Showing posts from 2019

Planning – The Black Forest Micro #KomootAdventure

The beauty of GPS mapping software is that you can plan the perfect bike adventure in just a matter of clicks. Using crowd-sourced information on the best trails, tracks, and roads — online and app-based mapping solutions such as Komoot enable you to explore completely new regions, without fear of getting lost or riding on unsuitable terrain.

I have tried and tested most online GPS mapping services that are available at present, and the one I keep coming back to is the German platform

Komoot offers five unique advantages over other platforms:
1) Reliable routing on suitable roads and trails — based on crowd-sourced information on rideability
2) A breakdown of the surface types encountered on a route e.g. paved, unpaved, gravel, single-track
3) Option to choose between biking disciplines: Road, Touring, MTB — to get the best route and surface
4) 'Highlights' across the map — unique attractions and POIs previous riders have identified
5) Downloadable route guidanc…

Review – Fix MFG Wheelie Wrench Multi-tool and Strap On Holster

Having a multi-tool with you on any adventure is a great idea; you never know when you might need to tighten a bolt or adjust a screw. The innovative Fix MFG Wheelie Multi-Tool is a compact unit, and slides into the special Strap-On Holster that can be mounted to a bag strap or belt — so it is always close to hand when you need it.

Fix Manufacturing is an American brand from Laguna Beach, California — sold in the UK through Cyclorise Accessories; it is new to European soil, and I was one of the first to test it out.

The Fix MFG Multi-Tool itself is a great piece of machining; made from durable stainless steel it is a compact tool containing all the essential torx bits, hex keys, and screwdriver bits; as well as detachable spoke wrench and 8/10 mm wrench. The quality tool bits should allow you to adjust any part your bike and carry out many small household tasks.

The Fix MFG multitool slots into a specially made holster that you can mount to any 5 mm or 10 mm webbing (two sizes avail…

Christmas Gift Ideas and Stocking Fillers for Cyclists 2019

Bicycle riders can be a tricky bunch to buy gifts for. This 2019 gift selection could provide some great ideas for cycling gifts. Not all of them are two-wheel specific, but all of them are fun and useful presents for a cyclist in your life.

Nite Ize Doohikey Key Chain Mini Pen-Knife This great little knife clips to your keys and provides you with a compact blade for those essential tasks. Whether it is cutting cable ties on your event numbers, or unpackaging the endless supply of cycling kit and components that arrives at your door; this sharp little locking blade is a super little companion. I personally find it especially useful for trimming tubeless tyre plugs and cutting race numbers down to size.

>> Shop the Nite Ize Doohikey Key Chain Knife here <<

Smoove Universal Chain Lube This is my go-to bicycle chain lube; whether riding road, gravel, or mountain bike, and whatever the conditions. It uses a unique wax-based formula that completely dries onto the chain, witho…

Review – OKO Magic Milk and OKO Magic Milk Hi-Fibre Tubeless Tyre Sealant

I am a tubeless tyre convert; on road, mountain bike, gravel, and touring bike. Yet, the hunt for the best tubeless tyre sealant continues — with all major brands having pros and cons. Over the last few months I have been testing out OKO Magic Milk and OKO Magic Milk Hi-Fibre Tubeless Tyre Sealant. Here is my review…

The quality of the tubeless sealant is a key component in achieving success with tubeless tyre conversions; for more tips check out my post 10 Top Tips for Tubeless Tyres.

OKO are better known for producing tractor tyre sealant, but what works on big knobbly tyres should work on bike tyres. Their OKO Magic Milk is a synthetic tubeless tyre sealant that promises to seal large holes, require less sealant, and last longer than natural latex sealants. The latest release of the OKO Magic Milk Hi-Fibre is a further synthetic latex sealant development; containing quick seal mixed fibres to seal even larger holes at higher pressures — ideal for road race and downhill racing tyre…

Explore – 7 Best Cycling Cafes on the Isle of Wight

In this 'Explore' blog post, I have picked out my 'Lucky 7' cycling cafés and pit-stops on the Isle of Wight. These venues are spread across the Island, but all serve up great homemade cakes, freshly ground coffee, and light lunches. They are welcoming to all riders — whether you are a muddy mountain biker or Lycra-clad road cyclist.

