Urban – Bicycles Network Australia https://www.bicycles.net.au The Top Australian Cycling Portal Wed, 23 May 2018 20:08:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Review: The Elegant and Practical Zilfer Phone Wallet is Ready to Ride https://www.bicycles.net.au/2018/04/review-the-elegant-and-practical-zilfer-phone-wallet-is-ready-to-ride/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2018/04/review-the-elegant-and-practical-zilfer-phone-wallet-is-ready-to-ride/#respond Sat, 14 Apr 2018 09:03:18 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=17923 Picture this, you arrive at the cafe with your cycling buddies after a nice ride and park your shiny bikes outside. It’s your shout for coffee and to pay, you reach into your jersey pocket and fish out a crumpled ziplock bag and extract the crumpled notes and loose coins. Because you are decked out […]]]>

Picture this, you arrive at the cafe with your cycling buddies after a nice ride and park your shiny bikes outside. It’s your shout for coffee and to pay, you reach into your jersey pocket and fish out a crumpled ziplock bag and extract the crumpled notes and loose coins. Because you are decked out in your flash cycling gear and everything else about you oozes performance, this is not a good look. Carry cash and essentials tends to be an afterthought or inconvenience for many cyclists but a new Australian brand has released their first product that can change all of this.

Zilfer can help you save-face with their stylish and downright practical phone wallet. In reality, this is a multi-sport phone wallet however it suits road cyclists particularly well.

sports wallet zilfer

zilfer phone wallet water

Imagine a wallet that you can use everyday and when it is time to ride, you simply put the same wallet in your jersey pocket and away you go. There is no shuffling of cash, cards and mobile phones into waterproof pouches; you don’t even have to think about it. The practicality and convenience is the compelling advantage of the Zilfer phone wallet – you can use it all the time and it fits nicely into the jersey pocket.

 

Quality at a price

The old adage goes “you get what you pay for” and I find that this is a fairly good guideline except that in the last two decades the ‘Australia Tax’ has crept into society, a lot of products and services are now overpriced. Too often I question the real value of a product or service. The good news is that the Zilfer Wallet costs $49.95 [see update], which I rate as an extremely good price for the quality and functionality. In contrast, my durable Oroton everyday men’s wallet cost for four times the price and it was a price I was prepared to pay because there are too many mediocre wallets which fall apart far too soon.

Correction 15.04.2018 : The Australian price is AUD $69.95 and the US (International) price is USD $49.95. For Australians, the extra $20 means that it may no longer be an ‘absolute bargain’ though I still rate it as a good value.   

oroton mens leather wallet comparison

zilfer packaging

zilfer cycling wallet phone

zilfer cycling wallet zip

Beyond the good looks, the Zilfer wallet feels durable and uses heat welding instead of stitching. There is elegance in the simplicity that it just accommodates some coins, notes, a few cards and your phone. If you love to carry around dozens of cards and collect all of your receipts, then the Zilfer will put these habits to the test as this wallet demands a more minimalist approach. Only the $1000 notes and titanium credit cards if you please Mr Bond!

phone wallet riding cycling

 

In Practice

The material used is labelled durable and water-resistant and creates a snug fit for standard sized smart phones. For everyday cycling, it is a good storage option for my iPhone 6s… but this model iPhone is not waterproof. While the wallet provides water-resistance, if it really starts to rain then I have a problem. For this reason, the Zilfer wallet is more suitable for cyclists with waterproof smart phones. In my case, I have to consider the weather and when in doubt, need to resort to a waterproof pouch for the smart phone.

phone wallet sports

As a long and thin wallet, the Zilfer it fits easily into the jersey pocket. Depending on the depth of the pockets, it may poke out slightly at the top however this was never cause for concern while riding as the textured material used in the wallet prevents it from slipping and sliding. While road cycling and commuting I had no concerns though for mountain biking I would opt for a more secure storage option such as a jersey pocket with zipper.

cycling jersey wallet

While riding, the wallet sits nice and flat so is very comfortable though you may notice a little perspiration build-up. I also trialled cycling jackets and gilets as the top layer with the Zilfer phone wallet inside one of the cycling jersey pockets and, as expected, had no issues.

cycling wallet cash cards

For everyday use beyond the bike, the long and thin form of the Zilfer phone wallet had some limitations for me. In my front jeans pocket, the wallet is tall and can poke out the top of the pocket. I couldn’t comfortably sit down with the wallet in my pocket, that said, I usually take out the smart phone from my jeans pocket anyway before sitting down. This style of wallet is better suited to the inside lapel pocket of a jacket.

wallet jeans cycling

Men who like the rectangle style wallets may not yet discover the perfect all-rounder with the Zilfer phone wallet – but I think that even if it is used just as a phone case and wallet while cycling, it is a practical, elegant and affordable solution.

I should point out that this is not a men’s specified wallet, indeed the long, thin format can be appealing for women though it has more limited space than a traditional women’s purse.

 

In Summary

The Zilfer is a classy smart phone wallet that easily fits into a suave lifestyle and doubles as a practical phone wallet for cycling. Riders without waterproof smart phones and those who prefer traditional ‘rectangle’ wallets won’t benefit from the all-rounder advantage though the quality construction and attractive price of $49.95 make the Zilfer phone wallet hard to resist.

As my smart phone isn’t waterproof and because I like to carry the wallet for everyday use in my front jeans pocket, the Zilfer phone wallet is not 100% perfectly suited to me – but it so nice that I am prepared to swap wallets and use it when I can.

I am hoping to see a few more models and variations in future and with the same quality and pricing of the Zilfer phone wallet.

Details and purchase online: zilfer.com

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Reinventing Bicycle Bells and Lights with the Palomar Lucetta and Nello https://www.bicycles.net.au/2018/03/review-reinventing-bicycle-bells-and-lights-with-the-palomar-lucetta-and-nello/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2018/03/review-reinventing-bicycle-bells-and-lights-with-the-palomar-lucetta-and-nello/#comments Mon, 05 Mar 2018 20:22:53 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=17724 The unusual Lucetta bike lights and Nello bicycle bell will tickle the fancy of kids and riders who love a dash of style. Palomar are an interesting brand originating from Florence in Italy who have an unusual assortment of products which all reflect the concept of ‘space’. It means that space can be the stars […]]]>

The unusual Lucetta bike lights and Nello bicycle bell will tickle the fancy of kids and riders who love a dash of style. Palomar are an interesting brand originating from Florence in Italy who have an unusual assortment of products which all reflect the concept of ‘space’. It means that space can be the stars in the night sky that you can observe with their Galileo’s Telescope but space is also defined in their quirky city maps and travel logs. In review are the Lucetta bike lights and Nello bike bell that you can use as you navigate urban space.

It is no secret that I’m fan of Italy… with the exception of the 2006 World Cup where Italian soccer player Fabio Grosso took a dive which resulted in a penalty and 1:0 victory against the Socceroos. Yes, I am still upset about that game, but when it comes to culture, food, travelling and style, it’s great when it’s Italian. Could you imagine the history of cycling without the Italian bike brands and riders?

Beyond the world of pro cycling and past the Vespa’s that whizz through the streets of Florence, Palomar have coupled practicality and style into their urban cycling lights and bike bell.

nello bicycle bell lucetta bike lights

 

Lucetta – Theft-proof front and rear lights

Almost five years ago, the Lucetta was released and these bike lights have a timeless quality. The cylindrical lights are elegant and compact, when they are not in use, a magnet holds the white front light and rear red light together.

palomar lucetta bike light review

palomar lucetta light mounts

You pull them apart, put the rear light (marked with a red) on your seat tube and the front one on your bars or headtube. As soon as the magnets latch on… the light turns on. Simple and wonderful.

palomar bike lights magnetic mount

palomar rear bike light magnet

lucetta bike lights

cool bike lights

The big idea is that you simply take them off at the end of your ride and this saves them from theft. As the lights are so compact, they are so easy to drop into your pocket or a back,  you just have to remember to bring them out again when you are ready to ride.

The Lucetta lights are ‘too be seen’ and each have a single LED. They are bright enough to be seen by others on the road but for bike riders still want a bigger visual footprint the Lucetta are probably not the right lights.

Another nice feature is the three light modes, steady, slow flashing and fast flashing. To change you simple detach the light and then attach it back to the bike and the mode changes. It is so simple that it is fun which why the kids become fascinated.

