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Still biking? Definitely…

“Still biking Grant?” is a question I’ve been asked many times throughout my life, by friends or different people that I’ve met along the way. Riding a bike has been such a big part of what I do, it’s hard to imagine it not being the case. I think it’s the momentum, freedom and just being outside, that I love so much

Salopette Dottore X & Salopette Unique Bib Shorts by Q36.5- Product Insight – Which One?

The Salopette Dottore X and the Salopette Unique bib shorts were released within six months of each other. This gave the potential to use both during the same summer, enabling their differences to be experienced.

The Dottore X arrived during the winter months and I waited patiently for the warmer days, to try the new product in the conditions and temperature that they are designed for. By mid summer, I started to see indication of another, technically advanced bib short by Q36.5, and soon after, the Salopette Unique was released.

Okay, I could have held off buying the Unique, but for me, the level of intrigue would have been too unbearable! Or made me even more so! Plus, it would have delayed comparing the two new products.

Given that Q36.5’s website contains a lot of technical detail relating to both of these bib shorts, I have chosen to only include a brief overview of their design and features, and bias the article towards how the shorts feel when in use, and the conclusion that I reached.

Being a long time user of the Salopette Dottore, the differences in the X version are quite easy to pick up on. From a visual perspective, the fabric change is noticeable, the inclusion of silver thread carries over from the original short, but it is lighter in weight.

Salopette Dottore X

There is a new pattern, adjusting the actual shape of the short – “The C-Interface”. This is the contact area between shorts and saddle and it is now designed with no central seam, thus removing a potential pressure point. Additionally, there is a new strap construction, which for me has translated into the X being a short of enhanced comfort. The specific feel and performance traits of the Dottore line are present, and this is something that will feature later in this article. It is worth noting that one feature which is not immediately apparent, is the water resistance treatment, for protection against light rain, and to aid quick drying.

The way in which Salopette Unique is formed results in this bib short being literally very different in the way it feels and performs. This may sound cliched, but that is how it is!

Q36.5 utilise seamless construction, and weave areas of integrated fibres, to create the Unique garment. Each specific area of the short performs differently, to suit its placement. The three dimensional form of the short is consistent in the chamois; the Fusion Vented chamois combines various density foams, breathability and ventilation, all of which contribute to rider comfort. Tubular strap design is also part of what forms the Unique bib short.

Salopette Unique.

To interpret one of these bib shorts to be better than the other, would be unjust. Both are excellent, but have different traits. From a personal perspective, I select each one for specific conditions, and style of ride.

The characteristics of the Salopette Dottore X are most readily identified by feel of the compression in the lower leg, and the lumbar support. When using these shorts, there is a feel of it in some way assisting the movement of pedalling, particularly as the leg retracts from the down stroke.

The Salopette Unique has a fit that could be described as “sculpted” and the compression has a more subtle feel than the Dottore X.

The Body Mapping technology used by Q36.5 facilitates the optimum placement of fabrics, for their traits and performance. The effect of this is very prolific in the Unique, which is finely tuned to ensure the rider does not feel discomfort from being overly warm, cool, or from perspiration.

My preference for long, hot days in the saddle is the Salopette Unique. Its second skin fit, the effect of the body mapping, combined with the Fusion Vented chamois creates a garment which performs in a way that is very harmonious with the rider, and seems to assist in negating the challenge of very warm conditions.

Salopette Unique – riding in the Welsh hills

The Salopette Dottore X is the one I reach for when I need all the assistance I can get! Whether it’s rough road surfaces, a long day in the saddle, or a mix of summer conditions, the features of this bib short, help the rider to overcome these challenges.

Dottore X – riding on mixed terrain

I hope the content of this article helps you to choose one or both of these bib shorts by Q36.5 but if you would like any further detail, please feel free to drop me a line at grant.williams1973@ntlworld.com or head to www.q36-5.com

Footnote: I have friends in mainland Europe whose preference is to use these shorts differently. An example being a bias to the Salopette Dottore X in hotter conditions. This might be because they have a higher level of adaption to riding in hot conditions than I do.

Featured post

Campagnolo Super Record EPS Disc Brake Electronic Groupset – Product Insight

From reading posts within various cycling forums, and numerous comments within social media, I am respectful that electronic shifting and disc brakes are quite emotive subjects. Combine that with the number of cyclists who have a staunch preference for one of the main groupset manufacturers, and this article could have all the ingredients to prod the hornet’s nest!

The purpose of the article is to create a product insight, and to provide the reasoning behind a certain preference, whilst remaining relatively neutral in the “better or worse” debate regarding groupsets. It should be noted that both writers do use, and have a preference for Campagnolo.

To strengthen the depth of the article, I am grateful to my friend, Astrid Schartmuller, for her assistance. Astrid has contributed with her experiences and opinions relating to the groupset. She is a passionate cyclist, and amateur racer, based in the Italian Dolomites. She has participated in national and international races, placing on the podium on a number of occasions.

Astrid’s bike has been equipped with the Super Record EPS disk groupset since its release, and its use range from commuting, training rides and racing, to cycle touring in the Italian, Swiss and French Alps.

