Danny Beveridge – Bicycles Network Australia https://www.bicycles.net.au The Top Australian Cycling Portal Fri, 25 May 2018 06:40:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 TinyDeal and 2200 Lumens of Cree Lighting Power https://www.bicycles.net.au/2014/11/tinydeal-and-2200-lumens-of-cree-lighting-power/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2014/11/tinydeal-and-2200-lumens-of-cree-lighting-power/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 22:00:49 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=12571 The burgeoning Chinese manufacturing industry has been a blessing and a curse to hundreds, even thousands of industries. Their ability to radically shift the supply curve (due to the sheer volume they can produce) has changed the benchmark prices of everything from USB cables to T-Shirts. Of course, that hasn’t been without its headaches. While […]]]>

The burgeoning Chinese manufacturing industry has been a blessing and a curse to hundreds, even thousands of industries. Their ability to radically shift the supply curve (due to the sheer volume they can produce) has changed the benchmark prices of everything from USB cables to T-Shirts. Of course, that hasn’t been without its headaches.

While many were initially skeptical about the business acumen of these “new players” – we now come to realise that for a communist-ruled country, China really gets capitalism. The key is of course, communicating what you need. There are plenty of items coming out of there that are so cheaply made that they are completely unfit for purpose. Yet the technology they hold enables them to turn out the highest-quality items too, if you’re prepared to pay something much closer to a reasonable price.

TinyDeal.com contacted us in relation to their cycling-specific items, such as the Cree headlight we are testing. The website itself covers many more categories traditional to the “Chinese Manufacturer Outlet” style of business you’ve no doubt seen before. Unlike, say, AliBaba or AliExpress, which only puts you in contact with the manufacturer, TinyDeal actually take responsibility as the seller of the item – even offering warranties of up to 12 months on some items.

In this case, we were testing the waterproof Cree Bicycle Light. It has a rather unflattering name;  Aluminium Alloy Waterproof USA CREE XML-T6 Charging 2200 Lumens 4 Modes Flashlight for Cycling Camping QCA-249645. For me, the big question was “Would I get what I expected?”

The first thing I noticed was that the product looked just like it did in the pictures, so I felt that was a good start. To be honest, I hope one day online retailers will begin putting more detail around their pictures, like high definition pictures from every single angle you can imagine, plus the most important part – something for scale. One thing I hate is when you have no context and the item you buy ends up being much bigger or smaller than you expected. In this case, I expected the light and battery case to be in line with other products I’d seen, and it was.

Tinydeal Cheap Chinese Lights

High Powered MTB Light

2200 Lumen Cree Powerful Bike Light

The second thing I checked was whether it had all of the functions advertised. It did: High/Low/Epileptic’s Nightmare/Off. It had one more too, which is that there is a low-battery indicator (the rear button goes from green to red) which I didn’t read about on the website.

Finally I had to assess whether its performance lived up to expectation. Unfortunately, however, I do not have anything to measure luminous flux, so it’s very hard for me to verify its claim of 2200 lumens. What I can say, is that the performance was up there with that of my car’s headlights and I couldn’t imagine needing more.

On the battery side, we finally came up short (but only a little). The website claims battery life of 2.5hrs on high, however I was only able to obtain just under 2 hrs of continuous light. I wonder if the website gave the light time to “cool down” somewhere in the middle of those 2.5hrs. Likewise on Low, I came up just over half an hour short on the website’s estimation.

I could go into more specifics, such as the fact that the light gets EXTREMELY hot (as you would expect) and that I thought the mounting system was well designed; solid, without being so rigid as to cause the light to “bounce”. TinyDeal wanted us to focus on their service so this is more of a general review of TinyDeal than of this light in particular, and I have to admit an all-round positive experience.

This particular light is a few steps up from the absolute cheapest of the cheap, churn ’em and burn ’em type of product that some of us have experienced. I’m particularly encouraged by TinyDeal’s warranties. With the addition of faster shipping options, it would seem to be a pretty reliable place to go for these kinds of products.

Specification and ordering: 2200 Lumen Cree Light from TinyDeal
Edit: correction to Lux / Lumens reference

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Review – Bartime CW45 Carbon Fiber Wheelset https://www.bicycles.net.au/2014/11/review-bartime-cw45-carbon-fiber-wheelset/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2014/11/review-bartime-cw45-carbon-fiber-wheelset/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 22:17:52 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=12364 “Bartime” sounds like a pretty generic bike component manufacturer’s name, doesn’t it? I mean, it almost sounds like someone got the translation dictionary out and chose the first two bicycle-related words they saw and glued them together. But actually the “Bar” in “Bartime” is not in fact the kind of bar, like a handlebar, that […]]]>

“Bartime” sounds like a pretty generic bike component manufacturer’s name, doesn’t it? I mean, it almost sounds like someone got the translation dictionary out and chose the first two bicycle-related words they saw and glued them together. But actually the “Bar” in “Bartime” is not in fact the kind of bar, like a handlebar, that you hang onto while riding, it refers to the kind of bar you lean on with a beverage in hand. Bartime – as in, time at the bar/pub. The company say that is where many of their best brainstorming ideas have come from. I like that, it displays a passion for life that I can identify with.

Sometimes I get excited about reviews, and sometimes I don’t. Testing the very best of the best can be difficult because the product has to work perfectly – anything short of perfection then, is a disappointment. On the flip-side, cheap and cheerful gear can be quite interesting to review, but then sometimes it’s hard to be positive about an inferior product even if it is cheap (and we tell the brands we publish honest reviews).

Today though, I’m excited as I get to tell you about the Bartime CW45-CL carbon wheelset. What makes this exciting is that it’s not an ordinary review. You can’t buy these wheels… yet. Bartime are in a rapid expansion phase, introducing a new line of hubs and wheelsets to cover a wide range of applications. So when we were given the opportunity to try out their new 45mm Wide-Rim (Full) Carbon Clinchers, we jumped at the chance. Just like when BNA reviewed the Bartime BW38 wheelset, we had the opportunity to see how these products are developed through the design phase, and give feedback that would actually be used to improve the final product.

