CategoriesGear

Your Opinion: The Best Hydration Packs

best hydration packs
My Camelbak is on its last leg. What should replace it?

I’m looking for your advice about the best hydration packs out there.

See, my Camelbak MULE is ratty and old. It’s salt-encrusted and engrodiated. It’s missing a zipper pull or two. The cat may have peed on it for all I know.

I’ve had it since it was among the best hydration packs out there. But a quick look at my local bike shop made me wonder if it’s not time to put the MULE out to pasture. Clearly, Camelbak is no longer the only legit choice. More than a few bike shop dudes around here talk up Osprey like it’s the greatest thing since the singlespeed 29er.

So, the guy who usually gives advice is turning to you: What do you think are the best hydration packs for long rides in hot weather? That means I need room for stuff like food and tools. I need 128 ounces. I’d also prefer a fairly neutral color – no purple, no salmon. Gimme greenish or tannish so when I hike, I can sneak around a bit.

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CategoriesGear

SixSixOne Helmet Review

SixSixOne Recon MTB Helmet, SixSixOne helmet
A close look at my SixSixOne Recon mountain bike helmet, sans visor.

A week before I picked up a SixSixOne helmet, I really hadn’t heard of this new-to-me mountain bike company. But then, I rarely think about my helmet much. Ride after ride, I plop it on my head and go.

Until that one day when I realize that the straps are crusted so thick with salt from evaporated sweat that they barely bend anymore. Then I take a look at the pads and realize they’re so squished that they don’t offer much comfort or safety. Finally, I start to see all the nicks and scrapes.

That’s when it’s time for a new helmet. I started to do a little research at the bike shops – I’ve worn a Giro mountain bike helmet of one variety or another for years. They’ve been great, but I have a soft spot for up-and-coming companies.

I found a few interesting helmets out there. The POC Trabec helmet from Sweden has a modern look to it. And POC also claims its design dissipates shock over a wide section of the helmet. The prices start at $150, which is a bit steep. I know, I know – it’s only my head. But one thing I’ve found is that extra money doesn’t always equal more protection. I also didn’t see any at local bike shops.

If you’re helmet looks like this, it’s time for a new one. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had visions of the Trabec in my head when I stumbled across the
SixSixOne 2012 Recon Wired XC/Trail Bicycle Helmet
at one of the local bike shops. And I always like getting a first-hand look at something. I liked the very solid look of the retention system that dials the SixSixOne helmet firmly to the head. And the shape fit my head well, which is always something to consider. It was about $100 at my local shop; you can also find a SixSixOne helmet online if your local bike shops don’t carry them.

So far, I have a handful of rides with my SixSixOne helmet. It hasn’t had to lay its life on the line for me. But saving you from crashes isn’t the only reason to wear a mountain bike helmet. For me, they’re great for keeping the intense sun off my head – and the protect my from flora that encroaches on the trail. The SixSixOne Recon has been more than capable – all while fitting well and being reasonable priced. My only change was to take the visor off, which is pretty standard with every one of mountain bike helmets. I took a ride with it first just to see if it would be any different, but no dice. Off it came.

If it’s time for you to get a new mountain bike helmet, check your local and online bike shops for a SixSixOne helmet.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

 

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CategoriesBlogging/WritingFitness

4 Dirty Lies Mountain Bikers Tell Bike Mechanics

This guy has heard all the lies mountain bikers and roadies tell.

Bike mechanics know when mountain bikers have abused or neglected their bikes – just like the dentist can tell that your choppers haven’t seen floss for the last four years. Here are some of the least-believable lines mountain bikers can spring on your local mechanic.

"I was just riding along!"

Your head tube is crumpled, and wood chips are embedded in the creased metal. Yet somehow your front wheel is just fine. The mechanic knows you weren’t innocently cruising along on a sidewalk. The truth? You forgot your bike was on the roof rack, and you drove into the garage. This happens to mountain bikers more often than you’d expect. No warranty frame replacement for you!

"I just put that tube in two days ago, and it popped!"

Flats happen. And thorny flora isn’t scared of new tubes. Any sort of rubber designed to hold air is a crapshoot. Quit trying to say it’s the tube’s fault. Pony up for a new tube and the mechanic’s time. Besides, all mountain bikers should know how to fix their own flats. Oh, and we also know that tires rarely “pop.”

"My friend tried to fix this for me."

If you’ve used this line, you’ve probably said to your physician "I have a friend, and he’s really interested in trying Viagra. I mean, he doesn’t have any problems -- he’s just curious about what will happen. Do you have any samples?"

Any good mechanic can tell when mountain bikers have monkeyed with their derailleur travel set screws, loosened the wrong bolts, hosed their chain with WD40 or sliced their chainstay with a hacksaw to remove the chain. There’s nothing wrong with learning to maintain your bike. But get some help from your local mechanic -- and come clean when your experiments go wrong.

"Um, my wife got it for me."

You walk into the bike shop with a shiny piece of bike bling that you ordered online. It’s pretty and new, but the wrong size. Your blubber out a sob story about how your wife got it here as a birthday gift, but picked the wrong part and lost the receipt. Your goal: Talk the shop into exchanging it -- and installing it -- for free. Legions of mountain bikers have already used the "blame the wife" trick. Don’t expect anyone to fall for it, and don’t deny it when you get called on the carpet.

I originally wrote this for the Trailsedge.com blog. Since that blog is now kaput, I figured it would be a travesty if I failed to give newer readers a look at this fun content.

  • J.r.a.
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