Adrian's Mountain Biking Blog

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Bike Park Wales Terry’s Belly trail

I was lucky enough to ride the brand new blue trail Terry’s Belly at Bike Park Wales on Friday – and it’s cracking!

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REVIEW: Flare Rider Co Roost DH Jersey

I was lucky enough to get one of the first batch of the new Flare Rider Co’s Roost DH jerseys, launched on the back of their successful Kickstarter campaign. 

I was lucky enough to get one of the first batch of the new Flare Rider Co's Roost DH jerseys, launched on the back of their successful Kickstarter campaign. [taq_review] Flare Rider Co is the new sister (or should that be "brother") brand to the very good female orientated Flare Clothing. Wanting to branch out into Men's clothing, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first production run - a downhill jersey and shorts, an enduro jersey and shorts and some technical t-shirts and hoodies. I supported the campaign ordering a downhill jersey and shorts. The jersey arrived first, so that's what I'm reviewing here.  Features   The jersey is made from polyester and is described as "abrasion-resistant, wicking, breathable". I think they also left out "comfortable", but I'll come back to that one in a minute! I'd call the fit close - it's not tight, but close, which means it doesn't flap at speed - which is what you need for a downhill jersey. Flare recommend going a size up for armour, I'd say that was definitely necessary. The cut is excellent though, which combined with the elasticity of the fabric means no restriction of movement at all.  There are lots of lovely design features, like the logo on the sleeve and rear. There is another colour/design in this jersey, which has a more intricate, but subtle pattern at the bottom. Lots of thought has clearly been put into the design. [gallery ids="870,872,871,818"] Function First up that comfort - it's really comfortable! The fabric is really soft and nicely stretchy - if you need give, it gives. As I just mentioned there is no restriction of movement and it feels super comfy.  I ended up with a variety of conditions to test the jersey in, thanks to the Forest of Dean's micro climate. I wore the jersey with just a baselayer and experienced cool conditions, turning to rain, followed the heat of a steep climb into sunshine! Throughout all of that I was really comfortable. Others in the group were removing baselayers and complaining of cold and heat, but I was very comfortable throughout and could just ride - which is exactly what you want.  I didn't get to test the abrasion resistance of the jersey - sorry but I'm not dedicated enough to graze myself along rough ground on purpose! - however I've seen photos of someone doing it be accident! The jersey was barely marked, which is a lot more than can be said for his forearm underneath. I'll add an update to this review after a longer test period, but initial reports are excellent.  Pricing  The jersey costs £45, which is in line with the competition, but I think is excellent value for the quality. In fact the price is actually surprisingly low when you factor in all Flare's clothing is made in the UK.  Summary  When I first saw Flare's women's range I was really hopefully they would start to do men's clothing, so was an enthusiastic…

Flare Rider Co Roost DH Jersey

Features - 8.5
Function - 9
Comfort - 9
Price - 8.5

8.8

Recommended

Very comfortable and functional jersey. Great looking too!

9

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Bird Aeris Full Suspension

I was lucky enough to get to test the new Aeris full suspension from Bird Cycleworks round Swinley Forest. I didn’t get a massive amount of time riding the bike, but wanted to share my first impressions of it, which were very positive.  Read More

REVIEW – Superstar Nano Tech Flat Pedals

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

REVIEW: Specialized Purgatory Control Tyre

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

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

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

Review – Specialized BG Ridge Wiretap long finger gloves

It’s officially winter now, although the temperature is still pretty up and down, it’s definitely time for gloves not mitts. With that in mind, I’ve got a pair of Specialized Body Geometry Ridge Wiretap long finger gloves that I’ve been testing.

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It's officially winter now, although the temperature is still pretty up and down, it's definitely time for gloves not mitts. With that in mind, I've got a pair of Specialized Body Geometry Ridge Wiretap long finger gloves that I've been testing. Aside from competing for a longest product name award, the Ridge's are fairly lightweight full finger gloves from Specialized, with some good technical features. Being part of Specialized's Body Geometry range, the palm/heel of the glove has gel padding to protect your ulnar nerve. The rest of the padding is actually quite minimal, using reinforced synthetic leather. This gives great feel of the grip, but still blister and graze protection. The price for that increased feel is no real damping of trail buzz, but if that's what you want, there is a fully padded version as well. On the other side of the glove, the back is nylon/spandex mesh, with towelling down the thumb for sweat wiping. Finally we have the "Wiretap" feature - this is metallic thread in the thumb and index finger tip, which allow the use of touchscreen devices without having to remove your gloves. In Use The gloves are very comfortable off and on the bike, with terrific feel of the grips and controls. They aren't at all restrictive, especially considering they are full finger and became like a second skin very quickly. Trail buzz was certainly noticeable compared to my fully padded BG mitts, but that's a choice rather than a defect - if it's an issue for you, definitely go with the fully padded version. The Wiretap feature worked - more or less! It does require your finger or thumb to be fully filling the glove to the tip, which didn't quite without pulling them down. But once in the right place I could happily use my phone and reset Endomondo. Lengthy texting would probably be more of an issue, but you're supposed to be riding your bike, not texting! In terms of keeping your hands warm, they worked well down to a few degrees centigrade. I'll be honest that we just haven't had conditions colder than that in the last few months, so I don't yet know how low they really go, although I suffer from cold hands at the best of times, so I reckon they're fine above freezing. The mesh design also kept my hands fairly comfortable in warmer conditions too - I was happy using them at 12 degrees on one of the wildly varied days we've had recently. Overall In all I have been very impressed with the gloves and I've been very happy using them this winter. I can even see myself using them through spring and then we will have to see how high a temperature they will be comfortable in. I think it will probably be summer before they come off though, and I won't mind that at all.   Link - Specialized.com

Specialized BG Ridge Wiretap long finger gloves

Features - 7.5
Function - 8
Comfort - 8.3
Pricing - 8

8

Recommended

Impressive, comfortable gloves that actually work in wide range of temperatures.

8
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