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Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump (Product Review and Giveaway)

During the course of the year I ride with several different cyclists, both male and female, and I always like to hear their opinions about bicycle products. I am a MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra) and it seems like nearly all bike products were made with men like me in mind. Last year one of the ladies I was riding with gave me a 30-minute lecture on how most companies don’t understand the needs of female cyclists. To be quite honest, it was a subject I had never given much thought to before. However, when the folks at Serfas sent me one of their Women’s Bicycle Floor Pumps to review I realized that some companies do understand female cyclists after all.

Serfas Women's Bicycle Floor Pump

Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump

While there are some very tall women in the world, the bottom line is that, on average, men are taller than women. A bicycle floor pump designed for the average man is going to be too tall for the average female. The Serfas WFP-200 Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump is 22″ tall, which is eight inches shorter than the standard floor pump I have in my garage. This lower stand over height allows for people of short stature to use the pump with ease—the shortened barrel provides greater leverage.

An easy to read dial sits at the top of the pump

An easy to read dial sits at the top of the pump

Another nice feature of this pump is the easy to read dial—it sits up at the top of the pump instead of near the floor (the older you get the more you will appreciate this). This pump is rated to go up to 160 psi, but since I don’t have any bike tires that need that high of a pressure I only tried the pump out to 120 psi. This pump has an alloy barrel with sturdy alloy base and weighs 3.35 pounds (1460 grams).

The pump head handles both Presta and Schrader valves

The pump head handles both Presta and Schrader valves

In addition to the pump head that adjusts to both Presta and Schrader valves, this floor pump also includes a needle so you can also use it inflate volleyballs and basketballs, along with an adapter so you can inflate a beach ball. The ergonomic handle on this pump makes it very comfortable to use. Ladies, even if you don’t like the pink color and floral design of this floor pump, you will have to appreciate the fact that your husband or boyfriend won’t be borrowing it!

Needle and adapter so you can inflate beach balls or basketballs

Needle and adapter so you can inflate beach balls or basketballs

The Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump retails for $45 and is available from the Serfas Website and most bike shops in America. You can also find this floor pump at a few places you might have expect, like Sears and Camping World (catalog and Internet sales only). This product comes with a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects in material and workmanship.

While this product functions flawlessly, I don’t exactly need a pink floor pump in the Man Cave (my garage). So, I have one Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump in perfect condition that I am going to give away to some lucky reader. To enter the contest for the floor pump pictured above all you have to do is pick a number between 1,000 and 1,250 and enter it in the comment section below (you don’t actually have to make a comment). The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, March 8, 2013. After the contest closes I will use a random number generator to pick the winning number. If no one has the exact number the person with the number closest to, but not over, the winning number will get this Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump. In case two or more people chose the same number the first person to pick the number will be the winner. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. When the contest is over I will publish the results in the comments section of this article. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense.

 

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Michelin Pilot Sport HD Folding Bicycle Tire With Reflective Sidewalls

My oldest road bike is reserved for riding in inclement weather (rain and winter slush). For several years I used  Continental Touring Plus tires on this bike because they are lightweight, puncture resistant and have an aggressive enough tread pattern to make it easy to ride in the rain. Unfortunately, these tires are also very difficult to work with, i.e., they are hard to get on or off the rim. I know one experienced bike mechanic who broke three tire levers just trying to get a pair of these on a bike. For some reason it seems like I only get flats on rainy days, and fiddling with Continental Touring Plus tires in the rain is not a task I enjoy. As a result, the last time I replaced the tires on this bike I took a chance and switched to Michelin Pilot Sport HD folding tires—and I am so glad I did!

Michelin Pilot Sport HD Bicycle Tires

Michelin Pilot Sport HD Bicycle Tire

Michelin Pilot Sport HD tires are a part of the Michelin City Trekking tire series and are made with their “Protek Compound rubber mix” which provides “antioxidant ingredients and a reinforced architecture.” These tires have anti-puncture reinforcement and are designed for urban fitness riding, i.e., for those who like to ride road bikes in places that are not usually desirable due to broken glass and road debris.

