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d-k101587602

d-k101587602

d-k101587602

d-k101587602wrote a review of on July 31, 2019

2 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

I wanted the POC Ventral Air Spin but never saw a large to try on at any LBS. Finally, I ordered a large size, like my nicely fitted Bell Gage and other helmets. While the POC circumference was just barely adequate, the straps allow for no adjustment (i.e., lengthening) at the ear. I considered whether I could handle the straps as-is, for like two seconds, but I decided to return the helmet, as I knew that the straps would quickly become annoying. It's certainly too bad, as the helmet is stunning. But if you have a longer face, expect that you might have fit issues with the POC given the lack of any strap adjustability. PS: I contacted POC directly to confirm that it wasn't just operator error and that the straps are indeed designed with no adjustment at the ear.

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d-k101587602

d-k101587602wrote a review of on January 31, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

If you need a serious cold-weather boot, these are the real deal. Although pricey, they are a very good value.

Yesterday's and today's commutes to work in Chicago Polar Vortex 2019 were only doable because of these boots, the 45Nrth jacket, and pogies.

I had tried these new boots a couple times in milder weather, about 5°F, and admittedly found them heavy and tricky to click into my SPDs. But I've gotten used to them, and they are fantastic!

They run a little large, and I bought 48s to accommodate my thickest ice fishing sock. [Normally, I wear a 47 Sidi road shoe or a 45.5 Sidi Dominator Mega MTB shoe.] However, I've only needed medium-weight wool socks for the 5-mile commute at -15 to -20F (-30 to -50F windchill). Yesterday, my toes were slightly cold by the end of the ride (35min), so thicker socks or double socks may be necessary for some. But I can't imagine ever having numb feet in these unless spending inordinate time outside in truly extreme conditions.

The boots are very comfortable. Although I wouldn't want to walk distances in them, you maybe could, and I've even worn them hours the office.

The quality is fantastic, and I'm quickly becoming a huge fan of the 45Nrth brand, owning their jacket, gloves, boots, and soon the pants. I also find their gear is stylish, and the boots are sharp.

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d-k101587602

d-k101587602wrote a review of on January 9, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I purchased these for my new Audi Q5, after finding that Thule Paceline mounts could not be made to fit my new vehicle because the Thule trays were too long to allow the tailgate to lift fully.

The Rockymounts were easy to install, and the shallow trays look very nice. These are far more sleek than the Thule mounts that I have on another car. The subtle, blue logo against the silver tray also complements the color of my vehicle nicely.

I've only mounted my road bike once so far, and thus the one-star demerit based on this initial experience...

Compared to the Thule mechanism with which I'm familiar, the Rockymount fork lock requires an iterative approach to finding the right "spread" on the locking skewer. This took about five minutes of mounting/unmounting/remounting the bike until I got the skewer spread dialed in to both allow complete closure AND hold the bike securely. [This is in contrast to the quick dial of Thule.] Hopefully, that was a one-time exercise, but there are two possible issues going forward.

First, distinct forks on my different bikes might necessitate repeating the fitting of the skewer each time I transport another bike, a potential hassle. Second, although the pic shows the locked skewer sticking back in an aero position, parallel to the tray, it's unclear it will stay in that position because the fitted-to-bike skewer setting leaves the skewer loose when empty of a bike. If it sags or rattles, I'll need to tighten the skewer when empty and repeat the iterative fork fitting with each use. I'll know more in spring/summer because I don't haul my bikes much in Chicago's winter.

Still, these look great!

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d-k101587602

d-k101587602wrote a review of on September 11, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I bought the Julbo Blast S3+ in blue-green at the same time as the Smith Drake, so I provide some comparisons here. My evaluation is based on wearing the Julbos on a hard 40 mi ride, an easy 20 mi ride, and subsequent hanging out for a few hrs in on a sunny day with mild haze to compare the Blasts and Drakes directly.

First, the Julbos look super-cool in the blue-green! They fit my somewhat large face quite well, the lenses are stunning aesthetically, and the frames are have a nicely sporty look without being obnoxious. Given my advancing age, their appearance is slightly too swept back, athletic looking for wearing about (e.g., window shopping, cafe dining), except maybe at the beach or other semi-athletic situations. The frames have a matte finish and flex very nicely. Contact points are very comfortable, and my GF said they "feel like air!" Overall, the Julbo Blasts have a high quality fit and finish, something I cannot say about the cheapish-looking arms of the Smith Drakes. Nonetheless, the Smiths look better on my big head, particularly for off-the-bike use and so are slightly better shade for general hangin' out.

