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Picture of Dahon Mariner folding bike with rack and panniers for bike touringSo Versatile even fits on Dahon Folding Bike
Summer bike touring is so nice, sure it might be a bit warm in some areas but that's a sure indicator that you can pack a small load.  

In our little part of the world it's been into the nineties with humidity at about seventy percent most days and occasional rain which can be rather refreshing when the winds cooperate.  Then there's everyone's favorite summer nuisance of mass mosquito populations which can make a mockery of a perfectly wonderful summer bike camping excursion.  During the summer here on the Gulf Coast when we hear the term "bug out kit" we think of mosquito repellent and deterrent in what ever form is practical to ensure an enjoyable camp site.  
  1. Mosquito Repellent:  We use products from Burt's Bees that is a bit oily feeling but that helps it stay on your skin and ward off mosquitoes with heavy perspiration.  I also like Herbal Armour as it has proven to be very effective but the best is from Natural Living's Bug Spray with Essential Oils and other interesting hard to find blends of ingredients.
  2. Citronella:  As an added deterrent for pleasant camping UCO Candle Lanterns provide Citronella Candles for use in their lanterns which can be placed on the ground, hung inside the tent or on a bike like the one in photo.  Lightly spraying the fabric of the tent with Bug Spray in combination with the Citronella Candle really makes for a good bike camping "bug out kit".
  3. Tent for One or Two:  An airy, breathable tent that has more mesh than nylon for the tent body is excellent for not only providing a good night's sleep permitting that welcome gentle night time breeze to cool the tent it serves to keep not only mosquitoes from disrupting sleep but also provides a protective barrier from such critters as fire ants and snakes.  Lisa will not sleep in an open lean to again after having been bit in her sleep while camping under a simple tarp.  Nope, we're keeping and using our tents after that.  Like we said "bug out kit". 
  4. Comfy Sleeping Stuff:  Thermarest mattress in the three quarter length packs small and provides that bit of comfort needed to get good rest with the packable pillow and a forty degree lightweight sleeping bag.
  5. Ultra Gourmet Meals:  Ya right, there is only so much that can be cooked on a simple little fuel stove.  Well, there's really no need to rule that out.  As all pack lists are very subjective and personal with some things working well enough for one person, another person with same gear might feel absolutely deprived and miserable.  How about packing two small stoves and a cook set for a nice salmon and rice dinner with roasted cashews, onions and garlic?  Yep, garlic helps with those naughty mosquitoes too, eat plenty of that.  One frozen salmon filet, two cups of rice, a bit of butter and oil in a small travel bottle, throw the cashews, onion and garlic in a zip lock bag.  
  6. Cool, how to cook rice?  Jasmine cooks in fifteen minutes and necessitates ability to simmer once brought to a boil.  Coleman Dual Fuel Stove works excellent for this, if even a bit bulky it's worth the extra bit of packing to enjoy a nice camp cooked meal.  For morning tea or coffee we love our little Pocket Esbit with non toxic fuel cubes and ability to simply add twigs as needed and use the Stanley Adventure Cookset which includes two insulated cups.  Visit our previous post Bike Touring Cooking Supplies for more information.

Given all the different methods of packing a bike for travel and camping we put together a fun little bike kit for our selves.  Some popular methods include frame bags for bike packing or massive touring kits from Ortlieb and Arkel.  While these examples provide exceptional products and gear choices it's not always practical.  Speaking of which if you missed it, check out the Complete Pannier Kit for Under Two Hundred Dollars.

A recent survey voted the Traditional Touring Bike as a Favorite for Bike Commuting.  I found the other results very interesting, particularly the late mountain bike votes that came in wanting the votes counted after the winning style was announced.  Who ever said you had to own only one bike anyhow?  For the remaining styles of mountain bike, hybrid bike and folding bike I put together one Bike Camping Kit that would fit on each type of bike safely and efficiently.  

