Showing posts from January, 2016

Review: Swrve Softshell Belgian Cap

A warm piece of headwear is vital to staying comfortable on the bike in the winter months. Your head acts a bit like a heat dissipater, because of the significant blood flow close to the skin; as a result, it becomes essential to protect it from the wind, water and cold temperatures.

My normal choice of headwear for winter riding is a simple skull cap, which fits neatly and snugly underneath your helmet. However, a skull cap does little to shield your forehead from driving rain or (if you're lucky) sunshine; this is where the Belgian style cycling cap comes in...

Featuring a brimmed peak like a traditional casquette, as well as fold down ear flaps; the Belgian cap is a belt-and-braces approach. Swrve, an American brand that should be familiar to blog readers (read previous review here), has taken the protective design one step further, and produced this rather luxurious softshell version.

Last month, I reviewed the Swrve Winter Softshell Trousers, and praised them for their prac…

The Best Stainless Steel Bottles For Bikes - 24Bottles

Last week, I wrote a post on the Benefits of Stainless Steel (Link); considering how plastic-fantastic bike bottles might not be your best option, for a number of reasons.

As a continuation on the theme, I have been experimenting with different stainless steel bottles over the last month, from a variety of brands; searching for the best design for on-the-bike usage. My testing has considered how robust the bottles are, their weight, design, and how well they work with bicycle bottle cages. After much deliberation, I think I have found the best result, and it comes from Italian based brand 24Bottles.

The Range The range from 24Bottles contains four great sizes, in a wide variety of snazzy colours and designs.

The largest in the range is the 1 litre Urban Bottle, which is fantastic for long days, and for water carrying whilst touring. Below this, there is a 500 ml version, with the same lightweight metal design and screw-top lid. Also available at 500 ml is the Thermo Bottle, which is …

Review: Od Designs TrackStand

Sometimes, it is not until you have used a product that you realise quite how useful it is. The TrackStand from Od Designs is one of those such products.

Back in 2013, I reviewed the OdPod Portable Bike Stand; it is a great little tripod stand, which is ideal for stowing in the boot of your car, and doing those last-minute pre-event bike tweaks. The TrackStand is British based Od Design's latest invention, and is designed to overcome the conundrum of where to lean your bike at events, or for storage.

Resting your bike against your car, garage wall or paint pot shelf, is unlikely to end well. Scuffs, scratches or worse could well result. Having a proper bike stand, which supports the bike on soft plastic holders, is far more sensible.

The TrackStand is simple, yet functional; supporting the bike very well on the chain stay and seat stay. To aid transport of the stand, the stabilising feet fold in and upright stand folds down; creating a compact package. The plastic holders, which …

Plastic Fantastic? - Switching to Chilly's Stainless Bottles

If you read health articles and magazines, you have probably heard of BPA. Bisphenol A is a synthetic chemical compound, found in many plastic food and drinks containers; in low levels it is most likely harmless, but some research suggests that continued exposure could have medical risks.

Some studies have linked BPA exposure, which can occur inadvertently through leakage into food sources, as increasing the risk of cancer, thyroid problems and oxidative stress. Whilst most of these studies were on factory workers exposed to the chemical (in far higher dosages), there are still potential negative effects for your average plastic container user.

The studies on BPA are not completely conclusive, and I remain to be fully convinced. However, reading the papers on the topic got me thinking... Your typical cyclist does use plastic bottles and containers a lot, so perhaps there is scope to reduce that usage, with several notable benefits, in addition to the reduced BPA risk.

So, I began my …

Shooting From The Saddle - Capturing Your Adventures

Earlier this month, I considered the question of "Why do you ride?". I discussed how various things tempt me out onto the bike almost every day of the year, whatever the weather. One of the most notable motivations I identified, was a deep love of the outdoors; of experiencing nature and taking in the sights, sounds and fresh air, out on the road or trails.

One of the best things about the beauty of nature, is that you can capture it, share it and re-live it. Social media means that you can document and broadcast that early morning sunrise, dramatic gale battered coastline and late afternoon ride, on accounts like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Take a photo or video, and save it for later.
I have experimented with a number of different devices to document Life In The Saddle, from point-and-shoot handy cams, to GoPros and camera phones. Out of them all though, for convenience, compactness, and because it always comes with me, I keep reverting back to the camera on my HTC De…

Review: AMO Transformer Customisable Sunglasses

The cycling sunglasses market is dominated by a few select firms, who seem to be considered the go-to brands for protective eyewear for riding. Occasionally though, a new brand comes along and breaks into the market; a clear example would be POC Sports, with their distinctive range of glasses. It is always interesting and exciting to see this, and it often brings some fresh new thinking to the norms of sunglasses design.

