Garmin 520 GPS, living with one.

Look, it’s hard writing this review. I won’t be telling you how well it incorporates with an ANT+ enabled power meter because I don’t have one but, if you do, it will do that. In terms of live Strava segment beating? Screw that, I’m mostly on my commute when I’m using this and, sorry if this isn’t very road warrior, it’s better keeping my eyes on the road. Shimano Di2, Garmin Varia, Vector and Virb integration? Yep, it does those and I won’t be dealing with them either. What I aim to tell you is whether, as a cute little GPS unit, it’s actually any good at the basic stuff. Does it do what it says on the really nice waxy paper covered box?

I’ve owned a few Garmin units over the years. Indeed, I once owned the Garmin Forerunner 101. Google it. It’s a laughably big wrist based GPS that looked like you were wearing a small clock on your arm, whilst running. But it worked and spurred you on a little when training. You’ve got to keep your average speed up, run dammit.For me, that’s pretty much what these are all about. I had an 800 once, decent enough, with mapping. You have to love mapping. I wonder how many users of map units set it to navigate home from work? Just because you can. I had a 510 as well. That worked, didn’t look all that pleasant, but had some exciting new features such as live tracking. It had a touchscreen as well, that horrible resistive type that needed you to press it hard. Good with gloves but old feeling tech.

Anyway, Garmin have always been at the forefront of this technology. On the road they had to fend off the advance of TomTom et al. In the fitness band market they’re arguably second to Fitbit. But, in the GPS cycling world, it’s been pretty much Garmin or nothing. There are newcomers, Leyzne, Bryton and now Wahoo fitness, but it’s a pretty hard market to crack. Can Garmin still lay claim to being the best there is? Is the middle ground Garmin the best of the Garmin range?

What’s in the box?

Quite a lot as it happens. There’s the Edge 520 unit itself of course, did I mention how cute it is? And there are the usual manuals and warning notices, mini USB lead which you will no doubt lose because you have thousands more (it’s a micro USB by the way, none of that silly mini USB stuff), there are cadence and heart rate monitors if you bought that version (I did not) and there are mounts. Oh my there are mounts. Where the previous versions brought you a couple of stem based mounts this one goes even further. There are two stem mounts and numerous rubber bands to attach them, but there’s also the addition of an out front Garmin mount. This works nicely and feels quite premium. It’s not metal but, hey, it’s less likely to do nasty stuff to my bars. The RRP of it is around £30 thus making the entire boxed proposition that bit more attractive in terms of price.

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Why didn’t I opt for heart rate and cadence? Well, there’s the thing. Cadence first, this unit lives on my road bike, where it’s certainly useful and two 1x geared bikes where, frankly, cadence is pretty much dictated by the gears I have (or don’t have). And I’m a grinder. Cadence has a place and that’s to educate. I’m pretty much beyond education now and slip back to bad habits frequently, so there’s no real need for it, for me. And heartbeat? Same thing really, I’m just not really all that good at dealing with what I take from it. But, if you’re training sensibly and want this stuff? Then it’s all there for you. The problem is that the RRP is about £60 more. That’s fine. It’s better to buy it together as it’s cheaper to do so. But there’s another issue. On actual selling prices the cadence and HRM equipped model is near enough £80 more than the base unit. Or, for perspective, more expensive than a base unit 810 and not far off a cadence and HRM equipped 810. You pays your money etc. So you have to decide what’s important to you. But there are some very useful fitness parts to the 520 and I may well decide to get a HRM in due course. Somebody asked me to do a Triathlon today. Despite the fact that this breaks all sorts of rules I might. And training properly might well assist.

What’s the unit like?

Well, it looks cute. It’s aesthetically pleasing in a way that the 500 was and the 510, with its rubbery bottom buttons, was not. Back to being cute then. And in terms of its form it’s tiny. It manages to be almost as small as the 500 was, packs in a much bigger screen but has shrunk in overall size from the previous 510. That’s great. It means that it’s going to sit well on smaller stems. Anyone running an 80 or 90mm stem will be familiar with this. With the quarter turn mount in place the older 510 unit sometimes dragged on the top cap or the front of the stem. No such worries with this little thing. And if you mount it out front it’s still sufficiently large so that you can see it and read the screen. In terms of size I think it’s probably spot on.

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Turning to design aesthetics it’s more Apple like than the slightly more industrial and plasticky units of the past. It’s light but has a bit of heft to it. It should survive falling off and bouncing along the road. There’s a tiny little lanyard lead supplied which you can fix around the bottom of the unit and your stem if you’re not too confident of the unit staying on the mount. I wouldn’t worry though, it appears to be very secure and a far cry from the old slip in attachment that was found on the older 705 series. I’ve experienced no issues with the quarter lock but I have seen some people who have sheared off the rear tabs. If that happens you’re in some trouble, so take it easy.

The rear of the unit houses the moulded in quarter turn mount and the USB charging point. There’s a little rubber flap over the USB point and the unit is IPX7 certified. That means it’s dust proof and should survive in around 1 metre of water for about 30 minutes. No, I’m not testing it for you. The position of the charging port underneath is a much better option than at the side. That said, if you’re using the out front mount in the wet bear in mind that there is scope for water to come up from the front wheel. In practice it’s been fine and should continue to be fine. The rubber insert in the charging port is more than tight fitting enough to do the job. I used the Garmin on the stem for Battle on the Beach and it got soaked a few times but it performed flawlessly and wiped clean immediately.

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So, back to those buttons. They’re pretty easy to follow. The bottom two are start/pause on the right and lap on the left. In practice I tend to leave the lap one alone. The right hand button is pretty easy to operate and has a ridged surface to ensure that it’s grippy enough. I press start at the beginning of the ride and let the setup do the rest.

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The top left button turns the unit on and off and allows you to select the brightness of the display (which I typically have at about 80%). The two left hand “up and down” buttons allow to scroll up and down through the various options lists. The top right button is effectively the “enter” button and allows you to confirm commands. The bottom right hand button is the “back” button. There’s no home button so once you’ve drilled down to the micro level of a menu structure you have to press back a multitude of times to get back to where you started.

Gone are any attempts to integrate any type of touch technology into the product. It’s all buttons. 7 of them to be precise, which is quite a lot. I don’t really like touchscreen tech for this type of product. For me buttons are easier, especially when wearing gloves. Buttons certainly can be annoying as well but these are fairly intuitive once you know what you’re doing.

The screen is colour, 2.3 inches and 200 x 265 pixels. I’d describe it more as colourful than colour, certainly when compared to something like the Garmin 1000 which is more mobile phone like in its representation of different colours. What is most certainly is not is in any way high definition regardless of Garmin’s claims. It’s very clear, works well even in direct sunlight and is utterly readable. But don’t compare it with a mobile phone.

Menus are straightforward, it’s just a case of drilling down to where you want and using the buttons to make changes. An example is below. I’m on the screen that’s customising the settings for “train” mode. You can create a multitude of modes to use each with separate customisation. In the below screen you use the up and down buttons to navigate between each menu line then the enter button to drill down further into them. It’s clunky and takes a bit of time but it’s the only obvious method. But, there is a better way in my view. Both the See Sense Light app and the Go Pro Camera app allow you to customise the unit using the app itself. That customisation then transfers to the unit. And this is an area where it appears that the new Wahoo Elemnt kills the 520 stone dead. That app, if the claims are correct, allows you to customise it far more easily and intuitively from your smartphone with a simple select, drag and drop approach. I think there’s probably a reason for this. Garmin’s Connect App works with all their devices. Pairing it with each results in that devices information being available on the App. But Garmin have a bewildering array of devices to integrate. Wahoo’s approach is to give the Elemnt its own bespoke app which makes it easier to write for. Nevertheless it’s something I think Garmin should embrace. It’s time to move on. 7 buttons is a lot of buttons, can we lose some of them?

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How does it work?

First things first. I paired the Garmin 520 with my Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone via Bluetooth. Despite internet grumbling about issues with this I have not experienced any issues at all. I installed the Garmin Connect App on my phone and this means that all my rides will instantly transfer to Garmin Connect as I complete them. My Garmin Connect app is then given permission to sync to Strava. I also have that app installed on my phone. I can then consult either app on my phone or either website on a desktop to see how I’ve done. In practice the Strava website (and app) are a much clearer way of viewing things. But this is not really a review of those apps and websites other than to say that they work fine for me and I’ve had no issues with them. Anyway, Strava is orange and orange is nice.

OK, what you want to know is, how does it look afterwards, once you’ve done your bit of training. I guess what’s most important to you is how your info looks on Strava and, if Strava is down, does it look OK on Garmin Connect (app or desktop). Let’s have a look at how the 520 talks to each application below. If you click on the link it should take you to the desktop version of the ride and the screenshot shows you how it looks on the mobile. Bear in mind that this was a race across open beach, open grassland but a huge amount of wooded area. At no point did the unit ever lose its GPS signal.

The Race : on Strava

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The Race : Garmin Connect

The first screenshot is the Garmin Connect ride page and the second is the overall “Snapshot” page.

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There are a few issues, it seems. Strava has me slightly quicker, although only very slightly. Perhaps this may be down to a very slight rounding down. We’ll let that one pass for the time being. But Garmin connect has me doing 288 metres of climbing, which, on a beach, is more than a little unlikely. Strava has me down for the default (it seems) 600ft but once corrected (Strava is very very clever at this stuff) it settles down to 197 feet and that seems about right. It’s an odd one and I’ll need to have a play with it but my conclusion at this point is that Strava deals with this better than Garmin. Which is all a bit weird. I’d add here that I have played round with the Connect elevation data and it continues to show too much climbing. It’s an odd one particularly since the 520 is equipped with a barometric pressure sensor. It’s even odder because the ride history on the device only shows 597 feet of climbing. So, in terms of tracking and recording it just works, apart from the climbing bit on Connect which, for me, doesn’t work at the moment. Anyway, it’s fine on Strava and I prefer Strava.

There’s a load of integration with social media on there, as you’d expect. So a quick bit of hitting the share button will see your noble effort uploaded to bore everyone to tears on Facebook or Twitter.

There’s a nice feature called live track though it’s quite hard to demonstrate as I’m not typing this live. Essentially you choose to share your ride with a live audience either by email recipient or something like Facebook or Twitter etc. Then they can share watching you move around a map. Brilliant, I guess. I don’t know, I’m the one doing the moving rather than the watching. I set it up for both Battle in the Beach and the Dark and I understood that it worked and one or two people watched me for a few minutes as I did up to 21 mph on a beach in a straight line. In addition you can set it to be view able for up to 24 hours as well so you can re-watch it if you’ve run out of episodes of Game of Thrones. It can have its uses though, imagine someone doing a night ride over wild terrain, you could keep an eye on your loved one or something, just in case. It’s a nice feature in this very sharing world if that’s something that interests you.

So that’s what it looks like afterward. But, actually, I’m more interested in what it looks like during your ride. And that’s pretty much why I have it. Because if I sound a little cynical about the added value of the stuff above my reason for owning one is that it pushes me to go that little bit faster overall, particularly on routes which I already know, such as my commute home. So, knowing that my best time for the commute home is around 48 minutes I can judge my exertion, see if I can get close to it and improve my overall fitness.

I do accept that I can do that on the Garmin 20 or 25 (the 25 being the better choice as it has Bluetooth and the 20 does not). So whilst the 25 would be ok the thing is I quite like multiple data fields rather than scrolling through many different screens. The Garmin 520 is best for that. I currently have mine set to 6 fields, you can have more or less depending on your preference. So if you want your cadence and HRM displayed you can have those as well. My personal preference is for speed, average speed, time of day (must be on time for work) and a few others. Despite the diminutive size of the screen everything’s still very readable indeed. And to add to that not only can you have up to 10 fields on a screen but you can have 5 screens! You cycle through them during the ride using the up and down buttons. You can also have a 6th which shows a map, if you have one. Given how many individual things you CAN track there’s scope for having all the data a person might never need. This is how mine is currently set up and, at the moment, I’m not using more than one screen. As I get used to it I plan on adding a few more with some other settings to try and get a bit fitter and a bit faster.

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I should add that I leave the back light on. At night that’s essential as you just won’t see it after the screen timeouts (you can customise the setting for this). In the day it’s much less important but it’s a little brighter overall and doesn’t have a massive effect on battery life for me. If I was doing a sportive of 6 hours plus I would probably turn it off, just to maximise the battery. But given that it should eke out 15 hours plus in its most economical mode then there should be few concerns in this respect. I’ve been commuting in and out and only charging it once a week.

So, in terms of living with it, it starts up quickly, picks up satellites very quickly indeed, shows me all the information I realistically want and syncs my data up reliably afterwards. It’s probably not a massive step up from the Garmin 25 in all those respects but, as a unit, I prefer it overall. It’s a little more advanced, there’s stuff that I want to start to play with and it’s a bit more future proof. If you’d like to have a look at how some of the main features compare across the Edge range then click on the link that appears below.

