Women’s Cycling

Velo Orange Bar Tape
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Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape Review

A few months ago when I was trying to inspire myself to get back on the road bike, I changed out some parts on the Raleigh Clubman I had received for review.   I made it a bit more “women’s fit” and classed it up with Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape.   I’ve always loved the look and feel of the Brooks leather bar tape but it was a crazy price to try out a new type of bar wrap.

Details of the Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape

MSRP : $45-55 from VO (currently they have it on sale for $45!)

Colors : Honey Brown or Black

Initial Preview & Installation of the VO Leather Bar Tape

When I received the leather bar tape I was hesitant to install, to be honest it sat in my parts bin for a couple months after receiving due to be run over by a car and the lack of will to ride.  Slowly I realized the bar tape, among other things, is what I needed.  I needed to find beauty in road cycling again.

Installing the bar tape is much tougher than installing normal cork style bar tape.   There is next to no give and the bar tape in the bend of the bar wants to crease.   I had to try two or three times to get it right and have enough to end properly on my 42cm bar.  This may be due to liking more padding and overlapping half of the wrap as I went around, but I don’t know how it would wrap a 46cm bar and not be super thin.  Or, quite possibly my upper body strength isn’t what it should be to wrap leather bar wrap?

Riding with Leather Bar Wrap

The words I can put in this paragraph won’t sum up how nice the leather feels in your hands.   It reminds me of a well loved baseball glove, or settling into an expensive car with the glamorous baseball glove leather seats.   Grabbing on to the bars, and the soft feel that the bar wrap gives back is like a nice hug back from your bike.   The padding is another story.  I have to wear gloves when riding this bike, and padded gloves are not something I normally wear.

Other Notes

If you look closely at the pictures there are two where the bar wrap was stitched together half way through the roll.

White leather would be hot.

Overall Impression

If I had a carbon fiber 14lb road or cyclocross bike,  I wouldn’t use this bar wrap. For a nice classic steel ride, this will be my staple bar wrap.  No question.  And the $55  is well worth it as it will last 5x more than the cork wrap.  When installing it again, I may find one of my strapping muscle clad friends to help man handle the leather, but its good to know the bar tape will be able to take it!

Find online at Velo Orange

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
Fixing the Bike Industry
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The Ass Backwards Ways of the Bicycle Industry

If you are a common visitor to BikeShopGirl.com (thank you) than you may have noticed that the tag line and description have changed.  Originally this site was targeted to specifically women and our niche.  We aren’t leaving that niche, and I’m a woman so I’ll continue to concentrate on helping women in the cycling industry.   As comments and emails stream in on a daily basis, I realized that almost everyone other than the bike snob elitist related to the words I have been typing.   Many people are scared to walk into bike shops, they are scared to try on spandex for the first hundred times and they feel like they are trying to be sold to instead of educated.   This is the nature of retail and consumerism thanks to used car and Xerox sales guys.

Recent Observations

Here are some recent musings while talking to friends and cyclist of all types

  • My impression is most people that ride bikes, do not refer to themselves as cyclist
  • They fear shopping for bikes, due to sticker shock and lack of knowledge
  • They relate to their friends and family, wanting to include them as much as possible in their experience
  • Due to lack of knowledge, they will shop based on friends recommendations or sources they trust (this is where I come in)

My Goals are Not to Crush

Making a bike shop profitable in a saturated market is getting more and more impossible.  Margin’s are getting skinnier, there is more knowledge needed by their staff which means higher salaries and more training, more product by more vendors means more room to store it which adds to overhead, and the online retailer (unfortunately for local bike shops) are doing it right.  Call them, ask them tons of questions, price shop, and repeat.

Today, across all industry’s, it is the time for the consumer.  Consumer’s want you to save them money, to be treated like your long lost first love and for it to be all about them.  Because after all, they are giving you their money and they want you to earn it.  They will be needy, helpless and walked through many things.  But, hey, that’s okay!!! Treat them right and they will be your loyal customer referring you to friends for years.

We’ll talk about what bike shops could do, and hopefully get more feedback from end users.  But in reality, my goal is to help the consumer.  EMPOWER the consumer to shop smarter and have a better experience riding their bike.

Soul Run Review
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Soul Run Tool Roll and Wallet Review

Last summer I mentioned Soul Run products and carrying your tools in style.  Now that I’ve had some time under my belt with their tool roll and jersey pocket wallet I’m ready to reveal my feelings and emotions around their products.

