Thursday, March 14, 2013

Product Reviews: Shimano XC50N Shoe & Leyzne HV Micro Pump & Leyzne Dirt floor HV Pump

If you spend enough time riding, fixing and being around MTB bikes over time you find things that live up and beyond your expectations; Those that match it;  and unfortunately those things that are exceeding underwhelming.

I don’t often write about products I’ve used, but it came to mind as I constantly am out there researching things that might be on my radar to purchase.  I thought to reflect back on some of the better experiences I’ve had recently.

MTB shoes – First off, I’ve gotta start with all peoples feet are different.  No I don’t mean some of us have 6 toes & others only 4 (from when a 54” Musky mistook that pinky toe for a tasty treat one summer day as a kid).   But for that standard 5 toe person, different brands, styles and shapes work better than others.  For myself?  Shimano shoes have always had the best fit. 

What I like so much about the Shimano XC50N is what a fantastic cooler/cold season shoe it is.  It’s pretty shocking actually.  To offer some perspective, at the Fat Bike Birkie this past weekend.  I tried to take a sampling of what everyone was wearing.  Mostly Lake MTB boots or the 45 North Wolvhammers.  Regardless, it seemed like everyone was in boots.  Me?  At just below freezing temps at the start line -- on what could be a 2 or 3hr race -- I thought “What the heck let’s see what these shoes can do versus the made-for-winter boots”.  Over them I throw on some completely worn out pearl izumi shoe covers and away I went.  

Now understand, I’ve got circulation issues or something with my feet so I fought symptoms of cold feet my entire life (marriage included, just ask my first fiancé, but I digress…) 

Anyways, these shoes did an admirable job of keeping my feet warm give the 2+hr duration of the race, all with the same double layer of socks I use with my Lake boots.  That was nice to race in shoes instead of the heavier boots.

Verdict: if you’re a late fall cyclocross racer, if you MTB or Snowbike year round.  These are shoes that you can easy use thru mid December & again by Feb for 2hr plus rides.  1hr or less in the 20’s & they should be perfectly find too.  They’ll probably be alittle too toasty for only the warmest mid summer riding.  But they are lightweight and easily compete with the highest end custom fit Shimano M315 – at a fraction of the price as both models weight about the same.  (I put both pairs on a scale – there was no way the fit was better or grams less in the M315 to justify spending the money on them.  Maybe I’m just lucky to have an ideal fit, but certainly give the lower price Shimano MTB shoes a try before thinking you should have the M315.)

Oddly enough the XC50N’s  block the wind better than my Lake boots and let’s be perfectly honest.  If you had a choice does anyone really like biking in boots when cycling shoes are available?  As the saying goes… if the shoe fits……..



Next up: Tires pumps….

If you like your once & done C02 cartridges to get you out of a flat tire bind, you can ignore this.   Myself I make a habit of  riding & training with mini-pumps in case of an adverse tire situation occurs.  (Something about calling my wife on the cellphone to come pick me up 20 miles away when I get a flat just doesn’t seem to go over too well.)

First suggestion though?  Run tubeless tires whenever you can.  Use Stans or Caffe Latex sealant (in another post I’ll can offer my take on those products more specifically).  The fact if a tires gets a leak or puncture & self seals beats changing out the tube every single day of the week.  That’s not to say don’t carry an extra tube in case the sealant doesn’t do it’s job.  I’m just saying you won’t be pulling out that tube often if ever.

Anyways, mini pumps & MTB tires aren’t exactly synonymous with a good time.  Am I correct?  Now stroking something 60, 70, 80 or 100 times ain’t exactly all the fun it’s cracked up to be -- at least when it comes to inflating a MTB tire.  I’ve had my share of mini-pumps over the years – Trek & Bontrager products to Blackburns.  A few years ago I came across Leyzne, a company created by former Truvativ owner Micki Kozuschek.   After several “junk” floor pumps (sorry Planet bike, among others) I got a super solid dependable High Volume Floor pump from Lezyne – L-O-V-E it.  If you’ve been struggle with junk floor pumps, this year spend the money, you’ll be immensely glad you did. 

