EORA Show – Greenville, SC, Feb. 10, 2015

A couple of cool finds at the EORA Winter Show in Greenville, SC

I had a few minutes to kill today, so I stopped by the EORA (Eastern Outdoor Reps Association) Winter Show in Greenville.  I checked it out last fall, and went ahead and registered for this show, too.  For those who have never been to this show, it’s not really bike-oriented… more geared towards folks running outdoors-type stores.  Regardless, they had a few bike-related brands, and some other cool stuff to check out.  Here are my favorites:

1.    Camelbak

Camelbak K.U.D.U. PacksI have always loved Camelbak hydration products.  They came up with the idea, and they continue to develop new products that are really innovative.  The best looking models I saw at the show were the K.U.D.U. packs.  They come in two different sizes, multiple color options, 100 oz. reservoir, a load bearing belt with cargo pockets, and up to 915 cubic inches of capacity (for the K.U.D.U. 18).

The coolest part, that isn’t visible while you are wearing the pack, is the Impact Protector.  It is a special panel made of multiple foam layers that protect you from the pack’s contents, in case of a crash.  It is designed to take multiple impacts, and is very lightweight, at only 2 lb., 8 oz. for the larger model.  Definitely an enduro-designed pack, but very eye-catching, and an excellent idea.

One of the coolest extra details of the K.U.D.U. pack, specifically for those like-minded friends who like to have every tool needed to do a minor (or major) trailside repair… a “bike tool organizer,” or as we call it in the pits, a “tool roll.”  It’s not really heavy duty, but Camelbak was going for something lightweight that could offer benefit to the rider who needs to pack a lot of stuff in their pack, but keep pointy tools segregated from the rest of their gear.  Nice work on this pack, Camelbak.

2.    Timex

Timex is on the verge of releasing a game-changing new GPS watch called the ONE GPS+.  This watch is the neatest “smart-watch” I’ve seen.  The features include:

Timex ONE GPS+

  • InstaFix GPS Speed and Distance
  • Phone-Free Messaging
  • Find-Me Feature
  • Live Online Tracking
  • Music Player
  • Always-On Sunlight-Readable Qualcomm Mirasol Display
  • Heart Rate Compatible
  • 50m Water Resistance
  • Includes 1 year of AT&T mobile data service
  • Directly connects to Strava, MapMyRun, and RunKeeper apps
  • Utilizes Bluetooth Technology

I’m pretty sure you have to have AT&T phone service to optimize the messaging functions on the watch.  It is a really sleek piece of gear, very comparable in size to the Garmin Forerunner 920xt.  I think the social aspects of this fitness watch will prove to be a popular selling feature, as oppposed to other GPS-based watches.  Although it may not be cycling/multisport compatible yet, I believe it will get there in the near future.  I was impressed.  Timex-sponsored athletes are testing the ONE GPS+ right now, but they should be coming soon. Look for a summer/fall release.

3.    Leatherman

So… once again, the gear junkie in me comes out.  This isn’t a bike-specific product, but it is a sweet new tool from Leatherman.  The new Tread tool is basically 25 tools in a nice, neat watchband-style carrying device.  It looks like a nicely-machined bracelet, but by removing it, it becomes the be-all, end-all multi-tool.  The Tread and the Tread QM1 (same style band, but with a watch face and only 20 tools) both weigh less than 8 oz., and here’s the kicker – they are TSA compliant.  Stylish and functional.  My kind of fashion accessory.

 TreadSSFront TreadQM1SSFront

Got any cool new pieces of gear for me to check out?  Shoot me an e-mail at probikewrench@gmail.com and I’ll see if I can get it in for review.  Thanks for reading.

