Review: Purple Harry Bike Floss
Keeping your bike clean is important for making sure that it keeps running smoothly, reducing wear and for finding any problems before they become big and expensive. Also, if you are like me, there is a sense of satisfaction in making sure your precious steed remains looking new and shiny.
The Bike Floss range is designed to seek out all those little places where dirt, grime and oily abrasive paste build up. There is a choice of three grades:
Large bristle. Less abrasive and softer than the medium, but not to be used on Carbon fibre components. Use on derailleur’s and the drivetrain.
Large fleece. Ideal for polishing/final buffing, and for all Carbon fibre parts.
Medium bristle. The most abrasive floss, perfect for cassette cleaning.
As you can see in the picture, the purple flecks are stiffer more abrasive bristles, while the white ones hold onto the dirt.
There are five pieces in each re-sealable packet, with a recommendation on their use printed on the label.
Be careful when handling the medium bristle version, they are prickly; they caught me unawares even before I had opened the packet! The short stiff bristles had punctured through the bag and I originally thought that perhaps some of the wire core was broken and poking out, but realised that the purple bristles that cover the whole length were to blame. From then on I wore gloves while using them.
How to use them: As their name suggests, you use them in a flossing action, I tested them on my cassette and chain by following the guidelines provided. Purple Harry has produced some helpful videos on their YouTube channel showing how to use them too. http://www.youtube.com/purpleharrybikestuff
Firstly I applied some degreaser and left it to soak into the dried oil and grime before getting to work with the medium bristle floss.
I found it very easy to quickly work my way around the sprockets, moving the floss down to each space in turn, starting at the back one to the front. The thickness of the floss is made to fit snuggly into the sprocket spacing, meaning that you are cleaning both sides at once and the bristles are long enough to clean all the cut-outs on each sprocket too, I was expecting to have to finish off these and the top faces of each one separately, but it was not necessary.
I then used the large fleece bike floss to mop up the remaining degreaser and buffed up the sprockets back to their shiny silver, it was at this stage that I learnt that I had sprayed too much degreaser onto the sprockets because the fleece soon became saturated, alternatively I could have washed off the degreaser with clean water before using the fleece to dry it. The next time I will use less spray and this will make the job much faster.
The results: See my before and after pictures below:
Although it is unclear from my poor photos’ the cassette and chain has had a thorough clean, with every visible place where dirt could hide now a pleasing shiny surface instead.
To achieve this result I had only used two of the floss sticks, and don’t think that once used they should be thrown away – Purple Harry say that they can be cleaned with either degreaser or white spirit and used several times. I left mine soaking in a bath of degreaser overnight, and they will be put to good use on the chain and sprockets again. So if for instance, they can be used five times each, that is twenty-five washes per packet – not bad for the price.
Improvements that I would like to see; Due to the unexpected sharpness of the bristles in the medium floss stick, I would prefer it if the packaging was improved to protect your hands. I suggest that a clear plastic vacuum formed container with a clip-shut lid would work well and it could also be used as a bath to leave them soaking after use.
Also, as they are sold in packets of five items per bag, to clean and dry the cassette properly you will need to buy at least two packets (one medium bristle and one large fleece), a nice option would be to have available a prepared pack that contained all that you need to clean your drivetrain a few times; a couple of medium bristle floss sticks, a couple large fleece sticks, perhaps one large bristle floss and a small bottle of Purple Harry degreaser.
Final Verdict: These products are easy to use and do their job well, my drivetrain has never been so clean. They are not too fiddly to use and will make your bike in ‘showroom’ condition, great for adding that extra smart appearance by ridding those little crevices of dirt.
Be warned! Once you start looking for those little places where dirt calls home, the more places you will find need cleaning. For those inclined, it could become a little obsessive and you’ll spend more time with the Purple Harry Bike Floss than riding!
Review: Purple Harry Bike Floss.
(£3.99 per packet of 5)
Available from all good cycling retailers and direct from Purple Harry’s website.
