Finding a great present for a cyclist is hard to do. Beginner cyclist are somewhat easier to shop for, but their garage and tool bag quickly fill up with their new love of the sport. Seasoned bike riders are even harder to shop for. They seem to have 2 or 3 of the essentials, bikes included and at least 1 of the non-essentials. So how do you shop for someone that loves bicycling? Here is a great gift that likely any experienced cyclist wants, but typically won’t buy for themselves. Because a torque wrench is not a necessity it often get’s passed up by other more fun bike tools and toys. Also, bicyclist can get by with the “that feels about right” torque. I know because I’ve been doing it for years. It wasn’t until I had a real torque wrench that I realized how off my “feeling” was.
Torque wrenches are used to ensure that a bolt is tightened just enough to hold the part, but not so hard that you damage a carbon part or bike frame. Typical use are to tighten down headset caps, handle bar stems, seat post, pivot bearings. Here is a quick video to show you one in action.
The D-Torq wrench range from 1Nm to 20Nm. This will cover most of the parts on your bike. However, there are some high torque bolts that you may need the larger torque wrench for, these may include suspension bolts and larger bearings.
The wrench has a direction lever, however it should not be used as a regular wrench. To use you should hand tighten the bolt and only use the torque wrench to fine tune the tighness. There are some simple functions with the digital wrench to fine tune the torque spec. Also, there are adjustments to save the torque when the beep is reached. Another important point when using the wrench is to hold the handle in the middle to get an accurate reading. Once you have used the wrench a few times it becomes second nature. It runs off a single AAA battery that is included. So far mine has last me many months with average use. Using the menu button, you can cycle through Nm, In-lb, Ft-lb, and kg-cm. Most specs on my bikes are in Nm so I just leave my wrench in that setting most of the time, however in other countries you may see the need to change this more frequently. To set the max torque simply use the up arrow to increase the torque value. The wrench will go to sleep after no buttons are pressed for 2 minutes.
With a new wrench, the bits get stuck in pretty tight, but after repeated use they come in and out much easier. Overall it’s a pretty nice tool to have and easy to use. I prefer the digital readout and beep much more than the click and manual adjustments
Each year we hate hearing about the more and more bike that are being stolen. Every type of cyclist seems to suffer from the potential of a bike gone missing. From childrens bikes left in the front yard and commuter bikes in a down town setting to mountain bikes and dare I say eBikes on racks attached to vehicles. With professional bike thieves out there and tools just for beating bike locks, it’s not so much about if they can get through a lock, but how hard can you make it on them. There are more and more extremely durable locks coming out on the market that slow down these bike thieves, hopefully enough to detour them from stealing your precious bicycle.
One of our favorite locks that we use daily is the OnGuard 8000. We opted for the larger U lock because of the different lock applications. The Brute Series from OnGuard is their toughest locks with the highest security rating. These locks are heavy, but great for locking bikes up in a garage, or on a rack if you get creative. The OnGuard 8000 LS measures 4.5 inches wide and 10.2 inches long. Comes with 4 standard keys and 1 key with a light, which is nice, but I didn’t care for the added bulk of the key size. I suppose a nightly commuter could really benefit from this key, on the dark streets not fumbling around with feeling for the key hole. Some additional features of this lock are the added rubber bumpers around the U shape. It’s a little softer plastic that reduces the chatter against a bike frame.
We found ourself getting pretty creative trying to lock a road bike up to a Kuat rack. This defiantly isn’t secure, but it would have slowed down someone enough that we had time to run into a store to grab some food. These locks are pretty intimidating looking as well, which I would hope would scare off some of thiefs.
We used the lock primarily to lock the bike up in a garage, and don’t carry it around much. It was great piece of mind when the garage door is open knowing that someone isn’t going to walk away very easily with the bike from my garage.
The video below is another great review on YouTube that talks a bit more about the lock, and it’s features. It also talks about the benefits and downsides such as the cracked plastic casing.
The double rubber coatin gon the cross bar takes away some of the worry when constently rubbing up against a carbon frame. It’s soft and giving to the touch but hard enough to last for years.
The OnGuard U Lock comes with a mounting bracket, but this lock just seemed too heavy for it. For someone that casually rides a beach cruiser it might be a good option, but I like to have too much fun when I ride bikes, which usually involves jumping a few curbs. Don’t put too much faith in it, or look at some of the Chrome bike packs and clothing that are designed to hold a U lock against the body.
The design of the 8000 Brute U lock, and most other OnGuard U locks is that it has a “Quattro” bolt locking system. The lock engages on 4 sides of the U lock. This prevents a lot of the common attacks such as twisting with a crowbar, car jacks, etc.
You can see below the lock engaged on the left and right side of the hole.
Here is a better angle of how the lock engages on both sides of the U lock.
With the lock open the two locking pins retract back into the lock.
The OnGuard U locks are some of the best on the market. While it’s scary leaving thousands of dollars of bikes strapped to the back of an RV when heading to Moab, Utah. The use of a good lock provides some good piece of mind. OnGuard also offers an Anti-Theft program where you can cover your bicycle up to $5001 for a nominal fee. The keys also come with a code that you should keep in a safe spot. They can send you new keys if you have the code in the event you ever loose all 5 keys. Overall, one of the best U locks we have used, it’s easy to open and close, and offers some great piece of mind.
With hunting season in full effect, and temperatures dropping a good all around glove that can insulate and protect as well as articulate movement is a necessity. There are so many options for gloves, we have see it all, from mechanic gloves to ski gloves. It’s time to upgrade. A technical glove with moisture wicking properties, grip, durability as well as flexibility are all worth keeping in mind when looking for a more advanced glove to meet your needs.
KUIU from the basis of Sitka is a direct to consumer ultra-light apparel company. If you love Sitka clothing apparel and clothing, you are really going to like KUIU. The direct to consumer business model allows a superior products at a cheaper price, it’s simple math.
The Guide Glove from KUIU
We had the chance to reveiw the KUIU Guide glove for a couple months in temperatures from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, in damp and dry conditions. Bottom line was that this is a great all around glove for fall and late fall outdoor activities.
The KUIU Guide Glove has a tough soft shell that is much more comfortable that a simple shop glove, it’s also got an adjustable velcro strap and pull tab for getting them on and off easier when hands are sweaty.
The palm of the KUIU Glove is similar to many of the other gloves like the Tiburon, Ykon and Northstar glove. It’s very grippy and the grip dosen’t wear off quickly like we have seen with other gloves. The material is called Pittards, it’s a leather that prevents moisture and repels perspiration. It’s almost like a durable grippy suede feeling.
The outside of the glove is extremely flexible thanks to a material called Primeflex from TORAY. It’s soft, stretchy, resistant to alkaline and acid, abrasion resistant, an overall comfortable fit and movement.
The inside of the gloves are a soft fleece material. They work well at maintaining warmth when the glove is wet or damp. The outside is treated with DWR, which allows the hand to breath. The inside soft low profile innards make the glove compact enough to do many outdoor task without removing the glove.
On complaint we had about the glove is that we have smaller hands, and there is some larger stitching around the fingers. This created some bulk in the fingers because our fingers weren’t large enough to fill the hand print.
A KUIU Glove with 100% polyester shell made of Primeflex by Toray. Soft stretchy technical glove that works well it most hunting conditions. Even snow filled days will love the Guide glove. It fits high enough on the wrist to keep snow out while still allowing you to assemble a scope or bino without removing the glove. Retailing for $69.99 but typically you can find a sale, or discount through signing up for KUIU newsletter. Guaranteed to work better than the gloves you bought from your auto parts store.
There are literally hundreds of mini tools that can be used for a bike. You can get them anywhere from your grocery store to high end bike shops. They cost any where from $1.99 at Harbor Freight (with a coupon) to $99+ for some of the Lezyne Carbon Tools. We have owned a few too many mini tools in our life time. It always seems that they get traded around with friends. An new one appears in my truck from falling out of someones bag, then I loose one, and buy another only to find the lost one. I have enough now to keep one in everyone of my riding bags, as well in all my vehicles. These are a few of my favorites.
Topeak Mini 9 Mini Bike Tool (Retail $16.95)
The Topeak Mini 9 Bike tool has the perfect essentials and nothing more. It is super compact while still large enough to get leverage on those stubborn bolts.
Allen Wrenches 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 4 /5 / 6 / 8 mm
Extruded aluminum body
Size 6.6 x 3.1 x 2 cm / 2.6” x 1.2” x 0.8”
TORX® Wrench T 25
Weight 92 g / 3.24 oz
Topeak Mini 9 Pro Carbon Mini Bike Tool (Retail $44.95)
The Topeak Mini 9 in carbon ads tire lever ans sheds some weight. It’s really nice having an attached tire lever. They are always floating around in bags and falling out. Having an emergency one attached to a tool it highly recommended.
Allen Wrenches 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 mm
Air release button
Size 7.6 x 2.6 x 1.6 cm / 3” x 1” x 0.6”
WEIGHT 73 g / 2.57 oz
TORX® Wrench 25
Carbon fiber body
Parks Tool I-Beam Mini Bike Tool (Retail $16.95)
The Park Tool IB-2 has a unique I shape handle with a mix of hex and Torx wrenches. It’s a great all around durable tool for the necessities.
1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex wrenches
T25 Torx® compatible driver
Flat blade screwdriver
Dimensions: 75mm x 40mm x 18mm (2.87″ x 1.57″ x 0.71″)
Weight: 108g (3.8 ounces)
Crank Brothers Multi Bicycle Tool M10 (Retail $19.99)
For style points the Crank Brothers M10 come in a few different colors. It features the necessities that the above offer as well as a phillips #2 head. It weighs a little more, but it pretty bullet proof.
Hex wrenches: #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
Screwdrivers: phillips #2, flat #2
Length: 89mm, Weight: 124 grams
Crank Brothers Multi Bicycle Tool F10 (Retail $29.99)
A step of from the M10 is the F10 from Crank Brothers. It’s a little more compact, and more attention to detail which is why it cost almost twice as much. It also includes a spoke wrench that is missing from most compact tools.
Hex wrenches: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8,
Screwdrivers: Phillips #2, flathead #1,
Spoke wrenches: 0, 1, 2, 3
Lezyne RAP-6 Mini Bike Tool (Retail $14.99)
The Lezyne RAP-6 is 7075 aluminium, black anodized side plates with forged and drawn chrome vanadium tool bits. It offers less tools that some of the others in a similar size, but still gets the basics done.
• Centre-pivot, wrapped bit design
• 3, 4, 5, 6mm Allen, Torx T25, and Philips bits
• Weight – 74g
• Size – 18mm x 27mm x 78mm
Lezyne Blox 23 Mini Bike Tool (Retail $34.99)
The Lezyne BLOX is steping almosts outside of the mini tool, featuing 23 tools, and weighing a lot more than other mini tools. However, for the size, weight, and cost if you are looking for just a little bit more, the Lezyne BLOX is a great upgrade for a little more out of a tool.
Open-end 10mm, 8mm T25, T30
Phillips & flat heads
Hex 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 mm
l-allen 2, 2.5, 3 mm
A good multi-tool should give you just what you need for trail/street side repairs or in the workshop. A good well made multi-tool should not flex, and have tightly machined edges to ensure your not rounding out bolts.
A multi-tool for bicycles should be with you on each ride, a small one like the tools listed above make it easier than ever to do that. Also, it’s worth reviewing your bike and making sure the tools provided match the components on your bike.