A list of the items in our Bike Camping Kit divided into appropriate categories is listed after the photos.  This is a very versatile pack list which I moved from bike to bike for the photos in approximately twenty minutes. All the items from this list are sitting on a small work table behind each bike pictured on the left. We packed four different bikes each with its own unique rack and pannier qualities with the exact same Bike Camping Kit and list. Using Dry Sacks helps to not only protect gear from moisture but also helps to organize things and move them around.
Picture of mountain bike and packing gear for bike camping
Mountain Bike for bike camping
Picture of Bridgestone MB 1 for bike commuting
Commuter Bike for Bike Camping
Picture of touring bike with pack gear before loading
Touring bike for bike camping
Picture of mountain bike with racks and panniers for bike camping
Mountain Bike packed for bike camping
Picture of Bridgestone MB 1 for bike touring and commuting
Commuter Bike packed for bike camping
Picture of touring bike with small pack kit
Touring Bike packed for overnight bike camping
[ ] Bike
Rack(s) pannier(s) lights and Park Tool frame pump that fits on all bikes shown including Dahon. Seat bag with spare tube, tire levers, patch kit, multi tool or handlebar basket, bag.

[ ] Hydration Pack for Cycling
Phone, cable, glasses, sunglasses, energy bars, dry snacks, monocular, hat or visor, water

[ ] Sleeping gear
One or two person tent (ours weigh about the same), sleeping bag, sleeping pad, packable pillow.

[ ] Personal items
Phone, camera, toothbrush, Tp, toothpaste, soap, travel towel, sunscreen, bug repellent, solar weather radio, UCO candle lantern, citronella candles, book, small laptop or tablet.

[ ] Cooking gear
Small stove, cup(s), hobo tool, small pot, small pan, 4 esbit fuel cubes,

[ ] Water and food
Two water bottles and or 70 oz. Hydration Pack, dry snacks(energy bars, trail mix, etc) coffee(bag type), tea, Green drink, Pepperoni, Avocados, crackers and or chips.

[ ] Clothing
Convertible pants, bike shorts, swim trunks, sandals for riding, flop flips, lightweight bamboo wicking t shirt for riding, long sleeve 60% linen 40% cotton loose fitting,sun hat protect ears, helmet, gloves, lightweight windbreaker,
Picture of Dahon Mariner Folding Bike with rack and panniers for bike touring
Oh ya, all that stuff even fit on our Dahon Mariner Folding Bike.
Links related to this topic:  Ken Kifer's Very Informative Article for Bike Touring Kitchen Ideas, Precautions, etc.
Visit Bike Overnights Gear Checklist 
It's been a lot of fun this month riding bikes with Lisa and she sure did get some creative juices flowing regarding her bike inspired photography.  I take some credit for that in having restored a very nice old steel lugged Peugeot mountain bike for her.  I guess because it was her birthday this month or due to a much needed long weekend, at any rate I don't need an excuse to share Lisa's beautiful photos.  These are not all of the photos of course, but a good enough sampling of her talent.  Thanks Lisa.  Nice work, speaking of which visit her Natural Living site for more information about the work she does at the Natural Living Country Store. 
Picture of touring bike riding with panniers at night
We found some fun places to ride for Lisa to create some bike photos. Nice.
Picture of commuter bike, tree and rider
Obviously abstracted, but I thought it was good use of filtering if there ever was. Lisa seems to get inspired with bike photo opportunities.
Picture of man riding touring bike at a gift shop
Photo of nice touring bike and rider at a newly built shopping center.
Picture of Passion Flower
Beautiful photo of Passion Flower which is actually for relaxing. Beautiful photo from Lisa while we were out riding our bikes looking for garden property.
Picture of narrow mountain bike trail
Narrow portion of mountain bike trail at Jack Brooks Park, TX.
Picture of all rounder commuter and touring bike Bridgestone MB 1
I love my bike, indeed. Good all rounder bike, my Bridgestone MB 1 as commuter bike, bike camping and short bike tours. My photo.
Picture of bike commuter walking bike
Walking my bike through a grassy field on a bike commute home from coffee shop office work.

