Critical Cycles
Graphite Diamond Frame 7-Speed City Bike
Critical Cycles sure as hell give a bang for a buck. Their base price for a fixie is as low as $219, and this sultry graphite diamond City Bike—with six more gears, mind you—clocks in at a mere $299 for a seven-speed primed to get you around town for quick and easy metropolitan living. As Critical Cycles promise on their website, this bike truly is 90-percent assembled out of the package, which took my bike-mechanic-savant little brother, Paxton West, about 15 minutes to get fully assembled and out the door (he made me pump up the tires, though). The brown-leather handlebars and saddle complement the grey tones of the frame and the tires nicely, and the bright red brake-cable encasement tubes add a fun flair to it all. The bicycle rides well for easygoing commutes, and the speed selection provides a general range of comfortable gears with which to get around. The frame is made of steel, so it’s heavy and not especially suited for booking it in that five-minute crunch-time window on your way to work. Also, taking it up 1st Avenue to my friend’s house was a bit of a strain for it to switch to the granny gear (the chain fell off the front cog). This bike is well-suited for those fun summertime nights bar-hopping or jetting from The Shred Shed to Burt’s to catch shows, and is a great beginner’s ride for the casual cyclist. Plus, it comes with a light and a bell! –Alexander Ortega
Footbed and NotSock
When my editor approached me and told me I had some NotSock Footbeds waiting for review, and that they could be a solution to the sweat and dirt soup that results from going sockless in the warmer months of the year, I was apprehensive to believe in their odor-fighting abilities. I trimmed the footbed down to the proper size to fit my shoe, wrapped a small sock around it and put it in my shoe. The socks are made of charcoal and bamboo, are machine washable and last as long as a normal pair of no-show socks. I put these inserts to a rigorous and, admittedly, unintentional test: As I left home around noon one Saturday to run some errands across town, I threw the footbed and socks into my pair of Vans and set out on my bicycle. After running errands and touring the city, walking around stores and killing time before dinner with friends—a good five hours of time on and off my bike—walking around stores, I did a smell check. Surprisingly, after what, on any other day, would make my feet sweat and my Vans reek of a municipal waste dump, I was pleasantly surprised to find that no foul odors came from my 9.5 foot dwelling. This, in my mind, is a huge victory! Going sockless could possibly be the most liberating thing about summer, and anything that can effectively minimize foot stank during warmer months and be comfortable at the same time is most definitely a blessing. –Carl Acheson