Click here to visit Purple Harry’s online shop www.purpleharry.co.uk
Effectiveness & ease of use: 95%
Value for money: 85%
Sporting Immortality The Hard Way
by Michael Hutchinson
There’s an attractive simplicity to the hour record – one man, one bike, sixty minutes, away you go. As tests of human endeavour go, it couldn’t be simpler, but Michael Hutchinson’s account of his attempt is a long, long way from being an anodyne account of a simple record bid. Part autobiography, part history, part non-fiction drama, it wears a great many hats and (not unlike the author) covers a lot of ground in a very short space of time – it covers his own life story, of course, but also hosts a vast array of anecdotes concerning cycling past and present, road racing, time trialling, training, drugs (inevitably) and the hour record itself. So it’s for anyone with an interest in cycling, because it casts the net far and wide.
But I suspect that it might also be a good book for anyone not that interested in cycling, because Hutchinson is a great writer. Self-deprecating and wonderfully dry of humour, he wanders seemingly aimless across the landscape of cycling, touching on a historic fact here, a biographical note there but always linking the narrative together seamlessly and at an easy pace. As the book continues, the spotlight focuses more and more upon his own attempt at the record, and the result is a fantastic portrayal of the almost claustrophobic build-up of stress and intensity.
I won’t spoil the ending, but Hutchinson is well qualified to have a tilt at it – with over fifty national time trial titles to his credit, not to mention three British Time Trial Championships, a brace of Irish Time Trial Championships, a British pursuit crown, and let’s not forget his victories in the Brompton World Championships (a title which the UCI seem strangely to have yet to award a rainbow jersey for), he’s as successful as any domestic male cyclist has been. But he’s also a PhD, and a successful writer, Cycling Weekly columnist Dr Hutch and author of a book on sailing – this is a man with many strings to his bow. However, there’s no ego out of control here – his ability at time trials is, he freely admits, a simple quirk of genetics, and even discovering cycling was an accident; otherwise he’d likely be a frustrated academic to this very day. Moreover, sometimes cringingly self-aware, he has no problem with – indeed, almost rejoices in – poking fun at himself.
If there’s a criticism, it’s that it’s too short; not in terms of value for money, because at a retail price of nine quid in paperback it’s pretty good on that score – I just wish there was more to it than the 288 pages, because he’s never dull, never lingers long on any one topic. As a result it’s an easy-going page-turner that takes you on a compelling journey that’ll have you laughing out loud and gnashing your teeth, sometimes at the same time. In turns both very funny and painfully honest, The Hour just might be the most entertaining book on cycling I’ve ever read.
The Hour – Sporting Immortality The Hard Way
Author: Michael Hutchinson
Published by Yellow Jersey Press
Available in Paperback & eBook
RRP £8.99 (Paperback), RRP £8.99 (eBook)
Okay, I will admit it, I have been eyeing one of these up for quite a while. In fact, ever since I bought the full sleeve (rain cape) version in 2012.
The gilet comes with a small bag that means that it can be folded away into a compact size and put back in your pocket – a great idea for those of you wanting something that you can take on and off without worrying that you haven’t got space in your back pocket to keep it.
Being 5′ 7″ and a size 10, I struggle with a lot of women specific cycling clothing as it tends to be too short and I often end up “borrowing” my husband’s cycling clothes as they tend to fit much better. Not so with this gilet. It is fairly long in the body and has a scooped elasticated bottom on the back of the jacket to ensure a snug fit.
Sometimes, jackets can be quite tight around the neck, which means that you never end up doing the zip right to the top. Again, there is enough room within the design to ensure that this is not a problem.
It is windproof and breathable, and is great for keeping the chill off at the start of a ride. It is small enough to be packed away until you need to put something on to keep you warm on that descent back down into town.
