I’m with the residents! – Velo Birmingham…

The tale of a train wreck 

Which residents? The NIMBY residents. The ones who say “cyclists – YES 15,000 cyclists – NO!” such were the placards alongside the roads in many lovely Worcestershire villages on the 24th of September. The day I finally decided to launch a campaign against the mass participation cyclo sportive, the day of the utter train wreck shambles that was the first Velo Birmingham.

Now look, I accept that this being the longest I’ve ever (and by a long way) taken to cover 100 miles on a bicycle will have coloured my judgment, but honestly, whilst I am embarrassed by that, it is not the reason I am utterly opposed now to this and Ride London. My dreadful time is merely a by product of this silly event.

 

Billed as a nice rolling ride through Birmingham’s surrounding counties, it was anything but rolling and just about the only flat sections, were the roughly 9 miles within the boundaries of Brum itself. It was brutal. Stupidly “ we are going to be the Billy Big Bollocks of all Sportives” brutal. Hills that were indicated as average 2%, but kicked up to over 15 and 17% brutal. It was a route that would have seen a walk out by a pro peloton.  Stopping and starting again and again because of accidents or the inexperienced falling off, poorly maintained bikes with gearing they didn’t understand, up one track (square peg in a round hole) 8% lanes. Spills and tumbles on hair raisingly long fast descents. Now my fan will be aware, that I love a fast descent, but at roughly 8 miles in is the cyclists dream downhill. Mucklow Hill between Brum and Halesowen. It’s about 15% of arse over the back wheel hands off the brakes “ yeh baby that’s what I like “ drop down, that is unless you have 8,000 or so terrified (and justifiably so) begginers grabbing hands full of brake on the steepest fastest line….mad!! But there were many more. You should only tackle hills like that with exceptionally good bike handling skills and frankly a good local knowledge of the roads. Many of the fast descents were on poorly maintained roads with a very sharp turn at the bottom.

That’s the route. To recap, Innacurate info on gradients and total climbing. Lunatic descents for the inexperienced. Bottlenecks that were inevitable on single track roads, most with at least one climb of between 2 and 5%.

The rest of it? Try this. The best part of an hours delay at the start. The reason, huge amounts of tacks strewn across the route along with oil, callously dumped on descents and thorns from hedges clearly from the day before. Ok. That sort of thing is not the fault of the organisers is it? Weeeell..yes, it is. Not the actual dropping of debris ofcourse, but when there had been so much opposition to the event…so strong that the route through Herefordshire and part of Worcestershire was eliminated. When I submit proposals for a 120 rider time trial, I have to provide the local police and Cycling Time Trials with a highly detailed risk assessment. I am then expected to recce the route early doors on the day of the event and quite rightly so. Ofcourse 100 miles is 75 miles longer than an inter club TT, BUT, They have a large staff and a huge budget, from entries and sponsorship, with a history of similar sabotage on other closed road Sportives, a small convoy of vehicles precededing the riders, could have cleared this away quite easily and with their boast of being the best ever, ought to have reckoned in their planning. It didn’t ofcourse, because like the London-Surrey it’s organised by people with no experience of organising a cycle event. Ask yourself the question why Human Race and U.K. CYCLING, to name two, manage to host Sportives by the dozen on open roads every weekend with barely a hitch. The answer is simple…EXPERIENCE. So forward planning and risk assessment were barely a consideration. The cash cow mentality won out.

The biggest complaint though in a list of horrendous cock ups was truly the most unforgivable. The later starting waves were quite simply “ effed over” when it came to food. I’d decided in advance to go until the 50 mile pit stop, with the lure of a sausage roll and a banana and maybe the much touted bacon rolls, even at the rumour 6 quid a pop. That and gels should’ve seen me through even with the hills to a creditable 7 hours. Except that there was nothing left. Not a gel, a piece of cake, a sausage roll. Or even a humble banana. There was food debris everywhere, but none for us….beyond disgusting, especially considering the entry fee and the quickly gleaned fact that the first feed stop had also run out before our small group had ridden past. The same story at the next one and both were filling peoples bidons from the overflow buckets….i kid you not.

