Category Archives: Product Reviews

Power Bar – Natural Energy Cereal

The Power Bar natural energy cereal is one of the samples I had through being a Power Bar product tester.

I have been really impressed with the products I have tasted and this is no exception!

During my 3 hour training ride I used this as an energy snack. The session was mid to high intensity and I found I had to slow down to eat this bar. However the taste was brilliant a mixture of wholegrain oats, fruit pieces, pumpkin seeds and peanuts. It was the right balance of flavours and the mix sweet and savoury.

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The texture was like a normal cereal bar and it was easy to chew when riding at a steady pace.

I found later during my ride that my energy levels had been maintained and I did not get a sugar rush or a low which was great. On long rides you want your fuelling to maintain your energy levels for the duration of your workout without major changes in your energy levels.

Nutritional Information:

Nutrition Information per 100g per bar (40 g)
Energy kJ (kcal) 1549 (367) 620 (147)
Fat 7,2 g 2,9 g
of which saturates 2,6 g 1,0 g
Carbohydrate 65 g 26 g
of which sugars 22 g 9,0 g
Fibre 5,8 g 2,3 g
Protein 7,2 g 2,9 g
Salt 0,33 g 0,13 g
Magnesium 180 mg 72,0 mg
(48%**) (19%**)

I would recommend this bar for a pre-training snack and on long steady training rides its great to have as a crunchy snack.

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Trans Alp Specialized

Earlier in the year I took part in the Trans Alp bike race. For the race I rode the Specialized ERA Comp the women’s version of the Epic. It was a wonderful bike to ride and race great handing both down and up hill. The brain technology in the shock made for a super comfortable ride without loosing power going up hill.

Thanks to MA-Aerial Worx for the video!

Flying with a bike.

Flying with a bike

It’s roughly a month until the Trans Alp, I am currently in the air  (well I was on Saturday its now Wednesday!) flying to Spain on a much needed break with my family. However due to the proximity of the Alps race and the brilliant opportunity to ride some big hills I couldn’t resist bringing my bike along for the ride!

I contacted Box My Wheels who kindly leant me a bike box to keep my specialized Era safe during transport.

The bike box Alan is a big box with special wheel segments and an anti-crush bar. As my wheels are bolt thru skewers they haven’t fitted in the holes as they should, but with some careful arrangement it has all gone in!

It’s pretty simple to get the bike in you need to remove your handle bars, to do this you need to loosen the headset with an Alan key. I have also taken my forks out as this meant it fitted in further away from the edges of the boxes which made me feel more confident in its safe arrival. If you’re going to do this remember which order your spacers go in and store them securely on you forks by refitting the headset cap. Remember the bits with ball bearings in need handling carefully!

I had to take the rear hanger off which was a simple Alan key bolt I then wrapped this in bubble wrap.

As my wheels don’t fit in the proper wheel holds I have taken my rotors off and wrapped them in bubble wrap too.

Once the frame is in pieces you simply fit it into the box securing with Velcro straps, in the spaces I’ve secured my seat post, a pair of shoes and some inner tubes in the space remaining.

The frame is separated from the wheels by a large sheet of foam. I have also added a blanket for added protection.

Once your wheels are in and the anti-crush bar the box closes securely and once stood up has very handy wheels. Although, a bit like a shopping trolley, these sometimes have a mind of their own!

My top tips for flying with your bike:

  1. Hire a bike box from Box My Wheels around £60 a week
  2. Get a decent alan key set to make dismantling easier
  3. Get some Loctite 222 to put on your rotor bolts
  4. Take photos of things like the headset before you undo them so you know exactly where to replace them
  5. Put some tape round your seat post before you take it out so you know where it goes in
  6. Get bike insurance

 

I hope you enjoyed my post, see you in a week!

 

Grip Grab high vis leg and arm warmers

Here is my latest product review for Grip Grab this time it’s the high vis arm and leg warmers. Not only are these super comfy and warm in the winter but they also serve a safety purpose making you more visible on the roads and trails.

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As a cyclist who trains mostly in the early hours of the morning on quiet country back roads I feel it’s important to make myself stand out to drivers as much as possible.

The arm and leg warmers have a warm fleecy lining for those cold morning rides, the breath ability of the fabric means you don’t get hot and sticky when your body starts to warm up which is great.

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The silicon gripper at the top of the leg/arm keeps them securely in place even on the busiest of trails.

My arms and legs are both mediums, the legs are a little long on me (5ft5) but this isn’t really an issue the arms are also a little tighter in my upper arm than I would normally like when you first put them on, after a little while riding I forgot about this and I don’t feel it affects the function of the arm warmer, it still keeps my arms toasty!

Bird Zero

Last week I tested the Bird Zero. The first thing you notice about this bike is it’s knockout fluorescent yellow paint work with bright pink logo which makes the bike stands out from the crowd around trail centres with its colourful personality.

