Tour of Light & Motion in Monterey, CA

Since I’m already out here in California to see what this Sea Otter excitement is all about, I thought I would drop by our friends at Light & Motion – makers of great cycling lights, including their impressive commuting lineup. The Light & Motion headquarters (and factory, and design studio, and manufacturing facility, among other things) is located in a converted cannery warehouse in Monterey, CA – near the famous Cannery Row, and right on the ocean.

The first thing that you notice when you walk into their headquarters is the open layout – you can see almost all aspects of the operation, from engineering to assembly, in this one shot.

Here’s a shot of an assembly station (which is located down on the lower level of the previous wide-angle photo). The CAD printouts above each station show the steps in the assembly process, and the workers meticulously assemble each light from dozens of pieces to create, in this case, an Urban 300 LED Headlight.

Here’s a close-up view of an LED and the circuit board that controls the light, before they are assembled into the finished product.

The folks at Light & Motion are proud of the fact that almost everything that goes into their lights is manufactured right in their factory headquarters – in addition to being assembled there. One step in that process is this rapid prototyping machine, which lets them go from computer drawing to a physical object to test in moments.

Once the design is worked out, an automated milling machine is used to create aluminum molds for any of the myriad molded parts that are needed for the lights, from buttons to outer covers.

Here’s a shot of some of the finished molds:

The resin that is heated up to smoothly flow into the molds comes in the form of little pellets – but the key to the process is finding the right mixture of raw materials, as different plastics have different properties of elasticity that need to be balanced in the proper recipe (don’t worry, they’ve got people who know how to work that out).

While down in the machine shop area, we passed by the employee dive locker – I did mention that they are literally right on the ocean!

But having certified divers on their staff is actually good business, as half of the lights that Light & Motion builds are for underwater use, like this 4000 lumen monster (don’t turn this one on while staring at it!):

Of course there was also ample space allotted for employee bikes as well:

I want to thank the folks at Light & Motion for showing me around their factory headquarters – it was great to see a company that designs, manufactures and assembles such high quality products with pride right here in the US. 

Race Recap: 2011 Swank 65 & Osprey Packs

Unlike recent years, we didn’t have the pleasure of suffering through the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race in 2011. But since we missed on that epic 5 days of Pisgah Forest racing, we decided to send Christopher and Greg to Blue Ridge Adventure‘s Swank 65 race instead. Todd Branham has organized the Swank 65 race on for the last 13 years, and it’s a great opportunity to get a small taste of the huge trail network in the “Ranger District” of Pisgah National Forest.

Christopher and Todd

Swank 65 covers about 38 miles of trail but the top pro riders still take well over three hours to finish, and many amateur riders are still trickling in after eight hours! Luckily for us racers, Todd had arranged to have New Belgium beer on tap and burgers served hot off the grill. Nothing gets mountain bikers to socialize quite like an epic ride followed by fresh burgers and great beer!

Bikes, beer and stories after the race

Of course we weren’t just there to race on the world’s best mountain bike trails, we were also there to put a new product to the test – namely Osprey Packs.  We had read great things about their packs, but before we put something in the next Performance Bicycle catalog, we don’t just read reviews in magazines but instead test the products in real-world conditions.

Chris with his Osprey Raptor 14 before the race

To that end, our riders Christopher and Greg saddled up with Raptor 14 and a Viper 10 hydration packs for the race. Both bags feature Osprey’s 100 oz Hydraform Reservoir – able to hold plenty of  water to make it from checkpoint to checkpoint. The Raptor 14 holds a bit more gear, which worked out perfect for Christopher as we was carrying a spare jacket and a GoPro camera. Meanwhile Greg enjoyed the slimmed-down profile of the Viper 10, which held just what he needed and nothing he didn’t.

Greg finishing up with his slim Viper 10 pack

So what were the standout features for our racing testers? Both packs feature Osprey’s awesome bite valve with a magnetic clip, which holds the hose in place even when decending Farlow Gap. Most importantly, both packs were extremely comfortable – an important feature since it took Christopher 5 hours and Greg over 7 hours to finish Swank 65. Also telling was the fact that their Osprey Packs were not alone amongst the other racers – it looks like the word is out to the mountain biking elite that Osprey makes some amazing hydration packs. In fact, at least a quarter of the packs at the race were made by Osprey. It was clear by the end of the day that Osprey makes high-quality and well thought out hydration packs and that we needed to carry them in our product lineup. Our racer’s recommendations were passed along to our buying team, who have added a full array of Osprey Hydration Packs. If you’re planning a big mountain bike ride this year, make sure you consider bringing along an Osprey Pack.

