Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bicycle Discussion Topic: Does Expensive Always Equate to Quality?

Currently, I am on the hunt for a bicycle (which shouldn't be horribly surprising). I've been paring down the herd over the last year or so and it seems the time has come to replace the group that has departed with one bike. I'm not in a hurry and I'm taking my time to make a decision about what the bike will be, but in all of the checking-things-out phase, it's been interesting to ponder the idea of expensive vs inexpensive, and equally interesting (at least to me), perceived quality vs sub-par quality.
*Image can be found here and downloaded as wallpaper.
There was a Jan Heine article a few years ago, followed by a kind of rebuttal by Kent Petersen that in many ways illustrates exactly the ideas running through my mind. I think both posts are valid and each provide a slightly different perspective with Jan discussing why an expensive bicycle is worth a riders money and Kent offering his ideas on why he won't buy a more costly bike.

The comments after each post offer additional feedback and information to ponder, but I think what has struck me most is the idea that expensive = quality while inexpensive = garbage. I do realize there is good reason for this belief as it is based on something that you and I call reality. It simply costs more to build a quality product than it does to build one of inferior structure.

A lot goes into choice of tubing. Then there are those who lug bikes, which requires another addition to price. Paint choice. Drive train. For heaven's sake, even a crank can make quite an impact to what a consumer pays for a bicycle. These choices all have direct influence on the costs involved in a product. However, the materials themselves are just one piece of the puzzle.

When evaluating a bicycle, the maker - the person who physically welds the frame - is also a factor. Many mass-produced frames are made in factories overseas and are never - or minimally - touched by human hands. Some are hand-brazed; some are welded by machine. In my view, there are potential negatives for both a handmade product and one constructed by machine. Whereas a machine is not subject to human error and is more likely to produce a more consistent product, a machine is also incapable of recognizing small differences that a human is more likely to spot.

Then, there are factors such as experience. It's just a reality that the more exposure and time an individual has with a given subject matter, the easier it is for the person to recognize potential problems.

In my early days as a recruiter, I often let both good and bad candidates slip right by me because I hadn't enough time in the field to understand signs and signals. I had solid innate instincts, which was a great starting skill, but it couldn't prepare me in the ways that "practicing" would do. The longer I spent screening candidates for positions, the quicker I started recognizing potential red flags. Which isn't to say that no one ever got by me, nor that I never passed up a perfectly good choice, but I started to recognize probability of success the more time I spent interviewing people.

The same could be said for frame builders. Having a natural gift is a great start, but the more time a builder has, the more likely it is that s/he will produce a quality product. Beyond the physical building process itself, there are other attributes that I have no doubt begin to take shape, particularly when it comes to customizing geometry or creating a standard that works for most people. Perhaps this is why we start to see some builders who specialize in women's geometry, who build specifically for brevets, racing-specific, or builders who specialize in frames for tall/short people.

As with many aspects of life, not everything is black and white. The many shades of grey that flow between two extremes offer a lot to the mix. Do only the most expensive bicycles provide a quality product? Do all inexpensive bicycles exhibit qualities of an inadequate or poor choice?

It becomes fairly easy to swing ones opinion in either direction depending on what we hear or read. I could point out multiple links online to individuals who have had his/her Surly frame break at various points in its life and for varying reasons. By doing so, I may lead some to believe that all Surly frames will end up in a landfill sooner or later (*Note: I'm not picking on Surly - we could easily fill-in-the-blank with any number of manufacturers. We've owned 4 Surly's in our home at various times and have enjoyed each of them).

I could just as easily point out the number of many satisfied Surly owners who have never had a single issue with his/her frame. These individuals will praise the quality/value and state that there is no reason to purchase anything more expensive. Does it then automatically mean that every Surly or mass-produced frame is of quality that will last a lifetime?

Sometimes the price of a frame is influenced by aesthetics. For some manufacturers, the number of frames made are used as a means to play with supply and demand, which is also likely to have an affect on price.

