perthcyclist

cycling and other outdoorsy things in Perth, Western Australia

perthcyclist - cycling and other outdoorsy things in Perth, Western Australia

Owner Review – $50 Helmets, Head to Head

I got a bit sick of spending hundreds of dollars on bicycle helmets. Helmets are consumables to me, I wear one for about an hour every day on my commute and replace every couple of years. Usually after a couple of years of daily wear and being left hanging off my bike in the bike cage at work, they look a bit rough.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a comfortable, light helmet with good airflow.

Disclosure: Proviz Sports provided the Mercury helmet for me to review free of charge. I purchased the Kali Protectives Chakra with my own dollars. This did not influence my opinion of these helmets in any way.

Left, ProVis. Right, Kali.

Left, ProVis. Right, Kali.

Useage:

I have had the Kali Protectives Chakra Plus for about a year and have used it for mountain biking, commuting and some longer road rides. Proviz sports contacted me to do a review of their Mercury helmet and I have used it for commuting for a month and a weekend of mountain biking in order to compare the two.

Provis in box

ProVis helmet in it’s box as posted by ProVis SportsKali in the slightly squished box as posted from velogear.com.au Kali in the slightly squished box as posted from velogear.com.au

Looks:

These are both ‘mountain bike’ style helmets with plastic visors. From above the Mercury seems wider and longer than the Chakra, but I think that the Chakra looks chunkier whilst being worn. They are both eye-grabbing colours, with the Chakra being a more conventional green while the Mercury is a ‘high vis’ type yellow. Although it is impossible to tell at this stage, I believe that the colour of the Mercury will fade more than the Chakra over time as all high-vis products do.

Wearing the Provis helmet on the Mt Lennard half loop

Wearing the Provis helmet on the Mt Lennard half loop

I decorated the Kali for my ride in the Giro d’Perth with a bunch of sparkly green pipe cleaners. It did slip around a bit as it sometimes does and was a bit crooked on my head for the photo.

Daggy me, wearing the Kali helmet with decorations

Daggy me, wearing the Kali helmet with decorations

The Marketing Guff

Kali Protectives – Chakra Plus Helmet – Neon Green (rrp $59.95 but there’s always a sale at Velogear!)

Features: 

  • Ultra lightweight Polycarbonate Shell
  • Low density EPS foam for impact absorption
  • Integrated Airflow System
  • Expanded rear coverage design
  • Breakaway visor
  • Ezi Dial Fitting
  • Australian Standards
  • Net Liner
  • Suitable for trail, commuting & everyday riding

Weight (g): 334

No of Vents: 22

Proviz Mercury – $39.95

Features:

  • Rear LED light built in to adjustable headring for extra safety and comfort
  • Designed for those seeking a sleeker/racier look
  • Manufactured in PROVIZ fluorescent yellow for added safety and visibility
  • Suitable for male/female
  • Designed and built to CE EN 1078 safety standard
  • In-mould manufacturing

20 ventilation holes, weight 285 grams

My Take

Whilst Kali claim that ‘Composite fusion’ is something that only high range helmets do, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a helmet with the plastic shell and the inner foam not bonded together! It is a minimum requirement for any helmet that I would consider buying.

Even though the Mercury’s 20 ventilation holes are bigger than the 22 on the Chakra – the Chakra definitely feels like it has better air flow. This may be to do with the Mercury’s thicker padding. The Chakra would be my preferred helmet for a hot summer ride.

The Mercury does not have the red ‘Australian Standards’ sticker. This probably won’t matter on a day to day basis, but beware that on some organised rides they inspect for stickers and if your helmet doesn’t have one then it’s not deemed as adequate. The Mercury adheres to the European standard which I am personally happy with. Some more information on the standard can be found on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EN_1078

The Chakra’s fit system does not seem to be as robust as other helmets I have used. It can rattle loose over rough terrain, and the helmet buckles can also flip into an ‘unlocked’ position allowing more helmet strap out than you want. This has only happened to me on a couple of occasions but it can add annoyance to your ride when you have to stop and fix the straps, or tighten up the rear knob.