VELO BIRMINGHAM, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO RIDE 100 VERY STEEP MILES WITHOUT FOOD. A gel every mile or two is all very well, but those and my beloved Marks and Sparks Percy pigs ain’t enough fuel, beside which there is only so much of that stuff you can eat before you want to hurl. I hit the wall around mile 65, my average dropped from 15mph to just around 12, it was sheer bloody mindedness that kept me going, that and that alone. The last stop had managed to keep hold of bananas and cake …….yes. That stop was ( by then) sarcastically at the bottom of a 5-7%er.

God alone knows what time they opened the roads, but those of us determined to finish or bust, were on the receiving end of some close calls and abuse from previously penned in drivers, that for once I could sympathise with. We got our medals, despite being out of time…thanks to the boys and girls at the back of the by then closed N.I.A. For staying on with warm welcoming hugs, medals and much needed cool bottles of water.

My opposition to ride London-Surrey is well known, so you’d be forgiven for asking “why the hell did I ride this?” Put simply, optimism…yes, I know. Optimism that my native city would get it right. That and the fact that as well as it being the city I’m proud to have been born in, my Dad and Mom were very popular as Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress…it was a given that I had to ride it and if nothing else, the NSPCC will have the money I raised for them.

Were there any positives? Yes, the indomitable spirit of the British in adversity, the overwhelming support to get people through. The magnificent support from the local people all the way along the route. Calling out riders names….they’d printed them on our numbers. It got many weary souls to the top of many a climb that followed a sharp turn. People around me loved it.

“goo on bab. Yo can do it” “come on Mark nearly there cocker“

VELO BIRMINGHAM. You let my beloved city down. People who hate these hyper Sportives, here is one lifelong cyclist who feels that hyper Sportives harm the already  tarnished reputation of our sport and pastime badly. Look out, there is a petition coming when I can figure out who it should be addressed to. Oh, I nearly forgot. Thirty or so of us were locked out of the organised car park. An official got permission from the old Bill to cut the lock off after the owner refused a fee to keep it open or come and unlock it.

Jo Ann Carver

Jo Ann Carver

Cyclist, Actor & CyclingShorts.cc Writer

Jo Ann Carver is a 65 year old born again granny. She used to be known as Jon Carver and was on a failed mission to live and die as a man. She was the brains behind all of his successes and due to extreme boredom, fell asleep during his failures. She guided him through a moderately successful amateur racing career and later as the father of a European champion BMX racer and coach.

He has thanked her for  getting him through a degree in Drama and English and an M.A. in acting from Oxford. He’d have been lost without her emotional insight into all of the characters he has played on T.V. big screen & stage.

Jo will live her life doing what she loves best. Cycling and acting. She is the Secretary of Bedfordshire Road Cycling Club and lives with Carol her and Jon’s partner for 24 years and their LaChon Dog Wilf. Jon, having relinquished the body has gifted his bikes. Records, C.Ds and love of Jazz and Northern soul. He also gifted her his Alfa Romeo Spider, but did not give her any money to get work done on it.

She intends to carry on writing the same drivel for cycling shorts that he thought was his witty prose. Now though it will contain a lot more references to pink shoes. As she continues her journey via hormone replacement and surgery, she hopes you will come along with her as she pedals her way from bloke to the woman she should’ve always been.

Book Review – Wild Cycling by Chris Sidwells

Wild Cycling

A pocket guide to 50 great rides off the beaten track in Britain

by Chris Sidwell

A. Reviewer: Nichiless Dey. European Cycling correspondent, physics teacher and cyclist of little renown!

i. For Anna ‘The Boss’ Magrath: CyclingShorts.cc (as, ahem, promised, he types sheepishly!)