Features to look for in a bicycle multi-tool:
Durability: The tools should be strong, there are many very cheap, plastic handled tools out there that will only let you down when you need them most. Spend a few extra dollars and get a tool that will work and last.
Versatile: We find our self using multi-tools to adjust seats, brakes, handle bars. There is also the occasional peddle fix, or something else that needs repaired just to limp back to the car. A good multi-tool should help you accomplish any of this.
Be Practical: Don’t buy the biggest multi-tool out there if most of the tools are never going to be used. It will only get in the way, and weigh you down. Find a good mix that will meet the majority of your bikes needs.
You can always search on GearChase.com for deals on hundreds of multi-tools just click below
Electric snowboard goggles, sunglasses and lifestyle brand is a brand we grew up with fixated on snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding. Started back in 2000, there have been many chapters that have lead to Electric’s current offering. Now associated with music, motorcycles, and not caring, Electric is a brand that resonates with a broad audience of people.
We have owned many Electric sunglasses and snowboard goggles over the past decade. From skinny sunglasses in the nineties, and over sized glasses and goggles to now. Electric has always been on the front of innovative new styles, while maintaining and putting their own spin on modern classics. One of our favorites are The Knoxville.
We took a close look at the Knoxville XL S. Having a slightly larger face and head, we felt that the XL would fit our face better. They have a slightly larger lens size (just a few millimeters) and the Sport upgrades. We planed to wear the sunglasses while biking, and playing outdoors, so the added protection and rubber pieces on the glasses made sense.
The details of the Knoxville XL S are the rubber ear pieces that are very flexible and keep the glasses on your face. In combination with the rubber nose pieces that keep them from sliding down your face when sweaty.
Featuring an OHM Plasma Chrome lens (Optical Health Through Melanin). Melanin infused lenses that block harmful UV & HEV blue light. This allows your eye to relax while providing stunning crisp, clear, vivid , haze free viewing.
The OHM Polar Blue lens
The Knoxville glasses come in a wide variety of lens options that alter the price of the glasses. The polarized blue lenses were our first choice. They provide a vivid pop of color and clarity while not blocking out too much sun but enough to relax your eyes on a bright day.
Why choose polarized lens? Light reflecting off snow and water can create glare and reflection. Without polarized lens, the light is not exiting the lens in the same direction, fatigue and headaches can happen. Polarized lens reduce the glare. You can see into the water, and across the snow. Electric uses an injection process rather than a cheap laminated layer.
The subtle branding on the hinge looks great, not too big and not to small. The hinges on the Knoxville XL S are beefed up a bit, without looking overbearing.
The XL version of the Knoxville measure 51mm tall, 147mm wide, and 158mm long. This is in contrast to the Knoxville S that measure 49mm tall, 139mm wide, and 159mm long. For a slightly larger look on the face, or for a little added protection the XL make a nice option. Having a fairly large head, we prefer the XL S. But you may choose the smaller Knoxville S for a smaller face. They are a fairly flat sunglass. There is room on the sides for air and breathability. Never had a problem with them fogging when biking or running.
What is the Sports Upgrade?
Electric optics S-Line take the standard sunglasses models and add a few performance pieces to help them work better in active lifestyles. The main points are a plasticam hinge that is more durable yet reduces weight of a standard hinge. Rubber nose grips are added, yet still conscious that prevent the sunglasses from sliding down during sweating and rigors activities. Also, grips are added to the temple of the sunglasses for assistance in keeping them glued to your head. Overall, the S line has been constructed with a stronger and reinforced areas that might be more vulnerable to failure. The frame and temple ear pieces are flexible and light weight for long wear comfort. The S Line also features the OHM Lens for clarity, UV protection, and beautiful stunning optics.
Cleaning the glasses should only be done with mile soap and water. We usually wet the glasses first to let the mud and dirt soften up. Then rinse off by hand, and use the micro fiber cloth to dry. The glasses should be stored in the provided bag, to reduce the chance of scratching them.
The Electric Knoxville is one of our favorite all around glasses offered by Electric. The stylish design as well as the many different option, frame colors, lens, make it a great all around option for anything from cycling and boating to every day drivers. They are offered in a number of price points depending on the colors but typically around $120 to $220 USD. You can view the entire Electric Sunglasses lineup here
I have been using the Rokform Rugged case on my Samsung Galaxy S8+ for the last couple months and wanted to share my thoughts an opinion on the rugged case that caters to the outdoor enthusiast and everyday users.
The case is made of a hard plastic (polycarbonate) similar to other hard cases on the market for drop protection. The edges are beefed up a bit more and raised to give the case more drop protection, but the sides remain minimal for a thin feel when the case is in hand. The cut outs work well for all the headphone, and charging cables we used with the phone. Speaker works great through the cutout as well as the microphone.
The buttons for power, volume up/down, and biskby all work well and maintain the “clickly” feeling after they are broken in a bit. When the case was new, it was a little harder to know if you had actually clicked the button underneath. But after a month of used, they have softened up a bit and feel much better. Also the raised markings make it nice when feeling for the case buttons to know what direction it is in hand, and what button is being pressed.
You can see the magnetic backing on the phone, more on this later. Also worth noting is the enlarged corners that keep the phone off the screen when placed screen down. This is a nice feature even with the new beveled edge of the Galaxy S phones.
The case has an opening for the camera, flash, fingerprint reader. It’s open enough to work well when reading fingerprints, as well as using the heart rate monitor. You can also see the cutout for the bicycle and other attachable mounts.
The two small incisions are for threading a lanyard to the phone case when it’s attached to a bike mount. It’s works well for what it’s for, but a little annoying to have to add and remove the lanyard all the time. More on this below.
Rokform Case Magnet
The standout for the Rokform is definatly the magnet. It sets their case apart from the huge competition out there. A super strong magnet can be added or removed from the inside of the case. It’s used to attach to a few different mounts like the vent mount in a car.
The magnet is removable if not wanted. There are many times when I find my pocket has picked up paperclips or it’s being sucked to my car door when in my pocket. I’ve actually found myself using this all the time around the garage. When working on bikes or cars I’ll attach my phone to a metal cabinet to keep it visible or accessible.
Rokform Car Vent Mount
The vent mount has to be one of our favorites. It’s got a duck beak that clips on most vents. Obviously the downside is warm days it blocks the cold air. This means you either move it to a vent less used, but may be less visibility. However, for cooler days when your not running air out of the vent it’s a great option.
The mount always come out when you remove the phone, and it’s a bit of a bugger to get clipped back into the vent some times, but still our favorite mount. The mount is high quality metal, and rubber coated that keeps it from slipping around in the vent.
Rokform Bike Mount
We had mixed feelings about the bike mount. There is a low profile minimalist mount that didn’t work with our medium rise stem. Additionally, it requires you to drop your bars enough to stack it on top. I anticipate the mount would work on a large number of bikes, so just be sure you check to know it will work with your bike first.
The alternate was an adjustable mount. These things are built high quality and really adjustable. It mounts directly to your stem cap, and allows for adjustable angles.
Having used many bike computers and phone mounts, I really loved the adjustable and quality of the mount. The downside I had with it is that it’s only about 1/8 turn to attach the phone. However, the magnet adds some reassurance, as well as being able to add a lanyard to the case to ensure you won’t be dumping your phone on the ground when you hit the first set of cobblestone.
The lanyard offers piece of mind, but is annoying to always be taking off and on when riding the bike.
Once mounted, the phone case works great and is easily adjustable to get the right angle.
You can see in the photo above that, it only takes a slight turn to remove the phone. I wish this was a quarter turn, I would feel a lot more comfortable on rugged rides that my phone is going to stay with me. The magnet does help provide some additional security.
The lanyard attaches to the back of the phone for keeping the phone case with you. However, it’s a little annoying adding and removing it when unneeded. We do like the added security and comfort of having it.
From first site of the Brush Hero, I knew I had to do a review on it. As a avid biker and car washer, it looked really promising to cut down on the time I was spending detailing bikes and cars.
If you are new to the Brush Hero, it’s a magic wand that attaches to the end of a garden hose. The water pressure drives some internal gears and makes the Brush spin. The brush tips are replaceable, and come in a variety of stiffness. There is a trigger lever that controlled the amount of water and direction the brush spins. It’s pretty simple, and can be disassembled pretty easy, except for the gear box. There are also some accessories to extend the functionality of the Brush, like soap reservoir and extender. But the basics get you the majority of the benefit.
When you first attach the brush to the hose and turn it on it sounds like grinding plastic, and you’ll think it’s rotating too slowly. The sound is normal, and the rotational speed is accurate. When I started scrubbing the bike I liked how much water was being used to displace the dirt and grime. I also liked how the brush head was a good size for getting into 90% of the areas on my Pivot Firebird. The bike has a lot of linkage, so it’s nice to be able to get in there and let the spinning brush do the work.
With the Hero Brush, I found myself spending longer washing my bikes. But this was because I was really detailing them, instead of just removing the bulk of mud or dirt that I might have been doing before. I started paying attention to each bearing in the linkage, and really cleaning out every inset.
I liked how simple the concept was, and really how well it cleaned. Sure I could have used one of my many other brushes, but the Hero Brush replaced a lot of them.
Months of use
After months of use, still no issues with the Hero Brush. I am more impressed with the tourqe of the Brush. It hasn’t ever given up on me, and just keeps spinning. I find myself using it for more and more applications around the house than just bikes and car wheels.
The brush head has gotten pretty dirty, and it’s probably time for a replacement. Once grease get on the bristles, it’s hard to get off, so careful cleaning your chains with it. Below is a video review I did.
For the price, it really can’t be beat. It cleans much better that standard car or bike washing brushes. It gets into hard to reach places with ease, like bike hubs and complex linkages. It does a great job on cleaning car and truck wheels. However, in very small details, it still had a problem removing the grime. It’s a little slower to clean a bike or car, but it does a lot better job than a manual brush.
You can view all of the products and accessories at brushhero.com
There is not much to complain about when it comes to a Hydro Flask bottles. The vacuum sealed bottle keeps the elements out while keeping the beverages consistent. Recently Hydro Flask released a new 10 oz tumbler cup slightly different from their 10 oz Rocks cup. The new tumbler resembles a classic wine glass tumbler. The new wine tumbler takes a standard Hydro Flask bottle and blings it up with a silicone base, and a stainless steel lid.
The new 25 oz Hydro Flask Vacuum Wine Bottle
This is the new premium wine bottle from Hydro Flask. It features a stainless steel screw on lid. The bottom of the bottle is also covered with a rubber padding. It’ reduces the clank of setting the stainless steel bottle on your granite countertop, or granite rock.
The 25 oz bottle will hold a standard bottle of wine, and is designed to pour without dribbles. Also, the bottle is guaranteed to be leak free. We found it also a great size for daily use water bottle, not too big and not to small. Also the narrow mouth makes drinking directly from the bottle more pleasant. You can also use a standard narrow lid in the bottle. Works great with hot or cold beverages.
The new 10 oz Hydro Flask Vacuum Tumbler
The new Hydro Flask Wine Tumbler is a hand full of greatness. The weight and balance of the cup in your hand is comfortable. Pair it with the insulated lid, and it maintains temperatures for hours. While the shape may not be ideal for camping, it’s great for backyard barbecues and front porch lounging.
