Extras Featured Reviews Tech

Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 C Wheels

Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 C WheelsRenowned manufacturer of bike systems and riders’ equipment Mavic, based in Annecy, France, has been an official partner and sponsor of the Tour de France since the 1970s. Founded in 1889 – their name an acronym for ‘Manufacture d’Articles Vélocipédiques Idoux et Chanel’ (phew) – it’s fair to say they know a thing or two about the sport and with their first carbon clinchers, the Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 C Wheels, fresh to market Cyclo were naturally eager to put them through their paces.


Three years in development, The Cosmic is a wheel-tyre system, which comes with slim Yksion Pro tyres (190g each), inner tubes, skewers and wheel bags. They have high stiffness, carbon/alloy hubs with aero flanges, integrated nipples and weigh 1,545g for a 40mm-deep pair (front wheel: 670g, front wheel with tyre – WTS: 940g) and 2,085g for the pair of wheels with tyres. But it’s not the weight (there are lighter clingers available) that sets them apart.


Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 C WheelsThere are two recognised difficulties in developing a carbon fibre rim for a clincher; the first is the resistance of the sidewalls to the pressure of the tyre and the second is the resistance of the brake track to the heat created by braking. Whilst an aluminum rim is able to dissipate heat relatively quickly and aluminum resists very high temperatures, that is not the case for carbon fibre (and especially for the resin holding it together) and this inability to resist the heat can tend to cause softening and the failure of the sidewalls.


Mavic’s solution: a combination of an aluminum insert (completely different from a normal rim) with carbon fibre, which uses a resin able to withstand very high temperatures. Two types of resins are used on the brake track, each one having its own glass transition temperature. Mavic’s Maximum Glass Transition Temperature TgMAX technology consists of laying up several types of high technology resins, then fixing them using a proprietary heat treatment process to achieve the highest possible resistance to braking heat. In addition the manufacturing process, Mavic say, allows them to drill only the inner rim wall and not the aluminum insert, this avoids having to drill the tyre bed of the rim, making for a stronger rim as the inside is left uncompromised by holes.


Mavic tested the Cosmics with a 100kg rider on a 10km downhill section of Mount Ventoux in the Alps, riding at a consistently high speed whilst constantly applying the brakes. They measured the heat inside the rim with a T° patch and each sample had to withstand multiple descents. Whilst Cyclo lacked both the Alps and a 100kg rider (we’ll admit to 70kg), we set about testing the Cosmics…


Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 C WheelsHaving fitted the yellow carbon rim brake pads (which Mavic supplied with the wheels) to our Specialized Transition time trial bike we took the Cosmics out for a ride over a mix of fast flat and hilly terrain. The Cosmics felt stiff and light when we climbed steep, winding ascents and certainly much easier to climb with than our normal day-to-day wheel (Easton EA90 SLX), a relatively light wheel (1,398g for the wheelset without tyres). Descending relatively short but steep and fast technical descents in dry conditions we found the brakes to be very efficient when applying the pressure needed.


On the flat it felt like the Cosmics really came into their own. Certainly over the shorter distance they felt nimble and quick to accelerate, and when we pulled into a sprint the sensation of speed was exceptional. What’s more we found that we could maintain the sprint for longer than usual; whether this was a mix of strong legs on the day combined with the wheels, only time will tell, but the Cosmics certainly delivered a very smooth ride and more than met our expectations.


The Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 C wheel-tyre system has an RRP of £1,800, more details at or see the video below…





Extras Reviews Tech

Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones

Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones reviewOkay, here comes that thorny and divisive issue of listening to music whilst cycling again. If you’re of the ultra-safe persuasion it’s a clear no-no, and arguably with excellent reason, but if music helps you through the ride and you’re prepared to take your chances then perhaps the Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones would make for a sensible option?


Coming in at the top of their range the Inspire Pro features the Yurbuds ‘TwistLock Technology’ to keep them in place; in practice this means you plug the bud into your ear and rotate by 90degrees securing it behind the antitragus (the sort of sticky-uppy-bit in your ear). The fit is incredibly snug and, thanks to the soft silicone coating, comfortable – moreover, the chances of accidently tugging them loose is next to zero.


