Matt Willey

Matt Willey

FeaturedNews

Prudential extends RideLondon sponsorship deal

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RideLondon lead sponsor Prudential has confirmed the extension of its sponsorship deal for a further three years, up to and including the 2018 event.

First held in 2013, the hugely popular cycling festival has become one of the largest fundraising events in the UK, with more than £20 million raised for good causes in its first three years. The 2015 festival saw a record number of more than 95,000 riders of all ages and abilities participating in five events on traffic-free roads in London and Surrey.

The UCI, cycling’s world governing body, has granted WorldTour status to the women’s road race event for 2016 and the organisers are planning other significant developments to increase the size, diversity and accessibility of the festival.

Over the next three years, Prudential will focus its sponsorship around maximising the funds raised for charity through the development of new and existing charitable partnerships, which will form part of its programme of investing in local communities.

Read our top tips for riding the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

Mike Wells, Prudential Group Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to be renewing our Prudential RideLondon sponsorship for a further three years. It’s a great opportunity for us to make this fantastic festival one of the most successful charity fundraising events in the world.

“At Prudential we have a long history of supporting the communities in which we work and by extending this sponsorship we can help raise even greater sums of money for good causes across the UK and further afield, making a real difference to people’s lives.”

Hugh Brasher, Prudential RideLondon Event Director, said: “We are looking forward to working with Prudential over the next three years to develop further this unique event which has already inspired so many thousands to get on their bikes and start cycling.”

The fourth Prudential RideLondon will take place over the weekend of 30-31 July 2016.

Read our top tips for riding the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

FeaturedNews

Vulpine launches #DoGoodFriday initiative in response to Black Friday

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British cycle clothing brand Vulpine has launched #DoGoodFriday, a charity initiative designed to buck the seemingly all-pervasive ‘Black Friday’ sales promotion season, where they will donate 20% of online sales to charities in the lead up to Christmas.

#DoGoodFriday will continue every Friday until 18 December as part of Vulpine’s 25 Days of Christmas (#VulpineXmas), with proceeds being donated to a different charity each week for four Fridays. The first organisation to benefit will be local charity Wheels for Wellbeing.

“I wanted to do something that made me and our customers feel good, and not guilty – as I do, about Black Friday” said Vulpine Founder, Nick Hussey.

“Wheels for Wellbeing have been my chosen charity since we launched, and we have supported them in the past. They are an award-winning charity helping people to enjoy the benefits of cycling regardless of age or health condition.  My staff and I will be heading down to Wheels for Wellbeing’s open day on Friday at Croydon Sports Arena to help pilot bikes, shift around heavy specialist equipment, offer refreshments and anything that’s asked of us,” Hussey added.

“We are delighted that Vulpine are supporting us again, and their staff will be helping out at our inclusive cycling session at Croydon,” said Wheels for Wellbeing Communications & Development Officer Nat Cato.

“Their generous support helps us to continue to share the joy and the benefits of inclusive cycling and to allow people to cycle, who previously wouldn’t have considered the possibility, because of age, health condition or disability.”

“I wanted to do something that made me and our customers feel good, and not guilty – as I do, about Black Friday.” Vulpine Founder, Nick Hussey.

Hussey is inviting other businesses in the cycling community to follow suit and join in with #DoGoodFriday.

“I’d like to help other causes as well as Wheels for Wellbeing, so after a while I thought to hell with it, let’s extend Do Good Friday to every Friday until Christmas, with a different charity each time. I’m hoping it’ll really catch on and other businesses will join us.

I hope it’s a lovely antidote to me-ness of Christmas, and something that we can all feel good about, looking back on Christmas Day. Anyone is welcome to get involved and #DoGoodFriday. Hopefully more of us can get even more businesses and brands recruited!”

For more information on Vulpine and #DoGoodFriday, please visit: www.vulpine.cc

 

Cycle ClothingCycling Accessories

Lumo aims to light up the world of city cycling apparel

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Fledgling British apparel and accessories startup LUMO – fresh off the back of becoming the highest-grossing cycle clothing project on Kickstarter and having secured equity investment via Crowdcube – has now launched its debut range of jackets and bags.

The ‘London Collective’ range of jackets and bags is inspired by the capital and designed to make cyclists safer on their bikes and more stylish off them, said the brand.

