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Showing posts from October, 2018

Review - RAB Microlight Alpine Down Jacket

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There are some products that you wonder how you ever did without... the RAB Microlight Alpine Insulated Down Jacket is one of them. For lightweight adventuring, it is an invaluable companion; mine has accompanied me on many of my biggest adventures to date.

The beauty of down insulated jackets is how packable, lightweight, and warm they are: it is like having the cosiest hoodie in your wardrobe; but with a pack size not much larger than your fist, and weighing less than a small water bottle. These properties are what make them the ultimate insulating layer for lightweight adventuring.

The RAB Microlight Alpine Jacket is the best example of a packable down jacket that I have come across to date. It features Pertex Quantum fabrics and 750FP Nikwax treated European Goose Down – to provide a robust and water-resistant design; far more so than many super lightweight down jackets I have used.

Despite weighing less than 500 grams, the Microlight Alpine has an impressive number of built-in f…

Review - Sportful Fiandre Extreme Winter Cycling Jacket [Polartec Neoshell]

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The Sportful Fiandre Extreme Jacket is one of the most impressive pieces of cycling kit I have come across to date; the single layer Polartec Neoshell fabric creates an outer layer that is lightweight, yet extremely protective against the elements.

I used the first iteration of the Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell Jacket for the TorTour Cyclocross Winter Stage Race, last year in Switzerland. The jacket instantly impressed: I was riding at threshold effort, in wind and snow, and yet I never once overheated or felt cold.

The superb temperature regulation is thanks to the innovative Polartec Neoshell fabric. This single membrane holds properties similar to neoprene, in that it is waterproof, insulating, and super stretchy; it is different from neoprene though, in that it is highly breathable, and much thinner in profile. The way that Sportful has used the Neoshell fabric in the Extreme Jacket – with taped seams and a YKK waterproof zipper, make for an impressive jacket: a shielding lay…

Review - See.Sense ACE Bike Light Set

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I reviewed the original SeeSense 2.0 Light Set in 2015 here on lifeinthesaddle.cc; those lights are still in almost daily use. Then I reviewed the See.Sense Icon Light Set in 2016; those too do almost daily duty. The new release from the Irish Kick-Starter funded brand is the See.Sense ACE Light Set, which shows even more incremental design improvements over its predecessors.

The original See.Sense 2.0 Lights were a bit clunky, and the power ports were a bit exposed; yet they were incredibly intelligent; responding to changes in road surface, ambient lighting, and movement, in order to regulate light output and improve both visibility and battery life over traditional blinkers. My three year old set are still in use on my winter cyclocross bike (they take a battering).

When See.Sense released the ICON lights in 2016 they had taken on board user feedback; the power ports were more concealed and waterproof, and the design came with a multitude of mounting options. The ICON was also the…

Review - ZOKU Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

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I was touting the benefits of stainless water bottles long before the 'war on plastic'; read posts from 2016, and you will note praise for better taste, sustainability and hygiene. My latest carry is the ZOKU Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle.

The 18oz ZOKU Stainless Steel Bottle is a vacuum insulated water bottle that promises to keep cold drinks cool for up to 40 hours, and hot beverages warm for up to 12 hours. It is made from high quality (heavy gauge) stainless steel, and has a super solid drop proof feel to it.

I have adopted the ZOKU as my every day carry for the last month; taking it in bike bottle cages and clipped to my rucksack using the integrated (but removable) paracord lanyard. It has stood the use and abuse very well, and does indeed do a great job of keeping hot things hot, and cold things cold, without a hint of leakage.

I opted for the plain black colour way, but you can get an array of ten different colours.

The ZOKU Insulted Bottle is well made, dura…

Review - Smith Optics Overtake MIPS Helmet – Smith Optics Attack Sunglasses

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The Smith Optics Overtake Helmet and Attack Sunglasses were my headwear of choice for the #RoadsFromRome tour, and they surpassed all my expectations.

With Italian styling, and a superb build quality; this helmet and pair of sunglasses have a unique look, but equally exceptional performance.