You need to know that the magnets only work on steel bikes. A lot of commuter bikes are constructed with non-ferrous aluminium and steel bikes tend to be either the cheap and basic bikes or classic road and urban bikes. To help ‘magnetically challenged’ riders, the Lucetta is delivered with two attachments that let you use these on your aluminium or carbon fiber bikes. While this is not quite as elegant and simple – it is still a good solution and one I needed during this review on my everyday bikes (which are not steel).

palomar from rear bike light

palomar bike lights magnetic

In practice, I liked these lights and if you ride a stylish urban run-around like a fixie or vintage bike but don’t want to ruin your style with permanent lights or ugly lights, the Lucetta are a stylish and functional solution.

At 34 Euro plus 15 Euro postage to Australia, this represents an investment of around $75 (AUD) which means you may have to cut back on the smashed avocado on toast.

 

Nello – An oddball among bike bells

The name reminds me of the little yellow minions characters from the animated films that speak gibberish, instead of ‘hello’ they say ‘bello’. In fact, Nello is a catchy name and rhymes nicely with the Italian ‘bello’ (a handsome man).

palomar nello bike bell review

It is a real eye-catcher, the spherical ball sits on top of the bars and if you don’t already know what it is, your curiosity is awakened. In contrast to the Lucetta, the Nello requires the small mount. Straps in two lengths are provided and it can be setup in 1 minute. Set the Nello down and you can feel it latch on magnetically. It is ready to go ahead and press!

palomar nello bell installation

palomar bike bell review

palomar nello bello mount

With the 24 Euro retail price and 15 Euro shipping, $60 (AUD) is a hefty premium for a bike bell – it costs more than the knog OI! but is about $20 less than the Spurcycle bell. This is obviously in the league of premium bike bells where there is no admittance to riders who are perfectly happy with a $5 bell.

The sound is electronic (it runs on 2x CR2032 batteries) and there are three different sounds. To change the sound, lift it from the mount and set it back down.

The first sound is like an obnoxious whistle, the second sounds like a broken bike bell and the third is like annoying duck… I like that one best. Kids love this bell, their faces light up and they beg you to have a go.

In it’s simplicity, I still missed the practicality of being able to set my preferred sound (the ducks) and sticking with that. Each time you have to cycle through the sounds. Perhaps it is the early morning commutes where I just want to pedal away rather than setup the sound that steals away a bit of the joy. Sometimes the sound wouldn’t change properly and my beloved ducks were missing and I kept getting obnoxious whistle which I stopped liking. That will teach me for being grumpy.

The sound volume is 90 dB which is quite soft in noisy urban environments. The first big test was approaching a big group of pedestrians from behind and I was wondering why I had to ring the bell six times before any of them noticed and turned to look. Perhaps the unusual sounds don’t send the same message as the clear definitive tone of a bike bell. It was only when I put the Nello bike bell onto one of my kids bikes and headed out for a nice ride together was I able understand why pedestrians didn’t seem to notice it.

While I am riding with this bell on my bars it is audible to me. But when I am a few meters, the volume drops rapidly and it starts to become really difficult to hear regardless of the sound selected. In a typical urban backdrop with cars whizzing by, the buzz of pedestrians and squeak and clatter of bikes, the Nello very easily gets lost… I reluctantly have to say that this is a problem for me as I need pedestrians to notice and make space.

In practice, the Nello bell will help you satisfy the law of requiring an ‘audible warning device’ on your bike, but it underperforms in comparison to a regular (and boring) bike bell… In contrast, it looks fantastic. To become a convert however, I would need two improvements; a much louder audio and a broader selection of sounds.

luca palomar nello

Just the facts…

The Lucetta lights are not cheap, but if you have an awesome classic steel road bike or vintage bike, these lights are practical, fun and look good. The Nello bell is (ironically) not as audibly impressive as it should be… but it is different and visually, a head turner.

More information about Palomar products and purchases are online at: palomarweb.com

bicycle light review

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In Review: Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier Bags for Cycle Touring https://www.bicycles.net.au/2017/11/in-review-ortlieb-back-roller-bike-pannier-bags-for-cycle-touring/ Sat, 18 Nov 2017 09:41:29 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=17514 The best thing about cycle touring is opening the front door when I return home at the end of the trip. It is familiar territory and everything has its place so it is like a reward following a great journey. You can tell that when I am travelling by bike, I still want some comfort […]]]>

The best thing about cycle touring is opening the front door when I return home at the end of the trip. It is familiar territory and everything has its place so it is like a reward following a great journey. You can tell that when I am travelling by bike, I still want some comfort and organisation. Swap the rough and dirty with a nice place stay overnight to keep me happy. Leave the tins of baked beans and safety matches at home… but if it rains, I am not turning back.

This year I embarked on a new travel experience with the bike and bahn, as in the Deutsche Bahn (trains) in Germany. My work trip to Eurobike involved travelling across Germany by train and doing all the short trips by bike. Usually I take a plane or car and this time was really looking forward to travelling door to door with the bike. I knew it would let me avoid the dreaded congestion and allow me to simply enjoy the ride.

For this type of trip, the only way to be all-inclusive is with big pannier bags. If I was doing a crazy long-distance ride against time then I would opt instead for a bike-packing setup. Bike packing is ultra-cool and very much about a minimalist, aerodynamic setup. My distances are shorter and my demands for comfort are high so the best bike for the job is my daily commuter which has pannier racks on the back and let’s me tackle gravel paths and trails at a whim.

bike packing ortlieb

In Germany, if you want to buy bike bags, the two main brands are Deuter and Ortlieb. Deuter are reliable but don’t have the same edge as Ortlieb who have established themselves with practical designs that have a tendency to be simultaneously classic and contemporary. I have always liked Ortlieb gear and for years rely on the Ortlieb Vario Urban which is a backpack that can also fit onto a pannier rack. I only every use it as a backpack because it is extremely comfortable and because I don’t like the thought of hanging my laptop from the side of the bike. Therefore, the Vario backpack is already booked in to house my laptop and DSLR on the trip while new panniers will do the rest.

ortlieb back roller review

The Ortlieb Back-Roller is a popular model available in a myriad of variations; 9 models with different sizes, material and features. The Back-Rollers are waterproof pannier bags which close securely by rolling the of the bag closed and then fastening it so that it doesn’t unravel. There is no ‘zip lock’ to actually seal it, but the mechanism works fantastically and the contents will stay dry when it pours with rain. Ortlieb also offer fully sealed bags which I haven’t tried – these would be of interest if you are crossing rivers and the bags are submerged.

bike bags touring

To mount the back-rollers on the bike it has a brilliant ‘quick lock’ fastening system which allows you to simply set it into place on panner rack. It automatically locks into place and you are ready to ride. The same beautiful convenience lets you also ‘unmount’ the pannier bag simply by lifting the bag off – it releases immediately and you are on your way.

ortlieb close bag

closing bike bag

I opted for the large 40 L Back-Roller Black’n White, the price and the size were right. The Black’n White model is available in a dominant black or dominant white version, both feature a big Ortlieb logo splashed across the front. The panniers a cost 129 Euro (AUD200) for a pair directly from Ortlieb, I got them slightly cheaper as there was a special with better pricing for the panniers with the big ortlieb logos. In Australian bike shops, the retail price for this model ranges between $190 to $225. At the time of writing, this particular model has suddenly been labeled on the German site as ‘discontinued/sold out’ though was still available in Australia.

An important trend for the Ortlieb company is sustainability which stretches from their brand philosophy and into all facets including manufacture and recycling. Traditionally PVC has been used in Ortlieb bags, it lends the bags a lot of positive traits such as durability and waterproofing but the recycling is problematic because PVC can release pasticisers into ground water or toxic dioxins when burnt. Across the entire Ortlieb range, the materials are being shifted to materials which can be recycled or are degradable. The Back-Roller Black’n White is completely PVC free and utilises polyurethane coated canvas.

 

Setting up the Pannier bags

Out of the box, the Back-Rollers are straight forward to setup, I only referred to the instructions to setup the shoulder strap properly. The shoulder strap functions both as a shoulder carry strap and as part of the bags fastening – it secures the ‘flaps’ to ensure that the panniers remain closed and protected from water. For casual trips about town you can leave the straps off and just use the hand-carry strap.

I was impressed by how fast I was able to get both the bags properly setup on the racks. Each pannier has the QL2.1 (Quick Lock) system and by hand you can simply adjust the position of the rack mounts. The aim to set up the mounting clips so that the bag can’t slide about. You also want to ensure that the bags are far enough back so you don’t hit them with your foot while pedalling. On the rear of each bag (neat the bottom) is an adjustable mounting ‘latch’ which helps to keep the bags into place and prevents them from swinging. The end result is a stable and reliable mount and in my case it was setup, adjusted and completed in less than 90 seconds.

quick lock 2 ortlieb

pannier bag bike

mounting pannier bag

The QL2.1 mounting system will suit racks with tubes up to 16mm in diameter. Small inserts for the clips give you an exact fit for racks with 8, 10 and 12mm diameter tubing.

