Search This Blog

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ibex Giro Full Zip Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey

Ibex Merino Wool Cycling Apparel

Wool is a traditional cycling fabric that was widely used until the advent of Lycra.  The form fitting synthetic fabrics offered unlimited style and promises of functionally to fit every need.  The spandex era began and the days of itchy wool were marked, but now wool is regaining its place with high-performance and legendary benefits all in one fabric.  Enter Ibex's New Zealand Merino Wool.

Ibex wool is harvested from Ibex sheep in New Zealand and provides the highest quality wool available, offering superior breathability, temperature regulation, moisture control, and anti-microbial properties. Unlike traditional wool, merino is finer, softer and non- itchy, giving you superior next-to-the skin comfort.

Part of the magic of the merino wool fibers is it moves moisture from the skin more quickly than other fibers.  Sweat leaves the skin as vapor and condense.  Synthetics transfer liquid, but wool is able to transfer the vapor as well as wick the liquid directly through its porous fibers.  This keeps you drier and warmer in the cold, but in the heat has a cooling effect. It regulates temperature well.  Wool fibers also contain thousands of air pockets which insulate against both heat and cold.  These air pockets work even when wet giving wool the ability to insulate in any condition.

  • Form-fit  in green, blue, gray & black
  • Full front zip with locking zipper pull 
  • Rib collar & cuffs 
  • Reflective logo center back 
  • Three pocket back 
  • Elastic hem 
  • Machine washable
  • Mid-weight ponte knit 
  • 18.5 micron 
  • 100% Zque™ New Zealand Merino wool 
  • 240 g/m2

This tight-knit wool fabric feels like a cotton/poly blend jersey, which is a nice change from the itchy fabric expected, thanks to the fine fibers; wearing it next to the skin is very comfortable.  The raglan cut is specific for cycling, so the sleeves are long enough as is the back side when in a low cycling stance.  

The small diameter of thread used for the base layer give the wool its soft texture.  Cut from New Zealand's Ibex sheep, this wool is the highest quality available.  

 The Ibex Giro long sleeve jersey is a Base Layer 2 fabric for next-to-skin use.

Ibex offers a very wide range of clothing for year-round comfort.

The temp regulating and moisture managing properties of Merino give you superior comfort.

Ibex garments are assembled in the USA

In Use
On a cool morning with temps barely warming from the over-night lows this wool jersey kept me toasty.  On the climb, a 7-mile south-facing gravel climb, the temps began to rise, but the wool kept me comfortable; unzipping the front was enough. At the top I waited ten minutes on friends as the wind blew, and the cooler temps that usually made me shiver felt refreshing.  Even damp the Ibex jersey was keeping me warm.  The painfully cold downhill I was expecting was enjoyably warm.   In just one ride this wool, this simple fabric that has been around for ages, had outperformed all my technical garments.

OK, I was convinced, so I did the research that revealed the science above.  Wool is amazing!  Why would we use anything else?  The fine fibers of merino wool are even better as they feel comfortable against the skin.  This jersey transfers moisture better, regulates my body temps better, never stinks, and is breathable. It is now my go-to base layer for chilly outdoor activities.

I also tried it as a second layer on top of my lycra base layer and noticed it worked better than a typical long sleeve jersey.  Actually, to be more accurate, I did not notice it!  I just felt comfortable as I watch my friends deal with over-heating on the climbs, and chills on the descents as they made adjustments to their layered clothing.

In the Wash
I hand washed the jersey for the first few times, but in the interest of the article felt I needed to toss it in the machine.  It did fine, not like my wool sweaters that are prone to stretching and shrinking.

The Ibex Giro full zip long sleeve jersey, $155.   A bargain at twice the price!  This is an item that is at the forefront of your enjoyment of your favorite activity, time and time again.  I am enjoying my Ibex jersey a lot.

Find more Ibex products at  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

THOMSON Goes Carbon With Bars


A whopping 730mm wide for a flat bar, Thomson offers exacting precision and versatility in their line of bars.  Included is this flat bar, a riser bar, a road bar with flattened tops, and a CX bar.

First up the flat bar:

Coming in at just 185 grams for the flat bar keeps everything light.  6 degrees of sweep is good middle ground that should be comfy for all riders.  The bar can be run flip/flop for a difference of 5mm.  As mounted the top is flat across from the stem.  The bulge tapers up only.  Flip it and you have a 5mm drop.

click for larger view
A nice touch is that the bar is exactly 31.8mm diameter under the clear coat.  The clear coat compresses when clamped, so mated to a Thomson stem that is exactly 31.8mm you get a perfect fit and a reduction of stress to the bar as well as a tighter fit.

The bar comes with a tiny tube of carbon application lube, that is a gritty gel to increase friction between the stem and the bar. This reduces the clamping force necessary to hold the bar.  A torque wrench should be used to 4Nm when tightening the stem bolts to avoid over-clamping and crushing the carbon.

