Bicycle Product Reviews

Sweat Band: Sweat Gutr
Eye Protection: Uvex Genesis
Eye Protection: Radians Revelation
Cycling Shoes: Shimano Sandals
Pedals: Speedplay Frogs
Pedals: Crankbrothers Mallet-C
Mirror: Take-A-Look
Clothes: IceBike tights

Sweat Band: Sweat Gutr

This gimmicky looking sweat band puts an actual rubber gutter on your forehead to channel sweat away. It sounds kind of ridiculous, and it looks a bit unusual too.

But it works.

Not completely, 100%. But I have vastly less sweat in my eyes than with any other solution. I think I get a little bit of sweat underneath the thing, and of course it doesn't catch any sweat that forms below the gutter. That blinding stinging sensation has gone from frequent to rare, and I spend a lot less time wiping my sweaty eyes.

Check the Sweat GUTR homepage.

Eye protection: Uvex Genesis

Uvex does make cycling helmets in Europe. But mostly they are a safety company, and they have a nice line of safety glasses. The Genesis is one of their best, with a nice look, highly adjustable, and multiple frame colors. It is a changeable lens system, with a nice line of different lenses.

And it is quite cheap. A pair of glasses is around $8 to $10, while the lenses are around $4-$6.

The quality of these is nicer than the Radians reviewed below. The frame comes in five different stylish colors (blue, yellow, pink, brown and earth). The lenses are quite a bit thicker than anything else I've seen -- Uvex claims they handle seven times the impact velocity required by ANSI and CSA standards. The lens clarity is great.

The temples telescope, and also ratchet to three different angles (I wish it were five like the Radians, but for most faces this is probably fine).

There are many lens choices. I ordered clear, amber (yellow), espresso gold mirror (shiny brown), espresso (brown), and SCT Reflect 50. The clear and the espresso gold mirror turned out to be a bit more wraparound than others, and for reasons of style I like the ones that are less wrappy, as they don't look like safety glasses, and the ones with more wrap do. I ordered the clear with an anti-fog coating, and this may or may not be linked to the more wrap-around lenses. The anti-fog works GREAT by the way, you can breath on these things and they don't fog at all. The espresso gold mirror is a cool looking lens, so I'm disappointed that that one was also more wrap-around. The SCT Reflect 50 is close to clear, but reflective. This is supposed to reduce glare or something but I haven't tried it much. Most of the time I use the espresso, which is good for daytime use, and I carry the clear in case I end up riding at night.

Overall, these are a great choice for almost anyone at an unbeatable price. Those most fussy about fashion might not like this particular style, but those people are going to spend quite a bit more. The only thing I wish was different was more angle adjustment in the temples. But most cycling glasses don't have any! (O.K., Adidas and Tifosi both make glasses with ratcheting temples).

Uvex Genesis web page. From there, check out the "Build your own Genesis" link, which seems to be a bit more up-to-date with frame color choices.

Eye protection: Radians Revelation

Radians is another safety glasses manufacturer, and Revelation is one of their models. They are more or less in the style of cycling glasses, the provide excellent safety in terms of both impact protection and UV protection. And they are about $10, or even less, and can be ordered online. Work-N-Gear also carries them.

The finish quality is not what you would get from expensive cycling glasses. But then, these are far from expensive. From two feet away they look like regular cycling glasses.

They have telescoping temples, which is common with safety glasses. They also have ratcheting temples, that let you adjust the angle that the temple points out at. This basically means you can change the angle of the glasses on your face. This is great for me, because of issues I have with fit -- many glasses press against my eyebrows, which prevents them from getting far enough on to my bridge to keep from sliding down.

They come in multiple lens styles. They are not strictly speaking a changeable lens system, in that they are not advertised that way, and lenses can not be purchases separately. But you can buy multiple pairs, and the lens are in fact as easy to remove and replace as other glasses that do claim to be changeable, so you can carry spare lenses.

