Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Light It Up!

Now that the time change has occurred and it's getting dark out sooner, people feel that their riding time is cut short. We would like to let you know that isn't the case, and yes, you can ride in the dark!
For successful night riding, a strong light is a must have. You do not want to be out on the mountain bike trails with a light that doesn't illuminate your way.

Yes, a good light is pricey, but once you know the benefits of a good light, it's well worth the money invested! A quality light will be durable and allow you to re-charge it without having to purchase expensive batteries. Also? You will have multiple brightness options as well as high lumins to ensure your safety.

Below you will find a product review from Josie (Life on Two Wheels.)
She and Travis tested out two fantastic lights and both can be ordered at Decorah Bicycles!
This year Travis has introduced me to night riding, and in true form, made sure I would have an excellent helmet light. The two lights I’ll talk about in this post are the NiteRider Pro 1800 and Light & Motion Seca 2000 Race.
The first light I is the NiteRider Pro 1800, which is said to have the one of the category’s best power to weight ratios.
It has 5 levels of light, flash mode, 4 cell Li-Ion battery, and has a really neat/handy battery indicator that lets you know where you’re at charge-wise.

The battery pack can go into your camelbak and the light also comes with an extension cord so you are sure to have enough room to move freely and comfortably.
To change the light beams, you hit the button at the top to alternate from strongest to lightest-similar to the light I use on my handlebar to get home (NiteRider Lumina 650)

The second light, Light & Motion Seca 2000 Race is a little smaller but packs a powerful punch.
The Seca 2000 has a 6 LED with 3 levels of brightness (High, Med, and Low) also you will find that the beam pattern is wide, extending outward with a stronger focus of light in the middle.
I found the NiteRider Pro 1800 had a strong beam of light that focused straight ahead where the Seca 2000 had more of a diamond shape. The makers of the Seca 2000 mention that the beam pattern of their light maximizes the riders’ depth perception and eliminates the snowball effect.

The chord for the light and battery pack is sufficient in length, no extension cords were provided.
The battery pack can also be hooked onto your shorts or through any sort of belt loop. I opted to keep the battery pack in my camelbak to avoid falling on it directly (if I were to fall.)

Travis originally installed the NiteRider Pro 1800 on my helmet, but I was able to easily install the Light & Motion Seca 2000 light without any directions. Perhaps luck was on my side, but it was simple to loop and strap, then hook on the light.

Another feature that is different is that the Seca starts off on the brightest setting vs. lowest. It threw me off at first because I’m used to pushing buttons to achieve a brighter light vs. lower.
Both lights worked great for me and were not uncomfortable when installed on my helmet. You will find that the NiteRider Pro 1800 is a little heavier than the Light & Motion Seca 2000, and the battery pack has to be in a larger pocket or camelbak.

I liked that the NiteRider Pro 1800 had a charge indicator on the top of the light that was really easy to read.
NiteRider Pro 1800 charge indicator

You will find that the power button for the Seca 2000 is larger and more easily found for non-visual pushing than the NiteRider Pro 1800.

I highly recommend either of these lights for your night riding needs. The trails I ride here in Decorah have a variety of challenges including close trees, roots, and rocks. Having a strong light that allows me to see, without question, is a huge confidence builder and I would recommend investing in a quality light from the start. You do not have to use the highest setting, and often times you may find that the medium setting or sometimes the lowest will work for your ride (depending on the trail, if you are ahead or behind another rider with a strong light, etc.)

When investing in a light you are putting money toward a product that should last a long time, a product that holds a charge, one that gives you multiple lighting options, and something that can be recharged easily without the use of buying excess batteries. (More eco-friendly!)

It's an investment in your safety. 

For a positive night riding experience check out either of these two lights so you can find your way in the dark!
As mentioned, we use our lights on our helmets so we can move and have the light follow. I feel more comfortable having the light on my helmet vs. just handlebars. 
(Some people use just a handlebar light.)
Some riders recommend both a light on your helmet and one on your handlebars.
(I do keep a spare light in my bag that should have enough charge to get me home legally, if worse came to worse and my light died.)
Stop by Decorah Bicycles and they can fill you in on the various setups so you can make the best decision possible for your riding experience!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cold Outside? No Problem!

Decorah Bicycles brought in a great selection of cold weather items for men and women this year, stop in and check them out!
From winter helmets, balaclavas, shoe covers, and so much more- there is something for everyone. (Keep an eye out for reviews!)

