Swisse Active Food Bars
Anyone watching the Tour de France on SBS this year will have seen one or two commercials for Swisse. Forget about any association with Spartacus and the land of the bold white cross, Swisse is an Australian company that was founded about fifty years ago. The company manufactures an exhaustive range of vitamins and supplements and now they have released their Active range, a variety of sports nutrition products designed for the different phases of exercise, namely preparation, sustenance, and recovery. For preparation, Swisse offers amino acids and hydration formulas; sustenance is provided by high carbohydrate energy bars; and for recovery, there are high protein powders and food bars. The energy bars (clearly labelled with a bold ENERGY) are made out of oats and rice and come in two flavours, chocolate and mixed berry. The protein bars (labelled RECOVER) employ a blend of proteins including whey and come in three flavours: chocolate, choc-goji, and choc-coconut.
RRP: 60g Energy bar, $3; 30g Recover bar, $4; 60g Recover bar, $6.
For more information see the Swisse Active website.
Common retailers such as chemists and supermarkets carry stocks of Swisse products so you shouldn’t have any trouble tracking down Swisse Energy and Recover bars. The energy bars are very chewy and taste like regular muesli bars. The protein bars are chewy too and they are all coated in chocolate, which should appeal to most cyclists. My favourite flavour was choc-goji.
Tune Skewers and Seat Post Clamps
Tune make their products to appeal to the weight-weenie crowd, and they do this with single-minded dedication, literally carving each part down to its minimum. The company offers two seatpost clamps suitable for road bikes, the alloy Schraubwürger, which weighs 9g and comes in 10 colours, and the carbon fibre Würger Skyline, which weighs 4.5g. The Schraubwürger available in 4 diameters (30.0, 31.8, 34.9, and 38.0mm) and 10 colours; the Würger Skyline is made to measure, just provide your seat tube diameter. There are also two quick release skewers on offer, DC14 (Ti rear axle, alloy front axle, carbon levers) that weigh 34g, and U 20, which incorporates carbon into the axles and weighs just 23g. Both skewers are available in 10 colours.
RRP: Seat post clamps: Schraubwürger, $49.90; Würger Skyline, 4.5g/31.8mm, $96. Skewers: DC14 $119; U 20, $239.
Tune products are not designed for the mass-market, they are for weight-weenies that obsess over grams and attend to their bikes with extreme care. For such a crowd, the minimal Würger Skyline seatpost clamp delivers enough in weight savings to compensate for what it gives up with its less than robust design. The Schraubwürger clamp looks more robust, but both clamps are best suited to riders that have a high quality torque wrench and a gentle hand. The DC14 skewers work reasonably well, they close securely without much effort, and the skinny levers make it difficult to overtighten them. The minimal design of the cam provides just enough travel for the wheels to be removed but there is no slack to facilitate a quick wheel change. Once again, such a feature may frustrate regular bike riders but weight-weenies will revel in the triumph of the pragmatic design.
Tune Bottle Cages
Tune introduced the Wasserträger bottle cage a few years ago, a figure-eight loop of carbon that weighs 8g, then followed it up with the Wasserträger Skyline, where kevlar was used to reduce the final weight to 4.5g. Both cages require a conical bottle so that it won’t slip through the cage. For those that are less concerned about weight and want something more functional, there is the Wasserträger Universal, which looks like a conventional cage, weighs 21g, and can hold regular water bottles. All cages come with mounting bolts.
RRP: Wasserträger, $59.90; Wasserträger Skyline, $84.90 (incl. bottle); Wasserträger Universal, $84.90
The design of the Wasserträger cage looks like it was lifted from the pages of an interior design magazine. There is some elegance in the simplicity of the design however I had some trouble determining which of the loops was meant to sit on top. The loops differ in size and the larger one is meant to go on top, but it only became obvious after I had installed one of the cages upside down. Out on the road, the cages take a little time to get used to. They initially felt flimsy compared to my regular cages and I had trouble getting the bottle in and out of the cage. A few days later, I had mastered the necessary twisting action to release and return the bottle to the cage, however they would be a challenge to use while racing, especially in a criterium. In contrast, the Wasserträger Universal cage was a simple affair that was both easy to install and use out on the road.
Syntace P6 Seatpost
Syntace have been providing aftermarket stems, bars and seatposts for many years now. The German company places a premium on quality manufacturing and fulfilling a simple vision: to make parts that outlast the life of a bike. In 2006, the company started offering a 10-year warranty on its parts, where the only requirement is that owners must follow the installation instructions and adhere to the torque settings prescribed for each part. Their P6 seatpost is made from carbon and designed to flex under load, promising to provide a measure of shock absorption and dampening regardless of whether it is used on- or off-road. The P6 is a zero-offset seatpost that is available in 4 diameters (27.2, 30.9, 31.6 and 34.9mm), 2 lengths (300, 400, and/or 480mm, depending on the diameter), and one colour (glossed coated carbon).
A great seat post manages to achieve a perfect blend of form and function and Syntace’s P6 is a fine example of a great seatpost. On the functional side, seat angle and setback are quick and simple to adjust thanks to the two-bolt cradle for the saddle rails. The form too, appealed to me as the soft molded lines of the post provided a pleasing line for the eye to follow. I swapped the P6 for my regular alloy post, and the difference was immediately apparent, even on a smooth road. I’ve never been troubled by road vibration through my saddle, but riding the P6 post provided me with new, smoother–perhaps even plush–ride on a bike I thought I knew so well. I would have liked to have tested the 10 year warranty on this post but there were two obstacles: first, time was against me, and second, I needed more saddle setback than this particular P6 could provide.
BBB TechStop Brake Pad Inserts
BBB have a huge range of brake pads for road bikes, offering both complete shoes and cartridge inserts to suit Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo brakesets. In addition, they manufacture pads for both aluminium and carbon rims. Amongst this range you will find TechStop pads that have a triple contour design that acts to remove water, improve braking and resist squealing. Techstop pads come in two colours, high performance blue pads that promise 30% more braking power, or a triple colour that “gives a nice look”. Both colours are sold in sets of four.
RRP: High performance blue Techstop pads, $16.95; triple colour TechStop pads, $15.95.
For more information, visit BBB.
I preferred the blue pads to the triple coloured pads–they had a softer feel under braking–and they offered a little more braking power too. Performance in the wet was good, but not outstanding, since they needed to clear some water off the rim before they started to slow it down. All told, these brake pads compare well with stock offerings from Shimano and Campagnolo, and indeed, I’d rate the blue BBB pads ahead of these. For those riders looking for better performance in the rain, I’d recommend Swissstop green pads but expect to pay at least twice as much for 2 pairs of these pads.
According to Swiftwick, the best thing you can do for your feet while cycling is to wear a pair of their compression the socks. Compression socks promise to do the same thing for your feet as compression garments will do for your muscles by improving circulation and extending endurance. The company offers their socks in seven lengths, starting with a zero length that stops at the ankle; the other lengths extend one, two, four, five, seven and twelve inches above the ankle. In addition, there are six models to choose from in a variety of subdued colour combinations. Swiftwick also does custom orders.
RRP: US$11.99-34.99, depending on the length of the sock.
For more information and to order some socks, go to Swiftwick.
I discovered Swiftwick while wandering through the exhibitions at Interbike this year. They were giving away a free tattoo to anybody willing to wear a Swiftwick logo for the rest of their lives; I settled for a couple pairs of socks instead. These socks have a firm fit, but they’re not uncomfortable. I like the subdued colour combinations and the choice of cuff lengths. I can’t explain why they’ve become my favourites, but I look forward to getting them back after they’ve been in the wash.