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Archive for November, 2014

Urbanshell – they’ve got it covered

As a dyed-in-the-wool everyday cyclist, I’d be unlikely to buy a bag that wasn’t fully waterproof. But for many people out there, their go-to bag does sometimes let in the rain. Maybe style triumphs over obsessive rain-proofness, or they have a leaky bag they just love too much not to use. Or they simply get caught out in an unexpected downpour. It happens. In Bristol, where Boneshaker lives, it happens a lot. urbanshell

For just these occasions, the UrbanShell Bag Cover has been developed. They’ve got a Kickstarter going to raise funds for further development, with a little over fortnight left to run. Boneshaker have been kindly sent an UrbanShell to test, and over several weeks and plenty of rain, it’s done us proud. I lent it to my wife (also a daily cyclist, but one with a stylish range of bags many of which are not waterproof). She’s been transporting her Macbook and various other precious items to and fro across the city in all weathers – including some biblical downpours – and everything has stayed safe and dry.   urbanshell2

The cover is an unmissable shade of orange (other colours are available), with reflective detailing – making it a safety device as well as a rain cover – and it has a handy little zip pocket for small items, which doubles as a stuff-sack for packing the Urbanshell into when not in use. The Urbanshell has a cunning three-point security strap to hold it firmly in place, and elastic to ensure it tightly grips the bag being covered. Everything works just as it should. All in all, this is a great piece of design: simple, functional, good looking and well-priced. ‘Super early bird’ Kickstarter supporters will be able to bag one for only £10 – but be quick – they’ve only got a few left…

Find out more at urbanshell.com

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What would Satan ride?

The devil’s in the detail, they say. They also say he gets the best tunes. But what kind of saddle might His Horny Hoofiness choose, assuming he took up cycling? We’d like to think that the naughty goat-boy would go for one of these…

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…part of the fresh range of custom saddles by new friend-of-Boneshaker, Billy Sprague. All his saddles are hand cut, formed, tooled, stained, burnished and assembled in Oakland, California. This particularly devilish one is a hand-tooled piece of cowhide hung on a vintage Brooks B-17 Narrow frame. The hand tooling and embossing features the classic witchcraft depiction of Lucifer, seen above a sword adorned with the crowns of slain kings. There are early medieval-style skulls on both sides of the saddle, and stars adorn the background, adding to the mystic mumbo jumbo vibe.

Billy’s website Obsidian Monarch goes live today, so we though we’d give you all a heads-up. It’s laden with other carefully worked hand-made leather stuff (vegans beware!) like bar grips, mud flaps and basket covers. After all, it is Christmas soon, and Satan can get a bit overlooked at Christmas. Poor old Satan.

www.obsidianmonarch.com

 

 


Super Stockist #2 : Mission Bicycle Company

There’s oodles of mutual love spreading across The Pond with our latest spotlight on a stockist: Mission Bicycle Company. Proud stockists of Boneshaker since the very first issue, the San Francisco-based custom bicycle company are the bespoke bike gurus if you’re after an affordable, easy and fun experience of designing your very own singlespeed or geared bike for city riding.

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Set up in 2008, the company was formed with a simple premise: to build the most beautiful, practical and customisable bikes on the market. With key input from the rider at the design stage each Mission machine is perfectly tuned to a rider’s needs before it’s carefully hand-built at the company’s workshop in San Francisco’s Mission District. “When we started none of this existed for urban commuters. If you wanted a custom bike you either had to source every component and build it yourself, or pay a custom fabrication shop, which is very expensive,” explains Mission’s Kai McMurty. “Mission was started so any commuter could design his or her dream bike in an hour, and be riding a custom bike in a few weeks.”

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With their hand-welded steel framesets designed by local framebuilder Emmanuel Eng, a custom Mission frame is not only lightweight and long-lasting, but a genuine product of San Francisco; a city that constantly inspires the Mission team, especially when it comes to riding. Which begs the question, if we wanted to explore the city on two wheels what’s the best route? “There are lots of inspiring streets in San Francisco,” says Kai. “Market Street during rush hour is a blast because it’s packed with bikes. Being part of a peloton of commuters is always gratifying. Golden Gate Park is an oasis of calm right in the city. Separated bike lanes and beautiful scenery make it a must see… or must ride. And of course, the little side streets and alleyways in our Mission District are full of vibrant colour and culture. A slow ride and a stop for coffee is a bit magical.”

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The company builds around 700 bikes a year with each and every one different to those that came before it. “After six years of builds we’re still surprised and impressed with the designs our riders come up with… There’s always a new bike to get excited about.” With such an extensive back catalogue of custom bikes to choose from it’s no surprise the team find it hard to pick a favourite. But hanging in the back room of the Mission shop on Valencia Street is the very first frame prototype the company built. “It’s obviously sentimental for us,” says Kai. “And a literal and figurative symbol of our efforts and beliefs.”

