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Endura MT500 Burner MTB Jersey Review

Published on 24 July 2012 in Kit Reviews

If You Needed A Mountain Bike Specific Cycling Jersey…

… how would you decide which one to buy? I’ve read reviews in magazines and the Endura MT500 consistently scores highly for value, design, looks and feel on the bike. That’s how it ended up on my shortlist.

I’ve mainly worn “traditional”-looking cycling jerseys up to now. I have a couple of nice ones but there’s no denying that the tightness can be a bit restricting, especially if you’re not shaped like a roadie-whippet. I also own a looser-fit cheapo MTB top from Decathlon which is fine, but the raised seams and sewn-in label do tend to irritate my delicate office-worker’s skin.

The Endura MT500

I don’t want to spend a fortune on cycling tops. I want a top to look good, function well, be comfortable and hard-wearing. On a recent trip to Leisure Lakes I browsed the Endura stands and was reminded of the good reviews this jersey has enjoyed over the last few years. Seeing a version in Orange & Camo, I decided to try it on.

Sizing – I’ve got two words of advice: Go Large. I’m not exactly a fatty, I’m dead-on 12 stones (168 lbs, 76kg) and for most things I’m a Medium.  But in the MT500 I’m a definite Large – I think cyclists are generally just a lot skinnier than your average person ;)

The top features good flatlock stitching so it doesn’t rub against your skin, with raglan sleeves – this technique of attaching the arms to the torso of your top makes them move better and feel more comfortable under a pack. The label is printed, not stitched, so there’s no extra itchiness there either.

At the bottom of the jersey there’s a nicely rolled bottom end which helps it to hang just right, and a small zipped pocket for keys and a gel is very handy although you’ll probably put them into your shorts.  Inside the jersey, a little wipe is stitched in: it’s not very big but it’s better than nothing if, like me, your specs get a bit grimy on your rides (technical fabrics are absolutely bobbins for cleaning specs because they’re basically made from plastic).

Cut To The Chase. What’s It Like?

To put it bluntly, it’s an excellent value top.  For £35 or less you get an MTB-specific cycling top which performs well, looks great and is very comfortable.  There are just the right mix of hard-wearing fabrics and stretchy, comfy bits under the arms and elsewhere.  The mix of fabric designs does look very good – you don’t have to go Orange & Camo like I did, you can choose white & grey, or charcoal mixtures for the stealth ninjas among you.

Have a look at the links I’ve posted here if you’d like to check the top out.

Endura MT500 Burner at Chain Reaction Cycles
… or at Rutland Cycling
… or on Amazon.

As usual, tell ‘em Phill sent you :)

 
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Nuun vs High5 Electrolyte Tablets – No Sugar Hydration Comparison (for Cyclists, and Diabetics too)

Published on 4 July 2012 in Kit Reviews

I’ve been delighted with the recent trend towards no-sugar electrolyte replacement drinks – I have diabetes, so most isotonic drinks were off the menu thanks to their alarming sugar content.

A free sample of High5 Zero was taped to the front of a magazine recently, and I saw Nuun tabs for sale in Leisure Lakes when I paid a visit to buy my new Endura MT500 top (review to follow). So I decided to run a quick back-to-back test for your delectation.

What Are These Electrolytic Hydration Tablet Thingies, Then?

When you exercise, you lose water.  But when you sweat, you also pump out salts which your body needs to replace to function at its optimum.  You might have read about people who’ve done a hard event, then drank lots of water, then dropped dead.  Over-simplifying things grossly, this can be because their body’s systems are watered down too much by plain water – we need to replace the other good stuff that’s lost by sweating, too.

These tablets are made to combine a cocktail of useful salts and things into a soluble tablet.  This saves space & reduces packaging thereby helping to save the planet, and it means the tabs are easy to store at home or in your pack/pocket out on the bike.

Doing away with sugar not only reduces bulk, it works better with your body: sugar-rushes are almost always followed by a post-sugar crash which isn’t much fun.  If you’re diabetic like me, sugar rushes are just a no-no unless you’re going hypo, in which case you should have a gel and suitable snack handy anyway – but that’s a different issue.

Price

£6 of your hard-earned might seem steep for a few tabs, but think of it this way: Depending which option you choose, the packs work out between 30p and 50p per 500ml of drink, which is bloody good value when compared with a full bottle of juice from the shop.

