TZ-3 Super Bright Flexible LED
I’ve opted for the Red rear LED Light. The LED light is a great addition to your high-vis set up. This little light has a recessed button so you can’t accidentally switch it on by dropping it or resting something on it, it has a large button that is easy to use with gloved or cold fingers. It comes housed in a solid body with a stretchy flexible silicone mount loop. Press the on off button once and you get a solid light, press it again and it will flash intermittently (don’t use in flashing mode if on a bicycle or motorbike), press once again and it switches off… simple. There are two small recessed screws on the underside of the body to allow you to replace the battery (CR2025) which the manufacturer says should last you 100 hours.
I’ve tried the light on my bike frame and handlebars and because the light has a shaped underbelly it sits comfortably on flat or curved surfaces and with the silicone stretch loop it won’t slip or move against metal, handlebar tape, carbon fibre or painted surfaces and fabric. The loop can be pulled up and fully over itself depending on the diameter of the item you’re wrapping it around, you can put the strap over the front of the light body or further back over the casing and it doesn’t press or restrict access to the button. It’s coped fine with the scrapes and drops it’s had so far. It really is ideal to attach to your helmet, it neatly slots through the helmet vents and is a real upgrade to just using a reflector, because it’s so lightweight you don’t notice it’s there. I’ve also attached it to bags and backpacks and it works a treat. When you pair it with the Verso High-Vis Gilet by TwoZero (read our review here) it sits neatly on your back just above your shoulder blades and when you have a backpack under your gilet it sits up and faces behind you without being obscured by your backpack, it takes over from your helmet reflectors if they become hidden behind the bulk of your bag. It comes in a choice of white or red LED light and both provide a strong bright light. A great addition to you cycling safety gear, it’s small, lightweight, flexible and it fits neatly into a pocket when it’s not in use.
Colour: Red LED or White LED
RRP £9.99 with free UK delivery
Available from: www.two-zero.co.uk for delivery worldwide
also available from other online and high street retailers
What TwoZero say about their product:
Easy fit silicone loop LED
Flashing or Solid State
Long Battery Life 100hrs (replaceable)
red and white LED version
easy to attach to TZ bags, Verso Gilet and rucksacks
It’s time to pull out the high vis winter cycling gear for the commute so we thought we’d take a look at a couple of products, these two items caught our eye as they work together or individually, the Verso High-Vis Gilet and the TZ-3 Super Bright LED Light (read LED review here). They’re a new addition to TwoZero’s range, the award winning company is already known for it’s range of cycling and motorcycling bags. I own one of the cycling bags which I’m mightily impressed with so I thought we’d try some of their other products. I enrolled the help of my hardcore commuter cycling pal to road test them.
Verso High-Vis Expandable & Reflecting Cycling Gilet
I’ve chosen the black gilet in size S/M, even the style conscious cyclist wants to be visible but not in your face and to be honest I can’t quite pull off the 1980’s neon rave look, maybe back in the day but not now… and to be honest the black doesn’t look too much like a high visibility jacket when you’re off the bike in daylight.
First impressions upon unpacking it… looks well made, lightweight, quality stitching and fabric, with good finishing, piped edges in both normal and stretch fabrics. It has a slight tailored shape to it, it’s not just a box shape, it also has stretchy lycra side panels these stretch a further 3cms on each side. The bottom edge of the gilet is elasticated to stop it flapping around. The yellow version has black stretch fabric vents with reflectors and black stretch side panels. It will pack away into the sort of space a pair of below the knee socks would take up…. no idea why I used that comparison but it’s what sprung to mind, so I’m going with it!
The full length zip down the front has a fabric pull loop for when gloved or cold fingers can’t quite manage fiddly fastenings. The high vis panels on the gilet are well designed, there are two soft reflector fabric stripes across the front and back of the shoulders, below that on the front and back of the gilet there’s a bonded or possibly screen printed abstract triangular design in reflecting flexible ink, it’s very well applied and I’ve not seen any signs of wear yet, it doesn’t look like it will flake off over time as I’ve found with similar products, I’ve had a good old pick at the edges of the ink and it’s tough. The collar edge isn’t rough against your skin unlike other high-vis wear I’ve purchased in the past, once out in the cold damp night air you often find collars chafe but the piped edging stops this.
Click on the images above to view them in detail.
