Sony Walkman MP3 NWZ-W262 Review

Sony Walkman MP3 NWZ-W262 in use by cyclist Matthew Steinhoff

I’m a complete sucker for free stuff so when my Klout score was high enough for Sony to offer me a Sony Walkman NWZ-W262 for review, I said ‘yes, please’.

Then, I got the Sony Walkman MP3 player in the mail and it just sat on the dining room table for weeks. I couldn’t bring myself to break open the package. When I’m cycling, I typically don’t have anything in my ears. When I do choose to engage in audio, it is with SanDisk Sansa because it is cheap (as low as $25 from Woot), has physical buttons, long battery life and seems indestructible having been dropped and rained on several times.

Finally I got to feeling guilty and was doing a solo ride so I gave the Sony Walkman a shot.

Sony-Walkman-NWZ-W262 Unboxing


It was just as easy to load music on the Sony Walkman as it was the Sansa. This is great news. Other companies (I’m looking at you, Apple), make you load proprietary software. Not the Sony. All I did was plug it into a USB port and my computer saw it as a drive. I dragged and dropped my usual music selection and some podcasts onto the Walkman and it was good to go. Nice.

Sony Walkman: Comfortable, Secure Fit

The Sony Walkman fit like a glove. The earpieces were secure in my ears and very comfortable. Best of all, I didn’t pick up any wind noise like I do with normal ear buds. These things were great at keeping out ambient noise. (Which, at best is illegal in my state and, at worse, is likely to get me killed in traffic. But, hey, that isn’t Sony’s fault. (Unless I get killed in traffic in which case I’m suing them for creating a faulty and clearly negligent product.))

I had never really noticed how annoying earbud wires were until I rode with the Sony Walkman. No wires snaked down my jersey to the player was a big improvement. I was worried that the Walkman would fall off when I removed one ear so I could still hear traffic but it fits snugly enough that I’m not worried about losing the device.

Good Button Placement, Easy to Use With Gloves

The buttons were easy to find and use with full-fingered cycling gloves. Unlike a touch screen which is iffy in gloves (see also: iPod), the physical buttons worked like a charm. I had no trouble skipping tracks and adjusting the volume while in motion.

Battery life was good. On a half-hour charge right out of the box, I was able to do a two-hour ride and still have a few hours of juice later in the week.

What’s Not to Like?

There is no visual track indicator nor is it possible to queue tracks.

I listen to a lot of podcasts while on the road and most of them have the same audio intro. Sometimes I have to get two or three minutes in to be able to tell if I have heard the podcast already. If I had a screen, I could easily see that I’ve already listened to the May 7 podcast and go onto the next. Still, I’m willing to forgo the visual track indicator because there simply isn’t room for it nor would it help this product with its target audience.

The audio cueing, however, is a problem. Let’s say I started listening to a two-hour podcast at work on my computer and am 30-minutes in before I hop on my bike. I’d really like the ability to press and hold the ‘track forward’ button and have it fast-forward in the track. That would allow me to guestimate my way into the track to the unlistened to part. This should be an easy software change for Sony. I realize I’m probably in the minority for this feature but I don’t see how adding this minor software tweak would negatively impact the Walkman’s core audience.

Sony Walkman MP3 Player Review Summary

I really didn’t expect to like the Sony Walkman: too much overlap with known-good product (Sandisk Sansa), a smartphone (Motorola Droid) and in an untested (for me) form factor. After a couple rides worth of testing, it may have replaced the Sansa. I really like the lack of cables and that it really blocks out the wind noise. I’ve tried a number of earbuds ranging in price from $4 to $45 and none have as good of fit as the Sony Walkman. All signs point to long-term durability similar to the SanDisk.

Nice job, Sony and thanks to Klout for hooking me up.

Jam-Pac Premium MP3 Player Handlebar Bag

When I was first approached with an offer to review Audible Rush’s Jam-Pac Premium handlebar bag and music dock, I turned the request down. I thought the product was overpriced for the casual user – $159.50 – and not something the serious bike tourist would be interested in. You can click on any photo to make it larger. For the record, the type in yellow in the photo above isn’t on the product. I added it as a title.