I believe that there are benefits to spending less on a bicycle. I also believe these benefits are particularly present when a person is just starting to ride. It is incredibly difficult to know what one needs and how one will ride in early stages. Goodness knows that over time I have changed dramatically in the way I ride and what I ride. In truth, I couldn't have known from the start what would be in front of me. Spending thousands on a bike frame early on would likely have been in complete vain.

Still, others will point out that had I owned such a bicycle early on, perhaps the need to adjust and change what I rode may have been unnecessary. If the quality and geometry had been present with my early choice, perhaps I'd be riding the same today.

I tend to disagree with this latter possibility, as I needed time to figure out what I like and dislike about the way a bicycle rides and feels; and for me specifically, I hadn't the desire to ride in the manner I do today when my adult cycling began. However, there could be some truth to the idea that spending to obtain a quality, well-designed product initially may result in fewer bike switches down the road.

But, this brings me back to the initial thought regarding quality and price. Do they necessarily go hand-in-hand? In some respects, I do think quality necessitates a higher price tag. It is challenging, to say the least, to offer a product of substance when the ticket price is bare-bones. Yet, I don't think that spending the most automatically provides a bike of quality.

It is my belief that this is when thoughtful research, analytic-ability and personal preferences come into play. With so much information at our fingertips, it is challenging to determine B.S. or opinion from fact, as quite often these are equally presented as credible information. In addition, if you are someone like myself who enjoys absorbing and reading as much as possible about bicycles, it can provide a great wealth of knowledge. However, with that familiarity comes the nearly unavoidable confusion when conflict of source information arises.

What has been your experience with the cost vs quality conundrum? Has your experience led you to believe that there is no correlation, or have you found that paying more has afforded a more enjoyable riding experience and/or a higher quality product? Additionally, do you research companies or individuals before buying a frame or bicycle? Have you found conflicting information, and if so, are you able to separate fact from fiction?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Slow Cyclist Ahead

Over the years of reading bike forums and blogs I have taken note that there are a number of people who consider themselves to be slow riders. It is not particular to a certain segment of cycling society, nor is it restricted to one type of bicycle (e.g.: city bikes, road bikes, or mountain bikes), but rather seems to span across age, gender, physical size, location, and choice of bike.
More recently, let's say in the last year or so, this idea has struck something in me personally for two reasons. The first is that I have found myself riding at slower speeds than in the past and second because I've taken note of what some consider to be slow speeds and thought to myself my goodness - if only that were slow for me!

It's caused me to pause and realize that the term "slow" really is all relative. I can claim to be slow, but when riding with another person I may seem like a Tour de France contender. While a 17 mph/26 kph pace may seem fast to one rider, to another it is entirely too slow.

A specific example comes to mind that illustrates this point a bit more. Two years ago, I asked a friend to go on a casual ride. She is much taller (several inches) and less weighty than myself, so I always presume when riding with someone of her physical stature that I will be pushing to keep up. I forewarned her that I am definitely not the speediest of cyclists and I was trying to recover from an injury. She had stated that she was perfectly ready to travel at slow speeds because she was definitely enjoying slower paced rides.

Keeping all of this in consideration, when we met up I had braced myself for the probability of needing to exert myself to keep up with what she considered to be a slower pace. But as we meandered down the road, I began to realize that she truly was not joking when she said she wanted to ride slowly. There were points in the ride when I thought we might literally fall off our bikes from moving at such a leisurely pace - Something that even I am not used to feeling (unless riding up a steep hill). When I tried to pick up the pace a bit, I could feel her falling behind and so I'd slow again to allow her to catch up.
Our average pace at somewhere close to 6 mph/9.5 kph was not remotely what I'd anticipated, so you can imagine my surprise to discover that we had completely different ideas of what a slow ride would be. While it was perfectly acceptable to cruise along at such a pace, I was surprised to find my riding partner exhausted at the end of a short ride, but it also helped me realize that I cannot always make assumptions - particularly regarding speed.

The opposite scenario has also often been true for me (and is more often the case). When I anticipate a slow ride with another person, generally speaking I am the one who ends up pushing to keep up with what s/he considers slow. While my partner is able to easily converse, I can find myself entirely out of breath and focused on pushing in order to barely keep up.

