn’t an issue at all. Even with a full load, there was no need for padding. The straps themselves are well padded and comfy, they also have Velcro straps for your cellphone holder.


The removable laptop sleeve was another great feature I liked. It keeps your machine tight against the back of the bag and if need be can be removed to create more space inside the bag. This is great for those of us that carry a laptop to work, but also want a useable day bag, when we aren’t in the office. On most bags you sacrifice space to accommodate your laptops, having the ability to ditch the sleeve and create space for all you needs is a great selling point to me. The only thing I didn’t get to test out was how 100% waterproof it is, I briefly got rained on and the Shark tooth closure of the flip top lid kept the rain out of the bag and there was no leaks inside. I live in Socal and rain or wetness is never a problem here. The bag seams are sealed tight and is made of one piece construction, but I’m sure if you fully immersed it, everything inside would be ruined, but why would you do that?

However, if you are like me and bring shoes and a change of clothes with you most days to work, the bag gets stuffed real fast with the laptop sleeve inside. Mondays and Fridays are my heavy load days and you can really feel the weight in this bag when it’s filled. I carry tool-roll, shoes, pants and a laptop on those days. It’s not that much, but with this bag you really feel it and it’s packed to the gills. I have run this without the laptop and space wasn’t an issue and it changed my perspective of the bag. I would fully use this as a day bag for hikes or short bike trips around town, but not so much a commuter bag, just didn’t fit my needs. It would also be great as laptop/ short ride office bag, if you aren’t carrying much more then the daily needs. A very stylish bag, which looks great on and off the bike. The price point of $110 is pretty standard for this line/ style of bags and is worth it. I would swoop if you were looking for a stunner bag, but for commuting functions, I would look for something else in Chrome’s extensive bag line.

Chrome Industries | Welded Rucksack

FIT:
• Ergonomic shoulder strap design
• Industrial metal cam lock under arm compression buckles

SPECS:
Dimensions: 13.5” wide, 18.5” high, 4.8” deep
Volume: 22 L
Weight: 1.9 lb

FEATURES:
• Waterproof seam construction keeps personal items dry
• Removable, padded laptop sleeve fits up to MacBook Pro 15
• Daisy Chain mounting loops on back panel
• Quick access exterior pockets fit U-lock, wallet, keys, and personal items
• Shark tooth closures adjust for different volumes and load sizes
• Made in China

FABRICATION:
• Weatherproof 600 denier TPU coated outer shell
• Custom gunmetal finished hardware

Product Review | Chrome De Haro Windbreaker


A few weeks ago,
Chrome was kind enough to let me check out their De Haro windbreaker. I rock this mostly in the morning for my commutes, during LA’s famous “June Gloom” and it’s become my packable jacket for my road trips and flights out of town. Super stylish on and off the bike, it’s a favorite of mine and has replaced my Chrome Anza as my riding wind jacket.


First up, it’s avery lightweight comfy windbreaker. I have worn it over hoodies and flannels or just with a t-shirt under, no complaints there. It packs down small, doesn’t take up any room in a bag or even a hip bag. There is a rad “secret” zippered vertical pocket in the Utility patch pocket on the chest for cell phone access, making a nice protected home for your phone.

My only real issue with these jacket is the venting. There is not enough venting and if you get a little sweat on or if there is any heat of the day going on, it feels like you are wearing a garbage bag, which cause the jacket to be come a sweat factory. This could be solved with a full under arm zipper or larger velcro vents, instead of these small finger sized mesh vents. The two-way zipper does allow you to unzip from the bottom to the top to increase wind flow while riding or walking, but if it’s raining or super windy, you might not want to do that. The two way zip comes in handy, for those days when the weather is manageable and you need to cool off a little, I like that.


It functions well on the bike, the long sleeves keep the cuffs were they should be, as well as the long cut in the back of jacket, both staying perfectly in place during riding. The rear pocket on the back of the jacket is great for storing almost anything, it’s large and in charge, easily reachable while in saddle or off. It also doubles as a stuff sack for the jacket for easy packing.

My favorite feature is the hood. Stays up while riding, the drawstring holds it place without choking you, it fits over hats, beanie and helmets, perfect. You can always sell me on a jacket if it has a big ass hood. I’m a simple man with simple needs.

