Ok, so I’m going to do a little piece on some of the kit I use. But before I start I think it’s important to say that every bit of kit that I’m about to talk about, I have bought, not been given by a sponsor. I’m a keen offer hunter, so a lot of it was hunted down at the cheapest price or bought in sales. After all, cycling is an expensive game at the best of times!
The bike – Trek Madone 2.1
A little under 2 years ago I headed to The Road Room in Tring and bought this. It remained totally standard (apart from putting on a Selle Italia SLR saddle) for the first year. Now, however, it has had a few more tweaks to suit me, and my budget. I’m now using a Specialized Toupe Expert saddle, which has proven far more comfortable than the SLR. I’ve also fitted a carbon seat post, Reynolds Stratus Alu clincher wheels, Vittoria Open Corsa CX tyres in the fashionable 25c width and also a QuadLock mount for my iPhone, and K-edge mount for my Contour Roam camera.
So there you have it, a mid-budget Alu framed road bike, with Alu wheels and nothing particularly posh. It’s still running the Shimano 105 groupset that it came with and the only bit of carbon on it is the seat post that I got from a friend (cheers Tom).
On to kit…I’m going to focus on some of the bits that I’ve bought along the way that I have been particularly impressed with, rather than trying to run through every boring bit of kit I own.
Specialized Prevail S3 helmet –
I bought a while ago now, during a Specialized Helmet amnesty. Kindly handing over an ancient Met lid I hadn’t used since I was about 10, for a decent discount. I think that the key thing to mention here is that I have a tiny head. So small that finding a decent fitting helmet is always a nightmare. The Specialized fitted me perfectly, it’s light enough to go unnoticed even when it’s touching 40degrees in the French summer sun, and the firmness of its fit gives me confidence that if it ever did touch tarmac it would do it’s job.
Bont Riot shoes –
Now, as you might have gathered from previous posts, I’m a sports science geek. And along with that comes a love for technology in sport. Unfortunately, with my budget it’s not often that I can really indulge in exciting sports tech. So when Bont announced that they were bringing their custom moldable shoe technology to the point in the market I could afford, it was a no brainer. I bought their Riot’s as soon as I could, pre-ordering them and I am very glad that I did.
Their first ride was a charity 24hr event. Not the traditional starting point for bedding in new shoes, however after 2/3 molds in my oven they were up there with the most comfortable shoes I’ve worn. The most surprising thing for me was their stiffness. For under a £100, I defy anyone to find a stiffer pair of shoes with the same degree of comfort over a long ride. The science geek in me loves their low stack height as well. My only slight issue with them is the lack of a rubber bumper on the front of the shoe, as the fronts are quite scuffed now. I’d also buy half a size bigger next time to allow for more movement when it get particularly hot, or cold. When the time comes, I’ll be buying more Bonts, and maybe even just another pair of Riots.
Endura Windchill Jacket –
I bought this when I was Mountain Biking for use in grim weather, it’s over 3 years old now and is still my go too bad weather jacket. I find I pull it out of the kit bag on most rides when it’s under about 8 degrees outside, A windproof/water resistant front panel, breathable back, pit zips, a pocket for my phone, plenty of rear pockets, high neck line a decent (but not aero) fit. Without paying a lot more money, I haven’t found a jacket that I’d wear instead.
Sportful Mesh Base Layer –
Over the last year or so I’ve accumulated quite a lot of Sportful gear. It seems to fit me nicely generally, as well as fitting in my budget better than the likes of Castelli and Rapha. I’ve got a few of their jerseys, some No Rain tights and a few other bits. But the one bit that has stood out for its versatility so far has been a mesh sleeveless base layer that I bought at the end of last summer. Now, I think it’s important to point out that this kind of gear is very personal. What suits me, wont suit everyone. I tend to “run hot”. And for that reason I’ve been wearing this base under my windchill on it’s own for most of the winter. Occasionally with a jersey or a waterproof. But I’ve gone down to -2 with just this base and the jacket. Only reaching for my Merino base layer when it’s gets colder than that.
It also wicks incredibly well in the warmer weather, and I am fairly certain that this year I’ll end up adding another couple to my kit bag to give this one a break! A very simple, but in my opinion invaluable piece of kit.
There we have it. Obviously this is all down to my opinion. I don’t choose any of my kit lightly, often spending hours frustrating my girlfriend while I try to choose the best option. It doesn’t always work out, but with these bits it definitely has!