Whilst the Mercury claims to be lighter, it feels slightly heavier.

I love the way they have integrated the light in to the Mercury. It is part of the rear adjustment knob so it doesn’t add any bulk and is in quite a protected position (unlike a light stuck on top of your helmet as an afterthought) which means that it won’t have any affect on the helmet’s performance if you have an ‘off’. The light uses two small button batteries, and is replaced by removing the outer cap gently with a screwdriver. I haven’t used the light long enough to get an indication of how long the batteries will last.

The rear light

The rear light

I think the next step would be to have a helmet with integrated front and rear lights, front and rear ‘keychain’ style cameras and an integrated battery system charged by a USB port. If anyone develops such a helmet, no need to thank me for the idea, but please send me one!

The Final Verdict

Whilst both helmets represent great value, I have to choose the Proviz Mercury as my favorite, due to the better fit and the more robust head ring which stops it from loosening up and sliding whilst mountain biking.

If you are interested in the Mercury, check it out at Proviz Sports.

The Kali Chakra is available at Velogear.

 

 

Bike Friday – The Reawakening

We have limited bike space and so I packed the Bike Fridays away in their travelcases some months ago, ready and waiting for our next tour. I was contacted via this blog a while ago by a couple of local ladies who wanted to see it, so I bought it out of it’s hibernation so they could have a go.

The chain was stiff and was not forming it’s usual curve around the running gear, so I decided that I would bite the bullet and put on a new one. The bike has only done about 2,500 kilometres but a lot of our touring was on unsealed tracks and it got very wet and muddy. I did clean it the best I could during the tour, and before we came back to Australia (customs won’t let anything dirty in to the country anyway, ha ha ha) but there is only so much cleaning I could have done, putting it away meant that it solidified.

bike fridays at passage du gois

The Passage Du Gois – probably where our chains got the most thrashing

 Anyway on the ride over to show it off, the new chain was slipping on the 6th cog at the back. That must be a new record for me, wearing out a cassette at 2,500 kms. The cassette on my Schwinn Le Tour has done close to 10,000ks with no signs of slipping and I have plans to replace it when I put the next chain on in 2,500 kilometres time.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that I should have upgraded running gear when I ordered the bike. It had an SRAM PG820 cassette on it when shipped and it was a dark colour instead of the shiny silver of good quality cassettes. I have now it replaced with a shiny SRAM PG850 cassette which cost me about $21 from Wiggle and the chain slippage problem has disappeared. Hoping to perhaps last for 2 or 3 chain changes with the new cassette. We shall see.

The only other, very small issue with the Bike Friday is that the wheels both need a minor true. I can see some wear on the tyres, but not enough to cause me to look for replacements yet. I expect they are at about the half way point of their life time.

I transferred the towing hitch for the DoggyRide Novel Dog Bike Trailer over from the Surly Long Haul Trucker to the Bike Friday. The rationale is two fold – 1: it will help acclimatise my legs to towing for our next tour, and 2: I will only have to carry one size of spare tube when I take the dogs out riding. The DoggyRide + dog is going to be quite a bit heavier than the Travelcase + my meagre luggage, so even though I was pretty worn out after towing the 21.5kg dog 20 kilometres a couple of weeks ago, I know it is good training!

 

I don't have a Bike Friday towing pic yet so this one will have to do.

I don’t have a Bike Friday towing pic yet so this one will have to do.

The Bike Friday is much easier to accelerate when towing as opposed to the Surly. I believe this is because the 20″ wheels have less inertia than the 26″ wheels on the Surly. Of course this means that the bike doesn’t hold momentum as well after a downhill, but with 36.5kgs of trailer and dog behind me, I find I have plenty of potential energy to work with down the hills.

The other advantage is that with the smaller back wheel, the GoPro on my seatpost gets much clearer shots of my canine passenger!

