Archive for February, 2013

Be seen and not hurt

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

It almost goes without saying, that being seen by other road users is one of the greatest aids to cycling safety.

Any cyclist will agree that an effective rear light is essential when it's dark

Any cyclist will agree that an effective rear light is essential when it’s dark

Many strategies contribute towards the overall aim of riding safely on the road. Helmets, conspicuous clothing and your own awareness and tactical riding skills are effective ways to avoid harm on your journey. And most riders will also accept that effective lighting also is essential when the day starts to wind down and changes into night.

But a good rear light can also be a life-saver at any time of day, even in the summer where brightly lit roads dive into deep cover under trees and bridges. A flashing blinky light will draw the attention of the motorist, approaching from the rear, from behind their tinted windows and designer sunglasses, to cyclists already immersed in the Stygian gloom.

The Blackburn Mars 3 - uses two AAA batteries to provide 50 hours steady light and 140 hours flash

The Blackburn Mars 3 – uses two AAA batteries to provide 50 hours steady light and 140 hours flash

Virtually all modern bike lights have a number of modes from a steady bright light to various patterns of strobe, pulsing or flashing. Most modern lights are starting to include a pulse pattern. The early strobe pattern – ONOFFONOFF – is thought to make it difficult for other road users to interpret and predict the motion of a bike in the dark. Expect to see a pulse mode – ONOFFONOFF – where the light is always on but varies in intensity, on the latest offerings.

Good basic rear lights cost from less than $20. One of the best battery powered lights available is the Blackburn Mars 3. This inexpensive yet very effective light has a number of flashing modes, is visible over 180 degrees and is excellent value for money. It’s designed to fit on your seat-post but can also be adapted to fit to frames and racks, as well as clip to clothing and seat packs.

If you’re intending to use a rear light on every ride then really a device which can be re-charged from a USB port/phone re-charger is the way to go.

The Light & Motion Vis180 Micro

The Light & Motion Vis180 Micro

Modern USB charging means there is really no excuse not to run a rear light on the road, even through the sunniest summer’s day. The cost of the charge is minimal, even infinitesimal, so while initially more expensive, you will save on batteries over and over again.

The Light & Motion Vis180 Micro ($49) has a number of effective modes as well as an extremely bright rear LED. It also has a pace-line mode which means it has a less bright, non-strobing mode so that when you’re riding in a group you don’t induce a fit in the riders behind you.

The Vis180 Micro also has one of the most effective 180 degree modes which aids visibility from the side, an essential feature for the regular bike commuter.

Light & Motion are a US company which makes virtually all its products here in the US. This also means L&M are very quick to react to consumer and dealer comments when improving their lights.

Knog rear lights - available in several formats with integrated USB connector

Knog rear lights – available in several formats with integrated USB connector

One of Halter’s favorites is the Knog Blinder line of rear lights ($35 and up). Available in several formats including 4×1, 2×2, and a very bright single LED version, these lights mount on the seatpost using what amounts to an elastic band and charge up using an integrated USB connector.

The lights are built on a chassis of anodised aluminum and available in several colors to match any bike. Look out for a new version of the 4×1 with a superbright LED and pulse mode later in the summer.

Knogs aren’t so effective from the side, but their minimalist design means they look cool on even the most lightweight road bike. Knogs have about the biggest sequence of flashes and strobes of any brand. Expect up to 50 hours off one charge in strobe mode.

Blackburn Flea 2 rear light mounted on a helmet

Blackburn Flea 2 rear light mounted on a helmet

Another Halter’s favorite is the Blackburn Flea 2 rear light – about $30. While it has generally been superseded by devices from other manufacturers it is the best helmet carried light there is. Held in place on a velcro strap it occupies a prominent and effective high point in the cyclists silhouette which aids other road users to assess the cyclist’s speed and direction in the dark more easily.

Modern bicycle lighting is not just effective when it’s dark. A good rear light will help you negotiate your ride more safely, even in broad daylight. Modern lights are effective, inexpensive to run and only add a few grammes to even the most avid performance rider’s bike.


Halter’s stock a range of excellent lights from Blackburn, CatEye, Giant, Knog, Light & Motion, PDW


If you’re seeking information on other topics click on any item in Halter’s Tag Cloud in the right hand column of this blog …


Alan That British Bloke


Frostbike 2013 : postcard from the edge

Monday, February 25th, 2013
Frostbike 2013: The Promise ...

