Cycling UK » products Cycling info - advice and tips Tue, 17 Dec 2013 18:15:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kask Bambino TT helmet review Mon, 05 Aug 2013 07:19:00 +0000 The Kask Bambino helmet is an expensive aero helmet. Despite its price (£299) it has become quite popular, probably because of its use by Sky procycling team. The logic is that Sky must have spent quite a bit of money on wind tunnel tests. If it’s good enough for the likes of Froome and Wiggins, it must be good enough for me. I noticed Michael Hutchinson used a Kask Bambino in the 2013 10 mile TT championship. (but, I also noticed he didn’t use it in the 25.) I’m surprised how many people are turning up to TT with a Kask this year.


Aero-helmets can make a big different to aerodynamics in time trials. When I went in the wind tunnel, I tested two helmets, and as a result ended up getting a Giro advantage. However, although it came out of wind tunnel with relatively good results, I wasn’t happy with the helmet because it wasn’t a good fit, and I couldn’t get a proper visor to fit. I ended up gluing a visor on, which was all messy and un-aerodynamic. I liked the look and simplicity of the Kask Bambino helmet and decided to get one.

It fits very well. There is a nice leather strap and inside the helmet you can adjust the inner strap. It is close fitting, but doesn’t box in the ears like my old helmet. Very easy to wear. Though like any helmet, fitting is a very personal thing. I’d advise trying to test before buying.

The advantage of small tail helmets is that they are said to be better in crosswinds when the wind is coming from the side. Long tails provide more surface area in a cross wind. The short tail helmet like the Kask Bambino is said to be good whatever the wind direction. This is something wind tunnels can’t replicate – they generally take wind coming straight on or at 7 degrees angle. The second advantage of small tail helmets is that you don’t have to worry about the tail sticking up in the air. With my last long-tail helmet, I was often repositioning the helmet trying to get the tail to touch my back.

It is hard to evaluate the aerodynamic benefits of aero helmets – even if you can go to a wind tunnel. The aero benefits of a helmet depend on the riders position, body shape, wind direction. With so many variables, it is hard to ascertain exactly how much benefit this helmet is.

The main drawback of the Kask Helmet is the price. I was looking into getting another visor (with sun shade, the visor they give you is clear). Just an extra visor is £79.99. That really is taking the mickey mouse. You could buy a new helmet for that. It remind me of Mac charging me £400 to replace a cracked screen. Also after a few weeks of use, a magnet has fallen off. I assume I can glue back on with superglue or tub tape.

Kask Bambino in action

Time trial head on

I’ve heard a rumour that in wind tunnel tests, the Kask Bambino is not as good as other aero helmets. I heard someone ‘on the grapevine’ say you lose 5 watts wearing a Kask Bambino. I’ve certainly not seen any drag2zero rider wear a Kask Bambino.

Yet, short tail helmets are becoming more popular in the peleton. According to this article, short tail helmets are becoming more common in recent years.

In general, “riders that don’t or can’t shrug or ‘turtle’ their head as much benefit more from a longer tail, assuming, and this is the big caveat, that they can hold their head steady in the optimal position the entire time,” Yu said. “Riders that bury their head or turtle really well tend to benefit from shorter-tail helmets.”

See: a tale of aero helmets

I don’t think Sky are wearing Kask Bambinos because they all went in the wind tunnel and found the Kask to be the most aerodynamic for them. It’s a commercial decision. For pro teams, whose helmet choice has to fit all, the short tail is best common denominator. But, the amateur time triallist, could actually be more aero than pros.

I think the Kask Bambino is a good helmet if you have no intention of going in a wind tunnel to find the optimum helmet for you. It’s good in the sense that you don’t have to worry about a tail sticking in air.

To some extent, it depends on whether you can hold an aero position.


I kind of like it, but at the same time, I have a nagging feeling that it may not be as aerodynamic as some other helmet.


