The Bike List

Clothing, Protection & Bags

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Need a backpack for extremely wet conditions? Read on to see if this is the one for you... Aquapac have produced a 28ltr day sack they call the Toccoa. The pack is priced at £50 and weighs in at 890g, being 304mm in width and 407mm tall. The pack is available in two colourways; blue & black, and green & grey. The green is more of...

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Redundant; that's how all my other back packs feel since I got hold of the Osprey Zealot 15! I have had this pack on test now for around 5 months, and can't say a bad word about it. I already own a range of Camelbak packs including the Rogue, Lobo and Mule, but I have to admit, these have sat on the shelf since getting the Zealot on test. ...

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I loved the  Rapha Hardshell Jacket  which I reviewed and, as winter really starts to bite, can confirm that it continues to impress in sleet, snow and sub-zero conditions. When riding in foul conditions though it's your extremities that can really let you down so, with a Rapha hat, glove and overshoes combo, am I able to keep logging...

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I loved the  Rapha Hardshell Jacket  which I reviewed and, as winter really starts to bite, can confirm that it continues to impress in sleet, snow and sub-zero conditions. When riding in foul conditions though it's your extremities that can really let you down so, with a Rapha hat, glove and overshoes combo, am I able to keep logging...

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I loved the Rapha Hardshell Jacket which I reviewed and, as winter really starts to bite, can confirm that it continues to impress in sleet, snow and sub-zero conditions. When riding in foul conditions though it's your extremities that can really let you down so, with a Rapha hat, glove and overshoes combo, am I able to keep logging pre-Christmas...

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Something I'm often telling friends and people I meet that don't cycle at all is that as long as you're wrapped up warm over winter, cycling can be very enjoyable. It's just really important to have the right kit to make sure you can take in those vistas instead of concentrating only on how cold your extremities are and how happy you'll be to...

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Designed by their own in-house designer, initial impressions suggest a lot of thought has gone into the development of this Shutt Velo Rapide jersey. Firstly, the fabric is very soft to the touch and stretchy, too, thanks to the addition of Spandex in the material. The result is a very comfortable and flattering fit, and the medium size I tested...

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The Transfer gilet is part of Rapha's Pro Team collection and for 2014/15 is available in black and chartreuse as opposed to the blue 2013/14 one we tested. The jacket hasn't changed much with the only new feature being a headphone loop for those who like to tidy their headphones neatly away inside a jacket. Not having many new features certainly...

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It's 7am on a Saturday morning in Oct, it's dark and cold outside but by the time you step outside the door the sun has started to break through and despite being a chilly 7 degrees now, the forecast is for the temperature to rise to 14 degrees by 10am. For me this is a classic arm and knee warmer territory. Not only is the temperature...

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We've all been there: halfway through an early weekend ride, the heavens suddenly open, and before you know it you're on the verge of hypothermia and begin wondering why you're not still tucked in bed like the majority of the population. When it comes to all-weather riding, having the right kit makes the difference between being comfortable...

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The first thing that struck me when I pulled these booties out of the box was how absurdly shiny they were, to the extent that some might call them garish. In fact, I've had a number of comments involving the words fetish and kinky which might put off those without a sense of humour. Fortunately, I've got the bad bit out of the way early,...

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Insoles are a common oversight by most people, cyclists and non cyclists alike. Which is a strange phenomenon considering how many hours we spend on our feet walking, running, cycling or all of the above. Everybody's feet are formed differently, whether a bit wider and flatter, or longer with a more pronounced arch, yet we are mostly satisfied...

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I've landed on my head a fair few times recently. My search for a new helmet for Downhill and Free-ride duties led me to T.H.E. Industries' all-new, full-face Thirty3. And in my 15+ years of off-road riding, I've found few that offer such a decent combination of venting, style, build quality, weight and protective capabilities. The version...

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I'm going to grab the nettle straight away, talk about the £260 price tag and why I've still given this jacket five stars for value. If you look at high end waterproof jackets in the outdoors and climbing markets, you'll see that £300 plus price tags aren't uncommon. If you're up a mountain, you want a jacket that keeps you warm and dry and...

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Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Polartec's NeoShell material. I've used it on a range of jackets walking in the Alps, skiing in the Italian Dolomites, hiking in Australia and wandering around the UK. I needed no convincing that this was going to deliver both in terms of its waterproof rating and breathability. I'd happily chose this material...

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How I lug kit into work on my daily commute is dictated by the bike I'm riding. My tourer comes with carrier rack and panniers are my first choice to prevent arriving at the office with a sweat-soaked back. But if I'm using a road bike, then I need to opt for a rucksack to haul a small mountain of paperwork to and from the office. This...

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I spent two years in Melbourne, Australia where the state's legistation requires you to wear a helmet whenever you're out on a bike. It's one of the most contentious areas of cycling policy (cycle participation dropped in the state of Victoria when the law was introduced) and back in the UK I was glad to finally escape the need to don a lid...

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Forget your legs, or how fit you are, on a bike, your bum is king. Face it, if your padded cycling shorts can't cope with the demands of the saddle then you may as well just nail a plank to your seat post and sit on that, splinters and all. As a massive skin-flint I was making do with two pairs of £30-40 slim-cushionned cycling shorts bought...

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As a cyclist you might not have come across SealLine products before. This Seattle-based company offers a range of dry bags, dry sacks, dry pack, dry duffle bags, waterproof document cases, so basically they're experts at keeping your stuff dry whilst you're out and about. The backpack we've been testing is part of their urban range which...

