Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Montane Jackets Reviews

Montane Cycling Jacket Review

Montane jackets have taken the UK cycling world by storm in the last few years, they are the cyclist's mountain friend, as if the name didn't hint at that! Montane make a range of goods from backpacks to climbing gear, but being a cycle shop let's focus on their lightweight high-tech cycling jackets

Montane Featherlite Jacket £59.99 - £79.99 RRP

The Featherlite comes in two versions, Velo & Velo Fem  as you can guess the Fem is ladies specific and both Velo and H20 are bike specific jackets. Therefore you have typical bike colour options of blue, black, red, white and yellow fluorescent. The big boast here is that the Featherlite is the world's lightest cycling jacket at 135g and packs down to the size of  an apple.  It is designed for spring - autumn rides during changeable weather and comes with low light visibility in the form of 360 degree reflective trims.  To keep you cool during the summer it has afterburner vents and breathing panels.  The fabric is PERTEX® Microlight Mini Rip-stop. It is even machine washable and comes packed with features such as high line soft collar and elasticated cuffs  as well as a long back to keep your bottom dry; all for an exceptionally reasonable price.

Montane FEATHERLITE VELO, Colour - White, Size - Large Montane FEATHERLITE VELO FEM, Colour - White, Size - Large Montane FEATHERLITE VELO, Colour - Blue, Size - Large Montane Velo Men Red M Montane FEATHERLITE VELO, Colour - Black, Size - Large Montane FEATHERLITE VELO, Colour - Fluoro, Size - Large
Featherlite Velo Fem Fluoro Featherlite Velo Blue Featherlite Velo Black Featherlite Velo Fluoro
Velo Fem

Montane Minimus Jacket £139.99 rrp

The Minimus's headline feature is its weight, at just 215g it even has a roll-away hood and when stuffed in its net bag fits neatly into a pocket. It is packed with features too, breathable, waterproof, multi-activity, wire peak, zip storm flap, taped seams, Pertex fabric, and single handed cord operations. Minimus is designed to work in high performance endurance activities but it is not bike specific which means your bottom is not covered from splashes and mud. It comes in two colours, black and vivid green. 

Montane MINIMUS JACKET, Colour - Black, Size - Large Montane MINIMUS JACKET, Colour - Vivid Green, Size - Large

Montane Hyena Jacket £125 rrp

This year round softshell jacket is windproof, breathable and water repellent. Although this is not a mountain bike specific jacket it is highly versatile and suitable for trails. Being both smart and fitted, it is suitable for street and light off-roading. The jacket wicks well and keeps you dry. It is made from Polartec Powershield fabric, which makes it warm and dry and keeps your temperature well regulated. Features include a draft flap, 'zip garage', velcro cuffs, flat locked seams,  and as usual a soft lined collar. It is an ideal multi sport multi use jacket which is tough and practical. 

Montane HYENA, Colour - Black, Size - Large

Montane Singletrack Jacket  £64.99 rrp

Billed as the "ultimate lightweight mountain bike weather protection" the Single Track boasts wind and showerproof protection for trials and all terrain cycling. Ideal for cooler days and early starts where the weather is a little unpredictable and you can carry it on your person in a 'stuffsack' so no need to decide beforehand. It is an excellent all year round jacket, made from PERTEX® and whilst amazingly thin, it is also very strong and does not snag or break up.  It is a snug fitting jacket with a soft lining, on the outside you are well illuminated with 360 degree reflective pipping. It is not fully waterproof, but will protect you from the occasional heavy downpour and dries out quickly.

Montane SINGLETRACK Jacket Colour - Red, Montane Singletrack Jacket, Colour - BlackMontane Singletrack Jacket, Colour - Blue

Montane Velocity Jacket £100 rrp

The Velocity comes in three colours: Blue, Black and (eye watering) Fluoro. It is designed for long distance touring, in particularly harsh conditions when you need protection from the weather so it is both waterproof and windproof. The lightweight nylon shell is PERTEX® breathable so you are not going to get wet either way and all colours have reflective pipping around the whole jacket for added visibility. As an added bonus the pockets are also waterproof so you can get away with keeping your gadgets close to hand. It also boasts a fleece colour and velcro cuffs - all that in just 270g. Finally it will stuff inside its own 'stuffsack'. 

VELOCITY, Colour - Fluoro cycling jack from Montane
Velocity, Fluoro
VELOCITY, Blue Jacket from Montane
Velocity Blue
VELOCITY, Colour - Black, jacket from Montane
Velocity Black

Monday, 21 January 2013

Brooks B17 Bike Saddle

Brooks are the undisputed king of  quintessential English cycling, the refined leather saddles have changed little in the last 140 years or so.  They are a cult in their own right and an icon of cycling, respected the world over and until the 1950s they were the largest saddle manufacturer in the world, with the Brooks B17 being the oldest in the range dating back over 100 years.

