Empowering women in cycling

Review: FITS Co Sock

2 FITS Co Sock Review

There are select socks that I refer to in my life. I’m not a complete sock snob, but I am pretty darn close to it. I love Smart Wool socks in the winter or for cold rainy training rides, I love Twin Six socks (especially their new brand) for the look and sexy factor. The rest of my sock drawer is mostly filled with Sock Guy and DeFeet cycling socks, keeping only one or two “girl stockings” on hand for when I have to wear a suit.

FITS Co Sock Review

FITS Co sent me a couple pairs of socks to try out, nothing behind it but a beautiful handwritten note and a funky business card from their brand manager Wood Talkington. I won’t lie, their story is unique and worth a visit by itself.

Knitting socks in Niota, TN since 1902, Crescent Sock Co. endured the ups and downs that shaped the character of America’s people and her textiles industry. Today the company produces socks under its own FITS™ name in the oldest operating hosiery mill in the U.S. -FITSSock.com

Review of FITS Performance Trail Sock

Pulling on the Performance Trail sock I felt like I was pulling on a Smart Wool sock but with more arch support. As if the sock was giving my sock a nice hug at the end of a long day. The cuff seems to be of a different knit than the body of the sock, I’m assuming this is for circulation and support, without cutting your circulation off in the leg. The socks are heavier in weight and warmth. I wouldn’t wear these around in 90 degree weather with out reason but on a hard hike and mountain biking these socks provide the shock absorbing to my feet for all day comfort.

FITS Co Performance Trail Review
The cost is high for FITS socks, $17.99 for the Performance Trail. One could argue it is American made and high end wool, I would argue to buy a pair to keep for those long rides or cold night rides in the winter. I don’t plan on wearing them too often for everyday around the house as I want them to last!

Review of the FITS Light Runner Sock

These socks were reviewed by my girlfriend so I’ll turn over the keyboard to her.

I don’t know what to say about reviewing the socks, but this is what I think of them so far. For wool, these socks are very soft, the compression is exactly where I want it and when I was riding in 100 degree weather I didn’t notice these socks at all on my feet other than comfortable!

FITS Co Light Runner Review
The MSRP is $15.99 for the Light Runner socks. With the cuff showing above the shoes, and a heavy cuff at that it seems that it is going to wear well without Kim wearing a hole in her socks quickly. If Kim can’t kill these socks, no normal user will be able to!

Overall Review of the FITS Co Socks

The socks feel amazing, both pairs feel amazing. If I had a larger income, I would wear some variety of this and Smart Wool of some variety. The costs on the flip side is what brings me hesitant from giving this a 100% positive review. $15-20 for socks is steep, and I hope these socks feel as amazing as they did the first day for the next 8 months.

These socks were provided at no cost. I was not paid or bribed, and hopefully if you read this far you know I’m honest and won’t put my name next to something.

 

Tech Tuesday: MTB Bike Component Levels Explained

4 Tech Tuesday

Problem Solvers

Make sure to visit the sponsors of this posts.. Problem Solvers!

One concern that so many women (and guys) have with owning a bike is the basics of fixing it, or how to do basic road side repairs. I do recommend that as an avid cyclist even with some mechanical skills that you should become best buds with your local mechanic (beer or ice cream works well.) I also want women to feel empowered and to have a better idea of what they are talking about. Tech Tuesday is the remedy for common tech questions!

A common inquiry I receive is whether a certain component is worth the upgrade. To begin I’m going to simply touch on mountain bike parts, next week touching on road. I’m going to do my best to spell out the two main component brands, SRAM and Shimano, and their levels of parts. There are several other component manufactures out there and if you have specific questions please comment below.

SRAM

SRAM Logo

From Wikipedia:

SRAM Corporation is a privately held bicycle component manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois, founded in 1987. SRAM is an acronym comprising the names of its founders, Scott, Ray, and Sam, (where Ray is the middle name of company head Stan Day).[2]

In 2008, the company received a strategic investment from Trilantic Capital Partners, formerly known as Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking, the buyout arm of Lehman Brothers. The firm invested $234.8 million in SRAM in a deal that closed Sept. 30, 2008.[3][4] On May 12, 2011, the company announced in a filing that it intended to raise up to $300 million in an IPO.

