EVOC Bike Travel Bag Review

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Some of my favorite times every year are my trips with friends out west or elsewhere. Those memories that I hold in special regard are made simpler with a bike bag to get my bike where we’re going. I’ve previous used a Pika Packworks bag and it’s worked, but after three or so years of traveling I started to look for a replacement that had some additional features. I recently bought a EVOC Bike Travel Bag, and I’m very happy with it. Rarely do I find this much happiness with a purchase, really, this bike bag is great. Let me explain why I like it so much.

The EVOC bag answered my biggest want over the Pika Packworks bag, wheels. I’m built like a wet noodle in terms of upper body strength, and this EVOC bag makes the travel experience much more enjoyable hauling it through airports. The convenience and ease of mobility make the EVOC purchase a positive experience alone, but I’ve found a lot of other things l really like about the bag after packing a bike in it and traveling recently.

Starting from the outside, the bag’s build quality and parts decisions are noticeably well thought out and high quality. The handles and zippers are beefy and work well without showing signs of being unhappy about doing their jobs. There are handles in every place you would want or need to reach for lifting or maneuvering.

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The bike bag has this great ability to fold down to basically flat when not in use if you’re tight for space. It uses fiberglass rods and poles to hold the bag upright and add strength when it’s not folded flat.

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The wheels and base that they are attached to are sturdy and are big enough to not complain when rolling over a rock or cracks.

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The inside of the bag is where I went from liking the bag to loving it. It’s very well thought out. The entire inside is lined with a tough but slick surface that makes clean up of dirt or grease a breeze. There’s a positionable (or completely removable) padded foam block with reinforcement where the bottom bracket rests. There are lots of tie downs to hold the frame and things in place.

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The straps offer a lot of forward-backward and up-down adjustability, making it seem like the perfect bag for packing a road bike, mountain bike, or anything in between. With the optional road bike stand, I think this bag will serve all of my bike travel needs for a long time.

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The top tube and down tube are secured with a padded brace.

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The instructions stated I could leave my rear derailleur on so I tried that with success. That means one less thing to do when packing the bike, which is awesome. I wanted the packing and unpacking process to be as quick and painless as possible, and this bag delivers in spades there.

The fork for a mountain bike is secured by a reinforced and padded area making the fork safe and adding to the overall solidness when the bag is packed. Things don’t seem to move, which is a great thing.

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I’m a big fan of the interior and exterior storage zippered pockets, especially the clear pocket where I stashed instructions, reassemble notes, tools, and pedals. I stored brake rotors in an inside pocket on towards the back of the bike.

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The wheels go into zippered pockets on both sides of the bag. There is padding to keep the frame safe and reinforcement where axles and cassettes rest. The wheels fit in the pockets without any trouble.

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There’s a lot I like about the bag but one small area that could use some improvement are the personal info areas. They are a bit cramped for space, but they do work.

Overall, I’m really happy with it. Money well spent in my eyes. I think it will last me a long time and add a lot of convenience to my travels.

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Gore ALP-X Shorts Review

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I love Gore gear, it always performs. It’s functional, well designed, and tailored for intended use. What makes great shorts compared to normal shorts for mountain biking? I think it has to start with a lot of intention. As with all Gore gear I own, every aspect of these shorts seem to be well thought out and has an emphasis on functionality.

The fit of these shorts is great. The length has the legs end at about the knee or a little lower while standing or higher when pedaling. The legs are that magical area between too tight and too baggy. They have a detachable inner great chamois, comfortable all the way through a six-hour ride. Comfort is key in a chamois, and these deliver.

They have useful normal placement pockets on both sides, something that isn’t guaranteed on every pair of shorts.

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The waist on the outer short has a zipper and button closure, it is both secure and comfortable.

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The crotch and back panels feature wind and spray protection, a feature I throughly tested while on a recent trip to the mountains of Colorado caught riding in the rain and grit. It’s hard to see how covered in water and some mud I was but under my Gore gear, I was comfortable and dry.

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These shorts have vents that can be opened or closed via zippers allowing cooling on demand. A feature that I used more than I thought I would.

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Overall I’m really happy with the shorts. Off of the bike, they are a touch longer than my ideal preference, but when riding with bent knees and sitting in the saddle, the length is pretty great. The chamois and functionality is stellar and that is the most important aspect to me. The best part is, I know they will function just as great in years to come. Gore continues to amaze me with their quality.