Bird

Once riding the bike it handles brilliantly cutting into the trails and holding its ground on tight twisty single track. The handling is light and responsive, you can push the bike around which for a light rider like me (58kg) is great for a larger wheeled bike.

Bird - Swinley

As a cross country racer, it’s important that a bike performs as well going up as it does coming down. I found the Bird Zero rolled well up hills and I rarely used all my gears even on steep hills. The 650b tyres roll more efficiently than 26″ over rocks and the 130mm of travel made popping over tree roots a lot easier, although, having more travel than my usual cross country bike and without a pop lock meant I did lose momentum going up-hill.

The bike changes gear smoothly from most transitions, however when trying to change quickly uphill it sometimes ran into difficulties and was quite noisy, this was, down to pressure through the chain I believe.

Bird

Having 130mm of travel gave the bike a comfy confidence boosting downhill ride as it maintained speed over rough ground and tracked the ground quickly.

This is an all-round fantastic trail machine, it’s 130mm travel soaks up the bumps of the trail and ensure good contact with the track, which gives confidence for fast descents. It’s light alloy frame paired with its fat 650b tyres make this an excellent single track warrior, which would be comfy enough to ride all day exploring.

As a girl it is sometimes hard to find a saddle that fits well, I didn’t notice the saddle on this bike at all, I was too focused on having fun on the bike which I think is a great sign.

The 15″ frame felt comfortable for me but at 5’6 I would have probably gone for the 17″ if I brought the bike due to liking a little bit more length in the frame.

Bird

 

I was really happy with the way the bike performed and feel this would be a great bike for any budding mountain biker to progress on.

Star Rating:

Appearance: 5/5
Frame : 4/5
Forks: 3/5
Feel: 5/5
Handling: 4/5
Fun factor: 4/5

Silverback Syncra 2

For my 2014/2015 racing season I rode a relatively new brand to the UK called silverback. The bike was the Syncra 2 which was carbon with 130mm travel. (I soon learnt this was far too much for an XC race bike)
I was really impressed with the Silverback design the frame looks sleek in matt black with green highlights and the spec of the bike was high compared to the reasonable price.

winter training
This was my first 650b bike, I had decided that his wheel size suited me because it was easier to handle, to be honest I never really gave 29ers a chance only briefly riding a friends and deciding it wasn’t for me.
The Silverback Syncra 2 came with Shimano XT group set (2×10) which was a good option cheaper than sram it meant replacing parts was cheaper on my wallet!

TORQ 12-12 2015
The bike weighed 11.2kg which was pretty light and performed brilliantly on trails both up and down hill.

Silverback Syncra 2 first race
The 130mm fork was far too much in hind sight for XC racing it made the front end of the bike heavy and I was never using the shock to its full extent because I didn’t really do that type of trail riding or racing. I did find it confidence boosting sometimes in technical situations because I felt like the bike could handle more rough stuff, whether this is true or not I’m not sure! The main gripe with this fork was the terrible pop lock which broke not once, but three times each time costing me around £50 for the small plastic trigger, personally this is a rip off especially when the damn thing would brake a month or so later!
The SLX brakes on this bike are great so responsive, you just need a tiny tap to feel them working.

Southern XC 2015 R3-120
My frame was a medium which is correct for my height but the set up of the bike was a bit too outstretched I turned the stem round so it was slammed and added a giant carbon bar which I had from when I was a real rider this helped my positioning.

Grip Grab Gloves
Overall his was a great bike to ride and race, I would have been interested to try the 100mm travel option and see how much lighter it was and who knows his could of helped my racing performance.

IMG_0807Star Rating:

Appearance: 5/5
Frame: 4/5
Forks: 3/5
Handling: 4/4
Fun factor: 4/5

I hope you enjoyed his review stay tuned for the next!

SuperGel XC Glove

I have had the pleasure of becoming a Grip Grab local hero and will be wearing and testing out their kit in all weathers for racing and training.

So far I have worn their SuperGel XC glove for riding in several times and found them very comfy.

Grip Grab GlovesI have rather long skinny fingers and a small palm which makes getting gloves which fit very difficult. I used the Grip Grab sizing chart and ordered the best fit. To my surprise they fit very well the Doctor Gel pad is super spongy and helps when the ground becomes ‘bone shaking’.

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The gloves have a handy Velcro fastener which keeps them fromruck ling up under your palm something I have had issues with in the past with other gloves.

These gloves have a mesh front to help your hands breath which is great, although in the depths of winter a thin under glove may be needed to keep the chill out.

Grip GrabThe touch screen sensitive finger works very well and is so handy when your half way up a trail and your phone rings!

All in all these are a great pair of gloves for mountain biking. I look forward to trying them out throughout the winter. #NeverloseyourgripGrip Grab

USN Protein, Nuts & Seeds

This week my mission is to cover 100 miles so far in the last two days I have covered 55miles so well on my way to achieving my goal as its only Wednesday! 