Thomson found that the sticky goo other bars have at the clamp area only cause the bar to slip easier, especially in the drop test.

1 lb of nano fiber can stretch to the moon.

"All our cloth is from Toray, it is 3 different strengths and uses cycling specific nano particles," reports Thomson.  

Destructo-Matic: Along with many popular brands of carbon bars, the Thomson bars were tested until failure.  With heavy weights attached to the ends of the bar, the system was dropped from one foot, two for some test, to simulate more downward force than the human arms could produce.  It is interesting that carbon breaks under pressure or compression, not tension, so the breaks were all under the bar (at the compression point), while the tops were intact (tension).  

All the destructive test on the Thomson bars showed that even when the bars broke they stayed intact enough to give the rider time to stop, and maybe even ride back home, but like the engineer said, the force it takes to break the bar like this would shatter the human body, so the bars would be the least concern.

The Ride:  Going from a 680 width carbon bar to a full 730 width is wonderful.  The handling is superb, cornering more confident and the extra length seems to further isolate the hands from vibration.  Even powerful sprints were easy with the bar - no flex when pulling up hard.  Yet, riders would still grab the bar at the very ends at times, so how wide do they want it, how wide is too wide?  Time will tell, but the weak concern of a wide bar not fitting through trees has not been an issue on the test rides; the increase in handling is much greater and a joy to ride.

730mm may be wide for some riders, but the Thomson carbon bars are meant to be cut, and the ends have hash markings every 5mm as cutting guides.  

Small bar-ends can be accommodated, within reason, as the ends are beefed up a little to handle the clamping force. Care should always be taken when clamping on carbon though, as not all clamps are as precise as the Thomson stems and could pinch or crack the bar.

click for larger view
A nice part of the ascetics is the marbled black finish on the bar.  With only the small Thomson graphic on the drive side the bar gives off a stealthy black glow that just speaks of its coolness.

Update:  After many more miles of riding the bars are still the favorite of all time.  The extra width means there is ample room between the stem and the accessories to get aero with your hands with room to spare.  This is handy for fast stretches of pavement or gravel, and is even offers a good alternative hand position for long climbs.

This bar will not be cut down, but for those needing a more narrow front end you will still get a great bar and at even lighter weight.

10-28-2014 update:  2 years later: Same bars, still working perfect.  I have over 10,000 off-road miles on these and no complaint from rider or bar.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Interbike 2012 Videos

Interbike Videos 2012.
At Interbike I walked around with a camera and had manufacturers give their spill about the product.  I will be testing and reviewing some of these products in time.
I did about 6GB of filming, most vids are about 3 mins long, so I will be posting them as they are uploaded to Youtube.

Me riding an electric MTB and HERE

This 2nd one is me going down a very techy section, then back up.  On a race bike I rode down easily, but did not even make it to the first bump (just after shadow) before becoming pedestrian.

KMC Chains 9,10 & 11 speed        BMX Rasta, kool Knight, K710SL, K810SL
                      BMX, Cruisers, Single Speed

Cygolite 12,000 Lumen cycling light prototype - water-cooled.
Wojtek did the same product too.

Sram 1x11 drivetrain
I did a quick video on the 11 speed system bc the Sram guy didn't want to do it. It has a single front chainring with no chain guide, but the chainring has special alternating wide and narrow teeth to match the chain's narrow and wide plates. The rear cass is a 10-42 11 speed that gives a wide range of gears making up for the loss of a double up front. Riding it there is no chain slap and over rough rocks the chain did not drop at all.  I rode it during the dirt demo on Tuesday, and took it off-course to find the good trails.  I need one now.
Hopefully I will have a system to test fully soon.

Cool new products from THOMON -
Dropper Post
Carbon CX bars, Road bars and MTB bars.

NOW Energy Bars were very tasty 

HALO Headband with built in "rain/sweat gutter"

Efficient Tools E-Z Lift
Very cool bike work stand

Boreas Backpack
I am to test this unit soon for bike packing

Tretta 2WD Bicycle

X Fusion Micro-lite shock

2013 Scott Genius 650b full sus bikes

Cardo Systems Blue Tooth two-way communication
  I have this unit to test.  It is a helmet mount stereo walkie-talkie on steroids.  Blue tooth works with your phone as well, and works with your music.  Talk to your riding buddy up to 1/3 mile away, and if you get a call, just say, hello, and the com turns to a hands-free phone, when done with call, say, goodbye, and your back to talking to your friend.  You can have 3 persons on the system.

Thirty Three Light-weight race fork 26'er
RO Brake System
R1 Racing Brake System
T1 Brake System
R1 Brakes (quick release)

Speed Sleev saddle bag - the ultimate pan for the minimalist.

