Cannondale Super X
What an amazing bike for a brilliant price point in 2015 specification.
I must start this review with a confession, ever since I rode my first Aluminium F600 Cannondale MTB I fell in love with the brand. The quality and design innovation they brought to the marketplace was second to none.
Cannondale brand might not carry the same romantic history of Italian brands such as Colnago, Pinarello or Bianchi but neither do they carry the over inflated prices. But in their own way they carry an engineering design beauty that exhibits itself in form and function at the cutting edge of modern materials.
From the innovative head shock to the beautifully finished and smoothed welds their frames just shout loud and proud the attention to detail.
As some of you who follow my reviews and articles online will know I built my first CX bike a couple of years ago from spares and a few second hand parts and had a great time getting back to basics. Taking part in an Adventure X event in the Lake District proved the the CX bug had bitten and that it was time for an upgrade. The Monster event proved that cantilevers just don’t cut it in comparison to discs.
I had three simple aims for my new CX bike:-
- Value for money, best bang for my bucks.
- Full carbon frame
- Hydraulic discs
The final criteria left my choices rather limited to say the least, I did include the potential of a brake calliper upgrade but was trying to avoid it.
After hunting high and low I was more then pleased to discover the great package that Cannondale had put together with the Super X and the Rival 22 hydraulic disc group set. I must also thank Richard Pascoe of Bikechain Ricci for sourcing and supplying the Super X.
Initial impressions out of the box was that everything was well put together and the bike was pretty light, but with room for improvement. The Maddux wheelset looked function but perhaps not the lightest. The standard tires, Schwable Rapid Robs, looked good for off road but I was not sure about the rolling resistance for Tarmac or hard pack. The stem appeared to be a little short too (I must confess to liking to ride a short wheelbase frame with a long stem). Richard and I had had a bit of discussion over frame sizing when sourcing the bike and we decided that the 54cm might be longer on the top tube then I would like, so we plumped for the 52cm frame.
I was blown away by the bikes ability to soak up the bumps with minimal jarring or twitchiness on the rough stuff. The ride was very much point and go with no brown pant moments or wondering if the bike was going to take you where you wanted. The standard tires indeed rolled well with none of the expected MTB tractor type road noise or high friction. However as predicted the handlebar stem was too short and my knees where catching on the ends of the bars. This was quickly sorted with a 130mm stem.
Ten months on.
I am coming to the end of a months riding in France using the Super X everyday and I have to say it has never disappointed, the grin just gets wider and wider. I have even switched out the CX tires and put on some 23mm continental Ultra Sports to do some longer road rides, and while the tyre clearance might look odd, the Super X has just done what it always does and performed perfectly. It is silky smooth on or off road, it tracks its line perfectly, it has never been twitchy on any surface I throw it at, it has been as smooth as a hot knife through butter.
What really took my breath away was riding some off-road forest trails on 23mm tires at 100psi and not feeling I was being thrown around, the Super X just put the power down allowing me to confidently cover the ground at high speed.
In fact I have come to the conclusion that a second set of wheels with road tyres would not go amiss and the Super X would be the most versatile bike I have ever ridden.
Rival 22 FSA 46/36 BB30 chainset
What a top flight group set, yes I know SRAM had a nightmare with production seals on their hydraulic brakes but they are sorted now and boy are they good! The hydraulic brakes have super stoping power but more importantly excellent modulation and the potential for one finger braking. The hood design is comfortable and easy on your hands after hours in the saddle, great ergonomics.
I confess to being a little unsure about the double tap shift to begin with, but it has really grown on me. In fact it is perhaps the most positive gearshift I have ever used, smoother than Shimano and more positive than Campagnolo, and I very quickly got used to the double tap system.
The FSA Chainset has been faultless, it might not have the kudos of others but it does exactly what is says on the tin, and does it very well. The 36/46 chain rings give you just what you need and I never felt under geared on the road, my only concern is if 36 is small enough for the Adventure X events, only time will tell!
Maddux 2.0 Disc Wheelset
This is perhaps the area for biggest potential improvement, and to be fair to Cannondale something had to give to meet the price point. In 10 months of use the wheelset has never let me down even when I took a massive high speed front wheel hit on some rocks. They have stayed true and put up with a lot of abuse and I am no lightweight! Perhaps I was too quick to judge and was being a little snobby.
However with the search for a second wheelset for road use just beginning, it is proving hard to find good light weight 700c disc wheelsets (more on this in another article).
From the Prologic saddle to the Maddux wheels the Super X 2015 is one hell of a bike. It’s such a shame the base full carbon model will come with Shimano 105 and not Rival 22.
