So for all the companies who have helped me out, I promised to review the gear and product they supplied. See below for a number of articles on products you might find useful.
20/08/13 T7 Jersey
I have now been using the T7 jersey for a good 3months, and to be honest of those 3months I have pretty much solely been wearing the Torm Jersey. This I think speak volumes for the jersey. It fits so well, feels great against the skin, keeps me a good temperature and just generally great. I imagine these jerseys I mainly used by weekend warriors so for it to have continue use pretty much for 3months straight is a big test. Currently there is no sign of any wear at all, no threads dangling no miss shape, still as good as they day it arrived. The only one thing that has changed is the colour, the front it still a brilliant red but the reverse now has a vintage look, this is probably my fault as I have not rinsed it as much as I should have and the combination of my sweat (a lot of salt) and 35+ degree heat/sun will have caused it fade. None the less 3months use and it’s still my go to jersey. I may try and get another one though to add some rotation. Still a big thumps up.
10/06/13 T7 Jersey plus Torm Base layer
So 3 weeks in now and all I have been wearing is the T7 plus thier base layer some times. When touring my concern is do i smell, am i comfortable, not how good do i look, am i aerodynamic and all that ponsey road cycling stuff.
So far i have had to wash the T7 twice in 900miles which is pretty good, smells fresh fits better every day (mainly me thinning out) and has been keeping my body a good temp. Due to the crap weather recently i have been using the base layer as well. I thought i would over heat really quickly but so far the combo has been great. The occasional afternoon i have stripped down and gone just with the jersey. The full length zip on the T7 is perfect and come a long decent allows for a refreshing air flow, I would how ever maybe like to see an option on the zipper, maybe a bit larger.
As the weather warms up I think there will be a lot less call for the baselayer, but its a really nice fit so i may just take it as as t-shirt, saying that though I have a non cycling 100%merino which is a lot lighter, so it may get sent home, but for the cost and effectiveness i would highly recommend having one in your arsenal.
Back to the T7 and I am very happy to continue with it, but once the weather really hot's up i shall try my alternative baggy fitting 100% merino jersey to give you a real comparison between the two styles
In the mean time I still cant rate Torm highly enough, its nice when a company/bike shop actually takes an interest in what you are doing and with out asking offers their support. They seem to be a pretty rare company now days.
P,s A one off really larey jersey would be pretty cool!!!
02/03/13 T7 Red Medium http://torm.cc/t7.html
So my Jersey arrived 24 hours later and fitted perfectly. A brilliant red colour with a soft touch. You can instantly tell is quality by A.the weight, not heavy at all but just has that feeling B.the materials, its does not feel plasticly/nylon, not going to shock you on a hot day. It comes across as the kind of Jersey that will last a while, fingers crossed 14,000 miles.
First ride was a short 12miles blast, pretty chilly so the jersey and windstopper where donned. 1mile in there is a nice pair of humps to over come so a quick sweet developed. Come the second down you would barley know it, other than my red face. Usual at this point it gets a little chilly with the sweet a wind combing to park the nip's, not this time amazingly quick wick and good temperature. maintained.
Best thing is though, I got home had a cup tea took the jersey off and minimal oder, it will be perfect for the following day.
So far so good, great costumer service and a real gem of a product. Will keep you posted once it has tackled a JOGLE!!
Fibrax - spares
Brake Pads/blocks Cable/Gear wire 8mm bolts
So all the spares shall be turing up soon. great costumer service so far, they new exactly what I needed, research which countries they could ship stuff and generally around supportive, will reviews the actually Brakes pads, Cables, once they have been called upon.
Does exactly what is says and no complaints. I use it on the tracker setting every day I am riding so do get through batteries but family and friends like to keep an eye so works great for that. I still don’t understand though why it can only be run on Lithium batteries as in tracker mode I get about 4 weeks riding worth and they don’t do rechargeable lithium AAA batteries so spares need to be carried, and having looked around a number of large cities they are seem to be coming more and more rare…..!!
Whisperlite international stove.
Used it a fair bit and no signs of wear at all, used it on a number of fuels and always burns well. The only problem I find is the heat. Its so bloody hot that those super lightweight THIN titanium pans you brought offer no protection to your food and it pretty much burns instantly, In the future I would go for the adjustable heat version. Other than that all going well.
Love it, great fit, keeps the sun off and provides some shade on long hot days. You do need to give it a good rinse to get rid of the salt but dry’s super quick so always have it to hand. I have the Organic Airflow (has mesh at the top for extra ventilation)
Airepress and Clifton coffee. I was using this on a daily basis, but as the weather has good warmer not so much. But the coffee provided by Clifton coffee has kept really well, its shoved in the bottom of a pannier yet still smell and tastes great. The airepress is all so doing great, a great coffee every time and minimal weight. More to come on these two soon.
Socks - briefs - fleece - hat - base layer
So now I am fully in to my stride, the weather is stably HOT HOT I don’t have much use for the embers base layer so its pretty much the boxers that are flying the flag for this GB manufacture, and they are doing a Stirling job, no stretch, no wear signs and no horrid odours.
Now that I am in to the serious warmth a number of items have been sent home. Out of all of my Ember’s kit only the fleece got dropped.As for the other stuff, (boxers, base layer and hat) they all doing well. Some may question the hat in there and I am only holidng on to it in case something cold happens or if I need to protect my ears from the sun (they are the first to burn) The hat is light enough that I am happy carrying it and it does not effect my body heat much as seems to have got ‘wickage’ and breathability.
