MEC Ace Sunglasses Review…

18 03 2013
MEC Ace Sunglasses...

MEC Ace Sunglasses…

I’ve been an Oakley sunglass whore for a couple decades. I love them, but they are expensive so as my Oakley lenses got scratched up and downgraded for more and more abusive use I decided to try some cheaper sunglasses as replacements.  I was at so I looked at what they had and these Ace sunglasses fit me pretty well.

I’ve used them for 6 months so far.

What I like:

  • optics are nice and clear
  • great for driving
  • they look a little nicer than my typical plastic framed sporty sunglasses
  • they fit my face
  • at $32 the price is reasonable
  • they come with a bag that doubles as a cleaning cloth
  • MEC is great about warranties and customer service
  • polarized  version available for $60
  • thin arms work well with most retention neck bands

What I don’t like:

  • frames are very flexible and small impacts bend them
  • lenses are heavy and glasses want to fly off my face if I’m making quick moves
  • starting to get scratched [about average in this department]
  • can’t really pack them in a bag unless I use a hard case or they will get bent

These sunglasses are working great for casual use. I like them a lot for driving my truck. They live on my face or get stored in the truck’s sunglass holder. I don’t like them so much for sporty use as they are not secure on my face due to the heavy lenses and not so grabby arms. Worse once you no longer need them on your face you have to be really careful or they be badly bent. They have been fixable every time I have bent them, but it takes a long time to get them back to a comfy shape.

For the price I would recommend them as a fashion sunglass or for driving. For active use I’d give them a miss.

I may buy a polarized pair to keep in the truck once I wear this pair out.

The Kent Peterson Effect…

30 03 2012

My Bike Friday Tikit at MEC...

I was  on my way to a business dinner/seminar thing downtown when I had a flat front tire on my Tikit. Bummer! I pulled out a CO2 canister from my seatpack and got the tire firm again so I could keep rolling and made it to MEC [Mountain Equipment Co-op] which is Canada’s REI. They let me use a repair stand, a floor pump, sold me a patch kit and lent me some pliers to pull out a super tough thorn. They also offered help at least 3 times and when all was said and done let me use their washroom to clean up so I could go to my meeting looking decent. Thanks MEC – you guys rock!

I got to my meeting with time to spare thanks to Kent Peterson. I read Kent’s blog regularly. He got me interested in randonneuring and bikepacking with his tales of LD riding and ultralight touring. However, Kent’s main contribution to my bike lifestyle is simply the no nonsense way he gets on with riding his bike for transportation.

One Kent Meme I have learned from his blog is to factor a flat into every commuter bike ride. That way you always have time to fix the flat and still get to your destination on time. I do this a lot and often plan a quick non-essential stop along my route or near my destination so that I can get some extra things done on the same ride and if a flat happens I just skip the non-essential stop.

In this case I planned to stop at MEC and grab a few items I’ve been needing for a while. So when I got the flat I just re-inflated the tire for the ride to MEC where I could repair it in comfort. I ran into a couple snags with a pathetic tube of glue and a lame patch that didn’t want to stick as well as a thorn that was really really really eager to stay in my tire. By the time I was done I was dirty so I washed up and figured I had to rush to my meeting, but I was pleasantly surprised that I still had time to roll over there at a normal pace which made for a pleasant evening.

That’s the Kent Peterson Effect…=-)

MEC Deal Alert…

14 11 2011

MEC Deuce MTB Top...

Just a tip for blog readers – especially Canadian ones. These MEC MTB tops are on clearance for $9. I bought one at full price [$36CDN] a couple years ago and thought it was a great deal at the time…for $9 well hard to beat that! My Deuce has proven durable, wicks well, great for rides where the temps vary a bit and it fits over elbow armour nicely. In theory it’s a MTB specific top, but you can wear it for anything sporty if you like the style. I wear a medium and it’s a loose relaxed fit – think hockey jersey.

Rolling with my Deuce...

I ordered 3 more at $9. I’ll put another one into service and keep 2 as spares/gifts. Just thought I’d share the info if anyone wants to score one.

BTW – MEC has a bunch of other stuff on clearance including tops for the ladies [Sharon ordered a couple for herself].

It finally happened…=-(

7 05 2011

So comfy - so tight!...=-(

I’ve been really careful not to let any of my lovely wool garments to make it into the dryer, but my streak of success came to an end today. One of my MEC LS wool tops that fit perfectly ended up in the dryer. Luckily I dry my clothes on low and for a short time so the top went from a perfect fit to a slightly tighter than I’d love fit. I can still wear the top as a layer under something else, but not by itself unless I want to show off my scrawny physique and beer belly!

So while I’m loving the wool on for how it feels and how it works, but this Achilles’ heel of shrinking it in the dryer is a real problem preventing me from getting 100% behind it.

Rando Lock…

17 04 2011

Mini-lock from MEC...