The cup is vacuum sealed just like Hydro Flask bottles. The thermal lid helps to maintain the beverage for hours. The lid press fits into the top while the bottom is beveled to rest comfortably in a normal sized hand. Additionally, like the other Hydro Flask products the tumbler is made of 18/8 stainless steel for great tasting flavors.
They are best bought in pairs and for sharing. It is a bit of a premium cup but it will impress your friends and start a conversation with new ones.
All Hydro Flask products come with a lifetime warranty. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to throw it in the freezer, it can still expand and damage the vacuum.
The newly designed Freerider Pro mountain bike shoe built upon the popular Five Ten Freerider with an upgraded look and a few feature changes. Few shoes are as popular or as seen on the trail as the Five Ten Freeriders, and now we have even more options! The Pro’s come in a new handful of colors like Night Navy, EQT Blue, Light Granite, Black/Red and will cost you around $150 USD retail, if you can’t find a deal on them with GearChase.com
My current go to mountain biking shoe for flat peddles is the Five Ten Freerider Contact. It’s a great all around shoe that offers some protection with a semi-solid platform for peddling efficiency and a great looking package. The new look of the Five Ten Freerider Pro had me questioning if I had found my new replacement for the Contact. I will try to compare the Five Ten Freerider Pro with the Freerider Contact, because I feel that there are a lot of people that would be interested to know the difference between the two, and also like to see a comparison between the Freerider Pro and the Freerider Contact.
The uppers are constructed of a synthetic material that is light weight and holds up pretty well. You can see in the some of the images below after we work the shoe for a few months and had about 150 miles on it we wiped off the dust and you can see some creasing in the toe, but overall the synthetic is pretty resilient. There was also a little wear around the collar, we often loosed them tight and slip them on and off, I’m sure this is where that wear came from. The uppers are also treated with a weather resistant coating. If you get splashed, they are not going to soak it up like a sponge. However, like most mountain bike shoes, if you get caught in a downpour, there isn’t a hope for them.
Added from the Freerider is a compression-molded EVA midsole. It’s much more supple than the Freerider or the Contact, and felt to break in a little faster. For someone that rides clipless, you may feel that the overall sole stiffness is too soft. It is fairly flexible, and will make some riders happy, but leave others asking for a more solid platform. For someone coming from a non-mountain bike shoe these would be the perfect upgrade.
The Freerider Pro is built solid carrying over the stitched toe from the original, but moving back the mid-sole is glued instead of fully stitched. The shoe has a lighter feel than the more downhill or gravity shoes like the XVI and Hellcat, and should appeal to trail/all-mountain/enduro crowd.
The insole for the Five Ten Freerider Pro is a removable Ortholite. It’s not the highest quality insert, but Ortholite makes a decent product. You can see from the photo it’s simple molded insole the quickly breaks in within a few rides.
Front to Back
The toe and heel of the shoe have a protective coating over them. It’s almost like a thin rhino pinning they spray in truck beds. This provides a little added abrasion resistance with out the bulk of wrapping the rubber all the way over the toe or up the heel, also keeping the shoe weight down. The toe box has the classic Five Ten feel to it. I’ve always felt like it was a little too roomy for me, but maybe I have small toes? The toe box is also ventilated with holes in the top, this won’t resolve the sweaty feet you might be use to but it helps. In comparison to the Freerider Contact that has a woven top they both seem to breath about the same. One dislike on the Contact is the rubber on the sides seems to store moisture. After long hot days, we can see moisture trapped in the side of the shoe. The Freerider Pro overall seems to breath a little better. The thin tongue and ventilation holes help with that.
The shoe dries out fairly quickly. The collar of the shoe is the most absorbent, but because it’s easy to get air flow around the collar, it dries pretty quick. The tongue likes to soak up water but drys really quickly. Also, loosening up the laces and allowing some air over the shoe they quickly dry out overnight in the right settings. The outters are treated with a waterproof coating and unless your walking through rivers or caught is a near monsune, your not likely to feel your feet getting wet.
Foot to Peddle
I like to ride a long sharp pin peddle, currently on the Specialized Bennies. With the Freerider Pro, there are no micro adjustments once the foot is on the peddle. Velcro would be the best description, you almost have to peel your foot off the peddle to make adjustments. Then set it back down to become one again. I was excited to see that Five Ten went with a little tougher rubber with the Stealth S1. The Contact uses the less durable but even more sticky Stealth MI6 rubber, and after a year of riding, you can see pin patterns on the bottom of the shoe. I don’t have a year on the Freerider Pro shoes, but I’m hopping they last a little longer. Also worth pointing out is that the Contact has a full flat rubber under the ball of the foot, while the Freerider Pro has a dotted pattern. There is a very slight difference as you may notice it’s a little easier to make adjustments and peel your foot off the pedal. Depending on the pedals you are running, some pins may not attach to the rubber as securely as they do with the Contacts.
Pedaling in the Freerider Pro is nice, the stiffness of the sole and the adhesion to the peddle create an almost clipplest peddle feel. A side from pulling on an upstroke you might think you were riding a clipless version of a Five Ten shoe. I think this is why you still see a few DH racers still opting for running flats on race day.
We rode size 10.5 US and they weigh 377 grams, or 12.34 oz.
These shoes are not built for protection like the Five Ten Impacts are, they are low cut, and leave the ankle fully exposed. They do have a slight addition to the toe and heel to help with wear and offer a little protection. The sole of the shoe is pretty tough. Overshooting a landing or taking some drops to flats are dampened by the stiffer sole and rubber.
The shoe fits true to size, we normally wear a 10.5 US, and wear the same size in Five Ten Mountain Bike shoes. You may notice the larger toe box, but going down a half size made the shoe too small for us.
Overall, I’ve been very happy with the Freerider Pro, I’m excited to get more time on them this year. They are a great looking shoe, and a nice visual upgrade from the Freerider. I think the original Freerider might hold up longer in durability, but I prefer the looks of the Pro. They would be a huge step up from riding in your Vans or Nike shoes. You really notice the difference the second you put on a “True” mountain bike shoe. The Freerider Pro would be one of my top recommendations to a friend.
I am going to take a little different approach on this article on the AbsoluteBlack oval chainrings. There are hundreds of articles and videos online that talk about the gains of an oval chainring. They make claims or arguments about how the peddling efficiency in +/- or that Wattage is improved. There are scientific explanations behind the design of oval chainrings. Enough information out there to make anyone question if an oval chainring is worth the cost of replacing an existing chainring. I’ve heard on the trail people swear by them and others accuse them of not adding any value for the investment.
I wanted to try an oval chainring for the one main purpose, to smooth out my pedals stroke. I’ve been suffering from all sorts of knee pain coming from many different locations around my left knee. This usually occurred when really mashing or pedaling hard on the pedals. After an MRI I was diagnosed with IT Band syndrome and patella tracking problems. These diagnoses usually point to outer knee pain along with front knee cap pain. However I was getting pain in all sorts of places. After seeing cycling specialist Massimo Testa it was decided the best thing I could do was to increase my cadence and focus on keeping my pedaling smooth.
An oval chainring from AbsoluteBlack was going to be my savior. I installed the chainring on my Pivot Firebird. It’s a direct mount with 3mm offset on the chainring to compensate for the boost spacing. I’m also running the SRAM eagle 1×12.
After the chainring was installed, I went for a quick peddal up the street, and initially was bouncing all over the place. I felt the difference especially in a higher cadence. It took just a couple minutes of pedaling around on the street to adjust to the different feeling. While my initial introduction to an oval chainring was pretty dramatic, after my first ride on dirt, I’d almost forgotten that I’d installed it and peddled as usual.
I started paying more attention to steady climbs and quick burst that would leave me in tears in the past. They did feel smoother, it almost felt like I’d dropped a tooth off the size, climbs were not as harsh as they were before. This is when I began to be sold on the idea of an oval chainring. The grinding and mashing all the sudden didn’t seem so harsh on my legs and knees. It also felt like it took the tension out of the chain on the bigger climbs.
The AbsoluteBlack chainring uses a narrow wide tooth profile, so far I have yet to drop a chain with the system, and I am riding a 170mm bike who likes to get rowdy! However, AbsoluteBlack does offer a few chain guides that offer a little insurance if you were racing, I would defiantly add one. The weight is nominal and devastation of dropping a chain during a race just isn’t worth it.
As I mentioned above I’m running SRAM Eagle on my current bike. With all the design work and adjustments that went into making the 1X12 cassette and chain work together I was a little worried there may be some issues. I’ve found that the AbsoluteBlack chainring performed pretty much the same as the SRAM X-SYNC chainring. Once I had about a hundred miles on the chainring I noticed it gets a little noisy if you ride it dirty. Cleaning the drive train keeps everything nice and quiet.
For about the same cost of a replacement good quality chainring the AbsoluteBlack oval chainring would be highly recommended as a replacement, or as a second chainring if you are looking to go up/down tooth size on to adjust you’re riding style/location. For someone that just bought a brand new bike, it might be a hard sell to go spend the additional money just to try a new chainring. If you need a larger or smaller chainring defiantly go for it. Do what you can to try a friends bike that has an oval chainring already installed. The difference might not be as dramatic as you might think, but it’s undeniably there.
I was really hoping that the oval chainring would smooth out the pedal stroke and help the knee pain I’ve been experiencing. I feel like it did exactly what I was hoping for. While it may not be as striking of an experience as you may expect or think. I really wanted to offer a subjective realistic point of view that other articles about oval chainrings often overlook. Most people I talk to who ride them love them. I know on my next bike, it will be the first upgrade I make, but it might wait until I need to replace a a worn chainring, or going up or down a size.
STIO is having the biggest sale of the year! Check out a screen shot from their website. Look at those discounts. They have up to 70% off Men’s Women’s and Kid clothing. Also, check out their gear sections! Don’t want to miss this sale!
Biolite has recently released a new version of the world famous Biolite stove. It can cook your food, boil your water, charge your phone and other electronics all from a little portable camp stove you can carry around with you in a backpack and fuel with things you can find laying around your yard. The upgrades to the CampStove 2 defiantly made it a more useful tool in the outdoors for relying on cooking and power.
One of our favorite upgrades to the CampStove 2 was the LED indicator lights
Construction of the CampStove
The new BioLite 2 Stove is constructed very similar to the original. It has a metal container with a heat shield around the outside to calm down the inferno that ignites inside. The lighted legs of the stove fold up under the stove for compact storage. The fan port and heat sink port remain in about the same location. While the previous version of the power unit will loosely fit in the new metal stove, the new unit will not fit in the old because of the larger heat port.
The power unit was a huge upgraded, with indicator lights, a battery, double sized heat sync. All without adding too much weight, and still remains an viable option for a backpacking stove. The built in fan is more powerful that the previous version and makes it a lot easier to start the fire. There was not a significant weight increase of for the added features.
Overall the build quality is very durable while keeping the weight down making it still a viable option for backpacking.
The power unit is noticeably larger, but packed with many more features.
New lights on the front of the unit indicate how much power the fire is giving off, fan speed, and battery charge.
To produce double the charging power, Biolite basically doubled the size of the heat sync.
Not much noticeable difference between the original CampStove (Right) vs. the new stove on the left side other than the removed cross links on the legs.
Not much changed other than a larger hole for the heat sync and the position of the fan port changed slightly.