They use traditional techniques to this very day, and their ethos is one of 'the best' from design to material.  Believe it or not the machine they uses date back to 1949. So when you buy a books saddle you are actually buying a part of living history. Brook use the finest leather, it must be 5mm thick and comes from the 'butt' of the hide. There is little waste in the manufacturing process as off cuts are used to make mud-flaps and handlebar grips. Did you know it takes 3 days to make a  Brooks Saddle. It takes just a few hours to build a car.  So when you buy a Brooks saddle you are buying the best quality, hand made and most importantly comfortable saddle available. Value for money wise it is unbeatable, there is no mass production involved here, used in races and for touring all these saddles will eventually fit the rider perfectly, as the mould themselves to the rider.

Although Brooks has stood the test of time and been ridden by the worlds best riders in competitions, competitors would often keep their saddle when changing bike at the end of the season. The world around Brooks has changed dramatically. So how has Brooks survived so well? Because of their dedication to being the best  or because of the current trend in traditional saddles or because when you buy a new saddle Brooks are the only saddles that guarantee to fit? Well as you may have guessed it is a combination of all of the above. The price may be high but you are mostly likely going to fall in love and never buy a saddle again even when you change bikes.

The Brooks B17 maybe heavy, unpadded and take around 1000 miles to break in, but that is it, it does and the leather softens with use and fits your shape. When it comes to cost, stop looking around for different saddles with trial and error. So many of our customers want a gel filled cover or saddle and yet if only they would spend more in the short term they would benefit from a big long term gain. It is counter cultural to say this in a society obsessed with disposability. When it comes to will it work with my bike, well,  many serious riders don't mind the extra slight weight and the traditional style on their modern bike when it comes to it, comfort wins. Let's face it when you see a modern high tech Scott bike with a Brooks saddle on you don't think, that looks daft. You think, this guy knows what his doing and takes his ride seriously.

So if you are going to take your ride seriously you should also take good care of your saddle. It should not be left out in the rain, it should be covered with a Brooks Saddle Cover, and it should be waxed and maintained with the Brooks Saddle care pack.

The B17 is designed for long distance touring and trekking, so it is light weight in comparison with other models at 525g and prices start at just £69.99. So really if you think about it, a saddle that takes 3 days to make, by hand, made of premium quality leather, by experts with an eye for perfection and knowing you should never need another saddle, it is a bit of bargain. I know women who will spend £400 on a handbag every 6 months! For cycling Men this is really as good as it gets. We don't do leather handbags, but Brooks do, that's not for men, unless you live in Shoreditch and are really trendy, anyway....

A few of the options then, currently we have the: The Imperial; Ladies Select and Standard; Men's Select, and Special; World Traveller; Standard in Brown, Apple Green, Electric Blue, Honey, Mandarin, Black; The Titanium in Honey, Black and Brown.

Click on the one below that takes your fancy, have a look at their vital stats. Prices start from £69.99 and work up to £212.  There are few things in life that are worth while these days but this has to be out there on our top list. Of course Brooks Bags, and many other Brooks Saddles are also available and come from the same level of expertise and craftsmanship.

Standard £69.99

Buy a Brooks B17 Standard  Apple Green Bike Saddle
B17 Apple Green
Brooks B17 Standard - Brown Bike Saddle
B17 Brown
Brooks B17 Standard - Electric Blue Bike Saddle
B17 Electric Blue
Brooks B17 Standard - Honey Bike Saddle
B17 Honey
Brooks B17 Standard - Mandarin Bike Saddle
B17 Mandarin

Titanium £179.99

Brooks B17 Titanium Brown Saddle
B17 Titanium Brown
Brooks B17 Titanium Saddle - Black
B17 Titanium Black
Brooks B17 Titanium Saddle - Honey
B17 Titanium Honey

Special £89.99

Brooks B17 Special Bike Saddle - Brown
World Traveller  £211.99
Brooks B17 Saddle Select World Traveller

Imperial £89.99

Brooks B17 S IMPERIAL, Colour - Honey

Ladies Specific £124.99 and 69.99
Brooks B17 S Select, Ladies Saddle
B17 Ladies Select S 
Brooks B17 S Standard, Ladies Saddle, - Brown
B17 Ladies Select Brown 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Union 34 the Ultimate Cycling Bags

Last year we met the designers of Union 34 bags and clothing, they proudly showed us the upcoming Union 34 Shoulder bag and Union 34 Rucksack at a trade show. They went through every feature and we were very impressed and really proud that they are British designed too. Both bags have been thought about from ground up as a cyclist's commuter bag, every complaint and niggle you could ever have had whilst riding your bike with a bag has been dealt with.  Well, 8 months or so later these marvellous bags came into production and we are really stoked about them, even the papers have picked up on them.

