Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Things That Work

The travoise has been used successfully by indigenous people, like the Plains Indians. Simplicity of design and high functionality are its prime attributes. Burley, maker of bicycle trailers since the 1970s found a way to bring the Travoy to the 21st Century. I recently acquired one of these marvelous things.

Many people will tell me that $300 is a lot to spend on "something for your bike." Even people who have known me for all of the two plus years I have been a full-time rider do not understand that cycling is not a whim or hobby. Cycling is not part of a phase that will pass. It is who I have chosen to be. And I spent closer to $400 when I added the Upper Transit Bag accessory. As with the Travoy, any additional Burley accessories will be purchased through my FNBS, Bikes and More.

I've had the Travoy two weeks and used it twice to get groceries. Not enough time for a serious long-term test, but more than enough for "initial impressions." It is attractive and well designed, working as it is supposed to with out work-arounds or adjustments. Burley's hitch fastened to my seat post properly and was easily adjusted for height. The Travoy unfolded and attached without a problem.

Novara Safari, Click-Stand, Ortlieb Back Rollers and Burley Travoy

Switched into its hand-truck mode the Travoy was easily maneuvered around my local supermarket. I will have to adjust my path through the store to avoid constant rearrangement of heavy items to avoid crushing tomatoes, squashing bread or tearing plastic film on products. The provided bag (the one that also holds the folded Travoy) handled a large supply of stuff. In the past I have used front and rear panniers to handle the largest loads. Using the Travoy bag to gather eliminated any worries about having enough room. Additionally, having the Travoy AND front and rear panniers provides a dramatic amount of room to transport things.

Towing the Travoy is like . . . towing a trailer. There is added weight and cornering requires anticipation to be done cleanly. Stopping distances will be longer, but nothing that should not be expected when pulling a trailer. Mounting the hitch on the seat post makes the turning radius shorter than it would be with a conventional trailer. All that needs to be said is that the Travoy is well engineered.

I've read very few points of criticism for the Travoy. One person observed that it was too wide. It fits through doorways with room to spare and is no wider than my handlebars. Seems narrow enough for my needs. Another person observed that it was expensive and it is if you are not investing in something to fit your lifestyle. If cycling is more trendy then the Travoy might be expensive. For me, having done without an automobile for more than two years, having something that makes shopping and transporting things a fact of life is, well, a fact of life.

As a committed commuter I am pleased to have the Travoy as a part of my life style. I anticipate a long and meaningful relationship with it and will give a long term evaluation in a few months.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Only if it applies . . .

I dislike misusing words and that generally places me in a minority. Take, for instance, "awesome." I can probably count the number of times I have truly been in awe of something, yet others seem moved to an "overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear" multiple times in a typical day. Witnessing my first napalm strike stirred an "overwhelming feeling of . . . fear." I was in awe of the Grand Canyon. Niagara Falls. The Twin Towers/9-11.

I like Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia, but it isn't awesome. Funny Cars and Top Fuelers doing 300 mph is amazing, but not awesome. (Seeing them light up the sky with their flames and fill the air with their thunder like an internal combustion Aurora Borealis on finals night of the Gator Nationals comes close.) Still, there have been some things about my evolution into the bike culture and mentality that touch the edge of awesome.

After mounting Schwalbe Marathon Plus HS 348 tires (700c x 38) on my Safari, Michael, the mechanic at Bikes and More, said "these tires are awesome." I might have quibbled with him over the phrase, but, now, nearly 1000 miles later I'm tempted to agree. They are a fine blend of everything good. I am not a boy-racer, so weight is not an issue, thus they accelerate quickly enough, show little wear, provide excellent flat protection and handle predictably. The idea was to determine whether they were as good as advertised and claimed. I think they are.

The break-in took time, but the result was the same as touted by others. Brooks makes a helluva saddle. Though it lacks any cushioning, relying entirely on flexing of the leather, the B-17 fits me and has eliminated all discomfort from long rides. I am in awe of a product first made available in 1898 which continues to be the product of choice.

Because the best accessories for a bike are far less expensive than comparable accessories would be for a car, I can invest in the best, or what I perceive to be the best for me. That is why I have a Novara Safari, Ortlieb bags, Tubus rack, Topeak pump and a Click-Stand. It is awesome stuff only if the term applies, otherwise, it's just damn good!