Category Archives: Product Review

Product Review: Livelo Bicycle Hire Sydney and the Swift Ultravox

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Dear Rouleurs,

A few weeks ago MMT hired a roadbike through Livelo in Sydney.  MMT has been threatening to hire a bike in Sydney for years.  He last attempted this at Easter time this year, but had his cunning plan foiled by YAFF.  MMT tried, at short notice and in vain, to book a zippy Canyon via RCC in Sydney.  So rather than give up on the idea, MMT tried Livelo.  Here’s their pretty logo.

Livelo have been around awhile.  MMT can first remember seeing a flyer for this company a few years ago.  The service seems to have experienced impressive growth, as its now possible to to hire a road bike in Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Gold Coast. They also hire bikes out overseas, in London, Singapore, Geneva and Auckland. Its interesting how their booking site is now listed with a .co.uk domain now.

The company encourages prospective clients to sign up and create profile.  The profile contains your personal details, but more usefully, your fitting measurements for the bike.  The company also has an app.  MMT downloaded and installed it.  The app is basically a container for presenting the website and honestly seemed pretty slow to render pages.  However, Livelo get lots of credit for at least making the effort.

The great thing about Livelo is that they deliver and collect from your door.  As MMT was staying close the CBD in Sydney, there wasn’t a delivery charge.  The delivery guy turned up in van with the bike right on time. And when MMT writes ‘the delivery guy’, he means the company owner/founder Peter Barnes. Unfortunately MMT’s Sydney address was literally just the wrong side of Camperdown, which meant a small $20 fee.  MMT rented the bike for the weekend, which meant a Friday evening drop-off and Sunday afternoon collection.

Unfortunately, MMT didn’t get to ride a top of the line Colnago, but rather a zippy SWIFT.  Now stupidly, MMT managed not to take a photo of the bike…epic fail to quote a nearby Gen-Y co-worker. However it looked a lot this one. Apparently this bike is called a Swift Carbon Di2 Ultravox.  Which makes me wonder how SWIFT didn’t get sued by the management company of 1980’s glam-pop band Ultravox.

After riding on a Trek Domane for nearly 8 months, the Swift was an absolute bone rattler by comparison.  It had a super stiff frame, accelerated very quickly and cornered beautifully, but MMT felt every bump through the saddle, from his Coccyx to up to his jaw bone. This wasn’t helped by bike being fitted with some rather worn 23 mm tyres.  MMT would have have preferred 25 mm or 28 mm.

MMT learned later that these could have been fitted, on request….D’oh.  Oh well, next rental  MMT will remember to request them.  Also the handlebar tape was the really thin stuff that the pros prefer, rather than some spongy 2.5 mm tape.  This would have kept some of the road vibration out of MMT’s hands.

This aside, it was super quick.  OMG, MMT was drafting triathletes doing circle work in Centennial Park.  MMT loves the look of shock one of these guys has, when they realise a) they have wheelsucker and b) they can’t shake MMT off.  Superb 🙂  On MMT’s second ride, the route took in some hills around Clovelly.  The Swift loves hills, it felt so much more responsive and easier to pedal than the Domane.

The other big positive experience from this rental experience was the shifting.  MMT has and is very ‘old school’ about drive trains.  MMT’s Domane is fitted with cable driven Shimano Ultegra shifters and these work just fine thanks very much.  However, the same group set with Di2 technology is so ridiculously smooth.  The only catch being that the shifting is the opposite way round and takes a little neuro-rewiring in your brain to get used to it.

So what’s MMT’s score?  Well for Livelo MMT awards 4 and 1/2 happy Marvs out of 5 and for the Swift Carbon Ultravox 4 happy Marvs out of 5.

Until next time, ride safe

Marv

Can a bike really be worth $AUD 51,000….WTF?

Dear Rouleurs,

A friend of MMT’s wife sent through an MMS with a link to what could be the most outrageously expensive flatbar, carbon fibre, single speed bike of all time.  Apparently, its for the man  who has everything.  Supercar giant Bugatti has created what is possibly the world’s lightest, most expensive bicycle.  MMT will ignore the inherent sexism of the original article, although its quite possible that only someone loaded with cash and testosterone would buy this.  However it is quite striking in design.

MMT was particularly taken with the black and yellow colour scheme.  As its early in the 2017 AFL season, MMT still clings to the delusion shared by 70,000 members of the Richmond Football Club, that this year is the year.  MMT wrote about the symptoms of Richmonditis, way back in 2015.

