Archive for the ‘kit’ Category

Busted front mech

Busted front mech

Busted front mech

Seems like everything on my road bike is breaking. Within 3 weeks:

  • freehub body
  • front mech
  • front shifter

The mech cage plate snapped on a down-shift at the bottom of the bank just north of Brasted.

Product review: BBB Successor Sunglasses

World Champion rainbow stripe to the fore.

World Champion rainbow stripe to the fore.



These sunglasses rock. £60 for 3 sets of lenses, a case AND kudos-heavy rainbow stripes is surely as much as any cyclist can demand form a set of shades. They do actually fit very well too.

Catlike Whisper

The Catlike Whisper.

The Catlike Whisper.

I know I bought a new helmet this summer. But it’s too dome-like. I bought it in a hurry and I got a size too big, and I don’t like it, so I’m buying a new one. The Catlike Whisper is on the list for next year.

Cycle Show 2010

Some shots from my visit to the Cycle Show on Sunday. I went along with Jonny and C to check out shiny bikes and trick bits.

On the whole, I was a little disappointed by the show, which didn’t live up to my expectations from other bike shows (like the unforgettable Bike ’96!):

  • there were few discount deals to be had
  • there was a tiny retail area selling pricey t-shirts and bog standard kit
  • the BMX street area was small and massively overcrowded

And where were the freebies? That’s why we pay £12 a ticket! Literally, I got 2 Windose energy gels and a badge.

Product review: White Lightning Lubes

Millsy wants to know what lube to use. Figured I’d post my answer. 

From my experience of frequent UK road riding, my number 1 recommendation would be White Lightning Clean Ride.


If you ride regularly an oily chain is the bane of your life. The stuff gets everywhere. Clean Ride is the only lube I’ve found that is effective whilst keeping the chain clean.

You still need to rub the chain clean after each ride, and re-apply before the next one, but it’s a good idea to do this anyway to keep things rolling smoothly and prevent grime accumulating.

For longer rides, apply lots, wait 20 mins, then re-apply.

For long, hard, wet rides, you will need a tougher lube. If I’m going longer than 4 hours, I use White Lightning Epic Ride, which is not as clean but will ensure your chain doesn’t dry out, cause friction, and slow you down.


Just by the way, avoid this:


It says it’s clean, but actually it’s much thicker than White Lightning, and ends up black and messy in no time.

How to fit a road bike into a dhb Elsted bike box

The bike box, empty. It's like standing at the foot of Everest.

The bike box, empty. It's like standing at the foot of Everest.

Having read a number of accounts on the web about how it’s impossible to fit a bike into a dhb Elsted bike box, and refusing to believe this was true, I fought a long, hard battle to prove it can be done.

Follow the 10 easy steps:

  1. Dismantle the bike: remove handlebar, pedals, seatpost, rear mech.
  2. Place wheels in padded cases provided – removing the skewers first!
  3. Lie the rear wheel flat in one end of the box, cassette pointing outwards.
  4. Lie the frame in the box, rotating the forks 90 degrees so they face up (see images). The cranks should point skywards / towards the top of the case when stood up.
  5. Place a plastic wedge-thingy between the rear stays to keep them from straining the frame (bike shops can usually give you a set).
  6. Place one padded foam block beneath the seat clamp, the other above the big ring.
  7. Fasten the strap across the box contents.
  8. Lie the front wheel over the frame, the opposite end to where you put the rear wheel. 
  9. Wrap the rear mech and place any other bits (pedals, seatpost/saddle, skewers) in the box. 
  10. Close the case.

Step 10 is clearly much easier said than done. Don’t force it, or sit on it – just squeeze it closed, ensuring nothing gets caught in the process, and close the clasps one by one.

All in. Note position of handlebars.

All in. Note position of handlebars.

It is in there - honest!

It is in there - honest!

The Muni-Mula – should she stay or should she go?

Kona Muni-Mula, 1998 edition.

Kona Muni-Mula, 1998 edition.

I officially can’t decide what to do with my Kona Muni-Mula (1998) frame. Can I make this phoenix rise from the ashes one last time with £300-500? Or should I just flog it and buy a brand new MTB?

Sell it, trash it or pimp it: it’s your choice – simply cast your vote in the poll on the right hand side. 

A few details that may help you decide:

  1. I like this bike. We’ve been through some times together.
  2. The frame handles well, it’s pretty light, and has only surface damage.
  3. The Marzocchi Bomber forks need a service but basically they’re fine.
  4. The headset needs replacing.
  5. The frame has no disc mounts, although the fork does.
  6. I would need to purchase new parts for everything you don’t see here except the handlebar, seatpost/saddle and front wheel.

