After a successful Kickstarter campaign with more than $1 million AUD (that’s a little over $800k USD) raised in a month, the Knog Oi is arguably one of the most anticipated bicycle bells that has ever hit the market. I mean, look at it. It doesn’t even look like a bell.
Instead of going for a more traditional bulbous/round resonator, Knog went with a CNC’d semi-circular shape suspended by three springs over a plastic bracket that also houses the ambidextrous striker. The designers at Knog also incorporated a slot into its mounting bracket for those pre-existing underside cables on the bar that might be in the way. It’s a stylish little bell (available in four colors, no less) that could also be the most aerodynamic bell in existence if Team Sky ever needed one.
Unboxing was frustration-free and the set-up was easy. Knog’s illustrated installation guide was equally excellent. Once mounted, the Oi integrates well with existing cockpits without added clutter and with its slim 15mm cross-section, it doesn’t require of a whole lot of real estate, either.
The Oi comes in two sizes: Small for the 22.2mm bars (mtb near the grip, old bikes) or a larger version that’ll fit 23.8-31.8mm bars with the included spacers. I tested the large one on a 31.8mm carbon road handlebar.
On the road, I found the Oi to be easy to use and I like its rather pleasant tone that sounds more like a friendly reminder than a “get out of the way” from an angry rusted bell like the ones off rental bikes. I did, however, find myself pulling the striker as far back as I could at times to get the loudest ding possible especially in noisy, high traffic areas around San Francisco where it could get lost in the city noise at times.
To be fair, the Oi works and people do seem to hear it whenever I ring it, but perhaps its cordiality masked the assertiveness one would expect in a bell. There are definitely louder options out on the market, but how loud a bell is deemed efficient is as much a personal preference as one’s preferred car audio volume.
The exposed spring and plastic striker are holding up at the moment but the jury is still out on its long-term durability. I did manage to twist the striker off its pivot a few times, a rather annoying situation while trying to be heard, but it was a quick, tool-less fix. Each Oi also comes with a two-year warranty too if you do manage to break yours. Moreover, my test unit was putting out tiny rattling noises from vibrations whenever the road got a bit choppy, just enough to be noticeable like that fanthom bottom bracket creak. It would largely disappear when I rode in large groups, or just put my hand on it…
So is the Oi worth it? At $19, it’s half the price of the very popular, but pricey Spurcycle Bell. Like a size 18 Yeezy Boost 360 that might fit some but not others, the Oi is a bell that needs to tried and heard in person. It’s undeniably beautiful but nevertheless I just wish it was a bit more rambunctious and that it wouldn’t rattle.
Welcome to InterBike 2016! Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
PURPLE PURPLE MORE PURPLE PLEASE Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Everyone seems to be making their own cycling computers these days but one thing that caught my attention about this Stages Dash computer is its claim of 30-hour battery life. Hey, you can now record your entire 24 hr bike race in one charge! Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Shouldn't this fall under the e-motorcycle category? Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Otso Voytek got a good buzz throughout the show. Carbon frame that can take 27.5+ or 29+ AND up to 26 x 4.6” tires on 70 mm rims? Sign me up. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Lightweight's amazingly light Meilenstein has finally gone disc. The Meilenstein C Disc is a thing of beauty but was a bit disappointed to find out the rim width is still 20mm external and 17.8mm internal. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Giro's Factor Techlace sure looked different but it made a lot of sense after checking it out at the booth. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
I have to admit I was drawn to the Orbea booth by the dazzle paint job on this prototype Terra gravel bike. Looks even better in person. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
A 3D-printed Syntace FlatForce stem and a real Syntace FlatForce stem photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Let's admit it, skinsuit is a pain to put on. But Giordana might have an answer with their Quick On zippered suit system. More aero than a bib/jersey combo but easier and more versatile than a traditional skinsuit. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Dario Pergoretti's paint work never ceases to impress and this Responsorium in Ravenna finish is just so fresh. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Just can't get enough of this 3T Exploro. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Slovenia-based Unior tools might not be a household brand here in the States, but they've been around since 1919 and chances are you will see the tools a lot more in the States this coming year. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Australia-based Knog brought their newest Oi bell to Interbike. It's dramatically different than one's image of a bell, but it's an interesting take just like their line of LED blinker lights. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Old-school-esque e-bike, anyone? photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Poor tire, its one and only job is just to be poked. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
We had a glitch on the site in the days after InterBike, so this post is way past due but the unplanned slow down also meant more time to relive this year’s InterBike
While the gallery above is going to highlight all the fun stuff… Below are the observations from the show floor.
– First, the appointments. I got smart this year and did a bunch of appointments in advance to check out offerings from various brands. So my InterBike was more structured, with shots of adrenaline from random drive-bys to booths I didn’t know much about.
