Utah Trikes

Utah TrikesUtah Trikes has a large internet presence; there are positive testimonials on several websites from customers located all over the country. Since I am still researching various types of trikes in an effort to determine which model best suits my distance cycling requirements, and since I was traveling past Payson UT, I decided to stop and see what they were all about.

storeWhen I first drove up to the store I was somewhat disappointed because it looked so small. Small that is, until I realized the actual store occupied the equivalent of three store fronts. Once inside Utah Trikes I realized that it was nicely sized and quite filled (packed in might be a better description) with all sorts of trikes and miscellaneous parts. There were boxes filled with trikes waiting to be assembled, there were trikes partially assembled, and there were all variations of completed trikes.

Utah Trikes has their own machining and painting facilities and are able to make some really interesting types of bicycles. There was a 4 seater where each person pedaled but the riders sat back to back, there was a gasoline assisted trike, and they even had a Baji style 4 seater with large off road tires, 4 wheel steering, and a canopy top. There were tandems and and even some velomobiles sitting around. They even make a high quality kit to convert many 20″ rear wheel trikes to 26″ wheels.4 PersonGas Assist

They were pretty busy while I was there. Customers were coming and going. Two guys who recently purchased trikes were in picking them up. Matt and Bryce, the sales personnel, seemed very knowledgeable and helpful in discussing the products and various options available. Sales, even in the winter, must be doing pretty well. A stock trike, fully assembled, can take a 7-10 days to ship; minor customized trikes can take 2 weeks. Their shipping fees seem pretty reasonable considering the size of a fully assembled trike.

CustomerIf you have questions or need a custom trike it looks as though Utah Trikes would be capable of making it happen. Based on what I saw, and what I have read on the internet about them and their products, they appear to have quite the operation going.

Disclaimer: I have no financial incentive to publish this article. It is merely my impression of the store as I viewed it. Doing business with any company is a personal experience and should be treated as such.

Kindle Book Reader

Kindle Book ReaderI read 6 books on my recent 9 week bicycle trip; that was a lot of weight and space to pack away and peddle uphill, plus finding more books along the way was a problem.

This summer (2013) there is another trip in the offing, and I needed a different option for carrying reading material. In the past, I read two books on my smartphone & tablet, but was not overly thrilled by the experience so continued to read hardcover and paperback books. I am 67 years old so have many years of ‘holding a physical book’ in my background; enter the Kindle Paperwhite into my life.

The Kindle weighs 7.3 ounces: it weighs a little less than one normal size paperback book. The Kindle is 4.5″ x 6.63″ x 0.25″; it takes up significantly less space than one paperback book. The battery charges with a mini-USB cable which is the same as my smartphone; multiple charging systems are not required. The Paperwhite version has a self contained light; a separate book light is not required. The Paperwhite version has an extended battery life; minimal charging is required. Other than the on/off button all controls come from a touch screen. On the surface, the Kindle Paperwhite seems to fit my needs very well.

Reading: I have enjoyed reading the Kindle Paperwhite more than I thought I would; there was less transition from physical book to Kindle than I anticipated. The screen is plenty bright and easily adjustable from high to low; I keep it set in the middle. The non-glare screen makes reading pleasant and easy on the eye regardless of the reading screen angle. The font size is easily adjustable; larger sizes for those needing it and smaller sizes for less page turning. There is an easily accessible dictionary for those ‘unknown’ words you run across. The Kindle has a ‘Goto’ function that easily allows me to find any chapter, section, or page. Holding it at the correct distance for reading is easy, and pages are turned forward/backward by touching my thumbs to lightly on either side of the screen.

Pictures: Obviously, the pictures that come with a Kindle book are shown in black and white. The picture quality seems to rival those in most good paperback books which is generally less than the larger hardcover editions. For me, this is good enough; if I were purchasing a book for the pictures then I would probably buy the hardcover book, rather than a Kindle or paperback version.

Handling: I tend to hold the Kindle with my fingers on the back and my thumb resting along the sides of the front. Fortunately, there is a 0.5″ bezel on the sides of the reading screen which provides sufficient space for my thumbs so that they do not obscure the screen. The back of the Kindle has a slightly rubberized feeling to help with grip, but in my case, I would have preferred more. It is a lot easier holding the Kindle at the correct reading position because there is no need to physically hold the book open.

Extras: The Kindle comes with WiFi for connection to Amazon, vocabulary builder for helping to improve word and spelling understanding, highlighting special passages and sharing them on social networks, parental controls for those with children, passcodes to control usage, airplane mode to turn off the WiFi network. Books can be read directly off the Kindle or from the Amazon Cloud. There are other items contained in the Kindle that can be accessed when the top tool bar is activated.

Battery Life: I have been reading 1-2 hours per day, and the battery in mine lasts a little over a week. This is sufficient for my purposes.

Charging: The Kindle comes with a USB to mini-USB charging cable, but no charger. In my case, I have a pile of USB chargers left over from all sorts of devices and have been using a 2 amp charger from a Samsung tablet which works very well.

Cons: You might develop sticker shock if you typically purchase physical books from a used bookstore or participate in a book exchange program. There are a lot of free books through Amazon and Amazon Prime and some very low cost books, unfortunately, not one the books on my ‘list’ has fallen into those categories. Also, you will not end up with a physical book to pass along to friends. Electronics can, and do, fail due to a number of factors: manufacturing defects, rough handling, and age, just to mention a few. Theft results in the loss of a $100+ device versus a $10 paperback. Charging requires electricity: physical books last forever.

Overall: I am excited about the Kindle and have enjoyed using it; hopefully my opinion will not change after the bicycle trip. Trying it out at home has convinced me that I will take it along on my trip barring something going amiss in the next few months.

Sea To Summit Lightweight Dry Sacks

sea-to-summit-dry-sackOn a recent 9 week 3,600 mile bicycle ride I used Sea To Summit Lightweight Dry Sacks to store the items that needed to be kept dry and/or organized. The bags come in many different sizes and colors. Note: you have no choice on colors when ordering, only purchasing directly in a store.

Past trips have taught me that regular plastic trash type bags will keep ‘stuff’ dry, but also will get caught in zippers or easily torn. In the past I tried to use Ziploc bags which are sturdier, but the zip slide eventually fails, leaving the bags open. While planning for this recent trip I discovered Sea To Summit Dry Sacks. A number of these bags weighed the same as the pannier rain covers so I decided to try them out instead of messing with rain covers.

I chose different colors for the same size bags with the thought of organizing my ‘stuff’ to make it easier to find things. Also, the different size and color bags made it less necessary to pull everything out of the panniers when looking for only one type of item. The bags have a roll up top with snap which provides a carry handle as well as keeping water out. Even though the bags do not have compression straps I discovered you can compress the contents pressing down before rolling up and sealing the top.

Many of the bags were used daily for 9 weeks and suffered no ill effects other than a few scuff marks.  I tended to pack my panniers so that these dry sacks were not up against sharp corners or edges of other items to minimize vibration wear. I also felt that the dry sacks conformed easily to the available pannier shape and space, thus conserving space.

They can be a little pricey ($22.95 for the 4.9 ounce x-large bag and $11.95 for the 1.4 ounce  x-small bag) but can be used for many trips if taken care of. Initially I purchased three bags to fit my clothing, tent, and sleeping bag, both to try the bags out and to save a little money. I  continued to use Ziploc bags for smaller items. Eventually I replace most of the Ziploc bags with the smaller dry sack sizes. When selecting the correct size bag remember to add about 5-6 inches extra length so there is adequate room to roll the top down and close the snap.

Do I recommend them: you betcha! Will I use then again: you betcha!