Posted by allan.doyle - May 13, 2013
Almost half way through the season already! Where does the time go?
Fortunately this time it was a home race course (20mins as opposed to the 12hour drive to Cornwall a fortnight ago!). The SXC were bringing cross-country racing to the brand new, purpose-built race course at Cathkin Braes. The track has been well-designed, in alliance with top riders top create a course which meets all the international rules and guidelines but which is also a fun, fast and enjoyable course to race on. I'm generally not a fan of man-made courses - even the rocks are man-placed at Cathkin! - and hadn't especially been looking forward to racing on something which was expected to have little to no rocks, roots or what I'd consider fun stuff!
However, come race day, the heavens opened (it is Glasgow after all!) and the course got tasty! And muddy! And pretty slippy on those man-placed rocks!
I got a wee bit of a warm up - too much blethering! - and soon it was time to line up alongside six other Elite women, including reigning British series champion Lee Craigie and top first-year elite Beth Crumpton. Not that I was freaking out about the level of competition or that!
After an alright start where I made an effort to stick on Lee's wheel, well, till it went uphill!, I settled into my rhythm. I'm more of a 'pace myself' kind of rider. I know what speed I can ride at and, usually, maintain. Without seeing the results I think I'm usually pretty consistent with lap times! At the top of the Dual Descent on the first lap I passed Beth who was running with a puncture, and then Kerry who had taken a bad tumble. I'd moved up into fourth place by default. I knew Beth would come back at me as soon as she changed the wheel so just made sure I kept the pace up to try and hold her off for as long as possible.
Five laps later, and in fifth place I crossed the finish line. Pretty chuffed with that to be honest, you can only ever go as fast as you can go. And I think I did. Having recently started commuting and doing 80miles in the week leading up to the race my legs were a bit like "AAHH WTF?!?!?!". So, I'm looking for the long-term gains that commuting by bike will bring. Hopefully soon life will, in general, be a bit less stressful and I can relax and enjoy my cycling a bit more.
A few weeks off now to get the head down, do some training and most importantly relax before the next round of the British Series on the fantastic course at Hopton in Shropshire.
(Pics taken from Aileen Muir on facebook)
Posted by scott.wilkie - May 07, 2013
Posted by allan.doyle - April 18, 2013
So I've promised this for a while now & some people have been pressing me for it. I think in a broader sense, people prefer a "straight from the horse's mouth" way of someone reviewing a bike? So when you read this, please take into consideration that it's not sanitised for publication or written with any bias. It's just my opinion on the bike & components that I paid for with my own money.
So it's been roughly 5 months since a bought this & it's had a few changes along the way, some due to personal preference & some due to necessity. To be clear, I'm not someone who covets things much or needs to have the latest stuff, but I do look after my gear, I use it a lot and I like it to be as "sorted" as it can be within my means, so anything I changed was to make the bike better (for me)
If you've read my past write ups on the first few months I had the bike, then you'll already know that I love it, but as with all works of genius, it's not without its faults. But I think I'll start with the changes I've made since I built the bike up in December.
I bought the frame only & if the specification looks a bit odd, that's because 2 months previous (when we were not a Yeti stockist) I had just bought a 2013 140mm Specialized (SBC) Stumpjumper (SJ) to fill my trail bike gap. As good as this bike was, when the opportunity of owning a bike from the stable of a lifelong favorite brand came along, the decision was quite quick & the change was made with a fair degree of haste.
So what was did I HAVE to change? The basics of the two bikes were very similar but with some small changes as follows:
- Front mech: The Yeti uses an old school traditional down pull front mech whereas the SJ used a proprietary bolt on model.
- The headset: Both bikes are step down 1,1/8-1.5 but the SJ was integrated, the Yeti external.
- Bottom bracket & Chainset: The SJ was a press fit SRAM/Specialized affair & the Yeti a Traditional 72mnm
The most annoying change were the wheels, the front was no issue, as I used the 140mm Fox RL from the SJ, so no problems, but when it came to the rear the problems started. The SJ also has a bolt through 142mm rear, but it is SBC specific & screws directly into the non drive side chainstay with no adaptors & the threads are tapped into the actual bike, so the axle/skewer setup can only really be used on compatible SBC bikes.