A wildly inspiring adventure – from armchair to saddle

This book provides the perfect inspiration for you, the armchair-adventurer, to dream, to plan and to venture forth along the oft-hidden tracks, lanes & trails that crisscross much of Britain’s hidden and endlessly varied countryside.

What is Wild Cycling? I’ll let the author describe his vision. ‘… [wild cycling] can be a lot of things, from short ambles through country lanes, to … adventures in a far-off wilderness. For this renowned cycling author though, it specifically means ‘using bridleways, trails, and tiny lanes to explore [the British] countryside.’

Wild Cycling covers the whole of mainland Britain and is packed with looped routes suitable for all cyclists; be you a beginner with a yearning for childhood escapades or a hardened explorer, ruddy of cheek and windswept of beard.  You will be, I can guarantee, inspired to don the day pack and head out into the wild and stunningly picturesque scenery that fills the British mainland. Who knew that there was so much to explore on two wheels in this seemingly concrete, car fixated jungle.

 

Wild cycling encompasses all types of cycling adventure. As the book states, you will be guided along ‘short ambles through country lanes to off-the-grid bike adventures in a [not-so-far-off] wilderness’.

The fifty off-the-beaten-track rides are presented in full colour with the OS Landranger grid referenced start/finish point tabulated above the most accessible location name along with ride distance (km & miles), highest point (m) and approximate ride time (hours). There is a wonderfully descriptive yet pragmatic route commentary supported by the ever-popular snap-shot route map and elevation profile. The map is annotated and contains pointers to several easily spotted landmarks that will help guide you confidently on your way. It also indicates where the trail heads skywards – ever a worry for me!

These tracks are in no way prescriptive, indeed many offer additional loop suggestions, again embedded in the commentary, that may add further life to your day of exploration.

 

Wild Cycling covers the British mainland in ten chapters and fifty routes. It begins with a very useful piece on what you need. A cyclocross bike is Chris’s recommendation, however anything other than a high-end carbon racing beast will most probably do. Tyre choice will be your biggest decision and the book contains tried and tested suggestions. Having ridden three of these routes (34, 37 & 39*) I can personally vouch for the accuracy and usefulness of the advice given.  The final eight chapters neatly cover the country with between five and ten detailed routes for each region: The South & East, The South & West, Wales, The Midlands, The North (lots in Yorkshire!), The North-West, The North-East, and Scotland. The routes vary in length from less than ten to more than fifty miles, with most hovering in the twenty-to-thirty-mile zone. The trail surface and elevation… well, I wouldn’t wish to detract from your sense of discovery so I’ll let you find out yourself. It will be a magical journey.

*Huge thanks to the lady and her dog who found my Garmin on route 37 and waited patiently for me to ride back, in a state of panic.

 

In summary… From Chalk Cliffs and Curious Sound Mirrors in the south-east to Cape Wrath in the [glorious] north-west, the purity, beauty and essential wildness of these rides will ensure that over the years many of them will become classic – even legendary – cycling challenges. In the meantime, you will have a great deal of healthy and happy adventures. May you be blessed by tailwinds and blue skies as the beauty of Britain rolls out around you!

CyclingShorts.cc rating 10/10… one for the Christmas list too.

Out now in Paperback

 

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CyclingShorts.cc Rating

About the Author of Wild Cycling

Chris Sidwells is a renowned cycling journalist, photographer and editor who appears regularly in Cycling Weekly, and as a cycling pundit for several BBC local radio stations, including BBC Radio Sheffield during the Tour de Yorkshire. He has written seventeen books on cycling, covering every aspect of the sport and has contributed to, amongst others, Men’s Fitness, GQ, The Sunday Times, and The Guardian.

 

My thanks to Beth Wright of The Little Brown Book Group for providing my copy of the book.

Nichiless Dey

Nick Dey AKA Nichiless Dey AKA "The Prof" AKA....

