One of the more entertaining aspects of being a semi-professional bicycle blogger is occasionally eavesdropping on the rabble while they talk about you:
Silly Redditor, I never said driving a car in New York City is good.
Anyway, as TMLCSIATL (that’s “The Most Legit City Slicker In All The Land,” of course), I’ll whip out my New York City cycling cred and slap it down on the table next to whatever this so-called “twoheadeddawg” is packing in his threadbare half-shorts any day of the week–including Cransday, which is a new day of the week I just made up–and I’m willing to bet mine’s not only bigger, but also uglier, though in a good way of course:
Interestingly (at least to me, and here you are reading this so…) it seems I have a deep-seated preference for dirt drops when it comes to urban riding. Here’s the fabled Ironic Orange Julius Bike as it looked fifteen years ago when I used to ride back and forth to a real job every day:
The Brooks saddle and the gears are concessions to age and topography, and yes, I keep my bars a lot higher, but it’s the same basic idea–dirt drops, cantis, fenders, and a rear rack for a pannier-type bag.
Speaking of commuting, as I mentioned yesterday, I recently received a pair of Arclight PRO Flat pedals:
And I’ve since had occasion to put them to the test across three (count ’em, three!) boroughs:
I wonder how many New York City boroughs twoheadeddawg rode through yesterday:
(“I rode through six!”–twoheadeddawg)
The pedals are extremely clever, but obviously there’s no shaped beam or any of that stuff going on, and they don’t light your way. Instead they just scream “BIKE COMING!”
…or going, as the case may be:
I’m not a Lumen Fred so I can’t speak with any as to how effective this approach to lighting is. Do the Arclights make you not only visible but easily identifiable as a cyclist, as Redshift says? Are they too bright and therefore annoying and distracting to oncoming cyclists, as so many lights these days are? Are lights on your pedals more effective, less effective, or equally effective as lights on your handlebars and seatpost, or your front and rear rack, or other more traditional locations? I really don’t know.
What I do know is that they’re extremely convenient, for all the reasons I’ve described previously. I also now know that the “PRO” version is comfortable and grippy–not necessary for a commuter, but a nice upgrade over the “city” version if you’re also going to be using the bike for longer rides or trails, or you just want more support and traction under foot:
They’re not quite as grippy as some of the other mountain bike-oriented flat pedals I’ve been using recently, but that’s arguably a good thing, since you’ve got plenty of traction yet can still reposition your foot while you’re out of the saddle if you’re so inclined. Of course it’s only been one ride, but 35 miles in flexy sneakers is usually enough for any potential pedal-induced discomfort to reveal itself, and none did. But I’ll continue to keep you posted.
My sense is that ultimately the ideal fuss-free setup for an old city slicker like me would be these plus a nice dynamo-powered headlamp, since there are stretches here and there when I could use a proper light, but one thing at a time.
It also occurred to me as I rode that I was inadvertently testing some pants:
Not too long ago, Oslo sent me their new “gravel jean:”
I’m not sure where the “gravel” comes in, so I assume it’s for SEO purposes, or maybe it’s because I once pitched them on working together on an actual performance cycling jean (shocker, they didn’t go for it) and mentioned to them how popular gravel riding was. Either way, yesterday was the first time I wore them for a long ride:
I really liked the Osloh “Lane” jeans, both despite and because of the fact they were ridiculously overbuilt, right down to a build-in snap so you could cinch up your drive-side pant leg. The denim was kind of heavy, which you’d think might be bad for a cyclign jean, but I liked for long, cold, mixed-terrain ride, and in fact I cut my last pair of them down into what are now among my favorite cycling shorts. They also had a chamois-type thing in there, which was a little weird for normal wear, but was good for the aforementioned long rides. The “Gravel” jeans are different, in that they’re made of a softer, stretchier denim. They also dispense with the chamois, as well as the snap, though there’s still reinforcement there:
I don’t think the cuff is quite loose enough for it to be necessary, but it does shout “Bike pants!”
There is also still a surfeit of pockets:
Including a -apasdfasdfweifwaefaewe:
Sorry, the goddamned cat head-butted the camera.
But yeah, pockets:
To be perfectly honest I’m not sure exactly what these things are for:
I assume they’re either to hang the pants, or to make it easier to hike up your britches…or maybe they’re integrated tzitzit:
More useful are these snaps, which allow you to tighten or loosen the waist:
And there’s also considerable crotch reinforcement:
So far the jeans are comfortable on and off the bike, but the big test for any jean you’ll be riding in often is how long the seat lasts, so we’ll see. I’ve been deeply impressed with the Vulpine Opus jeans, which are not only cuddle-up-on-the-sofa-with-a-pint-of-Ben-&-Jerry’s comfy, but have also held up extraordinarily well in the tuchus considering how much I ride in them:
The Osloh “Lane” jean was quite different from the Vulpine, and I liked that–if I wanted something tough and heavy I wore the former, and if I wanted something light and stretchy I wore the latter. Meanwhile the “Gravel” version is similar to the Opus as far as being stretchy, but less less form-fitting and with lots more…stuff going on. A straighter leg and more pockets may be better for plenty of people, but for myself I suspect with stretchy-type jeans maybe less is better. But so far I certainly like these enough that I’ll keep wearing them and see how they continue to break in, and that’s more than enough outta me about pants…
…though I will gratuitously add that I do love the Trigger Bell Osloh sells:
The extreme close-up makes it look like a military-grade attack boob, but it’s really extremely unobtrusive and highly ergonomic. See how you can just tuck it in there and easily ring it with your thumb when you’re riding the tops of the bars?
I mean maybe you can’t since you’re blinded by that Arclight, but if you put on a pair of shades you’ll see what I mean. If you’re looking to pretty up a special bike there are obviously fancier options, but for a bell you can mount in a variety of ways I suspect it’s hard to beat.
I also continue to use the Tex-Lock often:
It lives permanently in the saddlebag of my Platypus, and is especially handy on family rides when I’ve got to lock more than one bike:
Anyway, I think the discount code BSNYCFANCYPANTS still works on the Osloh website, and if you buy anything through any of the links above–or this one–I think I still get some kind of affiliate action from them, so obviously if you’re looking to spite me, or you’re a disgruntled Redditor (is there any other kind?), then by no means should you buy anything using those links.
And with that, duly pedaled and panted, I did ride into the night:
In fact I’m not sure I ever made it back.