Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Gear Review: Polar RC3 GPS Training Computer

For anyone who doesn't own a GPS cycle computer I have one piece of advice: buy one immediately!

If you're someone, like I was, used to an old-fashioned 'cycle computer', running by cable or wirelessly from your front wheel, it may be time to wake up and smell the 21st Century cappuccino...

But which to buy? Today I'm looking at one of the latest examples - the Polar RC3 GPS - which promises 'unprecedented training accuracy and insight'. I've also asked my brother-in-law, Huw - a committed and extremely capable triathlete - to test the RC3 and add in his thoughts.

The three colourways available are shown above, but I've been lucky enough to get my hands on the eye-catching limited edition Tour de France 100th anniversary special edition. Lucky me!

Polar invented the wireless heart rate monitor back in the 80s, but this nifty little package combines monitoring your heart rate with a GPS to track your route, speed (current, maximum and average), distance (total, training and lap) and altitude, as well as a detailed breakdown of your level of effort. Once uploaded to Polar's own site or third party sites, such as Strava, it opens up a whole new level of monitoring.

And on top of that, it also promises the services of an expert trainer...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Health Facts About Cycling - Infographic

We all know that cycling is a great way to enjoy yourself and get from A to B, but I was really pleased to find this infographic highlighting just how healthy cycling is...

The stats come from an infographic created by Action Medical Research, a British medical research charity who run an extensive range of cycling events to help fund research into rare diseases affecting children. Find out more here.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Incredible Bike Video

This video, shot on a helmet-mounted Go-Pro, of a downhill ride - including a backflip over a 72-foot canyon - is absolutely incredible.

Partly because it's beautifully shot, but also because the route is absolutely mental...!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Gear Review: Abus Granit 53 'London' D-Lock with Cobra Cable

Bike locks are one of those things - like drains or computer backups - that you only really appreciate when they don't work.

I speak as someone with painful personal experience.

The Cannondale Bad Boy I rode from Land's End to John O'Groats in 2003 was nicked from outside a Sainsbury's in Islington, 10 feet from a security guard...

To be fair, it was locked up with a flimsy (and light) lock. So the anger and confusion I felt as I walked home was mixed with a sense of guilt that I'd let the bike down!

I'm not alone, according to Stolen Bike Statistics over 115,000 bikes were reported stolen in the UK last year. And with only 1 in 5 bike thefts being reported to the police, the actual figure is likely to be nearer 600,000 - more than 1,600 every day! And a depressing 93% of thefts are never resolved.

I learned my lesson and bought a Kryptonite New York D-Lock, drawn by the bullet-proof construction and the guarantee that I'd get £1,200 if my next bike (a Cannondale F800 Lefty) was stolen.

Fast forward a decade and I have the chance to try out a rival to the Kryptonite's crown.

The ABUS Granit 53 'London' D-Lock also comes with a cable to loop through your wheels - absolutely essential if you've ever seen the number of bikes securely-locked with D-Locks, but minus their wheels...

So how do the locks compare?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

An Electric Bicycle That Can Reach 50 MPH!

Apologies for two posts on electric bikes in as many weeks, but I saw this video and couldn't resist!

This amazing chap/eccentric inventor has come up with a way to make an electric bike that will do up to 50mph!

All you need is a pretty standard mountain mike, two hub-motors and a backpack full of lithium-ion batteries. Oh, and $5,000 to buy one....

But he's keeping pace with motorbike up a mountain - what's not to love?!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

'Rubbee' Makes Any Bike Electric...

I'm not a fan of electric bikes. They're heavy, ugly and - if you want to ride a bike - you can bloody well make the effort to pedal it!

But I'm really charmed by this new detachable electric drive which has been looking for funding on Kickstarter (they've now hit their £63,000 target!).

The Rubbee Electric Drive for Bicycles

It's beautiful, simple and really clever. It weighs 14 lb (6.5 kg), ihas a range of around 15 miles and can get the bike up to a top speed of 15 mph. It's also easily removable and re-chargeable and will fit on most bikes. What's not to like?!