Nick Dey AKA Nichiless Dey AKA "The Prof" AKA....

European Cycling Correspondent

European Cycling correspondent, physics & chemistry teacher and cyclist of little renown! (his words, in truth he is a cycling god!).

Enthusiast & Optimist-ish!

Islabike Luath Long Term Review

Islabikes are produced by former British national champion and medallist Isla Rowntree. With experience in all forms of cycling and extensive experience in bike design and frame building the brand is well known and respected. They offer a fantastic range of bikes from toddler to adulthood.

We have been lucky enough to have an Islabike Luath (meaning swift, quick, speedy in Gaelic) on long term test. At £549.99 the Luath is not the cheapest bike in its category so it needed to impress…..

After checking the detailed sizing chart on the website and an email exchange it was decided the small would be the best fit for both my 13 year old daughter and 11 year old son. This is an 18 inch frame with 700cc wheels. Islabikes also offer bikefits in their studio in Ludlow and tour around the country to various events (details on their website) so you can try before you buy if you are unsure of the size or model required.

The bike arrived well packaged and almost ready to ride. We all loved the beautiful red paintwork and I was delighted to find both the frame and wheels lighter than anticipated. (Official weight including pedals 9.9Kg).

The tyres were already inflated, the rear wheel in situ, brakes and gears adjusted perfectly so that all I needed to do was turn and tighten the handlebars, put on the pedals, insert the front wheel, fasten the front brake and adjust the saddle height. The brilliant instructions and good quality allen keys meant assembly was super easy and the bike ready to ride in less than 30 minutes! I am confident any parent would be able to safely follow the instructions with ease.

The frame is lightweight aluminium with proportional geometry specific to the young rider and the sloping top tube gives good stand over clearance. The fork is cro-moly with mudguard and rack eyes. This bike has been designed for both road and off road/touring use and would be more than suitable for cross racing with a change of tyres. This flexibility in a youth’s bike is fantastic and keeps their riding options open.

The Tektro cantilever brakes are ideal as they shouldn’t get as clogged up as caliper brakes and the additional top mount brakes are brilliant for safety and confidence and great for small hands.

There is good clearance for bigger cyclo-cross style tyres and mud and leaves collected on route.

 

Adjustable Shimano Claris STI levers provide the 8-speed transmission with an 11-32 cassette combined with a 46/34 crankset. The shifting is crisp and effortless, the range is great for young legs with a granny gear of 32 for the hills and the shifters can be adjusted for little hands. Flat Wellgo metal pedals are provided.

The 38cm handlebars are well proportioned with a shallow drop that is more comfortable and easy for small hands and the 60mm stem makes the reach comfortable, these are finished off with anti slip bar tape.

The quick release wheels are Islabikes-branded double-wall alloy rims, black anodised with machined sidewalls and integrated wear-indicator groove. The hubs are smooth and the wheels feel strong yet light for a child’s bike.

Lightweight 23mm Kenda Kontenders tyres are supplied; these have a light tread and are good all purpose tyres that should work all year round.  In 6 months of use, on a variety of surfaces and in all weather conditions, we only had one puncture.

 

An Islabikes-branded saddle tops the aluminium seatpost, with a well portioned racy shape it is lightweight, looks good and there were no complaints from our young testers.

Both children jumped on the bike with no hesitation and felt both stable and fast. The ride to school was significantly quicker. They quickly grasped the gear changes and had no issues reaching the brakes. It took a few minutes to gain the confidence to look over their shoulder properly and relax enough that the bars didn’t turn too much as the front end is much lighter than their current mountain bikes, but once this was cracked one handed riding quickly followed as did expertly moving from the tops to hoods to drops. Riding in the park led to smiles and whoops of joy as they confidently descended in full control.

