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Winter Bike Riding Is…

Winter Bike Riding is…

…a drag. That is the first word that comes to my mind and I have a feeling that it is a sentiment that is shared by many people. We all have our reasons: it is cold, it is rainy, it gets dark too early and it goes on and on. There is just something about the winter months that make you hang up your helmet, happily grab your keys and enjoy the toasty seat warmer on your drive to work.

This fall I bought and put together my first commuter bike and only rode it to work once before daylight savings ended. I keep thinking once it is spring I will start riding again. Lately though I have really missed riding and have begun questioning if all the excuses I have come up with to avoid the commute are valid. Here are the results of my internal argument to ride (weather or not).

Excuse: It is too cold. Well this one works for the Northeastern and north Midwestern states (links to snow storm news). Here in the Pacific Northwest the climate is mild. The winter months are actually quite pleasant and though the sky is perpetually grey the temperature averages 45 degrees. Last Monday it was 62 degrees a record high for this time of year!

Verdict: Invalid

Excuse: It is rainy. I played youth soccer growing up and spent countless hours running around a muddy field (without a raincoat!) chasing a soccer ball with a big smile on my face. So what makes the rain such a deterrent to ride now? It may be annoying to arrive at work wet but that’s why they make raincoats. Furthermore that’s why we make waterproof panniers to hold dry clothes to change into upon arrival at work. If I am not riding because of the rain then I probably shouldn’t represent a company that makes waterproof bike accessories.

Verdict: Invalid

Excuse: It gets dark too early. This is the true excuse that stops me from riding into work. My route to work involves roads, skinny shoulders and a trail known to be home to a few coyotes. Riding solo in the dark could be potentially dangerous. Though you can buy bright headlights, taillights and dress in reflective clothing (and put some high-vis panniers on your bike!) as a new commuter, I am not comfortable riding in the dark with cars zooming by.

Verdict: Valid

So maybe bike commuting isn’t the best idea in winter when the sunsets at 4 p.m. but I still have the plenty of other opportunities to ride. There are actually events all over the country that were created to celebrate the “joys” of winter riding.  Winter riding is what you make it, so why not make it fun?

Here are some fun winter events going on around the country:

 

chilly hilly
Chilly Hilly on the Ferry
frozen forty
Fat Bikes! Frozen Forty
worst day
Costumes of Worst Day Ride

 

 

 

 

What’s in a Name?

On one of my first days at Ortlieb I was trying to enter a small order into the computer but could not find the correct article number for a particular pannier anywhere. So I asked Ian, our product manager, “What is the part number for a Roller-Packer Plus?” He replied laughing to himself, “There isn’t one.”

I was confused and couldn’t figure out why he was laughing. But he quickly explained that a ‘Roller-Packer Plus’ was not only not a product that we sell but it wasn’t even a possibility of being a pannier we make. Still confused and embarrassed at my lack of product knowledge I asked, “Why?”

Seven months later and fully versed in our product, I hear people ask for ‘Roller-Packer Plus’ or ‘Front Plus Classics’ and realize that our wide variety of panniers and their names can be confusing. So I will pass the wisdom I learned that day from Ian on to you. The most basic explanation is that each word in the pannier names has a meaning, and that meaning correlates to a specific function of the pannier…a very German way of describing product and we are a German company after all.

For a more in depth explanation of the names of our panniers and what they signify please see the chart below. Soon you will learn why Ian found humor in my asking about a “Roller-Packer Plus”. Pannier chart2

 

Chili, Moss, Steelblue, Lime- Ortlieb 2015 Product Updates

Here at Ortlieb we are super excited because 2015 is bringing the most extensive product updates we have seen since the foundation of the company. Seriously, there are over 150 new article numbers! What makes these updates more interesting is though we have a record number of changes, we only have a dozen brand new products. This means that most of the changes are to products you already know and love- but don’t worry they are all positive changes!

Here are the most notable changes you should be aware of when shopping for Ortlieb products:

QL2.1 mounting system

Almost all of our panniers have been upgraded to QL2.1 mounting system. The QL2.1 system is based on the proven QL2 system but with improvements made to key features. The upper mounting rail consists of one piece for higher stability. The system allows for the use of extremely flat nuts on the internal side of the bag, creating a level surface to avoid damaging whatever you stuff in your panniers. The lower hook rail reduces abrasions on the carrier and prevents damage to the rack tubing. It is also rotatable to fit your rack as precisely as possible. All hooks are adjustable to the rack without requiring any tools.