Carrying the rather bland name of “PG Bugatti Bike”, the bicycle is estimated to cost a staggering $51,000 and weighs a feather-light 5kg.  Dear God that’s more combined cost of of the last two cars MMT has purchased…..  Both the cost – and the weight – of the bike comes down to its frame, which Bugatti claims is made from 95 percent carbon fibre.  Producing the bike in partnership with German bike manufacturer Pimp Garage, Bugatti says that every component on the bicycle has been engineered to be as light and wind-resistant as possible.

From the “numerous types of leather” to the “handcrafted carbon components”, the bicycle’s spec sheet reads like the wet dream of every mid-level executive who squeezes himself into lycra and joins the peloton.  The ride has been described as “firm and rigid”, which no doubt helps when you’re hurtling down a main arterial road on a bike that could very well send you broke.  MMT thinks that ‘firm and rigid’ is code for ‘bollock bruising’.

A primary feature of the bike is that most customers will be able to customise their bike to have the same fit and finish as their Bugatti – because only someone capable of owning a $1.7 million supercar would consider buying a bicycle that’s worth more than many make in a year. “We had the vision of building the ultimate bicycle to go with the ultimate car,” says Pimp Garage’s CEO Manuel Ostner. “It’s the ultimate in design, in workmanship and in performance.” MMT dares to suggest wankerism…

Of course, if you’re interested in impressing your MAMIL mates (for those not in the loop, that’s the semi-discriminatory term of Middle-Aged-Men-In-Lycra) at the coffee shop, you’ll have to get in quick: Bugatti has limited production to just 667 bikes, no doubt most of which will be heading to the garages of tech billionaires and Saudi princes.  Ah ha… that would be wanker thing again.

Any how, you can see more pictures and and the un-annotated version of this article at:

Bugatti creates a $50,000 bicycle that weighs less than 5kg

Until next time, ride safe

Marv

 

Product Review: 2XU Ignition Top & Proviz Reflect360 Gillet

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Dear Rouleurs,

MMT realised that the MarvMadeThis blog passed its second birthday.  Wow, who would have thought that something that started as a means to break up the monotony of work, would last this long.  I guess its fair representation of how much cycling has taken over MMT’s life.  Given the that the world wide web is littered with dead websites and blogs, its remarkable that MMT has survived this long.  Anyhow…enough ego stoking on with this blog entry.

MMT is back doing longer commutes.  Melbourne’s winter weather seems to have started its gradual move towards less windy and warmer days.  The days are noticeably longer with sunrise and sunset bookending increasing periods of daylight.  This has meant some reconsideration of suitable commuter gear.  The two pieces of kit that I have consistently used over the last 12 months have been 2XU’s long sleeve Ignition ¼  Zip Top in bright orange and Proviz’s cycling gillet.

 2XU Ignition Top

20160823-2XU-Ignition-Top MMT gives the 2XU Ignition Top 4 ½ Marvs 🙂 out of 5.  Its a very comfortable high visibility top if you can find the original orange version.

I bought my bright orange version mine from an outlet shop on Southbank about 18 months ago.  So readers you can treat this as a long term review.  I bought the top going into winter 2015, as I realised that I needed something warm and bright for my daily commute.  Most of the high visibility gear I owned left me shivering in the morning leg.  Happily this top fit my requirements by being relatively thick enough to keep out the wind and bright enough to really stand out in traffic.The Ignition top has a good quality ¼ zip, some reflective trim and thumb holes in the sleeves to enable them to be hitched over my riding gloves.

Unlike most of 2XU’s gear which is designed for ridiculously skinny tri-athletes, this top was a regular fit.  I purchased the XL version and it fits comfortably and is stretchy enough to fit over other undershirts.  At $65 dollars, heavily reduced, I suspect, it was fantastic value. The good news is that it’s been cold-washed repeatedly and not lost its brightness.  The bad news is that I suspect that 2XU don’t make/stock them anymore.  The closest match I can find is this in the outlet section of 2XU’s website.

http://www.2xu.com/au/p/ignition-1%2F4-zip-top/MR3465a-cto.html?dwvar_MR3465a-cto_color=INK_INK&lang=en_AU

 Proviz Reflect360 Gillet20160823-Proviz-Relect360-Gillet

MMT gives the Proviz Reflect360 5 Marvs 🙂 out of 5 – its an outstanding piece of commuter kit.

The other piece of kit I’ve made extensive use of when commuting and for the occasional early morning ride has been Proviz’s ultra-reflective gillet.  I bought mine about 12 months ago in Clarence Street Cyclery for $90.  They are more expensive now but is worth the increased price.  It wasn’t until a few months ago when I started noticing other riders with Proviz gear on that I realised how effective the clothing is at reflecting light.  Riders wearing this kit are literally a bright shining light when ever car or truck lights are directed at them.  My initial reaction was ‘whoa…that’s bright’.  The Youtube adverts don’t the reflective properties, of the clothing, justice.