There is one improvement that I’d look to make – there is no back pocket so it can be a bit difficult trying to get food out of your jacket pocket. Not a major issue, I admit, but with gloves on it can be difficult. Also, the RRP is £55 which could be seen to be quite expensive for a gilet and therefore not a “needs must” purchase but a “wish list” purchase instead. However, the best price we’ve found is at ProBikeKit who are selling them for less than £40, at the moment, which makes them a bit more affordable:
- Fit – 89 out of 100 the gilet fits well, and the elasticated bottom means that it stays in place
- Quality – 95 out of 100 – I would expect a market leading brand to be high quality, and I wasn’t disappointed
- Price – 70 out of 100 – £55 for a gilet may prove too expensive for some
- Value for money – 80 out of 100 – ultimately, high quality doesn’t come cheap but I liked the fit, quality and think it looks great.
- Overall that’s an impressive 84 out of 100!
Would I recommend this gilet to my cycling friends? Definitely!
Every time I think of this product I just want to burst into song! I am pretty sure that Michael Jackson, if he had still been alive, would not have appreciated my rendition! But seriously Beet It is perhaps the most impressive sports nutrition product I have tested EVER.
For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am going on about let me rewind and shed the moonwalker, white glove, crotch grabbing image of the 1980’s pop icon.
Beet IT Sport is a beetroot juice sports shot produced by James White Drinks Ltd in Suffolk. They have been making fruit juices at White’s Fruit farm for over 22 years, meaning they have masses of experience when it comes to knowing exactly what to do to make a high quality juice.
Since 1991 White’s has been based on a small farm in Ashbocking, just north of Ipswich. Originally a cider factory, Lawrence Mallinson bought the assets to James White and began to explore a love of freshly pressed apple juices. Originally one of the founders of New Convent Garden Soup, Lawrence has a knack for dreaming-up and creating new and exciting flavours. As a result, they now not only offer the best quality range of classic English apple juices, but also an extensive portfolio of very different brands. This includes a Soil Association-certified range of organic fruit and vegetable juices; their world-famous spiced tomato juice (Big Tom); the grandfather – or Great Uncle – of the brands (Great Uncle Cornelius juices); an exciting and fun range of freshly pressed juices (Manic Organics); a fabulous and rather extensive selection of (Thorncroft) cordials; and last, but by no means least,their brand of beetroot juice: Beet IT!
They have amassed a large number of awards and accolades, but their Royal Warrant is by far the most widely-known. In 2002 Big Tom was singled out and awarded the Royal Warrant by HM Queen Elizabeth II.
They believe that fresh and natural juices taste so good, which is why they don’t mess around with them! You won’t find anything un-natural in any of their products, and that’s a promise!
So why should you drink beetroot juice?
It has been shown that dietary supplementation with beetroot juice, containing approximately 5-8 mmol inorganic nitrate, increases plasma nitrite concentration, reduces blood pressure, and may positively influence the physiological responses to exercise. According to research at Exeter University the addition of Beetroot juice to your dietary supplementation can increase endurance performance by 14%, higher then the 10% that can be gained by using rhEPO2 and significantly higher than the Live High Train Low method.
Beets are a great source of inorganic nitrate. Some of the nitrate ends up in your saliva, when friendly bacteria convert it to nitrite. Elsewhere in the body, the nitrite is converted to nitric oxide, which does… well… a whole bunch of things related to blood flow, muscle contraction, neurotransmission, and so on. Exactly which mechanisms contribute to the performance boost they see in studies remains unclear (and in fact, there are likely multiple mechanisms). One caveat: mess with the friendly bacteria in your mouth by swishing mouthwash or chewing gum, and the nitrate never gets converted to nitrite.
So here’s how levels of nitrite in your blood change after either water or progressively bigger doses of beet juice:
Key points: More is better. Peak levels arrive about 2-3 hours after ingestion, and are approaching baseline again by 12 hours later.
So what results does this boost in nitrate produce? From a health perspective, an interesting one is that systolic blood pressure dropped by 5, 10 and 9 mmHg for the three doses (from smallest to biggest); the decrease in diastolic blood pressure was a bit smaller (no change, 3, and 4 mmHg).
