This month’s edition of CTech Product Picks is jam-packed full of exciting cycling-related bits and pieces, including bike maintenance gear, clothing, books, posters, cycling-safe headphones and more. If you’ve got any experience with the products featured below, please let us know by leaving a comment.
Henty Wingman Compact and Hold’em Bags
Henty have added a few more bags to their catalogue since we reviewed the Wingman last year: a compact version of their Wingman bag, and a new range of general-purpose duffles that they’ve called Hold’em.
The Wingman concept is simple: it’s a suit bag that rolls up so it can be carried on your back. A pair of plastic ribs and a second tubular shoe/toiletries bag stops the Wingman from collapsing and crushing your clothes. The new compact version measures 101 x 48cm (when unrolled) compared to 101 x 56cm for the standard Wingman. The smaller size accommodates suits up to 47cm wide without creasing and is available in three colours, blue, grey and lavender.
The Hold’em comes in four sizes: small (42 litres), medium (72 litres), large (90 liters), and x-large (155 liters). Each Hold’em has three compartments: a large central space that is accessed from the top lid; a wet/dry compartment that opens at the side and expands into the central compartment; and a pouch that spans one end of the bag.
The Hold-em is constructed from a fabric laminate with a water-resistant base and heat-sealed seams. There are handles on the sides of the bag plus one at each end as well as a removable shoulder strap. The majority of the bag is black but there is a choice of red, blue, grey or green fabrics for the wet/dry compartment.
For more information see the Henty website.
RRP: $199 for Wingman standard or compact sizes; Hold’em bags small $150, medium $170, large $190, x-large $220.
I was impressed with the Wingman the first time I used it and I continue to appreciate the quality and design of this bag. I found the compact size readily accommodated my medium-sized clothes and narrower bag was a better fit on my back.
I did wonder if there was any danger of hooking a side-view mirror while threading my way through standstill traffic — something that has never occurred to me while wearing a backpack — but otherwise it was easy to carry while on the bike.
There is a risk that the single shoulder strap will get uncomfortable with heavy loads and/or long commutes, though I had no complaints after an hour carrying a couple of t-shirts, a pair of jeans, and a hard-shell rain jacket.
The Hold’em bags are more conventional in design but Henty have managed to inject them with their own flair. In this case it is the inclusion of a wet/dry compartment. Rather than limit the size opening with a simple zipper, it unhitches like a jacket, allowing the mouth to be opened wider.
The rest of the bag is spacious and shares the same high quality manufacture as the Wingman. The fabric and zippers are stout, the seams are robust, and the stitching is precise. The Hold’em is also protected by a 5-year warranty. Love your work, Henty.
Here’s what the folks at Orontas have to say about their products:
“Orontas cycling supplies are handcrafted and responsibly made with the combination of old world quality and modern thinking derived by our passion for sport, the environment and our home, Toronto.”
Here’s what they have to say about their ‘Cleaner’:
“Cleaner is designed to get you back out on your bike quickly and safely – without wasteful aerosols, harmful chemicals, high-volume soapy fluids or complicated chain-washing-machine-things. Simply spray and wipe Cleaner to remove grime, dirt and oil from the chain. Highly efficient; there are 1000+ sprays in each bottle – over a year supply if you clean your chain weekly. Cleaner is non-toxic, biodegradable and petroleum free.”
And here’s how they describe their plant-based lube:
“Plant-Based Lube features hardcore anti-corrosive and washout resistance that makes it perfect for all outdoor applications where you need to keep equipment and moving parts lubricated and protected. No matter on the trail or on the water you’re going to need a product that’s just going to get it done. Plant-Based Lube is non-toxic, biodegradable and petroleum free. It will stop squeaks, displace moisture and the can shoots at all 360 degrees.”
For more information visit the Orontas website.
RRP: Waterproof Grease: $19.95; PBL (Plant based lube) All purpose lubricant $12.95; Type A Lubricant $16.95; Type B Lubricant: $16.95; Cleaner: $16.95.
With convenient packaging that looks like it belongs more in a hair salon than in your bike room, Orontas products work a treat.
If it’s frowned upon in your household to be using strong smelling petroleum-based lubricants and cleaners in your loungeroom, Orontas is an environmentally friendly alternative, and works nearly just as well. They’re biodegradable so there’s no issues with disposal.
My favourite is the Type A chain lube as it’s nice and thin so I can apply a couple times (in dry conditions) a week and it keeps the chain sparkling clean.
