With Strava and other GPS platforms, our phones have become a vital part of capturing our rides. After looking through some options, the guys at RockForm sent over one of their new v3 iPhone 5 mounts with case to review. I will be putting the mount and case through its paces on both our commuter bike, and also strapping it to the mountain bike to see how it performs off road on some rough singletrack. The RockForm mount attaches to your fork and replaces your top cap. Then the case covers your phone securely and snaps into the mount using a quarter turn system and a little magnet that’s integrated into the case. It’s a pretty ingenious solution and easy to install and setup for your preferred viewing angle.
Out of the box, the mount and case look great. Everything that you need is included, labeled well, and packaged nicely. It came with:
- The top cap mount, including a new bolt.
- A solid surface “remote” mount that you can mount to any surface (like a car dashboard)
- A tether for the “just in case” moments on the bike
- The iPhone case, including a rubber surround
- Screen protector, wipe, and alcohol pad for install
Everything necessary to clean, install, and mount
To start with, I really like the case itself. It’s a nice hard plastic case so it protects the phone on all sides, but it’s not so bulky as to take away from the iPhone’s size. Also, the magnet portion on the back side of the case has a rubber coating, so the case sits nicely on a desk or solid surface. Other full plastic cases slide really easily and I really like how this one sits solidly. Lastly, the magnet is a really cool feature. Since it’s coated in rubber, it doesn’t hurt or mar any surfaces, but it has an strong enough attraction to attach itself to steel surfaces. I’ve used it to hang my phone temporarily on my toolbox in the garage and also place it on the roof of my car and have full confidence that it won’t slide off. It’s a very cool, unexpected feature of the case, and I really like it.
I got the case installed on my shiny new iPhone 5 and the mount installed on the commuter bike to start with. I have a pretty short commute (3 miles each way, but I usually do some extra credit so it ends up being a 10 mile round trip) but it passes through our local city park and I do hop on/off a couple of curbs and sidewalks, so its a good test for the commuter application. The mount uses a quarter turn system, sort of similar (but MUCH more durable looking) to the Garmin mount, and then “snaps” into place using the small magnet on the back of the case. It’s a solid interface, easy to put into place, and feels very secure. You get a nice reassuring ”click” sort of sound when it goes into place.
Comes with everything needed to install. Impressive.
I haven’t yet used the full removable rubber bumper or the on the bike tether, as I feel just the plastic case is enough for my day to day use and on the commuter. I do plan on using both of those when I strap the iPhone to my Trek Remedy and hit the singletrack though.
The only drawback I found to the mount is that I now that I have such easy access to my technology, I caught myself texting and riding a couple of times, and also jumping on an email or facebook while sitting at a stoplight. It’s super easy to get distracted!
We will continue using the mount and case on the commuter and seeing how it holds up to more wear and tear, and shortly we’ll strap it to our big hit bike and test it out on the trails. Look for the full in depth review coming soon!
A little while ago I wrote about Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel and our initial impressions. I was very impressed with the product as soon as I tried it, and I’ve been using it for the last 2 months as my sole energy source for longer rides. I’ve experimented with different mix ratios and am in love with the product today, maybe even more so, than I was at first. I haven’t had to worry about gels, Clif bars, shot blocks, etc during any of my rides. I’ve watched a couple of friends even fall behind in their nutrition and have to scarf down Clif bars while their heart rate was in the 170s. No thanks!
What’s great about Tailwind is that you have constant sustained energy, since it’s in your drink, and you are drinking all the time. In the past, I’d run out of ooomph after 45 mins or an hour and rock out a gel or Clif bar and get your mojo back. Here, since you are getting your energy constantly you never have that dip, you just feel great the whole time. I like that.
Initially I tried 2 scoops (200 calories) per 24oz bottle (I’m 170lbs) and I think that ratio works well for harder or longer training rides. Something in the 4-5 hour range where I’ll be putting in some harder efforts. For 3 hour rides or doing an epic group ride, where the pace won’t be as fast, 1.5 scoops (150 calories) seems to be enough. You can always err on the side of caution and always drop in 2 scoops, but I’d like to save some calories if I don’t need them.
I also did a 3.5 hour endurance time trial a few weeks ago. For that race, I put in 2.5 scoops (250 calories) per bottle and drank every last bit. I was a little worried that I didn’t put in enough, as in the past I consumed 300 calories per hour of gel/clif bars/gatorade/etc but the 250 calorie portion of Tailwind gave me energy all race. I finished with a big personal best and finished in the Top 10 out of 100+ racers. Sweeet!
I plan on continuing to use Tailwind with my training and I’ve got my first 6 hour race coming up February 16th. I plan on doing that race solely using Tailwind. I think I will err on the side of caution and put in 3 scoops (300 calories) per bottle, as I’ll be racing super hard the entire time.
