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Owner Review: MonkeyLectric M210 Wheel Light

MonkeyLectric is about making awesome looking, and hopefully visibility enhancing, lights for bicycle wheels.

From their website:

Show your Style! The M210 Monkey Light is a rugged, practical, high performance bicycle light that keeps you visible in all weather conditions. The M210 straps to your spokes and displays brilliant patterns on your spinning bike wheel. Show your style with cutting edge themes designed by our electronic artists.

In all there are 20 themes programmed into the light, which displays them on a strip of 10 LEDs, with patterns forming, and filling your wheel depending on your speed and wheel diameter. The M210 will fit in wheels from 20″ upwards in size. It comes with a warning that the maximum safe speed is 65 kilometres per hour – so this light isn’t for crazy hill descents, or for motorcycles.

I have run the M210 on the front wheel of the Schwinn Le Tour Sport for two months now and so far I have been very happy with it.

I still own the original monkey light and the M210 shows that they have taken on board all the customer feedback they received in the development of this new light.

monkeylectric m210

The main highlights are:

Ruggardization: The M210 looks a lot tougher than the original monkeylight, the circuitry has a thicker plastic coat and the battery compartment is sealed. I have ridden it through Swan River flood waters twice with no ill effects.

Weight distribution: Most of the weight is in the batteries, and having these mounted on the hub means that you don’t get the noticable wobble in the wheel that I had with the original.

User friendliness: The power on/off button is a different colour so it’s easy to know you are pressing the right button when you are on the bike. It is pretty easy to cycle through the designs and the packaging is the instructions – you can keep them tacked up on a wall somewhere for easy reference.

As the M210 is a ‘mini’ version it is not quite as crazily eye-catching as the original Monkeylight which had 32 LEDs (the M232 is the M210’s big brother if you still want that much colour). For my mind the 10 LED strip is a good thing, as with the original monkey light I actually got motorists horning me and yelling stuff at me from their car windows about the light. At times this extra audio feedback was not particularly welcome. There is a very small difference between ‘hey your light is awesome’ and ‘get off the road %#$**!’ when it is yelled out of the window of a passing car at 60kmh.

Now I mainly hear pedestrians say to one another ‘hey that light is pretty cool’ to each other as I ride on past.

I made a video to illustrate what it looks like in real world conditions. The first part of the video is what it looks like to the rider, and the second replicates what it might look like to cars waiting at an intersection.

Overall: For me the M210 is the perfect size and intensity. It looks pretty, adds to side on visibility (hopefully reducing the ‘sorry mate I didn’t see you’ or SMIDSY phenomenon) and the 8-bit preprogrammed patterns are pretty funky. The claimed run time is 40 hours, and I haven’t run the batteries flat yet. I suggest that you get yourself some rechargeable NiMH batteries so that this light remains environmentally friendly though. If you are after a nice bit of bling for your bike then you should consider one, or two of these guys ­čÖé

If you’re in Australia you can order directly from MonkeyLectric. If you are after something bigger and more eye-catching than the M210, you could always go for the M232, which has a whopping 32 LEDs and 42 themes to pump out brilliant light shows.

Full Disclosure: MonkeyLectric gave me a 50% off deal on the M210 to review on this blog. All other reviews on this blog are written without inducements of any kind from suppliers or manufacturers unless stated otherwise.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Owner Review: Schwinn Le Tour Sport Update – Ooops I broke it

My initial review of the Schwinn Le Tour Sport which I bought second hand in July 2012 is located here on my blog.

schwinn le tour

After 2,329 kilometres on the bike I have more to add. Yesterday both the pedals broke. I was not a huge fan of these pedals in the first place, but their flimsy construction is clearly not up to everyday use.

Broken pedal

As they were broken and twisted they immediately became very uncomfortable to ride on, and I believe they also took a bit of a chunk out of the soles of my shoes. They both broke in the same place at more or less the same time.

broken pedal macro

If you buy one of these bikes, and the standard pedals are these things, try and do a deal with the bike shop to swap them out because they aren’t going to last long!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Owner Review: Fluid Water Bottle Cage

Ever broken a Water Bottle Cage?

