Product Review – Birzman – 2015 Velocity Apogee Mini MTB Pump

The Birzman Velocity-Apogee Mini Pump

The Birzman Velocity-Apogee Mini Pump

I remember my first full size road bike with its frame pump; 16″ of wheezy puff and innefective rubbish. I caried it because thats what you did. There were no CO2 bottles and when you had finished un bolting your wheels, fixing the puncture, cleaning the glue off everything and put it all back together you gave it 5,000 strokes of the rattly frame pump and you would have a mushy ride home on a half inflated tyre.

Not surprisingly I adopted those little gas bottles as soon as I could and lived very happily with them for quite a few years. However I have recently returned to the hand pump and mainly because I discovered the Birzman – 2015 Velocity Apogee Mini MTB Pump. [From i-Ride]

This little wonder is just 7.5″ long [190mm], weighs almost nothing, sits on its clip just under a bottle cage and, most importantly it works.

Velocity-Apogee Rubber cap and valve

Velocity-Apogee Rubber cap and valve

It has a rubber dust cap over the business end that effectively keeps the muck out. flick it open and pull out the flexy hose to reveal a fitting like you have never seen before, it just pushes over the valve and magically seals. It fits Presta or Scrager valves without you having to fiddle with adaptors and it says it will pump up to 160psi, I have no way of knowing if it would but I do know it has no problem inflating my road tyres to a healty pressure.

In use the pump is comfortable in your hand and doesn’t seem to need too many pumps before your ready to ride again. Clipped back on the frame it is secure enough to not worry about loosing it when bunnyhopping a kirb and it has an extra rubber strap to keep it in place.

This is what Birzman have to say about it;

The Velocity Apogee MTB is a stylish aluminum mini pump that handles high pressure with ease.

It is capable of inflating tires to 90psi / 6.2 bar. Its extendable hose makes it quicker and easier to inflate tires than ever before. The Velocity MTB  is features the new innovative Snap-It Apogee valve adaptor.

The Velocity Apogee MTB  with its superior design and function Is the pump to have with you on the road.

Color: silver, green,black and red.

 

Interestingly Birzman say their pump is good for 90psi / 6.2bar on their web site while the packaging for my pump says 160psi / 11bar, perhapse Birzman will come back and explain that one?

There may be other mini pumps out there that hit higher pressures or are lighter but Birzman seem to have got it just right with the 2015 Velocity Apogee Mini MTB Pump.

At £29.99 its going to make a dent in your beer money but the investement I made in this pump a year ago has been worth every penny. It will be interesting to see how Birzman improve it with the 2016 model.

Pros; Small, sold, effective.

Cons; The paint finish seems a little fragile.

IMG_0972 IMG_0971

Product Review – RaceFace Chester Pedal

RaceFace Chester Pedals

RaceFace Chester Pedals

I am a bit of a retro MTB fan.

My every day mountain bike is a Marin Mount Vision from 2005 stacked with period and classic parts including a pair of tresured 20 year old Shimano DX pedals, the classic red SPD’s. So when I recently took a late 90’s GT in I started dreaming of the old rigid days and wondering if I was being romantic or if it realy was better when we didnt have suspension?

I stripped the frame and was pleased to find it was in great condition for its 20 years of age, threw away a lot of the worn out running gear including the horid crank set and bottom bracket it came with and started digging through my parts bins to find all those long lost bits of bike porn form the 90’s; Some period riser bars, a short stem [100mm they didnt make them short in those days], GripShift, Magura rim stops for the front, V brakes for the back, some unbranded four arm cranks and a big question mark over drivetrain.

The GT with its Onza Fly Guy Forks and Maguras

The GT with its Onza Fly Guy Forks and Maguras

The wheels that came with the bike were actually very good, they run true, they are light and strong and have double butted three cross stainless spokes. The Shimano free wheel made some of the decisions for me. An XT 8 speed rear mech and matching XT 8 speed cassette were dug out of a draw to go with the GripShifter and the back end is together. I fited a new KMC chain and a RaceFace narrow/wide single speed chain wheel.

On the front I fitted a new Onza Fly Guy fork, dropped it into the original headset after a service and fitted the Maguras.

Tyres, I have a choice of Schwalbe City Jets or Crazy Bobs, we will ride it on both and see how it goes. I want a pair of red walled Panaracer Fire XC Pros and a sunny day for the dusty trails but we are not there yet. For now its a 26″ BMX!

