CTech April Product Picks

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In the April edition of CTech Product Picks we feature nine cool products which you may not have seen before. As ever, if you’ve used any of the products featured and have some constructive feedback, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Oakley RadarLock sunglasses

The idea behind Oakley’s new offering is that they is putting a big emphasis on the Customised product. The Bondi Ostore in particular is the juggernaut of their southern hemisphere Custom program where it’s possible to completely customise a huge range of Oakley’s eyewear.

Customise Oakley sunglasses with your choice of frame color and finish, lens tint and more.

Customised models include:

• Radarlock
• Racing Jacket
• Holbrook
• Frogskin
• Batwolf

You can go through the process at the Ostore itself, or online at au.oakley.com/custom#/sunglasses

For more information visit the Oakley website.

RRP: $339 approximately (variable depending on options)

CTech’s Take:

I don’t need to reiterate the top notch optical quality and comfort of Oakley sunglasses. They’re the real deal and arguably the best sports sunglasses on the market. I wish real-life looked as good as when I wear my Oakleys. You can read our previous review on the Radarlocks here.

The main point of this review is to take a look at their custom program. I wasn’t able to physically make it to the Bondi Ostore to go through the process of picking the lens, frame and finish, but did so on their website. Simply choose all your options from frame shape, color, text etching, lens shape, tint and ear socks and come up with some funky designs that nobody else will have. I have to admit, I was very conservative with the ones I chose for this review but the options are endless. I usually find that Oakleys have a fashion shelf life of about 4 years, so I don’t mind spending the money.

by Wade Wallace

Kask Vertigo helmet

Vertigo is 100% made in Italy and designed and developed for racing use: secure, ventilated and aerodynamic helmets capable of providing a level of comfort and unsurpassed fit. Its “Up & Down” adjustment system, which allows you to secure the helmet to the head and ensure a precise fit with a triple movement in height, width and angle.

Other features include:

Ventilation and breathability through 24 vents arranged in an aerodynamic structure. Structure-molding with reinforced frame for added security; Hygiene facilitated removable and washable interior in Coolmax fabric; Reflective stickers for maximum safety in low light conditions; Hypoallergenic faux leather strap; Soft thermoformed PVC spacers that come into contact with the skin giving excellent ventilation and comfort; Inner surface of gel-slip, anti-allergenic and anti-bacterial.
Weight: 270 grams. Available in sizes: M (48-58 cm) L (59-62 cm). Comes with helmet bag.

For more information visit the Kask website.

RRP: $269.96 AUD

CTech’s Take:

Ever since I was sent the Infinity Aero helmet I was sold on the styling, comfort and quality of KASK’s helmets. Their adjustment mechanisms allow for “up and down” as well as a dial that allows you to tighten and loosen. This gives the Vertigo a perfect fit and is one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve used. With nearly a dozen different color options (not including their Vertigo Special), it’s arguably one of the best looking helmets on the market too. The Vertigo is ever so slightly more bulky (50g heavier) than the Mojito which seems to be their more popular model on the streets of Melbourne, but still has a similarly nice aesthetic and featherlight weight. My only complaint about the Vertigo would be that it doesn’t have the vents placed in a spot for mounting sunglasses frames. Also, the rear strap and adjustment mechanism of the helmet get in the way of the sunglass arms, so some fiddling around with the position needs to be done.

by Wade Wallace

Bikerax TriRax

Bikerax are designed to fit most wheel circumferences, from a road bike through to a 29er Mountain Biking tyre up to 2.5 inch tyre in width. Some bikes are not a perfect fit, if you have a tyre that is bigger than a road bike but smaller than a mountain bike, we recommend you back your bike in for better stability..

Each and every one of our Bikerax have been made from sustainable timber right here in Melbourne, our product is strong and is built to last.

We have created our Bikerax for the design conscious. It not only holds your bikes but it looks like a piece of contemporary furniture that should be inside, not hidden in the garage or tucked away in the spare room. This Bikerax should be on display along with your most prized possessions, your bikes!

For more information visit the Bikerax website.

RRP: $149 for the TriRax. One, two and five-bike racks are also available.

CTech’s Take:

I met the owner/creator of BikeRax at a local wine festival where she was displaying her wooden racks. My wife and I both took immediate notice with how elegant the design was and we wanted to find out more. As with many of these things, BikeRax evolved from a small garage hobby into something with bigger ambitions, but they’re still small and local. What I like about BikeRax is that it looks like a piece of furniture is holding my bikes instead of them leaning against the wall or an unsightly metal rack. The design itself is simple and takes about 30 seconds to assemble (no screws, glue or instructions required).

by Wade Wallace

Blaze Laserlight

The Blaze Laserlight is a front light with a difference. In addition to a 300-lumen multi-mode white light, the Laserlight comes with a, well, laser that makes out the shape of a bike on the road in front of you. The idea is to stop one of the most common causes of cycling accidents — motorists turning across cyclists in their blind spot — by shining the laser on to the road ahead.