I’m relatively new to the mountain biking scene, only seriously riding bikes for 3 years. I therefore don’t know how it was in the “olden days”, but even 3 years ago, night riding meant buying a $400 light and riding slower than normal for 1.5 hours before the battery went out. Now with the abundance of inexpensive Chinese lights, night riding is a lot more approachable and so many more people can enjoy riding their mountain bike during the short days of fall/winter.
Our riding group was a mix of old and new lights, but recently one of the guys bought a $130 light from Amazon (Lumintrek 1600). Having had two of the “900 Lumen” Magicshine 808 series lights, I thought “meh, it’s not going to be better than my 2 light setup.” Boy was I wrong. It really is a game changer. The beam pattern and pure power of the Lumintrek 1600 light is way better than my Magicshine, and was leaps and bounds better than the older lights the rest of the guys were on. It’s not a total spot beam like the Magicshine, and it’s also not a flood. It seems to be a perfect blend of the two, to where it lights up quite a lot of the trail in front of you, but also let’s you really light up the area you are focused on. The one light is enough to where I can just throw a light on my helmet and don’t need a secondary bar light. Also the battery lasts a full 2.5 hours at high, so you get a great ride in after work. Needless to say, a couple of weeks later, we are all riding with the Lumintrek lights and all the older lights have been retired or sold off.
Luminktrek 1600 on the trail. 1/15s camera shutter so a great representation of what it actually looks like
It’s like a different sport. It’s daylight out there. We’re not any slower than during the day and when you are 3rd in line with those 1600 lumen lights all around, you almost don’t need a light yourself. Now there are a lot of other options in the market other than the Lumintrek light, and many at similar price points, but what really impressed me was the quality of the product, bike mount, battery, and helmet mount all for $130. It allows pretty much anyone, regardless of budget, to go out there and rip it up on their local trail after the sun goes down, which in itself is awesome!
Any of you guys using these inexpensive Chinese lights? What are some of your experiences?
(Editors note: This isn’t a formal review and we were not provided this light by the manufaturer. We were just happy enough with a product to write about it!)
For my whole time racing/riding I’ve used a mix of fluid/gel/food to get me by. While it’s worked, and I haven’t had too many nutritional issues, it sure isn’t convenient. Dealing with used and unused gel packets, wrappers, Clif bars, dosing etc is a pain in the butt. I’ve been looking at the possibility of switching to just a single source of energy, and when I heard about Tailwind Nutrition I was excited to try it, as it seemed like a product aimed directly at me. It’s a single endurance drink that gives you everything you need, and nothing you don’t. It is supposed to be easy on your gut, easy to drink (even after 6+ hours on the bike), and hydration bladder friendly (a must for long training rides).
Here at Bike198 we got some samples from Tailwind and we’ll be putting them through the paces during training and racing. The idea of it sounds awesome, and in my opinion, it has a bit of an advantage over it’s main competitor (Infinit Nutrition) as it is very camelback friendly, has easier dosing options for easy/medium/hard rides, and is slightly cheaper. Tailwind also does not have any protein in it’s drink, as according to it’s website, it can cause stomach issues in endurance athletes. Lastly, compared with a similar dose of Infinit (~250 calorie portion) is has more Sodium (750mg vs 380mg), same Carbs, more Magnesium (37mg vs 23mg), and more Calcium (63mg vs 30mg). On paper, it sounds like a winner.
I’ve now tried Tailwind on 2 different training rides and have had great results. The first ride was a quick “trial by fire” as it was a Performance Test I was doing as part of my training routine. It was a short ride (30 minute warm up, 20 minute test, 30 minute cool down) and I did one bottle of 2.5 scoops. Solid energy the whole time, but I wasn’t expecting to have issues. The next test was a bit longer as it was a 4.5 hour training ride this past Saturday. I put in 10 scoops of Tailwind into my 100oz camelback expecting to drink 20oz and 200 calories per hour. I brought some energy gels as backups, but didn’t have to use them. I felt good the whole ride and never ran out of energy. The taste is this mix of sweet/salty that kept me coming back and I never got tired of it the whole time. It comes in 3 different flavors, so we’ll see if Orange and Berry are as good as the Lemon one I’ve had so far.
I’m looking forward to using Tailwind exclusively as fuel for my training and racing. With my weight (170lbs) I plan on consuming around 150-200 calories for my longer training rides, and 250 during racing efforts. If things go well, this will be the end of my having to deal with gels, Clif bars, and other random things I have to hunt down and eat during my riding. I’ll keep you guys up to date with how the longer training rides are going, as I have a couple of 5-6 hour rides planned in the next 2 weeks.
