Rapha Pro Team Training Jacket

This is, I think, the 3rd iteration of Rapha’s Pro Team jacket. I owned the first one in orange. Lovely thing. The 2nd iteration was the same, as I recall, but they faffed around with the sizing (essentially making what was a large, extra large). But it was pretty much the same. And now, the 3rd. They’ve added training in there. That’s fair enough. It’s essentially a tempo piece. But I think it’s worth a bit of history about how we got here.

Once upon a time Rapha stuck to being classical. That meant wool, some nylon (etc) rain and wind jackets and a bloody fabulous winter softshell. Then, they innovated, expanded, and introduced many many new product lines. And the Pro Team line was, well, it’s fairly self explanatory.

And it was a success because, all Rapha jokes aside, they do understand their market and they do make great stuff. I didn’t care for the windstopper Brevet jersey but I can see that there will be people who do. I loved the Rapha hardshell. It is, in my view, one of the great all weather jackets produced by anyone, period. Seriously, one of the best jackets, amazing. Rapha’s innovation is our gain. But, sometimes, there’s no need to innovate, it doesn’t necessarily produce a better product. Because, in my view, as good as this jacket is, it’s not quite as great as the old one I had. Not quite.

The original Pro Team jacket was the first, as I recall, Rapha product to dabble with using Polartec softshell panels. Hell, it might have been the first cycling product (#innovation). And what it was, was a supremely comfortable all day, cool to cold weather lightweight jacket. Indeed, it was actually fairly magical. Witchcraft even. To get that warmth and comfort out of something so light was incredibly clever. In fact I’d go as far to say that the old one was one of the great cycling jackets of all time. I’ve had a few. I once wore the original on a 100 mile ride from Cardiff to Tenby. All conditions, cold, sun, wind, damp. It was just superb. I never once thought about it during the ride. It just did everything I needed it to.

The new one is essentially the same. Same looks, same overall design, same ethos. But where there was once Polartec there is now simply polyster and nylon. That’s what Polartec is, but the percentages have changed. And where before the ‘super roubaix’ panels were 85% polyamide there’s now more polyester thrown into the mix. And, once again, I find myself in a bit of a quandary. But, more of that later. One thing I would say, sometimes a product looks a different colour on the Rapha website, this blue is a bit lighter, a bit more washed out than pictured. And quite hard to photograph properly.

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The version on test today is a large. Rapha say that’s good for 39-42 inch chest. It’s not. Not really. My chest is 39″ as we speak. The chest measurement of the garment is 19 inches, perhaps 19.5. So, without stretching it that’s good for 39 inches dead on. The waist band measures 18 inches and it’s just over 20 inches drop from the collar to the front waist. That’s pretty race fit but, kudos to Rapha, it’s also fairly proportional and nothing like the silliness we saw with the Castelli Perfetto. It’s worth sizing up if you’re towards the upper margins. You can see above that the majority is softshell. The side inserts, back and inner parts of the sleeve are all jersey material and therefore stretchy. Just off to the right hand side of the picture there’s a small zip which leads to that door shaped front pocket. It’s a really decent sized and being behind the softshell will be reasonably waterproof. You can fit quite a lot in there but, it being a race fit, you won’t really want to.

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Round the back are three very reasonable pockets and one zipped one. The zipped one lives in the striped pocket. It’s a little tricky to get to. In fact I’d say you can only realistically get to it with help or when the jacket is off. It’s somewhere you’d perhaps stick your credit card or house key.

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The sleeves have an inner jersey cuff as well providing that bit more something at the end! They’re reasonably lengthy sleeves but, in common with the rest of the sizing, those of longer arms may need to size up as well. There’s nothing particularly striking about the colouring or design during the day, but, at night……

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It’s impressive. Good details including some on the arms to help you indicate. As I rode today I wondered about the Rapha sleeve stripe. I mean, that’s where it is. It’s where we expect it to be. But, in terms of its presence as a reflective, for the UK, it’s not perhaps where you’d want it to be. Would it be better being on the right hand sleeve?

This is not a weatherproof jacket. The softshell element will keep rain off and the DWR treatment is outstanding eclipsing the Ale jacket I reviewed earlier this week. But the presence of so many roubaix panels means that it’s something to be worn in the dry or, at the most, damp conditions. If you want to stay dry, take a rain jacket as well.

I’ve been riding in this in a variety of temperatures from a few degrees above freezing to into the low teens. It has an impressive range. Just change your base layer to get more or less warmth. It isn’t an ultra warm jacket, you do need to be doing a bit of pacing to get the most out of it but stop and you can feel how much warmth you are generating. And it’s pretty breathable as well, you’re going fast so inevitably there will be some moisture in the jacket at the end of the ride. In the dry I’d actually say that it’s one of the best tempo jackets out there. There are challengers to that though, the Castelli Alpha jersey is, arguably, just as warm, possibly warmer and certainly a little more comfortable. They’re very similarly priced at RRP and also when on sale (as both are at the moment).

Pricing is fair. £160 RRP with it being currently on sale at £110. That’s as good as most mid range jackets out there let alone the super premium ones.

But, in terms of being the most versatile jacket there is, I have an issue. And that issue is the Mark 1 version. It was, in my view, just as versatile, just as breathable, a bit warmer and, this is the main thing, more comfortable. There’s nothing uncomfortable here. Far from it. It’s just that, in innovating, in making a change, I wonder if there’s just change for change sake? You might disagree and find it better, lighter and softer, but, for me I just loved that old one. So, my note to Rapha is, you don’t always have to innovate, don’t have to improve. Sometimes you just need to stick with what is great. Can you bring back the Polartec one next year? While you’re at it bring back the Classic Softshell as well, and the Hardshell please. That would be lovely, thanks.

FOOTNOTE: In the Q&A section on Rapha’s website a few people ask whether this is still Polartec. Rapha say yes and that they don’t want to mess with anything as perfect as the Pro Team Jacket. But it’s quite clear that the materials are stated to be different. I’ll let you, dear reader, decide.

Old version
Front panels, Polartec®: 70% Polyester 30% Nylon
Rear panels, Super-Roubaix: 85% Polyamide, 15% Elastane

New Version
Front panels: 57% polyester, 43% nylon
Rear panels: 51% polyamide, 33% polyester, 16% elastane

Giro Synthe MIPS Helmet

You’ll remember that I was rather impressed by the Giro Foray especially at the much reduced price of £27.99. I noted in that review that the Synthe was many many times the price. I questioned whether it could ever be worth it. I now have a Synthe because I wanted one, liked the colour and, I guess the number of helmets can also be N+1. So the Foray gets used for the rough stuff, the Synthe for the posh stuff. But the question is, can the Synthe ever really be worth it?