The CW45 rims are full carbon clinchers with a special coated braking surface that were originally designed to allow you to use both carbon and standard brake pads (more on that later). In addition, the rims are a wide-profile (24mm) U-shaped design. Like the BW38’s improvements, they include bite guards on the freehub to ensure hub longevity and stop your cassette from getting stuck. They use a high-flange rear hub drive-side (more on that, too), and yet weigh in at just over 1.5kg per pair (excluding skewers, etc.)

bartime CW45 CarbonFiber Racing Wheels

 

Let’s talk about Aerodynamics

The fact is, short of hiring a wind tunnel, all we have to rely on in this regard is the manufacturer’s claims. I truly believe that the margin for error is far too big for most reviewers to be able to accurately pinpoint the aerodynamic difference between one manufacturer’s 45mm carbon rim and another’s. There are so many things that can go wrong; slight changes in the conditions, accidentally riding in a different position, even the placebo effect – all of these can introduce a greater margin for error than the difference we’re trying to measure.

What I can do for this review is restrict my comments to the measurable. My opinion of the research to hand is that a wider rim is actually more aerodynamic, at least over the real world range of yaw-angles. In this case, the CW45 have a wider rim. Is their cross-section better or worse than say Zipp’s Firecrest cross section? The difference is likely to be relatively small. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, I really like the 45mm depth. I ride every day on 50mm rims and, while I like them, there are times when I would prefer something more low-profile. Compared to 50mm rims, I see the 45mm rim as quite a versatile size having over 10% less surface area when viewed from the side (improving stability in crosswinds) but having less than 1.5% longer spokes (which increases aerodynamic drag). Of course, that spoke length is at the end where it travels fastest, but suffice it to say that in my mind there are real merits to this rim depth. Not quite enough for me personally to invest in a brand new wheelset for that small improvement, but enough to think about if you’re looking to buy something in that region.

 

Do you think you know about Stiffness?

This is one of my pet topics. I will spare you from my rant, but point out that wheels are not “flexy” when you’re doing a time trial, or climbing a mountain. Unless you’re climbing at 1,000 Watts, you’re coming nowhere near the levels of flex required to see a power-transmission loss. Even in a sprint, stiff wheels are more about stability than power transmission.

It may seem that I’m setting you up to say that these wheels are flexy, but don’t worry, the reality is quite the opposite in fact. I gave these wheels an almost 1400 Watt pounding over and over again. My main criteria is that the wheels don’t flex enough to rub the brakes or frame, and despite being 24mm wide, these rims didn’t. My second criteria is that they still “feel” stiff under that power. Again, this is more about my perception of comfort and stability than anything else, but in my view, they performed excellently.

The large drive-side flange appears to contribute to the overall stiffness. If I’m looking at wheel-hubs, I like ’em big. The bigger the better. The CW45’s cut down on weight by having an asymmetrical rear hub. This adds significant stiffness to the drive side, while maintaining a lower weight. I think this is a great design.

Given the wide rim profile, you can also run a lower pressure if you so decide and thus offset any additional vertical stiffness you may perceive. For the record, I did find them to ride a little harder than average, but most of the time I ran them around 10 psi lower, which more than offset this.

Carbon Fiber Racing Wheels

 

Weight

There’s not much to say here. I think 1514 grams is quite good. Again, I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to weight. Especially when it comes to claims about “rotating mass.” Even still, I really enjoyed the “feel” of these rims. They are light enough for me to notice the difference while accelerating, and even when making small adjustments in line.

Bartime Carbon Fiber Hub

 

Braking

This is where the story gets interesting. Bartime have created a special laminated braking track with a kind of cross-hatched texture to it. Originally, we understood it was designed to allow either carbon or regular brake pads to be used. Of course, this was nothing short of ground-breaking, so we were intrigued.

I had some concerns with the braking. Usually the brand-own or brand preferred brake pads are provided with new carbon fiber wheels, however in this case they were not. We checked which pads we could use and settled on SwissStop Black Prince pads, which are usually top performing brake pads for carbon fiber wheelsets.

Unfortunately, I found the braking very vague and seemed to fade quickly. I wasn’t too keen on taking them down any serious descents until I had reliable and solid braking.

Giant TCR Ultegra Dura Ace

Next I went to standard pads for alloy rims, and this time the initial bite was much stronger. Unfortunately it came on a little bit too strong and they made quite a racket too. It’s no wonder, the rubber pads were getting some serious friction against the textured braking surface. This didn’t seem like it was what the manufacturers envisaged – despite the stronger braking, they were too “grabby” to be reliable. After just one ride, the pads were already starting to get shredded. Not a good start.

So we went back to the manufacturer for their feedback. They sent us a new set of carbon-specific pads direct from the Bartime factory and said they were confident these would do the trick. Thankfully they did, and although not on par with the best I’ve seen, the brakes now responded the way I’d seen most other carbon wheelsets respond. The upfront bite is pretty good, and while there is a little bit of softness through the middle, they are predictable enough to become quite comfortable with.

Bartime also advised us that these pads will now be matched to these wheels and will be sent out with each wheelset sold.

 

Conclusion

For me, the 45mm depth, along with the wide profile, are a very practical choice. As well as the aero benefits, you are able to run lower pressures for the same rolling resistance and thus achieve a much nicer ride. Be warned though, that some frames may not be able to accommodate the wider profile – such as the Orbea Orca.

I can’t think of many situations where I’d wish I had a different wheelset in. These are a good middle ground which will be suitable to a (comparatively) large range of conditions.