Kask Bambino at Wiggle

Kask bambino visors at Wiggle

How to improve aerodynamics

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Cheap inner tubes Thu, 01 Aug 2013 12:32:11 +0000 After a double puncture, I bought a new spare inner tube from a local bike shop. It was £5.95. I saw this offer of £18.99 for 10 inner tubes, so I bought. They arrived in one day, and they just come in small plastic bag with no label. I haven’t actually used in a wheel yet. But, I guess an inner tube does what it says on the tin. I’ll let you know how it goes, but it seems a good deal so far.


Funnily enough, Bart left a comment on my post – ‘Things I wouldn’t miss if I stopped cycling

buying a 10-pack of spare inner tubes, just in case the price goes up…

Even at Evans Cycles, inner tubes, tend to be around £4.50 – £5.00



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Zipp 808 Firecrest review Fri, 19 Jul 2013 12:38:06 +0000 I’ve had a pair of Zipp 404 since 2006. They are a good versatile wheelset. They are lightweight 1,250grams – so I was able to use in hillclimbs for several seasons (Until I got some Zipp 202s), but the deep rim profile is also aerodynamic. 404s are a good all rounder. The Firecrest 404s are said to be a significant improvement on the old 404s.


I decided to get a Zipp 808 Firecrest front wheel because

  • Aero tests suggested there was less drag on a Zipp 808 Firecrest to my old Zipp 404 front wheel.
  • It’s one potential marginal gain for quicker time trials.
  • I haven’t bought a new front wheel for time trialling for seven years
  • It looks good. (the least important of course, but it does look good.
  • Amazingly I had the necessary £850 in the bank account

Front wheel 808 Firecrest

  • Weight: 745 g (including skewers). Note I’ve seen different weights advertised, but that’s what it weighs on my scales!
  • Rim depth: 82mm
  • Max width: 27.5mm
  • Spokes: 16

The first observation about the wheel was that I had to adjust the brakes. The rim is significantly wider than most standard wheels. The rim profile is 27.5mm) The wheel didn’t actually fit into the brake blocks when I first tried to put it in. This was a bit irritating. I often swap wheels when training. I’m not keen on having to adjust brakes every time. Secondly, it seems counter-intuitive to improve aerodynamics by increasing size of wheel.

Zipp claim that Firecrest is the first aero profile that effectively controls airflow around the back half of the wheel. They do this by  maintaining a near constant width all the way to the spoke bed. I’ll have to take their word for it.


I’ve ridden in two time trials. The YCF 50 (new pb of 1.45 (taking 6 minutes off pb) and Nat 100 (new pb of 3.46 – taking 6 minutes off pb)

So it’s a pretty good record. Two races and two personal bests of taking 6 minutes. However, I’m not attributing all that to the new wheel. (I also bought a new Zipp discwheel – more on that later) Of course, it’s really hard to say how much difference the wheel made.

But, it felt fast.




The chart which got me to part with £800 for an 808. How much can you trust manufacturers wind tunnel tests?

Other points

  • It makes a good sound when riding
  • I haven’t tested the Zipp 808 rear wheel, but I’m sure it would be a good ride. With rear wheel you don’t need to worry about crosswinds. I nearly always use dischwheel when time trialling.


In both races the wind was quite low. Over the 150 miles there was a mixture of light headwind, crosswind and tailwind. In the National 100, there was a dodgy moment when I got a blast of air from a  big lorry going the other direction on the single carriegeway, there was quite a bit of movement in front wheel, the loss of control took me by surprise. I’ve never had that kind of difficulty handling on a 404 in the past seven years. This wasn’t isolated, I definitely felt the difference in handling between 808 and old 404. Zipp claim 808 Firecrest is as stable as old 404, but that’s not my experience.

Fabian Cancellara is said to use Zipp 808s even in road races, so it shows other people might have different experience (Note Fabian Cancellara has about 20kgs more ballast than me)


The front wheel surface has been improved for braking. There is a resin which helps resist heat It feels solid and gives nearly as good performance as aluminium surface. Zipp included a free brake pad. The downside is that (like most Zipp products) if you want to keep using Zipp it’s expensive to replace.


