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Review: Jaybird Bluebuds X Headphones

1 Jaybird BlueBuds X

Headphones I find to be essential for the long haul, putting in training miles, or maybe the need of getting lost in a good podcast while being active. Loud enough to tune my thoughts out, but not loud enough to tune out the cars around me.

In late April there was a short preview of the Jaybird Bluebuds X headphones, Bluetooth, multi-fit, “training tools”, as I would call them. They aren’t a requirement for a good workout, but they do make it easier.

Full Review of the Jaybird Bluebuds X

Features and Spec

  • MSRP: $169.99
  • Wireless music and phone calls
  • In-ear white noise reduction that eliminates listener fatigue
  • 8 hour playtime on one battery charge
  • Sweat-proof

Personal Thoughts on Features

Pricing

When I see prices of Bluetooth products these days my jaw drops. Normally $100 will get you a “decent” Bluetooth headset to make calls in. Anything below that will wear out and echo. When I saw the price of the BlueBuds X, I thought “that is pretty expensive” and then I thought about using them for music and phone calls. If they prevented me from ever using my phone to my head again, that will be worth it.

Wireless music and phone calls

Phone calls sound amazing, and the music quality warms the soul but if you are a cyclist you may not be able to get both. The headphones have multiple fits, one in your standard “in-ear” and then one “over-ear.” The in-ear fit bothered me with my helmet straps, and the over-ear fit was perfect but you can’t use the microphone very well when the headset is in the over-ear setup. Switching between the two fits isn’t hard, but it include pulling off a rubber wing and putting it on the other ear bud. Over time the wings stretch and don’t stay in place any longer.

One last gripe is that the features on my phone for music are no longer accessible. The double click forward tries to make a phone call, and the triple click for last song confuses my phone. This is a bummer to be able to use it well with my iPhone.

 

Jaybird gave me some directions on how to move tracks forward and back: Hold the up volume and it advances the track, hold the down volume and it goes back a track.

In-ear White Noise Reduction

This feature works really well. I have found in the past with Bluetooth headphones if I am listening to something very quietly the low buzz of the headphones & music output is annoying. There isn’t really a low buzz using these headphones.

8 hour playtime on one battery charge

This one is key for me, I have enough things to charge after a bike ride or day at work. Remembering to plugin my headphones every night is a nuisance. I’m able to get through almost a full weeks of bike commuting with these headphones, or a couple days on the road while making phone calls when driving. It uses a mini-USB charger so make sure to it handy, as an Apple user this size plug isn’t too common for me.

Sweat-proof

All I can say on this one is that it seems good so far. I’ve done a couple pretty sweaty workouts with the headphones and they are still working fine but this is exactly how I’ve killed a couple other Bluetooth headphones.

Overall Impression and Thoughts

Jaybird Bluebud X Headphones

As headphones these guys are great, all the fits work well for my ears and the sound is amazing. The cable resting on my neck doesn’t bother me or tangle in my hair at all. With a long lasting charge and easy to sync feature it will be a big hit for those that don’t mind the in-ear fit with their helmet and want to make phone calls.

I’ll continue to use these headphones, and will check back if they ever stop working. If you are an avid music lover and want something for your active lifestyle these are it. Better than the Motorola, Beats and Yurbuds that I have tested. If you are wanting something for both, you’ll have to pick between your music or phone call quality but at least you can pick which you want to sacrifice.

20% off Bike Shop Girl Discount for 10 days only!

Jay Bird has offered a 20% off discount code for Bike Shop Girl friends. Use BSG20 at check out and get 20% off!

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge for review. 

The HandleBand

12 The HandleBand

I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of this mount but my rockstar girlfriend has debated with me over coffee that this design is very thought out and will benefit many people. Not so secretly, they had me at bottle opener.

What Is The Handleband?

Our phones help us navigate and train. They’re our cameras, our lights, and our emergency link home. So why don’t we use them with our bikes?

The Handleband is a simple tool that brings to light the untapped potential of our smartphones. It offers a simple, elegant and universal means of uniting your smartphone with your bicycle.

Here are a few things that make it unique:

  • (1) In use, it is smaller than a deck of cards.
  • (2) It is removable (so its doesn’t clutter your ride)
  • (3) It works with any phone, bike and case.
  • (4) It is simple and robust. (One reinforced unit)
  • (5) It holds a lot (flashlights, pumps, diplomatic flags)
  • (6) It is a bottle opener.

Check out Handleband.com and Kickstarter page

Bicycle Shopping: The Three Common Styles of Bicycles

16 Bicycle Categories

So you are in the market for a new bike, but you don’t know where to start? You aren’t alone!

