Cycling Inspired things

Just for the tight ….


The Red Hook Crit is more than just a serious race attracting pro and amateur riders alike from all over the world. It’s also a trendy party full of spandex-clad tattooed bods with great legs riding chic single speeds.

Equipment Reviews Gravel Bikes

Gravel shorts – nice but pricey


I like the look of these but not got the cash to splash ….. well i do but i cant bring myself to



The first specific pant for gravel race or rides.
When riding on the gravel, you need to have the comfort of a free-ride short combined with the fit of a bib short. In and out of the saddle challenging the dirty roads but comfortable when riding on the asphalt. The Kyoto gravel pants is the perfect short for this. You can use it with or without a bib short layered underneath for additional comfort. Its slim fit ensures the rider the perfect match between aerodynamic needs and comfort during long rides, preventing the pant from snagging into the bicycle complex parts.

• Performance fabric to wick away sweat and help keep you dry and comfortable
• Elastic waist with front draw cord for a snug, adjustable fit
• Elastic inseam gusset to prevent pad area scratch
• Side pockets and back zip bonded pocket for item storage
• Vented hem for range of motion
• Reflective elements remain visible in dark riding conditions
• Slim Fit for performance

Inspired things Training Tips

Hill climbing – flatten those hills


Want to flatten any hill you encounter?

For the UK’s road racers, early autumn signals the start of a kind of silly season. Throughout September and October, you’ll find cyclists searching out two-mile-long virtual cliff faces so they can take part in hill climbs – short, sharp and painful uphill time trials.

For many of us, just the idea of voluntarily finding a mile or two at 25 percent and riding up it as fast as possible makes lungs burn and gives a sicky taste in the mouth, but even if climbing makes up just part of your ride rather than the entire ride the training tips below will help you ascend with confidence.

Sustain your cadence

With a focus on cadence – the speed at which you spin your pedals – Lance Armstrong has perhaps done more for climbing as a discipline than any other rider. Using lower gears and a higher cadence is the single most important rule in climbing according to Matt Clinton, a former UK hill climbing champion who competed on a singlespeed.

“Every racing climb I’ve won has been on a single, fixed gear,” says Clinton, “but you need a race without any downhills otherwise you’ll be left with dust in your eyes. There isn’t that same mentality anymore about going for big gears and bragging about tackling climbs in your top ring. It’s much more efficient to twiddle your way up a hill rather than grinding and zig-zagging your way up.”

On longer climbs you should always aim to spin smaller gears from the saddle says Guy Andrews, author of The Cyclist’s Training Manual. “This doesn’t mean continuously spinning at 120rpm like Armstrong,” he says, “but a steady cadence of around 85-95rpm in a gear that feels relatively easy.

On longer climbs you should always aim to spin smaller gears from the saddle

“The key is to be able to sustain your cadence and level of effort for the entire duration of the climb by adjusting your gears to suit the gradient – and key to that is doing some homework about the climb so you know its length and gradient, and can judge the level of effort you can realistically sustain.”

If you do have to get out of the saddle – to overcome a gradient change or to ease aching muscles, especially on longer climbs – Andrews says you should keep pressure on the pedals and rise up a gear to maintain speed.

Stay in your saddle

Although there may be times when you need to stand, sitting down is a more efficient way to climb than standing up says Stuart Dangerfield, who won the National Hill Climb Championships five times in the 1990s.

Standing up wastes energy, he says, because you’re having to support your body weight as well as propelling yourself skywards. “If you’re always getting out of your saddle on climbs it’s a sign that you’re gearing’s wrong or you need to work on your power,” he says.

Dangerfield’s view is supported by the results of separate studies carried out by the University of Franche-Comté in France and Utah State University in the US. The French researchers found that standing was less efficient – you use more oxygen – when intensity is lower than 75 percent VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can take in and use during exercise].