If you had to buy one set of wheels, I’d definitely go for the Zipp 404s. The Zipp 808 front wheel is really a specialist time trial wheel. I was slightly perturbed at the difference in handling between a 404 and 808. The 808 is definitely more twisty and can get caught be a gust of wind. I’m a light rider (62 kgs) so don’t have same bulk, but I would be wary of using the 808 front wheel on a windy day. It’s taken several years to justify making the upgrade from 404 to 808. But, I’m happy so far, even if it is a big wad of cash to splash out.

One question if the Firecrest dimples are so good, why do Zipp cover up 40% of them with big stickers? Do the stickers not slow down the effect – if so why put them on?

Zipp 404 vs Zipp 808

The Zipp 808s are heavier than the Zipp 404s by about 200gram a set,  so it is not good for mountainous terrain. I would be wary of riding in strong crosswinds because of experiences so far. However, I am pleased with raw speed of this front wheel, so it’s good for time trials.


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SIS 1 litre wide water bottle – review Wed, 17 Jul 2013 13:45:14 +0000 For this years 100 mile TT I was worried about carrying enough water. I’m pretty thin and generally don’t feel the heat, but dehdyration can be very costly.  I was still hoping to get by without relying on a helper. This means trying to work out how to carry enough drink for four hours.

1 litre-water-bottle

Earlier in the year, I bought a couple of SIS 1 litre water bottles. I reckoned that 2 litres would last a long time.

The bottles are 1 litre by making the top half wider. This means (unlike some 1 litre bottles) it’s the same circumference for fitting in your bottle cage. The good side is you get a 1 litre water bottle. The downside is there is always a risk of a top heavy water bottle popping out.

Previously I’ve bought 1 litre water bottles and the circumference was wider than usual. You had to really squeeze into bottle cage, and you always felt you were going to break the cage.

One important thing I’ve learnt is if you’re doing a race – always check your equipment in training. Never buy some new water bottle (or other hydration system) and try for first time in an important race. Anyone who has done a long race, will say the same thing.

In my first 100 mile time trial in 2005, I had two disasters.

  • At start line by aerobars came loose because I’d adjusted at the last minute ( I was very luck another chap at start line had an allen key)
  • After 30 miles a 25 gram carbon fibre bottle cage broke. (I never use those ultra light carbon fibre bottle cages any more. 10 gram saving is not worth it)
  • Similarly I stopped using an aero bottle because it twice jumped out of bottle cage in training.

Earlier in year, I went for a training ride with these two, one litre water bottles. After 50 miles, On a 15% descent on rugged roads, one water bottle (put on seat tube) jumped out, smashed – all liquid gone. I could stop and buy more water, but it was very good job it wasn’t a race.

I believe it fell out because:

  • I used one of this side entry bottle cages.
  • The water bottle was 100% full and it becomes quite top heavy.
  • Also I didn’t like the 1 litre water bottle on the seat tube, because it sometimes rubbed my legs because it was wider than usual.

For the remaining 1 litre bottle cage. I bought a standard aluminium bottle cage (Lezyne) which looked pretty robust and importantly was very tight fitting. I’ve used many times, and it’s never fallen out. Therefore, I was confident in this position it would be safe and not jump out.

The only downside is that to take water bottle out and put back in, is a little bit of fiddling around. The side entry bottle cages are much easier to use.


Is that extra 200 ml worth the extra hassle?

In my case,  1.8 litres was just about enough. It meant I didn’t have to stop during the race. 1.6 litres would have been insufficient. But, if it had been 1 or 2 degrees hotter, I would have needed a 3rd or 4th bottle, and you might as well use 800 ml bottles and save the extra weight.

Also, I would really prefer not to use the 1 litre – it feels less aerodynamic, it’s heavier and it’s not so easy to get out and put back in. But, it’s still useful for certain situations and I would recommend for some people who feel they might need such a bottle. But, be prepared to make sure your bottle cage is good enough.

