Veloforte sent me three nutrition bars to try out and I have to say, I’m glad they did! These little bars were super tasty, packed full of energy and easy to digest. Wonderful.
They sent, The Di Bosco, Ciocco and The Classico.
Di Bosco, meaning from the forest, is a mix of red berries, strawberries, sour cherries, rosemary, lemon, honey and some added extras like almonds and pistachios. I think this one is my personal favourite, I say think because they’re all super tasty
Ciocco is packed full of dates, almonds and cocoa. With The Classico being more of a citrus affair accompanied with almonds honey and spices.
I have to say from the off, the bars are delicious. Truly, they have a good mix of ingredients, they’re not stodgy, get stuck in your teeth or even feel like they’re too heavy to have when your really pushing on the pedals going flat out. The layer of rice paper on the top of the bar too is wonderful.
There is a down side though, the packaging is such that they’re super fiddly to get in to. On the bike it can be a bit of a faff, especially if you’re it confident with both hands off the bars not looking where you’re going… they take a fair bit of concentration and are probably better for when you’ve stopped and are at the cafe.
In all, I really rate these bars, I’m looking forward to seeing how they get on and if they can bring out a couple more flavours. Just sort out the packaging a little, please!
You can purchase the bars from the Veloforte website, here
When cycling to work, I like to choose practicality and functionality over style and no substance. When the guys at Rapha sent over their jeans, I was excited. A pair of stylish jeans cut for the commute, what could be better than arriving in style?
The problem with riding in every day jeans is that they don’t breath overly well, they’re not suitable if it rains and they’re generally uncomfortable on the bike. Not ideal for the commute but nice for the office… the jeans which Rapha sent over are designed to be good for both, so here’s what I found out.
Kinda, yeah. Almost cyclists will share this issue I have, my thighs are generally too big for the jeans which match my waist, meaning I have to make a compromise somewhere, generally going a size or two up.
I had high hopes that these Rapha jeans would take that in to consideration and cut the thigh slightly wider. I’m not saying I have hill crushing thighs or sprinters legs but I did feel that these jeans were just a little too tight on the leg when I got them off and on. This also made them feel a little hotter once I got pushing the pedals too.
However, on the saddle, they felt much better than it does in normal jeans. No rubbing or chaffing and a little bit more breathable.
These jeans are a little bit smart, they let your legs breath out and do a fairly good job at resisting the wind blowing through them and freezing your thighs.
Added to that they’re slightly water resistant, able to keep the spray and light drizzle from soaking in to the denim. Instead the beads of water are visible on to of the denim which you can brush off.
As you can imagine, this is a huge plus especially on the damp days where you can be left at your destination soggy and uncomfortable in the wrong choice of jeans.
Rapha… they cost a fortune.
Well, it’s all relative really, isn’t it? Ever heard the saying ‘buy cheap buy twice’? Well that really is true. You could buy cheaper jeans over and over and end up spending more money than what you would than if you spent your money on a decent pair.
Yes, Rapha does have a bit of a mark up at being prestige and expensive. I’d say that was true in the pre-2013 years. I didn’t think they were worth the money then as their stuff just was not durable. After their work with Team Sky I think there has been a real push to improve this. You can see that from their road riding kit and it’s carried across to their city range too.
In saying this, buy within your means, don’t rack up a credit card debt then blame it on me because you can’t afford to pay it off.
Would I buy a pair?
My everyday jeans are Levi’s. I buy them because they’re durable, wear well and I know I’ll get my money’s worth out of them.
Same here with these Rapha jeans, buy for purpose and durability, not cheap and twice.
Eddy Merckx, a name which everyone in cycling knows, the hard Belgian who won Grand Tours for fun and made everyone else look like amateurs.
On top of his ability on the bike after his retirement Mr. Merckx carried on his good name by creating beautiful steel frames that were provided to teams in the peloton. These classic steel frames can be worth a fortune today, if in good condition and of the right era.
Imagine my disbelieve when I go to take the rubbish out of my East London flat and there, in front of me is an Eddy Merckx bike. Sitting there a little bit worse for wear desperate for some TLC. No quicker was the rubbish thrown out, the bike was back up on my balcony looking a bit happier to be in the sunshine. I couldn’t believe my luck. A Merckx frame and it’s just begging to be restored. Lucky me.
I quickly set about the research of the Merckx frame desperate to know what year, model, how the bike should look and how to restore it. However a few things didn’t quite add up. I couldn’t quite figure it out…
Frame numbers are on the bottom brackets of a Merckx bike, I found a really useful website that would allow me to see which classic Merckx I had. Wonderful. However, the frame number on this Merckx didn’t match. ‘What’s going on here?’ I thought, is this some sort of super rare Merckx?