The rear hub is quite nicely designed, with the (larger) star shape hub on the drive side reducing spoke length (and increasing stiffness under power) while the longer left-side spokes allow for lower weight and more give. And I recognise, of course, that those things probably make only a small real-world impact, however it’s nice to see design based on function, rather than decisions made for aesthetics only.

All in all, these are exactly the kind of wheels I like. They are like a Hyundai with lots of cool features but without the ostentatiousness of a BMW. I like how they have all the good features without the pricey name tag. There is some great technology built into them at a reasonable price point and they are also very versatile. Sure I could buy something similar from another manufacturer and get something that’s probably had more time in the wind-tunnel, but the CW45’s seem to tick all the right boxes – and for that, the cost saving is worth it.

 

Where can you get some, and for how much?
While I’ve talked about the proposed retail price for these wheels, the importer, Keith Louis Eichmann Innovations, notes that the final price and availability is not yet confirmed. To be the first to know, email or call  the importer on [mobile] 0406 614 044. Technical specifications for the Bartime CW45 are available on the Bartime Website.

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Dual Eyewear SL2 Pro Cycling Bifocals with a Twist https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/08/dual-eyewear-sl2-pro-cycling-bifocal-sunglasses/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/08/dual-eyewear-sl2-pro-cycling-bifocal-sunglasses/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 00:00:52 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=8625 When I’m out with my riding partner, I can virtually turn off my own cycling computer because I can just about read the HUGE text on his computer from the other side of the road! My cycling buddy, (let’s call him Phil) bought a Garmin 800 literally just because it had the biggest screen he could […]]]>

When I’m out with my riding partner, I can virtually turn off my own cycling computer because I can just about read the HUGE text on his computer from the other side of the road! My cycling buddy, (let’s call him Phil) bought a Garmin 800 literally just because it had the biggest screen he could find.

Far-sightedness is actually quite common, and after speaking with the eyewear brand Dual Eyewear I have learnt that many riders suffer similarly, or worse! Dual Eyewear have spotted a need and created sports sunglasses (including cycling-specific models) with a bifocal section. The lenses have a magnification section on the inside lower corners of up to +2.5, while the rest is a standard (non-prescription) lens.

Far Sighted Prescription Cycling glasses

My friend, Phil, was really excited to hear about this solution and through BNA, Dual Eyewear lined him up with a pair of SL2 Pro glasses in “smoke” colour – and believe me, he’s given them a workout. You see, while some things we buy are neat but end up on the shelf before long – these days, Phil never rides without his SL2 Pro’s.

That’s despite owning a pair of multifocal prescription glasses that cost well over $700! I’ll explain why in a moment.

After he had time to become familiar with the glasses, I asked him what he liked about them, and here’s how he responded:
• The magnification area is quite small
• They’re comfortable and wrap around well
• They’re light
• They look good

On the other hand, this is what he didn’t like:
• Nothing

I laughed and said, “No, that’s not how it works, you need to give a balanced view.”
So he said “They must be expensive”

I told him “They aren’t”
He said “I guess you could say they’re a bit ‘racy’ for some people”

I told him “There are 14 other styles available”
He pondered “Different lenses?”
I countered, “Yep, 2 – Clear and Amber”

Finally we decided that if we had to nitpick it would be good if the magnification came in more discrete levels (they’re currently available in +1.5, +2.0 and +2.5). Phil’s prescription was supposed to be +1.75 so he went with the +1.5. However, as it turns out, they still worked perfectly.

Stylish Sunglasses Cycling Sunnies

Earlier, I  promised you an explanation of why Phil now rides only with his $84.95 SL2 Pro’s over his custom designed $700 multifocal glasses. So why is it?

Well Phil tells me that very small magnification area is perfect for cycling. Standard mutlifocal lenses are definitely more practical for day-to-day activities (like driving, etc) because your dashboard, desk, etc. takes up quite a large portion of your field of view. Yet on the bike, it’s only a very small patch of the lens through which you read your computer. So for that reason, the SL2 Pro’s are a very elegant solution.

Dual Eyewear SL2 Pro Cycling Sunglasses

Affordable Sports Sunglasses Bifocal

For Phil these glasses do exactly what he needs; they look good, are comfortable, and allows him read his cycling computer at the same price you might pay for any other mid-range pair of standard sports sunglasses.

The SL2 Pro sunglasses are available from selected retailers for $84.95. You can find out more about the sunglasses and where to get them from: dualeyewear.com.au. There are a number of new Dual Eyewear models available this year including the super-cool V8G and V8W styles.

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Cardo BK-1 Duo – Hands-Free for Cyclists https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/06/cardo-bk-1-duo-wireless-cycling-intercom/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/06/cardo-bk-1-duo-wireless-cycling-intercom/#comments Wed, 26 Jun 2013 23:53:16 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=8349 Can you really attach speakers and a microphone to a bicycle helmet… And like it? Not long ago, while out riding, I found myself wondering if I ought to get a Bluetooth headset. Now, it wasn’t that I wanted to listen to music, I’ve never found that necessary  – or even enjoyable. Nor did I […]]]>

Can you really attach speakers and a microphone to a bicycle helmet… And like it?

Not long ago, while out riding, I found myself wondering if I ought to get a Bluetooth headset. Now, it wasn’t that I wanted to listen to music, I’ve never found that necessary  – or even enjoyable. Nor did I want to call my friends while riding and tell them how much fun I was having. No, I just figured it would be a good idea to be contactable in case of emergency; from time to time, I’ve come home to find a thousand messages on my phone that I simply couldn’t hear through my saddle bag (that is, the phone was in the saddle bag, not me.)

Still, I thought such an item would probably be a bit dorky, unwieldy, and annoying (not to mention potentially unsafe.) So I left the idea alone. As luck would have it though, BNA had been in contact with Cassons in Sydney who import Cardo Bluetooth headsets for cyclists (both motor- and bi-). So as luck would have it, I got the chance to test out my theory in practice.