For my money I would aim for a Rival version, sell your road bike and get a second set of wheels and watch your Grin grow and grow. The Super X just keeps screaming, ride me, ride me!… and you know what I do.
Don’t forget to support your local independent bike shop!
CyclingShorts.cc Rating: 90% It gets our Star Buy stamp of approval.
The secret training products are relatively new to the scene; the main man behind these intriguing new products is Tim Lawson. Tim also being the founder of the well-known nutritional products SIS (Science in Sport) has vast experience with developing the best nutrition products for over 20 years. Tim also being a fantastic athlete himself is working with athletes from all levels from beginners right through to elite athletes.
The brand Secret Training have started out with The Strip System which includes:
Pins in a Tin
Micro-Fibre Body Cloths
Post Race Wash
All these products can be bought separately or as a Race Day Personal Care Kit (£49.99); this means all the products come in a tidy bag to keep them all together. Having used these products since they were first launched they have accompanied me to all my races. I definitely believe they are a worthwhile investment towards your racing and personal care, helping you to keep clean and comfortable while riding your bike. There is nothing better than products that make your cycling more enjoyable. Having one bag of essentials when you’re racing and travelling filled with all the essential bits and bobs you need (and often forget) is brilliant.
More recently the team at Secret Training have been developing nutritional products which were properly introduced on the 7th January 2015 at their open event. This presentation consisted of the riders and media getting their first taste of the Stealth Gels and Stealth Super Hydration Drinks with the Strip products also being featured. While trying the assortment of gels (Banana, Lemon & Lime, Citrus, Tropical, Berry), my personal favourite was obvious – the Banana Gel, which seemed to be a popular first choice with a lot of the cyclists present. Tim was there to talk through the science behind the Gels and how they work, unlike some other brands gels the Banana gels actually have real banana in them! The gels can be bought individually for £1.25, £17.50 for a pack of 14. The Berry Energy Gel with Caffeine & Betaine and Banana Gel cost a little more at £24.50 for 14 or £1.75 for single shots, I’m not sure why this is but I’m guessing it’s to do with the cost of the fruit and caffeine ingredients being more expensive or the process involved in integrating them into the gel. As well as trying the Gels the Super Hydration Drinks were a big hit with me coming in a wide range of flavours; Lemon & Lime, Blackcurrant & Elderflower, Mango & Passionfruit and also Lemon Tea. They retail from £15.99 for a selection pack of 20x 14g sachets; each sachet mixes with 500ml of water – to £24.99 for a 600g tub of a single flavour, so they are competitively priced. Each of the flavours are well balanced and relatively neutral, with no overpowering flavours or after taste. The gels and hydration drinks are easy to consume and enjoyable, unlike some other nutritional products I have previously used which have been hard to stomach in the quantities you need to aid your performance.
From speaking to Tim I have found out they are currently working on developing recovery drinks, so there is a lot more to come from this new brand and I can’t wait to see the results. Furthermore Tincoff-Saxo riders are being supported by all products produced by Secret Training, they will be providing valuable feedback for the brand to enable the development of flavours and product ranges, the aim is to provide exactly what riders need and want.
CyclingShorts.cc give Secret Training products a Star Buy rating of 97%:
Personal Care Kit – 98/100
The Personal care kit is unique as I don’t know anything like it.
Nutrition Products – 96/100
In my opinion the nutrition products are the best, better than SIS, Tim said it was very difficult to make ones better but he thinks they have – I have to agree!
I really like the products, try them for yourself, the secret is out!
You can check out the range at: www.secret-training.cc
Beet it Sports Bars
This time last year I had the privilege to test Beet It Shots and wrote quite an in-depth review and report about the product and the impact 0.4g Nitrate has on sports performance. This year I have had the privilege to test Beet It pro-elite Beetroot and oat flapjack.
For those who do not know much about the idea of using Beetroot as a super food then I recommend reading my previous review but in a nut shell.
Research has shown the the consumption of 0.4g of Nitrate prior to taking part in a sport significantly boosts your performance.
The science: beet nitrates are converted into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a signalling agent that causes vasodilation, a widening of the blood vessels. Wider blood vessels equal increased blood flow. Better blood flow means more stamina and improved oxygen usage, leading to a 15%ish boost in performance.
But beetroot products are not just for endurance athletes, a lot of the famous beet root juice users like Mo Farah are distance aerobic-energy-based athletes. Additionally, the majority of studies have been performed on runners, swimmers, rowers and cyclists. On the surface, the science behind beet root juice seems like it only provides a simple aerobic/endurance boost.
