Respro Hump Initial Review

30 09 2011

Hump details...

I received my Hump from Respro in the UK recently. Check out my initial post to get the lay of the land.

Small package - big visibility at night...=-)

Ordering was easy and the Hump arrived within a week with no customs charges or taxes. Shipping was free to Canada/USA.

No flash shot of Hump on my Ortlieb backpack...

The Hump I ordered is their highly reflective model made up of almost entirely reflective material. I love be reflective at night as it doesn’t need batteries and “activates” only when there is a car/bike behind you with their lights on. You never have to worry if it’s working or if you forgot to charge the batteries.

The Hump under flash power...

The Hump is a backpack cover. It has elastic trim and two straps with snap on fasteners at the ends. This makes it easy to install or remove from your backpack even with gloves on. It wouldn’t be easy to access your pack with the cover on so this is better for bike commuters than for folks running errands that require constant access.

My black Ortlieb backpack un-Humped...

You can move the Hump around between any backpacks you own that are ~15L-30L in size. That should work for most cyclists.

The same Ortlieb pack Humped...

The Hump comes in many colours including waterproof varieties and models with built in lights. The one I choose isn’t very bright in daylight which is okay as I am not looking to be a traffic cone, but for those who are there is a a Hump for you!…=-)

The other side of the Hump...

The Hump looks well made and durable. It should last many years. It’s thicker than the rain cover on my Camelbak Transalp backpack for example so it should be able to take some abuse.

Humping is a personal thing. Some choose to ump. Some choose not to Hump. If you do end up Humping send me some photos and a write up of your feelings about it…=-)

Update – Marcus commented and let me know there is a 25L-50L Hump as well…Let’s call it the Mega Hump. Fewer colour choices, but allows those who ride with big packs to Hump as well.Check out page 9 in this Respro Catalogue.

Patagonia Jeans

29 09 2011

Great fit - great fabric...

I wear a lot of synthetic climbing style pants from MEC & REI. I like the fact they are comfy and give me lots of freedom of movement in case I need to round house kick a pack of Zombies! The problem is they lack in the style department. Usually I don’t care, but when I go out with a group of my stylish peers I feel goofy looking like I am headed to Everest Base Camp. I do own some stylish fashion jeans, but they always feel constrictive so I put them on only when I must. I have had some baggy jeans in the past, but they fail the style test so I am no better off than wearing climbing gear. Long story short I found these Patagonia jeans and I love ’em!…=-)

What I love:

  • organic cotton
  • easy recycling program once they are worn out
  • produced in non-slave like conditions
  • waist available in 1″ increments [in my range of sizes 32″-34″]
  • long 34″ inseam available so I don’t look like I am ready for a flood
  • stylish enough for my needs
  • enough stretch in the fabric to feel like outdoors gear
  • I can afford them at $79/pair
  • lifetime warranty
Initially I tried on a 32″ waist which was a bit too snug for my tastes and then a 34″ waist which was a bit too loose. So I was faced with my usual dilema – do I look good or am I comfortable – since I often fall between sizes. Then I checked and to my delight they had pants in 1″ increments in my size range so I could buy a 33″ waist which fit perfectly. I’ve also given up on any pants that have a standard 32″ inseam. It’s just too short for me and after a few warm washes and the dryer I’m showing off my ankles. I was able to buy a 33″ waist with a 34″ inseam which was exactly what I needed.

Now in terms of cut I bought the Regular Fit version which is supposed to be their relaxed fit jeans – frankly they seem really narrow and straight to me and I have scrawny chicken legs. I tried on the narrower Straight Leg version, but they clung to me like Saran Wrap – which at my age is not attractive.

Anyways I was pretty pleased with how they fit, but what really rocked my world was a few days into wearing them I realized that although they were one of my tightest fitting pants I completely forgot I had them on once I left the house. They had enough stretch in the fabric to adjust to whatever I was doing that day. That means loose fitting climbing pant comfort with increased style for my urban adventures. Sweet!

As far as durability goes I had an issue with my first pair due to some stitching which failed, but I returned them without a receipt no questions asked. I’ve had some unbelievably long service from a number of my synthetic climbing pants. I’m not sure these jeans can come close to that, but they’ll probably see less harsh use. As always I will report back with a review once I’ve had these in play longer.

BTW – if you are an outdoor slob like me who needs to look presentable socially or for work here is my secret weapon at the moment – Patagonia jeans or cords, Patagonia short sleeve button up shirt and Blundstone Chunks boots.It looks acceptable for anything short of mandatory suit wearing meetings. It’s comfortable and you can cycle in it. It’s not heinously expensive and you can wear all these pieces separately for your travels and other fun activities.


Giving Thanks!

28 09 2011

It's blue, it's new and shiny and it's ready to roll...

Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up soon. We have ours early so we get to eat all the freshest juicest Turkeys and then we freeze and dry out what’s left over and sell them in the US when their Thanksgiving holiday rolls around…hahahaha…=-)

So I wanted to say thank you to:

  • Aaron Mankowske
  • The Fairfield Bicycle Shop
  • NRG [Canadian Surly Distributors]
  • The Surly Mothership

When we realized Sharon’s Surly Cross Check fork was bent after a moron rammed her on the way to work this summer we were bummed. Replacement forks are available, but only in black. That meant buying a new fork and trying to get it colour matched to the frame or getting both powder coated. Whichever way you slice it the result was going to be expensive and a hassle. I asked a Surly dealer [who shall not be named] if they could get me a blue fork to match Sharon’s frame. They made some calls and came back with a “…no chance…only black forks are available…” That’s what I expected so I asked Aaron to order me a fork through The Fairfield Bicycle Shop.

