Adrian's Mountain Biking Blog

Adrian's Mountain Biking Blog

Adrian's Mountain Biking Blog

Notjustageek Photography Photoshoot

SwindonMTB-90

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a photoshoot down at the MBSwindon Croft Trail with John from Notjustageek PhotographyRead More

REVIEW – Superstar Nano Tech Flat Pedals

Superstar Nano Tech Flats

Are a decent pair of flat pedals good enough to convince me to switch from SPDs after 15 years?

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Are a decent pair of flat pedals good enough to convince me to switch from SPDs after 15 years? I have been a dedicated user of SPDs for 15 years, but recently ended up test riding a bike that had flats and found to my surprise I really enjoyed the experience. When I moved to SPDs it was from platform pedals with toe grips, which don't compare to modern flats, so I thought I'd give them a proper go. After finding some unused Wellgos in my spares box, I put them on the bike and found very quickly all flats are not equal. They were very different from the pair I had tried at the demo day; smaller with smaller pins and I did not get on with them. So not a great start! I had come across Superstar Components after reading a review of some of their wheels on Twitter and when I visited their site saw they had some cracking deals on flats, including their award winning Nano Techs. As they had sold out of steel axles, they were offering half price titanium upgrades - straight titanium, gold titanium or Black Ceramic coated Titanium. 8 colours are available: Red, Black, Electric Blue, Dark Blue, Gunmetal, Bright Gold, Baby Pink and Techno Lime Green. So I went for a pair of black pedals with the black ceramic coated titanium axles, which with the offer meant a total price of £59.50 with free delivery. For an extra £2.50 ceramic coating seemed silly to pass up, plus of course it meant the axles matched the pedals. Service from Superstar was excellent and the pedals arrived the day after I ordered them, nicely packaged with great warning in the box about the sharpness of the pins! The parcel even included some stickers and the now compulsory small packet of Haribo. Construction The concave body of the pedals is 105x100mm and they are only 17mm high. There are 10 allen key adjustable, replaceable pins on each side and with the titanium axles they weigh 375g. The bearings are the replaceable cartridge type. The pins screw into the pedal, rather than through, so if you are prone to smashing pins you might want to look at the through pin version. It's the same price with the same options, but 60g heavier - personally I went for the lower weight. Essentially these are factory sourced pedals sold direct by Superstar. That doesn't mean any drop in quality, just a drop in price. In fact, you will notice remarkable similarities to Nukeproof Neutron Alloy-Ti pedals, especially if you go for the Gold titanium axle. Other than the graphics, the only difference actually is the price, with the Superstars being 60% cheaper. In use Having had such a bad initial flat pedal experience on the Wellgos on a trip to the Forest of Dean, I was hoping for better from the Superstars. Ironically I had seen a pair of Nukeproof's in the FoD shop and had been tempted, till I…

Superstar Nano Tech Flat Pedals

Features - 9
Function - 9.5
Weight - 8.8
Pricing - 9

9.1

Highly Recommended

Very comfortable, very grippy, lightweight and good value flat pedals. Great service from Superstar too.

9

What has happen to Standover Heights?

Aids No

As some of you may have guessed from the title of my blog, I’m not very tall – 5′ 4″ to be precise. The reason for this is I have short legs – 28″ or around 71cm. Now I have happily negotiated my way through life without this really being an issue, but I’ve been looking at new bikes recently and have run into a big issue – they’re too big!

This never used to be an issue, but standover heights on new bikes seem to be every increasing – especially on bikes with the new larger wheel sizes and full suspension bikes.

Ok, I know I’m short, but I can’t be an anomaly of nature. I can buy trousers easily enough – a “short” trouser fits me just fine and is catered to my inside leg, so why are cycle manufacturers now denying the existence of short men?
(to be fair, women seem much better catered for).

In my quest to find a new bike I have found it very hard to find a full suspension bike that I can actually stand astride, let alone have any clearance of the top tube. I have yet to find a 29″er that I can touch the floor from the top tube, which crazily rules out entire manufacturers – Specialized to name and shame an example – or entire product lines – Trek’s Fuel EX range as another example. How heightest is that?!
“Can I interest you in a bike sir? Oh no sorry, according to our design team, men of your height don’t exist, so you can’t have a mountain bike”.

