Feb 16

How my Marmot Precip and Membrain waterproof breathable jackets failed

I’ve been a loyal customer of Marmot’s waterpoof, breathable rain jackets for several years. I’m on my third (or fourth?) Marmot rain jacket currently and my wife and daughter have them as well. Everything wears out eventually. Here’s what happened to our most recent ones.

Here’s a photo of the wife’s Precip jacket that’s a few years old (4 years?). There’s significant waterproofing failure around the collar. The waterproof backing is starting to back off elsewhere on the jacket as well.
Marmot Precip jacket failing at the collar

My first Marmot Precip jacket started failing in a similar way, while the exterior jacket would otherwise have plenty of life in it.

So, I tried stepping up to a jacket with the “Marmot Membrain” material, but after a few years, the waterproofing on it stated to failure in the way around the collar, as you see in the next photo. It’s also started to leak a bit the elbows some at this point as well. This jacket is also maybe 4 years old.

How my Marmot Membrain jacket started to fail.

How my Marmot Membrain jacket started to fail.

About a year ago I bought my current rain jacket, the “Marmot Artemis”. It uses the “NanoPro Membrain”. So far there are no significant signs of wear. Also notice that it’s a simpler design that removes the failure-prone collar design.

Inside of Marmot Artemis jacket, about 1 year old

    No collar seen here, no visible wear.

Here’s what I’ve learned about buying a waterproof breathable jacket from my experience:

  • Paying more for a waterproof breathable jacket may be a better value in the end, by providing a product that not only performs better, but is also more durable.
  • It’s just the waterproof/breathable material that determines durability, but also the design.
  • Simpler designs  may end up being worth paying more, as the simplicity may contribute to durability.

I’m tired of the waterproofing layer wearing out well in advance of the rest of the jacket. If I’m not happy with the durability of NanoPro Membrain, I may try a Gore-Tex jacket next, based on it’s reputation for durability. The added cost up front would be offset by the life of the jacket.

I’m also changing my approach to extend the life of these jackets. First, I’m wearing them less frequently when I primarily need a wind-blocking layer. For heavier wind-blocking, I’ll wear my old Marmot Membrain jacket, since the failed waterproofing doesn’t matter for this use. For lighter wind-blocking and light rain I now wear a Patagonia Houdini pullover.  At just 3 oz in weight, it’s surprisingly effective as an outer layer for bike commuting. It also packs so small in its own pocket that is easy to bring along in a handlebar bag as a “bail out jacket” if the weather changes.

Jan 15

Review of Extreme Bar Mitts versus original Bar Mitts

New for this winter bike commuting season are Extreme Bar Mitts. Like the original Bar Mitts the Extreme Bar Mitts are like mittens for your handlebars that stay on the bike. You operate the controls inside of them, possibly with additional gloves or mittens on.

dropping child off at day care by bakfiets, 35F and raining

I have long, thin fingers and tried many pairs of gloves and mittens looking for something that would keep my fingers warm for cycling. When I finally found Bar Mitts they made a huge difference for me, allowing me to ride at colder temperatures or with greater comfort than anything before. In typical winter conditions I could use lighter gloves– and sometimes no gloves– inside the Bar Mitts, allowing me to more easily and safely operate the shifters and brakes. I’ve been using the original Bar Mitts about four years.

Recently Bar Mitts sent me their new Extreme Bar Mitts model to try and it has finally been cold enough to put them to the test. I was concerned that Extreme Bar Mitts would be too warm, since I already found the regular Bar Mitts sufficient for me down to about 0F when paired with fleece-lined wool mittens.

Continue reading →

Dec 14

Review: 2013 Yuba Mundo vs 2014 Xtracycle EdgeRunner 27D

By: Don Galligher

This review compares the 2013 Yuba Mundo cargo bike with the 2014 Xtracycle 27D EdgeRunner. My daughters have named our matte black Yuba “Black Pearl”. The Xtracycle is named “Baliwick” after a butler
in the Princess Sofia cartoon.

Xtracycle EdgeRunner

Xtracycle EdgeRunner

Don with a load of bikes to recycle

Yuba Mundo


Prior to this review, the Yuba has been ridden 2,000 miles over 12 months in all types of terrain (family riding, touring and urban transportation as a car replacement). I live about 5 miles outside of town, making my minimum travel distance about 10 miles for most trips.

