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Product reviews

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From previous entries you will know of the new kit. It has now been tested and I have written some reviews:

All these reviews can be found under the products on the Evans Cycles website

Specialized Allez Sport Compact 2013 allez compact

A great value bike

Yes, I recommend this product.

Pros: Good value, Good quality, Comfortable, Lightweight
If you are new to road cycling or getting back into it after a while then you may not wish to spend over £1000 on something which could be a fad. For the cycling I do, commuting to work, and charity bike rides the Allez Sport ticks all the boxes.
It is light considering it has the aluminium frame and this helps you get up to a good speed. it is very responsive and its stiff frame installs confidence when descending hills. The compact chainset allows you to get a quick pace on the flat and enables you to get to the climbs so for the area I live in and cycling I do this is perfect for me.
Other reviews have said the saddle is uncomfortable but I have not found this to be a problem. This is an individual choice and the saddle can be easily changed.
I have attached Shimano R540 SPD pedals and use Spiuk ZS11R shoes and these really help you get a shift on. This is the first time I have used clipless pedals and I can say they make a massive difference.
The bike is available in two colours and I opted for the silver, mainly as I wanted the black handlebar tape, but this could be changed if you have the bike build in store. There could be a charge for this so please check. I however like both the colour schemes the Allez Sport is available in.
An excellent feature about this bike is the Sora gears from Shimano. These are seen on more expensive models and allow you to comfortably change gears up and down the cassette whilst in the drop handlebar position. This has been useful when you want to maintain speed on the gentle lumps and bumps in the road.
The only downside to this bike is the weight of the wheels, but you will get this with all bikes in this range as the technology is put in other areas. This is an area I might look into but it’s only a might.
Overall this bike is excellent for the money and will serve me well. I can’t see me needing to upgrade unless I get really serious about the sport.
If you’re looking at a road bike then this certainly ticks all the boxes

Or read the review here

Shimano R540 SPD pedals shimano-oe-r540-spd-sl-road-pedals

My first (clipless) pedals
June 3, 2013
Yes, I recommend this product.
Pros: Good value, Good quality, Lightweight, Looks great
The first set of pedals I have had which use cleats. Had them fitted and adjusted in store which was really useful. They look good with the bike, went for the grey/silver option to match the bike and shoes.
These are really easy to clip in and twist out off and I am quickly getting used to riding with these pedals. They along with the shoes have really helped my efficiency whilst out on the bike.
Very good entry-level pedals and the advice from Evans staff was they should last for ages. A good investment especially at £23.99!
Or read the review here

Spiuk ZS11R Shoes (silver/black) spiuk-zs11r-road-shoe

My first pair
Yes, I recommend this product.
Pros: Good value, Comfortable, Lightweight, Looks great
The decision was made to try proper shoes with the pedals on my new bike. I have had them for a week now and been on a few rides. The difference between shoes and trainers is massive. On the climbs I feel I can attack the climb and gain some speed on the flat.
They are very comfortable, and fit my wide feet very well. I tried on other shoes but these fitted me the best. I do also like the ratchet system as you don’t get any movement which is ideal on any climb. I am getting used to clipping in and out whilst on the move and in time this will become natural.
I opted for silver as these match the bike and helmet, but did contemplate the red or yellow pair. However no 44 in yellow so went with the silver.
The ratchet system is a little bit annoying when putting the shoes on, but I think this is me just not yet used to them get.
Overall a very nice pair of entry shoes and I am happy with them.

Or read the review here

Specialized Align Helmet (silver) specialized algin 2013

Fantastic!
Yes, I recommend this product.
Pros: Lightweight, Good value, Comfortable, Good quality, Looks great
I have had this product for a couple of weeks and much prefer it to my more expensive Bell helmet, which is still nice but doesn’t fit as well as this one. I went for this as it is the same make as my bike, but that is just me. Don’t be put off by the cost. It isn’t the most expensive helmet on the market but it really does do the job. Use the saving on other equipment like a better pair of shoes or pedals etc. It is very light, in fact you hardly notice you are wearing it, as previously mentioned very comfortable and fits very well. It can be easily adjusted to fit different sized heads.
When you are out on your ride in the sunny weather which has finally arrived the helmet keeps your head nice and cool, keeping up the comfort levels.
I would certainly recommend this helmet, great job Specialized thank you.
Louis Garneau 1 Calory Mitts louis-garneau-1-calory-mitts
Excellent! Very Comfortable
Yes, I recommend this product.
Pros: Good value, Good quality, Comfortable, Lightweight, Looks great
You can pay a lot for mitts, and you get (or should) more for your money. However these mitts are very light, extremely comfortable and cushion the hands well. I opted for the black pair as the white pair might look dirty quickly, but this is a personal opinion.
At this price they are a must buy item.
Or read the review here
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InThePeloton joins the Evans on-line community

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I can revel that InThePeloton is now a member of the Evans cycles on-line community and will be answering questions about products and cycling related issues. These will appear on the Evans cycles website.

I hope you find this interesting and entertaining.

I will post some of the Q&A here too!

