Ride Bucharest

Cycling in Bucharest

Cycling in Bucharest

Im on holiday! A week in Bucharest; That’s a big city in Romania if you were wondering. I am here looking after some business and enjoying the spring in the far east of Europe.

As city’s go it is fairly normal. Big, crowded, noisy, smelly and full of cars. In fact I have rarely seen a more clogged city in Europe. Paris’ legendary Arc de Triumph has nothing on its copy here in Bucharest [Named after deGaule] where the 4 hour morning rush hour blends into the 4 hour evening rush hour and some cars are rumoured to have been trapped in there for eternity.

The big surprise is the cycling infrastructure, and the fact that it is used. Oh, that’s the first surprise; the second is that the car drivers, even in their most ragged rush hour moments seem to mostly respect the bikes on the road.

Cyclists share painted on lanes on the wide pedestrian side walks, weaving between the locals. Some in lycra, some in jeans and just as many in skirts. There is no social or gender limit on cycling here in Bucharest. All ages seem engaged in just using their bikes.

TallBike at Biciclop, Darobanti, Bucharest

TallBike at Biciclop, Darobanti, Bucharest

This afternoon while resting in a street cafe, sipping espresso I watched a carbon, disk wheeled TT machine speed down the Cale de Dorobanti in one direction while a 3 year old rolled up to the pedestrian crossing on her trike, patiently waited for the green man and pedaled across the eight lanes of respectfully resting traffic. Her mother walked behind carrying the shopping. Teen aged boys on 29ers cruised down the road jumping the kirbs but avoided the old woman selling flowers from a carrier bag on the corner of the street. Bikes of every shape and size, some with peeling paint and dysfunctional gears and others gleaming rode next to each other. There is even a Tall Bike.

This place is a paradise compared to any city I have ridden in England. OK, its not perfect; The roads are often in a terrible state. If you dare to ride on the road you will find the lane markings are at best advisory and cars will randomly stop anywhere that suits their needs. To survive you have to set aside your English pre conceptions of how traffic should behave and join in with some “Zen And The Art Of Riding In Traffic”.

Personally I love the sport I have come to know as “Traffic Surfing” and Bucharest has some of the best waves I have found anywhere in the world.

When I needed some papers delivered to me from the other side of the city I discovered that Bucharest is also one of the few places in the world where there is still a job for the cycle courier and many are to be found earning their money on the streets.

Im coming back later in the summer and when I do I will bring the GoPro, the body armour and a big smile. Stay tuned!

Road Test The New 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG Wheel Set

The 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel set

The 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel set

I finally managed to get out and do some miles on the new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels, [unboxed here] its only 30 miles but I found a route with a bit of everything. It was a solo effort starting in town traffic with the usual mixture of roundabouts and red lights to practice wheel stands and accelerating away from the lights. We then have a few longer climbs out into the country for ten miles of broken tarmack, mud and tractors on the back roads. A fast run into Felixstowe and a coffee stop before heading back to Ipswich on the seven miles of “TT” track. Back in Ipswich we have a few miles of traffic and a short cobbled section. All in, its a reasonable test route on roads I know.

The Ribble fitted with its new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels

The Ribble fitted with its new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels

I am riding my usual 2012 Ribble Sportive Racing and I even have my usual 23mm Continental GrandPrix IIs rubber on the new rims. The sky is clear, the sun is trying to shine but the temperature is only just above freezing.

The Test Route

The first section of this route is with the traffic and most of my concentration is on not being killed by the sunday drivers. Within two miles I am wondering if I should head back to base and get some more layers but I decide to press on and hope to get some feeling in my fingers before I get out of town.

These first few miles are mostly uneventful but the ride is feeling harsh and my frozen hands are complaining, I pull over and drop the tyre pressures down to about 80psi before setting off again, its a little better and I now have circulation in my fingers so I press on.

The last time I rode this bike was a week ago, on the same route but with Bontrager Aeolius 5.0 rims and these same tyres. I have ridden the carbon clinchers for the last six months and was growing to love them so these Fulcrums have a lot of convincing to do before I accept them into my fold.

After five miles or so I am leaving the traffic and weaving my way through the country lanes, this is more like it, the road surface is broken and loose and we are rolling through the short sharp climbs and following rapid descents with their hair pin bends at the bottom. I know the road so I am pushing quite hard.

Everything on the bike is buzzing and ratting.

The New Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel Set

The New Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel Set

Up to this point I have been trying not to hate the Fulcrums. Fact; they have a harsh ride compared to my old carbons and its spoiling my fun. But now im into the sharp climbs and suddenly I am aware of how well these wheels power up hills. I am pushing hard on the pedals and the bike is just flying up the hills. As it flattens out I find myself thinking more positively about these ally clinchers. Ten miles in and its level betting.

We now have a few miles of well sheltered flat roads so I get in the drops and start driving the speed up. I dont use a bar mounted cycle computer so at this stage my legs are the gauge and they are feeling good.

I catch and pass a couple of other riders with ease.