SRAM was first known for grip shifters, which are still used to date and are normally featured on internally geared hubs, children’s and hybrid bikes. Grip shifters can be found on the higher end bikes, but are not available in the new 10 speed components.

SRAM also owns RochShox, Zipp, Avid and Truvativ that make up a complete component line of shocks, wheels, brakes, handlebars, seatposts, pedals, cranks, etc.

SRAM Mountain Components

SRAM was the first to bring 10 speed drivetrains to the masses with XX, or 2×10. The 10 speeds in the rear is now available from both SRAM and Shimano. For me SRAM and Shimano don’t have even playing fields in mountain since the XX technology is far lighter than the XTR from Shimano.

Heirarchy of 2011 SRAM Mountain Components

XX - the best. If you have the money, or must have the lightest parts. This is the level
X0 – Traditional the best from SRAM, but was trumped by XX. 2×10 technology (Comparable to XTR)
X9 – Shifts amazing, a bit heavier and no carbon! Go with if you are worried about weight, but don’t want to break the bank. 2×10 technology (Comparable to XT)
X7 – The most affordable of the 2×10 technology, will last and give you the advantage. Not the lightest, but won’t break your wallet (Comparable to SLX)
X5 – Found on mid level, what I would consider the lowest end for off road worthy parts. 9 speed(Comparable to Deore)
X4An entry level, found normally on hybrids or mountain bikes not intended to be ridden off road. Perfectly fine if not abused or ridden off road.
X3 – Normally found on kids bikes or very entry level bikes. Will need more maintenance and parts will wear out more quickly.

Shimano

Shimano LogoFrom Wikipedia:

Shimano, Inc. (TYO: 7309) is a Japanese multinational manufacturer of cycling components, fishing tackle, and rowing equipment. Shimano product sales constitute 50% of the of the global bicycle component market. Its products include drivetrain, brake, wheel and pedal components for road, mountain, and hybrid bikes.

Shimano is the best known name within bicycle parts. The first to introduce mountain bike specific groups (Deore XT) and continue to push the envelope with electronic shifting to the masses, and innovation technology.

Shimano Mountain Components

XTR has been known over a decade as the bee’s knees of mountain bike parts. Still to this day, the clean and etched look of “XTR” on your rear derailleur or cranks will show folks you know your parts.

Shimano Mountain Heirarchy

(Much of this was borrowed from Wikipedia)

XTR [M980] – Top of the range for XC mountain bikes. 10 speed, comparable to SRAM X9
Deore XT [M770] – The longest running of a mtb component line. Amazing shifting, with a bit more weight than XTR. 9 and 10 speed, between SRAM X9 and X7
SLX [M660] – The best bang for the buck in the mtb line, still great shifting but more weight and won’t last as long as XT. 9 and 10 speed, comparable to SRAM X7
Deore [M590] -  Entry level, good place to start but will wear out after a couple years of hard use. 9 speed, comparable to SRAM X5

Trekking component

Deore XT
Deore LX
Deore

Downhill/Freeride component

Saint [M810] – Top of the range for downhill and freeride bikes, and many components are based on the XT groupset but more durable.

Recreational mountain bikes component

Alivio [M410 and M430] 8 and 9 speed
Acera [M360] 8 speed
Altus [M310] 8 speed
Tourney 6, 7, 8 speed – Includes several different levels of quality, and can be found on department-store bicycles

Motivational Monday with Shelley Childers

1 Shelley Childers

Motivational Monday, a Monday tradition at Bike Shop Girl, my goal to keep you motivated and to be striving on the bike even during a hard week or long hours at work. Are you a woman that bicycles? Fill out this easy form and be part of our motivational movement!

What’s your name and location?

Shelley Childers – Charlotte, NC

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Mountain biking

What is your first cycling memory?

Getting my white Huffy ‘BMX’ bike for Christmas when I was about 10.

Who inspires you to ride, and better yet WHY?

I have to admit that my friends inspire me. There are so many different levels of skillset and they all represent the ‘why’ part of this question. The inexperienced riders are the most vulnerable on the trail and helping them understand how to clear a TTF or to merely feel more comfortable on the bike gives me a warm and fuzzy. Seeing the smiling faces after their first ride is the inspiration for me to continue to ride and learn more about this sport so I can help others.

What has been your best moment on the bike this year?

