QECP

qecpThe demo day had loads of bikes from several different manufacturers and although it looks empty that was due to everyone out riding. You register and leave driving licence and credit card in exchange for id card which is your voucher for a bike trial.

I wanted to look at hardtail 29er options and I had tried Chris Noble’s race bikes but these are set up for maximum speed rather than Stanmer trails so I wanted to check head angles. I spoke to Dan White of Cube who grabbed a book and looked up numbers that basically said hardtail = race but he vouched for the quality of the Cube bikes and chatted amiably for a few minutes of bikes and racing. Continue reading

Tyred Rob

After the awful winterIMG_3705 we have endured and the weather starting to look a little drier (I spoke to soon!)WP_20140103_001 I was in the market for some summer tyres. WP_20140117_002Something a little faster rolling than the Continental Baron’s I have been rocking all winter but still reasonably aggressive and super grippy to suit my riding style.IMG_0812 Having been very impressed with the Black Chilli compound on the Baron’s I decided to stick with Continental and after studying various tyres and the table of suitability on their website I had decided on Trail King 2.2, the renamed Rubber Queens from previous years. Continue reading

winter lights for summer

 

This giant innew lightsect eye of a light is the ultrafire new boy with U-L2 emitters that help you hurtle through the darkness rather than trundle in the gloom. Seven little stars produce a huge spread of even light   sufficient to swallow the rider in the front at every turn.

A claimed figure of many, many candles seems about right but the quality of light is always the key area. Halos or dark spots miss vital hollows or logs in the dark but this one-eyed monster simply floods the trail. Long range reach is great but less pencil and more searchlight so perhaps a helmet set spot would help to focus your attention in one area.

The overall size is larger and the simple rubber loop has needed a little extra friction on my skinny handlebars. I tried tape and inner tube but the solution was to use some racket tape used on tennis and badminton rackets. It can still rotate in the event of a tumble but is wobbleless on normal trails. It may take a little adjustment to get the grip correct for bigger drops but perhaps a fatter handlebar will hold it easily. Continue reading

Review: Fizik Gobi Xm Wingflex

Fizik Gobi Xm

Fizik Gobi Xm Wingflex

To change or not to change: that is the question. Whether t’is easier on the behind to suffer the dings and harrows of outrageous log and dune or to catch limbs amongst a sea of timber and by avoiding, miss them ? Choosing a saddle is difficult.

Some are loyal to the one seat moving it from from post to post, others may discount it as completely unimportant but a good saddle makes a difference.

Some Spesh ones I find look good but are less comfortable on a long ride but WTB may look less sleek but last a full day. On primarily longer rides the old Koobi PRS with a split nose was great especially on hard summer tracks and coped with the Surrey Hills.

Playing technical, a change to a short saddle made moving on and off easier and encouraged more body english generally. A longer ride on a bridleway felt harder but orange detailing justifies any choice!

Gobi seems to be the consistent comparison review winner but a custom orange microtex costs €130…..so standard black had to replace the worn through one, orange details and all. A researched choice for me but still a buy and try.

Fizik Gobi Xm

Ronnie’s Shooting Stick

It feels a little concave like a shooting stick but sliding off front and rear seems easy but you need to be deliberate. The centralised position improves power transfer as you can level your hips and drive to a full leg extension. Even if you are trying to emphasise circles a full leg position is more efficient. Less experienced riders tend to notice this more on a longer ride and several new faces have gained an instant gear by raising the seatpost.

A Joplin allows me to rise and fall but the Gobi still feels stronger in a heavier gear. It does not give a free gear out but it helps on a long climb. A fast cadence and the benefit disappears.

Overall the weight is great, it fits neat to the seatpost clamps as it is easy fit and easy removal, the slip versus grip seems good and it cleans easily. It does not shed water like its vinylette cousins but it does not get soggy either. Mud still sticks underneath despite a mudguard but rinses off.

Early days yet but seemingly the reviews were accurate.

Waterproof bag

Aquapac

Ronnie in non-orange bag shocker

If your bike lives in the garage all winter then summer gear will probably suffice for spring and autumn too. If you venture further out into the cold and the rain then a waterproof shell, long trousers and a base layer may need to be added to your wardrobe. Eventually when you have added lights, hats, full finger gloves, winter jerseys, mudguards, winter tyres and supermarket bags to waterproof your feet you might think the list was complete however even your favourite backpack may need a little help.

A rain guard which can be either water resistant or waterproof is hung over the whole backpack but it needs removing for access and occasionally falls down to be trapped between your rear mudguard and the rear wheel where it rapidly fills with mud. An alternative is to use an internal dry bag but exterior pockets and the sack itself get soaked. The solution is a backpack where the material is waterproof and the zips are water resistant as a minimum specification.

A trawl through the internet found a number of bags available. Gourdon, Overboard, Exped, Kappa, Caribee, Ortlieb, Boblbee, Aquapac and Dakine all made my list but they all had different advantages and, of course, the ideal was a mix of the better elements of all the bags.

The Exped was simple, less expensive and a good colour, may be suitable for many riders but the Overboard floats, and could be used in the summer on the water. A pre-Christmas discount had finished so it seemed poorer value for money. Ortlieb was more expensive but it had looked bulkier and more rigid but a good colour again.

Eventually I settled on the Aquapac, which is one of the more expensive backpacks, but it had exterior mesh pockets for tubes, latex gloves and drinks, and divided insides for separation of layers from food, tools and camera. A transparent pocket for money, house keys and phone seemed very useful and a hook for a car key to avoid fumbling in the dark another good idea. An unusual feature is that the internal pocket is yellow with a white interior to improve visibility when scrambling for items in a darkened wood. There are hooks for attaching things like rear lights and an exterior pocket that you can squeeze in a half full bladder if you remove the support pad/seat.

After a few rides it has proven waterproof, comfortable on short fast and long slow rides, access is easy enough through the roll top closure and the side mesh pockets are secure. The poorer elements are the waist belt missing a central buckle, now added, and the mesh pockets being so deep that you need to take the pack off to pull out a bottle of drink, hence the need for changing the waist belt.

So if you need a bag tested under a waterfall on Youtube to ensure it meets the rigours of Stanmer then buy one quick before the trails turn dusty.