Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Gear Review: Cygolite Expillion 850, Ultralite Cot, Vittoria Randonneur Tire, And The Grand Bois Blue Cerf Tire.

"My biggest fear is that, when I die, my wife will sell my bicycles for what I told her they cost." ~ Anonymous

Well, since both my bikes are "classics" now and both are in the 30 years old range, I guess it really doesn't matter what they cost since the real value is the components on the bikes rather than the frames.  Now, on to some gear reveiws.  Some of this gear, I used on my recently aborted bicycle tour and some I've used here in Silver City.  Onward...

First up, the Cycgolite Expillion 850 rechargable USB bicycle light 
(http://www.cygolite.com/products/expilion850.html  .  I did a recent review of this while touring, where I used it several times when I ended up riding at night because the wind was slowing me down so much.  Every time I used this light, it came through like a champ.  Bright, long lasting, and easy to use, even easier to charge via USB.  I bought it at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Cygolite-Expilion-Light-Helmet-Mount/dp/B00LXTOPNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435613725&sr=8-1&keywords=cygolite+expillion+850), which had the best price, $90.  For those who think they might be riding in the dark longer than I did, you can purchase an extra battery stick for it (http://www.amazon.com/Cygolite-Battery-Light-Part-Expulsion/dp/B009F94SPK), about $33.  Keep the extra stick charged, keep it on you, and, voila, you got light when you want/need it.
Some pics:
Highly recommend this light and I give it 5 Stars for durability, brightness, battery life.  Can't go wrong with this light from Cygolite.

Next up, my ultralite cot.  Yes, there are some great air mattresses and/or pads that can be used and that work well.  I'm willing to carry the weight to have that extra bit of comfort at night.  This cot does not care where you camp...on a slab of concrete, on rocks, on sand, on rough ground, on an incline, whatever...this cot rocks.  Well, not really, that would suck.  This cot works every where.  It's durable, comfortable, easy to set up and take down.  The poles break down and are short, but they do take up space.  Question remains...what are you willing to do for comfort?  I am willing to provide the space it needs and, as I said, to carry the weight for the comfort.  The people who created this cot are from Texas and now Cascade Designs sells it.  It's available on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Therm-A-Rest-6396-Parent-LuxuryLite-UltraLite-Cot/dp/B00HZ132N4) and now comes in a regular size and a wider size.  I have the regular and have no problem with it.  Some pics:
Read about it, read the reviews, and the best price is on Amazon.  Ebay may have a better price, too.  I really do love this thing and won't be sleeping in a tent without it, I assure you.  Great item and I give this a 5 Star rating, as well.

Now, on to some tires.  Vittoria Randonneur (http://www.vittoria.com/tire/randonneur/).  I got the first set of these from Twin Sisters (http://www.twinsisterscycling.com/) several years ago for my Cannondale touring bicyle and used them around here in Silver City.  I was impressed and did a review of them stating that they worked well.  Now, after using a brand new pair for my latest, aborted tour, I had less than stellar success with them, particularly the rear tire.  Here's a photo that I took just before I removed it in Eureka Springs, AR:
This tire only had about 1,000 miles on it and was on the rear of the bike.  It is worn through the tread, as you can see.  The front tire was still acceptable, but I've had Schwalbe tires with several thousands of miles on them before replacing them and Specialized Armadillos that had over 5,000 miles on them.  So, in the bigger picture of touring tires, these failed miserably, in my opinion.  If you're just riding around town, no problem.  Don't consider them for touring.  There are several other models with much better reputations.  Grand Bois also makes some superb tires, as you'll read about in a moment.  In my opinion, 2 Stars tops, only because they're good around town with no weight carried on the bike besides the rider.

On to what has turned out to be an incredible tire.  Exceptional, actually.  Compass Bicycles  (http://www.compasscycle.com/) sells these Grand Bois Blue Cerf, 700 x 26 tires (https://www.compasscycle.com/shop/700c/grand-bois-700cx26-cerf-blue/).  I purchased the set that's on my Vitus road bike in May/2014.  Since putting them on the bike, I have put about 4,000 miles on them and got my first two flats this past month with the front tire because of some glass that I ran over.  As any experienced rider knows, it's the rear tire that'll go flat first..or it seems that way.  Here's a  photo of the front tire on my Vitus:
When I got a flat this past month, I began to wonder when I had purchased these tires.  I know that I really like these tires.  They roll better and faster than other tires I've used and smooth out the rough roads around here.  So, today, I looked back on my blog, www.patricklyford.com, and was amazed to see that I've had these for over one year and that they're still in good shape with the miles I've put on them.  My Vitus is my go to bike, so, when I'm out riding, I'm on the Vitus not the Cannondale.  I will keep a eye on these and see how they are with flats.  But, I am impressed.  Compass Bicycles has some great gear.  Some of it is pricey, but these tires are about $57/each and weigh 222g.  They have an array of tires, all of which I'm sure are good, but these were great.  Yes, I'll be buying a new pair when these are done.  For me, these deserve a 5 Star rating.  5 Star Plus!!!

Enough reviewing for today.  Now, on to a tune to close this post with.  Over the weekend, Chris Squire, founder and bass guitarist for YES died (http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-33306933), so, with that in mind, here's one of my favorite YES songs, in memory of Chris and a shout out to Joan Fish, who turned me on to YES back in Glens Falls, NY, in the mid 1970's.  In fact, here are two YES songs, starting with "Roundabout" (http://youtu.be/SkGzjIq4aZI) and "I've Seen All Good People" (http://youtu.be/m1I4Q6Px_78).  This hardly does YES justice, but it's a start.  Do yourself a favor..go to YouTube and listen to them.  I still like this group.  Rock on, Chris.  God speed.