Our Mundo is equipped with Monkey bars, two Go Getter bags, two Soft Spots, running boards, and wheel skirts. I modified the stock bike with a 9 speed drivetrain, SRM power meter, TRP’s hydraulic cable pull brakes, Schwalbe Big Apple 2.3″ tires, some Ergon grips, and bar stem seat post. After upgrades the bicycle would cost approximately $3300.00.

The EdgeRunner was ridden 2 months approximately 700 miles on all types of terrain. This included family riding, touring and urban transportation as a car replacement. Accessories including the Hooptie, U-tube, and Kickback center stand, X2 bags, two Mini Magic Carpets, and Xtracycle fenders. The 27D Lux is equipped with a BioLogic generator front hub, which runs the front and rear light, and has a handle bar remote switch which can charge a USB compatible device such as your phone while riding. The EdgeRunner comes equipped with a 27 speed drivetrain by Shimano and Deore hydraulic disc brakes. I upgraded it with a Raceface narrow wide 40t chainring and a DuraAce SRM power meter. Estimated cost would be about $3,700.

It’s worth noting that one of the fundamental design differences between these two bikes are that the EdgeRunner has a 20” rear wheel and 26” front wheel while the Mundo has 2×26” wheels. The 20” rear wheel allowed me to convert the bike to the simpler 1×9 drivetrain and for my needs allowed a light weight, simple shifting system.

During the test period I carried my two daughters (ages 3 and 5) for most of the miles up and down mountains, on rail trails, some off-road and paved surfaces. I carried my daughters 20” Specialized Hotrock bike, as well as towing adult bikes. I also tested each bike with some heavy loads ranging from 100-300lbs.

Enjoying the ride

Yuba Mundo with two girls and 20″ bike onboard

Xtracycle EdgeRunner towing a 20" bike.

Xtracycle EdgeRunner towing a 20″ bike

I should preface all my opinions here with the fact I put more stress on my bikes than the average user, and my expectations are pretty high of what I expect the bike to do.

Continue reading →

Nov 14

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 3: The Bike


A design opportunity is emerging for a long-distance electric vehicle that weighs more than a bicycle but less than a motorcycle. Ebike hobbyists are leading the way.

Last September I made a 240-mile journey by electric bike from Ithaca NY to New York City and back. The trip was not that remarkable in itself. No records were broken; there were no physical or mental challenges that needed to be overcome. In fact, that was the point of the journey: to show that a long-distance journey by electric bike could be easy and enjoyable. Part 1 of this series compared long-distance bike and car travel in general. Part 2 described the trip itself in detail. This Part 3 describes the modified touring bike I used to make the trip. What’s surprising about my bike is not how technologically advanced it is, rather the opposite. My bike is an electrified steel frame Nishiki Cresta touring bike from 1982 with a BMC rear geared hub motor.

Long Distance Ebike Design Criteria
What would the ideal long-distance electric bike look like? First of all let’s define our terms. By long-distance I mean Continue reading →

Nov 14

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 2: The Trip


In Part 1 of this blog post series I described the context of my journey to NYC last September. I made the trip to demonstrate the feasibility of long distance travel by electric bike, and the People’s Climate March provided the perfect opportunity. This second part describes some details of the trip itself, then indulges in a vision of the future of long-distance biking.

One of the first mistakes I made was trusting Google maps to come up with a good route. In the past I’ve used the “bike button” on Google maps to show me bike trails along my route. For example, on a trip to Washington D.C. I was able to travel two-thirds of the 350-mile trip on scenic bike trails (in particular the C&O canal). Google recommended traveling south through Pennsylvania and then east through New Jersey, and promised a few rails-to-trails along the way. It looked good on the map! What happened in reality is that Continue reading →

Oct 14

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 1: The Context


Author Laurence Clarkberg sets out from Ithaca to New York City, a 230-mile trip.

The question of the century is “How can we make vehicles that use less energy than our automobiles but have the same functionality?” Electric cars are a step in the right direction–they use about a tenth of the energy of gasoline-powered cars. However, the technology exists to go even further: electric bikes use about one one-hundredth the energy of gasoline-powered cars. But do ebikes have the same functionality as a car? For example consider long distance travel, meaning travel on the order of hundreds of miles. Can an ebike do that? Of course not, right? Last month I made a long distance trip on an electric bike in order to answer that question and discovered that the answer is Continue reading →

Sep 14

Troy Rank’s Epic 4,400 Mile Ebike Journey and Why It’s Important


Troy is very casual about his epic 4,400 mile journey. Last year he noticed that the current Guinness Book of World Records for longest motorized bicycle journey was just over four thousand miles. He knew his bike could go that far. He knew he could go that far. He had his wife’s support. So he set out to break the record.

