Over a year ago, I caught wind that Civia Cycles was coming out with a more affordable version of their Bryan belt-drive commuter bike. It was to be called the Kingfield and they removed some features like disc brakes and switched to a cheaper internal gear hub (IGH) to drop the price a few hundred dollars. I spoke to my local bike shop (LBS), Wheelhouse, and promised I’d have them build the bike as soon as it became available. Fast forward to a few months ago and I was able to piece together my dream bike. It has a sort of modern yet classy look and I was careful with each component and accessory, making sure they fit the theme. I often chose leather over nylon, brass over plastic.
At first, I decided to keep a water cage and bottle off the bike altogether. I wasn’t planning on taking long trips with it anyway and I couldn’t imagine any sort of bottle & cage setup that would be aesthetically pleasing. After looking at some commuter builds online and perusing the Velo Orange website, I saw some nice looking steel wire cages. I picked one up and installed it right away. I still had the issue of the bottle, though. Luckily, around this same time, Naucollaborated with Klean Kanteen on a water bottle and I was asked if I’d like to take a look. I really thought it was just a regular Klean Kanteen bottle with some Nau branding. I was about to pass but at the last minute, I saw what looked like wood on the cap. I asked if it was actually bamboo and I was told it was. I had to see for myself.
The bottle is a beauty. It’s the same stainless steel bottle Klean bottle you are familiar with but some some fun refinements. Like I said, the screw lid utilizes sustainably harvested bamboo. Food-grade silicone lines the threads for a water-tight seal and in keeping with the no paint, no plastic, and no rubber mantra, the logo is laser-etched. I’ve been bringing the bottle to work on my commute and it holds enough water for multiple days (I have a very short ride). The one thing I didn’t like about the bottle is the strong smell from the factory when you first open it. It smells like a mix of plastic and metal. It’s not bad, per se, but I think like with any new bottle, it would benefit from a few thorough washes with warm and slightly soapy water.
The bottle holds 27 oz (that’s over 3 cups!) and fits in a standard bottle cage just fine. Luckily for me, I don’t have any of the rattling issues I’ve read so much about. As far as I am concerned, this bottle has a permanent place on my bike.
I remember when I was younger, titanium was this magical material. Lightweight but strong. What more could you ask for? Well, at that time, anything made out of titanium was very expensive. Today? The picture is still mostly the same, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than it was five or ten years ago. I don’t own many titanium items, but I always marvel each time I hold one because it’s so lightweight. My grandma, who grew up during a time where quality goods were heavy and solid, took one look at my titanium watch and declared it cheap. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that light is the new heavy.
Snow Peak, one of my favorite quirky outdoors companies, sent me a titanium straw to check out. Why would anyone need a titanium straw, you ask? Well, why not? The thing weighs next to nothing. Honestly, it feels like you’re holding a plastic straw. It does not hold any residual flavors or odors, is easy to clean, and because it’s so strong, you can use it to jab juice boxes or even large soft fruit such as oranges and drink directly. To me, the best part is that it’s not disposable. I’d rather just keep one straw in my kitchen drawer that I can use for smoothies and cocktails than a bunch of plastic ones. Another great thing is unlike plastic bendy straws, the titanium one doesn’t suffer from the dreaded slit. You know what I am talking about; when a slit develops in the plastic around the bendy part and you are sucking in air instead of liquid.
At $15 the Snow Peak Titanium Straw is not cheap, but it’s not going to bust any wallets either. It’d make a great gift for a gadget freak or an ultra-light backpacker or camper. Or just someone who has everything.
I’ve been using Camelbak products for probably close to ten years. One of my earliest memories was a back and forth email exchange with one of their customer service representatives to ask very detailed question about the sizing and features of a particular pack. They didn’t make me go through some convoluted questions forum or make me create a user account just to get some support. Instead, this woman answered my questions quickly (the emails were so fast it was almost like a chat), and with such a positive attitude, it really left a smile on my face.
A few years ago, the fixed-gear/single-speed world really took off. At that time, there were only a handful of messenger bag manufacturers and nearly all of them were of the professional, respected, established types. By that, I mean the likes of Chrome and BaileyWorks; companies that ran like true businesses with legitimate websites and shopping cart checkout. However, there was a burgeoning group of craftspeople armed with fabric and vintage sewing machines who started a cottage industry all their own. One of these companies was Seagull Bags, based out of Columbus, OH.
You might not have heard of WILL Leather Goods but you should know about them. Started by Bill Adler, an actor in the 1980’s, they’ve been operating out of Eugene, OR for 30 years now. Check out my review of their messenger bag, the Hopper, and see why I think it’d be the perfect carry piece for a young professional.