However, its not like other gillets.  It isn’t cut as a ‘racing fit’ and it doesn’t have pockets.  The reflective fabric is very weather proof, able to keep out all but the heaviest downpour.  But the waterproofing comes at a cost, it’s not particularly breathable.  It has a ‘mesh’ of small holes cut through on the fabric on the lower back to encourage air flow.    As an aside MMT has been too scared to put the gillet in the washing machine and preferred to give the top a quick rinse under basin taps.

Final commentary, Proviz have released a couple of new variations on this top that, I suspect, address the feedback back about the original gillet that MMT has. These a dedicated cycling gillet, presumably with a tighter fit and the new 360+ which has a improved fabric.

http://www.provizsports.com/en_au/reflect360/gilets-vests/reflect360-gilet-reflective-gilet

Until next blog, ride safe

Marv

Product Review: Bontrager Velocis and Bellweather Windstorm winter gloves

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Dear Rouleurs,

This time it’s a proper blog…Without breaking out into GOT-mode the Melbourne winter that has been coming for a while has arrived.  Whilst this makes ski-bunnies very happy, it’s the start 3 months of of cold, wet and generally crappy weather. My wife reckoned I was as cold as an ice block after last Tuesday’s ride, the wind chill factor the westerly or northerly is pretty significant this time of year.  Its particularly tough on the hands as my old gloves just weren’t warm enough.  So a few weeks ago I bought 2 new sets of long finger ‘winter’ style gloves from local bike shops in Port Melbourne.  They are:

BONTRAGER VELOCIS WINDSHELL GLOVE

Bontrager’s blurb describes these gloves as being lightweight, windproof and water-resistant.  The main material being something called “Profila Windshell fabric” which weirdly looks a lot like vinyl but is highly wind and water resistant.

Bontrager Velocis gloves, the silicon grip is clearly evident on the fingers and thumb.

Bontrager Velocis gloves, the silicon grip is clearly evident on the fingers and thumb.

The inner glove surfaces are fleece lined which does a great job of keeping your hands warm.  Whilst they are thick and will take time to wear in, they are not really padded except for the palm. The gloves cover the wrist and have velcro clasp and elastic banding to provide a snug fit.  The silicon grip is placed on the palm side of the thumb and first two fingers.  This seems to work. Overall they are very well made and after about 20 hours of use haven’t shown any signs of splitting at the seams.  Mind you at the $70-$80 price point you would be greatly annoyed if that occurred.  Bontrager does have a 30 day unconditional warranty, provided you’ve got the receipt.

The main issue I have with these gloves is the fit.  People in the US must have long thin hands.  A medium gave me a tight fit over the back of my hand and through the the palm, but came with ridiculously long fingers.  The small size wouldn’t even fit on my hand.  I’ve been trying to mould the medium size glove into the shape of hands ever since I bought them.  I think this will come with use over time. This is one of the reasons that I don’t buy gloves online.  You really have to  try them on.  I’m giving them 3 and 1/2 Marvs.

BELLWEATHER WINDSTORM  GLOVE

Bellwether’s blurb describes the Windstorm glove as a mid-weight, full finger cycling glove, offering protection from windchill.  They are also supposed to be breathable thus preventing overheating leading to sweaty hands.

Bellweather WindStorm gloves are soft and comfortable but are not water resistant. I think the distribution of silicon grip is a bit suspect as well.

Bellweather WindStorm gloves are soft and comfortable but are not water resistant. I think the distribution of silicon grip is a bit suspect as well.

The key feature being that the gloves are predominately composed of softshell neoprene.  The inner glove is fleece lined.  This is comfortable, very warm  and stretchy but offers minimal water resistance.  I’ve worn the gloves for about 2 weeks in cold, windy conditions and they have been very effective in reducing windchill.  The gloves are also cut with a high elastic wrist and have a velcro clasp to secure them.  The big plus in these gloves is that Bellweather seems to offer a greater range of sizing.  I found the size 8 to be a perfect fit.  They were also approximately $15 cheaper than the Bontrangers.  Overall, I would say they are well made.  None of the stitching has split and the material of glove has held up well.

They are very warm, but I’ve found that I’m getting very sweaty wrists.  So I think the breathability is also limited.  They have some reflective decals on the back of the wrist.  I’m starting to this material crack and lift on the fingers. I also found the positioning of the silicon grip on exclusively on the palm a bit surprising.  I’m not sure whether the gloves would become slippy on break levels in the rain.  They do not have any padding of any kind.  I’m giving them 4 Marvs.

So hopefully that’s useful information if you are considering purchasing gloves soon. Its only a couple of weeks until Le Tour.

Until next time, safe cycling

Marv