Introduction: Astrid

I studied at the University of Applied Sciences at Hamburg, and I am an Engineer for the construction industry. During 2003 I moved to Italy, and have lived and worked there ever since.

Since the beginning, I’ve done the mechanics on my bike. First a little bit, practicing “doing by learning”. Since 1996 I build all my of my bikes. This has saved the lives of many mechanics!! In races my bike has to work perfectly, and as long as only I put my hands on it, there has never been a breakdown!

I always dreamed of a bike with Campagnolo. In 2009 I realized this, with the legendary Super Record (mechanical). 2014 I started to be a Quality Tester for Campagnolo. I changed from mechanical to electric shifting using the Super Record EPS. Last year I made the step from rim brakes to disc brakes, always Super Record EPS disc. For rim brakes my preferred wheelset are the Bora Ultra 35 (front) and Bora Ultra 50 (back) for tubular. Rim in carbon with AC3. For disc there is only the Bora One which is a little bit heavier.

I started cycling in 1992, principally on the road, but some experiences on track and MTB. I made national and some international races, but always as an amateur (not professional).

Introduction: Grant

Experience has led me to have a more open mind to the technical developments which are ongoing within cycling, and the diversity that evolves in the sport. Part of this was born from me previously dismissing items such as electronic groupsets, only to find that I am now yearning certain benefits they provide!

There is no denying that the presence of disc brakes within the road scene is increasing, but people’s appetite for this option still seems to be quite polarised.

My love of cycling includes mountain biking, where disc brakes are a virtual given. With this being the case, there had been quite a long standing desire to experience disc brakes on the road. This is where Campagnolo’s test bike programme came into its own.

In the interest of learning as much as I could from the test bike, I also wanted to experience the Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12V Disc groupset.

Initially, the idea seemed to be doomed, as the list of test bike options did not include my size, with this build. Fortunately, a message to Campagnolo UK, via their Facebook page, soon resolved this, and a test bike in Medium soon arrived at my local Campagnolo dealer (Swinnerton Cycles). The bike was also clad with Campagnolo’s Bora One wheel. I could not wait to get out and ride!

When learning about the performance of equipment and clothing, my preference is to allocate time to using it, in an environment where characteristics become more apparent. I used the test bike during the UK winter. This created the potential for me to experience the performance of the groupset and wheels in an array of conditions.

Part of my earlier research had identified that Campagnolo designed their disc brake to closely replicate the feel of their rim brakes. I am a fan of Campagnolo rim brakes, mainly due to the level of modulation they provide.

The first ride was on damp roads, and I hoped that braking modulation was literal. Brushing speed for a few tight bends, and my confidence was building. A short, steep, descent, so far, so good! Here are our insights into the disc brakes.

Astrid: Disc Brakes

First it is important to outline the differences between rim and disc brakes. In dry conditions a rim brake can feel more aggressive/stronger than a disc brake. In wet conditions the braking effect is delayed until the rim is dry, then it reverts to its normal feel and performance. The rim with All Conditions Carbon Control (AC3) has a very good effectiveness.

The braking behaviour of the rim brake is progressive, the warmer the rim, the stronger the braking effect, during braking you have to release the brake to counteract the progression, this needs some sensitivity. This is also necessary for different weather conditions: cold, warm, humid, dry.

When using a disc, the braking behaviour is always the same, whether dry or wet, cold or hot. The braking curve is linear and can be modulated very well, only the point when you apply the brake could be a little softer. This is due to the fact that the clearance between disc and pads is only a few tenths of a millimeter.

In spite of more weight and complicated maintenance I simply like the braking behaviour of discs. The power input is lower, with the same braking effect and the braking power is more defined. I feel safer with discs, personally. As I explained in braking effectiveness, Campagnolo Rims with AC3 are braking stronger than discs, but with the disc brakes I have learned to use them in a differentiated way, in front and rear. If you can do it right, you can brake later, but be careful as the limit is the grip of the tire on the asphalt! This is especially true on wet roads.

Last year I used in the front 160mm and back 140mm. For my weight it is enough. This year I mounted front and back with 140mm. I feel that the braking effectiveness is less, but it is more similar as the softness of rim brakes. There is less risk to block or to brake too hard and lose the adherence from the tire on the asphalt.

I have tested the disc brakes from other groupsets: Shimano Dura Ace DI2 and SRAM Etap. Shimano I feel is more aggressive and less modular. Sram is not at the same level. The braking effectiveness was not regular, so I my was sure to dose the force on the levers. Campagnolo is the only one which does not make noise, especially after a long decent. Although the discs weigh more than those of the competition, they are stable against deformation by heating or very strong braking.

The great advantage from Campagnolo is, that it is in part always a family business with employees who are enthusiastic cyclists. Through personal dedication in their leisure time, they tested and improved the disc brakes until the brakes worked and were noiseless.