Marc Nussbaum, CEO of Audible Rush, made some compelling arguments:

  1. Our system has by far the best sound quality of any production bicycle music system. You will be very surprised when you hear it. We use a full digital 12 volt amplifier and a Lithium Ion rechargeable power source.
  2. It is hidden inside a handlebar bag and the bag can also carry your valuables.  Use the quick release to carry everything during your lunch break- it is virtually theft proof since you take it all with you.
  3. Jam-Pac is a full-featured smartphone dock. It works with all players; MP3 players, iPhones, Android phones, Etc.
  4. The player is held in front so the user has full access to all controls.
  5. Our high end model can recharge some model smartphones (iPhones and others) from its internal lithium ion rechargeable batteries. This allows users to stream internet radio (Pandora, Etc.) or use GPS navigation or bicycle computer/fitness applications without running out of phone battery time. This can be very handy in situations where the user needs to make an emergency call.

Despite my reservations, I told them to go ahead and send me one on a loaner basis to check out.

First reactions to Jam-Pac Premium?

It’s not really aimed at me. I already have a heavy-duty Arkel Small Handlebar Bag mounted on a second stem on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. It’s a perfect size to carry my camera gear without being so large I’d be tempted to overload it. The Jam-Pac is a nice size to hold a spare tube and a few tools, your wallet and cell phone, but it’s not big enough for my needs.

I like music for those days when I’m riding alone and I want something to take my mind off a boring stretch of road or the headwind that won’t let up. I don’t like earbuds (plus they are illegal) and I don’t necessarily want to rattle windows.

A good compromise for me has been the BoomBotix BB1 that I clip to the strap of my Camelbak hydration pack. Here’s my review of the BoomBotix.

I thought I’d stick the Jam-Pac Premium on riding partner Anne’s bike, but even her cockpit was too busy. I relocated a headlight, moved a front reflector and started to mount the bracket, but I was going to have to start cutting nylon ties to slide her bike computer out of the way and that was more trouble than I wanted to go through for a review. That’s not to say that it couldn’t have fit her bike and that she wouldn’t have been happy with it, it was just a hassle for a temporary installation.

I’m convinced that it will mount fine on most bikes if you don’t mind moving some things around (the same as you’d have to do for ANY handlebar bag. You can see some photos of the bag mounted on bicycles on the Audible Rush website.

Things I like

It has an quick release bracket that allows you to take it with you. I use that feature a lot with my Arkel bag. In fact, I use it as a camera bag when I’m not using my Domke shooting vest.

Will adapt to about anything

It has lots of different foam inserts that will adapt to just about any MP3 player or phone you might be carrying.

Handy storage space

Has room for wallet, cell phone, spare tube, small tools

Protects MP3 player

  • It produces lots of sound. (See below.) If you go on “party” rides where you want to entertain all your friends, it’ll do that.
  • MP3 player controls are accessible, but the unit is protected.

Price isn’t out of line

I figured Son Matt, a go-fast weight wienie like his Uncle Mark, would poo-poo all over it. Surprisingly, he thought some of his friends might be interested in it, particularly if you start adding up the costs of all the pieces.

Audible Rush Products

These are Amazon prices. (If you order through one of these links, I get a piece of the action without it costing you anything additional.)

Jam-Lite Essential: the minimalist lightweight stem or bar mount speaker system. Lists for $39.95; has 3 volt amplifier and runs up to 12 hours on two AA alkaline batteries. I find this the most tempting replacement for my BoomBotix BB1.

Jam-Pac Essential: described as the budget handlebar speaker system. Has a 3-volt amp that runs on two AA batteries and a quick-release weather resistant handlebar bag. It lists for $114.85.

Jam-Pac Premium: The big difference between the Premium and the Essential is that the former has a 12-volt amplifier and runs for up to six hours on a rechargeable lithium ion battery. It lists for $159.50.

Jam-Pac Premium Plus: has everything the Premium does, plus it has a USB connection to charge your phone or GPS. It costs $209.95.

You can get more information and find out about accessories from the Audible Rush website.

Watts the deal with volts?

I had a question about how the speakers were rated and sent CEO Marc Nussbaum a question on a Friday night. He responded Saturday morning. That’s pretty good. Here was my question:

“When I look at the comparisons of your various products, I see that some amps are 3 volt and others are 12-volt. Speakers are usually rated in watts. Did you really mean “volts” on your website?”

Marc’s explanation:

The quick answer: The amp in the Jam-Pac is specified to deliver 6 watts per channel, as compared to the amp used in the Jam-Lite and most other bicycle stereo speaker systems we’ve seen which are specified to deliver 2.0 or 2.2 watts per channel, however, watt rating of amplifiers don’t tell the whole story.

