Showing posts from May, 2018

Review - Pro Bike Tool Multi-tool

A quality multitool could make the difference between tightening or adjusting a bolt and getting on with your ride, or struggling with a misaligned component or dangerously loose clamp. The Pro Bike Tool Multitool is a lightweight, beautifully machined stainless steel tool; built to be reliable, long-lived, and stylish.

The Pro Bike Tool Multi-tool is only 0.7 cm thick, 9.4 cm long, and weighs just 99 grams. Machined from SUS420 Stainless Steel, it is one of the highest quality alloys that you can get, and the brand guarantee it will remain rust-free.

It certainly looks the part, and has 8 of the most useful tool bits that you need for road or trailside repairs; including Allen/Hex 2.5/3/4/5/6, Torx T25/T30, and a Phillips PH1 screwdriver. The only thing it is of course missing that I always recommend taking on a ride is a chain-tool; but Pro Bike Tool make a separate one of these, which I may review on the blog sometime soon, having seen how good quality this tool set it.

One of the…

Review - Koo Open Cube Cycling Sunglasses

Kask helmets have become one of the best-known brands in the world of cycling. KOO sunglasses are an offshoot of Kask, and have the same superb quality and Italian style.

Cycling sunglasses are an interesting product to test, and an area in which we have seen a significant benefit from innovation and real-world feedback. Older style cycling sunglasses were narrower, heavier, and often had very dark lenses. Modern designs tend to have larger more protective lenses, to help shield your eyes and obscure less of your vision; they also have lighter and more flexible frames for a better fit; additionally there is also a trend for photochromic or polarised lenses, which help to reduce the need for very dark shadings.

Koo have shown themselves to be innovators with the Koo Open Cube Sunglasses, much like Kask are with their helmets. The lens, frame, and design features of these glasses are some of the best that I have seen.

First up, the frame has been designed to give a truly personal fit. …

Weekend Watch - 'Outside Is Free' Preview

My previous reviews of Henrik Orre's 'Velochef' and 'Velochef in Europe' were super popular posts, and I continue to enjoy making the recipes on a regular basis.

At the end of this month, Henrik launches an exciting new sequel - 'Outside Is Free'. Here is a great taster of the motivation and theme of the book. Look out for a review on coming soon.

Tech Talk - Cockpits - Narrow Handlebars and Shorter Stems

I am constantly micro-adjusting the set-up on my bikes to find the most comfortable and powerful position. The latest upgrade to my road bike is a set of narrower Easton carbon handlebars and a shorter stem. It is a marked improvement. Here's why…

The standard large size road bike (56cm) will come with a 100mm stem and 42cm handlebars. Most 'racers' will whip that 'short' stem straight off, and replace it with anything up to 130mm in length. Most will stick with the 42cm width handlebars though. Both of these choices seems increasingly illogical, in my opinion…

Stem Length The main motivation for opting to upsize a stem seems to be "it's what the Pro's do".

The trend for long stems in the pro peloton relates to the tradition of opting for a smaller frame size, something that was done in bygone years because it helped to reduce weight. Something that is largely unnecessary now, because all top-end bikes are under the UCI weight limit; yet the tra…

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…

Gearing 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 EventThe 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. This s…

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 Brand Project 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 Range The Project E2 collection is composed of a comprehensive range of pre, during, and post exercise products:

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

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 …

Review - 3T Exploro Adventure Bike

There are some bikes that are different. They buck the trend, and allow adventures that previously hadn't been possible.

The 3T Exploro, as the name suggests, is one of those; enabling an exploration and ride versatility that I haven't experienced before in a 'road' bike.

This is my test report...

The Design The 3T Exploro is the design work of Gerard Vroomen, a Dutch engineer who was largely responsible for the incredible innovation and development seen in the Cervelo range of road bikes.

The Exploro is a bike of a different kind though, and more similar to the Open UP that Gerard also designed. With an aero frameset tested in the wind-tunnel, and the capability to take both 650b+  and 700c wheels, this is designed to be a go-anywhere do-anything bike. A bike that is just as capable on the tarmac as it is off-road.

The Exploro Team model I have been riding is kitted up with a 1X SRAM Force drivetrain, featuring a 42T single chainring and a 10-42T rear cassette. Stopp…

Racing The Scott H12 MTB - 12 Hours of Mud, Blood, Dust, Sweat and Gears

I had forgotten how much I love mountain biking. I had forgotten how much it hurts. 12 hours of constant drama, constant concentration, and constant excursion was enough to remind me. A podium finish, in Denmark's biggest mountain bike race - the Scott H12 MTB.

The race comes at the end of a great week in Denmark with the GripGrab team. Office meetings are bookended by rides through the forest on the way home with the Krøyer brothers. These brief laps of the forest trails are enough to bring back some recollection of what it is to ride MTB; I am ashamed to confess the last time I rode flat bars was 15 months ago; not the ideal prep for a 12 hour mountain bike race.

Race day arrives. The weather is perfection; with the early morning light breaking through the trees. I rode this event in 2016 as part of a team, so I know what is coming, yet my stomach is still a bucket of nerves...

The start gun fires. 500+ riders clip in, and kick up the dust.

Position is everything in this first l…

Book Review - 'Africa Solo' by Mark Beaumont

I have always been a fan of Mark Beaumont's past documentaries and books; both 'The Man Who Cycled The World' and 'The Man Who Cycled The Americas' were superb in their ability to showcase the beauty and captivating cultures seen on long distance bike rides. 'Africa Solo' is an equally interesting story, but in many ways a very different sequel, and unfortunately I must admit one that in some ways I found slightly depressing...

Mark makes it clear early on in 'Africa Solo' that the attempt at the World Record from Cairo to Cape Town will be all about speed, big miles, and racing the clock. The focus on culture, content creation and story telling will be pushed back to second place.

I found this rearranged focus to slightly mar what I am sure could be a beautiful story of exploration of the African continent. Mark's previous tales of solo unsupported tours of the Americas and the World were a real immersion in the civilisations seen and experie…

Review - Rapha Brevet Cargo Bib Shorts

Ever run into a supermarket at the end of a long day on the bike, mid-way through an unsupported bikepacking trip, and bought more food than you can possibly carry? Enter the solution: the new Rapha Brevet Cargo Bib Shorts.

When I first posted a picture of these on social media with the caption "is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me" it gained predictably mixed reactions: "why do you need more pockets? What's the point?" Those questions probably came from people that have never tried packing for a bike tour before...

There are times on any long distance bike ride, whether day-long or month-long, when you run out of carrying capacity. Food stops are the most likely cause: they can be few and far between, and as a result require a certain amount of 'camel'ing' in between. I have resorted to tape, straps, loaves of bread stuffed down my jersey, and much more on recent touring adventures. The reality is that an extra pocket…