Moto G 4G LTE with Gorilla Glass, Great Shield Case Kickstand and Adock's Waterproof Silicone Keyboard for Bicycle Touring and Commuting.

Picture Moto G 4G LTE with Touring Bike
Great Shield Case for Moto G 4g LTE and Adock Silicone Keyboard. Lightweight, practical, packs small. Good Stuff for bike travel.
It's back to school week around here and with all the back to school shopping we found ourselves finding new gadgets for bike camping while maintaining our ability to conduct business from anywhere, even while bike commuting and touring.  

This week when our wifi network went down due to some hungry squirrels nibbling on the network cables we were forced to learn a new way of staying connected to the internet for our business needs.  I have been finding the need to keep up with technology a bit anyhow so the situation turned out to be a blessing disguised as a squirrel.  I had just happened to pick up an external keyboard for my wife's Sony Xperia Z allowing her to keep up with emails and such.  Adock(R) Foldable Slim Silicone Bluetooth Keyboard Wireless Waterproof for Ipad Iphone Android Smart Phone.  Wow!  Quite a cool idea and for less than twenty bucks I grabbed one.  Perfect for camping or just keeping in a bag, purse or backpack for convenient and faster typing when needed.  So while the house wifi was temporarily down I learned that I could use my new phone as a mobile wifi device!  Now that is very good news for an owner of a Chromebook.  

Picture Moto G 4G LTE  and Samsung ChromebookTethering with Moto G for anywhere internet access with Chromebook
I had been using an old forty dollar phone for quite awhile as the only application I depended on for work was the GPS.  When the cracked screen was simply too hard to read and not responding well I decided to upgrade to a new phone and very glad I did.  I got the new Moto G 4G LTE that is supposed to be splash proof and has Corning Gorilla Glass, a few features I felt necessary to look for in a bike commuting and touring phone.  As it turns out a few folks have tested the Moto G and found it is actually waterproof!  I wouldn't try any of their tests myself but it's good to know that the Moto G is proving time and again as possibly the best budget phone on the market and is perfect for pairing with my Chromebook.  Now I can stay in touch with work while bike camping or on a short bike tour by "tethering" with the Moto G and Chromebook.  My ability to stay in touch with work has been a very important factor determining whether or not I could even go on some of by bike camping excursions and for approximately $400 for the Moto G and the Chromebook I am more than pleased with my bike travel gadgets.   Here's a link for one of the Moto G waterproof tests.
 In the above photos the Moto G is held with the GreatShield Guardian Hybrid Case Protective Cover with Kickstand for Motorola Moto G for viewing while for example, using the Adock Silicone Keyboard.  Which is very nice as the on screen key pad of the Moto G can take up a lot of screen space when editing a document.  With the Adock Keyboard I am able to view all of my content to be edited as once the keyboard is paired with the phone as a blue tooth device the onscreen keypad turns itself off. Pretty cool. 

Now with the ability for "tethering wifi" a term which is new to me, issues regarding the Chromebook as a quality inexpensive laptop for bike travel are being resolved.  

Picture of mountain bike for bike touring with front and rear pannier racks
Bridgestone MB-1 with Minoura FRP 3000 front pannier rack
Seems like more and more bike commuters and folks interested in bike touring are turning to older mountain bikes for converting to road use.  Replacing heavy knob tires with narrow slicks, adding fenders or racks and in most cases older mountain bikes makes ease of installation one of its most appealing characteristics.  

