Free 2-Day Shipping on Orders Over $50*
James B.

James B.

Philadelphia

James B.'s Passions

Road Biking

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on September 7, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Good: lovely touring and commuting shoe. Looks great. Walks reasonably well. treads just high enough to protect floor from 2 bolt SPD cleat. Reflective material reflects brilliantly and should improve night time visibility significantly (blinding white light when illuminated in the dark). They are light weight and pretty stiff for efficient pedaling.

BUT:

1. Water resistance is middling. These shoes can and will get quite wet if it pours and they won't dry out quickly.

2. Hotter than many other choices on a hot day. These were designed for full year all conditions use. They aren't all that well ventilated. No underside ducts.

3. Fit is tight. Ignore what your size is supposed to be and round up at least half a size if not a full size. They are also a bit narrow in the toe box.

4. Reflective material is a bit prone to collecting stains that aren't easy to remove.

5. Cleat track seems unable to hold my left cleat in position even when torqued to spec. The cleat bites into the soft material that comprises the underside of the shoe. Good because the cleat squashes into place easily enough. Unfortunately that material is a bit squishy so the cleat can slide when pedaling force is applied. I have not had this problem on a 2 bolt shoe before and don't know yet if it will resolve or not. This is the most damning problem with the shoes and might drop the rating to 3 stars.

Judged by street shoe standards, this is the handsomest all purpose cycling shoe I have ever seen. It has some great features. Pay attention to cleat mount.

I recommend that anyone who plans on customizing their cleat setup with shims etc, skip this shoe and find one with more mounting space that can accept cleats more securely.

On looks and overall build quality alone, they shoes are a 5.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on June 4, 2017

Fast, comfortable, supportive, durable
4 5

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

I have just done some short distances with these but am already impressed by the high quality of materials and production. Carbon fibre woven into the black panels, seems to reduce weight slightly, while improving comfort, cooling, durability and critically aerodynamics. The lattice pattern seems to dimple the fabric like a golf ball. When worn with an ordinary jersey, the difference in drag between legs/hips and torso is considerable above 20mph. The fabric appears to be tough but comfortable. Compression is more supportive than "shark skin" type fabrics and the dimpled fabric seems like it might cool better.

Fit: There is a debate in this thread whether these are too short for taller guys. I think they are on the line but shorter than current fashion. The bright panels give the visual impression that they are shorter than they appear. If I sized up, the nice compression and close race fit of the rest of the bibs might not be as dialed in. If you really like your shorts long and right to the knee, you probably won't like these in any size.

Color: The "bright yellow" is a cooler lighter tone than shown on the website. It's plenty visible which is all I care about. But if you are a stickler for color fidelity, look at the picture and decide if this particular hi viz yellow is to your liking. The color matches Pearl Izumi hi viz yellow socks pretty closely.

I will update my review after a few serious rides. So far, these are great, but the length could be just a bit longer.

(1)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on April 2, 2017

Shallow lean angle. Pedal strike risk.
3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I like this pedal, but have become increasingly concerned about how shallow a cornering angle causes a pedal strike. I provide a picture example and compare them to a 37 degree lean offered by speedplay zeros. I never strike my speedplays nor even the mtb variant the M530. I struck this pedal 3x the first week I had it mounted on my 2017 Specialized Diverge DSW. The angle shown in the picture is not very radical for even moderately aggressive riding, or more concerning, emergency maneuvers in traffic around cars and pedestrians. In my case, the angle is likely somewhat shallower than on a more typical road bike: The Diverge has a lowered BB and my crank is also the longest size, 175mm. If you buy this pedal, test the roll angle for yourself and see if you can keep the bike more upright in all circumstances.

If the angle works for you, then:

Pros: Both sides of the pedal do their cleated/street shoe job fairly well.
the larger surface area of the street shoe cage seems to spread force
across the lugs and soul of the clipped shoe, yielding seemingly better power transfer.

