Longtime GRAVELBIKE readers know that I’m a big fan of Spurcycle’s products. The company’s multi-tool was featured in 2018’s Pocket Tool Roundup, and the Spurcycle Bell earned a coveted, Things I Like endorsement back in 2017. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with company co-founder Nick Slone to discuss the Spurcycle’s history, their design process, and what we can expect from them in 2020.
It used to be that there were two kinds of flat pedals: the fancy ones sporting alloy platforms and metal pins; and the more basic, composite models with molded-in pins. If you wanted lots of traction, that meant ponying up for the pricier, all-metal pedals. But then, manufacturers figured out how to combine replaceable metal pins with more affordable composite platforms–a win/win for thrifty (or crash-prone) riders. In addition to being less costly, composite pedals are often lighter than their metal counterparts, and many companies now spec nylon-bodied pedals with the same high-quality bearings and spindles found in their pricier, alloy models.
Tubeless tire and wheel technology has improved by leaps in bounds in the past few years, but it wasn’t always unicorns and rainbows. Early tubeless adoptees (including yours truly) often struggled to make certain tire and rim combinations play nicely with one another. Back then, the most common aid for seating tubeless tires was the pancake compressor. And while compressors were generally effective, they were also heavy, noisy, and required electricity to operate. To help tubeless users cut the cord, Topeak developed the JoeBlow™ Booster floor pump ($149.95 MSRP).
Velo Orange (VO) got its start in 2006 as an importer of hard-to-find bicycle parts and accessories. In recent years, the company’s lineup has grown to include VO-branded framesets, components, and softgoods. For their current line of bags, Velo Orange collaborated with Road Runner Bags of Los Angeles to produce a diverse range of US-made gear. Designed for use with porteur-style racks (or baskets), the aptly-named Transporteur ($125 MSRP) bag is the ideal companion for touring and utility cycling.
First introduced in 1997, the Bat Cage is one of Bontrager‘s longest running products. For the past 22 years, Trek has manufactured hundreds of thousands of Bat Cages in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, 30 miles from the company’s Waterloo headquarters. Thanks to a partnership with NextWave and Bureo, Trek now manufactures Bat Cages from recycled materials made from reclaimed fishing nets. According to Justin Henkel, Trek’s Director of Product for Saddles and Essentials, it’s estimated that one year’s production will put 44,000 square feet (3,850 pounds) of discarded fishing nets to good use.
If you purchased a bicycle in the past two decades there’s a very good chance that it came equipped with a Shimano or SRAM drivetrain. While microSHIFT may not be as well known as Shimano and SRAM, the Taiwanese company has been designing and manufacturing shifters, derailleurs, and cassettes since 1999. With a product range spanning city, road, and mountain bikes, microSHIFT’s latest addition–ADVENT–is a versatile, affordable 1×9 system designed for maximum durability with minimal maintenance.