If you’re in the market for a new commuter bike or simply interested in picking up a bike for any practical lifestyle solution consider some of the readily available older mountain bikes from the eighties and nineties that are commonly available  Besides the reasons mentioned above the frames are typically made of quality steel of the era, provide a comfortable and relaxed frame geometry which can typically be customized for one’s preferred riding posture by simply raising the quill stem and or handlebars, something not applicable with more modern threadless stems.  Another reason of course is that older mountain bike frames typically have all the braze ons needed to easily add accessories such as racks and fenders for touring and commuting. 

In today’s market bikes constructed with steel frames are not only desirable but are fetching a tidy sum with few kits costing well over a thousand dollars.  Arguably worth it or not or whether or not that’s a lot of money to spend on a bike is irrelevant.  When considering the wealth of quality steel frame mountain bikes available to purchase as an affordable, quality used item the only compromising part is being stuck with a 26” wheel.  Many of today’s steel frame bikes are still being built with cantilever brakes and in some instances an older mountain bike can be converted to disc brake though usually not necessary as linear pull brakes have ample stopping power for most practical purposes.  
Picture of steel front rack for bike touring Minoura FRP 3000 on mountain bike for touring

Finding quality accessories which provide improved commuter or touring options is key.  Look for products which will install seamlessly with the least amount of add on brackets, holders, etc.  This is particularly true in the case of adding front and rear racks to a bike for touring.  Some of the qualities I was looking for in a front rack for bike touring are steel construction, solid design and ease of installation which attaches directly to the bike’s pre existing mounting options.   In the case of my ‘93 Bridgestone MB-1 an obstacle was that there was no threaded mid way fork eyelet, which is very common.  Most typical solution for this is a U shaped threaded bolt which wraps around the inside of the fork stanchions for a front rack to be attached and secured with a backing plate.  One of the reasons companies such as Old Man Mountain and Surly have such a solid reputation is due to their racks mounting more solid than the method described.  I like the designs from Jandd as well and often thought how nice to have a design like that of Old Man Mountain made of Steel like Surly Nice Rack without the excess weight. 

Picture of Minoura FRP 3000 Front Pannier RackMinoura FRP 3000 Front Rack
That’s where Minoura found a niche and hopefully will continue to manufacture and provide their two most recent steel front touring racks. Since my previous review of the MT 4000-SF Front Pannier Rack late last year I have noticed the average price of that rack has doubled from it’s introductory price of a bit over fifty bucks with free shipping.  I noticed the price increase when shopping for the Minoura FRP 3000 front rack for the Bridgestone.  Luckily I was able to find a returned item at the warehouse without all the mounting hardware.  A rear length skewer was used to mount the rack in the dropouts and works perfectly well.  I had some longer brake mounting bolts which made installation a breeze even without the replacement skewer or instructions.  

Minoura’s FRP 3000 model is approximately one pound less than the MT 4000-SF though it doesn’t have the top plate, the FRP is one solid welded piece of steel whereas the MT model comes in left and right sides which must be assembled prior to installing on a bike. 

These racks from Minoura are both very versatile steel racks that can be mounted to bikes with 26" wheels, twenty niners or 700c touring bikes.  If you have have a disc brake or suspension fork get the MT 4000-SF  Specifications for the are listed below.  Click on links provided for specifications regarding the MT 4000-SF front pannier rack.

Minoura FRP 3000 Specifiations

Weight 1.2 kgs, or 2.6 pounds
Weight Capacity per side:  5 Kgs. or 11 pounds for total capacity of 22 pounds
Fits 26inch to 700C (NOT recommend for suspension forks)
Low-rider type Front carrier for 700C touring/ Cyclocross or MTB bike with V or cantilever brake
Steel tube construction with black powder coated finish

