More than just a Water Bottle

OK it is just a water bottle, but what a class act!

Like most cyclists I have a number of plastic water bottles to hand, but when I discovered that SIGG make an aluminium sports one that fits a standard bottle cage I just couldn’t resist.

I already own a couple of very well used Classic SIGG Bottles, one of which must be at least 20 years old, so there was no doubt in my mind that the SIGG WMB Sports Bottle was going to be a quality piece of kit.

When the bottle arrived I thought, wow, looks even better in the flesh. The easy-grip surface works great and I couldn’t believe just how lightweight it was. The bottle is a real looker too so I couldn’t wait to take it out for its first run¬†ride.

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I wanted to carry out a drip test to make sure that the three-stage sports cap was watertight, especially as my previous plastic bottle from another well known manufacturer had leaked from the cap thread since day one, so I filled her to the brim, reattached the cap and gave a good long upside down shake: No leaks. Hurrah!

How well would the SIGG fit my bottle cage? Perfectly, in fact better than the aforementioned plastic bottle which always felt too tight and a struggle to remove.

Putting the SIGG WMB Sports Bottle through its paces

The bottle looked amazing on my bike, enhancing its overall appearance (oh, I’m so vain!). I especially liked that the colour didn’t really match my bike, as this meant the bottle stood out even more, although it did happen to match my T-shirt.
Anyway, I started with a 10 mile road ride and as it was a very hot and humid I was already ready for my first swig from the new SIGG after just a couple of miles. To drink you just twist and pull the nozzle and it locks into the open position. The water-flow was controlled and felt fresher and more thirst quenching than drinking from a plastic bottle.

After the road ride I hit the Surrey Hills Trails. I started out on some smooth cross country sections followed by some fast and rough descents. I did notice the occasional rattle from the bottle on the roughest terrain, but that’s to be expected from an aluminium bottle. Eventually I decided to call it a morning and headed home.

Two weeks later and the SIGG WMB Sports is now my cycling bottle of choice. Only during the more intense off-road rides would I revert to the synthetic taste of a plastic version.

The bottle has some particularly useful features including an extra-large opening for easy cleaning and filling… and for adding ice cubes, plus a removable second stage cap which enables attachment of a Classic SIGG Screw Top. There’s also an elastic inner coating which is resistant to fruit acids, is tasteless and free from BPA and phthalates.

Having tested it for myself, I am ready to recommend my fellow cyclists and other active people follow suit and try these premium quality pieces of kit: looks good, feels good and…tastes good!

Bicycle Nuts now stocks the SIGG WMB Sports Touch Red & Sports Alu

 

 

The new Cycling Essential for Road & Trail Riding

Mountain biking and cleanliness seldom go hand in hand, so when I heard about the new Grease & Grime Remover Power Wipes by Velofresh I just had to give them a try.

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The Velofresh parcel arrived the day after I placed my first order; just in time for our planned blast around the Surrey Hills.

First impressions were very good, the packets were compact so would fit comfortably in my saddlebag; particularly useful as I dont often wear cycling jerseys with pockets. The packets were also light, something I know roadies would certainly appreciate.
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Within an hour of the wipes arriving my friend Mathew and I hit the road, first stop Newlands Corner Cafe.

Soon after we arrived at Newlands Corner we demolished two bacon baps and took our caffeine hits, and then it was time to break out the Power Wipes for the first time. A single wipe ate through the bacon bap grease and ketchup on my hands as well as the chain oil on my leg. Mathew also used a wipe to clean off the trail dust from his face.

We never looked so presentable leaving Newlands Corner before!

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Mathew and his clean face ūüôā

Next we headed down to Shere village then onto the Surrey Hills MTB trails

As we we hurtled around the various trail sections I couldn’t help thinking that cleaning oil coated hands would be the real test for the wipes, so what really needed to happen was for a chain to come off. However after a full day riding rough terrain our chains remained firmly in position. They call that sods law!

The next day I decided to give my bike a thorough clean and finally got my hands caked in chain oil. Following a brisk scrub with a single Power Wipe the oil was gone!

Conclusion 

Velofresh certainly had cyclists in mind when they created Grease & Grime Remover Power Wipes: Compact / Lightweight / Powerful. I will certainly be back for more.

Deuter Energy Bag

Requirements  

A spare 29er inner tube has been taking up most of the space in my saddle bag for a long time, so I finally decided to seek out additional on-bike storage options.

I dont like carrying too much on my rides, just the bare essentials (Tube / Tube patches / Multi-tool / Plasters / keys / money / Phone), so something compact would be ideal. My Voodoo Bizango frame is quite small, so bags such as the triangular ones designed to fit the inner frame section were out of the question, especially as most of that space on my bike is already taken up by the water bottle.

I decided that what I needed was a top tube storage bag.

The search

As a stickler for product reviews, my search was very much based around what other cyclists were saying, and time and time again the same product kept showing up in web searches and forum discussions; the Deuter Energy Bag.