The back of the gilet scoops down over your rear like a regular cycling jersey but the main feature which makes it perfect for commuting by bike is the ability to unzip the two concealed back vents, these vents are also elasticated and covered in even more reflectors, they allow you to put the gilet over a backpack, this means you don’t have to trundle around town during the day with a particularly neon or reflector spattered bag just to be prepared for your dark journeys to and from the office or trip into town. The vents really do give plenty of room and because it’s stretchy you don’t find it rides up as you move, nor does it flap around behind you like a cape in bad weather even with a bag underneath. The extra reflectors in the vents do also mean you’re more visible side on at junction as the reflectors continue all around you.
If you put your hand behind the none elasticated areas you can see through it, it’s certainly breathable something that generally is a problem with high-vis winter products, they tend to be a bit industrial, bulky and make you look like you’ve walked off a building site. The Verso is designed to be worn over your winter clothing it’s only to provide you with visibility with the option of putting your bag underneath. It allows you a full range of movement thanks to the lycra side panels. It’s also easy to wash but I’ve found running it under the tap and wiping and mud spatters off is just as easy and quicker than using the washing machine, because it’s such a fine fabric leave it to dry overnight and it’s ready for your next commute.
Verso & light Combination:
On the back of the gilet there is a loop just below the shoulder reflector stripes, this is for you to attach the other product in the TwoZero range, the Super Bright Flexible LED Light, you loop it through and back over itself and then set it to the desired mode. If you don’t have the Super Bright you could use other lights and reflectors but the way the light is designed combined with the position of the loop means the light sits perfectly. Read the full TZ-3 Super Bright LED review here.
I’m my opinion the Verso Gilet is perfect for commuters and with a choice of colours (hopefully more colours and designs will be added to the range) there’s a limit to what you can do with high vis, it can never be minimal because that would make it pointless. It’s certainly been designed with cyclists and motorcyclists in mind but if you run with a rucksack (if you’re mad enough) then it would work for you too.
From a safety point of view the side reflectors in the vents when expanded do really give you a better profile when pulling out of a junction. The Verso Gilet is endorsed by IAM (institute of Advanced Motorists).
It’s in the mid to high end price bracket of the market but it’s certainly better made and better quality than others I’ve seen and it has the added zipped vents to allow a backpack which I’ve struggled to find on other products, it also has the ability to add the LED light for extra visibility, it’s well worth the money.
Available in black or yellow
Sizes: S/M or L/XL
RRP £34.99 with free UK delivery
Available from: www.two-zero.co.uk for delivery worldwide
also available from other online and highstreet retailers
What TwoZero say about their product:
Dual purpose expandable high visibility vest
integrated rucksack cover
unique expanding back will unzip to fit over your backpack
stylish high visibility graphics for increased safety
tailored to hug the body
elasticated panels for comfort
lightweight fabric allowing your skin to breath
back panel loop to attach TwoZero LED flasher (sold separately)
I love all things about cycling, but one of the things I love to hear about is when people tell me about their Car-Less lifestyle. I’m totally amazed by what these people are doing and have the utmost respect for anyone who has chosen to take this route in life.
There is also the term “Car-Light” which, as the name implies, is a step down from living a full out Car-Less life and only occasionally taking out the car. Living extremely Car-Light has been on our goal sheet for the past six months now, and my wife and I are doing what we can to move ourselves into that reality. I hadn’t really considered it before, but it mentioned that in today’s society, families who get by on only one car could pretty much be considered “Car-Light”….I realised that I’m closer than I thought. We’ve been a one car family for 7 of the past 9 years, and I love it.
So what’s it like living Car-Less?
I really wanted to know more about this lifestyle, so I reached out to some people in the cycling community to find out. To me, the king of living Car-Less has got to be Ryan Van Duzer. Not only has he been living his life without a car, he doesn’t even have a driver’s license.
I’ve never had a license!!! When I turned 16 I kept on riding my bike, while all my friends got cars and forgot about their bicycles.
-Ryan Van Duzer
And what a life he’s been living. Keep your eyes on this dude because he is totally going places. Fresh off being the star of “Out of the Wild“, he was awarded the gig of being host of the show “
Ryan’s adventurous Car-Less life didn’t just happen, he made it happen:
People always ask how I live without a car…truth is, I created a life that doesn’t require a car…When I travel, I look up bike stores to rent a bike, not Avis.