Of course it wasn’t easy. When he stopped by my shop last week on his way back to Rochester after cycling out to Colorado and back, I asked him about a bandage on his arm. “A dump truck ran me off the road. No big deal. I was able to lay my bike down on the grass, so just some cuts and bruises.” He kept a video blog about his journey. He describes many flat tires. He describes many electrical problems. On day 13 he describes how Continue reading →

Jun 14

How to attach a Burley Piccolo to an Xtracycle

Xtracycle cargo bikes and Burley Piccolo Trailercycles are both great for family biking. Unfortunately, there’s currently no ready-made way to attach a Burley Piccolo to an Xtracycle.

This post describes the 4 known designs I’ve seen to connect a Piccolo to an Xtracycle.

Greg’s Xtracycle-Piccolo connector v1

Greg from Beehive Bicycles published photos online of a custom solution he developed. I found and mimicked an early solution that I created for this.

It worked like this: I started with the provided Moose rack, and use a hack saw to cut it down to just the essential part that was needed to connect to the Piccolo.

Here you can see a finished photo of Greg’s design that I followed:


I made the remaining “feet” of the hacked rack as short as possible so that the Piccolo bolt could go all the way through, without interference from the Flightdeck.

Then, two more holes were drilled into the Continue reading →

May 14

I Challenge Climate Activists to Bike to the 2014 Climate Summit


I am planning to bike to the 2014 Climate Summit in New York City September 20th and 21st. I am encouraging other climate activists to bike with me. I’m also setting up a network of people willing to provide accommodations for those biking through. If you would be willing to host bicyclists in September let me know.

Why is this important? I lose hope when I see that even my fellow climate activists are unwilling to give up their cars. How can we expect others to make changes that we are unwilling to make ourselves? We need to set a good example for the rest of the world.

For the past three years I’ve been using an electric cargo bicycle as my primary means of transportation. I discovered that ebike battery and motor technology are surprisingly advanced: a 40-pound cargo bike with a 10-pound motor and an 8-pound lithium battery is fully capable of carrying me, my 14-year-old daughter, and four bags of groceries up the steep hills of Ithaca NY. Our city trips are about the same or faster than by car. A day’s worth of energy for our electric bicycle can easily be obtained from a $1,000 solar panel that is about the size of a door. I’ve concluded that an electric bike can easily replace a car for most people at a fraction of the cost, and potentially completely fossil free. So why haven’t ebikes been more widely adopted? The technology is here; all that remains to be done is to bring this transportation breakthrough to the attention of the mainstream.

I propose that our journey to the Climate Summit serve just that purpose: a demonstration of ebike technology’s ability to compete successfully with the automobile, even for long trips. I’ve made several long trips by ebike, including a 350-mile trip from Ithaca NY to Washington D.C. Ebikes, even when piloted by non-athletes, can travel at 25mph. So traveling 100 to 200 miles a day is possible. But staying at hotels in order to charge batteries can be expensive. If we support each other by providing accommodations along the way, we’ll also demonstrate how human kindness can be a welcome substitute for energy use.

I call upon climate activists in New York State and beyond to put their money where their mouth is: let go of your car and take up the best alternative transportation, the electric bike. And use the Climate Summit this fall as a way to show the world what is possible with this revolutionary mode of transportation.

If you want to read more see the petition I created on the 350.org website: “I Challenge Climate Activists to Bike to the 2014 Climate Summit”. You can read and sign the petition here:

Apr 14

Calling All Cargo Bikers: Support Liz Canning’s Documentary

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 9.16.05 PM

If you are a cargo biker you probably know that there is this way cool videographer in California who has been working on a documentary about cargo biking for a few years, collecting footage from cargo bikers like you all over the world. Heck, some of you may even have been inspired to take up cargo biking because her trailer was THAT GOOD. Her name is Liz Canning and she needs your support. She recently launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money to complete the video and distribute it properly. This video has the potential to bring cargo biking into the public eye in a big way. If you want mainstream America to recognize cargo bikes as a legitimate form of transportation, if you’d rather share the road with more fellow bicyclists than motorists, if you want to celebrate what you know in your heart to be the best form of transportation on the planet, run (not walk) to your nearest Internet browser and contribute to Liz’s kickstarter campaign!