Extras Reviews

Fibre Flares

Fibre FlaresFibre Flares could well walk away with the Cyclo ‘Find of the Year’ award (only we don’t have such a category. Or awards). So suffice it to say that we really love these innovative solutions to more all-round cycle lighting safety. Whilst most lights work by making you – and your bike – clearly visible in only two directions (from in front and from behind), Fibre Flares illuminate you from the oft-forgotten side view, making you more clearly seen by traffic approaching broadside on.


Using high intensity LED’s to illuminate a flexible fibre optic core and most resembling an emergency hand-held flare, they can be attached in a variety of ways and places. A clip at either end means they can be secured to apparel or bags and detachable silicone straps, with a variety of width notches, can be used to attach them to more or less any part of the bike frame, including over-size tubes of up to 60mm.


The shorter length ‘Side Lights’ version, at 250mm, is available in blue, green, red and yellow (for around the £28 mark) and provide illumination up to 300meters with either a solid light or strobe mode, selected – as is on/off – via a silicon-encased push button at one end. The longer, 292mm, ‘Tail Light’ is available only in red light and at around £30.00 is primarily intended to compliment rear light safety. All versions should see you though around 70 hours in strobe mode on a single set of AAA batteries.


Aside from the obvious safety benefits, there are two things that Cyclo most admires about Fibre Lights. Firstly they are absolutely beautifully designed and made; whilst there’s nothing overly-engineered about them (no fuss, just clean, functional lines) they have something approaching ‘classic’ about them – they do there job, and do it well, but also look made to last and made to be admired. Secondly, dare we say, there is something ‘fun’ about them (a touch of the Lightsabre?) which should make them terrifically appealing to kids, either as a ‘must-have’ adornment for their bikes or in secondary use as all-round (literally) safety kit for dark and dusk excursions, school runs, camping trips and so much more. Genius…


Fibre Flares are widely available online.

Extras Reviews


Could this be for the cyclist that has everything? At first glance Hiplok (version 1.50 no less), a wearable bike lock, appears to be so. Why, Cyclo initially wondered, would you want to wear a bike lock? Actually it’s not such a crazy idea and downright useful if you’re heading out without a bag and/or don’t have a lock which otherwise attaches to the bike – a D-lock like the KryptoLok Series 2 for example.


The Hiplok is never truly locked onto the body, but rather is attached in a loop around the waist where it remains fully adjustable for comfort whilst riding and from where it can be quickly removed at your destination. Because of its position above the hips the Hiplok is surprisingly comfortable to wear (at least for short commutes where it comes into its own) and is certainly a more enjoyable option than slinging a chain bandolier-style over a shoulder. The position on the body also makes for a more stable ride.


When it comes to the primary function of preventing anyone stealing your beloved bike the Hiplok is an impressively solid bit of kit – 8mm hardened chain and a 9mm ‘Anti Cut Alloy’ shackle which is key, rather than combination, locked. The 85cm locking circumference is generous enough to secure the bike to most posts and racks and is certified by Sold Secure – the Home Office supported independent assessors of all-things lockable.


The Hiplok is available in a range of colours including a 3M reflective logo version for added visibility and the outer sleeve can be removed and machine washed. All in, an impressive and innovative bit of kit, but at the best part of £70 there’s certainly a premium being paid for the carry convenience.


For further detail and purchase see:


Extras Reviews

Vendante Pop Bands

Vendante Pop BandsSometimes the simplest solutions are clearly the best. Such is the case with the Vendante Pop Bands, uncomplicated reflective strips that can be ‘snapped’ onto arms or legs for instant reflective safety. Created by Barbara Kantor – who founded her company 5 years ago after witnessing an accident – the Pop Bands are made of highly reflective 3M Scotchlite (the go-to product for most on-garment sports reflectives) which are flexed across their width to straighten then tapped against the arm/leg to wrap them firmly in place without the need for Velcro, or similar fastening.


Available in a range of colours for the fashion-conscious – blue, green, orange, pink, white and yellow – the latter two provide the greatest margin of safety, reflecting up to 450meters, although even the other four will provide 130meter reflection. The bands, sold in sets of two (for around the £12 mark online) and come in two sizes: medium at 30cm and large at 38cm.


Although other, sometimes cheaper, ‘snap-style’ bands are available, the Vendante are, in Cyclo’s opinion, the best on the market – less expensive versions have, in our experience, been prone to flimsiness and over an extended period lost their ‘snap’. You can add as many lights to your bike as you like (within reason we’d recommend that you do) but the biggest target area on the bike is your body and the ability to transform whatever you are wearing into a safety garment, particularly in the event of sudden deterioration in weather when you can be caught out without lights, is invaluable.


