Giro Republic LX Shoes

Following on from my reviews of the rather excellent Giro Empire VR90 MTB shoes and the equally superb Giro Privateer R I’ve been testing Giro’s Republic shoes. They’re not far from being the middle choice between the full on raciness of the Empire and the more languid approach of the Privateer. And spot on for a bit of cycle touring or commuting.

It’s yet another entry into the lace up market. And they work just as well as the Empire MTB and Road shoes in that regard. If you’re yet to try laces on a cycling shoe then I can assure you that they are a very good choice, depending on your discipline. Indeed, there are really only two drawbacks, getting them tight in the first place, which can be sorted with a bit of practice, and getting them wet. The latter is something difficult to avoid but, in practice, you won’t really notice wet laces unless you’re tying or untying them.


The Republic range is MTB pedal only and the range is divided into the LX (brown leather or the grey pictured here) and the stock Republic (black ‘leather’ and black or green ‘canvas.). In terms of RRP they range from £139.99 for the Republic to £159.99 for the LX version. But shop around and you’ll generally find all but the grey ones for less than £100 and often less than £90. The grey hover around the £110 mark, and we’ll get to why that is a bit later.


The sole isn’t carbon. It’s merely nylon. So you do lose that bit of stiffness that you get with the Empire (which are full carbon) but you gain a lot more of the ‘being able to walk without looking like an idiot.’ And that’s pretty important because these are aimed at commuting, the road less travelled and not falling over in coffee shops when getting cake. The walking sections are all replaceable, the quality is top notch so these should last for ages. You can buy spare laces and, if you want, go for an individual look by contrasting the colours. Grip is good, and while you won’t be getting traction on a cyclocross mudfest you will stay upright in the Cafe when your SPD-SL mates are all walking like ducks.

In terms of comfort they are great. Not quite the slipper upper of the Empire (which is in my view one of the most comfortable shoes ever made) but they more than make up for it with the overall feel of the upper and sole. If you do run MTB pedals on a race/sportive bike I’d say you’d lose very little on your average sportive and, frankly, you’d probably gain something by way of comfort. My size 45 is perfect and compares very well to the Privateer in terms of toe box wiggle. The Empire are slightly smaller in that area but not awfully so.

Once again, using the laces is a joy. They tie up well and sit in the little lace garage half way down. As I noted with the Empire, the laces aren’t abrasive so they can slip a little as you’re tying them up. But as long as you tighten each section methodically then you won’t need to stop to do them up again. In use there’s no heel lift and they feel controlled.

But if the brown leather LX are undeniably more sexy and the green army canvas certainly more cool, why the bog standard grey ones? Well, because of this.


No officer I don’t have reflectors on my MTB pedals, but just look at my shoes. The effect is a startling one and adds that little extra on a dark commute or through the night audax. Indeed, I can’t think of a better shoe to wear over huge distances.

They’re pretty breathable as well, given all those micro perforations. Though, of course, that is going to let some of the cold and wet come in come winter time. Stick some overshoes over though, and you’re sorted. Indeed, sticking overshoes over the top of a pair of lace up shoes is considerably easier too than a pair with buckles and boas. Something to think about.

Another day, another great pair of shoes from Giro. And now that the steel bike with the rack has arrived, they’re just the thing I needed. Good stuff.

The Ornot Bar Bag

I did it. Steel bike incoming. Ditto a Brooks Cambium saddle, nice thin mudguards and a rack. There’ll also be a rear rack bag on the way and, maybe, some panniers. But, in the meantime, I’ve been playing around with bar bags because I’m utterly fed up with rucksacks of any kind whatsoever.

And the Ornot bar bag, while being a long way from the cheapest, just seemed to be so damned stylish that I just had to. And, so far, three other mates have one too. Might be the start of something.

Let’s start with getting one. It’s not awfully easy. So I clubbed together with a chap from bikeradar and we ordered direct from Ornot. After using the initial 15% discount code, free postage because we ordered enough to take us over $150 (took about a week to come) AND being hit with customs charges, we paid around £67 each. Not too bad. Without customs it would have been closer to £50. Alternatively, if you want to avoid all that hassle then Always Riding are knocking them out for £105. Which, I think I have to say, is quite a lot of money for a bag, stylish though it is.


