Planet Bike Rojo 100 Tail Light First Look

Planet Bike is synonymous with bike lights. If you live in the Midwest and ride, you’ve very likely owned at least one Planet Bike (PB) product, if not several like myself.

In all honesty I had moved away from using many of their products due to the changes in the landscape when it came to light offerings. Companies like Light & Motion and NiteRider were coming out with USB rechargeable lights that could handle extreme weather. You could also drop them and not have them explode into a mash up of plastic and batteries on the bike path.

My experience with PB had primarily been with their inexpensive, battery powered lights that were often very disposable due to the fact that most didn’t last a season. They either ate through batteries like crazy, broke if dropped, would die if the weather got too cold, or succumb to some other awful fate. (Usually getting nicked off my bike when parked downtown.)

To be fair, they had other products that weren’t as disposable. Their full coverage fenders and their ECO racks can still be seen on many bikes commuting across Madison.

At some point I noticed Planet Bike was playing catch up. They started coming out with newly designed lights that competed with some of the other light players in the industry. They had a line up of USB rechargeable head an tail lights.

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Rated for day and night time use.

Many of their lights use the same name, but have been upgraded with better casings and more power. The Blaze, Beamer, Spok, and Superflash have existed in multiple iterations.

It’s been a number of years since I have used a Planet Bike light, so I was happy when I showed up to work and saw the Rojo 100 sitting on my desk. Per my perusing on social media, I had seen that Planet Bike was sending samples of this light to lots of bikey influencers and shops alike to try them out.

I think Planet Bike is trying to regain their space in the lighting world by sharing new product and showing that they can compete on price/lumens and features.

My initial thoughts on the Rojo is that it looks like a Planet Bike light. It has a full plastic casing around it, with it’s traditional rear clip on the back. The nice thing is that I didn’t feel like I could pop the top cover off. I have not done a drop test with it yet to see how it survives. I’d like to ride with it for a bit before beating up too much.

There were a few things I noticed that I think gives PB an edge over the competition. The first being the amount of mounting brackets included in the packaging. There’s the traditional seat-post mount, a rear rack bracket to slide on the light, and a rear chain stay mount as well. Many brands often include one mount option and you have to purchase additional mounts, that is if there even is one. They also offer two additional stretchy strap style mounts that are sold separately. If you can’t find a way to mount this light to your bike, then I don’t know what to tell you!

The second thing I noticed is they ditched the micro USB charging for a USB-C! Yes! U-S-B-C. Why is it taking so many companies so long to adopt USB-C? Honestly I love it and had an Android phone that used USB-C before I made the switch back to iPhone and it was one of the best features. The plug is beefier, the hole is uniform so no having to squint and flip the cable over and over to make sure it’s positioned the right way, the charging is much faster, and it’s just oh so awesome. Kudos Planet Bike, whoever on your team got on board with USB-C is my new friend.

The third thing that I really like about the light is it has a TON of different mode options. I particularly like the courtesy mode, for those who want to have a blinking light option in a group ride or bike path setting. It’s not seizure inducing flicker that blinds you. It’s a very slow pulse with the light getting slowly brighter before blinking to the smaller under light. Here’s a video the company did to showcase the modes:

Now it’s not all butterflies and rainbows. I do have some reservations about the longevity of the light. For one it is made fully out of plastic, casing and all. Traditionally that usually signifies inexpensive and disposable in the world of bike lights. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this though as I have other lights that also have full plastic casings that have lasted a fairly long time.

Another reservation is that while it’s listed as the Rojo 100, the steady lumen listing on this light is only 25 lumens. It’s only when you use the Pulse or Turbo modes that you actually make use of all 100 lumens. As a fan of using just a steady red rear light on my bike, I’d prefer to have a brighter steady lumen output. Particularly for when I’m riding on the road with cars. If I’m riding on a protected path, it’s not that big of a deal to me. I just prefer steady light as it can be distracting to drivers and riders around me to have something flashing. Personal preference, everyone is different.

