One of My Favorite Cockpits

Brooks B-17 saddle, Nitto Dirt Drop stem, Nitto Moustache bars. In a word, comfy.

A Pair of New Saddle Bags

Our sponsors at Banjo Brothers and Minnehaha Bag Co. are bringing out a pair of new saddle bags for this coming spring. The Banjo Brothers bag is a large capacity roll-top saddle bag called the Waterproof Saddle Trunk that will retail for $44.99.

The Minnehaha Barrel Bag is a small tube-style saddle bag for carrying a patch kit, multi-tool, and other small items. Retail on this one will be $26.

The bags will be available through Banjo/Minnehaha dealers starting in April. We’ll have full reports on both bags before then.

Banjo Brothers
Minnehaha Bag Co.

Happy Clouds

We finally had a break in the perpetual fog and rain today and took advantage by going on our first joy ride in weeks. The intensity of the blue sky framed by the soaring, puffy white clouds was almost dizzying after so much gray-upon-gray. What a treat to be out in it on the bikes!

Bontrager Interchange Grocery Pannier Eco

The Trek Bontrager Interchange Grocery Pannier Eco is a heavy-duty, oversized grocery pannier made from 51% recycled materials. The materials used in its construction include recycled inner tubes, advertising banners, and seat belts. The bag is made for Bontrager by Alchemy Goods in Seattle, WA (the bag itself is made by Alchemy, the mounts are Bontrager’s “Interchange” pannier mounts). Alchemy doesn’t sell a pannier, so if you’ve been waiting for an Alchemy pannier, the Bontrager is it.

The Eco is a huge bag that easily swallows an overflowing grocery bag, or even a full-sized laptop backpack. Besides using the pannier for shopping, I also sometimes use it for carrying my Tamrac photographer’s backpack or my Crumpler commuter/laptop backpack. I really like the nylon interior; the slippery surface makes it easy to slide the backpacks in and out, and it’s a cinch to clean in the event of a grocery spill.

The top can be closed with the main zipper as seen in the photo at the top of the page, or if you have a smaller load, it can be folded down and cinched roll-top style. In roll-top mode, there’s clearance enough on the top of the rack for a rack trunk or a bundled up sweater or coat. There’s a fairly large zippered pocket on the front for holding a wallet, keys, papers, etc.

Bontrager’s Interchange hardware is excellent. The clamps run on sliding tracks which makes mounting on almost any rack a cinch. I was able to mount the bag on four different racks with no issues. The only downside is that if you move the pannier around from one bike to another on a regular basis, it’s a bit of a hassle to readjust the mounts each time. This isn’t going to be a problem for most people who will probably use the bag on the same bike most of the time.

This is the Interchange quick release. Simply lift up on the handle and the clamps release. Pressing down on the handle locks the clamps closed. It’s not at all necessary, but for extra security I wrap a velcro strap around the handle when I’m carrying a computer or camera kit in the pannier.

The overall construction of the Eco Grocery Pannier is excellent. The strap is indestructible, and the outer shell is waterproof, tough, and attractive. I’ve been a fan of Alchemy Goods for a while now and I’ve always wondered why they didn’t make a pannier. Now we finally have one and it has the added benefit of being outfitted with Bontrager’s excellent Interchange hardware. Highly recommended.

Features and Specifications

  • 51% recycled materials by weight, made from recycled Bontrager inner tubes and advertising banners
  • Installs and removes in seconds with Interchange hardware
  • Hidden carrying handles
  • Fits one paper grocery bag (not that you would use one)
  • Zippered pocket for wallet and extras
  • Zippered and roll-able top for variable conditions
  • PE sheets made from 100% recycled materials
  • Folds flat when not in use
  • Capacity – 1,950cu.in. (31,955cc)

Bontrager

Disclosure: Trek provided the pannier for this review.

A Bicycle For Our Minds

Hat tip to Elliott at Austin on Two Wheels for reminding us about this oldie-but-goodie. It seems only fitting to take another look with all the Apple talk going on lately.

Honking in Traffic: Choice or Necessity?

Honking in Traffic published an article yesterday about the “unseen” portion of the bike commuter population made up of people who commute by bike not by choice, but out of necessity. Here’s an excerpt:

I’m happy, and exceedingly lucky, to have the choice to ride my bike (er… choice of one of many bikes) for utility or for fun. (I’m even luckier to have a partner to ride a tandem with, who has by and large the same motivation as me, plus can speak Spanish…). There’s probably at least as many bicyclists who ride out of necessity, as out of choice. As our society looks at products to market, services and education to offer, and new transportation plans and policies, I hope that a major demographic of the bicyclist population doesn’t get lost on the side streets.

It’s an excellent article that’s well worth a read.

Honking in Traffic

Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Report

The Alliance for Biking and Walking’s Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report is now available online. The Alliance describes the report as “…an essential resource and tool for government officials, advocates, and those working to promote bicycling and walking.”

The following “main conclusions” are quoted from the Alliance site:

In these times of high gas prices, a warming climate, increasing traffic congestion, and expanding waistlines, increasing bicycling and walking are goals that are clearly in the public interest. As this report shows, where bicycling and walking levels are higher, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes levels are lower. Higher levels of bicycling and walking also coincide with increased bicycle and pedestrian safety and higher levels of physical activity. Increasing bicycling and walking can help solve many of the largest problems facing our nation. As this report indicates, many states and cities are making progress toward promoting safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians, but much more remains to be done.

This report has highlighted numerous measures to promote bicycling and walking. There is no silver bullet in regard to making communities more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, and a variety of measures are likely needed. But just as it took a large investment of public money into roads, signals, signs, and education for motorists, so too will it take an ongoing commitment of public investment in bicycling and walking to see major shifts toward these modes.

Read the Report


 
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