Friday, December 28, 2012

LBS: R.O.X.

R.O.X. (short for Recreational Outdoor Exchange) is supposedly the biggest outdoor shop in South East Asia. It has stuff for camping, running, backpacking, and other kinds of adventure travel. It carries brands like The North Face, Columbia, Salomon, Keen and Mountain Hardwear. Nevertheless, I'm featuring R.O.X. on my blog as an LBS because it has one whole floor dedicated to bicycles, including folding bikes.

R.O.X. has a lot of bikes. They have mountain bikes and road bikes like any LBS. But they also carry non-conventional bikes like beach cruisers, tandems, high-end commuters, children's bikes, and yes, folding bikes. For the latter, they carry Giant and Dahon.

If you find it difficult to find and get to my local bike shops like BTC, Sabak, Lifecycle and Tryon, then R.O.X. is for you. It is located right smack in the center of Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. It's Building 1 of Bonifacio High Street. You CANNOT miss it.

Of course since R.O.X. is in a prime location expect to pay more. Unlike in an LBS where you can haggle with the owner to get a 10% or 20% discount, you cannot do the same in R.O.X. Also, although R.O.X. has a resident bike mechanic, don't expect your bike to be fully serviced like at an LBS.

Still, I frequent R.O.X. because sometimes it has bike related products that my LBS does not have like Giant and Trek parts & accessories, and Columbia and Habagat clothes & shoes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Vincita SL01 Leather Saddle

I was fortunate enough to receive a special Christmas present from the folks over at Vincita in Thailand. They sent me the SL01 Sport Leather Saddle!
It's a pretty neat leather saddle. The SL01 closely resembles the Brooks B-17. I must say, at first touch the saddle feels a bit tough and hard. But I guess, after applying Proofide and a few kilometers riding on it, it'll eventually soften up. I have to confess, though, I haven't actually ridden on it. I'm too lazy to replace the existing saddle on my Brompton. Maybe first thing in 2013, as one of my new year's resolutions! Hahaha! It is cheaper than the Brooks B-17, I can tell you that. It retails for only THB 2,590.00 (or US$84.00 / PHP3,450.00).
The SL01 came with its own rain cover. When not in use, it folds into this small pouch, which will fit a standard size saddle bag. Cool.

I'll share my full review of this product as soon as I've tested it. In the meantime, Happy Holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Vincita B-500B Brompton Cover

My Brompton Cover had seen better days. It has a lot of holes due to wear and tear. It has gotten so bad that I had to cover the holes up with duct tape so they wouldn't worsen.
I really had to replace them.
Enter Vincita's B-500B folding bike cover! It does the same thing as the Brompton's--only much better and cheaper.
The cover comes with its own bag, which you can attach to your saddle. Like the Brompton Cover, the Vincita B-500B is made of sturdy nylon material and protects your bike from dust and water. It's black which means you can use it to conceal the bike and confidently bring it with you inside restaurants, banks and shopping malls.
There are two things why I like this cover compared to the original. First, at its bottom, Mr. Yingsak and his team replaced the extremely irritating nylon cord with a velcro strap. It does the same job of securing the bottom, and looks cleaner as well.
Second, the B-500B's pouch is integrated in the cover itself. It's sown on the inside of the cover. How neat is that?!
Did I mention that it's cheaper? While the Brompton Cover retails for $45.00 over at NYCeWheels, it's only $17.00 at Vincita.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Ortlieb Mini O-Bag

I told myself not to buy another bag for my Brompton (I already have the T Bag), but an opportunity came up that I could not refuse. My pal Abel bought a white Ortlieb Mini O-Bag that he later decided not to use, so he posted it on our group's facebook page. It's white. And it's an Ortlieb. How can I not get it?
Now I know my friend Diane already has a own review of this product. It's pretty extensive. But just the same, here's mine.
The Mini O-Bag is the Brompton version of the Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Classic handlebar bag. It is made of a PVC-coated polyester cover making it waterproof. No need for a separate rain cover like the T-Bag. As for capacity, well, it pales in comparison to the T-Bag's 21 liters, but the Mini O-Bag's 7 liters provides enough space for the essentials.
Here you can see the Mini O-Bag can fit a shirt, arm sleeves, an eco bag, an innertube, saddle cover, cycle cap, front light, fibre flare light, a multi-tool, wallet and sunglasses. I can even squeeze in some power bars, an apple and my rain jacket if I wanted to. Like I said, enough room for a whole day long bike ride.
The Mini O-Bag attaches to the front carrier block just like any Brompton bag. But, it opens from its back for easy access from the handlebar.
I can imagine using the Mini O-Bag for quick trips to the supermarket--use it as a mini-shopping cart like this.
Look at that. The white Mini O Bag perfectly matches my white Brompton! How could I have not bought it?! Incidentally, the Mini O-Bag retails for $143.00 on NyceWheels. As of the moment, it only comes in two colors (Blue and White).