The Yeti is a little more sophisticated as it allows the rider to choose from either a 135mm QR setup (which comes as standard) or a Yeti specific replacement "chip" for fitting a 142mm bolt through, but this affair costs (get ready & sit down) almost £100. Most of us know enough to realise that the 142mm is the way to go from every perspective, so I bought the kit and with the rear wheel from the SBC being standard, in it went.
Another thing (that won't really affect anyone reading this) with the rear wheel is that there was a recall on some of the Roval (SBC wheel brand) freewheels that led Specialized to authorise dealers to change out the rear hubs, so a shiny new DT-Swiss 340 slotted into place nicely. As for the absolute minimum I had to do to get a rolling, working bike, that was really it.
Of course you may be reading this with your "well he works in a bike shop" staff discount head on, but even at that, the whole spend on putting these things right was not insignificant, so watch out if you're doing a frame swap as these things can sneak up on you and ruin your week! So after that, (Gore) cables were fitted & I was off!
I rode the bike for a good month kitted out like this & it wasn't long before I had to change a few things. First to go were the 720mm SBC bars. They were heavy with the sweep & rise pointing in the wrong directions for me. These were substituted for a set of perfectly proportioned Easton EC70 CTN 685mm carbon riser bars. They fitted my shoulders much better & offer far more comfort & a bit of vibration damping without sacrificing steering response.
I also like something to get hold of (oh, err) so some thick Lizard Skins north Shore lock-on grips were fitted. Despite the cheesy old hat "North Shore" tag on these "Extreme" model grips, they are VERY good & i would recommend them to anyone who needs a bit more meat on the bars.
There are only 2 "issues" I am having with on this bike, so I'll get them out of the way, they're not "negatives" just speed bumps on the quest for perfection. They are unfortunately intrinsically linked but I'll start with the most fundamental one; the bottom bracket height. It's around 13" which is neither here nor there as its subjective to your own bike setup & how you abide by the manufacturers guidelines on fork length etc, it just feels a little low for me (140mm fork) I have had more pedal strikes on this bike than any other I've ever owned or ridden, resulting in a very unfortunate bending of an SPD mechanism making the ride home a royal pain in the rump.
I'm currently running 140mm up front, which to be honest is probably 10mm too much as the bike does not feel like it needs all the travel & tends to pop the front wheel up if you don't set up for climbs with a bit of forethought. It's getting like second nature now, but it is still a noticeable trait but not as annoying or detrimental as I once thought it might have been? The benefit of this however is that the centre of gravity is pretty low & it really shows in the handling.
The other "issue" is the wheelie factor I get on really difficult sit down climbs. Running a140mm fork on this bike & with the lazy 68 degree head angle, it feels quite a handful on the sit down & grunt climbs that I come across on my regular trails. This is not however as much of a problem as I thought at first, as I have gradually just stood up on these parts of the trail using the bikes supreme grip to overcome the gradient. Besides, I'd hate to be without that slack head angle when it came to the fun stuff as the combined two "problems" above (low BB, high-ish steering) are an absolute joy on faster singletrack & groomed trails.
So I'm going to stop right here, and here's for why!
You may have noticed that the photo's in this blog don't quite match the equipment that I've been talking about? As solid as the information above is in the context of my experience it should hopefully offer people an insight into this amazing bike, but the game has changed this past week or so.
I have been standing back & looking at this bike for months & thinking that I am just not doing it justice with old OE bits from a Stumpjumper hanging off it, so action HAD to be taken. To decrease the weight, improve functionality & make the bike all it could be I decided that a full XT groupset, 34 Kashima forks & some tasty Stan's wheels to cook up recipe for trail riding success. It's only been together for a week in this form & already the difference is staggering.
Hope this write up held you long enough to reach this point & I'll be back again after the summer to give the lowdown specifically on the ride of the newly XT equipped 2013 Yeti ASR5. Next time I promise some proper riding pictures & some chat on the way the bike actually rides with a short video to accompany it.
Thanks to Scott Bannister & Pete Clegg at Silverfish UK for the support & advice whilst I was building the bike, and remember folks, Dales Cycles is Glasgow's ONLY authorised Yeti dealer & stockist.
P.S. The new ARC Carbon frame is ready to ship in medium & small sizes now.
