Bern Allston Helmet Review

Review: Bern Allston Helmet

Back in July I introduced Bern Helmets’ new ventilated model, the Allston. With a couple months of testing, three different reviewers and some matchy handlebar tape, I’m ready to give you my opinion.

The Bern Allston

The Allston has 16 vents, weighs in at a claimed 13 ounces and comes in 4 colors. With the classic Bern visor style, lighter weight and a decent amount of ventilation this is going to turn some fixie riding heads!

Key Details

MSRP: $89.99
Colors: Matte Black, Matte Grey, Matte Neon Green, Satin White
Features: 16 vents, 13 ounces, Available in 3 sizes (M, L, XL), Snap in liners to make this an all season helmet

Wear Test

The size Medium that showed up in Neon Green fit many heads. The nicest feature of this helmet in my mind is the liner that comes pre-installed. With a baseball cap flap, the adjustment comes from a soft fabric being tightened by velcro at the back. There isn’t a plastic cage tightening against your scull, it also acts as a sweat catcher!

Bern Allston Helmet Review

Ride Test

Bern Allston Test Riding

For bike commuting and low milage city riding this is a great go-to helmet. The vents allow some air flow but the skateboard style shell wraps around your head, a bit lower than most bike helmets these days.

I wouldn’t ride this helmet for 20+ miles unless it’s <60 degrees. While it has good airflow, it isn’t a match for ventilation like Lazer, Giro or Specialized.

Overall Opinion

If you want a great looking helmet, look here. If you want a helmet that can add some warmth in the winter, look here. If you are looking for a solid mountain bike or road helmet and you are often sweating or in warmer temps, do not look here.

I’m a huge fan of the helmet for the right purpose. In city bike shops Bern is selling like hotcakes. The style of the helmet is undeniable and a huge step up from their standard low vent styles.

Support Bike Shop Girl

Looking for a Bern helmet? If you can’t find something at your local bike shop, click through to JensonUSA as I make a commission off all sales you purchase after clicking through from Bike Shop Girl.

Disclaimer: This helmet was provided at no charge for review purposes.

 

Giro Sonnet

Review: Giro Sonnet Women’s Helmet

Giro Sonnet Women’s Helmet MSRP $90

Details: 25 vents, no visor, in-mold construction

A helmet under $100 with a slender shape for women, that’s the Giro Sonnet.

Pro’s: Weight, price, color options, availability in-store or online

Con’s: Fit system hits my ponytail (details I know), very neutral colors available

Overall Thoughts of the Giro Sonnet Women’s Helmet

I see two users buying this helmet. The first time road warrior that will be on the bike up to 2 hours at a time, or a MTB/commuter that is upgrading from that entry level, $40 heavy helmet, they started with. If you are either of these people, this helmet is perfect. If you are going to be doing 3+ hour rides, the helmet will feel heavier on your head and there are more ventilated options out there.

It’s a great helmet at a great price. I wish they tried one crazy color in the line up, but that’s me.

Purchasing this helmet online? Support BSG and purchase through this link to JensonUSA.

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost for review. If you purchase through the JensonUSA link, I may receive commission. 

Po Campo Roscoe Crossbody Bag

Preview: Po Campo Roscoe Cross Body Bag

Ever since Po Campo sent out an email a couple weeks back about the new colors in the Roscoe Crossbody bag I’ve been waiting patiently for Quality Bicycle Products to get them instock. I had hoped they would get them in before Frostbike (industry trade show this week) but unfortunately they did not. Maria from Po Campo braved the snow and traveled to Minneapolis this weekend for Frostbike. She was nice enough to bring along a bag for me to buy!I was able to use the Roscoe over the past couple days to carry around my iPad mini, iPhone and other key items (ID badge, charger, business cards, etc.)

Maria saved the day, so thank you!

Roscoe Crossbody Bag

I wouldn’t say this is a cycling specific bag at all, but more of a great looking bag with touches for those that use it on the bike. The color and function are what completely caught my attention and what I’ll be basing an upcoming review on!