A bit of history for you – in the 1970’s Eddy wanted to cash in on his name, he wanted to produce more bikes than his factory could. To facilitate this along came British bike manufacturer, Falcon. In February 1973 they released a series of frames which were ‘approved’ by Eddy Merckx, each bike sold a lump of money would go to Eddy for allowing the bike to carry his name and Falcon would get the rest, good for the goose and the gander. What was the case though is that a lot of these frames were cheap, build them quickly and cheaply, sell them for as much mark up as possible to cash in on the Merckx name. The steel was of a lower quality, it was heavy and the only thing that made this bike a Merckx, not a Falcon, was the decals which were stuck on the bike.
What I had sat on my balcony was a Falcon. A sheep in wolfs skin. A Falcon in Eagle feathers. I had been duped.
Enthusiasm knocked and feeling slightly subdued I wondered what to do. I could just take the bike back down to the bin store, no harm done, leave it there for the next person to be passionate about it. Then I realised – this is still a bike, an awesome commuting bike. A bike I could still do up and be proud of. It actually has its own little interesting story. People still buy knock off Piccasso’s thinking they’re the real thing, right?
So – over the next few weeks / months I’m going to be turning this slightly rusted, Merckx approved frame in to something I can be proud of and you dear reader can follow the story here. Right from getting the parts to its first finished ride!
I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and ideas as the restoration progresses and of the whole idea! So tweet me, comment on Instagram, comment, like and share on Facebook and also below.
The chaps at Smith sent us pedal pushers over one of their ‘The Route’ helmets. When they did, they asked me which colour I would like, their charcoal black or bright orange. Using this for the commute I chose bright orange and I’m glad I did. I’m convinced the colour got me noticed on the road and stopped me from being hit by a car turning right and not looking. I’m not saying that is the reason you should buy this helmet, what I am saying is think what purpose you’re buying your helmet for. Be it weekend Road riding, track racing or on the commute, colour and type should always play a part.
“The Route helmet represents a movement within Smith to bring the award winning technologies found in our popular Overtake helmet to the everyday rider.” Said Graham Sours, Smith Helmet Category Manager. “We ride on the road and commute by bike and these new models exemplify all of us as cyclists in our own unique way”. So let’s see what Graham is talking about shall we?
Who are Smith?
In 1965, Dr. Bob Smith, orthodontist and original ski bum, developed the first sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam goggles so he could get a few more powder runs on days when everyone else had to go indoors. For over 50 years, SMITH has pioneered advanced products to fuel fun beyond walls, creating innovations that amplify awesome, and crafting gear where every detail makes a difference.
This Smith helmet comes with MIPS technology, this is basically a plastic layer between your head and the inside of the helmet.
This layer helps to reduce the tension which the helmet can put on your head. When you tighten your helmet it’s not just the inner band on the helmet that tightens but the whole of this layer meaning the pressure is spread all around your head and not just at the band contact points.
All added up this makes the helmet extremely comfortable for a longer ride and you don’t have that classic head strap mark across your forehead when you take it off, that’s a plus!
The MIPS® lining also reduces rotational forces that the brain is exposed to during oblique impacts to the head. When combined with MIPS®, the helmet liner is separated from the head by a low-friction slip plan that allows the head to slide during impact and may reduce instances of traumatic brain injuries.
There certainly are 18 large air vents on this helmet and the all important vents at the back to allow the air to flow over your head keeping it cool. It also includes anti-microbial X-Static performance liners with Reactive Cooling, ultra light single layer webbing, and a VaporFit™ adjustable system for increased comfort and it works!
I have to say, the times I wore this helmet I always felt nice and cool and arrived where I needed to be a little less red faced.
Another area where The Route scores well.
Would I buy one?
Yeah, I would. I think the design is good, it cools well and is very comfy to wear.
It’s much more of a commute helmet over one for a weekend road warrior, as it’s not as sleek for some. However it’s durability, comfort and the bright orange is great for the commuter in the hot summer months!
The Route is available in many colour choices, for £129.99 with MIPS technology and £109.99 without. My advice, spend the extra £20, it could save your life.
Well done Smith.
You can view The Route helmet and find dealers here
When the guys from Gtech got in touch with us here at Pusher of Pedals, asking if we were interested in riding their brand new Gtech eScent, the answer was a resounding yes. If you’ve not seen our review on their hugely impressive road bike, you can see it here, but for now – the eScent.