Osprey Packs Guest Post: How to pack for your ride

The folks over at Osprey Packs are experts when it comes to carrying gear on your back – they’ve been making innovative packs for just about any outdoor activity since 1974. They’ve recently applied their gear-hauling expertise, innovation and commitment to quality to bike hydration packs, and the result is their lineup of Osprey Hydraulics. Full of technical features like their AirScape Suspension back panel, Nalgene HydraForm Reservoir, LidLock helmet clip, magnetic bite valve mount, and loads of storage – Osprey hydration packs are a great option for the next time you hit the trail.

We often get asked what gear you should bring in your pack when you head to the trailhead, so we thought we’d go straight to the experts at Osprey for their advice:

If you have ever had a great ride cut short for unforeseen reasons such as a mechanical failure, flat tire or inclement weather, you know the importance of being prepared before embarking on your journey. Proper equipment and preparations will lead to a much more enjoyable ride and prevent a long walk back to civilization if something goes bad. Riding with a hydration pack provides easy access to an ample water supply as well as the ability to carry essential tools, spare parts and extra clothing. The location and type of ride you are embarking on as well as some personal preferences will ultimately determine your individual checklist but here are some suggestions for loading up your Osprey hydration pack.

Short MTB ride near an urban area or commuting to work:

Recommended pack – Viper  7 Hydration Pack or Verve 7 Women’s Hydration Pack

Essentials:

Viper 7 pack and gear before the ride

Recommended:

Viper 7 pack fully packed for the ride

Intermediate length rides where immediate help may be more difficult to obtain:

Recommended pack – Viper 10 Hydration Pack or Verve 10 Women’s Hydration PackRaptor 10 Hydration Pack

Essentials:

Raptor 10 pack before it's loaded up

Recommended:

  • Cell phone
  • Waterproof wallet with $5-$10
  • Sunscreen
  • Small first aid kit
  • Extra chain links

Raptor 10 pack fully packed for the ride

Epic full day rides into the backcountry:

Recommended pack – Raptor 14 Hydration Pack, Zealot 16 Hydration Pack

Zealot 16 pack with gear laid out for the ride

Essentials:

  • Full 3 liter reservoir of water for staying hydrated
  • ID and emergency contact card
  • (2) Spare tubes (proper size for your tire)
  • Small tire pump
  • (2) Tire levers
  • (1) Patch kit
  • (1) Multi-tool with chain breaker
  • Duct tape
  • Spare parts depending on your bike (i.e. derailleur hanger)
  • (2) Energy bars or gels
  • Rain shell
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof wallet with $5-$10
  • Compass and map
  • Headlamp or pen sized flashlight

Zealot 16 pack loaded up & tool pouch rolled out

Recommended:

Zealot 16 pack front strap pocket

Zealot 16 pack hipwing pocket

Product Profile: Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers

Zipp Speed Weaponry has been making innovative carbon wheels since 1988, when they manufactured their very first disc wheels in their factory in Indiana. Zipp‘s founder, Leigh Sargeant, started off building components for Formula One racing cars, but moved into the cycling world when he saw the opportunity to apply his knowledge of carbon and making things go fast. Ever since those first disc wheels, Zipp wheels have been proudly made in Indiana – here’s Scott from SRAM (Zipp‘s parent company) to explain how their “made in the USA” claim is no exaggeration:

Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelsets (available as separate front & rear wheels) are the latest all-around performers from the speed masters at Zipp - and they’re already proven winners at pro cycling’s most demanding races. Triathlons, criteriums, breakaways, field sprints, or even Grand Tour mountain stages – 303s excel in any environment. That even includes the cobbled surfaces of the Spring Classics, where this year Tom Boonen has been dominating proceedings on Zipp 303s (tubular front and rear models, in his case).

Boonen E3

Tom Boonen at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen 2012 - Tim De Waele - Cycling

So what makes the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset special? It’s been completely redesigned with Firecrest shaping that has been designed specifically to account for the differences in airflow patterns between clincher tires and tubulars, so it far exceeds the aero performance of any other clincher wheelset in its class. It features a wider design that puts more rubber on the road during cornering (but without increasing rolling resistance) and a unique vibration-damping technology that reduces rider fatigue and improves handling. You can see the special Firecrest shape in the cutaway view below:

The Firecrest shape is more aerodynamic than any other rim design, improving handling in crosswinds and enhancing wheel strength and overall ride quality. The 45mm rim depth of the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher is a classic all-around performer and the patented Advanced Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) dimpled pattern smooths airflow across the rim’s surface.

Plus a wider distance between hook beads gives the tire a more stable shape without adding rolling resistance, in one of the lightest deep-profile carbon clinchers available (the entire 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset comes in under 1500g).

