Archive | products

Trek Speed Concept Aerobars

speed-concept-bar-angle

I like to ride aerobars facing slightly upwards. The Speed concept bars allow a small degree of angle. I would like more, but this is about as far as it will go.

However, when keeping aerobars at this angle, seems to place great stress on one of the bolts.

bontrager-speed-concept-broken

Over time the bolt shears and breaks off. Continue Reading →

1

Hotpads for cold feet

hotpadsHotpads are small disposable packets that can be slipped down a pair of socks to keep your feet warm when it’s very cold.

If you wear thermal socks and a good pair of overshoes, you might not need them. But, for many with poor circulation in the extremities, these can be the difference between being able to cycle in the cold and getting too cold.

Little Hotties hand warmers – 10 pairs, £8.99 or 40 pairs from £21.99

Hot pads for cold feet – pack of 40 for £28

Hand warmers – pack of 10 for £12

It doesn’t matter if you buy hotpads for feet or hands, they are 100% interchangeable.

This has been one of the mildest winters so far and I haven’t needed to use too many. But, the cold spell this week (less than 5 degrees) means I definitely will be using.

I have poor circulation in both hands and feet. I feel the cold more in the feet because the toes are mostly immobile whilst cycling. When the temperature drops below 7 degrees, my feet can’t survive for more than an hour without extra  heat. – (no matter what combination of socks and overshoes I try)

I have had electric socks, but last year they broke and so stick to these hot pads. (at Amazon.co.uk)

Basically, when you take them out of a plastic wrapping some chemical reaction creates heat which lasts for seven hours. I put them in my cycling shoes just above a pair of socks. They are great for long rides.

They can be expensive if bought individually, you can pay up to £2 for a pair. But, buying them in bulk means I can get them for 50p a pair. They are disposable, so its a little extravagant, but before I found these  I used to really suffer. I used to wear about three pairs of socks and overshoes and go from cafe to cafe warming up my icey feet (which actually puts you at risk of chilblains)

Also, when you’re feet get very cold, the temptation is to wear several layers of socks, but when you squeeze into your cycling shoes, the socks can actually constrict your blood flow, a key factor in making you cold.

Review of Hotpads

They really do work. It’s not a gimmick. They are 100% reliable. Even after 5 hours, you can still feel the heat.  I always use a thin layer of socks, then put the hotpad and then a thicker layer of socks to keep the heat. This particular brand is good because the pads are quite small, but provide just the right amount of heat to avoid feeling scorched, but also to provide a heat source.

Also, useful if you get a puncture in freezing weather and have to take off your gloves to mend a puncture.

I will use them in some early season races. I’d rather have the extra weight than toes going cold and cramping for lack of blood.

Alternatives to Hotpads.

I have tried the re-usuable hotpads. You can re-energise them in hotwater or microwave – depending on the model. However, these tend to be bigger, and much more difficult to get into a pair of cycling shoes. Also, I find they may only last for one or two hours.

My philosophy is that winter cycling is tough enough. I always try to do anything to make the ride more comfortable, enjoyable. Hot pads are my saviour for winter riding. If you have very good blood circulation, you may not need them unless it goes below freezing. But, if you do suffer from cold hands and cold feet, definitely give these a try, buy a box – forget about the cost. And then you have one less excuse for not going out in winter!

Related

1

dhb Extreme Weather overshoe

The dhb Extreme Weather overshoe is a tough, rainproof overshoe designed for cold and wet winter rides.

dhb-overshoes-n

I received a free review copy in the post at the start of the month. Training has been somewhat interrupted by minor injury niggles this month, but I’ve still been out several times. Often wet, and only a couple of times cold.

The shoe is pretty impressive in being waterproof. Constant spray doesn’t seem to get through at all, which is a big bonus. Continue Reading →

0

Lightest wheels

An evaluation of the lightest wheels available for a road bike.

For several years, I used a pair of  Zipp 404 which are excellent all round wheels, they are also quite light, yet aerodynamic. However, they are not best choice for some of steepest hills.

zipp-404-firecrest

The combined weight of the Zipp 404 weight pair Tubular front 568g – rear 696g was 1266 grams.

Interestingly the new version of Zipp 404 Firecrest are heavier than my old model. The 2014 Firecrest tubular has a weight of 1470 grams according to Zipp. But, with claims of much better aerodynamics.

AX-Lightness Premium Road

My front wheel is based on a Tune Mig 45 20 hole. Built onto AX-Lightness SRT 22 20 Hole rim superspokes.

This comes in at 365 grams (actual) With a super light track tub, it is only 523 grams.

When I have visitors around, I sometimes give them this wheel to pick up with their little finger. It always elicits an exclamation as the little finger goes shooting through the roof. ‘That’s light!’ comes the cry. – Everybody needs a party piece, mine just happens to be offering a lightweight front wheel to pick up. (maybe I should take up juggling instead?)