I think that disc brakes are functionally very good, but there is a lot of development to do. To see the state of use of the brakes you have to take out the brake pads and remember which was on the right and on the left side. Otherwise you risk some noise, because maybe they are not wearing the same. It’s not possible to make an adjustment to one side as you can do with traditional brakes. Without specialist tools and a little bit capability, you cannot do the maintenance.

Finally, the ecological factor. The hydraulic oil is special waste. The pads generally need to change about 3000-5000km and although the disc wears faster than a rim (depends how much someone brakes, especially when the rider is heavy and does a lot of elevation with deep long downhills) disc brakes are a big change for the bike, much more than electronic shifting.

Grant: Disc Brakes

I found that disc brakes provide a very different braking experience, in that there are less variables. As per Astrid’s comments, the power provided by the brake feels constant, the main variable being tyre grip, depending on the surface and conditions. Whist riding in cold, wet conditions, I experienced less discomfort in my hands. Maybe this was due to having to apply less pressure to the levers to achieve braking.

An additional benefit to discs, is that it would resolve my poor relationship with carbon clincher wheels (not Campagnolo). Having had rims fail on the brake track whilst descending, I moved to wheels incorporating aluminium rims. Going to discs would broaden my choice of wheel options.

From a personal perspective, my preference will be to have disc brakes on my road bikes in future.

Grant: Gear Shift

Electronic shifting was something I bought into soon after Shimano released their first generation Dura Ace Di2. For me, this groupset had performance benefits over the mechanical version, but after watching a few televised failures, I was not keen on the potential reliability shortfall. At the time, the highlight of the year was a three week bike trip in mainland Europe and the thought of losing days whilst trying to replace a defective electronic component was not pleasing! A number of influencing factors have quelled those early concerns, and a desire to return to a groupset incorporating electronic shifting has now returned. The test bike certainly served to assist me in reaching this conclusion!

When it comes to braking and shifting, my personal preference is the traditional Campagnolo format of dedicating a point of actuation, to each element of these functions. For me, the location of these feels very natural / intuitive whilst riding the bike, whether in or out of the saddle, and whatever the terrain or pace might be.

I am respectful that this is down to the individual, and the EPS groupset can be customised in relation to performance and function. Examples of this are the potential to adjust the speed of the shift, choose options relating to number of ratios transitioned within a shift, vary the lever function, and automate a front shift in response to rear derailleur activity.

Having used the mechanical version of the Super Record groupset (11 speed) for a number of years, part of the transition to using EPS 12V, was to become accustomed to the slightly less prominent down shift lever. In my opinion, this variation in design recognises that less effort is required to achieve a shift with EPS, and serves to reduce the potential of shifting in error, which could be consequential to simply replicating the mechanical lever.

My hands are particularly sensitive to cold temperatures, and it’s common to find me in gloves that are not in-keeping with the season. In deep winter conditions I use various layering combinations with my gloves. Even in quite bulky gloves, locating the shift levers and moving through one or more ratios was easy. The down shift could be even be achieved with the hands on the straight section of the bar, using my little finger to activate the lever, to activate the front or rear derailleur.

My preference is a gear shift that has clear definition when moving from one ratio to the next. This was a key factor when choosing my Super Record Mechanical groupset. The feel of the shift with EPS is different, in that it requires less effort to achieve. However, the definition is there, readily confirming a single actuation, moving the derailleur up or down a single ratio. If the relevant rear shift actuation is not released, the rear derailleur will continue to travel either up or down the cassette as required, to achieve a shift across multiple ratios (also see MyCampy App for potential customisation options).

The front shift has the same feel at the point of actuation, with a single press being the only input needed to shift from one front chain ring to its neighbour, and the front derailleur automatically looks after any trim to avoid chain rub.

The overall function of the front shift has a feel of heightened efficiency compared to the mechanical groupset I use (an earlier generation to the current one). This begins at the reduced effort required to shift, and the speed and accuracy in which the desired outcome is achieved. I anticipate the new chainset contributes to some of this, due to the additional stiffness and refinements Campagnolo have applied to the new chainset and rings.

In relation to the photo above, the temporary sticker remained on the chainset due to this being a “Test Bike”, but this is not an actual representation of the factory finish.

Prior to using the test bike, I had gathered feedback relating to the stringent testing the EPS groupset had been though during development. Riding in some very dismal, wet winter conditions, with the shifting remaining perfect throughout, gave me complete confidence in its reliability. This has also been increased by Astrid’s experience whilst using the groupset over a longer period.

Did the electronic shifting improve the ride? For me, very much so. This is translated by the ease in which gear shifts could be achieved, while retaining the feel of Campagnolo. This served to reduce the effect of the elements, and accumulation of fatigue.

I hope to incorporate Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS Disc groupset into the next bike I build, when replacing my current “best” bike.

I truly hope that Campagnolo choose to offer EPS lower down in their range of 12 speed groupsets, as I believe that myself, and many other amateur cyclists would benefit from electronic shifting being an integral part of their wet weather/training bike.

Astrid: Gear Shift

The electronic shifting has two big benefits. First the precision, you always get what you want. Second the personalisation, which is achieved via the MyCampy App.