Edge Range Comparison

Navigation

Well, believe it or not, it does do navigation. None of that fancy car type turn by turn stuff that you get on a big daddy GPS or something like the Garmin 800/810/1000 or Touring versions. But you get something to follow, a breadcrumb trail to be exact. The 520 actually has base maps. They’re ok, not very detailed but most of the main routes are there. In the example below I’ve used one of my previous rides as the route and pressed ride. The unit is showing me how to navigate to the start of the ride. As you can see, until I do, it’s telling me that I’m off course. Once you’re on course it’s “simply” a matter of following the trail. You can zoom in or out as desired. It prompts you with junctions (on a different screen) and turns coming up and tells you how far they are. Most of the time. If you stray off course it will beep at you. You just need to find your way back on the map. It’s not perfect. It’s not meant to be. But it works well enough if you just want to find your way. You can plot your own routes using Garmin connect or map my ride and import them onto the device.

There’s a pretty good video of what all this looks like in practice here. 520 Turn by Turn

You can add new maps but, of course, the 520 has no additional SD storage. So, to do so, you will need to google some stuff. Essentially, you need to remove the existing maps and install areas with more detail on individually. I’ll leave it to you to look at but, essentially, you should be able to get a good map of Wales or France (for example) on there with little effort and a lot more detail.

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UPDATE : 1st April (and no, not an April’s fool!). I’ve been playing round with this a little and installing new maps is very easy indeed.

You need to browse to open street maps using this link. Open Street Maps

Once you’ve done that you need to create a map using the various menus available. So, for example I manually selected all of South Wales by using the available boxes. You will need to select “routable bicycle” as the setting. Enter your email address and a few moments (or a few hours depending on the queue) you’ll get an email with your map. You will want to download the one named gmapsupp.zip. That’s going to replace the file called gmapbmap.img on your Gamin. Move that file to a safe place and then replace it with the file that you’ve unzipped (which will now read gmapsupp.img. Rename it to gmapbmap.img. Then reboot and you’re all ready to go.

There’s a very good video link here: Youtube Link

Anyway, here’s the history of what I went through in relation to my nav experiences. My first attempt was to a course in Strava and downloaded the relevant file. Strava allows you to select the device in a drop down box. Just select the 500/510/520 etc and you get a .tcx file on your PC or MAC. Drag that file into the Garmin “New Files” folder. Then eject the Garmin, restart it, go to menu/training/courses and you should see your new file in there ready to use. You do need to make sure that you drag it to new files and not courses. That might seem a little counter intuitive but the act of restarting puts your new file into the courses folder on the device.

So, using that Strava file, I tested the turn by turn features over 17 miles or so. It works just fine but it wasn’t quite as good as that video I posted above. There are some observations. If you leave the 520 on the map screen then everything is rosy. You get a marker showing where you are, the route is coloured and arrows flash up to show the direction of travel. If that was all that there was then following that would be easy. It’s not the biggest screen in the world but the detail is good, particularly if you zoom in, and it’s all rosy.

You can leave it on the map screen and get turn notifications. So it pops up with messages like “90 yards turn left” along with an arrow to indicate turning left. Those road turnings are accompanied by an audible beep. So, if you’re turning on and off roads at junctions it works very well. Roundabout integration is less good. If you’re going, in effect, straight on, it doesn’t really tell you to do anything. If you have to turn left or right then it does do that. But it comes much later than the warning in relation to junctions. If you’re on the map screen then that’s an easy thing to deal with. But what about when you’re not? Well, if you’re on your training screen (i.e. speed, average etc) then the turn warnings and beeps still occur when you approach where you need to go. Ditto the roundabout turn notifications. But, in the straight on situations, you don’t get any messages. That’s fine, you just need to assume you are going straight on. But, the thing is, you might not be. You may find, as you’re on the roundabout, that it suddenly says “turn right” and that might be too late for you. So care is needed. If you go off course it gives a shrill beep and tells you so. So, that’s how it works with a Strava file.

Reader Michael Robinson alerted me to the fact that a file created with RidewithGPS might be a better file as it has both course points and track points. So, I created an identical file (my commute) and tested that over 17 miles instead. That file was much better. First, it deals with roundabouts properly. So it will tell you to take the 1st, 2nd exit etc. That, if you’re going fast, or if you’re not on the map screen, is a crucial addition in my view. Second, it seems to alert you, in most cases, to the action that you need to take a little earlier. And, third, it does incorporate some road naming conventions into the directions it tells you to take (so, turn left A4119 for example). Not all roads are necessarily named so sometimes it just says “turn left 300 yards” but it’s better than the Strava file it seems. My only criticism is that I’d like to have my roundabout turn indication a little earlier than as I enter the roundabout. The file does say, for example, turn left and then say take 2nd exit, but, to me, turn left means 1st exit in those cases. That only happened on one roundabout so perhaps a little more investigation into that is needed and also whether the notification can be set up to come earlier. Whereas I thought that the Garmin with Strava file was a decent addition but no replacement for a full on turn by turn I do think that the Garmin with a RidewithGPS file is much better and could well bridge that gap.

In practice, if you are using it to navigate, then I guess you would stay on the map screen anyway and just enjoy the ride. Another point to add here is that directions on any sat nav that provides true turn by turn will always be subject to how that unit views your progress. So it may pick the shortest route from A to B where, in fact, a different route was better. No such issues with this system as, of course, you’ve mapped out your route in advance. What it does mean is that there’s little scope for changing that route on the fly. All that you can do is wander off course and then pick it up later on.

If you’re prepared to put a little bit of work in on creating courses and dragging them to the device then it’s a very tidy feature.

And the rest?

It does plenty of things, specifically:

  • Bluetooth smart text and call notifications (they pop up on the screen)
  • A shedload of training tools such as recovery adviser, VO2 max, various fitness metrics
  • Loads of ANT+ features so integration with stuff like HRM’s, Cadence and Speed Sensors and Power meters
  • You can use it indoors on your indoor trainer with something like Zwift, Trainer Road etc
  • And, as stated earlier, you can use it to interact/control various other Garmin bike components.

Final Thoughts?

It’s pretty easy to live with and, since I started using it again, it’s fairly clear to me that, during the time I took it off the bike over winter, I’ve been pootling.  Since putting it back on my average speeds are up, weight has dropped a bit and I’m feeling fitter. That’s not to say that without it on the bike I couldn’t have ridden faster. But it gives you something to aim for. A lot of this can be achieved with the 25. If you’re in the market for a cheaper option then look to that. It does all the fancy live track and instant Bluetooth integration in the same way. I’d avoid the 20 if you want to upgrade to things like ANT+ or just because plugging things into a PC is really not the most modern method of upload. If you’re not after detailed maps then I think that the 520 offers the best feature set and value of the Garmin range, particularly given the addition of so many mounts.

There are some well priced competitors. The Lezyne range offer a very similar set of features but lack any form of navigation. They do however have a better sense of humour than Garmin. One “question” on their website asks whether the Mini GPS could survive being eaten by a domestic animal to which they have responded “Due to legal reasons we were not able to verify the Mini GPS’s digestion resistance (DR) with domestic animals. However, one of our engineers has volunteered to ingest one for testing purposes. We are still waiting for the final test results before we can give the Mini GPS a “passing” DR inspection.” Given that the Garmin 20 and 25 are smaller they do appear to be a better bet for ingestion.

But it’s the Wahoo Elemnt that really looks interesting. A friend of mine has recently bought one so I’ll look to update this review with this thoughts. It looks like something that, whilst costing a little more than the 520, offers a bit more in terms of future looking functionality. Perhaps, at last, in the cycling GPS market there’s something to provide some real competition.

dhb, I am speed. I am Aeron Speed. Part 2, bib shorts.

Depending on your point of view the Aeron range has either shrunk or expanded. When originally launched there were three Aeron bibshorts. Recently there has only been the Aeron Pro. For 2016 there is the Aeron and the Speed. As I’ll come on to discuss in a little while, the Aeron is an evolution of the Pro that came before but the Speed is a little bit of a revolution.

Bibshorts can be a very personal thing. You find what you like and continue with them. When you do it’s hard to wear anything other than those. I’ve done most of them. For a time I dabbled in the Castelli Free Aero and while the pad was great the sizing was a bit off. I needed XL to fit and they were still a tad tight in the groin. XXL was a bit better in that regard but, come on, I’m not an XXL for goodness sake. And if you do go XXL then the legs become a bit akin to wearing 3/4 length. I quite liked the Rapha Classic bibs but the chamois, while very comfy, had a tendency to wander up where it shouldn’t. The Pro Team were very well made but, I dunno, a tad long and the fit was a bit too much like the Castelli. Also, that block rubber lettering, when washed, was only going to be a matter of time away from messing with my OCD.

And then there’s Assos, and since I tried them, there always has been. For me they are the benchmark in terms of comfort. Or, at least, they were. I really rate the older (short leg) Mille S5 version. They fit me and they feel nice. The pad is good. They are the right length. Don’t ignore the basics. If the basics end up costing you a bit more then so be it. The Assos Uno were fine but always felt a bit looser and lacking compression in the equivalent size to the Mille. I’m sure the fi-13 were quite wondrous but, come on……….So, for a long time I’ve been using multiple pairs of Mille shorts because they work for me. It may be because they are sublime. It may be that the combination of things that they do well works for me. It’s difficult to be definitive because it’s a personal thing. But I rate them highly and it’s against that benchmark that I review. But, do bear this in mind, even at their now reduced price the Mille’s still require a huge financial investment and though they last for ages and have a legendary crash repair programme, there’s no getting away from that.

Anyway, for long rides in the summer sun, that’s what I wear. (I’ve just received some Parentini Race bibshorts as well and first impressions is that they challenge the Mille’s.) But there are all sorts of other rides, commuting, MTB, cyclocross and the like. And for a lot of those rides I’ve been wearing a pair of the old Aeron Pro Bibshorts. And I mean old. I’ve had them for at least 3 years now. They’ve seen better days. They’ve been washed in the washing machine with little or no care. They’ve probably been tumble dryed with everything else. I’ve gotten them filthy and now and again I’ve fallen off. They look a bit old now if you look very closely at them. But the dhb logo is still intact and so are all the seams. They were reasonably priced that they’ve lasted brilliantly. They’re not shouty but they work. Evolution is all about change, normally for the better. In cycling kit we appear to urge evolution every year. dhb have resisted it for a while with the Aeron. But changes are afoot.

dhb Aeron bibshorts 2016 (£65.00 rrp or £57.20 with platinum discount) (click to buy)

Nylon, spandex and polyester. Bear that in mind. We’ll come back to it. It’s important. I talked about my love for the Mille earlier. They are nylon and spandex, no polyester. What does polyester do? Does it add anything?

Let’s get this out of the way, these are definitely an evolution, but there aren’t a huge amount of differences to the previous model and I don’t think a huge amount of changes were needed. If it ain’t broke etc. So we still have a light and airy upper bib section with a one piece rear section rather than the traditional over straps. It’s fine, works well and, in practice, I have no view on it being any better or worse than a pair of straps. But a very welcome change for this year is whatever colour combo you choose the straps are white. If you partner them with a lightweight jersey then it’s probably the case that they will be less visible than black ones. The bottom of the mesh section at the rear cuts down quite low so these are a pretty cool and airy pair of shorts. Edging aside the straps are one piece all the way up and over. So there’s nothing there to irritate. It’s worth noting that if you don’t like this type of strap setup then there are no alternatives for you. Sorry! For the ladies however dhb offer a number of different strap setups including the halterneck and front clip setup.

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There has been a bit of re-placement of the various panels. So the focus is now more on a side section leg panel joining to a mid section groin panel. Before the legs had been a continuous loop. It doesn’t feel very different in practice. There are a few panels added higher up where the mid section had been two panels joined at the rear. Anyway, you get the idea. If you placed them side to side you’d get a similar aesthetic but you can see that there are differences.

Previously external flatlock stitching was used and contributed a little to the design aesthetic. Those flatlock seams are now gone so there’s more of an uncluttered look. One review on Wiggle has suggested that removing these has led to less comfort. I don’t agree. They are as near flatlock as to make practically no difference at all and, frankly, the seams on my Assos shorts have always been “normal” and never caused me any issues. You’d be hard pushed to feel these seams digging in any way.

