Thursday, 6 December 2012

Vulpine Trousers Review

I've been on the look out for a decent pair of trousers for commuting for quite some time, most of them look like the sort of trousers you'd wear if you were about to climb a mountain. I don't do that. I just want to put on a pair of trousers, ride to work and know that I'm not going to turn up looking like a drowned rat. For quite a while I coveted a pair of Rapha's softshell trousers, mainly because I think their city riding jacket is awesome. But for some reason or another I just couldn't afford them at that moment.

When I heard Vulpine were planning on releasing a pair of trousers I was pretty excited. The reviews they've received for the jackets and merino wear have been really good and the attention to detail they put into their garments is obviously immense. So just when they came available luckily coincided with me doing some overtime, I had a bit of extra cash to fulfil my wish. At £120 they aren't cheap but what you get for your money is a pair of trousers which have been really well thought out and expertly put together. From the little carabiner hook in the pocket to hold your keys, to the bits of reflective taping just where you would want them.

And then obviously there is the ability to keep out the rain, which is brilliant, the rain simply balls up on the trousers meaning you get to your office and just wipe off the water and you're ready for the working day. No need to get changed, no need to carry extra stuff, just sit down and crack on and earn some more money to spend on bike stuff! My only niggle is the fact that they aren't very warm but then I have been wearing them in what has been one of the coldest weeks of the year. And this fact is easily fixed by wearing a pair of under-shorts or cycling quicker.

I'm a pretty visual person as you can imagine and the way the trousers look was again one of the main reasons why I chose to try them. I work in a pretty smart office so can't get away with other commuter options like Levi's jeans or chinos. These trousers work really well as part of a smart outfit and I've worn them several times in the office with no one asking why I was wearing 'performance' gear. It's clear that the company have thought about the trousers work and fit as well, a nice tailored leg with a little bit extra room at the knee gives a smart but functional look.The only thing which might give you away is the gentle rustle of the fabric as you walk.

All in all the Vulpine trousers look great, keep you dry and blend into the background when you want them to. I think they are great, definitely worth the money if you commute regularly and can't wear jeans in the office. So head over to their website and grab yourself a pair before they all run out!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Made In England - Celebrating Britain's artisan producers

Ask most people what they think the bike market is like for producers in the UK and they will most probably say that nobody builds bikes here any more and it's all done in the Far East. However, anyone who has been to Bespoked Bristol or follow the likes of Ricky Feather and Tom Donhou on Instagram will know that the British bike building businesses is thriving, you just need to know where to look. The authors of Made In England, one of them being Ricky Feather himself, wanted to celebrate this fact and show off some of the amazing work which is going on in workshops, sheds and shipping containers up and down the country.

The photography is provided by Kayti Peschke and gives a wonderful insight into the working lives of the builders. Accompanied with frank, informative and humorous interviews with the frame makers the book is a fantastic tome highlighting the great and good in the bicycle business.

Now available through their website I think it would be a great Christmas present for any cycling fans who love the craft which goes into building these machines. Also, it works as a fantastic catalogue if you are looking for a builder to create your dream bike. Just need to save up for a few years!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Quarterre bike furniture

Shadow by Quarterre

I've mentioned a couple of other bike storage methods on the blog in the past. But the range offered by Quarterre is something else. Produced by four designers based in Clerkenwell, London their design expertise and love of cycling fuse together to create some amazing products.


My particular favourite is the Shadow but if you are short of floor space the Hood and Branchline give you the opportunity to utilise the wall to hang your bike on. I do like this idea as it gives you more chance to show off your pride and joy.


Available through their website, the prices start from £144 which isn't cheap but these a beautifully crafted pieces and you're not just getting a tool, you're getting a piece stunning furniture as well.

Twitter: @quarterre

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Handmade Cyclist

It seems there is definitely a large number of talented people out there combining their love of cycling with top notch designs and illustrations. With festivals like Artcrank becoming bigger and bigger as well as a number of tumblr sites dedicated to cycling artworks, there clearly is a market out there. 