First off let me tell you, I’m no mountain biker and this review is purely about the ride to and from work which I’ve been doing on the eScent, you can find one of my rides on the eScent by clicking this link here. In general, on the road, I found it comfortable, easy to ride and with the battery in it’s “Max” setting an absolute breeze.
The Gtech eScent is said to be a bike for seasoned mountain bikers or beginners to the sport whether your on the trail or using it, as I did, to commute. with a 36v high torque motor governed by a built in computer, the bike knows when you’re lacking on power and gives you that extra little boost to help you either up a climb or down the road. It has Shimano gears, big old RockShox on the front, hydraulic disk brakes and huge 27.5″ tyres add to that a 36v Lithium battery for 30 miles of cycling and you’re well on your way.
So let’s take a little closer look at what the Gtech eScent is actually like on the 9 miles from Notting Hill Gate to my flat in Bow.
They’re mixed, as a road biker, the bike looks huge, feels slightly awkward and just doesn’t feel right. However, that’s a road rider, not a bike rider. It’s impressive to look at. Just look at those huge 27.5″ tyres which are 2.5″ wide for added grip off road, the monster Rockshox and the disc brakes. I’m not a huge fan of disc brakes in the pro peloton (I won’t get in to it) but on the road commuting they can be a life saver, out on the trails equally so.
Gtech seem to have looked at what makes bikes good and applied that to the eScent.
What’s it like to ride?
One of the good things about this bike is that Gtech send it to you pretty much ready to ride. You take it out the box, twist the handle bars in to the correct position, tighten them up, adjust the saddle and away you go. This pretty much allows you to show your bike off instantly and when people ask the inevitable “can I have a go?” The quick release on the saddle means you can give them a quick yes and send them on their way.
But on to ride comfort…
Comfy, as you’d expect from a bike which has front suspension along with seated suspension. The big chunky tyres also add a good bit of bounce meaning that on the road you’ll have one of the smoothest commutes, ever.
The bike feels well balanced too, handling feels light and easy and considering the bikes length and size, it’s sharp when it comes to steering. The extra little shove from the electrical motor makes taking your hands off of the bars easy and gives you a little bit more confidence.
Hydraulic disc brakes…
These are powerful brakes, very, very good. Being hydraulic they feel very smooth, the added bite from the disc means you can stop on a six pence from the bikes cruising electronic speed.
On the trails it means you can easily snap the back end round with one of the best skids you’ve done since you were 7 years old. It’s so much fun.
On one of my commutes home I had endless joy coming across horse guards parade, letting the electronic motor taking me up to full speed before snapping the back end round and seeing the dust cloud I created. I don’t think the guards were too pleased though…
This electronic motor?
It’s the same motor which is in the original Gtech bike, why redesign the wheel? It’s high power and torque is great for assisting you up the climbs. Let’s not get this confused. This is not a bike you turn the motor on and just go, the motor on this bike is for assistance. To make it work you must pedal! Granted, you don’t have to put much power through the pedal, in fact the less power you put in, the more assistance you’ll get from the motor.
It works by a very clever little computer chip reading the effort you put in and adjusting the motors power accorodingly. All you need to know is it works and it works very well.
Gears? On an electric bike?
Yeah! Shimano gears at that! Only on the rear though, being a mountain bike, there’s only one gear on the crank and it’s relatively small.
When on the flat road, you find yourself wanting a few extra teeth to enable you to get a bit more speed.
On the rear though the derailleur makes sure that you snap in to gear quickly and with minimal effort.
The cables are also internal, mostly, so that they don’t get covered in mud when your out on the trail. Smart thinking. I say mostly because they have to pop out somewhere and they do so, near the bottom bracket. Most Road internal gears come out on the rear fork, I understand these coming out where they do though. This is where the motors cables comes out leaving holes in your frame to a minimum and not reducing its strength.
How long do you get on that battery?
Of course, that depends on how you use it. You can ride the bike like a normal, everyday bike with the battery turned off. This just means you get not assistance from the motor. But the bike is heavy, it’s 19kg. Which ever way you cut it, that’s heavy. So maybe on the downhills you’ll have the battery off but on the uphills, you’ll probably want to turn it on!
If you’ve opted to turn your battery on, there are two modes to choose from, ‘Eco’and ‘Max’. Gtech claim you can get 30 miles out of one charge. I’d be inclined to believe them if you left it in its ‘Eco’ mode. The ‘Max’mode though will drain your battery quicker.