The white light has three modes — flashing, high beam (300 lumens) and low beam (100 lumens) — and the laser can create a solid image or a blinking image. Interestingly, Blaze has configured the light in such a way that the laser doesn’t work unless the light is connected to the handlebar-mounting bracket. “We’ve designed it this way for safety and to save your battery”, the literature claims.

The Blaze Laserlight started out as a Kickstarter project and the second batch of units is being sent out in May. These products will go to people on the waiting list, which has been open since November.

We’ve been assured that the Blaze Laserlight falls within Australia’s restrictive laser pointer laws and that it “is fully eye-safe and -tested”

For more information visit the Blaze website and check out the company’s YouTube channel.

RRP: £125 (AUD $225)

CTech’s Take:

The first thing you notice with the Blaze Laserlight is just how sleek the packaging and finishing is. From the box to the way the light sits in its holder, to the “aircraft aluminium” finish on the light itself, the team at Blaze has obviously paid attention to the little details.

Looking at the unit I found myself wondering “how do I charge this?” as there’s no USB port or anywhere to access the battery. A quick look at the manual showed that charging is accomplished by connecting the supplied magnetic USB charging cable to the two electrodes on the top of the unit. It’s a stylish and smart way of doing it, but I had some issues with the cable sliding off the electrodes, stopping the charging process.

Charging the unit takes roughly four hours if the battery is flat and run time varies from two hours — light on high beam and laser constantly on — to 13 hours — both the light and the laser flashing. Setting the light to flash with no laser will give you about 28 hours run time.

Attaching the mounting bracket to the handlebars and the light to the bracket was easy and I was off and riding in no time. I noticed quite a bit of rattling of the light while riding. The unit we were sent for review was the same unit sent to Kickstarter backers but Blaze assures us that “small changes have been made to tolerances to different parts to eliminate movement” in the new version.

The white light is satisfyingly bright and more than adequate for commuting and probably suitable for night riding away from street lights.

The laser, too, is nice and bright — don’t shine it in your eyes! — and when set up correctly (pointed at the ground five to six metres from your bike) it forms a nice sharp image that’s almost impossible to miss.

In summary, this is a sleek unit that does everything the makers say it will. But there are a few things that might prove off-putting to potential buyers. The price for one — the Blaze Laserlight is one of the most expensive lights on the market — and the size of the unit — it’s not particularly compact. But if these aren’t issues for you, and assuming the rattling issue is resolved in the latest iteration, the Blaze Laserlight is well worth your time and money.

by Matt de Neef

BBB Pumps

BBB have 12 minipumps and nine floor pumps in their catalogue. At the top of the floor pump range is the BFP-31 Air Blaster, which is made from aluminium, has a braided hose, and is capable of inflating to 260psi (18 bar). The Air Blaster also features BBB’s ThreadHead, which is designed to thread onto Presta and Schraeder valve stems for more secure attachment.

Two of BBB’s minipumps also feature ThreadHead: BMP-46 Hoseroad and BMP-47 Hoseroad Telescopic. In contrast, BMP-33 CO2 Blaster has a two-sided head that threads onto each valve fitting. Each pump is made from aluminium and capable of inflating to at least 115psi (8bar). The Hoseroad pumps feature a short retractable hose extension while the CO2 Blaster includes one CO2 canister, and every minipump is supplied with a mounting bracket.

For more information visit the BBB Australia website.

RRP: BFP-31 Air Blaster, $170; BMP-46 Hoseroad, $50; BMP-47 Hoseroad Telescopic, $55; BMP-33 CO2 Blaster, $55.

CTech’s Take:

A good pump is invaluable to a cyclist, and indeed, every cyclist should have one in the shed and one on the bike to look after their tyres. The minipumps featured here are well made and promise to be reliable despite the neglect they’re likely to receive once mounted on the bike. The ThreadHead is simple and effective, plus it frees up a hand to help with pumping, which is invaluable when using a minipump. And converting the ThreadHead head between Presta and Schraeder fittings is very simple, just unscrew the head and flip a single brass piece before putting it back together. The only drawback is that the ThreadHead will not work with threadless valve extensions.

The Air Blaster floor pump is well suited to inflating road tyres however off-roaders will prefer a pump with more volume. I’ve never inflated a road tyre above 150psi, so I’m not sure if there is any value in a floor pump that can inflate to 260psi (however track riders are likely to disagree). The enormous range compresses the resolution of the gauge to 10psi when 5psi would be better. Regardless, the Air Blaster is very effective and the broad handle provides plenty of purchase for inflation at higher pressures.

BBB BTL-92 Tool Kit

The BTL-92 tool kit from BBB parts comprises 10 tools: chain whip, cassette lockring removal tool (Shimano/SRAM compatible only), chain-breaker, nine-function folding tool (2-8mm hex keys plus screwdrivers), three-way hex tool (4/5/6mm), three-way Torx tool (T25/30/40), 4-way spoke key (3.2/3.3/3.5/4.0mm), chainring bolt wrench, chain wear indicator, and three plastic tyre levers. The tool kit includes a plastic carry case packed with dense foam cut-outs to secure each tool.