Cons:
Clipping in on the one cleated side can be tricky in traffic
Shoe lug contact with street shoe side creates traction that may keep your foot from return to a more neutral position on the next stroke.

Advise avoiding use on bikes with lowered BBs and long cranks. It seems that any design that could support the flip function would have this same problem.

These are well made. Generally work well and look good, but you have to consider whether the lean angle would for your bike.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on November 29, 2016

This helmet saved my head, face, neck
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This helmet is crazy expensive, but I resolved to splurge on head safety after a 12mph crash head first (after my front wheel dropped from the front fork) into pavement wearing an older Giro Ionos hurt my head too much.

Good thing I did that. just a few weeks later I crashed onto pavement and gravel when cut off by a car at over 21mph. I got back up from that crash with destroyed helmet, shoes, jersey, gloves but no concussion and no neck or shoulder stiffness. The POC scooped up the gravel and kept it from punching into my forehead and temple as it would have done on a traditional helmet. The MIPS and extra low brow did their job and prevented more serious injury. One trip to the emergency with even modest injuries runs well over the cost of this helmet. Consider it good insurance. An analysis of crashes determined that major brain trauma was 50-50 odds at speeds 19mph+ even with a helmet--so wear one, hopefully this one!

It isn't an aero helmet. It's oversized and aesthetics are an acquired taste. But it does cool your head even at slower speeds. I have mounted the ICE dot crash sensor on the back; which is a feature POC designed into this helmet and available for about $120. It recorded my crash forces, sent a text and a map pin to my wife who was headed out to pick me up while I was still brushing myself off.

Excellent investment. I highly recommend this helmet over all others. I've never had a crash at such a high speed and incurred so little trauma. I credit the MIPS system with reducing torque on my neck. We never want to crash, but it happens to the best of us given enough time. When it does, you want the POC Octal MIPS on your head.

PS: POC has a crash replacement program for helmets damaged in crashes within the first year. 50% off list. It's worth contacting them.

(4)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on September 12, 2016

Value: Aero, durability, and convenience
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I have had the good fortune to do a few rides with 2 different elegant aero jerseys before trying this one out (Giordana EXO, Giordana Forma Red). The EXO was very slick in the wind, featherweight, closely tailored to fit magnificently. But it is not as durable and convenient for non race rides.

The PRO outshines both for practical wear. It feels like the fabric and stitching will hold up for many rides; especially the pockets which are generally stripped to nothing in pursuit of reduced weight and drag. The PRO, however is sturdy enough for more frequent wear. The zipper feels substantial along with the stitching throughout. It never feels like a stitch might pop or zipper slip. The cold black fabric keeps the sun off. The added length in the tail helps the jersey from riding up. Pearl didn't strip out practicality to a save one more gram or watt. There are products that do that. This was made to be worn more than a few times.

Air moves around the PRO smoothly. At a discount, it's a great jersey. Snug race fit. Slippery in the wind but comfortable for weekend rides and constructed robustly enough to last a season or more.

If you have no aero kit, this is a great place to start. It will pad your top end speed especially into headwinds. Effort you put into your ride won't be devoured by the wind; so you will push just a bit harder. If you can slide your way into very snug race fit aero kit and need a new jersey -- this is a good pick.

I'm looking forward to wearing it again and again. It may not be gossamer light, but I'd trade that for better wear over time. Excellent value. I'm very happy with it. I've even taken a hard crash wearing it and am happy to report that despite some bruising and nasty scuffs, the jersey fabric itself held up remarkably well and is good to wear for hundreds of miles further. Not so, the Giordana Exo I crashed. That gorgeous jersey tore a hole in the shoulder that I've stitched back together. It's lighter fabric was not up to a 21mph slide across the pavement.

Race fit: Generally size up. It fits true to size for race fit. Your Castelli trim size should be about the same. It does not have the more generous fit of other pearl jerseys.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on August 17, 2016

4 5

If it looks stylish, feels gossamer, and works well, as this jersey does, you know there's something somewhere Giordana didn't nail. This jersey is terrific and you should consider it strongly for your warm weather collection. There are many things to like which is why I gave it 4 stars. If I had to go out the door with my sharpest short sleeve jersey it would be this one. Italian tailoring fits snug and can be flattering on trimmer body types.

