December 2014 Product Picks

by Matt de Neef


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)