I’ve been meaning to review my Reelights for many months now, but the lights are so damn good I keep forgetting. The Reelights follow the K.I.S.S principal – keep it simple stupid, and this is where their genius lies. The appeal of the lights is so simple you’ve already figured it out –any time you’re moving you’re lit.
Reelights are a novel take on pedal powered lights – no ‘bottle generator’ like on your Mom’s old Schwinn, no expensive hub generator. Just two rare-earth magnets, a coil of wire, some LEDs and a fitting bracket. The light bracket fits on your wheel axel, and the magnets go on your spokes. Whenever your wheels turn, the magnets pass the wire coil in the light and power the LEDs. The high-end model has a capacitor to keep the lights blinking for a few minutes when you stop. Incredibly simple? Yes. Incredibly good? Yes. Foible free? Well…
My friend and I both ordered reelights at the same time late last year. Mine (the SL100s from Amazon) arrived quickly and intact. My friend’s (SL120s from Reelight headquarters in Denmark) arrived broken.
The mounting brackets for Reelight are pretty good. Using the simple screw fixed adjustments I can get the magnets and lights very close to each other without causing them to rub (a tricky thing actually). So the brackets are good, unless you have disc brakes – they’re too short. Reelight sells an extended bracket to accommodate 160mm rotors, but I run 185s on my xtracycle and I haven’t ordered the 160 extension for my rain bike. So, I run my front reelight on the drive side of my bike, away from traffic. Less than ideal.
The lights are down low (axle height). This is OK for traffic far away, but the scary scenario is when an automobile pulls up along side in right hand lane and wants to make a right. Reeligts aren’t going to alert the driver that you’re sitting along side them before they pull right out on top of you.
Lastly, reelights are light weight by most standards, but heavy rotational weight. For you weight weenies out there this might make the difference for you. The heaviest part of the lights are the magnets, which go right on your wheel (spokes), so you’re pushing the magnets around when you’re pushing your wheels and tires.
All things considered, these lights are a fantastic addition to any commuting bike. Incredibly reliable, always on, never out of batteries, what’s to loose? Not much if you run these as backup lights. I feel safer with a higher mounted rear flasher and helmet mounted light as well.
Folks who plan on finishing first might consider a different set of non-rotational-weight-adding lights.
So I said, “can you show us?” He did. I watched the video repeatedly before editing it and it’s impressive. Titanium frame, 20 pounds, and folds to 21” x 22” x 10”. Watch below and available on our Huggacast.
How’s I miss this? Apparently they were at the Dirt Demo at Interbike, but I didn’t see them. Sturmy-Archer is even blogging about it. We’ll see what comes of it. FSA is apparently releasing a group soon too - might be interesting here pretty soon.
Just a reminder to the masses out there. Riding in the rain is great. I did 3 hours today, got soaked mostly through, but still had a great ride. The only issue? - getting caught riding behind the guy with fenders…but no flap! The edge of his raceblade directed a constant flow of wet grit right into my teeth.
In one of our long talks before Interbike, Sky Yaeger told me about the white bootie scene in San Francisco (I should’ve podcasted those talks). White booties being the ultimate roadie status symbol amongst the masters, 40+, disposable-income cyclist demographic.
I didn’t get to meet Sky during Interbike (Sky, where were you?), but did shoot this photo from the Oschner USA booth where they had a set of Assos white booties, under glass, and lit like jewelry.
Matras announced the MS-1 this week in Paris – a high capacity/high speed electric bike. The specs are more inline with electric motorcycle/scooters – around 30 mph/45kph speed wise and more than 50 miles on a charge (100km). The styling looks a bit like the Sach’s Mad Ass scooter, which I’ve admired from afar many times. Also noted: Hugger Green. The interesting thing here is that this one actually comes with pedals, make it more like an electric moped.
I actually ran an electric bike on my short commute for a couple of years: A crappy old mountain bike with a Currie electric motor (can’t even find this on the web anymore!) hooked up. I really gave it the old college try since it was about the easiest way to get into a electric vehicle, but there were several serious problems with it not including the fact that it was underpowered.
It was heavy – probably 50 lbs total, which made it not only very difficult to move around (lift up stairs, etc), but also very difficult to handle when stopped on the road. No lifting and scooting left or right, needed to keep it balanced more or right upright, etc. This a no brainer for motorcycles, but the high standover hight/saddle of a bike makes this a bit more of a problem.
I’d suspect the MS-1 suffers from the same problem, compounded by what looks like a high-center-of-gravity battery pack.
The electric mountain bike was near the limits of it’s wheel strength. With me (big guy, 200 and some lbs), plus the motor and battery the poor thing probably had most of those 250 lbs right over the rear wheel. I was constantly flatting, and the wheel never even approached true. I eventually got a full-rubber tire for the thing, which was it’s own kind of disaster. I bet the MS has better engineered wheels for the more substantial load, but they do look suspiciously like hub mounted motors on standard 26 inch wheels. Nice fat tires though (Big Apples?).
