• Precision Hydration Sweat Testing and Sports Hydration Review

    Hydration Salt Sodium Water

    Precision Hydration is a hydration brand that specialises in sweat testing and sports hydration for serious athletes. It was founded in 2011 by Andy Blow, a keen triathlete, Ironman, and Sports Science graduate. He co-founded the brand with heart surgeon Dr Raj Jutley after meeting him at a sporting event and discovering that his poor sporting performance was mostly down to poor hydration and salt loss. Together they developed the concept of Precision Hydration and now have a strong team behind them.

    Personalised Hydration

    Precision Hydration has provided sports hydration to top class athletes so I was excited to try out their products and see what they had to offer. I took their free online sweat test to see how much sodium I lose when I sweat and they sent me a personalised package based on my results. This is what they do for all their customers as standard which is part of their USP, as Andy and Raj have researched how important it is to consider that different people lose different amounts of sodium when they sweat.

    The results of my sweat test told me that I lose quite a lot of sodium when I sweat, which didn't come as a surprise as I've had large salt crystals form on my neck after a race before! The key things to look out for are stinging eyes when you sweat and white marks on your clothes, these are indicators that you lose a lot of sodium when you sweat. PH sent me 3 boxes of salt sachets, one of their PH 1500 and 2 of the PH 1000 packets. The PH 1500 is the highest they send and was for me to preload before a big race or event. I tested out the products during two big events - the Garmin Ride Out which is a 50-mile advanced bike ride and the Kent Coastal Half Marathon which I did two days later. Both of these events were super tough and I sweated a lot so it was a great chance to test out the hydration support. 

    Water bottle salt supplement hydration racing

    Taste

    In the past, I've taken sodium supplements after ultra endurance events, but only the standard Diarolyte and I had to down it while holding my nose and trying not to gag. Precision Hydration has flavoured the supplements nicely so that it's not a horrendous chore trying to down it before the event. When mixed with 500ml of water (or perhaps more if you'd like it a little weaker) this supplement isn't too bad at all.

    Precision Hydration Sports Supplements

    Performance Benefits

    The PH 1500 sachet is three times stronger than other electrolyte drinks so you know you're getting proper performance benefits and this is more serious than a drink of Lucozade, for example. One of the biggest benefits that Precision Hydration boast is that their supplements can help prevent you getting cramps while you're training and racing. This is obviously a huge benefit, especially when you're trying to perform at your best. It's fast-absorbing and easy on the stomach so you don't feel any negative side effects after taking it. 

    The PH 1000 is designed to be taken with water while you're racing and training to keep your salt levels topped up and to keep you extra hydrated. If you just keep drinking water while you sweat, you'll end up diluting your blood sodium levels and will end up with severe cramping and terrible performance. It could also make you rather ill, so it's definitely worth keeping your electrolytes topped up while you sweat. 

    Products Hydration Sports Water Salt Racing

    Beyond The Products

    Precision Hydration is a really special brand in that they live and breathe their ethos. All the staff behind the products are serious athletes who have undertaken incredible challenges and achieved amazing results. Being co-founded by an Ironman athlete and a heart surgeon means this brand couldn't really go wrong and has a lot of potential to grow and expand into a huge global brand. Using personal experience to create useful products is paramount for success and that's exactly what PH has done. Their tailored advice and hydration solutions are top class and means that their customers really are receiving the best. 

    Take their free sweat test and see for yourself why Precision Hydration is your best option for sports hydration.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Garmin Edge 1030 Review

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer

    The Garmin Edge 1030 is the latest bike computer release by Garmin and offers new features which are very exciting to dedicated cyclists who have been wanting more from their Edge 1000 or 820. This review will look into the device in detail, offering perspective if you're looking to buy a bike computer for the first time or if you're wondering whether it's worth upgrading your current model.

    The first part of this review will be for the benefit of those who have never used a bike computer before and will spend more time covering the basics of the device. If you are already well versed in Garmin's products and just want to know how it differs from your current device, jump to the next section.

    What are the benefits of using a bike computer?

    If you're thinking of buying a bike computer, you're probably already a fairly competent cyclist, or perhaps you've only just got into the sport but have excelled at it quickly. Chances are you already have an activity tracker, fitness tracker, or smart watch as well and track your rides with that. Having a bike computer gives you more metrics and can also be used for navigation which will prove vital when cycling away from home.

