Warmest socks – heat holders

Cycling at this time of the year is dominated by how to keep warm, especially fingers and toes. The warmest socks I’ve found are these heat holders – a thick pair of tubular type socks.

  • They have a thick layer of fibres to keep wthe armth in.
  • The length of sock means heat rises up the foot and ankle, keeping whole foot area warm.
  • There is no elastic to constrict the blood supply.

They are pretty chunky and in terms of aerodynamics, pretty useless, but for keeping feet warm, they are as good as they get.

Left sock (outside of sock) Right sock (inside turned inside out)

Overall Review of Heat Holders

They are the warmest sock I’ve found.

Don’t worry about sizing they are very elastic.

If you wear them around the house, they don’t last forever, and bits of fibre do start to come off. I have worn holes in the heels of some socks I’ve had for two years. But, I bought a new pair recently because they are still excellent value. If you want to keep feet warm, these are very good. As the weather warms up, they can become too hot, but they don’t get too sweaty, there is room to breath too.

As mentioned in recent post on  hotpads, I get very cold feet, so I use an inner pair of socks, a pair of hotpads and then these heatholders on top. Cold feet will never be an excuse to stop cycling.

Cycling in the 2 degrees

Yesterday, the mercury was edging just above freezing. It was just about tolerable to cycle for a couple of hours. I had several thermal layers, 3 pairs of gloves and the hot pad / heat holder combination on the feet. The feet were amongst the warmest part of the body.

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Assos LS. Skinfoil baselayer review

The Assos LS Skinfoil longsleeve base layer is a top of the range base layer, designed to offer comfort and temperature control. In summary – expensive, but very good.

assos-climar-ange-2
My other career modelling for skinny cycling clothes

I bought the Climarange 4/7 Fall version, as that seemed to offer the biggest range of temperatures for the base layer to be useful. I have used it over the winter (mostly wet and mild). But, also used it this weekend, cycling in pretty chilly temperatures of 2 degrees.

Fit

I took size L, (waist 30-32) which was a good fit, allowing for my lanky body shape. I would have liked arms to be a little longer, but it felt close to the skin without being tight in any particular parts. Assos say that it is manufactured like a tubular design (rather than flat bed). This seems to mean it has better contours to the shape of the body.

They say it is important to get the right fit because if it doesn’t fit close to skin it doesn’t work as it should.

Read moreAssos LS. Skinfoil baselayer review

Scicon Aerocomfort bike bag review

The Scicon Aerocomfort bike bag is a soft case bag for transporting a bike. It is unusually wide at one end to minimise the amount of bike dismantling required. Although it is a soft case, it is reasonably well padded.

I spent a long time trying work out the best bag to buy. In the end I went for this. I recently used on a trip to Sicily.

See also: Taking your bike on a plane

. scicon-bag-2 The bag – a little unusual shape, but not much bigger than other bike bags. It doesn’t particularly look like a bike bag.

Features

  • Separate compartments for wheels. This was a big improvement on my last bike bag because there the wheels were loose in the bag. The wheel sections are quite well padded.
  • No need to dismantle handlebars – One end is wide enough to take.
  • Weight: 8.9kg
  • External Dimensions: L 118cm x D 25cm x H 90cmFolded Dimensions: L 106cm x D29cm x H 24cm
  • Additional padding for top tube and handlebars
  • Swivel bike pump
  • 1 antishock bike frame

Read moreScicon Aerocomfort bike bag review

DHB Aeron Roubaix Softshell Gilet

dhb softshell
 Review by Garga Chamberlain
I’ve always used lightweight jackets and gilets before – the type that fold up to the size of a satsuma at most and give reasonable wind protection but not a lot of warmth. This softshell gilet is very different – it has a windproof / water-repellent outer fabric and a warm microfleece lining, so even when packed flat it’s about the size of a couple of thick-cut sandwiches. On the plus side, it’s been perfect for such a wide range of conditions this winter that I’ve not had to take it off and find room in a pocket for it.
The softshell gilet is part of DHB’s performance range, so it’s aimed at the serious cyclist wanting good value training kit rather than the commuter or occasional rider. Having worn it for a few weeks of winter weather though, I’d say just about anyone who rides in all weathers will love this piece of kit.
Genuinely warm and windproof, this gilet has kept my torso dry in some sharp showers and sustained drizzle too. The cut is definitely sleek, with a lot of stretch and an effective gripper around the base, so when I drop down into an aero position it doesn’t sag around my middle like some jackets do. It’s great in windy conditions, with no flapping of fabric and zero rustling. The zip is robust and backed by a storm
flap which protects from wind penetration and also prevents any rubbing at the neck.
My favourite feature is the storage – 2 very large, stretchy pockets give me space to carry all the gear I need on a long ride (bananas, bars, lightweight waterproof etc.) or my winter commute (small lock, bunch of keys, wallet, etc.). Honestly you can cram a lot of gear in there and the flaps at the top of the pockets make sure it stays put while still allowing easy, fumble-free access when you’re riding.
There’s good reflective trim at the back, a reflective logo on the front and if you opt for the navy/fluoro colourway as I did you’ll be seen from miles away. If you are more worried about how you look than how well you get seen in the dark, there’s a cool-looking black version available too.
Verdict – warm, windproof and showerproof with a sleek, body-hugging fit and generous storage.
Related product

Buy

  • DHB Soft Shell at Wiggle
      £65   (currently on sale for under £40 – a bargain)

Knog blinder R70 – Review

The Knog Blinder R70 is a rear LED light unit with integrated USB recharge, peak lumens of 70 and only weighing 50 grams. It is easy to attach and comes with three different length straps for the ability to fit to seat posts of different sizes.