What’s important to the sound quality as far as the amplifier goes, is its ability to drive dynamic changes in the music and especially to be able to do this at the lower mid-range and bass frequencies where it takes the most power. 3 volt amplifiers don’t have nearly the dynamic range to drive a decent pair of speakers fast enough and far enough to reproduce high quality. So this is no mistake on our part as far as the spec goes. The voltage is more important in this application and adds both design complexity and cost to the product.

The amplifier in the Jam-Pac is very sophisticated and runs on 12 volts like the stereo in your car. If you only had a 3 volt battery in your car, even if your speakers in the car were as large as they are now, it would still sound pretty bad, muddy, without punch. This is the ‘secret’ behind the great sound of the Jam-Pac… Good quality speakers (that cost about 15 times as much as the standard portable speakers used in most products) and the full voltage swing of a 12 volt amplifier to more accurately reproduce music dynamics.

 Also, let’s talk speakers. Speakers are usually rated at the max wattage they can be driven before distortion and/or damage. The Jam-Pac speakers are specified at 6 watts maximum (that’s for each speaker) and are quite large for this type of product; 2″ (51mm) in diameter. Our smaller product, the Jam-Lite (similar to most other competitors) use speakers rated at 2 watts each and are 1.4 inches (36mm) in diameter.

By the way, the kid on the trike can rock the road, even if he’s not using a Jam-Pac. I hate to think how many batteries THAT puppy takes.

BoomBotix: New Favorite MP3 Speaker

I have a new favorite Mp3 speaker for my bike, and I’m surprised that I like it. The funny-looking BoomBotix does a good job at a reasonable price. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Christmas season is coming up, so here’s where you can get your BoomBotix BB1 Portable Speaker for your favorite cyclist (even it that’s you). If you click on that Amazon link, you’ll get it quickly and I’ll get a tiny piece of the action at no additional cost to you. Commercial’s over. I wouldn’t link to it if I didn’t like it.

i-Ride Pro isn’t an option

When the BoomBotix people contacted me, I said, sure, send me one. [Full Disclosure: the unit I reviewed was provided at no cost to me, not that it would have made any difference.]

My old favorite – the Active Tunes i-Ride Pro – has had customer service problems and may even be out of business. Their website appears to be down. Based on my last experience and customer complaints I’ve received, I can see why. The vendor had problems with his Chinese suppliers, then he had serious family health issues that took priority. I guess it got too be much for him.

Funky design was off-putting

Right after I unpacked it, I send several questions to the supplier, along with a first impression: “Gut reaction right out of the box: it’s ‘cute’ and perfect for the young, ‘edgy’ demographic. Less perfect for the long distance tourist, who is generally older and more interested in performance than appearance.”

“It’s a lifestyle device”

BoomBotixer Lief Storer responded, “I like your ‘gut reaction’…. that’s exactly what we’re going for. I suppose its also worth noting that this product isn’t really restricted to just biking. It’s more of a lifestyle device. Surprisingly, we get a lot of older users that just like the look and use it for simple tasks like gardening, working out in the garage, hiking, or general travel. It’s not who we market to, but its sometimes who buys them and loves them.”

I’m won over by the BoomBotix BB1

My next email to Lief was a little more positive: “Second gut reaction: I’m more impressed than I was when I opened the box. My kid came over tonight and I was showing it to him, saying that I thought I was going to have a tough time writing a favorable review.

Then we plugged it in. Very acceptable sound. Better sound than the Active Tunes speaker. In fact, I had to frisk him when he left to make sure it stayed here.

On second look, it’s also less offensive than I thought it was originally. The clip looks sturdy enough to stay on my Camelbak strap.”

BB1 easy to use

The power switch and and Up and Down volume control buttons are located on top of the unit. There’s an LED on it to let you know that it’s on. It blinks when charging and is steady when it’s topped off.

The back has a very sturdy metal clip. There are two rubber-covered jacks under the clip. One accepts a standard 1/8″ audio plug; the other is to plug in a USB cable to charge the battery. It’s claimed to be water resistant (and I believe them). Recharge time is supposed to be about 45 minutes. I didn’t put a stopwatch on it, but that felt about right.

Battery life better than expected

When I read the specs, it said battery life was four hours at full volume (3 watts rated / 5 watts max). That was a major drawback to my iPod Classic. Until I got an external battery, the unit would die before I did. Lief told me that four hours was a conservative estimate.