The Americans reported that on a five percent incline sitting down is 3.7 percent faster than standing at a high intensity power output of 400W. However, the US study went on to report that the speed difference between standing and sitting is negligible above an incline of 15 percent.

Richard Allen, author of Elite Performance: Cycling, agrees. “Standing up can rapidly eat into limited energy stores,” he says, “and cause you to suffer fatigue much earlier than would have otherwise been the case. But for group rides, going into oxygen debt can be worth it if it means staying with a fast-moving group and making significant energy savings later on.”

Break a hill into manageable sections

“So much of climbing is psychological rather than physical,” says Jim Henderson, a five-time UK hill climbing champion (1998-2001 and 2003). “On longer rides particularly, it’s important to break a hill down into sections, to see it as a series of minor victories rather than get daunted by the scale of the whole ride.”

His advice is to play it out gradually, changing your focus on each bend, and to think about what’s going to happen 10 metres ahead, not over the next 10 miles. “One trick I’ve learned over the years,” he says, “is to count revs as I’m pedalling to stop my mind racing off and panicking, especially when it gets really steep. It keeps you motivated at the same time as focusing on something genuinely important.”

Think about what’s going to happen 10 metres ahead, not over the next 10 miles

Focusing too far into the future can also shred your nerves. Jamie Edwards, sports psychologist and founder of elite sports consultancy Trained Brain, says: “The weight of the task in front of you makes you nervous, burning huge amounts of precious glycogen and taking you away from the calm zone where elite cyclists perform best. You’re focusing too far ahead, asking yourself too many ‘what ifs’ rather than focusing on the present.”

To combat nerves, practise structured ‘belly breathing’; while holding the brake hoods with a wide grip to open your chest for better air intake, breathe in through your nose to a count of three, pause, then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of four.

“It’s a similar principle to using a paper bag for panic attacks,” explains Edwards. “The longer breaths activate the parasympathetic nervous system and actually slow down your heart rate which helps you develop a more normal breathing pattern, reducing anxiety.” Focusing on the counting helps keep your mind in the here and now.

Work on your power output

Too many riders think it’s impossible to get the required training in to be a good hill climber if they either don’t live near a major mountain range or have a full time job. Not James Dobbin, National Hill Climbing Champ in ’06 and ’07, who commutes on a far-from-mountainous route between Bath and Bristol in the south west of England every working day.

“It’s about power output,” he says, “and that can be achieved on the flat too, if you put your mind to it. I do short, intense intervals on my daily commute from Bath to Bristol, 30 seconds at over 30mph, ease off, then repeat. And I get to know my local hills and know what time I should be aiming for – it’s like a personal VO2 max test.

“When it’s dark I do what all half serious cyclists do and get on my turbo trainer, but again, I focus more on intensity than counting hours or miles in the saddle.”

Elite cycling trainer Andy Wadsworth suggests jump squats for improving your power output off the bike. “The jump squat combines the explosive strength of plyometric exercises with the strength and control of the power lifts,” he says.

Here’s how: using a pair of dumb-bells that add up to about 30 percent of the weight you can squat one time, stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the dumb-bells at arm’s length next to your thighs, your palms facing each other.

With your chest out and your shoulders back, assume a squat position by drawing your hips back and bending your knees so that your legs form a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, jump explosively while exhaling fully to straighten out your body up and into the air.

Keep your arms by your side, lifting the dumb-bells as you rise. On your descent, inhale and draw your hips back while bending your knees to softly land into the starting position.

“Pause only momentarily before you begin your next jump to get your muscles firing as quickly as possible,” says Wadsworth. Try five to eight jumps in a row, and concentrate on achieving maximum height in each jump, landing as softly as possible.

In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found that athletes who did such jump squats improved their vertical leap height by 17 percent in just eight weeks – their 20m sprint times improved by similar amounts.

