December 2014 Product Picks

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It’s that time again when we pull together a whole bunch of the new and interesting products that have arrived at the CyclingTips office in the past month or so, giving you our initial thoughts. In this edition of Product Picks we feature everything from books to shoes to kit to tyres and a whole lot more besides. As ever, if you’ve used any of these products, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Click the links below to skip through to a particular review:


Cyclocross 2013/14 Photo Album

This is the third year in a row that Balint Hamvas has produced a big, beautiful book documenting the European cyclocross season. In this edition, which covers the 2013/14 season, Balint includes a short text introduction to each race before sharing his favourite photos from those races. The book features the odd article here and there, but it’s mainly about the photos.

For more information visit CyclePhotos.co.uk.

RRP: £29.99 (AUD$54)

CTech’s Take:

Balint describes this book by saying “my photos not only record the major events of each race but also capture the smaller, more unusual and poignant moments each race delivers.” And he’s right. The appeal of this book is as much about savouring those small moments as it is about the victory salutes.

There’s a great mix of action shots, shots capturing the personality of the riders, the faces, the emotions and the crowd. And there’s a lovely tribute to the late Amy Dombrowski.

This is a book that would look great on any cycling fan’s coffee table.

by Matt de Neef

Rawbite fruit and nut bars

According to good fuel co (the Australian stockist for Rawbite), these “organic fruit & nut bars are made from simple, honest healthy ingredients”. Founded in Denmark, Rawbite bars reportedly have just two to seven whole food ingredients and are free of gluten, dairy, soy and added sugar.

For more information visit the goodfuel.co website.

RRP: $4.50 per bar; $28 for a seven-bar bundle.

CTech’s Take:

We were sent a pack of six flavours to try — Spicy Lime, Apple Cinnamon, Cashew, Raw Cacao, Vanilla Berries, Coconut — and the first thing we noticed was just how nice the packaging is. The wrappers feature beautifully crisp colours, a simple design and look great together, providing a rainbow of colour when you consider them all together.

The bars taste fruity and fresh and at 810kJ per bar, they provide a decent whack of energy as well. The thing we liked most about them is that, unlike some other energy bars, Rawbite’s bars actually resemble and taste like ‘real food’. Another great thing is that they stay soft, even when it’s cold, which means you don’t spend forever chewing through them.

by Matt de Neef & Jonathan Reece

Road Rash Kit

Road Rash Kit is a small first aid kit for road riders. It was designed for jersey pockets with enough supplies to treat minor road-rash injuries. The kit allows an injured rider to start the wound management process at the scene, which is important for minimising scarring and preventing infection.

The kit comprises a satchel that contains one 7.5cm square gauze swab, one 10cm square dressing, three island dressings (8 x 10cm, 7.5 x 5cm, 6 x 7cm), four wound closure strips, a length of tube netting, a couple of adhesive strips, a cleansing wipe and a small satchel of antiseptic cream. The kit also includes basic first aid directions, and there is enough space in the satchel to store a phone, cards and/or cash.

For more information visit the Road Rash Kit website.

RRP: $25

CTech’s Take:

I wear an ID band and always carry a phone, but until I saw the Road Rash Kit, I had never given any thought to carrying a first aid kit. And now that I’ve seen the kit, I can’t believe I ever went without one. The Road Rash Kit fits into a jersey pocket, as promised, and it has a sound choice of supplies.

The tube netting is a thoughtful inclusion though when I think of the road rash I’ve suffered, it rarely involved a single limb, so a second length would be ideal. The current satchel is being re-designed for 2015 and there is the hope to bring down the price a little, but these are small refinements for what must be considered an indispensable product.

by Matt Wikstrom

Funkier Men’s Short Sleeve Jersey

Funkier is a clothing company that was established in 1990 and is based in Israel. Amongst their various clothing lines is an extensive catalogue of cycling clothing for men, women and kids that include full- and semi-custom designs. The company has also branched out into cycling shoes.