Fortunately there are one or two manufacturers who appear to have not quite given up on the vertically challenged and in case anyone else is in the same predicament, I decided to compile a list of all these bikes that cater for us shorties.

It’s called The Shortlist and can be found here. Appropriately it’s not very long at the moment, but I’d love to hear from people if they have any suggestions – especially manufacturers. You can drop me your suggestions here.

 

LinkThe Shortlist

REVIEW: Specialized Purgatory Control Tyre

Purgatory Control

Specialized have a tyre amnesty event on at the moment, and the Purgatory Control is one of the tyres available. It has reviewed well in the press, so I thought I’d give it a go as a replacement to my ageing WTB Weirwolf.

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Specialized have a tyre amnesty event on at the moment, and the Purgatory Control is one of the tyres available. It has reviewed well in the press, so I thought I'd give it a go as a replacement to my ageing WTB Weirwolf. Construction The Purgatory Control is part of Specialized's All Mountain range and can be used on front or rear, but is more commonly used for the front. It's 2.3" wide and in the 26" version weighs 685g. The bead is foldable and is tubeless compatible as well. It's a chunky tyre, but the tread is well spaced out for mud shedding and huge side lugs for cornering grip. Those side lugs are made from softer 50a compound, compared to the harder 60a for the centre lugs; enabling a good balance between rolling and grip. In Use I managed to get some varied conditions to test the tyre, from reasonably dry to plenty of puddles and surface mud. My old Weirwolf really needed a little bit of give in the trail to grip - it didn't suit dry, so I was really pleased to immediately notice an improvement with the Purgatory. Although those side lugs are large, they really gripped even on the hard packed surfaces, giving me more grip and confidence leaning into corners. A bit too much confidence as it turned out as I banked too hard in a tight chicane and clipped a tree! I can't blame the tyre for that though! There is a nice rock garden on Croft Trail, and it is somewhere I had struggled for grip previously, with my elderly tyres going as much sideways as forwards. The Purgatory kept its line perfectly though, at the same time as the old rear continued to skid out, which was very impressive. Even on another day when both tyre and rocks were wet, it still held its line. In fact, on the wetter day I didn't notice any change in grip at all - I got the same predictable cornering performance. Overall The grip of the tyre is very impressive, as is its predictability in different conditions. Although it is a little heavy, it's not too bad and certainly sturdy. The price is excellent, even before the amnesty, making its current discount a bargain. The Specialized Tyre Amnesty is on till 30th April, so if you're after a new trail tyre for the front, I would definitely recommend checking out the Purgatory Control. Link - Specialized.com

Specialized Purgatory Control

Construction - 7.3
Grip - 9.2
Weight - 6.5
Price - 7.5

7.6

Recommended

Excellent front tyre in many conditions. Could be a little lighter, but great value.

8

REVIEW: MuckyNutz Bender Fender

MuckyNutz

Mudguards. They’re not very exciting, and some look plain hideous, but they can be pretty essential in the UK for stopping mud, pebbles and other debris hitting your face and body. So simple effective solutions that don’t deface or weigh down your bike are always welcome.

Ticking all of the above boxes, step forward the Bender Fender from MuckyNutz.

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Mudguards. They're not very exciting, and some look plain hideous, but they can be pretty essential in the UK for stopping mud, pebbles and other debris hitting your face and body. So simple effective solutions that don't deface or weigh down your bike are always welcome. Ticking all of the above boxes, step forward the Bender Fender from MuckyNutz. The guard is cut from one thin sheet of plastic, which is very lightweight and flexible. It takes its shape when attached to your forks, so always fits perfectly. Being a fork mounted guard, it is also shorter than say a Crud Catcher, as the guard turns with your wheel. Fitting is pretty simple, although don't try and be lazy like I was - take the wheel off first and you'll preserve some sanity and your fingers! Basically you just tie on the guard using the Velcro tape provided. There was plenty for me, including a discarded piece I incorrectly measured. By using the velcro, the guard is removable, although at 22g it's so light and small I'd just leave it on. You can also use zip ties (but you'll have to source your own) for a more permanent fixing. I'll admit I was worried about clearance on my bike. I run a 2.3" tyre, and my bike, being an antique by modern standards, still has V-brakes. As you can see in the photo below, it looks a bit tight, but I had no problems in use. On my test ride I had no problems with clogging, although I encountered patches of thick gloop, rather than sustained mud. The guard did a fine job of stopping grit and mud pinging up and hitting me, and most importantly, my face, which is exactly what I wanted. Personally, I use mudguards as a safety feature to protect my eyes and the Bender Fender certainly did the trick. Although the guard is quite small, nothing got through and it made my old Crud Catcher suddenly feel excessive and heavy. So, whilst a mudguard is never going to be the most exciting thing in the world, this one is very good. Effective, light weight and at £8.99 well priced - great product. Available direct from MuckyNutz website.   Link - MuckyNutz.com