    You'll be able to see the gradient of the hill you're climbing in real time and also how many metres to the top which can be motivational if you're struggling.

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer

    You can create courses on Garmin Connect and send them to your bike computer which takes the stress out of navigating while cycling and can also spark more creativity for taking new routes rather than just always following the same old roads.

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer Review Sundried

    When paired with other devices such as a chest strap heart rate monitor and power meter pedals, you'll be able to get a whole world of advanced metrics including average power, FTP, and VO2 max.

    What's in the box?

    When you buy your Garmin Edge 1030 bike computer, the main component you need is the device itself. You also get a charger cable which is USB so can plug into your computer/laptop and into a charging port. You also get the bracket and mount that the device sits on which screws on to your handlebars very easily. I did have to remove my bell for it to fit though so if you already have a busy set up with bells and reflectors etc you may have to make some sacrifices. There is also a user manual, but who reads that in reality?

    Setting up your new bike computer

    Even if you're not a techno-whizz, it should be fairly straight forward to set up your device. You will need a Garmin Connect account, but if you've made it this far it's probably safe to assume you already have one. You'll need to pair your phone which is done very easily by following on-screen instructions and is done with Bluetooth. If you want to send courses to your device, you'll also need to set up Garmin Express which is also done by following simple on-screen instructions from your computer or laptop. Once your route is sent to your device, you'll be able to follow it on your ride without any additional devices or sensors/accessories.

    Connect IQ is like the app store for Garmin devices. Anyone can create an app for it, in fact there's over 1,000 online now. You can download apps, widgets, clock faces and more to customise your device. 

    Is it worth replacing my current bike computer with the Edge 1030?

    The Edge 1030 has some really nifty new features which will come as a relief to those who use their bike computer a lot. There will always be features that a device doesn't have that you wish it did, and some of your prayers have been answered with this release.

    Enhanced Group Track and Live Track

    This is probably the most exciting new feature from the Edge 1030. A lot of cyclists find it a pain having to constantly stop to get out their phone to answer a call, or likewise having to stop if someone else on the ride needs to stop to get their phone out. With the Edge 1030 and enhanced Live Track, you can now respond to calls and texts with pre-canned messages. So if your partner texts, you can send a quick response of 'I'm nearly home' or reply to a call from the office saying 'Can't talk now, I'm riding.' 

    Garmin Live Track Group Message Text Call

    The other exciting new feature is enhanced Group Track. If you're connected to your buddies on Garmin Connect, you can tell the others in your ride that you've punctured without having to get your phone out. The message will only be sent within your group and will allow you to quickly and efficiently send a message out.

    Create Courses

    On the Navigation screen, you can drop pins and create a course wherever you are. Although this gives a lot of freedom, the accuracy can be a little off and I found that on a 35-mile route I created, there was 1-mile worth of extra little loops that my device had added in by a slip of the finger or just of its own accord. For instance, my Edge 1030 wanted me to turn right into a station car park and then come straight back out again instead of just cycling past. 

    Trendline Popularity Routing

    The final and most exciting feature of this release is new popularity routing. There are thousands of Garmin users all over the world creating routes and cycling their favourite trails and time trials. The experts at Garmin have taken this feature and put it to use on your device. New Trendline popularity routing uses billions of miles of ride data from Garmin Connect to provide riders with the best road, mountain or gravel routes that are collected from those most travelled by fellow cyclists. Using the improved and revamped Course Creator in Garmin Connect allows cyclists to generate even more bike-friendly routes based on popularity data.

    You can add which way you want to go (ie I want to go into the mountains or not). Popularity routing uses activity from other riders so you can use the best routes that other riders use, so when creating a course your device will send you the way that other cyclists go so you'll have a better route. This also means you can easily find local club rides. 

    Improved Features

    These are the features that you already find on other devices but have been improved for this release. 

    The Edge 1030 shows your training load, fitness, stress etc. visually rather than just metrically. For the Edge 1000, this was buried within a few different menus meaning it was a pain to find, but that's not the case for the 1030 because Garmin understand that people want to see these stats quickly before they ride. You can use your wrist-based heart rate monitor in broadcast mode to get enhanced data, but for stats like FTP you'll need a chest strap, which gives you more accuracy and data anyway. 