Vendante Pop Bands are distributed in the UK by 1000Mile, see for details and purchase.


Extras Reviews

Topeak Mini 20 Pro Multi Tool

Topeak Mini 20 ProWhen is a mini-tool not a mini-tool? Probably, Cyclo would have thought, when it packs in quite as much functionality as the Topeak Mini 20 Pro Multi Tool (or has quite such an elongated name…) At 150g, 5.28oz in old money, there’s certainly not much heft and at 7.6×4.2×1.8cm it’s also we suited to sitting in a saddle pouch or similar, yet it offers up the breadth of use you might normally expect back in the garage.


So, a summary list of what’s on board: spoke, torx and allen wrenches, tyre levers, flat and Phillips head screw driver, chain pin tool, chain hook, chain tool and a bottle opener with spoke holder. Certainly more fully featured than similarly priced (around the £27 mark) products and with a few other neat touches too including a little neoprene carry bag. Unlike other mini-tools Cyclo have road tested there was also no sign of that annoying ‘floppy tool syndrome’ that befalls so many other makes once things have been out of the box for more than a week – here the Topeak’s various fold-outs remained reassuringly stiff. Also worthy of mention is the fact that the Mini 20 Pro 20 Function is a smoothly machined bit of kit that feels comfortable in the hand and avoids the usual brutalist butchness of many multi-tools where rugged industrial design may look macho, but actually just results in blisters.


Downsides? Well this is a mini-tool, so everything is rather on the mini side making repairs a fiddly business (particularly on a raid-soaked roadside) so probably not the tool of choice for post-ride garage shenanigans but as an on-the-bike emergency tool this is both comprehensive, practical and nicely engineered.


Available in Black, Gold and Silver.


Extras Reviews

Muc-Off 5 Cleaning Brush Set

muc-off brush setMuc-Off has long been the name in cycle cleaning products and there can be few riders out there that don’t own a bottle of two of their spray formula. Naturally, of course, it doesn’t stop there and anyone wanting a truly pro finish to their machine could do worse than consider the Muc-Off 5 Cleaning Brush Set. No prizes for guessing that it consists of 5 brushes or that it replaces the usual sponge (and occasional toothbrush) that most of us employ, but being from Muc-Off not only does each work wonders at its intended function, but there is also great attention to details – individual hanging hooks for storage, rubberised impact zones to increase product life, mesh bag for hanging the tools whilst they dry and cute detailing to boot.


So what do you get for your money (RRP £23.99)? Firstly there is the general use Soft Washing Brush for frame and larger components, with its extra large brush head to reduce the time it takes to get things ship-shape and, like all the brushes, a well-gripped, non-slip handle. The Detailing Brush made an easy job of shifting grime on the harder to reach areas – suspension mounts, hubs, etc. – whilst the Claw Brush, with its triple head, swiped its way through everything clogging up the likes of cassettes and sprockets. Rims and spokes are tackled by the Wheel and Component Brush which is contoured for easy reach and the Two Prong Brush has twin heads (hence the name?) that can be repositioned for perfect cleaning in even the tightest of corners.


The set is another great example of the attention to detail that the brand consistently brings to their products and there is probably no surer way of guaranteeing the gleaming results that will keep your bike working harder and performing better. Treat it well and it will treat you well…


Extras Reviews

CamelBak Charm 2011

camelbak charmThe new CamelBak Charm 2011 is a women’s specific hydration solution from the market leaders of such accessories and being from CamelBak you probably don’t need telling that it’s well made and does it’s job well (it is and it does) – but Cyclo just loves this new version so we thought it worth highlighting a few of it’s finer points.


First things first then: women’s specific means not only a shorter length (or ‘back profile’ to use the unnecessary buzzword) but also a more comfortable s-shaped harness that curves across the shoulders and around the front in a way that won’t get in the way of any important anatomical bits. It does also mean that it lacks, for obvious reasons, a sternum strap but the fit is snug enough that the pack still sits incredibly close to the back even on the lumpiest of off-road down hills.


With a 1.5L (50oz) capacity reservoir this is a fairly minimalist pack but should be sufficient to keep you well hydrated in the saddle for up to two hours depending on weather conditions. The reservoir itself is the newly reworked ‘Antidote’ design, low profile (less ‘sloshy’ water), with a wide opening port for quick filling and with improved integration into the pack itself via the ‘click-link’ system that does exactly that and ‘clicks’ into place. The shoulder straps are mesh, keeping things cool, but have only the bare-minimum of padding, not a big problem given how light the pack feels.


