What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Holiday Gift Guide #2: Sportful SuperGiara, Fizik Artica, Rapha Bibs, Klatre Headphones, Repente Artax Saddle & The Complete Fan’s Guide to Pro Cycling

Gifts we would like to receive

The PEZ Gift Guide: Here’s some gear we’ve actually used, and we think would make really good gifts – either given – or received: Sportful Supergiara Layer vest, Fizik Artica Tempo GTX winter shoe, Rapha Pro Team training bib tight, Klatre SL1 bone conduction headphones, Repente Artax saddle and GCN’s “The Complete Fan’s Guide to Pro Cycling” book.


SPORTFUL SuperGiara Layer Vest – $115
PEZ Sez:  I’m big on vests – I wear ’em a good 8-9 months of the year.  I like the versatility of not committing to a full jacket if the day seems warm enough, plus the ability to stuff it into my jersey once the morning chill burns off. I have a lot of vests in the collection, most ranging from heavier thermal vests for cold days, to mid-weight material that I can cram into a jersey pocket. This one – the Sportful SuperGiara Layer Vest (part of Sportful’s adventure/ gravel collection) – is the lightest vest I have in my current rotation, and with its added functionality of a pocket on the chest for some bonus storage – it’s pretty much got the lightweight slot tied up.

My tester is size Medium – and fits slightly looser than I expect a typical “road” style vest to fit.  That’s because the trend in gravel & adventure riding is just a tad more relaxed than you’d find on the road, hence a more chilled out fit here – which I find is really comfortable.

The front body is actually two layers of thin material – the outer layer completely blocks wind, while the inner layer is a light textured mesh. – to add some warmth, and aid in internal air circulation without the weight of a thermal fabric.  The back is a single layer – just the mesh – which maximizes air flow – as the back piece is really one big vent.

The two pockets in back are big and roomy – lotsa space for gloves, food, warmers and more.

Up front, I like the high full zip collar, and this mesh storage pocket on the chest – complete with a secure loop to attach things like keys to. But my favorite part is the lightness of the whole vest – it rolls up small enough to fit into the palm of my hand, and will not fill up an entire jersey pocket when I decide to stuff it.


Fizik Artica Tempo GTX Winter Shoe

fizik

Leslie Reissner, PEZ sez: I have become the Imelda Marcos of PezCyclingNews as I return with my second shoe review. The first was about special lightweight shoes for indoor cycling and now I have had the opportunity to test their complete opposite. The Fizik Tempo Artica GTX is a fully insulated and waterproof road-specific winter cycling shoe which, thanks to its GORE-TEX® inner liner, also offers breathability. Fleece inside the shoe works to keep the foot warm as well as offering comfort. There is a double closure arrangement, with a Velcro® collar on the upper part and a single L6 BOA® dial below that so the range of adjustability is considerable, even while riding.

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Fizik advertising claims you can do “triple digit rides in single digit weather” but for most of November Ontario enjoyed record-breaking warm temperatures, so it was the rare climate event calling for shorts and short sleeves so late in the season. But the inevitable arrived and with temperatures plunging from a balmy 22°C to 0°C in one day, the opportunity arose to try out the shoes before the snow came.

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The shoes are attractive and very well constructed. The sole is stiff but not to the point of discomfort and has the usual three-hole arrangement for cleats. The cleat settings are a bit further back than normal to improve pedaling efficiency. Opening the hook-and-loop collar and loosening the dial fastener opened up the shoe for easy ingress and closing the fasteners allowed for quite a tight fit on a shoe that comes up above the ankle. The interior comfort was impressive and the fit (in this case size Euro 45) absolutely spot-on.

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How well do the shoes work? During a 40 minute ride on a windless day at 0°C, it was quickly apparent that winter had arrived. With fleece-lined tights, a long-sleeved base layer and an insulated thermal jacket, as well as an insulated skullcap under my helmet as well as insulated gloves with additional glove liners, I was prepared for the worst but as the ride progressed I found that all this clothing was just not enough. Some might have put this down to my exceptional speed and the relative wind but in fact it was just really really cold. Getting home, my hands were already so stiff I had trouble turning off my flashing lights. And, for perhaps the only time I can recall, my feet were the warmest part of my body on a cold day ride! The Fizik Tempo Artica is not only a well-designed and good-looking shoe (and for some of us looking good is more important than going fast!), it actually does what its maker claims. Snow has since arrived and my cycling has moved indoors but when our cold Spring weather arrives and the roads are kind-of-clear, I will be happy to put them on again.

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Rapha Pro Team Training Bib Tight – $250

rapha PEZ sez: Rapha is a brand that needs no introduction. Considered by many to be the “Saville Row” of cycling kit. Part of Rapha’s

Pro Team collection, the Pro Team Training Bib Tight is somewhere in between lightweight and midweight for mild to cool riding conditions. The bib section has a ventilated back panel to help wick away moisture and the straps are lay flat, raw cut. The tights section consists of five panels (not including the cuffs) that are flat stitched. The cuffs are elasticized to grip around the ankles, similar to the leg gripper panels found on many bib shorts. The “money” aka the pad/chamois is multi-density foam that’s medium thickness. On my butt (paired with a typical racing saddle), it was comfortable and didn’t feel like I was wearing a diaper.