– The buzz I kept hearing was “it’s pretty quiet this year.” Well, that was true. The show was smaller than last year’s. I honestly could have just spent a day there. One industry veteran commented on how he/she was checking out people’s badges and noticed there weren’t as many buyers at the show as there used to be, and he/she would be pretty pissed if they got a booth… All about the ROI, guys.
– On the outskirts of the show floor was arguably where the fun was… I got a pitch about a solar USB charger stating “looks like you can use one of those” during day one. At the other end of the hall was also a booth that sells handheld electric massage devices. The massage device booth definitely saw an uptake in traffic on Thursday, possibly due to the walking from day one on the floor + CrossVegas hangover collab.
Really thought the days of scantily-clad booth women were a thing of past. But I was wrong. I mean, okay, sex (allegedly) sells. But wouldn’t money be better spent on making a better product instead of having models promoting shitty products (and offending the female attendees while at it)?
Amount of broken arms/legs: It dawned on me during day two that there were quite a few people in slings/braces. Guess adventure shows must have a few of those around. As one rep put it “they’re getting after it”.
Reception of e-Bike: Last year was all about e-bike bashing and all of a sudden e-bikes are the future this year.
The international aisle. Probably the quieter, less buzz sections but everyone there was pretty cool to talk to (knowing Mandarin and Cantonese definitely helped) and they really deserve more recognition for their efforts of travelling across the globe to Las Vegas to showcase their products, whether it’s the gazillion lights, matte carbon fiber parts, or aluminum parts in all the imaginable anodized colors one can possibly dream of.
Best snack from the show: Vanilla Ice Cream at the Skratch booth made with their new recovery drink mix. Not only was the line 4,000 times shorter than the Starbucks line outside but it was also freaking delicious. Way different than the typical “come by our booth for free booze” hook too.
Last thing I did at the show: tried an e-bike at the rep’s prudent suggestion, only to make it 30 plus feet before a security guard rolled up and warned “no biking on the show floor”. Returned the bike to the booth, walked down the aisle, and was greeted by two bros zipping past on motorized scooters.
I normally associate the end of Le Tour the unofficial end of summer: When I was in school, the end of the Tour meant it was time to start thinking about the mandatory quarter/semester textbook ripoffs, and when I graduated from j-school the end of the tour meant, well, shit there’s no more cycling on TV for a while, perhaps I should work and bike more.
But one consistent summer activity I remember well is gear shopping. It’s a pretty cute idea to have a Tour De France-themed daily sale, to get all your year’s worth of Scratch on stage one and wrap it up with buying the 11-23 Dura-Ace cassette on the final day at Champs-Élysée.
So here are a few products we’ve been pretty smitten with lately. They are the few I won’t regret buying or recommending to my friends. You are my friend too, after all.
Kitsbow Geysers’ Jersey
We’ve been a fan of Kitsbow‘s offering for a while and the Petaluma company’s first foray in road-specific apparel did not disappoint. Clean, understated lines and it’s quickly becoming a favorite go-to for those long, all-day adventures. The Geysers’ are made of a 43% Merino and 57% Polyester blend so they’re slightly thicker and more durable (more on that in a sec) than your average typical spandex jerseys, yet they still breathe unbelievably well.
The fit was spot on. Not too tight and doesn’t like you’re letting it all hang out. Longer sleeves are also a welcomed addition. Kitsbow deserves a big high-five for the Geysers’ well-executed pocket arrangements. Besides the three standard rear pockets, there’s also a chest pocket for small items (perfect for credit cards), a water-resistant pocket in the back (for your phone), and there’s even a pump sleeve inside the center rear pocket, that I use to store sticks of CLIF Bloks.
I was in a pretty good crash while wearing one at the PressCamp MTB ride in Park City. I went over the bar and dented my helmet but the Geysers’ remained in one piece. Not what I expected from wearing a road jersey on a full-on mtb ride. Didn’t rip, didn’t break. I am now a fan. Extra credit: Kitsbow even included a microfiber cloth in the chest pocket for your phone/computer/glasses. It’s all in the details.
King Cage Titanium Water Bottle Cage
I’ve had my run with water bottle cages and the one that I keep going back to is the King titanium cage. It’s a classy-looking, light as a feather (28g, thank you titanium) cage individually made from a one-man shop out of Durango, Colorado that just keeps working. It’s the only cage that I’ve used in which I haven’t lost a bottle with. Unlike carbon fiber cages, the bottle retention is actually adjustable so it’ll hold even that odd-sized bottle from your last grand fondo. If $60 is too steep of a price tag, King also makes an identical, albeit heavier version out of stainless steel that works just as well for $18.