The Deuter bag sounded ideal: “Compact / water proof / quick and easy access / Secure / good value”, and crucially no negative reviews. I continued my search but couldn’t find any other bags that would fit the bill so I placed my order.

Fitting

When the bag arrived I suddenly realised that I hadn’t considered whether or not the straps would be long enough to fit around the oversized section of my MTB frame where the top tube and bottom tube are welded together. Such a consideration would not be necessary if I had a traditional frame.

So as I started attaching the bag to my frame the first strap was as feared slightly too short to reach around the oversized section, but that’s when I soon realised why the Deuter Energy Bag has 4 straps; To take into account different frame shapes and sizes. In the case of my Voodoo Bizango all I had to do was use one strap for the top tube and 2 straps for the headset. The unused strap was simply fastened to itself.

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Next I wanted to see how much I could squeeze into this compact bag. My Samsung A3 Phone, Multi-tool, Tube patches, Keys and wallet fitted comfortably. If energy bars were my thing I could have squeezed one of those in too.

Trial run

The bag performed faultlessly on the road and provided quick and easy access to the contents without the need to dismount. You could also grab an energy bar on the fly. Once I hit the dirt the bag also performed well, however I would recommend padding out the base of the bag to protect any delicate items such as your phone as well as your frame when riding off-road.

Conclusion  

Overall I am very happy with the Deuter Energy Bag despite it needing a bit of extra padding for the off-road trail; for that I can recommend a thick sock!

Why didn’t I think of that?

I recently had one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments while searching¬†for innovative products for Bicycle Nuts¬†.¬†I had come across¬†the Bottlefix Ahead¬†adaptor which¬†allows the attachment of¬†a water bottle cage directly to a¬†threadless headset.

The Bottlefix Ahead is pure simplicity itself: You just attach it to a bottle cage using the two included screws, then replace your headset cap with the assembled Bottlefix and cage.

 

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I was already familiar with adaptors that allowed the attachment of water bottle cages to handlebars, but I have always been a little wary of metal clamps damaging the paintwork or clamps working loose. So finally a neat solution!

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The Bottlefix adaptors are already flying off the shelves in Germany where they are both developed and produced by Rixen & Kaul, and¬†now I think its time we got to try them ‚áí¬†here¬†‚áź

WingLights

For those of you who still haven’t heard about WingLights, they are lightweight, shockproof & waterproof directional LED indicators for Bicycles, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some ¬†after watching the team behind them (Cycl) make a successful pitch for investment¬†on Dragons’ Den.

After the WingLights arrived in the post it took just a couple of minutes to securely attach them to the handlebars of my bike before I hit the road for the first trial run.

As darkness fell I had arrived in the busy town centre, which offers plenty of junctions, roundabouts and multiple lanes of traffic to enjoy. Operating the WingLights was a cinch; they turned on or off by pressing a button positioned on the end of each device, and whenever I forgot to turn one off it would automatically turn off after 45 seconds. After over an hour of riding around town I hadn’t encountered any problems at all; as far as I could tell other road users knew exactly which direction I was turning whenever I used the WingLights.

The following evening I recruited a friend to follow me in his car while I cycled around the neighbourhood so that I could hear firsthand just how visible WingLights are to motorists. Afterwards I was pleased to hear that my friend could tell which direction I intended to turn every time a WingLight flashed. Unfortunately though not all motorists are as observant as my friend, so I will occasionally still use hand signals to reinforce the use of my WingLights.

There are currently two types of WingLight at the time of writing, one is magnetic and the other is fixed. As a mountain biker I wanted to make sure my WingLights would be extra secure, so I opted for fixed.

Needless to say I really like my WingLights so have decided to start stocking them in the Bicycle Nuts shop

The day my stabilisers came off

During a recent visit to my parents house, mum (as usual) dug out the old photographs, you know, the embarrassing ones. Now I have to admit I do enjoy reminiscing over old family photos but nothing could have prepared me for one of them. Mum had discovered a long lost photo of me riding my very first bike, taken on the day my late grandad removed the stabilisers. Not only did I already have vivid memories of that day, but now I have the photograph to go with them.

The bike was bought for me by my grandad when I was 5 years old, and I rode that thing up and down our road all day every day. I knew at some point I needed to be brave¬†and have the stabilisers removed and by the end of the first week that time had come. Grandad came over¬†spanner in hand and whipped those stabilisers off and I was good to go. I cautiously mounted the bike while mum had hold of the seat and I¬†slowly started to pedal along the path. As I started to pick up pace I hadn’t realised that mum had purposefully let go of the saddle¬†and was running alongside me, and it was only when I noticed her running alongside me that everything got a little wobbly. However, incredibly I didn’t crash and before long I was riding on my own, and the rest as they say was history.

Please feel free to share any memories you might have of your early attempts at riding your first bike in the comment section.