I have adjusted the speed of the shift, and changed the lever setting. I use Sprinter B. With the index finger I switch the rear derailleur, with the thumb the front derailleur.

Braking and shifting are part of cornering technique. This is made easy with electronic. When you are racing you need a fast performance. EPS gives me this not only for the precision, but also for time. In fast descents you brake late before a curve, and when you have done the curve you have to accelerate. For this you have to change to a higher gear. With EPS it is possible to brake and shift, so often I do both in the same moment before the curve, thanks to the ease in which gear shifts can be achieved.

With the electronic shifting, once you have changed, you don’t turn back! After all, we switch the light on and off via a light switch and only use candles for a romantic candlelight dinner 😊 !

Experience on the Road: Astrid’s Bikepacking Tour

After a lot of years with plenty of training plans and races, I love riding to see, to live, to feel our wonderful world. For me, the best way to do this is bike packing. I’ve done a tour in France, and in Slovenia and Croatia with a friend.

This particular year I decided to do it alone. I started from home in South Tirol and I returned there, all done with my legs and my bike. 11 days on the bike, 1700km with an elevation of 24000m. I passed through the Swiss Alps and then on to the roads in France. Passing where there should be the world championships at Aigle (Martigny). I saw Lac Leman, Cormet de Roselend (one of the most spectacular climbs I’ve ever seen), Petit San Bernard, Grimsel Pass, Andermatt, Albula Pass and so on, only to call some of the most beautiful points on my way.

For me France is the paradise on earth for the cyclists, and for this reason I would go there, but sure, at the beginning I was not certain that I could do it. Some days there was rain. and when I planed the tour I didn’t know how many kilometers a day I could do alone. Of course, the risk of a mechanical, but thankfully I never had a problem. For this, it is important to have very good equipment and for the worst case, to have a good mechanic with you!

I’m very happy to realize my cycling dream, and I’m just thinking about the next one! I hope that the Covid situation will allow it.

My bike for the tour: Cervelo R5, Campagnolo Super Record EPS disc, wheel Campagnolo Bora One 35 for clincher. The tour was completed on one battery charge.

Grant: Closing Thoughts

Disc brakes and electronic shifting offer an advantage in many situations, and from a personal perspective, this outweighs the bike becoming slightly heavier, or more complex.

I hope that manufacturers continue to offer a choice of mechanical and electronic groupsets with both rim and disc options, whilst increasing the potential for cycling enthusiasts to benefit from electronic shifting, by making it available at lower price points.

Further information:
http://www.campagnolo.com

http://www.swinnertoncycles.co.uk

http://www.q36-5.com (Clothing)

Featured post

Evolution of the Salopette Dottore Bib Short by Q36.5

It’s evolution………

I received a delivery of the Dottore L1 Bib Short during the Spring of 2016.

The temperatures outside were still too low to try them out, but I recall unboxing the shorts and being astounded by how light they were.  The fabric used to construct the Dottore L1 looked and felt so different to what I had either seen, or used before.  The chamois also affirmed quality in both its shape, smooth feel, and varying densities.

Having read and heard a lot of positive feedback about this product, first impressions certainly instilled an amount of excited anticipation for the warmer sunny days to arrive, so I could be out wearing this new item of kit.

Q36.5 set out to optimise the potential of technical fabrics to achieve numerous performance gains.  A  visible element of this is the raw cut finish used for the leg of the Dottore L1…..how this performs features later.

When putting on the shorts, the close fit is immediately apparent.  The tubular, fine mesh bib straps, and overall cut of the garment draw you forward, creating an “on bike” posture.

I distinctly remember the first ride in the Dottore L1 bib short.  There was no specific training agenda, I just  headed out from home on a warm sunny day, to check out the fit and feel.   They created the sensation of something melting onto my legs, without restricting the movement of pedalling.  The lack of conventional gripper contributed to this sensation being present throughout the length of the leg.

Even though this initial ride was quite short in both duration and distance, it was enough for me to recognise that the Dottore L1 was something special.  I used the bib short throughout the warmer months, both in the UK and abroad.  During that summer I also wore the Salopette L1, another bib short product by Q36.5 Continue reading “Evolution of the Salopette Dottore Bib Short by Q36.5”

Q36.5 An Evening with Mario Kummer at Swinnerton Cycles – Part 2

The difference in clothing by Q36.5 begins with its appearance. This includes visible texture or pattern within a fabric, the shape of the garment, combined with a modern, minimalistic look.

The light weight and feel of each item is also a trait of Q36.5.  These features are apparent throughout their collection, and they are particularly noticeable in the products designed for cooler temperatures.  Historically, cyclists had to rely on heavy, bulky and restrictive clothing during late Autumn, Winter, through to early Spring.  Thankfully, this has all changed.

As mentioned in the earlier article, Mario Kummer of Q36.5 was visiting Swinnerton Cycles to present the new Summer and Winter products.  Mario had numerous items with him which were due for release for Winter 2019.