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Dating back to 2004, the Rapha Classic Jersey has been part of the line up since the company started and is undoubtedly one of the garments that helped Rapha etch its name into the cycling industry. Impressively that means this jersey has been in service for nearly 10 years. As you'd expect Rapha have made a few refinements over that time but...

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Not too long ago, I wrote a glowing review on GripGrab's Microfleece Cap . It was therefore with great excitement that I anticipated another superb product in the line of headwear from the same manufacturer. The Windster Cap is by and large the same look, size and shape as the Microfleece Cap, except that it has a windproof panel on the front....

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Arguably, a good pair of bib shorts can make the same difference to your enjoyment of cycling as a perfectly fitting bike. Wearing a poor quality or bad fitting pair that are too tight, too loose or perhaps even restrict movement or blood flow can be a distinctly unpleasant experience. If you spend a lot of time fidgeting and adjusting your...

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Probably more well known for it's casual clothing range, howies is in fact a brand with deep roots in mountain biking. They have been making thought provoking cycling related T-shirts for well over 15 years, as well as a host of other clothing from jackets to jumpers. Although the company has produced the odd cycling jersey or jacket in...

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Once a Scout, always a Scout. I'm sure that's probably been said a million times, but the 'Be Prepared' philosophy does tend to stay with you. Take heading out for a simple bike ride; what could go wrong? But rather than throw caution to the wind, jump onto my bike and pedalling for the hills, I have to get my kit together first - and I...

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With mile upon mile of low-lying agricultural land that is incredibly flat and mostly featureless, the Fenlands are arguably one of the least inspiring places to cycle in the UK. Although to some this unremarkable terrain might sound like a cyclist's worst nightmare, it does however make for one of the best testing grounds in the country for...

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The nights are drawing in and greater numbers of cyclists are getting caught out in the half-light every day. Most will realise they're becoming less easy to see quickly, but others will soldier on - after all, if they can see okay, the car drivers must be able to. But it doesn't work like that. Car drivers, cocooned in their vehicles with...

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It's always difficult to know how big a pack to take on a ride. Too big and you're lugging around a lot of empty space; too little and you've not enough room for your kit. The Platypus Tokul XC 5 backpack is primarily a hydration pack with room for just a bit of kit. With a two-litre water bladder and three litres of storage space, it's...

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Yipee! The Tour's coming to Yorkshire! Having the great fortune to live the next dale over from the route, no news has ever made me keener to get on my road bike and ride my local lanes. As it's winter in the Yorkshire Dales and as I want to pretend to be a lady version of Wiggo, my Vaude Crims Softshell jacket is getting some hammer! And...

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Grip Grab - not such a well known name in the UK, but I can assure you that it is only a matter of time before it becomes the go-to brand for keeping your bits warm and dry. This applies not only to the majority of The Bike List readers who are cyclists, but also to runners, or as the founders of Grip Grab call us: 'people who enjoy a lifestyle...

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Riding in cold, wintery weather is not always a pleasure, no matter how us die hard cyclists try to pretend it is. For me, having the right kit to make it as easy and comfortable as possible can offer as much motivation to get me outside as promising myself a hot chocolate and a biccie when I get back. So when the opportunity to try some new...

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Some things aren't obvious until they're pointed out. Take hi-viz clothing, for instance. It's great for helping people see you, but it has one flaw - if you put a backpack on your back, you seriously reduce how much can be seen. And that's where this rucksack from Proviz comes in - and thanks to the inclusion of the company's Nightrider technology,...

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If you're after a lightweight and relatively inexpensive summer jersey, this one from The North Face is certainly worth a look. The fit is mountain biking flatteringly loose but without being billowy. It has a decent length in the back and silicon grippers around the hem to keep it in place. Three reasonable sized rear pockets give plenty of...

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The first thing you notice about this trisuit is the bright, retro colours. It looks great from the front - black leading the way sleek down the centre, bold turquoise sides and stripes of white, orange, yellow and grey adding to the mix at the upper thigh. Slick to your body in Tricot Power Stretch Performer fabric, the stripes create a slimming...

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Before I crack on with my review, I've got to confess I'm not a habitual baggies wearer. Maybe it's because I also ride on the road and the track or my mountain biking definitely tends to be of the XC persuasion but I just don't get them. You could argue that this makes me the wrong person to write this review but conversely, if they're really...

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The Xenon range of clothing is the top-of-the-line roadie offering from Gore Bike Wear, and the Gore-tex gloves are a full-fingered model designed for cold, wet conditions. They come in good old, classy black with a fetching splash of red trim at the sides of the fingers, and the last three digits sport a flash of retro-reflective material on...

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The Classic Jersey is the must have item from this positively infectious and iconic brand. Although well known for its high pricing, Rapha is not just a clothing manufacturer; it is an adventure into an identity created by exceptional quality. The 'Rapha Experience' that is spreading like wildfire, begins the moment after the postman deposits...

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Even in the depths of winter my old boy loves an ice-cream. Back home where the closest shop is a good ten-mile, single track and pot-holed road away he'd make up rubbish excuses to go to the village to get the newspaper when we all knew he was off for a ice-cream. The pickup was full of wrappers of his most recent visits; Feasts, Calippos,...

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Now I know in my heart that bike kit isn't about looks or style but all about practicality and helping you ride more effectively, faster and for longer. I am right yes? Yet the first thing that struck me when I unpacked these arm warmers is how stylish they are - honestly I'm not normally that shallow! Lovely colours, Gok Wan style fashion...

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I can never understand why people cycle without gloves. Even on the hottest days I'll don a pair of lightweight cycling gloves to protect my hands from errant bushes and thicker gloves are a must in winter. People who are forced to cycle no-handed because their fingers are too cold to grip the handlebars amuse me. Cheap gloves are available...