Frostbike 2013: The Promise …

Well, dear and cherished customer, someone has to fly out to strange and exotic locations to check out all that is new in the world of cycling and bring those treasures back to you.

And so it fell to Jason, Trip and (Call Me) Al to fly off into the sunset and arrive in a fairly snowy Minneapolis (MN)  to attend the QBP Frostbike dealer exhibition and conference to check out what’s new and what you can expect to see in your local bike shop over the next year.

It’s hard to say what a city is like when all you’ve seen of it is the route between the airport and some outlying business zone where the convention hotel is, but it looked frigid under a foot or so of fresh snow, but warm inside, and clearly, referencing QBP’s success, a city sympathetic to cycling.

Frostbike 2013 : The Reality ...

Frostbike 2013 : The Reality …

And so on to what’s new. Well in accessory terms stuff is just generally getting better and better. The biggest advances are in bike associated electronics.

Lights keep on getting brighter and lasting longer on either a battery or a charge. Virtually all lights, apart from at an entry level are USB chargeable. This makes them more expensive, but most are rated for 5-600 charging cycles, and that’s an awful lot of Energizer bunnies, so are a lot less costly in the long run.

If you are into GPS, up until now Garmin have been pretty much the only show in town, but expect announcements soon from CatEye and Magellan. If you are looking for a smart-phone GPS application, there are now a number of apps which extend the battery life and incorporate BlueTooth cadence and heart-rate monitors. Expect to keep your phone in your back pocket and review data through a remote screen on your handlebars.

The prototype Salsa tandem - will we see it ... or not. Interest from customers and dealers will decide.

The prototype Salsa tandem – will we see it … or not. Interest from customers and dealers will decide.

Other than the announcement about the Salsa Carbon BearGrease, which still has its specifications embargoed, the only prototype to make the floor of the show was the Salsa tandem. Salsa were keen for dealer feedback to help decide whether to put the bike into production.

It was clear a number of European companies are making a major push into the north American market. Michelin, Continental and Hutchinson, as well as some smaller manufacturers, are carving out the high-end tire demographic.

Other accessories and components manufacturers such as ABUS and Hope also ran demonstration booths.

Manufacturers from around the world show off their latest products

Manufacturers from around the world show off their latest products

US and north American manufacturers were there in force too, of course.

A huge amount of design and manufacturing innovation was evident in every genre of cycling from BMX to grand touring. Expect carbon fiber to maintain its position on the cutting edge, but plenty of titanium was around and also refinements which mean that more traditional materials are lighter and stronger than they’ve ever been.

Highlights? Well Jason got the chance to tell the major manufacturers where they’re going wrong, and believe me, they need telling what regular riders and dealers really want and Jason is just the guy to do it.

Trip was running in bronze position in the Change The Tire On The Fat-Bike competition with just a couple of hours of the show left.

Alan would say that the All-City bicycle party was the best, if only he could remember it … Excellent beer, by-the-way. Fulton’s of Minneapolis.


Alan That British Bloke


FrostBike 2013

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Frostbike - dealers only show held each year in Minneapolis, MN

Frostbike – dealers only show held each year in Minneapolis, MN

The Halter’s gang is flying off to *Frostbike 2013 held in balmy Minneapolis, MN, over the next few days.

Hosted by QBP, the biggest US supplier of bicycle parts, accessories and a few interesting bicycles, manufacturers make their pitch, not to the glossy magazines, but to the guys who deliver their wares into your neighborhood. That means us.

All this means Halter’s will be closed on Thursday, but will be back to regular hours on Friday:

  • Thursday 2/21/2013: Closed
  • Friday 2/22/2013: Open 11am-7pm
  • Saturday 2/23/2013: Open 10am-5pm

We re-open again Tuesday 2/26/2013 on our usual winter hours. Expect an announcement about Monday opening and summer hours soon.

We’ll be posting anything we find interesting on this blog in the next few days, so bookmark us now to see what will be in store in the next few months.

Now, just hoping Jay gets to sit by a window and Alan gets an aisle seat.


Alan That British Bloke


Helmets

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Most people will regard a helmet as the most essential accessory after buying their first bike. But why do some helmets cost less than $40 and some over $200? In fact, is it worthwhile wearing a cycle helmet at all?