There are, however, a couple of minor issues in our opinion. The adjustments straps are incredibly long, particularly given the short length of the pack itself, and have a tendency to flap wildly unless tied together – a simple clip or buckle to fasten these back around the middle would have improved things. Also the tiny zip pocket on the back is just that – tiny. Just enough to fit a key or emergency cash but unlikely to accommodate most phones and certainly too small for a gel, let alone two. With safety firmly in mind Cyclo would also have liked to see more reflectives on show rather than the single, rather miserly, 3inch strip tucked away right at the bottom.


Minor issues as we say, because all in all the Charm (which is available in blue, red and purple – CamelBak have sexier names for the colours) is still arguably the best women’s specific hydration pack we have tried. Widely available, RRP £34.99.


Extras Recovery Reviews

Elite O3one Pre-Comp Warm-Up Oil

O3one OilWarming up before exercising should be second nature to diligent riders; preparing your muscles for the hard work of anything from a pro competition to a Sunday sportive or even the daily commute will invariably help your body work harder and, crucially perhaps, suffer less post-saddle. Warming your legs through stretching or by starting at a slow pace for the first mile or two (less of an option on a pro race Cyclo grants you) will go a long way towards increasing the temperature around your muscles, but better still – or at least additionally – is the application of pre-ride muscle rub which has the added benefit of rapidly stimulating blood flow. Always happy to put on a little oil for the enlightenment of our readers, Cyclo took the plunge with the Elite O3one Pre-Comp Warm-Up Oil.


Available in 150ml at around £15.00; what we can say with some certainty is that it’s not unpleasant smelling, fairly non-greasy, rubs in well and leaves very little residue – the result being that your muscles are nice and warm when you hop on the bike. Where things become more complex is in trying to accurately measure the oils more specific claims – namely that this is an “Ozonized oil” (hence the “O3one” name, see what they did with the ‘3’ there? Cute) and as such it will ‘help to convert lactic acid (in part) to sugars that can be used by the muscles.’ Hmmm, even if you accept the less-than-proven ‘lactic acid is bad’ theory let’s just say that Cyclo can’t see Dr Ben Goldacre and his Bad Science buddies reaching for a bottle on the strength of that claim any time soon.


There are huge benefits to be had from making sure you don’t ride out with cold muscles and there are equally clear advantages to what amounts to a little gentle massage as it delivers the twin-joys of both warming you up and stimulating blood flow. Do you really need to spend £15.00 on an oil to do that? Well if you accept the ozone-therapy angle then sure and either way it will be less greasy than the much cheaper baby oil option. As for Cyclo, think we may look for some middle ground on this one…


Extras Reviews

Camelbak Extras

CamelbakHydration systems and packs, such as those produced by market leaders CamelBak, can be an excellent investment on a long ride. Not only do they allow you to carry more water (or sports drink) than a regular bottle, but the “to hand” nature of the drinks tube is likely to encourage more regular imbibing – “little and often” – rather than the all too common practice of riding for miles without drinking and then glugging to make up for it.


If you have taken the plunge and bought yourself a hydration system there are a number of useful additions worth considering. Firstly the Camelbak Thermal Control Kit (RRP £15.99) is worth considering for hard winter rides when, in the most extreme conditions, the feed tube can be become inflexible and even freeze. This simple solution is an insulated 42” tube (complete with bite valve and bite cover) that keeps things flowing at just the right temperature. It can also prove useful in hotter weather when the water in the main bladder may well be protected from the sun but the slug held in the tube has a tendency to heat up with unpleasant results. Basically whatever the extreme of weather the Thermal Control System comes in handy in our experience.


Adequate cleaning of Camelbaks can also be problematic and, if left to fester unused for extended periods, the results can cut your ride seriously short as you head for the nearest hedge. The Camelbak Cleaning Kit (£19.99) includes a two flexible brushes – one for the feed tube, one for the bladder, cleaning tabs (also available stand-alone at £10.99 for eight) and two hangers for drying the system out effectively.


Finally, and arguably for riders with more money than sense, there is the Antidote Insulated Tube with Flow Meter, which combines the insulating properties of the Thermal Control Kit with a nifty flow meter that gauges both how much you are drinking and how much still remains in the bladder – it can also be set to keep track of your “personal hydration goals”. At £39.99 I think Cyclo might continue on without one, but would still highly recommend the Cleaning and Thermal Control Kits.