Beet juice-derived nitric oxide works so well it has been used in the Olympics as a supplement by endurance athletes for years now. No wonder this preconception is so pervasive. However, improved oxygen usage can be a boost to any athlete.
Nitric oxide is able to temporarily bolster the aerobic/oxidative system and helps traditionally non-aerobic, non-endurance athletes recover faster, even if they aren’t participating in a long-distance, endurance-based activities because the body draws its ability to regenerate energy from that system.
Therefore, if you’re an olympic athlete or a recreational sports person, you can benefit from beet root juice products.
This has certainly been born out this summer from my experience in the heat of riding in the Vendee. Beet It sports bars are easily digested and taste much nicer then the shots, with the added bonus that they contain slow releasing oats for addition food supply while riding.
I followed a simple regime, eat a bar 1 hour before riding and I also tested a second bar towards the end of rides over 2/3 hours. I did not start using the product until I had built up some miles in my legs and I had that ever present thigh burn at the start of rides.
The most instantly noticeable affect of the Nitrate is the lack of thigh burn at the start of rides and the ability to ride longer before fatigue begins to set in. Which is pretty much the same finding as last year so the delivery system does not affect the absorption and performance of the product.
What was new for this year was the consumption of a second bar on longer rides, while this did not necessary boost performance further but it did have a more noticeable effect on day two. Riding out on day two I did not have the expected heavy legs but it was as if I had had another bar that morning. So now my routine is to have a second bar post long ride to aid recovery.
I really can not recommend this product highly enough, it is the best sports nutrition product I have ever used, and I have used a few, it is way better then any gel, protein carb mix you can buy and to be honest is the only thing other than a zero calorie electrolyte that I will ever use.
If I was Victor Kiam I would buy the company the product is that good. Beet It pro-elite beetroot and oat flapjacks are a must.
I’d give it 110% but my editor tells me I have to cap my enthusiasm at 100% they are a CyclingShorts.cc star buy!
RRP: £25.00 for a case of 15 bars
Earlier this year my wonderful wife surprised me with a Tandem for our 25th Wedding anniversary, which does fit in the back of our people carrier however does not allow us to have anyone else in the car, which would be a bit of a problem when we head to France for our family summer holiday. The solution a tandem roof rack, but which one?
If I am honest I have never really been a fan of bike racks that clamp onto the frame, they often scuff or damage the tube they clamp to and the the thought of only one clamp point with a Tandem did not appeal.
I scoured the marketplace and came up with three main options but the cost of two of the choices really ruled them out, so I finally plumped for the Pendle Tandem Carrier with front fork clamp. It also meant that I would be supporting a British Engineering firm, in my eyes a big bonus.
The prices direct from Pendle where not great so I placed an order via www.roofbox.co.uk a company I have used over the years to buy roof rack items at very reasonable prices and that was certainly true of the Pendle Rack.
I eagerly awaited the arrival of the bike rack, almost like an expectant father. Roofbox did not let me down, rapid delivery to my place of work in plenty of time for my test run for the Great Manchester Cycle a few weeks before our holiday.
The weekend before the ride I decided to fit the rack to our roof bars, as we no longer live in the 70’s flat pack world of missing parts and several trips backwards and forwards for missing screws and nuts, I assumed I did not need to go through the check list provided with the rack. How wrong could I be!!
I quickly and easily assembled the main part of the rack body and got it in place to clamp to the roof bars, but wait there is something missing. No maybe I missed them in the shrink wrapped packaging, surely the bottom plates for clamping to the roof bars are still in the box. After several minutes of vigourusly shaking the box nothing, they where missing, unbelievable! A quick email to Pendle to ask for the parts job sorted, but no joy ‘please contact supplier’. Ok fair enough but surely they will only contact Pendle etc etc. A quick call to Roofbox and a very helpful customer service assistant kept me on hold while she rang Pendle and got the parts shipped directly to me (Roofbox 10, Pendle 0!).
The parts arrived the following day and I fitted the rack to the roof bars, but wait I am two bolts short! A quick hunt through my own spares box and two suitable bolts later rack fitted and set up in time for the Great Manchester Ride.
I contacted Pendle direct about the missing bolts and the over all initial lack of service. I did get an email back from one of the directors offering me bolts but to be fair it was sorted. I really wanted to point out that we are no longer in the era of parts falling off cars and missing bits from self assembly furniture, and that it might be an idea to actually do some quality control on final packaging.
