How I Test Products

Product reviews make up a key part of the content on Life In The Saddle, and I hope that you've found some product recommendations on the site that have made your cycling more enjoyable.

Each product that I write about, I have tested thoroughly in real riding conditions. If after thorough testing, I feel I'm happy to endorse a product, I will post a review on the blog.

As I've mentioned on my Reviews page, I prefer not to post negative reviews on the blog. Instead, if I feel a product doesn't "make the grade" as a recommendation, then I try to work with the brand to provide critical feedback for their R&D process.

As a bit of an insight, I thought I'd outline the kind of journey that a product would experience in my testing cycle...

Stage 1: Fit, Feature and Quality Analysis

Straight out of the packet, I'll examine the features of a product; noting what makes it unique and interesting, as well as what could be a potential problem. I'll look at details like seams and pocketing on apparel, to check for quality and expected durability. Then of course, I'll try it on for fit (my sizes are list on this page).

Stage 2: Wear Testing

The next stage, is to get out and ride with the product. Depending on the piece of kit in question, that riding will either be on my daily commute or it will be longer endurance rides at the weekend.

I put all the kit I test through challenging conditions, like rain, wind, hot and cold temperatures. With the UK climate, there is little shortage of versatile testing conditions, whatever the time of year.

Each product will get tested multiple times out on the road or trails, and a typical time frame would be at least a month of riding with/in a product, at least twice a week.

Stage 3: Wash Testing

For apparel pieces, they will get machine washed (30°C) and hung dry after every use, with the exception of waterproofs. If any colour leakage or garment shrinking occurs during washing, then I'll be sure to report on that in my review.

Stage 4: Reviewed

Normally, after a month of testing and intensive use, I'll be happy to write up my report on the product. Every product I've reviewed to date, can be found on my Reviews page.

Stage 5: Continued Lifetime Testing

Of course, I realise that most people don't just use a cycling product for a one month period though, so I continue to test kit long after I've written a review. For example, cycle clothing will normally get used as 'best' for long weekend rides, until I feel it isn't up to providing comfort for many hours in the saddle. I'll then retire it to commuting duty, and it will probably do another 100 hours of wear there, before finally being used as bike cleaning rag! If anything changes in terms of my opinion on a product throughout this prolonged testing period, then I'll update my review with an 'edit note' or comment.

Thorough product testing takes time, and it can only be done with plenty of hours in the saddle and time using a product. When I'm testing bikes, I'll typically rack up 1,000 kilometres before I write my review; whilst other pieces of kit might see double or triple that distance, before I feel happy to cast my opinion on them. I hope that my long testing periods and the variety of riding conditions and disciplines that I partake in, help to add strength and trustworthiness to my reviews.

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