First up was the Long Sleeve Hybrid Que X. The previous version has been a big favourite of mine for Spring and Autumn, so I was eager to learn what had changed.  The appearance of the new garment is slick and purposeful, and features such as pockets and reflective inserts are discretely integrated.  The sleeves are formed from a combination of fabrics, which create an efficient, close fitting cuff and forearm, with windblock protection on the upper arm.   The new arm pocket is an excellent feature, constructed of mesh fabric with a reflective trim, it’s perfect for carrying energy bars or gels.  A new collar design has also been introduced. This provides improved on bike comfort, whilst its close fit prevents cooling.  Having used Jersey Short Sleeve Seta which also has this collar design, I can certainly vouch for its comfort.   The technical fabrics provide higher thermal efficiency and improved vapour transfer, giving additional warmth, with reduced potential for cooling.

Hybrid Que X Green

The Hybrid Que X is available is a number of colour options, including a stealth black, and brighter shades such as blue, orange, and green.  Where possible, I prefer to use clothing which potentially enhances day and night time visibility,  This is made easy with the Hybrid Que X, as the main colour of the garment is present throughout its front and rear panels, and a reflective inserts are placed in key areas.

Hybrid Que X - Grant riding

When the Winter really begins to bite, the Termica Jacket has been my “go to” item for all weather protection.  The new Termica Jacket X is packed with features to assist the winter cyclist to perform at his or her best.

The difference between the first and second generation jacket becomes apparent as soon you pick up the Termica X. The reduction in weight is noticeable.  The collar of the new jacket has certain traits of the Hybrid Que X: its outer is formed in three overlapping pieces of fabric. This serves to improve on-bike comfort, and provide a resilient seal from cold air.  A fourth item of fabric is located on the interior of the collar, which really locks out the winter elements.

Q36.5 have used their advanced design methods, combined with new technical fabrics to increase the performance of the jacket.  The fabrics are highly resilient to winter conditions, and their overall breathability has increased.  The mid layer of the fabric is an active membrane which responds to temperature change, varying the potential for heat retention and vapour transfer.

When using clothing by Q36.5, I find the need regulate heat build up via the main jacket zips is extremely rare, as is the presence of condensation, and the consequential cooling it can create.

Other visible advancements are the laser cut cuff to the sleeves. This contributes to reducing the weight of the jacket.  For me, the reflective inserts to the rear hem and lower arm are an excellent feature, as they are sized and located to maximise visibility in low light.  Q36.5 include their signature, invisible pocket system to the back panel, plus a forearm pocket.  This combination ensures ample cargo capacity for food, essentials and mobile phone.

The Termica X is offered in black or silver colour options, and it has a modern, almost futuristic look (particularly in the silver option).

Termica X Grey Grant riding

Q36.5 cover the clothing requirements of a cyclist from head to toe, and their tights (for winter riding) are captured in the X re-design process.   A number of brands offer winter tights, and at a glance, it would easy to assume they are all similar.

The L1 Salopette Long and Termica Salopette Long by Q36.5, incorporate densely woven fabrics, which feel different to the touch, and this translates into a high performance garment when in use.  I can confirm that the first generation of L1 and Termica Salopette Long both provide superb comfort and highly efficient protection from the elements.

Something that really differentiates them is their function when in use.  In the upper area of the garments, the fabric, panel shape and layout, assists in stabilising the upper body.  In the leg area of the Salopette Long, the fabric is orientated to ensure the fibres offer the least resistance to the downward movement of the pedal stroke, but optimum retraction, to support the leg through the upstroke.  Q36.5 include this feature to reduce fatigue, and it really is something to be experienced.

As part of the evening with Mario, we were able to check out the X version of both the Salopette Long L1 and Termica Long Salopette L1.  Design expertise and developments in fabric technology have contributed to the increase in performance of these products.  The new Long L1 (for mid- season, early winter) and Termica Long L1 (for winter) both provide increased thermal properties.  Comfort and performance has also increased due to a reduction in seams, and panel layout.   The seams have actually been omitted from the saddle area and replaced with an anti-stress panel.  I have experienced this design detail in other Q36.5 products, and I can vouch for the improvement it provides in both stable contact with the saddle, and all day comfort.

Other optimising features are the laser cut finish at the base of the leg (reducing seams), and the reflective panels which are eye catching as well as a helpful safety feature.

Within the items on display were current products such as the Air Insulation Jacket, and Salopette Wolf 2 Bib Short.  If you have not already done so, both of these products are really worth checking out.

During the evening Mario also gave a  brief insight into a couple of exciting developments which were not available to view, They included new Overshoes and Gloves.

Termico GlovesWinter overshoes 2

Since Mario’s visit, I have had the opportunity to use products such as the Hybrid Que X, Termica Jacket X, and the new Overshoes and Gloves.   More detailed insights into these products will be coming in future, but for now, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at grant.williams1973@ntlworld.com or head to the Q36.5 website.

