Reviews

Review - Capo Pursuit Apparel

2014-09-28 21:34:54 velobrand

pursuit-jersey-yellow croppedCapo cycling apparel was born in California in 2004, initially targeting the market with socks and casual wear. Now Capo supplies a range of cycling apparel including jerseys, knicks and custom kits.

The Pursuit collection is part of the Capo Corsa series and employs technologies such as Sphere TX and HydroDrop for moisture absorption/transfer and high gauge Lycra for muscle compression. The collection consists of jersey, knicks, socks and gloves.

 

The Design

According to John Sunde from Capo Australia, the leg gripper is reasonably firm to provide muscle stability. The tight gripper is designed such that you position the leg band on your leg first and then adjust the rest of the garment up accordingly. It’s the opposite of how you would normally put on a pair of bib knicks, but results in a comfortable fit with very little effort.

Compression is one of the features that Capo has embraced over the last few years. While the Pursuit range does provide some basic compression you really need to look to the Capo GS range for compression specific kit. It is difficult to quantify the benefits of the Pursuit compression, however it is designed to really add benefit after the third or fourth hour of riding.

One of the best attributes of the jersey is its’ ability to wick away moisture from the body and into the air. I found that even in very hot and humid conditions, whilst sweating profusely up a long climb, I was still relatively dry. The hi-tech SphereTX and HydroDrop fabrics provide a comfortable fit, void of that heavy perspiration soaked feeling.

The socks were good without being great, whilst the gloves were very comfortable and secure even though they have no wrist strap.

Knicks and jerseyCapo Pursuit – Simple Italian Styling

The Look

Visually the Pursuit knicks are all black with minimal Capo wording, they look sleek and certainly have a nice line to the leg. The jersey has an uncluttered tri-tone design that provides the ensemble with traditional Italian styling.

The Fit

The bibs feel tight. Using 40 gauge Lyrca, they are designed to fit tight – compression feel – which is quite different to standard gauge Lycra. When you first put them on you notice the tightness, even swinging my leg over my top tube I was thinking maybe I got the wrong size, but once riding the knicks did not feel tight at all, in fact they felt comfortable and relaxed – a result afforded by the quality materials. The jersey is made from circular knit SphereTX material and again the fit felt relaxed despite the fact it was a form fitting size.

 Gloves and socks

Capo Pursuit – Gloves and socks

The Price

The Pursuit range of garments from Capo is in the mid to high end of cycling apparel. The jersey is around $150 and the knicks $200.

This price may dissuade some, luckily Capo produces a complete range of garments at virtually every price point, from your standard Riga jersey at $90 right up to the GS range at $260 – yes, just for the jersey. The Pursuit socks retail for $25 and the gloves $50.

– Lachlan Mackay

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To See or Not to See - Salice 006 Sunglass Review

2014-07-06 17:32:00 velobrand

Salice is an Italian manufacturer of cycling sunglasses and helmets. Way back in 1919, Vitaliano Salice founded the company in Musso in Northern Italy, today the Salice factory and headquarters is located just a few kms away in Gravedona on Lake Como and is still run by the Salice family.

With a somewhat bland name of 006 – 007 would have been much better – this model in the Salice range was developed with the help of Alessandro Pettachi from Omega Pharma Quick-Step (OPQS). This range is also used by many other well-known riders in the World Tour and the Tour de France (TDF), and Salice is a sponsor of the Lampre team and World Road Champion Rui Costa.

IMG_2706 smallSalice 006 Sunglasses

The lens is very clear and initial use suggests they are relatively scratch resistant, but I was not surprised as these are baseline features of quality sunglasses. The lack of distortion around the wide lens is again what you expect for sunnies in this price range – around AUD$190 . The 006 model comes with two lenses, a clear lens for pre-dawn or low light rides and the mirror coated lens for use during sunny days. The mirrored lens is certified to UV400 and block UVA, B and C rays.

I found swapping over the lenses a bit tricky, initially I popped out one corner of the lens then the nose area, it felt like I was going to break the polycarbonate lens or the frame. I thought there had to be an easier way and a quick online search found that you are meant to pop out the nose area first – there was no mention of this in the instructions that come in the glass case.