The lumen count is also questionable on many bike lights. The brightness and directional visual output can vary greatly from brand to brand. Some brands actually get their lights tested and certified to a standard like ANSI (look it up if you aren’t familiar) in order to ensure their lumen count is accurate. I wasn’t able to see anything listed on the product page for the Rojo 100 on Planet Bike’s website, but I see they use CREE LED’s, which are a trusted leader in LED lighting.

The light is rated IP66 which is better than some of the competing lights on the market and worse than others. The $35 price point tail light is a tough market to compete in. You can purchase an 80 Lumen NiteRider Sabre, so a brighter light offering which offers a full 80 lumens on steady. You can also purchase the Blackburn Dayblazer 65 which offers a 50 lumen steady, 65 max lumen on high flash, has ANSI certification, and is IP67 rated. The difference between IP66 and IP67 is the ability of submerge the actual item that is rated vs. being able to withstand a jet of water.

The Rojo 100 has a lot of competition, but I think for folks who have liked and used Planet Bike’s lights and other products in the past that this would be a great upgrade to a more modernized light.

Planet Bike’s headquarters is based here in Madison, WI and they participate in 1% for the Planet. They donate a lot of time, energy, money, and product to our local cycling community. So there’s something to supporting the homegrown company.

While I have not run this light through testing as of yet, I’d still say that it’s a good contender if you need to upgrade to a USB rechargeable option or need a spare for a 2nd or 3rd bike. The mounting options alone are a killer bargain for the $35 price point. I can confirm that most lights in that price bracket don’t offer that many accessories.

If you’d like to purchase the Planet Bike Rojo 100 please hit up your local bike shop OR you can order directly from Planet Bike’s website.

Thanks for reading as always and I look forward to putting the Rojo 100 to the test!
Thank you to Jereme and the crew over at Planet Bike for continuing to evolve their products and being such a driving force for our local cycling community.

Disclosure:
I received this product free of charge, but was not contacted by anyone at Planet Bike to write a review for this product, nor did my employer ask me to write this for any sort of financial game. Currently my home shop does not actively stock Planet Bike’s lights, but we do stock other products from their line.

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Pearl Izumi Pursuit Thermal Bib Tight Overview

Please check out my video on the Pearl Izumi Pursuit Thermal Bib Tight.

I apologize for the actual video quality on this one. My camera battery died prematurely because it was out in the cold weather and I really wanted to get some content out. I shot on my iPhone and of course YouTube compressed the sh*t out of it.

ANYWAY…

These bibs are such a well thought out design. Everyone questions me on why I love bibs so much, well they are extremely comfortable and these make it super easy to be able to use the bathroom without fully de-robing. The drop-tail is a game changer and now rivals my favorite halter style design on competing brand’s bibs.

The fleece lining is soft and cozy, the outer layer of the tight has a water resistance and just the right amount of bio-viz reflective hits for when the sun sets early. The mesh is also soft and finished nicely with the right amount of stretch, yet snug compression for the bibs to stay in place.

I’ve had some qualms with PI’s quality on some of their entry level clothing in the past, but the Pursuit Thermal Bib Tights have thus far won me over. I’m looking forward to putting in some proper miles in these and reporting back with a full review of how they’ve performed.

For more content like this, please follow on here. There should be blog follow button on the page. Please also consider subscribing to the Spoke Haven YouTube channel and following on social media at @SpokeHaven on IG and FB.

Thanks for reading and as always, see you on the path!

Liv Macha Pro Shoes Video Review

I waited quite awhile for these beauties to arrive while I was a Liv ambassador. Once I finally received them and got some road pedals, they completely changed my thoughts on road cycling specific clip-less pedals.

I’ve always viewed road pedals and shoes as an inconvenience. You have to carry cleat covers to walk around a coffee shop or pub during or after a ride. You have think more about clipping in and getting in and out of the pedal.