High5 Zero vs. Nuun

I tried the Pink Grapefruit flavour High5 Zero, because that was the freebie I got with my magazine… but I’d probably have bought that one anyway.  It tasted light and refreshing and I’d have no hesitation buying that flavour again.  For the Nuun version, I bought a tube of Tri-Berry tabs: once again, the flavour is refreshing without being overpowering.  In both cases, you expect a slightly salty taste but I couldn’t detect any saltiness.  Just to be sure, I asked our girls (aged 9 and 10) to try them and they both thought the taste was great: so much so that they keep asking if they can have one when we’re at home! So that’s a hit on both counts, flavour-wise.

For me, the main consideration seems to be that for a similar price per tube, High5 supply 20 tabs whereas Nuun only give 12.  If you’re prone to getting quickly bored of the same flavour, maybe 12 tabs is enough.  If not, then I’d recommend High5’s tubes of 20 as it equates to only 30p per bottle.

If you’re wondering how the stuff mixes, have a quick look at this video.

Want Some?

You can  probably buy these from your LBS but if you’re looking to compare or buy online, then visit the following links and make your own mind up.  I particularly like the Nuun 4 Tube Variety packs, since I’m one of those people who likes a change.  But don’t forget, High5 are cheaper per drink.  The links show you the range of different flavours available – there’s something to suit everyone, even you.

1. High5 Zero at Chain Reaction Cycles
2. High5 Zero at Wiggle Online Cycle Shop
3. Nuun at Chain Reaction Cycles
4. Nuun at Wiggle Online Cycle Shop
5. Nuun 4 Tube Variety Pack at Wiggle – shows quite a saving over buying one at a time.

Tell ‘em Phill sent you :)

 Stop Press: Banana Nuun Update:
Everybody knows that Banana is the finest flavour of milky things in the universe. Fact.  Especially that wonderful chemically-enhanced banana flavouring of our youth.
But +Chris McGovern , +Rick Horsfield and I wondered how banana flavour  would taste in a watery thing, particularly an electrolyte and salt-containing watery thing.
So, I ordered some BananaNuun from Wiggle.
And let me tell you, folks: the taste is… well… not all that good.
I’d stick to the citrus or orange & berry, if I were you.

But hey, FREE HARIBO!

 
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How Do You Keep Your Head Cool Whilst Cycling?

Published on 5 June 2012 in Kit Reviews

Airhead Cool Spray – Review

I know a guy who has a lot of good ideas.  He’s got connections to some leading trichologists and, between them, they’ve developed some ingenious solutions to common problems.  One such solution is Airhead Cool Spray.

A little while ago I was asked to review this product as my friend knows I ride quite a bit and, sometimes (not too often), it’s even warm in Lancashire!  So I agreed on the condition that he didn’t mind me being totally honest.

I have to say, I was extremely sceptical at first.  I mean, my helmet’s got good venting, right? And when I’m hot I can squirt water on my head, right? Well, yes, except I prefer juice.  But from what little I understand about how the Airhead Cool Spray works, it basically uses a proprietary mixture of ingredients to magnify and prolong the same effect you get when damping your head down – the evaporation of a fluid, combined with your own natural cooling mechanism being temporarily improved.  * I might be wrong there, don’t quote me, but I can’t think of a better explanation in my own mind…

So, What Is It Like?

Airhead Cool Spray arrives in a strong card tube, through your letterbox.  Inside the packaging is some information about how it works, and some literature about the other products that Ahead Solutions provides.  I won’t go into those here.  Inside is a 30ml pump-action bottle which, I have to say, is a great size for dropping in a baggies pocket or your pack.  I reckon each application is 7-10 little sprays so you’ve got enough to last you quite a while. I photographed it next to my 750ml drinks bottle so you can see how it squares up.

Does It Keep You Cool?

Here’s the thing: I didn’t think that this stuff would work for longer than a few minutes after application.  I thought that I’d use it after rides to cool myself down during that few minutes of post-ride overheating.  After trying it a few times, I’ve found that I was wrong.

It’s best applied before you go out when the weather’s warm, or even just warm-ish.  The effect lasts for a weirdly long time!  The first time I tried it before riding out, on a nice warm Lancashire day, I just sprayed some onto the back of my head.  An hour later when I was on my way home (having long forgotten about spraying the stuff on) I was aware that the back of my head was still cooling.  I know, don’t ask me, I have no idea.

Smells nice too. Kinda minty.

This Airhead Cool Spray stuff just works.  It simply keeps your head cool under your helmet.  If you feel the heat when you’re riding, then give a try, that’s all I can recommend.

I’ve been so impressed that I got my friend to build me a little online outlet, but don’t feel obliged to buy it through me, just contact Ahead Solutions and ask any questions you’ve got, or give it a try.  I don’t think I would have done, but I’m glad I did.

 
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