Apparel Featured Reviews

Fairwear Shirts

Fairwear ShirtsOh, those eternal bike commuter quandaries: smart, casual or sweaty? A quick change and a blast of deodorant in the lift? How to rock that crumpled look, once you’ve unfurled the shirt from the backpack? A possible solution comes in the form of Fairwear apparel from Philadelphia-based emerging designer Louis Pollack who makes performance dress shirts with moisture wicking fabrics.


Commenting on his inspiration, Pollack says: ‘Technically part of downtown Center City, Fairmount is its own self-functioning neighborhood centered around one of the oldest and largest urban parks in America. With Philadelphia’s skyline firmly planted in the background, Fairmount serves as the gateway for all things outdoors. I wanted to capture Fairmount Park’s uniquely balanced environment, and share it with enthusiasts everywhere.’


At first glance – actually even with closer inspection – it’s hard to tell that the items in the collection are anything but ‘ordinary’, but made from COOLMAX tech fabric with a 60% cotton mix they go a long way towards providing  fantastic commuter-friendly shirts. Even with a backpack on the shirt we had on test, the Spruce Stripe since you ask, remained cool and fresh even on what passed for a scorching day in the UK.


Actually describing the shirts as ‘ordinary’ looking in any way does a disservice to Fairwear and to Pollack. There are some great looking shirts in the COOLMAX range from the dapper Chestnut Chambray to the more traditionally classic Rittenhouse dress shirt or the short-sleeved Girard. Making apparel that works hard on the bike and looks great off of it is no mean feat, but Fairwear look to have managed it with some style. The design, cut and fit are all of the highest quality and with the Fairwear shirts retailing at $85 (around £50) they’re exceptionally well priced.


Regrettably there are no UK retailers as yet, but you can contact them direct via the website for order enquiries.



Cycle to Work Day

Cycle to Work DayTomorrow, September 12, is Cycle to Work Day, a national event, championed by multi gold medal winning Paralympic cyclist, Dame Sarah Storey, which aims to encourage everyone to take to two wheels for their commute. According to census data, 760,000 people in the UK cycle to work regularly, and one of the long-term goals of the scheme is to see that figure rise to a million by 2021. The Cycle to Work Day website – – offers a host of ways to get involved (beyond the very obvious act of actually cycling to work), with downloads, offers of free ‘Bike Health Checks’ available from partner shops across the country and details of on-going campaigns. So, tomorrow we’ll certainly be cycling to work, will you?


Apparel Featured Reviews

SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes

SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof OvershoesSealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes seem like such an obvious idea. Since the 1980s, when the first SealSkinz waterproof sock was invented (in a flash of inspiration whilst watching a documentary about John Logie Baird, so legend has it), the company has been keeping bad weather away from the skin of outdoors type. Now the wait is almost over for cyclists with the SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes due for release in autumn 2013. Cyclo took an early first look in the hope they would live up to our expectations…


Designed predominantly for mountain bike and road/commuting (a specific race overshoe for cleated shoes is also out later this year – read our review here) the SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes offer an exceptional degree of weatherproofing, combined with breathability and comfort. As you would expect from SealSkinz this is a true quality product, absolutely fit for purpose and with the kind of attention to detail on which the brand thrives.


The outer membrane swept away water on our test rides, whilst the inner, flocked, lining did an excellent job of keeping feet warm. The design lines are clean, which, the makers quite rightly claim, reduces wind resistance and means that they get on with doing their job unobtrusively while you get on with the ride.


SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof OvershoesThe fit is snug but not restrictive (available in sizes S, M, L and XL) with final adjustments made via a Velcro strap across the upper zip, which features a raised, rubberised, branding flash and an inner waterproof flap to ensure nothing creeps in through the fastenings.


The inch-wide underfoot Velcro strap did its job equally well and, whilst we had initial misgivings about its bulk, it remained perfectly in place without any discomfort. The neon-green pull-on loop is a nicety we admired, it meant that tugging the overshoe on (or indeed off) was achievable without getting hands unduly muddy/oily or risking stretching or misshaping, and for extra safety the zip edges are lined with reflective strips.


Having already put the SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes for cleats through their paces, we had expected these lightweight, road versions to deliver – and so they did. Their tough construction – which includes a Kevlar toe piece for added durability – should see these through many seasons and the extra niceties make them worth every pound of their £35 RRP.


Once launched in August full details of the SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes will be at To read the Cyclo review of the SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes (for cleats) click here, and for a review of their Thin Socklet click here


Featured Features

In Praise of the Brompton

The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary would be an incredibly cumbersome name for a bike. Fortunate then that said church, overlooked by engineering graduate Andrew Ritchie’s bedroom workshop whilst looking for a good name for his prototype folding bike, was popularly know as the Brompton Oratory – or more simply still The Brompton.


Ritchie graduated as an engineer in 1968 with the intention of pursuing a career in computing, but found himself instead self-employed as a landscape gardener. In 1975 he came across a Bickerton folding bike (known as the Bickerton Portable and first produced in 1971) and decided he could improve on its design. With financial backing from friends he produced Prototype 1, which, despite larger 18inch wheels, bears an uncanny similarity to the models still produced in West London today – testament to both Ritchie’s genius and the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…’


Today, not only is the Brompton the go to folder for commuters it also boasts something of a galaxy of star fans. Top Gear’s James May, author Will Self (‘the first time I saw a Brompton folding bicycle, I fell in love with it.’), actor Woody Harrelson and singer Katie Melua – who, of course, claims to know how many bicycles there are in Beijing – all love the Brompton. But what is it that makes this such a design classic?


‘Brompton Bicycles possess three major qualities of a great iconic design,’ says Alison Hung of product design gurus LKK Innovation, ‘Aesthetics: it has an instantly recognizable image. Functionality: that answers its users’ needs for more convenience. Quality: a design that is carefully executed into a product giving it the quality that its users can always rely on. Although there are imitations Brompton Bicycles’ cult status has never been surpassed, and that is the staying power of a truly iconic design.’


The full Brompton feature will be in issue 3 of Cyclo for iPad coming soon. For issues 1 and 2 take a look at Cyclo in the iTunes Store – issue 1 is free, issue 2 just £1.49



Let the Train Take the Strain

Getting a bike on a train used to be such a complex and disheartening experience – a single space if you were lucky and got there first; getting stuffed into a guard’s van and rattled to your destination. Things have certainly changed in recent years, at least judging by the results of this year’s National Cycle Rail Awards, which is run by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and aims to recognise the achievements of operators, “associated industry groups” and individuals in encouraging the combined use of track and pedal.


Commenting on the 2011 awards Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of ATOC, said: “Train companies and the rail industry as a whole are committed to improving and developing cycle-rail provision, as cycling plays an ever more important role in Britain’s growing railway. We have seen a record number of entries to the Awards this year, not only from train companies and other industry organisations but from cyclists themselves. The consistently high standard of entries reflects a real commitment to improving facilities which both help those who have already decided to cycle, and encourage more people to opt for ‘saddle and train’.”
This year’s winners included South West Trains, which has improved cycle access for around half of its passengers through the introduction 1,500 additional cycle spaces, three cycle hire schemes and the installation of six new secure cycle compounds across its stations. The operator has also launched the Brompton Bike Dock, the first solar-powered vending machine for folding bike hire – introduced at Guildford station as part of a pilot scheme; it will be rolled out across other stations and networks if proven to be successful.



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.