Review - Tom Oliver Vegan Protein Bars

I am not a vegan, and I don't really agree with those taking it on as a 'challenge' or 'diet'. The exception, is if it means individuals consume more whole-foods and less processed products. Tom Oliver Nutrition is all about this approach, and provide a nice range of vegan protein bars.

The protein in these bars comes from soy protein, which is a good alternative for those that can't consume whey protein, and don't like the taste of casein or hemp.
Slightly off-putting when initially looking at these bars, is that the most prominent ingredient is Maltitol - an alcohol sugar. Some research reveals that this is a safe and natural sweetener though, and a substitute for sugar in a lot of natural products. Further ingredients are Soy protein, organic cacao, natural oils, and fruit peel. All pretty natural.
The Tom Oliver Vegan Protein Bars taste good, if a little dry in texture. My favourite was the Chocolate Caramel version, which has nibbed peanuts as a toppi…

Kitting Up for TorTour Summer Cyclocross

Last February, I rode the TorTour Ultra-Cross Stage Race in Zürich. It entailed three stages of snow and sub-zero temperatures, but proved to be fantastic racing (read the report here). This year, I am heading to the Lucerne region of Switzerland for the inaugural TorTour Summer CX Ultra-Cross Stage Race.

This is what I'm packing…

The Event The TorTour CX is a three day programme: featuring a short prologue stage on the Friday afternoon, and then two longer weekend stages that head out into the challenging Swiss Alps. The total distance is 200 kilometres, almost entirely off-road on gravel paths and single-track.

I haven't ridden in Lucerne before, but I have visited on family walking holidays. It is a beautiful and challenging landscape, with steep alpine peaks punctuated by azure blue lakes.

Racing in February for the TorTour Winter CX demanded the best winter kit available; there aren't many situations where you are racing for four or five hours through the snow. Thi…

Review - Louri Bike Frame Storage Strap

With tyre sizes getting larger, and distances getting longer, there is an increasing demand to carry kit and spares with you when you ride. Strapping kit to the frame is an easy and simple way to safely carry it. The Louri straps allow you to securely transport anything from spare tubes to water bottles, with a robust and durable Velcro wrap.

During the #7Countries7Passes tour I used a strap similar to this to hold a spare tyre underneath the pannier rack. On endurance mountain bike rides, I have used a strap to carry a second inner tube and/or tubeless repair canister. You can even use these straps for carrying things like a packable waterproof jacket or food supplies.

The Louri strap is a well made (British made), and fun example of a frame strapping system. Available in multiple colours, and in two different sizes, there should be one that will fit your bike's colour scheme, and your carry demands.

I have tested the Louri strap with a spare bottle, as well as with an inner tub…

Review - Project E2 Nutrition - Endurance Specific Nutrition Products

Project E2 Nutrition is a new player in the sports nutrition market, but one that has set itself apart from the masses through a unique focus on endurance sports nutrition. I have been testing their products over the last few months, with some positive results and feedback.

About the BrandProject E2 Nutrition is a fresh off-shoot of globally renowned brand CNP Nutrition. Using the knowledge and experience gained from years of producing industry-leading sports nutrition, CNP have created Project E2 Nutrition with a specific focus of fuel and recovery for endurance athletes.
The RangeThe Project E2 collection is composed of a comprehensive range of pre, during, and post exercise products:

The DrinksThe drinks range from Project E2 is designed to give endurance athletes a complete pre, during, and post workout/race hydration strategy.
PRE Workout Drink MixThe PRE…

Review - OSMO Nutrition Hydration Drinks

Sports drinks may appear to be a homogeneous product; there are different brands and flavours, but don't they all do the same thing - supply our body with electrolytes and sugar to keep it going?

The short answer is no. Within the 'sports drinks' market there is huge variety: different sugars, different electrolytes, different compositions, and of course different flavours. The universal fact I suppose is that most contain some kind of sugar, though that is a weak unifying fact at best.

However, OSMO Nutrition breaks even that strand of similarity. The nutrition ethos behind this brand is that sugar should not come from your drink; rather drinks should be for hydration, and sugar should come from solids. It is an interesting approach and one that appeals to me as someone who suffers from gastric reflux with an overload of high-sugar drinks.

OSMO Preload Hydration Powder The first component of the OSMO Nutrition range is the OSMO Preload Hydration Powder. This works on the…

Review - Creative Nature Protein Flapjack Bars

Smart snacking isn't always easy. Taking protein rich snacks like nuts, hummus, or whey protein shakes with you can be tricky; it becomes even more difficult if you are nut intolerant or vegan. Creative Nature flapjacks are 100% natural high protein snacks, which are great for travelling and everyday snacking.

Made from a mix of oats, hemp protein, dried fruit, and seeds; they are gluten free, dairy free, nut free, and vegan. Despite sounding like they can barely contain anything with a 'free-from' list like that, they are surprisingly tasty and nutritious.

My favourite flavour is without doubt the Salted Caramel, which has that sought-after mix of sweet saltiness that I often crave when bike riding. The Apple Pie and Cacao Orange flavours are also very nice, and all three have found their way into my jersey pockets and rucksack on numerous occasions over the last month of testing.

The Creative Nature bars are natural, flavoursome, nutritious, and satisfying. If you are …

Review - Pro Bike Tool Mini Ratchet Tool Set

Ever had one of those tricky seat-post retention clamps or disc caliper bolts that are a nightmare to reach with a chunky multitool? The mini ratchet set from Pro Bike Tool is the solution.

This UK brand produces some great value and great quality bike tools: pumps, CO2 inflators, bottle cages, and multitools. This little ratchet set is my first introduction to the range, and it is impressive both in quality and performance.

Equipped with a set of all common hex-key chucks, torque wrench pieces, and screw drivers; this should give you everything you need for trail or road-side repairs (except a broken chain - you'd need the Pro Bike Tool Chain Tool for that eventuality).

It is simple and effective to use: much like a bigger ratchet on a socket set, you insert the chucks and then choose which way you want to turn the bolt. It is well made enough that you can put a fair bit or torque through the metal shaft and handle, without it feeling like it is flexing.

With the growth of disc …