Smith Optics Overtake Helmet Review Most people will recognise the Smith Optics Overtake Helmet from the distinctive horizontal vents on the front of the helmet, as well as the pointed rear section, and the honeycomb like internal structure. All of these are unique design features, but they are also features that help to explain the great performance of this helmet.

The Overtake helmet is constructed in a complex five layer system, illustrated in the image below. This includes a skeletal outer shell, carbon fibre reinforcements, high volume EPS foam, and Smith's  Koroyd material. Labelled the AEROCORE™ construction, it is designed to improve airflow, while also providing far greater impact …

Review - Thule RoundTrip Pro XT Bike Case Bag

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There is no doubt that the Swedish brand Thule are innovators: whether it be their bike carriers, travel bagsrucksacks, panniers, or this semi-rigid bike bag; their products push the boundaries in terms of functionality and design. The quality level is also impeccably high, and the Scandinavian influence is clear in their attitude and implementation. The Thule RoundTrip Pro XT Bike Case/Bag is a great piece of kit...

I have tested a lot of bike bags and boxes, from many well known manufacturers; many of them have excelled, and done the job of transporting my rides to far-flung destinations. Many of them have had faults or niggling downsides though... anything from wheels that have fallen off, to being unable to take recent 'Gravel' bike axles and wheel sizes. The new Thule RoundTrip Pro XT Bike Case / Bag, is a semi-rigid option, which seems to tick many of the boxes, without a lot of the downfalls of its competitors.


Hard case protection with soft case packability Bike bag…

Review - Rapha Brevet Flyweight Wind Jacket [Polartec]

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Can you really fit your whole life into a seat-pack the size of a small rucksack? When you do, it calls for specialist lightweight kit; the Rapha Brevet Flyweight Wind Cycling Jacket features super-light Polartec insulation, and has a tiny pack-size, making it ideal for cooler temperatures on your bike explorations.
Let us get straight to the point... this jacket is ludicrously lightweight; weighing in at just 74 grams for the Medium sample I have on test. That weight is thanks to a super-light weight Nylon windproof outer, and high level Polartec Alpha insulation; combined together, these create an impressively protective and insulating layer, with absolute minimal bulk. Polartec Alpha is a unique market-leading insulation fibre, which provides both great breathability when you are working hard, as well as effective insulation when you are more sedate in your movements. 
I used the jacket on my recent #XPDTN3Dolomites bikepacking trip, and for the early morning ride-outs up above 20…

Review - Victorinox Bike Multi Tool

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I have a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife that has featured in my 'every day carry' for almost a decade; it still performs like new, and in an invaluable asset. I recently discovered that the Swiss brand makes a bike tool, and I was keen to see if it lives up to the same exacting Swiss standards.

The Victorinox Bike Tool is effectively a mini socket set: the magnetic 5mm hex key detaches from the tool holder and then you fit any bit piece to it: the range includes 2-6mm hex keys, a T25 Torx key, and flat and cross-head screwdriver bits. All the bit pieces are made from high tensile stainless steel, and have a very good fit in bolt heads; promising not to round off fittings if used correctly.

The body of the tool also features two clip-in tyre levers, which are made from strong plastic composite, and do a good job of levering stubborn tubeless tyres from wheel rims, as well as having a nice rounded profile to protect the tube.

The whole bike tool weighs just 92 grams, and is 100mm …

Review - Juice Lubes SpongeJob CleanParts Sponge

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It is a sponge... okay? Well, not all sponges were made equal. The SpongeJob CleanParts sponge and sponge cloth from UK lubricant and cleaner brand Juice Lubes, is a darn good sponge.

Super soft, and super squidgy: the sponge is great for cleaning off the frame of a bike, while the sponge cloth is ideal for those hard to reach places like around brakes and cables.

They are both super absorbent, and they last a lot longer than your standard big yellow sponge.

Well worth adding to your autumn cleaning arsenal.

Shop the Juice Lubes SpongeJob CleanParts pack here