Being a “trust, but verify” kind of guy, I wanted to see if that was true. Unfortunately, the next few rides I did were with a partner and I generally don’t play music when I’m riding with someone. I DID go on a Tuesday night ride and played it for about 30 minutes when I was by myself. On Thursday night, I decided to ride again. When I grabbed my Camelbak, where I have it clipped, I noticed that the power LED was glowing. Bleep, I thought. It’s gonna be dead. To my surprise, it was still going strong at the end of the evening.

Does it hibernate?

I sent Lief another message: ” Does the unit hibernate or otherwise not draw power when it’s not playing (except to keep the LED lit)?”

His answer: “When the unit is on, it powers the amp and the LED, but the amp will not draw much current if there is no voltage running to the signal input…so you’re basically running the LED and the amp at a really low wattage.”

BB1 battery doesn’t taper off

Another battery question for Lief: “When the battery starts getting low, does the volume start to drop or does the sound quit abruptly?

“The reason I ask is that I wanted to give battery life a test, so I hooked it up to my computer and played it most of the day. It felt like I had to crank up the volume toward the end of the day, but it never went completely dead.”

Leif’s quick response: “As battery gets low, you’ll just get an abrupt stop. Basically as long as you can power the amp up to around 3.5V, then you’ll get full performance. Once you drop below a certain voltage, the battery shuts off completely. If you didn’t do this, it would potentially damage the battery because it would try to push more current, but not have enough voltage.

First try on the Camelbak

I almost always ride with a Camelbak M.U.L.E. I’m not entirely sure if I buy all that “Hydrate or Die” hoopla, but, after a couple of bouts with kidney stones, I DO believe in “Hydrate or you’ll be wishing those pain pills were stronger.” It’s also a good place to hang stuff like the BoomBotix BB1. I thought this mounting position would work great, but it turned out that it put the speaker behind me and was just tall enough that it blocked my Hubbub helmet-mounted mirror.

The BB1 is happy here

There’s a place on the Camelbak strap that holds the speaker where it is close enough to my ear that I don’t have to have the volume turned up too loud and it doesn’t interfere with my view to the rear. I wasn’t happy with the MP3 player just clipped on to the side of the strap, so I took a piece of Velcro strap and put it around the backpack strap so that the Sansa Clip would mount vertically and more securely. (This photo shows the Clip before I used the Velcro strap.) This position would allow me to adjust the volume on the BB1 easily, but I tend to do that directly on the MP3 player.

Is there a bike mount?

What if I don’t ride with a hydration pack? Is there a bike mount for it?

Well, there has been one promised for a long time, but this blog post from the BoomBotix folks explains they’re having trouble getting one they want to sell. I’m pretty sure I could rig a way to hold it on my bike using that nifty Velcro strapping mentioned above.

I like their approach to customer service. They’ve been very responsive to me and they seem to be on the ball in talking about their product and stumbling blocks encountered along the way. I don’t find their website the easiest to navigate, but sometimes I’m flying in the fog with all the instruments spinning, so I hesitate to put all the blame on them.

What’s the bottom line?

If you want to listen to music without earbuds and you want something that’s not TOO big but has decent sound for what it is, and you are looking for reasonable battery life without breaking the bank (roughly 40 bucks), then the BoomBotix BB1 is a good buy. It has a bigger brother (sister), the BB2 that will connect wirelessly using Bluetooth. Blogger Justin does a much better job than I do talking about things audio. I’m a guy who thinks a speaker is what you use to hear a dispatcher intoning “One Adam Twelve, see the woman…”

Again, here’s the Amazon link for the Boombotix BB1 Portable Speaker.

What are those other things hanging off you?

I’m a gadget freak. Hold on a day or so and I’ll post a list of some of the stuff you see in the photo, where you can get it, and any reviews I’ve done.


Eight Bike Tips from LOST Ride

Anne (of lovebug fame), Pam, a new rider – Hillary – and I took off Saturday evening for a ride on what I call Ghost Road 27. It’s an abandoned stretch of what used to be the major north-south highway through central Florida. The stretch we were riding is about 15 miles long between South Bay and Clewiston. It’s slowly going back to nature, and it’s blocked off by about five gates that have to be gone over, through or around.

Dodging gates

The temps were on the warm side of comfortable and we had a strong tailwind that made it feel even warmer, because the technical nature of the road kept us from going too fast. About a mile past where I warned the other riders about watching out for cracks in the pavement, the wide front tire of my Surly LHT fell into one. I was able to maintain control, but I felt a little sheepish.