Maintenance was a pain. The Currie system used a belt to drive the spokes of the rear wheel (I’m not kidding!), which meant one more thing to try and disconnect from the rear wheel to fix flats. Given the heavy weight of the frame and wheel doing even basic jobs were a major chore. The MS-1 will definitely have some relative of this problem: big hub motors = heavy hub motors). I’m not sure how they’re routing electricity to the motors, there are some interesting ways you could get the juice in there but I bet they’re using a cable which means more futzing around.
I suspect the pedals are not going to be very effective in the real world. This really looks to me like an electric vehicle rather than the electric-assist bikes you typically see. Regardless it’s still blurring the lines of electric vehicles and human powered vehicles, and probably in a direction that would get more folks out on two wheels.
The $1000, 1400 lumen Lupine Betty as bright a light as you can buy these days. It’s been available from the parent company in Germany (Lupine Lighting Systems) for a while but they’re just rolling in here in the states from Gretna bikes. This is an incredibly bright light – 22 watts max if you’re stacking up against headlights – light a patch of sunlight on your path all night long.
Last weekend was quintessential Seattle weather in October. Stunningly beautiful one day and rain the next. I mostly welcome the rain, it cleans the air, the city, and signals that Fall has arrived. The Fall is the time of year when I spend hours of my weekends riding the city, the suburbs, and country. When you ride in Seattle, you’ll need a rain bike and the proper gear.
My rain bike is a custom Davidson — it’s a touring/road bike with long-pull brakes and eyelets for mounting fenders and clearance. The frame material is titanium, for all-day riding comfort and the geometry is relaxed.
New for 07, I’ll also ride the Modal, a concept travel bike that’s equipped with Hed’s carbon commuters Jet 60 C2.
My weather gear is a mixture of Windtex from various vendors, Windstopper, and microclimate liners from Craft. I wear 3 levels on my body
and knickers or tights with pads. Gloves, booties, and a cap are essential as well. I use Windstopper gloves with a liner inside. On really wet days, I’ll bring extra gloves and change them 1/2 way through the ride. For my feet, I’ll wear normal socks, with a light lycra cover and a Windtex bootie. However, I’m trying a new bootie from Sugoi that’s “a fleece lined rubberized laminate that keeps water out and heat in.” I tested the booties this weekend and they’re very well made, kept my feet dry and combine my two-layer bootie method into one. I think they’re too hot for warmer days, but Sugoi obviously has product designers on staff that ride in the rain. I wear a Windstopper cycling cap with a bill, ear flaps, and fleece lining. The bill keeps the water out of my eyes, and when it’s even colder or I get chilled, I flip the ear flaps down and stay warmer. Little changes like covering ears, or changing gloves can make an enormous difference, when I’m in the May Valley, it’s pouring, and I’ve still got 2.5 hours to ride.
The reason Windtex/Windstopper works in Seattle, is that you’re going to soak through eventually (sometimes in minutes), no matter what, so you want to block the wind and stay warm. While you’d think that Gore-Tex would work well, it doesn’t because it’s too hot. And that’s the main problem you face in wet weather: staying warm, but not hot and sweaty. Windstopper from Gore-Tex works the same as Windtex, it’s great for gloves and hats, but still too hot for body wear and too thick to be used in jackets. Windtex is a light, stretchy heat-regulating membrane that repels wind and water.
Note that a 3-layer system will fail if you’re not moving and burning calories to stay warm. Stopping in the rain is always dangerous in the winter. It usually doesn’t get that cold in Seattle, but you’ll start shivering within minutes of stopping to fix a flat or for coffee.
When it’s colder, I’ll add a set of arm warmers and Smartwool socks. Another tip is to make sure you’re eating and drinking. It’s easy to forget to eat when it’s cold. You don’t want to bonk in wet weather because that makes for one miserable ride.
Last year, during our unbelievably wet Spring, I was underdressed, underfed, and bonked. Pam was nice enough to pick me up and take me home.
You expect to see lots of skin in Vegas, and the booth babes at Interbike, but I was surprised by Skins technology for several reasons. First cause I got a condom in a Skins wrapper and thought, “condoms at Interbike, well … cyclists and safe sex, cool, maybe it was an Africa project or something.” Nope; just clever marketing. Second, I kept trying to compare Skins to performance underwear, like micro-climate stuff or Lycra Power. Nope; finally, when their Director of Communications said, “stop, just check it out, try the glove box,” and I was impressed. So was the rest of the hugga contigent at the show.
Skins is Gradient Compression performance equipment that aids in recovery and performance and it’s a “got to try it” thing. Like the guy I met at the airport who had worn them non stop since stopping by the Skins booth (have not yet investigated the smelly factor) .
I can’t speak to the science, but I do know that Skins are the most comfortable pair of tights I’ve put on. Very curious that when I first put them on, they feel cold, like a heat exchange and then later some leg tingling. I sleep in them and the next day my legs did feel fresher.
I’ll post again when I’ve worn them after some long rides. As I’ve been posting, Fall training is just starting and that includes lifting. Also, check the Skins site for all the details on the technology.