night riding lights

As the night riding season is with us we often get asked about lights for newcomers. There are articles that can be found by using the search box in the sidebar. Use a manufacturer or “lights, torch, cree, etc.” in the box.

If you are unsure of night riding you can hire a set from Freedom Bikes in Brighton to try a  ride with us which will give you an opportunity to try and compare. We ride with different  lights so one size does not suit all. A bit like bikes.

There is a variety of lights used in the dark but overall the best combination seems to be a spread light on the bars and an adjustable spot on your helmet. The weight on the bars is unimportant but less weight on the helmet makes a difference. The Ay-Up light small size and excellent performance finds them on lots of heads but the price seems less competitive now as other prices drop. Quite a few of the Exposure range are well used too. Muddymoles compare a range of lights and are worth a visit to check the latest tests.

Several of us at Brightonmtb run the Trustfire torch on a helmet and this still seems the cheapest viable option at a basic system at around £30. A double bar, single helmet mix costs around the £60 mark. The purpose made Chinese handlebar light is a little more expensive but initial reports are favourable with a few of us  relying on them to miss the trees. These come from Dealtime in Hong Kong and are included in the Muddymoles tests.

Another link is from ebay where there are lots now but at £57 complete with spare battery for a fairly high power output this is Mikey from Sussexmtb’s choice as the alternative to something more mainstream. His opinion is that they are “brilliant”. You can search Ebay but the seller recommended by is big_f_d_d. There is also a site called with some information too. If you want to talk to him he is  Green Cable boy.

If you have an older type of light, e.g. HID, these produce around 500 lumens and are still in common use but newer purchases always seem to be the high output LED types. Halogen sets are still used by some and although the output is less the yellow light seems to be better for some riders despite the lower output. You can get swallowed a little in blue light of a HID or the flare of a new LED but drop back a little to give yourself some space and you miss most of the trees.

It is not recommended to try with a road light even if you are an experienced rider as everyone struggles more than they may think. You can read through the older ride reports to get a feeling for the difference of riding in the dark.

If you have not tried night riding before it really is worth a go. We ride all winter on Tuesday and Thursday nights so check the ride page for details and venture out into the dark.


Crank Bros Joplin

There is a song…

I drop down, then get up again

you’re never going to keep me down

I drop down, then get up again

I’m never gonna clear that jump…

Even with a quick release lifting and dropping your saddle takes too much time and that is why you do not really bother. Some of us ride with the saddle too low and develop the attractive hunchback look for most of the next day and others find ourselves in the dark on tip-toe trying to find a ledge of air as we roll to a stop on top of a wet log.

A seat dropper will not turn you into a guardsman or provide temporary levitation but it gives you more room. You do not need to compromise and that gives you body space on the jumps and forces you to move over the bike before the obstacle, over the obstacle, after the obstacle and it makes it easy to remount when you pick yourself up from the mud.

It does add a little weight so for the roadie bodies you will be compromising the gains of the carbon brake levers but for most of us – well.

The main drawback, apart from the high cost, has been the reliability and this still looms above any potential purchase. But several of us are using different models and complaints of failure are rarer. You may need to clean it a bit and you will need to carry out a bit of maintenance but does it help.

Sure it does, because you no longer fire yourself into the undergrowth when you ‘thump your rump’.

We all make the old mistake of not getting back behind the saddle on the steeper drops, just one little hump and thump. Bent arms, folded over the bars, fight for control and pretend you had plenty in reserve; if you manage to stay upright that is.

So long term use for this Crank Bros-Maverick remake has been trouble free. I have kept it clean and I check the knurled clamp to ensure it does not loosen but it keeps working. Up and down.

I do not have the remote lever on the handlebars which may help a racer or allow a quicker drop in an emergency but the below saddle lever seems an easy reach.

I have used some carbon paste on the seatpost as it helps the fit and reduce the clamp strength and because you move the seatpost less frequently than a standard post.

Is it for everyone? – probably not, but for the less confident it makes jumps and obstacles a little easier and when lifted it helps by about a gear on a hill rather than leaving the seatpost dropped.

So consider investing a little money, (£100 cost for this), and gain a little space on the hard bits as winter has arrived again.

I drop down, then get up again

you’re never going to keep me down

I drop down, then get up again

I’m never gonna thump my rump…

Love gold?

KMC x9L gold

Suffering rain and mud and stones and dust and logs and then have to jump happily at the touch of a button; it’s a hard life being a chain. Expected to bounce faultlessly over the rocks and then withstand huge tension from my third of a horsepower, well maybe a quarter, we only complain about chains when they let us down. Continue reading

hello motec

goodbye kona

The old grips have served on the old bike and the new one but the rubber is worn out and one of the inner clamps has split. They have lasted well, never slipped and been on and off a few times for cleaning and shifter swap duties. I have soft hands and always prefer softer grips as a general rule but the Kona ones replaced some very soft WTB ones that wore out within a few weeks.

Overall 8/10 as they were a little hard and I prefer the raised shapes to fit my hand rather than spell the manufacturer’s name.

The new grips are on and the plastic clamp seems kinder to carbon handlebars than the Kona metal. Instead of a solid inner tube they have a cut out section which allows the grips to deflect inwards which feel softer.

Curiously there was no orientation diagram on the packaging but the website has full instructions. It seems a simple thing but I wonder how many people would rotate them by 90 degrees to move the clamps forward for easy closure rather than correctly underneath and in the way of my shifter levers.

On the up side though I have a reason for another tool in the bike shed in the form of a computer in order to cross-check manufacturers instructions. On the down side my neatly filed box of all my bike bits instructions has become extinct.


Having had a full size backpack for years it seems that everyone else is moving to a smaller size but still managing to fit everything required into the smaller pockets. I use a slightly smaller size for summer evening use but as it is not waterproof it needs a cover in rain or in muddy conditions. It is orange though.Looking at all the new models being launched my criteria included dry back and waterproof. Lots of pockets would be nice but the critical factor would be colour. Anything called camo, skidmark or brown would not make the list. I liked the praticality of the Wingnut, waterproof and dry back, but starship trooper silver….
Camelbak had the Mule as the forerunner but everyone else including Decathlon seemed to have reasonable contenders too. After much ado I could not decide on anything with certainty so eventually I resorted to Plan B.
I would buy another pack as an interim solution and as it is interim solution it does not count so I can then buy another pack later. Seems logical and reasonable. So this is a review of a possible or a probable but not a definite choice.
The Scudo is one of the new lightweight packs with a better padding arrangement for a less sweaty back then previous Camelbak product but maybe a trampoline or the equivalent is better still. Multiple pockets make for easier sorting and finding so this single main pocket waterproof pack is not the best option.
It has a single main pocket with separate bladder pocket, a front pocket with two net pockets and a key loop and a central open section for a helmet or waterproof.
It does not have a sunglasses pocket, a zip pocket for money, waist strap pockets or any harness pockets but it does have a rain cover. The bladder section has a full length zip which makes it really easy to fit in the full bladder and two options for hose routing.
It is very light, it is less sweaty and everything can be fitted inside. The straps need careful adjustment but it rides light on your back even when full. The central net section is very useful for tubes and spades but a karabiner or two stops anything bouncing out.
A smaller lighter pack is a considerable advantage on both short and longer rides due to less weight on your back but you may need to pack carefully. Even on a short ride the weight advantage is very noticeable and I do not struggle with a full day pack filled with extra layers and sandwiches.
Overall then the Scudo is a nice lightweight pack but with less pockets then you might prefer and is a great interim solution.
Most importantly it comes in orange.