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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on July 6, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The Protone caught more than a few sets of eyes when it was first unveiled. And it has lived a fairly long life for a single iteration of helmet, helped in part by the fact that Team INEOS (ne, Team Sky) continues to sport the lid year after year. Well, it caught my eye not long ago, too, when I found myself in the market for a helmet again. So I got it. I like the compact shape (it doesn’t make me look like a mushroom). I like the balance between aero and vented design (tasteful). And there’s one simple ingenuity that really gets me feeling warm and cozy about Kask: it’s that pleather or naugahyde chin strap the company adds to avoid salt encrusted nylon webbing from rubbing the neck raw. What a simple but beautiful design detail. Somebody was thinking … logically, helpfully, and with the rider’s best interests in mind. I think of photosynthesis, the invention of the ball bearing, or Benjamin Franklin hanging a key from a kite in a thunderstorm. Good, wholesome stuff to have with us. And so I really have only one bone of contention about the helmet.

There are engineers out there fueling the industry with bold plans on how to implement the next cog, for stepping up the performance of battery powered shifters, and creating apps for your smart phone that allow you to arrange the buttons on your levers just to your liking. Beautiful actors will demonstrate how badly you need these in your cycling routine. And yet, the bicycle persists as chiefly a mechanical device, and enjoyed by us all tremendously for the fact. Aside from that, it’s the naugahyde chin strap that really makes you happy on your twenty-five mile burner after work. First and foremost, there’s the riding of the bike, and then the little improvements along the way. Now what Kask needs to do is invent a soft gutter system that can be embedded in the foam pad that hugs your forehead when the helmet is on and cinched down. Really, why hasn’t someone figured out a way to channel sweat away from your brow and down your temples? I saw a shot of Sagan in the Tour de Suisse this year sitting up in his saddle and spraying down the lenses of his sunglasses with his water bottle, and I felt a kindred spirit. The Protone just dumps it right beside the bridge of your nose, and soon enough you’ve got a river of brine flowing across your field of vision. Kask, please make this new sweat diverting invention for the padded inserts backward compatible so that I can get it for my Protone.

There are some elite cycling apparel companies that just now are touting proprietary designs in men’s bibs that introduce a pocket-like feature in the chamois that gives your bits resting room up front without compressing them with an unforgiving lycra panel. Duh! It could have been done decades ago. But those companies feel it necessary to introduce the design as though they were leading some kind of brilliant revolution in fit and comfort. Meanwhile, Kask quietly introduces a simple chin strap that makes it more comfortable to wear your helmet. I hope they do the same, in the same fashion, sometime soon for a dribble proof foam head band in their helmets. That will be a revolution.

As for the flimsy plastic cradle pieces in the back that some reviewers have experienced breaking after time, mine are still intact after several months. Touch wood. They are flimsy. But still doing their job.

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on May 23, 2019

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've been meaning to bite the bullet and try a pair of the famed Assos bibs for some many years now. With the release of these S9's I thought it was high time. And after four rides I'm disappointed. Many of the lauded features of the Assos bib are no less impressive than the marketing department claims. The way the panels are cut makes for a comfortable bib. The fit in a traditional road racing position feels great for strenuous efforts while climbing, in the drops, or just easy spinning on the hoods. And everything they say about the insert is nothing of an exaggeration. It's that good (in my opinion).
But the legs are too short, and the grippers are not very effective. The bibs ride right up my thighs, and I've spent a lot of time on these four rides tugging them back down into a comfortable position. The compression is good. But it doesn't keep things in place.
The verbiage in the package says the bibs are rated UPF 50+. Well, what good is that if they rest half way up your thigh? And the marketing specs also taut the compression. It's good. But what good is it if only the upper half of your leg is compressed?
The gripper doesn't use a silicon treatment to stick to the skin. Maybe there's some health advantage there. Or weight? I don't know. But the Lycra/elastane doesn't really want to stay over the head of my leg muscles. When I begin to sweat it seems to get a little better. But I also feel some mild bunching in the crotch when they do ride upwards.
This has to be mentioned, though: "MOD.DEP S9 BASALT Antibacterial microfiber booster top sheet in 3D basalt colorway. Pays homage to the lava stone that gives us strength, stability, and courage.” How cool is that?

