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SeaSucker Mini Bomber Bike Rack

Review: SeaSucker Mini Bomber Bike Rack

Inge's picture

We Liked

We all have a bike rack or two hiding in our garage that has quickly fallen out of favor. Whether the rack promised to be “damage-free” to the car and wasn’t, required a rocket science degree for installation, or left the bikes perilously dangling in the breeze while heading down the highway, we have all been there. As a reviewer, even I have had a few racks that have been sent to the retirement home early, in hopes that the next rack will be "the one."

I have been searching for an easy to install rack for my small VW hatchback for quite some time, trying a variety of systems along the way without satisfactory results. Previous rack experiments had straps fail, parts wear out, or various components disappear on the road all together. As a competitive cyclist, quick installation, security, and the ability to handle multiple race bikes were all critical requirements for a bike rack. As my car did not have a hitch mount and had very little real estate around the hatchback door, my options appeared to be limited. The ultimate challenge however, turned out to be the round curvature of the hatchback itself.

When I first visited the SeaSucker booth at a show, I was skeptical of the holding power of this simple rack. Vacuum cups? Can it really be that simple? Indeed it can. After talking extensively with Greg Casagrande from SeaSucker, I was impressed with the staying power of those white vacuum cups (210 lbs. each!) and wanted to run it through the CX racing gauntlet.

As soon as the Mini Bomber 2-Bike SeaSucker rack arrived on my doorstep, I dove into the box like a kid on Christmas morning. I gave the car a bath, dislodging any sap and tar that had accumulated (WD-40 works great for this by the way) to make sure the vacuum cups had a clean surface to work with. After removing the bright orange protective caps from the Mini Bomber cups, I moistened the cup edges with water and attempted to place it on the hatchback door. Sadly the SeaSucker mounting plate did not flex enough to meet the dramatic curvature of the hatchback. What to do? The roof of course!!!

After placing the Mini Bomber on the roof, just a few pumps were needed on each vacuum cup to draw the air out until the orange band on the plunger was no longer visible, and voila, we were in business. After securing all 4 cups on the Mini Bomber front rack, I removed the front wheel of my bike and lifted the bike overhead, loosely placed the fork into the Delta Bike Hitch Pro fork mount which is included with the Mini Bomber racks. This helped me eyeball where the rear wheel vacuum cup needed to go. Removing the bike from the Mini Bomber, I applied the rear wheel strap vacuum cup and with a few pumps, it too was secured into place. I returned the bike to the rack, tightened the front skewer, undid the Velcro fasteners and secured the rear wheel in place. The bike was ready to roll with no rocking whatsoever. Placing the additional rear wheel strap vacuum cup for the second bike was just as easy. Installation complete!

As there were no straps, clips, or buckles to fuss with, I found it was lightweight and easy to install for the first time by myself. Installation was relatively quick with one person, but even faster if you have additional person to assist with installation. Once in place, the bikes were truly secured and did not move. Best of all, no cables, ties, nylon webbing to deal with, or bikes/pedals crashing into each other or the car. Because the system is portable, installing the Mini Bomber did not require expensive modifications to the car (ie. roof rack or hitch installation) in order to use the system and can just as easily be moved from car to car. By far the easiest rack that I have ever installed. Removing the SeaSucker was just as easy: simply pull up the edge of vacuum cup and slowly release the pressure. Upon removal, I was happy to see that the rack did not mark or damage the car, just as promised.

As far as maintenance goes, the vacuum cups can be left in place when not in use. When the vacuum cups start losing vacuum strength over time, the plunger will reverse itself, revealing the orange bar. Simply give it a few pumps to restrengthen the vacuum and you are back in business. If you are not going to use the rack for a while, SeaSucker recommends removing the rack, clean the vacuum cups and replacing the orange cup covers before storing to help keep them clean and protected when not in use. In our testing, we left the Mini Bomber in place to monitor the how long it would take to loose staying power. After about 3 days, the orange just started to appear, but the holding power remained. After about 7 days, we started to see some loss in power, but not much. The Mini Bomber held up for the CX season, withstanding rain, hail, snow and mud. Cleaning the rack after a muddy race is just a matter of hosing the mud and debris off the rack and letting it dry. SeaSucker has also posted a video showing how to clean and re-lubricate the vacuum pumps.