My Favorite Tools, Part 2

In 2007, I worked for the Aaron’s Pro Women’s Cycling Team on the road, in conjunction with my job at the bike shop.  It was a hectic schedule;  I had a 6 month old child at the time, and a full-time job at  a very successful bike shop.  It only made sense to go on the road with a pro team, right?  In most situations, I’d fly in for a race, transport the vehicles to a temporary home, then fly back home.  The next week, I’d fly back to the vehicle and drive to the next race.  All my days off at the bike shop were working days for the team.  Let’s just say it was an interesting year…

The team director, Carmen D’Aluisio, was a very experienced cyclist during her racing career, and passed down a lot of wisdom to me throughout the year on the road.   One thing she also helped bring to the team was a pretty sweet sponsorship deal with Specialized Bicycles.   At the time, the girls were being equipped with S-Works bikes with SRAM Force (top-of-the-line, at the time) components.  The bikes were some of the lightest in the women’s peloton, and I’m sure some of them were below any legal limit being enforced by the UCI.

Ritchey TorqKey

On the opening day of team training camp, Carmen handed me a tool and said, “Don’t lose this.”  It was the Ritchey TorqKey, a 5nm mini-torque wrench with a 4mm bit, that fit in the palm of my hand.  “All these parts have to be torqued to the proper specifications,” she said.  She was so adamant about torque on the S-Works bikes that she gave each one of the girls on the team their own TorqKey to use when they assemble their bikes after travel.  I was aware that torque was a big deal, but until that point, I hadn’t utilized a torque wrench very often.

Since that point, I’ve used the Ritchey TorqKey ALMOST EVERY DAY.  It’s a really small tool that fits easily in any toolbox/collection and is a necessity if you’re working on anything carbon.  I’m extremely excited about the Ritchey Torque Wrench (manufactured and licensed by Effetto Mariposa) that I just got in for review (via VeloReviews.com).  If it’s anything like the TorqKey, I’m sure it’s a tool that I won’t be able to live without.

SKS RaceBlade Fenders

“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…” I heard that somewhere once, but I’ve come to embrace it as of late. I started commuting to work by bike again, and I’m starting to see more of each of those while I’m on my bike. I can’t do anything about the Mondays, but I can fight the rainy days a little better when I use my SKS Race Blade Fenders.

The SKS RaceBlade Fenders come in two different sizes for different tire widths (RaceBlade, for 700×18-23c, and RaceBlade XL for 700×25-32c), and are affixed onto the bike by four small rubber straps per fender, for quick release situations. You also have the option of using zip-ties to attach them a bit more permanently, if you are leaving them on the bike for longer periods of time. Once the bracket is set to the right position on the frame, the plastic fender can slide in its bracket for different style frame designs and fits, allowing extreme adjustability and fit for almost any bike. The tight profile of the RaceBlade Fenders makes it very non-intrusive and keeps with the minimalist-type gear that most roadies crave.

If you’ve ever ridden behind someone in the rain, you are aware of the “rooster tail” effect of the water coming off the ground from the bike in front of you. If there’s nothing there to keep the water from continuously spraying you in the face, then you either have to ride twenty feet back, or ride to the left or right of the person that’s ahead of you. This does two things; it splits the group and kills the efficiency of the group, and it makes you ride farther out into traffic, becoming much more of a risk for you, and for the sometimes unaware driver traveling behind you. The benefits of the SKS RaceBlades for the individual are that they keep the bike slightly cleaner from road spray, and they keep the “rooster tail” effect from leaving a nice wet stripe up your back while riding. I know from first hand experience, the more water you can keep off your body in adverse weather conditions, the less miserable you will be.

The SKS RaceBlade Fender Set is a must-have for any cyclist facing a possible commute in the rain, or if you like to ride when there’s water on the roads. Rain and inclement weather has stopped me from riding before, but not as much, thanks to this product. These fenders are one of the best purchases I’ve made in the last few years, and are a great value at just under $60 for the pair. For more information about the SKS RaceBlade Fenders, please see http://www.sks-germany.com/sks.php?l=en&a=product&i=5288300000, or check them out at most local bike shops.

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