Product review: Continental Grand Prix 4000


These tyres are top. They are certainly lighter than the Ultra Gator Skins I previously reviewed, and in fact they seem more resistant to cuts and general wear & tear. This begs the question: why settle for less, especially since CRC are currently offering them for only £7-8 more? Velodramatic uses them, so they must be OK – although he’s got the limited edition white ones of course…

Mosquito Bikes 1, Cycle Surgery 0


Today was a triumph for the independent London bike store. I got better service and more straight-talking from Mosquito Bikes in about 5 minutes of phone conversation than in 6 weeks with Cycle Surgery.

First of all, a disclaimer – I’m not out to pan Cycle Surgery. They’re good for what they are, i.e. convenient, accessible, capable, multi-purpose, inner-city bike stores. I buy plenty of kit at CC (including my bike, let’s face it) and on balance they have the edge over Evans. However on this occasion they fell short of what I expected.

Rear wheel bearing

In late Feb I discovered play in my rear Fulcrum 7 wheel. The Fulcrum 7s came with my bike, so they’d had about 18 months of active service. I called CC, who advised me that the cartridge bearings could not be serviced, they could only be replaced with a new bearing. I placed an order on March 4th for a new bearing. CC even called me back to confirm the order had been placed, and to inform me I should receive a call in a few weeks’ time. Thankfully I already had my Neutrons by this point, so I just rode those. 

Weeks passed, no call from CC. I phoned a couple of times: the estimated time went from ‘2-3 weeks’ to ’28 days’. I called a month after I initially placed the order, only to be told that actually, because orders to the suppliers were only made once or twice a month, I could have been unlucky i.e. my order was only placed with the supplier in mid-March.

I was annoyed, but figured I would get a call at some point, I still had the Neutrons so what the hey. I considered calling Condor, but they’re being refurbished, and apparently refurbishment means you can’t even provide a phone number (even a voicemail service?) on your website. Another sad chapter in the chronically bad Condor website saga.

Cut the crap

This morning I cracked and called up Mosquito. Dean at Mosquito was helpful. He said they would be doing an order to the bearing supplier tonight, so could I bring my wheel down this afternoon to confirm exactly which bearing was required? I said I couldn’t, but would do the next morning. 5 minutes later I got a call from (mechanic?) Bertie at Mosquito, who, reasoning that my bearing could only be one of two possible types, had ordered both bearings, and would fit one of them tomorrow if I brought the wheel in first thing.

Totally awesome.

Clearly, for specific parts and fast, dedicated service, indie is the way.

Product review: Garmin Forerunner 50

A few weeks ago I upgraded my old heart rate monitor and bought Garmin’s most basic HRM, the Forerunner 50


First impressions were good. The screen is clear, the watch and chest-strap fit well, the watch buttons are big enough, and it’s pretty easy to get used to the functions after a flick through the manual.

The Forerunner 50 also comes with a USB stick so you can upload saved sessions to your Garmin account and chew over the data. I found myself stumbling around the Garmin websites on a few occasions, so I’ve tried to figure out why. I ran into problems trying to download the software required for pairing my USB stick and watch on a new machine.

Software download

I log in to ‘myGarmin’, then click ‘Downloads’ – and it says I have no downloads available for my product. Confused, and after heading down several other dead-ends, I return to ‘View your registered products’, and click on ‘Forerunner 50’, which I have already registered. I hit-and-hope on a link that says ‘Accessories’. Now I’m on a shop page, but I see there are some Quick Links on the right, one of which is ‘Garmin Connect’. Is this what I’m looking for?

Yes. I’m pinged over to, and a new page called ‘myConnect’, where I can easily navigate to download the Garmin ANT Agent software. Why can’t I do this directly from myGarmin via a self-contained admin area? It seems that from Garmin’s point of view, there are different types of download – software downloads for upgrades and add-ons, and software downloads for pairing – but from my point of view, I want all downloads in the same place, clearly flagged from a central ‘myWhatever’ page.

Once downloaded, the ANT Agent software makes pairing the computer and the device, and uploading saved workouts, very simple. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover it worked with Mac / Safari, and I really like the myConnect dashboard interface – it makes me want to upgrade my hardware to use more data (e.g. distance / speed, and maps).


The Garmin myConnect 'workout details' page.

The whole experience is very good overall. The Forerunner 50 is excellent value, and I feel good about buying in to the Garmin technology. A few aspects of the online interface are a bit frustrating, and I think these could be improved if the different zones of Garmin’s web environment were better integrated.

Update 5-4-09

After a couple of months’ regular use I’m still a fan of this HRM. Couple of points worth mentioning though:

  • Memory: I tend to go on long rides, and this model’s memory gets full after about 6-7hrs. In order to avoid the ‘lo-mem’ warning that flashes up and obscures the time readout in Train mode, it’s best to clear all saved workouts. Even then, ‘lo-mem’ pops up on rides over 6hrs. Poor.
  • The stop-start button can be depressed by accident when descending, due to contact with the back of the hand.