Soul Run Tool Roll

The Tool Roll is a great concept.   It is somewhat like a seatbag, but it unrolls to display all your tools, tubes or bits without having to dump your goods on the ground to find that tube patch or tire levers.    You can keep it in your messenger bag, under your seat or in your pocket.

Soul Run Tool Roll Review

Overall this roll has been a great addition to my daily riding, especially when commuting or changing bikes/bags.   I can easily take the tool roll from one bag into another, or throw it under my seat with a toe strap.   It won’t ever replace a seat bag as it is impossible to attach a light to it, but again for someone with several bags I use to commute with – this was a lifesaver.  I no longer had to make sure I had everything I needed every time I set off on a different bike or with a different bag.

One of the coolest features to this tool roll was the custom colors, I was able to pick anything I wanted for no additional charge!

The only con I found of this roll is due to the pockets and limited space I couldn’t fit too much in the roll.  I routinely kept a CO2, adapter, tube, tube patch and tire levers.   That’s all that fit and even with that it was very bulky and looked “over stuffed.”

Soul Run Pocket Wallet

Soul Run Review

This wallet was the lifesaver that I never knew I needed.   I carry an Android smart phone and a small digital camera on every ride.  As the summer is hot and humid in Charlotte, NC, I would often put these electronic devices in a plastic bag to keep the moisture of my sweat out.  This wallet saved me from looking like a fool, and I started to use it daily for other uses.  On the one side I put my phone with license and credit card, the other either my camera or cash.   It kept everything dry and stink free!  It also kept everything easy to find in a huge messenger bag, or backpack with out stash pockets.

Other Mentions of Soul Run

Back in October when I was run over by a car, Soul Run sent me a “get well card” to my house due to them having my address from sending me their product for review.  It was one of the sweetest things and motivating factors to my healing process.

Check out Soul Run on Etsy to check out their latest colors and products.  Personally I’m eyeballing the pro bike tool roll!

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
Airborne Delta Cyclocross
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Budget Minded Airborne Delta Cyclocross Bike

When friend and follower Rick Vosper sent along spy photos of a new cyclocross bike he had up his Airborne Bicycles sleeve, I was impressed and excited.  I was sworn to secrecy until they finished testing it.

Here’s the low down.  $1099 for a SRAM Apex equipped, custom carbon fork, disc brake cyclocross bike.  Yes, you read $1099.  Do you know how rare it is to find a cyclocross bike around $1000?   Meet the Airborne Delta CX.

Now Airborne Bicycles is a unique company as it is everything that local bike shops hate.  You can only purchase them online, and because they take out the middle man their bikes are cheaper.   There’s going to be a specific customer for their niche, one that knows what they are looking for, and either knows how to put their unbox their bike, or is okay to take it to the bike shop.   Personally, I’m a fan of this concept.   Buy your bike online, as long as you know what you are doing, bring it to the shop for them to properly build it and then pay them again to fit you.   No low margin bikes for the shop, and only money making profit on the labor of the services.  This is a completely different rant, but for now I’ll save you.


The Airborne Delta CX One Part CX, One Part Commuter

This bike will be ready to rock well before the cyclocross season comes back around.   It is also equipped with bosses for your rack, as a disc brake cyclocross would be a perfect commuter.   That’s the great thing about a good cyclocross bike.  The ample tire clearance gives you room for fenders, rack and all those goodies plus a slightly more upright position than a road bike.  While living in DC, Boston or major cities cyclocross bikes were my go to bikes for 80% of people wanting to “tool around”, commute and go for a fun road ride.

View more photos on Airborne’s Facebook Page.

Cateye Light
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Turn That Light On, Even in the Day

There are reasons that daytime running lights have become standard on many cars, they add safety.   It would be obvious to cyclist to add this extra level of safety to their daily bike rides, even during the daylight.

A Customer’s Story

Two years ago a good customer of the bike shop I was managing was literally run over by a car.  She was on a quiet road during the mid day, with 4 open lanes around her.  The customer is now healthy and able to bike again, but it was a touch and go case.  The owner of the bike shop kept the fork off her run over bike in reminder of the actions we take when riding our bike.  The driver of the car had a pretty standard reply,  “I didn’t even see the person!”  The cyclist was in a very shady part of the road and even though it was sunny out, she was camouflaged by her surroundings.

“I didn’t even see the person!”

As a cyclist and a driver I know this can sometimes be the case.  When lighting is bad, clothing is dark and the cyclist blends into the scenery.  With so many other distractions for drivers to checking in on, phone, radio or the screaming baby in the back, I push everyone to give them better time to see you.