For more information visit the BBB Australia website.

RRP: $150

CTech’s Take:

This is a good collection of tools for the home mechanic. The chainring bolt wrench is a thoughtful inclusion however the folding tool is an odd choice for a set of tools intended for the shed. I would rather see a set of cable cutters included instead to enhance the utility of this selection. That aside, each tool is well made, but I’m left wondering, what is the purpose of the large rectangular void in the carry case?

Henty Wingman Backpack

Henty introduced the Wingman a couple of years ago followed by a compact version last year. Now the Henty boys have added a backpack version to their line-up. The bag continues with the same dimensions as the standard Wingman (56 x 101cm when unrolled) but where there was one shoulder strap, there are now two, plus a little extra padding and a belt for the waist. As before, the Wingman includes a tubular gym bag that forms the core of the bag once it is rolled up.

For more information visit the Henty website.

RRP: $219

CTech’s Take:

I was impressed with the design, construction and function of the original Wingman though I was concerned that the single shoulder strap could become uncomfortable on long commutes or with a heavy load. The backpack version addresses this issue perfectly and I was able to make my hour long commute in total comfort. At the same time, the bag never rocked or threatened to slide around on my back like the original Wingman could.

Another nice revision involves the coat hanger. Where once the Wingman used a Velcro strap to secure the coat hanger, now it has a side-release buckle that clicks into place, simplifying packing and unpacking. As before, a rain jacket is included with the Wingman along with extra pockets for assorted miscellany. Finally, Henty continues with its high standard of construction and finishing making for an impressive and highly functional suit-pack, on or off the bike.

The Wingman demands one small allowance though: compared to a conventional backpack, this bag requires a lot more room to pack and unpack. Ideally, find a hook in your change room to hang the Wingman and everything will be to access.

“Green, Gold and Bold: Australia at the 100th Tour de France” book

Green, Gold and Bold was written by two great icons in their own right, Ron Reed, a journalist of note, and John Trevorrow, a ubiquitous man in Australian cycling. They have combined their own special talents to make sure Australia never forgets those who have flown the nation’s flag so proudly around the world.

For more information click here.

RRP: $34.99

Green , Gold and Bold co-author John Trevorrow and Richie Porte (who is rated as 10th best Australian cyclist in the book).
Green , Gold and Bold co-author John Trevorrow and Richie Porte (who is rated as 10th best Australian cyclist in the book).

CTech’s Take:

For those of you who know John “Iffy” Trevorrow, he loves a good story and is one of Australia’s most passionate followers of cycling and certainly an icon. Co-author Ron Reed is a senior sports journalist with almost 50 years of experience and is presumably the one who makes sure Iffy’s don’t get too far fetched!

The book goes through the 100th Tour de France in 2013 with many inside stories of not only GreenEDGE riders, but other Aussie competitors as well (but is mostly GreenEDGE focused). It also weaves in some of Australia’s most influential characters in cycling and tells their story. In closing the book rates the top 50 of Australia’s greatest road cyclists which is highly subjective, but an interesting read nonetheless. You might be able to argue about who isn’t in the list, but you can’t argue about any of them who are in it.

If you love reading about some good inside stories from the 100th Tour de France and want a glimpse of Australian Cycling over the last century, you’ll enjoy Green, Gold and Bold.

by Wade Wallace

New Winners Sports Nutrition products

Winners recovery bars a great tasting & convenient way to maximise your recovery after exercise. Each bar contains a mix of carbohydrates, to restore energy levels, and protein, for muscle growth and repair. See more on the Winners website.

Winners Energy Chews combine natural ingredients and vitamins to provide you with an instant energy boost to counter the effects of sports fatigue. – See more on the Winners Website.

Winners Apple Berry Crumble Energy Bars combine the goodness of apples, cranberries, sultanas and grains in a light and delicious energy bar. See more on the Winners website.

RRP: Winners Recovery Bars: $8 for a pack of four; Winners Energy Chews: $24 for a pack of 12; Winners Energy Bars: $24.30 for a pack of 12.

CTech’s Take:

Winners is a big supporter of many of our local events. With so much competition amongst nutrition products, it’s nice to be able to choose a brand who supports our community. The Apple Berry Crumble has a “real food” natural taste that’s convenient for long rides, and the Berry chews are great tasting, easy to eat, and are packed full of nutrients to keep you pedalling. However, for me the highlight of the new flavours from Winners is the Cookies and Cream recovery bar. It has a delicious chocolate coating with a crunchy middle packed with soy protein which is great for after your ride.

by Wade Wallace

Have you had experience with any of these products? Feel free to leave your constructive feedback below in the comments.

Editors' Picks