Currently the bag is available in the blue/plum colourway and all black. Mine was bought when the spotty version was all but sold out and I think we nabbed the last two. Sorry. In terms of litres, I have no idea. I suspect the answer is not many. Probably about 1.5 litres capacity or 2 at the most. And no, I’m not pouring some liquid in there to find out. But I could because, as you will note, it is utterly waterproof both outside and inside. Don’t worry about the seemingly non waterproof zip, I’ve used this in torrential rain and nothing gets in. Short of dunking it in the river, you’ll be fine. It might even survive that, useful if you’re into some canal side riding.


It’s a pretty easy thing to install, just wrap the velcro straps round the bars. It sits where it should, there’s no sag, the straps are long enough for even the most difficult bars and any excess tucks neatly out of the way. There’s a bungie at the bottom to wrap round the bar tube. Installation is a piece of cake, see here.


There’s even storage on the sides as well. Enough for even the biggest mobile phone of phablet. Stick it in, put the bungie over the top to keep it all secure.


Capacity is small but it’s pretty easy to get what you want in there. Sandwiches, phone, wallet, you can stick your spare tubes etc in there too. Cameras fit, just as long as it’s not your biggest SLR. I even got a pair of trousers in it this week, though they did need a pretty good iron when I got to the other end.


It’s EVEN cured my OCD. So, here is a red, white and blue bag on a lime green Supersix.

So, the question is why. And the answer is, why not? In this world of Garmin, Strava and Power meters it’s easy to forget that riding a bike is more important than breaking every record all of the time. Riding a bike should be about the journey and not how fast you get to the destination.

But, short of racing a crit or doing cyclocross, you could leave this on all the time and still do all those other things. It doesn’t get in the way of your hand position on the hoods or drops and you get used to it on the tops of the bars. All I would say is that if you have 42 or 40cm bars you may need to slide your hands further out than normal. And, those straps do take up a little bit of real estate on the bars meaning that the addition of lights, bells etc is that little more difficult. But not really insurmountable.

I did a 110 mile charity bike ride the other day and, if I’d had this, I absolutely would have taken it. It’s become ever present on my commute. Would I use it on a sportive in the Alpes? Maybe not. Would I use it on something like the Dragon Ride 200 miler on a blustery damp Welsh day? I think I would. Why not, it allows more supplies and it has no effect at all on speed. So why not.

Other bar bags are available. Other bar bags maybe cheaper, depending on how you buy. But I do think that the Ornot has the style edge on many of them. It’s easy to install, looks good and I have little doubt it will last a very long time. Recommended, but it’s a good idea to club together with like minded individuals to get the very best deal.

Craft Featherlight Jacket

That’s a Mac keyboard, And that jacket right there, rolled, up, occupies about half its length. The Mac keyboard is very small. There are other jackets that pack up perhaps a little smaller but we’re talking one of the smallest footprints around. And featherlight? Well, hyperbole naturally, but, all told, 99g. And that’s next to nothing in terms of volume and weight.

RRP is £50. Which is pretty good for a lightweight windstopper from a premium brand. Though, of course, it is hard to get your head round paying so ‘much’ for something that weighs so little. Flip that around, and we know that those weight weenies will pay a considerable amount to save weight, so that doesn’t really figure. What matters is whether it works.

It’s a pretty straightforward jacket in terms of construction and concept, so 100% polyester with a DWR treatment. It’s not waterproof, just water resistant. So you might ask, why not pay a similar amount for a budget rain jacket? Well, yes, if it’s going to be raining and cold. But that rather misses the point of this. This is for those cool days for an extra layer which you can remove. It does rain showers. It keeps the wind off and it’s generally pretty breathable. And you can stow it away when you no longer need it.

Mine is a large which Craft say is good for 41 inches or so. That’s about right. You could probably get away with sizing slightly down if you’re on the margins. But even with a large there’s little flap.


For a start it’s very orange indeed. There’s also a fluoro yellow and a black version too. Each of them has quite a lot of reflective silver trim so the black version will be equally visible to the others in a car’s headlights. Even in bright daylight the camera flash picks up those details below.


The zip is good, the waist duties taken up by a simple thin elastic material. Those same terminations deal with the wrists.