I only have about 1,000 miles on these tires, but have been extremely impressed with how well they handle on both wet roads and dry pavement. They hold the road extremely well and corner better than any other tire I’ve tried. I’ve used these tires during many hours of heavy rain and have found that the inverted tread pattern helps move water out from under tire in a very efficient manner.

Michelin Pilot Sport HD Folding Bicycle Tire

Michelin Pilot Sport HD tread Pattern

In my opinion this tire offers a very low rolling resistance considering that they are designed to run at a fairly low tire pressure. On the sidewall of every bike tire you will find both the minimum and maximum pressure the tire is capable of handling. If the tire pressure goes below the minimum you run a very high risk of getting a pinch flat; if the pressure goes above the maximum you have a good chance of blowing out the tire and will certainly have a very bumpy ride. The recommended minimum pressure for the Michelin Pilot Sport tire is 44 psi and it has a maximum pressure of 87 psi. The tire pressure you should use depends on your weight—light riders can drop the pressure down towards the minimum while heavier riders should inflate towards the maximum. In the case of the Michelin Pilot Sport tire they suggest that riders weighing 132 pounds or less inflate the tire to 44 psi; riders weighing 220 pounds or more should use 87 psi. Michelin has included a weight and psi chart of the side of the packaging for this tire.

Like the Continental Touring Plus tires, the Michelin Pilot Sport HD tires have reflective sidewalls which increases visibility in low light situations. A ride in the rain almost guarantees that you will also be riding in low light—and when a the headlights from a car hit the sidewall of this tire the reflective strip can be see from at least a quarter of a mile away.

Michelin Pilot Sport HD folding bicycle tires retail for around $40 each and are available in four sizes (700x28c, 700x32c, 700x35c, and 26×2.3). These tires all have a thread count of 30 TPI (threads per inch). A low thread count usually means a less supple tire, but one that is more puncture resistant. The 700x28c tire weighs 402g. You should be able to find this tire at just about any bike shop—if the shop does not have it in stock they can order it for you.

 

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Genuine Innovations Second Wind Road Carbon Mini

Genuine Innovations Second Wind Carbon Mini Tire Pump

Second Wind Carbon Mini

Any time you go out for a bike ride you know your ride could be interrupted by a flat tire, but if you have the right tools you can change the tire and be back on the road in just five or six minutes. When it comes to inflation products for cycling there is no company that I like more than Genuine Innovations, and their Second Wind Road Carbon Mini tire pump is an item that every road cyclist needs.

The Second Wind Road Carbon Mini is a lightweight, compact tire pump that uses CO2 cartridges, and if you run out of cartridges you can also use it as a manual pump. The pump can be used with either 12 or 16 gram threaded CO2 cartridges and one 16 gram CO2 cartridge will inflate a 700x23c road tire to 130 psi. Genuine Innovations describes construction of this pump as a “carbon fiber pump body with high strength glass-reinforced nylon, and brass valve internals.”  I need to point out that the Second Wind only works with Presta valves.

I have found the best way to inflate a tire after a repair is to use a manual pump to get some air in the tube and help get the valve in the right position, then use a CO2 cartridge to finish the job. A 16 gram CO2 cartridge is included with this pump, but if you are not sure what size cartridge you need for your bike Genuine Innovations as an inflation chart available on their Website.

Some portable bicycle pumps attach to the top tube on your bike where it constantly gets in your way. Other pumps attach to the bottle cage holder on either the seat tube or down tube and force you to give up a water bottle (not good for long rides). The Second Wind has a well designed offset holder that attaches between your seat tube and the bottle cage holder. Once stored in the holder the Second Wind is actually sitting in the corner of your water bottle and the seat tube—it is “out of sight, out of mind.”

While this tire pump is very easy to use, I would suggest you try it out at home first. Spare CO2 cartridges are only a few dollars each and the experience gained from inflating a tire in your garage can save you from a lot of aggravation on the side of the road.

The Second Wind Road Carbon Mini retails for $40 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. If your local bike shop does not carry this pump they can order it for you can order it directly from Genuine Innovations.