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If you're anything like me, you'll keep wearing your shoes until they're worn out. If it ain't broke, why fix it? So, my shoes tend to last for ages. But it doesn't mean that I can't have more than one pair of shoes - after all, summer shoes with their elaborate venting don't do much for keeping your feet dry during autumn, nor do they keep the...

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Let's face it; as a road-user group, cyclists aren't particularly bright. Not in the sense of making the best use of our road network, you understand, but in letting other road users know we are there. The other morning I left home two hours before sunrise and saw a cyclist plodding along wearing dark clothing and on a bike sporting neither...

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Gone are the days of strapping a large polystyrene bowl to your head in the name of cycling safety, this 'fast street racing' inspired offering from Giro is sleek and stylish with plenty of venting for hot, speedy action. It's what they call a 'two piece in-moulded hard body' which adds strength, protection and durability, although you should...

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When is a Buff not a Buff? When it's a neckwarmer? Whatever the answer, Buff has become so much the scarf-type of choice that the company name has (almost) become a generic word. Arguably one of the greatest inventions in recent times for the physically active, Buffs are much impersonated and it's hard to see how that basic design concept...

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"Oooh, I like your jacket," virtually all my cycling buddies passed positive comments on the Odlo Defender the first time they saw me wearing it. A classy act, the Defender jacket turns heads, undeniably looks good and has the high performing attributes to go with it. It comes in a range of great colours, of which I had petrol - a charming green...

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If there's one item of cycling gear that's guaranteed to bring on hysterical laughter from your partner and non cycling friends it's a pair of bib tights. Especially if like me, you're packing a couple of extra cans in your six-pack. Yes, they can look ridiculous but boy are they comfy. The Pearl Izumi Elite thermal bib tights are cleverly constructed...

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My foray into world of cycling has so far consisted mostly of amateur racing, low key triathlons and long rides on a Sunday afternoon. I've never felt worthy of upgrading my cycling shorts to a bib, thinking I would instantly be picked out as the girl with all the gear and no idea. Well, no longer. I've caught the cycling bug big time and am...

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As the Brad boom propels cycling and sideburns to new heights of trendiness the cycling chino, a bike-to-work pedal-to-pub garment has emerged. Howies' Betws trousers fit this genre - a pair of trousers with bike friendly functionality; suitable for commuting and leisure yet good looking enough for a relaxed office dress code and no Lycra...

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These special edition CX170 road shoes have been coloured white, red and green to honour US cyclist Andy Hampsten's legendary ride to victory on the Passo di Gavia during the 1988 Giro d'Italia. On 5 June this 2,621m pass in Lombardy was hit by a snow storm and some riders were scared to continue, but Hampsten seized the opportunity to attack...

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Dealing with vibration and ‘road buzz’ is a perennial problem for cyclists. To dampen the jarring effects being transferred to our hands and arms, we have air in the tyres, forks with some ‘give’ and shock-absorbing material in the form of handlebar grips or padded bar tape. As a last line of defence, we also have padded gloves...

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The first thing that strikes you about the women's Thrill Hill jacket from The North Face is the big, loud print emblazoned across the front. The brand's slogan - Never Stop Exploring - is writ large and meshed into a modern, geometrical design that covers the entire front. A more subtle logo is placed into this - almost invisibly - and it's...

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Along with protective iPad cases that have grabbed headlines by surviving 12-foot bowling ball drops, G-Form also make body armour for sports use in the shape of knee, elbow and shin pads. What makes them different from regular pads is the slender, unobtrusive fit and the space age material used in the construction. The padding in G-Form items uses...

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The skin-tight, Lycra look is fine for belting round your training loop or going on a more serious ride, but if your cycling is a bit more casual than than this, or your all-day ride takes you into contact with non-cyclists at the odd cafe or supermarket, it's nice to have some cycle-specific clothing that looks a little less energetic. ...

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Interesting. Changeable-British-weather-proof. And bright. These were the three words that came to mind immediately when I first wore these gloves on a road bike ride around the wet and windy, fast roads of south west Sheffield. The concept is great. A very stretchy, comfortable and water resistant black softshell glove with a windproof lumo yellow...

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If you’ve ever suffered from cold feet on a bike ride, then you’ll know all about the misery involved in getting numb toes. You try an extra-thick pair of socks to compensate, only to discover that your regular cycle shoes won’t accommodate them, and even if you do manage to squeeze your toes in, you find that your feet go numb even...

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Do you experience hand numbness when you ride on the road? The only time I’ve had this is on my left when I’ve had my watch strap done up too tight, but if you do get any tingling, Specialized say these gloves are the answer. They have developed the BG pad, which puts cushioning between the cause of numbness and tingling - your ulna nerve...

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As any all-weather cyclist will know, when the heavens open and there’s a deluge of spray and puddles to contend with having dry feet is a major plus. Not only do you lose lots of heat by having wet feet but it also affects your comfort and general enjoyment of the ride. Those who regularly ride in all conditions will have almost certainly discovered...

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Finding the perfect winter cycling glove is a tough challenge. Too much insulation and you’ll lose the dexterity in your digits to change gear with accuracy or brake with any sensitivity. Too little insulation and you’ll swiftly lose sensation in your fingers and endure miles of discomfort. The Sotchi negotiates a smart line between...

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Keeping your hands and feet warm on winter rides is critical in maintaining your body temperature. Inadequate insulation not only chills your fingers and toes, the returning cooled blood can also bring down your body temperature. And being warm can be the difference between enjoying your ride and not. The Specialized BG Defroster shoe is a ¾...