Much, of course, depends on what worth it means. The RRP of the Foray is almost £50, the MIPS version £75, the Synthe £224 and its MIPS version and eye watering £250. But RRP means very little. The Synthe can be had for as little as £100 if you make do with certain colours, the MIPS around £125 if you do the same. You just have to know where to look and time it right, I did paying only that. Pricing is fluid so comparisons are often hard to draw. But what we can say is that if we take Giro’s cheapest road MIPS as being the Foray the Synthe is just over 3 times the cost.

Before we talk about the helmet itself let’s talk about MIPS or multi (directional) impact protection system. It’s probably best watched than explained.

And you can read more about it here. Essentially or allegedly it provides better protection from rotational injuries. I won’t go into the helmet debate and I certainly can’t vouch for having tested it but, for the reasons stated later, it’s quite a nice addition actually.

I guess the point to buying a Synthe is that you’ve bought the best. Aero tested, sleek and premium. And there’s little doubt in the flesh that this is a premium helmet. There are details that stand out, a nice shiny shell and it’s just a lovely thing to behold.

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It’s available in far too many colours for me to go into in this review. I opted for the white and yellow (that’s what Giro call that) to provide a bit of contrast and a bit more top half visibility. It doesn’t really match much of my kit, but that’s ok as well. If you can’t match, go different.

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In terms of the overall construction there is much more going on here than on the  cheaper Foray. For a start that central section has a plastic grille running from the front to the rear. That’s one of the contributing aero bits apparently. I’m not really going to discuss the aero benefits because I cannot quantify them and Giro offer no data on them. But, what I can say, is that this is a helmet with an awful lot of throughput of air, you’ll understand why a little later. Indeed, I’d go as far to say that unless it’s mild you will be wearing a skull cap under there at the very least. Is it more ventilated than the Foray? Absolutely, and quieter, oddly. The Synthe has 26 vents playing the 21 vents of the Foray.

Weight? 293g in size large on my scales plays 296g on the non MIPS Foray. That’s not bad actually given that the MIPS system, light as it is, is adding a few grammes. It’s heavier than some superlight helmets, lighter than others. But, the thing is, for the reasons which appear below, you really won’t feel that weight here.

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The quality of the mould is outstanding. Each bridge section is separately moulded and attached to the foam inner. That’s a clear step up from the Foray which is essentially a one piece mould attached over the helmet as a whole. Better? Aesthetically, if you get up close and take pictures. Better in a crash? No idea.

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But there are some neat features on the Synthe and, in particular, sticking your sunglasses up there when you don’t need them. The hole here has a silicone like gripper to hold onto your glasses securely. The Giro wording is embossed rubber rather than being simply printed on.

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I’ve been testing them with the Oakley Jawbreaker which actually have quite short arms. You do need to be careful with placement. You need to make sure the arms go on the inside of the MIPS liner for both grip and safety. Once they are in they absolutely will not fall out. You can achieve this while riding but, frankly, it’s much easier if you stop.

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The rear is a bit of a work of art in my view, aggressive and pointy though, on the flip side, it also looks like you are wearing a bunch of bananas. The Roc Loc Air system is a simple dial fastener just like that of the other Roc Loc systems. But here, there is a difference. Essentially it keeps the helmet off your head and suspends it about 3mm away from the shell. Your head is therefore in contact with the Roc Loc and MIPS system and not the helmet. It provides for a much more comfortable fit which is impressive as the Foray was already a comfortable helmet. It’s adjustable up and down for height but only in terms of sliding it up and down a few notches at the back. The Roc Loc system doesn’t hinge or move far in comparison to something like the Kask Mojito. But it’s really easy to get a good fit on this helmet. Crucially it’s that Roc Loc Air that provides even more airflow, you’re in contact with less stuff ergo less sweaty head.

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And finally, the inside, where the MIPS liner lives. The MIPS liner is the plastic inner shell emblazoned with the MIPS and/or yellow stickers. The white sections are the Roc Loc Air.

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There is one potential downside to that Roc Loc Air system. It’s possible that, if you neglect your sun cream or hat in the summer you’ll end up with a more weird tan that mere helmet grooves. Cream up people.There are only front and rear pads, the front are x-static treated. You don’t really need all those pads because of the fact that the helmet is effectively suspended.

This review inevitably compares the Foray because I have one. They are at the opposite ends of the price spectrum and we can’t ignore the other helmets in between such as the Aeon, Cinder and Savant, all of which come with a MIPS option. So the question is whether something that looks the same, weighs much the same is the same and offers only incremental improvements across the board. The thing is, that’s pretty much what cycling is, incremental improvements per £ spent. Can a £250 helmet really be 3 times better than a £75 one?

It’s not 3 times better. But, then, it’s rare to see X times improvements when you spend X times the price. It’s always about marginal or incremental gains. Sometimes it’s about other things, the slight improvements in comfort, the perceived improvement in safety or the screw it it’s all about aesthetics. And there’s nothing wrong with that last one, nothing wrong at all.

Is the Synthe a perfect helmet? It’s not far off actually. It has a great form factor, superb looks and is ultra ventilated. It feels fast even if you cannot begin to quantify that. It does have its flaws. That strap is better than on the Foray but still cheap and cannot hope to compete with the lushness of a Kask strap. It’s not uncomfortable, just not as nice.

But, I think, it’s probably the most perfect helmet I’ve tried so far and looks bloody fantastic. And sometimes that’s enough.

Alé Arcobaleno Winter Jacket

Click here to buy for £97 (don’t forget the code!)

Alé. Typing that with the accent requires me to do lots of things with the option key, or cut and paste, so quite a lot of work has gone into typing this! And it’s pronounced Allez. Not Ale, not Ole, Allez! Clothing to get you going.

Alé are quite a recent entrant into the market but with their vibrant designs, including some rather out there camo offerings, they’ve already found quite a loyal user base. They hail from Italy and they’ve actually been round for a very long time making clothing for others, including Nike. They’re part of a group of companies which also includes DMT shoes and Cipollini bikes. It’s Italian designed and Italian made. In terms of brand visibility my view is that it’s one of the bigger success stories of the last few years.

The range is an extensive one. Indeed, and this is often the case nowadays, the range can be a bit bewildering. Paligap.cc, the UK importer, list 281 product lines. There are over 50 jackets available ranging from the lightweight shell to full on winter. Arcobaleno means rainbow. It’s actually available in more colours abroad but only 2 in the UK, the orange reviewed here and one where lime replaces the orange. It’s an eye catching thing, though I’d hardly describe it as rainbow-esque.

