Sunday, June 2, 2013

There I Go Again... With Bicycle Component Reviews!

     Remember when I used to be gung-ho with reviewing bike parts on this blog? Me either. But when I first started writing the e-missives that comprise this blog, I was all about reviewing bike stuff, with gusto. That impulse has tapered-off in the last couple of months, as I've found myself increasingly occupied with things like school, work, designing skateboard graphics, and actually riding my bike. That's right. Getting in the saddle for a bike ride has taken precedence over reviewing the saddle on my bike.

     Recently, however, I have acquired a couple of bike-related goodies that I feel not only warrant mention, but and are deserving of reviews. Once again, my opinion regarding bike components (however inane) is getting sprayed all over your Internets. Please to be enjoying the following bicycle -related reviews!

1. Dia Compe Gran Compe Ene Ciclo Tires 
    I fully admit to buying these tires based solely on their "swag factor." Brown running surface with cream-colored sidewalls? Oh, yes please! To my surprise, beyond their winning aesthetics, these 700c/27.5mm tires are pretty damn functional, surprisingly grippy as all get out (given their relatively smooth riding surface) and insanely easy to install (as proven when removing a pair of hand-crippling, tire lever-destroying and profanity-inspiring Vittoria Randonneur tires*). I don't know what it is about swapping-out tires, but I swear my overall ride was faster. Nothing like a new something to put pep in one's step, right? And at $45 per, these Dia Compe tires aren't too spendy. If your looking to add some flair to your whip, the Dia Compe Gran Compe Ene Ciclo (try saying that five times fast!) may just be the tire you're looking for.

2. Honjo-Koken Smooth Fenders
     I recently took the plunge and plunked-down some hard-earned skrilla on a decent pair of fenders. As adorable as it was, my rear Wald Half Fender just wasn't cutting it on rain-soaked rides anymore (or, like, ever - sorry Wald). I decided to go with the 36mm Honjo-Koken Smooth Fenders due to their snug fit over my 700c Dia Compe Gran Compe Ene Ciclo tires (see review above) and their relatively spartan, smooth appearance. Oh, and their overall functionality! Can't forget that (no we can't). At $85 (on sale at Velo Orange, down from $125) these fenders are a bit spendy, but completely worth it, as several road tests through rain, puddles and automated car washes would eventually prove. The only drawback of these Honjo fenders is that they come un-drilled for the mounting/stabilizing hardware, so you (or a mechanically-inclined friend) have to carefully punch the holes in them manually. This, though, allows you to dial-in exactly where you want your fenders positioned (as far as drawbacks go, it isn't all that taxing). And did I mention these fender's are made in Japan, the capital of all quality consumer goods? So there's that. Looking for a set of fenders that leave you feeling accomplished after installation and dry after a ride in the rain? Look no further than the Honjo-Koken Smooth fenders.

3. Knog Blinder USB Rechargeable Lights (Twin Pack)
     Of course the last bicycle-related component I have to review and recommend is, for some reason, out-of-stock at the manufacturer's website. Too bad, since these lights are pretty damn ingeniously made and really fookin' bight. Previous to this pair of lights, I was using another pair of silicone-stretchy Knog bicycle lights that, quite frankly, went through those little coin-sizes batteries like Paula Dean goes through sticks of butter. And those little batteries ain't cheap. So when I saw this rechargeable Knog Blinder 2-Pack on the shelf at my local bicycle shop for $30, I snatched them up. Now instead of purchasing batteries in bulk, all I have to do is plug my lights into my computer. What a country! Well two countries, in this case: Australia, where these lights are designed, and China, where they are manufactured. Of course, there are some minor flaws: the size of these light's housings do not allow for side-by-side charging on computers with multiple USB ports. Then there is the is on/off function, that if you are anything like me and do not read instructions prior to using your electronics purchases, is a bit confusing at first. Each light has four light modes (3 flashing options, and one solid beam option), and you need to hold the on/off button down for a coupe of seconds to engage/disengage the lighting function. Simply cycling through the lighting options will not eventually get you to a turn-off function (as was the case with my previous Knog Frog lights). But these are minor quibbles in (ahem) light (sorry) of the fact that these rainproof bicycle lights are bright as Las Vegas, Nevada and as functional as Sacramento, California. Buy 'em if you can find 'em! They're worth it for the money you'll save on batteries alone.

*Vittoria makes some of the best bicycle tires on the planet. Also, some of the hardest to install and remove. C'mon! Am I right?