There’s been an evolution of the leg gripper and, for me, it’s a nicer feeling affair than it was before. Rather than rubberised gripper running round a standard panel the outer leg part is now one of those giant elastic band thingies. It grips well and ensures that there’s no movement. Unlike the previous version the gripper doesn’t run right round the leg. It encompasses only the front, outside and rear aspect. The inner leg part is a piece of lycra, the same material as the rest of the shorts. But, here’s the thing. It’s double lined and really very comfortable. It’s an interesting design feature. In practice it means you get a nice grip for the elastic but a really nice feel on the inside the leg. There’s no conflict between the two even though the inner section has no grippers.20160312_104341

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The pad is from pad masters Cytech once again. It’s from their Ultra range and is for road or MTB use. The observant among you will notice that it’s changed colour from the Aeron pro (which was red). The previous version used the Cytech Tour Air and the new version uses the Tour HP Super Air. More letters and the addition of Super. Better yes? Possibly. The truth here is that, denomination aside, they’re pretty much the same pad dimensionally. It’s possible that some of the densities have changed (these have a triple density design, depending on the area) but it appears to be much the same. That’s fine. It’s a good pad. Not the best pad in the world, I prefer the Mille and, very recently, have been blown away by Parentini’s C6 pads. But it’s a very good pad indeed and as good as any other brand I’ve ever worn. It lasts as well. For perhaps the first couple of uses it’s not as silky smooth as it could be but once worn in, or washed, it’s lovely. It’s properly positioned and doesn’t disappear anywhere that you don’t want it to when out of the saddle.

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What I particularly like about the Aeron is that they feel quite compressive. It’s at this point I return to that polyester. I wonder if it’s the addition of that which makes them feel so snug and protecting? It might also explain why they are so hardwearing. It doesn’t make them feel any different to the touch, but it may well be that it’s adding something. I confess I don’t know. It just struck me as interesting. Perhaps a materials course beckons.

I opted for a large in these as I was just at the top end of that sizing bracket. Unlike jerseys I’d generally advise going for the right size rather than sizing up. They’ll compress better and, frankly, lycra stretches. So a large in these was bang on for me. Leg length is a little longer than the Mille’s that I prefer but leg length is a hugely personal thing. As long as they don’t touch my knees I can live with it. Fit around the thigh and gripper section is superb. The straps fit well and there’s nothing remotely uncomfortable about any part of them. A couple of decent length rides saw no issues with my comfort at all. That’s to be expected. I’ve used the old Aeron on many a bumpy ride with the similar pad with no issues.

Do the Aeron bibshorts still cut it? Absolutely. They remain an excellent pair of shorts whatever your discipline and will last you for years to come. There are currently five colour variants to these bibs so matching them to your jersey should be easy enough. Or just get the black ones which are perhaps the most versatile of all.

And, if that’s too steep for you, have a look at the new dhb Classic ones. Under £40 and should be just as robust.

dhb Aeron Speed bib shorts (£75.00 or £67 with platinum discount) (click to buy)

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Revolution then. Back to nylon and spandex. No polyester here. But, they feel different. They feel, rough. Bear with me. I don’t mean that as a criticism. It’s not a soft feeling outer like the Aeron or particularly the Mille. The fabric is apparently called Revolutional Energy and has coldblack treatment technology.  Yep, coldblack. That’s a treatment of the lycra by the way and the claim is that it keeps you cooler than normal lycra. So your body can use its energy to cycle rather than cool you. How much energy? No clue. I’d also point out that I don’t heat up hugely in that area overall, my upper half is always the hot spot. But coldblack is pretty popular now and Rapha, for example, use it on their pro team bibshorts. Just saying. It also provides some UV protection as well.

The Speed bibshorts are most certainly a revolution. Not of bibshorts per se, after all many of these features are present on a lot of high end bibshorts, but certainly a revolution of the Aeron range. Where the Aeron bibs are arguably fairly traditional these are definitely a more high tech approach.

Those leg grippers, despite their colouring, are the same as those featured in the Aeron. dhb use the term silicone particle gripper. I prefer giant elastic band thingies. And, like the Aeron, they run round most of the leg before that double layered piece of fabric takes over on the inside again. Perhaps it’s the fabric, perhaps it’s something else which I’ve not thought about, but making sure you get the fit right in these is slightly more crucial than in the Aeron versions. Those are pull on and forget. With these you need to ensure you have the right size and make sure that gripper sits where you want it. Then adjust the rest of the shorts to fit. These have a similar feel, in my view, to the Rapha Pro Team bibs. That is to say that when standing they can look a little wrinkled in a few places but, once on the bike, their compressive nature takes over and they straighten out. When I talk about compression I mean that natural squeeze you get with bibshorts and whilst great play is made of their compressive qualities I’d actually say that the Aeron shorts felt slightly snugger overall than the Speed version. We’re talking marginal measurements here, it’s just worth pointing it out. On a coat hanger the Speed version almost looks as if it needs an iron. Obviously, don’t do that, and once they’re on, they flatten out beautifully.

Wiggle’s description of the leg grippers on these shorts says “shaped leg elastic with silicone particle gripper to keep in place without squeezing leg.” I’d go with that, the compression exists in the main short and these keep it in place. It’s comfortable and works just as well as in the Aeron. Whether you’re in or out of the saddle they stay where they should be.

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The back is pretty similar to the Aeron in that the straps merge into one central section. It’s a wider section though overall it’s meshier and airier. I’ve made one of those words up apparently. You can see the pattern on the mesh below. The whole thing is just a bit more modern feeling and just that bit more advanced. And the straps are absolutely lovely. Giant, soft, smooth elastic things. You just cannot feel them. They feel like a step up and are a real touch of class. On the top half at least, revolution.20160309_170600

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And the all important pad. Once again it’s from Cytech and this time it’s the Comp HP. Hang on, I hear you say, comp? Isn’t that entry level? I agree, it’s a moniker you always see on the base product bicycle for example. But here it’s not. That’s probably Cytech’s fault rather than dhb’s. No, the Comp HP sits above the Tour of the Aeron in the “Ultra” range. Both are good, but the Comp is just a little bit more comfortable in my view and a little bit racier, as befits the shorts overall. Once again it’s not initially soft but wears in very quickly. Once more it’s triple density depending on the area and a perineum channel is also present. I’d rate it as slightly better than the Aeron pad overall but these are marginal things and can come down to preference.

And how are they? Well, they feel different. The feel, for want of a better word, speedier. I’ve no doubt that they will feel cooler in the high summer given that they were that bit colder than the Aeron in the cool and fresh conditions I’d tested them in. They feel a little less noticeable than the Aeron versions and whilst the description on Wiggle makes great play of their compressive qualities I’d say that the fact you can’t feel them is a major point here.

There are three colours available and, of course, if you choose the lime or blue versions (black is the other colour choice) it makes sense to get the equivalent Aeron or Speed jersey in the matching colour. If you want true versatility in these (or the Aeron) just get the black ones.

Once I again I took a Large in these and I think that, for this model, sizing is even more critical. To ensure the best fit on the leg grippers you need to ensure that you get a size which fits. If you don’t then things will get a bit flappy round the leg gripper and the leg length will be a bit longer. So bear that in mind. If you get the right size you’ll get a great fit. If you get the wrong size you won’t even like them. Remember that Wiggle offer a free returns service through Collect+ and if you use paypal and can take advantage of the 14 day payment offer your returns will be back before you’ve even been charged!

Did I prefer one over the other? Well, I guess that depends. Whilst they don’t have specific stated purposes I felt that the Aeron remained the Gran Fondo choice but were versatile enough to wear on the mountain bike and cyclocross. While the Speed were designed for long hours in the saddle I think that they’d be better suited to racing over distance and climbing in hotter conditions. They’d be ok for mountain biking or cyclocross but not my go to choice for those disciplines.

There’s actually a decent amount of competition in this price range even on Wiggle’s own site. But I do think that they are well placed among that competition and can compete with the best of them. They’re not quite up there with my Assos Mille in terms of being virtual perfection but the cost of those is considerably more and it’s certainly not the case that the performance reflects that considerable difference in cost, it’s just a few little things. There are aspects here that are class leading such as those straps on the Speed and the leg grippers on both pairs. The pads are excellent. The price is well pitched and I have little doubt about the quality of the bibshorts overall. Depending on the use that you want to put them to you can buy with the comfort of knowing you’re getting something that works very well indeed for a very reasonable outlay. The most important matters, comfort and fit, are all taken care of.

In terms of the summer Aeron and Speed range that’s all for now. But there will be some more dhb reviews coming because I’ve bought a few things recently. Stay tuned.

dhb, I am speed. I am Aeron speed. Part 1, jerseys.

Following up from my dhb accessories review I’ve now ridden far enough in dhb’s updated Aeron and new Aeron speed range of jerseys and bib shorts (which I’ll deal with in part 2) to give you some idea of how well they perform and whether they offer value for money.

The Aeron range has been round for a few years now, around 2011 as far as I can see. Though it’s fair to say that the range was perhaps a little confusing. The bib shorts came in Aeron, Aeron Race and Aeron Pro, each step up adding a little bit more in terms of features and a bit more in terms of pad comfort. There was an Aeron Pro jersey but, as far as I can recall, no base Aeron or Aeron race jersey. I’ve used a pair of the Aeron Pro bib shorts for commuting, cyclocross and mountain biking in the last 3 years and they’ve held up exceptionally well. They do look a little worn now but that’s because they’ve been worn, extensively.

dhb’s range has become a little bit more extensive and arguably a bit more rationalised. So, you have the Classic and Blok levels at the “bottom”, then the Aeron and ASV range at the top. It’s quite hard to separate those two. One is aimed at the performance rider and the other is aimed at the professional. I wouldn’t worry too much about those descriptions in terms of actual performance, much of it is down to sizing and fit. In effect the Aeron range is as good as the ASV one but with a slightly different emphasis. For 2016, dhb has also added the Speed variant to the Aeron range. That does sound a little complicated I guess, but, in practice, it just means that it’s the range you go to for that bit more aero or that bit more race orientation. There’s an update coming to the ASV range shortly so it will be interesting to see how the Aeron range compares against that when launched. Phew, with all that explained on with the reviews, jerseys first, then bibs in part 2.

dhb Aeron Jersey (rrp £45.00, platinum discount £39.60) (click link to buy)

Let’s just start by saying that’s cheap. Not as cheap as some of the dhb classic or blok stuff but that’s cheap. Ok, you might be able to buy cheaper, but for a cycling specific jersey that’s a pretty excellent price.

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And there’s actually quite a lot going on here. This is a summer jersey, perhaps even more so than the Aeron Speed and I’ll explain why later. When you put it on you can, if you stretch it a bit, see your bib straps underneath. I don’t see that as a flaw by the way, it’s pretty much the case with all lightweight “meshy” jerseys of this type, particularly when the jersey is dark and the straps underneath are white.

The material is polyester and elastane (spandex) so getting a good tight fit is easy. If you want looser then size up. There are some other fabrics present as well. Those black bits at the side (and there’s a section running up  the middle of the back) are made from a different mesh weave. They’re present for a bit of cooling and appear to work very well. I’ve not yet climbed a mountain in 30 degrees but I’ll report back if that ever happens (this is Wales after all). You’ll see that the bottom of the jersey kicks up slightly. It’s not cut entirely square to the rear. And that’s deliberate because it makes for a better design and ensures no bulging in a race position. I’m not particularly tall but there should be a sufficient length left for the taller rider. There are also elastic grippers running round the entire circumference of the waist. All very well made and will ensure that the jersey stays where it should.

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The sleeves deserve a mention here. They are a decent length (I like this but it is a matter of taste) and terminate in some “rubber grippers” (there’s probably a technical term for this, I was going to go with giant elastic bands!) They compress comfortably and ensure that the jersey doesn’t move. I have a minor point here which is that I like them, a lot. But, here’s the thing, the cuff is the same feature that appears on both the Aeron and Speed variants of the bib shorts. But, if you choose to buy the Aeron jersey in this colour there’s no matching colour in the Aeron bib shorts.

So, if you want to have this feature at both arm and thigh then you need to match the Aeron jersey with the Speed bib shorts. No biggie. Just depends on whether you have OCD on any level. The Aeron bib shorts, in black, with their plain elastic gripper, match very well. And, of course, there are 4 other colours in the Aeron jersey available so getting an Aeron jersey to match your Aeron shorts isn’t hard. I’ve been using this colour with a black hemmed pair of Aeron shorts was well as the green and yellow hemmed version of the Aeron speed shorts. Well done if you followed all of that.

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Round the back  it’s business as usual. You can see that mesh centre insert present for cooling. The standard three pockets and zipped valuable pockets are also present. All of the zips on the jersey are provided by YKK. There are no reflectives round the back on this occasion. But, given the intended use, you can forgive that omission.

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I opted for the XL in this jersey as I was at the top of the large measurement and didn’t want it to be too constricting. The overall fit is excellent and racy. If you wanted a more relaxed fit then you may need to size up one more again.

