2018 Flat Pedal Roundup (Part-II)

In Part-I of GRAVELBIKE’s flat pedal round-up, we covered the basics of platform design and profile, materials and bearings, pin types, and installation. Now, in Part-II, we dive into the nitty gritty details of the nine pedals I’ve been testing for the past six months. My seat-of-the-pants test methodology was pretty straightforward: ride each pedal on a variety of terrain including pavement, gravel, and technical off-road trails. The test rigs included several different drop-bar gravel/adventure bikes, as well as my Jeff Jones rigid MTB. When it came to footwear, I relied on Five Ten’s Freerider Pro shoes for the majority of my testing. Weather conditions during the six-month test period included rain, snow, and countless miles of dry, dusty roads and trails. Continue Reading “2018 Flat Pedal Roundup (Part-II)”

2018 Flat Pedal Roundup (Part-I)

Not so long ago, being a cycling enthusiast meant that your bike absolutely had to be equipped with clipless pedals. Whether you rode pavement, dirt, or gravel, those clipless pedals (and shoes) were a sign that you had made the transition from newbie to serious cyclist. But then, a few years ago, flat pedals began to enjoy a resurgence in popularity. Riders of all disciplines rediscovered the benefits–and freedom–of flat pedals.

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2018 Pocket Tool Roundup

“Be prepared.” — The Girl Scout motto

Being prepared used to mean carrying a spare tube, pump, and a modicum of tools. In the age of smart phones, however, preparedness has taken on a somewhat different meaning. For many, being prepared now means having the latest rideshare app installed on their phone. Carrying a phone while riding is never a bad idea, but a spare tube and the necessary tools are cheap insurance when you’re in a remote area with poor–or no–cellphone coverage.

GRAVELBIKE gravel grinder tool topeak wolf tooth blackburn spurcycle silca tool
Topeak, Wolf Tooth, Blackburn, Spurcycle, Silca (L – R)

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2018 Light Roundup

In the not-so-distant past, bicycle lights typically came in one of two flavors: see-by or be-seen. In recent years, however, the line between the two has become a bit more fluid. Be-seen lights now offer greater coverage and increased brightness, while see-by models enjoy new features such as daylight modes for improved visibility when the sun is up. Like most things tech, prices have continued to drop while functionality has steadily increased.

When choosing lights, it’s important to remember that every light is, ultimately, a compromise. Battery life, weight/size, brightness, and cost are all factors to consider, so your idea of the perfect light may not exist (or fall within your budget). And when it comes manufacturers’ stated run times, remember that those numbers are based on ideal conditions. Cold weather can affect battery life, so choose accordingly if you’ll be riding when temperatures are low.

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2017 Lock Roundup

Whether you ride for recreation or utility, there will be times when you need to leave your bike unattended. If you want your bike to still be there when you return, you’ll have to rely on some form of security other than faith in humanity or just plain dumb luck. In other words, a lock. Bike locks are a lot like auto/health/life insurance: you buy it, but you hope you never need it. How do you choose the right lock, though? The answer is, it depends.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel bike gravel grinder knog ottolock hiplok kryptonite lock

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2017 Helmet Roundup

Reviewing helmets is tricky. You can test fit and comfort, but very few of us are willing to take one for the team and actually crash test them in the name of journalistic integrity. While I’m happy to report that I didn’t need to test the efficacy of these helmets, I’m no stranger to cycling-related head injuries. Two and a half years ago I fell while riding my bicycle. I hit my head and sustained a concussion.

As you might imagine, that incident sparked an increased interest in bicycle helmet construction and design. At last year’s Interbike trade show, I spent a good portion of my time talking with manufacturers about helmet technology and mild traumatic brain injuries. And while each company touted the superiority of their respective technologies and features, practically every bicycle helmet shares the same basic design–namely, a layer of crushable foam encased in a protective shell that’s secured with a simple chin strap.

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