Review: Portland Design Works – RADBOT 1000

30 03 2010

Portland Design Works – RADBOT 1000 1 watt taillight with built in EU approved reflector.

The RADBOT 1000 has one directive: to defend you and your bike from rear collisions.

I have found a new favorite taillight. Sorry Superflash. You are still my faithful number 2 but, there is a new number 1. I have been using the Portland Design Works RADBOT 1000 for the past month and I must say I am very impressed with the design and flashing power of this light. The RADBOT 1000 features a 1.0 watt red LED made in Japan by Nichia brand. Below the LED flasher RADBOT also has an EU approved rear reflector. Some communities require a rear reflector whereas the use of a flasher is optional. Combining both into an attractive and smart package is a great move by the PDW designers. The RADBOT comes with a the standard seatpost or seat stay mounting option but, PDW also includes a rear rack mount. The really cool thing is that they are all identical to the clip mounts used by Planet Bike. So, if you use multiple mounts on different bikes you can swap the PDW and Planet Bike lights as you please. I’ve been using a combination of the RADBOT and a Superflash lately and am quite pleased with the adverse comments from ‘some’ motorists. Like most lights the RADBOT 1000 also has a belt clip on back and also comes with AAA batteries included.

The light itself is very well designed. There is a 1.5 second delay built into the on/off switch. The need to hold the button down to get it to turn on helps to prevent accidental turn ons when the light is in a bag or pocket. The japanese LED is the same one used in the brake lights of new automobiles! It has three modes. Rock Steady, zZz, and zZz POP! It runs for 30 hours flashing and 15 hours on steady. You can view each mode in the PDW RADBOT 1000 video below (click link).

RADBOT 1000 from PDW on Vimeo.

RADBOT 1000. 1 watt japanese LED. EU approved rear reflector.


Budget Transportation: Zebrakenko 5 speed.

15 03 2010

1980's Zebrakenko 5 speed fully accessorized for the Elm City.

When I was a little kid the bicycle shop down the street sold Zebrakenkos. Later as a teenager, when I began working at that same bike shop, The brand was long gone and the shop used barrels of old Zebrakenko t-shirts as shop rags. They lasted for years. I wish I had saved just one! Anyway, Zebras are definitely not one of the more popular Japanese brands from it’s era but it is certainly of similar high-quality. When I saw this commuter I just had to make it one of my ‘Budget Transportation” posts.

This Zebrakenko 5-speed is from the early 1980’s and has a beautiful lugged Japanese-steel frame. It sports a nicely worn Brooks saddle, factory red fenders, comfortable upright seating position, original Pletscher rack, and a single gear lever to change the gears. The bicycle is in immaculate condition for it’s age and was likely ridden very little. The owner purchased it for $225.00 in fully restored and tuned-up condition. It has been accessorized with a front basket, folding rear baskets, cork grips, MKS rubber pedals (smooth!), and a Planet Bike Superflash taillight. The cost of the accessories added was around $125 including installation. Not bad! $350.00 for a fully decked out around town commuter with lots of style to match. This is a seriously classy looking bike.

Zebrakenko 5 speed ready for the city.

The front basket is perfect for carrying your lunch, or maybe a small dog? Woof!

Rear baskets fold down for carrying larger items, like grocery bags. The Planet Bike Superflash keeps everything safe in traffic.

Rinky-Dink Roof Retro-Fitted with Righteously Recycled Rack

10 03 2010

Yakima rack securing the wheel for journey to pending adventure.