Full disclosure, Gore sent me these shorts to use, and try. This review, my thoughts, and opinions are as honest, unbiased, and transparent as I can possibly be.

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First Impressions: 45NRTH Sturmfist 4

MJ5L2704These gloves are amazing… The 45NRTH Sturmfist 4’s are four finger gloves intended for use below 15º F. I have been using my Sturmfist 5’s this winter so far as the temperatures haven’t demanded anything warmer. Tonight I joined some friends for a night ride on my fatbike. I brought the Sturmfist 4’s to try. The temperature was in the upper 20º’s F.

The gloves were great, but they want to be used in colder temps. I removed the included merino wool liner 15 minutes or so into the ride as they were simply too warm. Even without the liners the gloves were shockingly warm, in a good way. I’m happy to report that these gloves are as advertised good for below 15º F.

The gloves are full but never limited dexterity of my braking or shifting. The joined ring and pinky finger were not restricting. The leather on the palms is very nice and provides lots of grip, and toughness. The cuffs are long enough to keep the cold out and short enough to be comfortable. Both the liner material and the primary gloves internal material are soft and warm. The material is kind to the cuticle of fingers, something I appreciate.

MJ5L2710 MJ5L2713I’ll provide more info as I continue to use both the Sturmfist 4’s and Sturmfist 5’s. For now, I’m thrilled with both. They are on par with the 45NRTH Wolvhammer boots that I love, a tall task to accomplish!

Thanks again to Tobie at North Central Cyclerly for getting me these gloves when they were in high demand!

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First Impressions: 45NRTH Sturmfist 5

MJ5L2611I’ve been looking for gloves for a while that fit my needs and when 45NRTH announced the Sturmfist 4 and 5 I was intrigued instantly. If the gloves are half as good as the Wolvhammer boots they make, I’ll be happy!

My local bike shop was unable to get a set of gloves for me from the first shipment. An unfortunate situation as I love supporting my local bike shop Bloomington Cycle & Fitness! QBP/ 45NRTH, you make cool stuff, please make more of the cool stuff so it’s easier to get… Still wanting to support local bike shops and not some internet store, I reached out to the great folks at North Central Cyclery and the owner was able to get me a set of 5’s and a set of 4’s should be coming soon also. Big thanks to Tobie from North Central Cyclery!

I’ve not spent enough time riding with these gloves to give a full review yet, but so far I can tell you I like them.
MJ5L2612The pads of the gloves have leather. This with the aerogel should keep the cold from the handlebars separated from your hand. They are 100% Merino wool inside and are soft and smooth. My hands get dry in the winter and I’ve had a lot of gloves that love to snag and rip my cuticles on my fingernails. These don’t seem to do that at all.

The detail and craftsmanship are great!
MJ5L2614I like the cuffs in terms of length and closure.
MJ5L2623 MJ5L2624I’ll post detailed thoughts after more use. I’m looking forward to using them this weekend on the Mississippi river banks with the FORC folks at the 2014 Global Fat Bike Day celebration!

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I Love My Honda Element

MJ5L1932I love my Honda Element, so much so that I’m on my second one. I previously had a 2006 4WD and sold it to buy another car but less than a year later, I knew I needed another one. Why? Versatility!

I love that I can set up a comfortable sleeping quarter and or transport and store bicycles inside. Bike locks are great, storing a bicycle inside of a car is better in my opinion. You can fold the rear seats into the sides of the vehicle and have something close to a box van, and if that’s not enough, you can remove the rear seats all together with a push of a button.
MJ5L1979The rear of Elements can function like other vehicles. Dad Mode.
MJ5L1953I can fold one seat up into the side and put a bike inside (with the front wheel on) for transport or storage.
MJ5L1975I have camped in my Element more than a few times and really enjoy it! With a good air mattress it’s often better than most other temporary sleeping arrangements. The floor of Elements are completely flat which makes things much easier and more comfortable. I used to put an air mattress directly on the floor with a sleeping bag like this.
MJ5L1961I have recently started placing my air mattress on top of the folded down front and rear seat. This is more comfortable and provides more storage under the folded down seats.
MJ5L1965 MJ5L1963Here you can see how there are no B pillars in Elements making accessing anything easy.
MJ5L1974To gain even more space while sleeping I often lock my bike on the hitch rack.
MJ5L1940I love that my Element automatically switches to all wheel drive when the front wheels lose traction! It’s proven more capable than I’ve thought in past situations. This thing gets me to the snow ride when it counts!
MJ5L1983 I love my Element! I love my Honda!
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