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Cat-Ears Wind Noise Reduction For Cyclists (Product Review and Giveaway)

Cycling on windy days can be a challenge for even the most dedicated of cyclists. A strong headwind will make your legs think you are climbing Alpe d’Huez during a stage of the Tour de France. Cross winds make it difficult to keep your bike upright—sometimes you have to lean into the wind so much to keep you bike upright it can rattle your nerves. Regardless of what direction the wind is coming from you are going to have difficulty hearing anything because of the noise the wind creates—conversing with fellow riders or hearing cars coming up behind you is extremely difficult. The folks at Cat-Ears created a neat little device that attaches to the straps of your bike helmet to reduce wind noise—and two lucky readers are going to win a pair of Cat-Ears to try out for themselves.

Cat-Ears Wind Noise Reduction For Cyclists

Cat-Ears—Wind Noise Reduction For Cyclists

A few weeks ago I was watching The Tour of California on TV. During the fourth stage of the race one of the announcers said that they were experiencing “incredible winds” of up to 25 KPH (15 MPH). I nearly fell over laughing! I live north of Chicago (“The Windy City”) and ride in stronger winds than that several days a week. As a result, I am always looking for products that will help me ride on windy days.

Cat-Ears are one of the coolest, albeit strangest looking, products I’ve ever reviewed. They are made of small pieces of faux fur and polyester fleece. Cat-Ears wrap around the straps of your helmet and are held in place by a small piece of Velcro. Cat-Ears got their name because they were designed after the pieces of fur in the ears of a normal house cat. When properly attached to your helmet Cat-Ears disrupt the flow of air around your ears and allow you to hear a lot better on windy days. When riding at very low speeds (12 MPH or below) you probably won’t notice any difference when using Cat-Ears, but the faster you ride the more effective they are.

Close-up of Cat-Ears

Close-up of Cat-Ears

Cat-Ears is based in Boulder, Colorado and all of their products are made in the U.S.A. (I always love it when I can say that about a product). After writing about a new product I am often asked, “Do they ship to my country?” According to the folks at Cat-Ears, about 20% of their business is international and they have shipped products to: Spain, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Taiwan, Belgium, Netherlands, Slovenia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Austria, New Zealand, Italy, and Romania. If you would like to order a pair of Cat-Ears for yourself you can visit the Cat-Ears website—they retail for around $14 to $16 a pair and come in Black, White or Grey.

The folks at Cat-Ears gave me a few extra sets of their product to give away, so if you would like a chance to win a pair of them then leave a comment below telling me why you need them. I have a pair of white Cat-Ears for a female cyclist and a black pair for a male cyclist. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, June 14, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose the two winners based solely on my mood at the time (humor is highly encouraged). If you don’t need this product yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winners via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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Lid Lights Contest Winner

This past Monday we held a contest to give away a set of Lid Lights, the cool LED helmet lights that could easily save your life. While there were several folks I would have liked to have given the lights to, I finally decided on Sandra (the person behind the A Promise To Dad blog).

Sandra, the latest contest winner

Sandra, the latest contest winner

Sandra is actually new to nighttime cycling, but she said that she wants to participate in the Nacho Ride which she describes as “a ride ten miles out-of-town on a gravel rails-to-trails path to a bar that serves cheap Tacos/Nachos which more than 200 cyclists participate in every Tuesday.”

If you read the “About” page on Sandra’s blog you will find out that she started cycling out of a promise made to her father to “get healthy.” Her father had Alzheimer’s disease before he passed away and I certainly can identify with that—we had to put my father into a nursing home last month due to that same horrible disease. In fact, one of the reasons I took up cycling was out of fear that I would develop Alzheimer’s myself. This disease is not hereditary and an article on the Mayo Clinic website claims that “population studies have suggested that exercise which raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes several times a week can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s.” I love my wife and I do not want her to have to go through what my mother has in the past few years.

I normally send contest winners the actual product I reviewed, but Ed Kovak at Lid Lights has graciously offered to send Sandra a new set of Lid Lights—and she gets to choose the color of the lights! Thank you Ed!

