The End of Season Product Review

 

Most review sites don’t bother with the little things, forgetting about the everyday bits and bobs that we “need” for this crazy sport.

This round up review covers everything I have have used this year, big and small.

Enjoy

 

Swim Kit

Zoggs Predator Flex Polarised

These are the second pair of predator flex I own and they have been fine apart from one thing. The fit is perfect for me, which is important. The build quality is reasonable and they don’t leak. They do however mist up constantly, in open water and in the pool.

Zoggs Nose Clip

I just could not get this thing to stay on! no mater how I fit it. Maybe its my nose, maybe its just poor design. I’ve since learned to gently breathe out through my nose when I tumble turn, so no need for a nose clip.

Mack’s AquaBlock Earplugs

Oh WOW, a 5 start review! I really suffer with water staying in my ears and if I don’t wear earplugs, I’ll have water trapped for days. Mack’s earplugs are cheap, comfortable and work perfectly. Much better than the Zoggs and Speedo plugs I have used in the past.

Cressi Anti Fog Spray

Because of the misting problem I have, I bought some anti fog spray. It works, but you have to apply before every swim and it wears off pretty quickly after about 20 minutes.

 

Bike Kit

Rudy Project wing57

This superb helmet has been with me for every race this year and on quite a lot of my training rides. Its a great fit (for me) its comfortable and fits really snugly. Putting the helmet on quickly is not a problem either, despite its close fit, the cheek guards are very flexible. The only downside is the visor, the way it attaches to the helmet is really basic. There are three tags on the visor that lock into three slots in the inner PP foam material. I’ve not had any issues with it becoming loose (yet) but I’m very very careful with it. As with all bike helmets, they are incredibly expensive for what is really just a cheap plastic molding.

A superb helmet.

Full Review

Vaude Metis II toe warmer

I bought these after the Dambuster Triathlon. My toes froze and I could barely get my running shoes on in T1. At my next race, I used the toe warmers and they were perfect, a huge difference, my toes stayed nice and warm. Getting in and out of my shoes while they were still clipped to the bike was not a problem, they are just the right length as to not interfere with the straps. The opening for the cleats are ample for Look Keo and I have had no problems clipping in. Pretty durable and reasonably inexpensive.

Gore Arm Warmers

These are a recent purchase and I’ve only used them once. The quality is fine, but they are very thin and I didn’t think they made much of a difference. If they were thicker, maybe they would be more useful, but if its that cold to need them, then I would be wearing a long sleeve top or jacket. I’m not convinced they are necessary other than maybe an aero benefit or sun protection.

Zipp Course 70 Ergo

My poor Boardman bike! My first road bike, has had more bits swapped over and replaced over the years. At one point it was a strange TT hybrid thing, now its back to being a road bike. The original bars were very wide and I prefer a narrower setup, so I went for size 38. These are aluminum, no fancy carbon or aero profiles, they are very comfortable and well built.

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Zipp Service Course Bar Tape CX

A bar tape that is not too thick but still comfortable. Nice and gripy, easy to apply.

Profile Design Aero HC

This between the bars hydration system has one big flaw, the nasty straw. The first time I used it I almost knocked my teeth out on the straw, its not very flexible and its sharply cut off at the end. I fitted a camelbak mouth piece which was an improvement, but the straw is just too stiff. Its not securely fixed either, so swings around all over the place. It was cheap though, filling and cleaning is easy, so not a bad purchase.

Stages Power Meter

I haven’t had a great deal of use out of this yet, its on my TT bike and I suppose this is the disadvantage of a crank arm based system, unless you have the same cranks on all your bikes, you can’t swap it between bikes.

One huge tip! check frame clearance!! I forgot and luckily it just fits to the Cevello P3. The clearance I have is less than what stages recommends, but it seems to be okay, there is still plenty of clearance.

Installation and setup is pretty straight forward, paring and calibration with my Garmin watch was easy. On the first outing, disaster! with constant connection dropouts. This turned out to be the fault of the Garmin 910xt, which uses 4-channel ANT+, which has a very weak signal and couldn’t quite keep the connection with the rotating crank.

Using a Garmin edge 520, which has an 8-channel ANT+ chip and the dropout issue disappeared.

I have heard issues with water ingress through the battery cover, so I’ll be very careful when changing the battery, but so far for me, it has worked flawlessly.

TorHans Aero Bento

I use this top tube mounted Bento Box for my spares kit rather than nutrition, I don’t race anything longer than Olympic, so I don’t feel I really need to eat on the bike. It fits nicely on the P3, although I have drilled a few extra mounting holes so that I could move it further forward towards the stem.