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Alé claim that this is, in effect, a tempo winter jacket good for 4-10 degrees. I’ve been wearing it at that range and quite a bit colder. It’s certainly a tempo piece, the fabric has some heft but it’s not as hardcore as the Parentini Mossa.2 or the Lusso Extreme Repel.

I’ve been testing the XL version which, according to the size guide, is good for a 41″ chest. I sized up because, well, Italian. But the results are actually a little surprising as you can see below. I’ve decided to try and introduce a measuring system on all reviews now. It’s not all that easy to make out in the photo but it measures at least 21″ across and, with a bit of arranging, around 21.5″ in reality. So that should be good for a 43″ chest and the 100cm of the large would probably be my preferred size. It still fits well, still fits in a racy way but because of the overall taper (the waist is about 35″) I’d prefer the large to get that all over race fit. The drop from the top zip to the waistband at the front is about 24 inches so you do get a decent bit of coverage at the front.

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It’s once again made from our friend windtex which offers quite stellar windstopping abilities with, of course, the added bonus of being at least water resistant because of the membrane within. But, in this case, as you’ll see later, it’s not quite that straightforward.

The construction alternates between full on windtex fabric and roubaix inserts. So, the sleeves are windtex on the front and side facing sections and the inner part is roubaix fleece. That’s a good approach for a tempo jacket and helps with temperature regulation when you’ve moving quickly. It’s a similar approach to that taken on, for example, the Rapha Pro Team jacket amongst others. It does mean that there’s more scope for water ingress though.

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The back is not windtex instead being all roubaix fleece. So if you’re expecting all round weather resistance then this may not be the jacket for you. What it is, is still thoroughly toasty. There are 3 pockets but, sadly, no zipped one for valuables. A smattering of reflectives are present on the side of the pockets. Not a huge amount but merely ok.

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You can see the contrasting materials used on the jacket here. The section just to the right of the yellow zip section is the front windtex panel with a micro fleece lining. As I’ve stated it’s not quite as thick as that seen on the Parentini Mossa.2 but, naturally, thicker than your standard Mossa. The section centre/bottom right the rear section of roubaix and its thickness akin to your normal winter roubaix jersey. At the top right there’s an additional ‘flap’ at the upper back to produce a bit more warmth in that area. It provides a bit more warmth around your shoulder area. It’s attached only at the top so it provides a good balance between extra protection and ventilation.

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It’s a nice neck as well, quite high with an articulated rear section. All fleece lined and very comfortable. In common with my sizing comments above it’s a well sized neck with a slight bit of wiggle room. Sizing down should lead to a slightly snugger fit in this area.

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Back round the front and we have zipped vents on both sides of the jacket to let the heat out if your ride is a pacey one at high(er) temps.

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The waistband is a quite lovely thing and provides a secure grip. You can see that the front zip is also reflective. I’d like to see more of that sort of thing. The upper and lower zip sections have a zip garage. That’s often cited as a bonus, personally I find them a bit of a faff. The zip section has a storm flap behind it to ensure that there’s no ingress there.

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And finally the roubaix double fleece cuffs. These are nice and comfy and have a taper to ensure a good ergonomic fit. The arms are a good length as well and should suit the larger rider. They’re not super slim so should accommodate larger arms as well.

So, what’s it like. Well, it is a tempo jacket, think Rapha Pro Team or Gore Xenon rather than something full on winter. You do need to be going that bit quicker to stay properly warm. That said, whenever I stopped at a set of lights, I was always conscious that it was retaining heat very well. In terms of damp protection it’s windtex so that’s a plus, of course. But, those roubaix inserts on the sleeves and round the back mean that it’s not totally waterproof and there’s also a but. There’s no obvious DWR element to the jacket. That means that water tends to sit on the fabric rather than run off. That’s a bit of a shame as it has the look of something that should just cause water to run off. It’s no deal breaker though, it’s not remotely claimed to be water resistant or a wet weather jacket. This is a dry day one and in that guise it does so very well indeed.

In terms of feel it’s up there with the very best. The construction is first rate, everything looks like it will last a considerable time. So, is it worth the price tag? Well, the RRP is £180. It’s rare for anything to cost RRP so we return to the question of what would you pay for it. For that (RRP) you’d be able to source a Rapha Pro Team which is, arguably, that bit better all round as a tempo training jacket. But, shop around, follow the link above, apply the code and this could be yours for a mere £97. And that’s pretty excellent pricing for something which is premium and performs so well. If you run hot then, weather resistance aside, this really could be your go to winter jacket. It’s a striking jacket and provides good visibility with that orange branding. (Note, at the time I write this there are a few Rapha Pro team jackets available in the sale at £110 so much depends on what type of look you prefer). 

Personally, I thought that, in context, this was a great jacket. It’s for cold weather tempo riding and it manages that with aplomb. If you want a damp weather jacket I’d suggest something else but then Alé never make that claim anyway. If you fancy something similar but more visible then the Bering PRR jacket would be a good choice as well. I have to say, I’m impressed with the range and I hope to bring you some more Alé reviews shortly.

Gore Power 3.0 thermo Bibtights +

Click here to buy for £71.99

Gore make some great kit, particularly jackets. They also, I assume, make a shed load of money licensing their tech to others. You don’t see their shorts and tights out in the wild as often as others which is a bit of a shame as they make quite brilliant kit.

The ones I’ve been testing are the 3rd iteration of Gore’s ‘power’ bibtights. Their nomenclature isn’t all that transparent so consider these pretty much occupying Gore’s mid range. Below them the Element, above them the Oxygen. At the very top, the Xenon. The + denotes the existence of a pad so if you want a pad make sure you’re getting the + version. And within each range there are often thermo variants and those with added windstopper panels etc.

But these are pretty straightforward, your standard thermo roubaix lined winter bibtights. Well, mostly. As I’ll discuss a little later, there’s the addition of a double panel of lycra in certain key sections which is designed for that little bit more warmth.I’ve taken, as is my usual approach, photos of the key features but not of the overall tight. I’ve added stock photos for that as they are a better representation.

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Gore say that these are designed for medium level rides. They don’t really give a guide temperature for them. They’re not heavy weight, what they are is kitten soft. And they are one of the easiest pair of bibtights to put on I’ve ever tried. That does come with a very slight temperature penalty as I’ll come to later.