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Fit-wise, Rapha’s size small fit my 5’8″ 130 pound ectomorph frame just right with comfortable compression and without any bunching of material. The raw cut bib straps didn’t dig into my shoulders. And the ankle gripper sections grip firmly to stay in place but not to the point of being overly tight. We’ve had cooler than normal weather recently down in the lowcountry of South Carolina — about 10 degrees cooler than usual for this time of year with a couple mornings in the 30s (F) and highs only in the 50s (plus cloudy and windy). I’ve managed some shorter (20 to 30-something miles) coffee rides (mostly because I’m paying more attention to my golf game) and the Rapha Pro Team Training Bib Tights have kept my legs comfortably warm in those conditions.

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Klatre LS1 Bone Conduction Headphones – $119 Msrp

PEz SEz: I’ve been struggling to find a decent of earbuds/ headphones that are small enough to be easy to use and transport, and big enough that I’m not constantly losing ’em – AND that deliver some decent sound quality.  These new bone conduction headphones from Klatre are pretty close.

I really like that they’re one piece – makes ’em a LOT harder to lose -and I don’t have to worry about dropping one while I’m fiddling to get it into my ear like some other earbuds I own.  (I actually had another brand earbud pop out of my ear mid-ride and go flying… annoyance ensued).  The Klatre’s one-piece design loops them over the ears like a backwards set of sunglasses, and there’s just enough of a light spring tension in the band to keep them in place without squeezing.  I used them walking, jogging, and with a bike helmet – and they stay in place nicely. Since they use ‘bone conduction’ to help transmit sound, they do not plug into your ear like normal earbuds do. Instead the speaker sits outside the ear, touching your head (and skull) just in front of the ears.  The speakers aim sound back into the ear, and also transmit it right through the bone on your head (ie: yer skull). The sound quality was better that I expected, even if  their advertised “Base Boost 1.0” didn’t seem to make much difference.  I have not tested the full 8 hour battery life claim, but also have not had any issues running them for 40 minute stretches.

The fact that they sit outside the ears also means I can hear ambient noises and sound much better than with traditional ear buds.  They have a few other cool features I’d expect these days – decent volume and controls for advancing songs, and bluetooth connect-ability to patch in phone calls.  There’s also a two-year warranty – which should make these an easy gift for almost amyone.


REPENTE Artax GLM Gravel Saddle – $180

Working in the bike biz for over 20 years, I’ll admit I’ve developed a certain skepticism to what often sounds like “just marketing” to my ears – like a “gravel specific saddle.  The guys at luxe Italian brand Selle Repente however, are not phased by such obvialities, and I was happy to give their “designed for gravel” Artax saddle a go. I liked that it comes in a couple of cool colorways – black, brown, and red mud – I went for the brown (and matching bar tape) as a nice addition to the Look 765RS gravel project bike I built here.

The contact points under the sit bones are ergo-shaped and nicely fit my human shape, and are designed to allow freer movement of the hips during the pedal stroke.  The result is a more comfortable feeling saddle.  At first I was skeptical, as the saddle just didn’t feel as flat under my butt as I was used to, but I discovered my setup was wrong.  So I lowered the saddle a couple of mms, and voila – complete comfort achieved.

Build quality is top notch, the brown finish as a certain leather looking finish that looks… great.  There’s a no slip treatment across the top of the saddle – (visible as what looks like scotch tape in the pic above), and the open center channel does as intended – relieve pressure in the perineum to promote blood flow and long term comfort.

The base is carbon fibre, light and strong, and designed to allow enough flex to be comfortable.  The RLS graphics denote their own system to easily replace the saddle cover if needed.

The amount of padding is notable and comfortable – they’ve added a bit more on the saddle nose for when you end up seated at the front, and the density has been tuned to offer what I’d say is the right amount of shock absorption for my 138lb mass.  Finally – on a completely subjective note – I think this saddle just looks cool on the bike – and that counts for something, too.

 

Product Specs:

  • Width 142 mm
  • Structure reinforced with long carbon fibers
  • Anatomical channel «Pressure relief»
  • Thick layer of Eva padding
  • Square front for a better support
  • Non-slip water-based coating
  • Shaping: Semiflat
  • COATING Water-based microfiber
  • PADDING Super lightweight EVA
  • PADDING SUPPORT PA12 Carbon Reinforced
  • SUPPORT STRUCTURE PA12 Long Carbon Fiber (LCF)
  • RAIL UD Carbon Fiber T700 Ø 7×9 mm
  • DIMENSIONS 275 mm x 142 mm
  • WEIGHT (± 5%) 160 g (5.64 oz)
  • GRAPHICS Black Mud – Red Mud

GCN’s “The Complete Fan’s Guide to Pro Cycling”

Leslie Reissner, PEZ sez: For those of us growing up in places where pro cycling was an obscure niche sport, like caber-tossing or cheese-rolling, learning the ins and outs of this surprisingly complicated athletic endeavour, with all kinds of historical and cultural baggage, could take years. Many of us are still not entirely clear on team tactics, something that even the pro riders themselves seems to struggle with.

fans guide

But a new book from the Global Cycling Network comes to the rescue of neophytes and old hands too. “The Complete Fan’s Guide to Pro Cycling” is written by cycling author Peter Cossins and is a succinct and attractive reference. Sensibly structured, with chapters covering everything from fundamental principles to team organization, equipment, types of riders, the racing season and tactics, it is beautifully produced with lots of colour illustrations too. A welcome addition to any enthusiast’s library, whether for someone discovering the sport or someone trying to explain it to others.

fans guide

  • Available at the GCN Shop: https://shop.globalcyclingnetwork.com/the-complete-fan-s-guide-to-pro-cycling

Note: PEZCyclingNews ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products you see here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper / safe use, handling, maintenance and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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