My best moment this year was not necessarily ‘on’ the bike, but rather teaching disable children how to ride their bikes. I have volunteered the last 4 yrs at a camp called ‘Lose The Training Wheels’. It is here in Charlotte(and all over the US) sponsored by the Autism Foundation of the Carolinas. It is a weeklong camp for kids who need a little help with the basics. The goal at the end of the week is to have the kids on a true two-wheels bike. For more information please check out their website here.

All About my Bikes

2007 Gary Fisher Hi-Fi Pro 26” & 2011 Salsa El Mariachi 29er

Preview: 2012 Cannondale Bad Girl Urban Line

7 2012 Cannondale Bad Girl

2012 Cannondale Bad Girl
Another sneak peak into the new bikes for 2012. This time it is an urban Cannondale Bad Girl, the newest bike from Cannondale and the sister to their long time Bad Boy. The commuter and random alley hunting, urban lover, in me is jumping up and down to share this with you!

2012 Cannondale Bad Girl

Available in 3 models, (1, 2, 3) and two sizes “small” or “tall”.

Cannondale had this to say about the new Bad Girl

Sophistipunk.  Urban mobility with attitude, sleek and stylish with a street scrapper’s heart yet nimble and fun handling, with a “heads-up” riding position.  Bad Girl’s unique frame design combines a kickass silhouette with great standover clearance.  Couture inspired artwork ensures that, punk show or premiere, you arrive in style.

Cannondale Bad Girl 1 $1670

2012 Cannondale Bad Girl

The frame mimics that of the old school “Delta-V” mountain bikes. The Bad Girl 1 also has the Cannondale Lefty Headshok, with new OPI (one piece integration) fork The drivetrain is a good mix of Shimano Deore/SLX, with Magura Hyraulic disc brakes. Rip up the streets or commute in style, this bike takes the fitness hybrid and commuter to another level.

2012 Cannondale Bad Girl 2 $1100

2012 Cannondale Bad Girl 2
Everything from the Bad Girl 1 but with a little less parts. The same frame, different fork and downgrading the drivetrain. Still hitting the right price point and hydraulic disc brakes!

2012 Cannondale Bad Girl 3 $800

2012 Cannondale Bad Girl 3

Again, the same frame but with 8 speeds in the back (instead of 9) and more basic mechanical disc brakes. This is the budget friendly, go to commuter rig for ladies!

Tech Tuesday: Trail and Roadside Repairs

0 Tech Tuesday

Make sure to visit the sponsors of this posts.. Problem Solvers!

One concern that so many women (and guys) have with owning a bike is the basics of fixing it, or how to do basic road side repairs. I do recommend that as an avid cyclist even with some mechanical skills that you should become best buds with your local mechanic (beer or ice cream works well.) I also want women to feel empowered and to have a better idea of what they are talking about. Tech Tuesday is the remedy for common tech questions!

You’ve branched out on your own, you want to ride on your own or not be worried about basic repairs that happen on the road side.

Changing a Flat Tire

A while ago I did a basic video on how to change a flat, and boot your tire. This is probably the most crucial thing to know when you venture out on the road or trail as it is the most common issue. Someday in the future I need to update the video since I have a better camera and audio microphone.

Chain tool and quick links

It doesn’t happen too often, but you are able to break your chain. When this happens you can often trim your chain and use a SRAM quick link to put it back together. You’re gears will be limited but you’ll at least be able to ride the bike home.

If a Spoke Breaks

Another thing that doesn’t happen too often is breaking spokes on your wheel. Normally on an older wheel, or after a crash you’ll start breaking spokes. On the side of your ride you need to move the spoke out of the way. On some front wheels you can actually remove the spoke by pulling it out of the wheel. If you have disc brakes or if the spoke on the back wheel you’ll need to bend the spoke around another so that it doesn’t get in the way. Open up your brakes if you have v-brakes or u-brakes. This should make enough room for the wheel to spin freely, if not you’ll have to tighten spokes or in a last ditch effort remove the wheel and bang it against a tree. I try to avoid the last two since it is harder to repair once you get it to a shop.

Other Things to Know

Go confident on your bike ride. Things break and sometimes you can’t fix them. Bringing a multi-tool helps with many things, but if you are going to venture more than walking distance (6 or so miles) bring a friend or a cell phone until you learn more things.

