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Showing posts from February, 2022

Review – Carradice Bikepacking Handlebar Bag

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Think of Carradice, and images of the classic Nelson Saddlebag probably come to mind—the original waxed cotton canvas bag found on audax bikes for decades. The British brand have also been quietly creating a range of bikepacking saddlebags and handlebar bags though; using their knowledge of fabrics, and timeless trustworthy design; they have created some simple but superbly made pieces of bikepacking luggage. The Carradice Bikepacking Handlebar Bag is a 3.5 litre cannister style handlebar bag, made from 1000 denier military grade Cordura® fabric. The handlebar bag is simple in design: it has one main compartment with a water-resistant zipper, and a buttoned flip-over lid to keep out the worst of the weather (this bag is not fully waterproof). There is an additional zippered pocket on the top of the lid for smaller valuables. The bag attaches to your handlebars (road or mountain bike) using strong webbing straps with foam spacers to avoid it interrupting your grip on the bars. Add

Review – NamedSport Energy and Recovery Bars and Gels

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The collection of energy bars, gels, protein bars and drinks from the Italian brand NamedSport offers a good value and great tasting variety of products; proven and used in several World Tour series races. I have been sampling the NamedSport Sport Gel, Isotonic Power Gel, 4Fuel Protector Energy Drink, Energy Bar and Rocky Protein Bar. I must admit that I am not an avid user of energy gels or energy drink; I tend to only use them when I am struggling or have low glycogen levels on long endurance rides; that makes it quite difficult for me to quantify or evaluate NamedSport's products in this area—as I have little to compare them against. Energy bars and protein bars, however, are more my staple food source on endurance bike rides. The NamedSport Energy Bar and Rocky Protein Bar have both proven to be tasty and satisfying products; both bars are aspartame and acesulfame free, and I can pronounce and recognise most of the ingredients on the packaging (always a good sign). Rathe

Review – Moon Sport Rigel Max Front LED Bicycle Light

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Moon Sport Lights produce some of the best bicycle lights on the market—over the last five years I have intensively used many of their LED front and rear lights, and have been consistently impressed with their quality, performance and design. The Moon Rigel Max front bike light is a compact white LED light, with some intelligent design features and functions. In the box you receive a Rigel Max light, helmet mount, Go-Pro mount adapter, handlebar bracket mount, and a USB-C charging cable. It is worth noting that the Rigel Max quarter turn mount is identical to a Garmin mount—offering you a plethora of further mounting options. Lighting Modes The Rigel Max has two static modes: pre-set to 1500 lumens and 500 lumens (main and dipped beams). However, thanks to Moon's VLS (Variable Lumen System) you can fully customise the set-up to reduce or increase the power of either of the two modes. The VLS system allows you to extend battery life considerably, by reducing the Max output to

SwissStop Disc Brake Pads Comparison Test Review – Are All Disc Brake Pads Made Equal?

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The market for disc brake pads for gravel bikes, mountain bikes and road bikes is saturated; there are hundreds of different brands producing disc brake pads claiming to last longer and perform better than the competition. So, what is the difference between a set of low cost disc brake pads from eBay/Amazon versus the high-end pads from SwissStop? Are SwissStop disc brake pads worth the extra money? To find out, I have been doing some extensive disc brake pad testing over the last few months. October to February is obviously a period of wet winter riding, and I have been testing the following list of brake pads on road, gravel and mountain bikes—to create the ultimate test for any disc brake set-up. The disc brake pads on test:  SwissStop Disc 34 RS (Shimano Road/Gravel)  SwissStop Disc 32 RS (SRAM Road/Gravel)  SwissStop Disc 31 E (MTB SRAM Avid)  Superstar Sintered Shimano Road Disc Brake Pads (Shimano Road/Gravel)  SOMMET Resin and Semi-Metallic Disc Brake Pads (SRAM Road/Gravel

Explore – Essential Ingredients for an Isle of Wight Bike Ride

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The Isle of Wight is an amazing place to explore by bicycle; with stunning views, great coastlines, quiet roads, and superb café stops. In this Explore blog post I consider some of my 'Essential Ingredients' to make the most of what the Isle of Wight offers to cyclists. 1 – Coastal Views There is nothing better than riding a bike along a coastal road; looking out over the distant horizon and feeling the refreshing breeze on your face. The Isle of Wight offers coastal paths and roads in abundance, but the classic is most definitely the Military Road — ranked as one of the best driving roads in the world, it is also one of the best cycling roads to experience; best ridden in the late summer when the traffic levels are lower and you can enjoy the serenity of the English Channel views. 2 – Historical Highlights From dinosaurs to royal castles and palaces; the Isle of Wight has a diverse and interesting selection of historical highlights to entertain and excite any age group.

Review – Qaou Adventure Beluga Modular Tent, Hammock & Shelter

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I have been searching for the perfect bikepacking shelter. Is it a tent, a tarp, a hammock, or a shelter? The truth is that any one of these could be the ideal bikepacking shelter choice, depending on the conditions that you are camping in. In sweltering summer heat, a hammock or inner tent only might be the best solution. For a fast pitch, a shelter or tarp may suffice as protection from the elements. Then, in more severe conditions, a fully clad two-layer tent (ideally with a porch to stow your kit) would be the best solution. The Adventure Beluga is a new style of modular shelter from the French brand Qaou Outdoor, which offers an incredibly versatile and adaptable tent—capable of being all the above named variations, without compromise. In the package you receive an inner tent, plus two outer material layers, pegs, poles, and a hammock hanging system. Here is what it can create: 1) All-weather tent with porch: zip the two outer layers together, use the inner tent and poles, an

Workshop Focus – When To Replace Your Bike Chain

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Your bicycle chain is the link between the power you put down through the crank arms and the cogs on your rear wheel—that when turned, propel your bike forwards. That means your chain gets a tough time; it transmits all that power as it bends and stretches around your drivetrain. A bicycle chain is composed of inner plates and outer plates, held apart by pins, and with a bushing/roller on the pins that allows the chain to roll around cogs. All these metal surfaces touch each other as the chain works, which means friction. Bicycle chain lube goes a long way to helping reduce the friction on a bicycle chain (read my previous blog post on ' How to Choose Your Bike Chain Lubricant '. But, over time that friction will wear away at the inner-plates, pins and bushings of your chain, causing it to streeeetch… Chain stretch is a bit of a miscommunication of what is actually happening with your chain as it wears. Your chain does not stretch as such, but the distance between two bushings/

Ride Upgrades - Wide and Low 29er MTB Handlebars

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In my 'Ride Upgrades' series I look at changes you could make to your bike that make a real difference to comfort and performance. In this post, I consider the trend of using wide flat handlebars and negative drop stems on 29er mountain bikes. About 'Ride Upgrades' Nobody can accuse me of shying away from gradients; in 2018 I rode over 400,000 metres of elevation gain—the equivalent of climbing Everest from sea level 45 times. Yet, I have never been a 'gear geek—I am happy to ride last year's bikes, and I ride components into the ground rather than replace them prematurely. It would appear I am an ambassador for "don't ride upgrades—ride up grades". However, I know full well that there are upgrades that make a notable difference to comfort and performance. This blog series looks at those enhancements that could provide you with a notable marginal gain. 'Wide and Low' I am a huge fan of 29ers. I remember when the big w