But there are a few issues. If you have any biceps at all, you will struggle getting the jersey off after your ride. The arms are very small even on my skeletal arms. If you lift and build your arms, you will need XL just for that.

The fit is race fit. As tight as Castelli and moreso. Unless you are quite trim, expect to size up.

The fabrics are a fascinating assortment of aero, cooling, and just plain exotic feeling materials. Many panels are a bit like snakeskin. Air just slides off. These panels on me become sweat soaked rapidly. I suspect that one price of the aero panels is a jersey that is warmer than it looks.

The main zipper has a clever tab to wrap over it. It is a flyweight delicate zipper that must be used w care. Mine is already tempermental after only a month or so.

So mind the zipper. Help yourself to one of these pro styling jerseys and enjoy slipping through the wind too.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on August 17, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Walking up to a bike with a dirty chain, clamping the cleaner over it and spinning it clean in a few seconds with minimal mess feels like a magic trick. I enjoyed it so much, I did two other bikes after finishing my road bike. It works as specified.

Be careful about moving the chain smoothly and easily through the cleaner. If you are rough, you will damage the plastic parts. Also, if your chain is filthy, blast it with a hose, run it through some rags to get the major grime to a tolerable level before running it through the chain cleaner. All the road grit has to go into the cleaning tool. You can't dump fouled chains into it and expect miracles.

Works as expected. It made me smile too. Being able to keep my drivetrain cleaner has lowered friction and noise while smoothing shifts. I should have gotten one of these ages ago.

Four stars for being a bit better than good but doesn't look durable enough to merit five.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on August 17, 2016

Minimalist well made sleek aero gloves
4 5

These are pretty nice gloves, especially at this price point. They slide on easy enough, look fast, feel like wearing no gloves except for the added grip. Spinning along making good time, they round out whatever other aero kit you might be wearing, and make you feel just a bit nattier; perhaps a hair faster too.

But there's a price to be paid. Minimal padding and thin layers of material offer limited hand comfort on the bars. No big deal and might never be if your bike is properly adjusted and you have cushy endurance bar tape. But what happens when you fall? Will the glove retain the hand protection properties we've come to expect from beefier gloves worn years before?

No. These shred almost immediately if your hands hit pavement; then the road tears into your palms. The wispy ventilated palm is little more protective than a thin sheet of lycra.

These are terrific. But don't crash. Ever. Or expect the gloves and your palms will shred upon contact with pavement. So, not good for hand protection in a crash. If you are happy to assume that risk, you should buy these and enjoy them. For hand protection when things go south, this is the wrong glove.

Four stars because they are glorious on all the many days when you don't crash.

If you have wide hands or thick fingers. Size up. These fit very precisely. Race feel and fit.

(0)

 

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on August 17, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I have been using Boeings boeshield lube on the drivetrains of my bikes and my wife's bikes for so long I can't remember how I managed without it before. A few minutes to apply (a little goes a long way), wait an hour or so and just ride. The lube helps displace grit and not pick more up.

Whether you use it meticulously and clean your drivetrain frequently on your fast bike or just keep adding more to the worn drivetrain on your beater errand bike, it works the same. I'm impressed by how long the chain fends off grit and how long drivetrain smoothness is maintained with only periodic application.

Try it if you haven't already. There are good reasons this lube has a strong following in shops and among high mileage riders.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on May 14, 2016

2 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

A very nice mount. Secure, firm, stable. Solid hardware. It should keep the light on the bars. looks slick. Mounts easily and quickly. Threads are good. But added to the cost of the light itself, it's around $200. A number of firms have sold pricey mounts separately. Couple bucks cheaper and I would have given it 5 stars.