Why cycle #l2b again?

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You did it last year, so why again? This is a question I’ve been asked a number of times. Why do people return to run the marathon, or people scale MT Everest, because they can.

I really enjoyed last year, and want to push myself again to see if I can beat my challenge of completing the ride in sub 4 hours. In a way its the same as the repeat runners and climbers, the challenge to.improve.

There is however the other side to this. I really enjoyed raising money for The British Heart Foundation. This year I want to raise £250 before I cross the start line in just six weeks. To complete this I need your help. Please donate and spread the word.

I’m raising money for The British Heart Foundation so they can fund the research which will find a cure for heart failure. With all the technology and medical progress we humans have made we still have get to cure a disease which affects the most important organ in our body. Without a heart we are lifeless. People who suffer from heart failure could be anyone of us. How would we feel if we had heart failure?

Please show your support for the work done my the BHF by giving what you can on
http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/philWheeler5

Thank you!

What to wear on a night ride?

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This week I’ve been asked by a friend what should be worn on the London to Brighton night ride in July. Also how cold does it get?

Last year the ride was in May on that hot weekend, yes the one we had, the lowest temperature was 18 degrees C if I remember. However part of this ride you body is battling against lack of sleep and this is a factor, therefore 18 degrees can feel like 10-12.

Due to the weather I wore shorts (lycra obviously) and my jersey with my jacket in a back pack/rucksack. At 4am when the sun comes up its a little chilly in the Surrey/Sussex countryside. I remember a cold mist/fog on some of the rolling countryside, it really was a beautiful scene. As we know its also colder in the countryside than urban areas, especially if there is little or no cloud cover. All these will impact on your body and potential to ride.

A jacket is a must, tights optional depending upon the weather & personal choice as is a back pack/rucksack. There are plenty of jackets on the market which fold away into a pouch which reduces the need for a rucksack and you could use leg & arm warmers to keep the limbs comfortable. I used my jacket between the second and third rest stop around dawn just to keep the chill off before the sun worked its magic for a glorious summers day.

One way to find out is to include a training ride in similar conditions. Going for a 4am ride when you are cold will provide some vital experience for anyone who is completing their first night ride. You will get to find out how good your kit is before event day. I suppose a training ride in the rain better be a good idea too! For now let’s not combine the two!

Last year I researched the blogs and experiences of those who completed the Manchester to Blackpool night ride in September 2010. They all had jackets but it was September in the north west. It could well have been raining.

For this year I’m going with the following weather depending:
Base layer
Jersey (not sure which one yet)
Bib shorts (prevents a gap between shorts & jersey)
Jacket (in pouch)
Gels in jersey pockets
Two water bottles on bike (can be topped up en route)
Gloves
Lights
Security lock

Plus something I didn’t have last year a saddle bag. This is ideal for your pump, spare tube, multi tool & depending upon size & how secure its fixed keys, wallet & small first aid kit. This should then reduce the need for a rucksack, but let’s see.

Experience helps. Last year I took on too much sugar and not enough water, resulting in cramp in the calf. Whilst Haribo and Jaffa cakes are very useful water is a key ingredient too. Less sports drinks, instead water and gels (if I can find some which actually taste nice). Suncream! Not just for the beach afterwards, if the weather is good, the sun can be strong in July and the back of your neck can be exposed. Sunburn hurts.

I hope this has been useful to anyone completing their first (or second) night ride. You can show your support at my fundraising page. See you in the saddle soon.

Tour preperations for the main contenders

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The Giro comes to a close on Sunday in Brescia and Vincenzo Nibali look like he will take the Pink Jersey in a well faught victory across Italy (and a bit of France). The other Tour De France contenders would didn’t complete in the Giro will probably take thier place in the Criterium du Dauphine. In 2012 Sir Bradley Wiggins took victory on his way to be the first British winner of the tour. He has also won Paris/Nice earlier in the season Team Sky’s Christopher Froome will be hoping he can complete a victory like his team mate did last year in his preperations for the 2013 tour in July. Froome didn’t win Paris/Nice but has shown some good early season form. This year the race will contain a certain Alberto Contador who is looking to regain the tour honours after missing the last two due to a ban.

In my opinion the Giro was a liitle predictable when Wiggo had to withdraw, although Nibali certainly has been the best rider in the peloton and deserves his win (if he gets it on Sunday) and the return to form for Cadel Evans means that the big names are looking to be in good shape before the grand depart on Corsica in July. Tomorrow we wil find out what shape Froomy is in and how Team Sky are looking in the attempt to retain the title. In my opinion the 2013 tour has the potential to be a good one with Nibali, Contador, Wiggo and Froome battling it out to be crowned the winner of the 100th Tour de France. Plus when you add into the mix other riders who could cause an upset such as Evans and maybe Sammy Sanchez. Next week could tell us a little more about the shape of the riders before the grans depart. I can’t wait for this to unfold. Allez! Allez!

Decision made, finally!

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It took a while, but with some extensive research, reading blogs, reviews and forums, plus some expert advice from Evans Cycles, I have finally made my decision. I’ve gone for the Specialized Allez Sport 2013.