One more note about Lid Lights: The current product is designed to attach to your bicycle helmet, but I really liked the suggestion that Kurt (kurtbredeson) made. He suggested that they also make lights available that would attach to the rear seat stays of your bike—and I think this is an awesome idea!

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2013 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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Lid Lights (Product Review and Giveaway)

I love riding my bike at night. With two bright headlights in the front and a pair of high-powered taillights in the back I am kind of hard to miss on most roads. However, one of the most common forms of bicycle accidents involve side impact—and headlights and taillights do very little to protect you from this kind of collision. The folks at Lid Lights recently sent me one of their new LED helmet lights to try out and I was really impressed with what they’ve put together. If you like riding your bike at night then keep reading—you might even be lucky enough to win a free set of Lid Lights (see details below).

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights (Helmet not included)

Lid Lights consist of a pair of 12″ long flexible LED lights that attach to your bicycle or ski helmet with 3M adhesive tape (it comes pre-attached to the back of the light strips). If these strips are too long for your helmet (and they might be if you are putting them on a child’s helmet) then you can trim them down to size with just a pair of scissors (complete directions are given on the company website). Since these lights attach to the side of your helmet it makes it easier for cars to see from the side. In addition, helmet lights are usually about two feet higher off the ground than most taillights—and this also makes it easier for folks to see you!

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights

Powered by a single 9-volt battery

The LED lights are incredibly bright and are powered by a single 9-volt battery. The whole unit only weights 3 ounces and the battery unit attaches to your helmet with a piece of Velcro (included). Typical battery life for this product is around 15 to 20 hours of continuous use. I would suggest you use rechargeable batteries—they won’t last as long between charges, but they are a lot more cost-effective.

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights

An easy to use switch controls the blinking pattern

Lid Lights are available in two versions: one with a static light (always on) and a blinking version. The static light retails for $25 and the blinking version is $35. In my opinion the blinking version is the only way to go—blinking lights make you a lot more visible to motorists than an “always on” light. The blinking lights are controlled by a small switch so you can choose from 25 or so different blinking patterns. Lid Lights are available in several colors, including: Blue, Pink, Orange, Green, White, Yellow and Red.

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights

The green LED lights are pretty cool at night!

The bottom line: If you ride your bike at night these lights are a no-brainer. Buy a cheap helmet and put a pair of blinking Lid Lights on them. I use very expensive helmets during my daylight rides (both for the ventilation and cool design). However, when you ride at night you don’t usually have to worry as much about ventilation and since no one can actually see the helmet you might as well just go with a cheap one! If you would like to see how the different color lights look in action you can head over to the Lid Lights Storefront (you can order them from this same page).

If you would like a chance to win a brand-new set of Lid Lights then leave a comment below telling me why you need this product. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, May 31, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose a winner based solely on my incredibly subjective mood at the time—however, humor in your entry is highly encouraged (just keep it clean). If you don’t need this light yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments left on this post. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag Winner

This past Monday we held a contest to give away a Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag to some lucky reader. The winner was determined upon the basis of the comments they left at the bottom of the review—they had to tell me why they needed this saddlebag/light combination and I selected the winner based solely on my incredibly subjective mood at the time. As usual, I had a very difficult time trying to decide who the winner was going to be, but I finally selected AlexP, a bicycle commuter from the Washington, DC area.

Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag Winner

Alex, the Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag Winner

To keep you from having to read through all the comments left for this contest, I’ll just reprint what Alex wrote: “I commute to work and have a seat post rack to haul everything I use on a daily basis in a set of pannier bags including my repair kit. Lately, I’ve been trailing my 14 month old on the weekend with my wife while she trains with friends for some upcoming centuries. I strip my bike down to the basics so I can try to keep up with everyone while trailing an extra human, so the rack (with my light on it) and panniers go away. I could use a saddle bag for my repair kit…the trailer is stuffed with diapers and Cheerios, both of which, according to my son, seem to be more important to him than a spare tube.”