Getting the Bike Friday out has reminded me what fun it is to ride. The girls who test rode it said something about ‘looking like a bear on a bike’, but they agreed with me, for a small wheeler it handles remarkably like a normal ride. You do, however, have to get used to the fact that the front wheel isn’t in it’s usual place right in your face when you look down over the handlebars.

Upcoming Posts:

I know I have been very sluggish in writing for this blog for the last 12 months. There are some things I need to update (for example, the condition of bike parking at Perth Arena has changed radically since my post), and I also have some more product reviews coming up.  This list is partly for me so I don’t forget, but also for you in case you want to subscribe to the blog to ensure you don’t miss out.

 Tents:

We just ordered a new tent for our next tour, and will be doing an initial test of it towards the end of March. After a bit of looking around we decided on the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 for it’s good internal size and light weight. All the reviews I have read have noted that weight savings have been achieved by using fragile material. I don’t think this will be as much of an issue with us as the tent will be safely stowed in the hard Travelcases whilst on tour, and tucked well into my rucksack in transit via aircraft or trains. We will also be using it for car camping on trips where the dogs are not joining us. I definitely wouldn’t expect it to hold up to dog claws. Anyway it will be interesting to see how it fares as our replacement for the MSR Hubba Hubba we’ve been using for the last 7 years. It offers a slight improvement in weight as well as better ventilation and resistance to wind.

Helmets:

I got a bit sick of spending big dollars on helmets so I had a look around for some other options that would be comfortable on the head and the wallet. I have been approached by Provizsports to review one of their high-vis options and I will compare this with the Kali protectives helmet which I purchased from Aussie online retailer Velogear.

Kayaks:

As you know I like to include the dogs in everything I do, so I bought a new kayak with them in mind – the Old Town Vapor 10
. At 3 metres and 20 kilograms this boat is also more feasible to tow with my bike than my longer boat. I will compare it to my last ‘dog kayak’ which was a Bic Oaussau sit on top.

Finally, if you have been reading my blog and have found some value in it, the best way to support and encourage my blogging habit is to use the links on my ‘affiliates’ page to buy your bike gear. It’s a win-win because you will get a great price from these retailers and I will get a very small commission. The money is mainly symbolic but it helps to motivate me as it shows me there are people out there really valuing my posts.

 

 

Owner Review: Novel 10 Doggyride Bike Trailer

It was time to get a trailer that the dogs could fit into. That way I wouldn’t have to leave my canine companion at home when I was going to a cafe just because I wanted to ride my bike there.

I did a lot of poking around on the internet and couldn’t find anything available in Australia that lived up to my standards.

Eventually I decided that the Doggyride Novel 10 would suit my needs, and got  it shipped from Amazon to Australia.

I think where most people fail with dog trailers is that they don’t give their dogs sufficient time to get used to them before they shove them in and take them out on a ride. I was in no hurry so I patiently used some classical conditioning to get the dogs comfortable with jumping into the trailer, sitting in the trailer, being harnessed in, and having the rear door zipped shut.

When they were relaxed with being in the trailer when it was stationary, I moved it around in the house to make sure they wouldn’t freak.

mouse in the doggyride trailer

Once I was sure they were OK they were ready for their first rides. I made a couple of videos with my gopro on the seatpost. I have been using the Surly Long Haul Trucker to tow the trailer.

Since that first ride, they have been out in the trailer every weekend. I think Mouse very much enjoyed her trip to the local fully fenced park, though when I left the trailer near the gate, every new dog had to stick their head in it.

Mouse in the doggyride trailer

About the dogs: Bender is a 33 kilogram crossbreed dog – he is quite leggy, and breed suggestions include Mastiff, Staffy and everything else under the sun. Mouse is a very small greyhound at 22 kilograms. She is much easier for me to tow, I really do notice the extra 11kgs for the big boy.