Hopefully over the next week I’ll be able to ride with the bag and can give a pretty straight forward review with more photos of the interior pockets.

Disclaimer: I purchased this bag, super stoked on it and reviews (as always) will be based on using/abusing the product to give you the best feedback possible.

 

SRAM XX1 Review

Preview: SRAM XX1 MTB Drivetrain

When my work started “pre-selling” the new XX1 group I knew this is what I had to have for my new hardtail race machine. Not only is it the latest and greatest, which doesn’t always appeal to me on my own bikes, it was very tested and several pro racers I know whispered in my ear that it REALLY was the bee’s knees.

Setup of XX1 Reviewed

MSRP: $1450
Shifter: Trigger shifter
Cranks: 175m, 32t, 168 Q
Cassette: 42 x 10 (with 11 speeds!)

Benefits of SRAM XX1

Rear Derailleur – Redesign of the rear derailleur. With an offset of the upper pulley, larger pulleys and a “straight parallelogram” that takes away ghost shifting and making it easier to shift. This derailleur also has the Type 2 clutch which keeps your derailleur from bouncing when you’re going down hill.

Chain- I can’t even begin to explain the chain, so I’ll show a photo!

XX1 Chain

Cassette- 10x42t. The cassette also has larger gaps to clean out better.

Cassette body- due to the size of the cassette going down to 10t, you have to get a new freehub called XD. I picked up a set of SRAM Rise 60 wheels (preview to come at a later date) and had to do a freehub swap. Super painless, and the freehub feels awesome. I haven’t had it on technical uphills to test out the engagement, but it feels good at most the trails I ride. A bit of a warning that there isn’t a ton of selection yet on freehub bodies.

Shifters- One shifter, pick your poison, either Grip Shift or Trigger. (I went with trigger, long term when I build up an all mountain bike I’ll switch the trigger to it and get Grip Shift for the race bike.)

Learn more “tech” stuff from SRAM by clicking here.

 

Initial Impressions

Pimp. I’m a bit biased as I’ve always preferred how SRAM shifts. I’ve ridden XX, I’ve ridden XO and XTR. This by far takes the cake. The range I get out of the rear cassette is amazing. There is no cross chaining and it performs perfectly throughout the range.

My crank setup is a 32t chainring with 168 Q-Factor (going to be the most popular option.) I plan on picking up a 36t chainring closer to XC season but right now on the road I spin out the 32×10 at roughly 27mph. Your speeds my vary and my legs can only spin so fast! The biggest reason I want to go up on a chainring is so that I’m using the middle of the cassette more. Currently when hitting the few off-road intervals I’ve had in the off season I have been riding lower in my cassette, which (in my experience) wears out parts faster. PLUS, I like to have more wrap on my cassette when going down hill so my derailleur /chain are under tension a bit more. Yes, you can tell me that is what the Type 2 derailleur does but I still like what I know has worked for years.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for new parts, building up a new bike or simply like the best. I would recommend giving this a spin, if you can find it. As a rep my bike is always in my car, and most shops that I have visited have NOT seen XX1 themselves. At least not mounted on a bike that can be test ridden. The first group sets have been out in the market for a few weeks (I believe the started shipping the beginning of December.) I’ve seen some Specialized S-Works coming out of the box with XX1 too. Give it a couple months for more shipments to come from SRAM and I’m sure it will be more readily available at your favorite bike shop. If you see me, you can take mine for a spin, BUT not moments before a race, just a warning.

$1450 is a pretty penny for a drivetrain only setup, if you are looking to take yourself and bike to the next level you won’t regret it with this.

Once I need to replace my chain I will chime back in with a full review of wear and long term thoughts.

Disclaimer: I purchased this drivetrain out of my own wallet. This wasn’t given to me, and my opinions will always be honest.

Lezyne Micro Caddy

Lezyne Micro Caddy Bag Review

Saddle bags are a needed thing in my life. Something that most bike shops forget to mention when they sell you that new road or mountain bike. Riding around with out tools, tube or inflation device is like driving around in your car with out a spare tire. Yes, you can call someone if you get a flat but that isn’t the empower cycling female I hope you are! Plus, a saddle bag can hold that phone for you as well.