Last but not least, Tailwind Nutrition is so sure of it’s product, it offers the Tailwind Challenge. “It’s simple: if Tailwind Endurance Fuel doesn’t make you stronger, happier, and less stressed while you train and at your next event, we’ll pay your race fee.” That’s a pretty bold statement and I like the fact they put their money where their mouth is and back up their product.
The crew at Demon United got in contact with us earlier last month with some press releases regarding their new offerings for the mountain bike community in the form of protection gear. Specifically, they wanted us to take a look at their new helmet and pads. What really struck our attention right away was the addition to speakers integrated into the helmet. Since this was something new we really hadn’t messed with before, we knew a review was in order…so here is a first look at the gear we got in from Demon before it gets smashed against the ground.
About Demon United
Demon started with a single product over 10 years ago by a pair of brothers based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. As you can guess by the url of their website (demonsnow.com), it was protection gear for the snow based sports. Their product offerings now range across multiple disciplines with over 150 products and now they are hitting our community with full force.
First Look: Demon Ricochet Full Face Helmet
As I alluded to above, the Ricochet helmet is really what caught our eye to start. While there are plenty of full face helmets on the market, the integration of audio into the helment itself is what really caught our attention.
Demon United it excited to release the new Demon Ricochet and Podium full face Helmet. Both helmets are built with tons of features yet has a price affordable to every rider. Demon Dirt went with a stealth matte Black finish with a contrasting black graphic, a sure match with any outfit you want to wear. In order to compete as one of the best helmets on the market, Demon Dirt started by making a super light weight, high strength Injection molded polycarbonate shell. Polycarbonate is one of the strongest polymers available, which makes this shell extremely durable. Next, Demon Dirt put an adjustable visor and included aluminum screws (not the cheap plastic ones that come with most helmets).
The interior foam is an EPS liner that absorbs impacts with great effectiveness. Couple that with the plushy finished interior padding, the Ricochet and Podium helmets by Demon are ultra comfortable. The liner is also removable so you can wash the dirt and grim and keep the helmet looking and smelling clean!
The newest advance Demon has made to these helmets is equipping them with audio. Inside each helmet are two built in headphones and an A/V jack. Demon also includes an audio cord so no matter what devise your using, the Ricochet and Podium helmets are as ready as you are. “We are very excited about the audio, we are one of the first in the industry to try this,” says co-founder, Brent Davidson. Demon is bridging the gap between wearing a full face helmet and being able to listening to music. Now, whether you’re downhill mountain biking or riding BMX, you’ll never be with out your music.
Demon Hyper Knee and Elbow X D30
The other products from Demon that arrived for review are the Hyper Knee and Elbow X D30 pads. As many of you already know, I am a huge fan of flexible, all day ridable protection as it helps you gain confidence on the trail and protects joints that are susceptible to getting nailed on rocks and other hard objects. The more protection we can have that is actually comfortable on epic rides…the better. So in a pursuit to find more options that fit that bill, we brought in the knee and elbow pads from Demon as well.
Demon understands that most riders will be wearing their gear for hours and hours at a time. With that in mind, Demon released the new Demon Hyper Knee and Elbow X D3O, which is a very aggressive, lightweight kneepad and elbow pad. The Hyper knee and elbow delivers some serious protection as well as being extremely comfortable. The benefits come from a Kevlar front shield, making it ultra durable, and D3O impact technology, which absorbs shock and protects against any blow to the knee or elbow.
Demons secret, though, lies in the form-fit padding behind the D3O. The memory foam cushions and conforms to your knee or elbow giving you the I-could-sleep-in-these-things feeling as well as adding that much more protection against a wipeout. The Airoprene body makes for excellent ventilation as well as the terry cloth inside which helps wick away sweat to keep you cool and dry. The entire pad has double bound stitching making it extra durable. “We want this to be a kneepad [or elbow pad] that last a long time so we put the effort into building it the right way,” says Co-founder, Brent Davidson. Try it on and you’ll never want to take it off.
Out of the box, the product looks great so far. The helmet is comfortable and super lightweight while the pads seem like they will do a great job at protection while not being a hassle to wear on the trail. Of course, this is all speculation at this point as we have to go out and get everything dirty. I guess this means I need to go hit the trail and wreck a couple of times…
Adjustable height, telescoping seat posts have taken the industry by storm over the past year. While Gravity Dropper used to be the only game in town in this segment, other big names in the industry like RockShox, Fox and Crank Brothers are now throwing their hat in the ring. It seems like every big company to speciality manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon with their latest and greatest in a part of the industry people used to make fun of. That is…until they started seeing pro XC racers actually riding them or they tried one for themselves.