With a price point of $95 dollars, it’s worth the investment and you won’t be disappointed. Fashion and function on and off the bike. I look forward to rocking the shit out this jacket this year and years to come. I’m really digging what Chrome is coming out with in the way of technical apparel. I’m keen to watch the growth of these lines from Chrome and I am very excited to see what is next.

Photos by Mel Seeger in the woods of Northern Virginia.

Product Review: 904 Fixed Lanyard


A few weeks ago, Kirk put these 904 Fixed Lanyards up for sale. I swooped up one, not because I needed one, mostly to support what Kirk is doing in Florida and to help out a brother in need. One of his boys, Steve Ob. is currently in jail for Graffiti (weaksauce) and proceeds from the sale of the lanyard were going to benefit Steve directly, with what ever he needs. As for the review, it’s an adjustable sliding wrist lanyard! It works great, keeps my ulock key nice and handy. It hasn’t fallen apart and is maintaining beautifully. What more can you ask out of a handmade in America product?

904 Fixed

Product Review: Boreas “The Lagunitas”


A little over a month ago, a box showed up at my door. While I thought it was some parts I had ordered, I was surprised to find a Boreas backpack inside, “The Lagunitas” model to be exact. There was no note or nothing inside, just a day pack with an external frame. The next day, I took it for a spin on my commute to work. It’s the little bag that could. I carry shoes, pants, tools, laptop and other odds and ends on my daily commute and I still haven’t over filled this bag. It has a great profile and I feel tech’d out when wearing it during the week.After the first couple of days, I was hooked and this has become my daily commuter bag. Mostly, because when I have my laptop in there, I can’t tell if it’s in there.
If you are commuter and carry a laptop, you know exactly what I am talking about. Carrying a computer back and forth on the daily grind, gets old. Having a bag that you can’t tell if your computer is packed away, is the business. This bag does that. The internal laptop sleeve is killer, the elastic bands and slimness of the sleeve hold your laptop right against the bag and your back. You really don’t notice that you are carrying one. I have stopped on more than one occasion, to check if I actually packed it. The sleeve is also so slim with the laptop (15″ Macbook pro) inside, you aren’t sacrificing cargo space for the ability to carry a computer. The top pocket is completely waterproof, I would like to see more water proofing on this bag. Living in Socal, we don’t get much rain, but I need a bag that can protect my laptop from water in any case. Plus I see myself using this as a touring bag or day pack for hikes and I still want my things to nice and dry, no matter where I am.
There is an external frame, which has the ability to be tight against your back or with a pull/ push of the variable suspension system, it can be raised off of your back to creat airflow. I have never really used it for that, it was more to lower the bag down from hitting the back of my helmet. That is the one major issue I have had with this bag, helmet bonk! So annoying, but an easy fix with this system.
There is only three external pockets and they are all on the small side. That is kind of a bummer, but you can work with what you have, so bring the essentials you need day-to-day.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with this bag. Unless it rains in LA, this is now my go-to commuter bag. The best part was I went into using this bag without any preconceived notions or expectations. It filled what I need out of a commuter bag. Light weight (970g), carries what I need on a daily basis, holds my computer down and still has room for more (25L of space). “The Lagunitas” rocked and I will be looking into getting more from the whole line Boreas has to offer.

Product Review: Fyxation Pilot Saddle


Another lovely item I’m checking out from Fyxation is their Pilot Saddle. My roadie has been getting the most long distance love lately, so I threw on my Felt and have been commuting, climbing, and racing on it for a little bit now.


It weighs in at 279g, which is good for the price point of $39.95. Another feature I liked are the Anti-Abrasion corners, I tend to be pretty rough on my saddles, jumping on off, throwing the bike on the ground, crashing, and so my saddles tend to tear up on the corners. I have yet to have that issue with the Pilot.

The profile looks good on the bike and is just as comfy. I broke this saddle quite fast and I hope it lasts. Things of this nature that break in fast, kind of worry me, so I’ll update as we ride along. The shape is great and it feels good on long rides and the shape works well for the sprint or full efforts. My sit bones fit quite nicely on it and I no have compliments there.

It has stayed stiff, throughout the beating I’m trying to give it and I’m digging it. Gives the old whip a speedy profile!

Product Review: Fyxation Rodeo Pursuit Bar & Loop EVA Bar Tape


I used to run Pursuit bars on my Lo-Pro and on my Felt Tk2 way back in the day, always loved them and had fun with them. Then I became a lo-rise riser and drop bar purist on all of my track bikes.