Being not much bigger than them myself I was keen to try it too, and although not comparable to my usual steed, it certainly didn’t feel like a typical, heavy child’s bike. It felt solid yet responsive, planted yet light, comfortable over the rough road surface and the tyres feel grippy and safe in the corners. The gear changes were smooth, braking was smooth and efficient and I struggled to find fault with anything.

Delivery is free; there is a 90 day free return policy and a 5 year guarantee. Every tiny detail has been well thought out resulting in a bike that is well designed, rides beautifully, looks good, is flexible, practical and built to last. The perfect bike for under the Christmas tree!

http://www.islabikes.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/Islabikes

https://www.facebook.com/Islabikes

Etixx Bars & Gels Review

Etixx started making sports nutrition products in 2009 and there are 23 different products including energy drinks, energy gels, energy bars, recovery shakes, recovery bars, vitamins and supplements such as HMB in the range.

The name Etixx comes from the word ethical and they test all batches of product against the WADA list and guarantee they do not contain any banned substances.

 

I tried the Etixx Energy Bar in Lemon Flavour with added magnesium and the Triple Action Energy Gel with electrolytes and vitamin C in Lime Flavour.

The energy bar contains 29g of carbohydrate in a 40g bar, so very similar to other bars on the market in terms of carbohydrate content, but also contains added magnesium (56mg per bar which is around 15% of recommended daily intake) shown to improve energy production and muscle function. The recommendation is 1-2 bars per hour of endurance sport, which is in line with British Cycling guidelines that suggest around 60g of carbohydrate per hour.

The bar has an oaty base with a lemon ‘yoghurt’ style topping. The base is quite dry and would be difficult to chew and swallow on its own I think, but the lemon top makes it much easier to digest and has a pleasant, but very sweet, lemon flavour.

The packaging was robust, but easy to open with teeth mid ride and the bars survived extremes of temperatures and didn’t crumble making them easy to hold and eat whilst riding.

The bars contain gluten, lactose and soya so may not be suitable for those with intolerances. They are also available in chocolate flavour.

They retail at £1.99 per bar or you can try all 3 bars Etixx offer in a trial pack for £5 or find some good deals in the combination packages with energy drinks and gels.

The gels are 40g with 24g of carbohydrate and can be taken without water, but if you consume with 350ml of water they effectively become an isotonic beverage according to Etixx. The electrolytes in the gel help replace those lost in sweat and vitamin C is also included (40 mg) to help support energy production and protect cells from oxidative damage. A variety of sugars are used in the gel therefore releasing energy at different speeds, so you get both the instant hit as well as the longer term energy supply. Again 2 per hour are recommended.

Having tried lots of gels over the years I would say these were average consistency, certainly not runny and super easy to swallow, but equally not ‘chewy’ and an effort to get down! On first taste they reminded me of cough mixture!

At £2.49 a gel they are towards the high end price point, but if you buy a mixed box of 18 you get 15% discount.

It is worth signing up for the Etixx newsletter which has some great offers and often contains useful nutritional advice. The website also contains specific advice for different sports and a great blog.

Flavour 
7/10 overall with 8/10 for the bar with the zingy lemon, but 6/10 for the slightly medicinal tasting gel

Does What it Says on the pack

8/10 great fuel for riding with the added benefits of magnesium and vitamin C

Price
7/10 for buying individually, but some brilliant deals on the website and via the newsletter

Range
9/10 Etixx have a superb range of products covering everything you will ever need for cycling and other sports

Easy to Eat
8/10 the products are a good size, easy to open and easy to eat on the move.

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CS Rating

Review – AFTERSHOKZ TREKZ Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones

A couple of years ago now, our lovely editor Anna asked me to cover an outdoor leisure show at London’s Excel. It was an enjoyable show and I remember giving it a thumbs up. I also remember giving solid reviews to several products given to me to road test and a cautiously positive review to a product that I was enthusiastic about sufficiently to purchase. That product was the AFTERSHOKZ  BLUEZ bone conduction headphones.