On the bike, the shades are very comfortable, at least under the ideal conditions of my first ride. Optically, the glasses performed very well in my limited trial. At less than half the cost of the Smith Drakes, I found the lenses to be nearly equal to the polarized Smiths. My vague sense is that maybe the Smiths perform slightly better optically, perhaps due to subtle effects of the polarization, but there were no obvious differences, despite my efforts to find something, anything. The Julbos are quite competitive optically.

I compared viewing area and found important differences between the Julbo Blasts and the Smith Drakes. The Julbos provide increased peripheral vision because of their swept back shape. However, because of the close-fitting frames -- and likely exacerbated by my long face -- I can see considerably more of the top of the Julbo frame than I do of the Smiths. I didn't consider the view of the frames as any hinderance on the bike (or even realize it) but just noted the difference in my side-by-side comparison off the bike.

I cannot comment much on ventilation and performance in hot weather because the early fall conditions are already quite mild here. On a harder ride, I didn't have any issues with sweat dripping onto the lenses and pooling in the frames, but it was too cool to really evaluate how they would perform in the heat. As I mentioned in my review of the Drakes, the Smiths perform quite well with sweaty and rainy conditions because of coatings that seem to reduce droplet sticking.

In summary so far, Julbo Blasts are winners! Styling is great for athletics, fit is wonderfully comfortable, and optical performance is similar to glasses costing more than twice as much.

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d-k101587602

d-k101587602wrote a review of on September 5, 2017

Function well but...
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I bought these to finally replace my old Oakley Jawbones, and I'm happy with their performance. Optically, the lenses are superb, and the polarization is great, perhaps even outperforming my pricey prescription sunglasses. They may also have a special coating on the inside, as sweat seems to roll off a little better than other glasses, and they are pretty good in the rain. The glasses also seem to provide decent ventilation despite the lack of vents, although this year we had a pretty cool summer along Chicago's Lake Michigan shore where I mostly ride, so your results may vary. At 6'4", I have a longer face, so I appreciate the fit -- they definitely provide nice coverage (see pics with my Bell Gage helmet in Size L). And the styling is good, too. So why not 5 stars?? Well, despite the functionality, I'm quite picky, and I immediately felt the frames looked rather cheap, particularly for this price point. The arms especially look cheap to me with a gloss finish that seem more like something from a dollar store, and flexing the frames causes audible creaking. [I'm not against glossy; I just don't feel they pulled it off here.] I have other sunglasses at <$50 that definitely have a nicer fit-and-finish than these, so these probably will not become a go-to fashion pair of glasses when off the bike, even though I'm a fan of the style, fit, and performance. In summary, very good on the bike, but for off the bike, it depends how picky you are.

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d-k101587602

d-k101587602wrote a review of on September 2, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

After 20,000mi on my Seven with various Shimano SPD mountain pedals, I've finally upgraded to road pedals. Several people working at different LBSs swore by the DA pedals and they do not disappoint. At 6'4", I got the +4 pedals to replace washers that a prior fitter installed as spacers. I previously used mountain pedals because I live in downtown Chicago, and stops are frequent, so I perceived a lack of convenience with the single-sided entry of Shimano road pedals. I've quickly made the transition and am very impressed by the solid feeling of the DA pedals (combined with SIDI Wire shoes) after only 200mi. It's hard to speak with any authority about "climbing" in Chicago, but the few modest hills somehow seem easier with the DA pedals, and I've remained confidently locked in no matter how hard I sprint or climb -- even though I'm still on the loosest setting. Engagement with the cleat is positive, and exit from the pedal is easy. Indeed, they're as silky smooth as you'd expect for any Dura-Ace component. And despite my concerns, they're not too difficult to walk in, although carrying my bike down a flight of stairs was scary the first time; the cleats have 3 rubber-tipped contact points to reduce potential for slippage, but it's unclear those will last very long.
In comparison to my old SPDs, however, I suggest caution with fit...
The pedals shipped with blue cleats, and my initial efforts at cleat placement were close-but-not-quite. Indeed, I was concerned about the potential for developing an injury with my knees seeming to track a little strangely, so I scheduled a cleat fitting at a nearby shop. Not only did the fitter dial in things perfectly, but he also swapped out the blue cleats for yellow (more float). I feel the set up is now perfect, as I have both a solid interface for efficient transfer while also having enough wiggle room to insure I don't develop any injuries. Even after long rides, I feel better than I did my previous set up. Good luck!

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