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on November 18, 2018

If you're still riding rim brakes ...
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

... pull the trigger. I went from a bicycle company's proprietary upper-end aluminum rim wheelset (DT Swiss internals for hubs, 19.5mm internal width, bladed spokes, etc.) to these, and I realized immediately I'd been resistance training for the last few years. The HED Ardennes wheels roll so well. If you get these, try dropping a couple teeth in the back on your favorite climb and see what happens. You might be surprised. And although I'd already ridden the wave of wider, the extra width provided by the HED wheels improved on the road feel. I ride the 25 miles home from work once or twice a week. And about 2/3 of the way there's a mile-something climb with a really twisty descent. I never thought I'd be able to lean any farther and go any faster through its sweeping turns. But hey.
My only gripe is the adequate quick releases/skewers. They're light. But they don't feel that positive when you cinch them down (original generation external cam design). Still, they do what they're supposed to do.
My rationale for buying at this time was that braking technology is going rapidly to disc across the industry. And the price is pretty bomber for the quality, the dependability, and the tried-and-true factor that goes along with the Ardennes wheelset. So if you're going to ride your rim brakes a while longer, treat yourself to some great wheels.

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on November 20, 2017

3 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

This is the kind of jersey you wear to the local coffee shop on a cool morning to meet up with friends and mix with the crowd. Then, once you've finished your hot brew, the group rolls off for a brisk ride, while you turn around and head home to inch the thermostat up a degree or two and crawl back into bed. It looked good but didn't keep you warm.

It's actually a pretty cool jersey. I even slipped it on and fancied myself a retro bad-ass for a moment in the mirror. But it's also like one of those reasonably priced cashmere and cotton blend V-neck sweaters you buy at a Gap-like clothier for casual work attire. Warm and durable enough for a cubicle. But you wouldn't want to wear it into the mountains.

True to Castelli sizing. Go up one.

I don't really see the utility in owning a thin, long-sleeved garment like this. I have nothing against cycling dandies. It's kind of a cool element of cycling. But if this jersey and a base layer was all I had on the north side of the climb, I think I'd be shivering scary by the time I popped out into the sun again. It's a neat design. Although I'm doubtful about its long-term durability.

However, if your local coffee shop has a small locker room where you could keep a change of gear ...

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on November 19, 2017

4 5

Clearly I do not have the ideal Castelli physique. I wear their Large jerseys and bibs, Medium leg warmers, and Extra Large in these shoe covers. Others have said so. So I'm just bolstering the idea that these run small. I have Specialized S-Works road shoes in 45.5 Euro size. and I needed to go up to the X-Large.

The left cover's zipper ends comfortably but snug at the top. But I have to fight a little with the zipper to the right shoe cover to get it all the way home. The covers are snug around the ankles, as they should be. And with the Velcro (aka, hook and loop) fasteners under the arch, you can get the bottom part of the shoe to wrap well, leaving a minimum of surface area underneath exposed.

They do pretty well in light rain. I've come home a few times now in the wet, and my shoes have remained dry. Although I can't speak for all out downpours.

Not super insulators. But I don't believe they're designed for that. And adequate in that department, anyhow.

Shoe covers have a tough job. It's an odd shaped appendage to cover and keep dry adequately. I think these do an admirable job given the innate challenges.

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on October 22, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Dimensionally, these bars are slightly more compact than the average stock bar that comes on your new bike. The specs are explicit about this for reach, which is 80mm compared to 90mm for a typical bar. I can only speak for myself, but this serves me well. It feels comfortable on the hoods. I miss nothing.