Voodoo Bizango review

Voodoo Bizango review

Due to so many¬†commitments I found myself¬†out of the¬†mountain bike scene for 5 long years, then finally in 2014 I was ready to dive back in. I knew from my TREK 830 days that I didn’t need to spend big bucks in order to¬†keep up with the race leaders, so I gave myself a budget of ¬£600 and¬†let the research begin. I test rode several well know bikes in my price range but they all disappointed, they had clunky¬†suspension forks and weighed a ton. Then I started hearing talk of the new Voodoo Bizango 29er, so I started investigating further. The Bizango was getting positive review after positive review, mbr named it hardtail winner of the year. It looked like I had found my new bike, and after a test ride there was no doubt.

First outing 

I decided I was going to christen my bike by cycling over to Holmbury Hill, which is approximately 11 miles from home starting with a 4 mile tarmac dash to Newlands Corner. The first thing I noticed as I hit the road were those 29 inch wheels, it felt like I was riding an agile monster truck and nothing could get in my way. I also noticed that the bike freewheeled faster than my previous mountain bikes, no doubt because of those giant 29ers. My only slight frustration was running out of gears on fast descents, however this is unlikely to be an issue off-road.

Following a 2 mile ascent I arrived at Newlands Corner cafe, my regular pit stop before hitting the trail. So after demolishing a bacon bap and taking a caffeine hit it was goodbye tarmac and hello dirt.¬†The last time I rode this particular trail I was on a very different bike: V-brakes, coil forks, 26 inch wheels and heavy chromoly frame, all a distant memory now. I hit the first trail (a steep 1 mile singletrack descent) at speed, skimming over roots and deep ruts like they weren’t even there thanks to the giant wheels and fat Maxxis Ardent tyres. I did experience a fair amount of noisy chain slap on the rougher terrain though so I certainly recommend a buying better chainstay protector than the existing¬†flimsy adhesive one, I use the Lizard Skins Neoprene type. Ten¬†miles later and I couldn’t have been happier with how the bike was performing on the trail. At this point there really weren’t any issues to report short of the chain slap.

Eventually I arrived at Holmbury Hill and tried out a few of the MTB trails. One thing that was immediately clear was how confident I felt on this bike, especially going down some of the steep heavily rooted banks which always used to be my week spot. Gear shifting was fast and precise, which is very useful on terrain like this which alters in the blink of an eye, however one slight concern was the amount of times my feet touched the front tyre during tighter turns.

By now it was getting quite late in the day and didn’t have my lights to hand, so I decided to be sensible and head home by road before it became¬†too dark.

The following week I decided to take things up a notch and headed for Swinley Forest.

Swinley Forest

I can’t recommend Swinley Forest¬†enough. Miles and miles of purpose built trails catering for various skill levels: Green Trail – easy / Blue Trail – Moderate / Red Trail – Difficult. There’s also a dirt jump and freeride area.

As usual we started with the Blue Trail and before long we were digging in as we started the first ascent. The front end felt nice and light as I took on the many deep roots of the uphill section, my only concern was the number of times I was still catching my  feet on the front tyre during tight turns (more on this later), but apart from that it was so far so good.

Now the downhill sections are what it’s really all about and the bike shined as expected. The 120mm Suntour Raidon forks soaked up the bumps which filled me with the confidence to push myself harder than ever before downhill. The Suntour Raidons might be classified as a budget fork but they certainly don’t feel it, and to this day mine haven’t required any servicing and there has never been any bushing knock.

The most challenging riding of the day for me was the Labyrinth section of the red trail, which is a very narrow twisty turny single track in the densest darkest part of the forest. The challenge for me was to get around the Labyrinth without putting my foot down once despite the fact that my handlebars are wider than much of the track and large roots are a plenty especially in¬†the bends, unfortunately though I lost my balance half way round resulting in the least spectacular crash of my life, toppling sideways at 1 mph. Unfortunately I did experience the recurrence of my feet¬†hitting the front tyre on¬†those tight twisty turns which I initially thought might just be because I still wasn’t used to the 29ers, however 2 years on and its still happening and from what i’ve heard from¬†other Bizango owners, it appears i’m not the only one to experience the problem.

Following a fantastic days riding it was time for my first bike inspection. I was a little disappointed to discover that my brake and gear cables had eaten all the way through the paintwork at the top of the suspension fork after only 2 days of use, however that was the only problem to report and an easy one to rectify after slapping on some frame protection stickers.

Today

The bike¬†is still in very good health 2 years on¬†despite seeing plenty of action, although admittedly I tend not to take it out when the weather is truly¬†horrendous¬†or when the trail is¬†too boggy. I also clean the bike religiously, so despite a few scratches here and there the bike still looks like new. Going forwards I will be¬†replacing my rather warn¬†handlebar grips with the popular¬†Acor Skull design grips¬†and I might treat myself to a dropper post at some point, but that’s about it unless something breaks.