While reading on a forum recently, I happened upon a post from a cyclist who was concerned that his speeds were too slow. Others were offering counsel as to how he could increase his ability, but I couldn't help but laugh when I realized that what he considered a sluggish pace is an absolute all-out sprint for me.
But, I am not a racer and have no delusions of ever being quick. In fact, I enjoy the slow pace - or what is my slow pace on any given day. I'm not in a hurry (most of the time) and I find little reason not to slow down and smell the roses, or the tulips as is the case during this particular season. I enjoy being able to hop off the bike and stare at farm animals or check out the latest construction projects around town.

Sure, there are times when I relish an opportunity for a strenuous ride or pushing myself to see what I can accomplish, but being okay with going slower speeds - particularly as I work my legs back into distance - has actually helped me enjoy riding so much more. In fact, some of my favorite recent rides have been those during which my speeds were of no consequence.

As I hear about or read articles about riders who are "slow," I remind myself that this has entirely different meaning to each individual. We all have days when we find ourselves lacking in energy. We cannot always push to be better, faster or to go farther.

Beyond any of that, a slower pace has its benefits. In an age when most of us seem to want to press on in an effort to achieve more, I am grateful for the opportunities to travel at less than dazzling speeds. It is in these moments that I appreciate my surroundings - including the changing seasons - and have the opportunity to soak in my community and environment in better detail.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Big Bicycle

On occasion, we in our household find ourselves curious about a bike shop located outside a reasonably bike-able distance. Several years ago, we'd visited such a shop in a city to the north of us that stocks brands of bicycles not found in most area shops. When we popped by recently to see what was happening and what sort of new finds they would have, we were disappointed to learn that the store had completely shut down.

Looking for some sort of bike-hunting-satisfaction, we dropped by another spot that we knew would be open and were greeted by what can only be described as a very big bicycle.
I have to apologize for the low quality photos as I was not prepared to run into such a sighting on this trip and had only the camera phone to document.
Oddly enough, it was not the first thing to catch my eye (sometimes the obvious is the last thing I see). I made a comment while pointing at an old Schwinn delivery bike standing off to the side that it would be fantastically fun to own. Sam said it would be hard to get the seat into a good pedaling position, but I found myself squinting and made wriggling faces trying to figure out why. Then, suddenly the most obvious item in the shop "appeared" before my eyes. "Ah," I sighed, "You were referring to the giant metal bicycle!" Sam then looked confused, but we got it all worked out eventually.
As Sam wandered off, I was mesmerized by the giant bicycle. I couldn't help but circle around it and look at all the details of this steed. Several shop employees came by to see if I needed assistance, but I couldn't seem to take my eyes off of this beast. The detail in the design was absolutely alluring.
Viewing the metal bicycle with a backdrop of high-viz clothing and helmets seemed an inappropriate location for it; yet it was almost because of its surroundings that it fascinated me so. Seeing this creation of found bits that stood in their final refinement stage against goods generally mass produced was, if nothing else, an interesting juxtaposition.
The bike is quite large, with its tallest point reaching a height that stood beyond the top of my head. As its maker points out, it is appropriately sized for someone who stands at about 9ft/2.75m.

As I continued to admire the bicycle and read through the artist's statement, it was easy to see how much time and care had gone into this creation. I have had the opportunity to see a variety of metal art and even specifically bicycles, but never one that has illustrated such care in detail and for the final product. If I had the means to own this (and a place to display it), it would be difficult not to purchase it!

If you happen to have the capacity, the artist is taking best offers for this piece (and if you do end up owning it, can I please come by and visit it on occasion?). It is currently on display at Lee's Cyclery in Fort Collins, Colorado, if you happen to be nearby and are curious about this bicycle.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Choosing a Casual Bicycle Helmet

Whether you are a person who rides a bicycle with or without a helmet, you may have found yourself trying to figure out the best protection for your noggin on at least one occasion or another. There is so much that goes into choosing a helmet - even more than I initially believed - and everything from aesthetics to fit to type-of-use seems to come into play. Some people have a wardrobe of helmets to choose from, while others prefer the one-and-only-for-all-rides option.