Lose weight

“What amazed me with how well Bradley Wiggins did in [the 2009] Tour de France is his power-to-weight ratio, which is what it’s all about,” says Chris Boardman, four-time UK hillclimbing champ. “Brad obviously had the power from his track work, so he must have lost a whole load of weight to get the results he did, especially in the hills.”

Basically, Boardman says, you have to improve one or the other to better your performance – if you’ve got a couple of spare stones to lose, you’re much better off dieting or even spending some cash on a personal trainer than splashing it on a lighter bike, which will only shave grams off your total weight.

You’re much better off dieting than buying a lighter bike, which will only shave grams off your total weight

“I’m naturally quite skinny,” he says, “so I work on my power with interval training, but most regular sportiveriders probably need a bit of both. It sounds obvious, but think how much you spend on slightly lighter components without looking at your body.”

Take a 200lb (90kg), 5ft 10in cyclist – applying 200 watts of power on a flat course, he or she will do about 20mph. If they dropped their weight to 160lb (73kg) and applied the same power to the pedals, their speed would increase to 21mph. Transfer that situation to a 10 percent hill and applying the same power, the cyclist would up their speed from 4.2mph to 5.1mph.

“The key to any weight loss has to be gradual and healthy,” says Anita Bean, author of Food For Fitness. Try incorporating gradual changes to your diet. Start by increasing your intake of nuts – 70 almonds per day, to be exact. That’s the number that people in a City of Hope National Medical Centre, California experiment ate daily for six months to drop eight per cent of their body weight.

“They’re a nutrient-dense food with healthy monounsaturated fat, protein and fibre, and make you feel full,” says Bean. Keep a bowl on your desk and grab a handful when you’re feeling peckish – you’ll be less likely to overeat at meals or to snack on rubbish. And don’t forget to drink. “The worry with hill climbers is they might not fully hydrate prior to a race,” says Bean, “which could literally be fatal.”

Swapping a steady slog for intervals will shed pounds too, say Australian researchers at the University of New South Wales. Over 15 weeks, men who cycled hard for eight seconds then lightly for 12 seconds for 20 minutes, three times a week, lost 6lb – three times more than those who exercised at a continuous pace for 40 minutes. This perfect ratio eats into glycogen energy reserves faster while allowing for aerobic recovery.

So there you have it: spin, sit, sprint, diet… and you’ll fly up those hills.

Cycling Equipment Reviews Gravel Bikes

Teravail ….. video

The Teravail Galena tires meet the crushed limestone gravel of the infamous Almanzo route.

Cycling Inspired things

Broken hand – grumpy man

One week since the fall whilst mtb’ing in remote Knoydart and my mood is rock bottom just like my face was on the trail.

For some reason the cast is making me hold my arm different and my back muscles have spasmed giving me back ache. God I am grumpy – even made my girlfriend stay at her own place to avoid this sulky grump I have become.

Despite sleeping like a baby (as in Waking ever 3 hours and crying) I was up at 7am and decided to spin for 20min to loosen up the body. Let’s see #ifthatworks 

Cycling Gravel Bikes

le gravel de France

nice wee film … from these bike boys

Equipment Reviews Gravel Bikes Inspired things

Steel – the different types of steel in bike frames

I was and still am slightly confused – there is a lot of steel out there, chromoly 4130, reynolds from 501 to 953, columbus thron to spirit – so I have googled, pilfered, condensed and accumulated some of the findings. I am no expert – for more info click on links. They follow after explanation roughly in order of strength, rarity and of course price


What is Steel?

Steel is an iron/carbon alloy that, with the addition of several elements such as chrome, nickel, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, etc., develops specific characteristics such as tenacity, fatigue resistance, workability and insensitivity to overheating.

Al vs Steel vs Ti

Why choose steel?

Steel ensures high performance at really low weights. The new alloys give a weight close to that of the aluminum alloys, together with a perfectly balancable elastic response, that is appreciated in particular on long rides. Unlike aluminum, steel is substantially stable over time, not requiring onerous maintenance cycles. If properly rust-treated, under normal conditions of use, it has almost unlimited fatigue resistance.
It allows frames to be built with excellent performances, rigid yet comfortable, suitable for any type of use.