Why do you need a telescoping seat post?
Back when I used to run the Gravity Dropper, almost everyone that saw it thought I was running a suspension seat post. Even when I would explain what the seat post did, riders would ask “why when you have a QR” or call it a cheater post. Most of these comments were coming from riders who had never ridden a telescoping seat post before.
Fast forward to now…and everyone wants one, but why is that? To really have complete control of your mountain bike while heading downhill, you need to have the seat out of the way so you can get your weight back and maneuver the bike. You can go faster with more control. It is a proven fact by downhill racers and AM giants.
However, this creates one large problem for AM and XC riding. It is very time consuming to raise and lower your seat all of the time. Even when you actually take the time to do it, you are never guaranteed to get your seat back to the perfect height for climbing.
Enter the telescoping, adjustable seat post.
With a quick flick of a switch on your handlebar, you now have complete control of your saddle height. Even if you want to put it down for a quick set of rollers on the trail, you know can with ease…and you will. Riders are always amazed how much they actually end up changing saddle height while they ride when they ride a telescoping seat post for the first time then on subsequent rides. It really transforms your riding in ways that were previously impossible with a conventional seat post setup.
RockShox Reverb in the Box
First Look: RockShox Reverb Seat Post
One of the latest offerings in this market segment is from the SRAM and RockShox camp. While this should be no surprise to anyone as RockShox develops incredible suspension technology, RockShox did take their time getting into this market by bringing a solid product off the bat.
What’s In The Box: RockShox Reverb
Driven by hydraulic pressure, the RockShox Reverb comes packaged with everything you need to mount and maintain the seat post. Extra fluid, the syringes, seat post clamp and zip ties…it’s all there.
RockShox Reverb Saddle Mount
The all black design of the Reverb will match most bikes and the seat mounting system is a two bolt design like you find on many posts these days including Thomson.
The crew at Contour contacted Bike198 awhile back asking us to do a review on their Contour Ab belt. Yes…it is that thing you see on “as seen on TV” that promises rock hard abs without having to do sit ups. Admittedly…at first…I took in this product review as a joke. I – like you – have seen the commercials and laughed but at the same time I was actually pretty curious so I figured…why the hell not?
Ironically, during this time I was actually going through physical therapy for my back. I have degenerative disc desease and it had gotten bad enough at the time that I was off the bike completely and going to PT twice a week. During physical therapy, we were working on getting what was left of my discs set back to where they are supposed to be then started working on my core strength so it would act like a back brace keeping everything together. Part of the treatment was exercises and the other part was electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) on the muscles in my lower back.
I receive the package from Contour and what is the ab belt actually made of? Gel pads that are nothing but the same EMS technology I was getting at physical therapy. What started off as a joke got serious really quick as I started looking into ways I could use the Contour Ab belt to get me back on the bike quicker. A quick call into Contour and they sent off their back accessory to use with the kit. I now had the one part of physical therapy I could not do at home…at home.
What is EMS?
The impulses are generated by a device and delivered through electrodes on the skin in direct proximity to the muscles to be stimulated. The impulses mimic the action potential coming from the central nervous system, causing the muscles to contract. The electrodes are generally pads that adhere to the skin. EMS is cited by renown sport scientists as complementary technique for sport training, and published research is available on the results obtained.
The ab belt came with a host of videos and instructions. Most of this information was centered around exercise and proper diet which we all know is the real secret that is combined with exercise to increase muscle strength and burn fat. All of these people that order this thing with the hope they can sit on the couch eating potato chips and ice cream and still have 6 pack abs are going to be sorely disappointed as Contour basically tells them you can’t get results without changing your life.
Of course, I wasn’t really looking for 6 pack abs (even though my wife wishes that would be my goal). I needed to get back on the bike and my little experiment might actually help me get there faster.
Using the Contour Ab Belt is weird. If you have ever had EMS treatment before, you know exactly what I am talking about. The entire process feels unnatural and if you turn up the juice enough it actually hurts (No pain no gain right? Sorry…couldn’t help it). The contractions in your muscles are supposed to help strengthen those areas. As mentioned above, it is a simple process that has actually seen results in labs and on the field. I hooked myself up per the instructions and kept to a routine.
Included with the kit is a preprogramed controller that also adjusts the intensity of the unit. In the instruction manual, there are plans laid out with specific programs attached so you can work your way through the system and start off easy before turning up the juice and program later. All of it is easy to figure out and use with the manual and the LCD screen on the controller unit itself.
Did I get 6 pack abs?
No…not yet. My diet needs to change first as I am still a sucker for ice cream and cheeseburgers. I am just lucky enough to have a metabolism that burns that crap off fast enough to keep me at a healthy weight.