Posted by allan.doyle - April 15, 2013
Last year, a shining light in both the sport of Mountain Biking & many peoples lives; Jaymie Mart, sadly passed away. It came as a great shock to those she had touched in her 31 years of a life that was lived to the absolute fullest.
Jaymie never worked at Dales, but was a friend to some of its employees & gave nutritional advice to some of Dales' Mountain Bike race team members, resulting in those individuals approaching the business to see if they might be intested in helping the Jayfest cause. As a result, Dales Cycles offered to put up the finance for the Jayfest website & its ongoing upkeep. Adam (Jaymie's brother & Co-Director of The Jaymie Mart Foundation) accepted the offer & now we're delighted to be able to keep Jaymie's light burning through the foundation & wish them all the best with the first Jayfest festival in June!
Jayfest press release
Today it was announced that there will be a brand new, innovative and exciting mountain biking festival hosted in Innerleithen, Scotland, which will take place from 14thto 16th June 2013. Jayfest will host an invigorating range of mountain biking events, complemented by a multitude of supporting events over the course of the weekend. Jayfest aims to promote biking, the arts, fun and laughter, all in the stunning setting of the glorious Tweed Valley.
The weekend will offer a variety of biking coaching sessions and races, and will also including a world record attempt at the longest mountain biking train. The festival will also include The Marketplace, a chill out teepee, children's entertainment, pump track, and nutrition and wellbeing booth.Coaching sessions will be available, with help on hand from top world class coaches Tracy Moseley, Ben Cathro (Sick Skills), Helen Gaskell, Emma Guy, Tracy Brunger and Andy Weir of Tweed.
Jayfest will have a strong focus on both coaching and the nurturing of new and emerging downhill mountain biking talent at a grass roots level. Money raised will contribute to the backbone of the festival, The Jaymie Mart Foundation. It is the aim of The Foundation to nurture and support both socially and financially, talented downhill riders in their future careers, in the hope that they grow to become successful athletes of the future, and go on to compete on the world stage.
The festival is dedicated to Jaymie Mart, who was a highly successful and truly colourful personality in the worlds of downhill racing, nutrition and business. She was an inspiration to many but tragically she died in September 2012.
It is herlife, which is the inspiration and driving force behind the creation of Jayfest, and it is hoped that this festival will contribute heavily towards her legacy. The event is being organised by Jaymie's friends and family to celebrate her life and everything she stood for.
Festival Co-Director Adam Mart issued a statement saying "We're truly excited to be offering this unique, innovative and vibrant event to the mountain biking calendar and to Innerleithen, an area already revered for its rich mountain bikingpedigree. It's going to be absolutely awesome!"
For more information and event listings please visit: www.jayfest.co.uk
Jayfest facebook HERE
Jayfest twitter HERE
Jaymie's brother & Co-Director of the Jaymie Mart Foundation recently appeared on BBC Radio Cumbria & gave an insight into Jayfest & told everybody a little bit more about his sister who was dubbed "The Barbadian Bullet" after she raced for Barbados (yes Barbados) at the Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships. You can listen to this program segment by clicking on the player below.
Posted by allan.doyle - April 11, 2013
Well...it had not rained for almost a full month in central Scotland by the time we got to Wed the 10th of April, so imagine my disdain & resulting language as my wipers (for the first time in ages) wiped away the oily film on a windscreen that had only seen dry weather for long enough that I couldn't actually recall.
Anyway, a bit of "wet" on a dry trail does it no harm, so I dried my eyes and pushed on to Cathkin Braes. When I got there, Dave Ward from Giant was already pitching up and our very own Stephen, Jim & John were well on the way to unloading our big van. We marked out the plots for the EZ-UP's and had a joke about the aforementioned weather when ironically the heavens opened in an crazy mix of unwanted rain, hail & sleet.
It's easy to mix comments with metaphors about the Scottish weather as we get such a lot of it, but this is the last you'll hear of it in any detail during this blog entry, as after 2-3 minutes, the clouds cleared & the breeze picked up to reveal a beautiful grey sky, which stayed with us for most of the day. But hey, we had cracks of sunshine and it stayed dry, so somewhere along the line, we "won a watch"
So who and what did we have on show? Firstly we had the product & Training Manager from Giant UK; Dave Ward. He brought us the very latest Anthem & Trance models in both 26" & 29" wheel options, as both of these bikes are ideally suited to the terrain, folk could try both models in both wheel sizes, making an informed choice instead of blindly jumping on the (ever decreasing) 29er hate wagon.
