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Archive for the 'Bicycle Gear' Category

Keen Newport Trail – Initial Impressions

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

I’ve been meaning to write a few impressions of my new Keen shoes that some of you have noticed in my photos.


The model is Keen Newport Trail. The color claims to be black, but they really look like more of a dark green.They’re also available in brown.

The design seems to be based on the Keen Newport sandal, but adds an insulated, waterproof/breathable layer. I was looking for something that fit better than my old hiking boots. It had to be waterproof, hopefully something a little more breathable, and a bit lighter.  I wanted to use them for winter cycling, and hiking year-round.These met all my criteria, except that they aren’t very light. Then again I think “warm” and “light” may be contradictory.

I tried on a number of different shoes, and these were by far the most comfortable, for me. Then again, needing a size 13, my options were rather limited.

I wanted to make sure to get plenty of breathing/wiggle room, even with thick socks, so I could wear them in very cold weather. One thing that’s great about these is, because of their design, they can comfortably accommodate a wider range of sock thickness than a traditional shoe or boot design.


These fit differently from any other shoe I’ve tried. I tried them on and it felt like they conformed to my feet. The insole supposedly will contour to my feet, over time.

So, how do they perform? So far, they’re great. I’ve worn them with a wide range of different socks, and they don’t feel too lose with thin socks, I just have to tighten the laces more. I’ve worn them for commuting, road biking, and snowbiking, with great results. I was a little worried about the rather subdued tread pattern for hiking, but the rubber is so sticky that not much tread is really needed. They worked well on wet, mossy rocks. I still had to be careful, but I was pleasantly surprised with how good my traction was. If you go to Keen’s site, you can see the shoe from different angles, including the tread pattern.


These shoes have Keen.Dry, which is Keen’s answer to Gore-Tex. Some reviews I read said that Keen.Dry breathes better than Gore-Tex. In my experience, these do breathe better than my old Gore-Tex hiking boots. But, the designs are so different that it’s hard to say whether the waterproof/breathable layers are really that different.

I haven’t done any really long rides in these yet (4 hours or more), but they’ve worked well on everything I’ve thrown at them so far, up to about three hours in cold conditions. I’ve read many times that in order to keep your feet warm in winter, you need adequate room in your shoe. I have more room in these than I did with my old boots, and the difference is significant. I highly recommend making sure you have adequate breathing room in your shoes, if you are having trouble keeping your feet warm. I tie my laces loosely on long cold rides in these, and that works very well.

The only problem I’ve noticed with these, aside from weight, is that the insole has stained some of my light-colored socks. I don’t really mind, so this is not a problem for me.

I’ll post more thoughts once I’ve had these for a while. So far, I like them very much, and I imagine they will continue to perform well.

Geomangear voluntary recall of Magicshine lights

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Geomangear is voluntarily recalling the Magicshine batteries. We received the following e-mail:

To Our Valued Geomangear Customers,

Geomangear temporarily has stopped selling Magicshine lightsets due to our concerns regarding the safety, quality, and performance of Magicshine’s lithium-ion battery packs sold by Geomangear between July 2009 and November 2010. We have determined that these Magicshine battery packs do not meet Geomangear’s high expectations regarding product safety, quality, and performance. We have notified both the manufacturer of Magicshine lightsets and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission that Geomangear intends to voluntarily recall all Magicshine battery packs sold by Geomangear.

We are actively working with the Safety Commission, outside engineering consultants, and a new battery pack supplier to evaluate product recall options for our customers. Geomangear will provide recall information and instructions directly to our affected customers after our final corrective action plan has been approved by the Safety Commission.

If you bought a Magicshine lightset from us between June 2009 and November 2010, please discontinue using your lightset until we are able to provide you with an upgraded replacement battery pack. Despite our best efforts, this process will take some time, and we ask for your patience. You can rest assured that Geomangear has taken, and will continue to take, appropriate steps to protect the safety of our customers, and we will stand behind our products. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and appreciate your continued loyalty and support during this unprecedented situation our company is facing.



I’m glad they’ll be replacing the battery packs, but I’m going to continue using my light. I bought it because I needed a good light. That still holds true, and it seems like a lot of people have not had any problems with their batteries, so I’ll take my chances until I receive the replacement batteries. I’ll bring backup lights with me, of course (I always carry at least one backup anyway).

My ride home should be interesting. I’m expecting 40s, rain, and darkness. I think I’m well-prepared, but I don’t have a good pair of rain pants, so we’ll see how it goes.

Helmet cam!

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I celebrated my 30th birthday on Sunday. It was a good birthday; as I posted on Facebook yesterday,

I’ve enjoyed quality time with my wife, mom, sister, and nephews, good food, a little time on the bike, new birthday toys to play with, and a beautiful drive with my beautifuler wife. What more could I ask for?”

What I didn’t mention is what I meant by “toys.” My wife got me a really cool gift: a helmet cam! It’s a “Go Pro Hero Wide.” It’s a tiny video camera that can mount on your helmet, handlebars,  etc. I did a short test yesterday with it on my helmet. The wide angle view lets you see a lot.

The best thing about this camera, though, is that it has slick mounting brackets that make it very easy to mount the camera or remove it, without hassle. It’s also very small, so it should be easy to take it on rides.

Here’s my brief test video from yesterday. The image quality is pretty good. This thing is going to be fun! This ride isn’t particularly interesting — just a test around the neighborhood — but it gives you an idea of the camera’s capabilities.

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