For every day use there no complicated steps to follow, you just set the bags down into place on the rack and Quick Lock does the rest, or pull the bag up and it releases. This ease-of-use meant I immediately put the bags into action and you could see me cycling about town transporting power-tools or piles of books which were securely stowed inside the back-rollers.

quick lock 2 ortlieb

Travelling with Panniers

The big trip by train and bike was looming and after years of experience, whittling the luggage down to the necessities was routine. The bags were comfortably full with clothes, shoes and toiletries and the extra weight noticeable. If you have a big stand and heavier pannier bags there will be a limit to how much weight can be supported. I don’t use a bike stand though it means taking care when leaning the bike to making sure it won’t topple.

ortlieb cycle touring

The trickiest part of travelling was lifting the bikes with loaded panniers onto and off the trains. I could have taken the panniers off but when a lot of other passengers are also trying to get on or off, it is simpler to leave the bags and do it in one swoop. The train trip from Frankfurt to the bottom of Germany requires three different trains so there was some lifting and shuffling involved. Inside the train I simply parked the bike in the reserved spot and took all my bags with me to my seat.

deutsche bahn fahrradmitnahme

A real plus point of these bag is that they can generally stand upright on their own and don’t topple quite as easily as other panniers.  As the bags come as a pair, it is also easy to lean them against one another.

 

Bike Handling with Panniers

If you haven’t used panniers before, the first thing you will notice that the broad surfaces of the Ortlieb Back-Rollers catch the wind. As the panniers have a low center of gravity when loaded, this is usually not a big concern. In high-wind locations, the bags will create enough drag to affect stability and bike handling.

I like to ride swiftly so the drag is very noticeable. If I really wanted to be aerodynamic then bike-packing would make more sense so I have to keep reminding myself that bike touring is not a race. When the weight is distributed across the two panniers the bike remains easy to control but it is ‘back heavy’ so is best to take bit more care when turning or braking on wet or loose surfaces.

 

Let it rain

I was able to start my journey with balmy, sunny weather. Halfway through the second day, dark clouds crawled across the skies of southern Germany and torrential rain set in. Despite wearing a fully waterproof jacket and waterproof pants I was soaked to the bone, but the spare cloths and supplies in the Back-Rollers were bone dry.

The rain continued and for each 15km trip from my accommodation to Eurobike and then back again, it was only the intensity of the miserable weather that changed. With the Ortlieb panniers I always had a change of dry clothes and my verdict after putting them through days of pretty awful weather is that I completely trust them to keep my gear secure and dry. Over the days, dirt and grim collected on the bags but with the dark colour and design, it was perfectly in-place.

 

Just one thing…

The only issue I experienced was when hand-grip would get tangled inside the quick-lock and jam. The first time it happen I dismissed it but when it happened again, and I had to try and pry open the quick-lock, it made me wonder if this is something can can be improved somehow in the design or construction. As a minor issue, this barely affects the overall functionality.

But there are a few details that I could easily overlook as I have used a few Ortlieb products and just expect them to work well. For example the reflective patches on the bags make sense, the comfortable hand-grips feel great when I have to lug the heavy bags about and the re-enforced base that makes it more durable and stable. All of the plastic clips and buckle are ‘quality’ parts and all of the details contribute to form an overall package that last.

ortlieb quality

 

In Summary

Ortlieb panniers are not the cheapest panniers on the market but they have a design that works and deliver superb quality. Coming into the review, I was already convinced that Ortlieb are good and still can’t fault them following my test of the Back-Roller Black’n White pannier bags.

ortlieb urban bag

The German brand are well known among touring cyclists but for commuters and bike packers, they have some very good looking bags in their range. More from www.ortlieb.com/en

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Review: Pedalit Pro Bike Care for a Sparkly Clean Bike https://www.bicycles.net.au/2017/09/review-pedalit-pro-bike-care-for-a-sparkly-clean-bike/ Fri, 29 Sep 2017 07:50:29 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=17273 As a busy father that loves to ride, I’ll be honest and say that the ‘bike cleaning’ is one aspect that is usually first on the do next time list. You can attribute this to a mixture of being time poor and not having the right gear to get the job done well and easily […]]]>

As a busy father that loves to ride, I’ll be honest and say that the ‘bike cleaning’ is one aspect that is usually first on the do next time list. You can attribute this to a mixture of being time poor and not having the right gear to get the job done well and easily (OK, I’ll admit it’s being lazy too). When I received the ‘Pro Bike Care package’, it didn’t come soon enough as my bike was suffering under an excessive accumulation of grime and road detritus.

If you read my recent review on the Pedalit Body Care range, you will know that the brand are want to be recognised for high-quality products with natural or environmentally conscious selection of ingredients. But is that enough to get a dirty bike clean? Let’s find out and take a look at the Pedalit degreaser, the bike wash and some tools to make cleaning easier.

dirty bike

filthy chain

 

cleaning dirty bike

 

‘Resurrection’ Degreaser

Usually I turn to old-fashioned Mineral Turpentine or Kerosene to tackle the build-up of crud, grease and road grime from the bike. And as you can guess, it is a filthy and tedious process that is not kind to my hands and lawn.

For the acid test to ‘resurrect’ my bike, I started by using the Pedalit Resurrection degreaser “neat” which means undiluted in a spray bottle. The Pedalit team recommend neat for really tough grime, a 3:1 mix of water:degreaser for semi-hard grime and 20:1 for lighter or general washing. Back to my test, the drivetrain areas received a liberal dosing from the spray bottle and was given time to do it’s work. The non-offensive odour of the degreaser was duly noted and my hands were spared from the typical duress of harsh solvents which was much appreciated.

It was then time to get out the cleaning tools from Pedalit which included the Drive Train Claw and the Component + Hub Brush. You have probably seen these type of bike specific cleaning accessories before, they will generally do a better job than random tools and rags from your toolshed and the Pedalit ones are very affordably priced at $4.95 for each.

pedalit cleaning brush

bike cleaning brush

I didn’t have to scrub with all my might, as it all came off pretty easily. A light hose off and the bike was already  starting to look pretty damn good. The accumulated brake pad dust from the discs was gone, and the hefty layer of grease/grime & lube on the jockey wheels vanished without any real water pressure. Now time for the next stage of cleaning.

washing bike

 

 

Premium Chain Tool & Premium Chain Holder QR

When it comes to keeping my bike chain squeaky clean, as a creature of habit, I’m a ‘break the quick link on the chain, dunk it in turps, dry & lube and then refit’ guy. I’ve tried a chain cleaning tool once before and wasn’t convinced with the result. Once I worked out how to open the Pedalit Premium Chain Tool, I’m now more confident that I can easily do interim chain cleans easily, especially when paired with the Chain Holder.

chain cleaner

clean drive train

pedalit bike cleaner

The Chain Holder is a handy little tool and is designed to keep your chain nicely in-place when your wheel is removed. It means you can use it for cleaning as a chain guide but also for transporting the bike. My chain needed real help so I went for undiluted Resurrection degreaser and it needed a few revolutions through the cleaner. By the third run my bike chain could once again see the light of day. The brushes in the Chain Tool are not fixed within the unit so you have to be careful that they don’t accidentally pop-out and get lost when you are not looking (which nearly happened to me).

shiny clean bike

clean derailleur

For lubing the chain with my bike mounted in my Tacx workstand, the Chain Holder made it super easy and I began to wonder how I ever did without it.

clean bike

 

 

‘Splendor’ Bike Wash

The grease and grime was now gone from the drivetrain, time to give the frame a bit of TLC. This is where the Splendor Bike Wash and Premium Frame Brush really made life easy. The Splendor foamed nicely (mixed 20:1 as recommended, so a 1 litre bottle will last quite a few washes) and when combined with the soft, but large faced Frame Brush, it made the task really easy and actually quite quick.

soap bike

Even after some serious scrubbing in and around bottle cages, cranks, disc calipers etc, the bristles remained intact and all pointing in the right direction. I’ve seen many brushes (cheap and expensive) suffer from a good use and be almost a throwaway item after a few uses. This isn’t the case with the Premium Frame Brush.