The neck merits a mention. It’s micro fleece lined. That’s something that’s often omitted on cheaper equivalents. When you get damp it’s important to keep chafing to a minimum.


While polyster itself tends to be pretty waterproof the real reason for the lack of any water proof claim is in the mesh sections on the side of the body and the back of the sleeves. These inserts aim for maximum breathability and they work very well. It’s still possible to get a little bit of moisture build up on the inside if it’s damp outside and you’re working hard, but it’s kept to a minimum.


Round the back there’s more reflective detailing and one single rear pocket. That rear pocket doesn’t store very much but it’s not really intended to carrying stuff per se. It’s primary purpose is storing itself, so the entire jacket folds in then you pull the elastic tab to seal it all in.


And that’s the result. Which is small enough to store in a jersey pocket and it will also fit pretty easily in a storage bidon too. You could even wedge it under a seat if you wanted to.

It’s a good piece of kit. It’s well priced, visible and works exactly as advertised. It’s good for cool mornings. It’s good for days when showers threaten and it stows away very easily indeed. It’s well priced against the competition and it fits really well. It’s a very useful addition to the wardrobe. Recommended.

There are a few good places to buy this one:

  • For the orange and black click here
  • There are some limited (cheap) sizes of the yellow here

Craft Verve Glow Jersey

Click here to buy

It’s been hot. Then not. Then a bit hot. Today was resolutely not. Changeable in a way that only the British ‘summer’ appears to be. Next week looks nice.

And when it’s hot it’s nice to have a selection of hot weather jerseys to go to. And the Craft Verve Glow jersey is a quite brilliant addition to the other jerseys I’ve been looking at this summer, all at a very reasonable price indeed.

There’s probably not a lot of magic to making a warm weather jersey. Make it light. But certain choices have certain outcomes. The Craft Verve jersey is well thought out and has a number of quite excellent details that mark it out as being a bit special. It’s not just a good warm weather jersey either. It would make a good aero jersey, it would make a good climber’s jersey. If you’re going off to the Etape or Marmotte I’d really recommend taking a good close look at this.

Let’s start with the RRP. £60. That falls somewhere between budget and premium but given the number of technical features, I’m happy to call this budget premium, i.e. you’re getting a lot for your money. Size wise, take your pick. It looks fairly small in my pics but that’s a good race fit for a 39″ chest and is a medium. If you fancy it slightly looser, size up. In that respect Craft’s guide is pretty much spot on.


It’s a nice understated jersey in my view. It’s available in blue, orange or black. The zip is good quality, the neck mid high, the arms mid length and it’s very light indeed. But it’s when you take a closer look at stuff that you really get an idea of the nature of the construction.


So, we’ve got a combination of things going on. A lightweight front panel, a very meshy and lightweight underarm panel and a lycra esque sleeve with comfy terminations. And it works. It’s super breathable and those underarm sections really do ventilate very well. I’ve come to be a big fan of the lycra esque sleeve on both the Chapeau and Rivelo jerseys that I’ve recently reviewed and we have another winner in that respect here.

And, Glow jersey? Well, take a look for yourself. That reflectivity is repeated round the back of course. It’s useful, it’s dramatic. I guess you might ask what value it adds given the intended nature of the jersey. Well, why not. If you’re caught out late on a balmy summer evening it’s just the sort of extra detailing that might keep you safe. And when it doesn’t glow it’s still a nice contrasting feature.


Neat little design touches flourish elsewhere too, the embossed Craft logo being both subtle but adding that little something. The quality is good, the stitching first rate.


The waist section is your traditional silicone band, and none the worse for it. The length of the jersey overall is normal, it won’t ride above your shorts when standing, doesn’t bulge when riding.


Round the back? Three good sized pockets (with reinforcement), a tidy little zipped central one, and that reflective detailing again.


This is a very good jersey. It’s a spot on fit, it ventilates very well indeed. And I think it’s a bit of a bargain overall. Given the colour choices you could easily stock up on another two and rotate then on the warmest days. Those scandinavians eh, they do the winter stuff brilliantly and really get the summer market too.

Next week I’ll be rounding up my summer Craft reviews with a look at their windproof lightweight jacket and a pair of their bibshorts.