After a recent ride, I noticed that the base had split from the upper part of the box, I glued it back together and its been fine since then. I don’t think this was a part durability issue from TorHans, as I have modified it, so could have weakened it.

Full Review

K-Edge Chain Catcher

My chain hasn’t fallen off. I don’t know if it has tried to jump off, if it did, then this chain catcher works ;)

Full Review

K-Edge Garmin Stem Mount

When used as intended, this is no good for a TT bike, its too far back to be able to see any device mounted to it, however, I have re-purposed it and fixed it to a custom bracket.

It works well, retains Garmin devices very well and is very sturdy.

Full Review

 

Run Kit

Newton tri-racer

I love this running shoe, very light, very fast.

Getting your feet into them quickly can sometimes be a bit of  a pain, the front finger loop would be better if it was positioned across the shoe rather than along it. When you pull the loop it lifts the center portion and the sides end up folding in on themselves, but, with a quick flick of your finger, you can pop the folded sides out.

Full Review

Newton Motion IV

Newton shoes suit me, they suit my running style. I have covered almost 200km in the Motion IV and they have performed superbly. They still look and feel brand new.

Full Review

ON Cloud surfer Winter Edition

I have mixed views about this shoe. I love the fact that they are warm and water proof, but they have a few downsides. One of the worst issues is grip, the ‘clouds’ seem to be a bit tougher than the standard Cloud Surfer and this different material really lacks grip. They also squeak really badly when wet, which is really irritating. The fit doesn’t seem to suit my feet either, no mater how I lace them I cant get rid of the heel lift, I think this might be due to the shoe being very stiff.

Rather than running in them, I’ve been using them as a regular trainer and they are great for washing the car ;)

Full Review

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Zoot M Ultra TT7.0

While looking for a triathlon specific shoe, I came across the Zoot TT7.0 half price on amazon, so I thought I would give them a try. These shoes are designed to be worn sockless, they have a nice big opening with elastic laces. Great in theory, but ruined by poor performance.

Getting your feet in is very easy with the two nice big loops, the inner liner is quite comfortable at first, but when you have covered a few miles they get pretty uncomfortable and HOT, hotter than my other shoes with socks. The lace locking system isn’t marvelous either, coming loose far too often.

Puma Cell socks

Very comfortable and very cool, great socks

Compressport calf guards

With my injury last year, I thought I would give calf guards a try. Have they kept me injury free? who can say? I have made a few changes this year to prevent injury including a strength and conditioning regime.

They are very comfortable and I have had no quality issues, they fit just as well as when I first put them on.

TOP TIP! Wear them in the shower after your run and leave them on, as the water evaporates they draw heat away from your calves and get really cool!

I tend to only wear them now for long runs like half marathons or if its cold outside. Top quality product.

Compressport Tri top

When you first take this top out of the packaging, you panic! Its a child’s size! I ordered the wrong size! but fear not, its a compression top and this is its uncompressed state.

Its a really nice top and obviously, a really snug fit. There are two pockets on the lower back which are angled for easy access. You can fit a couple of gels in there, or your keys, which is really handy. For some reason, on my first few runs, the top would ride up to my belly button and I would have to tug it back down, but it doesn’t do that anymore. There are different panels of different thicknesses to control heat and compression and this is a great top for running in warm weather, it wicks exceptionally well and I never feel wet no mater how hard I’m running.

I’ll be buying a few more of these.

Mile 1000 socks

These socks are just too warm, they are double layered, which I suppose is supposed to prevent blisters, I wore these for a Half Marathon and got the worst blisters I have ever experienced. They were bad 10km in to the run. I had worn them before, but for shorter distances and they seemed fine.

Huub Core Tri-Shorts

The Huub Tri-Shorts feel great when you first pull them on, its a really unusual material and they feel really technical. The pad doesn’t feel too big and the fit is really good, while you are standing! As a man, I need my bits to be kept under control, I don’t want meat down one leg and two veg down the other. These shorts are a nightmare, I spend more time rearranging myself than I do running. Its not so much a problem while cycling, I guess its mostly down to the different position and less vertical oscillation. There is an odd shaped shallow pocket on the back, which I think is the worst place to put a pocket, especially if you are a sweat monster like me. I really wanted to like these shorts, but they are nothing compared to Zoot tri-shorts.