The Delta Bike Hitch Pro fork mounts are heavy duty and can easily accomodate up to a 9mm dropout. As an added bonus, you can easily lock your fork into place using lock of your choice. SeaSucker also offers vinyl coated trunk or window cable anchors that extend from the hatchback or window when the door is closed. If you are mounting the Mini Bomber to the rear of your vehicle, you can easily run a cable lock system through the trunk anchor to keep your bikes secured. After a full day of racing, it's nice to lock up the bikes and enjoy a cold beer with the team.

We Didn't Like

The only improvement we could recommend is to change the existing material on the orange protective plastic cup covers, which tend to crack after repeatedly taking them on and off.

The Final Say

Cyclists with small vehicles can finally rejoice in having a convenient of system that is portable, easy to use, and can be quickly stowed in the trunk when not in use. My VW hatchback has finally met it's match in the SeaSucker Mini Bomber rack! It's clear that the folks at SeaSucker put a lot of thought into the Mini Bomber rack.

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Sven Nys - exclusive interview at Interbike

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Scott Mares interviews current world cyclocross champion Sven Nys the day after Cross Vegas 13.

CROSS BIKE REVIEW.com Accepting Submissions for 2011 Cyclocross Awards

CROSS BIKE REVIEW.com is currently taking submissions for the 2011 Cyclocross Gear awards. This is an annual series of awards presented by CROSS BIKE REVIEW.com that include the following categories: "Cross Bike of the Year," "Cross Gear of the Year" (equipment and clothing), and "Cross Shoe of the Year." The winners will be announced and presented at the 2011 Interbike Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket

Review: Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket

scotj's picture

We Liked

Last December Showers Pass sent us one of their new Hi-Vis Elite Jacket with Red LED Beacon Lights to give a test drive. We quickly put this thing through the ringer, and we are happy say we love this rain jacket! We literally tested their rain jacket in everything from near whiteout conditions to torrential pineapple express downpours and nearly every rain condition in between! Ridden after dusk in the misty weather, the showers pass jacket kept me dry and warm on the inside, and people could see me! It is very visible in the dark, thanks to the LED lights and reflective material! I used it in the rain day after day, day after day, day after day, day after day, etc. etc., etc., Dang it never stopped raining in Portland this winter! It has rained over 150 days since October 1st.

Here is why we loved the Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket with Red Led Beacon Lights. Let’s start with a little technical information about this jacket. Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket is made of 3 fabric layer construction with brushed lining for maximum weather protection and warmth. The outer two layers, use a face fabric and the main membrane, the two materials keep rain and wind out while lining pulls moisture from your skin and draws it through the membrane and face fabric. The Hi-Vis Elite Jacket has a five star waterproof rating, meaning that it has a fabrics rated at least 15,000mm and has taped or welded seams and taped zipper seams. What this means for the bike rider, they can ride out in the rain for a few hours and they will not be drenched and cold from water leaking through their rain jacket! Additionally the Hi-Vis Elite Jacket comes with Showers Pass’s really cool silver waterproof MapReflect side panels and under arms panels that are highly reflective in headlights!

The Hi-Vis Elite Jacket has a breathability rating of 4 stars. The Showers Pass wicking lining fabric is rated at least 10,000g/m2/day, plus it has 2 fully seam taped 10 inch zipped that waterproof and windproof under the arms as well as a horizontal vent across the mid back, that does a great job of creating airflow. For a rider this means that the jacket breathes and the zippers offer enough ventilation that you are dry from the rain, but not soaking wet from sweat. Often times neon green fabrics are not as breathable as most of the darker fabrics, but given weather conditions, I would rather be seen and adjust my baselayer then wear a dark rain jacket.

Other feature noteworthy features of the Hi-Vis Elite Jacket with Red Led Beacon Lights include: A fully seamed waterproof and windproof zippered chest pocket with an audio port, so riders can listen to their favorite Adam Myerson, Crosshairs podcasts, or favorite music for battling the incessant rain. As well cavernous rear pocket with a 5 ½ inch vertical waterproof zipper, so even riders with large hands can use the pocket. The rear pocket is literally large enough to store a healthy sized roast, an extra rain hat, or pair of waterproof gloves!

Here is why we loved the Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket with Red Led Beacon Lights. 1) Riders can be seen from a mile away, or at least 500 meters. 2) The jacket really help regulate temperatures. 3) A raincoat that keeps you pretty dry.