Brighter clothing and not riding in the gutter can help this. My big push to every person I’ve ever sold a bike to that is going to be ridden on the road is a light.  Buying batteries once a month is much cheaper than your life, and with most lights viewable 2,000+ feet behind I’ll take it.Cateye Light

From Facebook and Twitter

Several people chimed in on our Facebook and Twitter accounts to answer the question about riding with their blinky light on during the day.

Tawny Yambrovich I see other cyclists do it in daylight and it is virtually invisible; therefore it is a waste of batteries, and a waste of resources (reducing your use of batteries means fewer in landfills or needing recycling).

Tawny, I agree with you that normally a light isn’t viewable but in that one low light situation I would rather be wasting a bit more than wasting my life.

Josh Lipton Something really bright like the Planet Bike SuperFlash on flash mode is bright enough to easily catch people’s eyes even in broad daylight. I figure the sooner other road users see you, the better.

Amen.   Give motorist a heads up that you are riding, most people aren’t used to riding around cyclist and they need prepared.

Picture 16
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Partnership with People for Bikes

With our the announcement of our em:pwr cycling, we want to dive deeper into our main, and very exciting, partnership with Bikes Belong and their People for Bikes program.

People for BikesPeopleforBikes.org is a movement created by the Bikes Belong Foundation – the national nonprofit focused on bicycling safety and children’s bike programs. The goal of PeopleforBikes.org is to unite one million voices to improve bicycling in the United States by asking people to sign a pledge in support of biking. PeopleforBikes.org aims to make our country a better place to ride by sending a unified message to our elected leaders, the media, and the public that bicycling is important and should be promoted.

Nearly 200,000 people, including Lance Armstrong, Gary Fisher, and bike-friendly Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak have already signed the pledge since the campaign’s launch last spring. Please take a moment to visit the website and add
your name today. It is quick, easy, and free, and it will help the future of biking. All they need is your name!

Whatever your background, whatever your bike, and wherever you ride – everyone has a stake in building more bike lanes and trails, securing more funding, and influencing local and national policies to better support bicycling.

Please sign the pledge today, and share peopleforbikes.org with your fellow riders.

empwr cycling kit
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Introducing em:pwr cycling

We mentioned a Bike Shop Girl cycling team for 2011 and with much discussion, planning and “crayon on napkin” design we are ready to reveal!

Welcome to em:pwr cycling

empwr cycling kit

Yes, this is the team for all teams. If you are a sponsored rider or a recreational cyclist we are for you.

em:pwr cycling. em:pwr yourself. em:pwr others.

Our mission is simple, empowering ourselves and others to get on a bicycle to ride or to go faster and smarter on that bicycle. We aren’t elitist (even though some of us are fast), we will ring the cowbell for any and all cyclist. Creating a global community of like minded cyclist, and creating a portal to find knowledge or motivation to go that much further by bicycle!

Are We Preaching to the Choir?

If you are reading this you love bikes or have some interest in them. We are creating a force across the land that will bridge the gaps of beginners, women, children, men or fans.

Join Us!

Leave a comment below with an email address or email us at empwr@bikeshopgirl.com to get on the list.

Nalgene On the Fly OTF
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Nalgene On the Fly Bottle Review

Nalgene On the Fly
MRSP: $12.99
Size: 24 ounces
Companies Pitch: Nalgene’s newest leak-proof loop-top swings open wide to reveal a contoured, high-flow drinking spout that’s easy to fill at the fountain or sink. One-handed push button for easy open/close; locking bail for ultimate insurance against leaks

From Nalgene on their OTF Bottle

Nalgene’s newest leak-proof loop-top swings open wide to reveal a contoured, high-flow drinking spout that’s easy to fill at the fountain or sink. One-handed push button for easy open/close; locking bail for ultimate insurance against leaks.

  • Holds 24 ounces
  • Silicone stopper seals off the drinking spout
  • Leak-proof with bail engaged
  • Fits standard cup holders
  • Molded-in measuring marks
  • Dishwasher safe
  • 63mm cap fits other Nalgene wide-mouth bottles
  • Compostable EarthFirst® bottle “shrink sleeve” packaging is made from renewable plant resources
  • OTF bottle is made in the USA from copolyester manufactured without Bisphenol A (BPA). OTF closure is made in China from polypropylene manufactured without Bisphenol A (BPA).
  • Weighs 136g

Test Results

Tested and abused for the past 8 weeks. Brutal testing done by not only myself, but my testing team. The team consist of two athletic 9 and 10 year old boys. I knew when it came to testing a “leak proof” bottle they would be the best abusers.
Nalgene On the Fly OTF
The above bottle is one that was tested, we haven’t gotten around to taking the label off but even that has worn well. The two bottles that were supplied for review have been taking to sports practices, school backpacks, and even slept in bed with them. I’m happy to report there hasn’t been even one leak!