I think Alex is the first contest winner we’ve had who did not have a cycling or fitness blog, so I wrote to him to get a little background information for this article. He is a former Naval officer (Hooyah) and when he lived in San Diego he used to ride his bike part of the way to work (it’s easy to be an “all seasons cyclist” when you live in an area with only one season). Now that he lives in the Washington, DC area he has turned his 35 minute metro ride into a 40 minute bike ride instead (9 mile each way).

Alex tries to support his wife’s cycling endeavors—she started riding to support autism awareness. His wife is a speech pathologist and her partner is an occupational therapist—they like to use their cycling passion to raise money and awareness for various conditions they work with in their patients. This year they are doing the Bike MS: Ride the Riverside, hosted by the National MS Society (click on the link to make a donation to her team).

Normally the contest winners on this site get the product I reviewed (dust and all). However, after I announced the contest the kind folks at Nite Ize, Inc. volunteered to send the winner a brand-new Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag (thanks Julie!).

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2013 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag (Product Review and Giveaway)

Every once in a while I come across a new bicycle product and my first though is, “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” That is exactly the way I felt when the folks at Nite Ize sent me one of their new SaddleLight LED Bike Bags for review. This product combines a weather-resistant bicycle saddle bag, a bright red LED taillight and plenty of reflective piping—and then they threw in a gear tie to make this bag incredibly easy to install.

Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Saddle Bag

Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Saddle Bag

The Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag is made from a water-resistant fabric—this fabric is also UV resistant so it will not suffer damage due to exposure to the sun. This bag only comes in one size—I would call it a medium-sized bag (I own several saddle bags and this bag is neither the largest or smallest). The bag measures 3.6″ H x 3.3″ W x 7.4″ D (91mm x 83mm x 188mm), and weighs just 3.3 ounces (94 grams). This bag is big enough to hold a spare inner tube, patch kit and a couple of CO2 cartridges. There is also a small interior mesh pocket which serves as a great place to keep your cash. If you ever have to dig into this bag in a low-light situation you are going to appreciate the bag’s bright white interior—it makes it so much easier to find things!

Bright Red LED Taillight

Bright Red LED Taillight

Sewn into the back of this bag is a bright red LED taillight that runs on a pair of 2016 3V lithium batteries (one pair included with purchase). This light has both a “constant on” and a flashing mode. You should be able to get about 20 hours of use in the “constant on” mode and a few hours more in the flashing mode. Please be aware that cold weather has a negative impact on battery life.

Reflective Trim On The Nite Ize SaddleLight Bag

Reflective Trim On The Nite Ize SaddleLight Bag

The sides of this bag are outlined with a thick strip of passive reflective trim. Since I spend a lot of time riding at night or in low-light situations I always appreciate reflective elements being incorporated into my cycling gear. Light bulbs burn out, batteries die and mounting brackets break—but reflective piping will always be there! This bag attaches under your saddle rails with a hook and loop strap and to your seat post with a re-useable Gear Tie Rubber Twist Tie.

The Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag retails for around $33 and is available from the Nite Ize Website. When you consider that you are really getting two products (a saddle bag and a taillight) the price seems very reasonable.

If you would like a chance to win a brand-new Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag then leave a comment below telling me why you need this bag. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, April 19, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose a winner based solely on my incredibly subjective mood at the time—however, humor in your entry is highly encouraged (just keep it clean). If you don’t need this bag yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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Serfas Speed Stem Bag Contest Winner

This past Monday we held contest to give away a Serfas Speed Stem Bag to some lucky reader. The winner  was determined upon the basis of the comments they left at the bottom of the review—they had to tell me why they needed the bag and I would select the cyclist I thought most worthy of sporting this top tube bag on their bike. I had a very difficult time trying to decide who the winner was going to be, but I finally selected Laura, the Pennsylvania cyclist behind the Wife, Mother, Awesome Girl blog (“Just another girl who used to be cool”). In addition, I selected Aaron of the Chatter Gets Fit blog as the second-place winner.

