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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 🙂

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: 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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Owner Review: Schwinn Le Tour Sport

I need to update my ‘bikes’ page because for the last few months I have been riding a new commuter. I decided that my flat bar Giant CRX2 was not as comfortable as it should be, especially when pushing into a headwind, so I had a look for an affordable drop bar alloy bike to ride every day.

Lunch time!

For more go to the review on my new blog…perthcyclist.net (Schwinn Le Tour Sport Owner Review)

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Owner Review: Macpac 150gsm Merino Cycling Jersey

Icebreaker, a famous NZ merino-clothing brand has a new catchcry “nature is better than plastic”, I wholeheartedly agree after finally getting some lovely superfine garments for myself – none of them from Icebreaker though as even on sale their stuff is crazy-expensive, and usually is cut for someone with a more athletic figure than myself.

I stalked into Macpac one day at lunch time and saw they were having a Merino clearance, including these cycling jerseys which were going out the door for $55.95.

mac pac merino jersey

Macpac Merino jersey

They only had two colours left, black and a bright blue colour. Both jerseys had grey panels, and there are reflective logos on the centre/rear pocket, the sleeve and one shoulder (facing forward). It has a full length zip. I went for the blue colour for visibility.

While this jersey isn’t skin-tight like the synthetic jerseys I own, it doesn’t flap around in the wind enough to be annoying.

The main advantage though, is that I can ride to work in the morning, let it air out during the day, and put it on again to ride home without the stink of the synthetic jerseys after sweat has evaporated off them. I have now worn it two days in a row without any discernable stink. It dries faster than a cotton shirt too.

Bottom line, if you can find yourself a merino jersey that fits you and doesn’t break the bank, go for it. The only caveat is that if you wear a backpack a lot, then you might get some premature wear around your backpack straps just because of how lightly woven 150gsm merino is.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Owner Review: Ebay Wireless Bike Speedometer

I bought this bike computer on ebay for $7.29 with free postage. I put it on my Giant TCR Advanced W, and so far have used it for two 60km rides. I bought it for the speed readout, average speed, trip distance and total distance functions. I had to do some McGuyvering in order to get the handlebar mount to go on my stem, but it wasn’t complicated.

Bike speedometer

Bike Speedo, going cheap!

The Good

Cheap, so cheap.

Accurate enough – it agreed with my GPS by 100m or so over a 60km ride.

It’s pretty straight forward to cycle through the display options.

The Bad

There’s something loose in it, and it rattles over bumps.

It does like telling me I am going 27.7kph.

In conclusion

If you want a bike computer but don’t have much cash then grab one of these. Odds are you will be sick of looking at it anyway by the time it dies.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Owner Review: Busch + Müller Lumotec IQ Cyo Senso Plus LED Front Light 175QSNDi

Fork mounted B&M Lumotech IQ Cyo on my Bike Friday

Fork mounted B&M Lumotech IQ Cyo on my Bike Friday

I bought this light for my Bike Friday New World Tourist which I ordered custom with a Shimano dynamo hub built into the front wheel. It cost 50,34 euro from Bike24. The part of the blurb which sold me on this particular light was:

The Lumotec IQ Cyo light revolution: Dynamo headlight which is up to 500% brighter than required by German road traffic regulations (StVZO)! With IQ-technology for an even and homogeneous beam.

One can recognize a Lumotec IQ Cyo immediately. There is no bulb in the centre of the reflector. Instead, a high-powered LED is used as an indirect light source. One glance into the “empty” reflector makes it clear why Busch + Müller chose the slogan “nothing but light” for their IQ-TEC products. An elegant and concise statement that becomes a genuine sensation after dark: The useable lighted area of the Lumotec IQ Cyo is uniformly illuminated to a maximum extent and twice as wide as with conventional reflectors – simply “nothing but light”.

The Lumotec IQ Cyo features a standlight function with a capacitor. No batteries are required. The standlight function can be switched off by a turn-switch. Wether in the dark or in tunnels the Senso technology automatically activates the entire lighting system when the hub dynamo is in operation.

Any normal 6V dynamo can serve as power supply for the Lumotec IQ Cyo, so it can immediately be installed on any dynamo equipped bike.

Firstly, postage from Bike24 was SLOW. There was much hand-wringing in anticipation of the light’s arrival, as we were running out of time and were about to leave on our tour. The impression out of the box was excellent, though this is my first German designed dynamo-light, and I had high expectations. The light is tough, light, and in my short experience with it, unlikely to be stolen off the bike (to steal it requires an allen key and a small wrench to get it off the fork bracket).

Approx distance from camera: 100 metres, camera height: 30cm (sitting on a retaining wall)

The Good

It is much brighter than the $30 battery powered, handlebar mounted LED light that it has replaced, and even compares favorably to my Ayup lights which I had bought to share across a number of my other bikes. While it doesn’t have the retina-burning spot power of the Ay Up lights, the IQ Cyo has a vertical cutoff (so no complaining from oncoming cyclists on a dark bike path – which I sometimes get if my Ayups are pointed on slightly the wrong angle). The IQ Cyo also has a wider throw which means that you have better peripheral vision at night – great for dark country roads where animals (or pedestrians) might leap out at you unannounced.

Water resistance was thoroughly tested on tour and the light passed with flying colours. The standlight function has more than enough capacity for the longest wait at the traffic lights.

I was a bit worried about fork mounting putting the light too low on a 20″ wheeled bike, but it doesn’t seem to be detrimental to visibility, and it has left more room on the handlebars for other things, like my Otek DVS550 camera.

I have been converted to dynamo lights now, after umming and arring about them for at least a year. I have now ordered a dynamo hub (Shimano DH-3N72) and another version of this light (the Lumotec IQ Cyo Plus LED Front Light 175QDi for 46,13 euro) without the senso function for my Surly Long Haul Trucker.

The Bad

Not much bad to say about this light at all! The only disadvantage was that I had to unbolt it every time I packed the Bike Friday up into it’s travel case on tour. I couldn’t stand the thought of it getting scratched or bashed or squashed while it was still attached to my fork in the case and relatively unprotected.

While the ‘Senso’ function is useful because you don’t have to remember to turn your lights on, I find that I don’t use it. I always turn the light off when I get into the bike cage at work, otherwise it sits there shining until the capacitor is flat, and some ‘helpful’ person will come and turn it off for me anyway.

In Conclusion

This light gets a five star rating from me, although I don’t think I need the Senso function. I think dynamo lights are very, very valuable if you want a low maintenance commuter bike – they very rarely fail and you will never have to worry about flat batteries again!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Bike Friday, Reviews

 

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