 
 

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Slime Lite Self Healing Bicycle Inner Tubes

Slime Lite Self Healing Bicycle Inner Tubes

Slime Lite Self Healing Tubes

If you are a Weight Weenie who enjoys patching flat tires then you can skip this product review. However, if you would rather spend your free time actually riding instead of waiting for the glue on a tire patch to dry, then you need to pick up a pair of Slime Lite Self Healing Bicycle Inner Tubes.

Slime Lite Self Healing Tubes are lightweight butyl inner tubes that have been pre-filled with Slime tube sealant. The company claims that this product will instantly seal most punctures up to 1/8″ (3mm), and in my experience the product works well. However, they warn that sidewall punctures and pinch flats might not seal.

If you travel much in Third World Countries you will see a lot of glass and litter on the roads. Well, I live in the far-north suburbs of Chicago in the People’s Republic of Illinois and we are pretty much a Third World Country! The main bike trail in my area has so many broken bottles on it that the locals call it the “Glass Highway.” A few years ago it was common for me to get flat tire on one of my bikes at least once a week. However, once I started using Slime in my inner tubes my problems with flats disappeared.

Sometimes we have to make compromises while cycling. We want the lightest bike and components possible and we don’t want to add any unnecessary weight to the bike, especially rotating weight (like on your tires). A 700c x 19-25mm Slime Lite tube weights 158 grams (about 5.5 ounces). While this is three times higher than the weight of a Bontrager Race XXX Lite tube, I would rather put up with a bit of extra weight on my tires than have to stop to change a tube in a high-crime area on the “Glass Highway” (I know of several cyclists who’ve been robbed on this wonderful trail).

While I have nothing but good things to say about Slime, I noticed that many of the customer reviews on Amazon.com were negative. The only thing I can tell you is that my experience with Slime has been excellent. The only time Slime has ever failed me was the first time I got a puncture with it installed. I had a small sliver of metal stuck in my tire, so I stopped to pull it out (I should have kept riding). Since I had not taken the time to read the directions, I pulled the sliver out while it was facing up—which means all the Slime was on the bottom of the tube! If you get a puncture while riding with Slime in your tubes the best thing to do is to pull the debris out while it is facing the ground—this will let some Slime and air out, but the puncture will seal. Then, put some air back in the tube, get back on your bike and ride. The rotation of the tires will spread the Slime out and you should be “good to go.”

The Slime Lite tubes retail for $12 and you should be able to find them at your local bike shop. These tubes are available in a variety of sizes for both 26-inch and 700c tires, and for both Presta and Schrader valves. In case you were wondering, Slime sealants are made with environmentally safe, non-toxic, non-hazardous and non-flammable ingredients—if you spill any of it on you all you need is soap and water to clean it up.

 

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Accu-Gage Low Pressure Presta Tire Gauge

Accu-Gage Low Pressure Presta Tire Gauge for Fat Bikes

Accu-Gage Presta Tire Gauge

Riders of Fat Bikes throughout the world can rejoice—an accurate low pressure tire gauge is now available! Those of us who spend winter riding in the snow on Fat Bikes usually try to keep our tire pressure between 5 and 10 psi. Unfortunately, very few tire gauges are accurate as such low pressures. The good news is that Accu-Gage has a professional grade low pressure tire gauge for Presta valves, and this puppy is dead-on accurate every time!

Those mammoth tires on bikes like the Surly Pugsley have a maximum tire pressure of only 30 psi, but most of us never inflate them past 15 psi, even if we are running on pavement. While the tire pressure gauge on your floor pump might be correct at higher pressures, I have found them to be very unreliable at lower pressures. You might think that a digital tire gauge would be the best alternative, but cold temperatures have a great impact on their accuracy—and some of us like to ride even when the temperature is well below zero.

When I say the Accu-Gage is “professional grade,” I am not simply parroting their advertising. These gauges are fully geared and have a precision movement with a bronze Bourdon tube. The piston-plunger gauges on most bicycle pumps are affected by changes in temperature and humidity, but gauges with a Bourdon tube (like the Accu-Gage) are not. Also, since you don’t need batteries for this gauge you don’t have to worry about the battery dying in the cold like they often do in digital gauges.