Discussing the inspiration for the collection LUMO Co-founder Lucy Bairner said: “Cycling in London is like playing a game of Snakes and Ladders. Whilst riding a bike in a city certainly has its challenges, we believe there is simply no better feeling than the freedom you get from getting around on two wheels. The London Collective is inspired by, and in some cases, made in the capital,”

“The look of the garments has been very much influenced by classic British designs, with cutting edge technology subtly integrated for less snakes, more ladders. The launch video is called ‘#freedomofthecity: London’ and aims to showcase the city as well as our new collection.”

The jackets and bags contain ultra-high brightness LED strips on both the front and back, subtly hidden within the construction of the design. The lights are visible from 400 metres away and they have been deliberately positioned to ensure they’re visible regardless of riding position.

The LEDs are waterproof and washable and are powered by a removable USB-rechargeable battery unit that is tucked away in a small inside pocket.

The jackets use Schoeller fabrics to deliver water-resistance, dirt repellence and breathability and the waterproof bags are made from hardy waxed cotton from Halley Stevensons.

The jackets also feature dropped hems, inner cuffs, stretch shoulder panels and lots of useful zipped and magnet closure pockets, and the bags come with an inner laptop sleeve.

The jackets and bags contain ultra high brightness LED strips on both the front and back, subtly hidden within the construction of the design.
The jackets and bags contain ultra high brightness LED strips on both the front and back, subtly hidden within the construction of the design.

Discussing the evolution of the range Co-Founder Doug Bairner explained: “After I was knocked off my bike, yet was still too vain to wear fluorescent clothing, came the realisation that city cyclists don’t just dress for our journey, we dress for our destination too.”

“We gave up our jobs and set out to design garments that would make cyclists more visible on their bike yet allow them to step straight off it into a business meeting or nice restaurant,” he added.

The London Collective is inspired by, and in some cases, made in the capital

“Speaking about the brand’s plans for the future, Bairner concluded: “The plans go way beyond visibility. Through the design process we’ve uncovered ideas for building various technologies into garments to make life easier for city cyclists. Imagine a day where you can charge your mobile phone in your pocket as you cycle to work, navigate from your jacket sleeve or ultimately contribute to the grid by pedalling from A to B.”

LUMO jackets are available now in both men’s and women’s specific cuts and are priced from £250, with the backpack available from the end of September at a price of £200.

LUMO’s online store can be found at www.lumo.cc

They are also now available in Cloud 9 Cycles, Velorution, Selfridges, Fully Charged and soon to be in Frame’s new retail outlet and online at Cycle Chic.

Cycle ClothingReviews

The Proviz PixElite Gilet – cycling apparel that literally stops traffic

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Has anyone ever pulled up alongside you in a Porsche at traffic lights to ask where you bought your reflective gilet? – no, I thought not. But that, quite seriously, happened to me the other day.

Let me backtrack for a second…

All of us cyclists (ok, most of us) (oh, alright, some of us) resist facing up to an inconvenient truth: that being visible on these increasingly dark autumn/winter rides is marginally more important than our sartorial sensibilities would generally allow.

It can seem like a bit of rum deal – a fly in the ointment – to be forced to contemplate spoiling the aesthetic of your beautifully considered kit choices by making concessions towards your visibility on the road.

I can’t imagine there are many cyclists in these enlightened times who relish dressing up like a trainee Police Community Support Officer in order to feel a little safer on the roads.

While super high-viz neon does have its place within the cycling community, for those of us with more than a passing regard for style as well as function its adoption can seem like a compromise too far.

It is show-stoppingly bright, giving you a sense of security that – while not being something to take for granted – is a welcome feeling on roads where you need every bit of help you can get.

British sportswear brand Proviz has come up with the definitive solution to this issue with the launch of its latest PixElite collection, a supremely eye-catching range of refelctive garments that satisfies the desire to be seen in all senses.

The PixElite range features a jacket, jerseys (long sleeved and short sleeved), gilet, bib shorts, arm warmers, gloves and shoe covers. The jacket and jersey are available in both men’s and women’s specific cuts.

The PixElite Softshell Gilet (the focus of this review) is billed as a “high-performance, Italian-manufactured garment for those chillier days when you need an extra layer.” It is those things and more.