We also had top tech guy Raul from Yeti UK (Silverfish UK) who in typical Yeti fashion, went full on and brought every model they make along in a few different specifications so as to give a real flavour of this iconic brand. With enviable brand loyalty & a super dynamic range of bikes, Yeti are not famous for doing things by half & Silverfish did not disappoint in sending Raul with the very best of bikes for our day on the hill.
Our own guys took care of the Specialized & Scott bikes, with Pete Robson from Specialized UK calling by to cast an eye over the day and offer advice on two most popular models we had at the demo day; The 130mm Stumpjumper FSR Carbon & the 110mm Camber FSR Carbon, again these were bikes specifically brought to Cathkin after taking the terrain into consideration. Scott sent along some tasty morsels also well suited to the Cathkin track; The new Genius platform in both 650b & 29" wheel size went down a storm, with the new Spark XC bike breaking personal best lap times as it went round the course.
There's little point in going over every riders impression of every bike only to say that demo days are a far better way of explaining high technology & set-up adjustments to people, as they can actually go out and try these small tweaks for themselves. Now obviously we're in business to sell bikes, but the notion of having an atmosphere where there is no "hard sell" appeals to both us & to the customer alike. We're aiming to tempt them obviously, but in the informality of the day, it's all about the rider getting the best possible impression of whatever they choose to ride & being able to weigh the pros & con's of it.
All the bikes that we brought along reflected the terrain & the most popular bikes seemed to reflect the choice. The Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29 seemed to be the favourite of the bunch as far as the first time full suspension rider was concerned. Very light, very flighty & very manageable handling that lent itself well to those of less experience. It was enjoyed by experienced riders too, but most of these guys seemed to want to push a little harder & the Stumpjumper (whilst being very capable) was just a little light & a little flighty with the handling for the harder riders on the day.
The first time full suspension riders favorite was theGiant Trance X 29 by a country mile. It really does have everything that the first foray into FS riding requires. Middle of the road trail geometry, a great spec & crucially a bang on weight for the price point. Not particularly light, but a confidence inspiring weight that keeps the contact with the trail in just about every circumstance. Giants own well proven "Maestro" suspension system really feels bottomless & really inspires you to take everything head on, with less of a need to "Pick a line" on the trickier sections. It also has a good proportion of vertical wheel travel too and is easier to get moving, which gives a more instantaneous response from the rear suspension. The Trance X 29 definitely put some smiles on some previously unexperienced riders faces.
For the more "experienced" rider who wanted to try something different on the day, the favorite of the day was definitely a tie between the Yeti SB95 & the SB66. The SB95 is Yeti's full on All Mountain/Enduro 29" full suspension bike, usually sporting the very best of every component & when tuned to the rider, is quite simply a trail eating freight train. Every single rider had the suspension set up by Raul from Silverfish (Yeti UK) & the ride did not dissapoint. We have an SB95 demo bike ourselves & to be frank, I did not consider that a 29er full suspension bike could be so "planted" without making a serious compromise somewhere? You can't beat the physics of a bigger wheel & the handling "compromises" but as an overall package, this has to be one of the best full suspension Mountain Bikes ever to roll through Dales Cycles (there have been a few) & with the carbon version imminent (?) I can see a new bar being set VERY high for 29" trail bikes, just like they did with the press' favorite ASR5
The SB66 is a good old 26" with everything you would expect from a barnstorming trail bike. It feels a bit more skittish than the 29er in a straight line over mid size rocks & roots, but the bike seemed to inspire confidence in every rider that took it out, with complaints that riders were "out-braking" themselves & nearly coming a cropper, though this seemed to dissolve after a few laps, a testament to how much faster a well suited bike can make you?