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Cold weather riding jackets face a conflicting set of rider demands. They need to be waterproof and windproof to combat rain and chilly headwinds but they also need to be breathable to let your sweat escape. And they need to protect you from the elements while offering a stretch and flexibility that allow you to ride naturally. As winter morphs...

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Winter cycling gloves are a bugger to get right. It’s a fine balance between making them warm enough for sub zero rides and not too warm, so that when you start pumping the pedals hard they don't become soaked in sweat. The PRO Softshell gloves feature an insulation called Primaloft, a product woven from a fibre that’s claimed to be finer...

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Rapha’s jerseys are typically more stylish than the over-crowded team tops crammed with sponsor logos, and the Country Jersey is no different. Available in three colour/country combinations the jersey comes in red with a Spanish flag around the left arm, black with an Italian flag or white with a German flag. The jerseys have been created to...

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I feel as if Rapha have created a Catch 22 situation in creating a ¾ winter bib tight. As soon as it gets warm enough to wear ¾ length tights, it is too warm for the thick fleecey Thermoroubaix fabric. Conversely, in the winter, when you want a warm, fleecy fabric, your lower leg is exposed to the elements unless you use leg warmers....

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I wore these waterproof gloves for mountain biking and road cycling throughout winter 2011 and they proved themselves to be, in a word, awesome. The waterproof membrane and stretch-ripstop outer with durable water repellent finish takes care of both icy winds and freezing splashes from rain and puddles, and the soft inner insulation suits anything...

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SCOTTEVEST is based in the USA however delivery to the UK was prompt with more than adequate packaging to protect the jacket in transit. The jacket looks just like a normal stylish jacket from the outside, which if you think about the value of the tech you may wish to stash inside it, is a good thing. From the outside you really cannot tell that it...

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Well they say a girl can never have too many shoes, and I do like to live up to that motto whatever the activity. So, I have lately been hammering this pair of road cycling shoes from well-established cycle helmet maker Giro who launched their Performance Cycle Footwear line in September 2010. The Espadas have seen action in five countries now, clocking...

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Trying to find a jacket to wear on the bike that is also good for a meeting or an evening out is a nightmare. Normally the only option is a cycling specific Gore-Tex shell or wind-breaker but wearing one of those is not a good look if you’re off to a trendy bar. The alternative is something that may have street cred but zero protection against...

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“Oh wow those gloves are soooo cute, where did you get them?!” Was the reaction of my group of girlie friends when I rode to meet them in the pub. It was a) the baby pink bows (also available in blue) and b) the grey crochet detail on the back (also available in white), that drew the “Oooohs!” Immediately the conversation turned...

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Last year The Bike List reported that The North Face would be branching out into technical mountain bike clothing in early 2011. We were lucky enough to get some sneak previews and we’ve been dutifully sweating in them for review purposes ever since - take a look at The North Face Xenon mountain bike jacket review here . So now it’s time...

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Giro's premium off-road helmet, the Xen, has been a top choice since it first came onto the market way back in 2003. The fact that it has survived without any radical changes for 8 years shows how right the design and performance was in the first place, but taking the Xen's throne at the top of the dirt-lid range is the new Xar. The two helmets...

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Out of the box, the Tempos look mean, moody and, if a shoe can be, fast. Personally I always feel that although white mtb shoes might look bling and pro, dark or black shoes are a far more sensible choice. Weighing them up in your hands, they feel reasonably light and 380g for UK 8.5 makes them competitive at this price point. Shoe weight is often...

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Rapha, along with brands like Cervelo, Knog and the singlespeed movement, has become an iconic bike brand in today’s world. Developed in just a few short years, the company is now global, no mean feat for any business, and importantly, they’ve also managed to make cloth cycling caps fashionable in a way that I have never been able to -...

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Swiss company X-Bionic are renowned for making highly technical underwear and bike-specific clothing, and the Energy Accumulators (their name for arm and leg warmers) fit perfectly into the range and convert short-sleeved tops and shorts into long-sleeved jerseys and full-length tights. Like other X-Bionic clothing, the warmers have lots of different...

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The bike? £1,200. The lights? £180. Winter jacket? £110. Warm toes? Priceless. It only took the first frost of winter to send me in search of new overshoes to replace my old, worn out foot-protectors. With these BBB Heavy Duty overshoes I was soon cycling with warm feet again. Bliss. The overshoes have a basic feel to them. They’re...

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Autumn, winter and spring time cycling just got 100% comfier with this comfortable, warm and well designed jersey. I’ve been wearing this to death over the winter, and not just for cycling because brilliantly, it also looks good in the pub. The Long Sleeve Jersey is made from Sportwool, half Merino and half Polyester so it combines the comfy,...

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The MX170 is a mountain bike specific shoe that sits third from the top in Lake’s mountain bike range. Before this test, Lake was a brand I had never tried before, so I was extra curious about their product. I’m especially particular about my cycling shoes as I have a slight foot length discrepancy - my left foot is slightly longer than...

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The beauty of bib shorts is that there’s nothing constricting your waist, so on-the-bike comfort is better than with waistband-style shorts. The downside is you can’t remove them without first removing your jersey, but the front is generally cut low enough and has enough stretch for you to take a quick pee without removing most of your...

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Anyone who thinks cycling has to be all about guys in lumo and Lycra and nothing about women who like both bikes and fashion must check out the AnaNichoola ladies cycling range. These hard-wearing, goat skin leather mitts are part of their summer collection and they claim to provide ‘ultimate comfort and durability combined with classic cycling...