Dropping in to Felixstowe the bike is feeling fast and responsive. Now I have a little confidence in the wheels and my legs have warmed up I am accelerating harder and throwing the bike around. Braking is getting better as my blocks bed in to the nicely machined surface on the rims. I did notice when I unpacked them they have stickers warning about keeping an eye on brake surface wear but as far as I can see there is no way of visually assessing the condition of the surface; No dimples or radial grove, we must ask Fulcrum how we are supposed to asses the wear?

I lean the bike against a lamp post and stop for a coffee and a ponder. The coffee is good and the wheels are not so bad. They look good on the bike but the quality of the stickers betrays their low price, I have a feeling they are going to look tatty quite quickly.

A couple have joined me; he is riding a no name frame with 100mm deep section rims, I look at the Fulcrums 35mm and decide they look a lot more sensible than the sails on my new friends bike. Its a windy day today, gusting 20mph and a lot of it has been side and head winds so far, the 35mm profile of the Racing Quattros have behaved very well, only once reminding me of their ‘aero’ profile and that wasnt dramatic. I think the Bonts’ 50mm would have been more apparent and those 100mm sails would have been a nightmare.

Refueled and back on the road Im on the long[ish] climb out of Felixstowe, the wind is on the nose and my legs have forgotten how to turn the pedals. Ease up a little, re focus and compose myself. I turn left and im out of the wind. There is now seven miles of nearly flat tarmack ahead, 70ft of climbing in total and I average 19.4mph without much effort. If I had someone pacing me it would have been significantly faster but this is an individual effort and I am now having fun.

As I get on to the only climb on this section, about 400yards of 2.5% I get out of the saddle and hang over the front of the bike to keep the power on and the speed up and for the first time on this ride I am close enough to the front wheel to hear it buzzing.

Dropping back in to Ipswich there is only one more test; the cobbles and after a couple more miles of traffic surfing I am on them and blasting through without a care. I actually came off the cobbles and set a KOM in the next section.

So what did I think of the new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels?

I like them. They are harsh compared to my older carbon rims and I am not used to having numb hands and feet at the end of a relatively short ride but that could have been the cold as much as the wheels. I am also conscious that the new Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels have been designed for a 25mm tyre and I am running a 23mm, I am going to keep these wheels, run some wider rubber and put some more miles on them. I also know they may be a bad match for the Ribble frame but I can’t imagine they will get less harsh with an ally frame?

Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels front hub detail

Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels front hub detail

They dont feel heavy and they accelerate well. The clever 2:1 spoke pattern and wide drive side flange on the rear hub really do live up to the claims Fulcrum make for them delivering the power without any discernible flex. On my scales the rear came in at 951g, exactly the same as the Bonty and the front at 806g is just 80g heavier than the Bonty. The hubs run well straight out of the box so we will see what they are like after a couple of hundred dirty road miles. I loved the detail in the front hub, especially the steel inserts to grip the dropouts.

The supplied skewers are just odd; their quick release lever stands out 10mm further than any other skewers I have recently played with. I used them as they came with the wheels, they do up nicely and they held the wheels in place without any drama so on a functional level they pass but on an aesthetic level they are a big fail.

The Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG Wheel Set sell at £299 and is available now for £269 in our store.

The route; https://www.strava.com/activities/504312206

 

Unboxing the new 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG Wheel Set

Update – First road test here.

I am cramming the miles in this spring trying to get fit again and since I sold my winter bike to a friend I have been riding on £2,000 worth of carbon rims for the last few weeks. Not wanting to destroy them before the summer I have invested in a new set of winter or training wheels.

The 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheel set was the clear choice based on price, for £299 they seem to offer great value for money. That’s good and bad news from this reviewers point of view, they are very affordable but I dont know how objective I can be getting off the 50mm carbons and getting on to these.

Lets see what’s in the box and give you some first impressions.

Unboxing the 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG

Unboxing the 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG

  • Nice looking skewers supplied with the 2016 Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG

 

In the very substantial box [no joke, even the box said quality] we find the following;

  • A pair of wheels, both with plugs in the ends of the axles.
  • The accessories envelope.
  • A pair of skewers.
  • The cassette spacer.
  • Fitted rim tapes.

Everything in order, neat and tidy.

This is what Fulcrum have to say about their wheels;

  • 35mm is not just any number.
  • Every tiny detail of the Racing Quattro LG has been painstakingly optimised to offer the rider perfect balance and performance in all situations.
  • Aerodynamic and easy to ride these road bike wheels are ideal for long level straights, but still deliver outstanding results uphill.
  • Versatile and aggressive, these wheels are perfect for riders who enjoy putting themselves against a different type of route every day.

The rim

  • New 35mm aluminum road bike rims with a wider section: ETRTO 17C, external width 23,2 mm.
  • Developed to strike the perfect balance between aerodynamic efficiency, handling and lightness, the 35mm rim profile increases torsional and lateral stiffness compared with a conventional profile, for improved high speed stability.

Hubs

  • Oversized hub body in aluminium provides a high degree of lateral stiffness and reduces the weight to a minimum.
  • Adjustable ball bearing system in ultra high quality steel for reduced friction and maximum performance even after extensive use.
  • Quick and easy to adjust.
  • Aluminium axle reduces the overall weight of the wheel.