 

Salopette Elite Bib Short by Q36.5 – A Product Insight

The desire for a bib short with specific properties of the Salopette Elite had entered my mind, and featured in conversation, during the summer preceding its release.  I have been a committed advocate of Q36.5 of cycling apparel for a number of years, and prior to the Elite, I was using either the Salopette L1 (no longer produced, but check out the Salopette Miles Gregarious Ultra for the current alternative) and Dottore L1, almost exclusively throughout the summer season.
The Salopette L1 being my “go to” bib short for the majority of training and everyday riding, and the Dottore L1 being the choice for the rides when additional performance and comfort is needed.  I also simply enjoy experiencing the difference in fit and feel that higher level cycling equipment can bring.

IMG_8296

Being UK based, in the Midlands, conditions generally enable riding outdoors throughout the year, but like many cyclists, I really look forward to the summer months.  I love to be on the bike when the sun is out and the temperatures are high, ideally in the hills or mountains, either in the UK or abroad.  Could Q36.5 offer a bib short that could potentially surpass their superb Dottore L1, for riding in these conditions? For me, the answer is “yes”, the Salopette Elite currently has the edge.
The performance of the Elite is created from a blend of technical features and fabrics. The bib short has a slightly different appearance, partly due to the use of Dyneema Yarn within certain panels.  The Dyneema provides resilience, an efficient short-saddle contact area, and temperature control. The material also contributes to the Salopette Elite being very light in weight.

The Chamois Fusion Vented is a key component within the Salopette Elite. Q36.5 created this chamois to assist rider comfort when cycling in hot conditions.  Other more subtle features are the lightweight, resilient mesh, tubular shoulder straps, and a lack of conventional leg grippers (more detail is given on this later).

Continue reading “Salopette Elite Bib Short by Q36.5 – A Product Insight”

Q36.5 – An Evening with Mario Kummer at Swinnerton Cycles

Mario Kummer of Q36.5 recently visited the UK.  During his time here, he spent an evening at Swinnerton Cycles, one of the UK’s main stockists of the Q36.5 range of clothing.

Q36.5 are an Italian company who create high performance cycling equipment, based in Bolzano, on the edge of the beautiful Dolomite Mountains.  Mario began with a presentation about the brand, providing an insight into its history, the founder, Luigi Bergamo, their approach to design, production and sustainability.

Mario provided information about the clothing offered by Q36.5, and the ethos of their Essential Collection.  This is a range of high performance equipment, comprising minimalist design, formed in a way to enable cyclists to sustain a healthy body temperature.  It also serves to provide protection from the elements throughout the seasons, whether training, racing, or carrying out recreational cycling, in more demanding conditions.

Cross Over Equipment

Q36.5 also offer Cross Over Equipment, a range of stylish, urban sportswear, incorporating their design flair with high performance fabrics.  The Active Trouser features an adjustable waist and leg. These subtle details provide on bike functionality, should you choose to wear them for a commute, but do not compromise their style, or potential for other activities.   The Hoody, Vest and Jacket include reflective inserts. These are a great addition whether walking, running, or cycling in low light or darkness.

Having used a number of items from this range, I can vouch for its comfort and versatility, whether being active or simply relaxing.

Cruise Equipment

Much of my cycling is carried out in the UK, and I particularly enjoy our Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons. Q36.5’s Cruise Equipment is extremely suited to the variable conditions we experience, as it is designed to provide thermal comfort when temperatures are in the region of ten to sixteen degrees Celsius, and it has wind blocking, and water resisting properties.

Q36.5’s UF Active fabric plays a significant role in the performance of the Cruise Equipment. The fabric comprises a dense outer layer with a fine Merino wool interior. Its construction is highly breathable, retains warmth even when damp, and dries quickly.

The Cruise Equipment comprises of jerseys, an insulative vest and accessories in the form of arm, leg and knee warmers.  The on-bike comfort is something to be experienced. The thermal comfort provided by these lightweight garments is excellent.  This is complemented by a close fit, with the stretch and shape enabling ease of movement.

Rider visibility is aided by the inclusion of colour panels, reflective inserts and zip. The jerseys and vest have discrete pockets with ample capacity for nutrition, phone, essentials case and additional layers or waterproof shell.

Having used items of Cruise Equipment for riding in the hills, flatlands, and various training intensities, its versatility and comfort is something I really value.

Summer 2019

For this summer, there are mix technical developments, new colours, and eye catching graphics.  The new Jersey Short Sleeve Seta is subtly stylish, and is offered in Tiffany (light blue) or Anthracite.  It’s hard to choose a favourite between the two, but for me, the Tiffany just takes it.

This jersey offers an advancement in performance and versatility, enabling a cyclist to remain comfortable, even during high levels of exertion in warm conditions, and when riding in cooler, summer temperatures.  This, in the main, is achieved by incorporating silk and silver thread into the fabric.  Silver thread also provides anti-bacterial properties to the garment. Continue reading “Q36.5 – An Evening with Mario Kummer at Swinnerton Cycles”

Q36.5: New Additions for Winter 2018

Q36.5 are introducing a number of exciting products for the winter season. These are in the form of the Cruise Equipment, and an insulative jacket. Certain products have also been updated to incorporate ongoing refinements.