I bought them, because I thought it may be nice to have some tunes on a ride and I’ve always felt headphones whilst riding to be insanely dangerous. AFTERSHOKZ are different though, because they use an ingenious transducer device, developed initially for military use and now under constant development and refinement by AFTERSHOKZ, which transmits the sound through the cheekbone, eliminating the delicate inner ear, leaving your ears open to what’s going on around you. They are also Bluetooth. Though they now have a cabled option in their range.

 

My initial review was full of praise for the technology, it’s safety first approach and the outstanding if bizarre (it’s going through your cheek bones not your ears) sound quality. The shortcomings of the original set I put down to me, sweating a lot and not being able to get a good enough fit to get them to remain on my head. I put them in a drawer and forgot about them until a few months ago, when getting ready to do my fourth ( never again) Ride 100 London-Surrey. I was astounded to find that they had kept a pretty decent charge.

My new helmet didn’t fit so low as my S works and I was thus able to get a slightly better fit, although the pads of the transducer contact points, still slipped far too much on my ride when I worked up a sweat. It was annoying, but I resolved to work on the fit. That was when I gave up on AFTERSHOKZ, because the Bluetooth connection was intermittent, dependant upon where my head was positioned. With the phones still slipping and now the reception breaking up, it was time to pop them in a jersey pocket saying great idea….poor execution. As I said in frustration in a subsequent email. Originally I had no warranty claim..They worked and worked brilliantly…let down by my leaking bonce! Then when I discovered a warranty issue, they were out of warranty. Ah well at £80 odd a moderately expensive ” never mind”. Back in the drawer.

Fast forward to the Registration exhibition for the Pru Ride 100 ( hoik spit). God knows why I decided to loiter in there once I’d got my numbers I don’t know,  as it was largely same old same old. Indeed, had it not been like Santas Grotto or IKEA, one way in one way out, I wouldn’t have. Fate then brought me once more to AFTERSHOKZ and boy am I glad it did!

There were two guys on a well lit and enticing stand, with quite clearly some new products. I was giving them a glance when, one of the two guys on the stand (Drew) caught my eye. I ushered him out of earshot of his colleague (who turned out to be M.D. Rod) who was talking with some very keen customers. It isn’t my job or my way to throw my toys out of the pram. I related my experiences to Drew who was very sympathetic….actually concerned (and I hadn’t mentioned that I wrote for this August journal) He asked me to email my story to them, mentioning his name.

Well, I did write and pressed the send button with the thought “that’ll be the last I hear of that” How wrong was I? In fact, that chance meeting with Drew turned out to be the start of the very best customer care experience that I have had in my entire 64 years…YES THE VERY BEST! Before close of business that day Rod Annet had emailed a lovely friendly note, saying how sad he was to hear of my experience and regretted that we’d not been able to chat on registration day. He went on to say that the very problems I had encountered were ones that they had identified and that three incarnations later, he was so convinced that I would find their new model TREKZ TITANIUM would answer my problems that he would replace my old ones free of charge, not only that, but I could pick my colour too. Still I’d not mentioned CyclingShorts.cc (this one is turning into cycling trousers I know… But, keep up). I parcelled the old ones up and mailed them on the Tuesday, on Thursday, the new ones arrived.

First thing you’ll notice when you buy a set…..and you will, is that they are beautifully presented in packaging that is a part of a good buying experience similar to buying from Apple. Presentation does count. Once unpacked my green and black (matches my Dolan, nicely) were instantly more pleasing to the eye, a behind the head loop in green and a firm but very comfortable silicone finish, on the lines of most over the ear sports headphones, is far better than the bulky black “Alice band” of my previous model.

