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Showing posts from June, 2021

Review – Smith Express MIPS Urban Cycling Helmet

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The Smith Express MIPS Helmet is designed for urban cycle commuting and errand runs. With its high visibility yellow colour, integrated rear light, clip-on visor, and MIPS protection, it is the ultimate helmet for style and safety on the city streets. I have become an ardent fan of the Smith brand in recent years—choosing their helmets to wear on my last two long-distance cycle tours (the #RoadsFromRome and #CelticCrossTrail ) because of their superb comfort levels and safety ratings. When the new Express Urban Helmet was released earlier this year, I was intrigued to see if it could offer the same level of comfort and protection for everyday shorter-distance rides. The Express helmet is designed to look like the classic bucket helmet, with few vents and a wrap-around coverage. This helmet style was originally popular with skating and BMX riders, but over time it has also grown increasingly used by urban commuters and city cyclists—who value its robustness, weather protection, and sup

Review – Sea to Summit Stretch-Loc Luggage Straps

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Stretchy TPU cinch-straps are a frequent sight on bikepacking bike rigs; they offer an inexpensive way to strap canisters and bottles to your bike frame – securely enough to ride off-road on back-of-beyond adventures.  The new Stretch-Loc Straps from Sea to Summit are the brand's own take on this well-established accessory; with experience of their superb silicone cookware and camp products, I was keen to test these luggage straps out, and see if they could deal with the rigours of the trail. The Sea to Summit Stretch-Loc Straps come in a range of different lengths and sizes; either a four-pack of assorted lengths (375, 500, 625 and 750 mm) or a two-pack of smaller size straps (450 mm). Different lengths of strap have different functions and uses, so it is helpful to have an assortment. The 375 mm length strap proved perfect for holding a bottle securely into a bike bottle cage. The 450 mm length strap was equally great for attaching a pump to a bike frame. Meanwhile, the 625 mm st

Top 10 Bikepacking Camping Accessories and Gadgets 2021

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2021 is set to be the year of the staycation—a chance to explore those places a little closer to home. Camping and cycle touring or bikepacking are the perfect ways to do this—offering a sustainable, hassle-free, and low-cost adventure.  From my experience on past bikepacking tours and camping trips, I have compiled this list of my Top 10 products for both outdoor pursuits. It is a mix of compact gadgets and more luxurious accessories—all of which can help make your camping experience that much more enjoyable.  1 – Voited CloudTouch Camp Blanket  This is the ultimate camp blanket—if I had one as a Scout, I would have been the envy of the entire troop. It is insulated, water and stain resistance, machine washable, and made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.  The CloudTouch 4-in-1 PillowBlanket is a luxurious outdoor blanket that is built to last. It uses recycled 50D Ripstop REPREVE® on one side, and luxurious CloudTouch™on the other. CloudTouch™ is a 100 percent recycled high-

Review – TRP Spyre SLC Cable Disc Brakes

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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 component

Review – Pro Bike Tool Mini Ratchet Tool Set

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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 was 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

Nutrition Review – Vite Brain Snack Bar with Omega-3 and Nootropics

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Last month, in a constant quest to find new and interesting energy bars, I came across the Vite Naturals brand. Their Vite Brain Bar is a plant-based energy snack, enriched with Omega-3 and Nootropics—to provide a mental and health boost when you are pushing hard, whether on the bike or in everyday life. While I favour homemade snacks over pre-packaged ones, sometimes packaged bars are a necessity as a quick and convenient jersey pocket snack. When buying pre-packaged bars, I always start by looking at the ingredients list.  For the Dark Choc and Nut Flavour Vite Bar the ingredients list reads: Dates, Cashews, Chocolate with Sweetener, Sunflower Seeds, Pea Protein, Cocoa Powder, Cacao Nibs, Cocoa Butter, Rapeseed Oil, Milled Flaxseed Powder, Emulsifier, Natural Flavouring, Sea Salt. Choline, Caffeine Anhydrous, L-Theanine, Sweetener (Stevia), Rhodiola Rosea Root, Lion's Mane Mushroom, Bacopa Monnieri, Vitamin B5 (Calcium Pantothenate).  That is quite a list, and some of the listed