Since I liked their standard floor model so much, when my Blackburn mini-pump finally wore out (regardless of their lifetime warranty).  I decided to give their Micro Floor Drive HV pump a try & haven’t regretted it for a second. 


I strap it to the top tube or seat tube with  a two fish Bike block & strap.


The secure screw-on valve, the high volume capacity of the pump, along with foot peg to stand it on the ground makes the days of agonizingly & furiously pumping away….… like one would on the classic undersized mini pumps,  a long forgotten memory.  The size of the pump I’ve found to fit conveniently & easily mounted on the bike.

Ah, for what it’s worth do remember -- you’ll see in a lot of blogs & product reviews plugs for products & bikes --  all talk of how great they are (many of which are truly good) & how life was never so good prior to their existence.  A few of my good product sponsored friends tend to have obligations to their sponsors to say these nice things.  If advertising revenue comes from them or the nice bike stuff is discounted because of it, the glowing reviews usually lack the downsides. 

Fortunately in the case of these products?  No motive, no agenda, no endorsement deals for me,  just an honest assessment from a guy who happens to ride his bike probably too much and has over the years found some companies and products that work well & thought to to share it with the rest of the world in hopes it makes someone else’s ride a little better.

Drop a comment if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to respond.

Monday, March 11, 2013

$292 glass of beet juice….?

So, beets.  The latest greatest research driven, endurance athlete performance enhancing source of nutrition.

Does it work, does it not?  The human body is so complex to nail it down exclusively to certain nutritional substances -- in my book can be pretty tough.

Needless to say, why not give it try, right?  So, on & off, I’ll go through streaks of including it in my diet when I remember too.  I just use a masticating blender (be very careful how you read that), throw in a few apples, carrots, kale, you name it.  It doesn’t have to taste great, it just has to be good for you?

Well, in a sign of how my winter has been going… sickness, bike challenges…here’s how you spend $292 on a single 16oz glass of beet juice. 




…nothing like 6 stitches & a $292 Doctor bill.

2013-02-09 14.10.25

Thanks Doc Brang – you done good though!  If that doctoring thing doesn’t pan out… that needle point craft making stuff could be in your future.

Needless to say I was out biking the next day – not sure if the Nitric Oxide content in the beets made up for the blood loss however.   But I’m pretty sure I’ll never use an apple slicer on a beet ever again.

Hey, on the happy side, it’s already March, and bike racing can’t be far off even if the foot & half of snow & chronically never ending sub freezing, global warming defying, temps continue.

Tackled the 45km Fat Bike Birkie on Saturday.  Not the most stellar effort on my half.  Congrats to teammate Todd McFadden on a very nice ride for 3rd overall.  And very good to see a lot of bike racing folks I hadn’t seen in a long time.  Hollywood, Charlie Tri, Ron Williams, Bart Rodbert, Mike Weisphenning, Jon Wheeler, Evan from up in the U.P. Tom “always on fire” Gaier, Rick Cleary, thanks to Tom Meyer & Scottie Chapin for the encouragement & cheering out there too. – Yeah, it was really nice day otherwise too.  Great temps & conditions to ride the trails on the big Fatties

A big thanks all the sponsors & coordinators of the event.  To Seattle E bikes for their support of the event & the unique lineup of Fat bikes that they have to offer.   Really hard working guys there & a company you’ll want to keep an eye on.  They’ve got some good vision on both the traditional bikes as well as electric assist bikes.  Check them out sometime or call & ask to talk to Brian.

Hey, you skier folk, thanks for your kind accommodations in “sharing the trail” – support for one another leads to greater things for all.  Much appreciated.

Well, back to hunker out the rest of this winter, with tax returns & Roth IRA’s contributions to attend to.  Alas, the Strada Fango Spring Classic can’t get here soon enough… til then ride hard, keep the wheels down.