Best puncture proof tyres

No ordinary tyre guarantees to be absolute puncture free, but improvements in technology have gone a long way to reducing your chances of puncturing. For the average rider and commuter, buying a puncture resistant tyre is probably one of best upgrades to make.

Highly puncture resistant tyres usually have a trade off of greater weight and higher rolling resistance (i.e. slower) but the slight decline in speed is well worth the greater peace of mind that comes from having less punctures.

These are some of the puncture resistant tyres that I have used over the years.

Armadillo – Specialized All Condition
specialized armadillo

The tyre feels pretty tough – it is a very robust 60 TPI (Threads per inch) – which is very different feel to the racing tyres of 300TPI. It’s toughness makes it very resistant to small scratches and glass cuts. It gives more confidence for commuting on a rought canal path. A minor downside of its toughness is that it’s a bit awkward putting on rim with fingers, but then you rarely have to change a puncture. It claims to be designed for low rolling resistance; but, in practice it feels heavy – it is is noticeably slower than a Grand Prix 4000. But, I am quite happy using it on my commuting bike and have also added to the rear wheel on my winter training bike, at various times.

I have been using them for over seven years (5 days a week) During that period I have had three punctures and one was a 6 inch nail. Roughly speaking its a puncture rate of 3 / 9,000 miles or 1 per 3,000 miles. It’s also pretty hard wearing, I get maybe 3,000 miles on rear and 5,000 miles on front, which is a long time for a commuting bike. At £30, overall this is a very good value tyre which offers excellent puncture resistance.  It really is a good investment and one of my favourite.

Weight (approx)

Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Questions on five minute efforts vs 10 mile TT

I’m Irish, but live over in Czech republic, I’m back in the sport after 10 years (I did a race called the FBD Ras, 8 day affair – popular with strong UK riders, its a 2.2, its my modest claim to fame) I have a coach based in the US. A former student of Hunter Allen – he is good and works you hard.

This season I rode a 6 minute hill climb and was 9th overall and 3rd age group, big event. About 6 minutes at 6%, and I hit 400w at 65kg. Good for me  but I got beaten by 15 seconds so a rather convincing defeat.  I have since done 430 for 5 minutes and am averaging about 500w in minute on 3 minute off repeats – about 10 of them.

But my question is about a comment you made re flat vs hill power. Riding 320w for 10 miles, one would think that at 450 for 5 minutes you would be way higher that 320 – is this a deliberate training choice ? or you found it to be a physiological limitation ? I’m about similar to 320 for 20 minutes on the flat – but it is growing, and my curiosity lies in how far I can take the longer efforts.

I’ve just got back from Czech Republic (Zlin) over weekend. So will answer as blog post.

In 2015:

  • My max power for 10 mile TT (20 mins) was about 338 W this summer. (Quark)
  • My max power for hill climb (5 mins) is about 450 watts. Though it may have been closer to 470 for last few climbs I did without any power meter.

There are a few reasons.

  • They are different power meters, I think hill climb bike (Stages) gives slightly more power than Quark.
  • If I did a 5 minute TT on the flat, (I’ve never actually tried.) but, I would be very surprised if I could get anywhere near 450 watts. In other words, it is easier to post a higher power figure for a steep climb on road bike than a flat 5 minute TT bike test.

Why more power for short hill climbs?

  • You can get more power on a steep hill, when you stand on the pedals rather than stay seated (I think it is due to the extra use of body weight increasing power.)
  • Different physiology for hill climb vs TT bike. I’ve not tested, but it might be easier to get more power on a road bike. Depends how much you train on TT bike too. Certainly, if you’re not used to riding on TT bike, you need to spend time getting used to different muscles used.
  • I don’t train only for 5 minute climbs. One interesting thing is that at end of time trial season I can get close to my max 5 min power for hill climbs. Two months of specific hill climb training does increase 4-5 minute power a little, but less than you might expect. But, I also train for 10 mile TT, by doing five minute intervals.

Secondly I’m not sure I fancy spending 10k on a tt bike for next year. I may buy an old Stuart Dangerfield frame I found, and might just build it up with newer wheels and a good cockpit. Do you believe in the 10k spend for tt bikes?

Yes and No. I did spend a lot on my TT bike (Speed Concept), but then it wasn’t that much quicker than my previous Trek Equinox that I sold for £750 on ebay.

The simple answer is you don’t need to spend 10k on a bike. For example, winner of UK national 10 spent £1k on bike (he got a lot of aero coaching / wind tunnel testing, which is probably expensive, but probably more effective than spending money on a bike.)

If you go Ultegra mechanical rather than Dura Ace Di2, you can save $4-,$5000, but the difference in speed over a 25 mile TT is practically ‘nothing’. I still bought Dura Ace Di2 though. You might be better off spending a lot of money on skinsuit, helmets and aero-testing. See also marginal aero gains

Next year I just want to develop, not winning doesn’t bother me too much as I just want to build the engine. (I was 30th in the non UCI nationals here of 340 riders  – on an R3 with t-bars)

A simple TT bike can help improve over a road bike with t-bars. But, I agree the real test of time-trialling is building your engine and seeing how you can stretch your performance. Aerodynamics do make a lot of difference to your speed, but for me the real buzz comes from improving performance – not relying on aero improvements.



Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Winter training bike

A seasoned cyclist will rarely buy a specific winter training bike. Instead, we are more likely to just ‘inherit’ a former racing bike.

A bike that was once our pride and joy – regularly cleaned, oiled and polished – fit, even, to be kept in our dining room –  gets relegated to an all round winter work-horse. And yet as a winter training bike, we can spend more time using it, than we did when it was our first choice racing bike.

I bought a new road bike this year. A state of the art Trek Emonda. I even made the foolhardy claim, this will be the last bike I will ever buy. Never believe a cyclist when he says he’s bought his last bike, especially not a hill climber who has form when it comes to the murky world of expensive marginal gains.

But, the new Emonda relegated a very decent Trek Madone to 2nd in the pecking order. I was very tempted to sell on ebay. I’ve had a good experience selling stuff on ebay this summer – getting a good price for an old time trial bike. In fact, this summer was a very rare occurrence of selling as many bikes as purchasing. Breaking a long history of bicycle accumulation – proving I wasn’t completely in thrall to the old formula for bike numbers of N+1.

However, the problem with selling the Madone was manifold.

  • Bike technology is changing too fast. There was a time when Dura Ace 10 speed was an almost impossibly luxury – 10 speed on a cassette, how do they manage that! Now alas, 10 speed mechanical has fallen behind the times, and therefore depreciated in value – a  sign of relentless progress (or should I say relentless marketing gimmicks which are irritatingly successful in taking hard earned cash from bicycle owners. I made a plea to bike manufacturers – Please  don’t bring out 12 speed, but you know they will.)Winter training Bike

Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

How to increase average speed cycling?

Readers Question: I’m a commuter/leisure cyclist and I’m looking to getting into race fitness for a few sportives next year. I’ve never raced before and would like to know the best training methods to start increasing my fitness and speed. When I go out for a ride it’s usually only 20 miles and I ride just under my threshold to average 17mph. What should I do to start seeing that go up? I’m also going to start longer routes. Looking forward to your insight.

I remember when I started getting into cycling (quite a few years ago, I forget the number) every ride was just below at threshold, and I was obsessed with average speed. It was in the days before heart rate monitors and power meters. The only thing you had on your bike was speed, time, distance and average speed. I remember my first ever ride with a speedometer. Menston to Burnsall and back – average speed 13.5mph. Every time I went out, I always tried to get higher average speeds for my usual routes. I remember being very happy when I averaged 18 mph for a 35 mile ride from Menston to Burnsall and back.

Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Congestion in the bicycle lanes


Since the end of the racing season, I’ve been paying a little more attention to the other aspect of cycling – Commuting. If you like dividing cycling into different tribes, I’m proud to be a member of most cycling tribes. Commuting has a very different mindset and rhythm to racing.

Congestion in the bike lanes

Since students have came back to Oxford, you notice a significant rise in the number of cyclists in the city. Cycling into town around 9am, and you get caught up in cycle lane congestion. As cycling problems go, cyclist congestion is a pretty good problem to have.

Needless to say, if every cyclist converted into a car,  there would be fundamental gridlock on the narrow streets of Oxford.


People streaming into town. And shorts in November, what is the world coming to!

Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Dahon Vitesse review

This is a review of Dahon Vitesse, I originally published on old cycling blog. I have reposted it here, with some updates



My search for a suitable foldup bicycle took me to try a Dahon Vitesse at a local shop Warland cycles on Botley Road. The first advantage of a Dahon Vitesse is that it is relatively cheap – only £400-£430. This makes it half the price of the cheapest Brompton foldup. For a relative occasional user of a foldup – it is hard to justify spending much more on a foldup.

Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Proviz Reflect 360 Cycling Jacket Review

This review of a Proviz jacket is written by a friend Adam Thornton, who is a bike-ability instructor in Sheffield.


Proviz REFLECT 360 Cycling Jacket Review
Or, how I feel like auditioning for the next Tron film

I write this review after going out for an early-morning ride on a bleak morning. It was raining – that fine rain that I quite like cycling in because it’s soft when it hits your face. I’m now looking at my jacket drying on the clotheshorse and, despite it being on the far side of the room and away from the window (the only source of light), the jacket has an ethereal quality to it in the way it reflects light. This ability to reflect light and its chameleon-like quality is the jacket’s primary selling point, but we’ll get to that later.

First impressions

adam-Indoor-lightBack when the jacket arrived in the post I could immediately see it was well finished, with tissue paper wrapped around the zip pulls and a quality-looking product. The material has an unusual feel to it due to the technical nature of the special fabric. It’s a bit like a gore-tex jacket, but smoother.