Aaron and Fairfield took the not insignificant step of calling/emailing NRG and Surly a number of times to investigate the possibility of a blue fork being obtained. I know this was a PITA for them and given the mark up on the fork not worth their time or trouble. On the other end someone at Surly had to listen to these requests and figure out a way to help us out. That meant getting NRG the Canadian Surly distributor involved. Keeping in mind everyone involved spent more $$$ worth of time on all this than they would make off selling a several complete bikes let alone the few bucks they’d make on a single fork.

The end result of this kindness and consideration is that Sharon has a brand new Surly Cross Check fork in the exact same Robin’s Egg blue as her frame. That means that she’ll be putting away her gnarly old commuter mountain bike and riding her kick ass uber Cross Check Commuter Assault Rig…=-)

Both Sharon and I say a sincere thank you to everyone who played a part in getting this fork to us…=-)

BTW – if you are ever choosing between buying something at your LBS or saving a few bucks by ordering online keep this story in mind.


27 09 2011

Sharon at REI...

Sharon and I took the ferry over to Seattle this weekend to celebrate her 40th birthday. We didn’t bring bikes and I didn’t mention it on the blog because I wanted to give Sharon as much time to do what she wanted while we were there. We stayed at a hotel downtown and walked around the center of town…as far as Volunteer Park. The weather cooperated for the most part and we enjoyed the wide variety of things to do/see downtown. Sharon said she was going to REI for me, but since she came out with a big bag of clothes and I didn’t buy anything I may have been duped…=-)

We were a little worried our stay in Seattle would be extended an extra day due to a big storm that was coming in as our ferry was due to depart, but we made it home just in time before the worst of the storm hit.

Inside outside at REI...

All in all it was a fun trip and a good way to celebrate. Sharon’s already talking about going back for a full on shopping weekend with a girlfriend – thankfully I am being spared that ordeal…=-)


24 09 2011

What an idiot!

With these GoPro helmet cameras becoming more and more popular for just about every sport I’m forced to let you know that you look like an idiot with one on your head. It’s not your fault and there is nothing you can do about it other than to remove the camera from your helmet. Now if you are making a movie or doing a once in a lifetime stunt I get it and support the temporary goofiness. On the other hand if you simply wear it all the time and don’t do anything with the footage I feel obliged to make you aware that you look stupid. I’ve been there so I’m not calling you out on something I’m not guilty of as well, but friends don’t let friends make fools of themselves without a head’s up.

I’ve seen some good HD GoPro videos online – both of them…lol…sadly the thousands of these cameras people are wearing do not seem to be resulting in internet video awesomeness!…=-)~

What Off Season?

23 09 2011

Sharon on a borrowed Brompton...

The fall rains have started in Victoria. If we were living in Calgary it would be the beginning of the end to the cycling season. At least for most sensible people…=-) Here it means breaking out the rain gear and picking your riding days a bit more carefully. In some respects it actually means more cycling than in the summer. During the summer our weekends are pretty much dedicated to kiteboarding which cuts into our non-errand/commuter cycling time in a big way. We just couldn’t fit in a bike tour this summer and the couple times we tried we were aghast at how full campgrounds were on Vancouver Island. Living in a beautiful spot is great except once other people hear about it they come visit on their holidays and fill up the place! Last thing I want to do is fight for a camp spot at a busy campground with screaming kids and barking dogs. Now that the rains have started the island is empty of tourists – sweet! Of course we are no hardcore bikers. If it’s pouring rain we’ll do something else like go surfing. That’s okay because despite a reputation for wet weather heavy persistant rain isn’t all that frequent on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Most of the time it’s dry or raining lightly & intermittently. We are medium-core enough to handle that! If I can get Sharon out on our tandem for 1 or 2 overnight camping trips that would be great. I think bike touring would be right up our alley as a couple and now that we have a tandem we have the right tool for the job.

My other cycling goal for the winter is to keep up with my regular MTB rides. Practically I get out once a week on the trails. Twice a week would be bonus and although I don’t enjoy riding dirt in the rain there is always a dry spell each week that will let me ride. As well with weekends freed up from kiteboarding Sharon and I can do some MTBing together. If it’s raining we’ll go surfing and if it’s dry-ish we’ll MTB or get out on a mini-tour – sounds like a plan!

I plan to ride some brevets in 2012, but I’ll leave the rando stuff until 2012 starts. I know I don’t have the dedication to train in the winter until an event is on the horizon and that would likely be the Victoria Populaire in March.

Fiber Fix Spokes

22 09 2011

Fiber Fix emergency spoke...

On tours and brevets I carry a couple of these kevlar Fiber Fix emergency spokes. They are easy to use without having to remove your cassette if a driveside spoke breaks. They are light, cheap and reusable. You can ride on one just like it was a regular spoke until getting a replacement is possible. They will fit any bike so you don’t have to stock spare spokes of every conceivable length you might have in your bike fleet.

Instructions part 1...

Now I must admit although I’ve owned 4 or 5 of these spokes for 10yrs or so I have never used one. I don’t break spokes – due to my equipment choices, the amount of gear I carry and the fact I get my wheels built/checked by a professional wheel builder. Having said that it can and does happen. Even if it’s not my bike I want to be able to get a friend rolling as quickly/easily as possible. You never know when you might get a stick in your wheel and no matter how well it was built – if that happens some spokes will break!

Instructions part 2...

I have spoken to folks that have used these spokes in emergencies and reports have been favourable. I hope my luck continues and I am not able to review this product for you myself…=-)

Now that I am thinking about it I’m going to add a Fiber Fix spoke to my mountain biking tool kit!