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I’m a big fan of multi-activity clothing, as for those of us who like to indulge in other outdoor sports alongside our on- and off-road biking, it makes a huge amount of sense. Cycle-specific kit is perfect when you’re tucked over your top tube, but drop tails and rear pockets aren’t so handy if you’re walking up a mountain...

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Although I race XC, cyclocross and off-road duathlons, I’ve never really seen the point of splashing out big bucks for higher end mountain bike shoes. I’ve always reasoned that power transfer and stiffness isn’t so much of an issue as on the road and, living and riding in the Dark Peak with its fabric dissolving peat bog ooze, they’d...

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If you’re racing time trials, triathlons or duathlons, when it comes to aero upgrade bang for your buck, one of the most prudent purchases you can make is an aero helmet. Get everything right and gains of up to 60 seconds over 40km are possible. Sticking an aero lid on though won’t instantly make you faster. If you’re not comfortable...

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Cyclocross races (if you’re not already familiar with them) take place on a mix of paved roads, grass, mud, woodland and anything else the organisers can find to make the route ‘entertaining’. The events typically last an hour, a hi-energy sprint rather than a marathon. The bikes used are road-based machines with 700c wheels, cantilever...

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The sun is shining on your back as you blast over trails in a remote part of Wales. Your mind free from all your worries, you just enjoy the simple pleasures of nailing a piece of technical singletrack you’ve never ridden before. Half way through the weather takes a turn for the worse as it starts to drizzle and then from drizzle it turns to...

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I have a confession to make, I'm a big fan of Brooks products. Probably not the first line you want to read in a unbiased product review, but I need you to know this information before you read any further. I need to tell you that all of my cycles have Brooks saddles. I love the style of the company, the designs, the heritage, even the website....

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Choosing winter legwear doesn't present too many problems for the cyclist - you just go for what's most appropriate: leg warmers or tights for when it's too chilly for shorts (say +12 to +6°C); winter tights when it's cold (say, +6 to -2°C), and light overtrousers over the top if gets really cold (say 0° to -5°).  If you're...

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Every once in a while, a product comes along that actually makes you think again. You always expect manufacturers to stir up a bit of hype about their brands, but when something actually delivers in a significant way, it's really noticeable, and X-Bionic's kit is a case in point. The Swiss clothing company made its name with very techie-looking...

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If you like the idea of having just one jacket to throw on for cold and wet winter rides, then Endura's Stealth jacket is very unlikely to disappoint. In a word, it's superb, and offers a wind and waterproof softshell layer that you can wear on its own in cool conditions or with a base layer (or two) if it's really cold. The styling is perfect...

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Bombproof is the first word that hits you when you first pick up this 30 litre daysack. It's made of the same robust and durable material as The North Face's Base Camp Duffle bags which have become rather iconic for bad-ass mountaineers hauling around equipment for even badder-ass expeditions. This backpack is definitely built to last. We...

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Feeling toasty and warm is something I rate highly when I'm out cycling as winter turns into spring. This baselayer is designed to fit closely to your body to trap in heat and seal any draughts as you speed along the road or trail. The sleeves are plenty long enough to stretch out over the handlebars without draughting up the sleeves too. I...

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I discovered merino wool, and Rapha, a few years ago when I needed some new kit to commute through a particularly bad winter. I'd been wearing polyester-based 'wicking' clothing, gradually layering up as the temperature dropped, but after one particularly biting ride home in January I searched the web for warmer alternatives. The Rapha...

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You only have to watch the shirt-swapping antics at the end of a football match to spot the explosion in popularity of compression tops. It seems every elite sportsman from athlete to rugby star to cyclist and golfer wants a baselayer with an element of squeeze. The science is compelling - the compression leads to: faster recovery thanks...

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Base layers, or thermal undies as they used to be called, come in a vast range of different materials and vary in complexity from the humble cotton string vest to the hi-tech, body-mapped, synthetic compression garment. Man-made fibres have pretty much ruled the roost since the mid-seventies, when the benefits of polypropylene and pile were...

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I had never tried out Smartwool's cycle socks before so I was curious to feel the difference between these and their running socks.  My feet slid into these socks and immediately felt stretchy and cozy. They are made from 71% Merino Wool, 26% Nylon, 3% Elastic and use what Smartwool call their 4-Degree Fit System to keep the sock in...

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A long-sleeved jersey is a sensible investment for Autumn and Spring rides, and if you pick the right one, it'll also double-up as a warm base layer under a softshell or windproof for the winter, too. Based in the UK, Shutt Velo Rapide (Shutt VR) has developed a range of top quality cycling kit since the company launched in 2009, and the Training...

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In the colder months, you often need an extra layer of wind protection for your core, and this is where the gilet - or sleeveless vest - comes in. Popular with runners and cyclists, it's basically a body warmer without the insulation, and the best examples for cycling have plenty of pockets and a good number of reflective flashes for visibility in...

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The first thing I noticed about this jacket was that it packs down to almost nothing. Designed as an emergency shell for you to whip out at the first unexpected sight of rain, it easily rolls down to the size of a can of beans, and weighs much less at 340g. It really is great for chucking into your backpack on days when the clouds look a bit...

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Smart and sleek, this black Classic Softshell Jacket looks and feels great on cold winter road rides. Rapha have recently expanded their collection of women's cycling clothing and if you're prepared to pay for stylish yet functional clothing you won't be disappointed. Take a look. The first thing you'll notice about this softshell is its asymmetric...