However, the ability to keep my therapy consistent was key in me getting back on the bike faster. I was actually able to stop PT a little bit early and start pushing myself because I was able to continue this treatment at home. For that, the Contour Ab Belt (I just call it my at home physical therapy) was invaluable and I am glad I took on this review in part as a joke. It does help strengthen your core muscles as described. You aren’t going to end up like the guy or girl you see in their promotional videos without some serious work in other areas, but if you goals are defined and realistic…I do believe it has value. It definitely did to me given my situation at the time.
I will be continuing to use it when I have soreness and flareups to try to prevent being on the bike for prolonged periods of time again. After all, if the technology is good enough in a PT office…why shouldn’t I use it at home as well?
The company Funkier first caught our eye when they claimed a 2011 Eurobike award for best baggies (2nd time winner). Up until then, there wasn’t much said about Funkier in the US as that particular short was not available here. The design of the short was interesting and with the award to bag them up…I knew we had to get in a pair to review on Bike198. During the process, the Funkier Hawk shorts became available in the US through FunkierBikeUSA.com.
What first struck me as unique about the Funkier Hawk was the length of the short. While there are definitely other short manufacturers that have released longer shorts for the mountain biking community, the way the Funkier Hawk tapered and catered to those riders looking for something a little bit longer is just about dead on.
For riders like me that have crazy long femurs, many of the baggies that come to market can seem a little bit short…not the case with the Funkier Hawks that came to my kneecap will riding. The lower portion of the shorts are actually even sewed so they fall in line with your knees as you ride. The bottoms also feature velcro to adjust the width of the opening at the bottom which I basically just left alone. One issue I did have with the lower leg opening was that is isn’t quite wide enough to go over larger knee pads like the Kyle Strait’s from 661. They should be find over the EVO’s and other lower profile pads.
The outer shorts are made out of 100% nylon which makes for a light and durable shell. Through wrecks, slides and general trail beating, the shorts still look like new every time I grab them out of the wash. The construction of the outer shell is also not bulky or overly thick, so movement while riding is not inhibited. There are also two zippered front vents that allow for air passage if you are riding on a really hot day. The back of the knee sections are even vented which helps with a short that is 3/4 length like this.
Overall, there are 6 total pockets (2 back, 2 cargo, 2 side) that will hold more than you probably want to carry while riding out on the trail. That many pockets does give you the ability to pick where you want to put gear but I would never fill them all up with anything. The front button is secure and there was a draw string on the inside for adjustment…until it fell out in the wash…with elastic built into the waistband. If I really needed more adjustment there are belt loops but the shorts fit fine as is.
The review set came in with Funkier’s BS622 E2 Boxer Shorts internals. The lower leg grips kept them stable while there were also attachement points at the top fo the shorts to the shell to keep the Hawks from riding low while on the bike. The chamois on this set actually felt HUGE at first. I can remember putting them on for the first time thinking I really didn’t even want to walk in them, but after a couple of rides they broke in and were more comfortable. I found them capable for really long rides but a little bit too much padding for just a quick spin in the woods. The material itself dried quickly on warmer days which did aid in the overall comfort.
When I look for a mountain bike baggie that I want to wear…there are basically several features that need to be in place. They need to be light enough so I don’t overheat in the southeast US during the summer. They need to fit my style. And they need to be comfortable enough for multiple styles of riding. After being on the Funkier Hawk 3/4 mountain bike shorts for awhile, I can see why they have won multiple Eurobike awards. They hit all three of those for me with the only downside that the leg openings are a little small for big pads. They are also great for riders like me that have long femurs and need a little bit longer short.
However, that does come at a price. The Hawk’s retail for $94.95 which does price them out of the market for a lot of riders. Every year I run across one mountain bike apparel item that I want to wear on every ride. This year…the Hawk’s have been the pair of shorts I do not want to ride without.
Last week was big in the world of braking for mountain bikes. SRAM released their new “Trail” series of brakes in their and X.0 lineup. While we have always been a big fan of the Avid brakes, this takes their product to the next level we have been looking for.
At Bike198, there are two brakes that seem to really stand out in the market.
Hope Tech M4‘s for their 4 pot design and incredible modulation.
Shimano XT (or XTR) for their brute force (but have issues with lack of modulation/on/off feel)
The Avids have always been a mix of the two which has allowed the to be great for most riders. They are good on power and modulation but not supreme on either. They are brakes you can trust on rides and that is why we have had great success with them on numerous bikes at Bike198. They have been through several branding changes over the years but they have essentially been the same brakes for quite sometime.
Now…enter the new 4 pots from the X0 lineup dubbed “trail”.
