Extras Featured Reviews


realxgearThe difference between a fun ride and an utterly miserable one can all be down to temperature – of course performance can also drop off as the heat increases, so finding a good way to regulate things is an important consideration when taking to the saddle. Offering an innovative solution with a range of products that actively lowers your skin’s temperature RealXGear promises big things, but does it all stack up?


There are three basic components to the RealXGear range – two sizes of towel, a baseball-style cap and a neck collar – each employing the same tech to cool things down, namely chemical beads (totally safe, naturally, but also environmentally friendly) that react to water to reduce the material’s temperature. To set things in motion the material needs to be dunked or soaked in water – not necessarily even cold water – wrung out and put on.


Of the three the collar (which is ‘coming soon’ to the brand’s website) proved far and away the most useful for the bike. Measuring approximately 84 by 13cm and with a slit in one end so the other can be tucked through and secured, the collar packs small enough to carry in a jersey pocket, ready for use when needed via a good soaking from your water bottle. The temperature drop is almost immediate – up to 20 degrees cooler can be achieved under optimum conditions – and we found it stayed cold long after a four-hour Sunday ride. Naturally there are elements that will have a bearing on exactly how long the tech will reduce temperature for – external ambient temperature, direct and strong sunshine, wind (a big factor on the bike) – but manufacturers claim anything up to eight hours and we’ve little reason to doubt them.


Post-ride both the towel and cap have their place for cooling things off and both worked equally as well as the collar. However the collar also has a practical application for use as part of the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) regime in case of minor injury – there is enough strength and equal stretch in the fabric to easily wrap aching muscles and the temperature drop is just about enough to be affective, short term, for recuperation.


In all honesty Cyclo had thought that RealXGear would be a gimmick with limited real-world use, but we’re more than happy to stand corrected – the range, particularly the collar, brings real benefit to the bike and it’s simply one of those products that has to be tried to be believed.


The RealXGear towel is available in small or large and a choice of blue or pink (£11.95 and £13.95 dependent on size), the caps are available in a range of colours for £14.95 and the RealXGear collar retails at £11.95. For further information and online purchase at


Featured Nutrition Reviews


ElivarThe sports nutrition market is a crowded one and barely a couple of months pass without a new contender fighting for shelf space. Elivar is the latest offering, claiming to bring something new to the mix with products aimed squarely at the 35+ age range.


Elivar is a complete three-part system for pre-, during and post-exercise (the Holy Trinity of sports nutrition) with unique blends to support the needs of older athletes, undoubtedly a smart move given the rise in numbers of so-called MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) and equally their female, non-acronymed, equivalent. The range – Prepare, Endure and Recover – comprises of a variety of blended carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals that have been tailored to ensure that even during intense workouts and rides all bases are covered with fortification and the use of low GI (slow release) carbohydras.


Taking each in turn: Prepare, for use around 90minutes before exercise, uses a blend of fast and slow proteins – 27g per 65g serving – for muscle mass maintenance (and, in part, to begin the recovery stage even before training), combined with an equal quantity of carbohydrates, only half of which are sugar derived, 3.1g of fibre and vitamins B6 and B12 to aid the immune system. The flavour, chocolate, is perfectly palatable and the mix blended, we found, quickly and without clumps clogging our bottle, although retaining a slightly gritty texture.


Endure in Orange and Mango flavour – personally less to our liking, with a somewhat artificial aftertaste – is a 45g serving, which again mixed quickly to a relatively smooth drink for use on the bike. It delivers 32g of carbohydrates (13g from sugars) balanced in a 4:1 ratio with 8g of protein. The inclusion of thiamine, riboflavin, biotin, vitamin C and B12 all help to promote energy metabolism, with the addition of calcium and vitamin D for bone strength (an increased necessity for older athletes) and, again, vitamins B6 and B12 for the immune system.


Back to chocolate again for the Recover (ditto for the blending, non-clogging qualities) and a mix of whey powder and cassein to extend the ‘recovery window’ with 27g of protein and 28g of carbs (50% sugar derived) per 65g serving hopefully making quick work of getting you ready for the next ride. Again this is fortified with B6 and 12 for the immune system – which ironically can be somewhat compromised by endurance exercise – and calcium and vitamin D for the bones.


Because we often know so little about how our food is produced, harvested, stored and transported even those paying close attention to their diet could certainly do well to consider both food/sports nutrition fortification and vitamin supplementation and Elivar certainly addresses this admirably along with bringing a good range of additional benefits to boot.


The RDA (Recommended Dietary/Daily Allowance) percentage of vitamins varies throughout the range but taking vitamins C, D and E as a fairly representative example they are: 21%, 47% and 30% respectively for Prepare, 21%, 35% and 26% for the Endure, and 39%, 48% and 33% for Recover. Although all three products do contain sodium it was a surprise not to find the inclusion of potassium (possibly zinc and magnesium too) to aid hydration and replace the ‘salts’ lost through sweating during endurance exercise, especially as these form part of the complete package offered by the likes of Apres (review here) and For Goodness Shakes (review here)



Possibly this will be addressed in time along with the flavour (and flavour range); but for now Elivar is an excellent choice for those 35+ year-olds with a lust for life and desire to put in the miles on the bike.


