Review: Royal Racing Matrix Jacket

matrix-jacket
I’ve been on the hunt for a lightweight, hooded riding jacket for a while now. I have struggled justifying the cost of some larger company’s jackets that retail between $400-$500. When I ran across the Matrix jacket by Royal Racing with a list price of $140, I knew my search had ended.
matrix-jacket-5
Offered in two different colors, the Matrix jacket brings style and function to the trail.
The jacket is non-insulated and requires some layering in really cold conditions. During Spring, Summer, and Fall, I imagine this jacket will be great with only a base layer underneath.
matrix-jacket-3
With a waterproof and breathability rating of 10,000, the Matrix performs well in light rain and average snow conditions.
matrix-jacket-2
Royal Racing claims that the fitting of the Matrix ranges from regular to loose. They also recommend sizing up if riders plan on wearing body armor. I usually fall in-between medium and large with most companies. I ordered the medium jacket and found the overall fit to be very comfortable.
matrix-jacket-6
The Matrix includes an i Port pocket for electronic devices that has internal routing for earbuds.
matrix-jacket-7
The hood on the Matrix is adjustable and large enough to fit over an open-face helmet.
matrix-jacket-4
I would recommend this jacket to anyone on a budget who is looking for a quality shell with a rider-inspired design. Make sure to hit up your local bike shop and let them know the Matrix is available through QBP.

Have you found the perfect trail jacket? Leave a comment below and let me know all about it 🙂

 

E-Bikes: Progress Meets Hostility.

*For the purpose of this article, “E-Bike” refers to a non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycle.

E-Bikes may be the most controversial topic in cycling since Lance was first accused of doping. That may seem like somewhat of a false equivalency, but to many cyclists, both topics have one thing in common: CHEATING. The rapid increase of E-Bikes has sparked a lot of heated discussion in the industry. Many riders feel that E-Bikes offer an unfair advantage to other riders and shouldn’t be allowed to share the same trails. Other people view E-Bikes as motorcycles in disguise, and since they are just motorcycles, shouldn’t be allowed to share the same trails. Where is this bicycle segregation coming from?
#E-Bikelivesmatter
Even at my bike shop, located in an area where E-Bikes haven’t really hit the riding scene, we are having daily discussions about them with customers. There are shops now, often in urban settings, that exclusively sell E-Bikes. The demand for this technology is clearly there. So why are so many cyclists passionately opposed to the idea of E-Bikes? To some extent, the answer is in the question. The most negative opinions about E-Bikes come from longtime cyclists. People I talk to that are new to the sport of mountain biking have a much more open mind about the idea. That’s not to say that longtime cyclists are wrong. They have spent decades in the saddle and have developed their own justified ideas of what mountain biking should be.
A regular customer at my shop told me a story yesterday that blew my mind. He owns a hardtail fat bike. Since purchasing his fat bike, he has outfitted it with a large frame pack. He was recently riding a popular trail in our area when he was stopped by another rider. The rider looked at his frame pack and began lecturing him that E-Bikes didn’t belong on the trail. The customer made light-hearted efforts to explain that it was a frame pack full of food and clothing but the cyclist who had stopped him refused to listen. This particular situation is rare. However, it was very unsettling. After hearing that story, I knew it was time to get on here and try to open a discussion with you guys and see where everyone stands on the topic of E-Bikes. Let’s first go over the two most common arguments I hear around my shop.
levoashcanyon-3
E-Bikes are just a new way to cheat.
It’s a common complaint I hear about E-Bikes. I think it has some truth depending on the scenario. If someone is sneaking an E-Bike, whether road or mountain, into a race, then yes we can all agree that it’s cheating. But if someone is taking an E-Bike out for some recreational fun, I don’t see an issue. One could make the argument that the rider is cheating his/her personal fitness, but that’s a conscious decision that person has the right to make. I took a Specialized Levo FSR Expert out for a ride this morning. In certain areas where I would normally be gassed, I felt strong. In what would normally take me a couple of hours to complete, I did in just over an hour. I had fun the entire time and never felt as if I was cheating myself or anyone else around me. If I was on my personal bike and someone passed me on an E-Bike, I would greet them and wish them a happy ride. That’s the type of attitude I would like to see cyclists carry towards E-Bikes, even if they’re purists. If you have moral objections to E-Bikes, use the proper outlets to express them rather than confronting riders on the trail (e.g. writing a letter to the National Parks Service or Bureau of Land Management voicing your concern).