However, I'm not going to guarantee that the frame desing won't change. In fact, I got the first pair at Work-N-Gear, with polarized lenses. Then I ordered a clear pair on line (with clear lenses). The frame had definitely been updated. While the lens could still be changed, the finish looked a little better. The ratcheting and telescoping hardware was different. The new glasses would bend much more (too much, in my opinion).

They are not without problems. The first pair I got was slightly warped, which I didn't notice at first. Also, the alignment of the polarized lenses is close, but not perfect. This creates some odd depth perception effects for anything that is reflecting light back towards you. (the lenses are otherwise quite good).

So, if you want high fashion, these are not for you. If you want safety, excellent adjustability, and you have no cash, then these are still passably stylish.

Radians' web page for the Revelation
Separate web page for the polarized version

Cycling Shoes: Shimano Sandals

Initially my only reservation of trying cycling sandals was that the Sandal would feel more floppy and loose than a shoe. That's absolutely not a problem. These sandals are (for me) the best fitting sandal I've put on my foot, and they fit as securely as any other shoe.

I'm using these with the Speedplay Frogs (see below). With Frog cleats, they're not completely walkable, as I can hear and feel a bit of grinding when I walk on asphalt or concrete. On perfectly flat surfaces, I don't believe there's any cleat-floor contact, but you won't find me wearing these on my hardwood floors. With Shimano, CrankBrothers, and other lower profile cleats, there is probably better clearance.

These sandals surprisingly do not look any thicker than other (normal) sandals I wear. But this bit of high-fashion comes with a price. The metal plate with the screw holes for mounting the cleat sits directly underneath the rubber insole. If your cleat screws are too long, and they protrude out of the topside of the mounting plate, then they'll also push up little mounds into the insole. These you can really feel, and they are not comfortable. Many people on the net complain about hotspots, from the rubber ridge molded into the insole under your toes, but I suspect the real problem they are having is that their cleat screws are poking them in their feet. I cut my screws down to size (removing about two threads worth of length), and things are much better now (although I can still feel the mounting plate somewhat, but with the cleats grazing the ground I wasn't going to walk in these all day long anyway).

It's hard to see this problem even if you have it. I suggest putting the sandal on your foot, and unscrewing the cleat screws, and then screwing them back in. If you have this problem, you'll feel it under your feet. You can do the same with your thumb instead of your feet, if you get your thumb in the right place. But given standard cleat screw sizes, I suspect this is a very common problem.

You might think that the rubber insole will get very sweaty. Well, of course. But so does any other shoe you'll wear. There are two differences here: First, a regular shoe will absorb the sweat, which sounds like a good thing until it starts to stink. The rubber insole is easy to clean right off. Second, if you are lifting up on the upstroke, you can get some air under your feet. Much better than leaving your foot to bake in your smelly sweaty shoe.

For a quick trip into a store, (or a bunch of errands into several stores) these sandals are perfectly comfortable. And if you want to switch shoes, these sandals make it quicker and easier.

Pedals: Speedplay Frogs

For years I rode Look pedals, with the red cleat that gives 9 degrees of float. Looks are great pedals, I love the feel of riding with them. But I'm not a racer, and I got tired of walking like a duck off the bike. Also, unclipping always took a small amount of twisting effort, and it never seemed like that should be very good for my knees. I'd heard the Frogs recommended for years, and I finally took the plunge.

I'd heard some people say that using them was like riding on pedals made of ice. This is an accurate description of my first impressions. I can't say why - I had float in my old Look pedals. But the float on the Frogs is somehow different and seems more slippery. Maybe it's the lack of a stop when turning to the outside. Now that I'm used to it, I don't know if I would call it icy or not. But in any case, I absolutely love the feel of these pedals.

Clipping out is a breeze. I was worried about the advertised twenty degree release angle. But it honestly doesn't feel any different than the other pedals I've tried. Partly this is because no pressure is required. Partly this is also because I have a fair amount of pronation (I'm duckfooted), so I have the cleats mounted to allow my heels to rotate all the way in, almost touching the crank arms. The way their system works, this subtracts from the release angle also.

