Endura Convert Softshell

Endura Convert Softshell I could write hundreds of words about how useful, versatile, breathable, warm, water resistant, perfectly tailored and hard-wearing this jacket is but to be honest I can't be bothered, I've got miles to ride.

Suffice to say I live in Scotland, I ride every chance I get, be it commuting, touring, training or just for a laugh and this bright Green softshell has been on my back for every one of those rides since it landed on the doorstep in January.

Ditch the Gilet and Roubaix and go buy one, you won't regret it.

Endura Convert Softshell RRP £84.99

PS get the Green if you commute, no one can miss you and it's not dayglo, bonus.

ISM Performance Saddles

One of the best parts about being a small independent business is that I can offer my customers products that I have used (in some cases abused) and recommend. One such range of products is ISM Performance saddles.

Over the years I have tried dozens of saddles from a variety of manufacturers. I swore by the Specialized BG range for a while, in particular the Toupe and Oura, then I started getting problems when riding longer distances whilst using them. I love the Prologo Scratch for Cyclocross and MTB and short road rides, but after a couple of hours in the saddle I started to get hot spots and numbness.

With this summers TCR creeping up on me I decided to try something different. The ISM range of saddles is as different as it gets.

The guys at Upgrade bikes provided me with 2 demo saddles, one of the Performance Short range (Road model) and one of the Performance Narrow range (Attack P1.1 Model), the Short range is designed for TT's and anyone sitting in one position for hours on end, the Narrow range is designed more for climbers and road riding. Being much narrower than the Short saddles there is a lot more room to move around.

Setup is different to a traditional saddle as the ISM saddles are roughly 2 inches shorter in the nose, so saddle position relative to the bike needs to be adjusted, but the results are nothing short of miricaulous.

One short ride was all it took for me to be convinced. It's a very different feeling and totally pleasant, the nose (if you can call it that) is wider but you sit further forward so you don't feel it. Your sit bones take the weight with absolutley no pressure or even contact with your soft tissue. I had to drop my saddle by 6mm to accomodate the higher profile of the ISM and I moved the saddles back from my traditional saddle position of 54.5cm nose to bar clamp to a huge sounding 59cm, but with no nose the relative position is almost identical to a traditional saddle. There is contact with the saddle that you can feel but it's not uncomfortable, i'm sure after 2 or 3 rides and a couple of tweaks it will be spot on.

To sum it up; For a traditional saddle that will be used on my 'Cross bikes and for MTB then a Prologo Scratch is the one. For everything else it's an ISM and I won't be going back.

They do look weird though, but if looks were everything then no one would ride a PlanetX, right kids! :)

ISM Road SRP : £129.99 ISM P1.1 SRP : £99.99 ISM Attack : SRP £174.99

Tubeless Cyclocross Tyres - What Works?

Graeme Warren gives us his rundown on what tubeless cyclocross tyres have worked for him over the years : "The last couple of Scottish Cyclocross seasons have allowed me to run a variety of different tyres (I'm not a serial tyre swapper, but I have tried different tyres depending on what was on offer and what I had lying around).

Initially I ran a tubeless setup use Stans Crest rims - a wider rim designed for 29" mountain bike wheels, also perfectly capable of being used as a cyclocross wheel, albeit giving a slightly wider tyre profile than traditional skinny CX rims. The first tyres used were the Maxxis Raze - inflated after a bit of persusasion and stayed inflated well. The grip is low though - these are quite a quick, fast rolling tyres but struggle for grip or traction in the mud.

The following season I ran a Schwalbe Racing Ralph at each end - these inflated relatively easily and lasted relatively well - the rear eventually gave up after a year of regular use. Grip is much better than the Maxxis - a reasonable all round tyre.

For 2013 I moved to Stans Iron Cross Rims (1mm or so narrower than the Crest) and tried a Clements PDX at each end. These are slightly lighter and more supple than the Racing Ralphs, and that was reflected with the slight extra difficulty with which they inflated - I eventually succeeded with the compressor, but ran the front tyre for a year without incident once it was inflated. These have a slightly more aggressive tread than Racing Ralphs and were faultless in a relatively dry year of Scottish cross. The rear unfortunately didn't fare so well - a ripped lug in it's first race wouldn't seal, and whilst it would probably do a turn with an inner tube in or with a tyre patch, I haven't used it since.

This year, I am back on a Racing Ralph on the rear (a new design which seems perfectly grippy and inflated ridiculously easily with a track pump) and started off with a Rocket Ron upfront. Thin sidewalls on the latter led to a puncture on a rock at Strathclyde Park, which has given me the opportunity to finally try a Challenge tyre up front. Whilst Challenge are better known for their super supple tan sidewall tyres and tubulars, they now do the Grifo in a more regular tyre casing - in 60tpi or 120tpi flavours. The latter is supposedly more supple. These inflated as well as any other CX tyre I have tried, and stayed inflated without issue. I only have one race under my belt on them, but initial impressions are good - they seem to roll better on the road than the Clements PDX, but still have a good tread which kept me upright on Irvine's off camber grass. I might have a new favourite all round CX tyre here"... Graeme.

Oh heck oh no it's the Grifolo

Whilst we all love the Challenge Grifo Open Pro [the one with the skin wall] for it's grip and speed in all but the muddiest of conditions, there's one thing it cannot do, and that's run Tubeless!Although I have run them tubeless successfully for a 'while', they are not a viable Tubeless option and there are much better alternatives, including the 120tpi Grifo. The problem with the Open Pro design for Tubeless setups is that they are incredibly flexible and they can roll off the rim with some combinations of rim, tape and pressure. As such I no longer recommend the Open Pro Grifo for tubeless with any combination of rim, pressure etc. If you want to run Tubeless and want the Grifo tread then you should chose the 60tpi or 120tpi version produced by Challenge.

The 120Tpi version is now standard kit on Helen Wyman's signature bike from Kona and it's set up Tubeless from the off.

The RRP of the 120tpi is £35

The right tubeless tools for the job

Steel shanked tyre levers are the tools for the job when it comes to Tubeless tyre changes. Even with the best technique sometimes a little bit of extra oomph is required. Schwalbe seems to have the tightest rim/tyre fit I've encountered. X-Tools Steel Core Tyre Lever Set are nylon with a steel core so they provide the strength without damaging the tyre or rim (so long as you use them correctly) Never use them to seat a tyre with a tube in it unless you like patching tubes.


X-Tools Tyre Levers


A valve core removal tool is handy if you want to stand a cat in hells chance of inflating and seating your tyres with just a track pump and absolutely essential for getting the sealant into your tyres and not all over the floor or yourself.

The Stans No Tubes valve core remover does both Presta and Schraeder and is of an all metal construction.


NoTubes Core Remover