The battery has been redesigned from the old one. It now has a much, much more user friendly LCD screen, displaying what mode the battery is in and how much charge is left. It still has a big green on button but the charging has been changed. Instead of plugging a cable in to charge the battery the battery now has its own housing unit which it stands in charging away.
I have to say, the battery is so much more easy to use, there’s no more trying to shield the lights from the sun to see what mode your in. The bright LCD display has vastly improved userbility.
Would you buy one?
The question I would ask is, what ami buying one for? The trails or commuting?
Commuting on it I always felt a bit embarrassed, it’s like driving a Land Rover Defender through central London each day. You’ve got this amazing machine fully capable of all this off road capability and I’m cycling down the CS2 fully tarmaced and smooth… a little bit pointless really.
Looking at the £1,895 price tag, this may discourage me further form the point of buying on for the commute. There is, however, no denying that this is a wonderful machine and people do buy Land Rovers and drive them in the city… I’d be very tempted.
Cult status – some objects just get it handed to them on a plate, cars tend to get it quite a lot, mainly Fords – the Transit Van, Cortina, Escort and the Capri. Many musicians get it handed to them, Bowie, Prince and George Michael – all sadly passing away in 2016.
You could even say it’s been given to a bike – the Raleigh Chopper. This was the kids bike of choice back in 1970’s every kid needed one and if you didn’t have one, you were simply not cool.
There is a bike rolling around the streets which is attracting quite a lot of attention though, it’s not new with it’s first designs drawn up in 1975 and the bikes being made in 1977 the bike is 40 years old! Which on the face of it is probably the average age of it’s riders… I haven’t researched that fact, I have just made it up. Mainly because when I think of a Brompton rider, I think of a middle aged man in a high-vis cycling jacket, bicycle clips, beige trousers, ill fitting helmet, red faced and yellow teethed on his way to the city.
However, there was something about the Brompton that lured me in. Every time I saw someone on one I thought to myself, they’re not ugly looking and they seem to make a lot of sense to someone like me, small London flat, not much room for bikes, doesn’t want his bike stolen from the street outside work when it’s locked up… So why don’t I have one? Well, because it’s a Brompton, you’ve seen the kind of people who ride them right? It all feels very W1A.
When Brompton reached out to me though and asked me if I would like to try one out for a month I could see my bank balance bracing its self at the thought of shelling out over £800 just for the most basic version of the bike. But like the Transit Van mentioned above, there are many different forms your Brompton could take – it seems no two Brompton’s would ever be the same.
The Brompton which I picked up from Brompton Junction down in Covent Garden was £955, it had an updated 3 gear hub which was £100 extra on top of the base £800 cost and £55 Version L Mudguards (which are superb and well worth the money). I found myself getting quite excited on the way down. I was about to be flying around on a brand-new bike, something I’ve never ridden before, it was very novel. When I got there, the mechanic did a quick check of the bike and when he unfolded it, it all seemed very easy he was a master of the Brompton. Leaving it in its bike form I carried it upstairs a quick adjustment of the seat and I was off!
I have to say, my first time riding a Brompton very much reminded me of trying Root Beer for the first time. It was in America and someone had bought it for me “Try that, you’ll
love it.” they said. I took a swig and it was disgusting, like really bad, but I had to put a brave face on being British I couldn’t just say it was horrible. It’s curious though, Root Beer, the second swing was a lot different to the first. I was drawn back in for a third taste and each time I tried it I liked it more and more and found myself buying another declaring it was one of the best things I tasted.
Now, I wouldn’t say that a Brompton was one of the best bikes I’ve ever cycled but it certainly grows on you with each ride. There’s something about it when it all clicks and you find yourself darting about through central London, it’s fun. When you’ve got a slight incline though and you’re in between gears, it’s not so fun.
Let’s talk about those gears a little – as mentioned above, I had an uprated 3 gear hub for commuting around London. A very solid choice of hub, very reliable and relatively easy to use. When I picked it up from the shop I was given a demonstration as to how they work.
You have three gears on one shifter and on the other side you have (as it was described to me) an easy and a hard setting, effectively giving you six gears.
As ever with in hub gears, you can shift them while you’re not pedalling – great for a quick getaway, annoying when you’re climbing a hill. With the ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ gears though, it gives you an option. The annoying thing is if you’re already climbing in ‘easy’ and you need to spin a lighter gear, you have to stop pedalling to engage that gear, then you have to flick the outer hub gears to hard. It can be done smoothly but it certainly takes a bit of getting used to.
