Category Archives: Product Review

Product Review: Bontrager Velocis and Bellweather Windstorm winter gloves


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’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.


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


Product Review: Ritchey Carbon Pro Seatpost Upgrade

Dear Roulers,

Before I get started, Merry Christmas I hope you were on Santa’s nice list and received many cycling goodies.  I certainly did 😉

I own an oldish 2010 Wilier Lavaredo. I’m slowly been replacing the original bits of it, with hopefully, better bits. Yes, I’ve succumbed to that expensive disease that plagues cyclists, upgraditis. Of all the items that I’ve that I’ve considered replacing, it has been the seat post that’s caused me the most angst.

After purchasing shiny new Campagnolo Zonda wheels and Gatorskin tyres, I discovered that my newly shod steed was providing a fairly harsh ride. Later I discovered that almost all of this experience was due to excessive tyre pressure. However in the 3 or so weeks I endured that skittish, jittery ride, it made me ponder whether it was worth replacing the alloy seat post, handlebar and stem with carbon versions. Most of what I read seemed to indicate that other than reduced weight, vibration damping was a major benefit. So I started to assess replacement seat posts.

What I discovered was that there are literally hundreds of different types of seat posts, the main variables being composition (eg carbon or alloy), diameter, aerodynamic qualities, saddle position (straight or setback) and in-built dampening technology. It’s the fifth category that attracted my attention. It’s this one that seems to separate the vast majority of what’s available. The two stand out examples of this are the Specialized CG-R and the Canyon VCLS 2.0. Both have radically different approaches to improve ride comfort.

 2014-SpeciaizedCGR-Seatpost The CG-R seatpost post features 18mm of vertical compliance, Zertz vibration damping, and FACT carbon construction. Cylindrical aluminium head assembly adjusts fore-aft and tilt via a single bolt. Some online reviews suggest that the one bolt design meant fiddly fitting. However, testing by Velonews back in 2012 provided evidence that Zertz inserts reduce vibration greatly. Bikeradar provided a more recent review in mid-2014
 2012-Canyon-VCLS-Seatpost VCLS 2.0 uses two D-shaped carbon shafts placed back to back to form the post’s cylinder. Just above the maximum insert mark the two shafts split apart, with the Flip Head saddle clamp pivoting on their tops. A bolt at the base secures the shafts together and lets you slide them up and down in relation to each other to change the angle of the saddle. Unfortunately I can’t find any published testing on this but Bikeradar reviewed it in mid-2013. 

Now I would have happily parted with a few hundred dollars for one of these except for one small problem. They didn’t fit my bike. At a diameter of 27.2mm both seat posts required a shim to fit the 31.6mm diameter seat tube. Bother. I researched and couldn’t find anything conclusive about the merits of shims, carbon fibre seat posts and alloy frames.

That was deeply frustrating which is why I decided to KISS it and buy like for like replacing the Ritchey alloy post with its carbon cousin. They are pretty much identical except for the carbon fibre post. The saddle clamp and head work in the exactly the same way, providing me with a pretty simple swap over.

Ritchey Compo Alloy Ritchey Carbon Pro
 2010-Ritchey-Alloy-Seatpost  2015-Ritchey-Carbon-Seatpost

Fortunately I was armed with this 2012 Velonews Article written by Lennard Zinn   which indicated I should expect damping and flex from both the carbon construction and from the setback design. Happily I can say that Ritchey Pro Carbon Seatpost is the real deal and for the $75 I paid for it an absolute steal.

Until next time


Hello Rapha, Goodbye Pocket Money


Dear Roulers,

I guess it had to happen…finally Rapha have an outlet, all be it short lived, in Melbourne. I have to say… about bloody time guys. Every time I go to Sydney, I visit Rapha on Crown St and bemoan the fact that this is only place in Australia were you can see the full range of gear.

The Melbourne popup shop, located in Little Lonsdale St, follows the Rapha formula, providing good service, an interesting place to visit and a decent coffee service on the ground floor. It’s really well presented and gives a gentle nod to the history and culture of cycling via old black and white photos and heritage gear. The upper floor has a mechanics shop and meeting area.  Here’s a few pics from my last visit.