Biolite CampStove 1 vs 2 Weight
Weight of the CampStove 1 and 2 are always a great discussion. Some argue that because you are not caring fuel the the increased weight of the BioLite CampStove over a smaller lighter weight stove are nullable. I suppose it is a personal preference or may depend on the location and availability of fuel. For the first version of the CampStove, we usually would opt for a traditional camping stove like a JetBoil or MSR stove. However, with the updates to the CampStove 2 we find it in out pack most often.
The original Biolite CampStove Power Unit weighs 415 grams
The new BioLite CampStove 2 power unit weighs 462 grams, just slightly more than the CampStove 1, not bad for a large battery, LED lights, and more powerful fan.
BioLite managed to shave a little weight off the fire bucket. 21 grams lighter than the previous version, weighing just 500 grams.
Biolite CampStove 1 container weighs 521 grams
The total weight of the CampStove 2 is 962 grams, just 24 grams more than the CampStove 1.
The original CampStove 1 weighs 936 grams
Biolite CampStove 1 vs 2 Power Output
The first version of the CampStove was really unusable as a charger. We always though of it as in the case of an extreme emergency we could use it to possibly charge your phone enough to make an emergency call. The updates to the CampStove 2 have changed our frame of thinking. Now we may leave our solar panel back if we know we will be using the stove. The build in battery made a huge change to the stove as well. I never liked having my phone tethered to anything on fire. With the CampStove 2, you can just go about your cooking and slowly charge the on board battery, then charge your phone from that later.
With the battery and larger heat probe it was pretty easy to get to 1A output
The stove will put out power at a lower heat output, however for a full 1 amp charge you really need to stoke the fire. BioLite advertises that you can get up to 3 A output from the stove. During our testing burning twigs and branches from around the yard, we never got much more than 1 A output using the Ampeg android app. I find it hard to believe one could get 3 A output even under perfect conditions with this type of fuel.
Keeping the CampStove 2 output at 1A for very long was a chore of contently adding fuel to the fire
It needs to be pointed out that while it’s really cool that you can charge your phone from fire, it requires a lot of fuel to keep it charging at a realistic rate. We stuffed full the fuel container and let it burn, we got 1A output for about 5 min. or so before we had to add additional fuel. If you were truly trying to charge a phone from 5% to 100% it would take a lot of fuel. But for bumping up a charge while you are boiling some water it makes a really easy way of doing this.
Even with the fire raging, the fire LED indicating full output, it was still up and down charging. Here we were only measuring about .25A output
Just because the fire was burning didn’t mean you were getting full power output. The new Fire output indicator is really helpful when compared to the previous version.
You can see that just because the flame looks full, the fire LED shows it’s only outputting about half power. This was one of the best additions to the stove. There was a lot of guessing going on with the CampStove 1. Now you can monitor when you need to add fuel more carefully.
As we mentioned in our first review of the CampStove 1, charging a phone was always an issue. Here we had a strong fire going but still couldn’t create a positive power input
A huge improvement for a charging over the previous CampStove. As you can see we have a hot fire going and still are not charging the phone with the CampStove 1.
We couldn’t even generate enough power to get the light to turn on
These stoves are really cool to watch when the fan is going, the amount of burn power is incredible
Just because the BioLite CampStove is marketed as “smoke free” doesn’t mean they never smoke, just keep the flame going to avoid this problem
The CampStove 1 internal temperature averaged around 700 degrees Fahrenheit after a hot burn
The CampStove 1 outside temperature averaged around 150 degrees Fahrenheit after a hot burn
The CampStove 2 seemed to burn a bit hotter, I think due to the fan improvements
The outside also seemed to stay cooler, we tested this a few times and always seemed to be cooler than the CampStove 1
It was easy to get a positive charge from the stove
Charging the onboard battery and phone at the same time
Love the LED indicator lights
Biolite Campstove 2 Accessories
The new Campstove 2 comes with a USB light which is great for checking water or food at night. There is now on or off button, just plug it in and it turns on if the stove is generating enough output. The goose neck it not super helpful because it’s just tall enough to reach the top of the grill, and not tall enough to see inside the kettle.
The kettle and grill from the previous version work well with the new CampStove. In fact the new CampStove boils water a little quicker according to our test than the previous version.
If you own the CampStove 1 and have been frustrated with the charging capabilities then the BioLite 2 is a huge improvement over the previous. If you have been thinking about buying the CampStove now is the time. The included light is a nice to have, but don’t place too much value in it. The biggest benefit is having a stove that can boil water is just a few minutes from things found just about anywhere. It’s more expensive that some smaller lighter stoves. However, it can charge your phone or USB devices. You also don’t have to buy additional fuel cells, you can justify the additional cost by not having to buy fuel.
It takes up a lot more room in a pack than a traditional stove. If you are packing the kettle (which the stove fits inside of) it takes up a lot more room. Overall, I feel like the features and benefits out weight the downsides of the stove and would not hesitate to recommend the stove to someone as their only stove.
The Topeak Nano TorqBar review starts with us installing some new bottle cages onto a carbon road bike frame. Frustration sets in that we don’t know what to torque the bolts to for a water bottle cage. Unlike stems and seat collars that often have inscribed indications of what the torque spec should be the bolt cages were lacking. A quick google search led us to a guesstimate of about 2 or 3Nm. Again frustration sets in, the Nano TorqBar only came with 4,5 & 6Nm preset tokens. OK, so where do we start now?
We move up to the stem as we were just replacing a 100mm with a shorter 90mm after a bike fit we had done last week recommended some of the knee pain I have been fighting is likely caused by the far reach putting my knee over my toe. The Ritchey stem had torque specks stamped on it. It stated 5Nm max, so to start out we put on the 4Nm token. It’s very important to mention that you should not have the torque head on for common removal and install of bolts. It should only be used as the final step for checking the torque as it can become uncalibrated if used to remove bolts. And while more expensive larger torque wrenches are able to be calibrated, these tokens are not.
We used the allen key to lightly tighten down the stem. Next, we used the Nano TorqBar to finish up the job. I was surprised at how much tighter I was tightening the bolt that I would have if I was just doing it by feel.
Fast forward a few months now and we have been using the pocket size torque wrench for a while now. There were a couple things that didn’t immediately stand out when we first started using it. The nano torqbar can be used as a regular bike tool if you leave the torque heads off and just install the bit. Also, you can store two bits inside the handle making it super small and compact tool on the go. Although you can only take two bits with you, you’ll have to decide whats going to need to need adjusting during your ride and hope you didn’t bring the torx bit when you needed the allen bit. It can also hold one torque key in the end of the handle. It’s not much more room to bring the entire kit with you and it doesn’t weigh much more that a regular multi tool.
Torque Value: 4, 5 & 6Nm
Allen bits: 3,4 & 5mm
Torx bits: T20 & T25
Body: Aluminium / Engineering grade plastic
Integrated compartment for two bits
Size (LxWxH): 12×1.6×1.6cm / 4.7”x0.6”x0.6”
Weight: 62g / 2.19oz (Tool w/ 1 Torqbit & 2 bits)
At the end of the day, your going to pay close to $60 usd for this tool. It’s much more expensive that a lot of other bike tools in your gear bag, but it comes with piece of mind. Additionally, it can be used as a multi-tool in a pinch, so you get some added value with that in mind. The build quality it top notch, its a hard metal outer case and a durable hard plastic body. It locks closed with a button and has magnets to keep the bits in place. It’s locks closed with a button to release. We found that while it’s missing a 2 or 3Nm key, 4, 5, and 6Nm are the most common on our mountain bikes and road bikes. A couple down sides are that you do not know if your tension setting get off with the different heads, so keep that in mind if you feel like you are cranking down a little harder that you think you should.
We often find discounts from the many hundred of retailer we search for Topeak tools. Have a look on GearChase.com and see what Topeak Tools on sale are currently available.
If you are a frequent visitor of GearChase.com’s reviews, you know we love insulated water bottles. We have Hydroflask Reviews, Fifty/Fifty Reviews, and Klean Kanteen Reviews. We were excited to get a couple Mizu insulated bottles for review. Two Mizu’s most popular insulated bottles are the V8 and V12. They offer the bottles in both an insulated and non insulated bottle, with a variety of caps for chugging 36 oz of coffee or sport caps for sipping on the go.
Of the bottles we have reviewed, the Mizu bottles trump with their attention to detail and little thing like the paracord lid leash and the etched lid logo.
Mizu V8 Review
The V8 is a 26oz bottle currently available in 11 colors or prints. We opted for the “Soft touch” orange, and think it looks pretty good with the Utah desert and red rock in the background. The lid screws into the bottle and has a metal loop for attaching the bottle. The lid is insulated and etched on the side with the Mizu logo. It looks cool, but it also provides a little grip to unscrew the lid when the bottle is wet.
The bottle build quality is top notch. The soft touch feels great in hand or just admiring it in a cup holder. The logo stands out on the front of the bottle with a stainless steel bottom cap to finish things off. The welds are hardly noticeable on the bottle, and it is very comfortable to drink from in this size as opposed to the V12 which is a bit more clumsy to drink from.
Ice can be a little difficult to get into the bottle with out some hand use to guide it in. But the convenience of drinking from a smaller mount is worth the difficulty.
Every time I use a vacuum sealed bottle I’m amazed at just how well they keep hot drinks hot all day, and cold drinks cold for hours even in the heat of the Utah desert.
I’ve been using the two bottles for the past few months. Usually I drop some ice in the bottle in the morning and with a few fill ups during the day, the ice last me all day long.
Mizu V12 Review
The big brother to the V8 is the V12 insulated 36oz bottle. It’s wide mouth make it convenient for sharing and loading up with ice. It’s stand out feature is the paracord leash around the color that attaches to the lid. We found that the leash can’t be trusted too long, and easily slides off the lid or collar. It’s also makes screwing on the lid a little cumbersome, as it requires rotating the lid through the noose.
The larger lid makes the bottle easy to fill with ice, and still is fairly easy to drink from. As you can see from the image above ice seems to last for days. This is after filling the bottle full of ice and water in 70 to 50 degree weather for about 24 hours.
The build quality and attention to detail of the Mizu life bottles has to be the best we have seen. They have the V12 we looked at had a nice green hammered outer shell, highlighted with stainless steel lid and bottom cap. If you have used Hydroflask with the sip straws you know they can leak pretty easily. The solution is a solid sealing cap like the one included with the V12. We had zero leaking from this bottle, through many hikes in southern Utah.
Enjoy the Journey, Leave nothing Behind, the motto stamped on the inside of the lid are great words to live by. Mizu insulated offerings are a great option if you are looking for a water bottle that will turn heads. A huge upgrade from your old Nalgene bottle, and a step above in terms of looks and features for about the same price as other insulated bottles in the same category.
If you are a regular visitor of GearChase.com you may have wondered is WhiskeyMilitia.com down? Or Why is Whiskey Militia redirecting to SteepandCheap.com?
We have been informed by Backcountry.com the parent company of both WhiskeyMilitia.com and SteepAndCheap.com that they have indeed removed WhiskeyMilitia.com from the interweb and redirected all traffic to SteepAndCheap.com. This is not a new decision for Backcountry.com. If you remember such sites as Bonktown.com for roadbikers, ChainLove.com for mountain bikers, Tramdock.com for Skiers are just a few others one deal at a time websites that have been retired. And now WhiskeyMilitia.com is joining them in the grave.
Backcountry.com stated that they plan to spend more time enhancing SteepAndCheap.com to make it the one stop shop for closeout items from Backcountry.com. Providing better discounts, searching, and functionality overall.