Since the demise of my automobile my options for transporting bicycles to places afar has been impeded. So, in order to alleviate this problem I donated one of my old Yakima racks to my best riding buddy’s car . . . The Lemon. The Lemon is a 2001 Hyundai Tiburon that doesn’t have much room inside for bicycles and gear. The Lemon also has limited possibilities available for attaching a bike rack. The spoiler on the back negated virtually every single rear carrier made. The car sits too low to allow for a receiver hitch mounting. And there really isn’t much roof available for a roof rack. Fortunately Yakima’s specs do allow for carrying two bicycles with the setup shown in the photographs. Aside from the donation of the rack (Yakima Q-towers and bars) The Lemon had two Yakima Copperhead bicycle racks, two pairs of Yakima Q46 clips, and a 6 pack of lock cores purchased for it. Roof racks aren’t cheap investments and the total for everything purchased was about $350.00. But, if the Q-towers and bars had to be purchased new, the cost would have been closer to $500.00. It is a good idea if you are in the market for a roof rack to check the want ads for one. They last forever (I have accessories I have been using for 20years), and you can really save some loot buying what you can get used and augmenting that with the purchase of new accessories. I love roof racks. They hold the bicycle very securely. You can access the insides of the car with the bikes loaded. And, the do the best job of protecting the painted finish of your bicycle.

Yakima rack installed, loaded and ready to go.

The Lemon ready for adventure.

Review: Quinnipiac River Linear Trail – Wallingford, Connecticut

10 03 2010

Entrance to the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail in Wallingford, Connecticut.

I will get this right out there to start. This is probably not a destination for cyclists . . . yet. One of the plans for reviews this year is to do an assesment of the ‘rail trails’, ‘linear trails, and ‘bike paths’ around the northeast. Today, we decided to venture out on the linear trail that is closest to where I live. The Quinnipiac River Linear Trail is a relatively new multi use trail that parallels the Quinnipiac River in Wallingford. While currently only about 1.25 miles long it does represent an important first step in establishing a longer trail. Like most trails of this type, just getting them to the groundbreaking stage can take several years of effort. Then, after groundbreaking, it can take several years to accomplish the first phase of the trail. These first two sections of the Quinnipiac trail have crossed those hurdles as well as the tremendous challenges of crossing both over the Quinnipiac River and under the Merritt Parkway (Route 15). The current trail terminous sits at the precipice of some beautiful woodlands along the banks of the river. It is not difficult to envision the scenery the trail will offer as it continues to follow the path of the river through the woods.

The long term plans for the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail are:

The Quinnipiac River Linear Trail is a multiple-town project. The cross- town Wallingford portion of the trail will cover 6.7 miles from north to south. The park offers recreational access to all citizens – young and old, by foot, bike, skates, canoes, strollers, and wheelchairs. Historically, native Indian tribes living along the Quinnipiac River used its banks to guide its travel from village to vil- lage. The Quinnipiac Linear Trail reinstates this important community linkage and travel way.

Additionally, the trail is planned to connect with 6.5 miles of trails in Meriden to the North and 4 plus miles of trail in North Haven to the south. And, those trails will eventually connect to trails in Cheshire to the North and Hamden to the south. This should tie the entire network into the greater northeast greenway trail, The Farmington Valley Canal Trail. Imagine 10 or so years from now being able to ride from town to town on linear trails within your area or travel as far away as Northampton or further on these tranquil greenways.

The Quinnipiac River Linear Trail meanders through the woods along the banks of the river.

A new bridge crosses the Quinnipiac River.

Crossing the bridge on the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Food Review: Jasmine Thai

22 02 2010

Jasmine Thai is located near the corners of Church and Grove in New Haven.

Today I ventured out with Matthew Feiner for my first downtown New Haven high-wheeler ride. It was definitely challenging learning to maneuver the high-wheeler around traffic and pedestrians. But, I fared quite well and now am getting excited about the possibility of riding in the St. Patricks day parade next month.