We unfortunately only had one 650b bike on offer at Cathkin. Scott had hooked us up with the Carbon version of the new Genius platform. Hard to say what the folk thought of it as there's nothing to compare it to really? The consensus was it was fast & light, bringing the best of the SB66 & the SJ FSR together in some weird marriage of lightweight materials & sorted geometry & a fairly planted feel? I'd recommend a jaunt on a 650b bike to see what all the fuss is about!
The great thing about these events is that instead of just telling folk in store about the benefits of saddle position, shock pressure, tyre pressure, stem length, wheel size & any amount of other tweaks and adjustments you can carry out on a bike, is that you can actually demonstrate the issue hands on. The amount of feedback on small adjustments made to bikes on the 2nd & 3rd runs was great to hear. hopefully riders will have gone away thinking about their own setups, regardless of whether they are tempted to buy a new bike or not.
So, the day was a great elbow in the water for Cathkin Braes too. Glasgow City Council helped us immensely, with a special mention to Aiden O'Meara for all the help in the lead up to the event.
Thanks also to Colin Hislop for the images.
You can follow the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike Track on Facebook HERE
Posted by allan.doyle - April 05, 2013
DALES CYCLES LAY ON GLASGOW DATE FOR THE JOURNALIST THAT BROUGHT DOWN LANCE ARMSTRONG.
Edit: 19/4/2013 You can no longer buy these tickets online, however our Glasgow store has a very small amount of tickets left. You can call for availability on 0141 332 2705 & collect in store, in person.
David Walsh, the journalist who spent 13 years pursuing the truth about Lance Armstrong, will speak in Glasgow later this month about his role in unmasking the global sporting icon as a serial drugs cheat.
Walsh will speak at Glasgow Science Centre on the evening of Tuesday 23rd April before taking part in a Q&A session and signing copies of his book, Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong. The award-winning Sunday Times journalist is being brought to Glasgow by Dales Cycles, the city's oldest bike shop.
Tickets for the event, the latest date to be announced on Walsh's sell-out UK tour, are available from Dales Cycles' city centre store at Dobbie's Loan having gone on sale from 9am today (Friday 5th April).
Walsh will tell why he continued his pursuit of Armstrong even as the American racked up multi-million dollar endorsements, met with Presidents and dated rock stars on the back of seven straight Tour de France victories. At a time when most people viewed Armstrong as a hero, Walsh was determined to show that not everything was as it seemed with the Texan's clean-cut image.
That determination did not make life easy for Walsh as he was ostracised by fellow journalists, vilified by Armstrong in public and his employer, the Sunday Times, wrongfully sued by the cyclist's legal team in 2004.
Walsh's talk in Glasgow will give Scottish cycling fans the opportunity to ask about his role in uncovering what the US Anti-Doping Authority described as the 'greatest fraud in sport'.
David Walsh, British Journalist of the Year 2012, said: "Scotland is a country with a strong cycling heritage, from Robert Millar to Chris Hoy, and with its new velodrome, Glasgow is at the heart of the country's cycling community.
"The response to the book tour has been tremendous and I'm looking forward to coming to Glasgow and meeting some of the most passionate cycling fans in the country."
Tickets for the event, which will start at 7pm, are available in person from Dales Cycles Dobbie's Loan city centre store. Only 300 tickets are available for the event at the Glasgow Science Centre so will be limited strictly to two per person, priced £10 each.
Debbie Houston, Managing Director of Dales Cycles, said:
"David Walsh's story has run alongside Lance Armstrong's for more than a decade. His efforts to help clean up cycling mean we can begin to believe in the sport at the top-level again.
"At a time when more Scots than ever before are taking up cycling, we are so pleased to be bringing him to Glasgow. It promises to be a great evening."
The event will be hosted by journalist and former Scotland rugby internationalist John Beattie. A significant donation will be made to a Scottish cycling charity from the proceeds of the event.
So...Are you in?
Posted by allan.doyle - March 29, 2013
A bizarre mid-march snowstorm turned what would usually be a rather (boring!) flat, fast roadie-style time-trail of Sherwood Pines into a wicked rollercoaster slippy, slidy ride! However, it made for hellish conditions getting to the race, with my bicycle stuck in Inverness due to the A9 being closed, and not re-opened until the Saturday morning. Then came the delights of my navigation to avoid the A66 which was closed for mountainous snow drifts. Finally we arrived at Notthingham(shire!) after 6pm on the Saturday night, too late to pre-ride eek!