---

Update: All comments still apply, but the bolts on both of my mounts started to corrode in just weeks. I don't leave my bikes outside and don't get within miles of the ocean. Not happy.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on December 11, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

After reading many reviews of head units I realized that Sigma covered the core set of features with the ROX 10.0 for less than half of what competitors are asking. I recognized that I could live without a head unit that ws a pseudo smart phone game console. I didn't need notification of calls and email or to flip through playlists -- while riding. I also don't want to pay monthly fees for related services or race my ghost self or others live on Strava. If I need routing help, I'm going to use my iPhone anyway. What I really wanted was more training data during my ride but more seriously after my ride.

The ROX is inexpensive because it does away with many things that may be nice but aren't essential: buttons rather than touch screen, old fashioned LCD rather than color, breadcrumb rather than live turn by turn dynamic map and routing, wired rather than wireless data transfer, ANT+ only with no Bluetooth support. If you want those, pay more than double and buy competing models.

The rugged ROX 10.0 covers all the basics in a simple reliable package for modest cost. It also offers one or two features not found on other units -- such as derived power.

There are some rough edges. The starting altitude seems to jump around from ride to ride for no obvious reason. Sometimes it can take one or two extra attempts to get ROX plugged into my iMacs USB port and synchronized with the Sigma Data Center analysis product. You may read complaints about screen visibility but it seems fine to me under most light conditions. When I need better visibility, I flip on the backlight and that works fine. In a couple months of riding, it hasn't lost a ride or delivered garbage data. It has paired easily with my two sensors (Wahoo SC, Viiiiva HR strap). The data correlate with what Strava reports on my iPhone (paired with same sensors but over Bluetooth). I pay no monthly fees to anyone for anything. For deeper analysis I export my data from Data Center and load it into the free Golden Cheetah program which can derive values and slice up data sets more ways that most could imagine (for example, it derives gearing, maps out exertion intervals, renders scatter plot graphs.) Seemingly all ride data are included in the export in a standard format readable by most other products (e.g. Strava). If you have a power meter, you can pair it over Ant+ with the ROX and your data set should include everything available from head units costing hundreds of dollars more.

If you just want core training data and display of standard real time values like speed, cadence, heart rate, distance, etc ROX 10.0 is a compelling value.

I give it 4 rather than 5 stars due to some quirks in the software. In a few months time I could buy an entry level power meter for the money saved by buying this unit and forgoing recurring fee based services. Engineering is about doing more for less; German based Sigma did exactly that with ROX 10.0..

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on December 2, 2015

Comfortable grippy ride; fussy install
3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Good:
A. Handle well and smooth the ride over uneven and loose surfaces.

B. Grippy and stable in the corners on fast descents or whenever brakes are applied. Confidence building.

C. Good overall ride quality (once they are mounted).

D. Reasonably fast given their size (rolling resistance) and at lower pressures. (I ride mostly 90-95psi to protect rims from rock damage).

Not Good:
1. Difficult to get the bead to seat and for the seal to hold. Air compressor is essential as is REQUIRED Hutchinson tire sealant. Contrary to other reviews I've read, I was able to mount and unmount the tires using just my fingers. Brushing some soapy water along the inside of tire rim before mounting does help seat the bead. It can take more than one try. You shouldn't ride them for 24hrs after mounting.

2. Quality is uneven. My first pair wouldn't seat and hold air (see picture of a simple water test and sealant leaking around the rim). My second pair is developing troubling tears along the sidewall where threads from the fabric are pulling loose.

3. Durable but vulnerable to puncture and damage anywhere off the center of the tread (two tires damaged on the road).

4. At times, they can feel like your wheels are stuck in chewing gum when climbing.

I went through 2 pairs of these tires over the summer. The first pair wouldn't mount and seal on the rims properly no matter what I tried to do. The bead would never seat and the sealant would never fully seal the ongoing moderate leak. The picture shows the sealant bubbling out around the rim several days after mounting (and a few short rides) when tested by a quick soak in the sink. Tires were losing pressure 10-20psi per day or per ride.