SIS 1 litre water bottles. at Evans Cycles £4.00 – good value

1 litre water bottles at Wiggle – not tested these

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Oakley Radarlock review Mon, 24 Jun 2013 14:16:01 +0000 I was sent a pair of Oakley Radarlock for review. They retail at a whopping £176.00.  I wouldn’t pay that amount of sunglasses for fear I would lose them. But, I was happy to get a free review copy. I wear glasses pretty much all year. If I go out on a ride, you always regret it later when you invariable get something in your eye.

The best thing about the glasses is having two interchangeable lens – yellow and standard shade. In the past few days, it’s been pretty grey weather (what do you expect it was midsummer a few days ago) so I’ve been wearing the yellow lens quite a bit. It brightens up a dull day, and is much better than making a grey day darker.

It’s fairly easy to switch between lens. The radarlock system is pretty solid, once you’ve clicked in, you don’t have to worry about any movement. It’s better than previous methods of changing lens. I do have a cheaper pair of glasses with lens switch, but you have to bend the lens and it feels a little less secure.

The quality of the shaded lens is good as you would expect from Oakley. There hasn’t been too much sun to test it in the past week, but it gives good light.

Apart from that there’s not too much to say, they sit neatly on the head and look pretty good. The nose piece is comfortable, and you don’t really notice you’re wearing them.


I don’t think Oakley will be using this shot in product promotion, there’s probably a better way to display their product. (like on Mark Cavendish sprinting to a tour stage) I put my bizarre expression down to the fact I’m concentrating on taking a self-portrait.


The shaded glasses look better than yellow lens


I have to admit, I would never want to actually pay £175 for any pair of sunglasses. (if you spend £800 on a new front wheel, you don’t have too much money left over for luxuries….) But, as a present I would be very happy to receive. The Oakley Radarlock are very good quality, – they look good, the interchangeable lens are excellent and the quality of the build is very high. If you look after them they should provide year round eye protection. I couldn’t really find any fault, except the price!

Oakley Radarlock – £176.00




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Cycling Science – review Tue, 11 Jun 2013 08:41:30 +0000 cycling-science_Cycling Science is a book with lots of data and investigation into the science behind cycling – aerodynamics, power, stability, materials. I was sent a free review copy by Frances Lincoln publishers and quite enjoyed reading it. Firstly, the cycling book market is quite crowded. It’s always hard to come up with something new, Cycling Science has quite a few pages where I learnt some new stuff. Secondly, led by the squirrels and boffins at British Cycling and Team Sky, cycling does seem to be putting more emphasis on the science behind the sport. It’s not enough these days to say ride on feel or just get the miles in – we’ve all become interested in the actual science behind the cycling. Whether this is a good thing or not is another matter. (By strange co-incidence I finally moved into the modern world and ordered a power meter. After years of resisting to part with money in my wallet, I will now be able to bore my readers with average power outputs on my blog. At the very least, I won’t feel lost in the post race power output discussions – but I digress)

Some interesting titbits from Cycling Science.

  • A walker moving a a particular speed could, if they rode a bike, travel three times faster without having to increase their effort at all, because the two-wheeled machine is so efficient. There are two reasons for this.

1. The way the bike is configured to make use of bodies (bike converts 98.6% of energy into spinning wheels)
2. The machine acts as a lever

  • Researchers in Netherlands studied four elements of urban journeys. The greater the distance from the centre of the graph, the worse the score.


  • The space-use figure was calculated by dividing area of infrastructure by annual distance travelled.
  • The costs were just to person travelling, not cost of infrastructure (or external costs)
  • Cycling is only marginally slower, yet significantly cheaper and more energy thrifty.
  •  Manfred Nuscheler of Switzerland produced  2,378 watts of power for five seconds on a static roller bike
  • A bicycle can stay upright without a rider as long as it is moving at a speed of about 14 km/h (8.7mph)
  • As he was preparing for world hour record bid in Mexico in 1972, Eddy Merckx, decided he wanted helium in his tyres because it would cut weight by approx 14g. But according to his bike builder, Ernesto Colnago he couldn’t get any! Eddy Merckx hour record bike was nearly 2 kgs lighter than later records, such as Miguel Indurain and Chris Boardman’s

The book answers questions, such as:

  • Why do some frames have porky tubes?
  • What sticks my frame together?
  • What’s so special about Carbon bikes?
  • What will make me go faster?
  • What power requirements do you require for different torso angles?
  • How does counter- steering work?