The Handmade Cyclist, also known as Neil, is one of these talented artists. With a style aimed towards the pro racing, peleton following cyclist, he creates some lovely bold prints. All the posters are giclee printed using archival inks onto fantastic 300gsm gallery-grade paper and will last a lifetime. Seeing as prices start at just £19, it's a pretty good chance to get some lovely graphic print up on your walls. 

particularly like the geometric designs celebrating some of cycling's biggest classics, like La Doyenne and IL Lombardia. However, if you fancy getting your name put up there alongside some of the greats, several of his works can be personalised. You could even claim to be the 22nd Champion of l'Alpe d'Heuz. 

All the work is available through his Etsy store and could make a nice little Christmas present for the art loving cyclist in your life, especially the witty 'I love you more' print. Definitely better than a pair of socks with some bikes on. 

Twitter: @handmadecyclist

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Rothera Cycling Caps

I came across Rothera after reading a great feature about Gary Rother over on Headset Press, and their comprehensive and endorsing review inspired me to order my own cap. Now, after a few weeks of using the cap in some very wet and very cold conditions I couldn't be happier with it.

All Rothera caps are handmade to order by Gary so there is the opportunity to customise exisiting models or have a completely different version. I wanted the functionality of their winter cap, which is fleece lined but liked the look of the Sweney model. The caps are water resistant as standard and made from a quick drying, breathable material. So if you get caught in the rain on the ride to work it's not going to be soggy when you put the cap on to go home. A definite bonus when wearing one in the rainy autumn days of Britain.

The quality of these caps is obvious when you first get hold of one, and at a price of $48 including the delivery I think it's great value seeing as how often it will get used. It's also always nice to support the guys that are doing things themselves and the level of customisation is great, showing the benefit of dealing with small companies.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Discerning Cyclist

Another great cycling site is, full of great reviews of stylish cycling gear alongside some very cool illustrations. Sharing a desire to highlight quality clothing to ride in, the site does not just focus on cycling specific gear. Definitely worth a read or just browsing to check out the great illustrations and pick up some ideas.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Autumn delight

On a sunny day, Autumn is my favourite season to ride in. Warm enough to not freeze and not so warm that you end up dripping in swear. Cycling every where also gives you the chance to fully appreciate the colours of the season.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Woodguards - the elusive beautiful mudguards

I've been eyeing up a pair of wooden mudguards for a while now, especially at this time of year when the weather is less than kind to us. The guys at Woodguards make beautiful examples, made from reclaimed timber and brightly coloured formica. Each pair are handmade in Edinburgh by former furniture makers whose skills can be seen in the attention to detail and finishing of the mudguards.

At a cost of £142 they are definitely, as they say, for your best bike. You can buy them through their site or through Freshtripe.

The beautiful photography is supplied by Stuart McClay

Thursday, 4 October 2012

I've been rubbish

An apology to anyone reading this (does anyone really read it?). I haven't written any new stuff in a long time, mainly because my time has been taken up with other projects and I didn't have the time to write about what has turned out to be an amazing summer for cycling, in Britain anyway.

The main reason I've been away has been the organising and training I did for the Ride to Weymouth. This was a 162 mile ride from Birmingham to Weymouth in memory of my brother. The ride was a great success and so far we've raised over £3,000 for Lifeblood (donations still greatly appreciated!).

So now I'm back, will try and post a bit more regularly. Oh and the last post I wrote about the evolution of my bikes, well it didn't take long for me to turn my red bike green, really happy with how it looks now. It did me well all the way down to Weymouth too.

&bike magazine

Dreamt up by two journalists who love cycling in all it's many guises, &Bike is a great new addition to the online cycling world. As you would imagine the writing is top notch, witty, informed and playful with the articles being accompanied by great photography.

Articles so far have ranged from the role of  and renaissance of British steel, to the Bicycle Style Police (BSP) keeping an ironic eye on your cycling gear. I'm still relatively new to the world of cycling and love reading about all the different ways people use their bikes and the adventures they get up to. In many ways it's similar to Boneshaker in it's approach to writing about the world of cycling without having to focus on the pro side of things or which carbon frameset you should ride.

At the moment they just have an online presence but are considering writing a magazine, the weekly Sunday Read is a nice touch and I'm sure will be the perfect read in front of the fire after a cold, wet and windy wintery ride.

You can read more on their site, facebook page and twitter feed.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The evolution of my bikes

It's been a while since I put up a post, partly because I've been spending a lot of time tinkering with my bikes. So I thought I would put a piece on how they have evolved.