Cycling in Copenhagen: Where bicycles are used for more than 30% of utility journeys injury rates fall regardless of helmet use.

Cycling in Copenhagen: Where bicycles are used for more than 30% of utility journeys injury rates fall regardless of helmet use.

Ask any serious, recreational or utility cyclist if they wear a helmet and the answer will almost invariably be yes. A few will quote their Second Amendment Right to free expression, or the fact that in bicycle friendly societies such as in the Nederlands or Denmark almost no one wears a helmet and death and injury rates are lower.

This is true, but in those countries cycling as a means of transport, that is, used for commuting, shopping and short journeys as well as for recreation, has reached at least 30% of all journeys and attained what has become known as Critical Mass, where cyclists have such a high profile on the road that virtually no motorist can be other than totally aware of cyclists, and indeed, quite likely will be a cyclist themselves, or whose spouse, family and friends will be cyclists too.

wearinghelmets

Most regular cyclists wear helmets.

It’s probably not controversial to say that New Jersey is not a bicycle friendly society. As for your right not to wear a helmet, you can consider that as you sip your Sunday dinner through a straw. However, in the State of New Jersey, children must wear a helmet – Title 39:4-10.1 – when cycling, in-line skating, roller-skating or skate-boarding.

So, why do some helmets cost $40 and some more than $200?


Any helmet you are likely to buy in your local bike shop will meet the minimum requirements of one or more major international standards agency at least. US, European and Australian standards are as good as they get. There are minor differences, but not ones which are likely to make any difference on the road or trail. So a less expensive helmet will be as safe as an expensive one, but a more expensive helmet will have more sophisticated features.

The Giro Indicator - for mountain-biking or hybrid cycling - about $40

The Giro Indicator – for mountain-biking or hybrid cycling – about $40

Some helmets are designed for a particular application. Mountain-bike helmets typically have a peak and slightly more protection to the back of the head. Road helmets lack the peak to enable better forward vision when on the drops. In practice there’s no problem using your helmet for whatever sort of riding you want. Some road riders feel that a peak keeps glare off their glasses. There are no rules. Buy a helmet you feel comfortable with.

A good basic helmet will only be available in one universal size. Most brands produce women specific models which may be a little smaller and have cradles which adapt to accommodate pony-tails.

Around the $80 mark, helmets become available in various sizes, usually, small/medium/large, and are starting to acquire more ventilation.

The Lazer Helium - a high end helmet. Very light, comfortable and adaptable retention system - around $200

The Lazer Helium – a high end helmet. Very light, comfortable and adaptable retention system – around $200

More expensive helmets will have compound internal structures which allow even better ventilation and lighter construction. The most expensive helmets will have more sophisticated and comfortable retention systems as well as accessories such as aero rain covers, visors and stowage bags. These are not characteristics which affect most cyclists, but it’s surprising how heavy your helmet can feel when riding a 12-hour or a Century event. You will know if it’s right for you to buy a $200 helmet.

As for that old helmet of your’s that’s been providing good service since 1990? All helmets degrade in sunlight, so after three or four years its capacity to protect will be severely compromised. If a helmet has already done its job and protected your head from a hit its internal structure, which is designed to absorb the shock, will not be effective again and should be replaced.

The Giro Venti - for people with a brain the size of a planet

The Giro Venti – for people with a brain the size of a planet

It’s your head … you decide … but we have many customers who tell us that while sliding along the road on their head, they have a very lucid thought; that the dollars they spent on their helmet were some of the best money they ever spent.


Halter’s stock helmets by: Bell, Cannondale, Giro and Lazer for everyone from toddlers to teenagers, casual riders to racers.


If you’re seeking information on other topics click on any item in Halter’s Tag Cloud in the right hand column of this blog …


Alan That British Bloke


The Blog is back …

Monday, February 18th, 2013

It’s been a while, but the Halter’s Blog has been dusted off and is good to go again.

Look out for news, opinions and offers from your favorite LBS (Local Bike Store – geddit?).

For now, Alan – That British Bloke – is trying to get his head around this blog software and attempting to spell in American English. Expect Halter’s Blog developments soon.

Coming soon: the Halter’s gang invade Minnesota … FrostBike 2013, from where we’ll report on the latest gear and accessories.

 
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