Test Zone: August / September 2019

The FULL SUS testing section, led by pubisher SHAYNE DOWLING and editor TIM BRINK, where all the
new stuff gets pedaled, felt, touched, kicked, jumped, ripped, slid, clicked, worn, stretched… it’s tough, but somebody has to.

 

MICHELIN WILD AM MTB TYRES | RRP R1120 (per tyre) | www.nationalcycles.co.za

Reviewer: Shayne Dowling

The French tyre monarch has been involved with MTB tyres for some time but until recently not been readily available and generally slipped off most people’s radar. Well they are back in force (not to be confused with their Force XC or AM tyre). With a full range of MTB tyres now available we chose to give the Wild AM knobblies a go. Billed as their all-rounder, all mountain tyre, the Mich’s never disappointed.

The Wild Am 29er 2.35s are nice and chunky but not overly so on my now skinny 23mm inner width hoops. Of course, you need to consider your rim width vs. tyre width, the wider rims allowing for lower pressures and even wider tyres, but running incorrect tyre pressures and bulging will compromise performance. The Wild’s sat well on my Kovee’s and with the more aggressive tread I never really had to play too much with pressure – they are tough to get onto the rim so I would advise asking your LBS to fit them. We have had a really wet winter which can make tracks nice and sticky but also results in a lot of slippery roots, water ruts and some newly exposed rocky surprises. The Wild AM’s handled all the rough stuff with confident ease, with a less aggressive and harder centre tread climbing and rolling resistance on jeep track was comfortable. The big side knobs are really where the tyre comes into its own; they really grip like crazy, allowing for much more confidence in the corners which in turn means less braking and a lot more speed! They really eat up the trails. The Wild AM’s are certainly at home in the trail and even the jeep track environment but probably not on the more aggressive enduro/gravity environs. I look forward to running them through the summer and at a couple of stage rides coming up, it will also give me an idea of how far they can go before needing to change. At R1120 per tire, the Michelins are definitely worth giving a go when you’re looking for new rubber.

 

CIOVITA ESSENTIAL KIT BAG | RRP R1499 | www.ciovita.com

Reviewer: Shayne Dowling

Can you ever have too many pockets? Ciovita doesn’t think so. The firm’s new Essential Kit Bag has a plethora of pockets that make sure you have a cubby hole for every possible bit of kit you might need on an outride, heading to the gym, or the golf course, in fact it makes for the perfect lightweight carryall. Made from lightweight polyester the bag is really light and folds down easily for storage. The bag comes with a small groundsheet to stand on, a separate wet bag for dirty kit and a separate pouch that not only protects your valuables but also conveniently keeps them together in one place. It also has a couple of clever little tricks up its sleeves: while black on the outside it is bright orange on the inside. That has been done intentionally so that it is quite obvious when you leave a pocket unzipped, and with so many pockets it’s quite easy to forget what you have put where – the Essential Kit Bag makes things really easy with removable Velcro labels that you can place at the correct pouch – so simple and really clever. Ciovita has become synonymous with excellent quality and on-point design, their kit bag offers both. At R1499 the bag is well priced and definitely something you would want to put on your Christmas list!

 

LOULOU DRY SHOE | RRP R285 | www.louloutrading.com

Reviewer:  Tim Brink

There is little more miserable than trying to squirm your feet into yesterday’s soggy shoes. You can almost hear trench foot and blisters calling your name … these nifty little numbers help keep you motivated to get back on the bike by heating the damp right outta town. Plugged into a normal two-prong adapter – you might need an extension cord, the wires are a tad short – the units generate between 65 and 80 degrees of heat and ultraviolet light which combine to dry damp shoes in four hours or so, but also stop them getting stinky. The Cape winter – isn’t nice to have had one at last? – offered a fine testing regime, and we found the Dry Shoes did exactly what they said on the box, with dripping to comfy overnight not a problem. Totally portable, the whole shebang pops into a 15x22cm travel pouch, and weighs just 22g, so you can easily sneak them into your stagerace bag instead of taking a spare pair of shoes, just in case.

 

SP-CONNECT BIKE BUNDLE | RRP R849 | www.bikalot.com

Reviewer: Tim Brink

As GPS units get more expensive with every new model, and cell phone apps become more userfriendly
and accurate for measuring bike rides, so we are seeing an influx of gizmos to hold your precious communication device securely on your bike. To date, these have erred – grossly – on the side of clunky and hideous, leaving your expensive Smartphone vulnerable to even the smallest of OTB experiences, and difficult to use at best. SP-Connect is a game-changer – the first we have tested that understands that we want something as slick as how the Garmins of our world do it. We used the bike bundle, which sees you housing your phone in a dedicated, slimline case that quarter-turn twists into a top-cap or stem-mounted connector, just like a conventional GPS unit. The firm also produces an out-front mount, which saves you replacing the top cap and keeps your phone a little less in your face and vulnerable, but saying that, we never felt we were in danger of damaging it where it was. The weather-proof screen cover is a nice bonus, even though the majority of Smartphones are water-proof today, and even allows you to run your stuff with gloves on. And, best of all, itallows you to run your apps landscape, so you can actually see what is going on (for the middle-aged reading glasses denialists among us), or watch movies comfortably on the indoor trainer … or even keep up to date with Angry Birds.

 

RYDER NUTCRACKER SUITE | RRP R80-R120 | www.rydercycling.co.za

Reviewer: Tim Brink

This threesome of tyre-care aids is a well thought-out (mostly) package that shouldn’t leave you walking back to your car, no matter what our gnarly South African terrain has thrown at you. Let’s start with the Slug Plug (R80): a tubeless repair system that is compact, without compromising usability with sweaty, sealant-covered fingers. The pre-loaded stabby thing has gnarled grips, a built-in presta valve-core removal tool and a safety sheath that keeps it muck-free when not in use, and out of your kidneys if you aren’t using the second playmate in our threesome, the Slyder (R120). It slits in under your bottle cage, holding the Slug Plug on the right, and a single 16g CO2 cartridge and pre-attached adaptor for fast onthe- trail plugging and inflating. The CO2 bomb sleeve detaches with it, so you don’t freezer-burn your fingerprints into it. The happy ending in this review was the smallest of the lot; there is little more frustrating than struggling to remove the lock ring on your tubeless valve, once the call has been made that it is tube-time. Sealant, sweat and panic conspire to making fingers terrible at shifting these, and the Nutcracker (R100) slides on to offer just enough purchase to shift the most stubborn. It also carries a replacement presta valve – we have all sent one of those into orbit, never to be seen again – and will spread your pads should the excitement of it all been too much for your brakes. Or one of your mates has got bored and pulled the wrong lever. Our only criticism is that the Nutcracker is really easy to misplace – Slyder 2.0 needs some further integration, please!

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