Matthew Runciman Cassons Cardo
Matthew Runciman of Cassons demonstrated Cardo at Ausbike in 2012


Enter the Cardo BK-1 Duo
In a nutshell, the BK-1 Duo is a Bluetooth headset that can connect to your phone and deliver music, GPS instructions, phone calls, and even let you talk to Siri (with whom I have quite the tempestuous relationship!) In addition, you can communicate with other BK-1 users via an intercom mode. Rather than earbuds, the BK-1 uses speakers which is a huge plus for me as I always felt that wearing earphones is too dangerous for our roads.

Cardo BK-1 Cyclist Kit


Operating the Cardo
The Cardo software uses priorities to manage each communication function. If you’re listening to music, it will be interrupted by any incoming intercom communication; in turn the intercom will be interrupted by an incoming phone call. Even though the headset isn’t completely intuitive to use, a thorough read of the manual will make things clear. By the second ride, I was finding it quick and easy to operate.

On a technical level, the software feels very refined. It responds quickly and smoothly every time, so despite having little feedback, I always knew exactly what it was doing with one notable exception. The lights on the helmet blink, but that’s not much good to the wearer – so if you’re riding on your own and you’re not listening to music or anything, you can’t see if you remembered to turn it on. Although practically speaking, this is a minor issue.

Cardo BK-1 Receivers Helmet Mounted

The only thing that needs refining is the “speak to activate” feature, which allows you to answer calls or talk to fellow cyclists simply by saying “Hello” (or anything, actually.) The Cardo does its best, but honestly, you have to YELL to get it to work; it made people think I had Tourrette’s! Simply tapping the mic did the job though – and that was pretty cool; beam me up Scotty!


Audio
The BK-1’s biggest strength is its audio quality; the speakers are the perfect solution to a difficult problem. Not only do they allow you to still hear road noise, but they never gave me any ringing in my ears, and they are super clear. Not only that, but the microphone works amazingly well. Phone calls from Cardo are much clearer to the listener than those from the Bluetooth in my car, for example (just the standard bluetooth function in my 2008 Hyundai Getz, for those of you playing along at home.)

I was also surprised at how effective the audio was for inter-bike communication. It made me realise how much I usually have to shout to be heard over road and wind noise. By contrast, when talking to my riding partner over the intercom, I might as well have been in a library. Even at over 600m apart, there was no drop in audio quality at all, although line of sight is critical.

But what really demonstrated how well this function worked, is that even when riding side by side, we elected to use the intercom because it was easier and clearer! If you’re a social rider, you might be surprised at how much you actually like this.

Cardo BK-1 Helmet Mounte Speak To Cyclists


Myth Busters
I had heard about the Cardo and was interested in trying one out before this review opportunity came along. I admit that I had some preconceptions about it, but I think that they’ve been suitably addressed. Let me share them with you:

Is it unwieldy, time consuming and annoying?
Not really. If you don’t mind charging your Garmin or other bike computer, it’s easy enough to plug in your Cardo as well.

Is it unsafe?
No way. I always thought speakers were the only way to deliver audio safely, and I’m genuinely surprised at how well the Cardo does this.

Is it dorky? Is it expensive?
Yes, and yes again (but don’t those two often go hand in hand?)

Is it useful?
Surprisingly, yes! It might not be “Pro”, but it’s definitely practical. To be honest, if you’re looking for this kind of product I can’t imagine finding one more usable and discrete.

 

Postscript
Not long ago, I found myself out for a ride. This time I was riding with the Cardo BK-1 and I decided to call my wife and tell her what a great time I was having. It was 6 o’clock in the morning and she didn’t share my enthusiasm. There was no mistaking her sentiment, though, and I quickly realised I’d better do another lap or two before I dared venture through the front door.

She didn’t sound happy, but boy, did she sound awfully clear…

Cardo is distributed in Australia by Cassons. The BK-1 retails for $549 and includes two setups, i.e. a Bluetooth receivers, speakers, and microphones for two cyclists.

Cardo BK1- Dueo Wireless Cycling

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Sports Optical: Prescription Lenses for Brand Name Cycling Sunglasses https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/04/sports-optical-prescription-lenses-brand-cycling-sunglasses/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/04/sports-optical-prescription-lenses-brand-cycling-sunglasses/#comments Thu, 04 Apr 2013 23:30:00 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=7873 Sports Optical make prescription lenses that were previously thought impossible. Sure, there are plenty of big manufacturers who make frames that take prescription lenses, but these frames are made to fit the lenses, not the other way around. Sports Optical claim to be experts not only in optometry, but in the specific needs of the sport […]]]>

Sports Optical make prescription lenses that were previously thought impossible. Sure, there are plenty of big manufacturers who make frames that take prescription lenses, but these frames are made to fit the lenses, not the other way around. Sports Optical claim to be experts not only in optometry, but in the specific needs of the sport that we love, while offering a wide range of frames. The lens manufacturer from Denver, Colorado noticed a growing number of orders from Australia and they reached out to Bicycles Network Australia to “see” if they could impress us with their wares.


The Demo Pair: Rudy Project Zyons

In order to test Sports Optical’s claims, I decided to see if they could fit a prescription lens to a pair of Rudy Project Zyons. While many Rudy Project sunglasses are designed to take a prescription insert, Sports Optical claim they are able to create a distance or even multi-focal lens for almost any model in the Rudy Project range. The Zyons are a tough frame to grind a lens for; they wrap around quite a lot and have large lenses. It would be quite a challenge to get a clear image out of every angle due to the large curvature.

I provided my prescription details (it’s best to scan your full prescription printout), selected the frame, and about 6 weeks later I received a pair of Rudy Project Zyon glasses with a polarized brown lens in a -1.00 prescription. While this is a mid-to-low power prescription (it can get a lot worse than this), it’s still a reasonable challenge to grind for a wraparound frame. Also included, surprisingly, was a matching pair of clear lenses for winter riding.