On a positive note the rack does do what is says on the tin and works really well holding the tandem in place very securely, which is all it needs to do. (Pendle 10 out of 10 for functionality). It is not perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing item and maybe not of the highest quality for chroming and powder coating but that does not matter too much.
When we arrived in France I noticed another family with a Pendle rack and asked if they had any problems with supply. They too had bought from Roofbox with excellent service, and yes they too had parts missing for the bike rack, you’ve guessed it bottom plate and bolts. Hmm looks like mine is not an isolated instance. Come on Pendle! Nelson, Lancashire is surely not languishing 30 years behind us all, get your quality control sorted!
Quality of Service/ Customer service attitude (Pendle) 10%
Quality of Service/ Customer service attitude Roofbox 100%
I would recommend Roofbox for bike rack and roof bar supplies, but I might just pay the extra and avoid the hassle of buying a Pendle rack again.
RRP: £162.00 for both versions
I know that mitts can be somewhat of a personal thing and that is certainly true for me. I have being pursuing the perfect set of mitts ever since I bought my first pair of classic crochet backed leather palmed road mitts in the 1980’s.
To be honest not a single pair of modern gel inserted synthetic mitts have ever cut the mustard in comparison to my first pair of classic mitts, that is until I bought a pair of Giro Monaco’s from www.sportspursuit.com, the discount online sports clothing company.
The top of the Giro Monaco’s may not be the longed for crochet cotton but rather a modern nylon/polyester mix, for which I can forgive them, as the mitts are very comfortable. But the, hands down, wining feature has to be the sheepskin leather palms, with no gel inserts but slightly thicker padded areas in the key contact points of thumb, heel of hand and base of fingers.
The mitts have been comfortable from the moment I slipped my hands inside, dare I say they fit like a glove, well a fingerless glove! But seriously they have been the most comfortable pair of mitts I have owned, even twelve months on and over 2000 km of riding in mixed conditions they are providing a far superior level of comfort. As time has passed they have become just like that pair of favourite trainers or slippers the ones you know you will be gutted when they finally give up the ghost. There are some limited signs of wear on the palms but the leather is not splitting or cracking even after the soakings in the rain they have received.
I suspect that they have another 12 months or more left in them but I think it is time to buy another pair to give me time to gently say good bye to a comfortable old friend while taking time to introduce myself to my new friend.
What will I replace my old friends with? Yes you’ve guessed it another pair of Giro Monacos. They get aCyclingShorts.cc Star Buy Rating!
Giro Monaco Mitts at Amazon
Bontrager Glo and Ember LED lights
Bontrager Glo and Ember
As the nights have become dark we all need to make sure we can see and be seen.
Bontrager’s Glo and Ember lights might not be quite the thing if you want to see but they will certainly allow you to be seen.
For the last couple of years I have been using the cheap £2 frog eye lights that are available by the shed load on eBay. While they do a job there is certainly a question over the level of lumens they produce and to be honest there ability to withstand the elements is suspect. I thought it was time to try out something a little more up market, even though this might go against my cheapskate grain!
As soon as I picked up the Bontrager lights I could tell they where going to perform significantly better then the cheap frog eyes.
The marketing blurb on Bontrager’s website describes the lights as follows:-
Test lights supplied by Bikechain Ricci
Instantly add front or rear safety lighting with the Glo headlight and and Ember tail light. Used as a stand alone system in twilight conditions, as additional lighting or as an emergency back-up, these compact, bright and stylish lights can be run in either steady or flashing modes and provide over 40 hours of run time. Each includes two CR2032 batteries and an elastic strap for attachment to a variety of surfaces including helmets.
The blurb on the packaging is slightly more generous with the run times, 50/100+ hours (Glo front light) and 100+ hours (Ember). The Glo offers 5 lumens and the Ember 3 Lumens.
Ember provides a bright rear light even in daylight.
Fitting the lights is dead simple and the multi hole bands allow for very secure fitting to either seat-post or handle bars, as well as potential use as a helmet light.
These little bad boys are way brighter then any lights of this type I have used before, certainly making them worth the money. They really are great lights to allow you to be seen by but not so good for you to see the road ahead. I frequently use them as my road lights riding city streets to and from the dark lanes or off road ride areas, where I switch to my high power Cree LED lights.
If you are looking for something that will help make you visible on your town or city commute in these dark winter months then get yourself along to your local bike shop and pick up a pair of Bontrager Glo and Ember lights.
A definte one to ask Santa to leave in your stocking.
A CyclingShorts.cc Star buy at 90%
Retails for around £25 – £30 per set (can be bought individually).
A big thank you to @bikechainricci for supplying these lights for test.