I wanted wide low pressure tubeless 28mm tires tough enough for bad surfaces and training miles, but light and low friction too. There aren't many tubeless options. These sort of work but they've not taken me very far for time and money invested. I can't see buying them again.

It is possible that my first pair are defective. It is also possible that I was unlucky hitting just the wrong sort of road debris. But even the tires that worked seem not to be holding up.

Three stars because they seem like a good tire when they work and your mileage might be better.

[Wheels used: Shimano WH-6800 Tubeless wheelset.]

(0)

 

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on October 24, 2015

Torque your Speedplay cleats confidently
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

You want your cleats just tight enough that they don't slip or loosen, but not so tight that the bolts risk over penetrating your CF shoe soles. It can be hard to find just the right amount of torque without worrying about overdoing it. This preset torque key helps by letting you know when you are at the torque spec for the cleats and their interface in the shoe. You should check your cleats for signs of loosening before rides. A loose cleat could fail to release quickly enough and punish you with a very costly crash. Checking and tightening is cheap insurance.

In my case on two pairs of CF shoes: 3 bolt with adapters Specialized Expert with many miles and a new pair of Lake 401s with 4 bolts, torquing the screws down with a screwdriver to the point where some significant effort would be required to screw them any tighter, was close to the torque allowed by this tool -- but a bit short of it. I was surprised that it took a few more quarter turns to get the bolts at the specified tension.

If you use any aftermarket bolts, such as those that come with fit kits, they are likely made of a softer metal than the original Speedplay bolts and are prone to stripping when subjected to higher torque (see picture). Fear not, the bit provided with this tool is made of a metal that is somewhat harder than both the Speedplay and aftermarket philips bolt heads. It is beefy and also magnetized for convenience. It seems to be holding up and not showing signs of wear.

Tool use is simple enough. Simply use a regular screwdriver to turn the bolts until they are close, then finish by using this torque key to turn them until they feel tight enough to you or the internal clutch gives way to indicate that you are at the maximum allowed torque.

Tool quality is pretty identical to that of the popular Ritchey preset hex torque key. If it does its job well and you don't tend to fiddle with your cleats much, you won't have to use it very much, but you'll also know that your cleats are properly mounted and your shoes should be safe from damage provided you did not use too long a bolt to begin with. Though it can provide some defense against well meaning error, it is no defense against stupidity. Thoughtfulness is required and at times, loc tite (blue) might be as well if your cleats keep loosening.

In the picture I provided, note the blue shim. I have two of those mounted on each shoe. Their purpose to roll my ankles out just slightly (bikefit states 1 degree per shim) for a more natural leg to pedal alignment. I have also installed the required thin steel plate CF shoe protector. The aftermarket bolts (steel) are just slightly longer on the raised side than the shorter side which uses Speedplay bolts (anodized).

[Because Speedplay cleats require frequent wet/dry pfte Speeplay lube, some may work its way into the bolts and nuts as well as the friction surface mount points for the cleat body resulting in cleat loosening and slipping. Though I like the feel and adjustability of Speedplay, looking after the cleats is an additional nuisance that must be attended to for safe use.]

(2)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on September 26, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

My wife and I have ridden this tire more than any other. I found an extra 1mph or so the first time I mounted them. Several comparison reports show they are the fastest road clincher that is still durable and suited for a few thousand training miles. Flat resistant and have experienced good tread up to about 3000mi. Not flat proof.

If there were a better clincher in this price range, I would ride it. There isn't. Buy the 4000S II.

(1)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on September 26, 2015

4 5

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

For Castelli , these are a rather non-descript "stealth" look, but still sleek. Not much more decoration than the single scorpion over the calf on each leg. (Decal so will likely peel off over time as ok Caselli kit that use decal logos). That's OK because they won't clash colors with your bib shorts. Thermoflex is fleecy on the inside but still manages to vent enough excess heat and moisture so they don't become damp. The legs are held up by compression and silicone leg grippers which succeed at keeping the legs from slipping bunching chafing. They are warm yet thin enough to fit under closely tailored shorts without creating bands or stretching the legs on the shorts. The zippers at the bottom make it easier to remove the warmers at home or mid ride. I'm happy with these so far.

