We'll tell you which products we love (and why), and which ones we're not quite so fond of, so you don't have to do all of the experimenting yourself.
The first race of the Kansas City cyclocross season had plenty of 'rolled' tubulars. The track was twisty and some slippery wet grass in the corners called for low tire pressures. Unfortunately, not everybody's tire stayed stuck.
We won't debate all the reasons that tires come off of rims. But it happens too often. We've seen what appears to be 'by the book' glue jobs fail. We know that to do the job correctly it takes patience, practice and time. We know there are several methods and a variety of adhesives. We have seen top mechanics in the sport bow their head and turn red when they spot their rider coming to the pits, on foot, with a rolled tire. It's awful.
Since late 2015, the Localcycling test crew has been working with a fresh product that just might be the ultimate answer to the problem: Effetto Mariposa's Carogna Double adhesive tape.
Sticky tapes themselves are not new. Tufo developed a version, with some success for road tires a few years ago, but with poor application for cyclocross. The 'Belgium' tape that many mechanics use as a supplement to traditional glue jobs has been around for many years. We've seen that method fail as well.
The Carogna tape is a different animal. The tape itself is designed with enough heft to work on all types of tubulars, and make a solid interface with the variety of base tape shapes. When the proper width is selected, the rim is provided with a generous bed of sticky adhesive. Like any adhesive, there is an ideal temperature range to mount the tire, but AFTER the curing time, temperature will not affect the wheel.
A huge advantage to the system, is a 24hour vs. 3 day procedure. If you need to mount fresh rubber, you can be up and running in one-third the time. A definte plus any time of the season.
Here's the link to Leonard Zinn working with the Carogna system. Note how much simpler it is to center a tire; no fighting glue that's beginning to set up.
We've been aggressively riding Carogna taped wheels at a variety of pressures; training and racing. In fact our test bike was handed out to a rider with a rolled tire at that initial race last weekend. We are happy to report that under the same conditions, the taped tire held, as opposed to the traditional method of the riders other wheels.
We have not had the need to remove a tire that has been mounted with Carogna as of yet, but from pushing on the inflated tire, we speculate that it will take plenty of effort. That's a good thing.
An important note. Carogna tape, which works on Carbon or Aluminum rims, requires a clean rim surface. Clean. Tradtional methods allow for old glue to remain; Do not with Carogana. In fact the company also produces a fine product to remove your old glue. Working somewhat like furniture stripper, it does require monitoring as it does it's work.
Our bottom line? This product works. We've had superior bonding to traditional glue jobs. It's a slightly more expensive method, but well worth it. Available at Elite Cycing in the Kansas City area.
We at Localcycling.com spend a lot of time in team kit, so it's actually refreshing to get to wear something more fashion forward rather than a moving billboard.
A few months back we secured several items from the folks at Danny Shane. We had seen some of their work providing the Leader's Jerseys at the Tour of Lawrence. We had also heard they had a pretty unique story.
Besides some interesting pattern designs, Danny Shane jerseys are made from a unique (and proprietary) fabric; blended from Bamboo White Ash and recycled polyster. In fact at minimum 50% of the material is Bamboo White Ash. Of course there are other natural fibers used in cycling clothing, notably wool, but we were intriqued.
We found the clothing to have a soft feel, almost silk like. The short sleeve jerseys (full zip) were worn on some scorching days. The fabric wicked quite well, and had substantially better breathability than most of our full synthetics.
This is my hand at five degrees. It is warm.
That information is a review by itself, but I'll share some more details. I've used Neoprene gloves a lot. I like them. If they're designed correctly they have any amazing amount of warmth, minimum bulk and a fair temperature range.
Most cycling winter gloves are pretty similar to ski gloves; usually some kind of insulation like Thinsulate to create loft. The trade off is usually that bulky feel of the loft for the warmth. Neoprene packs a lot of insulation in 2mm. The brushed lining of Glacier Outdoor's Premium Cycling Glove gives the inside a nice, non-sweaty feel. Yes, your hands will sweat in gloves of this construction IF you miscall the temperature range. But these are windproof, so unlike a wet hand in conventional glove, you still stay warm.
Another obvious plus to this glove for those that love CX is that waterproofness. Fall down in the snow? No problem. Get these for the upcoming Winter Races. Nationals in Boulder? Yes.
We've got three other gloves for lighter conditions that we've been field testing too.
Most cyclists don't spend a lot of mental energy on their sock selection. Luckily, Swiftwick does lots of thinking for us. All of their socks are well designed, fit well, maintain their shape and color wash after wash, and come in enough lengths and colors that most everyone can find a good match for their team kit and sense of style. Besides that, they're made in the USA and Swiftwick refuses to use chemicals to wick away moisture.
The Aspire is the most popular of the Swiftwick cycling sock line, and for good reason. A 200 needle machine knits olefin fibers into a cozy, comfortable and supportive coccoon for your tootsies so that your feet, with all of their 60 joints, 200 ligaments and 35 muscles can do what they're supposed to do - propel you to victory, to the top of the hill, or around the next bend - without hot spots or blisters or bunching.