When customers walk in to my bike shop starting their hunt for a new bike one of the most important things I ask is this: “where do you want your bike to take you?” In upcoming articles I will help you answer that question and continue to empower you in cycling. Today’s article is focused on breaking down the three most common styles of bikes and what their most broad use is. These styles or categories are: Road, Mountain, and Hybrid.

When I quickly count on my fingers the different styles of bikes that most good bike shops carry, I come up with 14 (I promise I only have 12 fingers). 14 categories of bicycles to confuse you, overwhelm you and lead you down different avenues, maybe even putting you on the wrong category so that you never ride that new bike hanging in your garage. These 14 categories don’t even include the different kinds of mountain bike wheel sizes, fat bikes, or thoughts of road bikes.

Today, we’ll be using wide strokes to paint a picture of bicycle types that can be helpful as you start your hunt for a new bike.

Road Bikes

Trek Road Bike

These bikes have round, drop, handlebars. If you haven’t been on or near a bicycle in a while then you may refer to these as a “10-speed.” They are efficient,  fast, and tend to have a more leaned over and “aggressive” feel (but not uncomfortable.) They are meant to be comfortable for the long ride, and have many different sub-categories for different uses. Triathlons, gravel races, bike touring, and so many more things can be under this category. A solid road bike that doesn’t have parts you will be replacing within the first season of heavy riding normally starts around the $1000 range.

Mountain Bikes

Mountain Bike

These are widely popular as they are the all terrain vehicle of bikes. Knobby, fat, tires that allow you to roll over things and go on various terrain. Most kids start off on these, and they can be found in many department stores so they are often the “gateway drug” to bikes. Your everyday bicycle shop mountain bike is between $350-650. Anything under $500-650 is probably not meant to go truly mountain biking, but instead plays the part for when you go down dirt paths, gravel and off pavement. A sturdy “single track worthy” mountain bike normally starts around $800.

Hybrid Bikes

Hybrid Bicycle

Though I’m a pretty performance oriented cyclist, the hybrid is my favorite category of bikes. This category is what will get folks out of the gym, off the treadmill or better yet, off the couch! The hybrid is decently efficient on the road, but normally has an inverted tread to allow for some sand and hard packed gravel riding. The fit is a bit more upright, feeling more comfortable to the rider going <2 hours. While there are extreme hybrids costing $2k with disc brakes, carbon forks and features similar to a road bike, rather these bikes normally start around $350-500 for a nice sturdy, comfortable bike with parts that will last. The hybrid is a bike that any cyclist should have in their garage for grocery getting, bar hopping and greenway cruising. There is a chance you’ll grow out of this bike when you decide you want to go further on the road, or hit more aggressive mountain bike trails. That is okay, the hybrid will always have a place in your collection.

Preview: Giro Manta Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes

1 Giro Manta Women's Mountain Bike Shoes

As I’m reviewing the road shoe from Giro called the Solara, I’ve also been able to plant my feet in the mountain bike version called the Manta. The  shoe, fit and features are mirrored between the two models, but the only difference is the mountain bike sole for better traction and two hole cleats.

Giro Manta Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes

MSRP: $150
Colors: Black/Silver (reviewed), White/Silver/Plum
Weight: 305 grams (size 39)
Details: Three straps, two velcro and one ratchet for easy on trail adjustments.

Out of the Box Thoughts

If you read my preview of the Giro Solara Women’s Road Shoe than there isn’t much more to say other than this is a mountain bike shoe with more scuff guards. The proof will be in the pudding if the shoe last over heavy abuse and trail testing. They are now suited up with Crank Brothers cleats and I’ll be ready to provide a full review after a few hundred miles! Until then, check them out on Giro.com.

Disclaimer: This product was provided for no charge for review

This Little Light of Mine, Using Lights at All Times

5 Light & Motion Lights

This is a drum I have beat a decent amount in the past, but I need to beat it again as the summer days get longer and people are riding their bikes more and more. There are many reasons I believe you should have a front and rear light on blinking at all times on the bike, at the end it is safety and keeping you intact on your bike.

Reasons to Use Front and Rear Blinky Lights All The Time

  • I have been left hooked in a major intersection and fully believe a front light would have made the old man see me
  • Make yourself easier to spot
  • It makes cars more aware of you, and the space around you. In my experience with a rear blinky light it seems cars give you more space as they pass
  • Habit to turn on your lights
  • Why not??

Recommendations:

My favorite light set is the Light & Motion Urban 200 Combo Kit (support BSG and buy through that link!)

