What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Reviews: Good Stuff For Your Skin

It’s not uncommon for us to drop several large on a new bike, a set of wheels or other piece of techno-gadgetry to make us faster. So why not pay the same attention to the stuff that saves your skin and allows to you ride pain and irritation free? Both Sportsbalm and Brave Soldier offer products to satisfy you skin and your need for speed… but don’t cost anywhere near a ‘large’.

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen SportsBalm products in the US, but the Dutch brand is widely distributed and well known in Europe, and now back State-side too. Many a sponsorship-weenie will know the brand is used by teams like Rabobank, Discovery Channel, Skil-Shimano, plus pro soccer teams, mtb teams, and triathletes – and many of these pros have been involved in the development of the product line.

Sportsbalm offers a pretty complete line of pre, during, and after ride products to make you feel – and look, better.

Ed Krall of Acrista Imports, Sportsbalm’s US distributor, said it best when asked to summarize the line: “We offer four different product lines specifically developed for cold and wet weather conditions, mild and warm weather conditions, post exercise treatment, and general body care.”

And just like we want this stuff to do, the products are designed for:
• Muscle protection and recovery
• Skin care and skin protection
• Optimization of blood circulation
• Optimization of the transport of nutrients and waste products

I’ve been using the warm up oils, chamois cream and balm, and the recovery products over the past few months, and they’ve served me well so far.

The four different product lines are color coded – which certainly makes it easier to find the right bottle when you’ve got a bunch stacked on a shelf…

In this actual demonstration, I’ve applied the ‘Start Oil’ to the ‘PEZ’, and the ‘Muscle Color Oil’ to the cyclist, for a definitive illustration of the color diffs. Granted, my application of the colored oil is a tad generous, but it does offer up a decent amount of ego-boosting hue, without making you look like Pippy Longstocking.

Yellow System
Sportsbalmґs Yellow System consists of three preparation oils, for mild to warm weather conditions, designed to stimulate blood circulation and prevent muscular aches and pains.

Like the rest of the line, the names are nothing fancy, but get straight to the point (sort of like the Dutch!): Start Oil, Colored Muscle Oil, and Cajeputi Oil. The names tell you exactly what you need to know, so even if your ride starts well before sun up (or before you’re really awake), there’s less chance you’ll grab the wrong product.

Without getting into the slippery details of oil application, or the detailed marketing info that comes with the products – suffice to say Sportsbalm offers some very detailed info on specific uses for each product. You get the feeling they know what they’re talking about.

The warm up oils each went on as expected, and covered well without being too heavy or too thin feeling. I noticed that less oil seemed to cover more skin than some other brands I’ve used, which I liked. Each one also had a noticeably different heating effect, but even the warmest – the Cajeputi oil, was not too hot for use on cool Spring days or early summer mornings.

Gotta say I liked the Muscle Color Oil, which is less a warm up oil than a feel good oil, but when feeling good is an important part of performance, it made sense to me. And who doesn’t prefer looking tanned to the pastey northern look?

Chamois Cream & Balm

Sportsbalm offers two different treatments for the chamois area – the balm (left) and cream, and both work great. Both use tea tree oil (which has natural antibacterial properties), but the balm is more petroleum based, so I preferred it for longer rides where I wanted to be sure I had plenty of long lasting chafing protection unaffected by water or sweat – like when I got soaked in the rains at the Giro. I liked the cream for shorter rides, and because it was easier to clean your hands with mild soap and water after application.

The oils come with a variety of lids/ applicators. My favorite for the oils was the simple fliptop (right), which allows for easy pouring of the oil into your hands. They also offered a pump applicator (pictured in back) for the oils and recovery fluids, which worked okay to dispense the product, but once your hands are oiled up, it was just too slippery to use easily. The Freshing Fluid comes with a spray-pump which worked well.

For After Excercise
Sportsbalmґs line also has several products for use immediately after your ride, and to aid in short-term recovery. The Green System includes 4 products: Muscle Recover, Refresh Fluid, Wash-Lotion, and Ultra Balm Hot.