IMG_2692 smallSalice 006 with clear lenses – as seen all over Europe

I wore Shimano and BBB glasses for many years and one thing I noticed when I started wearing the Salices was how well they gripped on the nose. They just stay in position on your face and do not require adjusting while riding. The soft rubber nose piece is not adjustable on this model so perhaps with a smaller/wider/flatter nose they may not sit as well, but for me the 006 and my big nose were a good match. The side arms also have rubber grippers to provide added hold. The lightweight frame and lens combination results in a very comfortable set of glasses, even over dead or pot-holed roads.

When I ride and race I assume a tucked position with my head down to affect the most aero position, this results in you having to move your eyes up in order to see the road in front. Hence my key criterion when purchasing a pair of bike sunnies is whether the frame of the glasses inhibits vision while in the tucked position. With the Salices, the frame sits a little higher on your face resulting in no obstruction to your view – tick.

The vents on the side of the lenses help prevent the inside of the lens fogging up when you are stopped at traffic lights – or on a tough climb for that matter – and also provide cooling ventilation on hot days. The lenses are treated to help repel water – called “hydrophobic technology” by Salice – which is helpful during light rain or heavy sweat.

IMG_2717 smallSalice 006 side vents prevent misting

The glasses come in a nice semi-rigid protective case, which holds both the glasses and the spare lens. There is also a cleaning cloth. The 006 range IMG_2709 smallcomes with a choice of standard multilayer mirror lenses, Polarflex (polarised lens) and Photochromatic (light adjusting lens) and dozens of colour combinations.

The lack of changeable nose pieces, to fit different shaped noses may put some people off and you don’t get the customisation of say a pair of Oakley Radarlocks but the Salice 006 provide a set of reasonable priced quality glasses that will please most discerning eyes.

 

– Lachlan Mackay

 

 

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Kit for a King – Babici Squadra Veloce

2014-05-28 20:39:11 velobrand

Squadra Veloce JerseyIn a world of mass production, the new Babici Squadra Veloce is kit for a king. Crafted from no less than three of the finest Italian fabrics, the SQV jersey and knicks are to cycling apparel what Georgio Armani is to suits. SQV sets the industry benchmark for pro level kit. It’s born of style and class and makes you feel fast!

In addition to the smart design and styling, the concept behind SQV is to craft a pro level kit, make it available to everyone, and create a global virtual cycling team for the aspiring pro. Babici have advised, that in the near future, by racing in SQV kit, team members have the opportunity to be part of a global initiative and be rewarded for their hard work.

 

The Design
According to Babici Founder, Kev Babakian, it is the attention to detail which sets his garments apart and the SQV is no exception. In fact, when I picked up the kit from the Babici studio, Kev made a point to check the packing, the labelling, but most importantly the garments themselves, to confirm the final design changes were carried through and the quality was as expected.

The SQV is designed in Australia by Babici, and they sources the finest textiles from Italy’s most advanced mills. The main jersey material is high wick and ultralight but able to support crisp and sharp colours and artwork. Given the ultralight weave you’d be forgiven for thinking you might need to wear sunscreen underneath but, again, the unique properties of this fabric provide a SPF of 50+. The side panels on the jersey are made from an ultra-breathable fabric that extends up under the armpit and down the inside of the sleeve, resulting in an remarkably cool jersey void of that heavy perspiration-soaked feeling.

 Squadra Veloce Kit

Babici Squadra Veloce – Pro Grade Kit

The grippers on both the jersey and knicks are light and stretchable, but also rigid and durable through the use of carbon fibre woven into the gripper itself.

The SQV knicks employ a one piece 3D chamois made by Dolomiti in Italy. It is laser cut from a single piece of high tech foam which provides moisture transfer, ensuring you never get a wet chamois. Even after several hours of riding I found the knicks to be as comfortable as when I started riding and certainly dryer than any other knicks I have tried.

SQV - Detailed Design

Squadra Veloce – Detailed Design

The Style

The SQV jersey and knicks ooze style. Ignoring the high tech features and materials for a moment, the kit has the understated simplicity and sophistication that Babici do so well. Babici has a worldwide reputation for exceptional style and quality, and the SQV kit has enriched this reputation even more.

 

The FitSQV Knicks Rear

The SQV kit is a race fit, meaning the jersey is tight fitting and a little shorter than normal, to eliminate jersey drag and to producing a comfortable fit even after considerable time on the drops.

While we tend to focus on the technical benefits of jersey and knick materials – such as the jerseys’ wicking ability – the excellent fit of the SQV is due to both the innovative cut and the performance textiles used. Make no mistake, the jersey is a snug race fit and unless you are lean and trim, it might be a drawback for some cyclists. Then again, that’s what SQV is all about, providing pro race kit.