Picture of Commuter bike with Velo Orange Porteur Bars for bike commuting
Our old Commuter Bike was in need of cargo carrying ability.
Friday evening and I wanted to get a funky handlebar basket on our old Puch Bergmeister commuter bike as it needed some cargo carrying ability.   Seems like quite a trend to build Porteur Bikes these days, but with most Porteur racks costing about a hundred bucks and the fact that it severely limits some riding agility, I opted for something a bit different, if not cheap and the Velo Orange Porteur Bars demand some appropriate styling.  
Picture of basket and velcro for bike commuter handlebar basket
Two dollar thrift store basket with hook and loop velcro straps for attaching to handlebar.
It is fun finding items like the basket in these photos at thrift stores.  A whopping two dollars landed this beautiful wicker basket with rope handle and leather trim.  
This is a very simple method and any solid wicker basket will work.  This DIY project has turned out exceptionally well with the basket being a bit elongated with a shallow round shape providing some aerodynamic quality without skimping on capacity.  A rare quality with most handlebar baskets.  
Picture of home made handlebar basket on commuter bike
Three points of securing basket to handlebar has provided an easy ten pound weight capacity.
Prior to installing it might be a good idea to clean and clear coat the basket for durability.  I have some Valspar Clear Coat I have used successfully on several outdoor wood working projects and is perfect for this as it dries instantly.
Next, simply thread the Hook and Loop Velcro through the wicker and wrap it around atl least two places on the handlebars.  
Picture of commuter bike with home made bike basket
Thrift Store shopping offers fun DIY handlebar basket projects for bike commuting.
This basket was installed with four points supporting it.  Obviously the first two Velcro Straps on the handlebars with a third strap wrapped around a steel front reflector bracket which helps to keep the basket from shifting side to side while riding as shown in upper right photo.  Fourth is the steel chrome fender which protects the basket and tire from each other with the basket barely touching the fender.  
We placed a gallon water container in the basket with the basket proving more than able to support and carry the load.  I am confident this basket could safely transport ten pounds efficiently and look good doing it.  I look forward to running some grocery and other errands with it over the weekend.  Will add photos of my fun filled rides, now that I have a basket for it.  Cheers!

Simple Chain Maintenance Kit for Bike Commuting

Picture of bike chain cleaning and lube
Chain maintenance made much easier when you know what works.
There is so much information regarding chain maintenance it can be daunting for new comers to bike commuting who simply want an efficient and affordable method of bike chain maintenance.   As Sheldon Brown noted it is perhaps the most controversial of bike maintenance topic there is.  Well, if you'd like to jump ahead and research all the definitions and terms referring to why chain stretch is a misleading term, what's a good chain and why, what cleaners to use and which lubes to avoid based on wet or dry conditions with explanations of chemical detergents and how they can harm your chain, etc. then skip this article and go to links provided at the end of this post.  

If you would like to know a quick, quality method for maintaining your commuter bike's chain then use the following methods we have used for years in servicing many happy customers' bikes. Whether they were hard core road bike racers or fair weather bike commuters we never had a dissatisfied customer.