Apres Velo Worlds rainbow T-shirt
Here’s what the guys at Apres Velo have to say about their world championship T-shirt:
“Designed without compromise for all bike-fixated obsessives, Apres Velo products blend style with optimum comfort. Our fabrics, print and wash finishes have a distinctive aged look and feel … lived in and loved.
The annual World Championships of bicycle road racing visits beautiful Florence, Tuscany in 2013. The region is full of natural and architectural beauty and is considered the heartland of Italian cycling. A landscape of warm sun, rolling hills, and cypress trees combine to make the rainbow band of the World Champion. Artwork design by Eleanor Grosch for Apres Velo.”
For more information visit the Apres Velo website.
The detail, design, and quality of Apres Velo t-shirts is outstanding. Although it’s tough to create something different out of the rainbow strips, Apres Velo has nailed it here in both men’s and women’s designs. The fit is a fair bit larger than most t-shirts, but it makes me feel really good knowing that I can fit into a small once again.
AfterShokz Bone Conduction Sportz M2 Headphones
The folks at AfterShokz describe their product as follows:
“AfterShokz Sportz M2 headphones sit comfortably in front of (not inside or over) your ears, delivering the only open ear listening experience that doesn’t inhibit ambient noise. They use bone conduction technology to transfer sound via little vibrations on your cheekbones to your inner ears, bypassing the eardrums completely.
The open ear design enables you to listen to music and take phone calls when you’re running, biking, jogging, driving, hiking, skiing and more, all while safely staying connected to your surroundings. The unique benefit of our open ear design offers situational awareness, potentially preventing accidents that can be caused by traditional headphones and earbuds blocking outside sounds.”
The Sportz M2 with mic is the mid-range model of AfterShokz’s bone conduction headphones. The base model doesn’t feature a microphone like the M2 (for making phone calls) while the premium model is wireless thanks to bluetooth connectivity.
We were given a set of these headphones to try by the folks at the Musicway.
For more information visit the Musicway website.
Wearing the AfterShokz headphones for the first time is a weird experience. You can hear audio from the headphones and yet you can still clearly hear sounds from the outside world as well. But after a few moments that strange feeling subsides and your brain gets used to filtering out whatever you don’t want to focus on, whether that’s sound from the headphones or ambient noise.
The headphones are comfortable and sit nicely over your cheekbones, conducting sound to your inner ear via vibrations. You can notice the headset vibrating when at higher volumes but it’s not too distracting.
AfterShokz claim that their bone conduction technology means a “bypassing [of] the eardrums completely” but a quick test (putting fingers in my ears) showed this not to be the case. With my ears blocked, much of the audio signal’s higher frequencies were blocked, making for a muffled, bass-heavy sound.
The headphones tend to leak quite a bit of noise — don’t go wearing them on the train — and the audio quality isn’t as high as you would expect from regular in-ear headphones. But that’s to be expected — these headphones aren’t about delivering perfectly crisp sound directly to your ears. They’re about allowing you to listen to headphones during exercise, while ensuring you don’t block your ears to important sounds around you (emergency vehicles, other riders etc.)
You could argue that riding with music on will never be completely safe but these headphones are certainly a step in the right direction.
Cyclo Cross 2012/2013 Photo Book by Balint Hamvas
After wrapping up another spectacular cyclocross season, cycling photographer Balint Hamvas gathered all his best pictures of the 2012/2013 cyclocross season in a new book. Balint’s website describes the book as “the most beautiful, interesting, fetching and eye-catching shots of the biggest races of the season brought together on 220 pages, with full-colour pictures on high quality paper in a hard-cover edition.”
To add a bit more depth to the photos, he invited an illustrious bunch of writers to add some depth to the images. Simon Burney, Dan Seaton, Mattio Montesano, Caroline Caroliens and Stefan Wyman all added an exciting piece of the puzzle, with great insights and even better stories.
For more information visit Balint’s website.
Balint Hamvas has been a contributor of cyclocross photos here at CyclingTips for a couple of years and it’s been a joy watching him evolve his style. Balint’s book is more than photos though. It’s the story of the courses, the riders, and his own journey along with guest authors whom he met along the way in the 2012/13 season. Whether you read the book from cover to cover or flip through it randomly, you get a good sense of what cyclocross is about and the characters involved.
