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birthday bicycle goodies (Yakkay, PoCampo & Ortlieb)

I just turned 49.  So I bought myself a party hat.

Really, one of the geekiest, least-appealing (to me, anyway) aspects of bicycle commuting is the wearing of the bike helmet.  As I’ve written about before, I AM a believer; I won’t ride without a helmet, but it doesn’t mean I love how I look in them.

Last year I read about a new helmet design by Yakkay – a street-inspired helmet design with interchangeable covers (hats).  I loved the idea, loved the pictures I saw, and I knew I really wanted one.  Sadly, they were not yet available in the US.  As this winter started kicking into gear, colder temperatures on the way, I re-visited the idea of purchasing a Yakkay, and hooked up with a wonderful gal, Lavinia, from LondonCycleChic.  With her help and a few clicks of the mouse, I got my beautiful new “birthday” hat, complete with removable fleecy ear covers and snappy tweed cover.  Even better news, the LondonCycleChic folks tell me that they are working on “opening a little US antenna in March 2010” … which I figure will be just in time for me to order a sweet summer cover. 😀

Anyway, they were great people to do business with, and I really look forward to them expanding stateside.  You can also follow one of their peeps on Twitter (@CazCyclechic), and they have a terrific LondonCycleChic blog, full of great London cycle fashion photos and articles.

Another great birthday gift came from my Dad and his wife – nifty little Po Campo handlebar bag.  Po Campo is a Chicago-based company (my “home town”), and my Dad was kind enough to send me a gift certificate which I used to pick out this great little black and white bag.

Po Campo bicycle clutch

Clip on handlebar straps - Po Campo clutch

Although it’s not very big, it’s just enough to carry a wallet, phone, and a few small essentials for quick commute to an appointment or other errand when I don’t need to carry much.   I also like the front pocket – perfect for easy access to my phone. (Not while riding, of course).  Mostly, I love that it is on the front of the bike – rather than on the back or over my shoulder – easy to see and easy to access.

The final piece of commuting gear I have finally acquired – and really, more essential than the rest – are a set of Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic waterproof panniers.  I cannot count how many times I have been out – at the Y, around town, errand-running – and I have gotten caught in an unexpected rain shower.  Stuff gets soaked – wallet, phone, extra clothes, camera, books, etc.  I can tuck this into a side-loader on the Xtracycle, or I can put it on the rear rack of my commuter bike or the eBike.  And everything stays dry – no matter what I encounter or find I have to ride through.

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic waterproof pannier

Aside from the waterproof-ness, things I especially like (putting it way ahead of other panniers we’ve owned):

  • Great easy-access top opening – no zippers or flaps to mess with.  Simply roll down the top (constructed much like a typical dry-bag, with plastic strip on edge), and clip the strap over the top.
  • Slim profile, multi-pocket inner organizer – perfect to stash a wallet or phone, doesn’t take away from the main large storage space.
  • Superior rack attachment system – the top hooks can be customized with inserts, to fit a variety of different diameter rack rails. They don’t just “hang” on the rack rails, they actually close around the rail (see photo below).  The 2 top hooks can be adjusted (spacing between the two hooks), and the bottom QL2 hook is fully adjustable/rotatable as well – invaluable features I’ve not found on other panniers.
  • Two large reflective “spots” on both side panels of the bags, making them interchangeable on either side of the rack.  I’ve also found that I can easily attach a Blinky to the top of the shoulder strap when the bag is mounted on the rack – perfect positioning.
  • And did I mention they are fully waterproof?

I love the ease of access to the main compartment when it’s mounted on the bike.  Nice wide opening, quick and easy to access and load.  I don’t know the exact specs on the capacity, but they can hold a lot. And the bag is a breeze to take on and off of the rack.  You simply pull up on the top handle-strap (which is attached to the quick-release tabs on the top hooks), and pull straight up.

Pull the handle to release the top clips from the rack

Finally, a nice shoulder strap (that is secured to the front of the bag when not in use), makes it great to carry in and out of your destination – from the office to a quick stop at the store.

Off bike, carrying with the shoulder strap

Using the shoulder strap

And did I mention they are fully waterproof?!

Out of everything next to the Xtracycle, I don’t know how I managed without these for so long.  Indespensible, in my opinion – because you never know when wet weather might hit.  Design-wise, I don’t think I will ever buy another brand of pannier – these are just so well-designed from every angle.

So that’s it.  I’m older now.  But also a tiny bit more stylish (I think) when I’m out on the bike!

Posted by savaconta on December 13, 2009
2 Comments
  1. 12/14/2009

    Happy Birthday! I’m looking at the same birthday in a few days, hope I can get some cool stuff like yours. That helmet/hat is sweet! Makes ya wonder why it’s taken so long to get things like that here in the States.
    Thanks for showing us your goodies! (ooh, that didn’t sound right…)

    • 12/14/2009

      Ah Jen … I’m laughing!!! And Happy Birthday a few days early! 😀 Hope you have a great one! (We should definitely go riding together – you can borrow my “hat!)

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