There are basically three things to list for drivetrain and chain maintenance: Clean, Check Wear and Lube.  How often? When a new chain is put on a bike it is recommended to not clean and lube the chain until the original packing grease has been worn away.  At the first sound of a dry squeak clean and lube it.  After completing that routine a couple times you will get to know you're own particular schedule for chain maintenance.  Many factors contribute to how frequently your chain will need attention and varies from bike to bike depending on how many miles you ride, on or off road, wet or dry,etc.  A chain cleaning and lube technique which I am sharing here has worked for all types of bikes regardless of riding conditions.  In my experience it is not only the quickest and easiest way to clean the chain it is also the longest lasting between applications as well as providing long life to chain and all drivetrain components.  
Scroll down to see photos that help to illustrate each step of this simple and easy process.
If you don't have a bike repair stand or the space for one, you can get a twenty dollar Sunlite Bottom Bracket Type Bicycle Display Stand, oh and a five gallon bucket to store the following list of items in.  Just yesterday I was out on one of my bike commutes and found a nice quality shop rag and felt it was a good idea to share this tried and true chain cleaning technique for bike commuters. 
  1. Degreaser: For Chain Cleaning we use straight Simple Green which is both non toxic and biodegradable and can be purchased by the gallon and dispensed with a spray bottle or added to a Bike specific Chain Cleaner.  
  2. Rags: lint free and durable easy to find by the bundle at auto supply stores and are very inexpensive.  After use, rinse well, soak with simple green for degreasing and place in bucket of warm to hot water.  Pull the rags out when convenient, rinse, ring dry and re use.  
  3. Chain Cleaning Tool:  After the kids in the shop kept dropping and breaking our Park Cyclone Chain Cleaning Tool I decided to look for a more durable much less expensive alternative to routinely replacing a $25 maintenance tool.  Finish Line's Grunge Brush (shown in photo above) turned out to be the best tool available.  Using a spray bottle filled with straight Simple Green profusely sprayed on to the chain, chain rings and cassette gears with a spray bottle and running the chain through the Grunge Brush in two directions worked to clean even the worst chains.  Then spray again with a bottle of half Simple Green and half water use a rag by gently pinching the rollers and running the chain through the rag until clean. Fold rag in half, holding either end and clean between cassette gears.  It may require some practice to get a feel for moving the cassette in the free wheel direction with the rag to thoroughly clean the cassette.  In a shop when a bike is in a repair stand this is very easy.  If you don't have a repair stand, remove the rear wheel after having cleaned the chain if the gears appear to need that.  Often times after the initial soaking with Simple Green Degreaser simply rinse off with a garden hose.  Before applying any lube wait several minutes for everything to dry or repeat the described cleaning methods with a clean dry rag.
Picture of bike chain on bike with Campagnolo frameBike Chain Maintenance for any type of bike
  1.  Check Chain Wear:  It's a good idea to check for chain wear with a tool like the Park Tool Chain Wear Indicator CC-3.2 which costs about ten bucks and comes with instructions on how to use. 
  2. Lube:  There are two to use which when used in the way described will last a very long time especially if you're only maintaining one bike for commuting.  Park Tool CL-1 Synthetic Blend Chain Lube comes with a small straw like applicator excellent for getting lube into pivot points of derailleurs without waste and of course can also be used on the chain.  For chain lubrication Boeshield T 9 is by far the longest lasting lube for wet, dry, road or trail conditions.  One drop applied to the top of each roller is plenty.  After lubricating every roller on the chain either very gently remove only some excess with a rag or leave all the lube for wet, muddy conditions.  Wait two hours for the lube to dry before riding.  When the method described here is used accurately and thoroughly you can get hundreds of miles between chain maintenance schedules for typical bike commuting or bike touring conditions.  Boeshield T 9 Travel Size Bottle is also available for effective long lasting chain maintenance while bike touring.  

Picture of bike cleaning kit for bike commuter
Simple efficient bike cleaning kit stored in five gallon bucket. Bucket can be used to sit on.
Picture of bike commuter cleaning bike chain
Rag used to clean between gears.
Picture of Park Tool CL-1 Synthetic Blend Chain Lube
Park Tool CL-1 Synthetic Blend Chain Lube with applicator works very well for lubing hidden pivot on back side of rear deraiileur
Picture of Bike chain cleaning kit for bike commuting
With the steel bottom bracket bike stand in place holding rear wheel up the chain is passed through the Grunge Brush after having soaked the chain and gears thoroughly with Simple Green in Spray Bottle. The bucket is for sitting on.
Picture of Park Tool CC-3 Chain Wear Indicator
Park Tool CC-3 Chain Wear Indicator showing NO signs of wear. Notice how clean chain is.
Picture of Boeshield T 9 bicycle chain lube
Boeshield T 9 applying one drop per roller and allowing to dry for two hours before riding.
Links related to this topic:  Sheldon Brown discussed all the finer details and then some.  
Pink Bike Article regarding Chain Lube
 Lennard Zinn's Video


The Best Bike Commuting Bag for less than Ten Dollars!