I got back into cycling about two years ago starting with commuting to work before buying an old road bike for a few longer rides. I'm now on my third and fourth bike and have definitely learnt a lot since I bought the first one from Halfords.
The old commuter soaking up some sun
I made the classic mistake of buying something I didn't know much about and based my decision on looks over quality. This bike did me well for over a year but I wouldn't be rushing out to buy another bike from Halfords any time soon. Commuting on this bike did reignite my love for cycling though and within months I decided to buy an old road bike off ebay. The Raleigh Winner. 

Not actually my bike but the same model. Image by rodcorp on Flickr:
This bike was great fun but the look wasn't a winner for me, so I decided to undertake a little project. Now, this won't please everyone, some feel that bikes should stay as they are or be restored to their heyday form. Well I wanted a green bike so I painted it green, not much more thought went into it than that really.                                     
Respray complete with a few nice additions.
I really loved this bike, it wasn't the lighest, it wasn't the fastest but it was still a joy to ride. Also, as I put so much time into it I felt like I really knew how it worked and every time I went out on it I had fun. Unfortunately as I was learning more I soon learnt that it was far too big for me! So I started looking for a new frame to build up. Which led me to another Raleigh frame, this time the Rapide. 


A much lighter frame but still wasn't a fan of the colour.

After the last bike I now had a bit more confidence in respraying the frame but first I wanted to do a few runs on it to make sure the frame was ok. So I undertook some transplant surgery. 

Bike bits everywhere!
This consisted of just taking everything off the Winner and onto the Rapide. 

It didn't stay like this for long. 
A few miles on the new frame and I decided it was good enough to put a bit more work into it. And viola!

I stuck with a retro style for the new look.
 The only thing for it now, was some rides.

Enjoying the Warwickshire countryside.
My first long organised ride was the Shakespeare Spring 100, a 100km ride through the glorious countryside, this was great fun but disaster struck about 40km out. My tool roll which was strapped to the saddle came loose and took out five of my rear spokes. I finished the event though, despite a severely buckled wheel!

Obviously I needed a new wheel but whilst looking for one I soon came round to the idea of having a bit of a change around. A friend of mine, much taller than me, was interested in buying a single speed. So I built up the Winner into a single speed for him with some of the bits of my old commuter and another ebay purchase. 

Another bargain. 
This frame was a lighter Reynolds steel, slightly smaller and a bit racer so the obvious thing to do was to build this into my weekend bike and turn the light blue bike into my commuter. A few hours/days of swapping bits over and quite a bit of swearing and I now had a Blue bike and a Red bike. Craig had the green bike. And I now had a set up I was really happy with and did everything I needed it to do. So we come to the end of the evolution. For now. 

Craig rode home the green bike.

The blue bike takes me to work everyday.

And the red bike is my racy little number for the weekend. 
Obviously this story never really ends. I'm sure something will go wrong at some stage which will inspire another purchase and maybe even a whole new bike. But for now I am very happy with my stable.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Papergirl Birmingham Events

Last year I wrote about the fantastic Papergirl project which began in Berlin. Well, after a lot of hard work and coordination by all involved Papergirl Birmingham will launch tomorrow April 24th with an event at Mailbox in Birmingham. And when an event promises free tea and cake and a screening of the film 'Roadworthy', how can you say no? Just to top it off you can ride right into the event!

Unfortunately I will miss the distribution day on Saturday but if you are around the Birmingham area you should definitely get involved.

The details are on the website and there is a facebook event for both tomorrow and Saturday.

Monday, 16 April 2012

My view of Bespoked Bristol 2012

Slate Cycles
Long overdue but these are a few of my pictures from Bespoked Bristol 2012 event. It was a great show and it was nice to see a hall full of people admiring some of the finest bikes in the country. Including the frame above built by Christy Boothroyd of Slate cycles which is only his second complete build, showing great skills already.

Slate Cycles

Rapha + Feather

Rapha + Mather Cycles



il Soigneur


Shand Cycles

Brother Cycles

Show winner by Robin Mather

Rapha's beautiful new Grand Tour shoes

Creux Clothing


Racer Rosa Cycles