Monday, June 20, 2011

Accessories Review

I've noticed that one of my most popular posts is the review I did of my Basil Mirte Shopping bag. You can read that post here.  I figured I would do an update and maybe review a few more products as well.

*Note: I am not paid for any of these reviews, nor was I contacted or given any of these products by the companies. These are simply products that I bought & use myself that I think you might be interested in. Also, I am not an Amazon affiliate so the links are simply for your convenience. I don't profit from them at all.

Basil Mirte Shopping Bag

I bought this bag through Amazon last winter after a summer of suffering a sweaty & itchy back from carrying messenger bags & backpacks while biking. It was clear I needed a better way to transport my stuff, so I installed a rear rack on Betty and bought this shopping bag.

The reason why I picked this bag instead of a set of full panniers is because of how easy it is to take on & off the bike; as well as its ability to double as a large purse/bag. I really don't like leaving bags on my bikes, so having a bag that I can simply take off and carry with me while I do my errands was a must-have.

I get compliments on the bag all the time, and most people don't even realize that it is a "bike bag". Not only is it stylish, but its super durable. I used it throughout winter & snow-storms. I used it in spring & thunderstorms. And now I use it with summer & heat & humidity.

The bag does show some slight wear & tear, but over-all still looks almost like it did the day I got it.

The bag has gotten slightly saggy from the weight of things I put in it, but I can live with it.
(Yes, I know Betty's front fender is backwards. The bike shop I ordered her from did that. I've just never gotten around to fixing it, and now its become an endearing trait...)

There is a mark on the back of the bag, where it's made constant contact with one of my rack stays:

Mark from my rear rack
I would not hesitate to recommend this bag to anyone. It's paid for itself, 3 times over. I use it practically everyday.

I'm contemplating buying a set of full panniers from Basil for those occasions where I have a lot more stuff to carry and I don't have to worry about leaving the bags on the bike (i.e. a picnic or a bike trip). I think that's my next gift to myself.

It seems to me that I carry much more "stuff" during the summer than I do in the winter. Sunscreen, hair brush, baby wipes, deodorant...most of this is simply stuff to deal with heat & sweat. I keep three ziplock bags in my bike bag:

-One bag carries my bike tools (multi-tool, patch kit, spare tube, pump, tire levers, screwdriver)
-One bag carries extra clothing (socks, underwear, t-shirt, sunglasses & cap)
-One bag carries toiletries (anti-chafing stuff, deodorant, baby wipes, dry shampoo, hair ties & hair brush, sunscreen)

During the winter, I usually don't need quite as much stuff to deal with sweatiness. Here's two of the products I like:

Hoo Ha Ride Glide

Sorry for the crappy iphone picture.

I can't decide whether I actually like this stuff or not. It has a disturbing "tingling" sensation that I'm not sure is pleasant or not. It definitely works as an anti-chafing cream though. As advertised, you use this on your "hoo ha" area. Since I ride for quite a few hours at a time, I really start to feel chafed and this stuff eases my pain. Again though, it tingles. The tingling is supposed to be refreshing (I suppose). I just find it disturbing. It's not disturbing enough for me not to use it though, and I just like anything with "hoo ha" in the name.

Body Glide

Another crappy iphone pic.

Classic anti-chafing agent. Unlike the Hoo Ha Ride Glide, this isn't a cream. It's a roll-on. Actually, the most benefit I get from Body Glide is on my feet. I use it when I'm running or wearing a particularly horrendous pair of heels to prevent blisters/rubbing. It's good for any kind of chafing where you wouldn't want the messiness of a cream. To be honest, I don't use this with cycling much. 