A quick rinse with the water revealed that I do actually have a nice shiny bike underneath! The only downside to the Frame Brush is that it’s size means that there are some areas it doesn’t get into well, such as the inside of chain stays, fork crowns and the like. Now that I am a bike cleaning expert (just see how clean my bike is… like new) I can put in a recommendation for a ‘Father & Son’ pair of Frame Brushes for the next generation.

Summary

I didn’t think it would happen, but my habits have been changed. I’ve now gone from a ‘Crikey, I better wash this as it’s looking REALLY ratty’, to a ‘I like a shiny & clean bike that I am proud to ride, even in winter’.

The proper tools make a world of difference, cleaning is easier and rewarding. It also makes a difference that the Splendor & Resurrection bike cleaning products are Australian Made, biodegradable and the company behind it have a positive approach. The cleaners and tools are very competitively priced and work well which make it easier to opt for the local product.

pedalit hand cleaner

As a tip, the knowledge base on the pedalit website has some genuinely useful information which is good even for the more experienced cyclists.

You can see product details and purchase online from: pedalit.cc

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Finn – The Urban Smartphone Mount in Review https://www.bicycles.net.au/2017/09/finn-the-urban-smartphone-mount-in-review/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2017/09/finn-the-urban-smartphone-mount-in-review/#comments Mon, 25 Sep 2017 20:05:10 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=17258 Whenever a new smart phone is launched, an entire industry of accessory suppliers rush to manufacture a perfectly fitted smart phone case. Brands who make bike mounted smart phone cases also have to follow suit, but Austrian brand Bike Citizens have changed the rule and have mount called Finn which suits any brand, but a […]]]>

Whenever a new smart phone is launched, an entire industry of accessory suppliers rush to manufacture a perfectly fitted smart phone case. Brands who make bike mounted smart phone cases also have to follow suit, but Austrian brand Bike Citizens have changed the rule and have mount called Finn which suits any brand, but a different type of riding.

On my bike, the handlebars are the ‘cockpit’ where everything needs its space, from the brakes and gears to accessories such as a light, bell and cycle-computer. It is very much about efficiency, ensuring I can ride comfortably while having easy access everything I need. But the Finn does things differently, you don’t need to plan, it more of a smart phone mount for casual urban riding and touring where you can easily put in on, take it off and just go with the flow.

The thoughtful design, simplicity and affordability is what sells it. The silicon wraps around the bars, threads through itself and stretches around the phone. A flat section on the mount assists in keeping the phone orientated correctly but it remains versatile so you can shift the position on the fly. At $22.50 (including shipping), it reasonably priced for a smart phone mount and you don’t have to deliberate because it suits all smart phones which tend to be flat rectangles.

bike mount

iphone bike navigation

Of course a mount like this doesn’t give you bells and whistles like the protection that you would get from an enclosed case style mount like the Quadlock. If it rains and your phone isn’t waterproof, then you wont be using the Finn. I was wondering about the stability and rode on various surfaces including single-track and cobble stones and it actually works very well. The silicon lends the grip and stretch that it will only wobble if the going gets tough.

As an easy-to-use mount, it is also easy to misplace, is it in the jacket pocket or in a bag?

silicon bike mount

As the Finn mounts on your bars, you don’t get the advance of the popular ‘out-front’ styles mounts where smart phones or cycle computers are positions in front of the bars. That has the advantage of (usually) freeing more space on your handle bars and making it a tad bit easier to glance down at the screen. The position means that some riders may find their knee knock against it from time to time when turning. The silicon straps also cover the edges of the screen but for touring and urban use I don’t see that as a big detractor.

 

But wait…. there’s more

Firstly, there is a triple-pack available where you get three mounts for the price of two. The other part of Finn is that belongs to the Bike Citizen concept. In essence this is an App (called Bike Citizen) which mixes urban lifestyle and navigation. For each Finn mount you get access to mapping for one city and can purchase additional cities for ca. $6.70 (or all cities internationally for $30).

finn cycling navigation

In Australia, only the major cities are available though Bike Citizen is just getting started in this country so there are no cycling tours yet, instead the App relies on standard navigation (computer) and OpenStreetMaps. This opens an opportunity for newcomers to start adding tours for their cities and even for cities to partner-up and provide bike routes and services.

At the time of writing, a new version of the app has been released and with the limited content for Australia and new release, a deeper analysis will not be provided, but the Bike Citizens app can viewed as a bonus.

The Finn bike mount for smart phones is available online: getfinn.com

finn bike mount

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Riese&Muller Charger Mixte – a bike for all reasons https://www.bicycles.net.au/2017/01/riesemuller-charger-mixte-a-bike-for-all-reasons/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2017/01/riesemuller-charger-mixte-a-bike-for-all-reasons/#comments Mon, 09 Jan 2017 21:34:56 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=16295 The biggest problem I have when I write e-bike reviews is dealing with the issue of price. Good e-bikes are expensive. Crappy e-bikes are also expensive, but they’re expensive in terms of throwing good money down the drain with poor performance, the need for repairs, and reduced lifespan. Good e-bikes are expensive up front but […]]]>

The biggest problem I have when I write e-bike reviews is dealing with the issue of price. Good e-bikes are expensive. Crappy e-bikes are also expensive, but they’re expensive in terms of throwing good money down the drain with poor performance, the need for repairs, and reduced lifespan. Good e-bikes are expensive up front but don’t cost you much after that. My philosophy on doing reviews is to never do a review for a product I wouldn’t consider buying, so I’m going to tell you why I would buy a Riese&Muller Charger Mixte.

Riese&Muller are a German company and, like many German companies (and I’m thinking Mercedes Benz and BMW here), they make well engineered products and yes, they are expensive. I’m mainly a road biker and if I had a spare $5,000, which is roughly the price of the Riese&Muller bike I rode, I wouldn’t be spending that money on a road bike for myself. While there are some very sweet high-end bikes (many roadies would argue that $5K is mid-range), I’m simply not a good enough rider to justify getting one. If I were going on an extended bike tour I might spend considerable money on a good touring rig with an internal hub and so on, but that would be a good bit down the track. In the meantime, I have four reasons I won’t be getting a new road bike, but five reasons why I would spend the same amount on a Riese&Muller e-bike.

The four reasons are aged between 7 and 15 and they all have bikes. The five reasons are those same four kids plus my wife – she doesn’t have a bike. We’re a one car van family and the van usually goes where the majority of us are. I ride to work and the kid’s schools are within walking distance, though they often get dropped off and picked up. That’s all going to change next year when we’re going in many different directions. My wife, who works part time, is heading back to school, and my eldest is heading into year 11 and is doing some study off campus at the local TAFE some days. We’re not getting another car because (a) they’re really expensive to buy, run, and insure (even the non-German ones) and (b) one car is really enough for us when you factor in public transport and, of course, bike travel.

This is where the Riese&Muller comes into the picture. For a few years now I’ve been reviewing e-bikes and have loved watching the technology evolve. I rocked into Eurocycles a few months ago with an invitation to review an e-bike motor, the Bosch Performance Line (see the Bosch Performance Line review here), and obviously in order to do that properly, I had to ride a bike equipped with one.

reise muller ebike

Rick at Eurobike offered me my choice of several Riese&Muller bikes he had in the showroom, all of which had the Performance Line motor. He was steering me to the Charger GT Urban bike, a big behemoth of an e-bike that was almost a fat bike (maybe we can have a chubby bike category). This was sitting next to a beautiful black traditional Dutch style omfiets, also with a motor (the Cruiser City). Sitting in the middle of the floor, however, was the Charger Mixte and that’s the one that caught my eye immediately.

I have a soft spot for Mixtes. They’re everything a step through frame should be without being a “girl’s bike”. I’ve seen some lovely retro ones with stylish trussed top tubes that wrap around the seat posts and functionally demonstrate the bike maker’s art. The Riese&Muller isn’t a retro Mixte, but in its modern incarnation it’s still a beautiful piece of functional art.

That’s not the reason I chose it, however. If you look at the bike share programs around the world, you’ll notice that most of those bikes are step through bikes of some sort, though they’re pretty naff looking creations. Where they do shine is that almost anyone can jump on one and ride it – that’s why I chose the Riese&Muller Mixte. I’m 190cm tall and my wife is about 165cm tall. My three girl’s are all taller than their mother (guess which side they got their height genes from?) and my son will be there in about two year’s time. I could see straight away that the four females in the house would all fit the Mixte and a quick seat adjustment to almost the full extension had me comfortably perched. Given that I’m at the upper end of the height spectrum (about the 96th percentile, I think) and my wife is pretty much right on average, that covers quite a lot of the adult (and teenage) population, even more so when you consider that there is wiggle room on the lower end.

