A little while ago, the chaps at Runderwear got in touch, they wanted to showcase their seamless underpants.
As a cyclist I explained that I’m not that interested in pants during exercise. As many of you fellow Pedal Pushers might do, when I’m on my bike, in my Lycra enjoying the wind through my helmet, I don’t wear undergarments. They get in the way and stop your comfy chamois working as it should. Actually wearing underwear while cycling can add to the chaffing! At Runderwear they felt confident that these next level undercrackers would be beneficial to new cyclists who may not be as keen to fully embrace the Lycra. I was sceptical.
I should say, I usually have lots of photos to accompany my blog posts. Don’t you worry dear reader, I’m not going to be taking pictures of me in my pants!
When the pants arrived, available in briefs or boxers, they didn’t exactly jump out at me. Which was nice really, I don’t suppose you want your pants to be showy! They’re understated in black with a blue trim, quite classy. The key thing about these pants is that they’re seamless, so they’re not meant to rub or chafe as you wear them.
In trying them on, they reminded me of a pair of ill fitting bib shorts. Baggy in the middle and not quite ‘right’. I had to double check I didn’t have them on back to front! It felt really odd pulling bib shorts on over the top of boxers and instantly the shorts scrunched the boxers up. Even though there is a gripper layer so the boxers shouldn’t ride up, the power of the Lycra was too much in this instance. Sorting that out you could still see the line of the Runderwear underneath my bibs. This made me feel a little bit conscious. I don’t know why, it’s not like wearing no pants at all is less on show but it just made me think “Oh, great – now everyone can see my pants.”
Once they were on and I was riding though, I didn’t notice anything beneficial from having them on. In fact, I didn’t notice them at all. Which was nice, I kept thinking they wouldn’t allow my chamois to work effectively or that they would add to any form of chaffing but they were completely unrecognisable.
They’re sweat wicking and breathable too – again as a cyclist, so are my bib shorts. I wouldn’t want to, or feel the need to, add an extra barrier.
Worth the money?
Not for me I’m afraid, if I don’t notice them doing anything other than being noticeable to others then I don’t see why I would spend the £13 on a brief or £18 on the boxers. I mean it’s not like I wear underwear when cycling in the first place.
They’re 100% seamless chafe free underwear and they were exactly that. I guess they may stop you from buying lots of chamois cream. I think the clues in the name, these are for the running market. Unless I’m going to do a Froome up Ventoux then, personally, it’s a no from me.
You can buy a pair of Runderwear pants and check out their 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.
How are your feet? Are they comfortable, right now? Have you got shoes on or are they feeling the breeze fully sockless?
Don’t worry – this isn’t some sort of weird fetish, I recently got sent an e-mail asking if my shoes fitted me correctly, I thought, “Well, they’re on my feet and don’t fall off when I walk around, so yeah, I guess they do…” However, I took this e-mail as ever with a little bit more cynicism than most, what they were really saying were what sort of profile is your foot? Are you flat footed, have a medium arch or high? And are your shoes fitting your feet as they should?
It’s not the first time I’ve come across this, we’ve all heard the phrase, being flat footed – it’s where your foot is effectively that. More of your foot is on the floor when it’s planted. A high arch means that very little is touching the floor, mainly the balls of your feet and the outside edge of your foot, the inside edge barely touching the floor at all and a medium arch… somewhere in between.
Now I know from past experience I’m like Brian Blessed, a flat footed b*stard. But, how can this affect your cycling?
Well, if your foot isn’t sitting right in your shoe, you’re more than likely causing yourself some extra muscle pain during exercise, your foot could be slipping around in your shoe, moving your joints and muscles all over the place.
I do use a innersole in my shoe currently, made by Curex, these were a purchase I made with my own hard earned cash. The ones I got an e-mail about to try out though, they’re made by Sole and they’re called the Sole Thin Sport Custom Footbeds.