    Swipe down for more menus like on a smart phone. These are general device settings rather than user-profile specific, like battery life etc. From here, swipe across for text and call alerts and controls, weather etc. With everything on (GPS, data etc), the battery will last around 20 hours, making it more than capable at lasting for even the longest of rides.

    The pause/stop button has moved from the front of the screen to the bottom to make more space for a bigger screen. What I personally found was that this made it very fiddly and tricky to hit, for example while pausing at a half-way stop on a long ride. On the Edge 1000 the pause button is on the front which I think is a lot more user-friendly. 

    Verdict

    The Garmin Edge 1030 is a top-of-the-line bike computer and for good reason. The experts at Garmin live by their sport and test the devices to get the most for their users. This shows in the intricacy and innovation found in this device. Features that cyclists both amateur and elite will have been waiting for are finally here, meaning your ride can be more accurate and seamless than ever. I'd say it's worth upgrading your current device if you use a bike computer often and especially if you do a lot of long rides with a club or group. If you are a very casual rider, you'll probably be okay with an older model or even just with the basic stats given by a GPS tracking watch. 

    You can buy the Garmin Edge 1030 for £499.99 from the Garmin website or other retailers like Evans Cycles or Rutland Cycling. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Castelli Flanders Base Layer Review

    Castelli Flanders Base Layer Review

    When you buy a special item to add to your collection it is a nice bonus when it arrives in its own custom box. I see this leaning towards a nice stocking filler for a grown up cyclist! 

    Under Arm Technology

    The Castelli Flanders Base Layer features perforated 100% polyester mesh underarms for additional cooling. On my first test ride it was 9 degrees Celsius which isn't overly cold, but cold enough to layer up, and I found that the mesh does allow your arms to breathe.

    As with most base layers, not many people will actually see it when you're wearing it, which is a shame as this is some seriously stylish underwear. The detail on the back has the same attention as you would expect from a jersey.

    Castelli Flanders Base Layer Reverse

    Fit

    This top has a very long body which is just what you want from a base layer. There's nothing worse than a cold midriff when your top rides up as you're cycling! The fit is snug and follows the contours of a typical cyclist's frame.

    Light-weight

    As this top is so lightweight it is very quick to dry; I put it on a radiator and it was dry in a few minutes. The lightweight design also means that you will forget you are wearing it so it isn't big and bulky under the rest of your cycling wear. It dos not feel like a thermal item of clothing if that is what you are used to and if you are riding in deep winter, you'll want to wear two of these. As Castelli recommend, doubling base layers is very effective.

    Base Layer under Jersey

    Why Flanders?

    Flanders is a town in Belgium that acts as the perfect location for cyclists of all levels and abilities. Visit in spring for the Tour of Flanders, famous for the cobbled climbs. Riding that takes in history, beautiful scenery, and plenty of climbs and amazing roads. If you visit in the spring or winter be sure to take your new matching Castelli base layer.

    Verdict

    Overall this is an excellent top. Take care removing it when you are hot and sweaty as it clings to your skin. It is pretty thin and I can imagine if you pull it off in a hurry it could tear.

    Posted by Daniel Puddick
  • Lifeline 375 Lumen Front Line Light

    Lifeline Front Light Review

    The Lifeline 375 Lumen Front Line Bike Light is simple to use and very affordable. Weighing in at 115g, it isn't too heavy and from the casual to the committed cyclist, it offers a great light that will see you down some pretty dark roads.

    Some people prefer something with a lot of Lumens, and with lights going much brighter than this, there is a lot of competition on the market. However, lights with more Lumens do end up coming with a higher price tag. It is worth considering what you expect your light to do before spending over £100 on one bright enough to light up a whole road.

    The Lifeline is perfect for a number of activities both on and off road. I tried it on well-lit streets as well as darker paths and felt safe in that I could be seen by other road users as well as see in front of me.

    The light has three modes, all accessed by a single button on top. The first mode is high-beam which will last around an hour. If you use this one constantly it is worth being aware that it will run out quite quickly and I would only advise using this when you really need it due to its time limitations.

    The second mode is low light which will last a respectable 4 hours and this is perfect for commuting. The third mode is a flashing mode, again good for commuting and increasing visibility and you get around 9 hours in this mode. If your journey is a mix of dark paths and lit streets, it is really easy to quickly change between modes.