So when Fyxation asked I would like to check out a pair of their Rodeo Pursuit bars, I thought “why not?” I put them on my Affinty Kissena and wrapped them the Loop EVA bar tape and away I went.

I’m gonna talk about the bar tape first. I consider myself a pretty good wrapper of bars, I take my time and enjoy it, where as, most people hate doing it and I consider it fun. It’s the sadist in me. However, I didn’t really enjoy using the Loop tape. I took way too many tries to get it just right. Maybe, it’s the style I choose to wrap the bars in or me just being anal. I don’t know, but it was tough. Riding with the wrap on the bars without gloves, made my hands feel like they were gonna slip off at any time. I kept having to re-adjust my grip, which caused my hands to hurt. Once I put on a pair of gloves, it was good to go and I enjoyed the ride. I tend to ride without gloves on while commuting, so that is an issue for me, but on longer rides and race day I was fine. I’m trying to find a balance and maybe once the tape breaks in a bit more, it should work it’s self out. If not, I will be switching to their cloth tape (which is awesome), post-haste.

Now on to the bars. Perfect pursuits. I was a huge fan of the Nitto RB-021′s and now these have won me over. So many hand positions to choose from, great for any all riders. Great swoop from center into the drop, made for several great skidding positions, from center position all the way into the drop, which is only a 40mm drop, perfect. As a climber, I was a bit nervous to go up some of my usual climbs with these bars, but once hitting them, I powered through like normal or even faster. Felt good on flats and for sprinting, very comfy and hands never hurt (only from the tape, bare handed) or cramped up. The only thing I’m considering doing is cutting the length down a little on the reach (Felt stretched out, when on the bar ends) and making them a bit more aggressive… Maybe. If you’re looking for a pair of pursuit bars, I would swoop on these if I were you, perfect setup for that street machine and at a MSRP of $32.95, you can’t beat that.

Fyxation also makes these bars in oversize (31.8)… Yay for oversize!!!

Product Review: Abus: Granite Futura Mini U-Lock


While at Interbike this year I sat down with Abus and talked about locks. I walked away from that discussion with a lock, the Granite Futura Mini U-Lock. Super compact, light weight (700g). The weight is great and it doesn’t feel like you are carrying a lock when you got one of these in your belt or in your bag. I didn’t like the size of the locking mechanism, looks like book with a U attached to it. Once seeing it in action, it kind of has an intimidating factor when put next to a Mini Evo U-lock. Burlier the better. So that grew on me, plus it was easy stickering it up… Always a bonus for me.

The other feature that I love is that you can twist the key in any direction to open this bad boy. That is worth it alone. The length of the lock is great for securing the front wheel to the frame or rear wheel through the rear triangle, but sometimes the width of the U lock effects where you can lock up. It fits most bike racks and meters but has a hard time with steel poles or larger street signs. That can be a bummerwave, but otherwise it’s a damn good lock and it stands out from what everyone else is carrying…

Review: Levi’s Commuter 2012: Mobility Fleece


Since the O20 launch party for Levi’s 2012 Commuter line is tomorrow, I thought I would drop my review of the Mobility Fleece. It’s my morning commute/ late night riding hoodie and works good as such, however there is a change I would make to next year’s or this fall’s design.


When partnered with a bag, its killer, you are warm and cozy, feel super snug. The zipper vents are perfect for when you start to over heat, one zip down on each arm and you are getting that cooling air flow right when you need it. A big hood covers your dome when you want it, and large front pockets fit most items, for when you are bag-less. One simple change and this hoodie would destroy all comers. Jersey Pocket on the back would be a great improvement to this fleece, I don’t understand why there are no jersey pockets! Maybe, I have just gotten spoiled by everything labeled as a “riding gear’ and expect them all to have the bells and whistles, that come with that title. Don’t get me wrong, this has replaced my other “riding hoodies” and has gotten into my lineup of cold day riding gear. Levi’s has a good thing started here with their commuter series and I’m stoked to see how they will improve on it.

Check out the full line here

Product Review | Levi’s Commuter 2012 | Chambray Workshirt


Been rocking the Workshirt all week. So many compilments on it, regardless if I was on the bike or off. Arm pit vents to keep you cool and the stash/ jersey type pocket on the back is a nice touch. Fits my tool roll perfectly and is very easy to get in and out off. I would love to see a zipper or magnet type of button to keep it closed, but otherwise this shirt is the bee’s knees.