Monday, December 10, 2012

FBP Christmas Party 2012

A few days ago, Folding Bike Pilipinas (FBP) celebrated its 2nd Christmas Party. It was held at the Guevarra residence in Quezon City. Sobrang dami ng pumunta. Lampas 60. Every affiliate bike club sent their representatives: Polkit, VeloPH, Cainta MTBikers, and BCP, among others.
I had a grand time. It was so nice to have caught up with my folding bike friends. Dinner was sumptuous and filling! I had lechon, sisig and beer! Incidentally, it was the birthday of one of us, Atty. Lucio Binalla. Belated Happy Birthday, PaƱero!
 
And throughout the night, the organizers (Abel, Al, Geraldine, Ruth, et al.) raffled off all sorts of prizes, including shirts, lights, handlebar grips, and other bike parts and accessories. I won a sling bag courtesy of Yadu bags. Thanks, Nitya and to all the other sponsors!
 
FBP had a great year as a bike club. We went on numerous bike rides and even organized a very successful folding bike festival last June! I'm sure 2013 will be another epic year for FBP.
 
Merry Christmas, FBPeeps!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Year Cycling With My Daughter

Bea and I celebrated another year of cycling together--well, at least with her as my passenger. Hehe.
Around this time last year, we biked for the first time outside our neighborhood. We joined my FBP friends on an evening bike ride around Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, and she enjoyed the experience.
After that, our father-daughter bike rides became more frequent. Bea would accompany me to buy the newspaper and pandesal in the morning. What's heartwarming was each time I'd invite her to come bike with me she never turned me down.
It was during our bike rides that I got to teach her her first words. I taught her "house" after pointing at all the houses on our street. She also learned "cat," "dog," "tricycle," "car," "mailbox," and "tree" while on the bike.
Bea likes to play with the handlebars. She rings the bell, presses on the cyclometer, and even tries to steer the bike. I swear, if she didn't have puny arms, she'd be the one taking control of the Brompton. 
We've experimented with different ways of riding together. First with the iBert seat on the Allant. Then using the Bromp-upuan with the Brompton. And then we also tried the InStep Bike Trailer. Our favorite would have to be the Bromp-upuan because she's in front of me, I can see her, and we get to talk.
Last week we joined the Tour of the Fireflies. I had no trouble waking her up at 5:30 in the morning. I whispered, "Bea, let's go biking na" to her ear and she opened her eyes and said, "Biking?!" No complaints. No crying. She stood up and got ready. At the Tour, when we were on the road with the rest of the participants, Bea did not hesitate to salute and hi-5 (or wave) to all those who greeted her. 
I sincerely believe my daughter enjoys riding. And I am thankful for that.
I fear, however, that she may outgrow this fondness with biking. I hope I'm wrong. I wish she continues to enjoy biking. Next year, I want her to learn how to pedal. Start with a tricycle. Then the following year learn to balance herself on two wheels. And hopefully, by 2014 when we join the Tour of the Fireflies, Bea's no longer just a passenger, but a cyclist herself as well.
But I get ahead of myself. For now I am extremely happy that my daughter and I cycle together.

Friday, November 23, 2012

2012 Tour of the Fireflies with Bea

Last Sunday, I participated in my fourth Tour of the Fireflies (my first time was in 2009). For the second year in a row I rode my Brompton (In 2009 I used the Allant, and in 2010 the Valencia). What's special with this TOF was that I rode it with my daughter Bea. That's her in the pink long sleeve and blue-green leggings sitting on her Bromp-upuan.
This is officially the 14th TOF, the theme being "Bicycles for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation" or BEST. It was the first time that the tour was held on a November. In the past, TOF was always organized in April. It was originally rescheduled to September. But then it got pushed back to November. Not a big deal. Better late than next year is what I say. 
My family woke up very early that Sunday morning (November 18). Got to fit the Brompton, the bike trailer, the Bromp-upuan and 2 helmets easily at the back of the car.
We proceeded to the meeting place at Ortigas Home Depot along Julia Vargas Ave. in Pasig City. Met up with my friends from BCP and FBP.  
I also got to convince my best friend Barnett, who also owns a Brompton, to come with us. He, in turn, brought along his wife, Jes, with him. She rode a Tern folding bike.
From Ortigas Home Depot, the FBP and BCP group rode down Julia Vargas Ave. to Tiendesitas at the assembly area.
When we got to Tiendesitas they still had a program. We waited for another 30 minutes for it to finish.
The tour officially started at 7:45am. There were a lot of cyclists this year--definitely more than any tour I've participated in. Reports estimate it to 14,000 bikers.
Coming down Ortigas Ave.
Anyway, from Tiendesitas we cycled to Ortigas Ave. and then turned left on C-5. We rode north on C-5 passing Libis and Eastwood. Bea was fine and was enjoying the ride. Our pace was an easy 10 km/h.
When the peloton hit Blue Ridge, we turned right into Marikina City.
That's my 2 1/2 daughter Bea with her shades on. Thanks to Doc Arman Lee for this cute picture.
This photo grabbed from Firefly Brigade Facebook Page
The tour made a stop at Patio del Zapatero. There was a mini-program. At the time we crossed the stage, Mayor Del De Guzman was giving a speech. Bea and I rested with FBP and BCP friends on the side of the road. She drank lots of water.