My overall impressions of this jersey are that it’s very good. It’s well made, does what it says on the tin and won’t break the bank. Despite that nothing about it feels cheap. It looks good and should be sufficiently robust.

dhb Aeron Speed jersey (£50 rrp, or £44 with platinum discount) (click to buy)

The speed jersey is a bit of a step up in terms of tech from the Aeron jersey. But it remains very reasonably priced indeed, commanding a “premium” of under a fiver. It’s hard to draw comparisons with other kit without having worn that other kit but it positions itself along something like the Rapha Pro Team aero jersey or Castelli Aero jersey in terms of its positioning and aesthetic. It’s a figure hugging aero jersey for warm summer days. That said I found it surprisingly comfortable in even some fresher conditions. The collar is cut in a typically “aero” way but there’s still something to keep the chill off your neck. Indeed, the collar is a nice double lined affair and sufficiently close cut without being constricting.

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It’s hard to get the effect of it sitting on a hangar but it does suggest something a bit speedier than a run of the mill jersey and has the figure hugging and slippery look that one might associate with your typical aero product. The musclier photo that heads the article gives you some idea of how it looks on. I repeat, as I have previously, that I am in no way aero but please don’t let that tiny detail detract from what dhb have achieved here. If you have the build of a racing snake and get the right size then it’s going to be much like a second skin.

What’s quite interesting to note is that the top section is one seamless panel. The upper chest and arm run round the back to meet a further single panel which joins them. To me the avoidance of seams at the front of the shoulders is to be commended, at least in terms of comfort though I have no idea how many, if any, watts it adds. The contrast trim is achieved through sublimation rather than the addition of extra panels so there’s no additional seams in that area to create drag or, most importantly, cause any chaffing. There is, of course, a seam running laterally across the chest. In practice you can’t feel it. Once again, whether that adds any watts I have no idea.

Down the side, there’s a large section of mesh to keep you cool which carries over into the inner sleeve as well. It’s here that I have a slight design comment to make. This is the “premium” aero version but it looses the elastic band cuffs present on the “cheaper” Aeron. It also means, as I pointed out earlier, that the Aeron Speed jersey isn’t an exact match in terms of design for its intended partner bib shorts. It would be better, I feel, for the Aeron to have the traditional termination and the Speed version the elastic trim. Both work, I’m just a sucker for aesthetics. But, for balance, there’s almost certainly a reason  for that omission. The Aeron jersey sleeve are the same all the way round. The Speed jersey has the mesh underneath. It’s probably quite difficult to work the elastic gripper into the Speed jersey construction so, on that basis, dhb my OCD forgives you.

Again, you’ll see that the front is cut a bit higher than the rear. It’s quite a short jersey but that’s a good thing once again in my view. It means that it sits absolutely where it should when you’re in race position.

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Round the back once again we have the traditional three pocket plus one zipped pocket approach. There’s nothing awfully fancy about the waist but the requisite silicone grippers are all present and correct inside. Again, no reflectives, but it’s a summer race and/or climbing jersey so that’s fair enough. Once again all the zips are provided by YKK.

As you can see the material is pretty thin and the mesh very airy indeed. Where the Aeron was 95% Polyester (and 5% elastane) this is 84% Polyester and 16% Polyurethane. This jersey feels a bit more stretchy for want of a better description.  I’m at the upper end of the large sizing (41 1/2) so went for the XL in this jersey as well.

The Aeron speed jersey is only available in two colours at the moment, this and a blue (red)  and black combination. There are a pair of bib shorts to match each jersey and also a an black affair.

So, which one to choose? Should you opt for the Aeron or Aeron Speed jersey? Well, it depends. The Aeron is a proper, lightweight summer jersey. It will wick sweat very well and be a great jersey to climb in. Though not described as being speedy it won’t flap around given the figure hugging construction. The fit is excellent and it’s very comfortable. The elasticated sleeves are a lovely addition and come a decent length down the arm. It’s a nice jersey to wear, comes in a variety of colours and won’t break the bank. It’s a simple design done well.

But, sleeve OCD issue aside, my personal preference was for the Speed jersey. As I said above it isn’t making me more aero but it feels more like the type of material I want to wear on a hot summer day. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with the material of the Aeron, far from it. But I just prefer the feel of the Aeron Speed. It’s a nice soft material and perhaps I slightly prefer its gentler compression to that of the Aeron. There’s zero flapping at speed (as befits an aero jersey), it sits where it should and gets on with the job well. As I said earlier it also feels good in a variety of temperatures. Given the closeness of the weave I’ll report back in due course as to whether it’s any less wicking than the Aeron when climbing a mountain but I suspect any differences will be marginal.

My overall experience of both jerseys was very positive and both offer great value. I’ll turn to deal with the bib shorts in part 2 but, in the meantime, I’ll be doing a fuller and more in depth review on the Aeron Roubaix long sleeve jersey and also a review of the new Classic Micro Roubaix “warmer” short sleeve jersey which is quite an interesting product.

 

Battle on the Beach 2016 : event review

Well, it’s year 3 for Battle on the Beach now and it’s getting bigger and better. It’s my second year at the event and it makes staying up till midnight on New Year’s Eve to book your place on an event that’s now selling out within a day very much worth it. It’s perhaps the biggest of A Cycling’s really rather unique events calendar and it’s one that has seen them recently win a tourism and leisure award as well.

The organisation of this event is one of the smoothest, yet still relatively relaxed and low key, of all of the events I’ve attended. This year was a real step up in terms of manufacturer presence and saw the entire event sponsored by Assos, along with Surly, Schwalbe and Lezyne to name but a few.  Assos isn’t perhaps the first name you think of when off roading but their relatively new MTB trekking range sees them trying to gain a foothold into events of this type. But this remains resolutely an event unencumbered by corporate interference and remains all the better for it.

For anyone unfamiliar with the event it’s held at Pembrey Country Park, close to Llanelli in South Wales, on a weekend towards the end of March each year. It’s a kind of hybrid event. Think of it as monster cyclocross single track off road racing. Equipment is varied. There are fat bikes, this race being one of the rounds of the UK fat bike championship. There are cyclocross bikes but many fewer this year I thought. The overwhelming weapon of choice appears to be the mountain bike in all its multitude of forms. Tyre choice is also varied ranging from the massive knobbly fat bike tyres to the almost pure slicks run by the Dutch on their beach racers. Some bikes and riders get an advantage on some bits, and other bikes and riders on other bits. The Dutch boys and girls just destroy everyone. There’s always something for everyone to admire in the equipment being used, this year there was even a fat bike tandem. That takes trust to another level in an event like this.

There are 3 laps of the course weighing in at around 28 miles. And what a course it is. It starts on the beach with a massed start, there’s a bunch sprint (on foot if you’re not on a fat bike) to make it to the hard sand and then across the beach you go. It’s at the point that you really want the weather to be with you. You really want a tailwind. Cefn Sidan beach is no place to be in a headwind, however weak it may be. After a few miles it’s off the beach to enter the main section. And here it’s very varied indeed, single track, the occasional gravel path or fire road and sand, lots of loose sand. Once you’re back to the start it’s time for lap 2. It’s generally a dry course regardless of the weather as the drainage is excellent. The beach is virtually concrete hard and very easy to cycle on with the right choice of tyres.

This year I’d decided to make a weekend of it and camp on the Saturday afternoon into the Sunday. That meant entry not only to the main event on the Sunday but also to the inaugural Battle in the Dark on the Saturday evening.

There as a bit of agonising over kit choices. I’d tried very hard indeed to blag a fat bike to review for the weekend but, sadly, it never came to pass. So I used my trusty Planet X XLS instead with its 1x drivetrain. Tyre choice is always an interesting thing but since the Schwalbe G-One’s took me about an hour to install they were staying on and deflated to a sensible level. If I punctured it would all be over given how tight the rims are.

I arrived a bit later than my riding partners as I’d decided to see how many points Wales could put on Italy’s third team in rugby. With that all over I drove the 50 miles to the campsite to see where I’d be sleeping and to prepare for Battle on the Dark. My mate Mike had texted me on the way to inform me that he’d flatted the battery on his van listening to the rugby so there was some added stress to the weekend for him. But a massive shout out here to Gavin at Sunset Cycles in Cardiff who came to our assistance on the Sunday with some jump leads.

At around 6.30 pm we started gathering for the Battle in the Dark event. Riders would be sent out at around 20 second intervals onto the beach.

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By the time we started, just after 7pm, it was a hell of a lot darker than the conditions pictured above. I’d decided to wear my Parentini Mossa jacket, K-dry bib tights and p.5000 gloves given that the temperature was hovering at around 3 degrees. If I got lost or fell off I wanted to be warm. Just after 7pm I set out along a rather spooky beach and headed towards what could only be described as runway landing lights set out some distance down the beach. It’s a fairly surreal experience and not something that you’d necessarily choose to do if you weren’t doing an organised event.

After exiting the beach it was then a sprint through single track, mud and sand back to the starting point, a total distance of around 6 miles. It doesn’t sound like much but in terms to the technical nature of the singletrack it’s quite demanding! My Cateye Volt 1200 put out a brilliant spread of light and I didn’t once worry about seeing where I was going. I was totally comfortable in my kit. And I got home in about 33 minutes for 6.1 miles averaging 11.2 mph. Not bad, but my chest and lungs were pounding. I was pretty happy with my effort and was passed by only 2 other people along the entire lap. When the times were totalled I’d come 73rd of 114. Given that, clearly, the most hardcore (insert winky smiley) attempted this part of the event I was pretty pleased with that. Robby De Bock was home in a staggering 22.04 minutes and over a minute ahead of his nearest competitor. That man has some legs (and lungs). Would he repeat the victory the next day? Karen Brouwer came home first lady in 24.16 a time which would have placed her 7th overall. The KMC mountainbiketeam had put a massive challenge down for the next day. Could anyone stay in touch?

After that, recovery mode. A short trip into Burry Port for chips and, according to Mike, one of the world’s dodgiest rissoles. Then off to the Cefn Sidan Bar and Cafe to watch England put in comprehensive performance to snatch their first Grand Slam in many years. Well done to them.There was a small but muted English presence who cheered respectfully at the final whistle. Let it out lads, we don’t mind!

After that back to the tent. And it was cold. So very cold. Indeed, let’s not do this again. I struggled to get to sleep worried about my steaming breath and by now rattling chest. I woke up around 3 am and spent the next 3 hours worrying about whether I should pee or not. When I finally decided to do so I tripped over outside and took out two guide ropes on the tent. A fitful sleep followed interrupted by the dawn chorus. I managed to get a few good hours in the end though nothing like the 12 hours my sleep tracker claimed.

A hearty full Welsh breakfast followed, fuel for the main event. I was a little worried about my rattling chest at this point and beginning to feel a bit apprehensive. Would I get round? I remember struggling from about lap 2 last year and it’s not a nice feeling to have. It was still utterly freezing so kit choice was quite difficult. I decided to eschew sunglasses due to the overcast conditions. In the end I opted for dhb’s rather superb Aeron long sleeve roubaix jersey and seamless base layer partnered with Assos’s Tk.607 bib knickers. I was really happy with my choices overall and was comfortable throughout. I’ve still yet to write a review about my very basic Shimano XC51n all weather shoes but they are, frankly, brilliant. I’ll be sure to write something about them in due course.

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Before the main event there was a children’s Battle as well. Indeed, kids featured quite heavily over the two days, which is something that I’ve always found that cyclocross does so well. It’s great to see A Cycling getting kids involved at an early stage. Indeed, my son fancies a crack at the event next year and I will be only too happy to get him involved.

And then it was time to mass on the start, look up to the aerial drones and take in a rather odd mega mix of Welcome to the Jungle, Thunderstruck and Blur’s Song 2 blasting through the giant speakers. Then, at 12 pm, the massed start set off along the beach.

(I’ve since learned that you too can experience the mega rock megamix, click here to listen to it in all it’s glory!  Mega Mix )

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It’s at this point that a few things are true. The racers will reach the end of the beach a long time before you. And, depending on your equipment, you can gain or lose many places here. Specifically, on the beach, CX bikes rule. I probably passed a few hundred people on the beach due to the better positioning on the bike, better tyres but, crucially, better gearing. Indeed, I felt that my 1x set up of 42t front and 11-36 rear was perfect. No issues with front mechs catching sand and mud and enough top and bottom level gearing to suit all parts of the course. Naturally, when we reached the “off road” section the speed benefits of CX bikes fall away a little and the grip afforded by bigger tyres along with the security of those tyres and/or suspension tips the balance back in favour of the mountain bike crew. Though, it has to be said, not perhaps as much as you might think. After all, most of the singletrack is single file only and once you’re back out onto the “open road” then the CX bikes do have a bit more acceleration.

