Accessories: Because One Does Not Ride on Frame and Wheels Alone

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, May 1995

Accessories: Because One Does Not Ride on Frame and Wheels Alone
By Bob Howells

Air Zound Rechargeable Bike Horn ($30)
The it's-a-safety-device spin with which this horn is marketed is only part of the story. There's also the revenge motive. The Zound Rechargeable looks like a kid's rubber squeeze-ball horn and sounds like one, too--from about two blocks away. Close up, the 120-decibel horn is loud enough to tell off...make that alert an offending motorist amid the noisiest city traffic. Recharge the Zound by pumping air into its canister. From Air Zound, 416-425-2583.

Dynamow ($239)
For the cyclist who doesn't feel right about firing up a power lawn mower, there's the Dynamow. Attach this reel-type mower to a chainstay and pedal your way (no quick accelerations, please) to a freshly cut lawn. The mower actually steadies you at low speeds--but if you can't get a spot, just stick in the regular handle and finish the lawn the old-fashioned way. From Dynamow, 800-739-6266.

Speed Patch ($2.50)
No more futzing with stinky, sticky patch glue! Peel off the backing and the self-adhesive Speed Patch is on. These packets of six eliminate those moments of waiting for the adhesive to dry, or, worse, finding that the whole tube of glue evaporated since your last flat. From Speed Patch, 800-947-2824.

Tough Carbo-Bite Wafers ($1.89) and GU ($1.25)
And you thought PowerBars were convenient: The best thing about the energy-enhancing Carbo-Bite Wafers and GU is their size: bite, that is. The wafers taste like bland Sweet Tarts and are of similar dimensions; just flick one from the plastic tube (there's a dozen per container) and you've loaded up on 3.3 grams of carbos. GU is like the name says--an energy snack with the consistency of cake frosting. Rip open a single-serving packet (choose from chocolate, vanilla, or orange flavors) and you can slurp up the calories. Carbo-Bite Wafers, from A.V.I., 800-841-4139. GU, from Sports Street Marketing, 800-400-1995.

Portable Truing System ($20)
Brake pads are for stopping--they're too bulky to help you eyeball a rim for trueness. The portable truing stand works like the big, clunky shop apparatuses--and goes for just a fraction of the price. Strap it around a fork or stay, and its adjusting screw will expose the slightest imperfections. Throw in the spoke wrench and instructions and you'll never have to settle for another wobble. From West Coast Bicycle Innovations, 800-787-9224.

Grunge Guard Derailleur Boot ($13)
Grit happens, and it messes up derailleur bushings--and hence shifting smoothness. The Grunge Guard is like a little drysuit for your front derailleur (a model for the rear is in the offing): It keeps foreign matter and moisture out of those critical pivot points. Tie it around the seat tube, snap the rubber casing around the derailleur body, and there's no chainring you can't shift onto, no matter how muddy the ride. From Vivo Sport Design, 516-938-1657.

Specialized Rib Cage ($13)
You can pay $30 for a lighter, titanium water-bottle cage, but will such a flimsy thing grip a bottle over rocky hill and dale? At only 44 grams, the Rib Cage is also of minimalist design--there's but one rib that goes around the bottle--yet that rib has a stretchy strap around it to keep your beverage snug even on rough rides. From Specialized, 408-779-6229.

CycoActive Bar Map ($20)
Off-road trail maps seldom live to see a second ride: They're either soaked with sweat, caked with mud, or smeared with chain grease. The answer isn't the everythingproof map--it's a map holder. The CycoActive Bar Map OTG does for dirt riders what handlebar bags do for tourists: It keeps the route under vinyl. The CycoActive mounts to the stem via hook-and-loop straps and is just five by six inches when folded. Open it up and the view quadruples. From CycoActive Products, 206-323-2349.

Evel Knievel Bicycle Helmet ($50)
A guy's gotta live after a career in daredeviling, and so do a bunch of lumber-mill workers in Superior, Montana, who were laid off last year. So they all got together to produce a stars-and-stripes bicycle helmet. (No, we don't get the timber-mill connection either.) The lid is functional, has decent ventilation, and looks like something you might wear to jump a mountain bike across the Snake River. A kids' version costs $40. From Superior Safety Corporation, 406-822-4876.

Roly COMPACTS ($310)
It's good for us that Roly is a professional bike-bag maker--acronyms are just a hobby. The heart of the Roly COMPACTS (Cross Over Modular Pack and Cycle Travel System) is a saddlebag that drapes over a rear rack and is perfectly sized for commuters. Off the bike, the bags zip together to create a suitcase, or you can zip out shoulder straps and convert it into a backpack. But we're not done yet: A waist pack fits under the backpack, and a smaller fanny pack snaps onto your handlebars or onto the padded front waistband. Best of all, the system is easier to wear than to describe. From Roly Caps, 801-261-5313.

Union U.S.A. Ti-Dye Spokes ($99)
Titanium spokes we've seen, but tie-dyed ones? Let's just say you'll one-up the folks who have anodized green and pink spoke nipples. Ti spokes have always been heralded for their lightness--they're about half as heavy as traditional stainless spokes--and damned for being brittle and easily broken. But Union U.S.A. uses a better quality of titanium than most manufacturers, and claims steel-like performance from the Ti-Dyes. We think they're most impressive when standing still. From Union U.S.A., 618-395-8471.

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