I freely admit that I am very likely to be found helmetless when riding around town, but almost never go on a road/sport ride without one. How that tradition started, I'm not entirely sure, but I struggle for some reason to remember or care about using one on short trips around the city. I do know that it upsets a certain segment of the cycling community to see (or hear about) me wandering about town on a daily basis without a helmet, but I am still of the belief that this is (unless required by law) entirely my choice.

But (as per my usual digressions), this is not intended as a time to argue the merits (or not) of donning a helmet, but rather, I am curious as to how others go about making a decision about a type or style of helmet, and even whether or not the looks of the helmet matter to you personally?

As I've found myself riding in the dark more frequently over the years, I've thought it might behoove me to wear a helmet around town on occasion (I am naturally clumsy and riding at night just adds to the potential for hitting unseen items in the road), and thus started my search for a helmet that wasn't too sporty-looking, that fits properly, isn't weighty, looks good (or at least acceptable), and that isn't boring. I have to admit, it hasn't been a very fruitful search.

Throughout this multi-year hunt, I've tried on, purchased and borrowed a variety of styles, and I have yet to find one that seems to check all the boxes.

Nutcase has been making helmets for a number of years now. It's easy to spot them in retail establishments because they are more than likely one of the more colorful and aesthetically creative designs one will see. Their rounded shape, unlike most of the more oblong road and mountain bike helmets is yet another easy way to spot them. Not to mention that they're placed strategically in magazines, often times when not even advertising for the Nutcase brand.
*Image from Nutcase helmets
Personally, I'm frequently drawn to this maker because of the colorful designs. I lean toward more subdued and neutral choices for clothing, but I've found the opposite to be true when it comes to bicycles and accessories. For some reason, the brighter the colors the more I seem to find myself picking up and trying a particular item. I can recall the day when I spotted "Phoebe," my former Amsterdam, in a local shop. I tried to convince the owner that I am more of a wallflower, to which he replied, "Anyone drawn to that bike is not a wallflower!"

However, I know there are those who prefer just the opposite and who seek out more subdued choices for helmets or even bicycle colors (which are also available from Nutcase). I don't necessarily object to a neutral helmet either, but it needs to tick all of the other boxes, and at about $60-70 USD, they are one of the less expensive options available.

My biggest issue with Nutcase helmets (and those of similar shape, such as Bern) is that they are on the heavy side. If I wear them for any length of time (more than a few minutes), I find that I have a strained neck for days afterward. I haven't quite decided if it's the fact that these helmets ride so low on the back of my head, or if it's the weight itself, but strained neck muscles are something I'd rather avoid.

Additionally, I also prefer more venting in a helmet, so the minimal hole design of these helmets doesn't particularly appeal to me. They seem to work fine in cool or cold months, but when the temperatures rise, I find it difficult to continue wearing this style of helmet.
*Image from Bell (Solara helmet pictured) Approx. $40 USD
Other options that I've perused and tried are the more commonly spotted helmets in shops such as sporting goods stores and include those from Bell, Giro, Specialized, and so on. They often look similar in style and shape to the one pictured just above, and come in a variety of color choices and slightly different shapes.

For me, finding the right shape for my head seems to be challenging. I own one in particular that fits well overall, has a lower profile (which I prefer), has lots of large vent holes, and is lightweight; however, I end up with painful dents in my forehead every time I wear it due to the shape of my head - which seems to be in opposition to the shape of the helmet - despite the fact that it fits better than most helmets I've tried. I've been told in the past that people have either a Specialized shape head or a Giro shaped head, but I seem to have difficulty with both brands, depending on the particular model.
*Image from POC (model is Trabec)
I spot a lot of the POC helmets (and Smith Optics are a close second) on the roads these days too. The style (at least to me) seems to meet somewhere in between the super-round helmet and the space-looking helmets. Venting seems adequate (though I still prefer more/larger venting), and I like the variety of color options ranging from neutral to more stand-out colors. At $150 USD, this one starts to tug more at the purse strings than I'd prefer. Still, it isn't the most expensive helmet available, and perhaps this could serve as both a sport helmet and casual helmet for many riders.