So, while not quite as butch as the chubby tyred beast next to it, the Mixte was the most versatile urban vehicle they had. That’s what I wanted and needed. It’s not a bike for me, it’s a vehicle for all of us. I chose the words carefully in that last sentence, because people need to stop seeing e-bikes as bikes and start seeing them as very versatile vehicles (apologies for the alliteration). Think about it: I already pay rego and insurance on the van. Having another car, even if someone gave it to me for free, would still incur those costs every year. Then you have petrol, oil, service, repairs and so on. Do you know how much an alternator costs for a Toyota Tarago? I do. Oh, and parking, I almost forgot about that since I haven’t had to pay for parking my bike for the past almost decade.

Financial arguments aside, my 15 year old can ride the e-bike the 5 km from school to TAFE, mostly along bike paths, and park it there for free. She doesn’t need a license and she doesn’t need insurance, though she does have a Cycling Australia membership via Audax Australia which covers that to some extent. It gives my daughter the ability to leave school when she needs and come home when she wants, because she is in control of her own vehicle. She can use it to head wherever she needs to after studying (dance training, flute lessons, etc) and she can share the bike with her sisters when she’s not using it.

racktime pannier review

You’re probably thinking that it isn’t that easy, and you’re right, she has to wear a helmet, but that’s not really a problem. The Riese&Muller bike is a fully equipped urban vehicle. It has lights front and back which run off the main battery, it has mudguards, it has very tough tyres, it has flat pedals, it has a rack, and it has a built in bike lock. While I’d probably throw on a cable lock just for visibility and to lock it to something, the built-in lock goes right through the rear wheel and means the bike won’t be moving unless someone picks it up and carries it away, which isn’t very easy because this bike is big and heavy. You’d need a ute and a couple of strong guys to steal it. The key for the lock will also lock the battery to the bike and enables or disables to electronics, which means it’s just a bike without the key. Parking this bike somewhere is as safe as parking a motorbike.

Riese&Muller, and in fact the whole evolutionary course of e-bikes in Europe, has managed to reduce the “cons” side of the sheet down to price. That’s it, and if you didn’t read between the lines above, removing a single car from your life will more than pay for this bike within two years (actually, probably one year; do the numbers yourself). The Riese&Muller bikes, all of them, not just the Charger Mixte, are really well constructed. Yes, they are heavy, and that’s got a little something to do with the motor, but even if you removed that it would still be a chunky bike. They’re engineered for the long run and they’ll take whatever you can throw at them in the city.

bosch wet controller

The build quality means you’ll have this bike for years, so you need to amortise the cost. When you do that, you should start to realise that it’s actually a very sensible alternative for single person travel. That’s when you start to look a bit further down the rabbit hole and then your costs are going to blow out. Let me explain.

When I returned the bike to Eurocycles, I got chatting with Rick and, since the review I was originally meant to write (and did) was about the motor, we got chatting about that. The Charger Mixte pairs the Bosch motor with an Shimano XT Deore groupset which makes changing gears nice and smooth, though you do have to do that yourself (a flick of the finger or thumb on the shifter and it’s done). I observed to Rick that it was easy to change gears by just listening to the motor and mused that it should be quite easy have a system that automatically changed gears with an internal hub on the rear. Rick smiled and we got talking about the NuVinci hubbed system that did just that, and it would work with this bike…for a price. “But”, I objected, “that would mean using a Gates carbon belt drive, wouldn’t it? Which would also mean a new frame?” Rick smiled again (he likes smiling when it comes to his bikes) and pointed out that the drive side chain stay was actually raised to accept a carbon belt drive as well as a normal chain drive!

riese muller charger mixte review

I was floored by that. I had been riding the bike for about a week and I noticed that there was something strange there, but couldn’t put my finger on it. Normally a Gates belt drive requires a bike with a closeable gap in the chain stay so you can change the belt if necessary. The Riese&Muller bike just had the chain stay raised up above the chain, which gives full access to the whole drive line, so even if you didn’t want a belt drive, you can change the chain easily or completely remove it to clean it without much effort at all.

People always say “it’s the little things that count”, referring to the little details that separate product a from product b. I hope you’re seeing that getting one of these European style e-bikes means you’re getting lots of those little details. To tempt you some more, I was chatting with someone from Bosch just last week who told me about the new computer for their motors, called the Purion, which will, in addition to other features, offer a walk assist mode so when you’re pushing your grocery loaded e-bike though a plaza, for example, to get to the road, it will give you some electric assistance. You can also add another battery to your frame to give you extra distance (perfect for touring), or you can grab a smaller format charger to keep at work or even carry in your backpack to recharge your batteries wherever you go. It’s all very sensible, it’s all tried and tested in the places they use e-bikes on a daily basis, and it’s all available to us here and now.

bosch performance line

Bosch ebike battery

You’re convinced, I know, and you want one of these bikes right now. Before I get to that, Riese&Muller have a very interesting build and distribution model that’s worth talking about. Bike companies usually make bikes in batches to save on tooling and material costs and logistics. Bikes might come out in small frame sizes first, followed a month or so later by medium, and then a couple of months later in large and extra large. Getting the right frame size for you would be entirely dependent on local availability and when the frame you want is out of stock, you’re out of luck. It also means you will find discounted bikes in “odd” sizes when the retailers haven’t been able to sell them locally or ship them elsewhere in their network.

The approach taken by Riese&Muller is to make a small number of each frame model every month and customise them at the factory to the customer’s specifications before shipping them. As a customer, you work out what model you want, what motor you want, what parts and options you want, then Riese&Muller put it all together and ship it to you. This gives you a turnaround of around 6 weeks from when you place your order to when the bike arrives at your bike shop ready for final partial assembly and for you to pick it up.

So how do you get one? Eurocycles, who import the Riese&Muller line, have test bikes in most big cities. You go and try one out, work out what you need, go down the rabbit hole of added extras, and then place an order. The bike shop will work out the rest with Eurocycles and you’ll get your bike quite quickly.

I realise that this wasn’t really a review, per se, rather it was a justification of why I would buy this particular bike, or one like it. As I mentioned before, I did this because people often baulk at the price of a quality e-bike and they are, after all, a very sensible option. It’s so sensible, on so many levels, that the tax office is trialling a novated lease scheme for e-bikes, which can’t get here soon enough if you ask me. It looks like we might be slowly changing in this country, but I think it will be a long time before other countries stop laughing at our car-centric culture (and our internet speeds, but that’s a whole other story).

Details and specifications for the Riese&Muller Charger Mixte.

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Review – Cycliq Fly6 (gen. 3) with Velcro Strap Mount https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/12/review-cycliq-fly6-3rd-generation-with-velcro-strap-mount/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/12/review-cycliq-fly6-3rd-generation-with-velcro-strap-mount/#comments Fri, 16 Dec 2016 08:21:03 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=16316 Australian bike-tech company Cycliq has gone from strength to strength with their technology driven cycling accessories. They have carved out a niche of bike specific cameras with the Fly6 rear camera, Fly12 front camera and recently released the duo mount (via kickstarter) which lets you mount both a sports action camera and cycle computer. We are taking […]]]>

Australian bike-tech company Cycliq has gone from strength to strength with their technology driven cycling accessories. They have carved out a niche of bike specific cameras with the Fly6 rear camera, Fly12 front camera and recently released the duo mount (via kickstarter) which lets you mount both a sports action camera and cycle computer. We are taking a closer look at the Fly6 which has just moved into the third generation and features a rather subtle but important upgrade.

In a nutshell, the Fly6 is a rear mounted camera with integrated red light and films in a continuous loop. With 1280×720 video resolution 30 frames a second you can capture the action behind while you ride. Traffic offender and crash videos make it to youtube and the set-and-forget style camera means that you only have to remember to charge it.

If you are new to the Fly6, the camera integrates a rear red light and will replace your previous stand-alone light. There are brighter and more powerful rear bike lights available but this 30 Lumen light has performed well in all hours and all weather conditions and is integrated – so I have one unit and not two. The light can be dimmed (good for riding in bunches) and you can choose from different light sequences.

The newest Fly6 is very much about a new mount and it is otherwise almost identical to its predecessor. Detailed information about the video quality and light performance can be found in our earlier reviews:
Fly6 Generation 1 Review
Fly6 Generation 2 Review

 

The Little Things

Before we tackle the new mounting solution for the Fly6, I have spotted three minor differences which we can cover quickly. Because of the change of design to the back section of the Fly6 unit – the overall weight on the new version increases 14 grams to 127 grams. The date format also changes and instead of an all digital display (e.g. 2016/12/25), it moves to mixed format (e.g. Dec 25 2016) and eliminates confusion between the American date format and the rest of the world. The last change is ‘under the covers’ and is an improved battery management which should give the unit a longer run-time however in the specs, Cycliq retain the quoted 6 hour filming duration (which also depends on the light setttings).