Funkier’s men’s short sleeve jersey is made from polyester mesh with a weave (referred to as QUICK DRY) designed to quickly remove moisture. The jersey features a full-length zip, 50+ UV protection, two rear pockets with a separate waterproof compartment, and a silicone gripper for the waist band. Available in three colours (red, blue, yellow) and seven sizes (S-4XL).

For more information, visit Everest Sports or Funkier.

RRP: $80

CTech’s Take:

Funkier’s short sleeve jersey is best suited to warm weather. The fabric is very light and the side panels offer lots of ventilation. A size medium fit me well (I normally wear medium-sized jerseys) and offered a relaxed fit without being baggy. However, the length is generous so there is a risk that the pockets will sag when packed.

Some will welcome the extra room offered by two rear pockets instead of three but I prefer the extra compartment. The waterproof pocket is a clever touch.

by Matt Wikstrom

Pro Cycling Trumps playing cards

Pro Cycling Trumps come as a deck of cards featuring some of the most popular male road cyclists on the planet. Each rider’s card has their age and five ability scores listed: time trial, breakaways, climbing, sprint and GC. The game is simple.

All the cards are dealt face down among the players with each player collecting a stack of cards. The youngest player begins the first round, revealing the top card and choosing an ability. All remaining players reveal their top card and their rider’s score in the relevant ability. The player with the highest scoring card wins, and takes all the cards in that round.

The winner of that round begins the next round. The game continues until one player has all the cards.

In addition to the 2014 edition that we were sent, there’s also a legends edition.

For more information visit the Pro Cycling Trumps website.

RRP: £7.99 (AUD$14.40)

CTech’s Take:

The appeal of Pro Cycling Trumps, to me at least, is as much in the card design as it is in the game itself. The rider profile images are simple yet effective, and even the tiniest detail (like the angle of the hair) helps to differentiate riders.

We spent a little while playing the game, but with only two of us it became a little dull after a while. With more time it would be fun to invent different games to play, something in the style of 500, say, where a particular discipline could replace the trump suit.

by Matt de Neef

Out Of The Rat Race OORRiginal jersey

The bullying behaviour of Sydney’s car drivers prompted Tim Christian to create Out of the Rat Race (OORR). He wanted to create a jersey that asserted his place on the road, but the whole project took an unexpected turn when he discovered fabrics made from recycled plastic. The idea appealed to his green ideals and seemed an obvious choice for cycling apparel. Thus, the OORRiginal jersey was born.

The majority of the OORRiginal jersey uses Repreve. In addition to reclaiming the plastic, manufacturing Repreve fabric requires fewer resources than new synthetics. Repreve is currently manufactured in the USA while the jersey is made in China.

The body of the jersey is made from 100% recycled plastic, as is the full-length YKK zip, while the mesh side panels are 85% recycled plastic. Only the elastic and nylon cuffs are new materials.

The OORRiginal men’s jersey features raglan sleeves, three rear pockets, anti-odour nanotechnology, and reflective tabs. A small zippered compartment has been added to the outside of the right pocket while a hole has been placed on the inside for routing headphones. The centre pocket includes a sleeve for securing a mini pump. The OORRiginal jersey is available in five sizes (S-XXL) and one colour (white with black cuffs and lime detailing). OORR also offers sleeves to match the jersey.

For more information visit the OORR website. Get a 10% discount at checkout using the code CYCLINGTIPS.

RRP: OORRiginal jersey, $159; sleeves, $35.

CTech’s Take:

OORR and the Repreve fabric will obviously appeal to riders with green ideals but the clean lines and confident styling of the OORRiginal jersey should sit well with boutique shoppers too. Some might argue that any product made from recycled materials should be cheaper than those made with new materials, but some allowance must be made for the recovery effort.