For route ideas to link up these great cafe stops, check out:
5 Best Road Cycling Routes on the Isle of Wight5 Best Gravel Biking Routes on the Isle of Wight5 Best Mountain Biking Routes on the Isle of Wight

The Garlic Farm Café – Newchurch (Central Wight) The Garlic Farm is well situated just off the Sandown to Newport cycle path, and it is also on the route of a number of my Road Cycling Routes and Gravel Bike Routes. Year round, this delightful café serves up breakfast, brunch, lunch, and afternoon teas; not all have to have a garlic theme. Homemade cakes and fresh coffee are always available too, and you can sit outside in the sunshine…

Review – AbsoluteBLACK Oval Chainrings

The potential benefits of oval chainrings are numerous — from reduced strain on the knees, to greater power output, and improved efficiency. I have been riding with absoluteBLACK Oval Chainrings for more than a year now; on gravel bikes, road bikes, and mountain bike. The benefits are notable, and I have now voluntarily adopted the oval asymmetric chainring design on all my bikes.

Discovering the Benefits of Oval Chainrings I started using absoluteBlack oval chainrings on my Kona gravel bike; the 1x narrow/wide chainring was an economical replacement for a worn out SRAM Force 1x standard shaped chainring, and it offered me the opportunity to test the oval chainring design.

The cyclocross/gravel single chainring from absoluteBLACK has a neat mounting system, whereby the chainring bolts screw straight into the chainring itself — offering a simple and clean look to the crank-set. The alloy that the chainring is made of also seems to be more robust than other offerings, and has indeed pr…

Review – TRP Spyre SLC Cable Disc Brakes

Cable actuated disc brakes get a lot of bad press. There is some justification for that — most of the systems lack the modulation and performance of their hydraulic counterparts. There is however one set of cable disc brakes that shines above the rest — the TRP Spyre SLC Disc Brake. This lightweight and sleek cable disc caliper excels in both design and functionality.

My Kona Private Jake arrived in 2016 with a set of TRP's Spyre-C disc brakes fitted as standard. Those brakes worked very well for over 25,000 kilometres of use and abuse; I rode the bike for daily commutes (including a salty daily ferry journey), and I rode the bike fully loaded over the highest cols in the Pyrenees on the #CoastsandCols tour. The Spyre-C took all this abuse in hand, and always produced the stopping power I demanded.

This year, with the Kona Private Jake hitting a 25,000 kilometre anniversary, I decided it was time to upgrade and replace a number of the parts. To be honest, most of the components,…

Review – Crankalicious Bike Frame Cleaners and Polish

Not all bike cleaners are made equal. A bike wash should be effective, kind to the environment, and easy to use (kind to the user). There are plenty of harsh chemical cleaners out there, but most of them are not gentle on your bike, your garden, or your hands. The range from Crankalicious is premium level bike care; made to be effective, but friendly. I have been testing out their frame cleaning and polishing solution...

Split out by the four products I tested from the Crankalicious range, here is my review.

Crankalicious Mud Honey Foaming Bucket Wash First up, the Mud Honey Foaming Bucket Wash. This is a PH neutral wash that functions like your traditional bike or car wash; pour a couple of capfuls into a bucket and then fill it up with water. Grab a sponge, and rub over all areas of the bike to remove dried on mud and dirt.

Mud Honey works a treat, and it is kind on your bike and your hands; while effectively removing even stubborn caked-on brake dust and grime.

Crankalicious Pinea…

Review – Pro Bike Tool Insulated Bike Water Bottle

Not all bicycle water bottles are made equal. In my opinion, you should look for a BPA free, insulated bottle; with a soft silicone mouthpiece and an easy to use and clean valve. The Pro Bike Tool Insulated Bike Water Bottle is a great example.

A bike water bottle should not be an expensive piece of kit, but ultimately you do get what you pay for. The Pro Bike Tool Insulated Bottle retails for £14.99 (although there are multi-buy savings and discount codes at present) — that is quite a price, but then this bottle does deliver a lot more than most simple bidons.

Firstly, consider the plastic that the bottle is made from — you want it to be soft and squeezable, but crucially it should be BPA free so that it does not leach harmful chemicals into your drinks.

Second, consider the mouthpiece on the bike bottle — you want it to be soft and easy to clean; so that you do not risk chipping teeth on it when you drink, and you can also clean the nozzle to avoid bacteria build-up.

Finally, you s…

Review – Juice Lubes Matt Finish Frame Detailer Bike Polish

Anyone that owns a matt finish bike frame will know that the surface is a bit of a pain to get an equal polish finish. Both my titanium Kona Rove and black Kona Private Jake have matte finishes, so the Matt Finish Frame Detailer from UK brand Juice Lubes was an interesting new release...

The blueberry scented bio-degradable frame polish gives a great quality finish to matt plastics, paintwork, and raw metal components and frames. It leaves a great shine, and a protective film that makes dirt slide off the surface — making the next cleaning round that bit easier.

A great product as we head into the winter months of constant bike cleaning...