About the Doggyride Novel 10: 

  • Colors: Outdoors Green/Grey, Urban: Brick Red/Black (10th anniversary edition comes in Dutch Orange)
  • Dog size: maximum 26 in/65 cm shoulder height
  • Loading capacity: 110 lbs/45 kgs
  • Overall product weight: 30 lbs
  • Dimensions when folded flat: 31.5″ L x 21″ W x 4″ H
  • Tire size: 20″ quick release wheels
  • This product meets or exceeds ASTM safety standards
  • This trailer includes a safety flag and reflectors for added visibility and safety

The dogs did have to go through a bit of a process to learn to jump into the trailer softly. The kickstand does a reasonable job keeping the trailer level, but it isn’t perfect on soft surfaces. The spring on the kickstand is a bit weak – you can pull the trailer forward but the kickstand spring doesn’t have enough power to pull the stand back up flush with the bottom of the trailer. I need to nudge it with my foot to get it to retract properly. I guess it won’t startle the dog by smacking into the bottom of the trailer and making a noise, but it is a bit annoying.

The only other niggle I have with this trailer is that it is about 1 cm too wide to fit out my front door. I have to fold the cabin down and carry it out the front door sideways. I then load the dog up when I am out the front.

Everything about the trailer seems to be of a good quality. It rolls well and handles well. I really do not feel it when the 22 kilogram dog moves around when we are rolling. A 33 kilogram dog can cause the trailer to move around a little when he moves but not alarmingly.

The hitch attaches to the rear axle of the bicycle and it’s secured with a pin. It is very unobtrusive on the bike so is fine to leave on all the time.

I have been really pleased with how the dogs have taken to the trailer, now I just have to work on my legs so that I can get the dogs up the surrounding hills! The very wide range of gears I have on the Surly helps with this somewhat.

Mouse in the trailer

Owner Review: Gripsport Hi Ride Carrier (Downhill)

From www.gripsport.com.au

From www.gripsport.com.au

I ordered and took delivery of this rack from Gripsport in Melbourne back in June, and this last weekend was the first opportunity I have had to really test it out.

The guys at Gripsport were really good to communicate with and I decided on this rack because it is locally built, would fit the fattie and was guaranteed to be up to the job.

fatbikeloaded

Ready to go…

I used the rack for the 1,500km trip from Perth – Esperance return. The rack is easy to load and is carried up high so there is no chance of hot exhaust gases melting my expensive fat tyres, or of the bikes scraping the ground in the case of a rough, steep four wheel drive track. I had absolutely zero worries about the bikes on the back even over many many kilometres at 110 kilometres per hour. The bikes that I carried were the Giant STP and my 9:zero:7 custom fat bike.

I am so glad the bikes came with us as we got a chance to do the coastal ride, where the Shire of Esperance has provided an awesome bike track totally separated from the road with beautiful views of the numerous picturesque bays. There was also a really cool little Mountain Bike park just 15 kilometres out of town – it is rated easy to medium and we had a ball riding it even though some of the tight twisty parts were a bit of a handful on the fattie.

The rack is very quick and easy to fit to the car. There is a part that stays on the tow bar at all times so to put the rack on, you just slide it into place, drop the bolt through the hole and secure it with a pin. You then fold the vertical bar up, slide on the hoops and position them according to the bikes you are carrying. It is very easy to load with bikes as you only have to lift them to waist height instead of on to the roof of the vehicle. It seems versatile enough to fit most types of bikes and has no ‘clamps’ that could damage carbon fibre tubing. The hooks that come into contact with the bike frame are well padded with thick rubber.

By the end of the trip the bikes were clean, not splattered with bugs like they would have been on the road.

The only disadvantage of this rack is that it doesn’t have the ability to ’tilt downwards’ to allow access to the tailgate of the vehicle. I read that the tilting racks aren’t all they are cracked up to be as you still have to step around the bikes whilst trying to get things in and out of the back of the car.