There are four colour variations currently available at Wiggle. An all black pair (but still with a thin yellow stripe), black/red, black/white and the black yellow on test here. The contrast trim is arguably useful in creating that bit more visibility as you pedal but the its mostly forward visibility and doesn’t extend all the way around (even if the above photo suggests that). It’s a useful addition.

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They show up well in headlights though. There’s reflective trim on the legs, side and at the back of the bibs as well. It’s not as extensive as on the Lusso range, but it does the job.

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The double fabric layer appears just below the knees and around the back/seat area. When Gore say double fabric they mean double the thickness rather than two layers. It’s actually very effective and is a much more mobile fabric than you find on a windstopper bibtight. I’ve always struggled a little with that type of tight, bunching and wrinkling round the knees for example, but these work well. That said, I do wonder about the efficacy of the placing of the fabric. If the intended effect is to keep off road spray, then great. If it’s all about warming then, arguably, placing a double layer alternatively or also at the thigh would be an improvement. Having a double layer in the kidney area does keep your back/trunk warm, so that’s a neat addition.

It’s a good approach, a different approach and it does work well, giving these a warmth that exceeds a standard thermo roubaix but can’t quite touch something like the Parentini Shark.2 for absolute warmth. But, oh they are kitten soft.

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The rear section combines a central mesh with two very lightweight straps. Again, it’s a different approach. A lot of brands, such as Assos, claim that the pinching you feel when standing up is entirely natural. You won’t feel the Gore when you’re off the bike. That doesn’t mean that they wander around or have any less security when on the bike, it’s just a different approach. I’d say that these are the least obvious feeling straps I’ve ever worn, they utterly disappear.

And then there’s the pad and it’s a good one. I don’t know when Gore moved to using Cytech to produce their pads. I was of the recollection, which may be wrong, that they did their own. It’s a collaboration between the two here. The Power seat insert is a dual density pad and rated for rides of up to 3 hours. I’d say you can comfortably exceed that, it’s plush and comfy though arguably not the last word in tech.

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In terms of sizing, these are just as described. Gore suggest a large for my 35″ waist and that’s what I got. Fit is close but relaxed. You’d not describe them as compressive. If I had to whinge ever so slightly then they are a little longer than I’d like necessitating a slight bit of folding of the bottoms, perhaps 1/2 to 1 inch or so. There are no zips or straps to get in the way of this process. So, if you’re short Welsh stock like me (5ft 10) then you may have to do that. Any shorter, you might like to size down. Any taller and these really do cater for you.That’s probably a fair trade, too often taller riders complain about shorter than ideal legs.

In use these are very nice indeed. They’re obviously comfortable with no harshness or irritation. The pad is sufficiently plush to disappear. They’re not for the coldest sub zero days but the beauty of the fabric is that you could comfortably wear these on a cold day which turns much milder with no discomfort. In terms of absolute temperature I’d say they’re good for just above freezing up to well into the mid teens. I’d be happy to start out sub zero in them provided that it wasn’t for too long.

But it’s the comfort that’s the real USP of this particular piece. That super soft roubaix backed lycra with its flat locked and thoughtfully placed seams really does contribute to one of the comfiest bibs I’ve tried. At RRP there are probably other alternatives which offer the same level of performance but almost certainly not that kitten soft feel. At the reduced price they represent good value and excellent performance.

dhb Aeron Lightweight Gilet

Wiggle have this reduced to £37.50 at the moment and that’s actually quite a bit of a bargain given that, even when it was at its RRP of £50, you could still make that case for it. The matching dhb aeron long sleeve isn’t quite as reduced. That’s a shame because, as we’ll go on to see later, this is quite a nice little autumn/spring clothing ‘system.’

As you know, I’m a very big fan of the dhb aeron range and wrote extensively about my experiences with the dhb aeron roubaix jersey earlier in the year. I’ve just picked up a new one in the black/star colourway and thought I’d treat myself to a lightweight gilet to go with it.

There are four colourways available in the roubaix jersey: black/green, navy/orange, all black and black/star. dhb have ensured that there’s a lightweight gilet to match so you can also have the green or orange variants or the black/star one here to match your black one. It’s a nice little detail so whatever colour you fancy, there’s something for you.

dhb state that the features of the gilet are as follows:

  • Lightweight, windproof and water resistant gilet (windslam material)
  • Mesh back panel for breathability
  • Full length, lock down YKK zip with chin guard
  • Side entry openings to access jersey pockets
  • Hi-visibility reflective detailing on rear seams
  • Wide silicone waist gripper to stop riding up

The size on the version I have is a large. In theory I should be a medium on the size chart (my chest is 39.5 or so) but the aeron range is quite racy, so I sized up and took the same size as in the aeron jersey. What’s quite important, given that the two are designed to work/look together is that the gilet is able to be comfortably worn over the top. And that’s the case here, it’s very slightly (and I mean very slightly) bigger than the jersey and the fit is therefore very complimentary between the two.

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There’s nothing all that revolutionary about it. It’s a polyester based windproof front with a nice high collar and form fitting sleeve holes. Get the right size and you should get a really good fit indeed. The zip has a storm flap behind it to stop cold air filtering through. The arm hole are elasticated and ensure a good ‘seal’ with what’s underneath. It’s also a pretty smart piece in my view even if it’s lacking a bit of visibility given its all black nature.

The windslam fabric just doesn’t let any wind through. The chest and side seams aren’t sealed or taped but there doesn’t appear to be any ingress here either. There’s a zip garage on the top of the zip to stop any chafing. The collar isn’t lined but, of course, you’ll be wearing it with something else anyway.

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Round the back we have a continuation of the windproof panels but the central strip is mesh to allow ventilation. So, to a certain extent there’s a great deal of water resistance due to the nature of the panels but water will get it at the back, of course. But then this is more a dry weather piece than a damp one. You’ll see that there are only a few reflectives present so a rear light is probably a wise choice in the daylight hours to complement it.

It’s the pockets that are of most interest on this piece in that, arguably, there are none. Instead you have side slits through which you put your hands to get to the pockets of your jersey. It’s polarising but, for me, it works very well. Indeed it works well with all my jerseys but it’s clearly been cut for matching the aeron one. You can see how they line up below.

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Does that side flap create any aero problems? No. None at all in my use of it as the fit is excellent.

And when you partner the two up you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a one piece jacket such is the consistency of sizing between the two. The two match each other perfectly for length, there’s nothing worse than a gilet being shorter than the jersey it’s paired with.

There’s a nice wide rubber band at the back which prevents any slippage and ensures everything remains nicely in place. The shoulders are snug and don’t flap, the collars work very well together.