If you’re looking to buy the bike to commute on and are put off by the gearing system, you have to ask yourself – how often to you climb a hill on your commute? If you live and work in London the answer will be rarely ever and you’ll be fine.
Moving on to the bikes balance, it’s not all together amazing. Be it the small wheels or narrow handle bars, I’m not sure. You would have thought that with a low centre of gravity it would be more stable. I felt all at sea on it though for the first few rides, a bit wobbly and a little bit uncomfortable.
Right – OK, let’s talk about it then. The putting it up and folding it back down again. How long did it take me to do it? Well, how long did you think it took me? The bloke in the shop made it look so stupidly easy that I didn’t need to do it there and then did I? I just needed to ride it home and do it then. Basically, if you don’t know ask. I asked YouTube and saw a video of a women collapsing a Brompton in 6 seconds – it did not take me six seconds. I worked out the back wheel bit – there’s a little catch underneath the bike, took me five minutes to find that. Then I collapsed the handle bars and folded the side but I just couldn’t get the pedals right, they were blocking it from folding flush. I figured they must have to be in a certain position, which they do. But once all that was sorted it only takes a couple of times to get you folding it up pretty quick. You don’t feel half as stupid when it all goes together than you do when you’re stood in the street trying to look cool while folding a Brompton…
Which brings me to my next question. Do you look cool on a Brompton? Well, I never felt cool on the Brompton, I always felt like people were looking at me thinking why on earth are you on a Brompton? What the hell are you riding, I felt bike conscious! Once I got over that and realised people we’re looking at me at all and no one really cared that I was on a Brompton I realised, if you look cool on a bike, you probably look cool on a Brompton. I do not look cool on a Brompton.
Would I part with £800+ for a Brompton? I’m so torn it’s untrue, I thought using one for a month would help me with the answer and it’s undeniable – it’s great in my flat I can put a bike in there taking up minimal room. On the road, it’s a little trooper too, there’s a little shock absorber on the rear wheel, while it doesn’t exactly glide over bumps and divots, it’s fairly smooth. So why am I still torn? Well, I still have the image of that more than middle aged banker, in high vis and yellow teeth puffing his way about town on one. On the other side, if I had one with straight bars (S type) opposed to M type then I think it would look better and I’d feel more comfortable on it.
I suppose I should sum this whole ‘review’ up now.
If I had £955 to buy a bike then there are much nicer road bikes out there which I could spend the money on, it’s a lot of money. If I had £955 to buy a commuter bike though, there would be no hesitation. I would buy one in a heartbeat, they’re perfect for commuting in the city.
You can buy a Brompton and check out their range here
In my latest series of blogs on cycling to work in the city I take a look at the Canyon RoadLite.
The guys over at Canyon got in touch and thought that this bike is the perfect bike for getting yourself in to the office in maximum comfort and style, and why not? Canyon make some fantastic bikes and are the supplier of pro team, Movistar. They have seen Nario Quintana ride to a Giro d’Italia Grand Tour victory and to second place, behind overall winner Chris Froome, in the Tour de France, taking the White Jersey in 2013. On top of all this, at the Rio Olympics 2016 they are supplying bikes for 20 different athletes from 10 different countries.
To say these bikes have a thoroughbred then could be seen as an understatement, so what’s next for the German brand? Well, commuting it seems – and the Germans seem to take getting to work seriously. Canyon claim their aim while developing the RoadLite was to take the performance from the Grand Tour winning road bikes and combine that with comfort and this machine is ready to take you to a king of the commute. While it’s not a flat out road bike, it’s still a good weekend explorer, a road racer it is not, this is a fitness bike.
So, what do you pull out the box when it’s delivered? Well, if you’ve ordered the same bike which Canyon sent me, the RoadLite AL 6.0, then you’ll notice the box wasn’t too heavy to carry from the delivery van to your home. For £719 you get a 9.20kg aluminium bike frame, two Mavic Crossone wheels, a Iridium saddle and a Canyon seat post with VCLS tech for extra comfort and stability. Canyon even through in a couple of in house made pedals too. This bike really does take aluminium to another level, I didn’t think that getting a bike this sturdy and this light was possible with just aluminium alone. However, if you spend an extra £250 Canyon will shed a further 700 grams by upgrading the gears and cranks from Shimano 105 to Shimano Ultegra, changing the wheels to DT Swiss R 24’s and giving you a carbon fibre seat post.
For me the paying the extra £250 isn’t really worth it. If I were to buy this bike it would be a commuter, for that reason I don’t see the need to upgrade from the 105 to the Ultegra and get a couple of other jazzy upgrades. The middle of the road model, which this one is, is just right.
