What’s In Your Seat Bag?- 1st Edition

seatbagEvery cyclist should have some sort of emergency kit or way of fixing a flat when out on a ride. We always preach that even if you don’t know how to fix your own flat, there’s someone out there who does. Ride prepared!

These are a few items we choose to carry on our bikes at all times, no matter where we’re headed.

From left to right:

-Glueless tube patches
These are an easy, quick fix should you pinch flat or run over something sharp. It’s also a good idea to carry a wet wipe or hand sanitizer to clean off the area you plan on sticking the patch to.

-Crank brothers speedier lever
Out off all the tires levers we’ve tried (up to this point) this is one of the easiest to use. All you need is one vs. the standard 2/3 pack sets. This lever allows you to remove or install any kind of tire with ease. Crank brothers even has a video that shows how simple the Speedier lever is to use!

-Standard Patch Kit
Vulcanizing patch kits do require a little more time and patience to use, but they do a better job of sealing off holes. You can also utilize the sealant to mend not only tubes, but tire gashes as well.

-Park Chain Tool
Chain tools seem to be one of those items where it’s really worth investing in a nice one. I’m pretty sure we’ve killed 3 chain tools before wising up and buying our trusty Park Tool one. You never know what will happen on a long ride. If your derailleur fails or something happens with your chain, you want to have the option to rock your bike singlespeed to get you home or to have the option to fix it if possible.

-Extra chain linksWhen you get a new chain on your bike, there’s usually going to be some extra links. Manufacturers tend to sell chains with excess links rather than not enough. If you take your bike into a shop, ask them to hold on to the extras in case you need to do a roadside repair. Use your chain tool to push out the link pin most of the way and connect in the new links if needed!

-Fix It sticks
The Fix It sticks have replaced two tools that used to be carried. One was a full on hex set and the other was a Swiss army knife with a couple of screw heads. This particular set of sticks has the correct size allen heads and flat head to make adjustments to our bikes. There are various options for heads depending on what your needs are. They have come in quite handy this summer!

-Chamois Cream
Having extra chamois cream around is great. Sometimes you don’t expect to go for a long ride or your friend may have forgotten theirs at home. We’ve used Hoo Ha for years and love it. We’ve used it as an anti-chafe cream for running, for the bra line area, used after long hikes where there was pant rub, and of course on long bike rides. This particular cream smells nice and has good healing properties. It’s also parabin free for those who don’t want sketchy ingredients in/on their bodies.

-Bike Tube
Patch kits are somewhat of a last resort in our camp as we like carrying an extra tube. Of course if we get multiple flats or two flats at once, the patch kits come in handy. The general rule of thumb we like to advise is, carry a tube that is either a little smaller width wise for your tire or the exact recommended size. You can always use a 23-25mm tube for a 28-32mm tire, but you can’t really use a 35mm width tube on a 28mm tire. Get what we’re saying? (feel free to ask questions)

That’s all for this edition of “What’s in Your Seat Bag?”. We’ll continue these posts with some less essential recommendations. There are different items for different types of riding and situations that can come up. Feel free to share with us your photos and recommendations for what to carry on the road!

SIDE BAR: Many folks would say- what? no pump. We do generally carry a pump, but we view this more as if you were stranded with other cyclists or out on the road…this is the bare minimum of what you would need to get going. That’s assuming there is air nearby. A presta to schrader valve converter is also a handy item to have as well. If you don’t know what that is, Google it or ask your local shop. We forgot to include that in the photo!

Earth Friendly Ideas for Cyclists

You may think ,”Isn’t cycling itself earth friendly?”. The short answer is yes, but new bike products still use resources to create. We wanted to share some fun and awesome ideas on how to re-use common household items, old bike parts, etc. for your cycling set up.

The first one comes from Singletracks. Their article: Old Hardtail to New Commuter: How to Convert Your Rig for the Daily Grind, shows how to turn that old hardtail into a new commuter rig! Really you can apply this idea to any old bike lying around. Here in Madison we have plenty of old 10-12 speeds from the 80’s being used as daily commuters.