Although I will say, I see have seen more riders wearing brighter colored rain jackets over the past couple of years, I still am simply amazed how often I see riders wearing an all black kit or rain jackets with minimal lighting on their bikes, in the dark dank Oregon gray conditions. Personally I prefer being seen, especially since I tend to ride out in farmland, where cars tend to drive a little faster and bike lanes are nearly non-existent. The Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket with Red Led Beacon Lights has a very bright neon green on most of the jacket and MapReFlect print on side panels for being seen in low light conditions. MapReFlect comes mapping of three cities: Portland, Paris and Amsterdam and the fabric is waterproof and very visible in low light conditions. The finishing touch is four 4 integrated LED, have 3 setting a solid red beam, a flashing red beam and faster red beam. Beacon lights that can be seen from 500 meters. The integrated LED beacon can as a friend recently said “I can always tell it was you from a mile away in that jacket”. Here is why we loved the Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket with Red Led Beacon Lights. Below are three scenarios were I think this jacket really shines: One of the aspect that I really like Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket is the right tool for riding your cross bike, snowshoeing, or sledding in near white out conditions. One of the first outings with Showers Pass jacket was in December, when I took my cross bike out to play in snow through the neighborhood. It had started snowing about an hour before I headed out, and the temperature had dropped to whopping 27 degrees with pretty constant uncomfortable biting wind blowing between 10 and 25 mph, which brought the wind-chill down to about 10 degrees. The gray skies and blowing snow meant that visibility for automobiles wasn’t ideal, so I made sure I good lighting on my bike and I turned all four LED beacon lights onto blinking mode. I felt pretty comfortable with Hi-Vis Elite Jacket, plus medium weight fleece jersey and lightweight baselayer under the jacket, even after nearly 2 hours of riding. Sure my cheeks, hands and legs were chilled, but my core area was nice and warm! Near the end of the ride, my neighbor and I were stopped at stop sign, he rolled down his passenger window of his tire-chained work van, “Scot you are crazy to be riding in this weather, but at least I could see your coat from three blocks away!” to which I replied “Are you kidding, this is fun, this is like being a kid again, this is an adult sled.” Man I was glad it was my Saturday, soon roads in the Portland were at standstill when I got home, it took my poor wife nearly seven hours to drive the seventeen miles home!

Even though this was a snowier than normal winter in Portland, from the third week of January through mid-March, it seemed like every time I headed outside for a ride, it was between 35 and 40 degrees, and it was always fuc*ing raining! For me riding when it is 35 degrees and rainy is one of hardest things about riding in Portland, but still I typically prefer riding outside than sitting on a trainer, so ventured out more often than not. Saturday March 4th was really good example of this type of day. My friends, who do not work at night, woke up to partly sunny and dry morning for their Saturday group ride. I on the other hand sleep in until 11am, then made brunch for the family, and then took a few minutes to clean off Friday afternoons grim off my bike. By the time I was heading out it started raining lightly, and pretty much stayed that way until the halfway point of my training ride. As I reached the halfway point, a southwest wind really started picking up, the rain increased in intensity, and I began noticing that about every five drop was an ice pellet! After cresting the hill that marked my turn-around point for the day, I was watching my wattage go down from 425 watts, down to under 150 watts, I noticed that my Pioneer computer temperature readout dropped down to 36 degrees. Looking up after glancing at the computer, I could see that I was just a few seconds away from riding into band after band of wind, sleet, and rain, so I zipped all the way up and cinched the necks collar cord, to prevent ice pellets and rain coming down my neck. Next I re-animated the beacon lights that had gone off as I was nearing the crest of final hill. For next ten minutes, I really appreciated the brushed lining of 3-layer ripstop fabric to keep me warm and dry as the ice pellets bounced off the jacket and rained glided off the fabric in the wind. Although I hadn’t seen another bike rider in over an hour, I did see a lot of cars heading to the local lumber mill noting the arrival of the swing shift, given the dark clouds and sleet making for crappy visibility I was grateful to be seen by motorist. I will admit by the time I got home almost an hour later I was cold! My legs and feet were soaking wet and frozen! Still with a Santini Neoprene gloves and the Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket my core area and fingers were still warm.

