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Archive for the ‘Kit reviews’ Category

Bring on the wind

Wind is perhaps the most challenging of weathers to cycle in. Last Sunday, Team Boneshaker ventured out on an Audax ride in a wind that tested the deepest reserves of our will to keep riding. The vicious hurricane maintained its direction as a head-wind for at least the first 80km, before swinging cruelly around to create side-gusts so strong we had to lean into them, riding with seat tubes at a 45º angle.

Reaching into a jersey pocket, I pulled out a tiny green package: fist-sized and so light it felt barely there. Here it is in a calmer moment, loosely packed, with keys for scale. It squishes down much smaller than this.

huez wind packed

 

Anyway, as the wind howled through the telephone wires and scattered twigs from the trees, I unzipped the little green pouch and unfurled the latest creation from superior cycle wear brand Huez* – the Starman Wind Jacket. This good looking chap is not me, but he does make the jacket look nice.

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The Starman Wind had been sent to Boneshaker for review** – it had been out on several rides already, but this Audax felt like the kind of ride that would really test it out. And boy, did that wind test it. The jacket is so gossamer thin – cut from one of the world’s lightest Japanese rip stop fabrics at just 25 g/m² – that proper windproofness seemed unlikely when I first shrugged it over my grateful shoulders. But zipped in place it created just enough of a layer to rebuff the blustering north-easterly that threatened to unseat us as we crossed the Somerset levels and crested the Mendips beyond.

One key feature of the Starman Wind is its Quickburst opening technology – you can tear it open superhero style without fumbling for the zip pull. Ta-da!

 

 

 

starman wind crop

The technique takes a bit of mastering and does require both hands, but it’s doable on the hoof if you’re a fairly competent rider.

When the wind abates, the jacket disappears back into its own stow pocket. It also features reflective tabs for extra visibility in low light. The Starman Wind is an international effort: British designed, made in Portugal, with Japanese fabric.

Unlike many wind jackets, this one is almost silent in use: some we’ve tried flap about like a bin-bag in a gale, scaring away wildlife for miles around. But the Starman Wind remained stealthy-silent. It’s silky rather than plasticky – I spent an unusual amount of time just stroking it when I first put it on.

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Another feature of many windproofs is the ‘boil-in-bag’ thing, where you end up marinating in your own perspiration. Yum. Although it makes no claims about its breathability, the Starman Wind performed well under exertion – the large rear vents seemed to allow enough moisture out to prevent sweaty back syndrome.

As with the Starman Storm jacket we reviewed a while back, the Starman Wind is a lovely piece of kit. It’s top-end stuff, with a price tag to match (£125), but the quality is evident in every detail, from the grippy elastic cuffs to the rubberised Huez* asterisks inside the lower hem which keep the jacket in place, mile after mile.

Tempted? Seek them out here.

huez.co.uk/

 

**Full disclosure: Huez* sent us this jacket asking for feedback in return. No money changed hands – this isn’t advertorial. Even if it is a bit gushy. 


Riders of the world: Unite!

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We’ve been friends with Restrap since the very beginning – the Yorkshire-based creators of some of cycling’s best accessories and clothing began not long after Boneshaker’s first issue hit the shops. And we’ve stayed in touch ever since. So we were delighted when Restrap mainman Nathan Hughes got in touch to tell us about their latest offering, the ingenious cycling bag called Unite.

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At its heart it’s a tough, waterproof backpack. As with all Restrap products, it was designed and handmade in Yorkshire. The bag rolls flat when empty, or expands to a 30L capacity when fully loaded.

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Accompanying the main body of the bag are a set of modules: two pouches, a bottle holster and a waistband.You can attach one or more of these to the main backpack, in up to 1000 different ways, we’re told.

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Where it gets cunning is how they attach: with a patented magnetic fastening system. The magnets are powerful enough for each module to remain attached even under 40kg of strain. Clever magnets also play a key role in the bag’s patented fastening system: both the adjustable chest strap and the waistband can be opened, closed and locked with one hand, even when wearing gloves.

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The waistband can also be removed and worn separately with the pouches, or adapted as a smaller bag in its own right.

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The aim was to create one bag for everything. And it looks like they might’ve nailed it. We can’t wait to try one out – watch this space.

The Unite backpack is available to pre-order now, starting at £139.99 for the main back pack.

 


A jacket with a hint of superhero

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Remember how Clark Kent used to disappear into a phone box and reappear, seconds later, transformed into his tights-sporting alter ego?

The Starman Wind jacket, the latest offering from superior cycle wear brand Huez*, has a dash of that superhero mystique about it, employing as it does ‘Quickburst’ technology, which allows the zip to ‘burst’ open when pulled at its centre.

starmin wind zip

Presumably this won’t happen spontaneously after a mammoth mid-ride pie stop, but will enable quick one-handed temperature management as you ride. This alleviates the familiar fumbling for a zip with cold hands or cumbersome gloves, meaning your paws can be where they should be for longer – wrapped around your handlebars.

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We’ve already test-ridden Huez’s Starman Storm Jacket – a very fine piece of kit indeed. Assuming the same build quality and attention to detail apply for the Wind jacket, this will also be a robust, satisfyingly high-end bit of clobber. It’s made in Portugal from one of the lightest ripstop fabrics in the world, weighing in at just 25g/m2. As with the Storm jacket, there are twin vents at the back for ventilation, which also allow fumble-free access to your jersey pockets.  The Starman Wind also has its own inner pocket, which doubles as a stow-sack for when the jacket’s not in use.

Pledges are now being taken for the Kickstarter (runs until New Year’s Eve), with goodies up for grabs from £10 up (for a Huez* cycling cap). £100 will secure your very own Starman Wind jacket, with free shipping to anywhere in the UK.

Find out more here.

 


Urbanshell – they’ve got it covered

As a dyed-in-the-wool everyday cyclist, I’d be unlikely to buy a bag that wasn’t fully waterproof. But for many people out there, their go-to bag does sometimes let in the rain. Maybe style triumphs over obsessive rain-proofness, or they have a leaky bag they just love too much not to use. Or they simply get caught out in an unexpected downpour. It happens. In Bristol, where Boneshaker lives, it happens a lot. urbanshell

For just these occasions, the UrbanShell Bag Cover has been developed. They’ve got a Kickstarter going to raise funds for further development, with a little over fortnight left to run. Boneshaker have been kindly sent an UrbanShell to test, and over several weeks and plenty of rain, it’s done us proud. I lent it to my wife (also a daily cyclist, but one with a stylish range of bags many of which are not waterproof). She’s been transporting her Macbook and various other precious items to and fro across the city in all weathers – including some biblical downpours – and everything has stayed safe and dry.   urbanshell2

The cover is an unmissable shade of orange (other colours are available), with reflective detailing – making it a safety device as well as a rain cover – and it has a handy little zip pocket for small items, which doubles as a stuff-sack for packing the Urbanshell into when not in use. The Urbanshell has a cunning three-point security strap to hold it firmly in place, and elastic to ensure it tightly grips the bag being covered. Everything works just as it should. All in all, this is a great piece of design: simple, functional, good looking and well-priced. ‘Super early bird’ Kickstarter supporters will be able to bag one for only £10 – but be quick – they’ve only got a few left…

Find out more at urbanshell.com

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