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Monday, November 28, 2011

SKS Raceblade Fenders

SKS Raceblade Fender Set
fenders that work with your racing bike


   •   Quick release design
   •   Stainless steel hardware
   •   235g
   •    35 mm width
   •    silver, black, carbon, or white color available
   •    will fit 700c wheels equipped with tires ranging in size from 18c-23c
   •    $55-$60 msrp

Not everyone who owns a racing road bike also owns a rain bike.  The downside of a racing bike is that there is no room to mount traditional fenders in the event of a downpour.

minimalist, yet effective
The SKS Raceblade Fenders make it possible to quickly mount fenders on a wide variety of road bikes.  Thanks to the quick mount system, you can install and remove the fenders tool-free.  Set-up is so simple you might not even need the directions.

The rubber mounting pads protect the frame from scratches, and is the only part attached to the bike.  The fender can be attached via the rubber bungies or can be more permanently attached with zip ties. The simplicity of the design allows it to fit most frame/fork configurations.


The front fender extends from behind the fork to below the bottom bracket level and the rear from the rear brake to even with the axle.  Your backside stays dry, and on the front your feet all the way to your head is protected from road spray.  
(click to enlarge)

Visually these are very attractive fenders; the short lines and compact shape set them apart from the traditional commuter set-up, finally fenders are cool!

Even with the ease of removal the rider might be tempted to just leave them on when not needed.  The slim shape, light weight and silent running of the SKS fenders make these stealthy enough that they might just go unnoticed all the time.

Fenders of any sort make your ride more enjoyable, keeping the road spray off your body and much of your bike.  When it looks like rain, just pop on your SKS Raceblade fenders on the way out and be assured you will stay more comfortable. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Concap Force1

 Twenty-year veteran pro racer Andy Johnston has seen many nutrition products come and go through years of training and racing.  His meticulous scrutiny of everything “bike” has given him insight into what works for athletes and what does not.  With three National Championship titles to his name Andy now passes along his knowledge to the athletes he coaches, and now to you.

  Recently, Andy tried Concap heading into a major race.  “I had a sinus infection at the onset.  On Day two I started feeling better, and by Day three I was sure my sinus infection was gone, “ reports Andy. Concap has several benefits to an athletes health, is legal for all international competition and considered safe by the World Anti-Doping Association.

  Concap Force1 is training and racing supplement out of Belgium, a country with a long history in bicycle racing.  CONCAP'S main effects are to fight: fatigue, listlessness, problems with digestion and chronic diseases. It also raises the body's resistance level, cleans and stimulates blood flow in the liver, and supports muscle growth and recovery.  Some key ingredients include extracts from the coffee bush (coffea Arabica) and Maca.

  It has caffeine, but only contains a tenth as in coffee.  “CONCAP is produced by using a special extraction process to get all the beneficial qualities out of the Arabica plant [not the bean] without the negative side effects of...” bean-caffeine.  This extraction process is all natural and uses no chemicals.

  Another key ingredient comes from a vegetable that grows in the Andes Mountains of Peru called Maca. The Incas used it as a stimulant and for improving performances. Maca root is rich in essential amino acids, has a high mineral content, and contains over 55 naturally occurring, beneficial phyto-chemicals (beneficial plant chemicals). It supports the immune system, improves endurance and helps speed recovery.

  During competition athletes can quickly see the benefits.  Andy reports, “I was racing the same course as before.  I had heart rate as my guide to compare to the previous year, but did not need to get that scientific to see the differences.  I was faster at lower heart rates!”

  Concap does have healing properties, so the sinus infection cure was typical of its effects.  Credit this largely to the Maca plant and its phyto-chemicals.  For athletes looking for that magic pill this one might come close.

Concap Ingredients:
300mg cordiceps
100mg maca
100 mg ashwaganda
450 mg Concap (zinc, copper, manganese, bromide, iron, strontium, B1 – B2 – B12 vitamins, ribidium, choline, folate, citrovorum factor, pantholenic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeine, cafestol, kawheol).

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lezyne Great Divide

Lezyne's Great Divide pack is their largest pack offering.   A very generous 24 liter cargo capacity and a pretty standard 3 liter drinking bladder makes this suitable for camping.  Add in 5 external pockets and one big basement pocket and you have a ton of easily assessable storage areas from the outside.
Externally, this pack has lots of storage.  Start with a water resistant, soft material scratch free zipper pocket for your electronics, such as music devices, with an earphone cable port.  This is the go-to pocket for easy access zipper storage.