Science in Sport Nutrition
Science in Sport (SiS) is an English company that was founded by Tim Lawson in 1992. The company is proud of its collaborations with elite athletes such as Chris Boardman, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, and Bradley Wiggins and it also supports a few pro cycling teams (Belkin, Astana, Katusha, and Rapha Condor JLT).
Their products have been designed for endurance sports and are divided into two categories: the GO range of energy bars, gels, powders and electrolytes are designed for use before and during exercise, while the REGO range of protein-carbohydrate powders are intended for recovery.
RRP: Go Isotonic Gels: $3.50; Go Energy Bars: $4; Go Electrolyte and Energy sachets: $4; Rego Recovery sachets: $5; pack of 20 Go Hydro tablets: $20. Bulk packs and bundles are available too.
Energy bars, gels, tablets and sachets are designed to provide a convenient source of nutrition but after chatting with CT’s resident nutritionist, Alan McCubbin, it’s worth emphasising that there’s more to their effective use than picking up a handful of these products before a ride if you want to maximise their effectiveness, especially in a race setting:
“Even knowing the value of carbohydrate intake is one thing,” explained Alan, “but you still need to be able to translate that into the correct number of gels, bars, mL of sports drink and/or regular foods to consume every hour. That’s the space that sports dietitians work in, essentially having the skills and background knowledge to interpret sports science research into something meaningful for the athlete.”
I enjoyed the samples that were sent for review by SiS Australia. All flavours tasted as one would predict and nothing confused or offended my palate. The cost of individual gels, bars and sachets is high but a good place to start before committing to buying in bulk where savings can be made.
Jaggad Arthurs Set Bib Shorts and 1 in 20 Jersey
Here’s how the team at Jaggad describes its Men’s Arthurs Seat Bib Shorts:
Named after “one of Melbourne’s most popular hill climbs for cyclists, the Men’s Arthurs Seat Bib Shorts will keep the performer comfortable throughout the duration of the ride. The Italian chamois used to complement the shorts is of the highest quality & is the trademark attribute of Jaggad’s cycling shorts.”
And here’s how they describe their Men’s 1 in 20 Jersey:
“This comfortable, light & very stylish Men’s 1 in 20 Jersey by Jaggad is the perfect partner to the cyclist who loves to ride. Aside from its fashionable design, this jersey has a stand out reflective patch & a very handy protective zip pocket for essentials.”
For more information visit the Jaggad website.
RRP: Arthurs Seat Bib Shorts: $190; 1 in 20 Jersey: $160
I remember hearing about Jaggad about eight years ago when I first moved to Australia. I didn’t pay much attention because it was mainly geared toward the triathlete market, but after laying dormant for a few years the brand now has new owners and has been revived. Designs have been completely redone from the ground up and I have to say, I’m impressed.
The jersey has a pared back aesthetic and a wonderful feel to it. I was apprehensive about the bands around the arms, but trying it on turned that around. The overall fit is bang-on and makes a guy like me (who is carrying a few extra kilos) feel comfortable. But it’s not a relaxed fit. It has room where it’s needed and hides the unflattering parts.
The bib shorts have been well considered also. Minimalist styling, a comfortable chamois, and material similar to the Rapha Classic shorts, they’ve done a very good job at getting it all right in the first instance. The same elastic bands that feature in the jersey are used around the legs which function remarkably well. It’s a similar elastic material as used in sports bras which keep the knicks in place and stop from riding up without the use of silicon grippers.
Ballers Ride NFS Lube
Josh Simonds (aka Too Tall) is responsible for a few things such as Velocipede Salon and Ballers Ride. He also created NFS (NixFrixShun) chain lube using the experience gained from developing high-tech lubricants for the mining industry.
NFS lube promises to keep on performing and protecting the drive train of your bike for hundreds of kilometers, regardless of conditions.
For more information visit the Velocipede Salon website.
RRP: $15 per bottle + $10 s&h for online orders. Order online at Ballers Ride or enquire at your local bike shop.
I’m fairly cavalier when it comes to choosing and using a chain lube. My choice is usually dictated by convenience though I’ve been using a dry lube for over a decade. As a consequence, I’ve grown used to extra chain-noise and applying fresh lube every few rides, since neither is as annoying as the filth that is associated with a wet lube.
Using NFS lube requires a little re-training. There is no need to douse the chain with this lube — less is more — which means there’s less chance of it attracting grit. A single application served me well for a couple of weeks, and while chain-noise was much reduced compared to a dry lube, the chain wasn’t running as silently as it would when doused with a wet lube.