>> Shop the Juice Lubes Frame Juice Matt at here <<

Review – NiteRider Sentinel 250 Rear Bike Light

I am a strong advocate of daytime running lights on bicycles all year round; but with the darkness drawing in, it is even more important to invest in good bike lights. The NiteRider Sentinel 250 is an innovative and powerful rear bike light that combines lasers with LED technology to create your own 'bike lane' on the road, as well as give brilliant rear visibility.

I have been using NiteRider bike lights for a number of years, and the NiteRider Solas 150 Rear Light that I reviewed back in 2017 is still a popular choice in my arsenal. The brand produces well-made, long-lasting, and reliable lights; which is why when I saw the innovative new Sentinel 250 released, I could see it could well become a new go-to option.

The NiteRider Sentinel 250 adopts a unique dual lighting approach: first, a set of high power LEDs pump out a fierce 250 lumens (maximum) to give you great rear visibility; then, on the base of the light two lasers create an illuminated 'bike lane' on the …

Review – Smith Ignite Aero MIPS Road Cycling Helmet

The Smith Ignite is a cycling helmet that looks fast, feels fast, and provides impressive protection for your head. The Italian brand has utilised the latest in material technologies to deliver a lightweight, exceptionally comfortable helmet, which also performs very well in wind tunnel tests.

I have become a real fan of Smith's helmets; using their Overtake helmet for both everyday wear and on my two long distance bikepacking tours in the last two years — the #CelticCrossTrail and #RoadsFromRome. The Smith helmets are uniquely styled, but also have a clear focus on safety. They remain comfortable in a variety of weather conditions, and feature a number of genuinely useful design aspects.

The Smith Ignite MIPS helmet is designed as a dedicated aero road cycling helmet. It has been shaped to provide a slippery surface, and constructed using aerodynamically efficient Aerocore technology — which maximises air through-flow to offer maximum cooling, and a minimal drag factor.

The Aer…

Explore – 5 Best Mountain Bike Routes on the Isle of Wight

The Lonely Planet rated the Isle of Wight as one of the best places in the world to explore by mountain bike; it might not have mountains, but it has hundreds of miles of fantastic natural trails with a wide variety of terrain, and spectacular views.

I have been riding a mountain bike on the Isle of Wight trails for as long as I have been walking, and I can safely say I have explored every bridleway and bike path the Island has to offer. These five routes link up my personal favourite sections and paths; with a range of lengths and intensities to cater to different rider abilities.

For routes for Gravel Bikes and Road Cycling, check out my other Explore-IOW posts.

Wight Mountain Bike Route #1 — Red Squirrel TrailDifficulty – EasyDistance – 22.5 kilometres (14 miles)Elevation Profile – Flat (170 metres elevation gain)
The Red Squirrel Trail is a signposted family friendly mountain biking route on the Isle of Wight. The below selection of the route is a circular loop starting and fini…

Review – Smith Optics Ruckus Cycling Sunglasses

As the darkness creeps in, a pair of cycling glasses with photochromic or light enhancing lenses is a real must; providing valuable protection from grit and spray, but not darkening or impairing your vision. The Smith Optics Ruckus glasses are an exceptional quality option from the Italian brand, featuring both lens options — for all riding conditions.

Cycling glasses do a lot more than just shield your eyes from the sun's glare — they also protect your eyes from wind, dirt, insects, and road/trail debris; making them an invaluable year-round accessory. For mountain biking in shaded forests, and when road cycling in low light conditions, you want either photochromic reactive lenses or amber tinted light-enhancing lenses.

The Smith Optics Ruckus Sunglasses are pitched as mountain biking sunglasses, but I have also found them to be a fantastic choice for road and gravel riding in all light conditions. They come with a photochromic reactive ChromoPop lens, and a high clarity amber t…

Review – NiteRider Lumina Micro 850 Front Bike Light

A good quality high-power compact front bike light is a real asset — it can stay on your handlebars throughout the year; providing 'Be Seen' visibility as a running light, as well as helping light the way when the visibility falls. The NiteRider Lumina Micro 850 bike light is a superb example of a miniature front light that packs an impressive punch.

The Lumina Micro 850 weighs only 130 grams, yet it will put out 850 lumens on maximum output for 1.5 hours. On the most economical fixed light mode it will deliver 200 lumens for 9 hours.

I am a great fan of the simplicity of the NiteRider lights. The mount for example is just one single clamp design, which fits all sizes of handlebars and is fast and secure to attach. The light unit itself is robust, weatherproof, and has just one button that also doubles as a charge level indicator. Bike lights do not need to be super stylish — they need to work; that is the focus that NiteRider has maintained with their mount and unit designs…