These are Casrelli (race fit) which means take your every day real world size go up at least 1 and maybe 2 sizes.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on September 17, 2015

Fabric of body panels is poor quality
1 5

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

I tried one of these but returned it because the red panels were not colorfast. The red color came out in a simple cold water hand rinse after a short ride. Then I tried a second one and it was also not colorfast. Both jerseys also developed pulls almost immediately for no obvious reason.

I find these quality problems a bit surprising In a product of this price range. By far the weakest Castelli product I have tried.

Good: sizing, fit, feel, aerodynamics, sleeves, zipper, pockets, aesthetics
Bad: fabric quality

Cannot recommend.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on August 18, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This compact wrench comes in a convenient plastic clamshell case along with the specified bits. I've used it several times to adjust seatposts, seatpost clamps, headsets, stems, etc. Twisting the adjustable dial to the specified torque spec is comforting and allows you to be more confident about torquing down parts that need it (such as clamps) without fear of overdoing it and damaging your components. When you hit the torque limit you've set, the clutch slips at the head as expected.

The wrench seems sturdy enough for periodic home use, and should be fine for that application, but the torque adjustment mechanism is made of plastic and doesn't turn smoothly.. The bits also wobble when snapped on the wrench, so there is a little unexpected play between the arm and the driver while torquing down a bolt. I cannot recommend it for heavier shop or team use.

For light to medium duty: This is a decent value for compact size and modest price.
For medium duty and above: Get a sturdier wrench.

[for most individual hobbyist home users, this is a more than adequate wrench at a good price and covers some of the lower torque settings that pricier wrenches may not -- 3-6nm for example. Just don't expect it to hold up to heavy use. Also, several bike parts have torque limits well above 15nm --- pedals for example -- check your equipment specifications to make sure 3-15nm covers your needs.]

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on August 18, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've worn this in the rain and it kept me dry save for some perspiration dampness common with all rain gear. It is semi form fitting and intended to be worn over a base layer so expect it to drag a bit in the wind. The zippers work well and the jacket does dump internal excess heat and perspiration successfully. Recommended for days when rain is spritzing down intermittently. Not a great choice for blocking wind as it is biased toward keeping out moisture rather than venting heat and moisture. The fabric and design are not revolutionary and it won't do things that you haven't likely seen before with other similar kinds of products. It's a pretty piece of kit.

But it is a Castelli jacket and the graphics are bold, striking, and match other Castelli kit. It is the product I would expect. Sizing runs larger and cut is bulkier, so don't order up one or two sizes as you might with other Castelli gear. [I'm 6'3" 184 and Large is a roomy rain jacket sized fit -- intended to go over base layers or other kit.]

The graphics are striking and reflective. At a healthy discount, this is a good purchase.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on August 14, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

i favor the margarita for the extra sodium I need from over perspiring in the summer heat. All flavor are delicious and habituating. Be careful to limit use if you are trying to burn fat! They are critical limp home fuel if you burn out too soon on your ride still miles from home and an extra kick if you need that boost to knock out some quality strava segments.

(0)

 

0 Comments

James B.

James B.wrote a review of on August 14, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Size runs slightly large when compared to Castelli. Air moves through the jersey nicely keeping you cool and dry in the heat with minimal aero dynamic drag. Fabric and seams don't rub and the length doesn't ride up when in the saddle. Despite the black color and the perforations, the jersey seems to reflect solar energy and heat while protecting skin from UV damage. The more generous arms, shoulders, chest when compared to Castelli make the jersey more comfortable to wear. The zipper slides smoothly but doesn't slip and seems durable.

Dries quickly when washed. Colors and material integrity hold up to sun and repeat washing. Doesn't shrink if line dried.

Highly recommended especially if discounted. Pairs very nicely with the Mondo Evo bib shorts.

(0)

 

0 Comments