There is only one thing missing, pedals.

It has to have flats;

BMX style pedals, they have to be red [dont ask] and they have to look the part. I havent got any in stock so I start cruising the pages of our suppliers web sites. I have a RaceFace Chainguide and bash guard ready to fit if I can find some spacers for the bottom bracket so Im looking at Raceface to supply the pedals. On the Silverfish-UK web site I find the Chester Pedal.

All of 3 minutes later I had a pair of red ones on order! … waits a couple of very frustrating days for them to arrive then find I am too busy servicing other peoples bikes [doing the day job] to finish the build and try them.

I did have time to open the packet over a coffee break and was immediately pleased with my purchase. The packaging impresses, a sturdy, branded RaceFace Chester box and sleve. Opening the box I find a pair of perfectly presented red pedals, excited now!

A whole week later and the pedals are on the cranks along with the final elements of the build. Time to ride.

This is what RaceFace have to say about their Chester Pedals;

A new edition to the Race Face pedal line-up: the Chester Pedal. The tough and burly nylon composite body provides a large platform with the same grip as traditional alloy pedals via the bottom loading 8 hex traction pins per side. Thin and lightweight is the name of the game with the Chester, featuring a cro-mo axle that is fully sealed and a 100% serviceable bearing and bushing system. This pedal offers great performance for a wide range of riders at a price that leaves plenty of cash in your pocket for that round of bevies at your local watering hole after hammering out a day of hot laps with the crew.

FEATURES

  • Nylon composite body
  • Replaceable steel pins (8 per side)
  • Fully sealed
  • Serviceable
  • Smooth and durable sealed bearing and bushing system
  • Cro-mo axle
  • Thin and lightweight concave platform
  • Large platform with same grip as traditional pedlas

SPECS & COLOURS

  • BUILT FOR: Trail/DH/FR
  • BODY MATERIAL: Nylon composite body
  • AXLE MATERIAL: Chromoly steel
  • HEIGHT: 15mm – 18.4mm
  • PLATFORM SIZE: 110mm x 101mm
  • WEIGHT: 340g
  • # OF PINS: 16 SHCS hex traction pins per pedal (8 per side)
  • BEARINGS: Cartridge bearings and DU bushings
  • COLOUR: Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, Purple

 

This is where a small admision has to go, I started riding and compleatly forgot about the pedals.

I played with the saddle height and position fore and aft, I decided I need a dropper post [well new tech has its place, A Thomson 27.2 please] so I can ride it in to town with the post up and then drop it for the traffic surfing. I play with the brakes doing stopies and re learning those trials moves, jumping kirbs and bunnyhopping. I decide the stem is way to long and the bars are to narrow so they will have to change, send me some propper risers at least 670mm wide and a 60mm stem.

Im running the Schwalbe City Jet Active Line 26″ Tyres (with Kevlar Guard); 2″ on the back and 1.5″ on the front, both pumped up hard and they are FAST. the handling is so sharp its catching me out as Im leaning in to bends to early and having to stand it up again.

My Marin Mount Vision

My Marin Mount Vision

The bike is so light that my usual MTB ride; a Marin Mount Vision feels slow and heavy compared to this. Throwing out the suspension and most of the gears has given birth to a very fast, responsive ride thats just doing what its told. Im going to have to live with this, we might see a renaisonce of rigid MTBs in the heart of Suffolk.

Ah yes, the pedals. They just did what they were told, they sat quietly under my feet, behaved, didn’t complain when I scraped them, the pins stayed sharp and once they were hosed off they looked as good as new again. What more could you ask of a pair of pedals?

I give you; the RaceFace Chester Pedal.

Order now; Available in Black, blue, green, orange, Purple, red and Yellow.

IMG_0986

The RaceFace Chesters looking good on the GT

The GT with its lovely RaceFace Chester pedals

The GT with its lovely RaceFace Chester pedals

rf2001 rf2004 rf2003 rf2002

 

 

Product Preview – spray.bike

Im so excited about this product! The following from BikeRadar but watch out for our own review as soon as I get my hands on the samples!