But what is it like to ride? Well, I pumped the 28mm tyres up to 90psi and took it out for a 6 mile spin (similar to that of a commute) and you can find that on my Strava, if you want to look through it. I have to say, the bike is well balanced and extremely comfortable. Averaging around 12 mph the bike just cruises, there’s very little chance to get above 12 mph average cycling around central London to work, so this was a great little run out for this test. I didn’t even brake in to too much of a sweat, which was comforting to know if I were cycling to the office I wouldn’t be arriving in a shower of sweat.
I found the bike stable and able to absorb the bumps and divots in the road, even though the saddle isn’t overly padded, you don’t feel the need for it to be as you don’t feel sharp juddering bumps up in to your nether regions.
Let’s have a quick chat about the wheel base, it’s quite long. I got my measuring tape out and measured 110cm, compared to my road bike that’s 10cm more. which you would think would make the bike feel cumbersome and lethargic through the bends, not so, the bike still holds some cornering ability, it’s not as sharp as your road bike though.
That’s not so much as an issue through because you’ll be able to scrub off your speed without issue. It comes with disc brakes… ooohhhh. Now they’re bad aren’t they? No, they’re not. They’ve just been shunned by the pro peloton over safety concerns. The concerns being that it would encourage riders to descend mountains harder knowing they could slow down quicker. Also they heat up, if there was a crash and people have
jammed their brakes on, you have a hot disc coming towards your face… Not cool. The brakes on this bike, however – while they do still get hot – are fantastic. I know I keep going back to it but for a commute, you need sharp brakes, you never know when someone could step out on you, cut you up or just give you a reason to have to hit the brakes. I’ve never been so confident in hitting my brakes, you quickly drop your speed and not in a throw you over the handle bars kind of way. Worth a mention, there’s still the stays for rim brakes if you really feel the need to replace them.
You’ll notice the handle bars are a mini version of the bull bars you used to have on your mountain bike as a kid, so that when you were throwing your bike around it was softer on your supple hands. This is no different, while the brakes and gear are in the usual position you can position your hands slightly wider on the bars just for an added bit of comfort, a nice touch. I found the gears slightly awkward though, while they clicked in to place perfectly, I found them too central on the bars and with my hands sitting slightly wider it added a little movement of the wrist to click through the gears which just felt slightly off.
So, would I part with my cash for this bike?
Of course – I would happily ride it every day to and from the office. It would even be a nice little weekend warrior with the family, it’s so versatile. Stick a couple of paneers on there and you’ve even got yourself a shopping bike! What’s really notable is the little bits of detail on the bike. there are stickers near the cables to stop them from scratching the frame, the gear cables are even internal! On a bike for less than a grand! Unheard of. The colour scheme is superb and it’s very classy. A great bike for the price and getting you to the office!
You can buy a Canyon RoadLite and browse the range here
When you cycle in to the office, if you’re a gentleman who is proud of the hair on top of his head, the choice of helmet can be tough. Not only does wearing a helmet squash your tidy hair do, it also traps in the heat, making your head sweaty, further endangering what you’ve just spent a good half hour preening.
For a lady who has longer hair, the challenge can be doubled, more hair equals more heat. That’s a mathematical equation which will have you scratching your follicles over which helmet to buy and why.
The answer, of course, isn’t not to wear one, if you’re on a bike you need a helmet. The answer is getting the right one. It needs to look good, be light weight, breathable and if possible be able to enhance your hair do – side note, no helmet will enhance your hair style.
I’ve been very lucky, because the chaps at Bern sent me over their best-selling commuter helmet,the Bern Watts. So over the next few paragraphs I’m going to proceed to tell you about it.
I’ve heard (or not heard) of Bern, why are they so popular?
It’s easy to see why so many people like the Bern helmet, its got simple style, it’s very functional and it doesn’t empty your bank balance or compromise on function over form.
They appear to be the commuters helmet of choice and over the next few paragraphs in going to try to explain if that is the case…
What’s so good about this helmet then?
Well, kind of, everything, really…
What’s more, it’s lightweight because it’s a thinSHELL, meaning protection is not compromised as weight it dropped. 460 grams this helmet weights, just a shade over a pound in weight, or a bag of sugar.
It also means that the helmet is no bigger than it needs to be, so you don’t look like you have a huge eight ball on top of your head as you cycle down the street.
But weight is not all, the helmet is also well ventilated, reducing heat under your lid, reducing sweating and hopefully meaning you haven’t wasted that half an hour in front of the mirror this morning.
