Tag Archives: Things I Like

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.

Vaya Build Specs

Since posting the Vaya One-Year Review, I’ve received quite a few questions about the bike’s build specs.  So for all the gear-heads, here are the details:

  • Frame/fork: Salsa Vaya, 57cm
  • Headset: Cane Creek S-3
  • Cranks: Shimano FC-R4550 with T.A. chainrings (34/46)
  • Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace BB7900
  • Chain: KMC X9.93
  • Cassette: SRAM PG-990 9-speed (11-32)
  • Brake/shift levers: Campagnolo Centaur Power-Shift Ergopower 10-speed
  • Cables/housing: Jagwire Ripcord
  • Brakes: Avid BB7 road (w/Avid organic pads)
  • Front derailleur: Campagnolo Centaur (w/Problem Solvers clamp)
  • Rear Derailleur: daVinci/SRAM X9
  • Hubs: Sun/Ringle Dirty Flea (32h, 135mm rear spacing)
  • Rims: Sun/Ringle EQ23 (700C, 32h)
  • Spokes: DT double-butted (brass nipples)
  • Tires: Varies
  • Seatpost: Ritchey Classic (27.2mm)
  • Saddle: Selle An-Atomica Titanico (clydesdale version)
  • Stem: Velo-Orange 80mm x 17-deg (31.8mm)
  • Handlebars: Ritchey Classic Curve 44cm (31.8mm)
  • Accessories: King stainless bottle cages, Lezyne Pressure Drive pump, Garmin 500 computer