This summer I spent a lot of time trying to get a satisfactory light for my time trial bike, which has a large circumference aero seat post. (I felt the choice was pretty limited. See: rear light for aero seat post) Many people advise a light which can be put under the saddle – but there I often have a water bottle or saddle bag. What I really wanted was an clip on rear light which would go around the seat post. But, because it is so large (34cm circumference) many lights didn’t fit.

When I say the new Knog light had an adaptation for aero seat post I asked a copy for review. Knog sent me a copy and I was happy to test.

r70-blinder-tt-bike-on

Review

Firstly, it is quite similar to many other Knog lights that I have used in the past few years. I have both a Knog front light USB and a Knog 4V rear light. I have used them for other two years, and have had good experiences.

Previous model Knog blinder 4v
Previous model Knog blinder 4v

The only problem is that I broke the strap of the Knog 4V rear light trying to stretch it around an aero seat post.

Read moreKnog blinder R70 – Review

Chris Froome – The Climb Review

Chris Froome

Review of Chris Froome – The Climb.

chris-froome-climb Last week I received a copy of Chris Froome – The Climb for my birthday, and have spent the past two weeks reading it. I have enjoyed the book, and have read at quite a quick pace. It is an unusual and quite intriguing cycling story. Gangly Kenyan born Brit learns to ride mountain bike with local Kenyan cyclists and despite multiple crashes, having to impersonate officials and coping with tropical diseases, manages to work his way into the European pro cycling scene.

Even if it stopped there, it would be quite an interesting story – a triumph of will and determination over adversity and an unlikely background for a pro cyclist. Of course, it doesn’t stop at just getting into a pro team, Froome has gone on to win the Tour de France twice, Olympic bronze and has come very close in the Vuelta twice. If all that wasn’t enough drama for a wannabe cyclist, Froome was fated to be the first winner of the Tour de France, since the very public expose of the greatest doping scandals in cycling (if not sport).

There was a time when cyclists were heroes, and any awkward questions were swept under the carpet. But, post-Lance – and anyone who has the temerity to win a race, is subject to the latent suspicion and, at times, hostility of those who are fed up with the unending doping scandals that have blighted the sport in recent decades. What might have been celebrated as a romantic story – “The guy who went from the African bush to the Champs Elysees podium” – has – to an extent – been overshadowed by questions of where did this guy come from? If he was this talented, why wasn’t he winning bigger and earlier?

A strong theme in the book is that Chris gets to tell his side of the story. How he started, how he became a better cyclist, how he missed out, why race performances often didn’t match training data. A cynic might say, it is a long attempt at self-justification, but I didn’t feel that. Everyone tells their story in a way to portray themselves in the best light. Especially given the sub-plots circulating around pro cycling, I wouldn’t have expected anything else.

African roots

chris-froome-mtb
In many ways the early chapters are amongst the strongest in the book. It is just a very different life – brought up feeding pet rabbits to your pet python, the only white boy training with Kenyan locals and learning to ply his trade on a mountain bike bought from a supermarket. This is boys own stuff, and makes the Otley CC Sunday run through Yorkshire Dales look like a walk in the park.

Read moreChris Froome – The Climb Review

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.

Read moredhb Extreme Weather overshoe

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


 

dahon-vitesse

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.

Read moreDahon Vitesse review

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-light Back 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.

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The world of cycling according to G – Review

geraint thomas

geraint thomas The world of cycling according to G  at Amazon.co.uk

The world of cycling according to G at Waterstones

I received this book a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed reading it, and it is one of the more interesting insights into professional cycling. You feel a strong sincerity in that this is how Geraint Thomas sees cycling and life, there’s no sense of pretence or writing what a pro cyclist is supposed to say. From those looking from the outside, it is interesting to read.

The story of Geraint Thomas’s career is well-timed because it neatly co-incides with the rise of British cycling. Thomas along with the likes of Ed Clancy, Mark Cavendish were some of the very early members of the British Cycling development squad run by Rod Illingworth, the squad which went on to achieve Olympic success and then perhaps more impressively success on the road.

The book is written in quite a light, easy to read format; (it is written with Tom Fordyce). It is good humoured and generally quite a positive insight into professional cycling.

It is not written like a chronological autobiography. “I won Olympics, then rode for Sky… ” But, focusing on particular aspects of cycling separated into short chapters. For example:

  • The Fringe benefits of being a professional cyclist (e.g. Being brilliant at go-karting racing, getting drunk very cheaply…)

thomas-geraint Geraint Thomas 2015 Ghent-Wevelgem

  • Rain
  • The Perfect Ride
  • Cafes
  • When the Wind Blows
  • I never take the stairs

Read moreThe world of cycling according to G – Review