Most folks don’t think twice about what saddle bag to put on their bike. They look at two things. Size and color. There is more to a saddle bag than you would think.

Tech spec of the Lezyne Micro Caddy

MSRP: $24.99-19.99
Sizes: Medium (tested) and Small
Colors: Black or White

What’s Unique of the Lezyne Micro Caddy

Two things caught me as I installed the Lezyne Micro Caddy.

The first is the white color. I love all things white and so far it has stayed white which is awesome.

Lezyne Micro Caddy

The second is how the bag attached to the seat rails. It almost has wings that wrap back on itself. Making it so you don’t need a strap to secure the bag to the seat post to eliminate waggle.

Lezyne Micro Caddy

A few other cool features:
• The multi-tool holder under the bag. This allows for easy access to do quick changes on the bike.
• Reflective piping around the bag. It doesn’t replace a light but it is nice.

Overall thoughts of the Micro Caddy

The bag is nice, it holds my goods under my saddle. I like the unique features that I haven’t seen on a bag before. More and more bike shops are carrying them which is also nice so that you don’t have to buy online. Something about being able to put it on your bike to see if you like it…you can’t replace it. After about 2,000 miles on my cross bike the stitching started to blow open and the white zipper turned yellow. I haven’t tried to wash the bag in fear of the stitching getting worse, we will see if it makes it through the winter!

This product was provided to me at no charge from Lezyne. My opinion is honest and opinionated, probably why you’re still reading. I wasn’t bribed or paid for this review.



Assos Chamois Creme

Chamois Cream: What is it and do I need it?

A popular question after cycling shorts and saddle recommendations is normally about chamois cream. If you haven’t heard about it before, don’t feel too left out it basically is under carriage lube.

Wait what? Yes, a cream you put between you and the shorts.

Why do I need Chamois Cream?

I go through spurts of not using chamois cream because I forget it or forget to buy new. Depending on my shorts, saddle and bike fit sometimes it is fine. Below you’ll find a list of reasons I recommend it!

  • Prevents chaffing, keeping your skin from rubbing together or rubbing against your shorts/saddle
  • Many creams have anti-bacterial in side of it
  • Helps with shaving bumps and in grown hair
  • Many creams have a cooling sensation that is helpful if you get hot spots or are simply warm down there on a hot day

What kind of Chamois Cream do I recommend?

This is tough, at the end I recommend to try different types and to figure out what ingredients you like. I’ve never had any rash or allergic reaction to any of the ones I recommend.

Assos Chamois Creme

Assos Chamois Creme

This is the original to me. I remember being 16 and the only other cycling girl I knew recommending it. It because ritual and the smell still reminds me of long rides. It has a cooling sensation which is also nice.

DZ Nuts Bliss

DZ Nuts Bliss

One of the first to make a “female specific” cream. I’ve used it, and can say I can’t tell a difference..it doesn’t seem to have such a cooling sensation and smells less medicated. I have also used the standard “guys” version which works just as well for me.

Chamois Butt'r

Chamois Butt’r

This is probably the most popular kind you’ll find in any bike shop. The standard version doesn’t cool as much, and I have been using the Eurostyle for the past few months. One nice thing about this type is they sell tubes of “sample” sizes to bike shops. I like these for folks trying out chamois butt’r for the first time, or for long rides to keep in your pocket!

How to Install Chamois Cream

I’ve heard so many ways to do this, either put it on your short before you put it on, or slather it all over yourself. I’ve tried putting it on the chamois and hated it. It made it feel like I was putting on a damp diaper.

  • Try starting with a quarter size of cream, I’m a fan of the squirt bottles over the scoop style jars
  • I personally put it in my butt crease, the groin crease and lightly on soft tissues that come in contact with my shorts
  • Don’t over do it! Start small and see how much you need!

What do you do??

