27 January 2012

Showers Pass Club Convertible 2 Rain Pants have arrived!

Once you try these rain pants, you'll soon be a convert to the club.

Showers Pass Women's
Club Convertible 2 Rain Pant
We were excited when the new Showers Pass Club Convertible 2 Pants arrived ahead of schedule to compare them side by side with the previous version. As promised, the new and improved rain pants were well worth the wait.

First and foremost was the VASTLY improved fit, especially the women's cut. Not content to coast on sales of their first edition, the Showers Pass design team took direct and honest feedback from their female customers and went back to the drawing board to find a way to more accurately reflect a woman's hourglass shape and proportions. The result? A tapered waist and more room at the hips for ease of movement; the rear of the waistband is elasticated to further enhance the fit, eliminate gaps between fabric and skin and prevent your pants from creeping down as you ride.

Showers Pass Club Convertible 2 Rain Pant (Men's)
Next up is the change in the FABRIC itself. Constructed with 3-ply Artex fabric offering lightweight, breathable and waterproof protection, the new Club Convertible 2s weighs in nearly 30% less than its predecessor (yes, bike nerds that we are, we had to pull out the scales to confirm). Just as important as the savings in weight is the enhanced freedom of movement and full range of motion offered by these rain pants. No longer will your thighs feel constricted or restrained by tight fabric, working against you as you move; the enhanced stretch of the new Artex fabric enables the rider to employ full articulation in the knee and thigh in every pedal stoke, whether you're wearing cycling shorts and street clothes underneath.
Overheating? Pants quickly and easily
zip off to knickers (shown above).
Finally, I have to take a moment to admire the level of detail that went into the design and construction of these high-end rain pants. From its new mesh side pockets (further reducing weight while enhancing air flow) to the durable double-stitched and seam-taped zippers to prevent water driving in, the tailored look and feel of this garment is self-evident. Additional improvements to the zip-off pant cuffs (previous version had heavy reflective tape, now replaced by a more supple reflective trim) the Velcro attachments to the pant cuffs serves as re-assurance your pant leg won't come loose and get stuck in your chain. If you're looking to invest in some high-quality cycling rain pants intended to go the long haul, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Showers Pass Club Convertible 2 Rain Pant.

Attention to details like zippers and Velcro fasteners
at cuffs make these rain pants a stand-out.
When it comes to being prepared for the elements, I couldn't think of a better company than Portland-based Showers Pass to outfit cyclists accordingly. Rarely a day goes by we here at BicyclingHub.com don't spy bicyclists commuting over the Hawthorne Bridge in one of the products we sell, and Showers Pass remains a perennial favorite both here at home and across the country. Having ridden in their cycling apparel, the reason why becomes readily apparent.  Showers Pass isn't just the best rain gear in Portland; it's the best cycling rain gear on the market. Period.

Want to learn more about Showers Pass, and the innovations they bring to high-performance technical cycling apparel? Read our feature profile story here.

25 January 2012

Train in rain? Try the Showers Pass Elite Pro on for size

One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at BicyclingHub.com is, "Is this [insert cycling product] really worth the money?"  The old adage "you get what you pay for" is never more true when it comes to cycling rain gear.  And with headquarters based in Portland, Oregon, we get to test out cycling rain jackets a LOT.  One of our favorite high-performance rain jacket holds its value extremely well is the Showers Pass Elite Pro Jacket.

But don't just take OUR word for it; both Josh Liberles of Cyclocross Magazine and Scott Mares of Crossbikereview.com agree that when it comes to finding a lightweight, waterproof, packable rain jacket will keep you warm and dry when you're pounding out the miles in the cold and wet, the Shower Pass Elite Pro can be your best friend.  Read on to find out why they've earned a full 5 out of 5 cowbells rating from Crossbikereview.

