The Test Zone: June / July 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.

 

Hydrotac -Bifocal Stick- on Lenses | RRP R460 | www.hydrotac.co.za

Reviewer: Shayne Dowling

Ok, so I have to admit that my arms aren’t long enough anymore. My ageing eyes need glasses to see up close, and carrying a second pair while riding isn’t practical. Yes you can go and have expensive prescription lenses made up that fit into a number, if not all, sunglasses, but Hydrotac is just so much simpler, cheaper and more practical. The lenses are made from a pliable plastic that can be cut to size, they come in the various strengths and with a drop of water can be added to any set of sunnies to instantly transform them to bi-focals and presto you can see! The beauty of these guys is that you can take them off and re-apply as many times as you want, change sunnies and move the lenses. I have been caught so many times with a small problem on my bike and had to struggle trying to fix it, find things, check my bike computer, but these guys have changed all that. As an older cyclist but also for anyone who is far-sighted these are essential!

 

Hutchinson Tyres: COBRA TLR 2019 – 29 X 2.25 | RRP R770 | www.hutchinsontires.com

Reviewer: Shayne Dowling

So Hutchinson have been around for a damn long time; in fact they have been making bicycle tyres since 1890. The French brand is the only tyre company still producing tyres in France, they are a subsidiary of Total and certainly have the pedigree when it comes to producing good rubber.

Hutchinson have always been well-known for their road and (26’’) MTB tyres, but then hoop size pretty much changed outright and certainly on the local market they went quiet. However, they are back with the new COBRA TLR 29” tyre. Punted as their all-round tyre of choice with a tread that claims to be good
on both the XC and trail scene – I have found that this is not an easy claim to back-up particularly with our gnarly tracks, clay-pack trails that quickly become sticky as hell in the rain and of course the thorns and razor sharp rocks also put strain on lights tyres. The 2.25s almost look too thin when you consider all the beefy tyres and wider rims, however these tyres really surprised me. They are a lekker mix between a soft and hard compound, the tread (although I do have my doubts in clay) has handled all the dry terrain I have thrown at it. The tyre is perfect for jeep tracks and manicured trails, long off-road rides it eats for breakfast. I was hugely impressed with the tyre grip and behaviour in some of the more gnarly rock gardens and tricky turns or berms, so more of a trail environment: they really inspire confidence and never once did I feel like I was going to lose the tyre on the front or back.

The Hutchinson Cobras are what they say they are: equally comfortable on XC and XC Marathon. For
more hectic trail riding I would still like some more tread up front and look forward to getting my hands on
the burly brother of the Cobra, however I can confidently and assuredly recommend the Cobras for most
riding we do off road. At 750g a tyre they are on par with other ‘multi-use’ tyres and at this price, they are
a great option for value too.

 

Giordana Silverline Bib- Short | RRP R2,750 | www.nationalcycles.co.za

Reviewer: Shayne Dowling

Sometimes quality needs context. Giordana is an Italian brand established in 1979, created by Italian cyclist Giorgio Andretta. In typical romantic Italian fashion, the brand name came from his newly born daughter and the logo was taken from her
birth sign Sagittarius. Romance aside, Giorgio worked hard to take the Italian clothing quality to the States and eventually the world. This was not by fluke and the Giordana products have stood testament to the quality and fit expected even more so today by both elite and regular cyclists alike. The Silverline bib offers all that I look for in a bib: the legs fit comfortably, the chamois is high quality – how do you know? How it feels, the way it moulds, breaths, wicks away the moisture and generally leaves your toches feeling decent even on those long, sweaty rides. The leg grippers are comfortable and firm without being floppy or even worse, stopping your circulation. Shoulder straps are made of a soft elastic that has nice stretch and combined with the breathable mesh back piece, keeps the bibs comfortably in place without any strain on your shoulders. The best part of the Silverline is the short’s material, in two panels that sit perfectly, they wrap your legs in a firm and really breathable material (I don’t want to bore you with the technical names) but it’s really amazing! Legs stay cool and doesn’t look like you’re in your undies. At a little over R2k for a pair they aren’t cheap but quality comes at a price. You will be riding them for years and they’ll repay your butt in kindness again and again! I love my Gio’s.

 

Luck Shoes | RRP From R1,899 | www.positivesportssolutions.co.za

Reviewer: Shayne Dowling

A guy riding behind me, I still don’t know who, as I was shattered, said: “Finally someone with shoes as bright as mine!” I chuckled as much as one can without air and wriggled my toes in the neon yellow and black shoes looking after my feet as we made our way around the Darling Brew MTB heatfest. I was tiring but I can quite honestly say that my feet were in a happy place. The Spanish made Luck shoes are insane. Yes I hear you saying: “don’t these guys ever say anything bad about the products they test?” I guess it may seem like that but I
can honestly not think of anything bad to say about these kicks. They are bright but besides the funky two-tone, a neon colour and black running halfway through the middle of the shoes, you can also get them in a muted black, the shoes are everything you want in MTB shoes. Fit is controlled by two Atop reel lacing systems, the shoes are nice and broad but with the two ratchets per shoe you can adjust top and bottom of the shoe separately, easily and on the fly, allowing for a really comfortable fit. The shoes have a hard toe-shell which gives great protection. The carbon sole is light, rigid and great on the bike, but the ridged rubber sole also allows for ease and comfort when you need to walk the really steep stuff. I really enjoy it that I can wear thicker or thinner socks and because of the ease of adjustment your feet are just as comfortable, warm in the winter but breathable leather makes for cool feet in the summer. Once again these are high quality products and come with an expected price tag. I however highly recommend these shoes – save up, bend the credit card but get yourself a pair of Lucks – a really great pair
of MTB shoes!

 

Send-It Bike Box | RRP R1,795 | www.sendit.bike

Reviewer: Tim Brink

They say the true test of a relationship is travelling together. If your prospective partner has a bike, ramp that up ten-fold. At least. Travelling with your baby (the two-wheeled one) is a stressful affair, not least because you are never quite sure how much of a rough ride she is going to get at the hands of the baggage fairies. Send-it combines the two popular packaging
options – the expensive brand-name bike box, and the cheap-as-chips cardboard number from your LBS – with a specially-designed number that marries the two brilliantly. The double-walled cardboard material is good for a fair number of trips, even with the grumpiest of baggage handlers, and is branded all-sides to make sure the fragility of the contents is obvious. From the outside, Send-It looks 100% bike-shop box. But it is on
the inside that that all changes; with the big cardboard bits come a solid BB protection box, robust bags for the handlebars, derailleur, pedals and wheels, and enough straps to S&M beauty into happy submission. No need for bubble-wrap, pool noodles and packing tape, all the more important on the return leg, when you have forgotten to pack the latter. All-in, this tips the scales at a shade over 5kg, so the penalty for the remarkably high level of protection is light. The process is relatively stress-free: whip off the wheels, the bars, the rear derailleur and the pedals, and pop them into their toughened pouches (made from recycled billboards) and strap them all into place in the box, with your bike. Seven internal heavy-duty nylon straps keep everything in place – rattle-free means damage-free, mostly – and the final two external straps keep the box from opening in transit. As packing options go, this was one of the better thought-out versions – not over complicated, and perfectly simple for a single human to manage. When not in use, the whole Send-It packs flat, for much easier storage than normal bike boxes or bags. Wear and tear will be a challenge, if you travel a lot, but every component is replaceable at reasonable prices, on the firm’s website (a replacement box is just R545). If your gallivanting is limited to just once or twice a year, look no further.

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