Continue Reading →

9

Dash saddle – long term review

I reviewed this last year, but I’m updating review after using it for a year, including a couple of 100 mile TT’s. It’s only when you’ve done a few hundred mile TT’s that you can really give a proper review to long-distance TT products.

Essentially, I’m very happy with product. In Nat 100, I hardly got out of aero tuck, but there was little pineal discomfort, until perhaps last 10 miles. The cut out in front of saddle avoids numbing pain in that area you would prefer to avoid. It is very comfortable, very aero, and lightweight. Also it avoids the chaffing I used to get on the Adamo (because Adamo is too wide at the front).

The only drawback is that it is expensive (and not so readily available); it’s difficult to choose which model to get – but overall it has been a good investment. I will be selling an Adamo on ebay soon.

Initial review

Dash saddles are an expensive alternative to Adamo saddles. It is a good option for those looking for the anatomic shape of a Adamo, but want something which is lighter and more aerodynamic.

Earlier this year I wrote an enthusiastic review of Adamo saddles – Essentially the shape of Adamo – with the cut out insert – makes cycling much more comfortable – especially when you are in a flat time trial position. The Adamo really made a big difference to time trial comfort. A 100 mile or even 50 mile TT used to be tortuous for squashing of the crotch area. The Adamo relieved this discomfort making long hours in the saddle much more palatable. However, as enthusiastic as I was about Adamo, I was dissappointed when putting it on the scales and seeing it go to over 275 grams. It’s also a bit of a block, creating an aero drag. For many timetrialists and triathletes this weight and shape is not such a big deal, but for a hilly time trial specialist, you don’t want to be wasting 200 grams on a saddle. Also, I didn’t like the rear lip, which is used to hang up a bike in triathlons.

adamo-lip-back

not how I would design a TT saddle

Another drawback of the Adamo that I noticed after a season of riding – was that you got superficial chaffing on the inside of the thighs, perhaps because the front of the saddle is quite wide. This isn’t really a problem when riding, but after there was a persistent irritation for quite a long time. I could live with it, but still quite annoying. However, the amazing thing about spending a year on an Adamo was not a single saddle sore all year!

To overcome ‘lip’ of the Adamo TT, I decided to buy an Adamo Podium because it looked a bit more aero. However, when I went into UBYK in Oxford, they suggested having a look at the Dash saddles – twice as expensive, but more than half the weight, and they did look a thing of beauty. Sleek, aero and slim.

Dash stage .9

Dash stage .9

I don’t like spending money on new equipment, but this did look like an expense that could be justified. Lighter and more aero and looks beautiful – the only doubt was could it replicate the comfort of the Adamo? Continue Reading →

6

Dura Ace Di2 9070 Groupset review

I’ve been using the Shimano Dura Ace di2 for a couple of months now, so I thought, after extensive testing, I would give a review.

Overall, I’m very impressed. It is very good and makes a difference over mechanical shifting. It is very expensive, and initially I was regretting spending the money on Dura Ace, when I could have saved a £1,000 and got Ultegra, but now I’m glad I ‘bit the bullet’.

For many years in cycling, ‘electronic gears’ got a bad press. When electronic gears were first introduced, they were often reported as ‘freezing in big races’ and this put me off electronic for a long time. But, Di2 seems to be very durable.

whole-di-2

Dura Ace Di2 – 56*21

 

Durability

I’ve been using for a couple of months, without any issues, but to get a better perspective I asked my mechanic friends at Beeline. Mark said they have seen a lot of people use Shimano Di2, and it has been excellent for durability and easy of maintenance. He said it was a lot more reliable than other electronic gears. Mark said many people just ride their bike all year and get it serviced once a year. He said Di2 was good for those riders who didn’t want to do anything but just ride and recharge their batteries. He seemed quite enthusiastic about Di2 and would recommend it as the best groupset. Continue Reading →

4

DHB Flashlight waterproof jacket

I was offered a chance to review two products sent from Wiggle. The first thing I chose was a waterproof jacket. In the past few years, technology has improved, but for various reasons I haven’t bought one for a long time. I needed a proper waterproof cycling jacket just for commuting into town on rainy days.

The DHB Flashlight Compact-XT Waterproof Jacket claims to be lightweight, waterproof, breathable and adjustable.

dhb-Flashlight-Compact

It comes in a choice of two colour – blue or fluorescent yellow. I chose the fluorescent yellow for better visibility on the commute into work.

Sizing – I chose medium expecting it to be a little short. I’m very tall (6″31) and thin, so it’s always hard to get a good fit, but the sleeves came down nearly to gloves and it wasn’t too baggy. This was my main need – I didn’t want it to be too flappy.

Waterproofness

The jacket is definitely waterproof, it kept me dry in quite persistent rain and shows no signs of leaking at the seams. It feels quite solidly made.