It was a freezing cold morning with six inches of snow on the ground, and more falling off the pines every time the wind blew. I heard the course ran as normal, but in reverse, so went off for a wee warm up to get the legs moving. I was gridded on the second row just behind Lee Craigie and Annie Last, the big names!
After a fast start, we went flying down into the first section of single track, and I started going backwards through the field. I was struggling a bit to maintain the fast start pace but my lack of a pre-ride meant that I was all over the place, slipping and sliding around off line. After about the first half lap, I was in the position I would finish in, save be for the DNF'ers. It was a seriously tough race, with even the usually super-fast firetracks being slushy slogs.
Coming round to start the fourth and final lap, I was aware of two riders within 30seconds or so of me. I knew one of them was a girl who was usually pretty fast on the last lap so decided to make an effort. Standing up on the pedals I practically sprinted the whole last lap, and came within touching distance of Carla ahead of me.
I was pooped!! But delighted to get 16th place Elite woman, following on from 3rd at SXC1 at Forfar its been a great start to the season. I was only 1min19secs down on 12th place and my last lap was as fast as the last lap of the girl in 10th so really good signs for the rest of the season. Now time to get back into the gym before SXC2 at Abrichan.
Results from the race can be found by clicking HERE
Thanks to Dad and Ronnie for the transport and feeding, and to everyone who cheered me on around the course, it always does make me go that wee bit faster and enjoy it more : )
Arrived back at uni on Monday to find out I'm a minor Strathclyde Uni celeb with my poster in the gym and the Livi Tower cafe. I'm gonna start charging for autographs ; )
Posted by allan.doyle - March 25, 2013
The Endura Baa Baa Merino Baselayer
The sun maybe gracing us with a day of two with its presence (depending where you are) but we still have a fresh breeze & varying amounts of snowfall to make it a bit nippy out there. This is the perfect time to break out the Baa Baa Base layer from Endura. The Baa Baa is made from Merino wool, a material which offers excellent warmth for how fine it is, even when wet. Its soft, silky feel, flat locked seams and athletic fit mean that it's comfortable beneath both winter and summer jerseys.
The great thing about Merino wool is that it has natural anti-bacterial properties, which means that it won't smell quite so bad after a couple of days riding. Trust me, most of my colleagues wear them.
The Baa Baa is such good value, it's a must have for any cyclists wardrobe.
- *Naturally insulating and low odour properties of fine gauge Merino wool
- *High warmth/weight ratio even when wet
- *All seam flatlocked for comfort
- *Athletic fit
- *Machine washable
There's a great range of Baa Baa gear avalable from Endura, all in stock at Dales Cycles. Click here to see what warms you!
Posted by allan.doyle - March 21, 2013
Ever dreamed of riding a superbike? Then great news! Your favorite Glasgow bike shop is giving you the chance to ride the very best bikes from Giant, Yeti, Specialized & Scott at our Cathkin Braes demo day.
Cathkin Braes is the site of the recently completed 2014 Commonwealth games Mountain Bike track, which snakes through the country park of the same name, just south of Glasgow.
If you've never been to Cathkin Braes, click HERE to read Allan's recent blog on the course.
On the 10th of April 2013, we'll be starting rides at 1pm offering you the chance to ride the very best kit from some of the worlds top Mountain Bike manufacturers whilst getting a flavour of the Mountain Bike track that will be used by the worlds best riders in 2014.
Here are the particulars of the day. Please make a note of them as these terms are non negotiable on the day, such as ID, age limits & the timescale over which bikes are ridden.
- The demo will start at 1pm on Wednesday April 10th 2013.
- You must be over 18 years old to demo a bike.
- To demo a bike, you will need a valid Driving license or passport and a credit card with the same name. You must also provide a valid utility bill from the last 3 months that also has the same name.
- Each bike demo will be limited to 45 minutes per bike.
- You may demo as many bikes as time & availability allows.
- You must bring & wear a helmet when taking a bike on demo, no exceptions.(gloves are preferred too but not mandatory)
- If you use clipless pedals, bring your own (and your shoes)
- You are required to take reasonable care of the bike whilst it is in your possession.
- You will be required to fill out a disclaimer regarding any personal injury as a result of attending the demo day.