From the looks of it, the new 4 pot brakes from SRAM should be the perfect mix of both the XT power and the M4′s modulation. We will have to get on a set and ride them to be sure, but from the looks of the design, what they have done with the taper bore technology in the lever and the amount of pad contact/force you get with a 4 pot design, these should be an incredible brake for bikes in the 5.5″ and up travel category. It is definitely something we have been looking for from SRAM for awhile.
The Trail features a powerful new 4-piston caliper, claimed weight of 340 grams, and features a lever pivot bearing.
Over the past couple of months, we have been putting the Nocturn W660 and N230 LED lights from Global Gear through the ringer. Let’s take a look at what we found with these two inexpensive LED bike lights.
For the purposes of this review, Global Gear provided two models out of their lineup: the W660 and N230. Let’s take a look at the specs.
Nocturn W660 LED Lighting System
660 Lumens Aluminum LED Head Unit
Machined Aluminum Bar Mount
2-Cell 3.7V Lithium Ion Battery Pack
Compact 100-240V Travel Charger
System Weight: 280 grams
2 Light Power Levels
Retail Cost: $99.00
NocturnN230 LED Lighting System
230 Lumens Aluminum LED Head Unit
Machined Aluminum Helmet Mount
2-Cell 3.7V Lithium Ion Battery Pack
Compact 100-240V Travel Charger
System Weight: 290 grams
2 Light Power Levels
Price: Not currently listed on Global-Gear.com
As you can see by the pictures above, the Nocturn lights come in foam encased travel cases to protect the aluminum constructed bike lights and mounts. The N230 is a spot beam and the W660 is a flood, so the crew at Global Gear recommended we run the N230 on the helmet for accurate focused light where our head was pointed and the brighter flood light on the bars to cover the wider spread on the ground.
Review: Nocturn W660 and N230 LED Bike Lights
When you first open the cases, you immediately notice the black housings of the LED bike lights from Nocturn. The machining is accurate and the black ano is well done. On the surface, the lights appear much more expensive than the pricing suggests. However, due to the all aluminum construction, you will not just be throwing these lights in with the rest of your gear as the rougher edges will scratch plastics. The supplied travel cases are almost a must to keep the lights scratch free as well as the rest of your gear.
On the back, there is a simple one button on/off operation that is easy to get to and operate. Hit the button once for on, once more to bring it down one power level and then again for off. Pretty simple stuff.
Most riders I know use their helmet mounts almost exclusively. The Nocturn mount is easy to use and features another aluminum machined mount that attaches with elastic straps. The light actually slides into a collar that is then tightened with an allen head bolt. The mount is secure and the elastic straps allow you to get the light secure on the helmet. The only downside to the mount is the inability to secure the loose straps.
Due to the lightweight nature of the light kit, you are actually able to mount the battery to your helmet as well. This keeps any wires from having to run down your back if you can take a little bit of extra weight (overall 290 grams which is pretty light). There is a supplied extension cable if you would rather put the small battery in your jersey pocket or hydration pack.
The handlebar mount has a similar aluminum construction as the helmet mount. The light attaches the exact same way and a collar with a removable bolt handles the mounting to the handlebar duties.
Our battery was strapped to the top tube as our stem was too short to accommodate the battery’s length.
It still worked out well and the cable was able to be kept out of harms way.
Overall, both systems were incredibly easy to mount and secure on the bike and helmet. The mounts were well made and the pivoting point on each was strong enough to keep the lights from working their way down under heavy hits and vibrations.
Light Performance: W660 and N230 LED Bike Lights
Before we talk about the specifics on the performance of these lights, let’s take a look at a couple of pictures. These were taken with the following settings on a Nikon D7000 with a Sigma 50mm/f1.4 lens: ISO400, F/6.3, 0.5 second shutter speed. The images were imported in Lightroom 3 and left unedited to keep them looking as much like they were when taken from about a 30 foot distance.
Both W660 and N230
As you can see by the pictures, there is a distinct difference in both brightness and spread in the N230 and W660. The combination of the two actually doesn’t look much different than the W660 fired by itself as the N230 gets almost completely washed out.
The W660 does a good job of providing foreground light and the 660 lumens specification seems about dead on. It provides a lot of usable light out of a small package. Quoted, the W660 will run for up to 2.5 hours on high and up to 10 hours on low and the N230 will run for up to 5 hours on high and up to 14 hours on low. We didn’t test the lights under the low condition (we like things BRIGHT on the trail), but the quoted times seemed about dead on for each unit on high.
So after looking at the specs and beam patterns…are these low budget lights worth it?