They also did a cycle test to exhaustion:-
The dark bar is how long they lasted with a placebo drink (nitrate removed), and the light bar is how long they lasted with proper beet juice. In this case the middle dosage produced the best result, for reasons that aren’t entirely obvious. Given that beet juice is anecdotally reported to be associated with port-a-potty stops, there’s a pretty high incentive to use the lowest dose that produces good results — so the apparent saturation of benefits is worth bearing in mind here. It’s also worth noting that you tend to see much bigger changes in time-to-exhaustion tests that you would in races or time-trials; the authors estimate that the 12-14% boosts seen here would likely translate to 1-2% reduction in race time.
So what are these doses? The researchers used a product called Beet IT Sport. Using the concentrated form may help get the beet juice down without subsequent digestive woes. Beet-It is sold in 70 mL shots, each of which is roughly equivalent to 300 mL of regular- strength beet juice in terms of nitrate content. The three doses used in the study were 1 shot, 2 shots, or 4 shots — corresponding to 300 mL, 600 mL, or 1200 mL of regular juice (which would be pretty ridiculous!). In the past, the author has talked to athletes who’ve used 500 mL of regular juice a few hours before races; based on this study, he’d say that’s pretty close to the sweet spot. Many athletes now use the shots, which are easier to get down. In that case, he’d say this study suggests that there may be potential benefits to experimenting with up to two shots, since the individual responses in the study varied quite a bit.
The amount of oxygen required to maintain a given level of moderate exercise decreased after taking beet juice; in other words, it took less energy to cycle at the same pace. The best results came from the highest dose, which decreased oxygen consumption by about 3%. They did the tests 2.5 hours after ingesting the beet juice, since that seems to be the peak nitrite level. (summary of research from www.runnersworld.com written by Alex Hutchinson)
What does this mean for me and you?
Well to be honest when I read up all the research information I was still very skeptical about the benefits of swigging a shot of Beet It Sport before a ride, especially in view of some of the poor experiences I have had with the benefit claims made by other sports nutrition companies.
Let me me lay my cards on the table, I am no Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas or even a competitive cat 4 rider. I am, like so many of us out there, a rider who wants to enjoy his/her ride and push myself to my limit and a little bit more. I have been cycling for years and I have to confess that I would now be viewed as a MAMIL but I always abide by Rule No 81 ‘Don’t talk it up.’ Never bigging up my speed or ability but always working as hard as I can. BUT I want to be able to work harder for longer. I do train, but not enough, and look for whatever legal help there might be to help me improve.
So there I was just having set a challenge to ride 1400km between the end of May and the 6th October to raise funds for The Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund. My schedule meant that I needed to cover at least 1100km in four weeks, while on a family holiday, in France. This would mean riding at least twice a day most of the time we were away. Quite a challenge for this MAMIL! I needed a little help and following some internet research up popped Beet IT Sport, so I thought I will give that a go.
I tried my first shot on a 78km ride out with friends on a section of the The Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund Man Up ride (Preston to Scorton return). I was very surprised, I was able to ride smoothly and hold the pace of my friends, who I sometimes find hard to keep up with (shh don’t tell them I never let it show!). Now I had put a significant amount of training in so it could be that, but I was not totally convinced it was the only thing to change. I was sure Beet IT had made an impact, although I was not totally sure.
The second time I tried Beet IT was taking part in the Manchester to Liverpool Bike Events ride, although I had upped the anti and three of use where going to ride there and back on a mix of roads and sustran routes. My two companions where for giving up in Liverpool and getting the coach home. I on the other hand was tired, but buzzing to ride back, I was even prepared to ditch them and get on with it. Now for those that don’t know this ride is supposed to be a 64km (40 miles) ride by the end of the ride we had covered 138km (86 miles). My two companions were absolutely dead on their bikes coming back into Manchester, I was also very tired but was in way better shape then them!