 

STYLE, COMFORT & PERFORMANCE

Having bought the PixElite Gilet initially to improve my overall safety and visibility on evening commutes, I have found myself wearing it on almost every ride since it arrived. It has elongated the lifespan of my summer kit (with the aid of some great Sportful arm and leg warmers) and kept me warm on cold-snap days. It is an incredibly versatile piece of kit that marries great visual appeal with warmth and protection against wind and showers.

The PixElite collection is a supremely eye-catching range of high-visibility garments that satisfies the desire to be seen in all senses.

The PixElite reflective fabric built in to the shoulders, sides and lower back is astonishingly effective in car headlights. The micro-beads which make up the reflective element of the fabric bounce headlight beams back toward the driver; it should be impossible to miss a cyclist in one of these garments when it is illuminated by a car’s headlights.

The PixElite Gilet features rear pockets giving ample room for all your ride essentials and with a lock-zip middle pocket you can keep valuables secure.

FIT & SIZING

The sizing of the PixElite Gilet is a little closer than garments from some of Proviz’s other ranges (360+ and Switch in particular). If you are usually a large in either of those styles, I would consider going up a size.

The bulk of the gilet is made from a soft-stretch mix of polyester, elastane and brushed thermal microfibre. Think race fit, especially if you are going to be wearing it over another long sleeve softshell or gabba-style garment.

I’m 183cm and weigh around 75kg (165lbs) and with fairly broad shoulders I’m around a 38-40 inch chest. The large is comfortable, but might be a little tight or short for those above a 40 inch chest. If you prefer your fit a little looser then it might be worth going up a size or two.

VALUE FOR MONEY

The PixElite Gilet is available on the Proviz website for £69.99, putting it in competition with gilets from many other brands. What sets this apart, however, is the additional safety functionality. In daylight it looks just as good (if not better) than most cycling gilets, but at night it really comes to life. It is show-stoppingly bright, giving you a sense of security that, whilst not being something to take for granted, is a welcome feeling on roads where you need every bit of help you can get.

Which brings me back to the intro of this review…

Having a sports car labour slowly behind, pull up beside you – the window already on its way down – might lead you to expect a terse exchange (although my riding is always exemplary of course). In this instance however nothing could be further from the truth: a polite gentleman simply wanted to compliment me on the visibility of my ‘top’ and ask where I bought it.

It made me love the PixElite Gilet even more.

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REVIEWER STATS

Height: 183cm

Weight: 75kg

Measurements: 38 inch chest, 32 inch waist

Cycling activity: 80-150 miles per week, in moderate British conditions.

Cycling TipsFeaturedReviews

Get it off your chest in the Vamper.cc Rant Room

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We’ve all had one of those rides: a motorist (or pedestrian, or even a fellow cyclist!) has made us fear for our lives while we’re cycling and we want to yell and scream and make them understand how scary it is to have your life threatened while you’re on your bike.

It’s especially common for those of us who ride day in, day out in congested cities where we vie for increasingly crowded space on the roads.

The Rant Room and its community will listen, laugh and help you move on.

The relationship between other road users and cyclists seems to be strained to breaking point, exacerbated by a media intent on fuelling the perceived divisions between the various camps. It’s sad that the media and commentators seem to forget that many cyclists are also motorists – we should all be on the same side, fighting for safer and fairer roads.

This is why we at Vamper.cc have developed the Rant Room: it is our bid to take the frustration off the roads and hopefully temper it with a little humour and perspective.

The Rant Room is designed to give you a place to either anonymously or openly ‘vent spleen’ – be it at yourself for just not giving it enough; fellow cyclists for all manner of misdemeanors; motorists for cutting you up; your dog for chewing up your cycling shoes; or just the universe, when it seems to be conspiring against you.

The Rant Room and its community will listen, laugh and help you move on.

The simple interface allows you to simply post your rant anonymously or with a first name. This can then be shared and up or down voted by the other Ranters.

When the adrenaline starts flowing and you think it is time to give someone a piece of your mind – Save it for the Rant Room and not the road.

Rant Room
The simple interface allows you to simply post your rant anonymously or with a first name. This can be shared and up or down voted by the other Ranters.
Cycle ClothingReviews

Vamper finds great form with the Huez Race Day Special

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I suppose it would be handy for the purposes of this Huez* Race Day Special jersey review (and all reviews hence forth) – to point out that when it comes to life, music, food, bikes and cycle jerseys, I tend to have very immediate reactions. I will either love it or loathe it.