The width also feels very slightly pared down. I ride 42's. And before swapping out bars, I took the Easton's and matched them bar to bar, and it appeared to my eyes to be the same. But once the new bars were installed, it felt slightly less. Can't explain, but it feels good to me anyhow. Maybe the stock bars themselves were a little broader than 42. [Addendum: They measure the same, so I can't explain the difference in feel.]

The drops are great. I can push the crook of my thumb and forefinger into the deepest part of the bend when I need to have a finger or two on the brake levers. Otherwise, I'll drop my hands just a bit onto that partially flattened section while I'm cruising along. Very comfortable in both positions.

The bars themselves are ridiculously light and crazy stiff. I walked around spinning them in my hands for a while after first getting them, just because I was so surprised how light and stiff some formed tube of carbon could be. Sprinting in the drops supports this. No sensation of whippy-ness, whatsoever.

I only had the original aluminum bars on my new bike for a week or so before installing these. So it's hard to say how much dampening effect they have. But there's something going on there. It seems to involve the severity of vibrations coming up from the road and through the frame. And I feel fairly comfortable saying that I don't feel quite as rattled on heavily patched and old beat up road surface. Granted, it's a new frame. But in theory it should be less forgiving than the "endurance" ride I had before. In any case, nothing scientific to report. But my hands feel good on the bars on rough stuff. And some of that seems attributable to the carbon in my grip. [Addendum: A section of beat-up pavement that I ride regularly no longer leaves my hands numb by the end. At least partially due to the bars, I think.]

I considered some of the carbon offerings from the company that makes my bike. But one thing or another turned me off. These Easton bars have a traditional diameter with provisions for cable routing engineered in, they're very light, and very stiff. They feel comfortable in all positions, and they're solid when sprinting. Carbon road bars are not cheap. But I'm happy with them. My two cents.

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on August 15, 2015

2 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

There seems to be no incentive writing a review for a product that you end up returning. But I read these myself when considering the idea of buying something online. So I thought I'd make a contribution.
I'm a medium across the board: jerseys, shorts, shirts, pants, whatever. But I saw the European Race Fit addendum to the Sizing Chart for this base layer and ended up with the small. I've purchased other synthetic non-cycling-specific base layers in small to get a good underneath-the-jersey fit. So it seemed natural to do so here. My chest measures a little less than 38. And the chart for a small gives the spread 36.5 to 38 inches.
The two I ordered arrived. I took one out of the bag and tried pulling it over my head and down around my shoulders. And by the time I got the hem below the shoulder blades I began to panic and came to a worried halt. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get the shirt back off again.
The material has no real stretch to it, and I struggled to coax it back over my shoulders. Right back into the plastic bag. I never even got the chance to evaluate the cut of the shirt.
Clearly, the sizing is way off. And anyhow, if it had been a medium and I'd succeeded at getting the hem down to the waist, I wonder how the feel would have been. The material doesn't strike me as something that would fit your form yet give where it needs to give while moving around on the bike. I see there's another apparently identical item from Pearl Izumi being sold with Comp Cyclist for an extra five bucks. Maybe Pearly Izumi sussed out the sizing problem and reissued the garment in a different iteration. From what I've observed (confessed semi-regular consumer of cycling garb, I am), this phenomenon happens batch to batch with clothing now and then. Manufacturing snafus must be common in the business, with most stuff still being made a hemisphere away. In any case, I'm still not sold on their high-tech material.

