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.

Radical parking   by jay on Mar 10, 2016

When I visualize a big city, one of the things I see is cars: cars on the road, cars in parking lots, cars on the sidewalk and cars underneath all new condo buildings.

I was in Washington, DC this week for the National Bike Summit. I was lucky enough to borrow a bike from my friend Jeff so was able to explore the city a bit throughout the week. While exploring the old Navy Yards, I rolled past this new condo development. That giant bike is at the main entrance to the building, not a side entrance for bikers. This building has ONLY bike parking, no car parking.

Some real estate developers will think this is crazy, but given how many young adults are foregoing getting a driver's license, perhaps it is genius. Underground parking can cost $25,000 - $40,000 per stall.

Aluminum fenders for every bike!   by kristin on Feb 19, 2016

Winter is still far from over, but the warm temps for this weekend have us already thinking about spring. Melting snow means lots of cold puddles which can make for a messy ride. But a good set of fenders can make riding through slushy puddles a mostly clean (and dare we say fun) endeavor. In November we released a bunch of new aluminum fenders sets for a variety of wheel sizes. We’ve been pleased to see brisk sales of these and we wanted to highlight the features and new sizes of our Cascadia ALX fenders.

We added some new fender sizes to the mix so that it’s easier to find the right fender for your wheel and tire size. As the popularity of the 27.5 wheel size grows, we now have fenders for those wheels in two widths (50mm and 60mm). Putting slick tires on a mountain bike can make it a great commuter, and we offer 26” fenders in a narrower 50mm width for those conversions. The genre of “gravel bikes” has exploded recently and we now have a 700c fender in a 50mm width that can fit over the beefy tires on those bikes. Our final new size is a 20” set (50mm wide) that can be a great addition to a folding bike or a kids bike. Besides all these new fender sizes, we also offer the Cascadia ALX in our standard 700c narrow/road size (35mm wide fender), 700c medium/hybrid size (45mm fender), 26”/ATB size (60mm fender), and 29” size (65mm fender).

All of our new ALX fenders come with the same preinstalled hardware as our polycarbonate Cascadia fenders making it relatively easy to get them attached to your bike. All of the parts in the hardware pack are stainless steel and they allow you to mount the fenders to the eyelets on bikes with or without disc brakes. For the rear fender attachment to the seat stay bridge, we opt for a metal clip with a rubber shim instead of the plastic clip that comes standard on our polycarbonate fenders. We offer a ton of replacement parts on our website so that you can make sure your fenders are in tip top condition as the years go by. Shipping is always free on replacement parts because we want you to rebuild and reuse whenever possible.

So fender up your bike and aim for those puddles!


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