To complete the package, Zipp has refined its venerable 88/188 hubset, reshaping the hub body and pushing the non-drive-side flange and bearing out by 7.5 mm on the rear hub to increase overall stiffness and strength.

All of these features are combined in the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset to create a wheelset that is perfect for the serious recreational rider or the hardcore racer who demands the ultimate in speed and performance for climbing, descending, sprinting or cornering! Here’s Eric, our component product manager, with his video review of the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Wheelset:

Keep an eye out for Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon wheels on the famous cobbles of this weekend’s treacherous Paris-Roubaix – where only equipment that combines speed, light weight, and utter reliability make the cut for the pro’s bikes. And check out the rest of the Zipp wheel lineup on PerformanceBike.com!

Product Profile: Light & Motion Commuter Bike Lights

Light & Motion has been designing and building lights for over 20 years from their home in Monterey, California – from lights that are designed to go 200 feet below the ocean, to lights that shine the way for a midnight ride on the trails. But one place where they really decided to apply their lighting talent is lights for bike commuting. In typical fashion, Light & Motion did their research, and then created a series of compact, USB-rechargeable, and seriously powerful commuter lights that are unlike anything else on the market. Light & Motion took the concept of “see and be seen” to a whole new level with these commuting lights, incorporating advanced LED lighting technology and amber side lights to make your commute brighter and safer!

The Light & Motion Urban 300 LED Headlight and Vis 180 Tail Light combo packs a serious visual punch, but they both also incorporate brilliant amber side lights to give commuters and road cyclists complete visibility in traffic – especially important at intersections, where having increased visibility from any angle is essential. Of course ease-of-use is also handy, so both the Urban 300 LED Headlight and Vis 180 Tail Light feature Micro USB charging ports and tool-free mounting for quick and easy attachment and removal. The Urban 300 LED Headlight is powered by 1 white LED with a 300 lumen output and the aforementioned 2 amber side lights that provide 180° of visibility and project clean patterns of light. There is also a battery charge indicator that accurately reports the charge status (so you know when its time to recharge), all in a package that weighs only 112g – even though the lights are housed in a solid-feeling metal body. Runtime for the Urban 300 LED Headlight is 2½ hours on High, 4½ hours on Medium and 8½ hours on Low, with an empty-to-full recharge time of 5 hours.

The Light & Motion Vis 180 Tail Light, also available individually, blazes forth with 3 red LEDs with a 35 lumen output, along with its 2 amber side lights to provide 180° of visibility. To put those numbers in perspective, that’s about 10X the power of a common AA powered tail light! And the Vis 180 Tail Light is not just another blinky light in another way, as it doesn’t blink, but instead pulses in a concentrated pattern that attracts attention from anyone on the road. You can cycle through 4 modes on the Vis 180 Tail Light: Pulse High, Pulse Low, Steady and Paceline (which eliminates the top pulsing light), with runtimes from 4 hours on high to 20 hours on the Paceline flash setting. The built-in Li-Ion battery charges in only 4½ hours, and like the  Urban 300 LED Headlight, there is a battery charge indicator to accurately report the charge status. Mounting the Vis 180 Tail Light is simple with a tool-free, adjustable mount that easily attaches to your bike frame, seatstays or seatpost without compromising the viewing angle. Alternatively, you can utilize the locking mount clip to slip the Vis 180 Tail Light on your favorite messenger bag or backpack. You can read what Bikerumor thought about this powerful tail light when they reviewed it here.

The Light & Motion Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light package is the first all-in-one light with a powerful LED headlight, amber side lights, and a four lumen tail light, that delivers a full 360° of visibility to the rider. Easily mounted on your helmet with an easy-on, easy-off snap mount, the Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light improves your visibility while riding, even to passing SUV’s! At only 130g, its balanced fore/aft weight makes it barely noticeable on your helmet, but the 1 LED headlight with a 110 lumen output (and amber side lights) combined with the 3 LED tail light with a 4 lumen output means that you will definitely see and be seen out on the road. Runtimes vary from 2½ hours on High, to 5 hours on Low and 20+ hours on Flash (all settings adjusted via the single headlight button), with a recharge time of 4½ hours. To get a better feel for the Vis 360 LED Headlight and Tail Light in action, check out this video from Chris, who has been commuting 15 miles each way with this lighting system for the past few months, and is a big fan of it’s versatility and power:

Product Profile: 2012 Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Cycling Clothing

Our product profile this week is focused on Pearl Izumi cycling clothing. Pearl Izumi has been making high performance cycling apparel for 60 years now, and their gear has been tested by the US National Cycling Team, elite-level pro teams and world-class athletes. Pearl Izumi translates this product testing experience into high performance cycling wear, creating world-class cycling clothing for riders of all levels.

