Friday, February 27, 2009

Twitter Contest Winner

A few weeks back I sent out a contest on Twitter to whoever was listening on that day. The contest was easy. The first person to reply to my Twitter post gets a bunch of free Avenir product. Luckily for us, Len was the first to respond. Little did I know, Len was not only an Avenir fan but an owner of not one but two Raleigh bicycles, including a 1968 Raleigh Sport and the 2008 One Way and is a follower on the Raleigh Facebook group. JACKPOT!!!

Below is a picture of Len’s Raleigh One Way. Len informed me that he rides to do random errands, lunch rides and commutes to work 2-3 days a week. Last spring he was the coach of his son’s soccer team and rode this bike to and from soccer practice each week with a mesh bag full of soccer balls, cones and gear strapped in the basket.

Len, Thank you. Thank you for being a cyclist, thank you for riding your bike instead of driving your car to work, soccer practice and to run errands, thank you for riding Raleigh and thank you for supporting Avenir.

To read the post that Len wrote on his own blog go here. To see the pics that he took of the product sent, go here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The New Avenir X Tool

This morning I was given the “opportunity” to name the new tool that we at Avenir have developed. I put a lot of thought into this and here is what I have come up with…”The new Avenir Tool.” So what do you think? Do you think you could have come up with a better idea? I hope so. Here is my challenge to you. Come up with a better name for this tool and if we use that name you’ll receive a tool care pack, plus the opportunity to tell all your friends that you were the brains behind the name.

This tool includes: a Chain Whip, Lock Ring tool, Bottle opener, and a 14/15mm wrench all in one. Its perfect for putting in your back jersey pocket or pack while on a ride or an all in one shop tool.

For those who accept this challenge post your idea in the comments section or email your idea to: by March 1st.

Thanks and Good luck!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Avenir's no Junker Junker

I’ve been contemplating what type of new product to develop for our Avenir Brand. It seems that just about everything that a bike shop could need already is being produced by either Avenir, Pedros or Park Tool. That was until I realized that bike shops need a place to put old and useless items. So before pitching my idea to our Product Developer, I thought I would get a mock up and get some feedback…

THAT’S RIGHT!! The Avenir Dumpster. Comes in that beautiful Avenir orange color that our dealers have become so familiar with. The Avenir logo will be strategically placed around the Dumpster.

For obvious reasons, freight charges will be dependent on location. (Good Luck Hawaii and Alaska) Some assembly will be required. There are some of you who will probably do some trash talking and think that this is a piece of junk. But I assure you that nothing that Avenir produces is anything that would be considered rubbish.

Once this item takes over the market I would imagine Park will come out with their ‘Big Blue Dumpster’ and name it the BBD-1 and Pedros will soon have their Yellow dumpsters. So I am posting this blog and dating it February 23rd 2009 as the original Bike Shop Junker.

Please feel free to post your comments.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hey Saddle Bags!!

Saddle bags, oh saddle bags, what the heck do I write about saddle bags. They’re black, they attach under a seat, and they hold stuff. Add a few pics and this entry is finished.
Ok, ok I won’t make this that easy. The Avenir brand currently has three different sizes of Big Mouth saddle bags. The 27, 55/73, and 73/103. As you probably guessed it, the numbers stand for the Cubic Inches capacity. If you didn’t guess it, now you know. All three are made of a Cordura top (Click here if not sure what
Cordura is...) and a rubberized bottom to help keep the wet stuff out. The Avenir logo patch also doubles up as a strap to clip a rear light to and the back fully unzips to open like a big mouth bass…mmm maybe that’s how we got the name Big Mouth. The new version of the Big Mouth bags have a Velcro strap which attaches to the seat post and won’t corrode and snap like the older version with the rubber band.

Starting off with the smallest of the three, baby bear. The Big Mouth 27 holds exactly what you need, and not a penny more. Many roadies will like the smaller size to hold only what is needed in case of a flat. I believe this one was wind tunnel tested too!! You roadies will notice dimples in the bag to reduce drag just like golf balls…ohhh ahhhh.

I decided to see what all I could fit in this thing. Of course a tube is the most important item which also took up the most space. (Unless you like patching your tubes on the side of the road and don’t bring a spare tube... but that’s just ludicrous). A tech tool, levers and of course the keys.

Next is the Big Mouth 55/73.

Great bag to hold what you need and maybe a little more. With the bottom zipped closed this bag is 55cu In, but unzip and bam just like magic the bag is now 73 cu in. With the bottom zipped I was able to stuff everything seen below, unzipped I could add my cell and more food.

And lastly the mother of all Big Mouths….. the Big Mouth 73/106. Most definetly a bag for the Boy Scouts. Unzipped this bag holds more than enough for an hour long bike ride. Tools, tubes, map, compass (for those who won’t go buy a GPS unit), flint and steel...or in my bag, tubes, tools, levers, wallet and of course food, lots of food.

Check out your local Raleigh or Diamondback Dealers to pick one of these up, unless you’ll be affended when someone says “nice saddle bags.”

Written & tested by Raleigh employee, Matt Millen.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tire Lever Comparo

Tire levers are among those products that people might question the sanity of comparing. I mean, who cares, right? They all change tires. I stopped saying that once I found myself stranded after breaking two generic tire levers.