After having done some road specific rides with these shoes and Giant’s Road Elite pedals paired with the Liv Mach Pro shoes, I’ve seen the light. I’ve noticed increased power on the bike. The shoes are super light and comfortable with a great stiff carbon EXO sole.

I don’t mind tossing some cleat covers in my saddle bag or jersey pocket IF I’m going to be stopping on a ride. I have been trying to force myself to just stick to strictly fast road rides on my road bike so as to take advantage of my set up. In addition to new pedals and shoes, I also upgraded my tires to the Continental GP5000. An amazing upgrade from the stock Giant Gavia’s on my bike and of course they are set up tubeless. More to come on tubeless in another post.

After a number of months of using the shoes I can say I 100% recommend them. I plan on using them for when I eventually get around to setting up my trainer and rocking some Zwift.

I realize the write-up itself is very short and sweet, but I cover the shoes pretty in depth in my video review, so please check it out!

As I disclose in the video, I was a Liv Ambassador for two years. I did receive these shoes free of charge from Liv as a part of my ambassador kit. I am no longer an ambassador of Liv and wasn’t not encouraged, paid, or have any direct monetary benefit for my review.

I am employed by a Liv and Giant dealer, but do not make commission off of any sales of their products.

Should you like this content, please keep up to date by following me @spokehaven on IG. I also post fitness and nutrition content on @twowheelfitness.

Please also like, subscribe, comment, etc. on YouTube. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more gear reviews, write up, travel, and MORE!

#eatwellbikeoften

 

Liv Cycling Ambassadorship

It’s halfway through the year. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!

So much amazing stuff has happened this year and it continues to be a whirlwind. Last fall I applied to be an ambassador for Liv Cycling and was chosen to be one of many women who will be representing the largest women’s cycling brand IN THE WORLD!

It’s an incredible honor and it’s been a wonderful experience up to this point. I look forward to telling you all about it.

For those of you who don’t know, Liv is the sister brand to Giant Bicycles. Liv was created in 2008 and was the brain child of Bonnie TU. TU is a petite and highly stylish woman whose idea for creating a women’s brand stemmed from her own experience while shopping for a bike and clothing for the Tour of Taiwan. The lack of bike sizes for smaller women and comfortable clothing inspired her to get Giant on board with creating products for the women’s market.

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Bonnie TU of Liv Cycling

The very first products were co-branded with Giant’s name on them and were often shrunk down versions of some of the brand’s most popular men’s models. Giant eventually decided to go ALL IN on Liv being its own brand, wiping the slate clean and going back to the drawing board when it came to bike design, accessories, clothing, and more for women.

Liv brought in female engineers for designing the new bike models, they focused on graphics that were fun and bold, but didn’t scream “girly bike”. They dedicated countless hours to developing comfortable touch points on the bikes such as their women’s saddles. What came out of it was one hell of a line up of bikes for women to choose from.

Liv offers a full line up of kids, hybrid, city, road, cyclocross, and mountain bikes. Liv is the first women’s bike brand to launch a long travel, full suspension downhill bike which is the Hail model for 2017. An inspiring feat, as no other brand has dedicated themselves to creating such a magnificent offering to the women’s market.

The brand works closely with athletes such as Leigh Donovan, professional down hill rider and mountain bike coach, to develop their products to be best in class. They also utilize women like myself who are ambassadors of the brand, who work in the field and can give real world feedback from women we ride with to continue to improve the products coming to market.

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Up close and personal with the Liv Hail

Okay, enough of the kool-aid talk. My journey as an ambassador first started in January with our first webinar to discuss the brand history and get familiar with our responsibilities.

Each brand ambassador is provided with gear from Liv including swag for events, clothing,  and other promotional materials. We submit an event calendar for the year and our goal is to simply get more women out riding.

After each event, we report back on how things went and provide feedback on what we hear from women at our events.