Scott Mares from Crossbikereview.com says:

We Liked:

Showers Pass Elite Pro Jacket is available in both black and goldenrod.
You know there is nothing like first-hand, real world experience when you are producing a product. The guys at Showers Pass do one thing and that is make rain gear. Anyone can make plastic clothing and you get what you pay for in that arena. The guys at Showers Pass live, work and race in Portland OR. And since I have moved here I can tell you it rains a lot here in this big cycling city. The Elite Pro is the next generation in the Showers Pass lineup. So what they did was take their most popular commuter rain jacket and put it on a diet and send it to the gym. The Elite Pro is a racer-cut, lightweight rain jacket for the serious cyclist. I liked the fact that this jacket did not flap around in the rain on our training rides. 
Lightweight: the Elite Pro is a lightweight when you compare it to other rain jackets. We love how light it is and how little space it packs into. Usually the trade off when you get into this weight class is protection. However, the Showers Pass Elite Pro is made of three layers of fabric designed to be waterproof and breathable. So what we have here is a jacket that Mighty Mouse would approve of.

So you're inspired by the bad weather and you find yourself in the zone and you are hammering away and you find that you are starting to get a little hot. The Showers Pass Elite Pro jacket has 3 vents that you can open to keep form overheating. Two of them are located near the front of the jacket on the side about 3/4 the way forward. What? Why not on the sides like everyone else? Well good question. The reason why Showers Pass has placed these vents towards the front is because in this position they act like scoops and bring the air in and allow you to not overheat. The third one is located on the upper back just behind the collar. When you open this third vent the air form the lower two actually pushes air out this vent.   
The Elite Pro has asymmetrical waterproof zipper. So this means that no more zipper on the front of your neck rubbing or scratching it. Nothing but soft flexible fabric on the front of your throat. This is a nice little feature for a jacket like that.   
One thing that we hate is when the sleeves are too short and our wrist are exposed to the cold and wet. Not here! The Showers Pass Elite Pro has longer than normal sleeves so you can get full coverage up and over your gloves. Nicely done guys.

Big cuffs! Ok so they made some long sleeves on this jacket. Well they didn't stop there. They know that you will be wearing gloves as well, so they made the cuffs of the jacket larger than normal so you can get the jacket on easier. It sucks having to force your hand through the end of a sleeve while it's pouring on you. All you want is to get that jacket on ASAP because every second you are getting wetter and colder. And your still miles from a hot shower and dry clothes.

Reflective trim: OK, so the jacket fits, its waterproof and now you have to stay safe. The Elite Pro was designed so that there was reflective material all around so that you can be seen. The jacket is available in black and golden rod. This will help in being seen on those rainy days.

We Didn't Like

Showers Pass Elite Pro Jacket is available in both black and goldenrod.
There is a lot of things that we like about this jacket. Time and time again is has proven its worth to us. However, one of our missions here is to give constructive feedback so that manufactures can make a better product. With that in mind we gave the following suggestions to the masterminds at Showers Pass.

I would like to see silicon grippers on the inside of the cuffs and on the tips of the Velcro wrist straps. This would prevent the cuff from twisting when you are closing them off with the Velcro straps.

I think that having the jacket available in a couple of other colors would be nice as well. A light blue or pink or even a white would be my vote. As I think that those colors would appeal to women and aid in low light visibility. We get rain jackets in all of the time and we just feel invisible when they are black. So we don't feel safe in them and don't ride in them. I tried it once and I ended up turning right around and going back and getting a different jacket. Every time we get a black rain jacket in it reminds me of a skit in the 70's from Saturday night Live (season 3 episode 4) with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin. They were spoofing dangerous Halloween costumes and one of them was a black plastic bag and it was called "Invisible Pedestrian."

The Final Say

Don't know what to get for a rain jacket? Well you need to ask yourself some questions. How often does it rain where you are at? And how often are you going to ride in it? If it rains on a regular basis then don't be a penny pincher and this is the jacket for you. Just like a great pair of shoes you get what you pay for and you get a lot of jacket here with the Elite Pro. Do you train in just about any weather? Then you will be happy with the performance that this jacket gives its owner. It's lightweight, waterproof, packable and won't be flapping around in the wind while you're riding. The guys at Showers Pass know what they are doing when it comes to rain gear. This jacket will keep you warm and dry so you can turn the screw out on the road while every one else is inside on the trainers.