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on June 7, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I've owned a number of Pearl Izumi bibs and shorts. The mediums have always fit me true to size, and I've always thought well of the inserts on the upper level products (had issues with the Attack inserts way back when). I recently bought a pair of the Elite knickers for a cool-evening, return-commute bottom along with a pair of these PRO In-R-Cool bib shorts. The insert is really nice, an improvement over those stitched into an earlier iteration of this bib I own (3 or 4 years old?). The other I like is the Castelli progetto. But this Pearl Izumi insert is possibly nicer. It's certainly newer. So we'll see how time wears on it. But it works effectively two rides into the life of the garment - some longer rides with substantial climbing. The fit is also very good. But I understand what some of the other reviewers mean about it feeling tight. It simply incorporates some compression into the fit and design. But once you're out there doing what you do on a bike, that sensation - if initially unsettling - falls by the wayside. Compared to the Elite knickers I just got, the PROs do feel a little tighter. ( I also like the knickers, by the way.) But it's just the compression feature doing its thing. They feel great, and I experienced no binding or numbness anywhere from them, whether I was in the saddle climbing or in the drops descending. I have Castelli's, Pearl Izumi, Capo (if you're into horse saddle sized inserts - rain rides!) and Gore bibs. These are now my favorites. There are my two cents.

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on November 17, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

To start, here's a disclaimer. I can only comment on these bars for use on a XC machine. At first I was reluctant to try them for that purpose, fearful they would ruin the handling characteristics of my bike for technical single track and extended climbs. I previously had a set of flat bars on my bike and shortened to about 680mm for tight work among the trees. So far I've left the Turbine risers at their starting length, 725mm. I may lop off a centimeter from each side in the near future. But the transition from a medium length bar to a longer has shown me the benefits of having that extra leverage when negotiating a 29er through the rock gardens of the technical single track loop I ride frequently. On the other hand, I’m no longer confident leading with my shoulder through a tight turn festooned with tree trunks and sneaking the bars through. That’s why there are happy mediums. But to the bars.
They feel light and strong out of the box. The central 31.8 diameter section is substantial. And the bars on the bike don't feel whippy at all. They make for a solid cockpit and lend themselves to that positive leverage I mentioned earlier. As for the handling, at first I thought my fears had come true. Although the 3/4 rise appears slight compared to a flat bar, the shape definitely repositions the rider differently and requires some initial getting used to.
The two main differences I noticed after a few rides were, one, a significant decrease in stress on the lower back on extended climbs and, two, a proportionate increase in demand on the upper body to "work" the bike through technical landscapes and support the body on long climbs. For me these were positive changes - it makes for more of a whole body effort on technical terrain and also helps isolate the muscle groups below the waist for climbing, taking away that strain on the muscles around the lumbar.
And handling? After a few weeks I'm back to swinging my 29er around the tightest switchbacks. Good bars. No regrets.

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Bicyclo-phile

Bicyclo-philewrote a review of on August 27, 2014

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

If you started out a roadie and wearing Lycra, you know the pitfalls of mountain biking in baggy shorts. They're baggy, and saggy. I'd agree with the first reviewer: these shorts are light, breathable, stretchy, and durable. The insert is good quality and works well. In fact, the whole short is made really well - good zippers, good materials, nice snaps up front, good fit standing up straight in them. But get on the saddle and you understand that saggy part above. I don't think mountain bike clothing makers have figured out the baggy thing yet. Lycra, of course, grabs you all over and therefore resists falling toward your knees when you're moving around on the saddle. And a bib even betters that equation. But a baggy short can only grab you in one place, around the waist. So the various manufacturers have focused on fastening systems that cinch up around this area. But I haven't found anything that works so far. And I'm afraid Fox hasn't altered my record on that count with the Attack Q4 short. The velcro fasteners inside do tighten things up around the waist. But they leave pleats around the outside of the waistband, which I find a little uncomfortable. And although the shorts fit nicely while standing on my feet, moving around on the saddle still gradually drags the shorts lower on my body so that soon enough the hems of the shorts are flapping in the wind around my knees like sheets hung to dry on a clothesline. I'm constantly looking for a straight so I can stand on my pedals and hike the short back up around my mid-section. I'm a 32 waist, and the 32 fits well. The cut is like a surf short, and they're stylish and comfortable to hang out in. I think it's a fundamental design flaw with baggies that keep them from serving the purpose well. Someone needs to engineer a better waistband, maybe. It's just unfortunate that I spent a chunk o' change on them to have to keep dragging them back into place periodically during a ride. (And they've just gone on sale!)

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