Superflash USB Update by kristin on Nov 29, 2016
The legendary Pow! Blink, blink, blink of Planet Bike’s Superflash tail light has been keeping cyclists safer and more visible for over a decade.
Since its inception, we have worked to continually improve the tail light’s function and durability and a couple of years back we introduced a rechargeable version. Now, the Superflash USB USB comes with two new updates. They include upgrading the USB charging port to a Micro USB connection and adding a third light pattern called the Courtesy™ pulse.
The Courtesy ™ pulse reflects our goal to create cycling products that make cycling safer and more enjoyable. This new mode is designed for use on group rides, bike paths and quiet neighborhood streets. The slow pulse is more considerate to other path users while still attracting the attention of motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists.
Head over to your local Planet Bike retailer and check out the latest evolution of our iconic tail light. We think you and your pathway neighbors will like what you see.
Fat Bike Fenders and Tire Gauge by kristin on Oct 25, 2016
We’ve come out with quite a few new products this fall. I’ll be highlighting them in the coming days/weeks. First up is our fat bike specific gear.
For the last three years (maybe more!) we’ve been getting questions from shops and customers about when we were going to make fat bike fenders. We spent a fair amount of time designing and testing different styles before we came out with our Big Buck fenders. They may not be the complete coverage fenders (with stays) that some people were dreaming of, but it’s tough to produce that large of a full fender that is sturdy and safe and that comes in at a reasonable price point. We’ve found a happy medium with our individually sold Big Buck fenders. Easy to take on and off, these fenders mount securely and provide a solid amount of coverage to keep you clean and dry. And at $25 for the front fender and $28 for the rear rear fender you don’t have to break the bank either. If you'd prefer to be more minimalist on a front fender, we also offer the down tube mounted Big Buck Board.
As tires have gotten bigger, finding the right tire pressure given the rider/conditions has become a scientific process. The difference of 1 PSI can drastically change how a tire will perform. Thus it’s crucial to have an accurate gauge to know what pressure you’re starting at and what pressure works well in certain conditions. Enter our Fat Max 15 Tire Gauge. The same bomber design as our tried and true standard Dial Gauge, the easy to read face has a max psi of 15 and allows you to precisely measure down to the ¼ pound how much pressure you’ve got in your tires. And no need to get on your hands and knees to read the pressure - the gauge will hold the reading after pulling the gauge off the tire until you press the reset button.
The snow will be flying before we know it. Get the gear you need to make it an enjoyable ride!
Blaze Headlight Updates by kristin on May 27, 2016
Over the past 9 months or so we’ve rolled out a bunch of updates on our Blaze headlights (both battery operated and USB rechargeable models). The biggest change has been to include amber side lenses to increase the side visibility of the lights. This allows the light to be visible from 275 degrees and the use of amber gives other road/path users better perspective on the orientation of the bike. The optics of the lights have been improved by using a reflector to better diffuse the beam and create a wider beam pattern. We have also introduced our new courtesy flash mode (currently on our USB rechargeable headlights only) that is a suitable choice for multi use paths. The light beam slowly fades from 30% lumen output to 90% output to catch the eye of other road users but with a more mellow approach than our Superflash pattern.
In addition to these functional changes we’ve also renamed our lights to more clearly convey the lumen output. In the past we named our lights using watts (ie. Blaze 1/2W, 1W, 2W) but this reflects only the amount of power the light consumes. Actual light output can vary depending on many factors, thus our lights are now state the lumen output directly in the name (ie. Blaze 45, Blaze 140, Blaze 300, etc.) We’ve also given the lights some aesthetic updates as far as logo placement and overall look. In general the lights have a more simple and subdued appearance. Our packaging has also gotten a major overhaul with a new look that utilizes recycled material and soy ink. This is useful for recycling material scraps at the factory as well as for post-consumer recycling.
Blaze 140 SL– formerly known as our Blaze 2W Micro this light utilizes a reflector for an optimized beam as well as the new amber side lights. This light puts out 140 lumens of output and gets extensive life from 2 AA batteries – 10 hours (140 lumens), 16 hours (70 lumens), 64 hours (Superflash). Available in black or red the MSRP on this light is $39.99. It can also be purchased in a light set with a Turbo for $64.99
Blaze 180 SL – formerly known as our Blaze 180 USB this light utilizes a reflector for an optimized beam as well as the new amber side lights. Additionally the light offers the new Courtesy mode. This light uses a lithium polymer battery and is USB rechargeable. It will get 2 hours (180 lumens), 4 hours (100 lumens), 25 hours (Superflash), 6 hours (Courtesy) of battery life per charge and takes 3 hours to charge back up. The MSRP on this light is $44.99. It can also be purchased in a light set with a Superflash USB for $74.99
Blaze 300 SLX – a brand new light for us this one is USB rechargeable and utilizes a lithium ion battery that will get you 2 hours (300 lumens), 5 hours (150 lumens), 36 hours (Superflash), or 15 hours (Courtesy) of life per charge. The light has amber side lights and optimized optics and also comes with our new rubber strap handlebar bracket. The MSRP for this light is $49.99.
Double Wrapped Handlebars by kristin on Apr 11, 2016
My name is Heath and I’m a double taper.
It all started when I saw an old timer (yep, I’m talking about you Larry) cover his bars with foam tubes (think 10 speeds of the 1980’s) and a layer of leather tape overtop. A secret layer of comfort, genius!
Over the years I have refined my system to produce a comfortable ride without making the bar diameter the size of a baseball bat. Here’s how to do it.
I’m going to start by assuming you are already familiar with taping handlebars with a single layer. If not, you can learn the basics here or on the back of any Planet Bike handlebar tape packaging at your local bike shop.