2014 Raleigh RX 1.0 Women’s Cyclocross Bike

3 Raleigh RX 1.0 Womens

A couple years ago I did a full review of the Raleigh RX 1.0 women’s cyclocross bike. The articles do get a lot of comments and questions still to date so it is very fitting that Raleigh USA is releasing the 2014 images and spec early!

The spec hasn’t changed too much from years past, the colors may appeal to more of a racer than the while but the mounts are still available for racks and fenders to make this into the commuter machine if needed!

What do you think of the new styling?

2014 Raleigh RX 1.0 Women’s Cyclocross Bike Specs

Frame: 6061 Double Butted Alloy, Tapered headtube and seattube, flat oval downtube and seatstay, PF30 BB

Fork: Raleigh Carbon 1.125″ to 1.5″ taper, Canti-Bosses
Drive Train: Sram Apex, FSA Gossamer, 46x36t chainrings
Wheels: Formula Smooth Bearing Hubs, Weinmann 23mm wide XP Elite rims
Tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralph Performance
Brakes: Tektro CR710 Canti Brakes
Cockpit: Raleigh Short Reach Bar, Raleigh 3D forged stem
Post/Saddle: Raleigh 2014 Alloy Dual Bolt, 20mm offset, Raleigh CX saddle
Bar Tape: CX Specific Bar Tape, all condition grip and increased shock absorption

Preview: Giro LA DND Women’s Glove

6 Giro LA DND Women's Glove

There are two styles of mountain bike gloves I use. The first is your basic, light-weight, and is really there to keep your hands from slipping off your bars when they are covered with sweat, or when you slide across the hard pack dirt trails. The second type of glove I use is for longer rides, with a bit more padding in the palm and normally a size bigger for when my hands swell and my fingers “grow.”

The Giro LA DND gloves fall into the first category, with extra points for style.

Giro LA DND Women’s Gloves $26

MSRP: $26
Features:

  • Slip on design (no adjustable strap)
  • Slim fitting
  • Used on road or mtb

Full review of wear and tear in a month or so! If you are looking into buying a pair of these, support BSG by purchasing through this link at JensonUSA.

 Disclaimer: I was provided this product at no charge for review. Unfortunately, I was not paid or bribed for my opinion.

3 Reasons to Connect Fashion with Bicycling

6 Bicycle Fashion

A guest article from Maria Boustead of Po Campo. Learn more about Maria at the bottom of the article.

First off, let me define what I mean when I say “fashion” and “bicycling” for the purposes of this post. By fashion I mean personal style, or how people choose to express themselves by the way they dress. I am not talking about runway looks or the fashion industry or too-thin models. And when I say bicycling, I am referring to using your bike to go from Point A to Point B, not bicycling as sport or purely for exercise or recreation.

We all agree that we want more people to bike for transportation because of the numerous benefits to our environment, our cities and ourselves. The main reason people give for not biking is because it seems too dangerous, or, in other words, they are afraid of being hit by a car. Bike lanes, especially protected ones, and better traffic laws do a lot to make people feel safer while on the road.

While physical safety is often foremost in our minds, we mustn’t neglect the element of emotional security. Bike lanes help with the former, and I believe that connecting fashion to biking can help take care of the latter. Here’s how:

1. You can see yourself doing it

commuter

Photo by Dustin Jensen © All Rights Reserved

We humans are highly social creatures and everything we wear/do/say communicates something about us. We are attracted to things that mesh with our sense of self and distance ourselves from things that don’t.

The desire to “fit in” is heightened when trying something new, such as riding your bike to work. When we’re not sure how to act or dress, we look to the people we identify with to follow their example (psychologists call this “Informational Influence”). So, if people can easily see other people that look like them riding a bike, they will more likely try it. We should be striving to get as many styles in the bike lane as possible!

2. It becomes an aspiration – I want to BE that person!

Here’s where imagery comes in. Media can be very persuasive because, done well, it taps into our inner desires of who we want to be. So, not only can you see yourself bicycling, but you can see your “best self” bicycling.

Today we generally lump people into four categories: The Road Warrior, The Hipster, The Dutch Belle and The Safety-Minded.

4categories
All four archetypes are effective at resonating with different people, and, while you might not be as lovely or as edgy as the imagery indicates, you like to think of yourself that way. I predict that as fashion and bicycling continue to comingle, we will see more of these archetypes start to appear to represent even more people, which will, in turn, get more people on the road.

3. It just simplifies things

Have you overheard this conversation as much as I have?

Person 1 says, “Maybe I’ll try biking to work on a nice day, but I’m not sure how to get started.” Then Person 2 says, “Oh that’s great! It’s easy. All you need to is…” and then goes on with a mindboggling amount of detail about what types of bikes (and components) are best for different types of rides, how you must have your bike outfitted with XYZ accessories, what you should wear, what you absolutely should not wear (like, jeans), etc. Dude, don’t over-complicate things – someone is just trying to get to work!