From a safety point of view the Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones deliver what the manufacturers call ‘Ambient Noise Awareness’ – this means that, despite the excellent fit, a degree of ambient sound is still channelled into the ear making for a greater awareness of the surroundings (and potential hazards.) The system works well enough – it certainly doesn’t deliver the safety level of using bone-conduction technology such as that used by AfterShokz Sportz (see the Cyclo review here), but is infinitely better than just plugging the ears completely. On the downside of the ambient noise system, we found that cycling with a direct headwind caused a cacophonous noise akin to holding a seashell to your ear on a particularly windy beach…


The sound quality is certainly more than acceptable, the 15mm dynamic driver delivered admirable mid- and top-range with only the bassier elements sounding slightly muddy. As we expected, the audio was far crisper than bone-conduction options, but that’s the nature of the tech and a clear trade-off between quality and safety. Either way, exceptional audio experience is hardly the thing you would expect (or really need) on the saddle.


For iPhone/iPod users another benefit of the Inspire Pro is the in-line ‘dry-mic’ control which allows not only for volume adjustment, but track skipping, pausing, and call taking (once you have halted the bike of course.) They also work with Siri – although in Cyclo’s experience even Siri doesn’t work with Siri…


Are the Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones really a safety item? Of course not; but safer than blocking your ears completely. So if you like getting miles under your wheels whilst listening to music – or screening your calls – these are a solid option, with decent audio performance and a pretty much rock-solid guarantee that they won’t fall out.


The Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones carry an RRP of £60 and are available from, amongst other places, – more information at or take a look at the video below to see how the ‘TwistLock Technology’ works.

Reviews Tech

AfterShokz Sportz 2 Headphones

AfterShokz Sportz 2 Bone Conduction Headphones - cycling safetyWhere do you stand on the issue of listening to music whilst cycling? It’s a divisive subject, one that splits riders almost as equally as the great helmet debate, but what is certain is that if you do want to while away those saddle-hours to thumping tunes (or some Kenny G) then you’ll be a whole heap safer using AfterShokz Sportz 2 headphones.


The reason for this is simple: rather than plugging into (and therefore blocking) you ears, AfterShokz use bone conduction technology – the kind used by ‘special forces ops’ apparently – to deliver sound through the cheekbones to the inner ear, leaving the way clear for riders to hear traffic and other crucial audio cues. Held in place by a rigid, but perfectly comfortable headband, the buds sit just in front of the ears and the quality and clarity of sound is remarkably good – slightly on the tinny side, but then no one is arguing that the bike is the perfect spot of picking up every nuance of your favourite tracks.


The new Mark 2 model features an impressive 21 improvements over the earlier device, itself already pretty damn good, and several of these are immediately apparent. Sleeker (and blacker) than its predecessors, with a reflective safety strip thrown in for good measure, the aesthetic improvements continue through to the in-line controller, which is now smaller and far less of an ugly box.


Love them or hate them, the in-line controller is something of a necessity as the tech requires its own power to deliver the bone conduction sound and it houses, along with the obvious volume controls, the rechargeable lithium ion battery that facilitates this. Powered-up via micro-USB (another improvement over the original fiddly arrangement), the battery promises up to 12 hours of playback from a three hour charge – this can vary, we found, depending on the level of volume used.


Under test Cyclo found the AfterShokz to be undeniably comfortable (weighing in at around 45g) and, perhaps more importantly, stayed absolutely put even with some (unintentional, don’t ask…) off-road action that rattled the bones, but left the music still serving as a soundtrack to our misfortunes. Being able to still hear and react to ambient sound whilst enjoying music on the ride was a true revelation and has gone a long way towards changing our minds about the possible distraction of ride play-lists. If you like music on the move then the AfterShokz Sportz 2 are an essential bit of kit.