Elivar Prepare and Recover are available in boxes of 12 individual 65g servings at £24.99 or 900g tubs (13 servings) for £34.99 and Elivar Endure in boxes of 12 individual 45g servings at £19.99 and 900g tubs (20 servings) at £24.99. For further details on Elivar and online retail see


Extras Recovery Reviews

Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz

Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz ReviewThere were two things that made us want to take a closer look at the Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz from Natural Hero: First, we are told (by the makers) that it’s incredibly popular with cyclists and second we love ‘natural’ products and this one claims to consist of ‘99% natural ingredients’. So, what does it do? Is it any good? And can we forgive it that 1%?


The Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz, which comes in a 100ml pump bottle, is intended for spraying onto aching muscles either during or post-exercise to provide an instant cooling effect, which gives way to a gentle warmth through the treated area. It achieves this through a blend of botanical extracts including peppermint (natch), white willow, arnica, witch hazel and blue chamomile – whilst the carrying agent (a natural alcohol denant) also adds to the initial cooling as its rapid evaporation leads to a drop in skin temperature. Looking at the other active ingredients in order: peppermint essential oil can reduce inflammation (and smells good), willow – in the form of bark extract – is an astringent, which will cause mild skin contraction, arnica has proven efficacy as an anti-inflammatory, witch hazel is a toner, and chamomile is another anti-inflammatory. Phew…


If you’re wondering about the 1% of synthetic ingredients: menthyl lactate is a common cosmetics ‘cooling agent’, potassium sorbate is a preservative (E number 202) and ascorbic acid (actually a form of vitamin C) is utilised as an anti-oxidant in the spritz. Nothing to worry about here and the other 99% is more than commendable.


Does it work though? The short answer is an unequivocal yes. The cooling effect was instant and quite intense shifting, after a few minutes, to a background warmth that lasted in excess of half an hour. Perhaps not strictly for use as pain relief, and, as it evaporates so quickly (an essential part of the cooling mechanism), it lacks the advantage of being compatible with massage. But for instant revitalisation with tangible soothing results that eased muscle tension this is an undeniably useful product that deserves to find its way into the bag of tricks for post-sportive or intensive training session. Cyclo would love to see a mini version – say sub-50ml – that could tuck into a jersey pocket…


Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz from Natural Hero is available for £11.99 from


Nutrition Reviews

Jack Links Beef Jerky

Jack Links Beef Jerky ReviewIf there is one thing here at Cyclo we like almost as much as riding the bike, it’s food. Before, during, after the ride – and as much as we can happily recommend a number of bike nutrition solutions (take a look at our reviews of Bikefood or Shot Bloks for example), it’s often ‘real’ food we crave in the saddle. Enter then Jack Links Beef Jerky, quite possibly our favourite new snack…


Beef Jerky? On a bike? Where’s the carbs? Actually there are some – around 17g per 100g of snack – which is barely significant compared to something like a High5 Energy Gel say, which would boast closer to 70g per 100g (roughly 3 gels worth) but what is significant here is the protein content, so often overlooked when it comes to exercise. Protein is useful (arguably essential) for several reasons: some of the amino acids in protein help your body absorb carbohydrates; protein is essential to recovery – a process that can be started whilst still exercising. Jack Links Beef Jerky delivers a not-unreasonable 46g of protein per 100g.


The science aside, here’s the thing: Getting food, of whatever protein/carbohydrate ratio, down you during exercise is a whole lot easier when it tastes great and Jack Links Beef Jerky certainly does. With a reputation for care and attention they make these snacks from only the choicest beef and at just 3% fat it’s a winning formula. Beyond the original flavour there is also the Sweet and Hot variety which, although undeniably tasty, are lower on carbs (just 12g per 100g) and which we found slightly dehydrating on the saddle so perhaps best saved for post-ride refuelling.


If you want more there’s also Beef Steak Bites (25g carbs, 34g protein per 100g) and their Teriyaki variety (18g carbs/36g protein) both slightly higher in fat at 4%, plus equally delicious Chicken Bites Flamin´Buffalo Style or Curry (12g carbs/32g protein and 4.8g fat). But for our money the Beef Jerky originals are where it’s at for adding both taste variety and a useful dose of protein to your ride.


Just a couple of minor words of warning: first if you’re looking for gluten-free the original flavour isn’t, whilst the rest of the range is. Secondly, if you are a true purest, note that the full range, apart from the Beef Stake Bites, contain the flavour enhancer MSG and thirdly take care: each pack contains an essential (but very easily swallowed if you have your eyes on the road) non-edible sachet of oxygen absorber to maintain freshness.


Cautionary note noted, we couldn’t recommend Jack Links Beef Jerky highly enough, great on the ride, great for recovery afterwards.


Widely available on line in both 25 and 75g sizes, more information at