Going well. So probably one of most warn bit of embers kit and going great. They have taken a good beating recently having taken on a lot of salt water which has not affected them at all. Also having been handed washed most the time it can cause some stretch, due to the twisting whilst drying but have hold their shape and still very comfy.
The base layer.
Having free camped a fair amount the base layer has been used a fair bit. Good to keep the mossies’ off and nice to just have a super thin layer on. It has not needed many washes and takes up very little room so will be kept in the kit bag. Fits well and will get better as I burn off the Italian gelato
Its been pretty cold so i have used most of the above so far. All been great.
The socks i have are Merino but a little to heavy for cycling in so they have been given the off the bike job, I hate sleeping in socks but have had to ca couple of times and these have been great. Also walking around wet cities they have been ace, dry quickly dont small and super comfy, will be keeping hold of them.
Briefs - umm what to say, light weight, good fit, odor free, comfy,
Fleece - so this was a last minute job, like i said I am not traveling that light and probably i don't need it but, as the weather has been crap i have used it. i have a really nice north face hoodie for "off the bike" so having been using this one first thing in the morning, packing up camp, unpacking camp, long descents, sleeping in, pillow. Cycled in it a bit and does hold a bit of moisture, but as soon as i take it up off strap it on the back soon drys out. It is how ever a little heavy, expected it be a bit lighter, but has done a great job so far. Come Greece and full on Summer, it may get sent home. Helmet hat, been great, weighs nothing covers the hears from the wind and sun (only thing on me that burns) never smells, does gain moisture pretty quickly, but does not affect its performance at all.
Base layer, used a fair bit, its an "off the bike" item super light weight, bit short on my torso but ok, doubles up as t-shirt, slept in it a fair bit and great, just about right, does not smell and looks pretty good too.
So far the British Merino company Embers products are doing great!!
This is a bit late, so i shall keep it brief. I thought Dogtag where the perfect choice, spoke to them a fair bit, they had a real interest in my trip, wanted to run a blog and so on..... About to stump up my cash when i thought i would just go over all the small print one final time. I then came across the line about "Foreign Office Warnings" - any country with a warning against from the FOC would void your policy...Ah.... Iran...Ah thus making this company and policy useless. Firstly I should of read the small print before even entertaining the idea, but for all the conversions i had had with them i would of expected them to pipe up and point this out!!
Miffed me slightly.
BUT if you are not traveling against the FOC advice then Dogtag seem great, good value and mainly very good custom service.
Backpacker cover 05/03/13
So far I have not had to call upon them (touch wood) But the team have been great, passed some very useful knowledge and given really good coverage over the social media, so big thanks so far.
Roberts Cycles - Bridget -
Bridget is Bridget, no complaints, a cracking work horse. By now I would have expected anything to of broken to had broken, but she still feels as tight as anything.The only concerns are the rear Shwallble Marathon plus, it seems to be very low on tred, much more than the front, so will just keep an eye on it. Not entirely sure if it’s anything to be concerned about. 3500miles I expect it to be a in a little better shape.The Cane Creek hoods have also soon seen slightly better days, seems a bit of design floor that the rubber hood coverings, join at the top where your hands spend a lot of time. Thus the seal has started to split, being prevented currently by duck tape, which holds for a while but then the heat melts the glue. May try to order some replacement rubber hoods.Other than that everything is great. All the XT chains set is running smooth and no real wear at all, Brookes saddle looking good and not been effect to much by the heat. Harry Rolwands wheels still spinning free and true (ish)It is great to have confidence in the bike knowing as long as I am sensible she can manage most surfaces.
Rough stuff 10/06/13
So around about 2000miles has now been covered on Bridget and 90% has been great, Super solid no flex, no wiggles, Solid. including the bike and all my gear i reckon i am around 50 KG's so not traveling light!!! About 2 weeks in my buddies noticed my rear wheel had a slight wobble to it, that night i had planned to give her a clean, some oil, tighten etc etc, Got to the camp site put her on her back and BAM to spoke gone non drive side!!! (bugger) first thought was 2 weeks in Europe to gone spokes WTF from all the chat with the wheel builder I expected no breaks at all. To be honest i had not felt any wobble so they still very solid, but even still not cool. Luckily I had some lessons and happily fixed them, but If it had been drive side i may have been in a bit of trouble!!
Second complaint one the bike is fully loaded up, front brake is applied there seems to be some movement, was it the Pads, brakes, head set. Surely cant be the headset, this is an expensive bike hand made by serious pros.......it was the headset, not overly impressed.
BUT after all of that, i would not consider anything else, every other tourer I have met has commented, she rides well, got me up every climb and handled all the weight in her sleep. I am still sure i will give up before she does.
Lock, So the abus lock is doing fine I think. Something I hope that wont be tested. To be honest I have found you rarely have to use it. If you are free camping and some one is going to steal your bike I think you may have bigger worries. At campsites its purely a judgement thing, If you think it’s a bit dodge then I will lock it otherwise I don’t ( I do how ever put a black bike cover over it, which is a great bit of kit, something to sit on, something to store gear under and at night put over the bike. I also have an additional cable which I am about to send home as simply have no use for it.,