This is another product that I can't decide whether its worth it or not. For those that have never met me in person, I have really ridiculously long hair. Because its so long, I only wash it once a week. It takes forever and I hate doing it. If I didn't mind wasting time at a salon every week, I would happily pay someone else to do it for me. Unfortunately, I despise being in a salon unless absolutely necessary (hence why my hair is so ridiculously long). This is actually fine. Hair shouldn't be washed everyday, in my opinion. It's better for your hair to let it go a few days between washing. However, I wear a bike helmet almost every day, for hours on end. I sweat. The sweat can't evaporate because of the helmet. After a few days, my hair starts to gross me out (even if other people say its just fine). I decided that I needed some sort of dry shampoo to get me through the week.

I know that you can use cornstarch with the same effect, but that just seemed messier than I was willing to deal with. I needed something quick, easy & transportable. Carrying around a baggie or container of cornstarch is not something I want to do. I checked out reviews from various hair forums, and found that Batiste was consistently ranked high among dry shampoo users. I bought the brunette version.

Using it is pretty simple: you simply spray onto hair, massage into scalp, then brush out. 

My verdict: it works as advertised. Which is to say that my hair doesn't have that "fully shampooed and washed" feeling, but it doesn't feel like a greasy, sweaty mess either. It's not a miracle worker, but it does  the job I need it to, and it does it easily & quickly. Downside? It can get pretty expensive. I can see how one bottle is not going to last very long (I ordered two). Will it be worth it? Time will tell.

I get the most comments/questions about this accessory on Betty than any other. This is an accessory you can buy directly from Electra. It should fit just about any handlebar size, and it works like a standard camera mount (there is a screw that fits into your camera, just like a tripod). I use this all the time to take pictures/video safely. I can easily adjust the camera angle mid-ride & it holds the camera pretty securely. I did have one little accident with it. I'm not sure what happened, but while I was riding the CCT the screw managed to come loose, and my poor little camera went flying. It suffered minor damage, but it was annoying. That was the only time that's ever happened though, in more than a year of usage. You do need to be careful with the screw, because I accidentally lost the part that keeps it attached to the mount. Be gentle!

And for my most favorite product lately:

I love listening to music, but I hate wearing headphones/earbuds while riding. I think its dangerous and inconsiderate. What's a girl to do? Bike speakers!

Last year, I saw that Nirve sold a set of bike speakers similar to these and I bought them. When I plugged in my iphone, the speakers began smoking & then exploded. Not the effect I was looking for :-(
I think my iphone was a little too powerful for it. I was a little hesitant about ordering the Soundshell, since it looks like its basically the same model---but they assured me the iphone 4 would be compatible.

Sure enough, no smoking or explosions occurred when I plugged in my iphone! YAY! These speakers are great. They are easy to attach/detach, the sound quality is great & I have no problem hearing my music.


-Because of the velcro straps, it does have a tendency to slip around on the frame during bumpy rides. This is easily fixed with a ziptie or some other object that you can wrap around the frame to keep it in place.
-Probably won't want to use this during rain.
-I need to get an itouch or ipod to use with this instead of my iphone, so I don't need to detach & unzip & unplug everytime I get a phone call during a ride (I don't ride and talk, I promise. I always stop and pull over).

There's also a little pocket in case you want to carry small items inside the case as well.

You can attach it to the frame or the handlebars.

I hope you enjoyed these reviews, and let me know if you try these products (or if you have any recommendations yourself!)


  1. Hey! Thanks for the reviews. I have a friend who has used the Hoo Ha Ride Glide and also noted the astringent sensation. She gave it a thumbs down. I have not used it and would not based on both her and your experiences. I currently use Chamois Butter and occasional Bag Balm for that particular area. Neither are astringent. Still on a quest for an even better product, but so far, these are the best I've got.

  2. That roll-on stuff you can use on your feet sounds like just the thing. I am just now getting around to realizing that your bike has PINK rims and pink tassles on the hand grips. You do enjoy your bike!

  3. I use a Topeak rack and matching luggage with their QuickTrack system - you just slide it on and it latches in place. I've put more than 300 miles in with it attached, and it's stayed firmly in place even on rough trails or 40mph downhill blasts.

    They're a bit more expensive than the basic luggage sets, and you're limited to the Topeak range, but I'd definitely recommend them to anyone.

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