 

 

In use they are brilliant. There is a microphone on each side and on the left, a multi function button that enables, phone call answer, hold, and voice dial. This may be a surprise for the boys, but the voice dial function accesses Siri on iPhone and I was able to select a fresh album of music without stopping….big big bonus! On the right arm is the mini USB charging port (micro to standard USB cable included). Slots nicely in to an iPhone charger and mine took 45 minutes to reach a full charge, though it did have a small charge on delivery. Two small buttons….a tiny bit awkward if one has sausage fingers, but by the end of my ride I’d got used to easily controlling volume up, down and on/off functions. Lastly (when stopped) a simultaneous press of the multi function (left ear) button and the volume buttons enable you to change the sound equalisation… oh and the multi function button also advances the track.

Sound quality wise, the clarity, and depth is superb and more than equal to a Bose set or Apple ear buds that I also own. Quite simply it will amaze you. One complaint from before was the sound leak, that is annoying to others nearby. This is now a thing of the past. My partner who has the hearing of a dog. Could hear nothing at full volume….there’s another thing. With the sound bypassing the inner ear through the cheek bones…volume isn’t a problem. So, a first class sound, and that all important safety feature of being able to hear all the ambient noise….approaching traffic etc is fantastic. “Really Jon? You wear hearing aids don’t you?”  Ah you got me…….no you didn’t. My aids fit over my ear. The TREKZ TITANIUM, fits over my ear. My Salice glasses fit over my ear and there’s room for the lot and yes boys at AFTERSHOKZ, there’s two more bits of info you may not be aware of. So even with a major hearing loss, I can still enjoy music on a ride and hear everything going on around me.

What about wind noise? Well, I’m lucky. I have the latest NHS aids, which have an excellent wind diffuser….I can probably hear more ambient sound than people with good hearing. Rod in his email said that wind noise on the microphones was still a problem above 15mph. No, it’s not. Hey, I’m putting a product to the sword here. Yesterday afternoon was very windy here in Bedfordshire, at eighteen MPH and into a head wind, I voice dialled my partner, who reported that she heard me better on these than on my iPhone when walking in a stiff breeze. I then used Siri to change an album using the complicated sentence ” play Eliane Ellias” which is quite a gob full and I had Brazillian lush all the way home.

 

“Ah but what about them slipping on your greasy face?! ” no bother at all. I didn’t, but I’m pretty sure that I could’ve drawn a box around them and they wouldn’t have budged. A hard 45 windy miles on the road then 30 hard and hilly Zwift miles last night, no worries at all. If your bonce is a tad small, they come with two small bands that makes a close fit perfect. Last but not least a neat little carrying pouch and a pair of ear plugs complete the kit. This means you can pop them in have your TREKZ on full (with no inner ear problems) and cut out the noise of the tube or the screaming kid in seat 4G.

My experience in brief, a great idea has transformed into a brilliant idea and an even better product. It’s British, they are not resting on their laurels, customer service is beyond first rate. A whole host of the usual online suspects and retail outlets will charge you between £84-£114. Which even at the most expensive is phenomenal value anyway, but for cutting edge tech is just the business.

Note from the Ed: While we love these headphones at CyclingShorts.cc, there is always room for improvement through product development – Jon would give them 110% if he was allowed, so I’ve reined him in a little. Can you hear me cracking my whip?

CyclingShorts.cc Rating

Cycliq Fly6 Rear Light & Camera Review

What can one say if your editor says to you that we have been sent some techy kit to try out, and would you like to review it? Yes please?

Cycliq Fly6 is a high powered rear LED light unit, with a difference. There is a rear facing HD cam built into the sealed all weather lamp that records what’s happening behind you as you travel along on your bike ride, daily commute or just out with friends. Got your rear covered is what it says on the box.

There’s no need to worry about anything else once you have set up the lamp on your bike and done a quick test to make sure you have a decent field of view. Just remember to switch the light-unit on EVERY time you go out!

All the factual information you need about Fly6 is on their website cycliq.com. It’s an updated design from the original, so here at Cycling Shorts, we are simply going to take it out of the box, fit it to the bike, and run it for a week or so.