Overall: Nocturn W660 and N230 LED Bike Lights
For the W660, absolutely. At the cost of $99.00 dollars, it almost makes the light disposable in the bike light world where name brands will cost you 5x as much. The lightweight nature of the unit makes it incredibly versatile and the beam pattern is great for trail use. Your friends with 1,000 lumens + will have more light, but at 660 lumens there is plenty of useable light for the trail.
On the N230, we honestly didn’t get much out of it. I understand what Global Gear is saying about using a spot on the helmet and flood on the bars, but I would rather just run a flood on the helmet and nothing on the bike. For a backup, the W660 is cheap enough to just get two and have much more usable light if you want to run a two light setup. The spot just doesn’t cover enough spread and gets washed out by the W660 anyway.
The bike light industry is really getting rocked by these low cost LED’s and we can see why. Even if the unit failed after a year, you are only out a hundred bucks! You can buy 5 of these before you are up in the range of the name brand units. That is a hard argument to make a case against if you ask me. Especially for riders looking to ride at night on a budget or endurance racers looking to keep the weight off.
Positive: Nocturn LED Bike Lights
Unbelievable price makes them almost disposable
Quality aluminum construction with lights and mounts
Carrying cases included
W660 has a nice spread and amount of usable trail light
Spec’ed run times are accurate…low times allow for endurance racing.
Negative: Nocturn LED Bike Lights
Aluminum construction makes the cases almost necessary
N230 rendered about useless when paired with the W660 and we wouldn’t use it alone
Availability: Off the global-gear.com website only
Earlier this year, Cervo Rosso came to us with a set of their Swiss National Pride jersey and Strada bibs for review on Bike198. Since then, this high end jersey and bib combo has been through everything ranging from century road rides to cross country mountain bike events in an attempt to see what they could take. After all the abuse and trips through the washing machine, we are ready to let you guys know what we think…
Who is Cervo Rosso?
Cervo Rosso is a cycling apparel company based out of Switzerland with manufacturing done in Italy founded with the goal of making the best possible apparel for cyclists.
Our values respect the needs of discerning riders who want to perform at their very best in absolute comfort all year round. Looking exceptional in a unique and classic design come as an added bonus.
The passion they have for cycling is readily apparent in your dealings with the company and the pride they take in every piece of cycling apparel that Cervo Rosso manufactures. With a wide range of options from short sleeve jerseys to wool winter garments, they have you covered and ready to hammer all year long.
Review: Cervo Rosso National Pride Jersey
The first thing you notice when you get out the National Pride Jersey is the almost silky feeling material. The lyrca SPORT and polyester combo is some of the best feeling fabric we have ever worn.
This jersey is designed to optimally support you during high intensity and longer duration rides. Made from the MITI TECH POWER, the Short Sleeve National Pride incudes a Lycra SPORT front panel that gives the jersey an exceptional body fit cut and feel, whilst the rear portion of the jersey utilises a cross construction of polyester that provides exceptional vertical moisture transportation capacity. This simply means that the jersey remains dry and ensures low moisture retention.
What this creates is an extremely well fitting jersey that doesn’t feel too tight or too loose. It just seems to fit perfectly and feels great when worn.
A great feature that we found on this jersey was the sleeves. While the elastic arm grippers are a great bonus (no wrinkly elastic…just rubber like grippers that keep them in place), the best feature of the sleeves was actually the fact that they were slightly longer than all of the other jerseys we have tested in the past. If cycling tan lines are a descent measurement, we would guess that the sleeves descended about an inch father down our arms which resulted in a more comfortable fit that didn’t move while riding.
The National Pride jersey comes with your conventional 3 pocket rear setup that held bottles and other much needed ride items securely.
During the summer months in Georgia, the National Pride jersey was surprisingly cool given the black color combo. The material expelled heat quickly while drying out just as fast. This kept our cores cool during 100 degree climbs in the mountains. Under a little bit cooler weather (around 60-70 degrees F), the material still did a great job of shielding wind, so there is a wide range of temperatures that this jersey is capable of protecting your body against.
If we had one gripe about the National Pride jersey it would be that you can see your bibs through the white on your back. While this is purely visual and as zero effect on performance, we thought it was still worth noting.
Review: Cervo Rosso Strada Bibs
The Strada bibs from Cervo Rosso are made out of the same great material as the jersey with the same red, black and white design.
Made in the heart of Italy, the Cervo Rosso Team Race Bib-Short MK 2 features 3 panel body fit Xtra Life Lycra construction, flat lock stitching to prevent chafing and the new HG07 TECHNOLOGY insert, providing exceptional ride comfort and antimicrobial protection. With the inclusion of Cervo Rosso elastic grippers to ensure secure fit around the quadriceps, these shorts will stay in place in extreme riding conditions.
