January 23, 2009

Short Story on Serfas Short Shorts

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I get e-mails...

Hi Kiril

I am writing to see if you would be interested in testing / reviewing some of our product.

I have your Blog bookmarked and enjoy reading about your latest conquests on your bike.

In 2008 we spent a great deal of time and energy developing a new gel cycling short.

What I have is the first production run that I would like you to try out and give your feedback on. With Spring and Summer approaching, we need to get some feedback so we can make inline changes to improve on the shorts, if needed.  

If you are interested in this opportunity, let me know.

James Thomas

Serfas

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Hey, I'm game!
 
Even if I've never worn such things before! ;-D

I am flattered to be asked, though I'm hardly in racing "trim", and wouldn't come close to being considered as a bicycling magazines idea of cover model material. ;-D

For 15 years Serfas has been manufacturing, and selling a variety of cycling products, including apparel, from its base in Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca., here in Orange County.

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So when I got my shorts a couple of days later, and sat there looking at the little darlings, I just had to laugh as I wondered what they would feel like to wear, and how I'd look.

The whole notion appealed to my sense of humor. ;-D

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80% Nylon, 20% Spandex, made in the good ol' US of A from imported fabrics, I sat there looking admittedly rather skeptically, at all that Blue gel padding in the, um, important places, and made plans for giving the shorts a work out.

Having never worn such shorts before it was initailly very uncomfortable squirming my Size 38 behind into the Size L.

Just how high up do I pull these things, and how much does that elastic waist band stretch, anyway?

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Suddenly it felt like my, um, package had been shoved all the way up to my lungs! ;-D

It was initally very uncomfortable walking around my living room, and out to my garage to get my bike.

Looking at myself in the mirror I felt very self-conscious, about my figure in these very form-fitting shorts. ;-D

Then I started riding.

On the day I took these photos I road maybe 10 miles, much of it on the Santa Ana River Bicycle Trail, in Santa Ana.

Over all I have worn them for 60 miles of riding.

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The more I rode the more comfortable I became riding in them, and being seen in public in my "tights". ;-D

No-one gave me the once-over with lingering gazes of either unbridled lust, or utter disgust, and no-one laughed. ;-D

The shorts, while still tight feeling, felt more comfortable to wear the more they were put thru their paces.

My "package", while still feeling like it was stuffed in the tiniest box imaginable, no longer felt like it was trying bypass my lungs, and exit my throat. ;-D

With that gel material down there His Royal Highness definitely felt cushioned, & protected, just hemmed in. ;-D

I like the look of the shorts, and the feel of the material, and the feeling on my legs, and butt, was a nice one.

I felt OK riding in them the more I did so.

The, um, bottom line, however, comes down to just how comfortable a guy feels wearing something so tight.

Wearing the next size up, if possible, might take care of some of the comfort issues, or might not as, again, it comes down to the comfort level with all that tight.

I'll end by welcoming Serfas to the tiny community of Orange County BikeBlogs, and hope they do more with it than just plug their products.

As riders in the OC, and active in the cycling community, and industry, they have a chance to do so much more with this platform by way of reaching out, and spreadng the joy of cycling.

As for the shorts...like the bike I reviewed in 2007, I'll be making a donation, either to Goodwill, or the Salvation Army. ;-D

 

January 23, 2009 in Product Reviews by an Ordinary Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 23, 2007

Cycling Dude Review: XYZ 26in. Man Deluxe Beach Cruiser

In early October I was approached by a representative for a company called XYZ BIkes, out of Hermosa Beach CA. by way of a Las Vegas Headquarters, an Internet based company selling "great looking beach cruisers for very low prices."

They are a relatively new outfit.

Hello,

I am contacting you on behalf of my client John Vanhara with XYZBikes.com. 

XYZ Bikes is an internet-based manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, designer and retailer specializing in beach cruiser bicycles.  The company offers over forty beach cruiser and beach bike designs in its online catalog.

In an effort to put the word out about their bikes and website, they would like to generate interest through select bicycling-oriented websites to review their beach cruisers and write a review on their website, along with a link to the XYZ Bike website.

Would you be open to reviewing one of the beach cruisers (DUDE: A link was provided to a page on the website.)? If so, we would send one to you at no charge.  XYZ Bikes will pay all costs to ship as well.

In exchange, they are just asking that you try out the bike, write a review on your website/blog, and additionally post a link back to the website.

Feel free to email or call me if you have any questions. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Diana Heeb Bivona

When I first began this blog almost 5 years ago I never thought of having advertising, much less reviewing products.