If you’re interested in the science behind these questions, you may like the book. It’s a decent piece of research with good diagrams and pictures. It would make quite a good gift for a keen cyclist. It is more geared towards a racing cyclist, with much of the science geared towards aerodynamics and power.

Cycling Science at £15.99

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Cycle Products of the Year Fri, 14 Dec 2012 15:06:00 +0000 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 f1 shorts

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?

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Torq Energy Bars Wed, 28 Nov 2012 18:51:13 +0000 I’ve been testing and using some Torq energy products in past few weeks. Always nice to have some different energy bars to munch through when stacking up the miles. (I spent over £100 on energy bars last week in big order from wiggle. It’s painful to spend so much on energy bars, which aren’t particularly great – well you wouldn’t order them from a restaurant)



Firstly, I used tested some recovery products (mentioned here).  After a few more weeks of using, I particularly like the Torq Recovery Plus product. (essentially whey protein, a bit of carbs, + beta alanine, HMB + sodium phosphate). But, I like it after a hard winter training ride, because you can make it into a hot cocoa ride and it feels quite comforting. I’ve got through a big tub, and will be buying another one. I won’t buy the other recovery products, unless they bring out a cocoa flavour for them.

The energy bars, are very good. Moist and chewy with a very good consistency. I’ve had them a few times, and they provide a nice snack during ride. Not too sweat, but a good consistency something to get your teeth into so to speak. Flavour comes from natural fruits.

Torq energy bars include oats, raisins, maltodextrin, apple, fruit and rice cakes and raspberries (and other things). Looks good combination of maltodextrin and fructose, which is said to offer best carb combination in 2:1 ratio.

The energy gels are a similar combination of maltodextrin fructose in ratio 2:1 – each sachet providing 28 gram of carbohydrate in a 45 gram pack. Also, with usual electrolytes. Not too much else to say apart from taste fine. Contains natural Guarana as well as caffeine so may provide a double pick up! I don’t really use decaffeinated gels as this time of the year, perhaps one before a race.

The powder capsules contain a 48gram serving of energy powder, providing 43 grams of carbohydrate.  This is to be mixed into a 750ml bottle.  The flavours were fine. I also like the capsule idea – always a hassle measuring out correct proportions. Also, useful to take a few when travelling or on long rides. For 100 mile plus rides, you can take one in back pocket and add to water bottle when re-fuelling.

How Much Energy To Take.

  • Torq recommend 2-3 units of energy. 30g rams being one unit one unit = 500grams of liquid. Giving up to 60-90 grams per hour.
  • If the weather is hot, most units will be in liquid energy powder form. If weather is cold, more will be from solid fuel.
  • Useful to bear in mind for long rides, start fuelling on first hour – don’t wait till hungry. This is good rough guide on how much to take.



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Torq Recovery Products Tue, 30 Oct 2012 10:25:08 +0000 Recently, I received three new Torq recovery products. I’ve been using them for past couple of weeks.

  • Torq Recovery
  • Torq Recovery Plus.  A hot cocoa drink – which is designed for more intense training sessions – designed to be taken twice a day.
  • TORQ Energy Natural Organic – higher in carbohydrates. Based on a flavourless maltodextrin. Designed to provide help in restoring glycogen stores after long ride

I also got  a mixer bottle.

torq recovery plus

The first thing I noticed was some instructions on how to actually mix recovery powder. I usually put some powder in a water bottle, fill up with water and shake. But, it always seems to leave a wedge of powder at the bottom of the bottle, which seems to stay there no matter how long I shake.