Last month, I was approached by AMO Sunglasses; a Hong-Kong based brand, which is making the leap into high-end sports eyewear. After selecting and receiving a custom pair of their glasses, I have been wear-testing them for the last few weeks. They have proven to be an interesting new option...

Custom Sunglasses AMO stands for Advance Multi-sport Optics. Their idea, is that through customer customisation, they are able to provide sunglasses that are tailored to the kind of sports that you partake in, and even to the kind of riding that you do. Whether it is lens des…

Top Winter Cycling Kit for 2016

Has it finally arrived? Has the weather finally taken a turn to the cool, clear and crisp conditions of winter? I think it might have...

With that, it seems appropriate to talk about my favourite pieces of winter riding kit for 2016. These are all accessories and clothing that have come with me on almost every ride this winter, and have helped me to rack up the kilometres during the Festive 500 and towards my 2015 totals. Perhaps you'll find some ideas to keep you riding in comfort...

GripGrab Arctic Overshoes Fleece-lined foot warmers. The Arctic Overshoes from GripGrab are serious cold weather protection. The 4mm thick neoprene, the welded and taped seams, and micro-fleece lining, mean these will withstand even the worst winter weather. I can vouch that I have never had cold feet when wearing them.
View the GripGrab Arctic Overshoes at Wiggle

Primal Paradigm Jacket The Paradigm Jacket from Primal Europe is about as protective as winter jackets come. Conceived in the mountains ar…

Review – Swrve WWR Winter Softshell Trousers

Fleece-lined trousers... hell yeah! With the UK weather finally taking a turn, from 'wet and windy' to 'cold and clear', I thought it was about time I reviewed the rather luxurious and very practical Swrve WWR Winter Softshell Trousers.

Swrve kit never ceases to impress me, both in terms of its style and its longevity. I have Swrve jeans that are coming up to three years old, and still look perfectly wearable; in fact, I recently wrote a post on them and how they are 'Still Going Strong' (link).

I have previously experienced Swrve's WWR fabric in their Lightweight Skinny WWR Trousers; it is an innovative weatherproof material, which repels water and wind much like a Windstopper membrane. The lightweight trousers proved to be ideal for summer pursuits, including everything from early morning commuting to sailing trips; they provided a great fast-dry fabric that stretches with movement. Early in 2015 though, Swrve announced the release of their new WWR winter…

Recipe: Blueberry and Pecan Sprouted Oat Pancakes

There are a number of allergies in my household, most significant of which are probably gluten, dairy and egg intolerances, which wipe out a surprising number of recipes. Pancakes are one of the victims, and as a result we don't tend to have them very often. They are a favourite of mine though, so I was pretty excited to find this recipe on the Rude Health site, which uses oats, bananas and coconut milk. Perfect!
Combining Rude Health's Sprouted Porridge Oats with nutty pecans, blueberries and coconut, it makes an incredibly tasty breakfast or dessert. Well worth trying!

The below recipe is an adapted version (made easier) of one originally written by Anna Jones (A Modern Way to Eat).

Ingredients: Makes 8 little pancakes100g Rude Health Sprouted OatsGenerous handful of pecan nuts (50g), roughly chopped1 tsp baking powder Pinch of salt 1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed 150ml Rude Health Coconut Drink or Almond Drink200g of blueberries 

Instructions:Blitz the oats until you have…

Inspiration: Why Do You Ride?

After looking at my 2015 Ride Numbers, I've had a fair few people question "why do you ride so much?" It got me thinking. Having done close to 1000 hours in the saddle last year, what are the real motivating forces, which keep me turning the pedals, day after day.

After much thought, I'm going to try and put them into words...

The Great Outdoors That feeling of fresh air, flowing through your lungs and filling your blood with new life, it is unparalleled in how refreshing it is. The feeling of looking out over a vista, at the top of a hard climb, is unique in how it takes your breath away.

Headspace Quiet is a rarity in our everyday lives; too often our ears and minds are filled with chatter, questions, advertising and unnecessary anxiety. A bike ride is an escape. A time to flick through a portfolio of thoughts, and dismiss those unworthy of our attention. It is a time to let your mind wander, to be creative and allow fresh thinking. It is space, for an often-clutt…