On the Fly Conclusion

For $12.99 and BPA free I think it is a great lifestyle bottle.

The Nalgene bottle isn’t for me.  I prefer either a cycling bottle top or a drink with a straw.   The biggest positives for me for this Nalgene bottle is that there are no hidden pieces to pull out or to find moldy down the road, the top design does not leak and is easy enough for kids to use well.  For $12.99 and BPA free I think it is a great lifestyle bottle.

Product Disclaimer : This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
Feedback Sports Pro Elite Repair Stand
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Feedback Sports Pro Elite Repair Stand : Product Preview

As a mechanic you become very territorial and particular with your tools.   Once you find something you like, and that doesn’t let you down – you stick with it until it does.  Ultimate Repair Stands which became Feedback Sports a few years ago is one of those things.  They make repair stands, and scales that I would recommend to everyone and anyone.   When I was given the opportunity to upgrade from my old and well used Ultimate repair stand to the Feedback Sports Pro Elite Repair Stand, I bit the chance hard!

Specifications of the Pro Elite Stand

Key specs that I like to point out of this stand are the following

  • Weight : 12.6 lbs.  It makes it easy to take with you on the road and for smaller women to manipulate around
  • Transportable. Tie the weight with the ease of collapsing down the the stand into a relatively compact package
  • Stable. This is where the importance for a mechanic comes in.  I want to be able to do a complete rebuild, full service and do it all on the road.  Everything I’ve thrown at this stand, it has taken. This is thanks to the 54″ tripod base system.  As long as you position the bike correctly on the legs, you won’t have it tipping over on you, no matter the bike.
  • Feedback Sports Pro Elite Repair Stand ReviewQuick Release Clamp.  One of my favorite parts of this stand is the quick release button.  All repair stands need this, more importantly all stands need this feature with it lasting as long as Feedback Sports release last. If you work on bikes often, you’ll love this one hand use clamp.

More on the Pro Elite Stand

As the testing continues, bikes get heavier, clamps get used more, and so on there are a few other notes to mention that aren’t above.   This stand can come with or without a tote bag, I like the tote bag but if you plan on transporting it once a year save your money.
MSRP : Between $220-240 depending where/when and if you want the tote bag

Until I’m finished my review, take a look at Road Bike Review’s video of Feedback Sports 2011 line up:

Disclaimber : This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
Raleigh Hi Life Cyclocross Single Speed Frame
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Post Race Bicycle Clean Up

Bike prep is one of the most important things you can do prior to a race or any big ride.   Most people will do a last minute check over before any race or big ride, but when was the last time you did a post race check over?

Road Wet and Hung Up to Dry

When your done with that big ride, the last thought in the back of your mind was to clean up your bike.  Now, this could be the worst thing you are doing for your bike.  If you let your bike sit after a hard ride for days, it doesn’t matter if its dry or very wet, your chain, bearings and others are aching for attention.

Steps to Post Ride Bike Check Over

Today, I’ll be walking you through what I did after my cyclocross race on Saturday.  Some of these steps may differ depending on what type of riding or conditions your in.

  • Gently hose off the muddy bike.  Using a soft scrub brush or rag to clean down the frame and rims. As you are wiping off the frame check for any new scratches, dents or damages, especially if you crashed.
  • Wipe down chain and drip on your favorite lube, leave it soaking in as you do the rest of the checkover
  • Check the brake pads and braking surface
  • Spin wheels and make sure wheels are true, while spinning make sure there aren’t any new cuts or missing rubber from your tires
  • Check shifting and brake tension
  • Wipe off chain lube

The above check over should take 15 minutes after you get used to the process.   Depending on the ride, like my race in the mud on Saturday, I may leave my lube to soak into the chain overnight.   If you don’t have full sealed bearings you may need to soak lube into those as well.

Many people neglect their bike after a race.   I’ve seen chains frozen solid or someone taking a bike for a ride after a race and not having any brake pads!   Make this check over a normal part of your routine and you’re bike maintenance bill will go down and your parts will last longer.   In additional you’ll be happier on the bike with a well maintained machine!

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