After exiting the beach and what seemed like miles on a grass roller coaster section it was onto the gravel and fire roads. Here the G-One’s were superb, robust and fast. I don’t know if the organisers added “Puddle of Doom number 1” themselves or if it’s just a left over from all the rain but it did add a rather icy blast to the chamois! After a tight right hand turn the still bunched field exited to the first twisty bit of single track. And then, quite quickly, come to a shuddering halt. It’s traffic jam time in the forest. This is the section that saw difficulties last year. The sheer number of riders arriving to a small sandy hill inevitably means a bit of waiting. So you stop, shuffle forward and, eventually, get clear. It was promised to be better this year, arguably it was a bit worse. But it’s ok, and it happens, and it’s difficult to see how to avoid it. The initial grass roller coaster seems to have been an effort to string out the field but I’m not sure it really worked. What I would say is that there were less prima donna’s trying to shout “rider coming through” than last year which is to everyone’s credit.

Soon enough came “Puddle of Doom 2”. And what a puddle it was. I’d first experienced it in the Battle on the Dark the night before. I’d figured that there were no real obstacles underneath and that you could keep your feet dry by keeping the cranks above 90 degrees. And this is all fine. It works, but falls apart rapidly when a fat biker comes haring through beside you and covers you in water. Hey, it’s all fun in love and war and quickly laughed off. A nasty but mercifully short muddy section followed before entering the dunes. It’s here I thought I might struggle with the G-Ones. But they were ok on the mud and absolutely fine on the dunes. Indeed, given their 35c width arguably better in their profile than the Vittoria XG Pro 33c I’d used the previous year. With the dunes despatched there then followed a bit more of the twisty stuff and a small hill lined with spectators offering typically cyclocross levels of enthusiasm and support. Each time I attempted the hill I hit the soft sand at the bottom and just powered to the top. Once again my gearing choice was good and the G-One’s held traction well. Finally, a last bit of twisty single track spits you back out into the main arena and the last section to get back to the beach.

And then it starts all over again. Lap 2 is quite a mentally difficult place to be. You just have to get through it. You worry about having energy for lap 3 but you want to make a good effort of it. I’m glad to say that this year’s lap 2 went very well. I took out quite a large number of bigger tyred and lesser geared bikes on the beach section before settling down for a war of attrition on the twisty bits. I felt pretty strong at the outset of lap 3 and put another good shift in down the beach. The legs were, by now, fading a little but nothing horrific. I chatted briefly to a fat biker with a single speed before haring off down the fire roads again. (Kudos to anyone who does that beach section 3 times on a single speed). Everything on this lap was just that bit more demanding but I got there in the end. Wrists shaken to pieces, legs getting a bit jelly like but bloody glad I’d once again entered and got round. Despite the 3.1 mile addition to last year’s course I was only 10 minutes slower overall and had a much better average speed. My finish time was a shade under 2hrs 30 minutes and my placing in terms of riders quite a few places up on last year (as far as I can work it out!). For some reason it appears that I stuck myself in veteran this year rather than open male as well. Hey, it’s the truth!

Perspective? Ok, the winner did it a bit quicker. Robby de Bock couldn’t repeat his performance in the dark (though he did still come 4th overall), the event instead going to Richard Jansen of Team Imming finishing in an astonishing 1hr and 35 mins.  Meanwhile the top lady was once again KMC mountainbiketeam’s Karen Brouwer finishing in 1hr and 49 minutes.

And with the race over I collected my medal and set about dismantling a tent, loading up the car and hoping that Mike’s van would get jump started. Again, thanks to Gavin, that little worry was negated.

Will I be back next year? Sure I will. I’ll be up late on New Year’s Eve making sure I get my place. I’ll probably avoid the camping next year, it’s not the best warm up for the event. I’ll put a bit more training in to see if I can get sub 2.15. I’ll try and get my son involved but I’ll be there. A massive shout out to Matt and Nia Page of A Cycling for putting on this excellent event. It’s real value as well at a time when open road sportives are pushing £60. The price for 2 days camping and entry to Battle in the Dark and Beach was a mere £33. That’s fantastic in my book. It’s a great race and looks like becoming the one to book in the calendar so if you’re up for it next year don’t delay. Stay up and get it booked, I reckon it will be sold out by New Year’s Day morning.

Oh and, one final point, that medal below. Bottle opener. Genius.

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https://www.strava.com/activities/522054603/embed/370e28724353efca194e8704e291d4b6087a1c75

https://www.strava.com/activities/521293809/embed/dd9e01276637a6a4f1297e43349a44d174358ff3

Over armour, Parentini K-Dry “Shark” Bibtights.

And so onto the last of my bits from the Parentini winter wardrobe. You’ll recall that I’ve already tested the Mossa, it’s heavier winter counterpart the Mossa.2 and also the p.5000 thermal gloves. This is the final piece in the jigsaw. The bottom section of a winter suit of armour if you will. For, when you are kitted out in freezing and damp temperatures in a Mossa.2, K-Dry bibtights and those gloves you feel impregnable. A knight of the roads. Ready for whatever mother nature can throw at you.

Let’s start with pricing and go from there. The K-Dry shark bibtights are available at around £125 at the moment. In terms of bibtight pricing that sits very much in the mid to upper end of the market, though it’s still considerably less than products such as the Castelli Nanoflex Pro, Rapha Pro Team and Assos whatever bizarre moniker they’re calling their tights this week.

Just before I started writing this review one reader asked me whether I thought that Parentini were up there with the premium brands like Rapha, Assos and Castelli. And I think that’s a fair question to ask. It’s certainly the case that you may not have heard of them prior to you reading my blog. Indeed, I didn’t really know about them until about a year or so ago when I first read a piece about the Mossa on road.cc. I was initially sceptical about their claim of waterproofing but I recognised at that point that they’d done lots of things with the Mossa that I’d have liked to have seen in the Gabba. This wasn’t a case of a company following a trend but one that wanted to set it. So, I can answer that question. Parentini is a premium brand. There’s no doubt that’s the case. I’m very grateful to them for providing me kit to review over the winter months because, in addition to being something very interesting to write about, I’ve been using it solidly. There can be no better recommendation than that.  Although they’ve been around for 40 years now, and happy 40th Anniversary to them, it’s not easy breaking into the UK market, but they are slowly building up their presence. It won’t be quick, but good things will come to those who wait.

Parentini have a wide range of thermal bibshorts, bibtights and 3/4 knicks available to see you through the winter months. Each of them, naturally, has thermal properties, the K-Dry range add rain repellency and foul weather protection and, finally, there’s a full on semi windtex version for those really cold places and deep winter rides. This review is of the K-dry thermal and rain repellent version.

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Do you know how hard it is to take photos of bigtights? It’s a nightmare frankly. And that’s particularly the case where the tights have been anatomically shaped to produce a perfect fit. And that’s why they won’t sit straight. So we’ll have to make do! But the above picture should give you a fairly good idea what they look like in practice. And, no, don’t ask for a picture of me wearing them. There’s no good time of the day to do that so you’re not getting it. Trust me that they fit me perfectly and we’ll speak no more of it.

Round the front it’s worth talking about a few features. The first is that zip which is there so that the front can be made higher for more protection for the abdomen. It’s very much a matter of personal choice. I’m fine with a lower cut and no zip and equally happy with having a zip. In any event answering a call of nature presents no difficulties.

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Those white strips are reflective and are hugely effective. You really do get the full on Tron effect from them and it’s great to have that forward visibility. We’ll return to them a little later on.

There are also foot loops. I’ve eulogised about these before in my Lusso review. They are quite lovely things indeed. As you’ll note they’re a ribbon/elastic type affair. Once you’re in, and again getting into bibs can be something of an art form, they sit in place and keep the bottom of the tights tightly in place. I’ve no idea how they make them, they’re probably cut by space lasers or something, but they are supremely comfortable and hug your feet.20160312_104536

Round the back it’s pretty much as you’d expect. The reflectives continue and are bolstered by even more at the bottom of the calf. If you can’t be seen in car headlights then there’s something very wrong going on. It’s worth having a look at the design of the Mossa.2 as well at this juncture. That reflective piping is also heavily present in that jacket. So, even if you’re all kitted out in black after dark, there should still be no excuse for not being seen. Remember that green or orange versions of the Mossa.2 are also available.

The upper back section is mesh rather than fabric which means that they’re that bit more breathable in this area. They have a little Italian flag on them, and that cannot be anything other than a good thing. The straps are one piece over the shoulders and are very comfortable indeed.20160312_104704

And then there’s the pad. Oh my goodness there’s the pad. It’s Parentini’s own C6 HT elastic carbon pad. And look, it’s green, matches my Supersix!

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Parentini make their own pads and don’t rely on buying them in from anywhere else. There are four pads in the range from the “base model” HTOne elastic up to the range topping C6 Flow Elastic Carbon. This C6 HT model sits just below the top of the range and is described as long distance hi tech. There’s quite a lot of technical stuff going on here which I won’t go into but you can see all the details on Parentini’s website. There are some things that are worth pointing out though. The pad is slightly longer than other pads I’ve tried in bibtights so there’s another layer of protection in the groin area to windproof your gentleman’s area. Every little helps. But the main thing is just how comfortable the pad is. They really are a long distance pad. I wore them on a number of 40 mile test rides, if you can describe that as long distance, and didn’t feel a thing. I’m confident that they’ll be good on your long winter ride and would suit even the most committed of audaxers.

The rain repellent treatment is outstanding. But it’s worth setting out the context in which I’d tested them. It was, once again, one of those days. It wasn’t supposed to rain but it was cold. So I’d parterned the bibtights with the P.5000 gloves and the Mossa.2. My shoes were Shimano XC51N all weather MTB, I had the snug little Lusso beanie under my Kask Protone (more on that soon, better in the rain). It was a bit breezy. Then the rain began. It wasn’t torrential, indeed it wasn’t all that heavy compared to recent events. But it was persistent, cold and unpleasant. The sensation I got from my kit was that I was armoured. Lightweight, warm, no constriction, but armoured. I could happily have done many many miles more and not been worried about the weather at all. It’s impossible to single out any one piece specifically here, they’re just working in tandem and keeping you protected. But what it is easy to say is that no part of the wardrobe is letting you down. This is over armour.

Thermally, they’re great. I was out in conditions dipping to about -3 and had no issues at all. While there is no windproofing I didn’t find that to be an issue. Indeed, I’m not overly keen on windstopper bibtights because I do find, at least in relation to all those I’ve tried to date, that sizing down compromises comfort and movement and that sizing means that somewhere round the bag will end up a bit wrinkled. On that basis I’ve tended to avoid them. No issues with fit here though, they are spot on and exactly as the size chart suggested. One particularly good area of fit is around the pad/groin/bottom. It take a few moments to get the positioning into place but once you’ve done that it stays there and you can forget about it.

It’s worth saying as well that I can see no real disadvantage to having bib tights which provide some element of rain repellency given our climate. Obviously I’ll have to monitor them to see how long the treatment lasts but that’s the same for all products of this type.

And that’s about it, I think. The rain repellency is excellent. The thermal properties are up there with the very best. But it’s the sheer comfort of them that marks them out as being a bit special. They’re a bit more expensive than some of the tights I’ve reviewed but cheaper that the premium brands. But Parentini are a premium band and, on that basis, I reckon these are real value for money.

For availability and stock info drop an email to sales@zettadistribution.com

And, if you ever need to reactivate the hydro treatment on this or any other piece of Parentini wear, see the helpful guide here:   Hydro Treatment

dhb Women’s Blok Meso Softshell Roubaix Jacket

Click here to buy the dhb Meso Softshell

It’s not mine. Ok? It belongs to my wife. I bought it for her for Christmas just after she’d decided she’d had enough of being a cycling widow and wanted to give it a go herself. And in the wardrobe it’s sat ever since because I really didn’t want her to have to start off in the weather we’ve had, that’s the kind of thing that puts you off cycling before you start. But it’s nicer now and much drier, so she’s been able to get to grips with drop handlebars and, for her, a rather bewildering 22 gears. She’s only really ridden a mountain bike before so there’s a lot of stuff to get used to. In terms of bikes, I managed to pick up a Vitus Zenium L from Chain Reaction Cycles for a frankly amazing £629. Alu frame, carbon fork, Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels and full Shimano 105 22 speed. It’s a remarkable bike for the price. So expect a review of that soon.

When you’re paying your own money for kit and just starting off you want quality. If cycling turns out to not be your thing then you’re not too out of pocket. If it does turn out to be what you want to do then it’s best not to be stuck with crappy kit that you paid peanuts for. So when I was deciding what kit I thought would work well for her I didn’t look beyond dhb at Wiggle. I’d already bought a load of the Aeron winter range and knew just how good dhb kit had become. I wanted to get her something that would be comfortable to wear but, given her comments about my black kit, something that was colourful and had a bit of style about it. I’m pleased to report that, on Christmas morning, she was very pleased with my choices even if she still thinks that bibshorts have too much of the Freddie Mercury about them.