Torq advise, adding powder to a small amount of water, mixing into a fine paste and then adding more water. Using the instructions, and shaker bottle, it was much better at mixing all the powder. The wonders of modern technology or reading the instructions.

Torq has a pretty good website with articles on the science behind the recovery system. There was also an interesting article on the Panorama documentary about sports energy drinks. I might come back to that later.

Torq recovery is the main recovery product. It is based on

  • Carbohydrate (maltodextrin, fructose mix
  • Whey protein (milk powder.
  • L-Glutamine (an amino acid)
  •  D-Ribose (a naturally-occurring sugar)

Torq recovery Plus


  • HMB (a metabolite of the amino acid Leucine)
  • Beta-Alanine and Sodium Phosphate

Torq recovery is specifically for after a heavy training load.

Torq recovery plus is designed to be taken continually during heavy training loads. It is a supplement to Torq recovery.


After all that science and careful research, you feel a bit of a Joe Bloggs for only thinking, yes but what does it taste like? That’s the sad thing of how I tend to evaluate recovery and energy drinks. For the Torq Recovery, there are a few flavours Mandarin Yoghurt, Strawberries & Cream, Banana & Mango and Chocolate Mint. Mine was Mandarin Yogurt, it was OK, but definitely isn’t my favourite. I would choose another variety next time. To be fair, they don’t use any artificial sweetners – so although it is less sweat than other varieties, it doesn’t have any of the side-effects.

The Torq Recovery plus only comes as Cocoa flavour. This is good.

The Torq natural energy is a neutral flavoured maltodextrin, unflavoured is always good and often hard to fin.

Aside from the flavour. The logic behind the different components and micronutrients, is pretty impressive. The only thing is that I’ve been taking Beta Alamine pre-ride. Having it post-ride means I might need to cut back on pre-ride Beta Alanine.

The other issue is the complexity of having two recovery products. I know that two is not exactly that complicated, but I wonder if people will want the idea of having two to maximise recovery. Torq do explain there is a logic to taking separately.

If you want only one, you can just take the Torq recovery to play role of normal recovery product. Personally, I’m not sure I would get round to mixing two different drinks, even if I had good intentions. If the HMB (a metabolite of the amino acid Leucine) supplement helps recovery from intense sessions, I would probably prefer to take in tablet form.

I like the TORQ Energy Natural Organic. As a simple maltodextrin powder it is easy to supplement glycogen stores during heavy training sessions. I haven’t taken this yet, because with short hill climb efforts, I don’t need that kind of calorie depletion kind of recovery. However, if you’re riding for a long time, I find that the amount of solid food needed to recovery energy can be taxing on my stomach (leading to diarrhoea). This is the time to take liquid supplements.

For 500g tub, £15 tub. Fair value.

Overall, good. I like the science and explanation. I would be happy to buy again.

Some tips on Recovery from Torq

  • HMB  nutrient has nitrogen-retention qualities, which makes it both naturally anabolic (body building) and anti-catabolic (prevents muscle breakdown). Best use comes from taking daily.
  • Main aim of recovery is to restore muscle glycogen stores. One of best ways is
  • Carbohydrate / protein ( 3:1) helps maximise recovery
  • Also taking carbohydrate in mixture of (Maltodextrin and Fructose) helps gain increased uptake rate.
  • Timing of recovery is important. From 15 minutes to upto 6 hours after exercise.
  • L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. Taking supplements after training can prevent body breaking down muscle to replace lost stuff.

More on Torq


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Best Padded Cycling Shorts Thu, 13 Sep 2012 08:11:24 +0000 There are a few Eureka moments in cycling. – Like when you can master the art of cycling no hands, when you realise you can actually cycle three miles to work and still live to tell the tale, when you realise it’s an awfully lot more comfortable to wear proper cycling shorts than jeans and underpants. In fact you realise it’s so much more comfortable, that you’d rather get dressed in tight fitting Lycra and to hell with what people think – you’re a proper cyclist now!