Preview: 2012 Trek Lush Full Suspension Bike for Women

5 Trek 2012 Lush Carbon Beauty

I think bike manufactures are finally getting it. Women’s bikes are not taking a “unisex” bike, shortening the top tube and throwing a women’s saddle on there. Let me introduce you to the 2012 Trek Lush. There aren’t too many details but this is what I have so far.

Trek 2012 Lush Carbon Beauty

120 mm of suspension. Ground up design with a lower center of gravity and lower stand over. The spec’s and prices haven’t been released but with 4 different models from “Lush” to “Lush Carbon” I would bet that the pricing and spec will mirror the EX line that has been Trek’s mainstay for the past few years.

Trek 2012 Lush Carbon Profile

Motivational Monday with Sirena Lundsford

0 Motivatonal Monday Sirena

Motivational Monday, a Monday tradition at Bike Shop Girl, my goal to keep you motivated and to be striving on the bike even during a hard week or long hours at work. Are you a woman that bicycles? Fill out this easy form and be part of our motivational movement!

 

Motivatonal Monday Sirena

What’s your name and location?

Sirena Lundsford, Winston-Salem NC

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

I’m happy whenever I am on my bike. Anyone who knows me knows that cyclocross is what I enjoy most. I love the people and comaraderie I have found there.

What is your first cycling memory?

Very first cycling memory would be riding down the sidewalk when I was like 4 or 5 with no training wheels. My mom was coming home from work, driving down the street cheering me along.

Who inspires you to ride, and better yet WHY?

I’m fortunate to have some really positive people in my life, most of which I have met through cycling .So, in general my friends inspire me the most. I will have to say though that Justin Bristol and Kim Bailey of Cyle-Smart Grassroots Team have been real game changers for me this year.

Motivatonal Monday Sirena

What has been your best moment on the bike this year?

I think the best moment on the bike this year hasn’t happened yet! I have had some really great opportunities to “work” for friends and other riders during some road races this year. Nothing feels better to me on the road than putting in a good pull for someone else.

All About My Bikes

I have one bike right now, a Ridley X-Fire that I am simply in love with.

Preview: 2012 Specialized Jett Women’s Mountain Bike Line

1 Specialized Jett

When the Specialized carbon fiber 29er, the Fate, was released there was talk about the Jett. An aluminum version of the sporty carbon hardtail. Now there is details to share!

Specialized Jett

Highend Aluminum Women’s Racing in 26″ or 29″

The new Specialized Jett comes in two models, Comp or Comp 29″. Exact same “mid-level” build on both, only difference is wheel and tire size. I really wish that the build was a step up on parts. 9-speed with Alivio cranks (SLX rear derailleur and hydraulic brakes..) doesn’t seem to fit the need of an aggressive rider. Full SLX or XT would have been a better fit for in my mind.

Specialized Jett Spec

Details to Note

  • 80mm of travel on both models
  • Frame size specific spec. This means a smaller frame will have shorter cranks, smaller brake rotors and narrower handlebars.
  • M4 aluminum, 2nd from the top level of aluminum that Specialized has to offer
  • Lock out and adjustable rebound on a coil sprung fork
  • Super low stand over (still waiting on geometry to confirm) and short front end to fix the 29er downfalls.

 

Preview: 2012 Specialized Myka Mountain Bikes

4 2012 Specialized Myka Elite FSR

The Myka XC Mountain bike line from Specialized is their “XC recreational” series. This is your goto series for most women that aren’t looking for an aggressive stance mountain bike.

2012 Myka Hardtail Lineup

2012 Specialized Myka HT
Key details for the line include lower standover height, shorter stack (lower handlebars) and shortest reach (length of bike.)

There are 7 bikes in the 2012 Myka hardtail line most of which come in a 26″ or 29″ version other than the base level.

2012 Myka HT

The entry level in the lineup. 26″ wheels, 24 speeds, basic front suspension and a good beginner bike if you aren’t sure you want to give mountain biking a try. Will double well as a recreational hybrid or around the town with the kids.

2012 Specialized Myka Disc 29

2012 Myka Disc 26″ & 29″

Same line up as the HT, but with disc brakes for better stopping in all conditions. The 29er version is the most affordable option for women’s 29ers!

2012 Specialized Myka HT Sport Disc 29
2012 Myka Sport Disc 26″ & 29″

26″ wheels, 24 speeds but an upgrade on model of disc brakes (move to Avid BB5) and the fork has a lock out.