As blogging has evolved and as interest in my blog has grown I became an Amazon Associate, accepted Google Ads and BlogAds as well.

This review marks the first time I've accepted the offer of putting a product through its paces and expressing my opinion on the item in question.

They apparently think the effort on their part to be worth it (Any company that does this sort of promotion obviously is taking a big risk that the reviewer might not like the product.).

We don’t intend to spend big money on advertising or other promotion. Our goal is to keep very low prices and if we have big advertising budge we couldn’t do that. We want to keep operation expenses very low and pass the savings to our customers.  We don’t want to use classic retail resellers like most of our competition. Retail resellers usually add 50% mark up and customer must pay too much for their bikes. Our goal is to sell cheap directly to customers.

After checking out the website and taking a few days to consider it, I accepted.

Maybe I will get some reciprical publicity out of this if they like what I have to say, who knows?

So let's get this show on the road! ;-D

I will do 2 things, here: A product review and thoughts on the company website.

PRODUCT: XYZ 26in. Man Deluxe Beach Cruiser. (New for 2007.)

REGULAR PRICE: $145.00

CURRENT SALE PRICE: $95.00

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The bike came well packed in a sturdy cardboard box.

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This made it very easy for me, relying on Mass Transit as I often do, to transport it, out of the box, to the bike shop where, for $35, the bike was properly assembled.

The last time I rode a single speed, with no handlebar brakes, for either the front and back wheels, I was in elementary school. ;-D

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I wanted to test this bike not just on the Beach Trail, but on the street and Stanta Ana River Trail as a short commuter and recreation bike.

For a person with limited funds who may be looking for a cheap starter bike for either of these purposes, would a Beach Cruiser be a good idea?

I love the way it looks, with its thick frame. Just staring at it made me smile. ;-D

On the 2 mile ride home from the shop I encountered an old man who stopped his car and with a big grin asked me about the bike.

There is no question that riding the bike the first time was a bit awkward for this long time Hybrid rider.

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I had to adjust the saddle to the appropriate height for me to comfortably pedal and this made me feel a little high off the ground.

The easy to use handle makes doing this a snap, just be sure to make everything is sufficiently tightened and you will be fine.
This, the wide positioning of the handle bars and the unfamiliar braking system, made for an interesting first ride. ;-D

I love the saddle!

You got a skinny, um, behind? No problem! Lots of room to get comfy.

You, um, a tad wide down there? No problem! Lots of room for you, too. ;-D

And, guys, see that dent in the seat? The Family Jewels will be happy, trust me. ;-D

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The low handle bars, with their wide stance, take a little getting used to, requiring you to play with their positioning a little to get them where you feel most comfortable.

As you will see, in a later picture, they ARE low, espcially if you have to raise the seat a bit high for easy pedaling, but not in an uncomfortable way once you get the hang of things.

You are still seated in a comfortable, upright postion.

Leaning on the handle bars too hard can lead to them being lowered a little and needing to be re-positioned.

This can sometimes happen, if you are not careful, when getting on, or off, the bike, especially if the height of the saddle requires you to lean the bike over a little to get on or off.

There is plenty of room to add a basket for carrying small items.

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The low handle bars have a nice, comfortable foam where you hold on, the pedals are nice and comfortable for the feet and the kickstand works like a charm.
The above shot gives you a glimpse of the chain, and Coaster brake system.

Braking requires the rider to briefly back pedal.

If I had a dollar for everytime I reflexively squeezed the handle bars, to brake, the first 2 days I rode the bike I could retire. ;-D

The balloon tires are the Wanda King brand and are 26 X 2.125, inflatable to a maximum 40psi.

The first test ride was my 11 mile commute to work, plus a short ride on a bus to see how it got along with a bike rack.

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The first mile, on surface streets, included 4 corner turns and the next 3 miles were on the Santa Ana River Trail, which had a half dozen downs and ups such as the one above.

If you are used to the sharp turns and speed of a sleek, multi-speed bike, then riding this bike will surprise you in several ways:

You want to fly down the road at 20 -30 mph? Ok. then put some muscle into your pedaling, or ride only down hills.

A bike like this is ideal for the leasurely pace of someone not in a hurry and for those who want to get a workout by putting a little oomph into their pedaling. ;-D

The bike makes what feels like wide, slow, turns, that take some getting used to, but are taken in stride with experience.

Toward the end of my ride is a freeway overpass that tests ones taste for climbing on a bike like this, and ones ability to handle the brake.

The bike took the hill like a trooper, not being as hard to pedal as I thought it might be.
I would not recommend riding up a steep road into the mountains however. ;-D

The brakes, on a flat road and on the down hill, did their job very well.