And mister "I don't need no stinking tire levers" ironthumbs, don't even start.

If you are a roadie, you've probably heard of the "2007 Campy Eurus plus Michelin Tire" issue that got me stuck. I can't even imagine the hand wringing horror of flatting a heavy-duty mountain bike tire and having to get the thing off with my fingers.

So, what've we got here? A whole selection of tire levers. 

AVENIR STANDARD TIRE LEVERS -- these are basic, plastic tire levers. They do what you'd expect, they're affordable.
AVENIR HEAVY DUTY TIRE LEVERS -- the same, only thicker and tougher stuff.
AVENIR STEEL CORE TIRE LEVERS -- Ever since alloy rims became the standard, steel tire levers went out. You don't want to nick or ding an alloy rim with harder steel. The steel core tire lever has, like its name implies, a metal bar contained within a sheath of plastic. It's heavier, but essentially unbreakable.

PEDRO'S TIRE LEVERS -- these have become something of my gold standard tire lever. They're thinner and wider than the standard box-section lever. I think it makes them slide under the bead easier, and I haven't broken one yet.
SKS TIRE LEVERS -- These are weird, and I can't figure out if they have a model name. They clip together in a pair. They're really thin. They're orange. Will they break?
Park TL-1 TIRE LEVERS -- Because park feels the need to give everything an alphanumeric description, and make everything blue, we have these. Other than that, since Park is pretty much the Snap-On of the bike tools industry, I'm going to declare these the "archetypical tire lever" and go from there.

So, let's get it done.

The Avenir Standard Tire levers should fill many seat bags around the world. They're nylon, and you won't have them forever, but for the average comfort rider, it's the right choice. I did manage to break one, though I had to try a little bit, on a 700x25 Vittoria Zaffiro road tire on the stock wheel on a Raleigh Clubman. They come in a card of three, and in all the tires I've changed, I've never managed to figure out what one's meant to do with the third lever, so I figure it's a spare anyhow.

The Heavy Duty levers are much the same, but tougher. If you're taking a bike out on a trek a little farther from a potential rescue, I'd take these. I didn't sit there hammering on them, but I didn't break them, either.

With the SKS orange tire levers, as soon as I detached them, I thought, "are these really going to work?" With my Vittoria Open Course on a road tire, they did, as their thin size allows them to slide fairly easily under the bead of the tire. Then again, I can change Open Courses with just my thumbs if I need to, so that's not much of an endorsement.

Next, I tried the SKS levers on a 700x38, steel-beaded Vittoria Randonneur tire. I didn't actually SNAP the lever, but the lever bent, rather than the bead of the tire! That doesn't help. I think that these might be a good thing for the super-minimalist flat repair kit that roadies carry on their group rides. You know, the one in the jersey pocket consisting of an ultralight tube, an Innovations Air Chuck, and a microtool? This goes right along. After all, someone in the group will have real repair stuff if you break these, right?

I don't think I could describe the difference between the basic Park TL-1 tire levers and the Avenir ones, though I think their thickness falls somewhere between the standard and the heavy duty. If you break one, you have broken blue plastic instead of broken black plastic. How about that?

Avenir's Steel Core levers are a new product, similar to another major manufacturer's, and a great deal. The idea is to mix the toughness of a steel tire lever with a plastic sheath as mentioned above. It took me a moment to make good use of these on road tires, as they are a little thicker than a standard lever. The hardest part is working the thin chamfered edge under the tire's bead and feeding the main body through.

At first, I tried to just slide the tip of the lever underneath the bead and pull, but the bead just snapped back over the lever. I realized that I was automatically resisting levering from the center portion of the tire lever, since this is where you're likely to break an all-nylon piece. Once upon a time, I snapped a basic plastic tire lever doing an operation like this, and a bit of plastic flew back and bounced off of my glasses, which I was glad I was still wearing!

With the steel core lever, I just wiggled the whole deal between the tire and tube and went for it. On the 700x38 Sojourn tires, this worked like a charm. On skinnier rims and 700 x 25 tires, it was harder to get the lever under the bead – there just wasn’t enough room. What I don’t have is a heavy-duty downhill bike and the notoriously difficult to remove tires, but I’d wager this thing would make a difference there.

Also, of course, the steel-core levers are much heavier than nylon ones. You think? But, really, they’re overkill on a basic road bike. I think I’d only bring these with me on a hardcore mountain bike ride, which your humble narrator has done little of, but they’re a great asset to have in your toolkit. Your thumbs will thank you.

Available anywhere Avenir parts and accessories are sold. You can buy “carded” sets of levers, but if your shop is in the know, they’ll buy a display box of 50 (steel core) or 100 (standard) levers and let you grab and go.

Tested and written by Tyler Stetson, Raleigh employee & daily bike commuter.
(click images to enlarge)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fender Frenzy

Easy to install, two of the most affordable fenders on the market (59-08-000/005 and 59-08-010/012). Developed by our product developer in Seattle, so you know we understand the wet stuff, and how to keep the rooster tails off our backs. Can be found at Raleigh Dealers across the US.

(click images for larger view)

If you’re riding a lot in the rain, check out the RainCity bags further down this page, to keep your stuff dry during wet rides.