Huub Core Tri-Suit

Unfortunately, this suit suffers from the same lack of manhood control as the tri-shorts. Otherwise, its a nice suit, the pad is just right, the angled side pockets are perfectly placed and it feels fast in the pool. There is a nice big mesh area on the back to keep you cool and the material dries really quickly. Fit is fantastic too (apart from the nether regions).

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Huub Training Top

I’m struggling to feel the love for Huub products, this tee shirt is one of the worst.

For a start, the neck hole is tiny, I feel like I’m being born again trying to pull this thing over my head. When you manage to get it on and go out for a run, you just end up feeling like a clammy mess, sweat soaks in and it sticks to your skin.

Gore Running Peaked Cap

Good fit, dries well, nice and cool. top marks

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Zoot Performance Tri 8 inch Shorts.

I have four pairs of these shorts, I did have five, but one pair unfortunately suffered badly when I crashed my bike, 50mph and skidding on my arse wore a few holes into them (and me).

The reason I have four pairs of these shorts is because they are bloody awesome!

Where to start? The fit, perfect. The pad, comfortable for both bike and run. I wear these shorts for almost EVERY run! 95% of my running in the past 2 years have been in these shorts. There are two side pockets on the upper thigh, brilliant, the perfect place for pockets. I can fit an iPhone 6S in them and run 20km with no fear of it falling out, also, it stays sweat free, unlike most other shorts that have the pocket crossing the sweat river of my lower back.

There are no silicon grippers on the legs, so they don’t rip my hair out (I’m not at the stage where I would consider shaving my legs) instead, there is a wide band of slightly more elastic material, this works perfectly.

There is only one fault, one thing that stops these shorts from being total perfection and that is the printed logos, they peel off in a mater of hours making the short look old and tatty. But, I don’t really care what they look like as long as I’m comfortable and my junk is kept in place.

The 2015 version has changed ever so slightly, mostly around the lower leg. I suspect its to save material off-cuts, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the fit or feel (thankfully).

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Under Armour Mens CG Running top

A recent addition ready for winter, this running top from Under Armour is lovely and warm.

Its nice and bright too, its good to be seen and safe. There are a few things that makes this top standout of me, its very very comfortable, the material is very soft against the skin. This is also one of the first tops that I can fully zip up the neck and not feel like I’m being choked.

Very comfortable and warm, but also very breathable. I’m looking forward to testing it when it gets really cold outside.

 

Tech

Garmin Edge 520

Some people love to have a computer beeping at them when the train, whether its running, cycling or swimming. Others hate it, scoff at it and buy a cheap Casio wristwatch to show how old school they are. I fall between the two, I prefer to train by feel, but I also like to analyse and track my performance after my session. Because I prefer to keep my eye on the road and not on a screen, I looked for the smallest (Garmin) bike computer I could find. The Edge 520 ticked all the boxes, small, simple and 8-channel ANT+ (for the power meter).

If you are a member of triathlon England, you get a 25% discount at Garmin!

Setup was easy, paring with my iPhone was straight forward. One thing I changed from the default setup was the phone notifications, I don’t care about twitter, emails, etc while I’m out riding, so all of that is switched off.

In use, its a little annoying. The buttons are around the edge of the device, so while pressing the enter button on the right hand side, you end up also pressing the power button on the opposite side. Same with the scroll and return buttons. Its impossible to navigate the menus with gloves, the lap and stop/start buttons however, are too easy to press!

GPS acquisition is lightning fast, so is picking up the sensors, so once you hit go, everything works perfectly. Just be careful you don’t accidentally delete your workout when you finish.

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Garmin Vivosmart

Unfortunately, the vivosmart turned out to be a bit of a disaster. Battery life was pretty poor, lasting barely a full week (with vibration alerts switched on) But the biggest problem was the display, it started to die! the whole bottom portion and the top left corner doesn’t work anymore, so its pretty useless now.

It also scratched very easily and after on a few weeks looked pretty tatty, and I’m very careful with my kit. Tapping the screen to view the time became annoying too.

Not all bad though, the vibrating alarm and the move counter convinced me to stick with smart watches.

Full Review

Garmin Vivoactive

I bought the vivoactive as a replacement for both my 910xt and the vivosmart.

It does pretty much everything that the big bulky 910xt does apart from one thing, open water swimming. The CPU in this watch is not capable of calculating the GPS route. In open water the GPS only works when your arm is out of the water and the watch needs to be able to calculate a smooth curve from the erratic GPS points gathered during the swim. To test it, you can select an outdoor run activity and go for a swim, the GPS route that gets saved is crazy, darting about all over the place, doubling the distance and producing a totally useless route.