Still not convinced I was due to take part in the Manchester to Blackpool ride in July, giving me another opportunity to test Beet It, once again it did not let me down. I was full of go all morning and ended up dropping the two guys I was riding with and having to frequently wait for them to catch up. I was also beginning to notice an reduced level of fatigue and muscle tiredness.
The final phase of my challenge began later in July with my 1100km French ride. I was now convinced about the benefits of using Beet It but was it really that good? In France I chose to test another aspect of the product that had not been mentioned. I wanted to find out if it provided a support for tired and weary legs. The last few rides I used it on I knew I was approaching the need for a break, my thighs were often burning before I got on the bike and I knew the guys I was riding with would be going hard. Beet It was amazing an hour after consuming the 70ml shot and 15 minutes into the ride my thighs had no burn at all and could ride the distance. However I must state this with a slight caveat, I did not not have the same level of perceived power output I had at the beginning of the four week block, but I was riding burn free.
While my testing was in no way to research standard, after years or riding, I do know how to listen to my body and have a good understanding of what does and does not work for me. Beet It works and works very well, so much so that I will be keeping a stock out it in the house for all my rides. I now just need to test out if two shots are really better then one.
So if you are looking to give yourself a boost in endurance then I would certainly recommend you go out and try Beet IT Sport for yourself, it really does make a difference. If I was Victor Kiam I would go out and buy the company!
I would give it 110% personally as the effect was so good, but being tight I suppose I’d realistically give it 90%. The product is amazing and it gets our star buy rating!
For between £22 and £28 you can get a box of 15 Beet It Shots if you shop around.
I can confirm the warning on the packaging that Beet It does turn your pee pink! And I still can not get that Michael Jackson song out of my head so go on
Just Beet It, Beet It, Beet It, Beet It No One Wants To Be Defeated Showin’ How Funky Strong Is Your Fight It Doesn’t Matter Who’s Wrong Or Right Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Aug 1;115(3):325-36. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00372.2013. Epub 2013 May 2. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships.
Wylie LJ, Kelly J, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Skiba PF, Winyard PG, Jeukendrup AE, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Source
Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Exeter, United Kingdom.
(based on research Effect of rhEPO administration on serum levels of sTfR and cycling performance. KÅRE I. BIRKELAND, JIM STRAY-GUNDERSEN, PETER HEMMERSBACH, JOSTEIN HALLE ́N, EGIL HAUG, and ROALD BAHR. Hormone Laboratory, Aker University Hospital and Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education, Oslo, NORWAY).
When I decided that in November there were no balance bikes on the market that suited what I wanted for my nephew I decided I would build one. Where do you start when building something so simple yet so complex? Of course you could buy some tubes and knock one together in your garage with that old dusty welder of your great grandfather’s that sits in the corner. Or you could go and learn how to off one of the most popular companies offering such courses. I sought out The Bicycle Academy and made a few inquiries, as luck would have it they had space on their course on 2nd and 3rd December. That was it I booked on and arranged the hotel.
A 4.00AM start was not welcomed, however the hot shower was, only to be followed by a tedious 4 hour drive (traffic was awful). On Arrival I had no problem finding the workshop, greeted with offerings of large mugs of tea/coffee, I already felt very welcome. I had to decline this offer being an hour late I didn’t want to disrupt things too much. Andy took me and two other gents (both starting the 2 week advanced frame building course) through health and safety. I was told that I would be taught by a guy named Paul. Really genuine guy that knew what he was talking about he showed me what I needed to do and let me get on with it.
First thing to build was the forks, the tubes had been cut to approximate measurements and given a 45 degree bend, they still however needed cutting and filing to shape to fit the steer tube of the fork. This was done with minimal help other than a pair of tweezers to remove the tiny splinter of metal in my finger.
The next step was to file the hole where the seat tube would fit and then on to making the rear seat/chain stays (neither of which are correct as they don’t connect to seat tubes and also don’t pass through the centre of a chain).
Brazing is an art form and was taught to me by Sam who I must say was very patient and helped tremendously. The overall frame looked brilliant when I finished only due to the help of everyone at The Bicycle Academy.