The ventilation on this helmet makes it the perfect summer commuter helmet.
The peak at the front of the helmet is not only stylish but helps keep the sun out your eyes and also the rain if the weather were to change.
So it’s good for the summer, what about the winter?
Well, funny you should ask that question, it’s almost as if I teed it up in the closing sentence of my previous paragraph.
The good thing about the Bern helmet is that you can add a winter lining. No need to wear a wooly hat under your helmet as you can fix one securely in place on this helmet.
So not only do you get a helmet for all four seasons but you can just pop the lining in and out when you feel it’s too cold on your top two inches.
How much does it cost and is it worth it?
Whether or not you’re willing to part with the cash depends on how much you value your life, or hair do.
The Bern Watts costs £54.99 and for a helmet which you can wear for four seasons, that’s a right steal!
Personally, I think it’s a right good price. I’d much rather spend the money on this than wear a £20 Bell helmet from five years ago.
Why should I choose this one over the rest?
As if I haven’t gushed over this helmet enough, jeeze.
In short, the colour combinations are great, it’s functional, lightweight, not overly pricey and it suits the commuting style.
The ventilation is enough to keep you cool but not too much that if it were to rain you’d need an umbrella, not that they’re much use when you’re cycling anyway.
I really do think it’s the perfect commuter helmet, from the moment you put it on, it just feels right.
My first attempt to bust the daily commute is by cheating, just a little. The chaps at G-Tech sent over their sports electric bike.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? To use an electric bike to help cut down your effort, meaning that you’ll arrive in greater comfort and less of a sweat. Let’s have a little look then shall we…
They’ve got two options of electric bike, Sports and City. I still want to get to work with some sort of street (cycling) credibility in tact and for a gentleman, the city version is a little too classic lady.
It’s not a sports model in the car sense, where everything is stripped back, any excess weight is sliced away and often compromising on comfort. This bike has some cool tech added, it’s heavy (16kg) and has some great finishing touches to help you arrive in relatively less discomfort.
How does the bike look?
Let’s all think of an electric bike, what do you think? Answers in the comments, please.
When I think of one, I think of a big bulky heavy metallic purple thing. I used to this exact bike going the opposite way to me on my way to work, every morning through the park. Their legs moving very slowly but the bike flying along and a very smug looking older lady sitting on it as she scooted along past other cyclists.
Let’s have a look at the G-Tech Sports Bike though, and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s very, well, average looking. Looks distinctly like a bike, doesn’t it?
I quite like it but I do find its bright white colour a bit stand out. Thick round tubes and big tyres with wider handle bars than I’m used to. Be under no illusion, it’s no sports bike, much more of a tourer.
The battery is a black water bottle look-a-like. It is very descrete for an electric bike battery. Gone are the old days of a really bulky battery somewhere between your legs making you cycle like John Wayne. This is quite a powerful little thing.
I’ve mentioned the battery so I’ll carry on…
Sitting on the down tube right where the water bottle holder usually is is a large, black, water bottle sized battery.
This is a lithium-ion battery that will give you enough charge for 30 miles of riding. Ideal for me as I’ve only a short commute and don’t ride this bike everyday, so a full three hour (quick) charge, once a week is handy. Usually plugging in at work and forgetting about it until home time, even though it only costs 4p to charge it fully, apparently.
The battery has a few cool features too, it comes off for one. Really easily too. You just pull the little green tab up and move the top towards the seat tube and, click, off comes the battery. Meaning once you’ve parked up on the street, at work, at home or you need to charge it, you can unclick the battery and walk off with it, saves someone else walking off with it!
You can even lock it in place with a key, so when you’re riding no one just pulls it out, or it doesn’t pop out over bumpy terrain, or just the pot holes streets. Handy.
Turning it on and back off again is even simple, you push down the big green button until you see the lights on the battery come on. Lights indicate charge, so if all four of your lights are on, 100% charge.
But look here, the battery has two functions. Yeah, I know, two functions! By pushing the one button once and seeing all four lights lit up, this is maximum assist. Press the big green button twice and see the lights pulsing, this is partial assist. Like I say, clever tech, it’s more than just a battery but a computer too, after all it’s not just the battery that makes you go, it’s a motor too…
Got a new motor?!
The motor on this bike sits in the rear wheel. It really has been designed with maximum thought in to the minimum amount on show. You really wouldn’t think that in that rear hub is a high torque motor, capable of propelling you up to 15 miles per hour! Yeah, 15mph!