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I’ve been using this without a base layer in temps around 8-12 degrees or so and with a lightweight base layer (from Craft) in temps for 4-8 degrees. There’s no windproofing in the sleeves of the aeron jersey so you’re protecting your core only with the gilet. And despite its diminutive weight it really does perform very well. It’s also stashable so you can treat this as a summer piece with arm warmers as well. It doesn’t compress down as some of the lighter offerings but, for me, it offers a good compromise. It’s roughly the size of a large ish phone with a bit more depth. And that’s fine.

In terms of price, this is a winner. £50 was a good price in my view and for £37.50 it’s an absolute steal. It’s not even a case of it being reduced to shift the last few items. It’s in stock in all colours from extra small up to extra extra large. For the price I honestly can’t think of anything that comes remotely close in terms of being effective, smart and comfortable. In terms of durability it’s well made and looks like it will last for ages. For me it’s one of the best spends of the year.

The Garmin Fenix 3, much better than sliced bread.

I’ve been writing this damn review for ages but stuff keeps coming up. Like work, colds, flu and hearing loss. And then, while I’m prevaricating/dying of man flu they only go and release the Fenix 5 (and 5S and 5X). So this should be redundant. But it’s not, not really. Consider the 5 as an evolution of the 3. What’s here is still present, mostly, with some useful additions and I’ll deal with them later.

Anyhow, there’s something nice about having a GPS on your bike. Chuck in a tidy front mount, add in speed, cadence and HRM and you’re all set to ape the pros. But, ultimately, many of us record our rides simply because we can. Some of us use the data to pique our interest, bore our inner nerd, bore our mates. Only a few of us do anything really meaningful with it.

I’m a long time lover and hater of GPS. I like the tech, I like the data. I hate that it makes me need to go faster and love that it makes me need to go faster. I love the purity of not having one and the added tech warmth of having one. In truth I don’t really know why I own one at all. Deep down that’s probably true of many of you reading this, if you’re really truthful with yourself. But, hey, where’s the fun in that? If we were all really truthful we’d eschew much of what we buy. In the dark world of post 2016 and post truth let’s have something that we can enjoy without too much analysis.

I’ve been happy with my Garmin products despite their idiosyncrasies, bugs and faults. It’s claimed on the internet that all Garmin users are essentially beta testers. There may be some truth in that but, really, there are millions of these things, there are bound to be issues. And the internet will report them. But my 520 became more than a little irritating when it lost its signal at the start of every ride. I needed a replacement, decided not to replace it, then, when the opportunity presented itself, I took the plunge. The question was Garmin or not Garmin and, whatever I chose, was it time for something a bit different? In the end I said yes and now wear a massive great clock on my wrist during exercise. And if we exclude the Sonos sound systems from the equation it may well be the best thing I’ve ever bought and, on this site, easily the product of the year. That’s impressive, given the competition.

My Fenix (pronounced Phoenix apparently) is the 3rd iteration of Garmin’s do everything watch It’s pitched squarely at triathletes but it’s equally at home doing climbing, hiking, indoor gym stuff and, get this, stand up paddleboarding. Seriously, if you’re a stand up paddleboarder nothing gets close. You can take it skiing. You can ‘do’ Golf with it though, I promise, that aspect will be missing from this review. It won’t put the kids to bed or solve the Trump/Brexit problem but it will do just about everything else. When I bought it I intended to use it only for exercise. 2 months and it’s only left my wrist for charging.

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The variant I bought is the performance bundle. That means you get the ‘stock’ Fenix 3 together with the Garmin ‘run’ HRM. A bit of judicious price matching saw me net the whole lot for £291. The cheapest place right now appears to be Blacks at £290.  Bear in mind that the HRM strap alone is worth almost £80 and that’s something of an excellent deal. The new model could see this model prices tumbling but I doubt that. Weak pound, dollar pricing of the new model means that one is going to be over £400 easily.

There are a number of other Fenix 3 variants. They include a Sapphire glass variant, a wrist based HRM version and combinations of each of the above. Right at the top of the tree is the Fenix 3 Chronos. The Sapphire glass version is probably worth having. But it’s a premium over the crystal and, as far as I can ascertain from the web, it does make the display a little harder to read. The wrist based HRM is also, apparently, excellent, but no substitute at all for the chest based one in my view.

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It’s a pretty nice package when it arrives. The box comes with a charger (proprietary naturally), assorted manuals and the chest strap. The chest strap is already paired with the unit so it’s just a matter of putting it on to use it. You also get an elastic extender for the chest band so if you’re of considerable girth you’ll still get it on. It’s a very tidy package indeed.

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It’s a big old thing but, actually, you get used to it. And this is coming from someone who didn’t wear a watch or fitness tracker at all.

The first question you might ask about the Fenix 3 is why. Why choose something like this. Isn’t it just for people who contravene the rules and follow a swim with a bike ride and a run? Well, there are that lot yes. The weirdos who tackle long course weekends, tear off rubber and practice how fast they change their shoes. But there’s a lot more cross over to the Fenix that just that. Think of the Fenix as your Garmin plus smart watch. That’s really it. Does everything a Garmin will do, does everything a smartwatch will do, does every sport you do. Obviates the need for multiple devices.

The basics

So, let’s start with how the Fenix works. It’s actually pretty straightforward. If you’re familiar with Garmin ‘drill down’ menus that’s what we have here. There are 5 buttons and no touch screens. On the right we have start/stop. That button does just that, starts and stops (or pauses) activities. it also operates as the ‘select’ button. It also takes you to the ‘apps’ and we’ll come back to that in a bit. The bottom right hand button is lap and ‘back.’

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The top left hand button is the power on/off button and manual backlight. It also operates things like ‘do not disturb’ and the like. The bottom two buttons are up and down and they do what they say on the tin. The ‘up’ button when held in also takes you into settings.

So by a combination of button presses, up, down, back and select you move through a variety of menus. It’s easier to see so take a look at the video I’ve done below. It’s not exhaustive but it gives you an idea.

On arrival you need to set up a variety of things. Crucially you’ll also need to connect the Fenix 3 to your Garmin connect app. This can be on a PC/MAC but, of course, it’s far better to house it on your smartphone. The Garmin connects via bluetooth or wireless. I don’t tend to use the latter and only switch the former on when I want to sync OR when I want the watch to send me notifications. So, if I want to see texts/calls etc on a ride I’ll leave bluetooth on. Most of the time I leave it off to further extend the impressive battery life. The start stop key can also become a hot key as well and in my case I’ve made it the bluetooth on/off key. Once you’ve dealt with all your individual settings, weight, height etc, you’re all ready to go. Your HRM is already connected but if you want to add cadence, speed, power etc then it’s simply a matter of connecting via the correct menu. It’s staggering that something like this can be connected to so many things at once.