Non-poisonous snake

We had several dogs give chase, but they weren’t serious. Some friendly folks along the way waved and spoke. We didn’t see any gators on this trip, but Mr. Snake made an appearance. Anne used her Texas snake-charming skills to try to herd it where I could get a better photo, but Florida snakes must be immune to her charms.

I was seriously sleepy

When we got to Clewiston, we stopped at a Sonny’s BBQ for dinner. I was so sleepy I thought my head was going to fall in my plate. When we headed back, the temperature had dropped and our tailwind became a headwind. At dusk, I suggested we stop to don some bug spray. With the wind blowing as hard as it was, I didn’t think mosquitoes would be a problem, but it’s easier to put on the spray when you’re not dancing and swatting. I decided to pull on my knee warmers, too. You Yankees will scoff, but I ride better with warm muscles.

Nothing between here and Europe to block wind

When we got on top of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST) it became very clear that there was nothing between us and Europe blocking the wind. I told my much younger riding partners that they were welcome to ride their own pace. “You can’t get lost on the LOST. I’m going to gear down, crank up the tunes and get into my own zone.” They quickly disappeared.

A few miles down the trail, I saw them waiting for me. It wasn’t an act of kindness. I had the car keys. I told them that I liked it better when they were a speck in the distance. If they were close, I’d try to keep up with them. They took me at my word and blasted off again.

A couple more miles down the road, I saw they had stopped again. This time it was because Hillary had a flat. The good news is that she had a tube and a CO2 cartridge. The bad news is that Pam didn’t have a light; Anne’s light, which used a rechargeable battery was dead, and Hillary’s light, which used some kind of funky battery was also dead. Oh, yeah, Hillary didn’t have an inflator to go WITH the cartridge.

B&M IQ Cyo R N Plus and Flare 5

I have a ViewPoint Flare 5 LED light on my helmet to use as a flashlight and another one on my bars as a ‘be-seen’ flashing light. A B&M IQ Cyo R N Plus generator light is my primary headlight. It’s nice to have spare lights, particularly when you’re riding with folks who may not be quite as prepared. A generator light will provide power as long as you have legs (although mine were a bit questionable on this ride).

I also have an inflator, so I told Hilary that we’d give her tire a shot of air from her threaded cartridge that would, hopefully get her home. I also clipped my spare be-seen light on her bars and said, “Ride like crazy.” My CO2 inflator takes both threaded and the cheaper non-threaded cartridges.

Pulled out the Topeak Road Morph pump

She got about 200 yards before the tire was flat again. I dig out my tools and we took out the old tube and put the tire back together. A few squirts of air from my Topeak Road Morph Pump with Gauge made it feel like all was right with the world, so I pulled out one of my CO2 cartridges to top it off. It flatted almost immediately. Hoping that it was just that we hadn’t closed the valve all the way, we gave it another shot of air. Same result.

One of the nice things about the LOST is that you’re completely isolated from motorized traffic. That’s one of the bad things, though, because some of the pickup points are seven to 10 miles apart. Fortunately, we were within a mile of one, so I gave Pam the be-seen light and sending her off down the trail to the cars. I told her I’d follow. We left Anne and Hillary to walk to the pickup point, after asking them if they know what a python slithering through the grass sounded like.

Pam beat me to the cars by a wide margin. Wide enough that she had time to get to the car, drive to the non-python-eaten riders and get back just as I was racking my bike.

What 8 valuable lessons can we take from this ride?

  • Bring a light, even if you think you’ll be done by dark.
  • Make sure your batteries are charged and/or bring spares.
  • Carry a backup light.
  • A CO2 cartridge won’t do any good if you don’t have an inflator. You can’t always count on riding with someone who has one.
  • Tire tools make removing the tube easier.
  • Carry a spare tube. If you’re out in the boonies, two is better.
  • A pump will do the initial fill of the tire; you can finish it off with the cartridge, but a pump will provide air as long as you can pump. The cartridge is one-shot.
  • Watch nature programs so you can be familiar with the sound of slithering pythons. If you hear one, don’t warn your partner, just start to move away quietly. Snakes go for the closer prey. (It dawns on me that I was the slow rider on this trip. Maybe I shouldn’t give away ALL my secrets.)

What Do You Owe Your LBS?

Buy Levitra online in the Uk alt=”” src=”×332.jpg” width=”500″ height=”332″ />I was supposed to meet 6-year-old Malcolm this afternoon to ride home from school with him. I was running late, so I threw my Surly Long Haul Trucker on the rack and headed 12 miles up to his school.