Reynold’ latest innovation takes steel alloys into a new league. By utilising a specially developed martensitic-aging stainless steel alloy that can achieve tensile strength in excess of 2000 MPa, with a strength-to-weight ratio that can take on the best in the world. The resilient ride of steel, very high impact strength (similar to armour plating) and fatigue resistance combine to provide an extraordinary material that can now be used for tubing.

Reynolds work with directly with fabricators to provide recommended production techniques, so that the challenges inherent in using an extremely hard metal can be overcome.

Why it works:

UTS: 1750-2050 MPa


Columbus XCR

In cooperation with Trafiltubi ed Aubert & Duval, the new Columbus seamless tube set in stainless steel named XCr, is created. Starting form a specific request of the military industry, looking for a valid substitute for cadmium plated temper hardening steels which could no longer be produced because of their highly polluting manufacturing process, a new martensitic stainless steel with high content of Chromium and Molybdenum and Nickel as alloy elements which increase the mechanical and weldability characteristics, was created. The martensitic main structure contains traces of austenite that reduces the possibility of crack formation especially during the welding process.
The great weldability properties of the new XCr stainless steel, together with its high fatigue resistance and its extraordinary geometrical stability at high temperatures, make this material the natural element for welded structures, such as bicycle frames. Thanks to the high stiffness/weight and UTS/weight ratios (better than titanium and aluminium alloys) together with the elevated characteristics of corrosion resistance, it is possible to manufacture triple butted tubes to build extremely light and indestructible frames.

Why it works:

Mechanical characteristics  UTS = 1250-1350 MPa.

NOTE: It’s the most expensive steel tubeset in the world, but it’s also the only seamless stainless steel tubeset available; Reynolds’ 953 is a welded tube.



Reynolds 853


The benefits of air-hardening steels are particularly noticeable in the weld area where, unlike conventional steel alloys, strength can actually increase after cooling in air immediately after welding. 853 is heat-treated to give high strength and damage resistance, and the steel properties allow thin walls to be used, so that lower weight but fatigue-resistant structures can be made.

Why it works:

UTS: 1250-1400 MPa, density 7.78 gm/cc
Favourite Quote – a high end Reynolds 853 with SRAM red and/or dura ace for the person with money who wants a non carbon racing bike option 


NOTE The main advantage of Reynolds 853 is its ability to air harden after joining, a characteristic not shown by other chrome molybdenum / manganese molybdenum materials presently on the market. When building frames using either TIG welding or high temperature brazing, above 1600 degrees, the joints increase in strength as the frame cools to room temperature.

 LUG CONSTRUCTION IS THE PREFERRED METHOD OF JOINING 853. It allows a much larger area to be heated than tig welding which concentrates the heat to a very small area at the weld. This completely goes against the “AIR HARDENING” building philosophy of the material and adds nothing to the strength of the joint. It is however a much cheaper joining method, requiring less time and skill to perform.

Due to the superior mechanical properties of 853 tubing, there are several benefits which will translate directly to the cyclist. The wall thickness of 853 has been reduced to 0.4 mm, a full 0.1 mm thinner than Reynolds other top of the line 753 tubing. This translates into a frame weight of under 3 pounds 5 ounces for a 56 cm frame. The final significant advantage is the increased stiffness of the frame and its ability to transmit all of the cyclist power into forward motion.

Reynolds 753 – MANGANESE-MOLY heat-treated steel:

The 753 tubeset was the first heat-treated tubeset in the race bicycle industry, based on the same alloy as 531. Used mainly in lugged and fillet-brazed framesets, Reynolds implemented a Certfication procedure for builders who wished to use the tubing, as it helped builders understand the requirement to avoid overheating the thin wall tubes. Most builders used silver-brazing for the fabrication of frames, due to the low melting point, so that 753 tubing was not annealed inadvertantly. All 753 tubes are now available in the same dimensions within the Reynolds 725 brand tubing.