Very occasionally, there will be something that grows on me. Like very specific songs from the canon of Phil Collins, say, or pavlova. But for the most part, you have a narrow window of opportunity to ingratiate yourself with me.

Fail in those first few minutes and I’ll never be able to bring myself to be evangelical about the brand.

On the other hand, if those first impressions are good (or even better, great) then woe betide any friends or cycle club members in earshot for the next month (or six). They will hear about little else.

With that background firmly established I’ll move on.

Very occasionally, there will be something that grows on me. Like very specific songs from the canon of Phil Collins, say, or pavlova.

In my relatively short but increasingly financially crippling road biking career I must have tried on, ordered, returned and generally lusted after hundreds of cycling jerseys. And in that time, I can honestly say I have only loved wearing about two.

There is always something that niggles. Poor quality finishing; a cheap zip; awkwardly placed seams; an uncomfortable cut.

With the Huez* Race Day Special Jersey, all those worries were assuaged as soon as I tried it on.

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Comfort & Performance

The Race Day Special is so unobtrusive on the body that you almost forget you’re wearing it. Super lightweight, it’s soft against the skin and incredibly breathable – a testimony to the work Huez* have undertaken with professional riders to integrate the latest carbon fibre construction to improve heat transfer and dissipation.

It incorporates mesh inserts under the sleeves to bring additional breathability – something you really notice when riding on gloriously sunny days like the one we chose for our test ride.

The Race Day Special is so unobtrusive on the body that you almost forget you’re wearing it.

Huez* have included a removable waterproof pouch in one of the three rear pockets to store a phone, money or whatever other superstitious knick-knacks you like to carry around with you on your ride.

There are also strong reflective elements: tabs at the side seams, hidden bands on the sleeves, a superbly positioned reflective logo on the left breast (right on the nipple, though this mightn’t be the case for everyone if you have them in weird places) and a large reflective rear pocket area.

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Fit & Sizing

The fit of the jersey seemed tailor made for me: the sizing chart is absolutely bang on, so get your order right and you will find a form-fitting garment that really moves with your body in the saddle.

And while I’m probably a little more slender than some in my age bracket, I believe there is enough play across the sizing bands for it to feel comfortable without leaving you feeling trussed-up or saggy.

Get your order right and you will find a form-fitting garment that really moves with your body in the saddle.

I’m 183cm and nowadays weigh around 75kg (165lbs in old money) and with fairly broad shoulders I’m around a 38-40 inch chest. Across most brands that puts me in the Medium to Large sizing chart. With the Huez* Race Day Special I opted for a Medium and it was spot on.

If you prefer your fit a little looser then it might be worth going up a size, but the Polyester/Polymide/Carbon material mix contains plenty of stretch.

Value for money

The Race Day Special jersey retails at £100, so in jersey terms it is certainly in the upper reaches. Although that price point might cause some to baulk, the noticeable rise in quality above standard sportive fair should put it firmly on the radar for those looking for comfort and performance with more than a splash of style.

 

It is a supremely well-crafted jersey which is beautifully cut and good looking. It will undoubtedly generate a loyal following should an expanded range of designs be forthcoming. With only one design in the range at present I would urge Huez* to take the Race Day Special and run with it: some bold hues would have me completely sold on Huez*.

 

Reviewer stats

Height: 183cm

Weight: 75kg

Measurements: 38 inch chest, 32 inch waist

Cycling activity: 80-150 miles per week, in moderate British conditions.

Cycling AccessoriesReviews

The Polar Soft Strap restarts my Garmin’s Heart (Rate Monitor)

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For many male cyclists there comes a point in the evolution of his cycling wardrobe when he will quite reasonably say to himself, “D’you know what? I just don’t wear enough hot pink.”

It happened to me recently and, it being a difficult itch to scratch, I spent a good few hours obsessing over a variety of visually vivacious apparel choices.

Rapha’s hot pink Backpack Rain Cover; the Bontrager 2016 Velocis shoe (which might yet find its way in to my wardrobe); Morvelo’s Half Tone Jersey: all were considered in my quest to inject a little pink into my palette.