23 January 2012

Presto, Chango: Castelli's new bib shorts are MAGIC

Erik Solberg from Castelli USA demonstrates the Presto Bib short with Kiss 3 pad.

Castelli Presto bib shorts are available
in 4 color ways, including the new
Your dollar goes a long way with these great bibs from Castelli. Plenty of features are included that will help you to clock many miles on the bike, in both comfort and style. These include the ever popular Castelli Kiss 3 seatpad, great high-performance soft and supportive fabric and multi-panel construction providing a super fit and all day comfort.

Castelli Presto Bib Shorts Feature:

  • Affinity Lycra provides outstanding rebound and stretch.
  • 8-Panel construction.
  • 4-needle flat-lock stitched seams for added comfort and durability.
  • Mesh upper bib for breathability.
  • Castelli's Kiss 3 seat pad.
  • Durable Castelli heat transfer wordmark on the outside of the legs.
  • Classic silicone gel leg grippers.
  • Reflective piping, alongwith 2 rear reflective tabs at the bottoms of the legs, increase low-light visibility.

Castelli's century-worthy and race-proven KISS 3 Chamois
The Kiss 3 chamois has been engineered to eliminate seams that may cause abrasions and chaffing. The top layer provides a comfortable and soft interface with the rider. Most riders will not need chamois creme with the Kiss 3 seat pad. High density foam helps pad the short in places where you need it and have less foam around the edges of the pad.

18 January 2012

Team Garmin-Barracuda Launches Grand Debut at 2012 Tour Down Under

Team Garmin Barracuda 
Team Cycling Jersey by Castelli
Last week professional cycling team Garmin-Cervelo announced the arrival of a new title sponsor, Barracuda Networks, and subsequent name change to Team Garmin-Barracuda for the 2012 cycling season.

Debuting the new team kit at the popular early-season Tour Down Under (currently underway), held in 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evan's home country of Australia, the attractive new kit manufactured by Castelli is already drawing a significant amount of attention. An Italian legend with a history of innovation, Castelli has been outfitting cyclists for over 70 years, from historical Tour de France legends Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi to current pros such as David Zabriskie, Tyler Farrar and Christian Vande Velde at the top of their game.

Team Garmin Barracuda Body Paint Bib Shorts by Castelli
In order to better understand what riders want, Castelli works with several teams and professionals to create some of the highest quality cycling apparel available. Technologically innovative fabrics, advanced cuts and superior designs put Castelli apparel at the front of the pack and a favorite amongst pro cyclists and everyday riders alike. Partners since their Cervelo Test Team days, Castelli focuses on developing new garments and materials and soliciting direct feedback from pro riders before releasing the finished product to its customers. Indeed, the innovative Progetto X2 seat pad, constructed with 10 separate components and 12 different phases in the manufacturing process, was in development for nearly 3 years and logged more than 500,000 kilometers of testing before it reached the market in 2010.

"Just wanted to give you some feedback about the shorts ...... for me, they are perfect!" - Heinrich Haussler, Cervelo Test Team (now Garmin-Barracuda), enthuses when reviewing Castelli's Body Paint Bib Shorts.  The new and improved Body Paint 2.0 bibs, scheduled to be released this spring, will further improve on Castelli's excellence.

The whole family all together (left to right):  Team Garmin Barracuda Body Paint Bib Shorts, Team Garmin Barracuda Team Cycling Jersey, Team Garmin Barracuda Aero Race Cycling Jersey by Castelli

12 January 2012

Top 5 Reasons Cyclists Choose Bib Shorts over Cycling Shorts

Team Garmin-Cervelo sets the pace at the front of the pack.

5.  It's not "PRO" to wear anything else.  If you want to look "Euro-Pro," take it to the next level by showing up at a group ride only half-dressed to ride with bib shorts on, straps dangling down by your side, brandishing a cotton cycling t-shirt and cycling cap. Continue getting dressed in the parking lot with less than five minutes to go and still roll up to the start on time perfectly assembled.

4.  No waistbands.  Lack of a waistband means no drawstring or itchy elastic cutting into your abdomen, reducing oxygen intake and restricting blood flow. A waistband can also collect and retain moisture, reducing comfort and increasing potential for chafing. Wearing bibshorts will leave you feeling completely free and comfortable in the torso. No waistband problems also means no shorts riding down as you pedal, giving those drafting your rear wheel more than they bargained for.