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Known as the Cottonwood Jersey in the states and on the www.smartwool.com website, the Women's Mountain Jersey is a simple, short-sleeved MTB shirt with a high Merino wool content of 75%. Because the idea is you'll be wearing a rucksack or hydration pack, there are no rear pockets to clutter up the back, but for small essentials like cash or...

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If you're using a short-sleeved jersey with arm-warmers, and the arm-warmers are staying for the entire duration of your ride, then it's probably time to save yourself some hassle and invest in a long-sleeved top. Pulling on a single jersey will get you out the door and on the road much faster, and in cooler temperatures, there's no point in faffing...

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Simplicity is a key consideration when I choose a rucksack, and they don't come much simpler than this. The Ortlieb Velocity is essentially one large pocket, with a roll-down top secured by a single Velcro flap. Inside lies a small, removable organizer-style compartment with slots for a wallet, phone and Biro and a zipped pocket big enough for...

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I don't know what we all did before the Merino Sheep's glorious fleece was adopted by outdoor manufacturers, but the fine, soft wool gives near-magical properties to clothing and is especially good for items worn next to the skin. Merino is special because it not only gives the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any wool, but it also has anti-bacterial...

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Straight out of the box, the Springwaters appeared on the chunky side compared to the XC racing shoes I'm used to and I must admit this put me off them a bit. On closer inspection though it was obvious they were well made and the leather uppers in particular seemed to justify the £100 price tag. This stacks up reasonably against rival...

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I don't mind admitting that I'm a sceptic when it comes to 'breathable' waterproof fabrics, especially when the clothing is intended for sweaty pursuits like cycling. Now I don't consider myself to be a particularly sweaty person, but after an hour or so of brisk riding a fabrics 'breathability' can quickly be overwhelmed, leaving me hot, damp...

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VauDe (pronounced 'Vow-Day' in case you were wondering how to say it) is a big, well-established, high-end brand from southern Germany making all kinds of top-notch outdoor gear, from tents and sleeping bags to mountaineering jackets and climbing gear. Part of its vast range is specific to cycling, and it offers a wide array of shorts, jerseys...

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Smartwool loves to stretch a woolly pun in its product names, and the RAMbition men's shorts follow the trend along with the women's EWEtopia, EWEniverse, EWEphoria, EWEnique, (etc, etc) jerseys and legwear. A 39% Merino, 45% Nylon blend is used in the construction, so the warmth and high-wicking properties of the natural fibres work alongside...

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Sports scientists reckon you need around 1 litre of water per hour to maintain your hydration levels when indulging in vigorous exercise, and CamelBak packs with the largest reservoirs offer a whopping 3-litre capacity, so you've got enough for 3 hours of high-level effort. The water reservoir feeds you through a tube that sits close to your...

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Made from a blend of 75% New Zealand Merino wool and 25% polyester, the Smartwool Flagstaff is a snug-fitting, short sleeved jersey with a full-length zip. It sports a tight, race-style cut, but you don't have to squeeze in like a second skin item, and when it's on, there's no sense of being constricted or compressed. It's really comfortable...

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Don't worry ladies, these aren't really knickers despite the name! Look at the pictures, the Meryl Knickers are actually ¾ length cycle leggings made from Endura's high quality 360g Meryl microfibre with Lycra with a 6-panel construction to fit a women's shape. Their high waist accommodates a leant over, racy position on the bike, flatlocked...

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Oh summer... what tricks you play. This morning I hit the road at 6am, training for the heat and severe inclines of Ventoux in the rain and flatlands of the Fens. Thank goodness then for these superbly stretchy overshoes from Endura. I've only tended to use a pair of thick neoprene overshoes in the depths of winter to stop frost nip squeezing...

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Whomfph! And I'm down again. I thought falling off your bike was relegated to 6 year olds, dirt jumpers and crazy down hillers, but no, however careful you are, slippery leaves can gang up on you and slip your wheels skyward when you least expect it. As usual, I picked myself up and inspected the damage. An elbow graze and a shin bruise, but...

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A great pair of cycling shorts makes a massive difference to your riding, and the easiest way to tell if your shorts are up to the job is if you forget you're wearing them. A bit of padding to cushion your sit bones and delicate bits, and some supportive fabric to keep your quads and hamstrings warm is the purpose of a pair of cycling shorts,...

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As a pathological skinflint I have been wearing this helmet for the last two months totally oblivious to the price tag it commands. So please picture me now with jaw suitably slackened, head twitching like a dim-witted Wimbledon spectator between the helmet in one hand and pricing information in the other. But actually, thinking about it......

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If you're a fair weather cyclist who gets put off by cold temperatures and rainy days then stop reading now, these tights were not designed for you. This review is for those that take winter by the scruff of its neck and continue cycling through despite the long dark nights and sub zero temperatures. With no chamois insert, Rapha's Winter...

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Regular commuters will know that getting your stuff to and from work can be a delicate balancing act. Some will take in a pannier full of clothes on a Monday, and then survive the rest of the week squeezing bits and bobs into jersey pockets and bottle cages, and others will travel to and fro hauling a daily load in a small backpack or barbag....

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Sugoi are right when they say their ultra thin Hydro Shifter fabric (a polyamide and elastane mix) fits like a second skin. It is very breathable and dries super fast, so when you are whizzing out on to a windy 10 mile bike stage in the summer it's not unusual to find that the Velocity II Tank has dried by the time you get to the run. The...

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I thought my bag needs were quite demanding until I had the opportunity to test out the awesome Frank Dog bag from Knog. On my daily commute I have to carry my surprisingly heavy laptop on a two mile cycle to the station, to board the train, then the tube, then walk to work. Oh yes and the laptop is accompanied by several files, an umbrella,...

