Gear Diary

First off I’d like to stick two fingers up at Race Face. I have a bucket full of their bottom brackets, every one seized solid, and as I admined the bike for Monday night’s ride the newest one was in the relentless grip of inertia on the non-drive side. I was going to replace both the bottom bracket and headset with Hope equivalents and get the frame faced at the same time later on, but financially and temporally that wasn’t working as a surprise option this weekend. Luckily Evans at the Braehead Xcapade had the new Race Face version in stock, now with fancy waterproof grease, so that was the one that went back in. So we’ll see how long that lasts.
Oh aye, the puller cap burst when I tried to extract the cranks. If I wasn’t an engineer with tools and know-how I’d have either ruined an expensive set of cranks (Race Face Deus) or have had to take a half-dismantled bike to shop where they would have hacked at it like a victorian whaler with a fresh catch five minutes before his tea break.
If only Race Face kit wasn’t so damned sexy…

That trip last week had some gear stuff that raised an eyebrow. On my feet were my #2 pair of Montrail Streaks, out of the box and onto the trail. There were fine too, bless them. Also on the feet were some Teko socks. I have nothing much to say on those as yet.
Legs were a mix of Haglöfs Mid Flex Pants and Chocolate Fish Taranaki Boxers, a combination of justice, but the upper floor were clad in something new, a Haglöfs B Tee. It’s a kinda casual thing, slightly relaxed cut, wee print decorations, but it’s in Dryskin fabric, so it looked usable. And, it was too. Very comfy all day, in fact it was my single layer all day and was fine in the glaring sun and I didn’t chill in the evening breeze as it dried either. Orange, yes.
On my back was the Macpac Amp Race 25. Here’s the thing, it is heavy where you look around at the competition these days, but I just don’t care. It’s comfy and usable, the pockets are great, the harness is stable, the bottle bungee on the shoulder strap holds my Zipshot tripod perfectly which is a godsend for shooting a route like this trip where I’m constantly setting up for timer shots.
It’s not perfect, the lid pockets could be bigger and the printed branding is really cheap and nasty, but if the fabric and stitching on this and the 40 version hold up over an extended time, these really are killer packs and well worth the extra grams.
My grande chapeau is a a Peter Storm Aussie Hat from Millets, a great thing too, really kept the sun off my neck and face and out of my eyes.
The Klean Kanteen bottles are definitely now standard issue, I had Nuun in one for the first time, although I’ve had Robinson’s in obe most days for the past couple of weeks, and they really do clean up totally odour-free every time.
Also, it occured to me that I’ve been wearing a Techtrail watch since I started the blog and it’s about time I spoke about it. So I will.

27 thoughts on “Gear Diary”

  1. And people wonder why I still like ball bearings and marine grease. One c spanner and a rock deals with most road/trail side woes.
    With you all the way on the Amps – 40 in winter (and the Alps in summer) and the 25 for everything else.
    One question if I may – how’s the Aussie hat’s brim in a strong breeze? My Lowe Alpine hat has an annoying habit of flipping up at the front causing one to be blinded and look like Benny Hill – neither being a desirable option…

  2. I often wonder if part of the attraction of fancy biking is the fettling and constant maintenance, manual labour for a desk-bound generation?
    It is nice using allen keys instead of stilsons I suppose.

    That hat has a wired brim, so it holds it’s shape and place pretty well, one gust from the side raised it up but didn’t flip it over.
    My biggest worry is it’s cheap cotton shrinking in the wash, it’s perfect on my big heid right now.

  3. I find maintenance a great excuse for not going out if its windy or raining. You’re right though – it has a remarkably soothing quality to it. It’s a bit like my weekly trip to the climbing wall – everything else is forgotten for a few hours.
    I once had a sun hat that shrank in the rain as I was wearing it – definitely to be avoided!

  4. I’ve had that, it was a waxy wide brimmed thing, and on a wet day on Ben Lomond I cold feel it start to compress my napper until it made my eyes water.

    Working on the bike is a nice time-passer, I’ve built my last few bikes up from a bare frame and standing with a cuppa as the frame hangs from the workstand, thinking through the next move is a joy.
    Probably new brakes is the answer to that at the moment as well…

  5. Given I’m a hopeless mountain bikeist I’m surprised I’ve never had to replace my BB yet.

    Must admit, when I first got my bike, it doubled in value within about 6 months as I just couldn’t stop buying stuff from Chain Reaction….

  6. That just means your BB is a good one!

    It’s easy to run a up big long accounts page on CRC, my new £6 puller cap is on its way from there right now. It’s the scandium handlebars and the like underneath it n the list that send the chills up my spine…

  7. It’s the one that came with the bike [internal style], I think it’s the only original moving part left…

    Must admit the RaceFace stuff is quite sexy…

  8. The only tinkering i’ve done on my bike is to wash the muck off. The rest is what Dad’s are for :o)

    In saying that i’m an expert at getting rid of that whaling spooky noise it made on the last bike ride.