If you’re looking for their most advanced materials, innovative designs, and flawless function, you’ll want to try their P.R.O. line of clothing. Short for Performance & Race Optimized,  Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. cycling gear is the top end of their range of products, featuring their newest innovations in technology, race-ready fit and detailed construction with P.R.O. level fabric technologies.

The foundation of the P.R.O. line of cycling clothing is the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. In-R-Cool Bib Shorts. Fabric details with the P.R.O. In-R-Cool Bib Shorts include P.R.O. Transfer fabric, to improve airflow and breath-ability, along with In-R-Cool technology with coldblack, which reduces the fabric’s surface temperature by up to 35° F under direct sunlight. Factor in the anatomic 8-panel design, which easily moves with you and offers a streamlined fit, and the pre-shaped P.R.O. Seamless 4D Chamois with breathable, moisture-managing 4-way stretch material, and you’ve got shorts that perfectly conform to your body in motion. 

Detail of the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. In-R-Cool Bib Shorts

The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader Short Sleeve Jersey is a great match to the P.R.O. In-R-Cool Bib Shorts, with all of the features you’d expect to find in a technically advanced garment built for racing performance.

P.R.O. Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool technology is utilized, along with a race cut that gives you a next-to-skin fit for improved aerodynamics. Other cool details are welded direct-vent panels that help circulate cool air, a gripper hem in back that stays put, and reflective elements to keep you visible. Three back pockets, plus a sweat-proof pocket to hold your gear and electronics, round out this race-ready jersey.

Detail of the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader Short Sleeve Jersey

You can find a full array of new Spring 2012 Pearl Izumi cycling gear here, including more P.R.O. level gear to get you outfitted from shoes to gloves. If you want to add a bit more style to your next ride, you should also take a look at the Pearl Izumi’s LTD line of jerseys, available for both men and women:

Finally, we just get a kick out of this video about how Pearl Izumi makes a prototype sublimated jersey, compressed down to 90 seconds:

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Thanks and Happy Holidays from Performance Bicycle!

From all of us at Performance Bicycle, we want to take a moment to say “Thanks!”, and wish you and your family a happy holiday season! Plus we wanted to share this great “thank you” card created by Adam, one of our graphic designers and proud owner of an amazing Christmas sweater!

And if you haven’t quite finished all of your holiday shopping, remember that our shops are all open until 6PM on Christmas Eve and are full of great last minute gift ideas (and gift cards) for cyclists!

Eric’s Top 5 for Cyclocross

Eric, the product buyer for our components division, loves racing cyclocross. In fact, he plans his whole cycling year around the few short months of the cyclocross season. And since North Carolina is a hotbed of sorts for ‘cross on the East Coast, there’s rarely a weekend when he’s not donning the kit of our Garneau Custom team and pushing himself to the limit for an hour on the pavement, grass, sand, mud or whatever else the course has in store.

Eric’s definitely a guy who knows his cyclocross, so we asked him to give us his top 5 component picks for ‘cross season, and why he picked them.  Will your next ‘cross race still be one of the most painful hours you’ve ever spent on a bike if you get this gear? Of course! This is cyclocross after all – but you might as well look for every advantage you can get.

1. DV3k Tubular Wheelset – This wheelset is lightweight (sub 1400 grams), plus it has an advanced carbon layup, 46-mm rim depth to slice through the mud, and the smooth ride of a tubular (although you can also get the wheeelset in a clincher version).

2. Avid Shorty Ultimate Cantilever Brakes - They don’t call these brakes “ultimate” for nothing; they can be adjusted to have a wide or narrow stance, have ample mud clearance, and just plain look good (plus it doesn’t hurt that the world champ races with them on his bike).

3. GORE RideOn Sealed Low Friction Derailleur Cables - Cross can be muddy… like really muddy. With GORE’s sealed cable system, you don’t have to worry about that. It’s a no-brainer.

4. Challenge Grifo Tubular Cyclocross Tire – Cross racers are serious about their tires, from the tread patterns to the tire pressure to the history of the manufacturer. The Grifo is still made by hand, with a versatile tread design and the supple performance that only a high-end tubular can deliver (but a clincher version is also available).

5. Shimano CX70 Crankset – Part of Shimano‘s first foray into the world of purpose-built cyclocross components, this crankset excels with a 46/36T gearing combination mated to Shimano‘s reliable and efficient 2-piece design with smooth-shifting Hyperdrive chainrings.

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