Swoop.

Review: Chrome ORP


I have been rocking the Chrome ORP for the last few weeks as my weekend day bag. It’s such a good day bag. This past Saturday, I spent the day running around with the ORP, at the end of the day I shot some photo’s of the bounty I carried in it. Enjoy.


First, I’ll talk about the features, of course. It’s a rolltop backpack, except the buckles are on the each side of the bag and can be tighten down or run loose depending on how you like it or what you are carrying that day. It looks small, but it can fit a lot of stuff in it. There is one pouch pocket on the inside for smaller items, but it doesn’t close and is pretty deep by its self. Most of the time throwing items inside the ORP, that where they went, in the pouch.

Not sure what this feature was for, but I found a use. CBNC.

I was at Orange 20 and couldn’t pass up this deal on a Wald basket for my cruiser bike and the ORP swallowed it up, the basket, my camera, slaps, some riding snacks for this week’s long rides and my Levi’s Commuter Fleece (more on that later this week). It fit all of that and was perfect on my back, couldn’t tell I had a basket in there. No real issues with the ORP, it has become my go to bag for short trips and errands. It’s ultra lightweight, so when empty, you don’t even feel a bag on your back, I really can’t wait for my travels over the next few months, so I can really put this to use as a day bag. Being able to stow this inside my larger bags and bust out as needed really stokes me out. Great product Chrome.

All Hail Cardiel!!!

Swoop.

To Live & Ride in LA | DVD Review


Rick got me my “rider” copy of the DVD last night. I watched it. That summer was amazing and those some of those guys are the best dudes ever. That summer really meant a lot to the new kid on the block, so happy to have captured on film. You all should go out and buy the DVD, mostly for the extra features! That’s where my section is and Joe is also all up in there too. See you Guys Saturday!

Review: Fyxation Comet Drops & Loop Bar Tape


Fyxation a few weeks ago sent me a pair of their Comet Track Drops. I was a die-hard Nitto fan for a long time (still am) and was nervous to switch out my Nitto Drops (loved those bars) for the Comet track Drops.


From the maiden Voyage, I was hooked. Made my cockpit so much lighter and they were great from the start. I feel aggressive with my sprints and climbing hills in the drops have become a joy again. The Comet Drops are super stiff and are holding up to the pressures of being a daily commuter. I have pushed long road rides in the drop position with no complaints at all.

Now onto the Loop Cloth tape. Been about a month of commuting, racing and hard training rides. The cloth tape looks and feels brand new still. I’m already a huge fan of cloth tape on any type of bars, so the switch from my normal brand was easy. It has held up wonderfully and will prolly last a few more months.

Swoop the Comet Track bars

Swoop the Cloth Tape

Chrome | Ivan Review

More then a few months ago, Chrome sent me a Ivan, to check out. My first impressions, “Damn, this bag is huge”. I rolled with it as my commuter bag, for about a month, it was just too much as a daily bag. I use it on Monday when I have to bring in a bunch of stuff to work. Best bag for heavy loads, or a ton of shit. This thing can hold it all. It has become my grocery getter, and long distance travel bag. I wanted to drop this review after I was in Seattle, hoping to get rained on, but there was no rain on that trip. Luckily, we just had a few storms come through LA last week and it got put to the test, namely the outer pocket, I use to carry my laptop… This what it looks after after a $70 dollar run to Trader joes. It was half full, I could of fit so much more. The profile is huge from the back, makes appear bigger then you are on the road. I notice that when rocking this bag empty or full, cars give me a wider berth. This are photo’s from the same run to TJ’s, in the front pocket are tools and and odds and ends. The front pockets never seemed to get full, no matter what I put in them. Deep. There are two main compartments to the roll top, Both equal large and deep, one being a separate zipped compartment. I assumed it was for when you have wet clothes or you need to keep certain items dry while going in and out of the other main compartment. I have yet to use it, I see how it would come in handy if you didn’t live in Southern California. My Favorite feature, the Laptop/ document Pocket. Works great. Totally water proof. No complaints here. Now to the issues that I have with this bag. The straps are too small for a bag this size, a little thicker would be nice for heavy loads, as well as a waist belt to stabilize during heavy loads. I found that the bag would shift around while riding, when packed to the gills. Another problem, is that it that the back pad bunches, and can become uncomfortable with smaller loads (see photo). A thicker or stiffer back pad would take care of this. I would say, this bag is great for those days when you need to move a lot of stuff, traveling or are a working messenger. Otherwise I would go the the smaller version the Pawn, if you are a day to day commuter/ student. Great epic back pack. Tough as nails, this bag can take a beating, and will be my bag rotation for long time. Another great bag from Chrome.