Running with the vivoactive is fantastic, its so light, you forget its on your wrist. The display is actually quite easy to read and has a back light when you need it.

The battery lasts a few weeks (depending on GPS usage) and like the vivosmart, the vibrating alerts, alarms and move counter are extremely useful.

I get up at crazy o'clock without waking my wife up with a loud alarm.

Full Review

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Vivoactive replacement bands

Just to jazz up my Vivoactive and make it a little different, I bought a replacement strap. These come in a variety of colours and are exactly the same design and quality as the standard strap. It come supplied with all the tools you need to swap the strap over, a process that can be a little fiddly though, don’t lose the screws!

 

Nutrition

Elivar Recover

Elivar products are specifically tailored for the older athlete, 35+. What makes their blend that much different from any other recovery protein? From what I can see, there is more sugar, more fiber and a bunch of vitamins. No magic beans.

Its tasty though, a nice chocolate taste, but very frothy.

Its more expensive than SIS Rego, and I cant see what makes it any more beneficial.

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Bounce nutrition balls

Tasty, convenient but has a lot of brown rice malt syrup in them.

Brown rice syrup is basically 100% glucose.

Full Review

BeetIt

I hate beetroot, I despise beetroot, the very smell makes me nauseous. But, mixed in with a recovery shake, I don’t notice the taste. As for the benefits, I change too many things too often, to notice any benefits, but people in lab coats say that its good.

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PHD Creatine

The most studied dietary supplement! Used by body builders and cross fitters and increasingly finding its way into endurance sports, due to recent studies showing an improvement in recovery and possible endurance benefits.

This year I have been concentrating on strengthening my legs to reduce the risk of running injuries, so I have been taking creatine to help build that muscle. During strength and conditioning exercises, I certainly feel like I can go that little bit further, I can squeeze in a few more squats. Ive certainly noticed that my legs are a lot stronger.

Good stuff, I add it to my recovery shake in the morning.

PHD Diet Whey

Tastes nice, relatively inexpensive. I buy this if I run out of SIS Rego.

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SIS Rego Recover

Science in Sport has recently changed the formula for its popular recovery shake. Per serving, the protein content went from 13g to 20g, 2g of additional leucine was added and the dreaded aspartame sweetener was replaced with sucralose. Carbohydrate was lowered slightly to make room for the extra protein.

The chocolate flavour is okay, not the best, but not nasty or chemically. It mixes really easily in water to a nice consistency.

Rego seems to work for me, I train in the morning and use this as my recovery breakfast (during my commute to work). Whether it performs any better than other recovery shakes, I cant say, but I don’t seem to get many issues with DOMS and it keeps me feeling full until lunch.

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SIS Go Hydro

Its important to stay hydrated and water alone is not the most efficient way of re-hydrating during exercise. Your cells need sodium to help draw the water through the cell walls. This happens naturally in your body, sodium is kept in balance in your blood, but this natural process is slow. Electrolyte tablets add the sodium so that your body has it available immediately and does not need to extract it from stores in your body.

SIS Go Hydro also has a bit of a caffeine boost too. I buy the cola flavor, which is not unpleasant and is easy to drink.

Hornet Juice

A synthetic version of the secretion from Japanese Killer Hornet larvae!

Seriously! The Hornets use this secretion to better use body fat during flight. Does it work for Japanese Killer Humans?

I bought a stater pack from Brett at Zentriathon.com and I’ve used it for a few triathlons and half marathons. It does seem to give you a boost on those longer events, its not a nitro hit like caffeine, its a slow burner that seems to just add a nice little top up to your energy, like a diesel engine that just keeps chugging along. Mix it with water or an energy drink and enjoy. bzzzzzzzzzzz

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Primal Peleo Bars

I discovered these tasty bars at the recent NEC Cycle show. Free from grains, dairy, veg oils and refined sugar, they are a reasonably healthy snack. There are a range of flavors that all taste great.

Buy them in bulk from amazon and hide them like a squirrel in your car, office, gym bag, anywhere where you think you might need a healthy treat.

Meridian Peanut Butter

I eat a lot of nut butters, probably too much, but I just love the stuff! This nut butter is particularly good.

100% peanut, nothing else added. Other peanut butters add salt and palm oil to help thicken and set the butter. Because meridian don’t do this, when you open the tub, the oil has separated and you need to stir it. I love doing this, its like opening a fresh bag of coffee, I get a little extra satisfaction from stirring a huge 1kg pot of peanut butter before devouring it.