Liv also offers ambassadors an opportunity to attend an ambassador camp. This year there were two camps due to the sheer number of women who are a part of the program (somewhere around 125 women).  The first camp was in California near Newbury Park, the home of Giant’s USA headquarters. Attendees had road and mountain bike riding options, as well as workshops, yoga classes, and brand seminars.

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Getting crafty with Jen Audia at the Mulberry Gap barn

The second camp location was a mountain bike specific location at Mulberry Gap, a lovely family owned get-a-way in the Appalachian mountains near Elijay, GA.

I had opted to attend the second camp as I’m getting much more into mountain biking these days, I had never been to Georgia, and I really didn’t want to sit on a plane for 4 hours!

The flight to Atlanta is a little over two hours from Milwaukee, WI. There is really no comparison to having to fly into LAX, even though ATL is the busiest hub in the nation.

My time in Elijay reminded me quite a bit of when I went to bike school for two weeks in Ashland, only much less cramped!

I stayed in a large group cabin with five other women. We had probably 20-25 women total at our camp. We spent our days attending clinics, seminars, riding some of the best mountain bike trails in the country, and bonding over our love of cycling and the Liv brand.

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Post Pinhoti re-group at the bottom of the trail with my Pique 2

I met so many incredible women, who continue to inspire me through my journey as an ambassador. They come up with so many fun and unique ideas for inspiring the women in their communities to ride!

I also have to give a huge shout out to Jen, Dorothy, Stephanie, and Liz from Liv for creating such an awesome experience for us.

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How We Liv @ Mulberry Gap Ambassador Camp 2017

Kate and her family at Mulberry Gap are also some amazing people. I can’t wait to return there for more adventuring in the future. Their hospitality is unmatched and the riding is challenging, but incredibly fun!

Liv ambassadors are offered some great purchasing opportunities for bikes. We are encouraged to get the latest and greatest, so we can speak to the quality of the bikes.

I personally decided to purchase not one, but TWO new Liv bikes. Fitchburg Cycles is the shop I work through as an ambassador, as they are a Liv dealer. Through the shop I landed on the Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1. A full carbon road bike with tubeless setup carbon wheels and Shimano Ultegra components.

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My beloved Avail Advanced Pro 1

When I discovered that Mulberry Gap would be an option for attending Liv’s annual ambassador camp, I also jumped at the chance to order the Liv Pique 2 full suspension mountain bike.

It may be the kool-aid talking, but they are two of the best riding bikes I have ever owned and I’ve owned A LOT of bikes.

Out of the box they were both extremely comfortable. The only change I made to the Avail was swapping out the saddle, as I’m very particular about my saddle choice. The bike feels fast and stable at the same time. It’s an endurance road bike, so it’s great for spending all day in the saddle or for someone who may not want quite as an aggressive position on a road bike.

The Pique 2 took some dialing in as I had never owned a full suspension bike before. It comes with a dropper seat post, which is a welcomed addition to my bike. It makes clearing obstacles a lot more comfortable! I eventually found that I needed to set the rear shock at the stiffest setting and then dial in the pressure and rebound to suite my needs.

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A trail with a view! Getting ready to descend the Pinhoti with the Pique 2

I’m used to riding a plus sided bike with no suspension, so I like a little more stiffness in the rear end, but like the forgiving nature of full suspension. It climbs incredibly well and I haven’t changed much parts wise on it with the exception of the rear tire, which I opted for a slightly wider 2.4″ tire as opposed to the 2.25″ tire that came on the bike. I like wider tires for the extra grip on some of the loose stuff. I also opted to put my favorite ESI silicone grips on as I don’t really like plastic/rubbery lock on grips.

The saddle is incredibly comfortable on the Pique and I tend to forget it’s even there. The SLX drivetrain performs flawlessly and I’ve never come to wish I had more gears on the 1×11 setup.