3.  Chamois stays put.  Traditional cycling shorts can tend to slip down a little over time, and the seatpad can move with them. The result? Potential for chafing, saddle sores, and unhappy times. Keeping that seatpad/chamois snug to the body and in place plays a large part in bib shorts being found by most, if not all, to be the most comfortable option for a riding short.

Castelli's top-of-the-line Progetto X2 chamois packs a powerful punch.  Sculpted foam layers, gel inserts designed to relieve pressure off soft tissue areas, and a perforated, highly breathable top chamois layer guarantee maximum comfort for those long days in the saddle.

2.  Straps equal an exponentially increased comfort factor.  Lightweight, cool and breathable mesh straps over the shoulders, rather than restrictive drawstrings or elastic at the waist, serve to hold shorts up in the proper position. Before bibs were common, cyclists would often use suspenders to hold their traditional shorts in place. The modern bib offers a far more comfortable and effective means of doing the job. As with anything, the universal truth holds: PROPER FIT IS KEY TO OPTIMAL COMFORT AND PERFORMANCE. For help with getting the right fit, consult the Ensuring Proper Fit guidelines in our BicyclingHub.com Buyer's Guide to Bib Shorts.

Pearl Izumi Women's Drop Tail Bibs give
female riders the ability to go easily when on the go.
1.  Bare midriffs are a fashion faux pas.  Unless you're Gwen Stefani, the belly shirt probably isn't your thing--especially when you're out braving the elements on a long ride. Race jerseys tend to be cut short and aero and some riders (especially the tall and lanky set) may find certain jerseys tend to creep up the back and/or ride up the front, especially in that hands in the air victory salute. With bibshorts being obviously cut higher than a traditional short, a fluid transition between shorts and jersey--along with good form--is maintained at all times. To the onlooker, your bibshort and cycling jersey will look just like a jersey and traditional short would; to the wearer though, the difference is as stark as night and day.

Coming soon:  new and improved
Castelli Body Paint 2.0 Bibshorts!
Bib shorts are found by the majority of cyclists to be the most comfortable option for a riding short. If you're already a convert then you'll probably know exactly what we're talking about! Many who start using bibs say that they will never look back - sounds like what we all used to say about pedals when clipless were first introduced. Let the cycling clothing experts at BicyclingHub.com help you find the right pair of bib shorts for your style of riding and learn why we say in the office, "Once you go bibs, you never go back!"

 Did we convince you to buy bibs?  Go here to shop our current line.

11 January 2012

What sets BicyclingHub.com apart from the competition?

Few are as passionate about cycling as we are. At BicyclingHub.com, our goals are to get more people on bikes more often and make cycling a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

We do this by:
Eric Solberg from Castelli USA briefing staff the difference
between Castelli's KISS 3 and Progetto X2 chamois.

  • Providing customers with extensive product knowledge.  Each season BicyclingHub.com staff meet with product representatives from major cycling clothing manufacturers, including Castelli, Pearl Izumi, Showers Pass and Sheila Moon, to learn about new technology and features and built into the products. This hands-on training (and subsequent extensive testing) ensures we are able to offer extensive details and comparisons between products to our customers and retain our credentials as experts on cycling clothing.

  • Sharing our trustworthy expertise. All of our customer service representatives ride in the products we sell and are happy to provide customers honest product reviews, top Staff Picks, and and offer recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

  • Offering exceptional customer service through friendly, fun and reliable attention. Whether you're a dedicated urban commuter, a multi-day bike tour enthusiast, or preparing for your next big race, BicyclingHub.com constantly applies itself to making certain we deliver the same outstanding customer service and prompt delivery that ensures we stand apart from our competitors. We want your ride to be as enjoyable as possible, and we work hard every day to keep you rolling in style.