Enough about riding, this post is a food review. As a daily commuter I don’t always bring lunch with me to work. One of my favorite places to get good food at a great price is the Jasmine Thai cart near the corners of Church and Grove. Also, since the food comes from a cart I feel like they ‘commute’ their restaurant into New Haven each day. The food is all really tasty. There is usually a choice between 3 entrees. One spicy, one mild, and one vegetarian entree is offered each day. The entrees change day to day so there is always some variety if you go more than once in a week. With the entree you get a choice of Pad Thai noodles, drunken noodles, pineapple fried rice, or white rice. Also, I advise getting a piece of the grilled chicken with your entree. The grilled chicken is exceptionally tasty and the aroma of the chicken grilling with Thai spices draws people down the block to the stand. Today I got the Hot Basil Chicken with white rice and a piece of the grilled chicken. The Hot Basil was very good. A satisfying quantity of tender chicken was enrobed in an aromatic and flavorful spicy Basil sauce with pieces of tomato. The grilled chicken is fantastic. Seriously I would go there just to get a piece of the grilled chicken. It is that good. The rice was perfectly cooked, fluffy, and a little sticky like good white rice should be. With a soda the entire meal only costs $7.00.

Jasmine Thai is a great offering for the downtown New Haven lunchtime scene. Whether you are out and about, on the go, or just looking for something to take back to the office, Jasmine Thai is highly recommended.

The Devil's Gear high-wheelers in front of Jasmine Thai.

Review: Bell Citi Helmet

13 02 2010
Helmet Side View

Bell Citi Helmet with Planet Bike Lights.

Here it is! My first review! I just got a new helmet this week and I thought it would make for a great first review for the blog.

I purchased a new helmet for several reasons. The most important reason was that my helmets are all aging. Helmets do age. As they get older the styro-foam core starts to break down. I am no scientist but, basically the recommendation is to replace your helmet when it is about 5 years old. Most helmets have a sticker inside that shows the month and year of manufacture. If you can’t read the sticker you helmet is probably too old. Both of my helmets are 5 years old this year and they are showing signs of age. My road helmet even has some small cracks starting to appear. The other reason is that I really have been wanting a dedicated commuting helmet. A helmet that offers better coverage and better visibility. After doing a bit of research I decided on the Bell Citi. The best feature of all is that I was able to get it in orange. I love orange. Have I mentioned that?

Bell Citi:
• MSRP: $48.00
• Sizes: Universal Adult
• Colors: Black, Brown Leather, Glow in the Dark, Matte Pewter, White Lime Green, Yellow
• Weight: 10oz./283g
• Certification: CPSC Bicycle Safety Standard Certified, CE EN1078

The Bell Citi helmet is designed for commuting and urban transit. It incorporates a number of Bell helmet technologies including In-Mold Microshell, ErgoDial, Channeled Ventilation, Blade Visor, and Cam Lock Levers. It is available in a number of different hardshell colors as well as a fabric option. The 2010 color options are as follows: Black, Brown Leather, Glow in the Dark, Matte Pewter, White Lime Green, and Yellow. The Brown Leather is the fabric option and the helmet looks as if leather were stitched onto it. The others colors all incorporate Bell’s Fusion In-Mold Microshell. The microshell is a clear piece of polycarbonate (Lexan) that is painted from the inside. This shell is then placed in the bottom of the helmet mold and the EPS foam that forms the helmet is poured directly into the shell. The shell and EPS foam fuse together resulting in a very clean look and an ultra durable finish. Fit is accomplished with the quickly adjusting ErgoDial. By turning the dial at the rear of the helmet the headband inside can be adjusted to fit any headsize between 54 and 61 cm. The chinstraps have Cam Lock Levers that allow easy fitting of the strap around the ear. The air vents on the helmet are designed to channel airflow over the top of the head for efficient cooling. The visor is easily removable for those that prefer a cleaner look.

Reserved styling and adaptable features make the Citi the perfect townie helmet, whether you’re on the way to work or off to the coffee shop. From the ErgoDial fit system for easy sizing adjustments to the durability of Fusion In-Mold construction, the Citi delivers like a bike messenger in traffic. Includes Blade visor, easy-adjust Cam-lock levers, air-moving Channeled Ventilation and the option of adding a Flip Mirror and rear flasher lights for better visibility.

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