Saturday, November 30, 2013

Product Review: Bontrager 29-0 Tire

     Bontrager is commonly known as a producer of components, accessories, apparel, and shoes for a wide variety of cycling disciplines. Although Bontrager is not considered a brand name producer of bicycles, they certainly manufacture reliable pieces of equipment. In recent years, Bontrager was the title sponsor of the Bontrager Development Cycling Team that now has Bissell as their title sponsor. The Bontrager 29-0 tire, similar to other Bontrager products, is excellent. The tire is light and fast for cross-country mountain bike racing. The main downside of the tire is its inability to perform well in a variety of conditions. Bontrager has seemingly outdone themselves through placing such an outstanding product on the market.
Bontrager 29-0 Tire

     The primary advantage of the Bontrager 29-0 tire is its feathery weight. For cross-country mountain bike racing, this tire is certainly a necessity. The reduced weight provides increased climbing speed with less effort needed. Saving weight is terms of rolling mass is a massive accomplishment. The light weight leads to higher speeds in firm, tacky trail settings. Bontrager advertises the 29x2.1 mountain bike tire, which was tested, as a mere 430 grams. With a tire weighing in at less than one pound, it is mentally and physically inspiring.
Bontrager 29-0 Tire Tread Pattern
     The tread design of the Bontrager 29-0 tire is flawless for its intended purpose. This tire is ideal for a firm, tacky trail setting. When the tire is new, the tread does a phenomenal job of rolling quickly while maintaining control. The side knob and rounded design of the tire are great for cornering. Due to the fact that the tire knob is reduced to begin with, the tread does wear out rather quickly. This is unfortunate since the tire does come with a hefty price. However, this is a tire that should be considered for racing only. As a whole, the Bontrager 29-0 tire performs extremely well.
    This particular tire does contain a few drawbacks. The first being its inability to easily adapt to trail conditions. This tire does a great job of performing on ideal trail conditions. However, loose over hardpack trail conditions are far from perfect. The tire does roll well over loose over hardpack conditions but cornering at high speeds is twitchy at best. Rocky conditions also give this tire trouble because of its narrow profile and thin sidewall. Bontrager does a fantastic job of covering for this race specific tire with a wide variety of tire choices for the worst conditions.
     Overall, the Bontrager 29-0 tire is well suited for its intended purpose. This is a tire primarily designed for hero trail conditions and racing. The weight of the tire is hardly noticeable which leads to it rolling with great fluidity. The tire is held back by its inability to have an extended life and perform well in multiple trail conditions. For more details on the Bontrager 29-0 tire please visit http://bontrager.com/model/11872 or leave a question in the comments section below. Thank you very much for reading.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fuel for the Ride

     Cycling, being a rigorous and energy taxing sport, requires consistent fueling both on and off the bike. Personally, I tend to take more of an old-school approach to fueling on the bike and do not eat if I am riding for three hours or less. Also, I will only drink water. However, while taking part in high intensity workouts, races, or rides of three hours or more, I must take on enough fuel to avoid the dreaded "bonk." "Bonking" or "hitting the wall" is feared by all cyclists and occurs when the human body is ill-prepared and not able to sustain a particular level of intensity for an extended period of time. In order to avoid breaking down, I suggest a few different types of foods and methods to absorb calories during a ride. Companies including CLIF, Hammer Nutrition, Gu Energy Labs, PowerBar, Skratch Labs, and Osmo Nutrition, all provide cycling nutrition supplements and recommendations on how many calories and how much liquid  to take on board per hour. In my experience, fueling is strictly personal and no one knows the limit of your body better than you.
     While cycling, many people will consume a mixture of whole foods, bars, gels, and liquid fuel to continue advancing. Below, I have listed a variety of foods and drinks to assist in helping you feel better and last longer on your next ride. These are only recommendations and some options may work better than others. I tend to eat a wide variety of foods throughout the course of a ride for both variety and pleasure.

Whole Foods/Non-Cycling Company Branded Food:
-Rice Cakes
-Bananna
-Apple slices
-Fig Newtons
-Salt and Vinegar Chips
-Snickers
-Flat Coca-Cola

Cycling Related Foods:
-Bars
-Gels
-Blocks
-Energy Bites
-Drink mix
CLIF Bar, Hammer Nutrition Gels, PowerBar Energy Shots, and CLIF Blocks
     During your next adventure, try to consume a wide variety of foods with sustainable energy, (rice cakes, bars) mixed in with instant energy (Snickers, gels, blocks). Hammer Nutrition provides wonderful starting points for both food and liquid consumption. The recommendations may be viewed here. For any additional questions on proper nutrition and fueling throughout the course of a cycling ride please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Product Review: Louis Garneau X-Lite Helmet


     Louis Garneau tends to be known throughout a variety of communities due to being such an expansive sporting company. However, within the realm of cycling, Louis Garneau produces a variety of innovative and affordable pieces. The Louis Garneau X-Lite helmet is on the cutting-edge of technology. Through my own testing of the helmet, I was able to come away with many positives but also a couple of negatives. The X-Lite helmet is wonderful because of the sleek design and ventilation that it offers. Unfortunately, the X-Lite helmet did not provide a reassuring fit and the overall helmet weight proved to be a discrepancy.
     In terms of the positives, the X-Lite helmet is certainly a well manufactured piece of equipment. For better or for worse, cycling helmets have never been attractive but Louis Garneau is providing hope for improvements in design. Also, this particular helmet provided immense amounts of ventilation. With the increased use of aerodynamic road helmets, cycling helmets seems to have fallen away from providing breathability. Louis Garneau has stuck to their roots and continued to provide well engineered products for their sponsored teams, which include Europcar, and customers. Louis Garneau is extraordinary when it comes to balancing the design, testing, production, and marketing of equipment.
     Regarding the negatives, on a personal level, the Louis Garneau X-Lite helmet was not worthwhile in terms of comfort and proper fit. The internal lining of the helmet was flimsy and did not provide as much firm support as I would prefer. The support structure of the helmet does include an adjustable dial, in the rear, to tighten or loosen accordingly. Also, the overall weight of the helmet is curious. Louis Garneau advertises the helmet weight as both 190 and 195 grams on their website. Upon weighing the helmet myself, I found the weight to be 242 grams. Although Louis Garneau is on a forward moving path, these are the small kinks that stood out in my mind.


Internal Support Structure
Helmet Weight, 242 grams

     Overall, the Louis Garneau X-Lite helmet proved to be a sleek piece of equipment but it was not my favorite helmet. Portions of the helmet that were not overly impressive included the fit and weight. However, please keep in mind that I was the sole tester for this review. This helmet may fit other people very well. For more information on the Louis Garneau X-Lite helmet, please visit their website. Thank you very much for reading this review and stay tuned for more updates on cycling products and information. http://www.louisgarneau.com/us-en/product/305553/1405953/Road/X-LITE_HELMET