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Every year, the Tour de France brings three weeks of summer to riders in the southern hemisphere, but that’s not enough to keep our toes and fingers warm, so this month we consider a range of products for the cold along with Edco wheels and a new book celebrating road bikes.
BBB Aquashield Gloves
The Aquashield is BBB’s finest all-weather winter glove, a fully lined offering with a tough waterproof outer. The thumb, forefinger and palms are reinforced with Clarino (a synthetic leather), while rubber and silicone graphics are used on the palms to resist slipping. The thumb is covered with terry toweling while the close-fitting cuffs are made out of neoprene. The knuckles feature stretch zones to improve the flexibility of the glove, and some reflective piping is included to help visibility in the dark. Available in sizes XS-XXXL.
These gloves are thick and well insulated so there’s no need to reach for them until temperatures are in single figures. I really liked the terry toweling and the long cuffs, but fitting the gloves is a bit like putting on boxing gloves (far easier when someone else helps you). I also like that the thick, comfortable lining is stitched to the outer to keep it within the glove when removing your hands. I have long fingers so full-finger gloves always seem too short and the webbing between the thumb and index finger too shallow. Regardless, they work very well at keeping the cold and wet off your hands. However, this cozy comfort comes at a cost, because these gloves deprive of you of any feel for your levers, phone or iPod. And if you are using Di2, then I doubt you’ll be able to shift accurately, but that will be a problem with any lined glove. If you have to ride when it’s cold, then wet or dry, these gloves will save your fingers.
Pearl Izumi Skull Cap
Pearl Izumi’s skull cap is a simple affair: two sections of a lycra/polyester fabric fashioned into a close-fitting cap. The brim of the cap extends down over the ears and one size fits all.
Forget about cycling caps and beanies, this skull cap will save your ears every time the temperature drops and fog is lying in the valleys. The only allowance required is to adjust your helmet to accommodate a little extra bulk. If the day warms up, then it’s easy to stash this cap your pocket. I’ve been wearing mine for a few years and it’s still going strong.
Bonds Chesty Singlet
Bonds have been making their Chesty singlet for decades. Not an obvious choice for a winter cyclist perhaps, the singlet is all cotton and does not benefit from any fancy textiles that will keep your warm while venting heat and sweat. Once made in Australia (now China), the Chesty comes in four colours: white, black, grey, and trucker blue.
RRP: $16 for a pair.
I got into the habit of wearing Bonds singlets when I was a student and couldn’t afford (or justify) more than a couple of knicks and jerseys, so when winter hit, I had to find a cheap yet effective barrier against the cold. I still have a stock of half-a-dozen Chestys and I reach for them without a thought for anything else. Pick a size that is tight fitting and enjoy the warmth, but only when conditions are dry; rain will turn the trusty Chesty into an icy vest.
Buff pioneered tubular headwear during the early 90s, a simple, versatile tube of fabric that can be worn in a variety of ways. Made from a light cotton fabric that breathes well, dries fast, and never traps odour, Buff headwear is available in a huge array of patterns. If you need something for truly frosty conditions, take a look at the polar fleece version.
A friend brought a few of these puppies back from the Tour last year, which I hope explains the bright orange colour (they were freebies promoting a hotel chain). I soon discovered that it does wonders for keeping my neck warm especially where jersey/jacket collars fail to reach. I slide my Buff all the way down onto my neck and tuck some of it into my jersey/jacket before setting off. Like the skull cap, it’s easy to stash a Buff in a pocket until it’s needed again.
Edco is a Swiss company that began life over 100 years ago making lathes and sewing machines. The company is now based in the Netherlands and devotes the majority of its efforts to road and track wheelsets (and parts thereof). Their catalogue features over twenty clincher and tubular wheelsets with low-, mid- and high-profile rims made from carbon, aluminium alloy, or a carbon/alloy matrix. Edco manufactures their own hubs and use Sapim spokes and nipples to assemble their wheelsets. Amongst their innovations are a very clever freehub body that can accept both Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo cassettes and carbon rims that offer effective braking with standard brake pads.
RRP: €1825 for Furka Competition clinchers, contact Velorepublic for local pricing.
To learn more about the range of Edco wheels, visit www.edcoengineering.nl.
One of our test bikes arrived with Edco Furka (58mm) clinchers and the tall rims suited the thick, muscular frameset. Edco markets the Furka wheelset for criterium racing and sprinting and includes a ceramic braking track for all weather use. I didn’t get a chance to ride these wheels in the rain, but in the dry, braking was very effective, though the standard SRAM pads on the test bike squealed loudly under heavy braking. The Furka rims were stiff without providing a harsh ride, they felt nimble on climbs and were easy to accelerate. I did notice that the valve stems rattled in the rim every time I was out of the saddle, and at 58mm tall, it’s no surprise these wheels caught a lot of wind. I think the cassette body is very clever, though in practice, I’m not sure there are many people that would require such versatility (though I suppose it won’t hamper any decision to swap groupsets or share them with your riding buddies). Regardless, with a sound history manufacturing wheels and renowned Swiss precision, Edco wheels make for a fine alternative for riders looking for something a little different.
Bike! A Tribute to the World’s Greatest Racing Bicycles
Bike! A Tribute to the World’s Greatest Racing Bicycles celebrates the history of the road racing bicycle. The book is edited by two writers with strong track records in the sport, Richard Moore (author of several road cycling books including In Search for Robert Millar) and Daniel Benson (managing editor of cyclingnews.com). They have assembled 50 profiles of bicycle and component manufacturers that include some of the greatest brands (Bianchi, Colnago, Campagnolo, Mavic, Raleigh, Shimano) in the sport. There are also features on some of bikes that have defined or revolutionised road cycling, such Coppi’s Bianchi from 1952, Cippolini’s Cannondale, and Boardman’s Lotus track bike. The book comprises over 330 pages full of photos of bikes and riders, both past and present, and is published in Australia by The Miegunyah Press, an imprint of Melbourne University Publishing. Bike! is available now in bookstores around the country.
There’s more to becoming a well-rounded and knowledgeable cyclist than spending time on the bike, chatting with your riding buddies over coffee, and reading Cyclingtips. In the past, an enthusiast had to track down exotic and sometimes hard to find magazines to get an insight into the world of road racing (“Winning” was my main resource where race coverage was delayed by a minimum of three months). Now the internet is brimming with information but it’s only useful when you know what you’re looking for. Moore and Benson seem well aware of the need for a convenient resource and have fashioned Bike! as something of an encyclopaedia of the history and the beauty of the road bike. Most of the big brands are profiled here, though it’s far from an exhaustive catalogue. The book is pitched for a general audience, yet there is enough detail to keep experienced riders interested. There are some lovely pictures and a lot of historical shots, however some of the studio shots of the featured bikes were too small and focused on the details without a larger shot of the entire bike, affording me brief glimpses when I wanted to linger to take in all of its beauty. Regardless, Bike! is a fine achievement, a handy go-to book for any enthusiast hoping to learn more about many of the brands that have shaped our sport.