Firstly, at just shy under one-hundred-pounds, it seems a lot for a rear LED. Is it worth it? Let’s see.

It comes packaged all nice and neat in a stylish black and red box, padded with shaped foam to keep all the components secure during transit to the shop, or direct to the consumer via mail order.

Once opened, there is a quick set-up guide and notes about recent improvements from your customer feedback.

The lamp feels solid, robust and of a quality build. I liked the fact there were two mounting plates and bands to accommodate a multi-bike set-up. The rubber stretch mounts are more common-place these days and means you can easily remove the lamp should you park-up and leave your bike unattended, being an expensive bit of kit.

I fitted the lamp straight onto my Trek road bike without any problem. Using the aero-seat-post adapter, I found it sat perfectly square to the ground, the body design aligned to take a standard 71.5° rake.

Not knowing what sort of view would be recorded, I positioned the lamp as high as I could without it touching my small tool pouch that was sitting tightly under the saddle.

I found the re-designed mount plate difficult to handle. I’d clipped the lamp unit into the plate slot to check the fitting prior to mounting and couldn’t remove very easily at all. It certainly wasn’t going to come loose, which isn’t a bad thing. But it made me realise that fitting the two mount plates to my two bikes, probably wasn’t going to work as well as I imagined. Maybe they would free off slightly over time if I separate them from time-to-time.

To run the test, I first had to fully charge the built-in Lithium battery. Although it comes pre-charged I wanted to see how long it would take to re-charge and how long it would last, running at full LED power. You can reduce the out-put level several times to conserve energy, or reduce the glare that the main LED emits. [Via the Courtesy Dimmer, opposite the power button].

I plugged the unit into my laptop with the provided USB lead early afternoon. I’d read that the charge LED would go off once charged. Having used re-chargeable lights this Winter gone, I knew that they took a while to fully charge up at work plugged into the USB slot on my PC, and I was right. It was late evening before the LED extinguished. Ok, I’ll test the unit tomorrow then!

Setting off on my Sunday morning bike ride, I’d set the lamp to full power and off I went. Three and a-quarter hours later, back home I switched the unit off. The unit had created a folder on the media card and sliced the ride into ten-minute videos. So they were twelve time indexed files created. I’d noticed that the first hour or so files had already been deleted, not a problem as the unit is there to safeguard any footage of an incident an hour prior to an incident and an hour after the trigger has been set through the bike laying on the ground.

Aimed as a safety back-up device designed to tell a story of what you were doing prior to any incident, then this lamp is a great way of providing additional evidence after the event. You simply must use it on every occasion that you jump on your bike, especially if commuting through town where things can sometimes get a bit more demanding.

The footage the camera produced was of a decent quality to see how the bike ride unfolded. Coming in ten-minute bite size pieces, it provides great footage that can easily be shared amongst friends and family. The file sizes produced are around four-hundred and fifty megabits each, and on the supplied card will hold around eighteen full files.

The recommend free Video Editing software worked a treat too. I found it reasonably easy to cut a couple of pieces from two files and join them to make a short demo.

On my first full power test, I achieved five-and-three-quarter hours recording before the video switched off leaving only the light working. This should last for another hour before being fully depleted.

I would imagine a normal user would need to re-charge the unit twice a week to keep the video camera working on the loop.

On the whole, having used the Cycliq Fly6 for the past four weeks, I would recommend it for my main rear light. Although a bit pricey on my initial glance, considering the beneficial footage that this device records and stores, then it’s a price worth paying.

It may not be something that you would consider buying yourself when looking for a lamp for your bike. But it would make a great gift for someone, for those who are looking for additional safety for their loved ones when out riding the bike.

RRP: £99.00

For more information on the Fly6 visit: www.Cycliq.com

Best price we can find online: www.amazon.co.uk

All Images, Video and text ©www.CyclingShorts.cc / www.chrismaher.co.uk

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