The difference is simple, CurexSole are pretty much pre made, claiming if your flat footed you need the low arch innersole, have a medium arch? You need the medium inner sole and you guessed it, if you’ve a high arch, you need their high innersole. With Sole you have the task of moulding your innersole a to your feet. So, do I prefer the upgrade? Well…
First off, what’s the point?
Since you asked… When you’re pedalling away, during your downward stroke the power from you leg muscles goes through your main point of contact with the pedals, your feet. The more power you exert the more pressure through your foot, this brings about pronation (your ankles leaning inwards) in your foot, which isn’t great, too much and it twists the bottom half of your leg causing knee pain, ankle pain, more muscle ache and just complete uncomfort.
Innersoles help to reduce the pronation and their job is to try and stop it all together meaning more power through your stroke and less muscle and joint aches and pains.
Do I need an innersole?
I’ve used one for a good couple of years now, I wouldn’t ride without them. My foot feels more comfortable in the shoe and it helps with aches and pains.
Also – let me put it to you this way, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Team Sky – they didn’t get to where they were without looking at every single area, making ‘marginal gains’ which then added up to one whole massive major gain and three Tour de France victories.
I’m not saying innersoles are going to transform you in to a grand tour winner, but they could possibly be your secret weapon! Helping you to cycle more comfortably for longer periods time time.
If you’re buying a new pair of cycling shoes, maybe an innersole should be something you consider. Ask the man in the shop.
The Sole Thin Sport Custom Footbeds will set you back a further £38
So I just put them in my shoe?
These Sole Thin Sport Custom Footbeds don’t just slide in to your shoe, they take a bit of work.
First off, put your oven on and allow it to heat up. Yup, these things are going in to the oven!
To mould them to your feet properly, they have to be heated up, the only way to do this is in the oven, the microwave is not recommended.
While the oven is heating up take out the soul, sorry sole, of your current shoe. Yes, it more than likely will remove without any fuss or glue marks. Match the Sole to your, erm, sole and make sure it’s the correct size and fit. If it’s too big, just trim around the top with a pair of scissors.
Is your oven good and hot? Then you should put the Sole in the oven.
When I did this, there’s a little temperature marker on the sole which tells you when it’s at the correct temperature to mould the sole. The marker indicated they were ready pretty much straight away. I left them in a few seconds longer to be sure but I was worried that they would melt in to a gloopy mess on the bottom of my oven and that the inner soles and my oven would be ruined, forever.
There’s still more to do… I know that a nice expensive pair of carbon fibre shoes are moulded in a similar way. So if I were worried about these Footbeds ruining my oven, imagine what I’d be like with a load of carbon fibre in there!
Quickly take the Sole’s out the oven put them straight in your shoe and then put your feet in to your shoes do them up and stand up straight and still for a good couple of minutes.
This then sets the Sole’s to your feet and gives you the correct fitting for your foot type.
Finally the process is complete. Relax. Providing you’ve not singed your Sole’s or ruined the oven or scolded your toes.
After all that, do they work?!
Well, I did notice them in my shoe, yes. I felt my feet were in a different position, not necessarily a more comfortable position mind. I did think this is probably just because the new position was likely the position my feet should be in.
During my ride, I can’t say my legs felt more or less comfortable – but my feet! My feet were in pain. I felt like they were being pinched and pushed inwards, they hurt.
I was able to finish my ride and it was a similar similar maybe slightly better ride than usual but nothing significant, maybe just marginal.
My mind isn’t made up here, I mean, my feet hurt a fair bit. Maybe that was down to me moulding them? I possibly could have left them in the oven for a bit longer just to be sure that they were soft enough to mould but they certainly seemed soft enough when I tried them.
Am I going to buy a pair?
I’m not going to trade my CurexSole in for them, no.