The Accu-Gage Low Pressure Tire Gauge is a 2″ dual scale dial tire gauge with a maximum pressure reading of 30 psi. Tech nerds will be interested to know that this gauge meets ANSI B40.1 Grade B specifications. For non-geeks, this simply means this gauge have been calibrated and is accurate to within .5 psi.

You should be able to get the Accu-Gage Low Pressure Tire Gauge (model #RPR30BX) from your local bike shop for around $13. The manufacturer offers the original purchaser a lifetime warranty against defects.

 

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Cobra Tire Tool For Easy Bicylce Tire Repairs

Changing a bicycle tire is not all that difficult a job—I ought to know, I’ve had to do it enough! I live in the far-north suburbs of Chicago and the “rails-to-trails” bike path near my house is affectionately known by locals as the “glass highway.” Even with puncture resistant Kevlar belted tires you can still get a flat. Unfortunately, puncture resistant tires are a bit harder to get off the rims than thinner tires. The good news is that the Cobra Tire Tool makes bicycle tire removal a snap.

The Cobra Tire Tool is a modified tire lever—on one end it has an extra hook in the shape of a snake about the strike. The end of the tool that looks like a standard tire lever is used to pry off the tire, while the larger hook fits over the chainstay or fork blade. After you get the tool in place you slowly spin your tire and in just a few seconds it will pop off the rim. If you want, you can patch the tube while the tire is still on the bike!

When I started writing product reviews I decided to never use photographs supplied by manufacturers. However, a still photograph cannot do justice to this tool, so I asked Jim Walls, inventor of the Cobra Tire Tool, to use his video of the tool in action. This video is less than a minute long—watch it and prepare to be impressed.

The Cobra Tire Tool is three inches long, weighs under half an ounce and is made of nylon and fiberglass so it should not mar your bike frame. It also comes with a lifetime warranty against breakage. The cost is only $6 (postpaid) and is available directly from the company Web site. This product is made in America.

At the moment the Cobra Tire Tool is only available for Road Bikes, Tri, and Hybrids. A tool for mountain bikes and fat tires is in the works.

 
 

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Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tires

When it comes to cycling we all have different skill sets. One of the things I am really good at is patching bicycle tires. This skill was not acquired by choice, but by the fact I used to get puncture flats at least once a week. When I finally wised up and put Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires on my road bikes my tire patching days pretty much came to an end.

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tires

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tire

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires offer triple flat protection: a Kevlar belt provides puncture resistance, anti-pinch ribs stop pinch flats, and bead to bead woven construction dramatically reduce your chances of cutting your sidewalls.

My Trek Madone uses 700 x 25C tires and I keep them inflated at 120psi. I’ve used these tires for over 10,000 miles on this bike and have only had two flats during that time. Since this tire is a bit stiffer than your normal bike tire you will find it takes a bit more effort to change (not impossible, just a little more work). I’ve been able to get around 2,500 miles on a set of these tires, but your mileage will vary depending on tire pressure and road conditions.

The most common complaint I’ve about these tires is their increased rolling resistance. That might be a valid complaint, but honestly I’ve not noticed it. While it is possible to get a faster ride on different tires, any savings is eaten up with your first flat.

While these tires do offer great protection against flats, it is still possible to puncture a tire under the right conditions. Nearly every training route of mine crosses a road that leads to the county landfill and garbage trucks have a tendency to drop a lot of debris on their way to the dump. Last year I hit a piece of shaved metal that was as sharp Marine’s KA-BAR knife and it cut right through my rear tire and tube.

The downside of this tire is that is it not very responsive in the rain. In fact, during a hard downpour they can be rather scary. If you ride a lot in the rain I would suggest you either choose a different tire or just ride a different bike when it rains (that’s what I do). If you do get caught in a downpour just slow down a bit and allow a little more room for braking.

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires retail for around $43 at your local bike shop. While it is still possible to get a flat while using these tires, the chances are very remote. While these are not the tires I would suggest for a race, I would highly recommend these tires to any other cyclist.

 

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