The Test Zone April/May 2019

The FULL SUS product testing section, led by publisher SHAYNE DOWLING and editor FRANS LE ROUX is where we put MTB and related products to the test. We get to pedal, feel, touch, kick, jump, rip, slide, click, wear, stretch, ride (you get the idea) and generally test the hell out of products.

 

BLS VELORACING BACKPACK | RRP R 950 | www.blsglobal.net/za

Reviewer: Max Sullivan

As cyclists, we spend large chunks of our free cash on getting the best and most comfortable bits and bobs, so naturally it makes sense to keep them safe when on the move. The VeloRacing backpack by BLS has been designed by cyclists with cyclists in mind, whether you’re off to a race or on your way to work, this 20L bag conveniently stores your cycling goods.

The bag appears to be very durable and has solid exposed zips, so it opens and closes with ease. I loaded the bag full of my spares, extra kit as well as some camera equipment and set off on a mountain bike ride, the padded lining protected my back from its contents. At first I thought a chest strap would be necessary to hold the bag in place, but this was not the case. It sits quite high up on your back, allowing you to utilize your shirt’s pockets, with the strap tension easily adjusted on the move. Mud and dust was not an issue for the water resistant material, which can be cleaned with a damp cloth in a flash. The compartments allow you to separate the contents whatever they may be, it even has a nifty smelly kit/helmet compartment with holes for breathability. I found the backpack to be rather warm on my back, although, it was a Stellenbosch summer’s day out on the trails.

At R950, including delivery to your nearest Postnet, this trendy little bag is well worth it, it does what it sets out to do and perhaps a little more. All things being considered, I’d imagine this backpack would take the cake in a ‘backpack shootout’, considering price, aesthetics and functionality.

 

MILKIT AND THE MAGIC VALVES! | RRP R850 | www.fitsportslab.co.za

Reviewer: Shane Dowling

This is an interesting piece of equipment. “It’s a syringe with a fancy mould that holds all the goodies,” I hear you say. It is that but it has two very clever additions – the valves. Serious valves? Yip valves. They are really clever, and this is what makes MilKit such an innovative piece of equipment; the valves self-seal on the inside so even with the valve core removed no air escapes. Attach the plastic “needle” and regulator and you can now fill or remove sealant from your tyre. This also allows you to not only measure your sealant but also top up easily, no mess and without your tyre going completely flat. At R850 it is a little pricey but hey it makes your life a whole lot easier.

 

THULE VELOCOMPACT 2 BIKE RACK | RRP R8499 | www.thulestore.co.za

Reviewer: Frans le Roux

Swedish company Thule have been in business since the 1940’s and their first bicycle racks were designed in the 60s. With this in mind, it is no surprise that they produce some of the world’s very best bike racks. Starting out as a true weekend warrior the struggles were really trying to fit a full-size mountain bike into the back of a hatchback.

Trust me, once you’ve bought a tow bar mounted bicycle carrier, your life of struggles will soon be forgotten. I was sent a Thule Velocompact 2 back in 2018 and after using my Thule hanger rack for years, the changes were significant. As you guessed it, the Velocompact 2 takes two 29er mountain bikes with ease. A sturdy frame hooks onto your tow bar and is fastened by a rubberised lever. Once you’ve attached the rack you simply lock the handle with the provided key, and it stays in place forever. The first big bike trip was a weekend away to Stilbaai which consisted of around seven hours in total. With gale force crosswinds, I was stoked with the Velocompact- it didn’t move at all! Added features of a number plate holder and a full set of lights take care of the safety and legal aspects. The aluminium grab bars are easy to manoeuvre into your desired position whereafter you can fasten it anywhere you prefer on your bike’s frame. Being rubberised, these grab bars didn’t scratch or damage my precious carbon frame. For added piece of mind, each wheel is strapped in tight and further secures your bike during transport. The compact part of the rack means that the aluminium wheel wells can be pushed inwards while the black steel rail folds flat to ensure that you can put the rack in your car’s boot or on the backseat. Overall, I was over the moon by the user-friendliness of the rack. The fact that the rack and grab bars are locked with a key makes me rest assured if I must stop at a shop.

 

UVEX RACE 9 HELMET | RRP R3999 | www.uvex-sports.com

Reviewer: Frans le Roux

Uvex is a German company who introduced their first helmet more than 30 years ago. Their new top of the range race ready helmet is called the Race 9 and I’ve properly used it for a few weeks now. First off, this is not an entry-level lid for those starting out. The Race 9 is an aero helmet which is aimed at the top performer in both road and mountain bike racing. What I noticed straight away was how lightweight the helmet felt. Weighing around 280g I could strap it on and forget about it. The adjustable fit system at the rear ensured I get a safe and secure fit without the helmet moving around.

The second big thing I noticed was the amount of airflow that came into the helmet. During the recent Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB event I appreciated the breathability of the Uvex Race 9. I always ride with an anti-sweat strip underneath the lid and things usually heat up quite quickly. Somehow, I also managed to secure my sunnies inside the helmet during a ride and they’re yet to fall out (touch wood). The rear of the helmet comes down quite far and adds safety once you’ve taken a big tumble. Aesthetically If I’m honest, I really like the overall look and design. It’s the kind of helmet that looks fast while laying in your bag. Our test unit was supplied in blue whilst black or white can be specified too. A removable visor is probably the only item I would have liked (in a perfect world) but the lightweight airy feel of the lid makes up for any possible shortcoming.

 

LYNE COMPONENTS HOLY RAIL DUAL CAGE & MULTI-TOOL | RRP R1199 | www.on-lynecomponents.com

Reviewer: Frans le Roux

After attending the official launch of the Lyne Components Holy Rail product back in December 2018, I was super keen to get my hands on a test unit. At the launch they displayed the various iterations of the Holy Rail and some were mounted on Giant Anthem’s – which naturally made me excited.

In South Africa we really do need two bottle cages fitted to any mountain bike. Whether you attach one to your seatpost or carry a hydration pack, the benefits of having enough fluid during a ride are endless. Yes, some brands do offer dual cage systems as standard on their models, the beauty of the Holy Rail is that it can be added to your existing bike’s (disclaimer- some brands) frame. I had my Holy Rail and multi-tool
cage fitted a few days prior to the Stilbaai MTB event which ran over 90km. Needless to say, the addition of having a second bottle cage during a six hour event was amazing. My Anthem used to have a 750-900ml single bottle on board, but with the Holy Rail fitted I could carry 1.5-1.7L of fluid with ease. After running the dual cage system for a few months and hundreds of miles later, I’m happy to report that it has not yet damaged my frame or rattled loose. The added multi-tool is another bonus as you attach it to the cage and forget about it really. I’ve used mine on two occasions to fasten a handlebar bolt and a cleat.

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