Mount options for GoPro Hero 5, Garmin Virb Ultra 30 & GoPro Session Cameras Supports, GoPro 3, 3+, Silver, Black, Sessions (With adapter), SJ4000, Xiao YI, and many more
Compatible with GoPro LCD back pack or battery back pack
Precision Stabilization Accuracy of ±0.01°
Works fast out of the box
Integrated 3.5 mm A/V output port for external monitor or recording
Built in 1/4-20″ threaded base for tripod mounting
Supplement your GoPro’s battery with included charging cable (Only for GoPro with Mini USB, not Micro USB)
Up to 5 hours of extended battery life
Supports wireless control through Bluetooth connection of phone or remote control
5 Modes – Heading Follow Mode, Heading Lock Mode, Heading & Pitch Follow Mode, Inverted Mode, New Turn Back Mode
3-Axis brushless motors
Multiple Shooting Modes: Pan Follow Mode, Pan Lock Mode, Pan/Pitch Follow Mode, Inverted Mode and NEW Turn Back Mode.
Warranty: Backed by a 1 Year USA Parts and Labor Warranty, Not an overseas warranty that takes months to get resolved
The EVO SS 3 axis wearable gimbal allows you to effortlessly shoot silky smooth video with your action camera. If you have watched much of your footage from your POV camera, you know why you might want something you make your video less nauseating. The EVO SS works with a wide range of popular action cameras such as the GoPro, Garmin Virb, and other action sports cameras.
The EVO SS gimbal is very versatile, it can be mounted to any 1/4-20 tripod mount, also paired with GoPro mounts. It includes an extendable pole that is the perfect size for packing and extending for smooth gliding shots. The gimbal is also equipped with Bluetooth for connecting to iPhone or Android phones to remote control the gimbal. However, we like to use our phone to preview out GoPro framing, so we opted to use the new EVO Bluetooth remote control.
Some other great features include a 3.5 mm AV output for external monitor.
The available modes provide a handful of options to lock some motors, while smoothing out other motions. It’s nice if you are trying to get a periscope view while keeping the framed shot level, or other times you might want to tilt up to the top of a tree, you can use a setting to smooth out tilting. Another nice feature is the ability to lock the position by just holding it in the spot you want it to start stabilizing from. It will lock this the angle and work to retain this position. Lastly, there is a selfie mode with 3 clicks on the mode button the gimbal rotates around to point at you, or film behind you for some nice chase scenes.
The performance of the EVO SS gimbal is remarkable. Below we have listed some of the specs on the performance, while we are unable to verify the actual stabilization accuracy, the video quality and stability shows that it’s working. The range of the angles do match up. It’s worth pointing out that on few occasions the gimbal got out of sync with the motors or balance. It was frustrating when this happened, but a simple reboot on a level surface always worked to get it set back the correct position.
Below is some footage of us snowshoeing in Utah with the EVO SS gimbal attached to the telescoping pole. You can see how we are able to get some really nice panning shots, as well as transitioning from different shot angles. You will notice it doesn’t take out the bouncing in our steps, but smooths out a lot of the shaking from having the GoPro extended 3 feet in front of us.
Stabilization Accuracy: ±0.01°
Follow Accuracy: ±0.2°
Pan Axis Range: -160° to +160°
Tilt Axis Range: -90° to +180° (Inverted)
Roll Axis Range: -45° to +45°
Tilt Axis Control Speed: Min 1°/s Max 50°/s
Pan Axis Control Speed: Min 1°/s Max 80°/s
Motor Type: 3x Triple Wound High Torque Brushless
Working Current Static Current: 6.8 mA (at 6.8 VDC)
Dynamic Current: 120mA (at 8.4 VDC)
Max Motor Current: 2 A maximum (at 12.6 VDC)
Sensors: Independent IMU module, High Definition Position Encoders
Dimensions: (W x D x H) 3.7 x 3.5 x 11.6″ / 96 x 88 x 295 mm
Weight: 0.75 lbs / 335g (unloaded no batteries)
It’s worth noting that some of the previous EVO Gimbals have been shipped in older style boxes. We received our EVO Gimbal in their newer packaging. Similar foam to hold parts in place, just a little larger and printed images on the box. Additionally, the box is the only transportation option and requires you to remove the camera to store. This quickly get’s old when moving around and trying to protect the gimbal in a backpack or bag. There is a case EVO sells, but we opted to buy our own hardcase with pick foam that we could customize to allow us to keep the camera in the gimbal for transportation.
1 – EVO SS 3 Axis Gimbal (Includes Standard Hero3/4 Mount)
4 – IMR 18350 Rechargeable 3.7v batteries (900mAh each cell)
2 – M2.5 x 22mm thumb screws
2 – GoPro Charging Cables (3 Wire for Power, 4 Wire for Video-out/Power)
1 – GoPro Accessory Mount Adapter (for GoPro Mounting System
1 – Universal Telescoping Extension Handle
1 – Micro USB Cable (for Charger & Software Update)
1 – Warranty Card
1 – User Guide
The quality build of the gimbal feels very good in hand, it’s heavy weighted, the exoscelaton of the EVO SS is all metal, and tight screws to hold down the case and mounts. Because it’s a gimbal and has three working arms with motors there is some feeling of it being fragle, expesically when transporting it in a bag or pack. The only transport is the box it came shipped in, but is oversized and hard to travel with. While the build quality is very well, there are some design changes that would have helped overall performance. The number one complaint would be the batteries and battery door. The batteries are hard to get in and aligned just right until the door is on and secure. Also, it’s very easy to get moisture into the battery door when using near water, snow, or moisture.
There are 3 motors on the gimbal, these are brushless high quality motors. They have continued to remain smooth and function as expected for the few months we have been using the gimbal.
The EVO SS comes with 2 sets of Lithium-Ion batteries. There is plenty of life to run your GoPro battery out a few times. Also, with the included cord you can supliment your GoPro with the battery power from the gimbal. The cord feels very delicate, but get’s the job done. Batteries also come with a cheap feeling but small and light weight charger. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to charge the batteries via a micro USB port. One nice feature is the battery indicator on the gimbal. While not linear, or completely predictable there are a series of 4 flashes that indicate 75%, 50%, 25% remaining and quickly flashes when the batteries are less than 25%. It’s worth noting as most of us will try, the batteries can not be charged from the gimbal itself even though there is a micro usb on the gimbal. This is used for upgrading the firmware of the gimbal and not charging batteries.
There is a 3 pin cable included to charge the GoPro LCD on older GoPro models. There is also a 4 pin cable that is used for charging a GoPro and activating the A/V output port for external monitoring.
You can expect to get about 4 hours of use out of a single charge. Obviously you will get much less in extreme conditions, or when they are used to supplement the GoPro battery. When we were hooked up to a dead GoPro, it was around 2 hours of use. However, when mounted to a tripod, and not using bluetooth we got up to 5 hours of use. The optional charging cables included do not work with GoPro Hero 5, or session because they use Mini USB.
Ease of Use
To start using the gimbal, you need to attach your GoPro with the thumb screws. If you are using an adapter you may need to use a small Allen key to replace the mounting bracket with a couple screws and install the correct bracket for your camera. The gimbal has a standard ¼-20 female screw on the bottom of the base. There are two buttons, one to power on, and another to select the mode. The gimbal turns on after holding the power button for a few seconds. To initialize the gimbal, it should be set on a flat surface and press and hold the mode button, the gimbal will then snap into place and start working.
The overall functionality of the gimbal is buttery smooth, with 80 degree roll, 315 degree tilt, and 650 degree pan, there are many mounting options that the GoPro can be locked in to achieve ground shots, selfies, aerial shots are all possible. There are a few basic modes
Heading Follow Mode – one click keeps the camera pan left to right smooth, and locks Roll & Tilt
Heading Lock Mode – one click, keeps Tilt and Roll are smooth, but Pan is locked
Heading & Pitch Follow Mode – two clicks, Smooth Pan and Tilt follow but Roll is locked
Inerted Mode – to use upside down, two clicks, rotate the camera upside down, you can then enter other modes.
Turn-back (Selfie) Mode – three clicks
If you notice you took a hard bump with the gimbal, or it’s just not panning or tilting just right you can re-calibrate the gimbal. To do this set the gimbal on a flat surface and power on the gimbal. The light will flash while powering up as the gimbal calibrates. If this doesn’t work, you can manually calibrate the gimbal. This can be done with the help the remote app, or the remote control. There are specific instructions for a 6 point camera position that needs to be done to manually calibrate the motors on the gimbal.
An optional remote control is available which we found very helpful. Most of the time we liked using our phone to frame out GoPro shots, and not to control the gimbal. So it was nice to have another device to do this. It’s very light and compact. However, I wish there were a mount for it on the telescoping pole. The remote can indicate the battery power remaining in the gimbal, it’s Bluetooth connectivity, control via joystick and click functions and directions. The joystick is great for providing panning and following modes for videos. The joystick clicks down like a button to quickly switch between functions.
An Android and IOS app are available from the apps stores. It provides a Bluetooth connection to manually control the gimbal. Simply pair the gimbal with the control and will see the controls appear on screen. The remote allows for full control of the gimbal, you can also put motors on/off. Other options include calibration of the gimbal with a 6 point calibration. Also you can update the gimbal firmware wirelessly with the phone app when connected.
Accessories and Extensions/Add-ons
Adapters for GoPro Session
Adapter for GoPro Hero 5
Upgrading the Gimbal firmware
The gimbal can be connected to a computer and transferred the latest firmware upgrades that can be downloaded from EvoGimbals.com download sections.
EVO GP-Pro 3-AXIS HANDHELD GIMBAL FOR ACTION CAMERAS
EVO GP 3-AXIS HANDHELD GIMBAL FOR ACTION CAMERAS
The Evo GP-Pro vs. The Evo GP
The EVO GP-Pro is an enhanced version of the GP model. The GP is not compatible with the GoPro Hero 5. The EVO GP-Pro has a special version that is compatible with the GoPro Hero 5. The stabilization accuracy is the same as well as the performance of the gimbals. The difference is that the GP-Pro has a ¼-20 threaded battery cap on the handle. This allow to add extension poles to it, can also attach to tripod or mono-pod mounts. Also, the Pro has the power button in a different place. The GP-Pro has a 4 way joystick for movement control. The GP has buttons for controls. The GP-Pro has an option to pass audio/video signal from the GoPro to the 3.5mm output port on the handle. This can be used to feed a signal to an external monitor. The GP-Pro also has upgraded position encoder and motors.
EVO SP Handheld Gimbal for Smartphones (will fit large phones like iPhone Plus)
EVO Rage-S Gimbal for Mirrorless camera
EVO Rage Gimbal for DSLR cameras
EVO Gimbal vs Zhiyun Gimbal
Just for clarification, there is another gimbal on the market that is almost identical to the EVO SS called the Zhiyun Rider-M Gimbal. EVO Gimbals states that the gimbals are different although they share a similar look and parts.
The number one complaint is that the gimbal isn’t more water resistant and it doesn’t contain a small travel case. We took the gimbal snowboarding and were worried we might fall and crush the gimbal. It’s hard to transport. We did find a pick foam hard case to store our GoPro and gimbal together. However, this case is still a little large to comfortably move. Another downside to a wearable gimbal is that they feel bulky. When using the GoPro chest mount, it requires adapters from the GoPro fitting to a tripod mount screw to fit into the gimbal. After this is all added, it sticks out from the chest about 6 inches, and has a lot of leveraged weight hanging off.
