ICE ID – medical identification tags

When riding out there, you often wonder what would happen in the worst case scenario: you are injured, had an accident or a medical problem that doesn’t allow you to speak to whoever finds you first. You should have your ICE (In Case of Emergency) details saved on your cell phone, but as this is often locked by a pin code, there are easier and more reliable options:

IceID

We discovered ICE ID, a range of identity wristbands and shoe tags with a guaranteeed stainless steel tag, upon which the personalised data could be engraved. Our favourite is the black silicon wristband (also available in blue and red) which comes with a reliable closing mechanism and can be cut to fit your arm size. As it is silicone, it is very light, easy to clean and never smells of sweat like many other arm bands do eventually.

Find further information on their website: http://www.iceid.co.za/sports-id/

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Transporting bicycles: Thule EuroRide 943

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While taking front- and rear wheel off, getting your hands dirty on the derailleur and struggling to fit your bike into the boot, have you ever wondered if there isn’t an easier way? Well, Punctureking used to trust a low budget strap-on bike rack to transport his bikes, which enabled the small hatch to carry up to three of them. However, after a few years, metal hooks and accidental crank contact during the loading process made a respray of the boot lid necessary in order to sell the car.

With the arrival of a new sedan came the decision to get a towbar-fitting Thule EuroRide 943 for a maximum of three bicycles. The initial cost is still something I haven’t quite swallowed, at half the cost of my road bike, and that excludes the fitting of the towbar itself. However, the goal was a convenient, reliable solution that protects bike and car at the same time.

The Thule EuroRide is a 3 bike platform carrier, so the bikes stand on a platform that is attached to the towbar. A foldable arm holds the bike upright, straps on each wheel keep the bike in position.

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Does it work? I like the fact that it is a very reliable, strong carrier – and even driving at 120m/h doesn’t cause anything to move. So it’s great for long distance travel. The frame holder connectors (not lockable, so you need a cable lock) are strong and rubberized, so they don’t damage the paintwork. The connection to the tow bar is easy – a large (lockable in this case) hard plastic handle gets turned until the whole carrier sits in place. It literally takes 15 seconds to place the Thule EuroRide 943 on your towbar, position it and tighten it. It’s got it’s own driving/break lights and indicators as well as number plate holder. Buy a number plate, as the carrier covers your car’s license plate and traffic cops might charge you for obstructing number plates.

Loading bikes takes a bit longer: fold up the arm, place bike on carrier, fix the arm onto the bike frame and tighten. Then fiddle the straps through the wheel and tighten. When you load more than one bike, remember to guide the arms through the bike you loaded first. All in all you can load 3 bikes within less than ten minutes, once you got the hang of it.

The best feature is the fact that the whole bike rack can fold down, even when loaded and you want to access your station wagon’s boot.

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The EuroRide 943 is 15 kg heavy and a large, bulky item which makes it difficult for most woman to use on their own. Storing it is a bit tricky, as lifting it onto hangers on the garage wall is a bit of a workout. The soft straps to secure the wheels are unfortunately less than ideal, as they tend to loosen on longer drives. It is almost impossible not to get dirty hands when fastening them, especially on the back wheel between chain and wheel.

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Because of its relative ease of use, reliability and safety Punctureking enjoys the Thule EuroRide 943 but would love to see other wheel straps such as the plastic pump buckle straps Thule uses for their premier models such as the EuroClassic G6, even if it was an optional upgrade.

Riding with children – Tout Terrain Singletrailer

Have you ever wondered, if bike trailers for kids can actually be enjoyable for both the parent and the kid? Or are they merely good enough to ride around the neighbourhood, but not actually an option for serious mountain bikers, who want to get a work out, but take their kids along at the same time?
Tout terrain Single Trailer

We are fortunate enough to try a Tout Terrain Singletrailer, which is a German premium  trailer with one wheel, air suspension and full singletrack capability. The Singletrailer is hand built in Germany. The retail price in Germany is EUR 1299, which at the current exchange rate works out at the same as a entry level full suspension bike. So how can this price be justified? Well, simple: there is no other trailer available, which I would trust to take my child offroad in. It reliable  connection to the seat post (with individual connectors for specific seat post sizes) and the focus on comfort, safety and reliability clearly make this trailer the Ferrari among kids trailers. Its suspension gives 20 cm of cushy travel. My son loves riding up and down pavements, because all he feels is a mere bump.