I bought her a few dhb items to be getting on with and I’ll get her review up of the others in due course. But we’ll start with this winter softshell jacket. It lists at £65 which I think is a pretty good price for a softshell jacket of this type. But I managed to pick it up for around £39 in the period leading up to Christmas, which makes it something of a bargain.

The predominant material that makes up this softshell is dhb’s own brand wind stopper material called windslam. It’s essentially a mix of polyester and elastane (spandex to you and I). It’s pretty stretchy so, assuming you’ve got the right size, there should be no issues in getting a nice close fit. The windslam material has featured on some of dhb’s highly rated jerseys and jackets over the last few seasons and, a year or so back, I bought the dhb windslam blade jersey/jacket. I was pretty impressed with it as I recall. It was able to get down to some pretty low temperatures, didn’t overheat me in the milder ones and the fit was excellent.

Because windslam is a wind stopper type membrane it provides a great deal of protection from the wind but also has the benefit of offering some degree of rain repellency. It won’t work like a full on rain jacket. But should you be caught in a light shower or general dampness it will just shrug that off. There’s no mention of water repellent treatment but a quick go under the tap was enough to demonstrate that water will run off nicely. It’s no substitute to a rain jacket or something like the Parentini Mossa in the worst conditions, but it’s fine most of the time. Above all it’s warm and toasty.

The inner is, as suggested by the name of the jacket, lined with a fleecy roubaix fabric. Whilst the overall construction is perhaps a little lighter than something like the dhb Aeron soft-shell this is still very much a jacket. It should be more than good enough for spring riding and fast paced club rides on a Sunday morning in winter. Again, a lot depends on what kind of base layer you add underneath. With something sufficiently insulating this should be good down to some pretty low temperatures.

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It’s a pretty standard set up overall, with a good quality zip and an elasticated waist band with internal grippers. My wife reports to me, and she can start writing these reviews herself in due course, that it’s extremely comfortable and sits where it should. The zip works well. She did report that she found the high neck and the lack of a zip garage slightly uncomfortable at first but she soon got used to it. That’s probably more a consequence of being a beginner rider leaning forward rather than any innate design flaw. She said that the sensation went away after a few minutes.

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Round the back we have two main pockets, as is generally the case with winter jackets, with the addition of a zipped vertical valuables pocket. The left hand rear pocket (right as you look at it) is lined with a plastic coating. That means that there’s some protection for any valuables in your zipped pocket from the moisture that the jacket will transport away from your back. You can see the addition of some reflectives at the rear as well. The rear of the jacket isn’t windslam, instead it’s a roubaix lined fabric. The contrast in colours is very much personal choice, I like it, she likes it, and it’s a pretty good bet for getting you seen.

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She’s not done many miles in it yet. But she was very positive about the feel of the jacket overall. She reported that she came home warm and that the jacket had proved very comfotable indeed. Given my experience of dhb I wasn’t really surprised. I’d have been surprised if she’d said anything else. My observations in relation to quality and construction lead me to believe that it’s the same as other jackets in the dhb range. It looks like it will last and provide many years of service.

The great thing about dhb at the moment is that their technology and build is available over a number of different ranges so you can choose a style which fits you best. So if you don’t like the bigger shapes of the above design you can opt for dots of the Blok micro. Or, if you want something more race orientated you can look to the Aeron Softshell range which I’ve commended so highly elsewhere on the site. It’s great to see dhb having a female specific garment (a few accessories excepted) mirroring each of the men’s product ranges. They don’t even really shout about it instead just get on with doing something that every manufacturer should be doing. My wife is going to need quite a few more garments going forward and it’s good to have a brand on which you can depend.

Who am I? Who are you?

In the wake of Sir Bradley’s claim that a cyclist is a person who carries a British cycling membership card I got to thinking whether I am a cyclist or not. He didn’t stop there either. He went on to suggest that until London cyclists (for they are it seems a breed apart from the rest of us) behaved on the road then they could not expect to complain about their treatment. “You do not have a right to complain how you’re being treated on the road unless you apply the rules yourself,” was how he specifically put it. One must assume that his London centric view applies in relation to each urban sprawl, metropolis or sleepy village, it would be odd if there were different rules for London wouldn’t it?

Even the words are poorly chosen. If we accept the definition of what a cyclist is then, if you are not one, what rules are you supposed to follow? Are you free to ignore them altogether? And if you are do you regain the ability to complain about your treatment in a more legitimate way than a transgressing BC member? I’m not sure he thought all of this through. Indeed, one comment on a website suggested that we should follow Chris Boardman in relation to views about cycling and Sir Bradley in relation to views about being a mod. It’s a good point, well made.

Before we deal with what a cyclist is let’s deal with the issue of categorisation and behaviour. What does Sir Bradley mean when he says that we have no right to complain? If I were to jump a red light on Saturday would I lose the ability to whinge about a punishment pass the next week? Is there a cumulative tally of where my good or bad behaviour fits into the point at which my ability to complain exists? What constitutes good behaviour in the first place? How do we treat the legal things, for example, not wearing a helmet, not wearing high vis, filtering in traffic. Each are allowed, but cyclists are often called out on them. Do we alter our behaviour to conform to society’s demands of us? Shouldn’t the needs of the many outweight the acts of the few?

It’s all too common to read commentary which suggests that “cyclists don’t help themselves.” It makes for depressing reading. While categorisation of sub groups from the outside is common place it does seem all too common where cycling is concerned. Every day my safety seems to depend squarely on what a driver saw another cyclist do on 15th October 1984. No amount of good behaviour, it seems, can change that driver’s mind. The fact that I am a good cyclist is not relevant. The idea that I am somehow responsible for other’s behaviour is perverse. But more worrying is the notion that I might either be entitled to lesser treatment because of a historic view of cyclists in general or the implication that things will never improve for me while some tosser 200 miles away hits a pedestrian on a zebra crossing. Why stop at London, what about Shanghai?

And if it’s worrying that some motorists hold this view then it’s ever weirder that some cyclists hold it on our behalf as well. It appears that Sir Bradley believes that the actions of the one, few or many are fair game so as to prevent them from complaining about the dangers that they all too often face. And whilst he stops short of claiming that the behaviour of the few should affect the many such words simply do not help our cause.

And, at the risk of a claim of reverse hypocritical categorisation of motorists I cannot recall a time where I saw a motorist on a phone, an articulated lorry pass me too close, or an old person pull out of a junction in a smidsy moment and think “bloody motorists.” Instead, I put them down to being an idiot. And idiot in a motor vehicle. Idiots exist in all walks of life. How they choose to transport themselves is merely their choice. It should not influence how society views others who make that same choice.

It’s time for a change. It’s true that some cyclists misbehave. It’s true that some of them are reckless. It’s true that some of them are a downright menace. But the truth is that each of them is still a tiny, squishy bag of blood and bones. Vulnerable, prone to an easy and quick death. However badly they behave please don’t visit their failure on me, please don’t think that it reflects me. Don’t give me any less protection than I deserve. And whatever you think the transgressors deserve, don’t afford them any less either. Don’t try to scare any one  of us. Please don’t kill us. To err is human, to forgive, divine.

So, who are these cyclists? If we accept that Sir Bradley’s comments are to be extended to the UK as a whole (I assume membership of French Cycling would be a pre-requisite for our near neighbours who choose to pop over the channel) then what is a cyclist?

I ride a road bike, sometimes. It’s shiny and it’s made of carbon. It’s not very heavy. It goes very fast when I move my legs in a circular motion. I go faster depending on how many cycles of the pedals I make. Sometimes I go out for a short, sharp sprint. Sometimes I go out with thousands of others on something called a sportive. All too often I will stop for coffee and cake. At the end of some rides I will partake in a pint of Guinness. But I am not a road cyclist.

In the winter I show up to muddy fields early on a Sunday morning. I will watch some kids go round and round. I watch their clean kit become several shades of brown. I watch their parents offer support from the sidelines. Then I get on my cyclocross bike and, for an hour or so, ride till my lungs burst. And I stop, buy cake from the club which has put on the event, swell their coffers, laugh on the Facebook group about the exploits of the day, ride to the garage to jetwash the thing that my bike has become. But I am not a cyclocross cyclist.

Every morning I get up and ride the 20 or so miles to work. Sometimes it’s dark and wet. Other times it’s warm and glorious. On those days I get up earlier. I take the long way round. Sometimes I need lights. I often need mudguards. On some days the weather is miserable. But I am not. And, at the end of day, I ride home. I mix with the traffic, I filter past traffic jams, I take in the glory of the Taff Trail on a crisp winter’s morning and watch the sun come up. But I am not a commuting cyclist.

Sometimes I even go off road. In the days when I owned a mountain bike I used that and explored the deepest parts of the forest and highest parts of the mountains. I held on as the suspension jarred my very being. Now I use my CX bike instead. I get off the road and ride to where there is no-one. I stop to take in the view. I smell the fresh air. But I am not an off road cyclist.

Sometimes I ride with other cyclists. They turn up on my group rides, they wade through the muddy field, they sometimes take the front, they sometimes get led out by me. Sometimes they drink coffee and eat cake. Sometimes they also drink Guinness. But I am not a group cyclist.

Occasionally I take my bike to the shops. It’s the environmentally friendly thing to do. Or I walk, it’s really not that far. But I am not a walker, or a shopping cyclist.

I am not prone to riding on pavements or pulling wheelies up main roads. I don’t do jumps in the local park. I don’t ride with my saddle just above my seat post and my pants around my waist. Are they not cyclists too?

By Sir Bradley’s definition I am a cyclist. I have a BC membership card. But not because of a desire for affiliation. I support British Cycling. And, in return I get insurance and discounts. It’s not all altruistic. It doesn’t define me. Without that affiliation I would not be a cyclist it seems. And this categorisation of who we are and how we must behave must cease.

I am commuting, cyclocrossing, road riding, occasionally pootling, fast paced, slow riding, group riding, Guinness drinking bike rider. But, above all, I am a cyclist.

Fizik Aliante R3 (Kium Rails)

This won’t be a long piece because it’s actually quite hard to write a saddle review. You can outline the specs and then tell people whether it fitted you. Whether it will fit them is debatable and down to a combination of factors. But, I should say, your local Fizik dealer should be able to lend you a test saddle so if you did fancy giving this saddle a whirl then you don’t have to put money on a potential failure.

Naturally, mine is green. This is the Cannondale Team Edition so, clearly, it more or less matches the paintwork on my Supersix for that is also green and, as such, my OCD is suitably protected.

The Aliante has been around for a few years now. It’s from Fizik’s “spine concept” range. The Aliante falls into the Bull category which is for those with a rigid spine. Or, less flexible if you will. Or, like me, getting on a bit. It’s a fairly round shaped saddle which is in stark contrast to the much flatter Arione. The length of this particular saddle is 275mm and it’s 140mm wide. In terms of width I’d guess you could call that in the middle of saddles generally though in the Fizik spine concept range it’s the widest.

There have been some changes from the previous edition Aliante. I always quite liked that saddle but I broke the nose on one of them (plastic bit underneath) and never really found my way back. And since I’ve been without a proper racing bike for a while a performance saddle was never really on my radar. Enter the new Aliante R3. It’s the model up from the base model, probably. Well, above it are the R1 and 00 models with their fancy carbon rails and obvious lightness. Below it is the R5 which is a tad heavier. There’s also an R7 as well, though I’m never particularly clear on whether that’s intended to be part of the range or is just an OEM model that’s escaped into the marketplace (essentially it’s similarly weighted to the R5 but with magnesium rails). There’s also the VX variation with their scooped out centre channels.

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You can see in the above picture that the saddle is particularly curved but also has a quite pronounced long nose.

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The rear of the saddle kicks up and the nose droops away very slightly. When redesigning this model they retained the curve hull section but apparently, in all other respects, told the designer to make it look like an Arione. Apparently people were still riding the Arione when they shouldn’t have because it looked so good. So, in came a longer nose section and the cut out rear of the old model was discarded. I have to say, I have no idea what that cut out was ever meant to achieve. Fizik claim that users of the old Aliante should feel no difference when using the new one. We’ll see…….The other thing is, for all their efforts, it looks like an Aliante and doesn’t really look like an Arione at all. Anyway, it had been around a while and was due a design update.