    Do you think it’s going to rain? I’ve only got shorts with me!

  9. A lot of the Race Face stuff is great, but it’s like they buy the BB’s at the pound shop and brand them up to sell to us.
    Hmm, a bit like the gear some outdoor companies come up with…

    Ange, well am Dad so that’s why I’m fixing it!
    I’d probably bring a t-shirt or a vest, even if it doesn’t rain you’ll get cold on the big descent just wearing shorts.

  10. Ha ha, you know what I meant! Don’t worry i’ve got clothes for all seasons in my rucksack (except troosers).

  11. I remember hope when they were starting off years ago as a friend is in that line of work and new the lads well, and local ish to me. Used to get bits off em to try out when i could ride a bike (before a bike crash put pains to that). They’re massive now and good luck to em, as the prototype disc brakes i had were a revelation at the time.

  12. The quality of the Hope kit is excellent. I’ve got wheels built around Hope XC hubs, they’ve been on three bikes and are only on their second set of bearings.
    British industry :o)

  13. It’s not Klean Kanteen but I’ve got an identical bottle sitting here on my desk, Mudpuppy it’s called. Nice tall, slim shape which works well in the cavernous bottle pockets on the LIM 55. Less chance of dislocating a shoulder trying to get it oot :o)

    I’ll keep using my Oval Siggs tho’. “….from my cold, dead hands.” as they say.

  14. Aye, identical bottles. They need more colours though!

    I have spare Sigg ovals you know just in case they discontinue them…

  15. I love fettling the bikes nearly as much as riding them (significantly more then riding them uphill lol). I’ve never had any bother with Race Face BB’s – especially the ISIS ones which people seemed to trash constantly!

    I’ve got to say if the Chris King BB’s are as good as the headset’s then they are absolutley the way to go, I’m still running a CK headset that’ll be 15+ years old and it’s on original bearings and never been serviced.

    The shed of wonders is calling lad Haglofs Spring 2011 – and bring yer bike!


  16. I’d love CK kit, oh the colours…

    The shed, I know, I have seen the workbooks but the pipes (of metal) have been calling.
    July for definite.

  17. I am with you on the Amp 25 – my main day pack when I can’t squeeze everything into a Gregory Reactor. Somehow I don’t mind a little extra weight in a day pack, especially as its probably going to get more wear through regular and scrambling use than a pack carrying camping gear.

    My only potential gripes are about potential durability and ‘neatness’ – the two partly related. (1) I guess the mesh pockets are from the race heritage (being able to see the contents, and possibly drainage?), but I suspect these will be the first things to abrade and fall apart – personally I think stretch-woven fabric (a la Haglofs LIM or Osprey packs) is both neater and more durable without a real weight penalty; (2) I find the front mesh pocket annoyingly small – difficult to stuff in waterproofs as it is so narrow (is this better in the Amp 40?);(3) The toggles for the bungee cord keep on detaching (a minor point).

    I quite like the anonymous look now it has lost most of the cheap transfer logos and labels…

  18. Agree with all the points there. The mesh on most of my racing derived packs is damaged.
    The stretch stuff does seem to last better right enough, a bit like OMM’s Kamleika waterproofs maybe, the give in the fabric seems to help oy when you catch them on a rock.

    The long pocket is much the same on both packs, it does take my 400g Paclite top and bottoms okay, but anything above that is a jamming session.

    On original versions the first thing to go seemed to be the fabric stretching at the stitch holes at the seams, seen a couple come apart like that.
    Even after a handful of trip I’m watching for that, nothing to report!

  19. I have a funny feeling it will be a Chris King bottom bracket that goes into my bike soon !
    Spoke to some boys in the shop and they say they are awesome, but I think at just under £100 that will put alot of people off.
    And not to mention the choice of colours they come in too !

  20. As I did not have your foresight my only pair of Montrail Streaks have got to the stage in their lives where they are starting to think about what they would need from a nursing home.

    I was excited to see this

    Have you see these?

  21. Still seem to be a few refugees hanging on over at rock and run….
    (I’m getting very, very close to snapping and getting a spare pair :))

    Any news about whether the distribution/shop uptake of the new stuff is likely to turn a touch less rubbish any time soon?

  22. Ben, aye. I’ll be having some of what was on show on test over the next few months :o)

    Martin, you know it makes sense.

    I think Montrail are dead in the UK. The news shoes are alright, but no more than that. Folk want to stock them though, but they’re not getting the stock is what I’m hearing.

  23. It does. Apart from everything else they fit me rather better than anything else I’ve tried.

    Liberated a pair today actually :) (and got some Rockridges as they seemed suited to long days on those horrible stony ‘paths’/vehicle tracks you often get in England. Sabino trails just felt very weird.).

    So I suppose I won’t have to get upset for a year or two ;)

  24. Alright :o)

    Keep me posted on how you get on with them, theres’ so few of use wearing the newer Montrails it’ll good to compare notes.

    My manky old Streaks are going to be on the TV next week, more of that soon!

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