The first initial hit of power from the motor is really powerful, it propels you up to speed no issue what so ever, it’s quite a kick, meaning you’ll beat pretty much anything or anyone off the lights.
Then comes the smoothness, once you’re away at 15mph the motor will drop in if needed to maintain you there. You really feel this on the hills. So much so you think a little ghost rider behind you is pushing you along, you almost want to go slowly so the motor just glides you up the hill. It’s a nice feeling to get to the top and not be gasping for air…
But what’s it like to ride?
The electrical boost takes a bit of getting used to, if anyone is in front of you when you’re looking to go, with the motor kicking in you have to judge things well, or pedal bit by bit. After that it’s just like riding a bike.
The wheels are large, the frame is bulky, the full aluminium frame offers nothing in the way of suspension so you feel the bumps.
The bike handles well enough, it feels a bit slow through the corners, fairly well balanced but remember this – it’s s commuter for sure. Don’t get hung up on the sports handle its given. While it’s fast, it’s not made to go racing against the lycra on carbon fibre.
Braking is adequate, it’ll slow you down but with a 16kg bike going at 15 miles an hour, they’re a little spongy for my liking and I tightened them up straight away. For out the box brakes though, they’re good enough and will see you home. If I were to keep it though, I’d upgrade them to something a little sharper, mainly for the reason I’m cycling around central London and like to be able to stop instantly when needed.
The end result
I’m torn you know. I think the boost is fantastic and when I’m floating up the hills and shooting away from the lights I think it’s great.
When I’m half way up the climb I feel like a mechanical doper. I have to tell myself that I’m riding this bike to help myself arrive fresh to and from work. It’s not a bike for fitness training, it’s a bike to get to and from on, nothing more.
That’s where it loses a bit of its soul, it feels like I’m riding a robot… That I’ve had to charge up, a dirty little secret that only I know, I’m on an e-bike. That’s why I arrive in comfort and not breathless.
Then I look at it and think, ‘you’re fantastic!’ It would be the perfect bike for an elderly person to scoot about on. With such little fuss, still getting the fitness in, you can do a 30 mile ride getting the heart rate up and have a helping hand home too.
I’d heavily consider buying one… But I think the £995 is a little too rich for my blood. I’d rather spend the money on a Boardman or something like that where I could get out on a good long ride on. However it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t recommend it if asked by someone in the market for an e-bike.
If you live and work in London you’ve a few options of how to get in to work, you can sit in your car for hours not moving and getting irate at everyone, by driving to work. If you don’t fancy that you’ve got some other options. There’s getting your face stuck in someone’s sweaty armpit on the tube. Or getting on the bus… Then, oh if you’re lucky you can get the clipper, which is a boat down the Thames, with half the bankers from the city, who are recovering from last nights BNO (regardless if it’s a Tuesday). Or, if you’re really lucky, you can cycle, like me.
Of course, you don’t just have to live in London and you don’t just have to be cycling to work to get on your bike but if you’ve a daily commute it’s possibly something you’ve considered or even do now.
Cycling to work and back poses more issues than just getting there safely. If your commute (like mine) is around six miles, maybe you’ve questioned getting donned fully in Lycra, cycling shoes on, it would need to be 10+ miles before I start slipping in to the silky smooth Lycra. I want to arrive to work safely and in relative style but most of all comfort.
Imagine, a cycling world where you can cycle to work in the clothes you fully intend to work in all day, be comfortable for both and not look like you’re an extra in W1A, but most of all, not stink the office out. That’s the worst. Stinky, sweaty, ill-fitting, uncool clothes in the office. You don’t want to be that guy, you don’t want to be that guy, at all. “Yup twenty miles in these clothes today and still looking fresh.” No, no you’re not, my friend, the showers are that way.
A few fashion brands have hopped on the cycling bandwagon, Levi‘s and Ted Baker have recently updated their commuter range, while brand like Huez* and Vulpine have made the step towards fashionable clothing which is comfortable on the bike, too.
It’s not only the cycling clothing though which can help, there’s the bikes too. With more commuter friendly bikes out there if your commute is like mine, just a short hop, then maybe there’s a case for electric bikes, could help to reduce sweat, no? A foldable bike to help with storage issues? Or maybe just a more street friendly bike which doesn’t make you look like a street racer and deals with pot holes and city streets better.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be challenging brands to send me their best commuter busting clothes.
The main things I want are:
Fashionable / stylish
So look out over the next few weeks where I’ll be testing many different kinds of products and letting you all know exactly what I think about them.