MuckyNutz Bender Fender

Features - 8
Function - 9
Weight - 9.5
Pricing - 8.5

8.8

Recommended

Simple idea, slightly fiddly to fit, but cheap and very effective.

9

REVIEW: Shimano XT M785 Trail SPD Pedals

M785 XT Trail SPDs

I have been a happy user of SPDs for years, but there are some times when I want to be unclipped – such as steep technical climbs at slow speeds. Conventional SPD pedals don’t allow for anything other than being clipped in, so step forward the Trail SPD pedal, which feature a cage around the normal SPD pedal.

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I have been a happy user of SPDs for years, but there are some times when I want to be unclipped - such as steep technical climbs at slow speeds. Conventional SPD pedals don't allow for anything other than being clipped in, so step forward the Trail SPD pedal, which feature a cage around the normal SPD pedal. I had been using Shimano M520 pedals for a few years, which were basic, but functional SPDs - they worked well and were cheap. However, they only worked clipped in and if I ever tried to just balance my feet on the pedals unclipped, I regretted it pretty quickly. So I wanted something that gave me the best of both worlds, but with being clipped in still the main use. Shimano have made a number of different SPD pedals with cages over the years, from the original DX metal monsters (yes I had some of those too!) with an SPD pedal stuck in the middle of a DX flat pedal, to the other end of the scale with a flat pedal on one side and SPD on the other, aimed at commuters. Trail pedals are somewhere in between, with a thin light cage around a standard SPD. So I decided to try the XT M785 variant, which I got for what I considered the bargain price of £47 from Merlin Cycles - retail price is £75. In the box you get the pedals and a set of SH51 cleats. The pedals are based on the XT cross country pedal, with the same lightweight alloy axle and cartridge bearings. Weight is actually less than my old SPD pedals at 408g, which is very impressive with the addition of the cage. That cage gives additional support for your foot when pedalling and acts as a guide when engaging the cleat, as well as making it quicker to flatten the pedal ready for engagement. The key benefit I was looking for, was some grip when clipped out. My favourite local track has a set of rock steps built into a short steep slope, and it's normally 1st gear & a real knack to getting all the way up - being clipped in is brave! So I gave it a go unclipped and I had all the contact I needed with the pedals (wearing Shimano MT41 shoes) - a great success. Riding round the rest of the trail it was indeed much quicker to stabilise the pedal ready for clipping in, making the transitions out of tight corners quicker. Considering there is barely a weight penalty, with the extra advantages these pedals give, I'd say they would be a vital bit of kit for most people. Definitely recommended.   Link - M785 Pedals at MerlinCycles Link - Technical details at Shimano.com

Shimano XT M785 Trail SPD Pedals

Features - 8
Function - 8.5
Weight - 8.5
Pricing - 9

8.5

Recommended

Excellent pedals for those who want to stayed unclipped every once in a while with little weight penalty.

9

New Kind of Helmet

Komplett-CC-mr_1

Cycling helmets can be a divisive subject and even those that do think they have benefits, aren’t necessarily comfortable wearing them. This is particularly true for casual or “urban” cyclists and short distance commuters.

Two young designers in Sweden shared a dislike of cycle helmets, but still wanted head protection. This led them to invent something they think will revolutionise how we protect our heads on a bike.

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MTB in Madeira

trippinmadpink

I went hiking in Madeira a few years ago and fondly remember the strikingly beautiful island. Essentially a single volcano sticking out of the middle of the ocean, there is massive variety of terrain and climate in one small area. The main feature of the terrain of course is the hills, with some of the most terrifying roads I’ve ever been on! Although I went there hiking, I could instantly see it would be great for mountain biking and was very pleased to stumble across some excellent video and purpose built trails on Madeira from the Trippin guys.

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