Bristol’s not the UK’s first Cycling City for nothing, y’know (Tracy Packer Photography / Getty Images)

kim-spraying-up-the-frame-1453996962050-5apbqgy9pnt-700-80Bristol is famous for many things – cider, West Country accents and a soaring suspension bridge to name just a few. But graffiti is arguably one of its biggest cultural exports in recent years. So when BikeRadar was sent a box of aerosol cans from new outfit Spray.Bike, we decided to have some fun with them on an old bike frame and see if we could match the street art on our doorstep.

The new cans promise ‘No drips. No dribble. No fuss’ – and they certainly deliver just that. After two years in the making, and a collaboration with Brick Lanes Bikes, they’re now available for £7.95 per 400ml can in an incredible range of colours, including over 24 solid matte shades and six fluoro colours.“

A couple of years ago I had a bike I was working on in my shop, it was an old green Batavus and it had this nasty scratch on one of the chainstays,” says creator Gareth Williams Jones. “I went into a local craft shop with the idea of maybe finding a little pot of something, when i saw the exact colour match, in an aerosol can – got it and took it back to the shop and gave it a go! I’d forgotten how crappy metal / car paint is, and it sprayed as this dribbly mess.”

Undeterred, Gareth called up the company that made the paint, and that’s where his Spray.Bike concept took root. Two years and a ton of ideas, development and testing later, he managed to create a cutting-edge modern acrylic compound that mimics the style and effect of a matte powder coat.

It’s all made in Europe: the pigments come from the UK and Italy, and the mixing and canning is done in Greece. According to Gareth, his toughest hurdle was making sure it doesn’t dribble, run or streak. The final Spray.Bike product is a powder at room temperature, as it’s only liquid during the first moments of leaving the can.

Spray.Bike will be exhibiting at the London Bike Show’s Innovation Lab on February 11-14th, sponsored by BikeRadar, where you can see some of the bike industry’s latest cutting-edge products.

finished-frame-1453996962043-h88v8cfm0xpc-960-540We’ve got a 10% discount off advanced adult tickets – just enter the code ‘BR1620’ when registering at www.thelondonbikeshow.co.uk.

Spray cans at the ready

We were sent four colours to play with: black, racing green, celeste and fluorescent yellow. After borrowing a frame from a friendly nearby secondhand bike dealer (thanks Blackbeard Bicycles), and finding someone on the BikeRadar team with design skills to match, we were ready to go. Watch the video below to see how we got on…

And what was the verdict of Kim Fox, our talented designer?

“I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use, the consistency of the coverage and the quick drying time. It really is as simple as following the instructions on the tin.

“The matte finish is lovely, and I was impressed with the vibrancy of the fluoro yellow. The colour range available is quite extensive and I can imagine that with more time on our hands, I could’ve created something more complex, very easily.”

There we have it then: we’d definitely recommend these to anyone, of any level, looking for a fun and easy way to add personality to their bike. We’re smitten with Kim’s creation, and don’t want to give it back.

Some more inspiration

In case you weren’t already feeling inspired by our efforts, here are some more pics that were sent to us of other Spray.Bike projects:

frame-finish4-1453996962047-1gwnhcfnvidzx-960-540feather_7-1453996962039-l2njpveaqioe-960-540bmx-snake-1453996962039-kalbql9rqcgm-960-540Where to buy

Spray.Bike is already being sold by independent bike shops – including Brixton Lane Bikes, of course, as well as online with Amazon.co.uk.

Price is £7.95 for all 400ml cans, or £4.95 for all 200ml cans. A 400ml can should easily cover a frame and fork, with some to spare for touch-ups.

Spray.Bike will be exhibited at the London Bike Show’s Innovation Lab on February 11-14th, sponsored by BikeRadar.

Product Review – Henty Wingman

The Henty Wingman – What is it?

Wingman 1.7kgs
Rolled – 56 x 22 x 25cm
Unrolled – 56 x 101cm
Gym/Utility Bag 0.4Kgs
50 x 19cm cylinder; 14 litres

CAPACITY:
  • 1 x suit (jacket and pants/skirt) + 1 x shirt/blouse, or
  • 3 x shirts/blouses.
Henty Wingman

Henty Wingman

I spotted The Henty Wingman at the London Bike Show 2016.

As a cyclist who sometimes has to wear a suit I have always struggled with the whole “how to cycle to work but still look smart when I get there” problem. I usually end up leaving the bike at home and taking the train 🙁

The Henty Wingman and its sister products the Tube Single Strap and the Tube Backpack might be the solution I have been looking for.