Helmets have such a huge range in price, and (at least in the U.S.) they all must meet Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requirements in order to be sold on shelves. In my experience though, it seems as though the more a person is willing to spend, the lighter the weight becomes and often, though not always, they seem to look better. Is it some kind of trick to attempt to get me to spend more money on a bike helmet? Perhaps. But, I suppose the more accurate answer is that the higher the price tag, the lighter the materials the company can use to manufacture the product and still meet safety needs.

After years of looking for the near-perfect, more casual, everyday type of helmet, I still have nothing definitive to point to. There are a lot of options to choose from, but it can be challenging to know which way to go - even when able to try them all on in person. Sometimes, I find the most information when actually using the helmet on a ride, and at that point it's too late to return the one selected.

How do you go about choosing your helmet(s)? Do you prefer to have just one helmet for all different types of riding and or bicycles, or do you like to have options to choose from? If you've had problems selecting based on your head shape, what have you found to be successful? Do you care about looks more than fit, or perhaps the opposite?

Monday, April 6, 2015

(Anti)Plan of Attack

Throughout the winter season I became frustrated with my lack of riding time. As spring drew closer, I started fantasizing about never getting off of a bicycle. In practicality, I understood that wasn't a possibility. There are aspects of life outside of riding that require time every day, not to mention the fact that I'd spent at least a couple of months nowhere close to touching a bicycle through the coldest part of the winter season.

An awareness that my muscles had lost all but the most minimal strength became a quick realization. How on earth would I continuously ride a bicycle for any length of time when traveling a couple of miles into town seemed to find me just on the brink of muscle failure? To my complete dismay, this is only a slight amplification of the truth.

As I continued to think on all of this and ride only occasionally, the Errandonnee event arrived. It was a perfect opportunity to continue to ride short distances and to test any sort of theories about riding a bike forever. Forever is a long time though, and because I am extremely cranky without sleep, I continued to adapt my plan for continuous riding into thoughts that seemed more reasonable.

I had also made claims regarding riding every street within my home community, and had not announced but had been plotting a way to ride at least a 20 mi/32 km continuous ride for 30 straight days. Perhaps not the loftiest of goals, but it seemed a good way to warm into the season. I had waffled back and forth between that idea and doing 6 centuries over the course of 30 days, but I figured my muscles hadn't seen the work they should have over winter, so it was better to stick with the daily, shorter distance rides. Though it would tax my mental fortitude, it made more sense strength- and endurance- wise for the time being.

My ability to ride daily was tested with just short distances around town for about a week and a half. This activity didn't bother me a bit, so it seemed completely reasonable that I should, in all likelihood, be able to complete 30, 20-mile days in a row.

Soon, April arrived and I was reminded that it is the official month when lots of people on bicycles commit to 30-days of riding. This should have made my personal commitment that much easier, but for some reason, it did not. Instead, I have found myself feeling the mental strain of trying to create a schedule to follow.

There is a very real possibility that you, dearest reader, are one of many people who prefer to have a schedule or a plan of action, but there's something about making a formal plan that causes everything to go awry.

Instead of looking forward to riding, it is easier to put off starting. As soon as I believe I have a plan of attack, I start to second guess it - which is precisely why I prefer not to plan things at all. If I have no time to think about it, there's really no reason to put off a task. Plus, I find that I do much better when I just wake up on any non-specific day and do something that seems ridiculous. Ludicrous behavior and planning just don't seem to mix well in my experience.

The irony of it all is that I have been riding nearly every day for a couple of months now, but as soon as a label or idea is put to the miles pedaled it becomes a kind of chore or I lose interest in what is supposed to be the main focus. When I feel some level of pressure to commit to a particular "thing" it all seems to come unraveled.

As I attempted to begin the 30, 20-mile days of riding, it didn't last long. It was almost as though putting a specific to my pedaling jinxed the entire process. It isn't that I could not or cannot start again, but I've come to the conclusion that any time I try to plan something, it never seems to quite go well.