I was a close call between a number of bikes from the Trek 1.2T H2 or the compact version, or the Cannondale Synapse 7 Sora and a number of other makes and models but @iamspecialized won the day.

It is a very nice Twitter account, not that should be a reason for deciding which bike is best for you, but at least I could tweet that I am specialized!

Why did I opt for the Allez Sport? Well I decided for the silver model like the one above, mainly as I preferred this to black but they are both very nice. I do prefer the dark handlebar tape. On the black bike it is white, but this could be changed in-store at a small cost. I also think a silver bike will be better than black for the night ride come July (although lights will be the main way of being spotted and staying safe). I have a 56cm frame which feels very comfortable. My height suggests a 58cm and this is what I’ve had in the past but each bike is different so its why its so important to get the right size for you. My friend has a 54cm but height suggests a 56cm would be right. Its all about what feels comfortable for you and how long your arms are. My advice is to take advice from the qualified staff at your local bike shop. After a few rides I’ll be in a position to give a more formal product review for each of the new purchases, so watch this space.

ImageYou may have noticed the above picture has no pedals on the bike. Some bikes are sold without pedals as they are a very personal choice for each rider. The Allez Sport does come with normal pedals but I have decided to move towards being attached to the pedal for better efficiency on the bike. This might just help me achieve my target time of London to Brighton in sub 4 hours. The above are the entry level Shimano pedals at a very competitive price just £23.99.

spiuk-zs11r-road-shoe Well with clip less pedals come shoes. I have wide feet and therefore need a shoe which caters for this. Again I have spend many hours researching the shoes. The above Spiuk ZS11R had 33% off which helped, but after reading reviews and seeking advice in store I have a pair of shoes which have a ratchet fitting which keep the shoes in the right place on your foot resulting in more power being transferred into the pedal. The result faster and longer rides. I did try the more popular brands like Shimano but after trying on a couple of pairs, Shimano were a little tight across my feet. This is totally a personal choice, but due to my wide feet I’ve gone for the above. Another good feature of the Spiuk ZS11R is they have a winter and summer fitting which help keep your feet warmer and and cooler depending upon the season. With the UK weather the way it is at the moment the summer feature could be something I never get to try out. See it is true the Brits do talk about the weather, just one for any international readers out there. The above come in a bright yellow (which I nearly got), a nice red, black, white and the silver and black above. It fits with the rest of the bike a silver colour theme is definitely going on.

specialized algin 2013The silver theme continues with the helmet. I just better not cycle in the fog or misty conditions as I will blend in more than others. The helmet was a free accessory from Evans Cycles along with some new fingerless gloves. The gloves are black and not silver. I did have a look and if they had them I probably would have kept the theme going there too! The above is a one size fits all and does fit perfectly on my head. I find it is a better fit than my existing Bell helmet which was more expensive. I wouldn’t have bothered with a new helmet and could have used the extra allowance for shoes, but as the pair that fitted the best had an offer on this allowed me to utilise the free accessories a little more. After all with a silver theme going on a black helmet could have ruined the look!

The ride to work scheme has served me well. Now its just the actual riding to work to gain the full benefit of a healthy lifestyle (or a more healthy one anyway). Bring it one along with the wind, rain and hopefully sun. If you out and about this weekend enjoy your ride. If however you’re not out enjoy watching the final weekend of the Giro D’Italia and Nibali’s victory come Sunday afternoon.

Stage 15 of the Giro! Maddness or Racing?

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ImageSome would say this was mad, others its racing, but what is certain is this is action from yesterday’s stage 15 of the Giro D’Italia, and yes the riders are riding through the Alps into France with snow either side of the road. At the time this pic was taken the stage had been neutralised, which mean the riders weren’t actually racing up the mountain, due to the weather. There was concern of dangerous road conditions on the decent, so the riders rode together at a steady 27kmph!. Even going up a mountain in freezing temperatures the pro riders are travelling quicker than me in the British summer time. The moving average on my last ride reached the dizzy heights of 24.4 kmph!

To me however it s why I enjoy cycling so much. The riders really do put themselves through the mill riding the Giro. British rider @SteveCumminfs16 riding for @BMCProTeam is pictured climbing up the road with the picturesque scenes to either side. Win the  first grand tour of the season and you really are in good shape. It might not be the “crown” of the season, that being the Tour, but its still a great achievement and one the top riders want on their CV. Unfortunately Wiggo wasn’t able to add the Giro to his Tour victory but will fight on to compete again I’m sure.

I know cycling has a dark past which it is working hard to shake off, but respect has to be given to these riders who are able to cope with the weather conditions and the increadably steep mountains they climb. The mountains on stage 15 have also been used in the Tour but as this is in July there is less snow around. Even so the fact the peloton drag themselves up these climbs day in day out means they deserved admeration for their efforts especually from (very) amature cyclists like myself. Today thankfully is a rest day in the Giro (even though the riders will still get out on their bikes, but not race) so maybe some time to recover before the third week of the Giro and the final stage into Brescia on Sunday.