Sports Optical Rudy Project Zyon Lenses Sunglasses

Sports Optical Custom Brown Polarized Clear Lense


First Impressions

At first, I thought something might have been wrong. Something didn’t feel right. And after speaking with Sports Optical, I  received a lesson in prescription lens manufacture. Making a curved lens is a highly specialised procedure. Since the frames are not the exact same shape as your eyeball, the lens manufacturer has to estimate the distance from your pupil to the lens and adjust the magnification appropriately. In the case of my Zyons, I needed to sit them a bit closer to my face, which then brought things into alignment.

Rudy Project Custom Prescription Sunglasses

Rudy Project Brown Polarized Lense


In Use

I was really impressed with the overall product. On the bike, the glasses Sports Optical provided were light, clear and comfortable. I saw no noticeable distortion and no glare in my eyes when the sun was behind me. I enjoyed using them so much that I took I took the chance to try these out in various other sports for comparison.

Touch football and soccer proved to be no problem. Cricket and tennis, however, highlighted the inherent compromise of a heavily curved lens. There was sometimes a slight distortion in tracking a ball’s flight through my peripheral vision. With my regular, flat-lens glasses (non-tinted), I’ve never noticed any of these anomalies. This really turned out to be the only area in which I could notice a real-world effect of the highly-curved prescription lenses. Interestingly, I was extremely surprised at how quickly I was able to get used to this. If you engage in ball sports regularly, however, it is worth considering whether curved prescription lenses would be suitable.

Sports Optical Custom Prescription Sunglasses

The Rudy Project Zyons frame and Sports Optical lenses were really well suited to cycling. The slight lens distortion that was noticeable in the peripheral vision for ball sports never affected judging distance on the bike, picking up irregularities in the road or anything else. Small details on the horizon were just as sharp as the stones and bitumen in front of my tire.

Of course, polarized brown are just about the only way to go for picking up this detail. Grey lenses wash out the contrast of shadows, which are so important for judging distances and depth. In very low-light situations, a rose lens can provide the contrast of a brown lens, while not blocking too much light. Sports Optical can provide all of these in the prescription that you need.

As mentioned, the lenses that Sports Optical provided were very light. They’re made of polycarbonate, have excellent impact resistance characteristics, and can be treated with additional anti-scratch coatings (for a small additional fee, with a 2 year warranty).


Purchasing

Buying glasses online can be intimidating. Fit is very personal and it can be a disaster if things go wrong. Sports Optical were extremely helpful in answering my questions and seemed genuinely passionate about what they do. While many companies see the internet as a chance to distance themselves from their customers and make everything automated to increase volume, Sports Optical encourage anyone interested in buying from them start up a dialogue first – they want you to let them know what you want, what you like and what you’re looking for so they can help you throughout the entire process. Their staff can help you select a style that will suit or advise on lenses. They’re available through Facebook, email or even telephone.

Being a manufacturer, they are able to customise almost anything too. We began to discuss custom grindings and tintings and I quickly got out of my depth. Photochromic options are available, along with custom vents or anti-scratch coatings and more. In my case they were proactive in ensuring that they had everything they needed to be able to deliver a flawless product.

Rudy Project Zyon Cycling Sunglasses

Overall, Sports Optical are attempting to provide the personalised service of a bricks-and-mortar from the other side of the world. In our view, they’re doing a pretty good job of it. I know what I like in a pair of sunglasses and I’ve spent more than I’d care to imagine on them in the past. After discussing my needs with them, Sports Optical suggested almost exactly the same lenses (colour, polarization, tint) I’d picked out and paid for myself just a few months earlier. Passing this genuine test gave me real comfort in writing this review.


Pricing

The prescription lenses from Sports Optical start at $195 with the upgrade to polarized another $54 on top. Purchasing the frames through Sports Optical was cheaper than sourcing it elsewhere and the overall package represented a decent discount on what I could get from a local bricks and mortar store. The big advantage, as I see it, lies in their custom solutions. The cost of this, I know from experience, escalates quickly when dealing with retailers, but seems much more reasonable with Sports Optics.

Sports frames start at $89 and second lenses qualify for a 20% discount. Returning customers (and their extended family!) also receive a 20% discount off their entire order. So, as well as very personalised advice and custom solutions, the possible savings really start to add up.

Being an overseas company, Sports Optical can’t directly bill your health fund provider. However, they can provide invoices and proof of purchase, and you can then apply for reimbursement. It’s worth calling your health provider to ensure you know the cover they are able to provide, and what they need to process this.

Prescription Cycling Sunglasses


Conclusion

Sports Optical have done a remarkable job of fitting a wraparound style pair of cycling glasses with a prescription lens. For riding, the acuity is excellent. Of course, there are inherent challenges  in trying to fit lenses to difficult frames, but you do get the benefit of being able to chat with the very people who will be making your glasses and they will let you know exactly what can and can’t be done.

It really makes sense to take your time when ordering anything online, especially when there are a lot of variables that you need to consider. Sports Optical tell us that this is what they want to be known for, taking the time to give you good advice. So if you’re interested, give them a call or drop them an email and they will be more than happy to help you through each step of the process.

You can check-out Sports Optical online, www.sportsoptical.com or send them an email and tell them that Danny from Australia says “G’Day”.

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Premium Spanish Sumattory Cycling Kit in Review https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/02/premium-spanish-sumattory-cycling-kit-review/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/02/premium-spanish-sumattory-cycling-kit-review/#comments Thu, 07 Feb 2013 23:24:01 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=7546 If you can find a fault with any of the Sumattory kit I’ve been testing, you’re probably a judge on American Idol. Every piece is perfectly cut and designed, and every seam looks like it was stitched together by NASA, such is the precision. The biggest problem I have with this kit is conveying what it’s all […]]]>

If you can find a fault with any of the Sumattory kit I’ve been testing, you’re probably a judge on American Idol. Every piece is perfectly cut and designed, and every seam looks like it was stitched together by NASA, such is the precision. The biggest problem I have with this kit is conveying what it’s all about without inviting you over to my house to try it yourself!