Priced at 49.96 (ex VAT) – further information and online purchase at


Reviews Tech

ithlete for Heart Rate Variability

ithlete heart rate variability app and heart rate monitor chest strapHeart Rate Variability (or simply HRV) can be a key indicator of fitness. Daily measurements taken, crucially, at the same time each morning can be charted in order to build up a picture of the overall ebb and flow of training stress on the body and, through analysis, work as an early indicator of when ‘enough is enough’. Anyone taking training seriously is well advised to listen to the heart and plotting the HRV should be at the top of the list when it comes to determining over-training limits and planning rest days or periods. Enter – at least for true tech lovers – the ithlete for Heart Rate Variability, a small ECG receiver that plugs into Apple and Android phones/tablets and picks up the signal from compatible heart rate straps. In turn this is analysed and charted by the ithlete app, which keeps a running record of the HRV and displays the results in colour-coded form.


The principle is excellent and the thlete receiver is dinky and reliable, but the app (a separate purchase at £6.99) lets the process down somewhat by being graphically clunky and limited in both function and flexibility. To expand first on the aesthetics: the design of the graphic interface is either deliberately retro or just simply ugly and whilst looks alone may not be that important it also has an impact on functionality with both the chart and list being difficult to comprehend (who uses the dating system ‘2012-10-08’? That’s almost exactly the reverse of what we need to know…)


At its simplest – and the ithlete app doesn’t go much beyond ‘simplest’ – things work just fine. Strap up, wait for the signal (an impressively fast connect), hit ‘start’ and breath slowly in and out in time with the (ugly) graphic for one minute; then save the result. The app displays both that day’s heart rate and the HRV value – the higher the better – in list form or on a chart along with a daily, weekly and monthly change values. Depending on results either a blue/green, orange or red indication will be given suggesting that normal or lighter training be considered or that a rest day is in order.


Unfortunately the app doesn’t really allow for any user annotation beyond adding an optional ‘training load score’ (you can make up your own system, 1-10 for effort for example, but can’t mix and match.) Repeatedly we found ourselves wanting to add some detailed notes to a day’s results; to record the fact that a heavy road session had been followed by a lack of sleep or that jetlag was almost certainly a factor – but whilst any online training log worth its salt easily accommodates this, the ithlete app doesn’t. A widely missed opportunity, especially as the ithlete’s own manual lists everything from work-related stress to dehydration and diet being contributory factors.


HRV is a crucial tool for anyone looking to improve their overall performance (and downright essential for those who love to crunch every available number) and the ithlete is a brilliantly simply way of collecting the data. A shame this is let down buy an app that really needs to be thoroughly updated in order to deliver real user satisfaction. Certainly the pros outweigh the cons, but a reworked and much more user-friendly app (one that also includes the ability to record HR during exercise – currently a separate app of another £6.99) is needed to help propel the ithlete into the realms of the indispensible.


ithlete ECG receiver £39.99, or bought in combination with the Cardiosport HR chest strap £59.99 – chest strap available separately at £29.99 and ithlete app retails at £6.99.


Further details and online purchase via


Note: v2 of the app allows fuller notation on each record made, along with a sleep quality score of 1-5.

Reviews Tech

iTire Pressure App

Smartphones have become so ubiquitous and so, well, smart that it’s sometimes easy to take a new app’s description at literal face-value; Take the iTire Pressure app from renown Italian manufacturer Vittoria, which promises to calculate desired tire pressures whatever the conditions; how could that possibly work? Use your smartphone’s camera to take a picture of the wheel and let the app compare it to an exhaustive database? Record the sound of air rushing out of the valve until the pitch is just right? Of course the answer is both more mundane and more practical than that.


Download the free app, fire it up, enter some data and hit ‘Calculate Tire Pressure’; the results display for front and back in both BAR and PSI. This works for road and mountain bikes – the choice having been made on opening screen – asking for input in four fields (dependent on Bike/MTB) such as ‘Casting’, ‘Version’, ‘Combined Weight (Bike + Rider)’ and, finally, ‘Road Conditions’.