The only problem with lycra cycling shorts is that the next inevitable step to maintain your chic elite cycling look is  getting out the old shaver (well, actually preferably new sharp shaver) – to proudly display the contours of your bulging biceps. Anyway, that’s another step and that can wait. But, a good padded cycling short is one of the most essential ways to get a more comfortable ride, especially for anything over two hours.

Over the years I’ve tried quite a few cycling shorts. Recently, I’ve been frequently riding some Impsport custom made ones for my cycling teams like Oxonians and Sri Chinmoy CT. Unfortunately, Impsport do not make the best cycling shorts. Although, att least they are better than they were. A few years ago, I received some shorts with the padding in a pretty useless place. However, they are reasonable and provide enough comfort for most of my rides.

A few general comments about Cycling Shorts

  • Bibbed shorts are more comfortable than non-bibbed. It is much easier to keep them up without the feeling of elastic around the waist. They also seem to stay in position much more easily. I do have a few non-bibbed shorts, but, when getting in and out of the saddle, they tend to move. I also have one pair of shorts with a very good insert, but, it’s too tight around the waist. I do still use it (I can’t bring myself to throw it away) but, it’s not good to have a tight elastic around stomach.
  • All shorts become more comfortable when used to cycling. Getting used to spending hours in the saddle is like anything else, you develop tolerance over time. If you’re new to cycling, spending £200 on some shorts will still feel pretty sore after a seven hour sportive. If you’re used to spending hours in the saddle, you probably won’t really notice even Impsport varieties.
  • Keep Clean. I’m sure this doesn’t really need saying, but, you want to wash after every ride. They are pretty quick drying, especially if you wrap in towel. (Some pros used to insist on hand washing so they could be sure it didn’t get mixed up with other laundry which could potentially pass on germs)
  • Don’t Wash at Too High Temperature. On one holiday in US, I took my laundry to a US washomat. After washing at presumably very high temperature, the lycra was stretched to almost indecent proportions. I had to throw away the see-through shorts before getting into trouble. Don’t ruin a good pair of lycra by washing in hot water!
  • Some Chamois cream can help keep the insert padding soft. Useful for long rides, though most synthetic chamois are pretty good at staying soft.

Despite using my custom cycling team shorts on most occasions, a seven hour ride in the Dales, made me wanting a really good pair for such epic rides.

Assos FI Mile S5 Bib Cycling Shorts


Assos have a reputation for producing the best, (whatever the cost). These shorts certainly looked intriguing with their dimpled padding. The padding is quite substantial and feels very soft when put on. It does feel different to other shorts because of the air flow and space in between dimples. This helps to wick away sweat which is one of top ways of creating friction and discomfort. The short fits on the body very easily, it smooths away pressure and there is no feeling of tightness or discomfort. Also, I never felt any seems which I often do on other shorts. For long rides, it is substantially more comfortable and does make a real difference. Sometimes, in cycling you can pay £150 extra and it’s hard to know what you’ve got for your money. But, buy a pair of these shorts and you will notice the difference in ride quality.

If you are serious for training for long distance rides and sportives, a couple (or one) pairs of these shorts will make a big difference and could perhaps be a higher priority than some carbon upgrade to save 10 grams.

See: full review of Assos T607 F1 Mile

I also bought some Assos Uno for £110. These are  a bit more reasonable, but still offer great comfort.

Cheaper Padded Shorts

If you’re a newcomer to cycling, don’t worry that shorts have to be so expensive. I ride close to 10,000 miles a year and so got excited about such a short. But, for the majority of the time, I’ve been fine riding on much cheaper shorts. For example, the dhb Finchdean padded short at under £50.

Under Shorts?

What if you want to ride normal clothes. It may be you want to ride a bike, then get off socialise, walk around the city and even enjoy yourself. If you want to enjoy cycling but, you feel self-consciousness walking around tourist attractions in lycra shorts, you can still get a padded under short you can wear underneath, this will make a comfortable ride. This dhb undershort is only £13. I have a pair of under shorts, but, they hardly get used, except under winter bib-tights with an insert.

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