Sumattory is a Spanish company producing a comparatively small range of products. I’ll admit that personally I’d never seen any of their gear until this review. Also, their products certainly come at a premium price, being designed in Spain and made in Italy. Truth be told, I was a bit worried that I would be disappointed – I wondered how Sumattory expected Australian cyclists to buy premium-priced products from a brand they have never heard of before. And over the internet, too!

It took just one ride, however, to understand. Sumattory sent me their gear to review because it’s the real deal.

I received a complete kit with summer jersey, knicks and base layer which was selected by Summattory for my size. While this is well matched and essentially belongs together as a kit, you can still mix and match so we are looking at each piece in detail.

Sumattory Spanish Hermida Orange Stripe Cycling Jersey

 

Sumattory Hermida Jersey
The “Hermida” jersey comes in short and long sleeve models, in orange or blue. I received the short-sleeved orange version in size “small” and right out of the packet, something seemed different.

Material
This isn’t a glorified quick-dry shirt. The very high (72%) nylon content gives it an odd feeling in the hand, but an amazingly tailored feel when it’s on. The outer surface feels incredibly slick and aerodynamic. The material follows the contours of your body to the point where you could even see the permanent bump on my collar bone from my close encounter of the parked-car kind; no other item of clothing I own does this. Despite this, it’s not restrictive – the material is so stretchable that it just feels as though it had been designed specifically for you.

Sumattory Hermida Orange Stripe Cycling Jersey Elite

Design
Most jerseys are passable items of clothing, but the Hermida jersey is clearly at the next level. It’s so light there’s nowhere for sweat to accumulate. It’s so well fitting it won’t flap even at 70km/h, and it’s ridiculously comfortable.

It’s reasonably practical too. It has a super long pocket in the middle that works perfectly for a hand pump or loose items you are paranoid about. It also has a zippered compartment for your phone with a waterproof panel between it and your skin to protect it from moisture. I loved this – I didn’t really need it, but it’s such an elegant solution I can’t help but smile when I think about it. The zipper feels solid and locks in place very well.

The jersey also features tiny holes for airflow and moisture evaporation as well as silicone grippers on the waist. The only thing I could find to gripe about is the sizing. If you take a look at the pictures, you’ll see that really, I needed the next size up. It’s a testament to the design that it was still so comfortable and not restrictive – still, if you happen to be right on the cusp of sizes, go up one.

Verdict
At around $175 (€135), the Hermida is not cheap. But to describe it as anything less than a premium product would be doing it a disservice, and if you’ve never paid these sorts of prices for a jersey, or let alone any item of clothing, it’s unlikely you’ll have anything in your wardrobe that feels like it.

Now, to be honest, not everyone needs a jersey like this. I mean there are plenty of cheaper jerseys that will “do the job”, but no one really needs a Lamborghini either!

Sumattory Hermida Cycling Sprint Tank Stripe Bib Knicks

 

Sumattory “Hermida” Bib Shorts
The Hermida Bib Shorts come in orange or blue, with a long winter version available in black.

Material
As with the jersey, you can tell something’s different right out of the box. Even higher in nylon content (80%), you notice that same thin, stretchy and aerodynamic feel straight away. The chamois is made by the company called Elastic Interface and is named the Cytech “Endurance 3D.” BNA asked however didn’t receive much info about this chamois, but “Endurance” means it is one of Elastic Interface’s long distance chamois and it’s likely specifically made for Sumattory.

The chamois sports two very thick sections directly under your “sit bones”, but it’s not just thick, it’s firm too. Conversely, the front of the chamois is much thinner, though still firm. This design makes sense in the context of long distance rides, where pressure on the pedals is lower and your weight is shifted a little more towards the back.

Design
The fit is fantastic, due largely to the high-quality, body hugging material used. When on the bike, I don’t think I could find a wrinkle in these shorts. The absence of a traditional hem gives it a great, modern style. They never ride up, always sit flat, and they sport some very unique leg grippers too. Like the jersey, the shorts are slightly on the small side and again, if you’re somewhere in between sizes, you should definitely go up rather than down.

Verdict
At around $190 (€145), these shorts, like the jersey, are definitely premium-priced but, again like the jersey, they more than live up to the price tag. There are plenty of shorts that cost a lot but offer little benefit, and you can always get away with cheaper shorts. But if you want to get a pair of really good shorts, and you’re willing to pay for them, then consider this an endorsement of a genuinely premium-quality product.

 

Sumattory “Hermida” Spring Base Layer
The Sumattory Spring Base Layer is yet another high-quality item, though maybe not appropriate for the hot Australian summer. I’m looking forward to making use of this in mid-to-late April

It’s made from a high-quality material, just like the rest of the range, though it has a high (63%) polypropylene content which some riders dislike. I’m relatively indifferent as, once again, the quality is just so evident straight away – this is a specialty product designed for a specific purpose.

It’s incredibly soft and very water permeable, so ultimately I didn’t even realise it had a high polypropylene content until I began writing this review. I gave it a go on a hot summer morning and found that after a minute off the bike the jersey was probably wetter than the undershirt. I thought this was a figment of my imagination, but I’m reliably informed that this is due to the “hydrophobic” nature of polypropylene.

The fit is great, but being sleeveless it ought to fit well. Like the rest of the range, the sizing is ever-so-slightly smaller than you would find over here.

Sumattory Premium Spanish Italian Made Cycling Wear

Verdict
Like the rest of the range, the base layer sports a premium price tag at around $70 (€55)  and, like the jersey and the shorts, the quality of manufacture is exceptional. Don’t let the polypropylene content fool you, this is softer than some merino base layers I’ve worn.