USN

Yesterday I decided to go on a hilly 25 mile ride. The weather was hot so I used an electrolyte drink and a Protein, Nuts & Seeds bar from USN. Butser Hill is the highest point in the South Downs National Park and one of my favourite climbs, mainly for the view from the top!

Butser Hill

I have only recently got back on my road bike and this was the first time, in a long time that I had climbed Butser Hill. When I reached the top I ate half of my USN energy bar whilst taking in the view. The first thing I noticed about this bar is even with 14g of protein it has no ‘protein bar’ taste to it. The nuts and seeds are covered in delicious honey making this a sweet nutritious treat. I really like the inclusion of pumpkin seeds which balance the sweetness.

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After eating half I carried on my journey downhill and started to make my way back home. When I got home I ate the other half which was the perfect snack to keep my reaching for anything unhealthy while I cooked dinner.

The benefits of this as a snack on a longer ride is it felt substantial where a gel is a quick energy fix it does not leave you feeling nourished like the USN bar did.

At 65grams it’s a large bar which can be eaten in stages making it a handy thing to carry.USN

For long training rides and sportives I would highly recommend this bar and will be looking to use them as part of my nutrition plan during Ride London in August.

Check out my other USN reviews here.

Trail 42 Classic Bamboo Tee

Trail 42 Bamboo Tee

Having never owned or worn a bamboo technical t-shirt before I wasn’t sure what to expect from my Trail 42 bamboo tee.

Slipping on the t-shirt the first thing I noticed was the soft texture unlike any cotton t-shirt I had it seemed smooth on my skin. The tee is made from 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton. With no inside labels it means no annoying irritation which is great.

Taking part in mountain biking and being a girl some times throws up wardrobe issues! Like most girls I enjoy shopping and like to wear clothes that look good and I feel comfortable in (heels not included). This is sometimes a challenge when I go to buy clothing for mountain biking. As your usually faced with two options, lycra all the way in which case you can get nice comfortable women fitting, or baggy grungy looking ‘mountain biking’ clothing which has no style or thought for who its customer is and what they want.

Trail 42 tee

Trail 42’s women specific cut tees, including the classic bamboo tee, are cut flatteringly for women and include that all important longer length to keep your back covered when out riding.

The style is classic with a round neckline. The colour is a brilliant deep purple which I love, its just the right amount of girl power without being in your face ‘girly’.

Trail 42 tee neck line

The ultimate test! 

Earlier on in the year I was fortunate enough to visit Switzerland to shoot an advert, during this time I was going to ride my bike as part of it, I packed my tee thinking this would be the ultimate test of versatility. 

I wore my bamboo tee as a base layer to visit The Top of Europe to do some filming, the temperature was down at -5 at 3,454 metres above sea level.

Jungfraujoch

We were filming a ski shoot and I was having to be quite active walking up and down a ski run, building kickers and riding a ski bike, which was great fun. I then had some time waiting and watching the skiers I was worried about getting cold but my bamboo tee kept me warm and comfortable.

trail 42 label

The Friday was my day in the spot light the weather was beautiful but rain was forecast and as with any mountains you can’t rely on the weather forecast apart from the one you get when you look out the window. With this in mind I put on my bamboo tee under my jersey. 

The filming was done in different locations on a trail half way up a mountain. There was short bursts of activity mixed with standing around talking over the shots. I felt comfortable in my bamboo tee, it kept me warm but also kept wicking the sweat away from my skin so I could remain focused on my biking instead of thinking about having to add on extra layers.

This Trail 42 bamboo tee is very versatile it is great as a base layer but also works well as a top to ride in on a daily basis. It has a classic stylish look which can be worn on and off the trail.

USN Protein Fuel

As a cyclist I do a lot of my training on my bike out on the roads and trails taking my bike on the back of my car to the forest.

After a hard session out on the trails or road, I know that it’s key to refuel quickly with good quality protein and carbohydrate. Often I have around a 30 minute journey home and like to eat something on the way as the first 20 minutes after exercise are the most key to recovery.

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This is where a pre mixed shake like the USN protein fuel is really handy! The no fuss ease of pre mixed shakes is great.

I have used protein powder and mixed it before a ride, but when you are leaving it mixed in a car for an hour or two it just isn’t the same when you arrive back! Especially in hot weather this is not an ideal combination.

I have before mentioned using protein bars these are good but tend to be hard to digest and very chewy!

The USN pre mixed protein fuel has 27 grams of protein and no fat making it a great choice for me after a training session when I can’t mix powdered protein in a shaker.

I have tried a couple of makes of protein shakes and find some rather bloating a bit like the bars they hit your stomach and fill you up quickly. This then means you don’t fancy eating a healthy meal which is key to sustaining high levels of training and competition.

The USN shake has a velvety smooth texture and glides down like milkshake. The strawberry taste is actually quite refreshing and doesn’t have that whey protein taste or smell which can be off putting!

Check out my other reviews here.