That one back-pedal causes the bike to come to a gradual stop, hence the name "Coaster", though it's a bit quicker with a little more pressure applied.

This is the sole reason I would not recommend the bike as a commuter to the rider not experienced in riding busy streets where the quick and reliable application of ones brakes are often needed.

Want to commute, or go on short shopping forays? Choose lightly traveled routes.

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Even though the bike takes the cracks and bumps of the most unkept city street, like a mountain bike, it truly shines on what it was designed for: The paved Cycling Trail.

You want to take a leisurely 10 to 30 mile ride on the trail of some nearby public beach, some river trail from the mountains to the sea, around a lake, in a regional park, or around a city?

A path designed to be shared only by cyclists, walkers, joggers, and maybe the occasional horseback rider?

This bike is a comfortable and cheap way to introduce yourself to the pleasures of this activity.

It is not designed to be used as a night time ride, though a headlight can be added.

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I'd like to thank the guy who helped me take the above 2 pictures.

See, see! I DID ride the bike!.;-D

About 25 miles overall. ;-D

One more thing: This is not a mountain bike, but there are no doubt some out there who ride such steeds and even those bikes with no brakes at all, on unpaved trails. ;-D

You want to know how this baby performs on such trails, you are on your own.

If you live to tell about it stop by and leave a comment. ;-D

Now, for the person who, like me, relies on Mass Transit the question of the suitability of the bike for transport on a bike rack is of the utmost importance.

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Most Bike Racks found on the front of most busses are of 2 types.

Some have sloping ends on the back end.

The oversized tires make the bike a little long, but the wide wheels fit snugly into place on these type racks.

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Some racks do not have the above slope, thus making the rack seem a little short.

Even though the back tire "sits up" a little the front wheel is snugly secure, as is the bike.

At least it appears that way.

I prefer the other rack because it's remotely possible that if the bus hit a bump, or dip in the road, your trusty steed might come loose. ;-D

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When it comes to using bike racks in front of businesses and government facilities...you take your chances. ;-D

Not all such racks are made to accomodate all types of bikes.

The company website sells fenders and baskets appropriate for this model bike if the buyer is interested.

In short: This bike is an ideal starter ride for someone interested in sticking to paved Bicycle Trails of many different locations and varying lengths.

With proper adjustments of its parts, to fit the rider, a comfortable, leisurely, ride can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

What about the website?

I like it. It is easy to navigate and has enough info to help you make a purchase, not to mention ways for you to ask questions, comment, and leave your own reviews of products.

The Home Page has a nice little introduction to the History of Beach Cruisers, and their place in Cycling Culture, past, and present.

The Home Page has a clickable directory to the other parts of the site, divided into 10 sections:

THE BIKE CATALOG (Store): You can log in, and create an acount, for starters.

Here you can learn which items are most popular, such as the above model bike, and click on any bike, or other product that you you want to learn more about before purchasing.

You can find sales and read product reviews by people who have purchased items.

There are seperate links that take you to store pages for Classic Beach Cruisers, Women's Cruisers, Men's Cruisers and something called a Chopper Cruiser.

Their most expensive bike, this baby must be seen to be believed. ;-D

This Low Rider is like a Recumbent, except that a few things are, um, missing. ;-D

Of course this just means it will be tempting for the, um, more adventurous, cyclist to take it for a spin where it ain't meant to go. ;-D

THE CONTACT PAGE: This page has info on where to by a bike in Lomita, Ca. (See Local Pick-up page for more info, and directions.), and has an easy to fill out form for submitting inquiries to the company.

THE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING PAGE is quite helpful in that regard.

THE FAQ PAGE is an informative, though evolving, section with new info being added all the time.

THE BLOG: Part promotional tool, part personal observations related to products, testing, How to's, FAQS and more, it makes for fun reading, including the comments to many of the posts, and is a relatively recent addition to the site.

There is an interesting section that explains the Affilliate/Reseller Program the company hopes to encourage.

There is a growing Product Asembly Section, and all the info you need for Shipping and Returns.

The company has a good, uncomplicated Motto: XYZ Bikes = Good cheap bikes

To visit the Website go here.

To learn more about the specifications of the bike I have reviewed, and see more photos, go here and here.

As for what plans I have for my new bike?

I paid a visit, this afternoon, to Santa Ana Fire Sation 1:

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The 15th Anniversary Spark of Love Toy Drive.

California Community Foundation.

November 23, 2007 in Product Reviews by an Ordinary Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack