Showing posts from August, 2020

The Benefits of Cross Training – Does Running Help Your Cycling?

Over the last few years, I have restarted running. Not Forrest Gump style—with hour upon hour spent pounding pavement; but rather the occasional trail run of between 5 to 15 kilometres in length. I have noticed several benefits from building multi-sport cross-training into my routine and lifestyle; both for cycling performance and sporting enjoyment.

Does running help your cycling? I believe it does—it opens new doors, it strengthens muscles, and it increases variety.

Muscle Strength and Conditioning The first notable benefit is improved muscle strength and a more rounded muscle profile.

If you are a dedicated cyclist, you will have built up your cycling specific muscle groups; the problem is you may have neglected the other muscle groups in your body in the process.

Secondary 'non-cycling' muscle groups play a key supporting role—they stabilise movement. If you neglect building up these muscles, then you increase the risk of injury. By cross-training through other sports such …

Maintenance – Home Workshop Intermediate Bike Mechanic's Tool Kit

In my first Home Workshop blog piece, I wrote about Essential Workbench Tools that every bike mechanic should have; whether you are new to cycling or an experienced home workshop enthusiast.

In this second piece, I look at the next set of tools in the spectrum—those required to perform 'intermediate' level maintenance on your bike; such as fitting new cables, cassettes, chains, and bottom brackets.

These are recommendations for products that I would add to your wish list as you become more confident at servicing your own bicycle.

Workstand – Feedback Sports Sprint Workstand A workstand is a vital investment as you increase your volume of home bike maintenance; it makes jobs far easier and will save your back from constant stooping. 
I reviewed the Feedback Sports Sprint Workstand in 2013, and it has remained in my workshop to this day. It folds up super small, it is made of lightweight non-rusting aluminium, and I am a great fan of the stable 'spin-on-a-sixpence' desi…

Kit Care – Re-Waterproofing and Restoring Waterproof Cycling Jackets

In the 'Kit Care' series I look at how to rejuvenate and re-use well worn kit; saving you valuable money compared to replacing favourite pieces of cycling apparel. In this post, I consider the frequent question of how to re-waterproof and restore a waterproof cycling jacket.

Waterproof shell jackets using fabrics such as GORE-TEX, Polartec NeoShell, and eVent are designed to last. With proper care and attention there is no reason the waterproofing and performance of a jacket cannot last for many seasons. The key is how to wash and treat these waterproof jackets.

GORE-TEX and other similar waterproof fabrics such as Polartec NeoShell, eVent and Conduit use an advanced waterproof membrane to provide a waterproof and breathable layer within a garment. This fabric is often coated on the outside with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish—to provide the 'beading' of water that you see on the surface of a jacket.

Two problems occur when using a waterproof jacket in challe…

Review – Moon Meteor Storm Dual Front Bicycle Light

The Moon Meteor Storm Dual Bike Light is one of the most technically advanced and versatile front LED bicycle lights on the market in 2020. Featuring two different tone LEDs for enhanced daylight and night-time visibility; a powerful output to illuminate the road or trail; and a highly impressive battery life—the Meteor Storm Dual could be the only front light that you need for year-round bike riding.

Straight out of the box, the Moon Meteor Storm Dual feels and looks like a well-made lighting unit. The CNC aluminium case is a compact size to fit on your handlebars; it is fully waterproof and sealed; and it comes with a secure quick release handlebar mount, a helmet mount, and a remote function control button.

The light features 2 CREE XM-L high brightness LEDs—one of which is a warmer yellow colour to help with visibility in foggy, misty, or wet weather conditions—by reducing glare. This neat development works very well indeed, and it is simple to change between the 'warm white&#…

Review – MET Trenta 3K Carbon Bicycle Helmet

The MET Trenta 3K Carbon is a performance road cycling helmet, designed to keep you cool and save you valuable energy because of its aerodynamic profile. Its ventilation and ascetics are exceptional too, as is its comfort. It has fast become my favourite road cycling helmet of the 2020 summer season.

MET claim the MET Trenta 3K Carbon is the most advanced road cycling helmet they have ever made; the MET development team discovered that carbon's elastic modulus allowed them to reduce the density of the EPS foam in the helmet by 20 percent, without reducing the capacity the foam has to absorb impact energy and force. The result is they could create a helmet that sets a new standard in terms of weight, performance, and ventilation.

The Trenta features a low-profile shell design, and a minimalist weight of just 229 grams (size Medium). It fits securely and comfortably on your head thanks to the 360 degrees retention system and a simple but effective chin strap.

MET have opted to use …

Review – Selle Italia SLR Boost Gravel Superflow Saddle S3

The Selle Italia SLR Boost Gravel Superflow Saddle is designed for gravel bike riding. Featuring gel inserts to reduce vibration, titanium saddle rails to absorb trail buzz, and a sleek low-profile design to offer style and performance—this is a saddle made for adventure.

The SLR Boost Gravel is Selle Italia's latest offering for the growing Gravel segment of the market; engineered specifically to enhance riding comfort on difficult terrain and during endurance gravel events. Available in two sizes, I opted for the smaller version (S3), and have been testing it out over the last month…

I have become a great advocate of the cut-away design for saddles—it offers greater flexibility in the centre of the saddle and reduces pressure on the sensitive perineum region. The SLR Boost Gravel Superflow is a superb example of this kind of saddle design; with a cutaway section, short nose, and flared sides to effectively support your seat bones.

To improve comfort on rough terrain, Selle Ital…

Review – BTR Waterproof Pannier Rack Roll-Top Duffel Bag

A waterproof rack-top bag does not need to be complicated—it needs to function faultlessly and keep your kit secure and dry. The BTR Roll-Top Waterproof Rack-Top Duffel Trunk Bag is a great example of a simple product, executed well. 
Made from a fully waterproof material with taped seams, there is no need for an additional waterproof cover with a bag like this. The classic roll-top closure design, as found on most expedition waterproof duffel bags, means there is a seal tight closure without zips that could jam or seize.
The bag attaches to the rack with a simple two strap system, which passes underneath the rack's top plate. The design offers a fast fitment, and a universal fit for most sizes of pannier rack.
Reflective details and a light loop feature on the rear end of the bag to aid with low light visibility, and the bag also comes with a shoulder strap to make it easier to carry off-the-bike. 
Supplying 20 litres of waterproof storage for your bicycle touring or bike commuting k…

Review – Shift Up Custom Bike Thru-Axles

Thru-axles on bikes help to increase rigidity, strength, and performance compared to traditional quick-release axles. Thru-axles are becoming even more common on disc brake bikes because of the need for minimal flex in the hub area—to avoid disc rub.

Recently though, I experienced a disconcerting and debilitating failure of a thru-axle. On a gravel ride, I punctured; on going to remove the rear wheel from the frame I found the axle had slightly seized into the frame; then in an effort to undo it I ended up rounding off the hex-key head that is used to release/tighten the axle. On returning home, I managed to use some monkey grips to loosen off the axle; but it was certainly rendered useless for future fitment. So, I started looking for replacements...

The French brand Shift-Up produces a number of custom bicycle components, including a wide selection of after-market thru-axles. When the Shift-Up axles arrived, I was impressed by the quality and strength of both the axle and the bolt h…

Review – absoluteBLACK GRAPHENlube Bicycle Chain Lube

Can a bottle of chain lube ever be worth a 100 GBP expenditure? The new absoluteBLACK GRAPHENlube claims that yes, it can. The most scientifically advanced bicycle chain lube on sale today, this new graphene based dry lubricant can offer serious friction reduction, efficiency gains, and reduced component wear rates.

Before I tell of my experiences with absoluteBLACK GRAPHENlube, here is the science bit (taken from the absoluteBLACK website)...

GRAPHENlube – 5 Claimed Advantages5 Watt efficiency gain over 900 kilometres, in dry conditionsExtend the life of your drivetrainRepels water and does not attract dirt Dry paste-like coating stays on the chain for up to 1800 kilometres in dry conditionsDoes not contain harmful solvents
GRAPHENlube – The Development and ProductGRAPHENlube is a wax-based water emulsion with a special mix of high-purity graphene. It is liquid when you apply it, but becomes almost solid when it dries on the chain.

Wax-based lubricants show far greater tolerance to wat…

Review – Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Lube Dry Chain Lubricant

The Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Lube Dry Chain Lubricant is the latest bicycle chain lube released by the UK-based brand Muc-Off—the pioneering experts in bike lubes and cleaners.

I have become a complete convert to using dry chain lubes for road and off-road bicycles—all year round. A dry wax-based lubricant offers lubrication for your bike's chain without the risk of contaminants sticking to the lubricated chain's surface and creating a damaging grinding paste—as is the case with 'wet' oil-based lubricants.

The Ceramic C3 Dry Chain Lube from Muc-Off is an innovative new dry chain lubricant that utilises ceramic nanoparticles and synthetic polymers to create a super durable low-friction coating for your chain.

The key with any dry chain lubricant is the application. It is vital that you strip the chain of all previous dirt, grease, and oil before applying a dry chain lube; if you do not, then the chain lube will simply slide off the oily surface and will not dry onto the chai…

Review – Praxis Zayante Carbon M30 Direct Mount 4iiii Power Meter Crankset

Do not underestimate the upgrade that a carbon chainset and top-level bottom bracket will have to performance; the crankset of a bike is the primary power transmission tool, and its design therefore plays an integral role in the efficiency, feel, and performance of your bike. The Praxis Zayante Carbon Crankset is one of the best value, best made carbon crankset upgrades you will see on the market today.

The name Zayante comes from a redwood tree covered climb in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California; a secret training ground for professionals, and a road steeped in history. The name alludes to the relatively hidden, but undeniably valuable upgrade that the Zayante could make to your performance.

The Praxis Zayante Carbon is designed for road cycling or gravel bikes, with ultimate versatility. The carbon crank arms come in lengths of 160 / 165 / 170 / 172.5 and 175 millimetres; built onto a unique stepped Praxis M30 spindle—that requires a Praxis M30 Bottom Bracket to fit it…

Review – Muc-Off High Performance Waterless Bike Wash

I must admit that I was sceptical of a 'waterless bike wash'—surely the point of bike washing is to displace the muck rather than smear it across the surface? Readers of my 'Ultimate Bike Cleaning Routine' will also know the drivetrain degrease and re-lube is by far the most important part of the procedure.

Muc-Off's new Waterless High Performance Bike Wash is not aimed at drivetrain cleaning, nor will it wash away debris. But, it does promise 'Cillit Bang style' flash and polish cleaning for your frame. I decided it was worth a test and review.

The Muc-Off High Performance Waterless Bike Wash is designed to be a frame cleaner for any type of bicycle; removing dried on residue without the need for water, and leaving a polished surface behind.

I was skeptical, but the Muc-Off Waterless Wash is a useful addition to a home bike cleaning kit. If your ride has peppered your frame surface with dust and light soiling, then the Waterless Wash will work its magic i…