The appeal of any garment rests largely with the suitability of the fit. OORR’s recycled fabric is less forgiving (i.e. less stretch) than traditional fabrics, and as a consequence, this jersey will either fit well or not. I was caught in between sizes, the medium was too tight in places (like the shoulders) and the large was a little loose.

Compared to new synthetics, Repreve fabric is coarser, so it won’t appeal to riders that prefer light, technical fabrics. The fabric has a reasonably heavy weave so it is best suited to mild temperatures. The number of small, thoughtful touches clearly shows that Tim has put a lot of effort into the design. Similarly, the quality of the construction and finish is very high, so buyers can expect a garment that will be hard-wearing, and according to Tim’s stringent testing over the last 12 months, odour-free.

I’m looking forward to seeing what else OORR manages to do with recycled plastic.

by Matt Wikstrom

Kenda Kountach tyres

Kenda describes its Kountach tyre as “the standard which all other race clinchers are measured against”. They reportedly have an “exceptional low rolling resistance while offering incredible cornering control in dry and wet conditions”. The tyres features Kenda’s “Iron Cloak Belt” flat protection.

Kenda tyres are distributed in Australia by Sheppard Cycles/Avanti Plus. For more information visit Kenda Koutach website.

RRP: $69.95 per tyre.

CTech’s Take:

We were sent two sets of Kenda Kountach tyres: 23mm red-walled tyres, and 25mm black tyres. The first thing I noticed when mounting these tyres was how supple they are. Unlike with some other tyres, I had no issues installing these without tyre levers.

I was also impressed by the “Iron Cloak Belt” flat protection. It’s easy for tyre brands to talk about how their tyres guard against flats, but after my time with the Kountach tyres I’m confident that the technology on display here works quite effectively. The only flat I had in several months of riding these tyres was a pinch flat while descending a rocky, gravel road at >30km/h.

As a final aside, coloured tyres always seem like a bit of a novelty and given the choice I’d almost always go for plain black. But that’s down to personal taste.

by Matt de Neef

Infographic Guide to Cycling

Publisher Bloomsbury describes this book as “a fun illustrated guide to the world of cycling and all things bike-related.” Using infographics, this book details a multitude of aspects of cycling, from the careers of the greats, to the make-up of top teams, to bike maintenance info, to stories about doping and more.

For more information visit the Bloomsbury website.

RRP: $15 (on sale from $29 at the time of writing)

CTech’s Take:

This is a terrific little book that lovingly explains the sport, tech, stories and personalities of cycling in entertaining fashion. It’s a wide-ranging affair that provides new-comers (and indeed more seasoned fans) with valuable insights into our great sport. The perfect Christmas gift for a cycling fan!

by Matt de Neef

Campagnolo Corkscrew

Tulio Campagnolo patented his own design for a corkscrew in 1966. At the heart of his design is a telescoping bell that centres the screw over the cork. At the same time, the proportions of the device minimise the effort required to remove the most stubborn cork. Once the cork is removed, it is held by the device so that the screw can be removed without having to hold onto the cork by hand.

The corkscrew is available in two colours, unpolished silver or bronze, and is supplied in a wooden case. For more information, visit Bikesportz.

RRP: $300

CTech’s Take:

Campagnolo has elevated the humble corkscrew to a precision tool with this offering. I’ve owned one for over a decade and it has served me without fail or complaint. Like any good tool, it makes the job it was designed for effortless, though it is heavy compared to other corkscrews.

For the most, the price will outweigh the utility of this tool, and I won’t argue that point. It’s worth noting that Campagnolo has a catalogue of spare parts for this tool, ensuring a long life of cork screwing.

by Matt Wikstrom

Bicycleage cycling figurines

BicycleAge is a Sydney-based online store that sells a range of cycling-related accessories and gifts, from jewellery, to cleaning products to home decor. We were sent four metal cycling figurines from the company’s new Team Edition series.

These figurines aren’t made by BicycleAge — they are “meticulously hand-painted by a specialist painter in France and go through a 12 stage painting process before a gloss lacquer is applied in order to make these figurines collector pieces”.