Some poeple complain about clipping in, because they aren't sure if they are in. It only took me a week to get used to clipping into these things. And I may not get a loud snap, but I usually get a little bit of a click when I'm in. Of course, I can also just pull back, and feel if it is in, but so far, I've never been out when I thought I was in.

One thing: when you install these cleats, you HAVE to have the entire body of the cleat, including the separate piece in front, flush against the bottom of the shoe. And by the bottom, I mean the plastic bottom, not the rubber that covers it. If any part of the cleat is up on an edge of rubber, you will not get good engagement. You have to trim away rubber until you have a hard flat area that the entire cleat can sit on.

Pedals: CrankBrothers Mallet-C

After the Look pedals, and before the Frog pedals, I tried these. I thought it was a great idea: a platform for those times when you just want to jump on the bike (in street shoes) and go, and clipless for when you want that.

But for me, it didn't work out. The egg-beater core of the pedal protrudes out of the platform. They say on their web site that in street shoes, the springs push apart, and your foot rests on the pedal. This is true, as far as it goes, but even though my street shoe was on the whole pedal, I was aware of the fact that the middle part of the pedal was pushing up on my shoe harder than the rest.

And clipping in and out was a problem too. With the shimano sandals, I had to shim both cleats (the pedals come with shims for this purpose) to stick out more, in order to engage with the pedals, otherwise the pedal platform pushed against the sole of the shoe and prevented engagement. Even with two shims under each cleat, the "free" float was not exactly free, because of shoe-platform interference. And with those shims, the low profile crankbrothers cleat stuck out at least as much as my taller Frog cleats do.

Clipping out also took a similar twisting effort as was required with the Look pedals. Probably somewhat less, but I still felt like I was twisting my foot a lot, more than with the Frogs I use now.

I suppose I shouldn't complain. This pedal is advertised as a mountain biking shoe. If you're doing some serious technical trail riding, having the big platform there may be a help when you have to ride unclipped, and the interference between the sole and the platform may feel good to you, particularly in off-road situations. It's also possible that with another shoe, you could eliminate the interference problem.

But if you were hoping for a perfect combo of street-shoe and free-float clipless shoe (as I was), this pedal is not it.

Mirror: Take-A-Look

I tried a couple of handlebar mirrors. They shook like crazy and everything I ever saw was blurry (from vibration). And I had to take my eyes far from the road to get to the mirror. And the image was small. And then I'd bang my knee into the mirror, and it would be pointing at the sky, or the ground. Worthless.

I tried a plastic glasses-mounted mirror. Better. Larger image, somewhat blurry but not as bad. I didn't have to look far down or to the side to see the mirror. But it would still vibrate a little, and it would drift out of adjustment on bad bumps. And it was hard to adjust just right.

So then I ordered a Take-A-Look mirror from the Bike Peddler in Colorado. This mirror is rock solid stable, has a high quality plastic mirror, doesn't vibrate that I noticed, and stays adjusted where I put it. It just works far better than anything else I tried, and I don't see any downside.

Bike Peddler, 3820 W. 10th St, Greeley Colorado, 970-353-2453
1-800-832-BIKE (?), Picture

Clothing: IceBike Tights

These tights were ordered from Col d'Lizárd (formerly known as Gekko Gear). The tights are actually the Powerstretch 100 Tight, but in a special edition with "IceBike" printed on the legs, for the IceBike web site (anyone could order them, so I did; not sure if the special edition is still available).

These tights stretch A LOT! Initially, they looked like a children's size. But, they're quite comfortable, and they are WARM. They're for cold, not cool weather. Although they aren't windproof, so they aren't good for bitterly cold. Perhaps in the 30-40 degrees range, but it depends on how much heat you are generating.

Not much else to say really. I like 'em. I'll probably order more.

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