Ahh, muscle and joint sores. With a raging one-year-old at home and touting all the cameras for work (and my bike), my dominant shoulder hasn’t really been the same. I’ve tried plenty of over-the-counter rubs for relief in the past with decent results but TUFRELIEF is my current favorite. It’s non-toxic, non-greasy, made in the U.S. with no banned substances and odorless: I can now rub it all over myself and go to work (or any coffee shop) without smelling like I just got out of a medicinal hotbox.
Giordana EXO compression knicker
You read that right, there’s a knicker for a summer gear product review. I was never much of a knicker type of guy to begin with, but Giordana’s EXO compression knicker was impressive to say the least. Unlike most knickers on the market, the EXO is actually designed for warm weather riding and extends further down the knee for better zone compression by integrating eight (!) different types of fabrics throughout. It’s perfect for those morning rides around San Francisco where it doesn’t get either super warm or super cold. Giordano’s variable thickness Cirro OF chamois is also worth mentioning because it fits just right and is oh so comfortable. Heck, the proprietary chamois even has memory foam and aloe vera infused right into it.
Giro Empire SLX
There’s been plenty of reviews in print and on the ‘net about this shoe because of the shoelaces so I’ll just go straight to the point: Don’t hate until you’ve tried it (I know there are still many of you out there). The Empire SLX is freakishly light and comfortable. The Easton EC90 SLX carbon sole is stiff but Giro still managed to keep it so thin that I never felt disconnected from the pedals as if I was riding with a pair of Jimmy Choo Portia 120s. And the shoelaces? I was skeptical about them initially but I am now a fan.
ITW Tac Link: Not exactly a cycling specific product but all you carabiner-wearing people will rejoice at the fact that you can use this without feeling like you’ve just connected yourself to your keys by the ways of a boat anchor. Just don’t go climbing with this one.
Kuwahara Hirame pump head
Similar to the KCNC pump head Jim reviewed earlier this year but this has been one of those tools I am super happy with. My teammates were a bit confused with this whole solid piece of brass at a team camp a few years back, but honestly I haven’t had one of those pump heads flying off the valve incidents since I got this, and it’ll even clamp on the slipperiest tubular valves with authority like no other
Knog Binder MOB Kid Grid
Let’s just say this little guy’s totally lit. Silicone mounting brackets are simple to use and won’t mar, or slip off your fancy carbon seatpost. Five modes from its grid of 16 (!) LEDs to choose from, low battery indicator and even an integrated USB charging plug. Oh, and it’s waterproof. With all those features, you’d think it would be as big as a phablet but no, this is one well designed and executed taillight.
Jagwire Elite Link shift/brake kit
Okay, it’ll take more time to setup than traditional cable kits but the tradeoff is well worth the extra time and money spent. Concept wise it’s similar to Nokon, Alligator, and Power Cordz Swift by connection small aluminum links over a slick Teflon liner to create a lightweight and compressionless system that’ll play nicely with tight bends. I’ve been running both the brake and shift kit on a Dura Ace 9000 group for about a year and am happy to say it’s so durable, accurate, smooth and crisp that I don’t ever want to go back to regular cables. Pro tip: The housing squeals every once in a while but a small dab of Tri-Flow between the problematic links will take care of it.
Not that I don’t want to, but I can’t. I mean, it’s kinda rough to roll up to a photo shoot carrying 30-40lbs of camera gear.
But with the car in the shop (thanks, rock) and the fact that I am in the studio this week, what the heck, it’s only a mile. NBD I can do that. It’s only a mile but dude, no flats! Half mile, 10% descent immediately followed by a 14% climb (well that’s the average but it’s far steeper than that in some sections) for another half mile … aka the Warren Wall for you SF readers.
So it’s a bit of a workout but whatever. I’ll deal with it. Here are some notes from the past few days (so far).
Day one: Super early call time equals riding in the dark. Those new Knog lights are pretty sweet (review soon).
Day two: Shut up legs, I’m half awake. But hey, I have my coldbrew, a bottle of fruit smoothie and it’s warm enough to wear a t-shirt at 7 a.m. without freezing my ass off.
Day three: Alright alright alright I’m getting used to it now. 14% in street clothes is a bitch but at least I’m wide awake by the time I make it to work. Forgot my coldbrew today and that Odwalla mango protein shake was gross. What was I thinking?
Day four: Barely made it to work on time. Rushing up Warren and trying not to swear sweat too much just don’t work.
Day five: TGIF
Here are a few things I came to really enjoy during the “commute.” It’s been a hard week on set yet the ride to and from home (Weeee downhill!) is arguably the best daily escape, or even a bit of a guilty pleasure I can count on to get away from the grind for just the right amount of time like having my pasta perfectly al dente. No phone, no KOMs, just rides, dude.
Plus a little bit of workout doesn’t hurt, either.