In terms of battery life the Fenix is smaller than a 520 and only marginally bigger than a Garmin 25. Yet it boasts 16-20 hours in GPS active mode and 40 hours in Ultra trac (GPS sampling) mode. I leave mine in GPS mode, wear it every day, track activities twice a day 4-5 times a week for a couple of hours and, by the end of each week, I normally still have 40% left. Charging is proprietary so don’t lose your lead but it’s good to see that you do actually get supplied with a charger as well.

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The battery life on the Fenix does depend on what’s switched on. Bluetooth has an effect but it’s actually insignificant. I turn mine on because I don’t want all my notifications. The 16 hours is probably conservative. Even on a slow ironman there’s very little risk of you running out providing you’ve remembered to charge it to capacity in the first place. Most foreign sportives won’t put a dent in the Fenix 3, ditto an Ultra marathon. There doesn’t appear to be any battery fade with multiple charges but of course the battery is not user replaceable. Nevertheless there are examples out in the wild which have been used for years with no issue. Non replaceable batteries? Well, welcome to the modern world. If you baulk at the idea here, how’s that iPhone or Galaxy holding up?

The Fenix as a Smart Watch

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Essentially it does all those things that other smart watches do. It’s counting your steps, floors, distance travelled, and sleep (in the app), represents them on the watch and also transfers them to the connect app.

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There are multiple alarms, frequency settings, vibrate and alarm functions etc to wake you up and, of course, you can set it to transfer all notifications from your phone to your watch. You can even answer calls on the watch though, clearly, you can’t talk into it. You can also control your music player on your phone but there’s no additional internal storage for music so you will need your phone with you to enjoy that music.

Then there are the widgets, which are not to be confused with the apps (exercises). You can choose to have weather, barometer, altitude, last exercise, etc etc when you cycle through the up/down on the left side of the watch. And, of course, using Garmin’s connect IQ store you can add any app that you want. And customise the watch as well. Customisation is a thriving community so there should be all sorts of apps, widgets, displays that you can find. It’s simply a matter of using the Connect app to download them and letting them sync with the phone. In terms of being a smartwatch it’s pretty much as good as anything out there. As good as smart watch as the Apple Watch 2 or Galaxy S3? Not as sexy, not by a long shot, but it’ll do the important stuff even if some of the more out there features are missing. It’s all you’d ever realistically need.

Let’s go Cycling

That’s the main function you’re interested in right? But of course. So, what’s it like cycling with a watch rather than a dedicated unit. Much of that comes down to what you want from your GPS. Do you want to be a slave to it, be driven by it, or is it just useful. For me, it’s kind of a mix. If I want to beat that ‘fastest ride ever’ I need to know where I am in terms of MPH. And glancing at your wrist isn’t ideal. Sure, you can mount it on a rather hideous bulb but that’s not great. So there’s a drawback there but that accounts for around 1% of my rides. 99% of the time it’s actually better off out of my way. I enjoy the ride, I get the data afterwards.

Initial setup is straightforward. You just need to decide what data you want to see on your screens. You can have up to 10 data screens plus virtual partner and the maximum number of data fields you can have on each data screen is 4. Clearly that is less than you can have on something like the 520 which has up to 10 fields of data. When I was using the 520 I had it setup for 4 speed fields, 3 climbing fields and the time. I didn’t use HR. I didn’t use cadence. And it’s fair to say that the data fields on the Fenix are therefore limiting if you want to see lots of data. I don’t so it suits me fine to have speed on page 1, climbing on page 2 etc. If you really want to see loads of data then there are a multitude of apps on the Connect store which will show up to 10 data fields on one screen. Despite the size of the screen they are actually effective.

If you don’t like the idea of missing out on your climbing stats then you can activate a feature called auto climb. The parameters for auto climb can be varied but essentially your main screen (my screen 1 is speed related) is replaced by your climb screen when the Fenix auto detects you climbing. It’s generally triggered in the 2-5% grade and you can also change the sensitivity of when it auto switches. You can do the same for running but, if your run is selected as a trail run, then the feature is already activated.

Once you’re all set up it’s just a simple matter of pressing go. That’s achieved by selecting the bike app, waiting for the GPS to lock (it’s both GPS and Glonass) and off you go. The pick up on the GPS lock is about the fastest I’ve seen and takes seconds most of the time. As per the usual Garmin suspects you can set auto pause, auto elevation etc and it will pause your ride during your cafe stop. Well, sort of. There’s a slight difference there. When you leave your bike outside the cafe with your Garmin attached then your bike doesn’t move. But you take your wrist with you. The Fenix senses movement so you have to pause it yourself. Let it stop, select resume later and sip that flat white. When you get back on the bike simply restart it. It’s one more step but it’s hardly the end of the world.

When you’re done with the ride simply press stop, save and let the data transfer to the Connect App. Once it’s all synced this is what you get.

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That’s my rabbit ride, it seems. Cycling through the tabs on the app will give you further metrics and data. And, provided you’ve connected 3rd party apps in the settings, YES that ride will instantly transfer itself to Strava so you can wonder at your new single personal best. There are no Strava live segments on the Fenix 3 but, well, shakes head.

In terms of being a cycling GPS it’s really just a lesser data field 520 that’s out of your line of sight. The GPS has been flawless on road and in deep cover. I’ve been using it in all weathers, temperatures, for road and CX, in good sight and in the woods. It’s never lost its signal and never had any hiccups at all.

There are other functions as well. It will pair with your Garmin Virb or Vector pedals for example. It’ll hook up to your smart turbo trainer. The cycling dynamics data that you can derive from it are extensive and useful. If you’re seriously training it will help you out. You can’t derive your (estimated) V02 max from it unless you hook it up to both the HRM AND power meter, with running it will do a VO2 max from HRM data only. You can get an idea of the type of metrics that you can produce (with a power meter) here. It will even tell you if you’re standing during your ride, for example. Of course many power meters will already do most if not all of these functions but if something like the Vector is your go to meter then you get it all in once place. That’s not to say other power meters shouldn’t seamlessly connect and provide the metrics in Connect.

In terms of cycling there’s little that it lacks, the difference between it and a Garmin 1000 for example is simply about what it can display. You get all the data, you just don’t get to see it all the time (unless you opt for a Connect IQ display). Of course there are other differences such as navigation, which is perhaps the thing that would put most off the Fenix 3. I’ll deal with nav later. It does have it, it just doesn’t have very much of it.