The pro grippers on both the knicks and jersey result in excellent garment retention on the legs and arms. I noticed this more on the arms as, like most cyclists, my arms are skinny and often the sleeve grippers hang off and flap in the wind.

 

The Value

The SQV jersey and knick set retail for around $350 (AUD). When it comes to how much you pay for kit, most cyclists tend to look for mid-range apparel or whatever is on sale. The SQV has shown me that for an extra $100-$150 you can get the best AND feel the best. Considering the many thousands of dollars cyclists spend on bikes or wheels, $100-$150 does not seem like much of a premium to pay for comfort, performance and style.

  SQV - Experience the BestSquadra Veloce Jersey – Experience the Best

Be Inspired

The Squadra Veloce pro race kit is inspiring! Think of your favourite jersey or knicks, why do you love them? Because they feel great, look great and work great. Without one of these key attributes they won’t be your favourite. The SQV seamlessly integrates these attributes to produce something that inspires you to ride your bike, the kit makes you want to train, to race… to be your the best.

 

– Lachlan Mackay

 

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Let'sa Go! - EVOC Bike Travel Bag

2014-03-22 17:45:13 velobrand

What do you do when you’re at the post-ride café and you and your mates dream up that next big bike holiday in Europe?

Well apart from saying “I’m in” without consulting you partner/financial minister, the first thing you need is a bike bag. And let’s face it, we love our precious steads so we want to make sure they get to our final destination in one piece.

The EVOC bike travel bag is ostensibly a typical modern bike bag, designed for transporting your bike to races, weekends away and to the far flung corners of the cycling world.

evoc Bike Bag

The EVOC Bike Traveling Bag

Use and Key Features

To pack your road or mountain bike into the EVOC, all you have to do is lower your seat and remove your wheels and handle bars. I have found you can leave your pedals on although EVOC suggest you remove them as well.

  • Can fit road or mountain bikes including 29ers.
  • Only requires the removal of the wheels and handlebars.
  • Uses a padded block that the bottom bracket rests on.
  • Includes extra frame and folk padding.
  • 2 separate wheel compartments on the sides.
  • 3 separate compartments for smaller parts (pedals, quick release skewers, tools, etc).
  • 8 carry handles (2 on each side) for smooth handling.
  • Wide, stable heavy-duty undercarriage with smoothly running skate wheels (replaceable).
  • Lockable zips.
  • Collapsible to size 135 cm x 38 cm x 30 cm.

evoc with bike

The EVOC with road bike

Bike Protection

The main feature you want in a bike bag is protection for the bike itself. For a soft shell bag the EVOC is outstanding.

The EVOC employs the use of PE plastic, glass fibre and plastic rods to reinforce the key parts of the bike. The frame is protected by well-placed glass fibre rods and PE sections in the lining of the bag while inside the frame and forks are protected from bumps and scratches by foam protectors. The separate wheel compartments are padded and reinforced with plastic rods to disburse any impact to the rim of the wheel (rather than the spokes) and the hubs are protected by PE pads.

evoc protection systemThe EVOC Bike Protection System

Good Points

  • Very good mobility and stability. This is important when you are making your way through airport check-in lines and taxi ranks!
  • Plenty of handles for lifting the bag in and out of cars, hotels etc.
  • Quality zips which enable easy access.
  • Can stuff the internal voids around the bike frame with clothes, bike kit etc
  • Can be folded up and collapsed into a compact size for storage.

Bad Points

  • The bag’s net weight is around 8.6kg. Although lighter that a hard shell bag, the EVOC is heavy for a soft shell. Once you pack your bike the gross weight will be over 15kg for the average road bike and even more for a mountain bike.
  • The padded frame block that the bottom bracket sits on is not ideal for road bikes, especially if you have a Di2 battery mounted under the bottom bracket – you’ll have to remove the battery and the battery bracket from the frame.
  • Large bike frames greater than 57cm will struggle to fit in the bag. You will definitely need to remove the seat and large bikes with integrated seat posts may not fit at all.

Recommendations

If you are using the bag for a road bike:

  • Definitely get a road specific aluminum frame stand. This will avoid the bottom bracket/battery problem mentioned above and will provide additional support and protection to the bike.
  • Get the chain cover. This is easy to fit and saves you the messy cleanup if items move around in the bag during transit.

Road Al standThe EVOC Road Stand – A must for road bikes

So now you have your bike, bike bag and plane tickets – Let’sa go!