I don’t want to carry a proper bike lock on a brevet for the few times I am off the bike, but I do feel a bit nervous leaving an expensive bike on the street unlocked while I’m inside a cafe getting food/drink and using the washroom. I decided to use one of these small cable locks folks generally employed for locking luggage or ski/snowboards. They are cheap and light with a combination so there are no keys to lose. They won’t stop a professional bike thief, but they will prevent someone from impulsively riding away with your trusty stead. Since the lock is small and the cable so thin I can stealth lock my bike so the thief doesn’t realize it’s locked and hopefully falls flat on his face when he tries to ride away.

At least you can't easily ride away...

This solution might also be useful for the bike commuter who can store their bike inside at work and might want to stop for some milk or a coffee on the way home. No point in bothering with a heavy lock for a 3min stop – in most neighbourhoods anyways!

MEC Reflective Sash Hack…

13 04 2011

MEC sash...

I like these Cactus Creek reflective sashes from MEC. They pack down small and are light so you can carry one with you anytime darkness may fall before you get home. They add a nice amount of visibility to your upper body when a car or bike’s lights hit them. They do have one flaw – the lower end/flap always rides up and ends up near your ear on a ride. This doesn’t affect the functionality of the sash, but it is annoying to have it flapping by your ear so you end up readjusting it every 10 minutes. That’s a PITA!

My Twoonie hack...

So I placed a $2 coin [called a Twoonie in Canada] in the flap area to add weight. I fold the flap around it and did a poor job sewing the flaps into a makeshift pocket. This keeps the coin in place and keeps my sash in place as well. Sweet!

Coin enclosed and ready to sew shut...

I also now have $2 available for a bonk emergency can of Coke or Snickers bar!

These are NOT bike lights!

6 04 2011

MEC white Turtle light...

Update: I revived this year old post because I’ve been seeing a lot of these non-bike lights on bikes lately and realized something – in addition to all the problems I list below the fact their low power forces cyclists to use them on flash mode to try and get everyone’s attention. This works to a degree, but the result is a very obnoxious dazzling effect if you happen to be right in the narrow beam of one of these lights and not all that much visibility for the cyclist if you are not. That’s plain bad for everyone involved. Get something that uses rechargeable batteries, that’s got a reasonable amount of power and use it on steady mode.

I’m going to pick on MEC a bit here, but to be fair there are many versions of these cheap key chain lights floating around made and sold by various companies.  Note I called them key chain lights not bike lights.  They provide plenty of light to see something in a dark tent or to use while repairing a flat tire.  They absolutely do not provide enough light to be seen by at night in the city. Not even if you double up on them and have two on each end of your bike.

The sad part is that because stores like MEC sell them as bike lights lots of people assume they must work in that application and grab a red one….if they are feeling spendy maybe also a white one for the front…then they ride around town at night assuming they are visible to motorists…even though they are not.

This isn't a bike taillight...

Here is what’s wrong with them:

  • they use a low power LED with a small battery = poor amount of light emitted.
  • they dim dramatically as the small battery gets used which puts out even less light. Especially when it’s cold out.
  • the max amount of light is emitted along a narrow range of angles from the front of the light.
  • the simple mounting method of a stretchy band doesn’t maintain the angle of adjustment well and provides a limited range of angles you can set the light at…all of which means a car driver will likely get only a small amount of the little light that comes out of the unit.
  • batteries are expensive [for the power they provide], not rechargeable and hard to change so lots of people run them until they are dead even though the amount of light put out during the last 50% of the battery’s run time is pathetic.
  • they give riders the false sense of security by making them feel like they are visible in traffic when the are not visible at all.

Turbo Turtle light

MEC also sells the Turbo Turtle light which was two LEDs in it.  It’s still not a bike light.  It’s just a better key chain light.

So what would I recommend?

  • buy yourself a good red bike tail light like the Planet Bike Superflash and get some rechargeable batteries for it.  Not only will this be better for the environment, but you’ll save $$$ if you ride at night a lot.
  • buy yourself a decent 1w or 2w white LED for the front of your bike like the MEC Shark as well as some rechargeable batteries.
  • I would also recommend you get some reflective material on you in addition to a proper bike light.  There are lots of options, but my favourites are reflective leg bands.  They are cheap, never run out of batteries and keep your pants out of the chain!  I keep one or two permanently on the handle bars of each of my bikes just in case I stay out after dark unexpectedly.
  • Now assuming you’ve done the things I recommended above if you want to add some of these key chain lights to your bike or helmet as an emergency back up to your main lights and/or to add even more visibility go for it.  That’s an appropriate use for lights of their performance level.

$12CDN gets you these bike lights!

What if I can’t afford real bike lights?

  • well first off key chain lights are not cheap…the MEC Turbo Turtle lights run $4.50 each [$9.00 for a set white & red] compared to $12.00 for the decent MEC light set in the photo above.  Use both for a year and see which batteries cost you more to keep running…not even considering the fact you’ll get way more light out of the real bike lights.
  • okay so what if you can only afford $5 for one red MEC turtle light?  Save some money and buy one reflective ankle band for $3.25.  Then ride your bike assuming no one can see you at night.  You’ll be safer than riding confidently with one red key chain light on your bike.  The reflective material works with a car’s powerful headlights to illuminate you better than a key chain light.