The standout product for me was the Wash Lotion, which actually more liquid than lotion, but is perfect to use right after a race to wipe yourself down, remove oils from your legs and salt and sweat from your skin. It’s got a fresh smell that works as a perfect prep for accepting podium kisses, or just making you more pleasant to stand next too.

The Refresh Fluid helps reduce fatigue by stimulating the microcirculation of the blood allowing the skin to directly absorb the active ingredients of rosemary, lemongrass and mint which also have a cooling effect on the skin.

Overall I’ve been pleased with all the Sportsbalm products I’ve used, especially as the oils don’t overheat or irritate my skin, and the line has been well thought out to avoid unnecessary duplication over a broad range of products. It’s worth a look next time you need to restock.

Sportsbalm Pricing
Active Start and Cajeputi are both $21.99
Coloured Muscle Oil $20.99

Recovery Oil and Ultra Balm are $24.99
Freshing Fluid $21.99
Wash Lotion $14.99

Chamois Balm $17.99
Chamois Creme $19.99

For more info contact the US distributor Ed Krall at AcristaImports.com

Started in the land where looking your best is more important than breakfast, Los Angeles based Brave Soldier reminds us when moms threw iodine on the kids’ cuts and told us to be ‘brave soldiers’. Old-fashioned treatments aside, Brave Soldier modernizes the fight against cuts, road rash, skin irritations and even shaving with an expanded line of skincare products you won’t be embarrassed to admit you use.

From their humble beginnings with a road rash healing ointment & shave cream for designed for athletes’ legs, the line of skin care products has grown to include: Friction Zone skin protectant, the Crash Pak, Brave Shave shaving cream, and Lip Defender, as well as the Antiseptic healing ointment.

Considering the abuse we heap on the body’s largest organ (your skin!), it’s high time we started treating oursleves with a little more care. Here’s a quick look at the Brave Soldier line, and why you should consider using ’em.

Antiseptic healing ointment – where the line all started, this was developed to “speed the healing of road rash”. It’s combo of botanical (like tea tree oil, jojoba, and vitamins) and pharmaceutical ingredients is said to speed healing by up to 40%, and reduce chances of scarring. How much care and attention do you give your road rash – ? Probably not nearly enough, and treated right is will heal faster and with less scarring than if not.

Friction Zone is very slippery, and can be applied to either your skin, chamois, or other piece of clothing.

Friction Zone skin protectant – US$15.99
Developed to prevent chaffing in specific spots, it also works well in place of a chamois cream, or where ever your clothing rubs the skin. It’s one of the slipperiest I’ve seen thanks to the silicone formulation, and the botanical ingredients keep harmful bacteria at bay to speed healing of blisters and sores. I used it earlier this week on a 6 hour ride on a pretty warm day, and although I applied a double dose, it did not last the full journey, but for me that is an extreme case and I’ve found it great overall.

Crash Pak
Something every semi-serious rider should keep in the car – it’s basically a road rash emergency kit in a bag. It’s got everything you need to clean, treat and dress the smallest knicks to burrito-sized raspberries contained in a ziplock waterproof bag.

Brave Shave shaving cream – US$15.99
No matter what the weather, your face takes the brunt of it from ride start to finish, so why apply drug-store brand shaving cream? I’ll admit to being somewhat of a shaving-snob – always in search of the perfect shave – and Brave Shave comes darn close. Originally developed for legs and other athletic body parts, it’s worth a try for any blade-man (or woman) looking for a smooth face… or something else. It goes on thick, and stays creamy, even in the shower – a nice product.

Lip Defender $7.99
Keep your lips pucker-ready cuz you never know when you’re gonna actually make the podium. It’s got built in SPF 15, and the Citrus Mint tastes good.

The Brave Soldier line is worth a try, and although everyone’s skin and reaction to balms, lotions and oils is different, finding that perfect fit worth a little extra effort – as much for bikes as it is for your skin care.

Buy it online at:

More info at

Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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