1. First strip the bar clean of the old tape, or use it as the base layer like I did. Be sure to remove the area around the bar end. This will set you up to have a single layer of tape overhanging the end of the bar to secure the bar end plug. Two layers in this area will cause issues with your bar end plug.
Note, two layers of standard Planet Bike tape gets thick. Thick means more comfortable and better vibration dampening but it could prove too big of diameter for riders with smaller hands. For me, I have gorilla hands and I’m thinking of long gravel rides this spring so two standard layers is what I want. If you’re concerned about the larger diameter, get a set of the Planet Bike Noche Suave bar wrap to use as a base layer. It’s thinner than the standard tape and perfect to add that extra comfort without much increase in bar diameter.
2. Now that you have your base layer in place, wrap the bar as normal. I’m using the PB Road Wrap Tachyon tape for a little extra grip in wet weather. It also has a gel backing which is nice if you have to un-wrap and re-wrap a few times to get things right. No damage done. Take care around the brake levers/shifters. It is possible to get interference between the shift levers and tape on some shifters. Be sure to keep the tape snug and try not to run out of tape before you’ve covered the base layer.
For those of you with a gram scale next to you bike, this might not be for you. If you’re looking for a little extra comfort, and want to try make your rides a little longer this summer, this could be a helpful trick.
Don't get nasty. Get bicycle friendly by jay on Mar 18, 2016
The League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly America program is growing up. The BFA program ranks states, communities, businesses and universities as Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum in terms of bicycle friendliness. At the 2016 National Bike Summit (March 7-9, 2016) the League began an extensive listening period to better understand how the BFA program can better serve local and state bicycle advocacy groups.
Bicycle Friendly America is the League's signature program and has more brand recognition than the League itself. The League will be renaming its magazine, American Bicyclist, to Bicycle Friendly America. There were at least four sessions focused on gathering deep feedback from Summit participants on how the BFA program can be improved. BFA program staff will continue to interconnect the BFA program with other League resources and programs including adjusting the program to support the work of local and state advocacy groups; integrating with the League's Smart Cycling program; and the League equity agenda.
To give your input on the Bicycle Friendly America program, go here.
Photos courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists.
Backbone of bicycle education by jay on Mar 18, 2016
The League of American Bicyclists 2016 National Bike Summit brought together over 500 people from across the country and society to talk bikes. For the first time in a long time, this year's Summit welcomed and highlighted League Cycling Instructors (LCIs), the backbone of bicycle education in the United States. LCIs take a rigorous 20 hour course to learn what and how to teach bike skills and safety. LCIs are qualified and insured to teach the League's Smart Cycling curriculum. To see all that the League's Smart Cycling program has to offer, go here.
Here are some photos of LCIs getting rowdy at the LCI Reception at this year's National Bike Summit. (Seriously, this was the noisiest room at the entire Summit.)
Photos courtesy of the League.
Soglin Spotting by jay on Mar 17, 2016
The National Bike Summit brings many people together who share a love of bikes and how they help make our cities great places to live. I was pleased to see that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin was on the Summit agenda. Again.
Madison, WI is built on an isthmus between two lakes. Planet Bike is headquartered in Madison and benefits from and contributes to Madison's incredible bike friendliness. Madison is a great place to bicycle because the people of Madison and our politicians believe that bicycling helps make a great city.
Madison got its start toward bicycle friendliness back in the 1970s under then mayor Paul Soglin. Soglin created some of Madison's most iconic bike paths, including the nucleus of the
Capitol City Trail and the Lake Loop. Soglin was elected again in 2011 and continues to support biking. As Vice Chair for City Livability & Bicycling of the US Conference of Mayors, Mayor Soglin is a regular at the National Bike Summit. Here he is talking about bikes, equity, economic development, health and bi-partisanship with the Republican Mayor of Fort Worth, TX Betsy Price.
Photos courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists.
2016 National Bike Summit by jay on Mar 14, 2016
The League of American Bicyclists 2016 National Bike Summit has concluded in Washington, DC. This year more than 535 bicycle advocates and industry folks from across the United States converged in DC to discuss the future of the League and the bicycling movement, federal lobbying and much more.
As was noted during the Summit by Executive Director Alex Doty, the League has undergone many changes and faced a number of challenges in the past year. It's been called a "rebuilding year." Because of all these changes I was a little worried going into this Summit that attendance and enthusiasm would be down. I am pleased to report that both remain high.
New ED Alex Doty brought a fresh take on the Summit programming and general vibe. I heard many comments that this Summit was more spontaneous and easy going with more time for invaluable networking. (As many conference goers know, the most valuable time is often between workshops when you talk to your colleagues.)
Attendees seemed very excited about the new directions various League programs will take as outlined by Alex throughout the week. Plans are afoot to ramp up the Bicycle Friendly America program and reinvigorate the education program and integrate it more intimately with the Bicycle Friendly America program.
The biggest change this year was how we lobbied Congress. For as long as I can remember, the Summit has coincided with high stakes legislative maneuvering around the federal transportation bill. Each year was a desperate fight to protect federal and state bicycle programs. If your Representative or Senator was strongly opposed to bicycling for some reason (often they weren't against bikes specifically, but against the mechanism by which they were funded), there wasn't much to be done. Things were different this year. The five year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (or
FAST Act) was passed in December 2015. The coming 5 year window will allow the bicycle advocacy community to nurture our relationships with those who are not yet strong supporters. We will do this with numerous small asks that are an easy Yes and allow us to educate legislators and their staff on the many benefits of supporting biking. We got started this year by thanking legislators for supporting the FAST Act and asking them to co-sponsor the Personal Health Investment Today Act (or PHIT Act).
Below are a handful of pictures from the Summit and Lobby Day. Photos courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists.