Tag Archives: Things I Like

Things I Like: DeFeet UnD Shurt Base Layer

I am not what you would call a fair-weather rider.  Whether it’s below freezing or when the mercury hits the triple digits, I love riding my bicycle.  And whatever the weather, DeFeet’s UnD Shurt base layer has been my go-to gear for remaining dry and comfortable.

GRAVELBIKE.com DeFeet UnD Shurt base layer

Weighing only a few ounces, the UnD Shurt takes up very little room under form-fitting jerseys or other clothing.  The athletic cut is slim, but-comfortable, and there’s no annoying bunching or “riding up.”  And despite being whispery-thin, it’s not fragile, nor does it require special care.  One of my tank-style base layers has seen near-daily use for over a year, and is still going strong.

DeFeet recommends the UnD Shurt for 40° to 80° weather, and I’d say that their ratings are a little conservative.  While it may not offer as much warmth as the company’s UnD Wool model, it does an excellent job of keeping you dry when you’re layered-up for winter conditions (which there are no shortage of here in Colorado).  As someone who tends to sweat profusely, I’ve found that the UnD Shurt is ideal for staying dry and comfortable.

For more information on DeFeet’s entire range of base layers, please visit DeFeet’s website.

Things I Like: King Bottle Cages

Judging by the sheer number of different water bottle cages that are available, some riders surely must value (low) weight or aesthetics more than functionality.  Me, I just want a cage to hold my bottles securely, and not require herculean efforts to get bottles in or out. For the past 15 years, Ron Andrews’ handmade King cages have been my number-one choice.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Rawland rSogn 650B stainless bottle cage

The split-base design offers clearance for front derailleurs.

Ron Andrews began producing titanium bottle cages in 1991, with stainless steel cages following in 1996.  Andrews now produces the cages in his Durango, Colorado, garage, and has expanded his offerings to include a tool pouch and bronze-brazed foot cages.

I’ve used both the titanium and stainless King cages, and never once lost a bottle.  Getting bottles in and out has always been as easy as it should be.  As a bonus, the King cages don’t discolor or mar bottles like alloy cages sometimes do.  And should the cages get grungy from spilled energy drinks, you can clean them with a Scotch-Brite pad to get them looking good as new.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Salsa Vaya King stainless bottle cage Lezyne pump

Wide mounting tabs offer a secure interface for cage-mounted accessories.

If you’re frustrated with your current cage, put an end to launched bottles, and check out the King line of bottle cages.

Things I Like: Pedro’s Tire Levers

You’re probably wondering if it’s actually possible to get excited over mere tire levers.  A tire lever is a tire lever, right?  As a self-confessed tire geek, the answer is an emphatic “no.”  Poorly-designed tire levers can break, damage tire beads, and puncture inner tubes.  I can still recall the aftermath of attempting to mount an extremely tight-fitting tubeless MTB tire–multiple broken tire levers, bloodied hands, and a molded rim strip that ended up resembling a dog’s (well-used) chew toy.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder tire levers pedros things i like

Thankfully, however, I discovered Pedro’s tire levers.  The brightly-colored levers’ molded box construction is incredibly strong (I’ve never broken one), and the chisel tip easily slips under the bead.  This past weekend I was able to use a single (three-year-old) Pedro’s lever to help a stranded rider remove and fit a tire that’s earned a reputation for being a notoriously tight fit.

The Pedro’s levers have earned a permanent spot in my bikes’ seat packs and on my workbench (the bright colors make them easy to spot in the inevitable clutter).  Next time you’re at your local bike shop, do yourself a favor and pick up a couple of Pedro’s tire levers.  They’re inexpensive, and best of all, they work beautifully.

For more information, visit the Pedro’s website.

Things I Like: Dumonde Tech Chain Lube

Chain lube choice is one of cycling’s most hotly contested topics–especially on the internet.  Googling “bicycle chain lube debate” will return more than 350,000 results, and that’s probably more than anyone ever wanted to know about such a seemingly simple topic.  But everyone seems to have an opinion (and you know what they say about opinions), including yours truly.  I’ve experimented with many different chain lubes over the last several years, and my favorite–by a longshot–is Dumonde Tech’s Bicycle Chain Lube (BCL).

Dumonde Tech BCL GRAVELBIKE.com chain lube bicycle pedros chain-l white lightning rock n roll finish line pro-link

My first exposure to Dumonde Tech’s lube was with their original formula.  At the time, I was riding almost exclusively off-road, and I could barely get through a 15-mile ride without experiencing the chirping and chainsuck that were the tell-tale signs of an un(der)-lubed chain.  Clean-, or dry-style lubes kept the chain looking showroom clean, but they just didn’t last.  The wet-style lubes fared better, but had a tendency to fling off onto the rear wheel, hub, and brake rotor (all of which attracted lots of dirt).  Like Goldilocks, I wanted something that was “just right.”  I scoured the forums and message boards for recommendations, and found that Dumonde’s lube received near-universal praise.  I decided to give it a try, and purchased a bottle.  That bottle lead to a second (and third) bottle, which then lead to their Lite formula.  Along the way, I experimented with a few next-big-thing lubes, but none of them held a candle to Dumonde’s family of products.  On paved and un-paved roads, in rain, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures, the company’s chain lube has kept my bikes’ drivetrains running smooth and quiet.

No matter which type or brand of chain lube you happen to choose, do yourself a favor and resist the urge to apply the lube before a ride.  If you lube your chain at the trailhead or in the parking lot, your freshly-lubed chain is going to attract a lot of excess dirt and grime.  Instead, wipe down and lube your chain after your ride.  That way the lube has time to penetrate the links, and any solvent or carrier can evaporate before your next ride.