753 is now only available to special order and subject to a high minimum quantity due to raw material constraints.

Why it works:

UTS: 1100-1340 MPa
Favourite Quote –   “your back just doesn’t get sore on this bike”

NOTE This was the benchmark by which all high performance bicycle frames have been judged for the last 20 years. 753 is among the strongest tubes currently available for the manufacture of high performance, light weight, ultra responsive road frames. This tubing uniquely combines terrific power transmission ability, lively ride, responsiveness and a high degree of comfort, while producing some of the lightest frames available.

Unfortunately 753 frames will never be seen in great numbers. Frame builders having access to this material is closely controlled.  Builders must be certified as to their proficiency in low temperature silver brazing 753 by Reynolds. Only after having passed a structural test on their work will they be certified and sold these tubesets. Another drawback is the cost of silver brazing material as compared to that of brass, approximately $150.00 per pound compared to $9.00. Having to keep the area to be joined at a maximum of  1200 degrees, tig welders are immediately ruled out, along with their ability to mass produce 753 frames. It is primarily for these reasons that 753 frames are not offered by the bicycle giants. Highly skilled labor and time consuming hand work are not the direction large companies wish to move in.


Using an industry standard alloy with mechanical properties similar to our famous 753 brand, Reynolds mandrel butt and heat-treat this alloy so that thinner walls can be used compared to non-heat-treated steels. 725 can be TIG welded and used within our “Designer Select” combinations including 853 and 631 tubes.

Why it works:

UTS: 1080-1280 MPa

Based on a 0.3% carbon steel alloy which has been heat-treated and back-tempered for increased ductility. The chromium content promotes hardenability and resistance to oxidation. The molybdenum works in conjunction with the chrome to stabilize the alloy and maintain strength after heat-treatment and in use.

Columbus Spirit – Heat treated

NIOBIUM is a special steel with manganese, chrome, nickel, molybdenum and niobium. Columbus’s special chemical composition, the combined effect of strengthening for precipitation and reducing the alloy grain size are incredibly enhanced compared to standard steels. Niobium proves more effective than Vanadium as an alloy-strengthening agent. After specific processes of progressive drawing and forming, NIOBIUM undergoes a special heat treatment that gives the steel its final characteristics. It is a steel designed to provide superior mechanical characteristics and higher resistance to environmental effects than conventional carbon steels. A serious choice for a competition or top-of-the-line frame, where lightweight and reliability are essential.

Why it works:

UTS = 1050 ÷ 1250 MPa
Favourite Quotes – “Spirit” cromoly from Columbus. Well at least that’s what my Pegoretti is made from and I think it rides the best of my steel bikes. I’m fully aware it’s not just the tubing though. 


Columbus Life

NIOBIUM is a special steel with manganese,chrome,nickel,molybdenum and niobium.Columbus’s special chemical composition,the combined effect of strengthening for precipitation and reducing the alloy grain size are incredibly enhanced compared to standard steels.

Why it works:
UTS: 1000-1150 MPa

An all-purpose, high performance tubeset, manufactured in Cyclex steel, a top quality chrome molybdenum steel which has been cold worked to increase its strength.
These tubes in this set have short butts and are super finished to remove any surface defects. A wide range of tube diameters and shapes allow us to build frames to the customer’s exact requirements.
Why it works:
UTS: 830-965 MPa

Progetto Zona: custom, competitive road, and MTB frames

  • Nivacrom for Zona: Nivacrom is patented by Columbus. This is a steel alloy in which vanadium and niobium – precipitating in the metal matrix – block the grain growth during the elevated overheating of the welding containing the decline in the mechanical characteristics even at temperatures above 1000°C. The material developed for the Zona series, is subjected to a series of operations and treatments that, after drawing, homogenize the mechanical characteristics of the tube, making them uniform along the Iongitudinal axis. As a result, the fatigue behaviour is excellent.