  • Regular Blog articles and Facebook updates that keep you in the loop. Wish you had a friend in the bike industry for the latest updates? Now you do! BicyclingHub.com provides our customers not only with access to a large online catalog but also a vibrant Facebook community (over 9,5200 members and growing strong), on-the-go Twitter updates for Daily Deals and exclusive sales, and an active Blog to keep our readers informed on the latest cycling-related news, videos, fun trivia contests and more.

  • Videos. Sometimes seeing is believing. BicyclingHub.com is staying at the forefront of the cycling apparel market by taking two-dimensional pictures and text and bringing our customers a 3-dimensional experience. Be it specific product features of the Showers Pass VelEau 42 Hydration System, an introduction to who you're choosing when you choose BicyclingHub.com, or the newest cycling jerseys coming out of the Castelli catalog, stay tuned to BicyclingHub.com's YouTube channel.

    Doug Duguay, owner of BicyclingHub.com, states: "I guarantee that no Internet retailer of cycling clothing knows the product as in depth as we do. For us, training and product knowledge is a priority."
  • 10 January 2012

    How to Love Your Bike Back: Bike Maintenance Basics

    Guest Blogger, mechanic and instructor by Tori Bortman, Gracie's Wrench

    Get pumped to ride with Tori Bortman, owner of
    Gracie's Wrench. Photo by Dan Sharp.
    Winter is time for short rides, refueling your heart and soul, and getting ready for the sweetness of spring. What better time than at the beginning of the new year to give your bike a fresh start?

    You don’t have to go big. Simple maintenance is a snap. Personally, I tend to put it off to the last minute, but with this easy maintenance guide, you can get the basics of your bike running well in under 15 minutes—or 5 if you’re in a hurry to get out the door!

    Regular maintenance a great habit to get into. Not only will it make your bike run better – which means much easier to pedal for you!-- it gives you a fresh look at your bike every time, so you can spot big problems before they start.

    Now get to it.

    Bike Maintenance Basics
    Frame Cleaning
    • Bucket Method—This is the quickest way to get your whole bike clean—including the rims (see note below). Fill a bucket with soapy dishwater, spray the bike lightly with a hose, then scrub gently with a car washing brush or soft sponge and rinse. While it is tempting to spray hard to get the muck off, use the hose on “grandma’s watering can” setting, otherwise you can destroy major parts of your bike by forcing water and dirt into them. Let the bike drip-dry a bit before hanging by the front wheel. Time: 5-7 minutes.
    • Spray cleaner method—Spray your bike frame with a cleaner/degreaser (Simple Green, 409, citrus cleaners) and wipe clean with a rag. This works for cleaner bikes but overall takes longer than the bucket method because you’ll have to clean the wheels separately. Time: 10-15 min.
    Remember to use a dry rag when cleaning your wheels. Photo by Dan Sharp.
    Clean alloy oxidization (the black gunk) from your rims with a dry rag. This stuff makes your braking bad and ruins your wheels and brake pads. If they need further cleaning, only spray cleaner on the rims after using a dry rag or the black stuff will just smear. In the above bucket method, a sopping sponge or brush works because it involves more of a bath for your bike. Time: 10 min.

    Lubricate every 100 miles or after every ride in the rain.  The chain oil should act as a cleaner, if not use a solvent to clean (409, Simple Green, or a citrus de-greaser). ATB Lube is my recommended brand of oil because it contains both a lubricant and solvent—conditioner and shampoo in one. Never use WD-40 to lubricate! Thoroughly wiping down the chain after lubrication is as important as applying the oil. A coating of oil on the outside of the chain will only collect dirt. Time: 3 minutes.

    Tori, center, demonstrates the zen of road bike maintenance.  Photo by Dan Sharp.
    Air pressure will depend on your weight, type of bike, weather/course conditions and riding style, but has a huge effect on ride quality. Read the side of your tire to find the PSI range. Here’s a (very) basic guide for how high to inflate. Check tire inflation every 3-4 days. Inflate with a floor pump.
    • Riding on Pavement—If your tires are below 80psi, take to max inflation. If your tires are over 80psi, go only to max inflation if you weigh over 180lbs. Otherwise, try decreasing inflation until your ride is actually harder to pedal.  10psi lower in the front tire than the rear will increase your traction. 
    • Off-road/on-road—Will totally depend on your weight. For larger riders (over 175lbs), higher pressure is recommended. For smaller riders, lower pressure will give you better, faster traction. 
    Tori, right, gives one-on-one instruction during a Basics class.
    Photo by Dan Sharp.