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All I had was my old Scuba suit when I did my first open water triathlon in the name of making cycling even more exciting by leaping on to the saddle dripping wet. While great for drifting along oohing and ahhing at colourful coral and stripy fish, the Scuba suit (not me) was absolutely terrible at triathlon. It strapped down my arms like a...

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Throughout my teens and twenties I was saved from footwear fashion faux pas by dint of my big, broad Anglo-Saxon feet and high insteps. Regardless of my Imelda Marcos style lust for sleek Italian footwear, slip-on loafers and even winklepickers, my G-width feet restricted me to Clarks Desert Boots and Doc Marten's. Life as a road cyclist has...

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Amazingly, the padding in these specially designed Tri Shorts was dry by the end of my 26 mile cycle round Rutland Water on the Dambuster Olympic distance triathlon. I'd like to say that was because of the incredible amount of heat my super fast legs were generating, but more likely this was down to the relentless headwind and the quick drying...

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I had to wait until that fantastically warm July we had this year (2010) was over before I could test out this cycle top from Howies made from 100% Zque accredited Merino wool. Hang on a minute, what's Zque? This endorsement is given to the highest quality Merino wool farmers who make sure their sheep are healthy and well cared for, you know,...

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The Featherlite Vélo H2O is a lightweight, cycle specific waterproof jacket. It's made from Freeflow H20, which is a polyurethane-coated nylon, and the seams are taped throughout to prevent water getting through the stitch lines. The jacket fits well and looks good, and features retro-reflective trim and flashes for visibility at night,...

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Giro's latest Prolight will be a real object of desire for those looking to shave grams off their kit. I feel I should hold back on the weight of the helmet in this review, but it's the driving force behind the concept and design, so I'm going straight in! 173g is Giro's claim for a Medium size, and our scales gave us 172g, so that's confirmed....

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Whether you're riding on-road or off, there are many times when you want to keep your kit down to an absolute minimum, but know you're likely to need an extra layer. Ideally, you just want to carry the essentials - tools, tube, phone and a couple of quid - but you know the wind's going to get up, you know the temperature's going to drop, and...

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Your hands are very exposed on a bike, and when the weather turns cold, it can be excruciating if you don't have the right kind of gloves. In winter, the windchill effect from a northerly or easterly wind can be extreme, so much so that frostnip or even full-on frostbite can occur if you don't look after your fingers (plus your cheeks and your...

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British company Montane specialise in lightweight gear for cyclists, runners and mountaineers, and the Featherlite range offers the lightest kit they offer. There are jackets, smocks and full-length pants available, and all use either the windproof Pertex Microlight or the waterproof Freeflow H2O fabric as the main material. The pants use the...

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Specific cycling shoes attach to special pedal designs by a quick release cleat, and they fall broadly into two camps - road and off-road. The main difference between the two is that the cleats are smaller and recessed into the sole on the off-road shoe, and protrude beneath the sole on the road variant. The advantage of the off-road system is that...

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Any North-South divide should have no place in bike gear, but there's no doubt that the further north (and west) you ride, the more impressive the Phantom becomes. It's a spectacularly good-looking jacket in fox-hunter red, cut in a slim fit with fine attention to styling details. The shape of the black back panel, for example, creates a...

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There's an old joke that describes how to make a net - all you do is get a load of holes and tie them together with string. I understand I haven't delivered that particularly well, but bear with me for a moment, because Giro's most advanced road helmet - the Ionos - reminded me of that gag when I first looked at it. The massive venting holes...

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For a casual bimble along a towpath or around the lanes, you don't really need cycle-specific clothing. Any top that suits the weather will do, and padded shorts aren't necessary if you're just doing a few miles. Increase the distance, time and effort though, and more performance-oriented clothing starts making sense. Proper shorts increase...

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If you ride to work, or like your regular loop on the bike to be uncluttered and uncomplicated, you're probably a big fan of the single layer garment. This is the 'magic' top you just throw on over your bare skin shortly before you start pedaling. It's quick to change when you get to work, and just as quick to put on when you quit the office...

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Altura's 'Ergofit' range of shorts, jerseys and jackets is designed for when you're in a cycling position, so the cut of the fabrics is tweaked to have the best fit when you're actually pedalling, rather than when you're standing around. The £100 Ergofit Pro Bib Shorts are the top-of-the-range offering, though you'll find a Comp version...

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Innocently, naively, I want to believe in a time when the Corinthian spirit ruled sport, an era when athletes in any discipline competed for glory and honour, not endorsement and riches. So it's no surprise that my favourite sporting tops include Brazil's 1970 soccer shirt; the old, pure-white England rugby shirt with only a rose for decoration;...

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There are two bicycle related things that make me shudder. The first is that initial half hour on cold morning commutes when fingers turn to ice and my kidneys start to freeze. The second is the feeling of dread when confronted by sky-high prices for kit that I'd love to add to my biking wardrobe, but just can't afford. The Altura Airstream...

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I bought my first Xen helmet way back in 2004 - primarily because I liked the idea of the enhanced rear protection developed from skate helmet designs. Skaters' falls can quite often result in an impact to the back of the head (think 'banana skin' or 'newbie on ice skates') whereas this is a rare one for road cyclists. The latter tend to fall...

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If you've ever winced at the sight of someone carrying their Ford Escort key on a Ferrari keyring, you'll understand this dilemma. When your drivetrain is Shimano, can you really wear a pair of Campagnolo gloves? These fingerless gloves (short finger to the marketing bods) are no doubt highly desirable to Campag's loyal tifosi, but do they excel...