You MUST register for this demo day! As soon as you know you want to attend, please email email@example.com & we will respond by Friday 22nd March.
If you are successful, you will get an email by the 22nd with full T&C's & a confirmation form for you to fill in, sign & bring along with you on the day.
Just because you email, does not guarantee you a place; however, we would love to get as many people on bikes as possible & will make every effort to take the number of accepted riders as high as we can.
Any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by scott.wilkie - March 21, 2013
For over almost seven years, my trusty Giro Xen helmet has put up with everything I could throw at it, shrugging off anything from a low-hanging branch to misjudged doubles at Glentress. But lately the pads started falling apart, the shell was faded, and the helmet was fast approaching the magic seven year age limit that most industry testers mark as the safe lifespan for a modern cycle helmet.
So I was on the hunt for something new, and fancied a change from the Xen. But it had served me well, and I wanted to stick with Giro, so after a quick flick through the 2013 catalogue I quickly settled on their Feature model.
California based Giro create some of the lightest and most advanced helmets on the market, catering to the bicycle and ski/snowboard industry. The Feature helmet slots into Giro's 'Dirt' range and is sold as an all-mountain helmet for aggressive trail use. But I've found that it's just as suitable for inner-city commuting and all-day rides as it is for shorter single track blasts.
The Feature is aimed at riders who want more rear coverage than the average helmet offers, but want more vents and a more up-to-date look than is offered by a skate/BMX style lid. The Feature comes in a wide range of colours, and three sizes.
Priced at £59.99 for 2013, the Giro immediately looks like an expensive alternative to a skate-style helmet like 661's Dirt Lid. However, it is better vented, more adjustable and considerably more attractive. It's comparatively priced to rival's off-road offerings. It's also quite a bit cheaper than my old Xen was at the time.
At first glance, the Feature looks just like I've loosely described, a skate style helmet with a peak, but look closer and you'll see it takes more styling cues from the MTB trail centre and motocross track than it does from the skate park. The rear of the helmet extends a good inch or more further down the back of the skull than the average helmet, offering extra protection, and giving the helmet the appearance of sitting low on the head, rather than being perched atop it. The in-moulded design helps reduce its overall bulk, and the helmet looks slimmer than expected when worn. All these add to the style stakes, and leave the Feature looking thoroughly modern when worn.
Admittedly, the Feature weighs a little more than a similarly priced cross-country helmet, but offers the aforementioned added protection and style. The Feature also boasts Giro's In-Mold technology, which allows for better ventilation, fusing a polycarb shell with the inner foam liner. Besides letting the helmet sit low, this results in a lighter, cooler helmet than many traditional hard shell designs.
So having unboxed the helmet and giving it a look over, it was time for the maiden voyage. Having owned the Giro Xen for such a long time, I was a bit unsure whether the cheaper Feature would offer the same level of comfort. My head is about 56-57cm, and the medium size offered a snug and comfortable fit, feeling secure without placing pressure on any particular points. Giro's 'In-Form' fit system allows for one-handed adjustment, so fine tuning the fit on my first ride was no problem, even whilst in motion.
I headed out on the streets to see how the Feature would stack up on the move. It was a cold day, just a degree or two above zero, and the snow capped peaks of the local hills rose above me as I coasted down the cycle path. Since it was a wintery afternoon, 12 vents were more than enough. Unlike the Xen, I was able to comfortably manage without a skullcap even though the temperature was in single digits. Whether this will translate to a sweaty scalp when summer finally comes around, is something that will remain to be seen.
After an hour in the saddle, the helmet was still comfortable, hadn't moved, even after some rocky trails and a couple of misjudged bunny-hops over the largest local potholes. Most importantly, I had stopped noticing it was even up there, which is always the true test of a helmet. If you can forget you're wearing it, you know it's comfortable.
With all this in mind, I'd happily recommend the Giro Feature to most riders looking for a mid-priced mountain bike helmet. The extra material means it won't appeal to light-weight race fetishists, and 12 vents might not be enough for sweatier riders during summer months. But the Feature is especially suitable for more aggressive riders looking for extra protection and urban riders who make more measured progress over distance.
To see the full range of 2013 Giro Feature helmets click HERE