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If you don’t like the green tinged side bars then you can swap them out to black or white. Those spares are included in the box. Simply undo the screws underneath and swap in one of the supplied alternatives. Does it have anything to do with performance? Nope. What it does is to protect the side of the saddle from scuff marks. So if you drop the bike against a wall then that plastic side strip should a) stand up better to impact in the first place and b) be easy to replace. I’m not clear, if you wanted replace some scuffed up green ones, whether spares are easy to buy or source. But it’s nice to have the option to swap them out in case of damage.

Around the rear the Fizik ICS clip is very much still present. So you can remove the clip and install a Fizik ICS saddle bag or rear light. Not at the same time of course. The bags have had an aesthetic overhaul for 2016 but the oft criticised connecting arm appears to be much the same (there were reports of it snapping though I’d never had such an issue).

I struggle with saddles generally. It’s why I have two Charge Spoons which are about the cheapest saddles you can buy. For me they work. I also liked the Brooks Cambium C15. But it had a tendency to abrade my bib shorts and that’s a big no no. So, until the Supersix arrived, I’ve been off the performance market, as it were and happy with the Spoons. They’re ok. Not the last word in comfort but for £20 you can’t really go wrong with them. And now I’ve put 100 miles or so  into the R3 what did I think? Is it an aesthetic compromise or a generally good saddle?

Well, you know what, I really like it. It’s as comfortable a saddle as I’ve ever sat on. Better than the Spoons and I’d say that I’m 99% of the way there with it. I don’t notice that I’m sitting on it, I don’t bounce around changing positions and it seems to work with me rather than against me. Isn’t that about all you can really hope for in a saddle? Will it work for you? No idea at all. I’m not recommending you rush out and buy one. Unless you like the original of course. Despite Fizik’s claims that no one will know the difference I don’t agree. For me it feels like a better saddle. It has the same rounded shape, the nose works better and the new microfibre top seems that bit more grippy and secure.

It’s not a cheap saddle. But then that’s performance saddles for you. If you’ve got a cheap one and it works, stick with it. But if you fancy an upgrade then it’s aesthetically pleasing (loads of colour combinations are available), lightweight and comfortable. Just make sure you use the yellow test saddle from your dealer before you buy one.

dhb Accessories, spring has sprung.

See that picture above? Glorious isn’t it. So while I cannot call on the foothills or climbs of the French Alps or the sheer beauty of the Italian Lakes it ain’t all that bad here. Throw in some lovely little coffee shops, well behaved traffic and weather like that and it’s a pretty good place to cycle. Save that it’s not really all that warm yet. It’s still a bit, well, fresh. But I braved it for the purpose of getting this stuff reviewed. While I might have normally opted for 3/4 knicks and a long sleeve jersey I got out there and tested not one, but two new dhb summer jerseys and a range of accessories. So, ahead of my review of those jerseys I thought I’d cover the rest of the accessories that Wiggle kindly provided me with to review. And, once more, it comes as little surprise to find that these products don’t just work well or offer great value, they do both and compete with the more expensive products out there.

dhb Rain Defence Arm Warmers

Click here to buy

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Ok, I didn’t actually test these in the conditions above. I did these at the end of last week when there were still a few showers around. Though their thermal properties would have been a nice addition to take the chill off even on a sunny ride. They are, quite honestly, ridiculously priced at present. They’ve been reduced from an already cheap £25 to a quite staggering £16. That’s not just good for waterproof arm warmers, it’s good for arm warmers full stop.

dhb produce quite a range of arm and leg warmers now. The Regulate range take care of keeping you warm duties and the Rain Defence do as they say on the tin. In addition there are some more colourful options from their Blok range, very visible options from their Flashlight range and, finally, some very thin UV options from the Aeron range. None of them are expensive. Indeed, you might call of them cheap. In monetary terms of course. If my experience of the rain defence warmers applies to the rest of the range then their performance is very far from cheap.

Wiggle’s description of these states that they are warm and water resistant/offer shower protection. I think they’re selling themselves a bit short here, or perhaps just playing it safe. Certainly one of the two. The warmers are made from Windtex Storm Shield. Remember that? It’s the material that the Parentini Mossa is made from. It’s waterproof rather than merely water resistant. That’s the nature of the fabric. I wonder, here, whether dhb use the description of water resistant due to the fact that they might be uncomfortable describing something with seams as water proof? Perhaps. And it is the case that in torrential rain something will eventually make its way in. Indeed, think about what you might be partnering these warmers with. If it’s with a short sleeve jersey and gilet combination then you’ve got a big gap at the top for water to get in. And whilst the fit of the upper arm gripper is tight water always finds a way. So, in terms of waterproofness the choice is yours. They are as good as you’re going to get in that regard with the inevitable compromise that they are a tube that’s open at both ends. The combination of windtex and the water repellent treatment means that these work very well in cold and damp conditions. Even after the repellent treatment wears off the windtex membrane will still keep working. I wore them in a couple of light showers at temperatures of 8 degrees and they were warm and remained dry inside. I’ll continue to test them in some heavier stuff but, thankfully, the next few weeks look uncharacteristically dry.

You’ll note that the inner is fleecy lined. Not all the way round though, just on the leading edge inside surface. It’s a nice compromise in my view and means that they are sufficiently warm in the conditions that they’re intended to work in and still breathable.

There are 4 sizes to choose from here. That’s a nice option to have. Mine were an XL and fitted my larger upper arms perfectly. Obviously each larger size varies in terms of length and circumference. I hoisted mine up to mid bicep and there they stayed. The grippers are both inside and outside the upper arm so they’ll latch onto you and should also grip your jersey. They’re a little bit less stretchy than a thermal warmer but windtex is still a very stretchy membrane indeed. So there should be no problems getting the best fit. Though, of course, any review of warmers must come with the caveat that everyone’s arms and legs are very different!

You can get similar products from the other big makes. But they don’t offer this combination of waterproof base fabric and repellency. The others are good, but they will be less good over time when they lose their rain repellent treatment. These will also lose it over time, but the nature of the fabric means that they are a much better option. Indeed, you can quite happily purchase a set of dhb Rain Defence (arms, knees and full legs) for around £56 at present. That’s a superb investment and, coupled with a decent pair of rain repellent bibs, gilet and jersey would form the basis of a  very versatile wardrobe.

dhb Aeron Seamless Base Layer

Click here to buy dhb aeron seamless base layer

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I love it. Let’s get that out of the way. It’s as soft as wearing really soft kittens wrapped in silk coated in love. It’s a really soft lovely thing. And, at the time of writing, priced at a very reasonable £20 or £17.60 if you’re a Platinum discount customer. Visually, it looks very much like my Helly Hansen Lifa base layer. But they are very different in my view.

This is one of those versatile pieces that offers a nice element of thermal insulation under a spring or autumn jersey but then doubles up as your go to summer wicking jersey.

It’s made of Dryarn. We’ve seen that one before as well. They provide the material for the quite frankly sublime Parentini long sleeve base layer I tested with the Mossa. Here it’s a slightly different fabric make up overall but still does two things brilliantly. It feels like you’re wearing nothing and gets on with the job of wicking moisture away. I thought it might be worth linking to Dryarn’s website so that you can see some comparisons with other base layer products.

Dryarn Website

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When dhb say seamless they mean, of course, the main body of the garment. We’re still not quite 100% seamless yet. Where there are any seams they are either flat locked or as near enough flat locked as to make absolutely no difference to comfort.

There are a number of mesh patterns going on. The main body is a slightly different and closer pattern than the areas that need a little more ventilation such as the upper mid chest, back and arm pits. You can see that in the photo below (arm pit shot). dhb refer to this as a zonal knit pattern. And it seems to work very well. Though I was out in rather fresher conditions than I’d normally test this in, it was still very much a tempo ride. I removed the base layer the second I got home and found that it was virtually bone dry. Clearly the wicking properties were done well. It even smelt box fresh.

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It’s a nice piece this. But what is particularly nice about it is how it feels on. I’ll continue to monitor whether it retains that softness after its washed on each occasion. I know from experience that my Helly Hansen has proved durable but it never started off feeling like this. Generally I just chuck my base layers in with the rest of the wash. I’m going to make sure I take particular care with this as I don’t want to lose that comfort. For really high summer there’s a sleeveless vest version available as well. Size wise mine is an XL/XXL. That ties in with the jersey sizes that Wiggle sent me. I think that it’s probably quite easy to size down in these. Mine is comfortable and doesn’t squeeze me. But I reckon I could get away with a size down as well. There’s no issue here, just preference. But the fit of this is excellent and there are no issues at all with how it sits under a jersey. No trace of an VPL or the like. Chuck it on and forget about it. That’s as good a recommendation as you can ever make.

dhb Aeron Socks

Click here to buy dhb Aeron socks

These are socks. They are 13cm height. They are made of polyamide and spandex. Oh, and they’re made in Italy.

 

Was that enough? They’re just socks right. Well, yes. There’s not a lot you can say about socks other than are they comfy and do they last? I’ve been wearing, in addition to my Prendas Thermolite socks, some dhb ASV Merino socks over the winter. Not just on the bike either, I tend to use cycling socks for just about everything. The dhb ones were comfy, warm and they lasted. They were outstanding at being socks. If that sounds less than sexy, it isn’t meant to, if it does the job well then it’s all good.

These new dhb Aeron ones go for about a tenner depending on whether you’ve got platinum discount or not. Notwithstanding my perhaps flippant intro above, there’s actually quite a lot of technical stuff going on as well. The first thing is that they are very springy for want of a better word, that’s the spandex at work. I’m not going to say they hug your foot or become aero or some other magical property. But they do cling really well and that’s nice. Wiggle claim “Light compression support to help blood circulation.” I’d be hard pushed to test or justify that. But it’s a claim often made of clingy products so we’ll let it pass.

The uppers are a mesh fabric with good breathability. The bottom is a stronger material designed to be durable. The heel is reinforced and has a very slight bit of padding. There’s no obvious seam. And they’re anti microbial apparently. It’s all very lovely. And there you go. Really reasonably priced socks that are lovely to wear. Other size cuts are available so, if you don’t want the very “now” 13cm model then you can choose from a 9cm or 6cm model. For spring and summer temps these are just the ticket. For spring and winter you can also choose from an Aeron thermal, merino or cashmere sock, again in varying lengths. There are loads of colours to choose from. That should cover you for pretty much all conditions. Even wearing them to the office as I often do.

dhb Aeron Speed Overshoe

Click here to buy dhb Aeron Speed Overshoe

 

Speed. That’s a common theme with parts of the new Aeron range. I am speed. Well, not really, not at the moment. But I’m trying my best to get back to it.

These “speed” overshoes retail at £20 or £17.60 with platinum discount. They are absolutely not thermal in any way shape or form. Or waterproof. Or even water resistant. Think of them as filters for road grime and dirt. Something to keep the crap off your lovely shiny shoes. Crucially, they are aero and that’s almost certainly true in terms of marginal gains. I’ve no idea what wattage over what distance it might equate to. Not many I’d imagine. But they are sufficiently slippery looking to merit an aero description and certainly in keeping with other overshoes of their ilk.

There are three colours available. Orange, black or the green, yellow and blue ones above. They are the only multi coloured versions and tie in with the similarly coloured Aeron and Aeron Speed jerseys and bib shorts. Obviously they also match the socks which sit next to them. Well the green bits do anyway. Not that you’ll see your socks if you’re wearing them. Unless you’ve opted for the 13cm socks in which case you will find that they exceed the length of the overshoe. So bear that in mind. If you don’t want your socks peeping over the top then get the 9cm version. Of course, if you’re wearing them with bib tights that’s not an issue.

So, what you get is a tidy zip up the back with some reflectives. The cleat and heel opening are quite wide so there’s no issue getting these on. You need to take some care to get them correctly positioned but that’s an overshoe issue generally rather than these ones. They remain stretchy once installed. It’s possible that you could wear them with MTB shoes given how much area there is at the bottom. But they are a little more fragile than your winter overshoe by their very nature so I’d not recommend it and I couldn’t really see why you’d want to be aero with MTB shoes.

There are 5 sizes from small up to XXL. Mine were the XL for my 45 (UK 10) shoes. The range for the XL is 9-11.5 (44-46). They’re very stretchy so it’s not difficult getting a good fit and, once they’re on, there’s no floppiness or bagginess. The ankle hole is sufficiently tight to ensure closure without compromising in terms of comfort. Each of the contact/seal points (ankle cuff, bottom openings, rear zip) are reinforced so there should be no issues with durability. Finally, that yellow green section at the rear is wipe clean. I should add at this point that only this colour way has that contrast colour panel. The black and orange versions are just lycra there. And that’s it,  no fuss, no drama. They’re not sexy in any way but they just get on with the job at hand. They’re well priced, look good and all the features you’d expect are present and correct.