Teams including in the Team Edition series include Molteni, Peugot, Renault, 7 Eleven and Bianchi.

For more information visit the BicycleAge website.

RRP: $20 per figurine

CTech’s Take:

We featured BicycleAge’s figurines back in February. We wrote at the time that “the painting on a couple of the figurines was a little sloppy in parts, but these figurines certainly have charm”. We also suggested that “they’re perfect for bookshelves, for your desk at work or for illustrating stories about proper cycling technique.”

All of those are still true with this new series of figurines. These team edition figurines have the added benefit of conjuring up visions of past greatness from riders who sported these famous cycling kits. A great present idea for the cycling fan in your life.

by Matt de Neef

Latest Fyxo swag

In the lead-up to Christmas, Andy White from iconic Melbourne-based cycling outfit Fyxo sent us a bunch of the brand’s latest swag. Included in the pack were a couple of “headset helmets” (stem caps), a handful of sticker sheets, a couple of “Life is too short” baby onesies, three bidons and a Starboard jersey.

RRP: Headset Helmets $14; Sticker Sheets $13; Baby Onesies $30; Starboard Jersey $149; Bidons $19.

CTech’s Take:

The overwhelming feeling you get when receiving a package of the latest Fyxo gear is that great attention has been paid to the little details, and also to the overall branding of the products. The packaging we received was a clever, humour-laden riff on the front page of Melbourne newspaper The Age.

This humour is seen in the bidons as well, with all three riffing on existing products and giving them a subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) cycling-related spin. Like the spray paint can-inspired bidon, with its altered warning message that says “Cycling: extremely contagious. Ride each day if possible.”

The sticker sheet is satisfyingly thick (nothing worse than flimsy stickers that peel off straight away) and the designs look flash. The stem caps make a nice addition to any bike thanks to the engraving “Life’s too short to ride shit bikes”.

This catch cry gets a revamp in the onesies, which bear the words “Life’s too short to ride poo trikes”. Clever and satisfyingly cheeky branding all round.

by Matt de Neef

Lazer Z1 Helmet

Lazer has more than two dozen helmets in its catalogue and the Z1 is the lightest of them all. Designed for road cyclists, the Z1 has 31 vents and utilises in-mould construction to achieve a low weight while meeting worldwide safety standards.

The Z1 offers an adjustable fit through Lazer’s Advanced Rollsys System, which comprises a winch at the top of the helmet to tighten and loosen the basket that grips the head at the rear of the helmet. The head basket can also be raised and lowered to suit the shape of the head.

Available in three sizes (S/52-56cm, M/54-59cm, L/58-61cm) and six colours (black/fluoro yellow, black/silver, matt black, white/red, white silver, blue/fluoro orange) plus a limited edition white/gold. Lazer also offers an optional Aeroshell to suit the Z1 that covers the vents to protect the head from the cold and/or improve the aerodynamics of the helmet. For more information, visit Bikesportz and Lazer.

RRP: $300

CTech’s Take:

The Z1 is a very nice helmet that is easy to wear. The vents work well on a hot day; at the same time, the low weight contributes to that barely-there feeling. Lazer claims 220g for this helmet (size medium) however the sample I tried (also size medium) weighed 261g. The discrepancy does nothing to detract from the quality of this helmet.

The Rollsys winch works beautifully. It’s easy to find and adjust, and I found myself using it to secure and release my head rather than squeezing into and out of the helmet. The straps are soft and light on the skin as well as being easy to adjust. I like the clean lines of this helmet and Lazer offers a fine choice of colours.

by Matt Wikstrom

Prendas Ciclismo Retro Jerseys

Prendas Ciclismo was established in 1996 by Mick Tarrant. From the outset, the company was devoted to stocking distinctive and hard-to-find team apparel. Tarrant’s passion for team clothing inevitably led to interest in retro re-issues and a partnership with Santini. The Italian company provides an assurance of quality as well as input on each design.