Draft tube on zipper prevents cold air from seeping in
Retains its loft in wet conditions
This L.L. Bean Sleeping bag review covers the specifications and our use of the sleeping bag as well as the pro’s and con’s. This sleeping bag is like a Swiss army knife of sleeping bags. While not the lightest, if offers some features and comfort that are worth the weight. If you are a back sleeper, stomach sleeper, legs crossed, roll around, hot/cold you can make this bag work for most situations. With a forgiving cut, lofty down, heat seals, covered zippers and Velcro closures it’s all comfort. Just pair this with a good sleeping pad and you are set for a great night in the woods.
Storage Stuff Sack
You have been told, “Don’t store your sleeping bag in it’s stuff sack”. A really nice storage stuff sack included with the L.L. Bean sleeping bag.
The Little Details
There are little details hidden all over this sleeping bag from loops to hang the bag from. Also sealed zippers to keep the air out, Velcro closure, that has additional Velcro to close the flap if you don’t want to use it and keep it from sticking to your clothes or pillow all night. Then there is the heat skirt to keep the air in when needed on those cold nights.
While this is a larger sleeping bag it’s still a great bag for comfortable backpacking. The extra weight is worth it when you hit the ground at night. The packed size of the bag is 15 inches by about 9 inches. Still easy to attach to a pack without sacrificing too much room.
The weight of the bag inside the loose storage sack was 3.29 pounds. This is a little heaver than the stuff sack just because of the larger sack.
The stuff sack is lighter than the storage sack at only 2.98 pounds.
The bag is nicely sized for movement and comfort. It makes for a great 3 season sleeping bag. There is plenty of room for movement. The down has a tendency to shift around during the night but not enough to effect the warmth. The big baffles hold the Downtek in place, full of air and warm. There is not a full hood on the sleeping bag, but it does have a skirt to lock in the heat. It can be zipped together with another bag for a double sized bag. You can use the 2 way zippers for venting when things get too warm. The outer shell does a good job of shedding light water, but if it get’s soaked the Downtek is suppose to keep you warm even when wet, we opted not to test this. The material is similar to most nylon shell, slippery yet enjoyable for that “camping feeling”. It’s nice to find a rectangle shaped bag with a lot of the features of a mummy style bag. The bags come in a few different temperature options and styles from around 32 degree to 0 degree. As with most nylon sleeping bags, this bag suffers from hungry zippers. Extra caution needs to be taken when opening and closing the zippers to keep the material out of the zipper.
We were long overdue for an upgraded hydration system for our road bike. We don’t race, and as you can tell by the pump attached to the frame aren’t real sticklers for weight. I wasn’t going to shell out $80 for a water bottle cage to safe a few grams. All I cared about was something that looked better than a big metal water bottle cage and cut out a little weight over the metal cage.
Elite cycling offers some great carbon cages, but as we mentioned a lot of them go for almost $80 retail. We opted for the Custom Race Plus water bottle cage. They look great, we found a color that matched out bike, seemed strong and held the water bottles super tight, but allowed for easy entry and exit.
Paired with the Elite 550 ml bottles the cages are like a match made in heaven. The bottles weigh in at 91 grams, and aren’t super high quality. The tips and screw top are a bit nicer than a free water bottle you might get from a race. The pain on the outside of the bottles gets scraped off really easy. You can see below in a photo after just a few rides the scratches that appear on the bottles.
The cages weigh is at just 39 grams, some of the carbon cages are just 36 grams. Not a lot of weight savings for 3 times the price.
Out with the old cages and in with the new.
The cutout on the cage makes it easy to install.
The rubber Elite piece helps to secure the bottle in the cage. You can see the amount of scratching that the bottle endured over just a couple rides.
For $20 retail we are happy with the cages, they are a great upgrade from the old metal cages we have been using.
We are now on our third Kuat NV rack. We used the first NV bike rack, loved it. Then it came out in black and had to have that. Now the NV 2.0 comes out with new features that we were all asking for. We just had to write a Kuat NV 2.0 review to include our experience and comparison to other racks. The updated version builds on the success of the coveted Kuat NV. It was hard to find many bad things to say about it other than we noticed our lock keys fit just about every other Kuat NV we tried them in. The Kuat NV is defiantly the Mercedes Benz of bike racks. It’s extremely heavy, but that’s trumped by it’s functionality and looks. The rack builds on the original Kuat NV, but added a new lock system, wider trays to accommodate fat bikes, an updated trail doc work stand and a hands free tray adjuster.
The features on the Kuat 2.0 are top notch. The hands free (use your foot) to lower the rack when your holding your rack, and also the extended lever make it a lot easier to adjust the rack when holding a bike. The rack has been on many list as a top pick and editors choice award for many outdoor gear websites. It performs well, in many environments. We have had it in snow, rain, mud, and the high quality build keeps the parts moving and functional.
The rack comes in a 2 inch and 1.25 version. The 2 inch version is up gradable to add an additional 2 trays for a total of 4 bikes, but talk about a heavy rack! The upgraded NV 2.0 has a smaller adjustment nob that gets out of the way a lot better. Without fail on the NV, we ended up scraping the nob up all the time on rocks, gutters and sidewalks.
We would choose a hitch mount rack over any other style 100 to 1. It is so easy to ride right up to the rack throw the bike on, sinch it down and be on your way in a few seconds. Also, the fear of loosing a bike part from trunk mounted bike racks is gone. You will smile when you look in your rear view mirror and don’t see your bike bouncing all over the place as your cruise down the road at 70 mph.
The locks are a nice feature but don’t trust your new 5k bike to them. An issue we had with the original NV was that almost every NV rack we tried our keys in, we were able to open. Kuat states that they do reuse some keys and locks, but that it shouldn’t be every rack you find. The new cable lock system is meant to wrap around the rear triangle and tire of each bike. The first version was meant to lock both bikes together through the frame. It is much nicer to lock bikes up with the new system.
The trays have been widened to allow for fat bike tires to fit in them. It also makes it a little easier to load your bike now. As a side note, they look pretty cool too.
The ratches have been updated on the new NV 2.0, they have protective coating on the underside so they won’t scratch those carbon wheels. They also have a new buckle system, that we messed up a few times. The design allows for two slots for the buckle to slide into, one next to the tray, and one in the ratchet. On a couple occasions we inadvertently push it down the wrong slot and it gets stuck in there pretty bad, let this be a warning.
Assembling the Kuat NV 2.0 seemed a little easier, but it might have been that we were experience after putting together 2 other NV racks. It’s not difficult, and you don’t have to thread the lock through the rack any more. This decreased the time it took to assemble it the first time. I could say it took us a total of 30 to 45 min to assemble the rack with an allen key and a helping hand.
One gripe about the NV that didn’t get fixed is where the tire support rest against the shock. On a fox shock it usually rest right on the cable attachment. This slowely wears a large hole in the soft rubber of the tire support. I don’t know the solution for this, but I hope they come up with something. On our last rack it wore all the way through the soft rubber. The new button on the rack dosn’t seem to perform as well as the button that was on the top of the old rack. When the button was on top it was easier to push down and close in one motion. With the button on the side it takes some extra work to push the button in, make sure you are pushing straight down so the support smoothly slides into the housing.
The durability of the rack beside the soft rubber around the tire is top notch. This is one heavy duty rack. The downside is that it’s really heavy to move around it your take your rack off and on a lot. The upside is that you don’t feel like your going to loose your bike off the back of your car, truck, or suv when cruising down the freeway. The powder coated finish offer an easy to clean surface that looks amazing. It doesn’t scratch easily, and is easily washed along with your vehicle.
The Trail Doc Bike Work Stand
Don’t plan on turning this into a mobile work station. While it works in a pinch, it’s not extremely reliable. It’s hard to clamp down hard enough to keep the bike from easily rotating even from a strong wind. Also, the adjustable angle knob on the back is a little tricky to get tighten just right to avoid it from moving.
With a retail price of $650 it’s one of the most expensive 2 bike racks on the market. While you are paying for high quality build and a great looking rack that will last you for years, there are racks with similar features for far less. If a high quality build and looks are important to you that the Kuat NV 2.0 is the rack for you.
The NV 2 is an amazing rack, and you are paying for it in the price. It made a lot of really great upgrades from the original NV rack. It is a top notch rack with many pro style features. If you are looking for a similar rack without the hefty price tag, we suggest looking at the Kuat Sherpa or the Thule T2 Pro.
Here we go for some of the best deals, sales and coupons for the week.
REI.com 20% off One Full Price & One Garage Item (Members)
REI has a great deal for members. Get 20% off one full priced item and one garage item. Keep in mind the garage items are usually reduced already up to 40% sometimes. And it’s actually stuff you would want to buy. Plus they are doing 30% off new bikes!
The ear buds have really good sound quality. They are fully waterproof and sweat-proof. Jabra offers many fit options and the earbuds stay in ear surprisingly well, even without the fins on. Earbuds can be used as a single right bud and phone bluetooth and mic. Jabra also has one of the best fitness app that works with the the Elite ear buds to provide coaching, exercise feedback, and heart rate monitoring. Two microphones in each ear bud for noise cancellation and filtering out background noise during calls. They are Android, Apple iOS and computers with bluetooth.
The short list of negatives would have to be led by the minimal battery life. While you can charge on the go with the case, the ear buds only carry about 3 hours before needing recharged. There is always the fear that you may loose one when running or biking. Lastly, the biggest turn off would have to be the cost. With apple AirPods coming in at $159, or the Gear IconX $150.
One of our favorite truly wireless ear buds. For someone looking to get a little extra out of an ear bud like fitness coaching and heart rate monitor these are a no questions asked winner. The well designed case, secure fit, quality, and app make these a good value even while on the higher end of wireless ear buds.
While there was a lot of buzz around the apple AirPods, there has been a lot of action outside of the Apple world. Jabra entered the truly wireless earbud market with the new Jabra Elite Sport wireless ear buds and here is our review after a couple months of using them.
The Jabra Elite Sport wireless ear bud is basically a truly wireless version of the Jabra Sport Pulse bluetooth headphones. We have been using the Jabra Sport Pulse headphones pictured below for over a years now, they are our go to headphones for cycling. So we obviously wanted to compare the Jabra Elite Sport to these headphones. A side from the location of the buttons and additional bulk on the ear, these headphones are similar of course without the cord attached.
Clinical grade Heart rate monitor
Time, speed, distance, pace, steps, cadence, calories, heart rate zone, VO2 Max estimation, repetitions, real time coach
There is some getting use to using the earbuds. You will notice things like when you take the left ear bud out, and hold it more than 12 inches away from the right ear bud, it shuts itself off. Then when bringing it back to your ear, it reconnects and you hear it turn on. Additionally, we paired these headphones with phones and bluetooth computers. The ear buds do really well pairing and unpairing with the phone. However, on occasion when listening to Spotify on a computer, if we put the ear buds back in the charging case and closed it we had a hard time getting Spotify to realize when we put them back in our our and wanted to resume listening. I’m not sure where the disconnect is here, I assume it’s because of the charging that occurs and bluetooth connectivity is lost for a moment. We always had to restart Spotify and sometimes recycle the power on the ear buds. I did get use to the weird tricks and know when to do what with them to avoid issues like these but there was some learning curve.
