Dressed by Bike Radar

Bike Radar Reviews-1

As part of an expanding portfolio of web writing I’ve been working with the Australian Bike Radar team. The .au site launched last year and is an important part of the global Bike Radar reach. Articles on this site go out to an audience of a size I find hard to fathom…no wonder predictions for the future consider the internet on par with the way we think of electricity today.

I admit to having a soft spot for nice materials and fabric technologies.
I admit to having a soft spot for nice materials and new fabric technologies.

If you Google most cycling equipment you’ll find countless opinions and reviews. If you Google women’s cycling equipment, you’ll typically find an article or two and product information from the manufacturer. I’ve been working with Bike Radar as one of a few women’s equipment testers to reduce this (frustrating, annoying and worrying) gap.

Rainy day poetry from Rapha.
Rainy day poetry from Rapha.

I’ve written about and tested products for a lot of mountain bike media in recent years. With Bike Radar I’m enjoying the chance to test products typically aimed at more of a road riding market. I’m hoping to test some women’s road bikes later in the year.

Follow these links to some initial work. And keep an eye on the Bike Radar website for ongoing articles and reviews by a global network of other contributors too.

Giordana Women’s Trade FR-C Jersey and Team Bibshorts
Giordana Women’s Body Clone FR-C short-sleeve jersey
Rapha Women’s Gilet
Rapha Women’s Rain Jacket
Rapha Women’s Classic Bibshorts
Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jersey
Rapha Women’s Lightweight Jersey

Images: Kath Bicknell

Specialized Women – Innovations in Training and Equipment

It’s a nice feeling when one article opens a pathway to others. Adding to the high of the recent trip to South Africa was the chance to test the race-ready Specialized S-Works Fate 29er while I was there. Once home, the Fate was swapped for the Rumor, a big-wheeled trail bike that is set to change the way women first discover the sport.

The innovation behind these two bikes is what excites me most. Girls aren’t a minority in mountain biking any more. The industry is recognising the value in designing equipment for female users that is balanced, responsive, aggressive and available in a geometry that suits the people who use it.Continue reading “Specialized Women – Innovations in Training and Equipment”

X-Fusion 02 RL Custom Tuned Rear Shock

Riders talk a lot about front suspension, but I don’t hear nearly as many opinions on rear suspension. I wonder if this is because rear shocks are more specific to the frame their running on?

Warning: Many, MANY happy trails ahead!

The Merida Carbon 96 Team-D frame that I ride came drizzled in very high-end, light weight parts. While this makes for some great racing and hill climbing experiences, it means ongoing maintenance is required to keep everything working how it should. After quite a few rear shock rebuilds Duncan Miller at DIY MTB suggested I give the X-Fusion 02 RL rear shock a whirl.

The narrower body means better biddon clearance on small frame sizes.

In comparison to the shock that came specced on the bike, the 02 RL seems to do everything it does, but better. It has zero pedal bob, a lovely plush feeling as it moves through the travel, I can actually move through all the travel, and it smooths out the trail in a way I’ve never experienced before. It weighs less than my previous shock which was also a welcome surprise even though it’s neither the lightest X-Fusion shock available, nor has it been stripped back to point where durability becomes an ongoing issue.  My bike feels more like a high-end dual suspension than it ever has and is whipping through the trails faster than ever as a result. It’s like riding a new rig.

The lock out lever means no need for cluttering up the bars with a remote system – especially given the only time I want to use this feature is on the road.
Custom bushing sneak peak.

Another reason the shock works so well for my bike, riding style and body weight is that Duncan has custom tuned it with this in mind – something that more suspension companies are starting to offer and a service that makes a huge amount of sense. One tweak I really like is the way Dunc has replaced bushings at the rear of the shock with an Enduro needle roller for better small bump compliance. It certainly smooths out the ride and, even with the air dumped as low as 60psi, I still don’t get any bob when pedaling.

Thank you to Duncan and DIY MTB for their ongoing support and for being a well of knowledge for mechanical questions and tweaks. My only regret with the X-Fusion 02 RL? That I didn’t try it a year ago.

Photos: Kath Bicknell, Gary Harwood (pinner shot).

Maxxis Ikon 2.2″ 3C EXO Tyres

The wide bag, fast rolling, reinforced sidewall properties of the Maxxis EXO Ikons have made them one of the trendier tyres of 2012, especially on the rear. The low profile tread pattern is well suited to dusty Australian conditions and, in combination with a claimed weight of 540gms, screams racer. They also scream airplane travel as the weight I saved by throwing these on my bike means more space for everything else.Continue reading “Maxxis Ikon 2.2″ 3C EXO Tyres”