The iTire works absolutely perfectly but is depended on two crucial (and fairly obvious) things. Firstly this is not aimed at the absolute novice or casual rider who is unlikely to know what ETRTO size is or if their casing is ‘Nylon 60tpi’ or ‘Corespun 290’. Secondly that you have the ability to actually measure your pressure, something only usually found in your garage/base pump on the likes of the LifeLine High Pressure Floor Pump (a Cyclo favourite.) These are mere quibbles; if you’re likely to find this app of value you are also likely to have both the knowledge and the kit to put it to use.


The app is available for iPhone and Android from


Books Reviews Tech


When the original (paper would you believe?) edition of ‘Cyclepedia – A Tour of Icon Bicycle Design’ was published last year by Thames and Hundson we snapped up a copy here at Cyclo – spending hours poring over the delicious images and wishing we could start our own vintage/classic bike museum. Imagine our delight then at the release of the interactive iPad edition, and what a thing of beauty it is – as sumptuous and desirable as the bikes it covers.


The 100 bikes covered in the digital version – everything from the Skoot to the Lotus Sport 110 – are beautifully illustrated and supported by 360º ‘spinnable’ models with detailed close-ups of components and hundreds of pages of original brochure and promotion material, engineering sketches and far more besides.


Arguably there are some omissions (this being slimmed down from the print edition) but Cyclo feels this is more than adequately made up for by the wealth of interactive swiping and tapping available – our favourites being the animated fold-ups that can eat up hours of what would otherwise have been productive time.


As an overview of the evolution of cycling the app works wonderfully and the ability to reorder and catalogue content adds a personal touch that’s hard to beat. £6.99 is a price that at first seems steep for an app, but as the iPad continues to evolve as a means of content delivery it’s really time to start thinking in terms of coffee-table book comparisons (the print edition will cost you double). Buy it, play with it. Love it.


For further details see:


And while you’re there don’t forget to drop by and pick up a copy of the Cyclo app too:


Reviews Tech

Official Tour de France App 2011

Tour de FRance AppJust imagine a Tour de France app that offers up live minute-by-minute race updates, live GPS tracking on stage maps and course profiles, highlight videos, results and standings, rider profiles and much more. Well keep imagining, because the app from developers ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) fails on almost every level. In principle it looks solid enough, but the problems for Cyclo started at about the same time as the race started – although the 2011 event was clearly underway the app’s countdown still had some way to go. Once the tech had finally caught up with real events the commentary feed proved well written and had a friendly, personal tone and is far and away the app’s most successful feature. Unlike Stage 1 though, it was all downhill for the Official Tour de France App 2011 from here.


For a start the suggestion of “live GPS tracking” is rather (probably not intentional) misleading. Don’t you think we would have heard of individual riders were going to be sporting trackers? Well the reason we hadn’t heard that is simply that they don’t. Instead the tracking is provided by support vehicles which then feed accumulated data back to official Tour de France servers from where it is syndicated to various media and technology organisations. But this “little white lie” isn’t the big problem with the ASO app – the integration of data is poorly handled, it lacks intuitive navigation and the rate of software crash is marginally higher than a badly clustered peloton; in fact Day 2/Stage 2 saw the app fail so frequently that it barley ever got past the Skoda splash-screen advert. Cyclo clearly isn’t alone in experiencing such catastrophic app failure either if feedback on the Apple store is anything to go by: “…all it does is crash at the first page.”, “Very poor, crash, crash, crash..”, “Avoid!”, “Skoda should be ashamed.”


On the off-chance that you can get the app to run it might have been a nice touch to include details of up-coming stages (or indeed the opportunity to go back and revisit previous ones) but here again ASO fail miserably. It really is hard to find anything good to say about the product and its failure is made all the more disappointing when you consider what a wasted opportunity this is. The world’s greatest cycling event really does deserve a world-class app to support it and this is certainly far from that. Remember these succinctly wise words: ‘Avoid!’


Amaury Sport Organisation, iPhone £0.59, iPad £2.99