Even Sir Richard Branson is impressed...

Good luck, chaps!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cycling Video: 'Experiments in Speed'

This is such a wonderfully bonkers (and beautifully shot) short film of frame builder Tom Donhou's quest to get his bike to go as fast as possible - in his case by drag racing behind a modified Ford Zephyr...

"A lot of people think about it but it's whether you actually go through with it," Tom says. "It started out as just an idea, to simply build a bike and see how fast we could go..."

To reach his target speed, he gets component-makers Royce to build a 104-tooth chain ring (for the non-cyclists amongst you, the biggest a road bike's chainring usually gets is 43-teeth)!

Tom is a Rapha Continental frame builder and rider.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Another Mont Ventoux Ride for the Record Books

Mont Venoux is an icon in the history of the Tour de France and Chris Froome's incredible ride yesterday adds another tale to that legend.

Chris Froome conquers Mont Ventoux
Having ridden Ventoux twice myself, I have very personal reasons to appreciate something of what the riders have gone through. Despite first appearing as recently as 1951 the 'Géant de Provence' is one of the classic mountains and it's regarded as the most gruelling climb, in what is a pretty tough field. There are higher mountains, there are steeper mountains, but Ventoux has something special.

Roland Barthes, the French philosopher and cycle racing fan, sums up Ventoux's almost supernatural quality: "The Ventoux is a god of Evil, to which sacrifices must be made. It never forgives weakness and extracts an unfair tribute of suffering."

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Gear Review: Lezyne Micro Drive Front Light

It's less than two years since I last bought and reviewed a set of bike lights, but I've just been sent a new front light to review which has blown me away and made me realise just how much things can change in technology in such a short space of time.

Back in 2011 I bought a Cateye EL-320, which was a pretty much state-of-art LED, producing what seemed a blindingly bright light and and lasting a pretty long time between charges.

What a difference 2 years make...

On the left is the Cateye EL-320, all 176g (including the mount) and 100mm x 45mm of it, powered by 4 x AA batteries. On the right is the new Lezyne Micro Drive front light, which weighs 67g (with mount) and 71mm x 26mm, powered by an internal Lithium Ion battery.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Tour de France - Chris Froome wears the Yellow Jersey

Chris Froome blew the Tour de France apart today. After a week of edgy manoeuvring, and with only seconds separating the leading contenders, Froome is currently wearing the 'Maillot jaune' with a lead of over a minute on the nearest contender, Movistar's Alejandro Valverde.

Chris Froome takes the Yellow Jersey
That may not sound like much, but Bradley Wiggins only won last year's Tour by 3 minutes and 21 seconds from his Sky teammate, ahem, Chris Froome...

It's another feather in the cap for Sky, lead by Dave Brailsford - who has also led Team GB's cyclists to such incredible success.

But I've not posted about this year's Tour yet because, to be honest, of a lack of excitement on my part. Without Wiggo there to defend his title - whether through injury or ennui - Chris Froome is the only real British hope to win (although he was born in Kenya and grew up in South Africa, only riding on a British licence from 2008).

And I do find Froome hard to like. In last year's Tour, Froome acted as Wiggins's 'super domestique', basically there to do his hard work for him and taking little of the glory. Not much fun, but that's how these things work - it's tradition and very like the F1 idea of 'team orders', where drivers allow their team's top driver to beat them in the hope that they will win the title.

But I found Froome rather graceless about his role in Wiggins's success last year, for example his performance at Peyragudes and his comments about Wiggo's non-appearance at the tour this year.

I've worked in PR for 20 years, including sports - for example looking after Channel 4's Ashes cricket coverage in 2005 as well as working with Premier League football clubs - and I understand the kind of ego-related battles that go on. But I think Froome has shown a lack of discipline as well as poor PR skills. Hopefully he will learn the skills that Wiggins displayed late year.

And I'm willing to lay all that to one side if Froome, who's an amazingly able cyclist, whether in the mountains or in time trials, can keep hold of the yellow jersey and win - in his own right and in style - in Paris...!