Oversize flange

  • Oversized flange on the drive side provides greater torsional stiffness, increases reactivity at any change in rhythm of the pedal stroke.
  • Exclusive processing system of the 5 axis hub. This allows the spokes seat to be created perfectly in line with the tensioning line.
  • This solution allows equal tension values to be obtained at every point of the spoke; it reduces stress on the rim and the spokes and keeps the road bike wheels balanced.

Spokes and nipples

  • Double-butted steel spokes (18 front, 21 rear) with aero profile enable maximum aerodynamic penetration.
  • Aluminium nipples make it possible to reduce the peripheral mass of the wheel to the minimum, thus increasing its reactivity.

Fulcrum also list 5 key benefits as follows;

Dynamic Balance™ – Aluminium rims

  • For top models, this is obtained by a special operation on the section of the rim opposite the rim joint.
  • For entry-level models, Dynamic Balance™ is obtained by using two oversized spokes in the section opposite the joint. The result is a wheel with perfectly balanced rotational dynamics.

2:1 Two-to-One™

  • When you push on the pedals, the rotational force on the sprocket induces a slackening of the freewheel spokes with a consequent loss of rim tension. This results in undesirable flex of the whole wheel and an unavoidable loss of energy. Fulcrum® has solved this classic cycling problem with its 2:1 Two-to-One™ Spoke Ratio patent, by doubling the spokes in the critical zones.

Anti-Rotation System™

  • This new system raises the concept of spoking to a new level of performance for road bike and triathlon wheels.
  • The Fulcrum® engineers have redesigned the spokes and the hub housings to create a solid and unmoveable whole. The result is that the spokes
    a) will never lose their initial tension, thus keeping the wheel perfectly reactive and centred
    b) will remain in the position that have been studied in the wind tunnel tests to ensure the best aerodynamic penetration possible.

F.I.C. Fulcrum Identification Card – 100% HANDMADE QUALITY

  • Right from its inception Fulcrum® has been marked by feature that continues to this day: that is to design, prototype and industrialise all the wheels characterised by the red “F”.
    Indeed these take shape inside of the R&D, the leading-edge department that represents the beating heart of the Italian company.
  • Every single component of the wheel, the materials chosen and the technologies applied are the tangible result of the effort that Fulcrum® makes every day to give you maximum performance and reliability.

Traceability

  • A guarantee of quality
  • The keyword for our products is: rechable.
  • If you find a little label attached to any Fulcrum® product, do not remove it. It will provide you a guarantee in case of an ascertained defectiveness of a production batch, and so the component needed or wheel will be traceable.
  • All this because, devoted to its mission, Fulcrum® demands the absolute perfection and safety for its customers.

Next stop; I fitted them to my daily road bike with the tyres removed from my usual carbon rims and headed out for a real world road test.

spray.bike samples are here!

spray.paint samples

spray.paint samples

Our first small sample batch of paint from spray.bike is here and I am very excited! Now all we have to do is find a little time to do a proper job of testing this lot. We have a vintage step through to paint and some more modern parts we want to experiment with re-coloring.

We have one each of the following;

  • Excelsior
  • Plumstead
  • Battersea
  • Grays Inn
  • Goldhawk Road
  • Coventry red
  • Flouro Yellow
  • Transparent Finish

I had to do a test so here is a two tone Grays Inn – Goldhawk Road experiment. One side is in the original matt and the other has a transparent gloss over it. What do you think?

IMG_1013 IMG_1014

Stay tuned! Updates will follow.

 

Fitbit Blaze

nexus2cee_FitbitBlazeJust announced at CES and not even sampled for review yet is the new Fitbit Blaze.

There isn’t much to tel about it yet, all we can do is look at the pictures and compare it to the Surge. This I can do with some competency as I have been wearing a Surge for the whole of the last 12 months.

I chose the Surge over all the other wearable fitness trackers as I wanted 24/7 heart rate monitoring and built-in GPS in a device that didn’t have to be tethered to my phone to work.

The Surge doesn’t need reviewing here, it’s a great piece of tech backed up by good service and I like it in all respects except one. It looks like a brick tied to my wrist.

The new Blaze is clearly aimed at people like me, it seems to do everything the Surge does but looks a lot better. This has upset some reviewers though. I have seen the new device slated because it looks like a smart watch but doesn’t have an app store. Well I don’t care, I bought the ugly Surge precisely because it does one job and it does it very well. I don’t want a smart watch, I want an activity tracker and I am clearly not alone as Fitbit outsell Apple and Samsung combined any day of the week. Its clear to see, and justify the benefit of an activity tracker, a smart watch is in most cases nothing more than an extension of your phone.

What is clear from Fitbits advertising is their new tracker is designed for the fashion conscious and is no longer just a fitness tracker for people like me who want to analyze their training. Take a look at Fitbits Blaze web pages and you will see four out of five images of the new watch are focused on fashion. Check it out here – Fitbit Blaze Lookbook

The new blaze and the other Fitbits are available from the Wiggle Online Cycle Shop!

Im looking forward to getting my hands on one of these [Are you listening Fitbit?] for a full extended review.

 

 

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.