First Impressions: Bontrager Bat Cage

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.

Continue Reading “First Impressions: Bontrager Bat Cage”

First Impressions: microSHIFT ADVENT Components

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.

Continue Reading “First Impressions: microSHIFT ADVENT Components”

2019 Flat Pedal Roundup

Based on the popularity of last year’s flat pedal roundup, it’s safe to say that more and more gravel/adventure riders are making the switch from clipless to flat pedals. Why? There are many reasons, but as I mentioned in Part-I of the 2018 roundup, modern flats are bigger, grippier, and offer support that rivals–and in some cases, exceeds–clipless pedals’ performance. OK, but what makes one pedal better than another? The answer is, it depends. Some riders want maximum grip, others favor light weight, while some place more value on ground clearance. Whatever your criterion, though, you’re bound to find at least one flat pedal that meets your particular needs.

Continue Reading “2019 Flat Pedal Roundup”

First Impressions: MSW Airlift 220 Pump

When I began leading group rides a couple years ago I thought it would be wise to carry extra spares for those just in case scenarios. What I didn’t anticipate, though, was needing a pump that worked with Presta and Schrader valves. My personal bikes all have Presta valves, so I was used to carrying a Presta-only pump. But more than once, we found ourselves in search of a Schrader-compatible pump. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for a pump that performed equally well with both types of valves. Recently MSW’s Airlift 220 pump ($27.99 MSRP) popped up on the new arrivals page of my favorite retailer’s website, so I decided to give it a try.

Continue Reading “First Impressions: MSW Airlift 220 Pump”

First Impressions: Teravail Cannonball Tires

When I reviewed Teravail’s Rampart road-plus tires last summer, I didn’t anticipate that they would become my go-to tire for mixed surface riding. The 650B x 47 tires’ ample volume offered plenty of flotation (and comfort), but with much of my commute now taking place in the dark, I found myself wanting more traction and control than the Ramparts’ minimal tread could provide. As luck would have it, however, Teravail began offering their Cannonball gravel tire in 650B sizes, so I decided it was time to give them a try.

Continue Reading “First Impressions: Teravail Cannonball Tires”