After a few minutes, we rode again. This time we headed back to Quezon City. 
It was getting hot and Bea told me she was tired already. So I phoned Ria to meet us at Ateneo.
We cycled up the hill towards Aurora Blvd. and then turned right on Katipunan Ave. Bea gave me moral support by shouting, "Go,go, go, Daddy! Go, go, go!"
When we got to Katipunan Ave., Ria met us at Gate 2 of Ateneo. Bea and I called it a day as it was getting very hot (it was about 10am already). We had biked 16 kilometers, or half the length of the tour. The rest of the participants continued biking another 17 kilometers going to UP, then QC Circle, then New Manila,  before returning to Tiendesitas via Ortigas Ave. Total length was approximately 35 kms.
Barnett and Jessica also called it a day. We loaded 2 Bromptons, 1 Tern and the bike trailer (that I chose not to use) in the back of my car. No problem. They all fit. I love folding bikes.
For the next Tour of the Fireflies, my goal is to teach Bea to ride a bike and cycle together.

Congratulations to the Firefly Brigade for staging a successful critical mass ride that is the 14th Tour of the Fireflies! May it have sent a message to policymakers and government officials that bicyclists are here to stay and that they should recognize us as valid commuters and stakeholders in the public transport sector.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Bike Lane Along The Manila Bay Boardwalk

Yesterday, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, along with some Metro Manila mayors and Ms Earth beauties, inaugurated the first MMDA bike lane in Manila. It starts at Remedios Circle in Malate then flows out to Roxas Blvd. before turning to Quirino Ave. and ending at Paraiso ng Batang Maynila on Adriatico Street. It's just 1.75 kms. It's short, yes, but it makes a bold statement--that Metro Manila finally recognizes bicycles as a major mode of transportation.
The photo above shows the Roxas Blvd. section of the bike lane, which at the time of this blog stretches 700 meters. The lane is fully painted (and not just a line); There are numerous signs informing people and other commuters that it is a bike lane; And there's a bike rack across Raja Sulayman Park. Have I mentioned that it's got a fantastic view of Manila Bay?
Last year, the CCP, with noble intentions, tried to implement a bike network within its compound. But the project was a failure, mainly because all management did was paint a single green line on the side of the road. Naturally, drivers of motor vehicles disregarded it. Soon enough the paint faded away and the bike lane was gone.
I hope the MMDA bike lanes don't suffer the same fate. I hope the MMDA continues to support and protect the cities' thousands of cyclists. I thank all those (there are numerous organizations) who in one way or the other contributed to make this project a reality. I read somewhere that the MMDA is planning to open other bike lanes in Metro Manila. Good!!
Mabuhay po kayo!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Folding Bike Pilipinas turns 1!

Last November 11, Folding Bike Pilipinas (or FBP) turned 1. To celebrate our first year anniversary, we organized a short bike ride, lunch and a program.
Photo courtesy of Eric Los Banos
Around 60 of us assembled at the Jetti Gas Station-ASEANA that Sunday morning. Some  met up in Greenhills earlier and then biked to Makati where they joined other FBPeeps before proceeding to Pasay. I biked on my own from Paranaque.
When everyone who could attend came (friends from Polkit, VeloPH and Red Phoenix also joined the bike ride), we set out for the Cultural Center of the Philippines. We cycled around the Mall of Asia and then took a detour behind the GSIS/Senate, avoiding the Macapagal Highway. Here's a photo of beautiful Manila Bay with the SM Jetty Terminal on the left.
We reached CCP after cycling for 5 kms. It really just was a short bike ride (this Sunday on the other hand, at the Tour of the Fireflies, we'll be covering more than 30 kms!) 
Photo courtesy of Alexander Chua
At the CCP, members posed for a souvenir photo.
Here's the route we took.
From CCP, the bike club then transferred to nearby Inggo's Grill in Harbour Centre for lunch and the anniversary program.
The program was hosted by Abel and Koei. We had a raffle with lots of prizes. I won an FBP collared shirt (Thanks, Ms Ruth!).
We posed for another set of group photos. This one was for those in FBP neon green shirts.

At 12nn I had to leave to be with my family. Others stayed to continue the celebration.

Happy 1st Year Anniversary, FBP! To cycling and friendship!