Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
This week I’m shifting into high gear, covering a lot of ground to tell you briefly about four products picked up last year that I like. They include shoes, tools, a lock and glasses. I’m currently using them all and give them an enthusiastic thumbs up. Tip: For most of the brands here, you will find more of our reviews of their products by using our search function.
Giro Privateer R Shoes
Last spring, a couple of the folks I train with most often started showing up for our weekly rides on “gravel” bikes. And the next thing you know, other guys and gals bought or built gravel rigs (including me). So, naturally, we added new loops to our schedule that include both pavement and dirt. Natasha dubbed these new workouts, “dirt-ervals,” since all we do – even off road, pretty much – is hill repeats (intervals).
Even doing dirt hill repeats, there’s a lot more getting on/off and walking, on mixed-terrain rides. So I needed a pair of shoes with recessed cleats and high traction soles to go along with my gravel bike (built on a used 2010 Specialized Crux frame). Since I’ve found Giro shoes to be some of the most comfortable, durable and affordable, I purchased a pair of their Privateer Rs.
Right out of the box, thanks to the microfiber uppers and EVA footbeds, the Privateers felt custom-fit, comfortable and plush. The hook-and-loop closures and ratcheting buckle straps make it easy to micro adjust the Privateers while riding. And the stiff nylon soles ensure both efficient pedaling and just enough flex for hike-a-bikes.
I also like the sticky and aggressive lugs on the soles, which make for confident footing on even loose and slippery surfaces. Also noteworthy is the beefy nylon and rubber co-molded outsoles plus the reinforced toe boxes with rubber toe guards. These dogs should have no trouble gravel grinding for years to come.
Hiplok Z Lok Combo Lock
Every friend who sees me using this Z Lok comments almost immediately, “Hey Jim, can’t a thief cut right through that thing and steal your bike?” And, I answer, “Yes, but they can cut through any lock if they have the right tools – and this one is specifically made as a “convenience” or “low security” or “café” lock. It’s designed to be used alone where you only need to keep honest people honest, or in conjunction with a higher security lock, such as Hiplok’s U or chain models.”
Once I’ve explained this, most friends want to try the Z Lok because it’s essentially a giant zip tie – and who doesn’t like playing with zip ties, aka “cable ties?” This one is unique, too, with its tough nylon exterior and a steel core for some cut resistance and a resettable combination lock. And, it closes with the fun ratcheting tick, tick, tick of all zip ties.
What’s so nice is its compact size – so small it fits in a jersey pocket and it weighs only 80 grams. It offers a 430mm locking diameter so it’s handy for securing the front wheel to the frame or accessories or components to the bike. And, it can be used to secure a bike that you’re also keeping an eye on, like at a coffee stop. It’s handy for securing bikes on vehicle racks, too. And, because it’s a zip tie, there are other uses you’ll find for it around the house or at the office.
Park Tool Metric Wrench Set
This set of metric wrenches from Park Tool is comprised of what are called “combination” wrenches because each wrench features (“combines”) an open end and a closed end (also called a “box” end). There are several things about Park’s combination wrenches that set them apart from wrenches available from hardware and department stores.
First, they’re not too big/long. This is important when working on bicycles because most of the threads on bike components are small and delicate. Long wrenches allow overtightening and stripping things without even realizing it until it’s too late. It’s a lot less likely to happen when it actually takes effort for a mechanic to strip things.
Also, nice is the blue vinyl dipped handles. The vinyl offers a secure grip, keeps the tools from being freezing cold if you’re working in an unheated garage in the winter like I do – and even better it makes it easier to read the sizes written on the wrench so you can pick up the right one every time. The stamped sizes on standard chrome wrenches tend to disappear in different light making it common to pick up the wrong size and have to hunt for the correct one.
And, the most important thing is that you get a complete set of metric wrenches. Bicycles and bike parts come in all the sizes in this set so you’ll need them all sooner or later (most budget wrench sets omit important bike sizes). Park’s wrenches are built for a lifetime of use, too. They’re made of forged chrome vanadium steel then chrome plated and meticulously polished, then center dipped in Park Tool blue vinyl. And, the box ends are a 12-point design, which makes it easy to turn nuts and bolts in even hard to access locations.
Tifosi Davos Crystal Neon Green with Clarion Red, AC Red and Clear Lenses Glasses
Last fall, I gave Tifosi’s Veloce Light Night Fototec Readers a rave review. The special feature of those glasses are small built-in reader lenses that make it possible for those needing help to make out the digits on their cyclo computers or for making out details doing roadside repairs, etc.
Since I liked those Tifosis so much, I was eager to try one of their newest models, the Davos. This pair of shades is great for all around wear when I don’t need my readers. And they offer plenty of bling for when that’s wanted on or off the bike.
There are two models of Davos, with and without the Crystal frames ($79.95 and $69.95 respectively). Both come with two spare lenses for changing the tint. And, the Smoke Fototec lens is available in the Race Red Davos (the Fototec lens changes its tint as the lighting conditions change).
The Davos are designed for full coverage with what they call shield lenses optimized for endurance sports like biking and running. All Tifosis boast their Grilamid TR-90 frames, which are made of a “homopolyamide nylon characterized by an extremely high alternative bending strength, low density, and high resistance to chemical and UV damage.”
You also get hydrophilic rubber ear and nose pieces for no slipping. And, adjustable ear and nose pieces for a customizable, comfortable fit. While the vented lenses improve air circulation to prevent fogging. They come with a sturdy zip case and handy bag that doubles as a lens cleaner.
Ride total: 9,143
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.