We have sweat in these a lot through running and cycling and have had zero issues with them. While Jabra states they are IP67 rated and can be submerged in a water up to 3 feed, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to swimming with them in ear.
At first use of the Elite earbuds I was a little worried that the 3 hours run time wouldn’t be enough. Also, a little confused at why the battery life was so much shorter that the Jabra Sport bluetooth headphones. The Elite Sport have a bigger in ear pod, so I assumed the battery life would have been longer. For desk use, short travel they work great. Frustration may set in when the battery dies 3 hours into your century bike ride, and you haven’t to put them back in the charging case and continue your ride.
The case does a sort of quick charge. I placed the ear buds in the case for exactly 20 min and started using them right away. I was able to get an hour and a half of use from just a 20 min charge, I didn’t think that was too bad. A little
We did some extensive testing on the battery life. Keep in mind these were in pretty controlled environment where they likely weren’t loosing and reconnecting to bluetooth, or using all additional features like heart rate monitoring all the time.
First Use Fully Charged
4 Hours (10 Min Warning before shutoff), this was better than expected. Jabra claims only 3 hours of use.
20 Min Case Charge
1:32 (10 Min Warning before shutoff), again better than Jabra claims. Jabra states only about an hour of use after a 20 min case charge.
2nd Charged overnight in case
Put in case Red light on for a few seconds indicate charging
4 Hours (10 Min Warning before shutoff)
3rd Charge overnight in case
Opened case and saw yellow light on charging led
4 Hours (10 Min warning before shutoff)
Tried 4th Charge overnight in case
Open case saw yellow light indicating case was low on battery. I turned on the earbuds and heard “battery low”. The ear buds lasted about 10 min then died. There are definatly 2 solid charges from the case, but not a 3rd.
After 3rd charge placed headphones in Charger
We put the ear buds back in the charger after they were dead. A red light on the charger came on indicating the battery on the charger was dead. We then plugged in the charging case and a light came on indicating it was charging. We found it did charge the case as well as the ear buds when they were both dead, although I assume this is slower that just charging the case.
There are two lights on the front of the case indicating the charge in the ear buds. Also a single light next to the USB port that indicates the battery for the case. Additionally, there are lights on the ear buds that indicate their power, or you can press the left buttons and get a verbal read of the ear bud power.
Fitness Analysis App and Heart Rate
The one thing that really sets Jabra apart from most headphones is the apps. There are quite a few apps. You can change and adjust the EQ using the Jabra sound app.
Jabra Assist provides some feature adjustment to Jabra products.
Jabra Sport Life is the app that provides the sport coaching and heart rate monitoring. The app is a bit gimmicky, but there is value. The heart rate monitoring is really good and fairly accurate for an optical sensor. The coaching is fun to play with but not going to replace a real trainer. It’s worth noting that you must install Jabra Service app also for the Jabra Sport Life app to work.
There are 4 buttons on the pair of earbuds, 2 on each ear. The left ear bud controls the volume up (and battery status) and down (down button also powers on/off). The right controls the music playback. Double clicking the bottom right ear bud turns on HearThrough. Although I didn’t test HearThrough a lot in outdoor noisy environments, it was hard to tell when it was on or off.
The earbuds include Bespoke bass enriched speakers with 20Hz to 20kHz frequency range. While I am not an audiophile, these ear buds over delivered on expectations. Streaming from high quality Spotify they sounded great. They are fairly heavy on the bass side, and obviously have some eqing done to bump it up a bit. It’s not something you would be feeling from a headphone like Beats, it’s a more happy medium. The mid range in a variety of styles also sounded pretty good. The lows are defiantly amped up more than the mids. The highs were slightly lacking when hearing the drum high hats and cymbals of songs as well as guitar solos felt lacking a bit. These earbuds sound great, and better than most, but don’t be expecting studio quality sound from them.
There is also a feature called HearThrough that allows you to hear outside ambient noise to help with alertness and safety awareness.
There are 4 total microphones on the pair of earbuds. These microphones have noise canceling technology to switch between mics and reduce background noise. The microphone sensitivity is rated at -38 dBv/Pa with a range of 100Hz to 10kHz. It’s easy to access siri or google now with the touch of the button. Sound quality is good, and mic quality is OK when indoors and can bee poor when outdoors and windy.
What is in the box?
A Pair of Jabra Elite Sport Bluetooth Headphones
On-the-Go Charging and Storage Case
3 sets of Ear Gels(TM) size Small, Medium, Large
3 sets of Foam Tips size Small, Medium, Large
3 sets of Ear Wings(TM)
Warning, Warranty, and Quick start guide
The Sport Elite’s come in a nice looking easy to open box. A flap opens up to revel the charging case and ear buds. Under that is the many ear tips and wings for different fit options.
Earbud Ear Fit
There are 3 options to customize the fit and sound you want. The silicone ear tips are pretty similar to most ear buds. They do an excellent job of sealing out outside noise and enhancing the listening. The foam tips allow a little more outside sound in and don’t have the suction cup effect on your ear canal. Each come with 3 different sizes for your ear size. Lastly, Jabra offers winged tips for an even more secure fit inside your ear. We never found a reason to have to use the winged tips. The ear buds stay put really well for as large as they are in ear.
Compared to Jabra Sport
When riding bikes or running with the Jabra Elite Sport ear buds, we contently worry about them falling out, even though they never have. The though of having to find one on a trail in the woods would feel like searching for a needle in a hay stack. For this reason, we still like the Jabra Sport Pulse for biking. They offer the same features but are tethered together so the likelihood of loosing one is far less. Additionally, the battery last a lot longer per single charge on the Pulse, we often ride longer that 3 hours and would have to take the ear buds out and charge them through the ride.
For everything else, the new Jabra Elite Sports are our new wireless ear buds of choice. They retail for $249, but are often found on sale for $199. They are full of features that most bluetooth headphones are lacking. With the heart rate monitory, sports app and dual mics they are a great value.
The SmartGuage D2 is a must have for any semi-serious biker. We have taken a close look at the SmartGuage Tire Pressure Gauge and provided our Topeak SmartGuage D2 review.
Who needs a digital pressure gauge?
If you have been using a floor pump with a needle gauge you know how inaccurate they can be. With our current pump on a road bike tire, we can put in three pumps before the needle re-adjust, then it jumps up from 1 to 5 PSI. We were tired of never having an accurate reading and just going off the feel of the tire.
We were ready to get a little more serious about our PSI’s this year and went full digital. You might have seen our review on the Fox digital shock pump, now we are reviewing the Topeak SmartGuage D2, one of the most trusted gauges on the market.
Overview and How to use
To use the tire gauge first, select the type of valve you will be attaching to. Next push the power button, you will hear a beep and the gauge will turn on. Next align the perpendicular with the valve. Press down firmly, and you will hear another audible beep indicating that the pressure has been recorded. We noticed if there is not a good seal the first time you measure the pressure you can get inaccurate readings. You should not hear any air leak out when you measure the pressure or you should reset and check again.
The SmartGuage D2 works with both Schrader valve and presta valve. There is a sliding lever on the top of the gauge head that rotates back and forth to select the correct stem. The stem is indicated by a painted on image of the type of stem attaching to.
To get started, you simply push the power button, after which you will hear an audible beep. The gauge turns on and reads 0.0 and the last unit you used is selected. To change the unit just push the unit button and it cycles through bar, kg/cm2, and our favorite PSI. With each push of a button you hear the beep which is nice to know if you accidentally push it while getting in some of those tight valve stem places.
After taking a reading, the pressure remains on the screen for easy reading without getting your nose down to the valve stem. To clear this off and test again just hit the power button for a second. For best results always start measuring the tire pressure from 0.
Built into the gauge is an air release valve much like the high pressure shock pumps now you can bleed your tires right down to the perfect pressure. To do this takes a button press on the “Pulse” button, this will monitor the pressure as you are bleeding it. Pretty nice feature to be able to make the pressure sticky on the screen or adjustable. As we mentioned before we don’t like getting our nose right up to the stem just to read the gauge with our poor eye sight. One other feature is that you can rotate the stem to the top of the tire, and the gauge display also rotates to you can still read the output from any angle.
If “HI” appears on the screen your gauge isn’t trying to make introduce itself to you, it means the pressure it over maximum range. Also worth noting if you see “HI” on the screen while not checking pressure your gauge has been damaged.
If you see “Lo” displayed on the readout, your battery is low and needs replacing.
Features & Cautions
0-250 PSI Reading
0 to 85 degree operating temperature
The Topeak SmartGuage D2 takes a CR2032 Battery
Weights just 95 grams
Not waterproof, or dust proof
Don’t drop or shake violently
Don’t push hard on LCD
Don’t clean with solvents
Can be used with Tires, Forks, and Shocks
The screen only stays on for 30 seconds.
There can be some air spillage of about 1 to 1. 5 PSI after each pressure measurement.
There is a 1-Year mechanical components warranty against defects, and no the battery is not covered under warranty.
Some of the downsides to the tire gauge are that it doesn’t rotate in 360 degrees, so on occasion we found ourselves still not being able to read the gauge without removing it. This is really only a problem if you are trying to bleed the pressure down to a certain PSI.
Also a nice addition to the gauge would be a light and better viewing angle. If you are not looking directly down on the LCD and viewing from a top or bottom angle it’s fairly hard to read. Also, we wear polarized sunglasses and they do not mix well with digital LCD screens just a warning it will drive you nuts.
While we don’t have a fat bike tire handy to test on, we have hear some others complain that it doesn’t work great with super low pressures like that of a fat bike.
Higher pressure like shocks, forks and road tires are a little more tricky to test the pressure with the SmartGuage D2. If you don’t get it measured the first or second PSI and may have to go back and forth with the pump, adding air and checking pressure again. Other than that, we have had good success with the gauge, and has become part of our pre-ride check. We keep track of our pressure readings in our bike diary and how the bike and tires perform at different pressures. It’s a fun little tool, little enough to keep with you in your ride bag. We hope to see a few improvements with the SmartGuage D3 like a lite screen, and 360 degree rotating head. Other than that, it’s one of the best digital gauges we have used.
A head light and tail light are becoming a necessity for riding a bike on the road. Bicycle accidents are a reoccurring problem among commuters and enthusiast. A side from wearing a helmet, one of the best things you can do to improve your safety on the road is to be visible. A bicycle front facing white light and rear facing red light are the best ways to increase visibility to motorist.
We have been using bike lights for years, from lights that ran for an hour on 4 double “A” batteries, to 2200 Lumen spot lights. We choose to review the Lumina 950 Boost light and Sentinel by NiteRider because they provide enough for multipurpose rides and the value they offer from a price point. The Lumina 950 is bright enough on boost mode to bomb down your local trail in pitch black, can be used for a commute from work in the evening, or run during the day time to boost visibility. We even found ourselves reaching for the Lumina 950 when a flashlight wasn’t handy but a bike light was.
Lumina 950 Boost Light Features
Double Click Boost mode
Low (200 Lumens) 5 Hours
Medium (400 Lumens) 3 Hours
High (800 Lumens) 1:30 Hours
Boost (950 Lumens) 40 Min
Strobe (hold for 3 seconds) 5:30 Hours
Saver (40 Lumens) 18:00 Hours
Hold for 7 Seconds to lock
Handlebar strap mount
Battery Charge 500mA = 5:00 Hour >500mA 2:30 Hour
Low Battery Indicator blue light
Lifetime warranty on mechanical components
2 Year warranty on electrical components
1 Year warranty on rechargeable batteries
The Lumina 950 is a compact light that feels very high quality with solid construction and casing. It uses a high quality CREE(TM) led at 600K (Not those cheap eBay LEDs). With a single LED, the light throw is pretty good. Below we show the light pattern from about 5 feet away from the wall so you can see the pattern.