Review: Levi’s Commuter 2012: Chambray Workshirt


Been rocking the Workshirt all week. So many compilments on it, regardless if I was on the bike or off. Arm pit vents to keep you cool and the stash/ jersey type pocket on the back is a nice touch. Fits my tool roll perfectly and is very easy to get in and out off. I would love to see a zipper or magnet type of button to keep it closed, but otherwise this shirt is the bee’s knees.

Swoop.

Chrome ANZA


I recently got a Chrome Anza for these harsh winter months in LA. This Jacket rocks. Pair it with a Cobra (Cobra review here) and you are good to go. I wore this all last weekend in SF, where it was cold and rainy kept the elements out. Rocked all day yesterday with a hoodie, during our downpour of the year, here in LA and was it was perfect. This jacket looks great on, you feel sleek and smooth, ready to cut through any weather. Works well against the wind as breaker too. Most the time in LA, I wear this with a t-shirt and I am totally protected against the elements.

This is my only issue with the Anza. The snap button on the back pocket. If you are carrying a heavy load on your bag it tends to dig that button right into your back. Chrome could solve this by making it velcro. Otherwise, this has become my main top layer winter riding jacket. Perfect.

Swoop the Anza

Continental Tires: GP Attack & Force

New road tire day! Threw these on my Felt F15. Amazing. I’m in love. Deets from Continental“The new GP Attack benefits from its special version of our Black Chili Compound that gives the streamlined 22 mm front tyre more grip with lower rolling resistance. The optimum front wheel tyre gets you quickly into the turns, feeling light and responsive whilst providing ample service life.” You really feel this on the road, simply amazing.Deets: “The new GP Force is a powerful rear wheel specialist and with its 24 mm section width combined with a fast Black Chili Compound, it gives excellent traction and road handling that’s second to none.”That about sums it up. The TPS system feels great on the road, and does everything that they were designed for. Perfect tire.The tires really clean up the look of Felt. I’m super impressed, and want to get on the road and racing more!

Continental Tires: Hardshell vs SuperSport Plus

I get a lot of questions as to what skidding tires do I run on my various Track bikes. I run Continental Gatorskin Hardshells on my Lo-Pro, Continental Supersport Plus on my BK and Supersport Plus on my Felt tk2. Which of there do I enjoy the most? Lets get down to it. Damn that rim is dirty. First up, Hardshells. I have run the normal Gatorskins as a front tire forever. Great all city, great all weather tire, never used it as a rear or even a skidding tire. Then I got Conti’s new jam, the Gatorskin Hardshell. So I thought I would give it a go. It’s been a more then a few weeks of heavy riding on the tire and it’s finally showing wear. I really don’t like this as a skidding tire. Way too sticky for me. Too much resistance. I cut my teeth on Everwears and Randos and most recently was a huge fan of Thickslicks (until it started to rain a bunch). I like a tire that feels like butter of the street, slides around and does what I want. I am impressed by the Hardshells long lasting life, and would fully use this as a commuting tire, or an everyday bike tire. As a skidding tire it was just to gummy for my tastes. If you like rimbo’s you’ll love this tire.My New Favorite. The SuperSport Plus. Why? I bought this very tire pictured on a whim a few months agoat O20. They didn’t have Randos in the size I wanted, so I thought I would give this a go. While it’s not on my everyday bike. Every time I ride this whip and get to skid around, it brings me back to the days, when all you wanted to do was skid. It’s fun and has really great stopping power and good shake and bake ability. Great performance tire as well. Excellent for race day. This Tire as held up for quite some time now, and is finally showing wear.It has become my all time favorite skidding tire. I have switched out my ThickSlicks for the Supersport Plus
on my Felt and plan to do the same on my new build. Good shit from Continental Tires, next tire up Force and Attack.

Feedback Sports: RAKK


Our homie Rob had one of these sent over a little bit ago, RAKK Storage System.
It’s perfect for what I need it to do, store and display my bikes. I just need five more!
Great for taking photos of tires and wheels, as you will see.