Rapha-1-sml Rapha-2-sml Rapha-3-sml
The front door Upstairs workshop A list of mountains I’ll never climb 😉

As Rapha clothing is designed for people that clearly have a lower percentage of body fat than I do, trying the gear on is essential. Yes I’m living XXL, although happily its a lot less snug than it used to be. I’m dreaming of the day that I’m able to invoke a jersey swap for a smaller size. Hopefully that offer will be around for a while yet.  Hopefully the store will stick around too.

Caio until next time…


Product Review: Campagnolo Zonda Clincher Wheelset


Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve almost recovered from the dizzy flu and the national disgrace of our male cricket team. This meant, I’ve finally spent some quality time on my bike and the new Campagnolo Zonda clincher wheels, I purchased in mid-July. As my readership would know, I’ve been suffering from severe upgraditis triggered by SBS cycling coverage. I’ve previously swapped out my pedals and shoes.

Marv's Wilier with Zondas fitted.

Marv’s Wilier with Zondas fitted.

After much ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ I decided that I really needed new wheels. As an aside much of what is written about wheel weight borders on twaddle. However, Leonard Zinn at Velonews seems to have a good grasp of the physics. For the record, lighter means faster…period and in wheels, heavier rims means they are harder to accelerate. So I swapped out the Fulcrum 7s for Campy Zondas. In theory, I should have reduced the overall weight of the bike by 300g.

I bought the wheels last month from Cecil Walker’s Elizabeth St for $750. As, the wag in the bike shop said, ‘Mate, you’re swapping fake Campy’s for real ones’. I didn’t have the courage to attempt the fitting of a new cassette and the bike needed a service. So I forked out the $250 difference on Wiggle price. Unfortunately, the maintenance order I put at the front desk must have been communicated via ‘chinese whispers’ and the mechanic didn’t fit the Gatorskin tyres that I wanted. I changed over the tyres later.

After 4 weeks of riding, I can say they were a good purchase. Initially, I had the tyres over inflated, so the combination of the new rigid rims and new tyres, gave a very harsh ride. The handling experience felt very jitterly. I was feeling amplified road conditions transmitted up the seat post, out of the rear frame geometry. It was only when the bike was travelling over smooth bitumen did the ride improve. Initially, I was thinking that I had wasted my money and was a bit grumpy.

Happily as the Gatorskin tyre pressure decreased, the ride quality improved. I’m inclined now to inflate the tyre to 5-7 kPA lower than suggested by the manufacturer. In the last week, I’ve felt that bike is much quicker. The times on my Garmin seem to evidence this.


Here’s the tech specs:

 20150814-Zondas-BR Front wheel weight: 670g
Rear wheel weight: 880g Campagnolo hub
Rim height: 26mm (front), 30mm (rear)
Rim width: 20.5mm
Spoke count: 16 (front), 21 (rear)
Compatibility: 9/10/11 speed.

Here’s what I think the pros and cons of the wheelset are:


  • Quite light 1550g or there abouts.
  • Very robust, the moulded rim looks and has so far been indestructible.
  • The sealed rim doesn’t require a rim strip.
  • There was visible build quality difference between the Fulcrum 7s and Zondas.
  • They seem to accelerate well and thanks to the hubs spin very smoothly.
  • The front rim is slightly shallower than the rear, this seems to provide more responsive, windproof steering.
  • The G3 spoke pattern on the rear wheel is IMHO aesthetically pleasing and seems to keep the rear wheel very stiff.
  • The paint scheme also matched the silver, black and red scheme of my Wilier’s frame.


  • Harsh ride if your tyres are over-inflated.
  • If you break a spoke, you’ll need to have it fixed by your bike shop mechanic. The sealed rim means the use of magnet to re-thread a spoke.
  • The spokes are proprietary, can only be sourced from Campy re-sellers.
  • Being Campy, replacement parts are pricey, particularly compared to the Shimano.

And for what its worth, if you need further proof, via wisdom of online reviews

Wiggle buyers rate them – 4.8 / 5
BikeRadar gave them – 4/5
Chain Reaction buyers them – 4.8 / 5

I’m giving them 4 Marvs.

Until next time,