December 2016 Product Picks: Smith Optics, Bontrager, Edco 3ax, Bar Fly, Fix-It Sticks, Tacx, and Wind-Blox

by James Huang

December 7, 2016

Photography by James Huang

In this month’s edition of Product Picks, U.S. technical editor James Huang provides his feedback on Smith Optics’ latest lens technology, some budget-minded footwear from Bontrager, a novel pedal concept from Edco 3ax, Bar Fly’s latest two-in-one gadget, Fix-It Sticks’ innovative take on the lowly multi-tool, Tacx’s stylish water bottle and cage, and a neat idea from Wind-Blox to keep wind noise at bay.


Click the links below to skip through to a particular review:


Bar Fly Air Lever

by James Huang

Bar Fly is best known for its aftermarket computer mounts, but the company has also spent the last few years branching out into other accessories, such as GoPro camera mounts, fenders, grips, and bags. The company’s latest invention is the Air Lever, which combines a CO2 inflator head and a tire lever in a single widget.

The inflator head works like many others: twist the cartridge on to break the seal, then back it off to inflate. It's best to use the whole cartridge, though, as you otherwise wouldn't want to stuff this awkwardly shaped combination in your jersey pocket or saddle pack.

The inflator head works like many others: twist the cartridge on to break the seal, then back it off to inflate. It’s best to use the whole cartridge, though, as you wouldn’t want to stuff this awkwardly shaped combination in your jersey pocket or saddle pack.

The aluminum inflator head works with both Presta and Schrader valves, and uses a common twist-on-to-pierce, twist-off-to-inflate operation style. Bolted to that is a fiber-reinforced tire lever, which is replaceable in the event that it breaks.

Actual weight is 28g.

Our Take:


Generally speaking, I love anything that saves weight, saves space, or reduces complexity. To that end, the Air Lever combines the two items most commonly used when repairing a flat tire into a single, handy device. The lever is nicely shaped and impressively rigid for a hunk of plastic (although I’d prefer a more rounded edge to glide easier around the tire bead), and the inflator head works nicely and doesn’t leak.

So what’s not to like?

The lever part is replaceable, and Bar Fly includes a spare.

The lever part is replaceable, and Bar Fly includes a spare.

Basically, the Air Lever is just far too expensive for what it offers. A Genuine Innovations Microflate Nano is less than half the cost, for example, and it includes a 16g CO2 cartridge as an added bonus. Tire levers, meanwhile, add only a couple of bucks more on top of that (and they usually come in sets of three, whereas the Air Lever only includes one spare lever). Also, if you sometimes use just part of a cartridge, the form factor of the Air Lever doesn’t make it easy to stuff the assembly pack into your bag or pocket.

Had the Air Lever offered more of a space or weight advantage, there might be a stronger argument to go with this over two separate bits, but as is, it’s a tough sell.

Price: US$30 / AU$TBC / £TBC
www.barflybike.com


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