As I was cranking along at 65 miles per hour, I noticed in the rearview mirror that my front fender was flexing a little more than usual. I figured it was just getting buffeted by the wind coming off an 18-wheeler next to me.

Planet Bike fender had cracked

When I got to his house, I took a closer look. The front fender had cracked and was barely holding on by a thread. I guess it must have developed “plastic fatigue.”

The fender was a Planet Bike Cascadia, so I went to their website to see if they had a local dealer who might have a replacement in stock. Bingo! Not only did they have a local dealer, it was one I had done business with. I’m not going to name the dealer for reasons that will become apparent.

A call to a local bike shop

“Hi, do you have a Planet Bike Cascadia fender in stock?”

“No, but I can order you one.”

“If you’re going to have to order it, is there any financial advantage to having you order it versus me ordering it direct.”

His tone changed and he said, “If you order stuff off the Internet, where are you going to go for local service 10 years from now when all the local shops are out of business?”

“Whoa, wait a minute. I support local bike shops. I bought two bikes from you. I’ve bought accessories from you. I’ve sent friends to you.”

He just kept asking, “Does Planet Bike put back anything into the local biking community? Does Planet Bike put anything back into the local biking community? Answer me that, yes or no.”

Finally, I had to admit that, the answer was ‘no’.

Planet Bike donates 25% of profits to advocacy groups

I wish I had known this about Planet Bike while we were having our discussion:

Planet Bike helps out by donating 25% of company profits to grassroots bicycle advocacy groups. These groups of people lobby local, state and federal government to make our communities more bicycle friendly. Learn more about how these folks are Making It Happen.

Since 1996 Planet Bike has donated over $1,000,000 to grassroots bicycle advocacy. Most of our money goes to the Alliance for Biking & Walking, (formerly the Thunderhead Alliance), a coalition of 160 bicycle advocacy groups across the nation that are working together to promote safe bicycling.

May I speak with the owner?

I asked if I could speak to XXXXX, the owner, a guy I thought I knew from doing business in the shop and from seeing him at biking events.

“You’re talking to him.”

“This is Ken Steinhoff,” I said, hoping we could connect on what I believed had been a previous friendly personal relationship. “I TRIED to do business with you. You were my FIRST call.”

How many products does Planet Bike Carry?

“Do you have any idea how many products Planet Bike carries?”

I had to admit that I didn’t have a clue.

“Well, lots. I can’t afford to stock one of everything that they carry for someone who might come in once a year to buy it.”

“You won’t have to worry about ME coming into your shop in the future.”

How could I have handled this better?

Maybe the exchange would have been less testy had I said, “I was really hoping to get one right away. I’ll call some of the other bike shops to see if they have it in stock.”

I really wasn’t trying to beat him up on price. I threw out the question about price advantage to give him an opening to save the sale.

Had he said, “I can have it here in two days, at the same price,” I might have thrown him the order, even though he’s a 26-mile round trip from my house. If I order it online, a nice man in a delivery truck will drop it off at my front door.

I don’t know how Planet Bike works and/or what their price structure for dealers is. I was looking for speed more than price, all things being equal. I know that some shops won’t place an order with a distributor until they get enough together to make it worth their while. If this place is like that, I’d rather deal direct.

What IS a local bike shop, anyway?

Several years ago I considered buying a double-legged kickstand. I knew Harris Cyclery carried them, so I called Boston to ask some questions. When I started to place my order, the guy at the other end said, “I KNOW you. I’ve seen your name on some of the bike forums.”

That’s better recognition than I can get from shops that are just up the road from me.

Hubbub Bicycles

Diane Lees of Hubbub Custom Bicycles in Cleveland and I have never met, but we’ve exchanged several dozen bantering emails over the past decade.

She’s my regular supplier for helmet-mounted Chuck Harris mirrors and she’s an active phred. Is SHE my LBS?

Peter White Cycles

I’ve never seen Peter White, but I’ve bought a two generator hubs and a bunch of lighting equipment from Peter White Cycles of New Hampshire. His bedside manner is a bit rough, but he knows about as much about lighting as any guy in the country. Is HE my LBS?

Will my local bike shop be extinct?

To go back to the question the owner of my former LBS asked, “What will you do if all the local bike shops go out of business?

The answer is, I’ll learn to do more of my own wrenching, and I’ll spend my money where people don’t cop an attitude.