– Lachlan Mackay

 

* Images courtesy of www.evocsports.com

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Giant Propel Advanced SL 0

2014-01-06 12:09:39 velobrand

 

 

The Giant Propel is an awesome looking bike. Aesthetically it simply looks futuristic, fast and fun. When I first saw this bike I thought, finally a Giant bike that looks good! Don’t get me wrong, for many years I have admired Giant bikes for their consistent quality, wide choice of models and price competitiveness. It’s just that in the road range the compact design introduced in the late 90s has never appealed to me. But looks aren’t everything in cycling… OK they’re pretty important, so what does the Propel offer apart from great looks?

The Giant Propel Advanced SL 0 – one awesome looking bike

The Propel is Giant’s first road bike purposefully designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. Giant claim that at 40 km/hr, the Propel saves 12-36 seconds over 40 kilometres when compared to other leading aero frames such as the Cervelo S5, Specialized Venge, Ridley Noah FAST, and the Scott Foil.

The Propel is distinguished from a time trial bike in that it’s designed to be ridden on the road under all conditions (not just a time trial). The R&D team at Giant designed not only an aero bike but one that handles well in and out of corners, up and down hills and on the flat. And they did this without sacrificing stiffness or increasing weight. To achieve this, Giant tested over 88 design iterations before they arrived at the model you see today on the shop floor.

Giant tested the design in the wind tunnel using a dynamic mannequin/dummy (rumour has it the dummy was actually Danilo Di Luca) to simulate real life performance and this led to some very interesting design features:

Frame
The head tube is contoured and shaped as you’d expect and houses the 1 1/4-inch top and 1 1/2-inch bottom headset bearings. The forks themselves integrate perfectly to the frame. The top tube is thick near the front to provide strength and stability and then to save weight, tapers to be very thin at the seat mast. The horizontal top tube is a departure from the sloping top tube Giants have become synonymous with. Again the reasoning for this is improved aerodynamics, according to Giant the sloping top tube increases drag.

The down tube shape provides less drag when using a standard drink bottle

The seat mast is fully integrated with the frame, while the down tube hugs the rear wheel for best aero performance. The rear triangle of the seat and chain stays is small and extremely strong allowing maximum power transfer from the massive bottom bracket (a BB71 press fit).

Perhaps the most distinctive aero feature is the down tube which starts off aero shaped near the top but then quickly morphs into a more traditional cross section half way down. This doesn’t look aero, however Giant tests have shown that with a regular round drink bottle this shape provides the least drag.

Brakes
The Giant-designed, TRP manufactured brakes on the Propel are designed to be hidden from the wind, the front brake is tucked away nicely behind the fork and the rear is mounted on the short seat stays. The brakes themselves are essentially V-type brakes typically found on mountain or flat bar bikes. While not as smooth or powerful as standard dual pivot callipers I found the brakes to be more than adequate.

The Propel’s proprietary SpeedControl SLR brake system – designed to be aero

Components
The bike is beautifully complimented with some class components. The Propel SL 0 comes with the Giant Contact SLR Aero Integrated Giant bars. The drops have a comfortable compact curvature and the flat tops provide both aero performance and plenty of real estate for your hands. The Shimano Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 11 speed groupset is simply excellent, providing quick, confident gear changes, while the Zipp 404 Firecrest carbon clinchers are proven performers and worthy of carrying such a fine frame and ensemble. The Fizik Arione R3 saddle does the job. Again it is a proven component that, while not my favourite saddle, is well matched to the sleek design of the Propel.

The Propel frame is matched with worthy components

The Ride
The Propel is an excellent handling bike; it is sharp and crisp in and out of corners and feels solid under accelerations. Overall the ride is very firm, more so than your average top end road bike, but certainly not harsh like a time trial frame.

Weight
The Propel is testament to the ongoing marginal gains in frame technology. This bike out-of-the-box and no pedals weighed in at just 6.91kg.

Price
The Propel Advanced SL 0 retails for around $9,999.

Overall
At the end of the day if you can’t average 40 km/hr for 60 minutes (I can’t) the 36 second aero benefit may not matter to you. However I still recommend this bike as a top end road bike, based on its fantastic ride and handling… oh yea, and on its great looks!

Performance 8/10
Quality 9/10
Value 7/10
Overall 8/10

 

– Lachlan Mackay

 

*images courtesy of www.tbsm.com.au

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