Tout terrain Single Trailer

However, as this price is obviously not accessible to the average cyclist, one needs to think what you are going to use it for. If you have a one kid, you can use it for 4 – 5 years, or for EUR 260 per year, which doesn’t sound so bad anymore, considering the benefits of getting a proper  training ride with your child. Also, the second hand prices are an indication of its quality: I have seen a 5 year old trailer sell for EUR 1000,00 on Ebay. Find more information on this trailer on the website of their SA distributor (here) or on their international homepage (here).

There is also a short video on how capable the Tout Terrain Singletrailer really is (video)

Review: GUTR Sweatband

Fortunately I get to ride my bicycle in South Africa, possibly the most beautiful country on this planet. However, the advantage of warm sunny weather and challenging landscapes also require something I always disliked: sun tan lotion and sweat management. There is simply nothing worse than cycling up Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town, with a mixture of suntan lotion and sweat running into your eyes. For those people in the north: it burns like hell.

The clever people at GUTR have developed a sweatband that doesn’t attempt to catch and retain your sweat (and sun tan lotion) like many other products. In other words – it doesn’t turn into a wet and smelly piece of fabric that can hold a certain amount of sweat and then turns useless. The GUTR sweatband is a silicon band with an inbuilt gutter that merely channels the sweat running down  your forehead to the sides of your face. That is all. Simple, brilliant. Does it work?

I have tried the GUTR on a multistage MTB event with some 6000m of climbing and once you adjusted the size correctly (it comes with three different size connecting rings) between painfully tight and uselessly lose your are perfectly fine. The sweat that builds up on or runs down your forehead is efficiently pushed to the sides of your head. You realize how well it works when you feel the stream of sweat running down your cheeks. There are two drawbacks though: I found it quite difficult to get the helmet fitting perfectly without pushing the headband down onto my ears, but I blame my head shape for that. It also won’t stop 100% of the sweat from running down, as some of it transpires below the sweat band, e.g. in your eyebrows etc. It does however stop 95% of the sweat, frustration and burning eyes. Possibly one of the greatest cheap bike expenses you will make.

The Gutr sweatband - sweat management

Garmin Edge 200 Bicycle GPS computer

I have always been a fan of measuring. No, that sounds wrong. I have always been a fan of data, and receiving a constant update of speed and distance while riding a bike is as important to me as my helmet or my gloves.

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Garmin Edge 200

My first bicycle was a 3 speed steel classic, equipped with a mechanical VDO speedometer that didn’t even require batteries. Three decades any many systems later, I have finally said good bye to fiddling with magnets and measuring circumferences as well as to close to ZAR1800. A brand new Edge 200 is my own – and what a difference a GPS based cycling computer makes. No setup, easy to swap between bikes, detailed route maps and all the data I need.

The Garmin Edge 200 is the cheapest unit in Garmin’s bike GPS stable and fairly basic: It gives you current speed, average, distance, total ascent / descent, time, can measure laps and has a nifty training function where you can measure yourself against your target time. Garmin’s easy to use Garmin Connect online tools beats other products by miles.
Getting started is as easy as punching in your weight, age and hight (for the calorie consumption calculator) and attaching the clip on bike bracket onto your handlebar. Within 30 seconds after switching on, the unit connects to satellites and is ready to go. Battery life is about 12 -16 hours which I find more than sufficient.

For someone who hasn’t got the need for heart rate and cadence monitoring, the Edge 200 offers everything needed. If you are after as much detail as possible, rather go for the 510 or the new 810 which offers colour touch screen and full mapping facilities.

Mechanical VDO bike speedometer

Things have come a long way since my first mechanical VDO bike speedometer