So, there you have it. In addition to these 4 pieces there is, of course, my review of the Aeron short finger gloves elsewhere on the site. The total outlay for these 5 accessories is fairly minimal in the great scheme of things and should last for a number of seasons. I think what’s also important is this. dhb don’t just produce the Aeron and Rain Defence range of accessories. There’s a variety of other ranges as well to suit particular weather conditions, stylistic choice or just preference. I’d expect all of them to perform similarly well given how much clear thought has gone into the things that I’ve tried. Give them a whirl, you won’t regret it.

A tale of four gloves……(Parentini, dhb, DeFeet, Castelli)

It might sound odd to you but I like opening my accessories draw and gazing upon my very wide range of socks, overshoes, warmers, caps and gloves. There’s something really nice about having kit for all conditions and carefully choosing what you want to wear to deal with them. Ok, you can get one piece of kit that might be a jack of all trades, but generally that type of kit is a master of none. It’s a compromise and you can do better.

Gloves are a hugely personal thing. While most of us could quite happily survive in someone else’s jersey or jacket recommendation we may not see what all the fuss is about where gloves are concerned. Worse, we may feel that they don’t do what they should. When you’re talking about winter gloves that just leads to misery.

I’ve had a lot of gloves but I’ve never really been happy with many of them. Sometimes I’ve been between sizes and just not had that comfort. Other times I’ve just not felt that they are warm enough. And, in relation to summer gloves, I really didn’t get them at all. There have been some honourable failures. I liked the Castelli Estremo, they were pretty tactile, well made, but, for me, not quite all that at temperatures below freezing. The closest I ever got to perfection in a winter glove was the Pearl Izumi P.R.O Lobster Soft-shell. They were very nice, but not often the easiest with which to operate your gear shifters. There were also some notable failures, an Assos ALS layering system purchase got swiftly returned when the outer fell to bits after 2 rides. Some Rapha Deep Winter gloves offered nothing to really justify their outlay.  And, in relation to summer gloves, I’ve never really been all that blown away by many of them. Yes, they seem nice enough. But a lot of them never really felt right. As you’ll read later, that’s changed.

So, it’s taken me a while to get to having a range of gloves that I can use depending on the conditions at hand. I was pretty sorted for middling temperatures. But I still didn’t really have a favourite winter glove. And I wasn’t using a summer glove at all. So, with that in mind, here we go, cold weather first……

It’s Winter: Parentini P.5000 “Soft-shell Gloves.”

These have been described as a Mossa for your hands. It’s a pretty good comparison but I think I’d have to disagree slightly with it. The Mossa, made from our old friend Windtex Storm Shield, is a waterproof and breathable membrane. Its outer surface is treated with rain repellent and it just laughs in the face of water. But it’s unlined. So you need to keep your pace up, wear a suitable base layer and experience the membrane and your sweat keeping you warm. It works brilliantly.

The P.5000 are fleece lined and so, for that reason, I can’t call them Mossa for your hands. No, I’d call them Mossa.2 for your hands. Probably. They share more in common with the Mossa.2 jacket I’ve already reviewed. So they have a nice fleecy lining on the inside of the membrane to keep you warm. They’re windproof by their very nature and, of course, waterproof. If I were being ultra picky I’d say the fleece is very slightly thinner than the Mossa.2 (and of a slightly different “weave”) and I might well call them “Mossa1.5 for your hands.” This might sound a little pedantic I am sure. But you get the idea. What you have here is a lightweight, waterproof, windproof piece of armour against the elements. I use that word deliberately where the Parentini Mossa collection is concerned, it really is armour. It protects you, makes you treat the weather with contempt.

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Audrey Hepburn would love them. Just look at the length of that cuff. It’s practically an arm warmer in itself. That’s a very good thing indeed. Look, this is winter, there’s no drawback to having something that’s longer than normal. But, the converse is true; anything that is too short is problematic. So, while I was between winter gloves, I was making do with some cheap fleecy things with short cuffs. They rarely stayed inside the cuffs of my already generously cut Mossa.2. The result is inevitable, cold wrists. The hands are a sensitive thing, if you introduce cold anywhere then you’re just going to get cold. No such problems here. Parentini are to be thoroughly commended on the choice of wrist length. You may wonder if you get any form of “VPL” under your jersey or jacket as a result. The answer is no, they blend seamlessly in.

The features are fairly straightforward. There’s no gel padding here but there is the useful addition of some grippy/strengthening fabric on the palms and inside of the thumbs. So, whatever position you adopt, be that on the top of the bars, drops or resting on the shifters there’s that bit more grip available. As you can also see from the above picture most of the seams are moved out of the way so, in combination with the rain repellent treatment and the inherent waterproof qualities of windtex storm shield, it’s going to take an age for water to get in. I even did the “dipping them in a bowl of water test” and even after a minute or so they were still dry inside.

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The fleece lining is made of polypropylene. So, that’s the same substance that Parentini recommend you use with the Mossa as a base layer. Once again, it provides warmth and, of course, should your hands become sweaty in any way then that sweat will work with the membrane to provide additional warmth. The construction is, once again, premium. I won’t go on about it but this really is pro level kit.

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I’ve searched for the Holy Grail of autumn/winter gloves and, in these, I think I’ve found it. In practice these are good for temperatures hovering around freezing whether that weather is dry or damp. I partnered them with a very thin silk inner lining at around minus 3 and was very comfortable indeed. Parentini offer the option of a polypro inner (the same material as the base layer I reviewed) and also an outer protective layer as well.

In terms of fit they’re spot on. I measured my palms, consulted the size chart and opted, once again, for a large. They’re a perfect fit. The finger length is good without being restrictive, should cater for slight variance in finger length and provide the ability to partner with an inner lining. They’re flexible and comfortable and very lightweight. It’s easy to operate all of your controls with them and do things like opening the twist valve on a water bottle. Overall they are superb and a great investment for winter riding particularly because they are so waterproof.

RRP is £49 for these which I think is excellent value given the competition. They’re available at your local Parentini dealer. You can find a list of those in my Parentini Mossa review. Partnered with the Mossa or Mossa.2 and K-Dry Shark bib tights (review coming soon) it’s hard to think of anything short of the destruction seen in Day after Tomorrow that would cause these gloves (and the Mossa range) to miss a beat.

It’s still winter (ish) : DeFeet Prendas Dura Gloves

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Sometimes it’s not quite cold enough for full on autumn/winter gloves but still too cold something thinner or going it alone. The Defeet Dura have been around forever it seems. Indeed, they look and feel pretty much like the gloves I wore to school when I was a kid. I can remember throwing snowballs in something very similar. Then drying them on the radiator for a day.

They’re made from a mix of coolmax, cordura and lycra. It’s the latter materials that are perhaps the most useful in terms of fit. They stretch but instantly spring back into compression mode when on. The coolmax takes care of the thermal duties. In practice these are good for temperatures down to about 5 degrees or so. But they’re also quite happy to go up into the teens.

Cuff length is again, very generous and, in practice, I’ve never had an issue with them popping out from underneath the sleeve despite there being no grippers to keep them in place. The wrist has an elasticated structure which keeps them secure.

That rubbery non slip palm is hugely effective. It’s also very durable indeed. In all the years I’ve used Defeet gloves I’ve never once had any part of it rub off. They are, of course, not waterproof in any way shape or form so these really are for your dry rides. Because they are unstructured they can occasionally bunch a little when on the shifter hoods but it’s a very small issue indeed.

There’s not a lot to say about the DeFeet gloves other than they’re £15 rrp, last for ages, and really are a great addition to your spring wardrobe. Just don’t go throwing snowballs in them.

Spring has Sprung! Castelli Lightness

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Those are a year old believe it or not. I bought them just before last year’s Battle on the Beach event. I used them then and they’ve done thousands of hassle free miles ever since.

These really are a spring piece or a cool weather summer one. There’s little thermal going on here other than taking the chill off. The palms are pretty robust and made of clarino synthetic leather. It doesn’t have a leather feel, it’s more of a suede affair. The back of the hands are made of thermoflex. It’s a very light fabric indeed and shares a lot of the feel of lycra.

There’s a useful finger gripper on the underside of the wrist to ensure that you can pull them on and the cuffs are usefully tight. They’re not overlong in this case. So, in practice, there can be jersey or arm warmer combinations that see gaps appearing. Given their intended temperature use that’s not too much of an issue.

And the fit, overall, is tight. When they arrived I put them in a drawer for a week and agonised over whether they were the right size. The cuff was extraordinarily tight to get into but, once you did, it was snug without being uncomfortable. In the end I kept them, wore them and they gave. The fit conformed to my hands and we’ve never looked back.

There’s a nice rubberised pattern on the palm to provide grip. it might be difficult to make out from the photo above but there’s not even a missing letter on any part of the words. It’s hugely robust. The inner and outer part of the thumb is lined with a fleecy material so you can wipe your nose or forehead if you need to.

Castelli recommend a temperature range of about 10-18 degrees and I’d say that, in practice, that’s about right. They are absolutely not water resistant or windproof but, saying that, as long as the temperature is sufficiently high then it doesn’t matter too much. RRP is £29.99 on these and they’re pretty great in terms of longevity.

Summer, yeah baby. dhb Aeron Summer Gloves

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I decided to use a stock photo here as I can’t really get a good photo of them using one hand. Hope you don’t mind. But the stock photos are a great representation of what they’re like and the quality that they exude.

As I stated earlier in the review I’ve not really been a fan of summer gloves. I used to have some Craft ones with no velcro opening. They were ok, and cheap, and I wore them sometimes but didn’t feel any great connection to them. I tried some Castelli Rosso Corsa ones. They had a velcro closure system, but no gel padding and I didn’t really get the point.

I wasn’t even expecting a pair of gloves to test from dhb, let alone some summer ones. But what the hell, useful addition to a wardrobe, nice enough thing to have a go of. Mine are black ones. It would be nice, of course, to have a tinge of green in them to match the Supersix, but beggars etc….. I’ve added stock pics of the blue because I think that it shows the contrast of materials better.

The upper is a typically standard (and that’s a good thing) approach to a summer glove. So you have a mesh layer where it’s needed, a fleecy micro fibre thumb covering to take up face dabbing duties and a velcro closure system. I have OCD when it comes to velcro closure. If I have to do it up too tight and wrinkle the material it plays on my mind. No such issues here. with the velcro symmetrically closed they provide a sufficiently tight closure which is very comfortable indeed. The finish is exceptional for the price. The stitching that appears below is wholly representative of the finished product. There’s the addition of a finger loop between the first and second fingers to make pulling the glove off a very easy affair. Finger length is good coming just up to the knuckle.

The upper is a lightweight perforated mesh. It’s very breathable but still sufficiently robust and I’d have absolutely no concerns about its longevity. Indeed, the overall feel is premium and I reckon you could use these for many summers to come. The side section of each finger is also a lightweight fabric that doesn’t cause any irritation and is still very breathable.

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Round the back we’ve got three separate 3mm gel sections. Each contributes to some very welcome comfort depending on where you’re holding onto the bars. The large section marked “gel” works particularly well when on the top of the bars or holding onto the shifters. The middle section contributes to that as well but also helps when you’re on the drops. The top section just helps out everywhere. It’s a very steady affair and there’s no mushiness or moving around when you’re gripping. The palm is very robust.

As you can see there’s also a nice extended section at the wrist so that you can give them a tug to get them on. Not that getting them on is in any way difficult. The size chart is spot on and can be followed with confidence. dhb-Aeron-Short-Finger-Glove-Short-Finger-Gloves-White-SS16-NU0375-8

I was fortunate to have temps knocking on the door of 13-14 degrees on a few late afternoon rides this week. So we’re still a little bit away from high summer. I do have hot hands but found that these were very breathable in those conditions. I’ll continue to test as the temperatures warm up. Indeed, I’ll be using these for Battle on the Beach next week as it looks like being very mild. I’ll need that padding given the rough nature of the event.

There are a few reviews already on Wiggle’s web site from people in South Africa where it’s pretty much still summer. It’s been 26 degrees this week. Those reviews are positive in terms of summer use and I can see no reason why they won’t perform.

In terms of RRP they’re £25 from Wiggle or £22 with platinum discount.  A quick look at pricing tells me that’s in the lower 1/3 of the short finger summer gloves available on their website. Pretty much mid range pricing then.

Click here to purchase the dhb aeron summer gloves

I wrote that dhb were coming of age with their winter kit. There was a time when you’d think that Wiggle were just about value. I just don’t think about that anymore. Their range provides performance that also offers value. These gloves are just another demonstration of where dhb have got to. And that place is up there with the best. I’ve got some more positive stuff to say about the rest of the Spring/Summer Aeron range shortly. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a hell of a (comfortable) ride.

Update, 14th March 2016. I took the dhb aeron off road today in preparation for Battle on the Beach. And the gel padding is just so good. Given that it looks mild on the weekend now these are getting used. They’re excellent.