A closer look: The inside-out test

One of the tricks I’ve learnt to do when considering buying an item of clothing I’ll be using for sport is to turn it inside out and have a good look at the sewing and the inside. I’ve found that because of the vigorous nature of training and the frequent putting-on and taking-off of the garment, if the sewing inside isn’t top notch or even if there’s a tiny thread loose then it only takes one catch as you’re putting your arm in to cause proper damage. The Proviz REFLECT 360 is advertised as having sealed seams for waterproofing so it was particularly important that the stitching is top grade. Also, sometimes I’ve had clothing with a soft cotton mesh inside which isn’t good quality, so once something snags on it in a sleeve, then it’s not long before the whole inner-sleeve becomes shredded. Throughout the whole Proviz jacket it is clear that the seams, stitching, and material quality are very good and that jacket will have a long life. In fact, the stitching is very well hidden and on the outside is completely sealed to make the jacket very waterproof. Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Life without cycling

This week I experienced a most unusual phenomena of not doing any training. Well, when I say a week of no training – I mean no training all week – excluding Mon, Tues and Saturday.

To be honest, it would be easier to say I had three days off the bike. Though when I say off the bike – that obviously still includes cycling 10 miles into town and back every day. Never miss an opportunity to clock up miles – even when you’re not training, that’s my motto.


So, to clarify, it was three days without any ‘proper’ training. It’s quite an interesting experience to suddenly have lots of free time to do things like er. visit a science museum and art gallery. Walking around town, thinking about going shopping, but not even having the enthusiasm for that.

For the first day of no training, I had the odd anxious thought that my grand plans to do a bit more of the ‘long stuff in Summer 2016’ was taking a monumental and irreversible set-back. Winter miles missed in November and the long-term grand plan is already going out of the window.

Fortunately, I had a sufficiently rational mind to realise that a day off in November, not only – doesn’t hold back goals for eight months hence – but may even do a bit of good.


Reason no. #87 to put off a winter training ride

Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Long slow steady miles

The national hill climb now feels like a long time ago. The season has changed – both in terms of weather and the approach to cycling. Rather than eyeballs out for 4 minutes, it’s time to dust off the winter training bike and get ready for relatively long slow miles through the foggy Oxfordshire surroundings.

The day after the national hill climb, I got the winter training bike down from the loft, the difference in speed and weight was too much, and I wanted to put it back up in loft. So I’m still riding the Emonda whilst the weather is relatively good. I know from bitter experience that by early Dec, many of the quiet roads around here become barely indistinguishable from muddy farm tracks, and I will have surrendered to riding at 15mph on thick Armadillo tyres, mudguards, winter overshoes and three pairs of gloves. But, if I can get a few rides in November on a summer bike, that is an added bonus.

Getting lost – finding new roads


Oxford is a great place to cycle, if only for the sheer diversity of routes, roads and directions you can take. I’ve been in Oxford since 1994, and I still am finding new roads to rides. When training, I tend to stick routes I know well – the last thing you want  when you’re really training hard – is getting lost and wondering where to go next.  November becomes a good opportunity to follow the proverbial nose – head in a general direction and take which ever road appeals. This is one of the best ways to learn all the intricate lanes and stock pile possible training routes for next year. It’s OK, so long as you don’t head completely in the wrong direction. Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

2006 national hill climb championship

The national hill climb championship in 2006 was held on Peak hill, Sidmouth in Devon.

peak hill

Peak Hill. Photo Dom Atreides

James Dobbin (Arctic Shorter Rochford RT) won the championship in a time of 4.44. A big winning margin over 2nd place, David Clark Nippo KFS 5.07. 3rd was 2004 national champion Jonathan Dayus (Arctic Shorter Rochford RT)

1st women was Ann Bowditch 6.41, Science in Sport. Lyn Hamel was 2nd women. (7.02) 3rd  Jane Kilmartin 7.05 (London Phoenix)

The best junior was Luke Rowe 5.42 Glendene CC-Bike Trax (17th overall) who just finished ahead of Alex Dowsett 18th overall (5.44). It goes without saying that both juniors went on to even greater things than 17th /18th in the national hill climb championship.  James Gullen (Scarborough Paragon was 62nd) (2nd in 2013). There was a very young Hugh Carthy in 89th place (4th in 2013).

My race

It was my second national hill climb championship and I finished 7th, which was a good result after little racing or training throughout the season. In 2006, I did a couple of time trials, and two hill climbs. They were Streatley HC (Reading CC) ,and Brighton Mitre hill climb – where I won the second leg on Shoreham in a time of 7.21.

2006 national

2006 national. Not sure about those socks, somethings don’t change. At least I’d taken off the bar tape to save 10 grams.

I remember it was a good day. Warm, sunny, dry. I think I paced it relatively well, going quite well on the steep second half. In those days, I never rode a climb before racing, it was a question of starting off and hoping for the best.

Continue Reading →

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

free hit counter