Next you have two mesh pockets on the hip strap.  These can be accessed while wearing the pack, so are perfect for items you might use a lot. 

Large side pockets on either side of the pack are great for small items.

For odds and ends there is the outer pocket on the back of it all.  It is made of a stretchy fabric that allows you to cram and stuff items in a hurry yet still hold them safe.  It closes with a single buckle.

That sits on the second largest compartment which fully zips out.  This compartment has the most features of the bag (see below).

Finally the main compartment is roomy enough for a 3 liter bladder and lots of stuff. 

I love the zipper pulls.
A great feature is the ventilated storage under the pack  Wet, smelly or dirty items can go here and not contaminate your other stuff.  It also works great for clean items.

The zipper pulls are simple string coated in rubber. Light weight and no rattle.

 Two main compartments.  This one features tons of pocket space for your little items, it is even labeled with pictures of the things that go in the pocket so you don't have to dig to see whats in there.

The hydration bladder compartment is lined with reflective material called Temp Shield to keep temps constant.  Any bladder will fit in, I tried out a different brand with no problems.  There is a little velcro hang tab to hold the bladder and keep it from sliding to the bottom. The hydration tube exits center so can be used on either side.

The ventilated back is a nice touch.  Large soft pads feel nice on the back, but allow room for air to circulate and reduce sweating.

Shoulder straps are a nice size and slightly padded.  The shoulder strap circles the neck so there are no pressure points.  Compression straps help adjust the load from the pack.

A hip belt and a sternum strap help keep the bag secure and the sternum strap even has a built in whistle in the buckle.

Hard to see but there is a secret compartment on the very bottom of the pack.  To me it's another place to put something you need to find fast so I like it.

The back plate is removable.  Why not, right?  It can be washed, not used, or replaced with other items.

Having a separate zipper compartment for the back plate means more storage.  I found it a great place to store flat items like maps, spare cables and my stove wind guard.

The back plate has two thin aluminum strips that can be bent to custom form to your back.

Having a rigid structure means the pack will stay in place when you are in the riding position. 

similar sized items can replace the back plate
You don't have to use the back plate.

Above is the back plate removed.  An epiphany occurred.  Replace the back plate with something that is needed for camping. You lose your ventilation and custom formed pad, but you gain storage space and trade off a little weight.

I had two ideas. The first, to the left, is to use a closed cell foam pad, cut to fit, to slide in the compartment.  These pads are great for sitting on the cold ground at your campsite.

The other idea is to store your air mattress in the space.  I have a Big Agnus Air Core pad that is just big enough folded to take up a lot of pack space, but is needed for camping.  It's small enough to fit in the back pad space. and it is not really taking up that much space.

The air mattress valve can stick out the zipper compartment instead of sticking you in the back.

There are two compression straps on either side of the bag.  The upper ones can pull duty to hold a full face helmet by running the straps through the face plate or a regular helmet by running the straps through vent holes or any way you see fit.

As tested, I ran the stock bladder. It has several nice features, one being the velcro flap that hides and secures the tubing to keep it from kinking inside the pack.  

The bladder closes using a zip-lock top which opens wide enough to get your hand in for easy cleaning.   

The tube is threaded on so it is easy to remove for cleaning, and there is no chance it will pull off as the tube seems to be well attached to the threaded part.  The tube exits on the side of the bladder, which is nice as the tube needs to run up the side where there is more room. 

The Great Divide pack is big enough to be used for camping yet small enough to be used for a day ride.

This is a great pack, but there is always room for improvements.  I would love to have a few webbing straps in the event I run out of space inside and need to strap things to the outside.

I'm torn whether I want a fully mesh lower compartment or not.  Full mesh means you really can dry out or air out items, but also means dirt and water can get in while riding or when you put the pack on the ground.  I guess Lezyne made a compromise here by putting the mesh only on the sides.

The outer pocket is a lycra type fabric, and lycra over time deteriorates while the nylon in the bag should last forever.  The stretchy fabric is nice for cramming, but I would rather have something that will last.  Time will tell if this fabric will do the job.

The bite valve is one I have seen on other products.  Although you can turn it 90 degrees to shut it off mine still leaked.  It got worse during my camping trip, so bad that I had to resort to kinking the tube twice to shut off the water flow.  This is probably a defective bite valve more than a bad design, but I typically switch my favorite bite valve over anyway, so I am not concerned about this one.

