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.

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.

Read more: Vittoria Corsa Service Course II

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.

Read more: Eurostyle Embrocation

We've got a number of product reviews that will be posted in the next few weeks. Embroacation to bikes. One item that's in our crosshairs are the new 'aero road helmets'.  Not as bulky as a specific TT helmet, these lids are made to save you watts in a mass start event. While waiting for the new product to hit our desk, we did a bit of digging and offer up evidence that the aero road helmet concept has been done before, in fact almost two decades before:

 

Throw yourself to the ground.

We took the opportunity to review the Fuji Altimira CX 1.3 with every intention of playing hard.  Cyclocross is a big deal to every member of the Localcycling.com staff.  We are as eager to consume veldrijden gear as a Belgian Supporters Club member consumes 2 bon bier.

AltimiraWe've been watching the introduction of disc brake bikes since the UCI relented and said they were 'cool' to use. Despite a service course full of rim brake wheels, our test rider has been advocating that the revolution evolution is here. Now.

Bill Marshall of the KC based KCCX team provided a built and ready to roll M/L size from his inventory of test bikes. The geometry of the Altimira CX 1.3 was nearly spot on to our test rider's current crossfiets, and it took only a small amount of tweaking saddle height and shuffling stem spacers to get an identical set up.

This wasn't going to be a spin around the block and hand it back to Bill test.

The test bike spec is proven SRAM Force with Avid BB7 disc brakes. Oval branded wheels, seat post, saddle, bars and stem. All work horse stuff for the equipment battering CX season.

The frame looks serious. Big tubes, matte finish carbon. Shaped top tube for shouldering. In the old days bike geeks would step on a pedal and try to flex the bottom bracket to judge frame stiffness. With modern oversize bottom bracket and conjunctions that would be silly. Fuji uses BB86. It may seem obvious, but that beefy area around the crank means a lot when you stand up to pedal out of the myriad 180 degree corners in a 'cross race.

Read more: Altimira CX 1.3 REVIEW

There's plenty of room for bad puns ready made for Chamois cremes. Back in the day when some of the staff at Localcycling.com started racing a lot of stuff you sat on was made of real leather. Treating the chamois with some kind of softner was essential.

In today's world and synthetic things to sit on, it seems a less likely need. However, staff of both genders at localcycling have tried this product and found it quite beneficial. Let's face it, sometimes 'team shorts' don't have the same comfort and quality of materials as those $200 supershorts. We started using Chamois Butt'r Euro style on a

Read more: Chamois Butt'r Eurostyle Review

Heart rate monitors are a staple among endurance athletes, so anything to make them more comfortable and more consistent is quite welcome. Buh-Bump heart rate monitor electrode cream from Paceline Products does both beautifully.

Upon receiving the convenient 2.5 ounce flip-top squeeze tube, I instinctively popped open the cap and gave it the sniff test. I was pleased to find that Buh-Bump has almost no scent, only a very slight, soft, neutral hint of lotion. So far so good. The cream is applied directly to the contact point of the heart rate monitor strap. I decided to start with a thin layer and add more if needed. The thin layer conducted the signal well with no gaps in my readings.

The most significant feature of the product was the feel. Buh-Bump helps the HR strap feel less "there." The cream allowed the HR strap to glide on my skin rather than sticking or pulling as is typical when I reach in my jersey pocket or change positions during a bike ride. This also made for more comfort during running and a stretching session afterward. An added bonus is that the cream left my skin feeling soft and smooth.

Buh-Bump Heart Rate Monitor Electrode Cream performed very well on all counts.