What do you like? What have you used? Chime in below!

Knog Blinder Light Review

Knog Blinder Arrow Light Review

We all know my obsession for lights and bags. I have so many of both as I’m always trying to find the perfect one. Rechargeable lights are something I really love. Especially the latest push for USB rechargeable. You see, before lights and bags I am a tech freak. iPad, iMac, MacBook Air, GoPro’s, Canon cameras, iPhones, you get the idea. I always have a computer with me, so charging a light through USB is really easy for me. Much easier than finding batteries at CVS.

Meet the Knog Blinder Arrow Light $44.99

Knog Blinder Light Review

I received a front light in the mail, and it has been on the front of my bikes since February. I’ve traveled with it to Frostbike, and utilize it anytime I’m on the road. I’ve had to charge it twice, it’s bright and easy to use. The mount works on all types of handlebar styles, widths and bends. The USB is easy to use, but you have to have the right room for it. It doesn’t fit in well right between two other USB’s due to the light size.

Knog Blinder Light Review

In Knog fashion they come in many colors & styles

Long term I plan to order a rear, as making a white front light bright seems to be easier than making a red rear light bright and eye catching.

Visit Knog’s website to view all styles!

This product was provided for free for review. I was not bribed or paid for this review. 

Bike After Dark Fireball Mark II

Review: Bike After Dark Fireball Mark II Wheel Light

This review was put in play by Luna Cycles in Lenior, NC. I am very grateful for their time and assistance, and commuter knowledge!

Visibility is the bane of cyclists everywhere. As a daily commuter, I find myself riding in the worst visibility conditions: early morning light, evening dusk, rain, fog, and nighttime darkness. I wear high-visibility yellow, I strap a riot of blinking lights to the front and back of my bike – I’d get a head-to-toe glow in the dark tattoo if I thought it would help – all in a quest to be noticed by drivers. It was with this quest in mind that I jumped at the opportunity to try out the Fireball Mark II light from Bike After Dark.

Read More

Bontrager Vella Camu Shopper Review

Bontrager Vella Vana and Camu Bag Review

I am putting these two bags together in one review as other than straps and zippers they are much alike. 

Getting women to use bicycles as a form of transportation is rather important to me. I feel as society see’s more women on bikes, as more women empower their children and families to chose a bike, the more we success we will have with getting better laws, infrastructure and movement forward in the US for bikes.

Making biking easier, more functional, and well better looking is a huge step in to doing the above. I feel Bontrager is making strides in this.

Bontrager Vella Vana Messenger MSRP: $110

Bontrager Vella Vana Messenger Bag Review

A streamlined messenger bag that comes in black or a deep purple. The unique feature of this bag is on the back, under a zipper two clips are hidden to firmly snap this bag on to your rack.

Other features in the bag include:

  • A separate, elevated, sleeve for your laptop to keep it from hitting the ground
  • Expandable when you need more room
  • External key and wallet pocket
  • Padded messenger strap

Bontrager Vella Camu Shopper MSRP $110

Bontrager Vella Camu Shopper Review

The basics of this bag are the same but instead of a messenger bag it is shaped to fit a paper grocery bag perfectly. The messenger strap is replaced with two hand straps and the top is closed by a zipper top.

The bag still has the installation feature onto a rack, expansion feature with a full zip around the bottom when you need to carry more and adds side straps to cinch down on the sides and keep things safe!

Bontrager Vella Camu Shopper Review

Things I Would Change (Cons)

The bags are really good and durable bags. They’ve encouraged my better half who is a true girly girl to branch out and use a bicycle for other things. With that, I have to make note of a few things that I hope in the next run they address.

  • More mounts for blinky lights
  • More reflective bits
  • Some sort of tie down on the bottom for when I have precious cargo and can’t fathom the bag coming unhitched
  • Maybe a rain fly
  • More colors. Make it fun, make it eye catching. (Remember hi-viz yellow is the new black!)

 Some other cool photos and features


This product was provided for free for review. I was not bribed or paid for this review.