The course is well run by a team of people that are totally in love with cycling and also have a passion to hand on their knowledge of frame building to others.
The facilities were very good, clean and working areas tidy.
I would highly recommend the course to anyone who wants to learn something that is totally unique.
I was so pleased with the course I will be booking onto their ‘Standard Frame Building Course’ next year.
For more information on course visit: www.TheBicycleAcademy.org
I must admit that I had never heard of Multipower before their products arrived on my doorstep for review. However, their website tells me that they are Europe’s leading sports foods producers, with their products for sale in 36 countries, and have been established for over 35 years. They now have a number of brand ambassadors, with Cannondale Pro Cycling their cycling representative for 2013.
I was given three different products to review: Multicarbo Hi-Energy Jelly, Multicarbo Jelly and Recharge Drink.
1. Multicarbo Hi-Energy Jelly & Multicarbo Jelly
Most people will be familiar with energy gels that seem to be popular nowadays. They act as quick and easy energy replenishment which you can just swallow however I am sure everybody will also be familiar with the fact that they can be difficult to open and are also extremely sticky if you have the misfortune of not being able to open it properly mid-ride. If you dislike gels for this reason, then the Multicarbo jellies may be a pleasant alternative for you.
For a start, these jellies are just that – jelly. This means that they are solid rather than liquid, but rather than being difficult to chew, you can nibble at the jelly or just swallow it without chewing. The other positive about these jellies is the packaging that they come in. Unlike the modern gels which have a tab which you have to be able to tear off before you can access the contents, the jelly’s packaging can be opened before you ride, with the benefit of the jelly’s solid nature meaning that it won’t leak in your back pocket. You can also eat half of the packet and put the remainder back in your pocket, safe in the knowledge that you can eat the other half later on in your ride.
For anybody who is counting the calories, both of these jellies have 120 kcal per 50g sachet, which is on a par with other brands of gel, which tend to be 45g rather than 50g. Both seem to be available in orange flavour only at the moment however it is neither too sweet in flavour nor too acidic. Both are also described as being a “time release carb mix”. They are quite expensive with an RRP of £30.99 for a pack of 24 however this is on a par with their competitors.
For more information about the Multicarbo Jelly, visit: www.multipower.com/uk/product/multicarbo-jelly
For taste and ease of use, I would give these products 90 out of 100. For value for money, I would be more inclined to mark them down due to their cost and as such give them 70 out of 100. Overall I give them 85 out of 100.
2. Re-Charge Drink
The final product that I was asked to review was the imaginatively named “Re-Charge Drink”. This is Multipower’s pro-peptide offering, to help you refuel after your ride.
Most of Multipower’s competitors offer protein shakes that can be quite thick and difficult to drink. However, the Re-Charge Drink is 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein and comes in a refreshing orange flavour rather than the more traditional chocolate/strawberry/vanilla flavours. The amount of carbohydrate in the drink means that it is easier to digest however it can be quite difficult to get the texture right – if you’re not careful it can become a bit powdery, so try to be economical with the powder or put more water in to negate this.
I’m sure many readers will be aware of how expensive any recovery drinks are: the benefits of this drink are that it is only £12.99 for a 630g tub which makes 14 servings, which equates to 92p per serving, rather than the competitors’ £2.85 per serving. So, if you feel that most recovery drinks can hit your purse, this might be worth a shot! The other benefit is that because it is much thinner than other recovery drinks, you don’t need a shaker bottle, which means less calories used in washing the bottle!
You can find more information about the Re-Charge Drink here: www.multipower.com/uk/product/re-charge-drink
Marks out of 100 are as follows: taste – 75 out of 100 (I personally feel that there is room for improvement); ease of use (does what it says on the tin) – 85 out of 100 (the carbohydrate content helps replenish your depleted glycogen stores post-ride) and value for money – 95 out of 100 (you will struggle to find a cheaper alternative). Overall – 85 out of 100.