One unforeseen reality of gravel cycling is that rural roads are often home to unconstrained and aggressive dogs. Enter the PepperBlaster II.
Whether we choose to consciously acknowledge it or not, as cyclists we’re vulnerable. Cars (or, should we say, texting and/or pharma-addled drivers) are the most obvious threat. If you use common sense, i.e. don’t train on busy thoroughfares, don’t ride into the setting sun, it’s a reasonable hedge. Our sport is the most beautiful one existent, and perhaps part of the allure is the fact that on some level on every ride we must accept the fact that when our number is up, it’s up.
Dealing with cars is to some extent a matter of faith, but that’s not what we’re interested in discussing today. Instead let’s focus on secondary threats. These threats, while no less potentially perilous, are distinct from cars because you can exercise significant control over the situation. We’re thinking of angry drivers who choose to get out of their cars to confront you; of ferocious dogs that won’t give way; of bears who upon occasion lay in wait on our favorite trails. There are times you don’t get to choose fight-or-flight. There are times — thankfully they’re super-rare — when you must pay dark wages for your lifelong love of cycling. And that’s what the Kimber PepperBlaster II is all about.
PepperBlaster is unlike any pepper spray or mace-like stuff you’ve ever seen before. Products like “Halt!” are marshmallow guns by comparison. Kimber refers to it as a “non-lethal weapon,” and as one of the world’s premier manufacturers of 1911 pistols, they know lethality.
What makes PepperBlaster different? The key is that it isn’t aerosolized. Rather, each unit contains two cylinders with powerful concentrations of near-pharmaceutical grade oleoresin capsicum (OC) — a devastatingly effective irritant. Each cylinder is driven by a pyrotechnic charge and a piston, and the solution travels at 113mph, giving it enough energy to wrap around glasses or a face mask. Unlike conventional pepper sprays, you won’t get any blowback into your own face since it isn’t an aerosolized mist. You don’t need to worry whether you’re downwind. And you get a substantially longer effective range of 13 feet. Instead of a “spray”, it fires a compact stream of OC. The effect is immediate, it lasts for 45 minutes, and it allows you to extricate yourself from the situation with plenty of time to spare. And unlike sprays, it’s reliable at any temperature, and won’t rupture, burst, or depressurize.
It has a swingaway tab for a safety, so it won’t accidentally discharge in your jersey pocket. But you can easily push away the tab in an instant when you need to use it. Each unit has two charges in it, i.e. you can fire it twice. Just how effective is it? When OC gets in the eyes the effect is immediate and it causes eyes to slam shut and excruciating pain to kick in. If it gets in the nose and mouth, the effect takes 7-10 seconds, and causes no small amount of gagging (caused by irritation to the respiratory system) to complement the debilitating pain induced by the OC. And while it’ll incapacitate the assailant (human or canine), it won’t cause permanent injury or death.
Need proof of PepperBlaster’s effectiveness? You can do a quick search on Youtube of knuckleheaded, tough guy-types having their buddies shoot them in the face with it. The results are telling (and, honestly, a bit amusing.)
Kimber PepperBlaster II weighs 100g. Its dimensions are 4.3″ x 2.7″ x 0.9″ — easy to fit in a jersey pocket along with a gel or your iPhone. Like any good weapon it’s hard to envision ever needing it, but if the time ever comes you’ll be glad you brought it along. Also, we are unable to ship PepperBlaster to California, New York, Massachusetts, or District of Columbia.