What is most interesting is that spring seems to bring out in me this compulsion to make goals and plans for the "riding season." I cannot seem to help myself, despite my knowledge that the planning itself is often the demise of the entire goal. I understand that setting goals, making plans, and even sharing all of it to keep myself accountable are all more likely to result in a positive outcome, but it rarely seems to work in my favor.

In my experience, it almost seems to come together when I have a loose idea with no specific time frame and I simply happen to accomplish the goal without even truly realizing what has happened. I almost view it as a way of fooling myself into believing I'm not going to complete a given activity, but then working toward it all along.

I do realize how crazy this must sound. I also understand that on some subconscious level, I must comprehend that it is a form of goal setting, but my brain and body seek out ways to keep the process fun because I know how bored I can get with routine (which is a reality of working toward any goal - routine/repetition is necessary).

Feasibly I cannot ride continuously, forever on a bicycle, but the idea of it is still something that captures a thought in my mind every now and again. Maybe I will complete riding every street in my city, I'll ride 30 days of 20-miles, end up doing the 6 centuries in 30 days instead, or it may be something else entirely. For me, not really knowing (even if the idea is there) is part of the enjoyment.

Perhaps one future spring season will arrive and I will come to grips with the idea that I simply have a different way of going about goal-setting. Until then, I'll likely continue to convince myself that I can set goals and follow logical steps to get to an end point. But, then again, maybe the self-mind games are half the fun?

Friday, April 3, 2015

L'Eroica Event

I am likely one of the least-aware people when it comes to upcoming riding events. Generally when I find out about an organized ride of any sort, it is purely by accident (or because I happen to live close to the starting line). So, it wasn't all that surprising to discover that there is a new event taking place not far from where I grew up - and in just over a weeks time.
*Image found here
A new Eroica event (or perhaps I should say events) is starting in 2015 and taking place in cities across the world. From Spain to Japan there are several rides (in a handful of cities) taking place over the coming months.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of these type of events is that they are an opportunity to bring old into the new. I picture riders of all ages and backgrounds coming together to ride vintage bicycles on rolling hill routes similar to those in Tuscany. The events upcoming (or at least the one being held in California) doesn't state that the cyclist must ride a vintage bike, however all riders must ride something that looks "historic" or is in fact vintage, as well as dress in attire of the vintage-bicycle era.

Although I don't currently own any vintage bicycles, I cannot help but want to attend this event. My curiosity is taking over and I'm attempting to figure out a means to travel in less than a week to California to be able to ride what seems to be an interesting route. I think the Hillborne could be classified as a "historic-looking" bicycle to some people, right? Okay, maybe I'm stretching a bit, but in all fairness, it isn't common to see lugged steel sitting in most bike shops these days. Additionally, it doesn't fit the requirement of having vintage drive train equipment, so I think it is very quickly eliminating this as a possibility for me, sadly.

I would expect that there would be many vintage bicycle lovers attending and participating in this ride and I am dying with curiosity to know what sort of bicycles will be ridden. While I don't know that I care for all of the necessities of the ride (see the Regulations section through the above link, if you're curious) and the exclusions, I can still appreciate the desire to bring out some of the beautiful bikes of the past.

In a day in which most bike manufacturers turn to modern materials, I think it's an interesting idea to bring to the front the materials used in the past.

Have you attended and/or ridden in an Eroica ride in the past? What was your experience? Would you want to ride a vintage bicycle on a long, rolling hill route, or are you happy to have your modern bicycle along with its modern components?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bookman Curve Front Light

Bicycle lights can be a tricky item. Riding roads in the dark without lights isn't the best option, but finding ways to attach a headlight or taillight can be challenging if a bike is not equipped with some type of mounting device. If you don't want to have to fuss with a location for lights there are some options on the market of varying quality and cost.

