High-vis help for cyclists

I have always assumed the yellow, orange bright jackets and tops was a good way to be visible while reading. Although I have read on some bike sites that orange is actually more visible than yellow, despite the fact that most high-vis cycling gear is luminous yellow. I ride in both summer and winter with yellow high-vis tops or jackets.

So I was intrigued to read this article on the BikeWise website about whether visible positioning or clothing has the greater impact on making a rider seen by pedestrians, cars and other traffic. I thought I’d publish some of the article on my blog as is raises some useful questions about the most sensible, and defensive, way to ride a bike. I guess it’s also a reminder about not getting complacent and assuming you’ll be spotted because you’ve got a blowing yellow jacket on while riding.

The full article is at the BikeWise website  and is Hi-Vis Clothing vs. Hi-Vis Road Positioning.

“…we think it’s your road positioning that has a much greatest impact on your safety and visibility in traffic. … If you ride near the centre of the lane, you are far more visible there than on the far left of the road near the ‘door zone’.”

This is because most drivers’ eyes are conditioned to look to the centre of the lane to see on-coming vehicles approaching. If you ride near the centre of the lane in such situations, you’re going to get seen. As an added benefit, you’re also going to see any cars approaching much sooner, because you have a better sightline of the intersection.

Visibility essentially comes down to two things: Seeing and Being Seen. Wearing Hi-Vis clothing will enhance your visibility, especially at night and when there is reduced light, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that wearing a fluro vest will instantly make you visible to all other road users.  In the words of London Cyclist:

“My argument here isn’t against high vis clothing. My argument is: Don’t just rely on high vis clothing. There is something that far surpasses the power of high vis. Road positioning.”


The Jun Ji Folding Electric Bicycle Direct From China

One of my work colleagues saw this electric folding bike in the inner-west in Sydney recently.  I’ve never seen anything like this before so I looked it up on the net.

It’s called the Jun Ji electric folding bike and is made by an electronics manufacturing company called Zhanhui in Guangzhou, China. There are lots of different styles of the bikes.

I think they’re a winner and could take off in a city like Sydney that is (slowly and painfully) embracing a cycling culture. If you’ve got a distance to cover and want to avoid the delays of buses and trains in the city, this could be the answer.

This enterprising guy had imported two bikes, one for himself and the other for his wife, directly and said he got it in the country for $A500, which is pretty good. I think it’s a winner.

I found some information about the Jun Ji  on the San Francisco Citizen blog. It says it might be a little hard to order just one, but why not buy 78, enough to fill up an entire shipping container, from the Jun Ji Power at maybe $250 per and then sell 77 to your friends at a hefty markup.

The Junji Folding Bike

Pump it up

I’ve got a gripe about pumps. Cyclists will know what I’m talking about when I say that you need to have a good pump. Use a bad pump and you’ll never quite get your tyres full of air. Slightly flat tyres will give you a bumpy ride and make cycling that much harder.

I cycle to and from work with two panniers on the bike so flat tyres are particularly bad because the rear wheel will hit any bumps or grooves in the path very hard. This can obviously damage the rim but it makes for an unpleasant ride as well.

I’ve recently just attached a compact pump to my bike as I found that my tyres would be a bit flat when I was about to ride home. It does a good job of pumping up the tyres if they’re very flat but once they’re nearly inflated it won’t quite fill them all the way up. It’s handy to have it at my fingertips when I need it but I nearly lost it on one ride when I didn’t secure it with the little rubber catch and I knocked it off when I was hopping on the bike. I didn’t notice until I was about to get back on and ride home and luckily it was right under my foot when I looked for it.

I’ve had a couple of traditional pumps with the long barrel but they just don’t make them like they used to. They come loose very easily and the metal spiral falls out and the tube doesn’t hold in place so it’s easily lost. I’ve gone through three or four of these in the last year.

When I was growing up, I used these types of pumps and they seemed to last forever but not so now. I actually reckon that lots of things made these days are of inferior quality and don’t last long. Cheap plastic, not metal and not well manufactured, they’re just not what they once were.

If this pump fails, I might try a floor pump or ditch the pump all together. I often just stop in at the servo when the tyres need pumping up and grab the air pump and do it there. This high-pressure pump is the goods and it’ll fill the tyres so they’re hard and full. I can check the exact pressure in wheels and be sure they’re not over- or under-filled.

How do you pump your tyres? Home pump or pump at the garage? Old fashioned pump or new, compact-style pump?

Small and mostly efficient pump.

This is my new compact pump.


Old or new?

The old school pump vs the fancy new pump.


Winter cycling is almost upon us

Cool weather cycling requires a bit more coverage. Credit: Stig Nygaard under CC.

I love cycling in Autumn and Winter. It’s not hot like Summer so it’s more pleasant and, as long as it’s not raining, I love the cool, crisp mornings for getting out on the bike. Sure, it’s a little chilly but that’s just a good excuse to get on some riding clothes for the cooler weather. I love specialist clothing and this time of year is the perfect excuse to buy a new cycling shell or long pants.

My cool weather cycling uniform consists of a few layers. It goes like this: base layer of long sleeve white cotton top. I don’t usually go for a singlet as this can lead to overheating if cycling for longer than about 20 minutes. In Australia, on the Eastern Seaboard where I am it’s just not that cold so overheating can be a problem with winter/autumn riding.

Then I have a breathable shell jacket with removable arms if it’s on the warm side. This gives good protection from the cool wind when starting out but can be used for a bit of cool protection but also heat escape with the arms zipped out. Then I go for cycling undies with long-leg tights over the top that are cotton/spandex. They are not dedicated cycling or compression tights as I’m recreational riding and not racing riding so don’t need this extra speed factor.

Gloves are a must in winter as the fingers freeze on the handle bars but in autumn it’s okay to go without these. Always sunglasses whatever the season as I don’t like light or glare. I have a neat pair bought from the Velogear website that only cost about $A50 and have interchangeable lenses so in summer or high-glare I have reflective lense and in lower light and less glare I opt for a lense to cut out a bit of light but not darken the landscape too much.

This is about it and let’s me layer up and layer down depending on whether I stop on the riding and need a jacket when I cool down. I usually ride with my two boys in a trailer on the weekends so a stop at the park is obligatory so I usually through in a sunhat for the park, even in winter as the sun is still strong and bright in winter.

What do you like to wear for cool weather cycling?

Ride On blog on bike lights

This comes from the Ride On blog and you can find it here: http://rideons.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/top-50-lights-for-commuting/.

The 2012 top 50 is the result of testing 30 new lights and comparing these lights to those tested last year that are still currently available. Some of this year’s lights didn’t make the resulting top 50 list for this year because the lights of last year are superior.

All results from this year and last were put through the same formulas, which are slightly different from last year. This explains why last year’s lights may have different scores this year. The important thing is that all lights are judged the same way.

The increasing convenience of bike lights continues, with many of the new crop being USB rechargeable and mounted with easy-to-use silicone straps. Weight and size is also not an issue now, with technology so improved. The Best in test front light of this year at 36 grams is nearly a third of the weight of last year’s Best in test.

Visibility has improved in the front lights without a corresponding hike in price. In fact, the Best in test this year is more visible and $20 cheaper than last year’s.