Gripsport also make a ‘light bar’ which works with their rack so that the vehicle has supplementary tail lights and numberplate lights to ensure the legality of carrying bikes in such a manner. As you can see from the photograph the numberplate on the back of my car is completely obscured. At the moment WA licensing does not seem to offer an option for bike racks being used in this way by having a supplementary licence plate. As soon as they are offered I will definitely be getting one as this rack is now my preferred way of transporting the bikes.

 

With this rack I am never leaving the bikes at home again!

 

 

City of Perth Bike to Work Breakfast and Bike Seat Cover Comp….

bikes parked at rockingham beach

bikes parked at Rockingham beach

It is spring, and all the fairweather cyclists are coming out of the woodwork. It is time to once again put up with crowded bike parking and super busy bike paths.

There are a few cycling related things going on in Perth at the moment. Firstly, take the time to vote on your favorite ‘saddle cover’ and you can win a $50 voucher to the Perth based bike shop of your choice. Check it out here. I would love the $50 voucher so I could have kept the competition a secret, but I’m nice, so I’ll share!

The winner of the ‘saddle cover’ comp will be on display at the Ride2Work Day Breakfast on Wednesday 16 October at the City of Perth stand. The Ride2Work day breakfast is in it’s usual place outside of the Perth Concert Hall from 6.30-8.30am. I ride to work every day so I might as well partake in a free breakfast! Usually they have coffee trucks serving decent coffee and some pretty good breakfast choices too.

 

New Arrival Review: Flying Machine UCX … 8 speed alfine

A long time ago, I won a social media competition for a custom built Flying Machine bike by making a bunch of youtube videos and writing blog entries. Being a mere 158cm tall, I needed an extra small frame and there were some huge delays in getting it delivered. Matt from Flying Machine was very apologetic for the delay, whilst my family and friends started to doubt that I had won a bike at all!

flyingmachinebumposter

When discussing the paint scheme with Matt, I told him I wanted something simple and not too attention grabbing. This bike was to become a commuter and I didn’t want people eyeing it off more than necessary. As my current commuter bike, the Schwinn Le Tour, is predominately white I decided I would like this bike to be white too. Matt had been working with Matte White finishes and he said it would stand out better than a gloss white. The matte surface seems to reflect more light when it is dark – you can see in this photo how it almost glows in the dark. I am very happy with the paint job.

FlyingMachine by night

 

I chose the Gates carbon drive because of the issues I have been having with my chains rusting up over winter. The other advantages of the belt drive are the silence, and the fact that there are no chain teeth to grab onto the leg of your pants as you pedal along.

flyingmachinedrive

 

The Shimano Nexus 8 speed hub is paired with Versa 8 brifters allowing for an internal geared hub bike to have drop bars.

The Versa 8 brifters are OK, they have a fixed brake lever, a big lever for the up-shift and a little button on the outside for the down-shift. I have a couple of niggles with the levers: there is excessive lever throw for the up-shift, which means that I have to pay a bit of attention to how my hand is positioned before I use the lever. If you accidentally press the down-shift button whilst trying to use the up-shift, it cancels the shift. As these are the only levers currently available for the drop bar/internal gear hub combination I can’t complain about them too much, but I really hope that the next iteration of them reduces that lever throw.

The Nexus 8 hub itself is quite nice. It is quiet, and it’s really cool to be able to change gears without pedalling. I have noticed it shifts better with minimal drive force through the belt, so I have had to ‘soft pedal’ through shifts more than I would with a modern chain & derailleur system. The hub does add a noticeable amount of ‘heft’ to the rear end of the bike. When I first started riding it the lack of a freewheeling whir also freaked me out a little bit, this truly is a ninja bike!

I chose this particular frame for the rack-mounts as well. A friend gave me this rack as she had it lying around her house. The bike has quite long chainstays so it carries loads well.

flyingmachinerack

 

My favorite part of this bike though is the Avid BB7 Road Disc brakes. I think the BB7-roads are going to be a requirement on all future road-commuter bikes for me. They leave the Ultegra brakes on my Giant TCR in the dust.