Bottom line:  WOW!  This is my favorite pack, although not as roomy as my 30 liter pack, or as minimalist as my training pack, it is the nicest and has the best features.  This is an all day/ multi-day pack for the outdoors person that needs to carry a lot of gear, but does not want a bulky cumbersome  pack.

More photos below:

 The electronics zipper pocket sits right on top of the pack with a waterproof zipper.  It ingeniously exits into the main compartment (not directly out the pack) then out that main compartment to ensure no water drips into the electronic compartment.
The outside pocket holds lots of things you can get to quick.
 Ample of storage room in the middle pocket.  Easy access to items specific for bikes.  The pockets all have pictures of the items you are likely to use it for.

 The main pocket is deep and holds most of your gear.
 Side mesh pockets on the hip straps are great for holding items that you can get your hands on wearing the pack, and is a free way to add more storage space.

 I stored my little flashlight in one and found I could use the light through the mesh without unzipping or removing it.
 This is the lower compartment which adds  a good amount of extra storage.  When not in use it just wrinkles up on itself and flattens out.

The vented sides allow items to air out.
 View from beneath.
 Another pocket: this one is within the lower pocket from above.  What this is for is your choice.  It will make a good secrete compartment, but mostly the more pockets there are the easier it is to find things, as long as you can remember which pocket your items are in.
 The Lezyne bladder is a standard 3 liter/ 100 oz.
 The hose screws onto the bladder so no chance it will ever pop off.
 A velcro flap keep the hose from kinking or wandering around,
and the opening is big enough to get your hand in for cleaning.

It uses a ziplock style closure system.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I picked these pads up at Interbike 2011.  I remember the name from my motorcycle days.  Vesrah is a big manufacturer of brake pads and has been around a long time, so even though they were set up in a small both I thought it worth looking into.

These brake pads are labeled "downhill" because they are sintered, meaning there is more metal, presumably brass, in the pad compound. Sintered pads last longer and are good for  muddy or grimy conditions since they can last longer.

The Vesrah pads are very powerful, much more so than the stock pads - any stock pads I have ever used.

I mounted these front and rear on my play bike, a 5 inch travel Giant Trance.  They are working great and are as strong as the day I installed them.  Through use and abuse they have remained in excellent condition.  Other pads seem to accumulate contaminates and need cleaning to restore them, but I have not experienced that with these.

I was considering going to a 180mm rotor up front instead of my current 160mm rotor, especially when bike packing.  Adding 30-40 more pounds of gear to the moving mass increases stopping distance, so a larger rotor would help that.  With these pads I have decided that 160mm rotors are just fine.

After bike packing I can sympathize with riders who are much heavier than me.  The bike handles different, it takes longer to stop it too.  If your a rider who is anything other than a svelte uber-racer then I would recommend these pads.  Bottom line: They Stop.

Vesrah Bicycle Pad has 33 product ranges for most popular caliper and 
all pads are made with motorcycle pad technology.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Skechers Pro TR

Resistance Trainer
Pro TR

I  like these shoes a lot.  Two key features that stand out are the spring and the shape of the sole.

The sole, as you can see in the above photo, curves up at the heel.  Upon contact with the ground it feels like my heel and my midsole are contacting at the same time.  This spreads the load across my foot rather than it being concentrated on just the heel.  It seems to lessen the impact of running.

The curved sole shape rocks the foot forward smoothly during the transition from heel to toe.

The spring is a firm plastic D-shape insert that compresses on impact and helps propel you forward on take off.  

The shoe is light weight and very comfortable.  Off-road performance is well and the tread is aggressive enough to handle power sprints up dirt hills.

The feeling of the rocking horse shape is very odd at first, but once I started running it felt natural very quickly.  I was able to run farther and with less fatigue than I normally would have been able.

Retail about $80.


  • Train every way, every where and every direction
  • Extreme medial contouring allows unrestricted free side-to-side motion
  • Midsole and outsole outriggers safeguard the foot during cutting movements
  • SmartShoe™ with Mid-Foot Strike guides your body into a position that transforms impact into elastic (reusable) energy
  • Kinetic Return System™ combines the strength and flexibility of DuPont Hytrel™ material with the efficiency of an elliptical shape to deflect and convert impact forces into forward motion
  • Ideal for running and high intensity gym training
  • Uses include indoor running, treadmill, side lunges, gym fitness training, outdoor running, pavement running, super sprints and competitive running