Power2Max crank based power meter

Cantitoe Generator front hub.  Generates 6 volts at the hub to power your gadgets

SRAM 11 Speed drivetrain

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spenco Gloves

MTB Gloves: Heat Wave 2.0, Trail Pro, Trail Warrior.
Patented Shock-Tek™ palm pad system protects the median nerve to prevent numbness and discomfort.

Andy Johnston, multi-time mountain bike national champion, after having to use “winged” style grips due to numbing hands, decided to test the benefits of the Spenco line of gloves.  The key feature is palm padding near the wrist to reduce pressure on the Carpel Tunnel Nerves.

Many cyclists prefer gloves with no padding at all in the palm, so may be dissuaded, but several Spenco gloves are not padded across the entire palm, just on the heel of the hand, while others have full palm padding or a double layer of leather giving riders a choice.

The Median Nerve runs down the arm and across the wrist just between the meaty parts of the palm.  It is the pressure against the carpal tunnel nerve that can cause pain or numbness in the hand or fingers.  Dr. A. Robert Spitzer, a neurologist, developed this patented design.  With Spenco gloves a relief zone is created between the padding to greatly reduce pressure and reduce road shock.  Pressure is diverted away form the sensitive areas of the hand.

After 6 months of off-road use the padding is flattened a little, but the gloves are in great shape.

This test was done over a 6-month period, and became the test riders’ favorite gloves. The Spencon gloves held up well and had quality construction.  Numbness in the hand and fingers was gone, as was the need for heavy, comfy grips.  The padding near the wrist was not noticeable and the glove still gave a positive feel when on the bar.  The gloves are on the level of a medical device, but eventually the edges of the padding will flatten out a little, so should be replaced even before the rest of the glove wears out to get the full medical benefit.  After 6 months the gloves are still working well.

There is a variety of models available in both short-finger and long-finger styles:

The Trail Warrior, with its Japanese Anime inspiration, is a great all-around 3-season glove.  Minimal palm padding, and a comfort fit.

Aside from the Median Nerve padding it has only a double layer of leather around the palm.  The under side material is a perforated synthetic leather that keeps the hands cool.  The graphics do little more than give it it's unique look.

  • Anatomically pre-curved for comfort & fit
  • Patented Shock-Tek™ palm pad system protects the median nerve to prevent numbness and discomfort
  • Durable nylon Spandura top with Air Mesh for ventilation
  • Ventilated Clarino leather palm
  • Reinforced thumb, index finger and palm
  • Soft Liteprene cuff with adjustable strap closure
  • Lycra finger side panels for form fitting
  • Silicone grip on finger tips for lever control

Trail Pro has a neopreme finger top with durable synthetic leather palm.  A directed terry cloth on the thumb almost is perfect for wiping out the sweat, but is interrupted by a blue stripe which can cause discomfort on the face.
  • Molded neoprene padding across knuckles protects your mitts from even the most intrusive branches.
  • Patented Shock-Tek® palm padding channel keeps the pounding off the median nerve.
  • Reinforced 2nd layer across palm will keep things together for a long time.

The Heat Wave 2.0 was the test riders favorite glove for summer riding.  Features include a very breathable fabric over the fingers and hand, light padding on the palm, a full terry cloth thumb and, of course, Spenco's upper palm padding to relieve the Median Nerve.
The palm is made of the same perforated fabric as the Trail Warrior, but has a full double layer of leather on the palm area with a little bit of padding just before the fingers split off.
  • Anatomically pre-curved for comfort & fit
  • Patented palm pad system protects the median nerve
  • Designed for superior ventilation
  • Terry wipe for comfort, with molded Velcro closure for fit
  • Reinforced second layer on palm and thumb crotch
  •  Available in S, M, L, XL, 2XL

Heat Wave 2.0

Trail Warrior

Trail Pro

Left hand of Trail pro.  The terry cloth is bisected by the blue styling fabric, but riders would prefer a full terry cloth for practical purposes.  Anatomically pre-curved and extra padding helps both with riding on the hoods or with twist shifters.

The Trail Warrior has unique graphics, but is a comfortable glove for cool to hot weather riding.  This is an all-day glove.  No terry cloth, but the soft fabric over the thumb is comfortable on the face.

The Heat Wave 2.0 glove is the perfect ultra distance glove with it's full terry cloth thumb,  well vented upper and Median Nerve padding on a perforated synthetic leather palm.

The IronMan was the only short-finger glove tested.  The padding in the palm was more noticeable than with the long-ringer gloves and for riders used to no padding this was noticeable, but not uncomfortable.  

All gloves were size Large.

In conclusion, the Heat Wave 2.0 was the clear favorite of riders.  It reflects the influence of the racing community with it's fully terry cloth thumb, mesh fabric back for cooling, perforated synthetic leather palm and  5-pad Shock-Tek padding.  All in a minimalist glove that gets the job done.