DHB state the Waterproof Jacket has a waterproof rating of 10,000 mm to keep you protected, with additional rain defence from Teflon™

Breathability

It is not bad for breathability. I rode commuting into town and didn’t work up a sweat. If your training really hard, then I’m sure it will get a bit more sweaty. But, I think overall it is fairly decent for breathability. There are flaps on the back to allow some air to escape without allowing water in. The zip is fairly easy to undo, if you need to let a bit more air in the front.

Quality of build

  • The zip seems fairly solid and so far has no problems.
  • I like the adjustability of the cuffs. It is easy and quick to change with velcro and quite useful for getting on and over winter ski gloves.
  • The fluorescent jacket certainly stands out on the roads.
  • It comes with a few pockets – not that I tend to use pockets on a waterproof jacket.
  • Despite my awkward build, it is a good fit.

wearing-dhb-jacket-commuting-bike

Continue Reading →

2

Garmin 510 vs Garmin 500 – review

After two years with a Garmin 500, I upgraded to a Garmin 510 – is it any better? Is it worth the extra money?

The main selling point of the Garmin 510 over the Garmin 500 are that:

  • You can upload to the web wirelessly via a bluetooth 2.1 phone connection. After my Garmin 500 had problems connecting to the computer via USB cable, this seemed attractive.
  • With phone pairing, you can have live tracking – so people can watch you on a computer screen (in the old days, people used to go and watch people do time trials).
  • The Garmin 510 has a better battery life – up to 20 hours compared to 18 hours for a Garmin 500. To me the Garmin 510 lasts significantly longer than 500.
  • Bigger screen, more functions and updated quality.
  • Garmin 500 (released 2009). Garmin 510 (released 2013)

I didn’t want to pay the money RRP £249, but I didn’t really want to buy another Garmin 500 because I was annoyed it stopped working. Here is how I’ve been getting on.

Comparison of size and weight Garmin 500 vs Garmin 510

  • Garmin 500 weight 80g –  85 x 52 x 24mm
  • Garmin 510 weight 58g – 69 x 48 x 22mm

510-vs-500-flat

As a self-confessed weight-weenie and aero-weenie. This is a bad start. The Garmin 500 is generally well proportioned for a bike computer. The Garmin 510 starts to feel a bit like a brick. It’s not that far off the Garmin 800.

22g of weight doesn’t really matter (don’t quote me on that in the hill climb season). But, I worry that the extra depth is going to cost seconds on the time trial bike. I don’t like the bulky size of the Garmin 510.
500-vs-510

510 bigger screen than Garmin 500. Continue Reading →

2

Garmin 500 – long term review

garmin-edge-500-500

I’ve had the Garmin 500 for two and a half years. It has many good features and represents a huge step up in terms of cycle computer technology and possibilities. The ubiquity of the Garmin 500 within the cycling community is generally well deserved. However, it is not without its faults, which I will come to later.

This includes parts of the initial review from 2012, but more of the faults which have become apparent in using it.

Continue Reading →

3

Best padded cycling shorts

In cycling, it is good to know where to spend your money. For example, with –  Shimano 105 v Shimano Dura Ace – there is very little difference in quality, but a huge difference in price.

But, when it comes to cheap cycling shorts vs good cycling shorts – there is a huge difference in quality of the product, the enjoyment of your ride and even can affect how many saddle sores you get. (see: tips for avoiding saddle sores)

saddle

Make sure you have a good pair of shorts

 

It is ironic that I often end up buying the most uncomfortable looking saddle (69gram sheet of carbon fibre) and then rely on a good pair of padded cycling shorts to make the ride bearable.

– Throw away the cheap cycling shorts. Last November I mentioned how I made myself throw away several pair of cheap cycling shorts. They are not worth using because they gave saddle sores.

A good padded cycling short is one of the most essential ways to get a more comfortable ride, especially for anything over two hours.

Over the years I’ve tried quite a few cycling shorts. For quite a few years, I’ve ridden some Impsport custom made ones for my cycling teams like Oxonians and Sri Chinmoy CT. Unfortunately, Impsport do not make the best cycling shorts. They are not as bad as they were (and they may continue to get better). But some of the earlier models were virtually unrideable with the chamois inadequate, and in the wrong place leading to chaffing. Unfortunately, this wasn’t just my experience, but also that of a team-mate. I haven’t tested other types of custom made team kit. I’ve heard people speak relatively highly of Endura. But, it is always a little bit of a gamble ordering custom made shorts, when you can’t test them until it is too late.

A few general comments about cycling shorts

Bibbed shorts are more comfortable than non-bibbed. It is much easier to keep them up without the feeling of elastic around the waist. They also seem to stay in position much more easily. I do have a few non-bibbed shorts, but, when getting in and out of the saddle, they tend to move around, which is mildly irritating.

