Apparel Extras Reviews


Could the Buff, a simple tube of colourful material, really be the most essential bit of cycling kit? Well no, you wouldn’t get far without, say, peddles or a saddle, but once those essentials are out of the way it could well come in close behind. History has it that a keen off-road trials motorcyclist from Spain, Juan Rojas who had worked for more than a quarter-century in the textile industry, realised a need for a simple multifunctional garment that could be worn on or around the head in a variety of conditions. He eventually found a high performance microfibre that was breathable, moisture wicking and wind resistant and created a proprietary “tubular loom” knitting process for a seamless finish. The Buff – a derivation of the Spanish word “bufanda” meaning scarf – was born.


The microfibre construction means that the Buff keeps the head cool in summer (and wicks away sweat highly effectively) and reacts to cooler temperatures to keep the head warm under winter conditions and because it is seamless it is endlessly comfortable however you choose to wear it. And there are certainly a good number of ways that it can be worn from beanie, which fits under most cycle helmets, to Foreign Legion for keeping the sun of the back of the neck (high UV protection versions are available), to simple head-band or face mask for keeping bugs, dust and debris out of the mouth on tough off-road rides. Take a look at the video below for just a few examples.


Since their launch the range has also grown dramatically in include polar, reflective and visor Buffs amongst many others, but it’s the original Buff that Cyclo is still truly in love with. Available in dozens or designs, it’s even possible to order customised patterns (price on application) so long as you’re looking for print runs over 25 units – so worth considering if you’re influential in your cycling club.


A final word on the multitude of uses for Buff, and one that the manufacturers don’t appear to advertise, Cyclo has used them on more than one occasion as a perfectly good clean-up cloth after a road-side chain adjustment or tyre change…


Buffs are widely available with prices starting at around £13.00. Essential.

Extras Reviews

Knog Lights

Knog LightsKnog, the Melbourne-originated brand, has been producing highly distinctive panniers, apparel and cycling kit since 2003 and here at Cyclo we were delighted to get our hands on two of their dinky and delightful lighting solutions. Okay, the nights aren’t drawing in to quite that extent yet, but it’s never too early to remember the “be safe, be seen” mantra…


First up the Knog Frog Strobe LED Twinpack a pair of flexible silicone bodied lights with an impressive 80 hour burn time in flashing mode on a single set of CR2032 batteries (reducing to 50 hours in constant mode) and with visibility of up to 600 meters. Whilst not intended to replace the legally required main lights on your bike, the Knog Frogs can clip on just about any major part of the bike from handle bars to seat post with their quick release system and are small and light enough to carry in a pocket or pack for those all-too-annoying “just in case moments” when failing light catches you out. Water resistant, cute, available in three colours – black, white and transparent (more options would be nice) and with three flashing combinations (plus constant) we think that the Frogs are series competition to the NiteRider Lightning Bugs. Expect to pay in the region of £20.00.


Stepping up a gear – not to mention a price bracket at £45.99 – The Knog Boomer LED Twinpack is a “proper” set of lights, with the front component burning for 4 hours (or 36 hours in strobe mode) at an impressive 50 lumens and the rear light managing 12 hours (72 flashing) at 30 lumens – both on a set of two AAA batteries. Although only available in either black or white it’s the stylish looks of the Boomers that are likely to swing a purchase when what you really don’t want is something less design conscious cluttering up your bike.

Knog lighting is available at


Extras Reviews

Deuter Race 10 Litre Rucksack

Deuter backpackAt Cyclo we’re always on the lookout for accessories and kit that help make the most of our two-wheeled forays but one of the trickiest areas to tackle, we find, is in using the bike for work commuting. Aside from the hazards of rush hour traffic (and the sometimes undesirable side-effect of arriving for a meeting a little more fragrant than is ideal), one of the biggest headaches is finding a way of carrying all the detritus of work life. Enter the Deuter Race 10 Litre Rucksack, something of a mini-marvel whose size belies a wealth of nifty features. To start with, as the name would perhaps suggest, it has an adequate 10litre capacity (12 and 15litre variations are also available) into which a quite surprising quantity of work-related kit can be stuffed and with two small zipped pockets – one on top, one on the front – keys and smaller “to-hand” items can be kept separate to avoid the big bag rummage.


Safety is also at the forefront of design on the Deuter – in addition to ample 3M reflectors on the side and back, a simple loop on the back allows for the addition of light blinker (along the lines of the NiteRider Lightning Bug 2.0 – see the Cyclo review here). Ingeniously the pack also has an integrated rain cover in a safety conscious dayglow hue. Hip and chest straps keep things firmly in place and whilst the shoulder straps lack any serious padding, their mesh design along with the “Airstripes” back ventilation system should help to keep the ride to work relatively cool.