Prendas Ciclismo was early to online trading and the majority of orders come via its web portal. Shoppers will find there are nearly two dozen designs in its “retro peloton” at the moment. The majority of these jerseys are manufactured from synthetic fabric with short sleeves, though some designs are also offered in long sleeve versions and/or classic wool.

The waist and sleeves of the short sleeve jerseys are fitted with elastic and each jersey has three rear pockets. In addition, the majority of designs have a 14cm zipper, though there are some with full-length zippers. Finally, there is a choice of up to 12 sizes (XS-8XL).

For more information, visit Prendas Ciclismo.

RRP: Short sleeve retro jerseys, ~$90; long sleeve jerseys, ~$115; short sleeve wool jerseys, ~$210 (prices fluctuate with exchange rate).

CTech’s Take:

Professional team clothing embodies the spirit of road cycling, regardless of the era. Prendas Ciclismo has given new life to some classy designs, allowing older riders to indulge their nostalgia while younger generations can flaunt the retro styling.

The jerseys are light and very easy to wear with an enthusiast’s fit (i.e. some abdominal bulge is readily accommodated), though the Italian sizing is still typically small. The Molteni jersey is a stand out for me — it offers a very clean design that would satisfy any modern boutique shopper along with the legacy of the team and its star rider — however online shoppers are spoilt for choice. Bravo Prendas Ciclismo!

by Matt Wikstrom

Rapha Climber’s Shoes

Here’s what Rapha has to say about its new Climber’s Shoes:

“Using materials and construction techniques that prioritise low weight and ventilation, the Climber’s Shoes offer light-weight performance and an understated, classic aesthetic.

“The uppers are made from a mesh-backed synthetic leather which offer low weight and exceptional breathability. Retaining the tensile strength required to support a foot during intense efforts, the mesh lining also allows sweat to evaporate from inside of the shoe. The leather’s perforations enable fresh air to circulate, leaving the foot feeling cool. Low-profile hook and loop fasteners are chosen for their simplicity and minimal bulk.”

For more information visit the Rapha website.

RRP: $440

CTech’s Take:

At 215g (size 42.5) the Rapha climber shoes are indeed light. The lightest shoes we know of are Adam Hansen’s custom made shoes which are 76g per shoe, and the next lightest are Giro Empire SLX at 175g per shoe. Rapha’s Climber’s Shoes are made in collaboration with Giro and feature the same Easton® EC90™ SLX2 high-modulus carbon outsole.

The shoes are comfortable, sleek and offer distinctive styling, but if you have a wide foot you may be slightly cramped compared to in similar options from Shimano, Specialized and from memory, even the Rapha Grand Tour shoes. This is especially when your feet start swelling in the heat during a long ride.

The perforated synthetic leather will help keep your feet cool by letting the heat escape and air breath in. The simplicity of the velcro straps keep the weight and complexity to a minimum with the trade-off of micro-adjustability that a dial or ratchet systems offer. This is a small concession if light and stylish is what you’re looking for.

by Wade Wallace

Cappuccino Lock

The Cappuccino Lock allows the straps of any current generation Lazer helmet (as identified by a Z logo in the buckle) to be locked when the helmet is not in use. Each end of the helmet’s buckle is inserted into the lock and a simple three-dial combination prevents it from being released.

The Cappuccino Lock is available in four colours: black, yellow, red and blue. For more information, visit Bikesportz and Lazer.

RRP: $26

CTech’s Take:

There’s some appeal in this simple deterrent for protecting your helmet (or converting your helmet into a short-term lock for your bike). The device itself is simple to use, just click each end of the helmet’s buckle into place then spin the dials to lock them.

The only shortcoming is that the lock will only work with current Lazer helmets. Moreover, while it will fit easily into any pocket, I’d like something more convenient so I wouldn’t have to remember to pack it when heading out on the bike.

by Matt Wikstrom

Editors' Picks