    Charging the light uses a USB cable meaning you can easily recharge it at work before your journey home. It takes 4 hours from a dead light to be fully charged again.

    It comes with a really easy-to-use bike mount and has three rubber size adjusters, fitting the majority of handlebars. It is quick to get the light on and off the mount, even with gloves on. The same goes for operating the light with gloves on. The button is easy to press with or without gloves.

    The light is hooded meaning that the beam has a slightly longer top than the bottom. This works really quite well and doesn't then blind oncoming traffic, whilst being bright enough for you to see.

    Testing the water resistance of the light wasn't difficult in Scotland. It has rained a lot lately. It is worth noting that the light isn't waterproof (nor does it claim to be), but it is water-resistant so it will withstand a short shower.

    The price of the light is really not bad. If you look around it can be cheaper and it is a good light for the price. It is easy to use and perfect as a multi-purpose commuter/weekend rider light.

    Posted by Daniel Puddick
  • POC Crane Commuter Helmet Review

    POC Crane Commuter Cycle Helmet

    POC is a Swedish company whose mission is to save lives with its safety gear. The company was founded in 2005 and made its first marks at the ISPO Trade Show in Munich where it primarily addressed the skiing market. At the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics, US alpine ski racer Julia Mancuso won the gold medal in giant slalom and pictures of her wearing a POC helmet and goggles were published all over the world. Since then, POC has evolved and developed protection for different categories including free-skiing, snowboarding and bike disciplines.

    For commuting on your bike, you may not want to wear a racing helmet, so the POC Crane commuter helmet is the perfect solution. The POC commuter helmet is a cross between a typical skate-style helmet, an aero road helmet, and a standard commuter style helmet. 

    Features

    • Dent-resistant construction
    • Progressive core dual density liner
    • Lightweight design 
    • Full wrap shell for increased durability
    • Odour-control technology

    POC Crane Commuter Helmet

      The commuter helmet is a term apparently used first by by Bell in 2004 when they introduced their Metro model. To most it means a rounded in shape helmet rather than the typical elongated road helmet that we are more used to seeing. 

      POC Crane Commuter Helmet Cycling

      Protection

      Protection should be the first thing you consider when buying a helmet, but realistically it may not be a consideration at all. Most people I know when buying a helmet, 90% of the choice is looks and colour. Let's assume the CE mark will protect us. It's a polycarbonate shell, so that will take care of most knocks and bumps. It has a thick layer of polystyrene material inside that (of course it will be a more fancy and dense substance than what your TV is packaged in) and plenty of padding. I would say as helmets go this will offer top protection. 

      Ventilation

      Ventilation is a big consideration when buying a typical road helmet, especially if you are planning a big tour in Europe in summer, although it is probably less of a consideration in the UK. This helmet has 10 large vents and the padding keeps a nice air flow round your head making it surprisingly well vented. 

      Padding

      Being used to a typical road helmet, I found this helmet much thicker in material and thicker in padding. I am not crash testing this, or hitting it with a hammer, but I would rather be wearing this helmet if I was to take a blow to the top of my head. The padding makes this helmet feel like it is sitting on a velvet cushion on your head. Luxury at its finest!

      In the rain

      There is no visor on this style of helmet so any rain is coming straight down. However, as the material is fairly thick around your entire head it does have about 1 inch overlap on your head. Less than a typical visor but still enough to keep a bit of rain out of your eyes. 

      POC Crane Commuter Helmet Profile

      Fit and Adjustments

      POC Crane Commuter Helmet Magnetic Strap

      Under the chin, the commuter bike helmet fastens with a magnetic clip and the length can be adjusted from one side. At the rear of the helmet are two push fits so you can change each side independently to get a snug fit on your skull. It is very easy to get a nice snug fit and it stays in place. Sunglasses will sit under the straps on this helmet. The straps come from the centre and meet under your chin. It is not possible to have the arms of your sunglasses over the straps. 

      Verdict

      Overall, this is a really comfy helmet and it feels solid and well made. It is definitely a design statement and if you are after a commuter-shaped helmet then this is an excellent choice. Great fit, nice padding, and importantly looks very cool. 

      Posted by Daniel Puddick
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