As of today I have!! A plastic “Fluid” brand bottle cage.

cracked fluid bottle cage

The Schwinn Le Tour Sport that I bought in the middle of 2012 came complete with accessories from discount outdoor & camping retailer, Anaconda. I gave away the lightset and helmet so I don’t know how they went, but this bottle cage was disappointing, as well as being ugly!

fluid bottle cage

I have done 2,264 km on the bike since I got it but most of it has been commuting so there hasn’t been a lot of getting the bidon in and out of the cage.

I bought some cheap 24g carbon bottle cages from ebay to put on my TCR which have had a much harder life and they are still going strong. I think I will order some more!

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Owner Review: Walz Cap, Wool Four Panel Cap

You lose a lot of heat from the top of your head, which is why beanies are so useful in winter. Instead of wearing a thin merino beanie under my helmet, I figured I would try a wool cycling cap. We are heading in to summer in Australia now but I figured that I would still use it on cold winter mornings.

I ordered this cap from a boutique cycling cap maker in the USA, Walz Caps.

At the moment they have a deal – a wool cap and wool DeFeet sock combo for $39.95, which can be found by clicking the ad at the top of Yehuda Moon. The hat by itself can be had for $29.95.

They don’t charge for postage which is a plus for international buyers. They send it the slow way, but it still only took a couple of weeks to arrive in Australia.

I wear the cap under my helmet, it keeps my head warm, keeps the sun glare out of my eyes, and in winter I am hoping that the brim is just enough to stop raindrops from running into my eyes.

It was very handy for the early starts at the Ride to Conquer Cancer where it kept my head toasty warm for the first 30ks or so each day. It didn’t get damp from sweat, even when it started getting a little warmer. When I was done, I just folded it up and shoved it into either my jersey pocket, or my top tube bag (which at the time was a Tioga Fuel Tank, I will review that at a later date).

The cap was so comfortable that when we got back to camp and the sun went down, I put it back on and wore it in the mess tent at breakfast. We were given a ‘Conquer Cancer’ cap but that felt kind of stiff and irritating after wearing soft wool.

I ordered the Small sized DeFeet socks but they are a bit loose on my very small (size 38) feet. They are thin and breathable, not really winter socks but fine for the transition seasons. The advantage of wool socks of course is that they don’t stink up. They are not my favorite wool socks, that position is currently held by Icebreaker.

I would definitely order another cap from Walz Caps, they have many other styles and they have different materials too. Still not too sure about the socks though!

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Skimping out – how a few cheap components can spoil an experience

My Giant TCR Advanced W came with some nice spec; an Ultegra groupset (except for the 105 cassette and chain), and some nice hoops to roll on. I am overall very happy with the bike except for a couple of things.

It came with white tape which was not only a disadvantage due to it’s colour, but it seemed to be dirtphillic (ie dirt loving). It may have been my fault – I may have got sunscreen on there (that stuff just gets everywhere – I spent ages trying to clean it off my frame), and that may have caused everything to stick to it. Anyway it looked disgusting. The white tape on my Schwinn has an overall grey colour but the TCR tape was far worse in appearance – you could see exactly what hand positions I favoured.

The tyres, while they were good rollers, cut up easily. They were Michelin Pro Light Service Course, which I am guessing are a slightly beefier tyre than their race rubber. The rear one got a cut in it which was about half the width of the tyre itself. I got punctures every ride in the rear until I decided to run a slightly lower pressure and went down to 90psi. Since I’m now around 60kgs, the lowish pressure wasn’t an issue, and stopped the punctures, but that cut was nagging at me. The last thing any cyclist wants is a rapid tyre deflation whilst going a little faster than usual down a hill.

I had a good look, and aside from the big cut, there were a lot of holes which looked like they were developing a little bulge around them, so I decided at 1,893 kilometres that it was time to replace the rear just to be safe. Of course while changing the bar tape I had chosen to embark on a brave new colour scheme, and chose red tape, so I bought red Schwalbe Duranos to put on the bike. Black was out of stock, OK? Anyway I decided to change front and back tyres and keep the front one as a spare. The front has various holes in it but it was no where near as cut up as the rear.