Anyway that is my introduction to the Flying Machine UCX custom I won many months ago. If you want to check out the bikes they build, go to Flying Machine’s website. Stay tuned in 6 months or so when I get to put some more kilometres on this bike for a more comprehensive review.

LAZY! (an additional note on the Kenda Koncept tyres)

My Kenda Koncept tyres were looking pretty sad, especially the rear one, so I put a new tyre on the front (Vittoria Rubino), and rotated the front Koncept to the back. I was meaning to take the rear Koncept off and replace with a new Vittoria when I hit 5,000kms. I was a bit lazy and didn’t change it until I got a flat on the way home.

flat kenda koncept

Bike Journal tells the story:

Schwinn Le Tour Sport

700 x 23C Vittoria Rubino, front, 348 km
700 x 23C Kenda Koncept (blue), rear, 5,038 km

The rotated Kenda is now in the bin and we shall see how the Rubinos go. I got an extra 348 kilometres out of it by rotating it to the back wheel anyway.

Owner Review: MacPac Tempo eVent Jacket

I got this jacket at my local Macpac store on sale as it was a runout colour (orange). I paid $190 and after using it on and off for a month I think it was worth every dollar.

The Tempo is a no-frills jacket. There is no hood and only one small pocket in the front.

macpac tempoIt has reflective material along the zipper and it also has some reflective logos. It has thumb loops in the sleeves, which I don’t use whilst cycling as it puts the sleeve hem in a bad position under my palm.

The best thing about the jacket is that it is both breathable and water proof. It would not be particularly suited to cold climates, but it is perfect for Perth.

Even if it is not raining, the jacket breathes so well that I don’t notice much excess sweat. When it is raining it does a stellar job of keeping the rain off and allowing sweat to evaporate. It doesn’t rain that often in Perth, but the fact that the jacket is so light means it’s not much effort to bring it to work just in case.

It’s all positive for this jacket from here, especially if you can get it for $200 on sale. It is easily the best rain shell I have ever worn cycling.

macpactempo

 

 

Tour notes: gear for the Munda Biddi trail

I have had a bit of a play with my new Revelate Designs handlebar bag today. It fits my tent and some other things as well. The secret is to pack everything up tight, which means the tent needs to be rolled tightly. The tighter everything is packed, the less movement.

image

I am happy with the bag, when everything is cinched up tight I barely notice it is there, and it is light as a feather compared to the Vaude bag I was originally going to take. The disadvantage is that the contents of the bag are not so easy to access on the go. Its not the kind of bag you want to be grabbing things out of on the move.

The best thing though is that the bag, tent, and other stuff in the bag are still lighter than overengineered rigid bags on the market.

image

These are the things I am going to carry in my handlebar bag. The tent, which is a one man Luxe Speedup tent, my Katadyn Mini water filter to treat water from the Munda Biddi rain water tanks, and a stuff sack containing my long sleeve merino thermals for wearing around the camp site.

I put the tent up today properly and the area under the fly is huge but the fly proof nest or tent inner is quite small. The remarks about this tent only being suitable for short people are certainly true. It will be nice and cosy for me though.

image

The tent pegs that came with the Luxe Speedup are a bit different, they are kind of fat and square, more like sand pegs. I am not sure they will go in well in the hard ground, so I will be bringing the titanium pegs from the ailing MSR Hubba Hubba.

image

The advantage of taking two sets of pegs…. well I’m sure they will get used…

New arrival: relevate designs sweetroll handlebar bag

I got an awesome little package in the mail yesterday! I had to strap the bag to my bars straight away. Will try to take it out for a spin soon but it currently contains my Luxe Speedup one person tent.

image

The other toy I got recently is an Asus nexus 7 tablet to use for blogging on the road. It is a pretty neat little piece of kit which I am using right now to compose this entry.

image

Stay tuned for more info on these exciting new bits of kit and my upcoming fat bike tour.