The guide to getting more performance and value from your gear.
We spend a lot of time choosing our gear carefully and as we know cycling gear is expensive! especially when it comes to all weather wear. But do you know how to keep your Rapha softshell going strong? Your Castelli Gabba still stretchy or your favourite Showers Pass shedding through the spring? With a little investment in care you can keep top performing gear without going down the path of needing to buy a new jacket.Continue reading “Waterproofing your cycling garments”→
I’m in my second year of this boot now. Last weekend I completed a 6hr, 38degree ride in them, complete with a stream crossing, rain and about 4 miles of bike hiking in the snow (see buckyrides on facebook for pictures). I can still say that they live up to their glory. Continue reading “Winter Boots – Shimano MW7 2017/2018”→
Caps are a little bit like water bottles to me. I have had quite a few in my time, quite a few different styles and from quite a few different manufacturers. The thing with caps, like water bottles, is that you have to replace him them somewhat frequently. Either they wear out or they end up just looking a little bit tatty.
I replace my water bottles more frequently than my caps but a very good cap can last about a year for me and that’s with using it five days a week. Often the failure in my caps is where the brim comes away from the body (see pics further down). And they get grimy and discoloured from use in the rain and all the sweat in the sun.
The caps I’m talking about here are the general caps, the caps that are made of normal cotton material and not specifically made for the winter or ultra lightweight summer caps (which are hard to find I may add). Winter caps a completely different thing, in design and material.
Good caps can be used from about 40°F to probably around 75°F, of course depending on personal preference, how cold you feel your ears get or how much venting you like on hot days.
Now a couple of things about style and fit. I would say the Double Darn caps what I call more of a traditional cycling cap in that they have a small brim which follows the contour of the caps man body, i.e. it doesn’t stick out like a baseball cap brim, it sort of flows down the face. The DD’s brim is also constructed out of layers of material versus card or plastic insert. This means the cap appears a little different but also has a better hand feel, and as you will see from photos. In my experience, the more ridged brims actually pull away from the body – weak point as they say. As far as sizing goes, I am wearing a medium. they do come in 3 different sizes and I found that a medium was snug for me. I have measured my head before for helmets and I am a 58.5cm, but my cap guide for a medium is 55cm, so best to say is try on for size and also note they will stretch a little bit over time.
I look like a bit of a saddo here.
DD’s caps have a high-quality construction and what I mean by that is the stitching and accuracy are very good. Not tatty (brit for ill-finished) at all like mass manufactured caps. If you look inside a DD cap and compare to a common garden $20 bike shop cap you will see what I mean. Better construction, better stitching, better material joins. Take note of the headband also, the part that goes across your forehead. DD’s caps have got the amount and shape of material just right here. Some caps the band is too wide, too large or had a thick wedge of material that can cause a line across your forehead after hours of riding. Tall bands make your forehead feels like it is sweating, not a great situation.
Shown below, my common brim tearing away situation, but have to say this is after about a year of heavy abuse / use. You can also look and see on the close up picture the difference in edge stitching and construction used in mass production caps. The stitch is wider, looser and not as well executed.
I have now officially spent 22hrs cycling in this cap and a few hours off the bike. I have to say it has performed well. A bit of rain, a bit of sun and some cold. I rode for 4 hours in it today at between 37 and 45 degrees and it was ok. I would say a thicker cap below 40 would have been nicer, but I was going fast and generating heat.
Conclusion : Double Darn caps are pretty darn great. Great value for money at $37 and a cap that should last a while, be very comfortable and fits under a helmet well. Check out DD’s caps here or get one from one of the many folks she crafts for. Mine was purchased at Sugar Wheelworks (which is a sweet wheelshop in Portland Oregon). DD’s caps are handmade in Portland, Oregon.
Gifts should be a little luxurious and this may mean giving a gift that someone would not normally buy themselves. The luxury thinking might come in the function or the form of that item.
As far as gear is concerned, cycling is a combination of function and performance, so why give a crappy gift that seems cool yet doesn’t work well and thus only gets used once? Here are a few top things we have used / tested and relied on:
1. LEZYNE HAND PUMP – $44
Quite frankly the best portable pump going. These pumps are designed well, lightweight, built to last and with thoughtful features that make inflating a tyre a great experience. well no, not great but about as good as it can be when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with a puncture. For your roadie dude get the High-Pressure Road Drive. Even better get the new model with the built in pressure Gauge – $75
A good versatile jacket is that single garment that can make everything seem ok, even riding in terrible weather conditions. This expensive little number from Rapha is one of those jackets that has figuratively and literally got you covered. Made with a ton of technology to keep you dry but also breathable, the well tailored jacket offers well thought out features and unprecedented support of Rapha. Three pockets in the back and a safe zippered pocket along with slender construction and Rapha level quality. Without a doubt this is sure to impress any cyclist this holiday.
With kookie names after beers and outdoor places, the Light & Motion brand has a range of urban lights, reliable, waterproof and rechargeable. We like these lights because they offer a “pulse” mode which is a lot more pleasing yet as effective as the annoying hyper epileptic flashy many others have. This Obsidian Stout model is a great value at 350Lumens which is more than bright enough for most urban riding, has three light modes, mounts to your handle bars quickly, and quickly removable to stop it from being stolen and lasts 6hrs in low mode.
The wool synthetic mix has a high durability with a luxury feel, not a cheap spandex feel. The jersey is a little warmer than most thinner material types and has tons of pockets and highly reflective stripes. Overall well designed and a core piece of fall and winter kit, that looks great and becomes the lasting go-to wardrobe item.
For the hardcore commuter or cyclocross racer these socks perform. Pretty unique on the market, socks which resist water and are breath also, made from multiple layers and a membrane yet still a thin sock like material. Keep your feet dry no matter what. Available in hi-viz green or wool versions also. www.showerspass.com
6. TORQUE WRENCH – $100
The days of just tightening a bolt are gone, everything nowadays is highly technical and needs to be precisely adjusted or you risk stripping a bolt or even worse cracking carbon. Gift a tool which ensures every bolt will be 100% mechanically correct on their bike.
We personally like this Shimano Pro branded one, it’s accuracy, comes with a variety of bits and is a reasonable price.
The rear flasher infused with technology. Imagine a bike light that can sense when cars are approaching. For the ultra commuter or heavy road rider the Varia senses cars approaching from behind using radar technology and warns the rider while it also adjusts the intensity and frequency flashing. This gives some warning to the rider and also enables the maximum visibility for the approaching vehicle.
One of my all time fav’s here – If your cyclist is super hardcore, lives in an area where it rains a lot or just generally rides in wet weather, then this is for them. As a warning, they might thank you forever! As well as drying out footwear they can easily be used for gloves and shoe covers also. On chilly mornings it’s a luxury touch to put on a pair of prewarmed shoes – to make the ride that more enjoyable. The convection air systems below will dry a soaked pair of shoes overnight to bone dry, but there are models (the Advantage) with fan assist blowers for a faster for a 2-3hr dry.
OK! Summer has been in full swing, but let’s think ahead to Autumn (or Fall as they like to say in America). Over several years of cycling in the Pacific North West I have learned a few things about this Autumn game. Continue reading “Autumn Cycling Tips”→