Meridian Hazelnut Butter

Like the peanut butter, the hazelnut butter has no added ingredients, it also separates from solids and oils and needs stirring. The hazelnut butter however seems to have a lot more oil in it, its very runny and not that nice.

PHD Pharma Whey

To satisfy my chocolate addiction, I though I would try something with at least a bunch of protein and a small amount of sugar. Taste is okay, but they are not great, not something I would get excited about eating.

PHD Diet Whey

Like the Pharma whey, but with less protein and sugar. They taste pretty nasty with a weird chemical taste, very chewy too.

Bio-Kult

Gut health is a big deal. The bacteria in your gut has a huge effect on your body and mind, so keeping a good balance of the right kind of bacteria will help to keep you healthy.

Bio-Kult contains 14 stains of live bacteria which is freeze dried to help storage and also to protect it as it makes its way to your gut.

I certainty feel great and I don’t have any issues with my gut or digestion since taking these capsules.

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PHD ZMA Capsules

ZMA (Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate and Vitamin B6) a supplement that is used to help recovery and sleep. I didn’t feel any benefit.

Swanson L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine is a widely used supplement with a wide range of benefits. Mainly, L-Carnatine is able to alleviate the effects of aging and disease on mitochondria, the powerhouse that produces the energy of your cells, while also increasing the mitochondria’s ability to burn fat.

There are also neural benefits, repairing certain kinds of neuronal damage, increasing alertness and reducing effects of neurological aging and fatigue.

Most of the PHD diet products also contain L-Carnatine, so always check the contents of what you use so that you aren’t taking too much.

Matcha Powder

Matcha powder is basically green tea, usually the tips of the leaves ground into a fine powder. It can be brewed and consumed as a drink or can simply be added to anything you are eating or drinking.

There are many benefits to green tea, as an antioxidant, a fat burner, a brain booster, a preventer of cancer………. the list goes on.

There are different grades of Matcha, Japanese ceremonial grade being the most expensive. The standard stuff is fine.

 

Misc

Sistema shaker

A shaker for whey protein and it sort of works. Mixing works well and its a good size. The only problem is the shape of the drinking spout, its not very comfortable at all with two sharp corners that dig into your lips.

Brevel Blend Active

Every (training) morning, I knock up a recovery shake of: -

SIS Rego, Bio-Kult, Ground Chia, Beetroot juice, coconut water, matcha, spirulina and a drop of peppermint essence. All nicely blended together.

The Blend active bottles screw onto the blender so that you can just add all your ingredients, blend and there is no need to pour into a another bottle. The bottles have a flip lid so you can drink on the go. Be careful the the lids though, I have already broken one. They aren’t very strong at all.

Acct Measure calipers

Calipers are an accurate way of calculating body fat, combined with an app like BodyTracker, they make a simple way to accurately track your body fat.

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Halo Sports Wash

If your kit is getting smelly, you might want to try using a sports wash. Halo sports wash is okay, it seems to help get some of the pong out of clothing. But one problem I had is that its very very thick and it never seems to fully clear out of the washing machine tray.

Trenas Handled Medicine Ball

Gyms are smelly dirty places, stay at home ;) This is a good quality Medicine ball, very good comfortable grips. Russian Twists, squats, sit ups, it can be used for a great many things.

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P20 Sun Block

Being slightly ginge and from the North, I burn really easily. P20 is the first sun block that I have used that actually works. It water resistant and doesn’t appear to stain clothing.

Respro Techno Mask

Commuting during rush hour is horrible, not only are cars trying to run you down, they are also trying to poison you. Wearing this mask filters out some of the nastiness from the exhaust fumes. Its comfortable to wear in winter, when its cold, but in the summer, its just too hot to wear. Even when breathing hard, there isn’t a great deal of restriction and breathing out is easy due to the two vent valves. The filter has a life of 1 month or 69 hours! which is not a lot and this could get really expensive!

Nathan Lock Laces

For fast transitions, you need elastic laces, you don’t have time to tie your shoe laces. There are many brands and many designs, these laces have a simple clamp system and are easy to adjust. I have used these laces on all of my running shoes and quality is very good, I haven’t had any issues.

 

Books

Ready to Run, Dr Kelly Starrett

I first heard Dr Kelly Starrett on the Endurance Planet Podcast. It was a really interesting interview about strength training and getting your body “ready to run” to improve your running and prevent injury. Kelly clearly loves the sound of his own voice and you get that impression from the book too, there is a lot of waffle, but once you get through that, its full of excellent information. I think this book has certainly helped me bounce back from injury.

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ReviewsAnthony TowersComment