When women ask me how/why I am a Liv ambassador I often reply that I wouldn’t represent a brand I didn’t believe in and if the products sucked, I wouldn’t want to be a part of what they are doing. Good news, the products kick ass and I’m proud to be riding their stuff!

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Liv Cycling Social @ Fitchburg Cycles

My ambassadorship is no where near over yet for the year. I have some really wonderful plans for events coming down the pipeline.

Sunday June 25th is a brunch ride to Paoli with a coffee stop at True Coffee roasters leaving from Fitchburg Cycles at 10am.

Sunday July 9th is a my Functional Fitness for Cyclists clinic at Cross Fit Big Dane- currently full, but e-mail info@spokehaven.com if you are interested in attending!

August will most likely be a fun Tour de Breweries ride featuring some awesome local breweries!

September will be an in shop maintenance clinic at Fitchburg Cycles

October will most likely be the last event which is kind of a toss up, but a costume ride or bike camping outing isn’t out of the question. I’ll have to see what options folks would be interested in.

All upcoming events will be posted at fitchburgcycles.com and facebook.com/fitchburgcycleswi not to mention the Spoke Haven Facebook page!

Winter Powered by Krampus

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Snow Krampus

It’s been awhile and we realize that. Much apologies to anyone who has followed the blog. With lack of a good working computer and living with just a tablet and smartphone, blogging hasn’t been the easiest thing to accomplish. Never fear, there’s much to cover and be discussed now that the Spoke Haven’s tech  is now up and running again.

There are some new bikes in the lineup as of late 2016 and early 2017 and I can’t wait to share them all with you!

The first bike to join the stable was a Surly Krampus. The Krampus has been around for a few years. It’s what is classified as a mid-fat bike or plus sized bike. It has a 3″ wide tire spec’d on it. Surly has updated the Krampus for the 2017 model year with their knot boost spacing, the ability to add an internally routed dropper post, and a few other bells and whistles. Check Surly’s website for current spec’s.

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Stock Surly

I went for what is now referred to as a legacy Krampus. The bass boat green color cannot be beat. It’s probably one of my favorite Surly colors of all time. The bike just sparkles in the sunlight. So much so that I named my small sized Krampus Swampy Sparkles.
Before I delve into the overview, I want give a little history on Surly as a brand.
Surly has brought fat and plus sized riding to the mainstream.  When the Surly Pugsley landed on the market, it was not soon after that we saw a plethora of fat bike offerings from bike companies big and small. Each one trying to capture this new wave of people who wanted to extend their riding seasons and be able to ride in places never thought possible. OmniTerra is the term Surly uses to describe their category of fat and plus sized bikes.

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Headtube Glitter

Now, Surly admits to not being the first company to use the fat tire or plus sized platform. That being said, they have been able to push the cycling industry forward with creating bikes that are accessible and relatively affordable. Being a part of the Quality Bike Parts (QBP) family definitely makes sourcing a bit easier and a little more affordable.

I have personally ridden damn near every iteration of a Surly fat or plus bike they have ever made. Notice I said I have ridden, not owned. I don’t have a money tree growing outside of my front door! The exception being the new 27.5+ Karate Monkey. I admit that if I ride that bike, I may want to ride that over my Krampus. Maybe not though. Although the Prince purple version of that bike tempts me every time I see it. *drool*

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Photo from Surly’s Website- Karate Monkey

The Krampus is more nimble feeling than a traditional 4-5″ tired fat bike. It holds its own on groomed snow as well as on icy bike paths. With the name like Krampus, it’s surprisingly not marketed much as a snow bike. Rather, Surly deems it as a trail bike. Something you can do a great deal of exploring on, but it excels on dirt and loose rocky, rooty goodness.

That’s not to say the Krampus can’t be a fantastic off-road touring rig or a bike to use for snow riding. It just excels more at being a trail ripper that inspires confident riding. For those of you who are looking for a dedicated dirt tourer from Surly, check out the ECR. The ECR is on the same 29+, three inch tire platform- just different geometry and more mounts on the bike for attaching gear.