The Aspire features seamless toe construction so they fit just right. Be sure you check the sizing charts, though, because Swiftwick's sizing is not exactly the same as everyone else's. This tester usually wears a small in other sock lines, but the medium Aspire is a perfect fit.
The Aspire offers nice arch compression, and there's just the right amount of compression in the cuff that it stays put without an annoying elastic band. Choose from the zero one, two, four, seven or twelve inch cuff in white, black, pink or lime. This tester chose the four inch cuff in go with anything white, while contributing editors wore the seven inch black.
Finishing a long day in the saddle with dry comfy feet is something you'll notice, and that will make you reach for these socks ride after ride after ride.
Just in time. Actually a little ahead of time.
This is our current review project bike. We'll be using this Specialized Crux Disc as test platform for various components as well as putting the whole enchilada through it's paces.
We're starting this process in late May, giving us plenty of hours to get familiar with the bike before the real season begins.
This bike was chosen in particular because of the disc brake feature. Scroll down a few stories for another CX disc bike review.
Out of the box, the bike is pretty nice for it's $2100 price tag. There are lots of bikes more expensive (and start out lighter). There are lots of bikes that are less expensive and suffer from excessive weight and poor components.
The aluminum frame is all cyclocross business. Essentially the same as under a previous Elite Nationals winner; Carbon fork specific for disc brakes and an overall race geometry.
The Crux line is considered an upgrade over the older Tricross cyclocross bikes. In the 56cm test size we found the major difference to be chainstay length. We were able to set up the cockpit identical to the test riders current race rig, a Tricross Expert.
There are a lots of lights for lots of different lighting needs.
Light and Motion created the Urban Series as a bicycle commuter light. The 200 refers to the lumens output, a scale that is perhaps the best indication of brightness.
We have a number of heavier/supposedly brighter light sets at the Localcycling.com Service Course. We have also been disappointed often as the technology over promises and under deilvers.
The Light and Motion folks pride themselves on accurately measuring lumens of their product. In fact they offer comparisons of other manufacturers that indicate not everyone's claims are spot on.
Yes, we can go for a bit of Elvis Costello, but this isn't a music review, it's about a different kind of pressure.
The localcycling.com news staff has been in need of an easier way to insert air for some time. Part of the staff has struggled with some wrist/elbow injury and another staff member believes that most floor pumps have a gender bias.
With Time Trials on the calendar, solving the difficulty of attaining road pressures without multiple hands and effort was of critical concern.
Enter the Specialized Airtool HP.
We've always been fans of Vittoria tires. The longevity of the brand is due to it's relentless search for optimal performance at the Pro level, and passing those features down their product range.
The Open Corsa SC (Service Course) II, is from the top end of the line. Using the same high thread count (320 TPI) as the tubular version, riders have the opportunity to experience similar benefits on clincher wheelsets.
We chose the 25mm for our review. There is a trend among racers (pro and amateur) towards wider rims and slightly wider rubber. There's plenty of science to back that up, but we wanted some first hand.
We mounted the SC's on SRAM 30mm deep aero wheels and used the recommened Vittoria latex tubes. Most high end tubulars also use latex inner tubes. Again, the suppleness of the whole package is what gives a tubular it's unique quality.
The full title, The Complete Cycle Sport Guide is pretty accurate. One of our staff first came across this book in the early 80's. Long out of print it continues to stand the test of time.
You'll likely have to hit the internet for a copy of Dr. Peter Konopka's english language guide to bicycle racing. The book holds a wealth of knowledge, from some very basics of bike fit and clothing, to some rather complicated nutrition and training tables. And we mean complicated in a good way. The Doctor's formulas and charts contain a wealth of info to develop a serious training program.
Tactics and technique are covered in some depth. Strenghth and flexibility are emphasized (there is a wonderful section on Yoga. 1981!). The science is explained in detail. All disciplines get their due; Road, Track and Cyclocross.
Are modern methods better? We'l let the reader be the final judge, but we find this 30+ year old book quite forward thinking.
At localcycling.com our staff have been exposed to a number of excellent coaches and programs (see this article for some outstanding KC trainers). We recommend a 'live' coach over a book for sure, but if your budget says you need to go it alone, this is a darn good resource. We picked up our current copy for $ 00.14.
The term 'embrocation' doesn't often ring a bell for the novice cyclist; but for the experienced racers in particular it is one of the most essential items for comfortable riding.
We're not going to try to explain all the science and myths behind the creams and concoctions that cyclists use to warm their skin and muscles with. The usage of embrocations has been around since racers pulled out razors to shave legs. We will say that our team of testers use embro almost year round, and couldn't imagine going without.
The most important feature our users look for is appropriate warmth. Adding a layer of embrocation to legs or lower back should be an effective tool against cold. That's either the sensation of cold skin or cold muscles.
Eurostyle comes in two temperatures: warm and hot. We found those two settings cover the full range of the cycling environment.