I’ll pass, thanks.
There’s already too much emphasis on kit in cycling, and there’s no single magical piece of equipment that works for everyone. So this isn’t a product review. It’s just that, a while back, it dawned on me that I’ve been using some items of equipment for ages with minimal drama, and it seemed fitting to big them up a bit.
Howies Outback jacket (above)
I was disappointed when I bought this. It was a scary amount of money, even at 50% off in John’s Bikes, and it quickly turned out to be much less waterproof than I was expecting. But over a few years it’s become my go-to riding jacket. It just makes me feel warmer when I put it on. It doesn’t rustle. It’s very windproof. It has nice deep front pockets you can put your hands or your keys in. A while back mine got tangled up in a disc rotor, which burned a big hole in it, but it’s been sewn up and is still going strong.
Osprey hydration pack
This is probably the most thoughtfully designed biking backpack I’ve used. Everything has its own little compartment, from your pump to your phone. You can get the bladder out without having to thread the hose through the pack, or disconnect it and have it dribble all over the kitchen. The tube is held in place by that most space-age of fastenings, a magnet. And the expandable pocket on the outside holds a helmet, an impulse off-licence purchase, or week’s worth of trail litter.
The Achilles heel of pedals always seems to be the bearings, and these get around that by doing away with them, and having bushings instead. For those of you gasping in horror and wondering how much energy you lose by having pedals that don’t spin like a demented perpetual motion machine, bear in mind that one of the end goals of this mountain biking nonsense is to use up energy and get exercise. An extra 2-3 joules over the course of a ride is not going to make any difference, and it’s a small price to pay for making a key component of your bike extremely difficult to break.
They’re also very grippy indeed, with hexagonal pins that feel a lot more positive than the usual grub screws. For all I know, someone might have started making a cheaper knock-off of these which is just as good, but I really don’t care. They have outlived all my previous flat pedals by a couple of years and are still going strong..
It’s quite hard to get a truly bad set of tyres these days, but there are definitely some which try to be too light, resulting tonnes of punctures, or worse, a miserable walk back to the car park with a burst sidewall. Maxxis tyres just seem to have the right compromise between weight, durability, puncture resistance and price. They do a tyre for every conceivable discipline and condition, and all of them seem to work well at what they’re designed for.
Charge Spoon saddle
Saddles are probably the most subjective bit of a bike, and you might have to try a few before finding one you like. The good thing about a Spoon is that it’s cheap enough to buy one on a whim, yet durable and well-regarded enough to sell on if you don’t get on with it. Also, their custom saddle builder might be just the ticket if you’re tired of blowing your nose on £20 notes, and want to find new ways to express your wealth.
I love Hope hubs, For one thing, I don’t have to use a bell any more. Just stop pedalling and you assault everyone’s ears with a noise like a clockwork chainsaw. And servicing them is fun - whacking things with hammers, rather than the misery of chasing loose ball bearings as they roll under the kitchen cupboards. And they’re the last actual thing being made in the UK.*
But the best thing about Hope hubs (and indeed, Hope products in general) is what happens if they go wrong. A no-questions-asked warranty service. Not bad in an industry where you’ll normally be lucky to exchange your broken component for an eye full of spit.
Chris King headsets
Yes, they’re stupidly expensive for something so boring. But what other bike part can you buy that will work perfectly for 5 years with no hassle and no maintenance? In fact, what other anything?
*Yes, I know - Burgtec/BETD, Royce, USE/Exposure, Orange, Four4ths, etc. Did you really expect this to be 100% accurate?
Pedal Progression were eager to collaborate with their favourite bicycle clothing brand (that’s us by the way :-) to create a t-shirt that would inspire the local bike community in Bristol where the company is based. The concept was taken from a Canadian BMX distribution company that wanted to…
YES! More CX gifs please.
haha this dude was getting so rad in tabor.
No, not the one in Germany. Or the one in the Passenger Shed. There is beer though…
I’ve been doing Bikefest and Oktoberfest for a fair few years now, as a team, as a pair, and dressed as a wheelbarrow. Here’s what almost a decade of mediocre mid-pack finishing has taught me.
It’s not “paying thirty quid to ride your local trails”. That’s like saying a marathon is paying thirty quid to go for a walk.
Asking the “what tyres” question on mountain bike forums always generates a load of ridiculously specific answers, none of which are entirely correct.
No-one wants to do the first lap, but unfortunately someone has to.
A gazebo is a great idea. Just remember, Bristolians, it’s pronounced “ga-ZEE-bo”, not “gaybo”.
There’s always one less camping chair than there are people hanging around. Bring a spare.
Write down your lap times because missing a changeover, or finishing your last lap after the cutoff, are extremely sucky experiences for all concerned.
You’re not going to make up loads of time in the singletrack so don’t be a muppet and barge other people out of the way. Asking politely will get you past 90% of slow riders anyway.
If you pass someone on a fancy bike going very slowly they’re probably soloing and have done four times as many laps as you. Check before gloating.
Drinking beer during the race makes you faster unless it gives you hideous cramp instead.
Bring some cash for the boxes of random bike clothes and some mind bleach for Paul’s Lederhosen.