Wife, Mother, Awesome Girl

Wife, Mother, Awesome Girl

Laura said she needed this bag because some of her friends have convinced her to go a Summer Solstice Ride which will be about 150 miles in a single day. She thought this bag would make her a “much more ‘hip’ and ‘with-it’ addition to the group by storing her snacks appropriately—instead of wearing a uber-dorky backpack of snacks and gear.” Laura used to ride a bike from Target, which means it probably weighed more than my Jeep Grand Cherokee. She has been “married forever” and has three kids, three dogs, and three bikes and is hoping to work her way up to five bikes (I hate to tell her this, but that won’t be enough). Among the groups who have helped shape Laura into a great cyclist are  The Philly Bike Club, Sturdy Girl Cycling, and the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia/Women Bike PHL Initative.

While Laura was the winner I felt that Aaron (Chatter Gets Fit) was also deserving, but I only had one Serfas Speed Stem Bag to give away! Aaron was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes back in 2009 and is planning on riding in the Tour de Cure: Atlanta real soon. Since I couldn’t give Aaron a bag I decided to make another donation to his American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure effort. If you click on this link you can help him as well! My father has diabetes and the complications from the disease are enormous—one of the reasons I took up cycling was because I thought it would help keep me from getting this disease.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2013 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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Serfas Speed Stem Bag (Product Review and Giveaway)

On the back of nearly every cycling jersey you will find three pockets and they are usually sufficient to carry a few carbohydrate gels and your cell phone. However, on longer rides you are going need more room to store extra gels, bars and drink mixes (unless you are one of those folks who stops at every convenience store they pass). My favorite way to add a little carrying space on my bike is with a top tube bag. Most of these bags attach to the bike with a couple of Velcro straps—one strap goes around the top tube and the other around the stem tube. I own several different styles of top tube bags and recently the folks at Serfas sent me a Serfas Speed Stem Bag to review and it quickly became one of my favorites!

Serfas Speed Stem Bag

Serfas Speed Stem Bag

The Serfas Speed Stem Bag is made of 100% polyester and only weighs 4.2 ounces (119 grams). The medium-sized bag (the one in the photo above) measures 8.75″X3.5″X2″ and has 61 cubic inches of storage space—enough space to hold a dozen packages of carbohydrate gels. If you don’t need this bag to carry your carbohydrate gels or bars, you could always use it to keep cell phone close at hand. The inside of this bag is lined with a soft Microfiber fabric and the top of the bag (the lid) is made of mesh so you can see inside the bag as you are riding. However, if you are going to be riding on a rainy day I would strongly suggest you keep your phone in a Ziplok bag to keep it dry.

Serfas Speed Stem Bag

Serfas Speed Stem Bag with Mesh Top

The most unique feature of this bag is the way it closes. This bag has a magnetic strip along the top and when you flip the lid to the closed position it automatically catches and seals itself shut—you could do it blindfolded! I’ve not had any trouble with this bag accidentally opening, but I would not recommend it to those of you who enjoy jumping your bike off of the roof of your house—I don’t imagine the magnetic strip could handle a jolt like that.

3M Scotchlite Reflective Material On The Sides

3M Scotchlite Reflective Material On The Sides

On the sides and back of this bag is a strip of 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material. When the headlights from a car hit this reflective material it bounces the light back and makes you extremely visible. I ride a lot in low-light situations and wish that all of my gear had a piece of reflective material like this!

The medium-sized Serfas Speed Stem Bag retails for $33 and is available from the Serfas Website, as well as most bike shops and Amazon.com. They also have a smaller bag (6.25″X3.5″X2″) with 42 cubic inches of space at it retails for $30. Both sizes of this bag are available in three different colors (Red, Black, or Grey). The only drawback of top tube bags is that it is possible they could get in the way when you stop if you have an extremely short-frame bike (I had no trouble at all).

The folks at Serfas gave this bag to me for review and I told them I would be having a contest to give it away when the review was finished. I now truly regret telling them that because I really like this bag. So, I am keeping the one they sent me, but I purchased (at full retail price) another one so I give it away to one of my readers.

If you would like a chance to win a brand-new medium-sized Serfas Speed Stem Bag then leave a comment below telling me why you need this bag. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, April 5, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose a winner based solely on my incredibly subjective mood at the time—however, humor in your entry is highly encouraged (just keep it clean). The last time I ran a contest like this several readers “donated” their entry to other contestants (something I had not planned on). So, if you don’t need this bag yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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