Let’s go running

It’s arguably running where the Fenix 3 shines. Not because it’s better at it. Just because the metrics it offers to runners are, frankly, staggering, a bit scary and a little WTF?

Initial setup is the same. Select your fields, go for a run. But it’s the added stuff that is built into the watch and HRM that really makes your eyes widen. Use the watch and you’ll get the usual thing, speed, distance, average speed etc. You’ll also get cadence and stride length from the sensors built into the watch. All of those will show up in connect. Add in the really clever HRM and you’re into a whole new world of data as you can see below.

The sensors in the HRM work together to calculate some other pieces of data such as Ground Contact time, balance (which foot spends more time on the ground than the other), vertical oscillation and vertical ratio.

And it will put all those things into a pretty little graph so that you can see how close you are to running, if not correctly, after all what is correct, but consistently. So, you can see my GCTB in the graph below.

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The greens are acceptable, the orange etc less so. Now, you may ask, what the sweet hell do you actually do with any of these things? And the answer for me is nothing at all. But that data can be invaluable for those training and offering training to correct certain biomechanics. It’s good to know that they are there and that the Fenix is capable of producing that sort of data. It’ll do the same on the bike for cadence, speed, power, HRM etc. It’s a comprehensive set of data which, if you’re INTO that sort of thing, is crucial.

There are a load of other useful features as well. You get live pace and that live pace updates pretty quickly. I’ve yet to suffer any GPS dropouts even when running under motorway bridges and the like. If you use the HRM then you will get to calculate (or estimate at least) your VO2 max AND at the end of each run you’ll be told how long it’s going to take you to recover from your effort. As you improve the Fenix will start to indicate that your lactate threshold is increasing. You can set auto laps for whatever distance you require. You can do reps and threshold tests. It’s practically impossible to understate just what it’s capable of. And if you run indoors it will do treadmills. Fairly well but if you want to get it bang on correct just add a footpod. The only thing it’s not very good at is elliptical training when it picks up some of the movements as steps but is a little hit and miss.  In terms of running there’s nothing more to realistically want.

Let’s go swimming

The HRM isn’t waterproof, well, not the RUN version. There’s a TRI version and a SWIM version which will record HRM during the session and upload later. Indeed, it’s hard to look beyond the TRI version as it offers that additional functionality and still does the dry sports as well. It’s within a few £’s of the RUN version on Wiggle so it would make a sensible upgrade and even used RUN versions go for good money on ebay. The Fenix itself is waterproof to 100m which is nice. I wouldn’t necessarily rate it for scuba diving but short recreational dives should be ok.

Once again you can get a quite staggering amount of information from it. It’s not relying on GPS in the pool, it’s all accelerometer based. It senses when you turn on each lap and, as far as I can see, it’s breathtakingly accurate. All the data is there including SWOLF. What? Swim Golf apparently and something to do with getting your stroke length better and your countdown and more efficiency. Like golf the better score is the lower one. If you’re into serious swimming (I’m fast but not) then this should assist with being a more efficient swimmer. And if you stray into open water swimming it’ll do that on a GPS basis and still tell you all about your strokes, cadence etc.

Let’s do Tri or Duo

And you can do those things as well. Indeed, that’s pretty much what this was intended for. There’s nothing really to add here. Doing Tri is done via the Tri app and you can customise the fields to deal with transition, activity etc. So you really can measure the whole thing. The level of customisation is superb.

Navigating

There’s a load of options here but essentially this is breadcrumb/arrow following stuff. The screens not sufficiently useful to see everything but it will get you home and, if all else fails, there is a magnetic compass, useful for you hikers. It’s probably easy to show how this all works rather than explain it so there’s a few videos here.

There are a wealth of resources out there to help you with breadcrumb maps etc. There’s another feature called trackback as well. So once you’ve got where you’re going and have saved your ride you can select trackback to follow it back to your source. I wouldn’t rely on the Fenix 3 for map based navigation in the same way as a Garmin 1000 and there is a lot of work involved. But it’s doable and there are ways and methods.

Overall

It’s an epic bit of kit this. Sure it’s a bit big and it doesn’t have the sheer class of something like the Samsung Gear S3. But it does more and you can’t take the other lot swimming. Indeed, many smart watches can’t be worn in the shower. The Fenix 3 really is a 365 day piece of tech.

There are flaws. It doesn’t sit well under my shirt sleeves for example. It is big. It does require you to look further ‘off road’ when you want to take in your data during a ride. But in terms of being an all round perfect thing I do think it’s hard to beat. I’d certainly not be averse to also having a Garmin 1000 on my good bike IF I won the lottery tomorrow. And if I did win it big then I might even favour something like the 735xt for running and the 1000 for cycling. But that requires considerable investment and the all round abilities of the Fenix 3 are really quite difficult to beat.

I’ve been using it all day every day for 3 months now and haven’t had a single gremlin or glitch. The non sapphire glass is standing up well to abuse, the bezel shows a few minor marks but it looks nicely lived in. I’ve moved from a red band to a black one and it’s a bit classier. The silver bezel stands out but it’s still a fairly classy affair. I can customise it tomorrow if I want something different, have hands, show more fields, consume more data. It really does offer something for everyone. Get beyond that lack of real mapping and it makes about the most perfect sense as a unit as it’s possible to give. You can feel that I love it and that view is pretty much shared by everyone who does. Owning a 520 seems to be a nice thing to do. Owing a Fenix seems to lead to some sort of evangelism. It really is that complete and that good. So what about that new one?

The Fenix 5

Well, they skipped 4 as it’s unlucky in certain countries. There are multiple variants but in essence there’s the 5 (the new 3), the 5s (the 5 small) and the 5X (the 5 how bloody big with mapping). They’re not likely to be cheap. In terms of added features then, if we ignore the 5x’s maps, the list is extensive but, essentially boils down to some tweaks, improvements and the addition of a load of ANT+ sensors (varia, di2 etc) and a load of bluetooth SMART sensors. Improvements yes but, depending on the continued stock levels and pricing of the 3 you may not feel it’s sufficient to warrant the upgrade. Mind, you do get some sexy new case and straps options (though the latter may well prove to work with the existing Fenix).