Photo by Loic Bernard © All Rights Reserved

Photo by Loic Bernard © All Rights Reserved

Conversely, fashion is familiar and therefore provides a reference point. You don’t have to learn all new jargon or start reading new magazines to see someone in an outfit similar to something you own to put two-and-two together and say “Hey, I can bike in that!”.
Connecting fashion to bicycling also hits home for me personally because, while I have always biked pretty regularly all over Chicago (and even founded a bike bag company there), I had never liked calling myself a biker. The word just carried too many bad memories of behaviors and styles that I didn’t identify with. But, now that fashion is entering the mix, and I am finally finding bicycling-related articles and images that interest me in publications of aIl types, and new bike brands and new apparel and accessory brands that speak to me. It feels good to feel included. I guess maybe I am a biker after all.

Maria Boustead launched Po Campo in 2009 because she needed a bag versatile enough to clip on to her bike while en route and attractive enough to take into her office or to a meeting upon reaching her destination. There were so few options for this; it just seemed like a major oversight and she knew other women would appreciate a fashionable and functional bag, too.

Preview: ZOIC Women’s Clothing

5 ZOIC Women's Clothing

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to watch the company of ZOIC Clothing transform and become a more popular choice for women’s clothing. Stylish and functional clothes for mountain and lifestyle bicycling, their clothing is a great fit for my move to the mountains!

ZOIC Women’s Starburst V-Neck Tech Tee $50

 

ZOIC Women’s Starburst V-Neck Tech Tee

 

Out of the 4 pieces that were sent from ZOIC this is easily my favorite. $50 for a tech t-shirt may sound a lot, but it has functions like vents near your shoulder blades and a pocket for an iPod or key. It also fits like a your favorite workout shirt but long enough on me for when I bend over riding. Time will tell how this wears, but for now it is a go-to when commuting or wearing a hydration backpack.

ZOIC Women’s Posh Plaid Shorts with Liner $79

 

ZOIC Women’s Posh Plaid Shorts

 

This stylish short pairs well with the Starburst V-Neck Tech Tee above. The liner is a pretty basic chamois, but good for someone’s first mtb short and liner combo. When mountain biking and needing a padded short I will personally use a short or bib that I already own. (I use fancy chamois remember?)

I plan on trying this short as a commuter too, maybe with a higher end wool underwear to act as that bacteria liner.

ZOIC Women’s Tailwind Tank $60

 

ZOIC Women’s Tailwind Tank

 

It’s summertime and we all care about our tan lines, right ladies? This tank, with built in shelf to hold your girls in place, is pretty dang comfortable. I have yet to test the shelf on a mountain bike ride, but I would assume if you are more than a large “B cup” you will want to wear a sports bra under. One of the best features of this tank are the two pockets (one zipper and one elastic) on the small of your back.

ZOIC Women’s Aura Shorts with Liner $79

 

ZOIC Women's Aura Short

 

The Aura short feels like a mountain bike short to me. Elastic across the backside, on the inner and outer (medial and lateral the Dr. E has to add) leg and adjustable velcro closure on the hips for a secure fit. These shorts will stay in place on your next uphill climb or downhill adrenaline rush. Time will only tell how the rear will hold up against dirt and sand on the saddle. As mentioned in the Posh short, I won’t be using the liner for long rides but it will work for a commute or your first mountain bike rides.

Initial Thoughts

Overall, most of these pieces have had one or two rides on them so I’m not prepared to talk too much about the fit or long term wear. I can say that they all look better in person than on ZOIC’s website. The materials feel nice on your skin and the attention to detail on stitching, accents and functional placement of things like zippers/mesh airflow pockets and such are pretty darn good for the price tags!

Look for a full review in a month or so, until then check out ZOIC’s women’s collection online.

Disclaimer: These products were provided at no charge for review. I wasn’t paid or bribed for my opinion. 

Bike League: Pedaling Towards Equality

1 Bike League Pedal Equality

The League of American Bicyclists sent out the blurb below about bicycle rider equality.

Bicycling has more than doubled from 1.7 billion trips in 2001 to more than four billion trips in 2009 — and youth, women, and communities of color are playing a key role in shifting transportation demand towards safe, accessible, and equitable bicycling for all. A new report from the League and the Sierra Club, “The New Majority: Pedaling Towards Equity,” showcases analysis and data on the changing face and new leadership in the bike movement nationwide, as well as key challenges and opportunities to advance equity moving forward.

Read more on the Bike League.