From old and outdated...
From old and outdated…
To functional commuting machine!
To functional commuting machine!

The next project is one that we’ve seen many incarnations of. The soda bottle bike fender! Nomadic by Design shows off one of their favorites. Really you can find instructions on how to make these on Instructables or a number of D.I.Y bike sites.

SodaBottle-Fender

If you’re anything like us, you have some pretty embarrassingly old t-shirts lying around the house. Turn that old *NSYNC swag into a recycled bike rag! Old t-shirts make some of the best bike cleaning tools because they are soft cloth and quite abundant!

The Best Bike Blog Ever (I guess we can’t claim that title!) shows an effective way to cut up your old tees for rags and a bonus cat toy 🙂 +1000 for finding two uses.

Cut the rags to size for cleaning the nooks and crannies!
Cut the rags to size for cleaning the nooks and crannies!

Bicycle tubes. They are the ultimate media for recycling. In all honesty, it’s hard to come up with something you can’t make with recycled bike tubes! There’s clothing, belts, jewelry, patch kits, back packs, seat bags, benches, artwork, and a whole heck of a lot more you can do with a box of old tubes.

Wisconsin Bike Polo

Spring is finally here and although it’s been a bit rainy and chilly out, that doesn’t mean that summer isn’t just around the corner. Summer brings us all wonderful riding, whether it be road, mountain, rail trails, gravel, or simply cruising around town. One tell tale sign of summer is that the tennis courts around the cities of Wisconsin bustle with bike polo!

Photo Credit: MKE Bike Polo Site
Photo Credit: MKE Bike Polo Site

For anyone who may not be aware, Wisconsin has some kick ass bike polo teams. Madison and Milwaukee often represents at many local, regional, national, and international tournaments! One of the most decorated teams is a combination of players from Madison and Milwaukee. That’s not to leave folks from Appleton or Eau Claire out of the picture…polo has been popping up EVERYWHERE in the past few years, but the two biggest cities in the state seem to be doing it up, way big.

New riders or folks who may be curious to see what all the buzz is about, are welcome to stop by Madison and Milwaukee’s home courts on Sunday afternoons. There are several pick up games and plenty of folks looking to recruit new riders to keep the sport strong and alive.

Madison has hosted a couple of large sized tournaments that have drawn riders from all over the country, boosting our bike economy and helping put Wisconsin on the map as a sort of polo mecca.

Check out the details below on how you can get in on some sweet polo action!

MadBikePoloLogo

Practice/Pick Up GamesReynolds Park Tennis Courts
E. Mifflin & Patterson St.
Madison, WI
Sunday afternoons (usually starts around 11-12)
Visit www.madbikepolo.org for more info

mbpclogo2012

Bike Polo for Beginners/Practice/Pick Up Games
Washington Park Multi-Use courts
4100 W. Vliet St.
Milwaukee, WI
Sundays @ NOON
Visit: http://www.milwaukeebikepolo.com for more info

Local companies who manufacture polo gear include Milwaukee Bicycle Company, Eighth Inch, and Fyxation.

Made in Wisconsin: SCOUT Bags

As someone becomes a seasoned cyclist, they start to learn what gear is great and what gear is lackluster. There’s a lot of hype in the bike world about the latest and greatest technology, fabrics, etc.

It can be difficult to know who to trust when it comes to the gear you tote hundreds, if not thousands of miles. Luckily we found SCOUT Bags based in Wausau, Wisconsin. SCOUT’s story is not unlike many small businesses. The owner, Seth, was looking for a well made, utilitarian bag he could use for cycling. After taking a look at an old messenger bag he had lying around, he figured “I can sew that”, but decided to put his own spin on it.

What started out as an experiment on an industrial sewing machine, ended up spawning a full line of bag offerings. SCOUT now offers two kinds of messenger bags, a roll top backpack, a backpack dubbed at the “Tomb”, tool pouches, laptop cases, tote bags, a bar wallet, and even a nice clutch for the ladies!