A gusseted flap on the top and a hose holder on the shoulder strap also allows for the addition of a hydration pack, although the official Deuter 2litre bladder is a steep £32.99 so Cyclo would suggest shopping around for more basic models that can be had for as little as £10.00.


At around £40 the Deuter isn’t the cheapest option for a commute pack, but it’s certainly one of the most feature-laden, stylish and practical and when you consider that a rain cover alone could set you back £15.00+ this start to look less pricey.


Extras Reviews

Rudy Project Rydon ImpactX

With the sun (mostly) shining on us now, Cyclo thought it high-time to take a look at some more sunnies and, having previously cast our eyes over the cheaper end of the market (dhb and Madison Vision, click here for review), we thought that the budget-busting Rudy Project Rydon ImpactX shades deserved a look. Renown Italian designers Rudy Project have worked closely with pro cyclists for more than a quarter century – Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali amongst their collaborators – and are the official suppliers to, amongst others,  Rabobank and Omega Pharma-Lotto, all of which means these guys really know what they’re talking about.


So, how do the Rydon ImpactX measure up? In a word: beautifully. A blend of sci-fi sounding materials are employed in their construction including Carbon, Aluminum, Magnesium, Silicium, Titanium and Kynetium and although we’re pretty sure they made that last one up it all adds up to an almost weightless experience. Pretty much every inch of their construction can be gently flexed and adjusted for a fit that feels utterly bespoke and the ventilation system ensures that nothing ever fogs up the view. In terms of the lenses themselves, again the Rydons are almost impossible to beat. The “ImpactX” classification means that they are guaranteed (for life) as indestructible and the combination of polarization and photochromic (changing in tune with light levels) elements give a crystal clear image. The change in lens darkness is also impressively fast, whilst some photochromic lenses seem to take forever to adjust to sudden loss of sunlight the Rydons react like a switch has been flicked.


Additional and replacement lenses can be bought for around the £30 mark (prescriptions available for considerably more) and should you wish to switch them mid-ride the quick release system is efficient and effective – unlike, say, the over-engineered Oakley Jawbones. At the best part of £150 a pair you certainly wouldn’t want to lose your Rydons, but one thing’s (officially) guaranteed – you’ll never break them…


Extras Reviews

Abus Combiflex 202 Lock

Abus CombiflexAccording to the British Crime Survey the number of yearly bike thefts in the UK is pushing 533,000 – the equivalent of one bike being spirited away every minute – and if you read Cyclo’s recent news story (if not, why not?) on the shocking state of the country’s cycle larceny you might think it high time that we reviewed a bike lock. Well your wish is Cyclo’s command. We thought we would start with an entry-level cable lock and so turned out attention to the Abus Combiflex 202. The Abus brand has been around for more than 80 years (the name is an initialisation, apparently, of August Bremicker und Söhne KG) and was founded on the principle of “Security calls for quality!” So how does the Combiflex measure up to that particular battle-cry? First the stats: the Combiflex is the size and weight of your average mobile phone (it also looks uncannily like one when retracted), has a 2.5mm thick plastic-coated, steel cable, which is 90cm long, and is held secure by a simple 3-digit (re-settable) combination lock.


Quick impressions may not be that great and indeed it’s unlikely to repel the most determined of bike thieves, but for use in low-risk areas or for quick-stops (pub?) it’s a simple and elegant solution. It’s big – or rather small – advantage is its size and weight, especially when a hefty D-Lock is an alternative. The Combiflex fits easily into a pocket or seat-bag and is discreet enough to take anywhere or keep with the bike as a back-up plan for when you forget to take your “regular” lock out. We did find that, on occasion, the lock didn’t quite click home as intended – so double-checking that everything’s secure is essential.


Certainly not the most blagger-proof lock on the market (nor would you expect it to be at £20.00) but as a keep-with-you go-anywhere solution it’s hard to beat.


Extras Reviews

NiteRider Lightning Bug

NiteRider Lightning BugGreat things, Cyclo are often told, come in small packages. This is certainly a truism that can be applied to the remarkably small and truly great NiteRider Lightning Bug – something of a miracle in micro-lighting for bikes. There was a time, not so long ago, that a bike light was the size and weight of a brick and if you were lucky, under just the right circumstances, you could illuminate the far end of the garage. Now, thanks in large part to LED development (though sometimes to HID systems and battery evolution) things are very different indeed. The Lightning Bug is available in three flavours – the 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 – meaning, fundamentally, with either 1, 2 or 3 LEDs. Each can also be bought in 6 different colours (including black or white for less exuberant cyclists), they weigh in at between 22g (1.0 and 2.0) and 36g for 3.0, and have a battery life in excess of 100 hours. Crucially they also kick out an incredible amount of light, and although they can’t replace the legally required main front light they are an indispensable and highly recommended bonus aid to safety.