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How often do you start out on a ride to find that you've chosen the wrong clothes for the occasion? Either you're too hot now that you've warmed up and you're starting to regret that extra layer, or you're too cold and you wish you'd put another layer on. Getting it right can sometimes be luck as much as planning as on those grey days the weather...

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A jersey has to be pretty special if you're going to fork out £75 on it, but though this seems close to a luxury item, it's actually so great that I ended up buying two. That sounds a bit flash, but I rapidly discovered that for my 30-mile round trip to work, it's all I needed for three seasons of the year, so I simply alternate between them....

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Way back in my university days I shared a house with a couple of medical students, and I still remember clear as day their return from their first neurology lecture. The consultant neurologist had opened his talk with the line, "If you remember one thing from my lectures over the next three years, it's to wear a helmet when you cycle." It's a mantra...

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"But you'll see my bra through it!" was the first thing I said when I was handed this highly breathable, mesh cycling jersey. However, I was happily wrong! Sugoi had thought things through, making the Gobi and Vector Stretch mesh fabric impenetrable to everything but x-ray glasses. Phew. So I didn't have to shell out for a new skin-coloured bra. The...

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At a street price of £31.50, these legwarmers are pretty steep, but they're so effective that the initial outlay will soon be forgotten. The WS (Windstopper) fabric is very snug but it has a thin fleecy lining that's extremely comfortable against the skin, and because the knees are articulated, there's no 'sliding' or fabric movement as you pedal...

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Is it possible for new shoes to smell fast, or have an aroma of comfort? There was definitely something in the air as I took the R132s from their blue and silver box and removed the tissue from inside them. With a busy year of Olympic distance triathlons and hundred mile sportives ahead of me I couldn't wait to slip my feet into Shimano's R132s...

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As well as making a whole range of über cool clothing, planet-friendly brand Howies have also designed a jacket and a selection of bags that demonstrate how serious they are about creating durable and long lasting items. These extra long life pieces are labelled Hand Me Down items. "The idea was to create high quality bags that could...

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If you're intending on spending some quality time in the saddle then wearing a pair of padded shorts will ensure an enjoyable ride. Comfort in shorts isn't all about the chamois (a.k.a. the padded insert), they also need to be designed to fit well. These Polaris shorts have been made using a durable, breathable Lycra. The individual panels have...

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Bum ache is my biking nemesis. Cycling long distances or a daily commute, as I regularly do, is so much more comfy with padding under your sit bones. These Daisy shorts may look cute and flowery, but they actually boast a number of great features for ladies. These 150g (size 12), stretchy shorts come in sizes 8-16 and are made with six panels...

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This simple lumo backpack cover must have saved my life by now. The Hump transforms my back into a fluorescent, reflective sign that can't fail to jolt the retinas of drivers approaching from behind. After four happy years of car-clash free commuting (touch wood), I now consider the Hump as essential as my helmet on my daily 12 mile road...

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Rapha claim that their winter jersey "has been designed to keep you cycling through the worst of the winter". With 2009/10 being one of the worst winters on record it's possibly been the best year to put Rapha's claims to the test. Thanks to the windproof front and shoulder panels the jersey offers great insulation when you first start riding...

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It's a good job that Merino wool doesn't smell because I have been wearing this long sleeved baselayer on a near daily basis whenever I can. The naturally anti-bacterial properties in Craft's latest Merino wool baselayer (as of Winter09) means that unlike wholly synthetic baselayers, this one doesn't grab the unsweet smell of cycling and hang...

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Two months after purchasing these padded cycling tights, my mother's shopping wisdom continues to prey on my mind, "A bargain is only a bargain if you'd have bought it anyway." Would I have bought these tights at their RRP of £35? Probably not. At a penny under £13, though, they seemed too good to refuse even if their acquisition...

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Mmm, warm, is the first thing you notice about this jacket. Lined with Gore Piuma Windstopper it cuts out the wind, cold and even light rain as you spin along in sub zero conditions. Piuma Windstopper is currently Gore's lightest windproof 4-way stretch fabric, and it is combined with Craft's close-fitting proZone technology - knitted internal...

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If drivers fail to see you in this then they need to think about driving with their eyes open. This jacket is one of the best selling, most highly visible, reflective waterproofs around and yet it won't burn a hole in your wallet. The Night Vision is a warm jacket. It is waterproof, with taped seams and water resistant zips, but not extremely...

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There's no need to let miserable weather put a halt to your cycling. Sealskinz, a brand renowned for their waterproof accessories, have designed this light and dextrous women's fit glove with pressure point padding on the palm and finger grip to keep your hands dry while you concentrate on riding over wet, slippy terrain. I've been testing a...

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Winter 2009-2010 is certainly one of the coldest I have ever regularly cycled through. For the last four years my response to winter was to stick on a pair of summer 3/4 length shorts and then layer over the top with a pair of thermal running tights. The result was relatively warm but bulky layering system that was a time consuming faff trying...

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Most of my working day is spent testing waterproof jackets for the walking magazine that I edit and a lot of them get enlisted for work on my morning bike commute. Some of them roll up small and stay in my pack in case of summer down pours (like my brilliant Haglofs Oz) while others are warm and protective in winter (like the excellent Paramo...

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Winter morning rides can deliver anything from astoundingly crisp sunrises over frosty fields howling winds and spiteful rain that see you crawling at a snails pace. Either way, they leave you with a tale to tell: because anyone can cycle in summer but it takes dedication and real passion for your bike to keep up the miles over winter. ...