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In the bicycle building community there’s increased competition among custom bike businesses to attract clients willing to part with their hard-earned cash in exchange for a bicycle that not only fits their needs, but also their personality. So, what sets Mission Bicycle apart from other custom bike builders in the SF area? “We focus exclusively on the bike as transportation. Our bikes and our gear are all designed to make city riding as fun and easy as possible. We want to see more riders on city streets around the world, with bigger smiles.” And who doesn’t want to see more smiley cyclists on their morning commute, whether that’s dodging traffic on Golden Gate Bridge or battling the gradient of Park Street in Bristol.

For more information about Mission Bicycle Company visit: missionbicycle.com. Or when you’re next in San Francisco stop by their shop on Valencia Street to shop, test ride, rent a bike, or design your own. 


Huez* Apparel

Cycling clothing tends to be built for performance or style, not both. With a few rare exceptions, the clobber that really performs tends to look very ‘cyclist’.

Not that clothing should always have to ‘perform’, of course. At Boneshaker we’re big fans of the ‘Copenhagenize’ movement, the notion that cycling should be seen as a perfectly normal activity that anyone can do, any day, in more or less any clothes. But there are times when you’re late for the school run, an important meeting or perhaps a first date, when you just have to ride hard. There are times when the heavens open and a gazillion gallons of water descend on you in a few minutes. There are times when you want to swing your leg off the bike, lock it up and stroll into the office looking suave, not sweaty.

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For all these situations and more, new cycling clothing-mongers Huez* have created a range of high-end bike wear, most of which doesn’t look like bike wear at all. A prime example is the smart suit jacket (above) that looks tailored, but conceals a host of bike-friendly features: it’s made of Italian bi-stretch merino wool with a Teflon coating, the Swiss-made mesh interior offers improved moisture management, flexibility and durability. The undercollar and cuffs employ a cunning  reflective tape called Darklight for improved visibility as the gloaming descends. They make chino-type trousers that offer similar technical benefits without looking bikey at all.

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We’re not really suit jacket or chino-wearing types, so Boneshaker was sent one of Huez’s top-end rain jackets, the Starman Storm (above). Through a hundred miles or so of riding over the past week, it’s performed impeccably. It’s beautifully light and perfectly finished. The fabric doesn’t rustle as you move. The cut is athletic but not aggressively so – you don’t need to be Wiggo-thin to squeeze into it – but it doesn’t flap around at speed either.  It’s long enough at the front even when standing upright (something many cycling-specific jackets fail on) and generously cut at the tail, so that it fully covers your bum even as you lean down into the drops. Assuming you use drops, that is. The bottom hem is lined with grippy silicone Huez* stars, so it stays in place. I like that.

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As you’d expect from a high-end jacket, it’s packed with technological gubbins.

It’s made from a double-layer of breathable fabrics, a Japanese three layer nylon and a Swiss-made fabric by a company called Schoeller, offering four-way stretch. The easy-sliding zip has a full-length, rubbery storm guard behind it, and all seams are robustly taped for waterproofing. An unusual feature is the pair of vents across the upper back, which remain open and allow a through-draught if you unzip at the front when in motion. Cowled covers have successfully prevented the elements finding their way in through these vents on a series of torrentially wet test rides, and there are two reflective tabs on the back to add visibility and allow easier access to jersey pockets. The sleeves are a good length even at full stretch and are equipped with elastic cuffs with additional velcro adjusters. You can cinch them in around your gloves and they stay put.

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The jacket comes in very blackish blue-black, which I like; nervous night-time nellies (or hard-bitten SMIDSY victims) may be relieved to hear there’s a reflective Huez* star logo on left sleeve and the jacket’s criss-crossed with reflective Darklight tape – invisible by day, but bright-glowing in headlights.

The slim internal mesh pocket means you can keep your phone out of the rain, and has a reversible zip so you can pack away the jacket into it when not in use. Given a squeeze it’ll go small enough to fit in a jersey pocket.

At £235 the Starman Storm is at the top-end of the market price wise, but having tried dozens of cycling jackets over the years, this one is definitely a cut-above. Completely weatherproof, impressively breathable, but you could wear it down the pub with a pair of jeans. It performs impeccably, but is discrete. It disappears into its own pocket when not in use. And it definitely succeeds in combining performance and style.

We’ll follow this ‘first impressions’ review with a longer term report a few months down the line.

To see the full range of Huez* cycling apparel, swivel your peepers thissaway.

huez.co.uk