Battery replacement and fitting to the bike couldn’t be quicker or easier and these tiny silicone-bodied beauties are versatile enough to attach to seat-posts, handlebars, forks, seat stays or even, depending on the style of you brain-protector, your helmet. A single button switches thing on and off, or through a variety of brightness or flash-mode which vary with model.


NiteRider Lightning Bugs are widely available – prices vary but expect to pay in the region of  £9.99 for the 1.0, £12.99 for the 2.0 and £14.99 for the 3.0


Extras Reviews

Chafe-Ease & Anti-Blister-Stick

Chafe-Ease and Anti-Blister StickNothing – with perhaps the exception of poor weather and falling off – spoils a good cycle ride more thoroughly than good old fashioned chaffing. Even the most expensive apparel can rub you raw when you least expect it, after months of loyal service without so much as an uncomfortable seam suddenly that dreaded hot-spot develops. The first of Cyclo’s two favourite products for dealing with the problem is Chafe-Ease made by the New Zealand company Nature’s Kiss – we came to this via their better known and long-available Recovery rub which works wonders on tired legs. Chafe-Ease is a relatively thick (but non-greasy) cream that combines Calendula Officinalis, Hypericum Perforatum (St John’s Wort) and the essential oils of Tea Tree and Lavender that can be rubbed in pre-ride to any areas that you know are likely the rub (perfect for brand-new kit that still needs a but of breaking in) or used post-ride to treat areas of irritation. Also a general moisturise, Chafe-Ease works well, we’ve discovered over long winter months, in treating cracked skin on exposed fingers. At around the £10 mark, it’s not the cheapest ticket on the market but worth the extra few pounds as the 90g tub seems to last forever.


Our other recommendation is the Anti-Blister Stick made by Steroplast (around £4.50) – this was first recommended to us by a runner friend but we find it translates well to two wheels. Really intended to treat blisters on the feet, it actually works brilliantly as an emergency anti-chafe, being about the size of a match-box and easily slipped into a jersey pocket. The semi-solid stick, which works in a similar way to push-up deodorant sticks, and combines palm butter and hydrogenated avocado oils for an effective and non-greasy result.


Both are widely available online.


Extras Reviews

Camelbak Hydrobak 1.5litre

camelbak hydrobakAs cyclists we know you must be aware of good hydration (if not, read our feature here) and Camelbak have been market leaders for more years than Cyclo cares to remember. With the warmer weather upon us – at least at time of writing – we’ve had our hands on the Camelbak Hydrobak 1.5litre for a spot of in-saddle testing and have enjoyed its use every bit as much as we had anticipated. This is a low-profile, lightweight hydration solution, barely 33cm in back length and weighing in at only 160g (excluding reservoir and water) that should make it suitable for riders even of the slightest build and frame. It has a close fitting strap system that holds the pack tightly in place and the meshed pad reduces sweat and heat build-up which would otherwise be counter productive to keeping well watered. For the fashion conscious (!?) the Hydropak is available in four colours – black (for stealth mode), white (to show up the grime), lime green (for the extrovert) and red (which probably makes you go faster, but tests at Cyclo were inconclusive…) Importantly there are also front and rear reflectives to keep you safe.


Admittedly 1.5litres isn’t the most generous of reservoirs, but should be enough to keep you topped up for a good two hours on the road, and the tiny zipped pocket is barely big enough for a car key and an emergency mint humbug. But for its size and price point (in the region of £35.00) it’s a good choice of packs.


Being the responsible bunch of people that we are, Cyclo thought we’d share some top tips for the use of this (or indeed any other bladder system):


To prevent the unpleasant “sloshing” that can interrupt the most tranquil of rides, invert the bladder after filling it and gently suck on the bite valve to remove all excess air. Bingo, no slosh.


A dash of lemon juice in the bladder post-ride will help to clean it and neutralise the taste of iodine or other water purification tablets. If you’re of an adventurous nature and find yourself on a multi-day desert adventure chip shop vinegar sachets work well too – but stock up on them before you head to the Sahara (and rinse well afterwards…)


Finally, to keep the bladder from developing its own “special cultures” between uses, store it in the freezer and defrost when needed.