But being a ‘dip your toe in the water’ rather than a full swan-dive and subsequent drowning kind of chap, I opted for a more subtle entry into the world of pink kit and chose the Polar Soft Heart Rate Strap.

Conveniently, this urge to ‘think pink’ coincided with what I initially thought were the final death throes of my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor.

It had started producing strange readings with unusual spikes and troughs, eventually indicating that my heart rate never went above 100bpm even on tough rides. I’m fit – but not that fit.

For those looking to inject a risqué frisson of colour into their cycling wardrobe I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Polar Soft Strap.

Having read a range of forum posts and articles I initially replaced the CR2032 battery, to no avail. It was only when I stumbled across an article by the ever-useful DC Rainmaker (be sure to check his blog out – it’s an invaluable resource) that a solution presented itself.

The article explained that the connections in my original Garmin strap had either corroded or had otherwise stopped working and that by replacing the strap with the Garmin-compatible Polar strap I could breathe new life into the heart rate monitor.

After the briefest of reconnaissance missions I ordered the strap directly from Polar’s site.

Polar Soft Strap
Polar offer a range of colour options for their Garmin compatible heart rate monitor soft strap, most notably HOT PINK

They offer the strap in a variety of colours: blue, white, orange, black and, most importantly for this reviewer, HOT PINK. You pay a small excess for a colour other than black – £15.40 as opposed to £14.00 – but this is a small price to pay to satisfy my lust for pink. (I’m aware that this review is treading a fine line…)

Polar also offer a bundle including a new CR2032 battery to completely clear the slate and refresh your heart rate monitor – this adds another £5.40 to the cost.

A couple of months in, I can attest to the quality of the Polar Soft Strap: it is comfortable to wear, and easily adjustable.

The active contact area is much larger than on the original Garmin strap, providing a surer connection with the monitor itself – I’ve had no instances of dubious readings when there is little moisture between the strap and my skin… (err…)

The black metal hooked clasp which connects to the fabric retaining loop provides a strong and firm closure and the materials used in the strap are high quality.

No-one can see it, but you know it’s there – like a politician with fishnet stockings under his suit

To summarise: for those of you suffering with HR monitor troubles and who think a new strap may present a solution, or for those looking to inject a risqué frisson of colour into their cycling wardrobe (sure, no-one can see it, but you know it’s there – like a politician with fishnet stockings under his suit) I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Polar Soft Strap.

It’s a good price and is well manufactured with better contact area connections than the original Garmin strap.

It makes perfect sense when considering matters of the heart (rate monitor)…

News

Black Cab drivers aiming to bench Embankment cycle superhighway

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London’s cab drivers have launched a legal challenge against the Embankment cycling superhighway currently under construction in the capital.

Citing traffic congestion caused by its construction and a lack of prior planning permission the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association has officially lodged an application for judicial review today.

Talking to the Evening Standard, Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) Chairman Richard Maffett said: “We’re in favour of safe cycling like everybody else but we can’t quite understand what the mayor and TfL are trying to do by gridlocking the roads. It could have been done in a better way and kept traffic moving.

“Roads are there to move goods and people around, and they’ve been gridlocked for the rest of London road users.”

The social media reaction has begun in earnest with a number of Twitter users already venting their frustration with the LTDA, most notably the London Cycling Campaign (@London_Cycling), who have taken a dim view of the action:

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The lateness of the application will surely cause many an eyebrow to be raised in TfL and Mayoral offices across London. As Boris Johnson said in January: “We have done one of the biggest consultation exercises in TfL’s history. We have listened, and now we will act. Overwhelmingly, Londoners wanted these routes, and wanted them delivered to the high standard we promised. I intend to keep that promise.

“But I have also listened to those concerned about the east-west route’s impact on traffic. Thanks to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes to our original plans which keep the segregated cycle track and junctions, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity – and so causing much shorter delays.”

That statement gave short shrift to concerns raised by the LTDA when it originally made its threat to consider a legal challenge. This latest move seems sure to frustrate those with a vested interest in seeing cycling infrastructure in the capital improve in the long term.

Quite what the LTDA’s radical long term plan to tackle increasing congestion in the capital is, I’m not sure, but I would hazard a guess it would involve a reduction in all traffic except licensed black cabs.

There is clearly no quick fix to traffic congestion in central London, but major infrastructure changes need to be made in order to tackle the issue going forward.