The cut of these shorts brings that same level of perfection as the jersey it matches. Once you put them on, it almost feels like the bibs has been molded for your body. There are no areas that feel stretched or bunched up as you start to warm up spinning. While I was worried about the silky feeling material on slicker saddles, the material change in the rear to the matte finish kept my rear on the saddle without feeling excessive slipping.
The chamois (their HG07 insert) is a great combination of long distance comfort while not feeling overpowering. With rides ranging from short mileage sprints to long distance all day events, the chamois never felt too big or not padded enough. For this rider, it also just seemed to work and it was the last thing on my mind while riding.
Unlike the jersey that found a little bit longer sleeves, the Strada bibs did have shorter legs than we were used to. I am 6’1″ tall with a 34″ inseam, so my femur is longer than most. I was told that the newer versions of the bibs did get slightly longer leg lengths so that should help tremendously. I was actually running into situations where the bottoms of the legs wanted to ride up despite the great grippers purely because of the way they interacted with my quads. If they were an inch or two longer, they would have been perfect.
Overall: Cervo Rosso Cycling Apparel
You get spoiled quickly wearing the Cervo Rosso cycling apparel. Just the feeling of the fabric alone is worth the price of admission if you are into high end cycling clothing. When you add the cut and styling (I prefer the red, black, white simplicity), this is a killer combo Cervo Rosso as put together for cyclists. After numerous trips in the washing machine and even a couple of mountain bike wrecks, the National Pride jersey and Strada bibs still look as new as the day they came out of the box.
The Good: Cervo Rosso Cycling Apparel
Incredible materials and cuts
Good for a wide range of temperatures and riding distances
Longer sleeves on jerseys increase comfort and aero
The Bad: Cervo Rosso Cycling Apparel
Price – You have to pay to play
Bib leg length was a little too short for taller riders
COUPON DEAL FOR BIKE198 READERS: Get 10% off the STRADA MK2 Bibs with coupon code “Bike198″ –> Strada MK2 Bibs
If you are looking for the best the cycling industry has to offer, Cervo Rosso should be on your list. Cervo Rosso is also looking for test riders in the US and Europe. If you are interested, follow this link for details.
If you are anything like me, you are always on the search for nutrition bars and supplements to consume on your rides. There are a ton of options on the market, but the trick for every rider is finding something that keeps the pedals moving forward while also working well with your individual stomach needs.
Ever since the conception of the PowerBar, companies have been looking for ways to improve and innovate in a market that is designed to give you more energy and keep your endurance going longer in sports activities.
Review: PureFit Nutrition Bars
The crew over at PureFit Nutrition Bars sent over a handful of different flavors of their bars for testing on Bike198.
I will start by being completely honest. I have a difficult time reviewing nutrition products. Does one really out perform the other? Did I really get increased energy from this bar vs. the other brand? The reality is that it is really hard to tell. I don’t have a lab with perfect conditions or science to back it up. I just get out and ride and see how my body does in reaction to the food I am in taking.
At first glance, the PureFit bars look a lot like the chalky PowerBars of old. However, the taste is much better and while they might look dry…they are actually pretty moist. I didn’t feel like they were completely drying out my mouth on the trail while eating. I did feel the need to take a drink of water afterwards, but I do that will all nutrition items…even the Cliff Bloks.
When done, the weight in your stomach is somewhere between the lightness of a Cliff Blok and heaviness of a Cliff Bar. Personally, I can not eat Cliff Bars while riding due to how heavy they feel in my stomach. Over the course of a ride, the Cliff Bars will actually make me feel sick. The PureFit bars sat in nicely and did not give me the same sensation. That makes these bars a nutrition item that I would actually purchase and use again on rides.
Another thing I really like about the PureFit bars over some of the other alternatives are the ingredients.
PureFit bars do not contain dairy, wheat, gluten, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, or trans fats, so they offer a sound nutritional choice.
I am not an organic eater by any stretch, but the choices PureFit has made in the ingredients they use in their bars means you are getting as much healthy nutrition as possible while also being friendly to a wide range of riders with various health needs. Ironically, they also tend to taste pretty good with a lot of different flavors to make your refueling enjoyable.
I will use the PureFit bars on the trail and road again. Their taste matched with the way they sit in my stomach on rides is very appealing. I get to eat something substantial without the negative side effects of an upset stomach on a ride. The choice of ingredients and portions seemed to keep my energy going on rides, but that is difficult to measure.
If you are a rider that is looking for more than a Blok but do not want something super heavy…this is probably the perfect bar for you as it also tastes pretty good at the same time. Even riders that are used to heavier products like the Cliff Bars might find that this lighter option does just as good of a job. My personal favorite was the Granola Crunch.