IPMBA Product Review

Report from the 2015 Philadelphia Bike Show

by Tim Keaveney, PCI #1329
Pennsylvania State Police (retired)

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I have lived or worked in the City of Philadelphia or the surrounding metropolitan area my entire life.  And I am old.  As such, I am an old, diehard Philadelphia Sports Fan, who has been conditioned to pay for certain events hoping for great things – knowing deep down, I will ultimately be disappointed.  Disappointed in the result and disappointed from having willingly separated myself from my money to be disappointed.  There is no longer an expectation of victory.  Only a hope for the sporadic and pleasant surprise.  

When I paid to enter the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Bike Expo, on November 7-8, I entered with a sense of excitement and hope over what I might find; yet, I knew.  This is Philadelphia.  Bring on the heartbreak.

But live in Philly long enough, you come to realize not all wins are measured in the win-loss column.  Sometimes, in a game with a disappointing result, you manage to catch that foul ball or witness the monster grand slam that made your presence there both memorable and worthwhile. 

That was this year’s Bike Expo.  Overall, not what I had hoped but with some moments that made my presence there all worthwhile.

So, in a playing field littered with so many singles and a fair number of strikeouts, the grand slam of this event was clearly delivered by Womo Designs.  

Womo Designs provides the bicycle patrol officer with creative, versatile, inexpensive, and well-built practical solutions for dual-mounting accessory devices.  Product desirability is further enhanced by the large number of reputable companies with which they are associated and/or can specifically accommodate, such as Koala Water Bottle, Cateye, Garmin, Hammerhead, iBike, Lite & Motion, and NiteRider, plus cameras/recording devices Contour, GoPro, JVC, and Sony Action Cam.  

One space-saving, secure mount; two devices.  Two mounts, four devices.  Welcome to the new generation of bicycle patrol.  Minimal cost expended and minimal weight added while providing maximum benefit to you. 

Womo Designs is currently working on a secure iPhone/Smartphone accessory mount.  This is the only item where they did not hit it out of the park.  As is, the company offers a platform on which to place your iPhone or Android product; however, it is secured to that platform with just two ponytail rubber bands.  But they assure me they should have a product soon that matches the quality of their other mounting accessories.

PERAM Never-Flat appears to be a solid line drive down the middle for extra bases.  Imagine taking a solid rubber garden hose and using it in place of your standard tube.  One that is essentially impervious to any surface hazard encountered or thrown at you.  With the Democratic National Convention coming to Philly in July, thrown at you may more of a reality. 

This is a heavier (approximately 1.5 lbs. per tire), more expensive, and possibly more effective way of preventing flats compared to other options, such as sealant and/or liners.  Three extra pounds is not insignificant, especially over the course of a normal shift.  I would never recommend adding unnecessary weight to rider or machine – unless it serves a purpose.  And PERAM Never-Flat may serve that purpose should you be expecting large masses with an agenda to make your life miserable.

Biggest swing-and-miss at this event was offered by Take Your Lane, LLC.  Take Your Lane’s product offering was an orange flag similar to that you would expect to see extending vertically from the sissy bar of an eight year old’s Huffy to provide greater visibility while riding on the roadway.  Except this flag mounts to the chain and seat stays of your bike and has the ability to also extend three feet horizontally to the side.  The idea is that the three foot pole with flag attached – when placed into the perpendicular position – would “force” drivers to obey the “three-foot rule”, thus providing the bicyclist with an additional measure of safety while traveling upon the highway. 

I, however, see it as providing a driver with a triangular orange target without getting too close to the cyclist.  Maybe that’s because I am from a town that beats a hitchhiking robot into submission after an otherwise safe and uneventful trip across the country.  I also see it as a potential civil lawsuit when the cyclist swerves to avoid a surface hazard and brings his or her “look at me” product into contact with that passing Mercedes.  Plus, Philadelphia (where Take Your Lane, LLC., was making its “three-foot” rule product pitch) is located within a state having a “four-foot” rule.  Three strikes, you’re out.  

A number of workshops were offered, with only a couple having any real practical application for the bike cop.  The Crash Avoidance presentation, where Brett Flemming from Efficient Velo Tools “demonstrates(s) several bike handling tricks that anyone can learn to gain increased awareness, stability, confidence and control,” seemed to be the one session worth attending.  It would have been interesting to compare techniques utilized by Flemming to those taught by IPMBA.  I chose to instead prepare for the actual crash by fattening my buttocks and my frame with a PB and U Slaw Dawg, a fantastic combination of ¼ lb. hot dog slathered with spicy peanut butter and coleslaw.    

To sum up, I was hoping for Game 7 of the World Series, and left with the feeling that the Philly Bike Expo was just Game 24 of a 162-game season.  One where I witnessed a loss while spending an enjoyable day out at a game with just a few highlights.  This is a trade show, where vendor/retailer relationships rule supreme and the retailer/customer relationship is almost non-existent.  An accompanying and increased retail presence would be a nice touch in the future so that attendees might also be able to avail themselves to some of these products and innovations.  We have already given you some of our money.  You may as well take it all. 

Tim most recently served as a Corporal with the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop K – Philadelphia, Criminal Investigation Unit.  He was certified as an IPMBA Police Cyclist in 2005 and as an IPMBA Instructor in October 2012.  He retired in January 2016, with more than twenty-six years on the job, stating that using the Cannondale to chase down speeding motorists on I-95 is a lot harder than it was back in his younger days. 

(c) 2016 IPMBA.  This article appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of IPMBA News.  

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