Picture of Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag as seat bag.
Versatile handlebar bag can be used as a seat bag, excellent for bike commuting. Axiom Phoenix bag fits most leather saddle tabs like that shown in photo from Selle Anatomica or Brooks Saddles.
Picture of Handlebar Bag for Bike Commuting
Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag
Picture of water resistant Axiom Handlebar Bag for bike commuting and touring
Axiom's water resistant 600 D Poly is good stuff
Looking for a bike commuter gift idea?  I purchased this as a birthday gift for Lisa as she needed something a bit larger for her new Sony Z1 phone and Adock Silicone Keyboard as well as other items such as riding gloves, keys, etc.  

I didn't want to spend too much as I tend to do for her birthday so the Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag looked to be a perfect gift idea at ten bucks or less. Without skimping on quality it turned out being a good fit for her '89 Peugeot. A simple strap design allows use as a seat bag on a Brooks Saddle or most any leather saddle with seat tabs such as those on the Sell Anatomica NSX pictured above.  

The bag is very water resistant and the Kiwi Camp Dry once added will be adequate for the material  However, the two button snap design being a nice change from the plethora of zippered models on the market creates a flap between the snap on cover and the rest of the bag.  

I was able to find a bike seat rain cover that should fit nicely and for a few dollars more it was worth seeing if it will fit.  Whether it does or not is of no issue as she is very pleased with the bag so far.  Due to the simple strap design this versatile little bag from Axiom doesn't interfere with a front light that is mounted on the handlebar.  Some folks have a very difficult time commuting at night and many quick release handle bags and baskets which use a large mounting bracket typically places the bag or basket a bit high so that the front light is blocked from effectively lighting the roadway.  Not an issue with this simple little bag.  

Product Specifications: 

Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag is made of 600 D Polyester measures 4" x 9" with a capacity of 44 cubic inches and weighs 150 grams.  Mesh interior pockets are nice for stashing keys and other small items while commuting.  This is a very good little bag for the money and exceeded my expectations of quality with the leather Axiom logo as a nice touch providing a classy retro vintage look. 
Picture of bike seat rain cover
Optional rain cover for Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag is less than five bucks. Click on photo for information or purchase.
Picture of touring bike and tunnel
Bike Tourings

Affordable Quality Bike Touring Panniers with Water Proofing

I recently reviewed my ten year old Cartier Panniers and have been pleasantly surprised by my new handlebar bag from Axiom.  

While shopping for a small, simple handlebar bag that I could use on any of my bikes without having to use a mounting bracket I reminisced about all the Axiom products I sold to some very happy and satisfied customers.  

Whether for short bike commutes or cross country rides I was able to provide affordable quality items to meet my customer's needs.  It always felt good to have customers return to the shop not to complain or want an exchange or refund but to give me their thanks for not only supplying a quality product but saving them some money as well.  

While looking at the new mounting brackets, new models of panniers and other re designs I felt it was time to catch up a little bit and have decided to order some new panniers.

While I love my old Cartier Panniers (link for review) I would like to replace some other Axiom Panniers I sold with a restored vintage Bianchi touring bike I had completed in our shop.

Picture of water resistant axiom handlebar bag
Axiom Panniers offer versatile Affordable Quality Products. My Axiom Cartier Panniers are still providing quality carrying ability after ten years.
Picture of Axiom Cartier DLX PanniersAxiom Cartier DLX Panniers
My favorite panniers whether it be for bike touring or commuting are the Axiom La Salle Panniers.  Designed for front or rear use, offer plenty of storage, include rain covers, angular shape for wind resistance and of course extremely durable.  Unfortunately or fortunately when I sold the '83 Bianchi Randonneur Touring bike the buyer wanted the bags so bad he paid extra for them.  

All of the Axiom Panniers have changed slightly in appearance over the years with a few design differences among the various models and a few new models added such as the Seymour DlX Panniers.  