Much of this will be about whether you want the latest thing with a few more things that might be important. Even the hardest data analysers will find only a little more functionality with the 5. The hardcore trail runners will certainly gain something of added value in the mapping features of the 5x. Perhaps the singletrack riders as well, but us roadies perhaps it’s just a nice thing to have. But with that comes a bit more size and girth and those things aren’t always aesthetically pleasing. I’d wager it’s the 5S which might be the sweet point. Smaller in form, equal in function (though many of the new models lose Wifi) and just that bit more every day. Lots of female users will be attracted by that but I think that many males will be as well. For now stock is good of the 3 and the 5 will likely be expensive, so it’s up to you what importance you place on certain forms and functions. There are some more subtle things going on in terms of pixel display and bezels so it may well be that I’ll have a shufty in due course. But for my purposes at the moment the 3 is all I’d ever need. Indeed it’s far beyond what I even need. That’s the thing about tech though, having all that stuff you can never really find a use for is the thing that makes it great. That it does the stuff you need it for without complaint, the real winner.

Cycletorch Shark 500 front light

So, second shark product this year. So, if this is anywhere near as good as the Parentini Shark bibshorts  then we’re onto a winner.

The Shark 500 front light was kindly supplied to me by Cycletorch directly from Amazon for the purpose of testing. As you might know I’ve used my Cateye Volt 1200 as my go to commuting and night time racing light since I purchased it last year. But can a 500 lumen sub £40 light compete with that sort of quality? Well, almost every review of the light on Amazon (click here to buy) is overwhelmingly positive. So that’s a pretty good place to start. 20161216_18140020161216_181443

And, for the really quite reasonable price of £37.99 we get off to a great start. You don’t get a USB plug charger but you do get the leads. Two lots in fact which is useful as you get a rear supplied as well. Both are rechargeable.It’s a nice little presentation box and you even get a nice ‘thank you’ set of instructions. It’s all very agreeable.

The model number 500 refers to the maximum lumen output. This isn’t one of your surface of the sun lumens output models but, as we’ll get onto a little later, that’s not really all that important in context. For the Shark 500 is a bright young thing.

The run modes are pretty straightforward so you get the following run times depending on mode:

  • High – 500 Lumens – 1.5 Hours
  • Medium – 250 Lumens – 3 Hours
  • Low – 50 Lumens – 15 Hours
  • Flash – 30+ hours

Those are the claims and, frankly, they seem to be bang on. Turning on is simple, one press of the central button turns it on and it glows blue. When it’s close to discharging it glows red and, eventually, will turn off automatically when it’s close to zero. On my hour commute at 500 lumens it remained blue. It’s IP65 rated with rubber bungs protecting the charging ports and seems as weather resistant as any other light I’ve tried. So you’re ok with rain but don’t go submerging it. It also has a Samsung battery and that’s a pretty good selling point in my view given that this is a tried and tested Samsung battery and not one from the Galaxy Note!

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The unit itself it actually very small. It’s only about 6 inches. It’s not hewn from CNC milled aluminium but the plastic case seems sufficiently robust. The main attachment mechanism is attached to the light and the part which meets the bars is rubber coated to allow sufficient grippage. You attach with the supplied big rubber bands (TM) and tighten according to preference and bar diameter. This is one of the lights greatest benefits but also a potential issue. In use I’ve taken it over some sufficiently bumpy surfaces and the light has stayed level. It’s also easy to adjust by hand. There is the risk that severe off road could see it droop but it’s quick and easy to pull back. Crucially, swapping it between bikes is an absolute cinch.

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There’s a neat little rubber flap at the back which pops into place over the USB port.

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And, in side profile it actually does look a lot like a Shark! And it’s at this point you see the main difference with other lights come in. It’s that hood around the main lens. Here’s a picture of the front profile.

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It’s quite pronounced and creates a cut off beam rather than a massive spread with a central hot spot which pretty much every other light opts for. Indeed it’s similar in some ways to the rather excellent Philips Saferide 80 which despite being a lesser lumen model was very traffic and rider friendly. And that same story happens here.

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You should be able to pick up the beam cut off at the bottom and top. The light is channeled towards the road rather than spilling out at the edges.It’s a little bit more pronounced in the picture below. Both of these pics were taken at 500 lumens in pitch black conditions.

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All good so far, so I decided to test it against the Cateye Volt 1200 but angled the camera so as to avoid the cut off and try and capture how much light was created. Here are the results.

Shark 500 at 500 lumens

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Cateye Volt at 1200 lumens

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Cateye Volt at 450 lumens

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Shark 500 at 50 lumens (yes 50 lumens)

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Taking photos of how a light looks in the real world is tricky. The camera can catch more or less light depending on circumstance but the above example is pretty representative of the real world performance of the light. The output is very impressive at full power but perhaps slightly less powerful than the Cateye. Run the Cateye at a comparable lumen output and they’re pretty similar. Indeed, running the Shark on medium (250 lumens) isn’t far off the real world performance of the Volt on 450 lumens and with a comparable run time.

So far, so good. But it’s in the real world that the Shark works well. It’s a road light more than a mountain bike light because of that beam shape. And that’s fine and to be applauded. If you want to go off roading then I’d suggest the 800 lumen GT800.

On dark lanes at full power it’s good for 20mph plus. And on the darkest section of my commute where there’s little ambient light at all (this is Wales in winter) it’s a very effective light indeed. Run times are as promised, charging is easy (and quick) and, for the price, this is a really effective unit. The cut off appears to be effective in focusing the output and not annoying other road users. I’d read elsewhere that the cut off does prevent some light being spilled right down at the front wheel. That’s arguably true but I tend to subscribe to looking a little further ahead than that and the Shark deals with that with aplomb. There is an argument that custom optics would deal with beam shaping a little more effectively or that, for example, the hood could be reflective rather than absorptive. The latter might be a cheap solution for ensuring that lumens are preserved and might be something to consider. The former is a more expensive option and, after all, we’re talking about a light here which offers good performance for great value. As good as the Philips Saferide was, it wasn’t cheap.

But the Shark is a very good light indeed. It doesn’t overheat and doesn’t seem to have any little idiosyncrasies that seem to plague other lights out there. It’s simply very good. If you’re constantly in the dark you might want a few more lumens but for most of us this is all the lumens you’d ever sensibly need.

It’s not all that’s in the box either. There’s an added rear tail light. And it’s a nice little thing being hewn from CNC aluminium and having 4 modes, solid, flash, strobe and pulse. It’s once again USB rechargeable and snaps onto the bike using one of the supplied rubber bands.

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The output in terms of lumens isn’t earth shattering so this won’t be your main tail light but it’s mountable in many different places and a very useful thing to have. Turning off and on (and cycling through the modes) is simply a case of pushing the lens in. The buttons on both the front and rear lights work equally well with gloved hands.

And there you have it. £37.95 for a really effective commuting light with a one year warranty and proper back up. You can’t go wrong really.