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Photo from Surly’s website- ECR

Out of the box the Krampus had some great things going for it. Shimano SLX and Deore components, a 1x drive train, mechanical BB7 brakes, beautiful paint, and a no-nonsense cockpit. I am usually one for taking a bike and pulling most stock parts off of it. I didn’t do much of that this time around. I didn’t feel the need to, as the bike was extremely functional and well performing.

I did swap out the stock chain ring for a wide-narrow option from Race Face. I also added some fun orange anodized headset spacers from Wolftooth components. I chopped about an inch and a half of handlebar off each side and slid on some Ergon grips. My friend’s over at Green River Cyclery in Auburn, WA hooked me up with the sickest decals ever. Some fun purple bar ends I had laying around, a set of Giant platform pedals and I was ready to go!

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A little bit of bling.

As an intermediate level mountain biker, the Krampus got me out of some riding situations I would that would have previously been either too sketchy or a death march on my fat bike. The width of the tires and the extremely low pressure they are able to run makes up for not having suspension on the front fork. They also provide amazing grip on even the greasiest of trails.

I have been also able to climb up some pretty technical, rocky ascents with the Krampus without hesitation. It has been a boost of confidence and allowed me to feel more comfortable riding more technical terrain as I develop my riding skills.

Overall I have really enjoyed the bike and it’s provided me some really fun riding over the summer and this winter alike.

Now, it’s not all butterflies and unicorns with the Krampus. The bike is quite beastly. There are a couple of local climbs I have either had to walk up or stop and take a rest on because the bike can take quite a bit of huffing to get it up some steeps.

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Getting Ready for Quarry Ridge! Photo by: Brenda Limpert

I do sometimes wish it came stock with hydraulic disc brakes in some situations, but I like mechanical brakes in a touring or bike packing situation where they are more field serviceable. It’s kind of a wash, but it may depend on what you plan on doing with the bike. I hope to use it more for off road touring and bike packing in 2017, as I have added a full suspension 27.5/650b bike to my stable. More on that in another post!

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Liv Pique 2 Sneak Peak! Photo: Vital MTB

Having the ability for a dropper post with internal routing would be nice, but that also adds weight. Same with adding a front suspension fork. All items being addressed on the current iteration of the Krampus. I personally don’t see adding a suspension fork to the bike anytime soon. There are quite a few folks out there in the blog world that have experimented with front suspension with some mixed reviews.

So far I haven’t had any real issues with the bike, other thank experimenting with chain length when I first built it. I ended up shoving the rear wheel as forward in the dropouts as possible and shortened the chain accordingly. I do sometimes get chain rub on the rear tire when in the largest rear cog on climbs, but it’s not enough to really make me pull the crank or cassette off to put in a spacer to address the issue.

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Snow Day!

Overall I am happy with the bike and look forward to having it being something I can beat on and not feel all that guilty about. There is nothing insanely expensive on it spec wise and everything is pretty dependable component wise. I look forward to experimenting with some different setups on it for bike packing. I see a Jones H bar in Swampy Sparkle’s future. A Jones bar and possible the Krampus/ECR fork with braze-ons to make gear hauling easier.  krampuspaint

If you are interested in checking out the Surly Krampus or any of Surly’s other bikes you can check out their Intergalactic Dealer Locator on their website. Almost all bike shops utilize QBP for ordering though, so you can pretty much source one from any shop in your area. I’ll be sure to post an update on the Krampus should it get a makeover, but for the time being it will be my outdoor winter bike, ready for the snow and slush!krampusseminole

Full disclosure: I was not paid by Surly to write a review for them. The bike was purchased via a shop discount through Fitchburg Cycles in Fitchburg, WI. All accessories added to the bike were also purchased by me and not paid for by any of the companies mentioned in the write up.