 

Velcro Wonder Stuff

On the first and second generation Fly6 unites, rubber mounting straps were used for mounting and these worked well for many cyclists however were susceptible to over-stretching and breaking which was frustrating as the straps were hard to replace. In fact, the rubber straps were intended as a more permanent mount and the Fly6 was meant to unclip from a plastic mount but that never worked particularly well, every cyclist I know with a Fly6 would simply use the rubber straps.

cycliq fly6 comparison
3rd Generation Fly6 (left) and 2nd Generation Fly6 (right)

There was always room for improvement although the rubber straps also added flexibility and convenience in mounting and Cycliq have sought to retain these attributes by switching to a velcro fastener and ditching the superfluous plastic mounting bracket. The back of the Fly6 is now simple and has a slot through which the velcro strap passes. The velcro straps have a non-slip surface on the inside to prevent the camera from slipping and sliding on your seatpost. If you ride a bike with an aero seat tube, an aero adapter is supplied.

fly6 in the box

cycliq battery charging

Two different velcro lengths are provided, a shorter which works best for traditional round seat posts and a longer one for Aero seat tubes. I had to trim the long strap as it was far too long.

fly6 velcro mount

cycliq fly6 camera

bike light camera

With the velcro it is just as easy to remove the Fly6 for charging and to quickly mount it securely. A side-effect of velcro is that it can scuff finely woven fabrics such as polyester (lycra) which is typically used for cycle wear. I found this out the hard way after the edge of the velcro strap lifted and while I was pedalling it started catching the inseam of my expensive cycling knicks and created a fluffy mess of polyester strands. This may not be an issue faced by all riders – I have a compact body position and pedalling stroke so it is a problem for me if the velcro lifts. While I cut the velcro to size, I am still experimenting with DIY alternatives – the slot of the Fly6 is quite accommodating I can thread through cable ties or other narrow things to fasten and will keep you up-to-date if you think you will face this issue as well.

 

Upgraditis

The upgrade of the Fly6 by Cycliq is a smart move and I think it is an incremental upgrade which allows Cycliq to rely on much of the existing technology while they secretly develop a new version with better video resolution and quality along with a better battery life in a more compact case. I am just guessing but enhanced video with 1080p resolution is the logical next step.

Cycliq have also announced that they are planning to list on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), behind the scenes it is through an acquisition of Cycliq which is connected to performance requirements. You can read more on the plans for the Cycliq ASX listing on Business News, the implication is a continuing technological drive which is good news for cycling tech nerds.

cycliq fly6 unboxing

Existing Fly6 however owners don’t need to upgrade to the new unit just yet, but for all other riders, the Fly6 is a must-have. I have ridden with a Fly6 for over two years and while I rarely review the footage, it feels better knowing that you are covered while cycling on the Australian roads with the Fly6 recording.

At $199 it is priced fairly and will make for an excellent Christmas present for the obsessed cyclist. Cycliq currently have a good Christmas deal on the Fly6 and are including a nice cycling jersey in the price when you order online. More on Cycliq >

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Under the hood of the Fly12 – Integrated Bike Light and Camera Review https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/10/fly12-integrated-bike-light-and-camera-review/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/10/fly12-integrated-bike-light-and-camera-review/#comments Mon, 24 Oct 2016 03:26:45 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=16228 The Fly12 is new, but not that new for me. As a beta-tester, I have already relied on this nifty bike light and camera combo from for over a year and it accompanies every time I ride my bike. During this time i’ve had the opportunity to see what what it can do well and […]]]>

The Fly12 is new, but not that new for me. As a beta-tester, I have already relied on this nifty bike light and camera combo from for over a year and it accompanies every time I ride my bike. During this time i’ve had the opportunity to see what what it can do well and where it needed to improve (which it has is many ways). But biggest plus has been able to rely on this cleverly integrated light and camera which takes away a lot of the hassles of your average sports action camera. The biggest strength of the Fly12 is ‘set and forget’.

Priced at $499, the Fly12 it sits in the premium price range, ahead of the Garmin Virb and and Shimano Sports Cameras which are the closets competitors in ‘bike specific’ cameras. On pricing it compares with the Garmin Virb XE or the GoPro Hero 5 sports action cameras but in many ways is a better video camera for your bike. The integrated light is a feature unique to the Fly12, it was designed to mount on the handlebars plus it integrates with the popular ride sharing app, Strava to overlay ride data onto your video footage.

In case you are wondering what Fly12 means, it’s sibling is the rear facing bike camera and light called the Fly6. Think of a fly on the wall and clock hands pointing at 6 O’Clock. Got it?

 

Unboxing and Setup

Let’s take a look at some of the details of the Fly12. Inside the nice packaging you get the Fly12 integrated camera and light unit along with a micro-USB charging cable, a mount for your handlebars, a tether and an SD card adapter. The camera is delivered with an 8 GB micro-SD card and as many computers have an SD card reader, the supplied adapter allows you to load the micro-SD on your computer.

cycliq fly12 review

fly12 unboxing

fly12 light camera charging

Before you start, the first thing you need to do is get a a bigger micro-SD card. Opt for a 32GB or better, a 64GB card. As a tip, keep an eye on the ‘card speed’ because the memory card needs to be fast enough for live video, the super-cheap cards are typically unsuitable because they are too slow. As the strength of the FLY12 is to loop the recording and rewrite over old video, the larger your card, the more video data can be stored. On my first ride with the Fly12 provided for review, I forgot to switch out memory cards and in horror discovered that the first part of my 100km ride was lost.

The Fly12 unit, along with the mount ,weighs 260 grams and is heavier than you may expect. Most of the weight from the internal battery but trade-off is the integrated, powerful bike light and a long recording time. I used the prototype camera during a long distance cycle tour capturing over 6 hours of video footage each day and Cycliq say it can go up to 10 hours. The recording duration of the camera is influenced by the light setting, if the light is on the high power steady mode, the total recording time will drop. In contrast, flashing light settings and load light modes will reduce the battery drain and increase recording time.

The unit is waterproof and rain is no issue (though it will affect the picture quality of the recording). The Fly12 is well built and feels robust and I particular like the rubber seals for the micro-SD slot and micro-USB port which improve upon the design of the early prototypes and simply work well.

 

Mounting the Fly12

The Fly12 Camera and Light unit comes with a handlebar mount and can be positioned either above or underneath the handlebars. The supplied mount works best on the larger 32mm diameter handlebars and for thinner bars, simple wrap some old tubing around it to fill space before mounting. I used the camera both on a road bike with the camera mounted under the bars and on my commuter with the camera mounted on-top. It is easy to remove the camera as the mounting screw can be fastened and undone by hand.

fly12 screw

fly12 handlebar mount

kedge go big pro mount

Mounting under the handlebars is a far nicer option however gear and brake cables can prevent this. My solution is to use a 3rd party K-Edge GoBig Pro mount which pushes the camera forward and provides enough clearance from the cables. The K-Edge mounts are however ridiculously expensive ($70) and the supplied screws are prone to wear so make sure you use the Fly12 screw. If you search for cheaper alternatives, avoid plastic mounts because the plastic flexes and impacts the video quality.

fly12 recording

When the camera is mounted on top of the bars, an LED light is visible and indicates that the camera is recording. Unfortunately there is no LED on the other side so if you mount the camera under the bars, you get no indication that the Fly12 is recording unless it is dark enough that you can see the light or you put your hand in-front of the camera to check that the light is on.

Once you have fastened the mount, it is super easy to get started. Give the camera a healthy charge using the USB cable (the light on the top turns green when fully charged), mount it and and you are ready to ride. Press and hold the power button to turn it on and you will hear some beeps. If you press the power button it changes the light mode, you have 3 light modes each with 3 levels of power. And that is all you really need to know for you daily use.

 

Unleashing more settings with the Cycliq Plus App

The Cycliq Plus app is available for Android and iOS and gives you access to lots of settings such as changing the video resolution, adjusting light settings, remote recording, setting the bike alarm and sharing video footage.

cycliq plus app

cycliq fly12 settings

I tested both the Android and the iOS app and on both systems and while the features of the app is good, actually getting a connection to the camera has proven difficult at times.

In brief, you can connect to the Fly12 via BLE – Low Energy Bluetooth and can adjust most of the settings. If you want to watch and export videos, then you connect to the camera over WiFi. The following videos provide more details on connecting and as well as how to connect with Strava and export videos with Strava data overlays.