This year, Josie was able to test out Bontrager's RXL Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey. 

Layering is vital for outdoor recreation in the fall/winter months. This is a fantastic article of clothing that can be used for cycling, skiing, etc. Consider it a multi-purpose garment for your outdoor activities!

You can wear this jersey solo or add in a combo of wind jacket/base layer/thicker coat depending on the season and temperature.

On Saturday night when temps were in the low 20's Josie wore a base layer, thermal jersey, and a water/windproof jacket when she went out fatbiking. No bulky layers and she was very comfortable!

Functional and effective, this is a jersey everyone should consider if they want to keep riding during the colder months.
When the weather starts turning and summer waltzes closer to the fall and winter months, people start thinking more of putting their bikes away for the season rather than riding. Who says that riding has to stop as soon as the air turns brisk? Not I!

To someone new to cycling, the idea of purchasing accessories and clothing for various types of weather (rain, snow, cold) can be intimidating. It is an investment-but once you have a few choice pieces you can no longer say weather is a reason to not be on your bike!

Think of it as a few select pieces to put the puzzle together!

Travis introduced me to Bontrager’s RXL Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey this year and I love it!
The jersey is made from Profila Thermal fabric which is super effective at trapping in valuable heat.
The first thing I noticed when I put it on was how long the sleeves were. I would say I’d like this jersey slightly more if there were thumb loops or holes; however, it is not a deal breaker for me.

The length of the sleeves keep your wrist area warm-gloves or not. The fabric easily stretches so I can move it up and over where my gloves hit on my wrists to prevent any gaps that would allow cold air in. The bands at the wrists fit snug and firm, no worries of your gloves popping out from under your sleeves!

The fabric of the jersey wicks away moisture, dries quickly, and has a fitted cut to prevent excess bunching that can be uncomfortable or create cold air pockets. Another enhanced feature is the zipper has a draft flap; this keeps cold air from sneaking in.

You will find that the front of the jersey creates a smooth profile and has a comfortable fit when bent over. The back of the jersey is a little longer to keep you covered and has a gripper band to keep things in place. You will find 3 rear, open pockets and one zippered security pocket. You will also find some reflective elements on the rear of the jersey to enhance visibility.

(Since writing the review) I’ve worn this jersey when it’s been high 30’s, anywhere in the 40’s, and low 50’s. The warmer the temps allows me to wear the jersey alone. When it’s getting cooler I will add in a base layer for added warmth. If it’s windy and closer to the low-mid 40’s, I will wear a wind jacket to assist with keeping me comfortable. When it’s closer to the mid-low 30’s and below I will wear a softshell over the thermal jersey. When even cooler weather hits I’ll be trying out a winter jacket over the top to see how that works.
(Yes! You can wear a regular winter coat! Not all clothing has to be "bike specific" but it is helpful to have a few technical pieces to keep you warm in the in-between temps and beyond.)
There is much riding to be had this winter season, so I will be experimenting a lot with layering.

I'll be honest, layering is something that I still find confusing at times; it is an art that you learn through trial and error. I also run on the cooler side so I sometimes end up overdressing!
I’ve learned that 45 can feel cold and the next day 45 can feel almost pleasant. A lot depends on wind, sun, moisture, etc.

One benefit that I have is with mountain biking I often times have a Camelbak on which allows me to shed a layer if necessary. Many times I’ll lose the wind jacket after I get in the woods, because most times the trees are the perfect shield. I’ve also gone out a few times and actually ditched the thermal jersey for a simple base layer/wind jacket combo.
If you can increase comfort for your ride so you can extend your personal cycling season, why don't you? It is an investment, but once you have those pieces of clothing and accessories, you can layer up to combat the coldest temps without an issue. After that it’s down to convincing yourself that you have the gear, now you just need to wear it and go for a ride
I can say from experience, biking in cold weather is more mental than anything. If you recreate in the winter you know that once you're out moving around, you warm up. It's all about having the appropriate clothing to wear. Cycling is just the same!
So get the items that will keep you cozy and enjoy the ride! (Maybe rent a fatbike this year, too!)

Decorah Bicycles has several colors and sizes of this jersey in stock.
Stop in and check out their selection of cooler-weather riding gear including jackets, winter helmets, gloves, tights...everything you need to keep yourself toasty!
They have a great selection of items for men or women who want to overcome the cold temps and keep on riding all winter long!