Monday, May 2, 2011

Windsor bicycles, and Timbuk2 Shift Pannier

Hi guys! May is bike month so here are some reviews of my commuter faves.

I've been commuting to work by bicycle for about a month now, and just wanted to shout out at a couple of products that have made things easy. None of the companies mentioned are sponsoring my habit--I paid for everything out of pocket. When I was researching what to purchase, I read a lot of great reviews so I wanted to put mine out there as well.

Windsor Bicycles and (below: on my new bike)

I had been riding a thrifted Schwinn mountain bike from the 80's for about the last 6 years. When I decided to start commuting daily, I took my bike to Atlanta Cycles because 1. It wasn't shifting anymore 2. The rims were bent and 3. The brakes were shot. The guys at the shop were pretty nice and sympathetic...but said it would cost as much to fix that old Schwinn as it would to just buy a new bike. So I decided to start shopping :)

Road bikes are new to me, but for my purposes (four miles each way through dense city traffic) I decided I needed something fast and light weight. After searching through reviews, I decided to go for a chromoly frame track bike for lightness and speed. I chose single speed for efficiency (and after being completely annoyed with my previous bike's shifting issues). The Windsor Clockwork fit all these specifications and shopping through, it came in right under $300 (free shipping too!). Bikesdirect is a great place to get a new bike if you have a few basic tools to put the bike together. Their shipping is fast--the bike arrived in 2 days.

Okay--the random. Windsor Bicycles (click hyperlink for site) is about the least developed commercial website I have seen. My model isn't listed there--actually a few Windsor models on bikesdirect are not listed there. I'm not quite sure what to think. I mean, other than this is an excellent bicycle, likely built by underpaid workers in Taiwan and / or China.

We had the handle bars changed out at our favorite local bike shop, Loose Nuts. (I couldn't get used to the drop bars) and added a lightweight aluminum rack. I've been riding it approximately 30-50 miles a week for the last month, and have to say I'm extremely pleased with the speed and handling of this bike.

Timbuk2 Shift Pannier

At the beginning of April Atlanta weather is pretty nice, but already starting to be too hot to commute in professional clothing. I needed something to tote my clothes, lunch, and other odds and ends. I started out using my backpack, but it made my back super sweaty if I wore it. When I strapped it to the rack, it slipped to the side and took forever to bungee on and off. I rented some REI panniers for a weekend to see if those were a better option. WAY too large for my tiny bike frame--they dragged on the chain and tended to bounce on the bike when I hit bad patches of road. So, I decided to drop the big bucks and get a Timbuk2 bag.

It. Is. Awesome.

It looks rather large in this photo, but remember that I am super short, thus my bike frame is also quite small. (this is why those REI panniers didn't work) The bag easily hooks over the top of the rack, and on the bottom, there is a bungee hook to clip onto the bottom of the rack. So smart! This really reduced the bumping and bouncing on the ride (potholes are an issue here) Their previous version of the pannier / messenger combo (Bullitt) looked too large for my bike and too unstable for Atlanta's bumpy roads. So, even though my Shift pannier bag isn't ORANGE I decided to overlook color for function.

Pretty large space and waterproof. I have work clothes and shoes, purse, u-lock, wet wipes and my lunch in there, if you can believe it. Having it on one side doesn't throw off my balance, and I like the reflective strip to hold your rear blinky.

Here is me in the bathroom at work, blurrily showing off the messenger look. You can see that the bag really isn't that big, and is perfect for my size.


Marjie said...

Well, at least you're getting around without your poor, lost Ranger. And spending a lot less time sitting in traffic, too, I'll wager.

Happy Bike Month.

Tanja said...

Let's all go biking one day ... Ryan and I have mountain bikes but they will work on flat surface :)
Love the orange color mine is neon green???? Yeeks!
I bet you save ton of money on gas ... Was it too cold for you to bike this morning?