Amsterdam and Copenhagen seem like places where everyone lives the Car-Free lifestyle…what about the European country of Sweden? I asked Marcus Ljungqvist (not to be mistaken with the Pro Cyclist, Marcus Ljungqvist from Sweden) what the cycling situation is like in Sweden:
“Malmö is the best bike-city in Sweden and probably pretty good in an international standard too. It is light years behind cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but is working hard to close the gap.”
Marcus began commuting to work about 2.5 years ago and soon realised that the 50km round trip didn’t really take much longer than his car or the bus. He says that taking his bike is a fourfold win. The four factors that he builds his argument against when promoting the bike as the Ultimate Transport are: “time, economy, environment and exercise.”
Now that he’s living the Car-Free life, Marcus says it feels really strange to not take a bike somewhere. ”The very rare occasions when I use the car within the city, I always hate it; congestion, parking and the cost of gas.”
Andrew Wright’s Car-Less journey began when his vehicle was taken off the road due to a “roadworthiness” issue. He and is wife live in Australia and decided to give it a go by riding busses and trains as their means of transportation. Before too long, Andrew realised that co-ordinating the schedules between these two sources really “sucked” and he looked to the bike to save him. As a guy who used to say, “If it has no motor between the wheels then I’m not interested”, this was a major shift in lifestyle. He bought himself a $20 garage sale bike and hit the road. Within 3 months Andrew had lost over 40 pounds and was hooked on the Car-Free life. His love of cycling has now filtered down to his three daughters and he rides them to school almost every day…even in the winter.
“So there is my story. We cycle. We catch the bus. We catch the train. We borrow a car when necessary.”
If you’re not able to live the full out Car-Free life, becoming Car-Light is a great option….especially when you have a family. Rob Perks of oceanaircycles.com started living Car-Light four years ago so that he could combine outdoor exercise with his commute to work.
With a young family, you’d think it might be a little challenging, but what does Rob say about living car-light?
“It’s not too hard. Our daughter is almost big enough to ride in a kid seat and then we will be able to ride again as a family. For now my wife and I mostly ride in shifts. I run many of our errands by bike. When we do fire up the car we combine as much stuff into one loop around town as we can.”
Cyclelicous‘ Richard Masoner has been living the car-light lifestyle since he was in college…..and continues this way now that he’s married and has a family. He doesn’t really consider his family to be “car-light” because they do own and drive a car for certain things….but in my opinion, he’s definitely living it and doing a great job of promoting this lifestyle along the way. Richard says all the “schlepping” to and from events can be challenging, but “cycling is it’s own reward” and makes it all so worth it.
The list of people living Car-Less and Light goes on and on…here are few tweets from Twitter friends living the lifestyle:
Advice from the Car-less/light Experts:
So what do you think? If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to a car-less or car-light lifestyle, here are come comments and advice to those already doing it:
Marcus Ljungqvist: “Just do it. A lot of people see it as a huge challenge, but it is a lot easier than one could imagine. For sure, some things might get a bit more complicated, like buying new furniture, but you may still have your car, a friend with a car, car-rental and so on. Some stuff are actually easier, like dropping the kids off in the morning and grocery-shopping (using a bike-carrier or cargo-bike).”
Ryan Van Duzer: Don’t be scared of leaving the car behind, the bicycle will bring so much joy to your life that you’ll forget all about that heavy box on wheels!
Richard Masoner: LIVE CLOSE TO WORK, SCHOOL, SHOPPING!
Rob Perks: Start with whatever bike you have, even a rusty beach cruiser with a flashlight taped to the bars will work. Do not obsess over “needing” the right bike to get going. Start with easy stuff like going to dinner where there is less time constraint. Move more and more of your car time to bike time as it comfortably works for your situation. As you ride more and gain experience you can tailor you bike(s) to better suit your needs. Once you start to cut the car dependence you will wonder why it took you so long to get started.
Are you living car-less or light? What advice do you have for others thinking of making the switch? If you’ve been thinking about moving to this lifestyle, what barriers are preventing you from doing it?
Photos c/o Michael Graham Richard, Ryan Van Duzer, and Marcus Ljungqvist
Do you picture bikes or cycling when you think about the Caribbean? I’m sure sun, sand, and palm trees pop into your head a lot sooner then the idea of riding a bicycle in the Caribbean….especially on the beautiful island of Bonaire. But I’m here to tell you that bikes and Bonaire go hand in hand.