Just 10 days later was a better rain scenario that had significant different conditions, if riding in the rain can have a better scenario. I had finally got enough base miles to start getting my feet wet with some hills. Fortunately I had missed the gusty southerly winds that morning, by heading out in the mid afternoon. With the southerly winds, the temperature climbed upward to a balmy 55 degrees, and through it was raining fairly hard. It was balmy enough that after 10 minutes of riding, I was warm enough that I completely unzipped both underarm zippers. About 25 minutes in, some really dark clouds appeared overhead and the fairly hard rain turned in a complete downpour, still it was warm rain, so it was not so bad. For this ride I really appreciated the highly visible fabric on Showers Pass jacket because each of the hills that I rode that day, had a few blind corners where that split second where the neon green or blinking light catches a drivers eye, might be the difference between feeling the air pocket of passenger side mirror rushing too close by or a driver giving you three feet of space. I have ridden in these conditions a lot in the 18 years I have lived in Portland and this was one of the most comfortable rides in those conditions despite being slightly overdressed. The baselayer that I was wearing was too thick, by end of the ride, my lowers arms were very wet, my mid and lower back, and sternum were glistening with sweat as well. Still in my previous owned rain jackets, I would have either been too clammy, because the jacket did not breath, or I would have been soaked and chilled to the bone because the rain simply ran through the fabric. With the Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket I am simply comfortable enough to stay out in those conditions longer than any of rain jackets than I have owned in the past!

We Didn't Like

The only dislike and it is definitely a minor issue, is the beacon lights occasionally on flashing mode would cut out after 35 to 45 minutes.

The Final Say

If you live temperate area where it rains a lot (Great Britain, Belgium, Japan, Pacific Northwest) and you want kick ass rain jacket that offers maximum waterproofing and great visibility you must put Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket at the top of the list! Living in Oregon the designer of Showers Pass know a thing or two about rain and have creating a rain jacket really has impressive waterproofing superb breathability, and eye catching fabrics and other visual cues that make it difficult for vehicles to miss a rider’s presence.

Notes: Here is a point reference choosing the right Showers Pass Rain Jacket for yourself. https://www.showerspass.com/pages/how-choose-best-waterproof-cycling-jacket

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Fotonyk

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PLASMA INTEGRATED COMPACT BAR

Review: PLASMA INTEGRATED COMPACT BAR

scottmares's picture

We Liked

We love integrated bar and stem combinations. Why? They are beautiful to look at and they have a certain functionality about them. FSA makes one of the most aesthetic looking bar stem integration combination that we have seen. After getting the bar in it was not a disappointment at all. Its beautiful and will compel you to look and touch almost every inch of it. The Plasma Integrated compact bar is functional art. The only thing you need to be careful about is the fit. You can't adjust the bar or the stem. So when you order one don't measure twice do it three times. I'm glad we did and the fit was spot on. Here is a little list of the features that make this bar combo so awesome!

  • Flat top
  • Shallow drops
  • Super stiff
  • Super sexy
  • Very aero
  • Light weight

We Didn't Like

The price tag. Coming in at $659.00 makes this thing pricy when you compare it to a regular bar stem combination.

The Final Say

So what's the verdict on these bars? Personally I love them and if I had my way I would have them on all of my bikes. But this is how they are for cyclocross. One of the most surprising things that we found that we liked about them was that we really got into the shallow drop of the bar. When you need to go back and forth from the tops to the hoods to the drops there was not the big change that you normally feel when you makes the changes in your hand placement on the road or with other bars. The tops are amazing and feel very natural when you put your paws on them. Even better is the wide aero shape fits the curve of your hand. This only adds when you start pulling on the bars. As I was racing on the bars they felt very stiff and I could not help but notice that the aero shape of the bars was perfect to pull back on. On the aesthetics side the FSA Plasma bars really made my cross bike look tough and sexy. Lots of people commented on the bars and how they matched the bike. No one could resist touching the bars once they made a comment about them. So just be warned, if you get these bars you might run into some bike lust from your friends. So what's the drawback of the bars? At $659 they are kinda pricy and there is also no adjustment on them at all. If you can afford the bar and you don’t need to adjust the pitch of the bars then I would highly recommend that you get the plasma bars from FSA. Just make sure you get fitted and you know exactly the length and width that you need. Love these things.

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EUREKA Bib Shorts

Review: EUREKA Bib Shorts

scottmares's picture

We Liked

Quality: Santini is a company that has a long history in cycling. Its a family affair with this company. So you know you are getting hand made clothing out of Italy and not out of some sweat shop in Vietnam. I just happen to know the person that runs the day to day operations of Santini and there is something to be said about the quality control when you can stand up walk down the hall and down the stairs to the production floor and talk directly to the person that is sewing the shorts together. This is why any time you purchase Santini clothing you are getting the best handmade cycling clothing from Italy. We have never had any problems with the QC in any of the garments that we have reviewed.