So let's have a quick product review, as it is not often I get excited about a bag, but after suffering a sweaty back, damaged laptop, dirty bag and a lack of visibility for years, finally there is a solution to my problems, other than driving a car more often.

The Union 34 Rucksack / Pannier Cycling bag: 

RRP £89.99 Medium and £99.99 Large

All three bike rucksacks, available in two sizes.
Union 34 Rucksacks in 3 Colours starting from £89.99

They come in 3 colours  2 sizes and fit to your bike in 3 different ways. Colours: Grey; Black; and Green,  Sizes: Medium or Large (depending on your laptop size so 15 inch or 17 inch).
Fitting: your back; pannier rack left or right options; and the unique selling point, on your seat post. The seat-post adaptor is sold separately and you can travel with ease and without the need for a pannier rack fitting.

So the bag in action, it stays dry inside thanks to its 600dn water resistant fabric, so no damp documents and you can store your smart phone in there when the rain comes down. It has reflective strips, so those bike hating motorists can see you, and comes with a light strap and bottle holder. Now this is my favourite feature, it equiped with a removable washable rain-cover and integrated splash-back cover.  Finally! Yes finally, I can not only keep what's inside my bag dry from sweat and rain but also not worry about having to dry the bag out every day!

Buy the Union 34 seat post adaptor, it fits to your bike and allows you to attach the Union 34 Rucksack.
Union 34 Seat-post adaptor £29.99 (sold separately)
For some of you the real issue will be wearing office clothes after your ride to work, (others like lycra in the office) well there is a handy clothing storage areas, including shoes! and D Lock holder. So you can keep sweat free, dry clothes and not get lock dirt all over your clothes or faff around carrying your lock on your frame. (Dear Santa, oh please can I have one next year. please please)   Enough gushing, there is also an expandable document and stationary area too. So urm how did they get this all in? Don't believe me, well watch the video below.

Buy the Union 34 Shoulder Bag for cyclist now

Union 34 Pannier Shoulder Bag Cycling Bag

RRP £ 89

This pretty much the same deal in a different format - more traditional laptop bag style with a shoulder strap and lacking the seat-post mount option. This bag has to be used with a pannier unless you want to ride with it on your lap! The bag will universally fit onto almost any pannier and has a built in splash guard which just folds over on itself.  Again you have 3 colours right and left fitting but only one size at the moment.

So this urban beauty is ideal for city dwellers, and if it were me I would have loved it in a bright blue or another cool colour but these are early days and there will be more coming from the Union 34 stable next year. In fact the trade show is coming up again so I am going to be on their case!  For us here this is the smartest most well thought-out product on the market for cyclists this year and if things go well I might be able to afford one myself for keeps!

As you can see I am genuinely excited about it and here is the promised demo video for you, of course both bags are available on our dedicated Union 34 page.

Do you own one? Let us have your comments below!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Praxis Works Chain Rings - New for 2013.

Happy New Year! We wish all our customers the very best for 2013 and thank you for your continued support of Petra Cycles! 

This year we will be saying goodbye to Oval Concept as well as our Snow Sports ranges. However all is not lost we are also Saying hello to Carrera Helmets, Union 34 and Praxis Works, which is new to us and has also been a big hit in December. 

In this blog we will look at Praxis, then next time come back to our other new brands.

One Shot Forged Praxis Works Chainrings
Forged Praxis Bike Chainring
Praxis Works chainrings are designed in California, USA and their range covers, Road, Cyclo Cross, Single Speed and Mountain Bikes. Dave Earle is the founder and well known in the industry, in 2007 he set about using his engineering skills to create drivetrains using a superior manufacturing process that forges aluminium with incredible detail.  Praxis chainrings are harder and tougher and have more shifting features than CNC chainrings and all chainring are made in "One Shot". 

Praxis LevaTime Chainrings are the result of years of hard work, they give you the fastest shifting experience available on a bike. "Synchronised ramps are tuned with a specific inner ring, providing a clean channel for the chain to move upwards. Each individual tooth is sculpted to handle a specific duty. Along with that, precisely located scallops help control chain movement and prevent chain suck."  
Many of our customers who have upgraded to Praxis have reported very noticeable improvements on their rides, getting better responses in shifting when they demand it. 

Explains how LevaTime chainrings from Praxis work

So can I run Praxis on my bike? These beautifully engineered chainrings are highly compatible to most standard cranks. So in short yes most likely you can. The road rings work with any 110 or 130 BCD and the MTB with 104/64 or 12080BCD. It is also fine to mix and match your drivechain components. They recommend using KMC,  Shimano or Campy chains. Have a look here for further information and a very comprehensive Praxis FAQ