In my previous post regarding my Axiom Cartier Panniers I decided to order a pair of the Seymour DLX 30 Panniers 

Picture of mountain bike for touring with panniers
Affordable good quality pannier set
Picture of mountain bike for touring with racks and panniers
A good bike touring pannier set that offers versatility with swapping front and rear bags. I like to use the Axiom Cartier Panniers on the front with Minoura Front Pannier Rack. Locking tabs on Panniers ensure they won't bounce off. Velcro handle strap that goes over rear rack ensure the Delta Panniers stay in place as well.
Other than the Grand Tour Modular Kits that I hear were a flop, most all Axiom Panniers are a worthy investment sure to provide several years of use with proper care and handling.  Here is a short list provided from a comment regarding the most popular panniers from Axiom with storage capacity and links. 

Seymour LX  1700c" (27.85L) per pair
Seymour DLX 30  1830c" (30L) per pair
Lasalle DLX 45  1830c" (30L) per pair
Cartier DLX 35 [this set]  2013c" (33L) per pair
Kootenay DLX  2441c" (40L) per pair
Champlain DLX 60  3000c" (49L) per pair

Here is a list of Bags and Panniers in photo.  All bags treated with Kiwi Camp Dry, have optional rain covers also treated with Camp Dry and use of Water proof stuff sacks for organizing and storage. 

Axiom Cartier Panniers
Delta Compact Panniers
Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag
Avenir Big Mouth Seat Bag
Kiwi Camp Dry
At the time of this post the total cost this pannier kit  is less than $170 including rain cover for Axiom Phoenix Handlebar Bag and Kiwi Camp Dry Waterproofing Treatment. 

Affordable, Comfortable, Breathable Cycling Sandals

Picture of Nashbar Ragster II Cycling Sandals
Nashbar Ragster II Sandals are excellent clipless bike commuting sandals particularly for the typically low price.
After a little over a year now (Click for Previous Post) I am really enjoying the Nashbar Ragster II Sandals particularly for hot or humid weather.   I purchased these sandals last June when I provided my first article regarding how to prepare the cleat mounting area for adding cleats to the Ragster II.  For bike commuting one of the reasons I like these so much is the way the soles cover the surrounding area of the cleats.  No more clickity clackity nonsense or the sound of grinding and crunching over concrete or pavement and not having to wear socks is nice though it does allow for quite an interesting tan line.  

The closed toe necessitates that I keep my big toe nail clipped short but that has more to do with one foot being oh so slightly longer than the other.   Also, the neoprene like fabric for the closed toe is very easy to stretch by hand. These bike sandals from Nashbar are so much more comfortable to walk around in and though I'm not one to harp about bike fashion I do appreciate the subtle quality of this footwear.  While walking around in a coffee shop or grocery store I don't have non bike folks looking at my odd noisy footwear that had me considering busting out some tap dancing moves.  I now leisurely stroll about walking comfortably and confidently though I wouldn't try playing soccer in them.  A common complaint in other reviews is the "pebbled" foot bed as shown in the lower left photo.  I haven't found it to be an issue of discomfort at all and in fact appreciate the grip provided as my feet don't slide around when riding bare foot.  Also of note are velcro heel straps which can be adjusted a bit and helped my bigger foot from feeling too pinched with the closed toe design.  

Here's a look at the Nashbar Ragster II Cycling Sandals, same as those I'm wearing in photo above and want to thank Lisa Piper of Natural Living for her fun and creative photo skills.   I appreciate extra safety features particularly while bike commuting and the reflective accents shown in photo at left are also on the heel strap.  

These sandals are not only comfortable and affordable but made to last.  I feel confident I will get miles and miles of bike touring and commuting use from this footwear.  


    by Rideon

    Opened one of the first Bike Commuter Coffee Shops in the U.S.  Certified Bike Tech. with more than ten years serving the bicycle touring and commuting community.


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