Swift Campout 2020

Swift Industries has been a leader in promoting and supporting bike exploration since they came onto the scene. Their upcoming Equinox Campout is a great opportunity to get outside and explore your local parks, trails, and camping destinations.

I plan on doing an overnight now that I’ll have the luxury of a weekend day off and not having to be at work until noon most days! Quite exciting stuff coming from someone who hasn’t been able to get a consistent weekend day off for almost a year. Retail management is usually not super conducive to having weekends off like…ever.

If you want to explore rides in your area or connect with other campout leaders, head over to swiftcampout.com. There’s still time to create a profile and even post your own ride if you’d like to encourage others to join.

I plan on riding my Surly Krampus paired up with the Blackburn Outpost Elite handlebar and seat bags. I haven’t yet taken the handlebar bag out for an overnight and am looking forward to it. I recently swapped some Jones Bars on the bike and it will be getting another upgrade soon as an MRP carbon fork it also on its way!

Blackburn Outpost Elite

I plan on ditching the old fork and existing wheel set as the next upgrade I want to make is some Stan’s tubeless wheels so I can drop some weight off the bike and run lower pressure. I’ll likely keep the Rabbit Hole wheels so I can easily swap my studded tires onto the bike for winter commuting.

MRP Rock Solid Carbon Fork (mine will be the 490 length with QR)

I really want to do a write up on both the Blackburn seatbag and the handlebar bag soon, so I’m excited to get out and see how it holds up. I’ve used it for commuting a couple of times, but would like to see how it holds up to 50+ miles of gravel riding and being packed with camping gear.

Stay tuned for that and thanks as always for reading.

Eat Well, Bike Often!

Cassandra

One Chapter Closes & Another Begins!

I’ve been waiting to make this announcement as I wanted to respect my current employer, Fitchburg Cycles. Tomorrow is my last official day there though and I feel it’s time for me to update those who give a care on where I’ll be headed!

I’ll be joining the team at Wheel & Sprocket Middleton as a Store Manager. I’m nervous and excited for the new opportunity. I’ve spent a cumulative nearly four years working with Edwin and the folx at Fitchburg Cycles. I considered it my home shop, even when I wasn’t physically in the shop working. I’ve held many events there, took on a lot of responsibilities that kept the shop running (purchasing, social media management, and running the sales floor), and learned so much from my time at the shop. It was a bit of a revolving door of employees during my four years there, but will for sure miss my most recent co-workers.

It will be a bittersweet ending of my time there, but I know that it was time for me to move on. For those who aren’t familiar with Wheel & Sprocket, they are a Midwestern regional chain that was founded in 1973. Chris Kegel was the longtime president of the company until he sadly passed away in 2017. I had the pleasure of working with Chris during my time at Saris managing the silent auction and assisting in planning the annual Saris Gala. I also had ties to Chris and his family during my time as a board member for the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation.

Throughout my time at Saris and the Bike Fed I had met Chris’s daughters  Amelia and Tessa as well as his sons Noel and Julian. Noel has taken over as president of the company while Amelia heads up the events and marketing. They’ve grown as a company within the last few years with expanding to new markets such as Middleton and Evanston, IL. They’ve also been expanding and updating their locations in and around the greater Milwaukee area, making for clean and modern looking shops.

It’s nice knowing that while they are a “chain store” that they are still owned and run by the Kegel family. Wheel has a great reputation outside of their shops for giving back to the community. They sponsor a number of local charity rides, started the Chris Kegel foundation which provides funding for cycling infrastructure projects, and they donate funds to a lot of cycling non-profits. Their ride support is always a welcome site when rolling up to a cycling event as they always have great mechanical support.

My hope is once our world gets back to normal after COVID that I’ll be able to join an event or two as it’s always something I’ve enjoyed while working in bike shops.

chriskegelfoundation.org

Another aspect I’m excited about with heading to a new shop is I get to work with some new brands. I have a lot of love and respect for the brands I worked with at Fitchburg Cycles, but I will get to now sell brands like Salsa and All-City who make some fun bikes and products I’ve been a fan of for many years.

I’ll still get the opportunity to sell Liv and Giant, which is exciting and they are wonderful bike brands. Some other brands that will be new for me to sell include Ortlieb (some of the nicest pannier and bike packing gear on the market), Kuat racks, Terra Trike, Tern, Yuba, Felt, and another 4 lettered brand that lots of people know. I shall not name them at this time due to their association with the police bike issue, so I’d just rather not go there. I’m trying this whole if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It gets me into a little less trouble, but for those who know me…I’m pretty candid about my thoughts and opinions on things.

The opportunity is awesome and I’m excited to getting my feet wet with learning their systems, the new products, the new brands, and meeting a new customer base! I know some of my existing regulars will likely come see me at the new shop and I look forward to exposing them to some new offerings as well.

I don’t know that I’d write much about my day to day job as I tend to like to just talk about my bike, reviewing products, and the rides I’m doing. If anything cool pops up though I’ll be sure to share about it.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading and as always EAT WELL, BIKE OFTEN!

Cassandra

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.

P1030476
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.

If you like this and other content please feel free to follow Spoke Haven on Instagram @SpokeHaven or on Facebook.com/spokehaven

Spoke Haven is also on YouTube.com/spokehaven

 

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