 

Last Word on The Sumattory “Hermida” Kit
I probably would not have ordered the Sumattory kit unless I knew someone who had touched it, ridden in it and given it the thumbs up. I’ve touched it, ridden in it and I’m giving it the thumbs up.

While there are many competitors offering products at lower price points, if you want to ride in the very best gear then seriously consider the Hermida range – it’s unlike anything you’ve worn before and probably better than anything your mates will be wearing.

If you are a budget cyclist, this cycling wear is simply not for you – you would absolutely love it though at the premium price this is reserved for the cyclist who wants a premium product.

Summatory currently don’t have an Australian importer however promise fast shipping internationally (and free shipping for orders over €200), for more information and ordering details, visit: sumattory.com/en

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How do the dhb Lightweight Cycling Socks Weigh Up? https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/09/dhb-lightweight-cycling-socks-weigh-up/ Tue, 11 Sep 2012 06:10:45 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=6301 Having received and tested various items of dhb cycling wear for review I’ve been generally impressed with their value for money. Today we’re looking at their lightweight cycling socks. You may wonder: “Why review a pair of socks?” It’s a fair question. At around $9.50 for one pair, or $13.58 for two, these are actually […]]]>

Having received and tested various items of dhb cycling wear for review I’ve been generally impressed with their value for money. Today we’re looking at their lightweight cycling socks. You may wonder: “Why review a pair of socks?” It’s a fair question.

At around $9.50 for one pair, or $13.58 for two, these are actually some of the cheapest cycling specific socks I’ve personally come across. But, there’s a problem: they come from Wiggle in the UK, which makes it difficult to get up close and personal with them before you buy.

The pair I received was the blue, 8cm ankle length version. The material is very stretchy and, as you can see in the photo, it has an arch support section. I’ve always wondered why socks have this feature as I can’t understand what practical benefit it provides – but I still love it and it feels very comfortable.

I found the socks performed well with regard to wicking away sweat. One thing that I think contributes to this is the fact that the material is thick without being dense. In other words, it allows plenty of airflow through it.

These socks performed admirably – they did the job they were supposed to and they’re priced competitively; I’m suitably impressed. In fact, I’ve been seen more than once wearing these socks with my sneakers at the shops!

Fellow BNA reviewer, Christopher Jones, also has a few pairs (which he purchased) and comments “for the money, these are good socks, particularly if you find it hard to fork out $25 or more for one pair of cycling socks. They are far superior to generic supermarket sports socks and the colours on offer mean you can choose the ones that suit your kit, bike and colour preference.”

However,” he continues, “you will notice that while these are comfortable, more expensive socks are also noticably better in the way they fit your feet and they will take you to a higher level of comfort. The dhb’s may be a

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Quad Lock Deluxe Bike Mounting Kit for iPhones https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/09/quadlock-deluxe-bike-mounting-kit-iphones/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/09/quadlock-deluxe-bike-mounting-kit-iphones/#comments Sun, 02 Sep 2012 02:00:20 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=6449 With the number of cycling apps now available, iPhones are a serious alternative to cycle computers. Many cyclists take a phone with them anyway while riding, so why not let the phone do all the work? What’s needed to do the job properly is a secure and reliable mount. The Quad Lock Deluxe Kit is an […]]]>

With the number of cycling apps now available, iPhones are a serious alternative to cycle computers. Many cyclists take a phone with them anyway while riding, so why not let the phone do all the work? What’s needed to do the job properly is a secure and reliable mount.

The Quad Lock Deluxe Kit is an iPhone mounting system for bikes that includes a bike mount plus two wall mounts. We reported on the Quad Lock when it was part of the Kickstarter crowd funding portal and in January this project attracted double the funding required to make it a reality. Now we get to test the real product. In this article I’m concentrating on the bike mount, although the Quad Lock system provides versatility for mounting (with the other mounts using the same case) to flat surfaces such as walls or the car dashboard.

Quadlock Stem Mount

The Quad Lock Case
The supplied case was an excellent fit for both the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. It will not fall off accidentally. In fact, the first few times you try it, you’ll find the Quad Lock case exhibits a strong desire to remain attached to your phone. I see this as a great endorsement for the quality of manufacture and expect that this will translate into excellent durability of the system.

The case also has a low profile and is therefore fairly well suited to permanent use. The hard plastic will protect the glass back and, unlike silicone covers, it allows you to slide your phone in and out of pockets easily. I mention this because one advantage of silicone/rubber based cases is their shock absorption properties. The solid Quad Lock case won’t provide that kind of protection, so it needs a trustworthy fit and a firm locking system.

Quadlock Handlebar Bike Mounting

The Mounting System
The Quad Lock bike mount can be attached to the stem by the supplied rubber O-rings (as shown above). On my bike I found this to be just slightly too loose for my preference and utilised zip-ties instead. Once firmly tightened, the whole system provided a very solid connection between phone and bike.

Attaching and removing the case from the mount could not be simpler or quicker. Push down, twist and it is locked in. The spring loaded locking mechanism seems impossible to open by accident. The supplied wall mount works just as quickly and easily, however it forgoes the spring loaded lock and the phone can be removed simply by twisting. I personally haven’t found a great use for the wall mounts, but I can’t imagine another method that would be simpler to use.

Quadlock Case

Other Thoughts
If you’re using your iPhone on a bike, you need to decide if the benefits are worth the risk of damage. In the event of a crash I can see my expensive iPhone being scratched, at best, or at worst destroyed. With the Quad Lock, the screen is not protected from the asphalt or the rain, which was a concern at times. There are other products on the market which provide a full plastic case, however the trade-off is usually a less secure and less elegant look.

Quadlock iPhone Button Access

Our concerns may soon be answered however, with the future release of the “Quad Lock Poncho” which is intended to provide both damage and rain protection. It should be worth a look.