 

Cycliq Fly12 on Video

 

 

400 Lumen Bike Lights

The integrated light is excellent and I have used it for riding in pitch black conditions through to daytime riding. For riding in dark conditions the beam pattern is balanced and it gives you enough light to identify potholes and obstacles. It strikes a nice balance between providing enough light but without making the entire unit too big and bulky. There are three main light modes (steady, flashing, pulse) and each are available in high, medium and low power. I prefer the pulse mode which has a steady light for half a second that then flashes twice.

 

Bike Alarm

This is a bonus feature which I accidentally set and tripped so ended up rushing to load the app and turn off the loud peeping sound coming from the camera. The alarm is a good idea for the coffee shop although it doesn’t replace a bike lock when you leave your bike unattended.

 

HD Video

Cycliq probably wont appreciate it if I say that cycling footage can get rather boring. When nothing exciting is happening, the novelty of watching your rides wears off fairly quickly. But that is why the ‘set and forget’ format of the Fly12 makes sense, just charge it regularly and when something does happen, you have access to the footage.

The Fly12 loops the recording and the camera takes care of the rest and incrementally overwrites old video. The video is recorded in 5 minute blocks (ca. 755mb) and a thumbnail version (ca. 42mb) is also stored which is used for video previews when using the Cycliq app. The MP4 format makes the video easy to access and view and you can get the footage by connecting over USB, by removing and accessing the micro-SD card (with the SD card adapter) or using the Cycliq Plus app to export and share video.

An incident mode (active by default) detects if the camera is on its side and then sets the camera to stop recording after 30 minutes to ensure footage surrounding the incident is retained. If you capture footage while riding that you want to save, you can press the wifi button which will save 5 minutes of video and prevent it from being overwritten. The idle mode (also active by default) lets the camera turns itself off when there is no movement for a while.

In terms of video quality, the Fly6 doesn’t have the finesse of the GoPro Hero 4 black but in my experience, it is comparable with the Garmin Virb XE and better than the regular Garmin Virb and Shimano Action Camera. Video quality on any camera will always be affected by the light and weather conditions, the better the light and clarity, the better the results. Bike mounted camera’s have to contend with vibration and I feel that the image stabilisation of the Fly12 is quite mature along with the ability to adapt to different light conditions.

Budding filmmakers expecting broadcast quality video may be disappointed but this is a bike camera better suited to the everyday rider who wants to capture each ride. If something amazing happens, or something bad, it is on video. The footage also contains the Cycliq logo and timestamp in the bottom right corner which is useful for documenting the exact time.

cycliq fly12 video

 

In a Nutshell

The Fly12 is not a cheap bike camera but it is coupled with a powerful light and is built specifically for cycling. Unlike many sports action camera’s, it works exceptionally well as a bike camera. In fact, it is the best bike camera for everyday riding and will take care of you whether you just want the convenience of a ‘set and forget’ bike camera or want more interaction to control the settings and share video.

For more details and ordering, visit cycliq.com

 

Competition – Fly12 Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Emma R. who captured my attention with her entry.

Things will look sweet
As I capture the street
With my Fly12
Lighting the way

Thank you to everyone who entered (I read every single entry in the comments and facebook). Thank you to Cycliq for kindly providing this prize.

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Bosch Performance Line – There are No More Hills https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/08/bosch-performance-line-there-are-no-more-hills/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/08/bosch-performance-line-there-are-no-more-hills/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2016 02:55:34 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=15942 The hill has a twenty percent grade. I can climb it with difficulty on my regular road bike and not at all on my fixie. I rode up the hill on a bike that weighed more than both of those bikes put together. I did it at double digit speeds, seated, wearing jeans, without breaking […]]]>

The hill has a twenty percent grade. I can climb it with difficulty on my regular road bike and not at all on my fixie. I rode up the hill on a bike that weighed more than both of those bikes put together. I did it at double digit speeds, seated, wearing jeans, without breaking a sweat, and I wasn’t even on the biggest sprocket. Was it training? No. Was it drugs? No. Was it the Bosch Performance Line motor? Maybe. OK, yes it was. I was turning the pedals, but it was the motor doing the heavy lifting, and it was wonderful.

The last time I rode a bike with a Bosch motor was the Gepida Alboin 1000 and it saw me waxing lyrical about the benefits of the mid-drive motor configuration on e-Bikes. In that review I rode with a Bosch Active Line motor delivering 250W of power (because that’s all you’re allowed in Australia) and 48 Nm of torque. For this review I rode with the bigger brother of that model, the Performance Line, which delivers the same 250W of power (curse you, regulations), but at up to 60 Nm of torque. That 25% increase makes a huge difference.

I’m confining this review to the Bosch motor itself, but that motor doesn’t work in isolation – it needs a bike to work with. The bike in this instance was a Riese and Muller Charger Mixte. I’m separating the reviews because (a) there are lots of bike models and brands that use the Bosch Performance Line motor and so it deserves its own review, and (b) the Riese and Muller Charger Mixte is a seriously sexy bike and also deserves its own review.

I won’t start this review with the technical details for the motor because you can find all of the information online. I’ll rather start by telling you about my kids. The biggest reason I chose to review this motor on a mixte was so my kids and wife could ride the bike as well. I didn’t manage to get my wife on it, but I did get my eldest two daughters riding the streets. Both of them have track racing experience and both of them, independently, said that riding with the Bosch motor was “like getting a push start”, referring to the handicap wheel races they’d competed in which begin with the rider being pushed for a few steps worth of initial acceleration. Of course, with the Bosch motor, rather than just an initial push it’s like having someone running beside you and pushing you, as long as you’re turning the pedals and travelling at less than 27 km/h.

That, in a nutshell, is the biggest and best reason for riding with the Bosch motor, regardless of what bike you buy it mounted on. It means teenage girls can keep up with their dad on the road, it means that non-cycling wives can ride with husbands (once they get over 30+ years of reluctance to ride), and it means that sons can probably ride with recently retired fathers with dodgy knees (stop being a wuss, Dad). Having a motor isn’t cheating, it’s an equaliser.

I suppose I should dedicate some of this review to talking about the details of the Bosch system, because a system is what it is. Bosch supply the motor, head unit, battery, connectors, and sensors – the bike manufacturers do the rest. Comparing the Performance Line system on the Riese and Muller to the Active Line on the Gepida is…well, there’s no obvious visual difference. “Huh”, I thought, “that’s rather disappointing”. I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe racing stripes or something, but the systems looked pretty much the same. Same head unit, same battery, same sort of motor.

bosch performance line

Bosch ebike battery

Bosch Controller

This is, of course, a good thing, once you get past the “new and improved” brainwashed consumer mindset. I could buy a Gepida Alboin with an Active Line or a Performance Line motor unit, or even a Performance CX (which has 75Nm of torque!). They all mount the same, so all bike manufacturers have to do is make a bike with the right mounting point and the customer can customise (which is one of the big selling points of the Riese and Muller line of bikes, which will be covered in that review).

The 400Wh battery I played with could be swapped out for a spare 300Wh battery or the longer lasting 500Wh battery – they’re the same form factor (which will probably continue into the future as batteries get better). The standard head unit can be replaced with another standard head unit, or with a more advanced head unit – they’re the same form factor.

Bosch ebike charge

Of course, there are differences in the models, but Bosch seem to be focussed on making sure your investment in their system pays you back in long use and reliability. They also seem focussed on making sensible improvements that aren’t just there for show – being able to run your lights off of the bike battery is one sensible improvement (it was always on the books, but needed changes in German law to make it happen), as is being able to charge your phone or Garmin or other device via a USB connection in the head unit. Your e-bike battery is now the centre of a your whole system.

supernova e3 ebike

On the practical side of things, if you’re going to be investing in a bike with this motor then you want to make sure that you won’t be left with a pile of scrap and wires before too long. Bosch have been making motors for well over a hundred years and have a solid reputation for reliability and innovation. I think the innovation aspect is evident in their whole e-bike system, but reliability is another matter.