I was lucky enough to spend three years of my life living on the amazing island of St. Kitts, which is also in the Caribbean just a little north of Bonaire. It too is a great cycling island and one of the most memorable rides I’ve ever had was on it’s South East Peninsula. Many other islands should be looked at as good places to cycle as well, but I wanted to point out the fabulous Dutch island of Bonaire in this post.
Bonaire is well known as one of the best diving locations in the world, and is also highly regarded as a windsurfing and kitesurfing haven, but what about cycling? Well, here is what the people from Bonaire Bike Tours have to say about riding on their island:
The best way to experience the beauty and outdoors, meet the locals, and enjoy all Bonaire has to offer, is on a bike. See the flora and fauna, cycle past our natural history, and get exercise in our clean Caribbean air. We have challenging climbs, incredible mountain bike terrain, and miles and miles of fabulous road and off-road cycling routes.
Here are my top 5 reasons you should consider Bonaire as your next great cycling escape, holiday, or adventure:
1. Where else do you get to go cycling in a beautiful climate (consistently between 24 and 30 C / 75 and 90 F), with limited rain, and located outside the hurricane belt? I’ll bet that sounds awfully nice as the temperatures begin to drop in your home town.
2. Cycling is important enough on this island that they even have a Cycling Map available. I’ve never seen one of these for any other Caribbean island:
3. Cycle along with Donkeys and Flamingos – Bonaire has both a donkey and a flamingo sanctuary on the island….and who doesn’t like donkeys and flamingos? This is sure to be scenery that you don’t generally experience at home.
4. Learn Dutch or Papiamentu – The official language of Bonaire is Dutch, but English is widely spoken. But the native language just happens to be Papiamentu which is a mixture of many languages including Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, English, Caribbean Indian, and African. Imagine how beautiful that must sound.
5. Road and MTB Riding – Mountain Biking is probably the most popular type of cycling on Bonaire, but they do have some excellent road riding as well. There may not be a lot of options for road riding (the island is only 180 sq. km / 112 sq. miles, with only part of that with paved roads), but they do have great riding on the north end of the island that includes a small climbing optional section as well.
If you’re looking for a beautiful cycling package to get you to Bonaire to experience all the island has to offer, have a look at this Bonaire Cycling Holiday: Click here.
It’s time to introduce our resident pro cycling coach Lee Povey, he’s here to to help you with all your coaching, training and bike set up queries, any discipline, any level from leisure to racing and general fitness. Please just drop him a line via our contacts page and he will help you avoid a cycling catastrophe, you can ask as many questions as you like… no restrictions. If certain subjects reoccur Lee will put articles together on the subjects. So why not get some insider tips without burning a hole in your pocket!
So go on… you know you want to!
Q&A’s will be posted on the website but you will get a response to your query by email. Only your basic details will be published on the website (first name & country or region).
Wade Wallace And His Calves - Image ©Copyright - cyclingtipsblog.com
You’ve probably noticed a lot of cyclists out there with these wicked big calves. They look great and give an impression of pure strength, but do they contribute to providing more power and speed on the bike?
My buddy, Wade over at Cycling Tips is one of these dudes with killer calves, and those are his bad boys in the picture at the top of this post. Wade also just happened to pass over this great little diagram on legs and how the pedal stroke relates to each body part.
As you can see in the diagram, the calves play a role right around the 5:00 mark of the pedal stroke and is somewhat on the low end of muscle groups used in the stroke. But I personally can’t help but think that strong calves do help make you faster… even if just slightly. The reason I say this is because all it takes is a glance down to the calves of pretty much any pro rider and you’ll see a nice set of Gastrocnemius’ on them. Not all of them, but I think that’s because not everyone has the potential for massive looking calves. But I’ll guarantee that they’re still strong even if they don’t look that way. I don’t feel that having shaved calves is what makes them appear bigger and stronger… they’ve been built up in response to the work load they take while pounding the pedals.
Just have a look at these boulders on the legs of Yaroslav Popovych… he’s just one of the cyclists with amazing calves, but his are just incredible.
So to sum up, it’s safe to say that big strong quads will make you a faster cyclist… but I also feel that strong calves will help out as well. It may just be a small advantage, but still helpful none-the-less. How about you? What’s your take on calves and cycling? Let’s hear it.