2012 Myka Elite Disc 26″ & 29″

The elite models are Specialized steps up to 27 speeds instead of the 24.

2012 Myka FSR – A full suspension bike for women

100mm full suspension custom bike tuned for women.

2012 Specialized Myka FSR Comp

2012 Specialized Myka FSR Comp
RockShox front and rear suspension. 100mm of travel. Shimano 27 speed parts and Tektro hydraulic brakes.

2012 Specialized Myka FSR Elite

2012 Specialized Myka Elite FSR

Upgraded front fork, Avid hydraulic brakes, nicer drive train and stronger/lighter wheels. I also prefer the colors!

Review: Icebreaker GT200 Halo Jersey and Shorts

1 Icebreaker Wool Womens Bike Jersey

I love wool. That is a great way to start an article about wool products, right? I love wool, the thought of wool reminds me of skiing trips, bundled up at the bus stop and all things winter. It does not remind me of 90º weather on the bike.

This review took longer than I would like. Normally after a couple rides, a few washings and time on the saddle you’ll know if clothing is going to last or work for you. Personally, I didn’t if the pieces from Icebreaker would work for me but overtime these bike clothing pieces won me over.

Icebreaker SS Halo Jersey $130

Icebreaker Wool Womens Bike Jersey

Last year I was able to try one of Icebreakers first bike jerseys for women. I loved the material, but the jersey fit my body (and several friends bodies) like crap. Fast forward almost a year exactly, this past March, when I was approached with trying another round of clothing from Icebreaker. Right away the jersey fit amazing, it was tailored for a woman. After many washings (per directions) the fit didn’t stretch out, or did the color fade. The pockets were proportional to the jersey, and there is even a smaller pocket inside of one for your pump to fit in and not flop out!

Other than the collar on your neck, the jersey feels naked on you. The breeze flows through easily, yet on early morning rides this jersey was perfect with arm warmers.

Icebreakers Halo Jersey website->

GT200 Fabric

The GT200 fabric is amazing. Warm, soft, cooling, wicking and best of all – it doesn’t stink! I learned the importance of wool during a 5 day bike tour in western North Carolina. It rained for most of the day and you were left trying to dry out your clothing. I brought enough clothes for the week, but sweaty clothes aren’t good in your bag – even if you wrap them in multiple plastic bags. All the clothing I had brought that was wool from Smartwool, Icebreaker and Defeet, did NOT stink and was easier to care for it seemed.

Icebreaker Halo Bike Shorts $160

Icebreaker Halo Wool Bike Shorts

These wool cycling shorts are where my hang up for this review was. When you wear these shorts on the bike they could be the most comfortable fitting shorts I’ve ever tried. They remind me of boy boxers, with the tight cotton feel around your hamstrings and upper quads. What surprised me was that attaching the chamois to the shorts was spandex. Right in the crotch area. Why is this weird? Wool wicks and doesn’t stink – wouldn’t that make sense to have in that area? I know, not right on it but around it?

The chamois was comfortable on long rides. It has much more mass than I am used to, so when standing around off the bike it defiantly felt like a diaper. This feeling disappeared once I was back on the bike, and I never had any chaffing issues so I can’t complain.

These shorts I have an absolutely love/hate relationship with. I love them, they fit amazing and I mean AMAZING. I want to order boy boxer briefs from Icebreaker to wear to bed because of it. I feel that the benefits of wool, especially at this level, would benefit a rider closer to the crotch. Then you have the issue that thin wool is rather see-through and I’m sure you can’t attach a chamois to wool for long term use without it ripping the material. I’m sure someone in product design with more knowledge than I has thought of all these things but they still perplexed me on the long rides. Enough not to write a review until the love outweighed the bad and I could put my name behind it.

At the end, when I was finally ready to weigh the pro’s and con’s I realized this clothing has inspired me. Sometimes you get something (a bike, clothes, computer, etc.) that make you want to try something new. I think these pieces of clothing from Icebreaker would be the ultimate unsupported bike tour clothing. Pair it with a nice set of cycling knickers for colder weather or night times by the fire, and a pair of wool socks – you would have a perfect, quick drying, and non-stinking set of cycling clothing!

Icebreaker Halo Shorts website->