Look for this RAKK in action for some upcoming tire reviews…

Fyxation Tire | Review


A few weeks ago, I put on a Fyxation 28c tire on my Affinity Lo-pro. At first I was amused by it. It sounded like a Zipper when I skidded, made me laugh. Then it just got annoying. When I would run the Affinity, about three times a week for my 12 mile commute, I would skid the shit out of this tire. Mainly to get rid of the noise and see what it could handle. I liked the stopping power and the grip of it. Stopped on a dime, almost too good. For me, I like the ability to move around when I skid, short controlled skids to get through tight spaces and back up to speed fast. This tire could do that, with the use of muscles to push it through, but it was too much work for me. I think thats cause it was the 28c. It just wasn’t doing what I needed it to. I had to replace it. It just wasn’t my style. As a trick tire or a average commuter tire, I recommend the 28 or the larger 35c for tricking, it’ll be perfect. It really felt indestructible and after about a month of riding, it showed not that much wear with a ton of skidding going on. For a track bike rider, aka speed is king, it’ll slow you down. I would love to try out the 23c to see if that is more my speed, and really give the Fyxation tire a review it deserves.

I Sidi LA!

About three weeks ago, I finally made the move, I should’ve done years ago. I guess I had to get over not riding in sneakers to be able to do it. I have now realized, that my sneaker game is about to blow up, because I won’t be afraid to ruin sneakers by riding in them anymore.

I love it. There really is no better way to ride. So much more power, better stopping abilities, and it fucking feels badass as fuck. You feel like man amongst boys. I can’t wait til my road bike is finished and I get road shoes for that machine. Oh yea, what kind of setup do I run? Sidi Dominator 5s and Time ATAC MTB pedals (2010 version). Couldn’t ask for better setup. If you’re into riding track bikes really fast, and you’re on the fence about making the switch. Do it. Don’t wait as long as I did, (too long) you’ll regret it, trust. It changes your whole riding world. Improves everything. Speed, cadence, strength, and climbing, I think the best for me was, I was about to switch my gearing from a 48/17/16 to a 49/16, but because of the new muscles I’m building through better pedals strokes there’s no need. (right now at least) Super happy, that I made the switch. PS. I forgot to add this…. My homie Devon sez… “Going clipless? It’s the new aerospoke” So get on it!!!

Update: I totally forgot the most important question people have been asking. “how is it for skidding?” Magical, you lock it up with ease, just no whip skids, lock it up then drift. Full seated skids going 25+, barely trying to do it…… The best.

Official Chrome Shoe Review Part 2

Now it’s my turn to add my Two cents on my pair of Chrome shoes I received. Which were the Midway. I had a small issue receiving my shoes, but Jackie over at Chrome went out of her way to make sure I got them. Thanks a lot, Jackie. Chrome has amazing customer service, hands down. Maybe it’s the fact they’re like us, and understand our language, ya dig?My Review, is gonna be a little different then Joe’s. These shoes inspired me to go Clipless, not because I didn’t like riding in them. No, not at all, because they were the closest thing to being clipped in without being clipped in, and I thought it was time to make the move. (look out for that review next week) The first time I put the shoe on and walked around in them, I thought “damn these are fucking stiff” Then I hit the road on my Fixie whip. First thing is, the Midway’s are really stiff, but fit in the cages really, really, well. I ran Star fucker plastic double cages, and Riders way double straps. Made me feel the sensation I would feel clipped in with my Sidi’s later on. I rode these around for about 2 weeks, (before making the switch) commuting about 25 miles a day, M-F with more miles on the weekend and at night. They’ve held up really well. Didn’t have any of the same issues, Joe did with the peeling of sidewalls. No issues with the laces either, the length or the metal aglets (piece at end of shoelace) didn’t bother me at all, maybe because it’s a Midtop, not a low top like the Kursk. I really love these shoes, best Midtop I have ridden in since my Vans Halfcabs, and these really blew the Halfcabs out of the water as a riding shoe. The best part is now that I run a clipless setup, these have become my office shoes, which look great as a casual sneaker, and are very comfy to walk around and chill in. I really must say, the Midway’s were designed with us in mind. Great riding/ walking shoe. Go get a pair. The only thing is the are really stiff right off the bat, and you should get a size or a half size smaller then you normal do. <-Sean Martin

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