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Assos T.607 F.I Mille S5 – long term review

A review of Assos T607 F1 Mile shorts after a year of using them.

Summary They are very expensive for a pair of shorts – around £160. But, they are probably one of the best cycling products I have bought in recent years. They have really made long 5-7 hour winter training rides much more comfortable. I used to get all kinds of pain and discomfort, but these shorts mean I don’t even think about that aspect of cycling.

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Admittedly I have worn some pretty cheap and unconvincing shorts in the past. This was a big step forward from a pair of shorts costing £40 to nearly four times the value. But, I couldn’t go back to the older shorts now.

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A year ago, I also bought some F1 Assos Uno cycle shorts for £117.  They are also excellent, But, I find I tend to wear these T607 more often because I prefer the insulation and they are slightly more comfortable than even the F1 Uno.

The problem with cycling is that there is always a temptation to spend lots of money – weight saving carbon fibre, cool clothing, new bike e.t.c. It’s always hard to know whether spending these great sums is justified.

Firstly, it’s not often you buy a pair of shorts, and with it you get an owners manual. There’s some rather discouraging warnings.

  • Do not machine wash
  • Do not wash with other clothes.
  • Do not ride near brambles
  • Do not get caught in velcro
  • (Do not get pushed into barbed wire by TV motorbike) (youtube)

Overall, there seems to be a strong warning emanating from this owners manual – Assos shorts are not designed to last. Not the most reassuring thing to read about something just costing shy of £160. Because of this I have taken care of these shorts more than any other piece of clothing I have owned.

I have hand washed them, I have taken a pee, according to the users manual, I have even avoided jumping through bramble whilst wearing them

One year on, I have got considerable use out of them, and they are still going strong. The padding is starting to be slightly worn, but it doesn’t look like it needs replacing. I’m hopefully of getting another couple of years use out of them.

Sizing

Assos warn that proper sizing is very important. Get a size too big and it won’t stay still and move around. Get a size too small and it will stretch the seams and over time disintegrate (there’s a lot of talk about the shorts disintegrating). Rather worryingly, they say most professionals usually start in size L, and later in the season move down to size M. All very well for professionals who don’t have to pay £150 to change sizes. But, I want to get size right first time. I choose size L because it fitted my height 180-185cm, (but not the weight of 80kg).

I have worn the large sizes for over a year, and it still fits fine. There is no need of wanting to move down a size. But, for obvious reasons, you want to take care with getting the right size. Importantly, there should be a stretching of shorts when you stand up in them. The important thing is that they fit you whilst in the cycling position.

Comfort of Ride

The fabric is amazingly comfortable, the shorts are comfortable everywhere. As Assos states, when you stand up, it feels tight because it’s designed to be worn in the cycle posture. And I don’t think you need a Swiss owners manual to tell you these shorts are not designed for ‘social use’ (though the ever-thorough Swiss do actually tell you that they don’t recommend wearing these shorts in a ‘social situation’)

The manual tells you to not pull the shorts into place, but merely let the shorts do the work. I oblige and let the fabric move into position, as I set off down the road. The dimpled padded insert is considerable and really well designed. Not like some old shorts where the rather feeble padding seems to stop at an inappropriate point.

After two hours into the ride, you realise you’ve hardly noticed your saddle or seating position. It’s very comfortable. After five hours in the saddle, the first signs of hardness start to appear. But, this is relatively mild. At the end of the ride, I was really praising the design of the saddle. It’s done a lot to improve the ride quality over other cycle shorts. It is a big step up from any other cycle shorts that I have experienced. This winter I have been doing rides of up to seven hours. I’ve never experienced any real discomfort. I used to suffer from a lot of the dreaded saddle sore. But, this past year, I have rarely suffered, apart from after a few time trials (where I wear skinsuit and not these shorts) Continue Reading →

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Bontrager RXL waterproof overshoes

bontrager-rxl0vershoes

Review of the The Bontrager RXL waterproof overshoe.

I’m always on the lookout for warm footwear and accessories. These Bontrager RXL overshoes looked very warm with a generous fleece lining. They also came recommended from Steve, the bike mechanic in BikeZone. Despite already having a pair of overshoes, I bought these. They cost £36, so I was hoping they would give an impressive performance to justify the price tag. Steve gave me a tip that he recommended erring on the side of getting a bigger size.

He said the first pair he had were tight, restricting the blood flow and defeating the purpose of overshoes. I take shoe size 46.5, so I chose the XL size which says it fits 47-48. It proved a good fit for my Mavic cycling shoes – size 46.5. I’m sure it would be fine also for shoe size 47, but 48 might be a little on the tight side. Despite getting XL, it was a snug fit, and once on didn’t move. There is a good strong zip and it is well made.

 

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Underneath the shoe is designed for durability, with generous holes and no insulation. It means it won’t deteriorate walking around, but it doesn’t offer any insulation from the underneath. A complement to this shoe may be a lining of your shoe pad.

Insulation

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The main selling point for this overshoe was the generous fleece lining. It is warmer that most overshoes. My feet were quite warm at 10 degrees without the usual hotpads. These over shoes are ideal for really cold days.

Drawbacks

If you’re feet aren’t prone to the cold, these might even be a bit warm during spring and autumn, where it is a close call on whether to wear overshoes or not. If you don’t often get cold feet, you might be better off with a cheaper and slightly thinner overshoe. At £40, it really is quite an expensive overshoe.

Strengths

If you want maximum insulation for an overshoe, it is hard to beat this.

Despite warmth and the layers of insulation, I find it perfectly breathable. It’s not sweaty. I sometimes find the neoprene overshoes to be a bit on the sweaty side. Continue Reading →

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Sean Yates – it’s all about the bike | Review

sean-yates-it-s-all-about-the-bikeSean Yates was a hard man of old school pro-cycling. Coming from the British based scene, Yates made that very difficult route from domestic amateur to full time continental pro. In a long and distinguished career, he became the third British person to wear the yellow jersey and a time trial stage in the Tour de France and Vuelta Espagne. After retiring as a pro, Sean continued to race on the domestic scene and also moved into management – from the chaotic McCartney team to the brave new world of Team Sky.

Some points from reading the book.

  • It is revealing into the mindset and attitude that Yates’ had to life and cycling. You get an overwhelming impression that this is a guy willing and able to repeatedly drive himself into the ground. Although there’s no firm link, you do wonder the extent to which his health problems are related to the intensity he was willing to put into riding the bike.
  • As you might expect, Yates just avoids the whole issue of doping. I don’t think it’s mentioned even once. He’s loyal to Lance Armstrong and in the best traditions of the old school omerta leaves the drug issue well alone. Personally, I feel rather detached from this. I’m so full of doping confessions, doping reports, doping books e.t.c. I didn’t expect Yates to have anything revelatory to say. It is kind of the elephant in the room, but that’s Yates and the era of pro cycling.
  • It does come across as part confessional. For example, on one page, you are reading how Yates went for a ramp test and produced the best wattage figures since Eddy Merckx, and on the next page he confesses to turning his grass brown because he would urinate out his window. Confessions may have their place, but perhaps the confession box is a better place than you’re autobiography. A couple of times I felt like saying ‘just a bit too much information, Yatesy’
  • On the plus side you feel you are reading quite an open and honest account. There isn’t really a side to Yates, he does tell it like he is.
  • Another good feature of the book is simply the fact that Yates has been at the heart of procycling for the past 30 years. He may have been mostly a domestique, but he was racing alongside the greats of the era from Stephen Roche, Sean Kelly and Robert Millar. I particularly liked the insights into Robert Millar. Continue Reading →
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