Cruise Equipment

This addition comprises jerseys, an insulative vest and accessories in the form of arm, leg and knee warmers.  The Cruise Equipment is designed for temperatures between 10 and 16 degrees Celsius, and aims to sustain rider comfort in a range of conditions.  Q36.5 utilise a technical fabric, combined with their design expertise to achieve this performance criteria.

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Their UF Active fabric is used throughout the Cruise Equipment line. It is lightweight, but has a dense, water repellent, windblocking exterior, and a fine Merino wool interior. This combination provides protection against the elements, warmth, and comfort. This is partially achieved in the way the fabric manages moisture and humidity, combined with its fast drying time.

Q36.5 place great emphasis on rider visibility, and incorporate a mix of reflective inserts and colour panels throughout the Cruise Collection.  Having witnessed the effectiveness of the reflective inserts on the Jersey Long Sleeve WoolF, and WoolF Leg Warmers, I can confirm their low light/night time visibility is superb.

I have used the Jersey Long Sleeve WoolF during late summer and early Autumn, and already anticipate that the Cruise Collection will be extremely suited to the varied climate and conditions we experience in the UK.

The Jersey Long Sleeve WoolF is close fitting, and its Merino interior makes it very comfortable when worn next to skin. I combined the Jersey with Baselayer 1 (a sleeveless baselayer) also by Q36.5, and found this combination worked extremely well.

When spending long periods on the bike, the jersey seems to almost disappear, other than discretely providing protection from the surrounding conditions, and efficient pockets to carry items required for the ride. A visual reminder of the jersey’s presence, is when the bright green colour contrast panels at wrist level catch your eye.

My time using the jersey has generally had a bias towards endurance rides, although some climbing has featured. When the gradient has become more challenging, I have remained comfortable, neither feeling excessively warm, nor experiencing a build up of perspiration inside the jersey.

Q36.5 identify the jersey’s potential to ensure rider comfort when the intensity of the ride is high. Respecting the level of performance their clothing consistently provides, I am sure this will be the case.

The Air Insulation Jacket

The Air Insulation Jacket is described as a mid season and early winter item of equipment, and the warmer brother of the Hybrid Que (a long sleeve Jersey/Shell).

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Q36.5 form the core of the jacket from Hybrid Air Protection fabric. This is a new,
two layer fabric. Its outer layer has windblocking and water resisting properties. The inner is a brushed loft knit jacquard, which provides warmth, and manages any moisture or vapour build up, without adding bulk to the jacket.  The jacket has a water repellent treatment for improved drying time and to provide protection in wet conditions.

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The Jacket has a sleek, performance orientated appearance, and it is currently offered in either black, or orange. Both incorporate reflective inserts and colour contrast panels to assist visibilty.  I have the orange version,  and really value the option of an eye catching colour.

When first trying the jacket for size, I noticed the collar was close fitting, and I was intrigued to learn how this would feel and perform whilst riding. Within a short time the benefit of the design became apparent, as the potential of cooling from the neck area seemed greatly reduced (it prevents cool air entering, and reduces loss of warmth retained by the new fabric).

Q36.5 incorporate their Invisible Pocket System into the rear panel of the jacket. This provides ample cargo capacity for nutrition, phone, essentials case, and more.  The design ensures the pockets sit flush when not in use. A zip pocket also features.

Having used the Air Insulation Jacket on a number of occasions, it has become firm favourite.  From the first ride, I noticed how comfortable it was to wear; its pre-shaped fit, combined with the stretch,  and softness of the fabrics contributes greatly to this.

I have now used the Air Insulation Jacket for both flat and hilly rides, in temperatures ranging from 10 and 14 degrees Celsius. Whether climbing or holding an endurance tempo, thermal comfort has been perfect.

Q36.5 also offer a women’s version of the jacket, the Hybrid Jacket Lady.  My partner has been using this item during the last 18 months, and finds it excellent for mid season and early winter cycling.

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If you are looking for a mid season/early winter jacket, the Air Insulation by Q36.5 is really worth checking out.

For more information, feel free to contact me or go to www.q36-5.com

The Sweetest Climb: Port de Pailhères

 

By Grant Williams

I am always on the look out for new climbs, and it was beautiful images of the Port de Pailhères in France, that caught my eye, whilst eagerly skimming the pages of yet another cycling magazine, which had recently dropped through our letterbox. 

The riders had visited the climb during October 2012 and the mountain tops were snow covered. These were in contrast with the dark colours of the valley and a vivid blue sky, with the road snaking its way up to the summit. These images were more than enough to make me want to visit, and experience what they had. 

The Port de Pailhères remained out of reach for a few years, but the desire to visit was constant. I love being on my bike in the high mountains. The memory of these times, or planning the next adventure, both play a huge part in who I am. 

A passion for these bike trips is something I share with my partner, Emma, and we were both excited about visiting the Ariège Pyrénées, an area neither of us had visited before.  We chose to stay in a pretty village, just above Ax-les-Thermes. The western approach to this wonderful climb begins in this town, so it seemed a perfect location. We had two weeks to explore the area. 