SCOUT also offers heavy duty pedal straps, a saddle bag, and if you ask nicely…a sweet beverage holster 🙂

Seth insists on on using heavy duty canvas, vinyl lining, nylon webbing, buckles, straps, and thread on all of his products. We’ve seen a good amount of his work in person and both of us own bags of our own. The custom Tomb bag that I (Cassandra) have has held up wonderfully over the past seven months. Every piece of the bag was thought out and serves a functional purpose. You can’t always say that about a commercially made bag. I’ve had my fair share of bags from Timbuk2, Dakine, Dickies, and a plethora of other companies who make “commuter” bags.

I can say with complete honesty that my current SCOUT bag has been my favorite. Maybe it’s because I got my choice of color scheme or because it was made in my home state. I’m not sure…it could be that it just works. It’s not too big, not too small. The only thing I changed about the bag was I added a reflective strip of iron on material across the back as I didn’t think to ask to have a loop attached for placing a light on my bag for night riding.

Keri has one of the awesome waxed canvas clutches and it works perfectly for fitting a phone, wallet, and other small items for going out on the town or keeping in her messenger bag.

You can find SCOUT Bags locally at Madison’s Revolution Cycles or hit them (Seth will sometimes call in reinforcements when the orders start getting crazy) up directly via Facebook. There was an online store set up for ordering bags as well, but I believe it is under construction at the moment. We’ll put out an update with info once we get that information. Often times Seth will set up shop at various bike swaps around the state and he says that as long as he gets requests from cyclists for gear, he’ll keep expanding his product line and churning things out.

UPDATE: order bags via scoutbags.bigcartel.com

We have a feeling he likes a challenge, so if you dream it, SCOUT can build it err sew it!

When Seth’s not  sewing in his basement studio, you’ll catch him riding BMX or road riding. He claims to dig climbing hills, so if you run into him…challenge him to some king of the mountain 😉

Full disclosure: I paid full price for my bag as well as Keri’s bag. We are, however, most likely going to be working with SCOUT on some items for our upcoming online store. Stay tuned for the details.

Classy, Made in the USA Bike Storage

Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have done a lot for the cycling industry in the past couple of years. We’ve seen a lot of really great, innovative products pop up. There’s also some pretty bad ones that end up flopping, but it’s still exciting to see the enthusiasm that folks put into these concepts and that they are trying to improve our quality of life.

Today we discovered a product that makes storing your bikes inside of your home or apartment easy and attractive. BONUS: It’s sourced and manufactured in the USA!

The Statement Bicycle Rack is a wall mounted bike storage solution that uses clean lines and when it’s not in use, it looks like a decorative fixture. The mix of birch hardwood and aluminum looks classy and chic. The part that actually holds the bike folds down with a cradle for your top tube.

usabikestorage
Photos sourced via Kickstarter.
Photos sourced from Kickstarter
Photos sourced via Kickstarter.
Point of Purchase packaging.
Point of Purchase packaging.

The rack would make a great solution for someone who doesn’t want their home looking like a shed or garage space. It saves floor space and you’re not having to worry about tipping over bikes sitting in little stands all over the floor!

The minimalist packaging shows off the product nicely vs. the standard picture on the box route that most manufacturers opt for. I’d even consider using these racks in a retail setting to display some high end road bikes on the wall.

Native Standard Collective is the group behind this project and some more Made in the USA products to come. If this is the type of design work they do, they are definitely headed in the right direction. The installation for the Statement Bicycle Rack only requires two stainless steel screws and the bit needed for installation is included.

If you’d like to be one of the cool kids and get a nice, USA make storage rack for your ride, check out their Kickstarter page and donate!

http://kck.st/ZxVox0 <—-Check out their video on how they manufacture the rack AND how it functions while in use. There’s a place to thread a lock through as well as a helmet holder!