Reynolds 631


Utilising the same chemistry as 853, this product is cold-worked and also has the advantages of air-hardening after welding. The alloy is a development on our famous 531 range with 10% higher strength. For cycling use, this provides tough, durable and comfortable frames particularly suitable for long distance riding, MTB and BMX . It has recently become available for touring and race fork blades.

In most applications, it should not be necessary to stress-relieve the weld zone.

Why it works:

UTS: 800-900 MPa
Favourite Quote – Reynolds 631 with Shimano 105 and a wider tire option for a person with a $1,000 to $1200 limit and who wants more of a real century bike in steel 

NOTE As 853 in composition but tube strength results from the extensive cold-working of the seamless billet without a final heat-treatment. The TIG welded part of the tube still benefits from the air-hardening feature that results in a fine grain structure within the heat-affected zone.

Reynolds 631 Air Hardened tubing is a tubeset based on their 853 Air Hardened technology. This tubeset has replaced 531 as the basic material used to construct Bob Jackson frames. The primary difference between 853 and 631 is the lack of heat treating applied to the an 853 tubeset, thus producing 631 tubing.  Tig welding is possible, however to bring 631 to its optimal strength level, brazing and the much larger heated area produced can greatly increase the finished joints ultimate strength.



Columbus Thron

An all-purpose, high performance tubeset. The formation of carbides prevents the grain enlargement, so the steel maintains it’s properties during brazing and welding, and even in the cold malleable raw state it features excellent mechanical characteristics.

Why it works:

UTS: 800 MPa


With similar properties to our original 531 brand alloy. For cycling, these are mandrel butted for accurate profiles, and available in a wide range of shapes. Weight savings from butting provide competitively priced, light framesets. The Reynolds “520” range uses the same alloy, made under license for us in Taiwan and subject to the same quality standards.

Why it works:

UTS: 700-900 MPa

The same 0.30% carbon steel chemistry as the 725 range but without the heat-treatment process. The strength and ductility can be varied by cold-working and normalizing if required. Reynolds 525 non heat treated chrome moly has been in Reynolds inventory of bicycle tubes for many years. Since 1998 it has been reconfigured and up graded to a strength level very similar to that of Reynolds legendary 531 tubing. The primary reason for it existence is its ability to be tig welded, thus producing lower cost and lower quality frames. It has no advantage over 531 except for this singular feature.



Reynolds 520 – CHROME-MOLY cold-worked steel:

With similar properties to our original 531 brand alloy. For cycling, these are mandrel butted for accurate profiles, and available in a wide range of shapes. Weight savings from butting provide competitively priced, light framesets. The Reynolds “520” range uses the same alloy, made under license for us in Taiwan and subject to the same quality standards.

Why it works:

UTS: 700-900 MPa

The same 0.30% carbon steel chemistry as our 725 range but without the heat-treatment process. The strength and ductility can be varied by cold-working and normalizing if required.

Reynolds 531 – MANGANESE-MOLY cold-worked steel:

In its 110th year, Reynolds re-launched a limited edition set of 531 tubes for brazed bike frame use. A long-running product and used in many Tour De France wins, 531 was first used in the “Aeronautics” industry from 1935

 Favourite Quote – Reynolds 531 double butted,because of it’s long history,used on many of the finest vintage bikes ever made.

531, 531c, 531OS No longer produced by Reynolds, due to its inability to be tig welded.



 Reynolds broken down - 
Reynolds 953 – maraging stainless steel
Reynolds 853 – heat-treated air-hardening steel
Reynolds 725 – heat-treated Chrome-molybdenum steel
Reynolds 631 – cold-drawn air-hardening steel
Reynolds 525 - cold-drawn chrome-molybdenum steel
columbus stickers


I thought not? Tell me what your favourite steel is.

my fav poster of steel