I've used Bookman lights on my bikes for some time now. I own several sets and they're easy to transport, carry off the bag, and mount without much effort to the bike when needed. I've often wished that I had the funds to buy such a supply that when I run into others on bicycles at night who haven't donned lights, I could simply give them away. While these lights work well in regard to ease of use and to allow motorists and others to see a person on a bike, I was pleased to see a newer product on the market from Bookman that allows for a more illuminated path for the individual riding.
Unmounted view of Curve front light
Their latest headlight is the Curve front light and is a bit different than the prior model. This model has a maximum brightness of 80 lumens, and is shaped differently than the standard Bookman light. Instead of one small LED, the headlight has a curved shape that wraps around handlebars.

Additionally, this front light can be charged via USB, rather than needing to replace the batteries when they run out of power (I am aware that there is a version of the original model that can be charged via USB, they are just not what I currently own).

The newest addition to the Bookman line up of lights is larger than the prior model, and it's almost as convenient and easy to carry. Attaching and removing the light is slightly more complicated than the rubber band-like attachment device on the older style, but it's still fairly simple.
*Image from Bookman
When the light arrived I'd taken a quick look at the instructions and attempted to replicate the diagram shown, but my first attempt only resulted in me turning the light on and off. I didn't want to break the light, so I wasn't quite sure what to do, but after scanning it a bit more, I decided that what I'd been doing must be the way to release the strap. With a bit more force, it did come loose.

To date, I've used this Curve light on several evening/dark rides. I've used it alone and as a supplement to the prior Bookman model already owned. Here are a few highlights I've noted while riding thus far with the front light:

- The Curve front light is far better at illuminating a path in front of the bike than the original version. I travel a couple of dark roads that have no street lights and I can see several feet in front of me.

- The light attaches and removes fairly easily, though not quite as easily as the rubber band-like version.

- Motorists seem to spot the light even better because of the extra illumination.

- While the light is bright, it is not blindingly so (as some bike lights can be). Still, I accidentally looked at it when messing around with attachment and it was enough to send me off blinking my eyes and trying to recover for a few seconds.

- If your bicycle has handlebars larger than 32 mm in diameter, you will struggle to attach this particular light. The silicone attachment is stronger than the former design, and is also less elastic.
Mounted, top view of Curve front light
I appreciate the ease of use of all Bookman lights. While this version still isn't as bright as other headlights I own, for the price, it is plenty useful and I don't need to worry about an attachment in order to get it affixed to the bike. Because of the simple attachment strap, it makes it easy to use on any bike (which is not always the case with lights).

This particular light has two strengths of illumination that can be changed between 40 and 80 lumens, and between steady and flashing. The changes are easy to do: a single click turns the light on/off, while double clicking changes between all the modes available.
Mounted, front view of Curve light
The claimed run time is up to 35 hours on a single charge. Keep in mind that this is using the light on its lowest settings, so if the rider prefers a brighter/steady light, it will not run for this stated time. If the brightest setting is used (80 lumens), the run time is about 3 hours (a USB cable is included with the light). Since my late night regular ride is a total of about 25 minutes, it takes approximately 7 rides on the brightest, steady setting to run through the battery.

Since I am not the most aware of how long I've been running a light, it would be nice if there was some kind of indicator to let the user know when the battery is running low (say at 20%). I'd hate to get stuck somewhere and have no illumination to get me home. As an added feature though, it takes only 2 hours to charge completely. *Edited:  Bookman has stated that there is a flashing red indicator at the top of the light that blinks to let the user know when 30 minutes of time remains. Excellent news for people like me.

The front light currently comes in three colors: red, black, or white and is available for purchase through a variety of sources, such as Bookman directly (linked above), Amazon, and other bicycle retailers (and perhaps even your local bike shop). As of the date of this post, the light retails for just over $40 USD (€ 39.00).
Curve light in use
I am happy with the function of this front light and continue to ride with it regularly because of the ease of use. I am curious if there will be a coordinating and just as useful taillight in the future. It would be great to have a rear light with the same amount of power provided, though I understand that attachment strategies can be even trickier on the back side of a bicycle due to different setups such as saddlebags, racks, and so on.

If you've tried the newer version of Bookman's front light, I'd love to hear your thoughts and whether you think this is an improved version of the original.