E-Bikes are just motorcycles in disguise.
Let’s refer back to my opening statement: “E-Bike” refers to a non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycle. There is a vast variety of E-Bikes on the market. Some even have throttles and high-wattage motors capable of speeds over 50mph. Those bikes aren’t the focus of this article. Instead, I am referring to bikes similar to the Specialized Levo. This type of E-Bike has a pedal assist motor that only engages when the rider is pedaling. The more physical effort put into the system, the more output the motor will produce. The pedal assist won’t engage until the rider is moving just under 2mph. The pedal assist automatically turns off once the rider hits a speed of 15-20mph depending on location of purchase (USA/Canada). So is an E-Bike just a clever way of selling motorcycles? A quick search for the definition of a motorcycle produced this result:
mo·tor·cy·cle
ˈmōdərˌsīk(ə)l/

noun
noun: motorcycle; plural noun: motorcycles
1. a two-wheeled vehicle that is powered by a motor and has no pedals.
The obvious discrepancy in this comparison comes down to the pedals. By this definition, E-Bikes are not motorcycles. They also lack any characteristics one would look for in a motorcycle. I believe cyclists are running into a mental block at the mere mention of a motor. I think it is unfair to conflate non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycles with those stocked with throttles and motors capable of reaching 50mph without pedaling.

To wrap my opinions up, I will mention a couple examples as to why I support E-Bikes on the trail. I recently spoke to a couple that love to mountain bike but have reached an age where traditional cycling is taking a toll on their bodies. They love the sport and E-Bikes may extend their ability to ride for many more years. The couple isn’t looking for an over-powering motor, just the opportunity to continue their passion. I’ve also heard of several riders who have physical ailments that have left them with very low lung capacity. E-Bikes have allowed these riders to stay on the trail and continue riding. I find it very difficult to protest E-Bikes when some people benefit so much from them. The rhetoric surrounding E-Bikes is becoming increasingly hostile. I hope this article provides some insight to why E-Bikes aren’t as evil as they’re being portrayed.

Please share your opinions below. Did I nail anything in this article? Is there anything I should reconsider my position on? Let me know, I’m interested to see what you guys think.

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to check out my content. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any comments/questions that you don’t want to post publicly, email me at justinchiazza@gmail.com

Biker Soap

BikerSoap
My family and I were out grocery shopping the other night when we stumbled upon a discounted soap marketed at cyclists. Since I’m a sucker for good marketing, the soap ended up in our shopping cart.

Biker Soap was created by a Formulation Chemist named Dr. Dennis T. Sepp. Dr. Sepp says, “Many years ago I created this hard-working soap as a special formula just for my son and his friends, all avid bikers.”

Here are some of the key features listed for Biker Soap:
  Quickly removes the toughest oils, grease and road dirt.
  Is gentle. Won’t damage or dry skin and will leave hands soft, smooth and moisturized.
  A natural cleanser which contains no drying agents or harsh chemicals, no pumice or abrasives.
  Gentle enough for the whole family to use everyday.
 
 Contains no animal ingredients and is not tested on animals.

The scent of tea tree oil really stands out in Biker Soap. The texture of Biker Soap is very smooth, it reminds me of any gentle hand soap put out by Dial or Softsoap.

Full information can be found by clicking here.

Catching up.

Recent picture I took of a sunset on the valley floor of Northern Nevada.
untitledWashoePond
I hope everyone’s 2016 is off to the start they had hoped for. I’m trying to get out a couple posts a month while I’m in school full time. I’m going to be releasing a review on a really cool tail light from NiteRider by the end of the month.
If you guys have any requests for an article of any type, please hit me up and I’ll do my best to give you a detailed post.
Email me: justinchiazza@gmail.com

Welcome to Surlywood!