I need a couple more months to better judge the performance of NFS lube, but for now, my first impressions are very favourable.
Le Coq Sportif Montech Windbreaker and Erco Longsleeve jersey
According to the Le Coq Sportif website the Montech Windbreaker features waterproof stitching and zip, silicone bands to keep the jacket in place, it’s made of “ultra-light polyester” to “guarantee better breathability”, and it’s “photophorescent at night”.
The Erco Longsleeve Jersey meanwhile is “entirely breathable thanks to the use of complementary, specially-adapted materials and cut close to the body for ideal aerodynamics.” It is also reportedly “inspired by the authentic 1951 yellow jersey, with a collar lined in the brand’s signature print, the contrast stripe on the chest recalls vintage jerseys.”
For more information visit the Le Coq Sportif website.
RRP: Montech Windbreaker: ~$300; Erco Longsleeve Jersey: ~$160
It’s good to see Le Coq Sportif get back into cycling with such a long heritage in the sport. Their clothing isn’t targeted at the hardcore racing market though, so don’t expect this from their fit or styling. The jersey and Windbreaker aren’t particularly filled with technical features nor an aggressive fit, but are built with quality materials and smart design.
Conquest Cycling performance shorts, performance jersey and sleeveless base layer
Here’s what Conquest Cycling had to say about the three products we reviewed:
“Our Performance Bib Shorts are designed for hot climates and riders who regularly race and like to push themselves to the limit. They feature our revolutionary Open-Cell perforated chamois technology and high compression Lycra.”
“The Performance 2 Short Sleeve Jersey is constructed of highly breathable, elastic fabric that allows for an aerodynamic fit that won’t chafe or restrict your range of motion. Technical features such as dimpling to reduce drag, mesh underarm panels, and superfine elastic sleeves reflect the high attention to detail that defines the Performance 2 Jersey.”
“The sleeveless lightweight base layer has a fitted cut to ensure maximum comfort when worn underneath your cycling jersey and bib shorts. The fabric should not bunch underneath your bib shorts and has to be in contact with your skin to provide effective moisture wicking. By using high quality Italian fabrics our tailored base layer range meet all of these requirements while offering you unrestricted movement.”
For more information visit the Conquest Cycling website.
RRP: Performance shorts: $140; Performance jersey: $125; Sleeveless base layer: $55
I didn’t expect much from this relatively unknown brand with affordable price points, but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.
The mark of a good kit is one that you don’t actively think about when you are wearing it, and the Performance range from Conquest Cycling delivers this with quiet efficiency, somewhat surprisingly for the price.
A ‘coldblack’ UV treatment on the shorts is claimed to reduce temperatures by 7-10 degrees in full sun, however on the weekend we wore this kit we spent more time checking its ability to cope in the rain. The kit stood up to the challenge and was comfortable all day, the baselayer providing just enough additional warmth in the cool conditions without overheating.
Here’s how the folks at K-EDGE describe their products:
“K-EDGE and K-EDGE Manufacturing are located in Boise, Idaho, USA. We not only design everything right here, but we also machine and manufacture here as well—from start to finish. K-EDGE produces high-end bicycle components, not slick marketing presentations. Like most quality components on your bike, our parts are manufactured to exacting specifications to ensure they’re perfectly compatible with elite level bikes.”
For more information visit the K Edge website.
RRP: Computer mount: $59.95; GoPro mounts and adaptors: $59.95; Chain catcher: $49.95; Braze-on adaptor clamp: $69.95
One word: Solid. K-EDGE mounts fit all of their intended components with precision and not only give you the confidence that they’re going to keep everything secure, but they also keep your bike looking great with many different color options to choose from.
Veloposters: Limited edition ‘Bidon Battles – 7 Eleven’ print
According to founder Simon Telfer, Veloposters specialises in “creating simple, modern and distinct cycling posters”.
Series Prints consist of four themed posters, limited to 25 giclée prints and released monthly. Premium Prints are one-off designs, limited to 50. Each print is hand numbered and signed.
For more information visit the Veloposters website.
Simple, classy, and somewhat nostalgic, Veloposters have a unique styling that I would not hesitate to hang on my wall. I love the fact that multiple posters have been designed to work together and new ones are released every month. Watch www.veloposters.com for one that catches your eye.
Have you used any of the products mention above? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.