Low (200 Lumens) 5 Hours
Medium (400 Lumens) 3 Hours
High (800 Lumens) 1:30 Hours
Boost (950 Lumens) 40 Min
Below we took a photo profile of the light from the side. As you can see there is not a lot of side visibility coming from the single LED. It would be nice to have a little more visibility from the side. If you are looking for a full night kit to keep you visible from all angles, keep reading about the Sentinel 150.
Mounting the light was a bit difficult until you read the instructions. You must rotate the top to thread the rubber strap through and then rotate it back. Like any real man I tossed out the instructions the first time I installed the light and spent 15 minutes trying to thread it though the tiny space under the mounting bracket.
One argument we have had with bicycle lights for the last 20 years is mounting brackets. We have probably broken 10 light mounts in our commuting experience. Sometimes it from a wreck, others just being careless. I would like to see manufactures provide less flimsy and prone to breaking mounts, or at least make the parts more easily replaceable.
It’s been cold and dark here in Utah for the last few months, which makes it a great time to use a bike light for after work rides. My initial though of the Lumina 950 was that it was going to be under powered for the types of riding I do and would only be used as a visibility strobe. I was surprised just how well it lite up the road, even when not on Boost mode. On trail rides we would typically ride up our local hill in low 200 lumens mode. Once at the top we switched it over to Boost mode 950 lumens and bombed down the mountain. The 950 lumens were plenty to get us down the mountain riding at a comfortable speed.
The light gets just slightly warm, but with the side fins and air moving over the light keeps it very comfortable. It stays in place when riding even rough trails. Although we did have better luck mounting it under the handle bars when on really rough chattery trails to keep the light from moving too much.
Putting aside the eBay lights that have been known to catch on fire when charging. The value for the quality of this light can’t be beat. The first thing you will notice with the Lumina is just how high the quality is when in you hand. It provides enough light and is versatile enough to use for someone with many different types of riding.
The charging is done with a standard USB, and is intelligent and reduces charging time in half.
The light does fit on a helmet with an additional mount, but it’s a bit bulky with the weight. If you have ever attached a GoPro to the top of a bike helmet, you know the feeling of it driving your helmet around on your head as you ride.
It’s water resistant and can win over the rain, this also keeps our the dirt and dust when riding.
Overall for $99 this light is a great value for someone looking for a high quality light that can do it all. We are not the only ones happy with it, Amazon users have a 74% 5 star reviews of the light.
Upgrade to the OLED version?
It’s worth mentioning that this light also comes in a OLED version. This offers some visual of the mode and battery life on the top of the light. This addition brings the price of the light up to $150. I’m not sure that the upgrade is worth an additional $50. However, we are always wondering how much battery is left in our light, and end up charging it after each ride just to make sure. With the indicator, you might be able to get 2 or 3 rides out of a single charge and not have to worry about getting stranded.
As important as a forward facing light, the rear facing red light is often the first indicator a car sees when approaching you. There are many inexpensive options out there for as cheap as a few dollars. I would say they are better than nothing, but if you are going to go through the effort making yourself visible it’s worth the extra money to get something that will really grab the attention of drivers. Unless you are willing to go crazy like Seth from Seth’s Bike Hacks did, your better off just getting a single quality light.
Sentinel 150 Tail Light
Rubber seat post clamp (can use zip tie)
150 Lumens (FL1 Standard)
5 to 21 hour run time
Weather proof (FL1 Standard)
Strobe 5 hour
Syncopated strobe 4:30 Hour
Solid High 4 hours
Solid Low 21 hours
Laser 11:30 to 5:30 hours
4 Hours Charge time
Display laser on ground
Lifetime warranty on mechanical components
2 Year warranty on electrical components
1 Year warranty on rechargeable batteries
This is where we get excited, I mean who doesn’t get excited about lasers? The Sentinel 150 has optional (on/off) lasers that track along side of you on the ground. There are three blinking/solid modes for the lasers. As you can see in the photos below it just looks really cool to be riding down the road with lasers on the side of you. I’m not sure they help the visibility for traffic, but it looks really cool.
The breaking parts in the light are from our pedals blocking the light in the dark.
There are 7 modes, which is more that you will ever need. This tail light is very visible in the day light. With other bright tail lights they seem to produce a high output more frequently. One thing I liked about the modes with the Sentinel is that the brightest flash appears less frequently. It is really bright at night, so I didn’t like the idea of it blinding drivers at night when stopped at a stop light.
Full disclosure, we were riding and jumping on a mountain bike with the Sentinel attached and took a pretty good sized jump with the light attached to the seat tube. The mounting bracket broke off and the light hit the ground. This isn’t really using the as it was designed for, but as we mentioned before we think manufactures should make the mounting brackets a little stronger or more easily replaceable.
The Sentinel 150 is one of the brightest and most visible tail lights in the market. The value for a $54 light is there. It will make you seen, and will improve your safety on the rode. There are some other tail lights out there that are cheaper, but if you want quality and visibility then spend the extra money to get something that works.
There are two versions of the Sentinel 150. One with the lasers and one without. For $5 more get the one with the lasers.
GearChase weekly hand picked deals selected from thousands our outdoor retails. These are often sale items, closeouts, and clearance items that don’t last long so move quick if you see something you like.
The Patagonia Micro D Fleece Pullover is on sale from Backcountry.com for only $29.96. That is a whopping 57% off retail. We checked out the sizes and colors and they are still fully stocked with Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large in all 3 colors (Black, Grey, and Navy Blue). They are obviously trying to clear these out for the winter, they will go quickly.
You know them, you love them. Five Ten shoes are offering a great coupon code for 20% off any Five Ten Guided Tennie with their C4 rubber for supper sticky grippy. Or their bombproof Camp Four Shoe. You can check out our review on them, and why they are some of our favorite shoes.
Cabela’s bargains are plentiful this time of year, many deals up in the 70% off. We searched through a lot of them and found this deal. It’s a Gerber folding knife for just $14.99. Stock up to $99 and get free shipping with code: 37FREE, or use free shipping to store.
One of Five Ten’s staple downhill shoe got an upgrade, the Hellcat Pro is a clipless, bombproof shoe that caters to the gravity riders. The Hellcat Pro and Freerider Pro are a couple new “Pro” shoes that were announced in 2016 and released in 2017. The Pro model of the Hellcat takes protection, style and functionality to the next level. Don’t think of the Hellcat Pro as just an upgraded Hellcat, this is an entirely new shoe. Weighing in at 577 grams (Size 10.5) these shoes are meant for some serious trail pounding as you can dish out.
The uppers on the Hellcat are a DWR (Durable Weather Resistant) synthetic that wicks off water makes it a little harder for your foot to breath. Not to be worried though, the perforated tongue provides ample breathing. There are also 3 breathable hole in the top of the toe for some additional breathing room. The upper is really slick to the touch but and heavily resit abrasion from high impact rock strikes.
The tongue is really soft and highly breathable foam. It’s wear points are wrapped in synthetic for longer wear. There is also an internal tongue retainer to keep it from washing side to side. From out test rides, there are no hot spots, even when the shoe is cranked down for premium stability.
The laces are standard flat laces with a tongue loop to hold it in place. The eyelets are close together which allows for really good control over tightening the shoe down. If you have ridden Five Ten shoes before you know that their toe boxes are a little large, except for the Five Ten Access . The tighter lace loops and Velcro strap is really nice to be able to dial the shoe into your foot shape. Another though was keeping the laces away from the Velcro. As you can see in the photo above, there is an internal lacing eyelets for the laces under the strap. This keeps the laces away from the sticky lace eating Velcro that is only a small spot on the closure loop.
The Hellcat has a EVA Midsole that is compression molded. It’s surprisingly soft, and provides some padding to a stiff shoe. It’s going to be the first part of the shoe to see damage. It’s almost too soft, feels like a rock could slice through it pretty easy. Although Five Ten did a good job of protecting it with the sole wrapping around the high impact areas. Unlike the Impact VXI that is more exposed.
Standard adjustments and fit for the cleat. There is some wiggle room for micro adjustments. The attachment may look like it fits close to the inside of the shoe, however, this is just because of the oversize footprint of the Hellcat. It’s about 5mm wider that a shoe like the Kestrel. This 5mm shows up on the outside of the sole, so the cleat still attaches well to the pedal without crank rub.
The collar is different than most Five Ten gravity shoes. Most of the gravity shoes like the Impact, have a soft mesh material. The new Hellcat Pro is a slick polyester material. We were a little worried that this might get a little slick with some sweat on it, but the heel was held well in place despite the different materiel.
You might be pleasantly surprised with the insoles in the Five Ten Hellcat Pro. Most insoles that come with Five Ten Mountain are simple toss around flimsy insoles. The Hellcat Pro comes with a very nice orthodontic. It’s has a hard shell foot-bed with ample arch support. The underside is also slip-free coating. I hope to see this trickle down to other mountain bike shoes offered from Five Ten.
You can see the nice heel cup that offers a stable platform and the breathable holes in the insole.
The classic dot pattern and stealth C4 is the right pick for the Hellcat. It’s ultra grippy, offers great protection, and fairly durable. It also provids a noticeable amount of vibration reduction. On firecracker downhill runs and heavy teeth chattering rock gardens, feet stay put, and locked into the rubber. C4 has microscopic nubs that grab and lock in with a stiffer and sticky rubber.
Advantages: Edging, Vibration damping, Hard friction, Excellent interlock
Shore A (Hardness): 76-80
Resilience (Rebound): 13%
DIN Abrasion: 290
Another stand-out feature of the heavy duty toe cap. For protection, it offers more than any other Five Ten shoe. Based lightly off the Impact VXI, the Hellcat Pro took it to the next level. A 4 layer TPU toe box with 2mm of impact resistant foam. Short of a steel toe boot, your toes will be protected. The toe is also thicker in the front, and as it spans out to the side, it becomes more flexible.
As previously mentioned, the toe box of the Hellcat Pro is on the larger size. The sole width is about 5mm wider than a trail shoe. The stitched toe also adds the durability that your not going to delam the sole of the shoe.
I wouldn’t consider myself a downhill rider, however I love to jump and bomb trails according to my own ability. My current bike is the new 2017 Pivot Firebird to give you an idea of my riding style. I pedal up only to have fun coming down. I was worried the Hellcat Pro might be too big of a shoe with too much bulk that was unnecessary for my riding style. We are lucky and get to try out a lot of Five Ten shoes, these are quickly moving up as our new favorites. They are comfortable for a larger shoe, great recess for the clips, classic sticky stealth sole, it’s hard to complain much about these shoes. Even the Velcro closure is nicer than the classic Hellcat. It improves the issue with Velcro always eating away at the shoe laces.
If you are considering a pair of Five Ten shoes, and wondering if the new Hellcat Pro is the right shoe for you, ask your self a few questions. Are you looking for top notch protection, proven winning power from Greg Minnarr at Fort Williams World Cup Downhill, no expense spared to make the best downhill shoe possible, that also look great, these shoes are right for you.