I don’t think they performed very well, all that effort to make sure I’d mould we them correctly and my feet still hurt up to four days later after feeling like they’d been crushed from the sides. Maybe that’s something you get used to but it’s not something I want to put my feet through. I want to be able to perform as best I can as comfortably as I can, not feel like I have to get off my bike just to give my feet a rest.
Sorry, but for me, I’m not going to be buying a pair of Sole This Sport Custom Footbeds.
If you’d like to buy them for yourself, you can do, here
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‘Budget’ ‘cheap’ ‘low end’ these are words which don’t exactly inspire the imagination. They often mean a bit crap, throw away and useless. However, DhB has found itself in these brackets and has got a bit of a bad rep because of it.
It’s been a bit of a mute conversation over the past couple of years. The thought process has generally been ‘if you want to be taken seriously out on the bike, you’ve got to pay for the top dollar brands.’ It’s easy to fall in to that mind set with the likes of Rapha offering beautiful kit which performs amazingly well but is super pricey. Castelli offer glorious Italian style and have racing pedigree coursing through their stitching, again this is too pricey for some. What about the start out cyclist, the one who wants to be involved with lycra but doesn’t want to spend all their money on bike kit. That is where DhB have come in with this years Blok kit.
How does it fit?
A few years ago you could label them a bit crap, they were saggy around the chamois and uncomfortable for long rides. They just didn’t offer the padding. Now though, with the new Blok kit this year, DhB has certainly laid a few demons to rest with good looking, snug fitting, functional kit.
After a couple of rides in the kit, one long one short, I have to say, I’m impressed.
I’ve got an old pair of DhB shorts and after I bought a pair of Castelli shorts I realised what fit was, the old DhB kit had a saggy chamois and the leg grips didn’t grip, they also became wrinkly and ill fitting. Now if you were to blindfold me and put that pair of Castelli shorts and these new DhB Blok shorts, I don’t know if I’d know the difference – until of course, it came to the ride but cycling blindfolded is dangerous and not advised.
The over the shoulder straps don’t tug on the shorts making them ride up, nor are they flapping loose. They offer a really good balance of flex and support.
My only slight niggle on the fit is the fitting around the waist, I’m not exactly tubby with a 31″ waist but I did feel this was where the bub shorts were just a bit tight.
Yeah – it is actually, especially for the shorter rides, for a 15 mile commute these things are ideal!
However, towards the end of the 15 miles and going a bit further, I did experience my first ever need for chamois cream. I could feel the chamois starting to rub, on the backside of the chamois… To put it bluntly, the chamois was starting to sneak in to my crack, near the top.
That’s one thing I did think about the chamois, it’s long. It came up almost near my belly button and went all the way back.
Is the kit comfy?
The fabric is a silky, stretchy, lovely bit of lycra. Very breathable and wicks away sweat amazingly well. At no point in my riding did I feel cold because the kit was sopping wet and didn’t dry quick enough. I always felt a good comfy temperature though out.
Now – I don’t shave my legs, so I know that the leg grip on shorts can get very clingy and pull. Not these fellas though, they stayed right where they were needed, not any pulling not discomfort on that part. I was well impressed.
Would I buy a pair?
Absolutely, without a second thought. DhB have played a blinder here, no longer is their kit unfashionable, saggy, ill fitting and cheap. It looks great, fits nicely and is very reasonably priced.
If you’re looking for some kit to go to spin classes in, commute to work in or just to get yourself in to cycling, get yourself some of this kit. It’s durable, breathable and exceedingly handy!
The shorts cost £50 from wiggle and can be bought by clicking this link, here
I really do recommend them for the first time rider, you won’t get a better pair for a better price.
Cycling really needs to shake off this whole “I can’t take you seriously you’re in cheap clothes” mentality. It’s not that elitist. You can ride a bike when you’re stone broke and you can ride a bike if you’ve got more money that Bernie Ecclestone.
If you see someone out in DhB kit, you better not be looking down on them because you’ll be gutted when they go flying past you.