New Fabric Colors

All bags made with Plus materials have received a vibrant makeover. The fabric is still made of abrasion-resistant Cordura but in all new colors. The bags are tone on tone instead of the traditional color and black. The color ways are: lime-moss, signal red-chili, denim-steelblue, granite-black. View the new colors here!

The Plus material bags are not the only bags to have a stylistic upgrade; the Packman Pro2 and several of our City & Commuting bags have adopted the new color way as well. The colors now reflect a more modern aesthetic while some, such as lime, are fun, bright and flashy.

Urban Line

The new Urban Line was designed to be a visually appealing, smart detail design and high quality fabrics. Admired in offices, cafes and shops throughout town, these fashionable bags with their aesthetic textile look are ideal for bicycle commuters and recreational riders.

The fabric is PU laminated cordura cotton blend. It comes in two colors Coffee or Pepper. Just like any Ortlieb bag, the material is 100% waterproof. And for the first time ever the Back-Roller Urban is being sold as a single pannier (to be easily paired with the commuter bag).

View the entire Urban Line here!

 

Sweet 2014

There is something about the holiday season and 2014 coming to end that makes you reflect and appreciate all of the ups and downs that the year has brought.

Here at Ortlieb there has been a disproportional amount of ups and we are so grateful for the all growth and excitement that has occurred this past year. I could go on to list all of the highlights of the year but instead I will pick one that I believe is truly special: the re-initiation of Friday Pastry Rides.

As a small company who works less than 20 feet from all team members with open office doors and no cubicles, it is hard to remember that activities outside of the office are an important part of building camaraderie. This August we had two employees join the Ortlieb Customer Service department, Paul a long time bike enthusiast & industry vet and myself (Lisa) new to both the bike industry & serious riding (though I bought my first commuter bike this fall!). With fresh faces and enthusiasm around the office we helped to motivate Ian & Jeff to bring back this sweet company tradition (pun intended).

On Friday mornings we all meet bright and early before work and ride from the office via the Interurban trail to a local bakery in downtown Kent. The ride takes about 40 minutes there and back with a few minutes break spent ogling the delicious French pastries deciding on which to indulge and cancel out all the calories we just burned off. Loading our pasties in an Ortlieb bag we head back to the office in time to change, make coffee and enjoy our treats before diving into the work day. It sounds simple and it is but it allowed us as a team to bond over what is at our company’s core- riding bikes!

Bicycle riding is at the heart of why we all work in the bike industry.  We really love bikes and by re-instating Friday Pastry Rides we were all reminded of the endless positive experiences investing in bike culture can bring.

So here is too more Friday Pastry Rides and growth in 2015! Cheers!

 

 

Source Hydration Resovoirs

I always thought that hydration reservoirs were all the same. They all fill water, have a hose and a little valve to suck the water through with the goal of keeping you hydrated while biking, hiking, skiing, whatever. This past weekend I got to test out our Source hydration reservoir while on an 8mi. hike near Snoqualmie. I learned that there are some small technical features that can set one hydration system apart from others.

The Source WXP LP 2 liter hydration pack fit perfectly in my REI flash 18 pack with plenty of room for snacks, neck warmer, gloves, extra socks and my down coat when I got hot. Here are a few features that stood out about the Source Hydration reservoir:

Cap on Mouth Piece
-At first this annoyed me because you have to twist the valve open and uncap it to take a drink. However, if you leave the valve twisted open and just put the cap on it is easy to take a sip of water. Also the cap protects the mouth piece from getting dirty      which is a plus.

Three ways to fill the reservoir
UTA-Traditional way through a twist open/close cap on the side of the reservoir
-Through an opening on top- this deserves a shiny gold star in my books because I  always had trouble with water spilling out the side opening on other reservoirs.
– UTA Universal Tube Adapter (available as part of the Ultimate Hydration System Kit)  allows you to refill the reservoir directly through the tube with have having remove it from your backpack.

 

The water tasted good 
-This is by far the most important part of any hydration reservoir. Many hydration systems claim that theirs taste the best, but Source’s hydration reservoirs use a PE film that are BPA and Phthalate free guaranteeing a clean water taste!

 

*Random side note: Hydration systems can still be put to good use when not outside adventuring. I have to give credit to my friend, Mac Hansen, for what he dubbed as “The Hamster Initiative”.  The hamster initiative is simply hanging you reservoir above your bed so that way you always have quick and easy access to water anytime day or night!

©Ortlieb USA 2016