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Editor’s Note: Welcome to Nick’s Knacks. Don’t look for a new list every week, but when we do post one, pay attention. Velo tech editor Nick Legan will review new items that straddle the divide between budget and functionality really well. Look elsewhere for the latest Gucci cycling gear. This is all about items that do their job exceptionally well without breaking the bank. We’ll try to keep everything under $100.
Barfly Garmin mount $40
This made-in-the-USA accessory mounts your Garmin Edge 200, 500 or 800 in front of your stem, much like an SRM mount. Woody Tate, the general manager of Above Category, a high-end shop in Marin County, came up with the idea after being frustrated with poor visibility on his Garmin’s screen. The plastic mount clamps your 31.8mm oversized handlebar right next to the stem. A small Allen socket bolt secures the clamp, with a recommended 1 Newton meter torque spec (“in other words, tighten snugly by hand”)
Aesthetically, I like using the Barfly. It puts the Garmin in front of you as your ride. You don’t have to look down as far to get a peek at your massive power output or insanely high speed.
The mount also seems very secure. It’s actually a bit tougher to put your Garmin on the Barfly than on the stock stem or bar mount. But like Garmin’s stock mount, the Barfly does a great job of holding onto your precious electronics over rough roads and trails. Job well done.
Tatelabs.com OR AboveCategoryCycling.com
Recofit Leg Compessor Recovery $75
When it comes to recovering after a long day, most people focus on nutrition. But increasingly that’s only a start to a good recovery strategy. Compression wear has real benefits and Recofit is the latest entry into the market.
On Tim Johnson’s Ride On Washington (over 500 miles in five days), I used a pair of Leg Compressor Recovery leggings from Recofit every night. I also used them after big training days, while traveling on international flights and even when my legs were sore at work (don’t tell anyone).
I’m a fan of compression in general for recovery. I certainly feel a positive difference, though it’s hard for me to quantify just how much better my legs feel. On long flights, I do experience much less swelling and I feel physically better when I arrive at my destination. Over the years I’ve used compression tights, socks and now Recofit’s Leg Compressors.
Fit is extremely important when selecting compression wear. The idea is to be tight, but not pinching or binding. On me, the Recofits were a bit tight at the thigh and felt a little too loose over my calves. (Note: I’m a small calf/big thigh guy.) For my 5’10”, 150-pound frame I tried both medium and small/long Leg Compressors. I used the mediums as I could barely get the small/longs over my calves.
To increase the compression, especially during the Ride On Washington, I took to wearing compression socks over the Leg Compressors to give my calves more of a squeeze. This combo, along with self-massage and good nutrition certainly increased my recovery rate. I was amazed at how well my under-trained body handled the back-to-back big days of riding.
All in all, I would recommend Recofit Leg Compressors if you’re in the market for compression wear. Just make sure they fit correctly! Recofit also makes compression calf bands and arm coolers (something I’ll be trying on my long, summer rides).
*Fashion warning: do NOT wear compression wear in public. Seriously uncool. If you must wear them out of the house, wear pants over them.
Lifeproof iPhone case $80
The manufacturer’s advertising says it all: “water proof, dirt proof, snow proof, shock proof.” Yep, that’s pretty much lifeproof.
Cutting to the chase: this case is great. Most important for cycling purposes is the waterproof nature of it. It protects your iPhone from both Mother Nature and your own sweat. All the phone’s functions are still usable while in the case, including the touch screen and volume controls. Lifeproof also includes a really cool, watertight, screw-in earphone jack. You unscrew the normal plug, screw in the jack and then plug in your favorite earphones (Westone in my case). You can listen to music, even take calls if using earphones with a microphone, and your phone is still protected from moisture.
To charge the phone, a bottom flip door is opened, and doesn’t require removing the case. The case does add some size to your phone, but I got used to it quickly. Lifeproof also sells a bike mount that may interest some.
Mavic Vision Vest $110
I look like a road construction crewmember when I wear it, but Mavic’s Vision Vest is a great piece of cycling kit. And I don’t mind being annoyingly visible out on the roads.
A good vest can make the difference between comfortable spring and fall riding and misery. A vest that fits well, features pockets and keeps you visible, especially as days are just beginning to get longer (or shorter in fall), is just the ticket.
Mavic’s Vision Vest is bright. Eye-searing bright. Its dayglow orange color is supplemented with a lot of reflective strips on the front, sides and back. Zippered pockets make stuffing food or extra gloves easy and a rubberized gripper on the tail of the vest keeps it from riding up as you pedal.
While the Vision Vest isn’t waterproof, it is windproof and in light showers does keep your chest dry. It isn’t as packable Castelli’s Sottile vest, but the Vision Vest is warmer.
With the scary number of cyclist/motorist accidents it can’t hurt to be more visible (It has always baffled me that most cold weather gear is black). And in hunting areas, mountain bikers will like the vest too. The construction quality is top notch and what price can you put on improved safety?