    Most off-road tread and some commuter treads are directional and direction can vary between front and rear tires.  Check your sidewall for correct tread direction.

    Treaded tires need to be replaced when tread is worn down. Smooth tires will begin to have a flat spot and look squared off instead of rounded when they need to be replaced.

    • Check pad wear when cleaning rims. If any of your wear indicators are gone, replace.
    • Scrub any black stuff (rim oxidization) from your pad face with sand paper. (Do not use on wheels!)
    • Adjust the barrel adjuster for better braking.

    About the author:  Teaching and bicycles have been Tori Bortman’s passion for the past ten years. Learning mechanics and riding skills as an adult from the ground up, she was endlessly frustrated that it was difficult to find good teachers who understood that the world of bikes can be daunting and with the patience and lack of ego to explain things so anyone could understand. This inspired her to start her own bicycle maintenance and skills programs through her business, Gracie’s Wrench. Through Gracie’s Wrench she now offers regular courses and workshops covering everything from flat repair to tune-ups to wheel building, as well as consulting services for progressive businesses that understand the value of cycling.

    06 January 2012

    How to Stay Motivated

    For best results, take one twice daily.
    Image source: Campus Cycles
    Looking to keep your Resolve to Ride More in 2012? According to Peter Bregman, believing motivation is the problem is your first mistake.

    After all, you already love to bike. You enjoy harnessing your power to propel forward though time, space and air; the sense of community it brings; the quiet time to decompress on the ride home at the end of the day. Most likely you readily admit to family members and co-workers that you actually enjoy exercising.  The feeling of your lungs expanding going up a climb; of going hard and pushing your heart rate into the next zone; the dull ache in your legs the next morning after a really hard effort that serves as a physical reminder you did something enjoyable and worthwhile. The problem isn't really motivation, Bregman explains. It's follow-through.

    Author Ellee Thalheimer finds epic places to ride, like this road in Hells Canyon, to stay motivated.
    Practice follow-through by choosing a bike tour of your own in her upcoming book,
    Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Oregon
    Relaying his friend Byron's dilemma, he comments: "Each attempt to 'motivate' himself will only increase his stress and guilt as it widens the gap between his motivation and his follow-through, between how badly he wants to work out and his failure to do so. We have a misconception that if we only cared enough about something, we would do something about it. But that's not true.

    "Motivation is in the mind; follow-through is in the practice. Motivation is conceptual; follow-through is practical. In fact, the solution to a motivation problem is the exact opposite of the solution to a follow through problem. The mind is essential to motivation. But with follow through, it's the mind that gets in the way.

    So with that in mind, how do we commit to following through with our intentions to ride, train, race, tour, or commute by bike more this year? Here's a few of Bregman's suggestions--put into bike terms--to get you rolling:
    Create an environment that supports your workout goals. Have your [cycling] clothes sitting by your bed and put them on first thing when you wake up. In fact, [ride] first thing, before your mind realizes what you're doing. 
    • Use a trainer or commit to work out with a friend. It's harder to argue against your accountability to another person. 
    • Decide when and where you're going to [ride] — literally write it in your calendar — and the likelihood of follow-through will increase dramatically. 
    Commit to a concrete plan that is simple to quantify: 45 minutes of movement a day, cut out sugar, [ride any bike in your stable] six days a week. 
    • Realize that the follow-through challenge will only last a few seconds. As soon as you put your [cleats] on and start heading to [the trailhead or your favorite stretch of road], your mind will give up arguing with you. 
    Discipline will be useful for the first week as you get back into working out. But after that, momentum will take over and the pleasure of feeling more fit will quiet the internal chatter.
    Still stuck in a rut?  Grab your favorite riding buddies and plan a bike trip somewhere epic, such as the Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab, Utah. 

    Readers: what tools or techniques do you use to keep on task and following through with your riding and fitness goals?  Post your comments below and let us know!

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