The Bosch dealer and service centre I visited, Eurocycles, is obliged to have at least a three month supply of spare parts available at all times (they’ve got closer to a year’s worth on hand). Not that they seem to be using many of them since the Bosch motors appear to be extremely reliable from the reports I’ve read. There are thousands of these systems running everyday all over Europe and Eurocycles are selling fleets of e-bikes to resorts and tourist destinations, such as Bruny Island where these motors have seen seven day a week use for over a year without issue. A fleet of Gepida Asgards with Performance CX motors are on their way to Cape Tribulation for an eco-tourism operation to commence in the spring.

bosch wet controller

As promised, I didn’t go into a lot of technical or usage details in the review because, as noted, there isn’t much difference operation-wise between the Active Line and the Performance line motors, so head to the Gepida review and see what I wrote there. The torque difference between the two motors means you can go up hills faster, or with less effort from the rider, or up steeper hills. You can do all of this wearing regular street clothes and you won’t break a sweat. Actually, I recommend you take a jumper with you if it’s even a little cold because you won’t be increasing your body heat much. For the 20% hill I mentioned in the introduction, I wasn’t in the biggest rear sprocket and I wasn’t even on the highest motor power setting. Getting 13 km/h without hassle up that hill was a huge surprise for me.

Sometimes I think we’re living in a provincial backwater here in Australia, a third world country when it comes to e-bikes. In European countries between 20% and 50% of all new bike sales are e-bike sales. E-bikes are enabling technologies; they won’t replace cars but they can replace car trips, and the Bosch motors are the most efficient and reliable systems I’ve seen. Add more bike to your life by checking out e-bikes powered by the Bosch Active Line and Performance Line motors.

reise muller ebike

The Performance Line powered e-bike I rode for this review was supplied by Eurocycles and you will find the tech details about the motor at Bosch eBike Systems.

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Just What The Eye Doctor Ordered: Shamir Attitude Lenses with Transitions Signature Tint https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/08/shamir-attitude-lenses-with-transitions-signature-tint/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2016/08/shamir-attitude-lenses-with-transitions-signature-tint/#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2016 23:58:26 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=15876 There may be an elephant in the room, but you probably won’t see it without your prescription glasses. I’m sure you’ll agree that sports glasses are virtually mandatory for most forms of cycling. They’re needed to protect your eyes from a range of hazards, from wind irritation and dust to tree branches and angry magpies, and […]]]>

There may be an elephant in the room, but you probably won’t see it without your prescription glasses. I’m sure you’ll agree that sports glasses are virtually mandatory for most forms of cycling. They’re needed to protect your eyes from a range of hazards, from wind irritation and dust to tree branches and angry magpies, and of course the harsh predations of southern hemisphere UV radiation in the summer sun. Unfortunately, until relatively recently, those needing prescription lenses have felt they had little choice but to accept some substandard solutions. I’ve been riding with the Shamir Attitude III lenses with Transitions Signature tint for the past 6 weeks or so, and they are outstanding.

I was awoken to my need for prescription riding glasses with a thud at the 2011 edition of the Mont 24 mountain bike race. My first night lap resulted in 5 offs, three of which were down to mistaking the piles of dust swept to the outside of the corners by riders for solid berms. I’d also begun noticing that my riding buddies seemed to pick up on things a lot earlier than me; things that you’d generally like to avoid such as awkwardly placed trail obstacles and sticks on the trail that were actually red-bellied black snakes.

blurry vision cycling

The optometrist confirmed my suspicions, determined the prescription I needed and, after the initial short adaptation period, the difference in my riding was massive. Not only was I no longer constantly getting surprised, but I was riding faster with less effort thanks to seeing the trail more clearly, enabling me to plan lines earlier. So for me, it is either prescription complete lenses fitted into sports frames or don’t bother.

Because I’m always on my bike, the problem I now had was the early starts and late finishes for work, which often meant riding in the dark, not only in winter with short daylight hours but in the peak of summer to avoid the heat. This meant either going unprotected in the dark (when I really needed it) or carrying a second set of glasses.

prescription cycling sunglasses

While a number of sunglass manufacturers offer prescription lens mounts that sit between your eyes and their regular glasses, this setup has always struck me as hokey. Lens inserts don’t cover the full field of view, reducing the usefulness of your peripheral vision, and the edge of the lens and mount obstructs your view. Additionally, the sports glasses either sit out too far, offering little effective wind protection, or your eyelashes brush the optical lens. Irritating.

Shamir, an Israel based company that develops premium progressive lenses, stepped up with a solution to my problem at exactly the right time. After 5 years on my original set of prescription Oakley Flaks, it was well past time to update. Besides the wear on the lens surfaces, my eyes had also changed slightly in that period so a new script was needed. I was keen to see how much the lens technology had improved.

 

Eye Testing

Those who’ve been to the optometrist will know the process, but since I suffer from astigmatism (lengthening of the eye and cornea) a bit of extra effort from the optometrist at Blink Optical at Warringah Mall was needed to find the ideal specifications to deal with my full range of focal distances as I was ordering reading glasses at the same time.

Cyclist Profile
Adrian from Blink Optical at Warringah Mall gets the vitals  

prescription eye test

eye test transitions

eye test prescription

eye xray

I was able to select any dual lens sports frame (within budget) for the review and went with the Oakley Flak 2.0, as the original Flaks had been a good fit for my head and nose. This style lens offers more wind protection, which I’ve come to value since building up a road bike two years ago and beginning riding with an accomplished road group earlier this year.

selecting frames

For cycling my main needs are with distances of 5-6 metres or more, so I opted for a distance prescription for my riding glasses, rather than multi-focals, and non-polarised lenses. The latter choice was fortuitous – I’ve discovered since that polarised lenses do not play well with LCD bike computer screens. Shamir also offers sports multi-focals with focal distances that are an excellent fit for cycling, optimised to allow you to clearly see your bike computer, the foreground in front of your wheels, as well as far down the road and trail, all in one lens.

 

The Performance

So how have they been performing? It takes two weeks until the lenses and glasses are ready as the Optometrist sends away, so let’s fast-forward a few weeks and a few rides later.

For road cycling, they’re outstanding. I particularly appreciate having a distortion-free field of view for the full area of the wraparound lenses. This far exceeded my expectations, especially since the lenses had greater coverage than my previous pair. Spotting approaching vehicles and judging distances out of the corner of my eye has improved since I no longer need to look around the edge of the lens. The word that comes to mind to describe the absence of distortion across my full field of view with the Shamir Attitude III lenses is “sensational”.

The position of objects is not changed at all between glasses on and glasses off. This might seem like an obvious requirement but it’s particularly noticeable compared against my flat-pane reading glasses, which for some reason tilt horizontal edges a degree or two counter-clockwise.

Dark lens cycling

As a result, timing the lifting and placement of the mountain bike over trail obstacles remains intuitive with no adjustment needed, and when on the road I felt confident the map in my head of my surroundings was accurate.

I addition to the excellent optical quality, the Transitions Signature tint on the lenses has performed superbly during some very late night commutes home from the office during end-of-financial year. Transitions offers a much wider range of tint than my previous lenses; they can tint lenses grey, brown, and new graphite green, depending on your usage. This time I opted for the colour-neutral grey.

oakley prescription lenses

At night, clear mode has just the barest hint of grey, only really noticeable by comparing them to my untinted reading glasses. Apart from vision correction from the prescription lenses, there is no discernible difference in the amount of light entering the eye between glasses on and glasses off.  Daytime full tint mode is more than dark enough for a full glare summer day, and a significant improvement on my previous set of lenses.

transitions glasses comparison

While it can take a couple of minutes for the lenses to shift between full clear and full dark or vice-versa, I’ve found the speed of change within the middle 60% to be more than acceptable. I haven’t been able to get out on the trails as much as I would have liked of late, but so far I’ve found the rate of change is fast enough. The urge to take them off when entering dark shaded singletrack from bright sunlit fire trails has disappeared. The Transitions Signature tinting system is a noticeable improvement on my previous eyewear.

The Shamir Attitude III lenses are available as prescription replacements to fit nearly all sports frames, with the main exceptions being the “blade” style of sunglasses using a single sheet of cut polycarbonate to cover both eyes. They are fully compliant with Australian standards and block 100% of UV radiation.

Now all I need to do is get out on the bike more and lose that flab that I’ve packed on in the last couple of months thanks to too many hours in the office.

 

The Cost

The Oakley Flak 2.0 frames cost $235 and you also receive the original (non-prescription) lenses. The cost of the prescription lenses will differ from person to person and depend on your eyesight as well as the health fund and type of cover you have. You can visit your optometrist for an eye test and request quote. The cost of the eye test and Transition Signature lenses in this review cost $270.

 

Likes:
• Clear vision and lack of distortion across my full field of view
• Speed of response to changes in light levels
• Able to fit most dual-lens sports frames
• Consigns those hokey prescription lens adapters to the bin

Dislikes:
• None

You can find out more about the Transitions Signature lenses online or at your optometrist, there are 1,772 stockists in Australia.

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