The Verdict
This is not the cheapest bike mount you can buy, however to date I haven’t found one cheaper that matches the elegance and efficiency of the Quad Lock, at least not one that secures my phone so reassuringly. The Quad Lock cover is compact enough that you can leave it on your phone permanently. If you’re happy with having your phone a little exposed while riding, the system will do exactly what it’s supposed to do, quickly and quietly.

You can get the Quad Lock online for US$69.95 which includes free shipping to Australia.

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dhb Aeron Race Bib Shorts https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/08/dhb-aeron-race-bib-shorts/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/08/dhb-aeron-race-bib-shorts/#comments Sun, 05 Aug 2012 12:38:24 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=6133 I didn’t check the price of these knicks until I sat down to write this review. My honest assessment was that I’d have been happy to pay $120 for them, though I guessed in a bike shop they’d have been around $150-$160. You can imagine how I felt when I noticed the price was well […]]]>

I didn’t check the price of these knicks until I sat down to write this review. My honest assessment was that I’d have been happy to pay $120 for them, though I guessed in a bike shop they’d have been around $150-$160. You can imagine how I felt when I noticed the price was well below this. The Aeron Race Bib from dhb sits in the middle of the bib knicks price spectrum at around $74 from Wiggle. If you want the summary, then let’s say right up front that these knicks represent fantastic value.

dhb Aeron Race Bibshort WhiteThe “Aeron” monicker gives the impression that they are particularly aerodynamic. I don’t know if this is actually the case, but even if it was, would the advantage be  significant? What I did notice is that the lycra used in the knicks has a very slick feel to it and there are two side-effects of this.

Firstly, it becomes very easy to move around on the saddle. Speaking for myself, I consider this to be a benefit enabling me to shift my weight around and avoid pressure spots. For others, this may be distracting but you probably already know which camp you belong to. Secondly, in winter the wind whips through them like they’re not even there; they are almost unwearable in temperatures below 7 degrees. I suppose, however, that if this was a summer review I would be waxing lyrical about how cool they are. Again, neither good nor bad, just details you don’t get from a picture on the internet.

dhb Aeron Race Bibshort GreyThe cut of the bibs are great. For the size of the shorts, the braces are nice and snug – designed for the riding position, not the coffee shop. Otherwise, all the panels followed my body’s contours nicely and they didn’t bunch or pull while riding. One other nice thing is that they don’t strangle my thighs, yet still stay where they’re supposed to.

Finally, the chamois is really nicely done. There are thicker ones in the Aeron range, however the high density makes this one very comfortable. It’s a good size, too – wide enough but not too big. Again, it’s designed to be comfortable on the bike, not necessarily at the cafe.

I highly recommended these knicks and would probably go so far as to extend that endorsement to the rest of the Aeron range, based on the quality of the chamois and the fit of these.

View online: Aeron Race Cycling Bib Short

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Are the low cost dhb R1.0 Road Shoes any good? https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/07/cost-dhb-r1-0-road-shoes-good/ https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/07/cost-dhb-r1-0-road-shoes-good/#comments Mon, 30 Jul 2012 10:05:14 +0000 https://www.bicycles.net.au/?p=6074 The Wiggle in-house brand, dhb have made a name by offering technically advanced equipment at attractive prices. The R1.0 is dhb’s entry-level road shoe and comes in white or black (both with red highlights). While it has a limited feature list, it sits at a very attractive price point – currently around AUS $62. They […]]]>

The Wiggle in-house brand, dhb have made a name by offering technically advanced equipment at attractive prices. The R1.0 is dhb’s entry-level road shoe and comes in white or black (both with red highlights). While it has a limited feature list, it sits at a very attractive price point – currently around AUS $62.

They are a simple, velcro 3-strap shoe with a fibreglass/nylon sole. dhb go to a lot of trouble to claim the internal (i.e. invisible) structure of the sole gives excellent stiffness and power transfer. I didn’t cut them open, but I’m always sceptical of such hoopla.

To address the issue, the shoes just don’t flex – certainly not enough to be noticeable. And call me a troglodyte, but to date I haven’t come across a cycling shoe that did flex enough to be noticeable, even while sprinting at up to 1300 watts. Until I find a “flexy” shoe, I’ll remain convinced that most riders simply feel what they want to feel.

Wiggle dhb R1.0 Cycling Shoe Black

What is important, however, is the fit and feel of the shoes. Having no buckles, it’s a little difficult to get strong, symmetrical tightness on both sides. It is what it is and while a ratchet would be convenient, it’s still a perfectly tenable arrangement.

As you can see from the photos, these shoes weren’t designed with airflow in mind. Being winter, this hasn’t bothered me at all – indeed, even in summer I rarely have a problem with hot-foot. However, if you normally do require good airflow, you may find these shoes a little claustrophobic.

I found the shape of the upper quite interesting. The shoes feature a big wide tongue that spreads the pressure from the velcro straps across a large area. In addition, the shoe’s upper wraps tightly around the ankle and the top of the foot, giving a snug feel. However, for my foot at least, it was a little too snug. The sides wrap around so tightly that they dig into the front of my ankle as it flexes (see image below). The solution? Well, you could just get used to it (as I did after a while) or you could make sure you don’t go too big in size, as I believe this was a contributing factor. Either way, it’s something to be aware of.

dhb R1.0 Cycling Shoes Pressure Point
Some feet may find dhb R1.0 shoe upper too large and find this presses into the ankle

All in all, the R1.0 road shoes represent good value for money. There are few competitors at this price point and the trade-offs are fairly par for the course. If you want, for example, to upgrade to a ratchet system, the R2.0 is available at around $110. However, if you’re happy with a shoe that looks nice, seems to be well-built and won’t cost the earth, the R1.0 will do nicely.

View Online: dhb R1.0 Road Shoes

White dhb R1.0 Cycling Shoes

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