All shorts become more comfortable when you are used to cycling. Getting used to spending hours in the saddle is like anything else, you develop tolerance over time. If you’re new to cycling, even spending £200 on some shorts may still leave you feeling pretty sore after a seven hour sportive. If you’re used to spending hours in the saddle, you will find all shorts more comfortable.

Keep Clean. I’m sure this doesn’t really need saying, but, you want to wash shorts after every ride. Try to avoid hanging around in sweaty shorts after a ride too. On tour, you can handwash shorts pretty easily. (Some pros used to insist on hand washing so they could be sure it didn’t get mixed up with other laundry which could potentially pass on germs)

Don’t Wash at Too High Temperature. On one holiday in US, I took my laundry to a US washomat. After washing at presumably very high temperature, the lycra was stretched to almost indecent proportions. I had to throw away the see-through shorts before getting into trouble. Don’t ruin a good pair of lycra by washing in very hot water!

Some Chamois cream can help keep the insert padding soft. Useful for long rides, though most synthetic chamois are pretty good at staying soft.

Shorts I can recommend

Assos T607

This is a cold weather range of shorts. It is suitable for many months of UK weather – apart from hot days, and very cold.

t706-shorts-assos2

Assos have a reputation for producing the best, (whatever the cost). These shorts certainly looked intriguing with their dimpled padding. The padding is quite substantial and feels very soft when put on. It does feel different to other shorts because of the air flow and space in between dimples. This helps to wick away sweat which is one of top ways of creating friction and discomfort. The short fits on the body very easily, it smooths away pressure and there is no feeling of tightness or discomfort. Also, I never felt any seems which I often do on other shorts. For long rides, it is substantially more comfortable and does make a real difference.

It comes with a warning that the material is more delicate. It is not bullet proof and may not last. It suggests careful use, hand-washing – it even gives instructions on how to pee whilst wearing the shorts. However, I’ve had them for two years and after considerable use, there is little discernible sign of use. There is a little fraying in the padding, but it is not a problem. I will be fairly confident of getting a substantial amount of wear to justify the cost.

Overall, these are a very good short. Excellent comfort and design. A good investment for those who do longer rides. See: full review of Assos T607 F1 Mile

Assos Uno

I also bought some Assos Uno for £110. These are a cheaper version to the T607, but still offer great comfort. They are ironically, the ‘starter’ version of Assos premium short range. Again, I’ve used for over two years without any obvious sign of wear and tear.

F1 Assos Uno £110 at Chain reaction cycles.

Specialized RBX Expert Winter short

specialized-winter-shorts-padding

I recently reviewed the shorts here. Half the price of Assos, they offer a good comfortable use. I’ve used for the past couple of months and it has been comfortable. The only thing I have noticed is the lyrca which comes into contact with the saddle has begun to ‘bobble’. But, they fit well and offer a good degree of padding and support. There is a noticeable difference with the Assos. But, at £60, they are good value.

DHB classic shorts RRP £49.99

dhb-Classic-Bib-Shorts-Lycra-Cycling-Shorts-White-Blue-A0959-3

For a mid-range shorts which still gives a good riding experience. The DHB shorts offer good value.  You might be able to pick up for less than £30. There is no cost of buying a ‘branded’ name, which can add extra on to the final price. The classic shorts are thin lycra, they also do the DHB Vaeon Roubaix padded shorts for extra insulation and riding in cold weather. Overall a no fussy, comfortable pair of shorts.

DHB Classic bib shorts – £37.49

DHB Professional ASV Bib Shorts

dhb shorts avb

I received these a couple of months ago, and have been wearing on training rides – up to four hours on time trial bike. I am pretty impressed with the comfort of the shorts.  The padding looks relatively thin, but after four hours everything feels pretty good, no discomfort at all (I use dash saddle) The product description says it has high density foam with good air ventilation.

Air-density

On the outside they look pretty good. They are close fitting to legs, without having strong grippers which leave marks on the skin. I got size L which is pretty good for 6″ 3′

Only weighs 210g

A lightweight carbon fibre mesh bib construction to keep cool. To be honest, in England I rarely overheat when cycling so haven’t been able to test this out, but I can believe it is very lightweight and cool.

DHB Professional AVB shorts at Wiggle list price £64.99 – £57

Conclusion

I have ridden quite a few shorts over the years. For short training rides, I tend to ride mid-priced shorts like the Specialized or DHB. For long training rides of 3 hours plus, I ‘treat’ myself with the very comfortable Assos shorts. This is to extend the life of these more delicate shorts. There is also a psychological advantage of having the best shorts reserved for the longest rides.

There are many more types of shorts I haven’t ridden, which might be worth looking at. Fortunately, short technology seems to have improved in the past few years.

Related

4

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

free hit counter