Now I figure I’ve got another 3,000ks before I put a new chain on, and at that time I think I might have to replace the seat as well. It is already looking shabby – the brand name on the side has worn off, and the white parts are looking decidedly grey. The padding seems to be losing it’s spring as well. I guess I’ll replace the bar tape again by then as well – we shall see how this new red BBB tape stands up.

The main question, which I probably have 6 months to consider, is, will I put a Brooks on it?

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Owner Review: Nathan Reflective Ankle Bands

As I use my bicycle as my primary means of transport, I am often stuck with the dilemma of what to do about my pants to keep them from flapping into my chain. I have tried rolling the chain side leg up, but usually the pants come unrolled with the motion of pedalling. I have tried tucking my pants into my sock, but that looks lame, and I’m not always wearing socks.

Then I had a brainwave – what if I use those reflective ankle bands that the safety nuts wear? It would add to my visibility at night, which is a bonus, but the primary purpose would be to keep those darn pants out of the darn chain. I am sick of ripping holes in my pants.

I ordered these from Ezisports Online, who are an Australian triathlon online retailer. The postage time was comparable to Wiggle, and soon enough these were in my letterbox. You can get similar reflective bands and vests from Wiggle too (check my ‘Affiliates’ page for the link to either store).

The orange ones are designed for runners, whilst the yellow ones are designed for cyclists. They both work for my purpose of keeping my pants away from my chain, but I must say I prefer the orange ones.

The Good

The orange ones have a wider band so they hold your pants away from your chain more effectively. They also are a bit more padded, so they are much nicer if you decide to wear them directly against your skin. The yellow ones have a harder, plastic type backing which would be irritating after a while.

I have been told that they are very reflective and show up in car headlights very prominently, along with the reflector on my rear Radbot light. The advantage of having reflective straps on your ankles being the movement – it is very eye catching and identifies you as a cyclist on the road. The other advantage is that you can just whip them off when you get to your destination – you could either chuck them in your pocket, or maybe put them on underneath your pants (again the orange ones would be more comfortable for this).

The Bad

They are both just basic velcro straps, so they can be a bit fiddly to put on tight – it’s not a one handed job for me, but I guess I am not the most coordinated person in the world. They could perhaps do with a plastic loop that you could loop the velcro strap to in order to pull on it.

Overall

If you are in the market for reflective bands that keep your pants out of your chain then have a look at these. I would recommend the orange ones for their width and the padding on the back. They are certainly handy and they have an added bonus of being shiny and making you stand out on the road.

Ezisports also have a range of Nathan reflective vests for both runners and cyclists. They look to be lightweight and a cut above the road worker vests I see some cyclists wearing around here. Has anyone seen them or tried them out?

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Reviews

 

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User Review: Swisstop Pro Green Brake Pads

In the review I wrote about my second hand Schwinn Le Tour Sport, I complained about the cheap, crappy Tektro RL348 brakeset that it came with. The pads were dissolving in the wet and leaving black film all over my nice white bike.

Swisstop Green

I decided to get the most revered (and most expensive) brake pads from Wiggle Online Cycle Shop and see how I went.

They were really easy to install, and have clear labelling so you can tell which way they are meant to be facing. They looked quite nice on the bike too, they aren’t a really bright green and they fit in quite well with the white theme. I like the silver, it looks clean and nicer than bog standard black pads. Most people wouldn’t notice that they are anything special though.

I have now done 500 kilometres on these brake pads and they have made a world of difference to stopping power and modulation on the Schwinn. There seems to be no performance difference between wet and dry conditions and they don’t leave any dirty residue on the rims of the bike.

They are not the cheapest option, but I am very happy with them, and next time I will just have to buy the refills so they will be a bit cheaper.

Just a quick note: this blog is now a Wiggle affiliate. If you enjoy my blog and need some cycling gear, please visit Wiggle via links on this blog, and I will get a small commission.



I can vouch for Wiggle personally, as I have been ordering things from them for at least 3 years. Somehow they can get a package half way across the world from the UK to Australia in less than 5 working days. It takes longer than that to get products from Melbourne and Sydney based online bike shops.

Of course I am a great supporter of going to your LBS (Local Bike Shop), but when you are in small town Perth, sometimes the local bike shop just doesn’t cut it.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Reviews

 

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