New year, new excitement. And by that I mean, new products.
Surly is making it especially easy in 2016 to show off your Surly of choice with a new run of t-shirts that represent your specific bike.
Most shirts are offered in both male sizing (small-2xl) and female sizing (small-xl).
*Shirts available through Surly dealers. Visit Surly’s Website for a list of local dealers.
TrollStraggler
PugsleyCrossCheck
LHTIceCream

$30 DIY Cycling Home Decor

IMG_3230
After a time consuming semester and a newborn baby boy, I’m hoping to start blogging again with a vengeance. However, before I jump back into bicycle repairs and bike reviews, I wanted to get my feet wet with something simple.
Today I made a quick stop by Michaels art store and grabbed some cheap supplies to make some really cool cycling home decor. All you’ll need is: stencils, brush, chalk paint, and a wood canvas.

IMG_3226

IMG_3227

IMG_3228
All these items were available for $30 or less.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Stop by soon for some new posts 🙂

DIY: Almond Milk

IMG_4098

Anytime I have the chance to make something myself, in a controlled environment, to cut down on questionable ingredients, I always consider it worth my time and effort. When a buddy of mine mentioned that he and his wife had been making their own almond milk, I knew I had to try it. I experimented with a few different methods and narrowed it down to just a handful of clean and simple steps.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups blanched or sliced almonds
4 cups filtered water
Agave
Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon

Tools:
Bowl
Blender
Strainer
Cheesecloth

IMG_4102
First, dump your almonds into a bowl and fully submerge them in water. Set in the refrigerator and allow to soak overnight.
IMG_4108
Once soaked, empty almonds through a strainer. Add 2 cups of filtered water into blender.
IMG_4110
Combine your almonds and filtered water.
IMG_4112
Blend until almonds and water combine into a thick paste.
IMG_4114
Now you can make it your own. Add whatever amount of agave, vanilla extract, and cinnamon that you like. Once you get the desired taste, add two more cups of water.
IMG_4116
Blend it all together once more.
IMG_4119
Now place a few layers of cheesecloth inside your strainer. Hold the strainer over a bowl and slowly pour the milk over the cheesecloth. You will start to collect frothy remnants from your blend of ingredients. Shift the remnants arounds to allow the milk to pass through the cheesecloth. You will likely have to dispose of the cheesecloth halfway through and layer down some fresh cloth.
IMG_4121
Your final step is to pour a glass and enjoy!

Bonus tip: Add a spoonful of cacao powder for a clean and healthy chocolate milk.

I hope you enjoyed this article 🙂
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions/comments.
justinchiazza@gmail.com

Hammer Nutrition Vegan Protein

IMG_4086

Whenever I browse different supplements at various stores, and read two paragraphs of ingredients on each bottle that I’ve never heard of, I am thankful for companies like Hammer Nutrition. I am in no way a nutritionist but I’m familiar with the vast majority of ingredients they put in their product.

A few months ago I committed to a vegan diet and was searching to find a good plant based protein. I’ve used several products from hammer nutrition including their Whey, Perpetuem, Recoverite, Gels, as well as a variety of Hammer Energy Bars. I couldn’t have been happier to discover that the had a 100% vegan mix that is also gluten and soy free!

The blend of different plant proteins include derivations from peas, brown rice, alfalfa, and a whole bunch of other organic and healthy sources.

In one serving(1 Level Scoop), the nutritional facts are as follows:

Protein 20g
Calories 110
Sodium 140mg
Total Carbs 5g
Sugars 2g
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g

You can mix it straight up with water but I like to blend up a plentiful post-workout shake with the following recipe:

1 scoop Hammer vegan mix
1 cup chocolate almond milk
1/2 of a frozen banana
1 spoonful almond or peanut butter
1/2 cup of raw oats
1 tbs chia seeds
2 ice cubes
*You can add, remove, or replace ingredients as you see fit 🙂

One 26 servings jug of Hammer Vegan Protein goes for $44.99 on their website. Check your local bike shop before ordering online.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please contact me if you have any questions.
justinchiazza@gmail.com