Our journey to these places tends to involve travelling long distances in the car, and it’s usually late afternoon or early evening when we arrive at the destination. Any fatigue quickly disappears when the road signs begin the show the name of climbs we are here to ride, and the excitement of being in the mountain environment builds.

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The first day involves setting up the bikes, and putting the ride kit in some form of order. This is well practised, and quickly leads on to a look at maps and weather forecast.  Rain was due by early afternoon, but that was a few hours away, we were in the Pyrenees, and the Pailhères was on the doorstep. Why not just take a ride up, and see how far we get before the dark clouds sweeping into the valley prompt us to turn around, and head back down to the apartment? 

There was already some cloud cover, but it was warm, and it felt great to be breathing in the mountain air, clicking through the gears, and reconnecting with the movement and sensations that come with being on the bike. 

When riding from Ax-les-Thermes, the Pailhères gifts the rider with a mix of sensory treats. Quite early on the ascent, we enjoyed the beauty of the mountain lake Goulours, heavily wooded on one side, more open on its others. The water a mix of blue or glass clear, depending on the angle of view. We stopped and gazed for a few moments, before heading on, promising to return and walk its shoreline. 

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Sections of the road surface were fresh when we visited, the new, black macadam was smooth, and made the steeper gradients which occur through the tree line, that little bit easier. The presence of the new surfacing was softened by the River Lauze which edges the road. The water looks so fresh and clean, sparkling when the sunlight catches the flow. The sound of the moving water forms a beautiful distraction from the deep breaths of exertion while climbing, or the blend of bicycle and the wind, during a descent. 

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The pitch of the road eased before the ski village of Ascou-Pailhères came into view, and the bike effortlessly gathered momentum. This was one of those moments of contrast on a climb, when the forces of gravity and gradient temporarily relent, the legs spin easily, and the body and breathing relax. 

Cattle wandered freely, enjoying this grassy area, and evidence of their presence decorated the road surface…. I would look out for this natural hazard on the way down!  Glancing up at the high mountain peaks, it was easy to become completely immersed in the moment, but I was searching for view points that would allow me to look down the valley, and check for signs of rain clouds moving in. This was hindered by the landscape and trees, so I rode on, passing through the ski village, clicking up though the gears, as the road began to elevate again.

A wide area of macadam, static ski lifts, and being further into the mountains made me feel quite small, compared to the scale of the surroundings. Another wonderful sensation of the mountains.   As the climb rose above the tree line, the surface suddenly changed to being quite pale and weathered. The road cut into the hillside was edged by rock, deep orange and black in colouration. 

The height gain created the potential to view the valley below, the horizon was slightly darker, and one or two compact black clouds had ominously drifted in. Looking up, the sky remained relatively clear, and a large switchback gave way to what looked like a virtually straight run to the top.

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I continued on, climbing a relatively consistent gradient of around 8-9%.  The air was slightly cooler now, and the landscape sparse, with no more than grass covering the mountain side, and the occasional flower adding life and colour to the rocky outcrops. Having watched the Tour de France reach the summit of the Pailhères, I knew of its barren top, and the reality was similar to how I had imagined.

I glanced behind to increasing cloud below, and recognised that heading back had got to happen soon. Looking up, the road curved left, then disappeared over a brow. If that was the top, it was reachable on this ride, so clicking down a gear, I pressed on. 

Continue reading “The Sweetest Climb: Port de Pailhères”

Review of Shave Cream & Post-Shave Lotion by VeloSkin

Product Review by Grant

Shave Cream by Veloskin

The Shave Cream carries the brand’s signature, fresh, citrus scent, created by the inclusion of orange blossom and bergamot. It is a subtle, clean fragrance, which adds to the experience of using the product, and complements the other high quality ingredients which are used to form the Cream.

Like the Chamois Cream, the Shave Cream is quite dense in texture, which makes it easy to remove from the canister, and to use.  On application, it’s density immediately changes, and the Cream applies readily and evenly across the skin.

To gauge the performance of the Veloskin product, I used it alongside a shaving gel by a popular, long-standing brand, who manufacture shaving products and accessories.

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Setting aside appearance and fragrance of the Creams when shaving, the difference in performance of each product was noticeable. The Veloskin Shave Cream provides a much more comfortable shave, in which the razor travels smoothly and consistently, without causing any irritation. The resulting shave being close, clean, and with no visible skin damage or discomfort.

To create the product, Veloskin use more than ten natural ingredients, which are specifically chosen for their properties to care for the skin both during and after shaving. I certainly found the choice of ingredients results in a superb Shave Cream.

Since the trial, I have continued to use the Veloskin Shave Cream virtually every day for a number of months, and it has continued to provide the same level of performance and comfort.

If you are looking for an excellent Shave Cream, VeloSkin’s is really worth checking out.

Post Shave Lotion by Veloskin

The Post Shave Lotion is a rich, smooth cream, which can be can be applied to either legs or face after shaving.  The lotion has the natural fragrance of orange blossom and bergamot, which VeloSkin use as their trademark scent. This subtle fragrance is something I really like.

Continue reading “Review of Shave Cream & Post-Shave Lotion by VeloSkin”

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