The good, the bad and the superb. A look back at new products I’ve bought over the past year.
Think of it like those end of year Prize awards which are all too common at this time of the year, but without the embarrassing speeches.
Overall Best Product of the year – Assos Uno bib Short
- Assos T FL.Uno Bib Short £113 at Wiggle
You might think £113 is extravagant for a pair of shorts. But, this is really excellent value. I bought these after a particularly uncomfortable saddle sore on the back of good reviews, and have just admired at how much they change your ride. They just make sitting a saddle really easy. The great thing is you don’t really notice them, you just forget it’s usually uncomfortable sitting on a saddle after four hours.
There are Assos shorts which are even more expensive than the UNOs. I presume they must be even better. But, after spending hours on Impsport shorts, these feel luxury enough. I’d rather buy two Uno bibs.
If you do any long riding, like cyclo sportives – forget looking for an expensive saddle – buy these shorts, you won’t regret it.
This is my favourite product of the year because it’s done the most to improve the enjoyment of long hours in the saddle. It also feels like a major factor in reducing saddle sores, so I won’t be losing time to painful boils in places you’d rather not go.
Garmin 500. At nearly £200, the Garmin is pretty expensive for a glorified speedometer. But, overall, it’s been worth the money. The best function is probably being able to see how much altitude you’ve climbed during a ride – even gives the gradient of the climb your on. It’s very well made and has been reliable since I bought it. In terms of GPS quality it is ten times better than an iPhone. If you want to track your rides with GPS, it’s hard to beat a Garmin 500
Torque Paste – Only £4 for a tub. It solved an awkward problem with a very expensive stem and very expensive set of handlebars. Good to know some of the best things are cheap. I wish I’d known about this earlier in my cycling career. Torque paste
Tune Kor Vum Saddle. An unexpected entrant. I fully expected the 80 gram saddle to be used for about 50 minutes a year, only when doing hill climbs. – Another of those really expensive hill climb accessories which are pretty hard to justify to anyone else. But, not only is it incredibly light – it’s incredibly comfortable – even on seven hour rides! I’m still trying to work that one out. Tune Kor Vum
Specialized Allez. I’ve been training in New York on a very old Trek with horrid pedals for too many years. The Specialized Allez is excellent, simply because you realise how good modern day bicycles are compared to 30 years ago. Specialized Allez.
Schwalbe Ultremo Tyre. I thought I’d try a new tyre for a change. Over 2,500 miles not even a slight scratch. No puncture. Nice and smooth and good rolling. Excellent (he says touching lots of wood, hoping the puncture curse doesn’t strike.) Schwalbe Ultremo Tyre.
Knog Blinder Lights. USB Rechargeable. Nice and bright and compact. So far no problems. Easy to take on and off and switch between bikes. Only problem is that for winter training bike, can’t attach to frame because of the size of my saddle bag. Knog Blinder Lights
Specialised Armadillo Tyres. The more miles I do without punctures on these, the more I rate them. Top notch for winter riding. Armadillo’s
- Zipp 202 Rear Wheel. Has done everything it has needed to have done. However, I’m glad I don’t have to buy one every year. Really expensive – £924 for rear wheel alone. Zipp 202 at Chain reaction cycles.
- AX Lightness Premium Road. 365 grams for a front wheel, is really only for the hill climb specialist. But, it felt good to be on it. Lightest road wheels
- Torq Recovery powder. I really like the Torq recovery extra with beta-alanine L Glutamine – you can take like hot cocoa – great after long winter training ride.
- Rollers. £150 to cycle indoors. A little bit pricey and you can’t even do really hard intervals on a roller. But, I have been using them when it’s wet outside. A good buy. Easy to use. Tips on using rollers
- Topeak Pocket mini race pump – a portable pump you can use to inflate upto 90psi. Does what it says on the tin. I’ve taken to New York, where I don’t have a track pump.
- Castelli Nanoflex leg warmers – good, nice fit. repel water. warm use often.
- Halfords large saddle bag. A very good practical design, is lasting much longer than better branded saddle bags. I picked up for about £16 in a local Halfords store. (best saddle bags)
- Banana – thought I’d throw a good value energy bar in just to remind myself cycling doesn’t have to be expensive.
- AX lighteness stem – 85 gram for silly money
- Schmolke bars 150 grams for silly money
I went for broke (literally as well as metaphorically) in getting low weight components this year. However, I made some bad research. First I didn’t realise superlight weight stem was 26.0 when everything else was 31.0 oversize these days. This meant I had to buy a schmolke bars as well which were irritatingly 0.1mm different size to the AX lighteness stem. They didn’t really fit too well (before torque paste saved the day). But, at the end of the day it was silly money for a very little weight saving. I’ve put back on my Bontrager XXX stem and handlebars, and will be looking to flog these on e-bay.
Morale of the story: – Don’t obsess about saving 100grams in weight.
- Altura Ergofit leg warmers. So close fitting, that the stitching came undone, because it’s so tight to take them off. Shame because it’s good idea.
- Topeak Aero wedge. After less than a year it’s falling apart – the stitching came loose. will need throwing away soon.
- Topeak Tri bag. A bag you put on your top tube. thought this would be great, but ended up throwing it away after one ride because it’s badly made and keeps hitting your knee.
What was your best and worst product of the year?