These backpacks differ in size and strap design but ultimately they all attempt to solve the problems of getting you to your destination with all your gear, clothing and shoes intact and dry. If you are reading this far you have probably tried the rucksack, the paniers and the ‘wear it to work’ methods and like me not been impressed with any of them.

I met Melissa on the stand who walked me through all the main features of the bags and first impressions were good with sensible design, good looks and practicality high on the list of features she was keen to show me.

I am looking forward to a sample arriving so I can run a long term test and report back further, I wonder if my 15″ MacBook Pro will fit in that pocket? Stay tuned!

Henty Wingman

Henty Wingman

Henty Wingman

Henty Wingman

Henty Wingman

Henty Wingman

Product Review – Fibrax AERO LEVER

Fibrax AERO LEVER

Product review

Fibrax Aero lever at the London Bike Show

Fibrax Aero lever at the London Bike Show

www.fibrax.com
UK Made
Automotive Grade Composite Polymer
Ergonomically Designed for optimal fit.
Lifetime Warranty.

But it’s a tyre lever, its hard to get excited about a tyre lever until you find yourself sat against a tree in the rain and the mud with temperatures just above freezing struggling to get the tyre off the rim so you can change a tube.

That’s exactly where I found myself on Sunday morning just last week. I’m no amateur, I have changed hundreds of inner-tubes because its part of my job, open the valve, start opposite the valve and work the tyre bead into the deeper centre of the rim then just lift the bead off the rim, slide a finger under it and its done. All over in 20 seconds when its warm and dry.

Fibrax Aero Lever retail packaging

Fibrax Aero Lever retail packaging

But sat in a puddle covered in sticky mud and I was struggling.

Jump forward a week and I am walking the isles of the London Bike Show in Excel, distracted by the bling I find myself on the Fibrax stand where I spot the Aero Levers.

OK, I laughed at the thought of an Aero lever but when the guys suggested I took one away to try I leaped at the chance.

It wasn’t long before I broke it out of its packaging; Saturday morning I had four bikes to service not including my own and almost the first job was to change a tube on a 700c rim. Now road bike tyres can be a snug fit but this one was determined to stay on the rim. After two minutes of struggling I gave up and broke out my new Fibrax Aero Lever.

The first thing you will notice is how well it fits in your hand. The shape forms its self well into the palm and the length was perfect for my hands. I found as I used it my index finger naturally poked through the hole at the blunt end so I couldn’t drop it.

Fibrax Aero Lever in action

Fibrax Aero Lever in action

It felt solid even though it effectively weighed nothing and I had no hesitation jabbing it under the bead of the stubborn tyre and levering away.

It worked faultlessly on this first outing so now its stuffed in the back pocket of my cycling top next to a spare tube ready for my next puncture.

Pros; Its very effective, light, comfortable and hard to drop.

Cons; I should have got the red one so I can find it easily and actually I need more than one; I need a couple in my tool box, and one taped to the frame of each bike next to the spare tube.

The Aero Lever is simply the best tyre lever I have had the pleasure to use. Order yours here.

 

Product Review – pOcpac

pOcpac sample

pOcpac sample from Andrew

The pOcpac from Northern Albion is a weather proof pouch for your phone. The sample arrived with me a couple of weeks ago so I have had plenty of oppertunities to try it out.

First the pouch; Made from clear plastic and hot welded, first impressions in its retail packaging were very good. Its bold print and logo are striking, they look great and would not be out of place on or off the road. I have used many weather proof pouches over the years both on bikes and while sailing so I was ready for fiddly closures, poor readability through the plastic and touch screens that did not work but the pOcpac failed to dissapoint!

pOcpac

pOcpac packing detail

Touch screens work perfectly through the pOcpac and the plastic is just matt enough to ensure it remains readable in most condition.

Inside there is a clever dividing piece of clear plastic and this works perfectly to keep a your cards and a bit of cash neat and tidy in the pOcpac, it is cleverly arranged to ensure your cards and cash can not slide infornt of the camera lense on your smart phone.

The crowning glory of the pOcpac has to be the closure. The zipped pouch just works. It is easy to opperate and reliable without adding to the bulk of the pac unlike most I have used before.

Pros; Neat and tidy design, functional.

Cons; None!

pOcpac ready for use

pOcpac ready for use

pOcpac packaging

pOcpac packing detail