Fit: Again this goes back to being hand made in Italy with great quality control. I love the way these shorts fit. Some of this is the fabric and some of it is the cut. Either way there is no munching, pinching anywhere that would make you uncomfortable. When you put them on it feels like you put on your favorite pair of flannel pajamas.

Fabric: The shorts are made from this fabric called BeHOT. When you read about this fabric the description says that it generates heat. What? Well I brushed over it and didn't think too much about it. But after wearing it in the cold 35 degrees and being warm I decided to look into it more. Well apparently this fabric is made by a company called Sitip and they use this technology that when the fabric is stretched it actually generates heat. I have included a screenshot of the test that shows the thermal image of the fabric. I must warn you though about this fabric. I wore the shorts at 65 degrees and I was too warm in them.

Function: These shorts function really really well at temperatures of 50 and lower. If you wear them in warmer conditions you will be too hot. We have tried them in various temperatures and found that they work best in the 30's to upper 40's. Its really amazing how warm they really are. We put the leg warmers with the tights on a rainy day and even though the Aquazero treatment was a disappointment we were warm. The leg warmers were soaked through at the shin BUT we were not cold at all. Even though we were wet we were comfortable.

We Didn't Like

Aqua Zero: So here is the only thing that I don't like about the fabric and it's really the treatment that is on the fabric. Santini uses Aqua zero on some of their line. When I found about about Aqua zero years ago I got really excited. However, this is not really to be used in the pacific NW. If you getting rained on consist of rain for 5 min and then the roads are dry in 10 min. Then Aqua zero will not disappoint you. However, if it rains the entire time you are out on your ride then you will want something else. Now with that said Aqua zero on the shorts is actually a good idea. You don't get a lot of spray like you do on your shoes and lower legs. And in a cyclocross race the treatment will keep you cleaner a little bit longer. But that is it. So just keep that in mind.

The Final Say

Do you ride all year long? Do you ride in cool or cold weather? Race cyclocross? Then you know how important having the right clothing is. Being cold on the bike is no fun. Santini Eureka bib shorts will have you saying "Eureka" because the Behot fabric is nothing short of amazing. Its super comfortable and super warm. I can remember "back in the day", going out in the winter for a ride in tights and having to stuff newspaper in them to stay warm. Those days are over! Not only is this short super warm it's also super comfortable to wear. That means that you can ride all day long and that is a good thing. If you're not comfortable on the bike you're not going to want to ride for very long. Its hard enough to ride for extended periods of time in cold weather. However, These shorts are pretty awesome in the cold weather and is a must have in your bike bag. I would recommend that if you get these shorts that you go ahead and get the leg warmers as well. This will give you the warmth of heavy tights and you won't feel restricted as you would with a pair of heavy tights. We have a pair of the leg warmers and the two together is unbeatable for cold conditions.

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The Time Crunched Cyclist third Edition

Review: The Time Crunched Cyclist third Edition

scottmares's picture

We Liked

So apparently third time's the charm. Chris Carmichael has come out with his third edition of "The time Crunched Cyclist". So here is the rundown of what we liked about their latest edition.

  • Bigger! They have added over 160 pages to their newest book.
  • Plan examples
  • Easy to understand plan construction.
  • Disclaimer section.
  • Simple interval explantions.
  • Bigger nutrition section with recipes.
  • Training & Racing Fueling section.

We Didn't Like

Nothing

The Final Say

If you have been involved in cycling you have heard of Chris Carmichael, and you know that Chris is the founder of Carmichael Training Systems in Colorado Springs. He and his crew have been coaching endurance sports for several decades. This is their third edition to the title and it has seen a major overhaul from the previous editions. Overall the book is very well laid out and has lots of research to back up what the two authors are guiding each time crunched racer to do. The book is an easy read and its has expanded from 262 pages to 430 pages. So what was added? Well Lance is out of the equation to start off with. There were 11 chapters and now there are 16. There is a bigger section on nutrition and how to fuel for and during a race. This section has some recipes for you to try and experiment with. The workout section are easy to follow and gives some guidelines with some examples on how to set up your plan. There is also a disclaimer section about setting realistic goals and what is realistic to keeping your fitness with such a short amount of time to train with. The book also tells you have to set up your training zones by doing Chris’ own unique FTP test. So what do we think? Its a good book with sound research and science that is made easy to understand and allows just about any time crunched cyclist to come up with their own plan to fit their schedule and have fun racing on the weekends.

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Inside Tracker Ultimate

This review is on its way. Stay tuned!

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