Monday, July 30, 2012

SteriPen Water Treatment

 “Over-all, I love it for its compact, light-weight attributes, ease of use and neat-o factor.  I use the SteriPen while out in the backwoods for extended periods of time.  Mostly I am riding a mountain bike for all-day rides so I do not have to carry all my water, or will use it on bike packing/camping trips as a water source”.
Water purifiers come in all forms, shapes and sizes. Most are based on filtering out contaminates in order to deliver pure clean water.  The SteriPen takes a different approach with it’s UV light technology.  The SteriPen does not filter the water, rather it wreaks havoc on the living organisms in the water so they can not do harm in your gut.  The user can safely drink the treated water without fear of illness.

Water can be the heaviest item in the pack, but a filter, or this SteriPen, leaves more room for other gear, or just lightens up the pack. With a new set of batteries it is good for up to 100 treatments, and unlike mechanical filters the SteriPen is not damaged by freezing temperatures, or clogged from repeated use.

(UV light (and visible light) seen in a glass of water)

It is simple to use, one click for a liter, 2 for a half liter.  Insert the UV light stick and stir until the light turns off.   When done the SteriPen stores neatly back into its case and into your pack.  All the user needs is a source of water.  The UV light does not kill the organisms, but rather disrupt their DNA and prevents them from reproducing in your intestine.  A sterile bug is harmless they say.  It will eliminate as much or more hazards than a mechanical filter.  Ultraviolet (UV-C) light rays safely sterilize clear water by destroying 99.99% of protozoa (including Giardia and Cryptosporidia ), bacteria and even           -      viruses.
There is a LED that flashes to indicate unit is ready, but can also be utilized as a flashlight.  The test unit did not function like that, however the flashing LED seems to be bright enough to get you around a dark camp site if it did work.  [update: now my flashlight mode works and it is bright enough, but is not powerful by any means]
It is key to understand that the harmful UV light will not penetrate a plastic or glass container, and even will not penetrate the surface of the water, only the visible light will (visible light is just to show that the invisible UV light is on).  Since the UV light does not penetrate the water surface, care should be taken that no droplets of water above go untreated. Stir the water enough that everything in the container is treated.  Care should also be taken that the drinking mouthpiece is not contaminated with untreated water.

This unit is electronic, and like all electronics is prone to failure, but no issues were reported even while taking it mountain biking over many months.Though, in case of nuclear attacks, an EMP could damage all computer chips, so carry a water filter if you’re looking to be Mr Armageddon.
  Weight: 103g/3.6 oz. with batteries
  Size: 6.1in. x 1.5in. x 1.0in.
  Battery: Uses two CR123 batteries (included)
  Battery life: Disposable – 100 1/2L treatments; Rechargeable -- 40-50 1/2L treatment
  UV Lamp Life: 8,000 treatments 
Travel Case: YES    

One downfall of the item is that replacing the batteries can get expensive if your not using rechargeable.  I just dropped $15 on a pair of Duracell batteries.  I should get up to 100 0.5 Liter treatments out of that.
Note that when using batteries get the 900Ma, not the 600's which do not work very long.  Any name brand should be fine.
I have read other reviews since and noticed some report that the battery runs dead while inside the unit - even not being used, so I keep a piece of heavy paper between the battery and the contact.  I used to just run the battery upside down, but would forget that I did that between trips, so hoping I notice the paper if I should forget again.

Oct 28, 2012.
I'm still using the SteriPen and very happy with it.  I just got back from an overnighter bike trip in NW Georgia.  It is dry and most of the streams are either dried up or near stagnant.  I had to use a barely flowing stream twice, and a river once.  Typically I avoid rivers in favor of mountain streams since rivers could contain run-off from homes or factories that contain pollutants not filtered out or affected by the SteriPen.

In the middle of the route was a high mountain spring running generously so I filled up there and enjoyed mountain clean water.

The SteriPen continues to be easy to use and is a must have for my riding, even on day trips.
As mentioned above, the UV light does not penetrate the water surface, so droplets above the surface could go untreated.  I simply fill the bottle enough and when treating the water dip the SteriPen inside the bottle enough that the water over-flows, thus negating any chance of untreated droplets.

I keep SteriPen strapped to my back pack strap where it is easy to access.  I'm still on the original batteries, though I carry spares with me.  

On the downside (updated March, 2014), this uses disposable batteries, which become a pain after a while.  The batteries are 3 volt, but quality new ones register at about 3.6 volts.  If the battery charge drops below 3.2 volts the Steri Pen will not function.  Beware of internet batteries out of the package sold as new, 3 volts is not a new battery.

If you want a Steri Pen get one with a rechargeable battery through usb so you can leave each time with a full charge, and if needed just use an external charger on extended trips away from electricity.

The CR123 batteries used are not available as rechargeable from name-brand battery makers.