Troy Lee A1 versus Urge Endur-O-Matic
I recently became the owner if 2 new helmets which was an unplanned event. I've been riding with an Urge Endur-O-Matic hemet for a good 18 months or more now and have found it a good helmet, but when the TLD A1 helmet came out I liked the look of it and the legendary TLD quality and safety made me wonder if it was worth a try.
So with the help of the guys at Hi-5 Bikes I got hold of the Troy Lee A1 to see if it lived up to my hopes. Then out of the blue arrived a new Urge Endur-O-Matic to replace my old one, this time from the guys at Fillariosa Bikes. Dilemma time, which one would I like the most?
These helmets are both aimed at the same target audience, trail or enduro riders who want a light, well vented helmet with good coverage and protection, but both address this in different ways. So here is my take on which is the best....if either!
TROY LEE DESIGNS - A1
So out of the box this helmet looks the business, well put together and seemingly very good quality. But nothing more than you would expect from an open face helmet retailing at around 150 GBP or 190 Euros. It's not a cheap lid! The visor is very stable and has good adjustment, the screws holding the visor in place are made from aluminium which is a nice touch. Putting the helmet on for the first time I have to say that it was immediately very comfortable and the adjustment system works very well. The helmet just seems to fit and feels very snug. On a slight negative, I was lead to believe that the helmet straps had aluminium buckles / adjusters too, but these feel like they are made from plastic, albeit pretty good quality plastic, but it's not cold to the touch as I would expect metal to be. On the trail, the helmet is very secure on my head and doesn't move around as some helmets do. I have found that from time to time that I have to reach up and give the wheel adjuster on the back a little tweek to tighten it slightly, so maybe this does work loose a tiny bit when riding, but nothing major. Venting is pretty good, but not as cool and breezy as I had expected coming from my old Endur-O-Matic. Not that it's bad by any measure, just that I sort of expected more. The helmet has nice conventional looks and doesn't scream it's price tag when riding along, it just quietly gets on with what it's supposed to be doing which is what I guess we all want.
To sum up, the TLD A1 is a quality, comfortable helmet with more conventional looks but a high price tag.
URGE - ENDUR-O-MATIC
As already mentioned, I've ben using an Endur-O-Matic for quite a while now so I have become accustomed to it's slightly unusual looks and grown to like them. The new helmet has developed an extra vent in the visor, I'm not 100% certain what this is supposed to do, but it doesn't seem to be an issue other than when the sun is in a very certain position and you get a dappled light coming through the mesh infil and into your eyes.
I know that for some people the Urge fit just doesn't work for them and I agree that it does feel strange at first, but wear it for a while and you do get used to it. Again, the helmet is well put togther, but the Urge has a little more exposed polystyrene than the TLD so will start to show the wear and tear a little sooner if you're someone who just throws your lid in the boot or your kit bag. Again the visor fixings are made from metal, but the visor is fixed on this helmet, not that I feel the need to adjust my visor very often. One neat little thing here is that the visor fixing bolts are the same size and shape as cleat bolts, so if you're ever out on the trail and loose a cleat bolt from your shoe, you have a spare! There isn't much in the line of adjustment for fit with the Urge helmet with the fit being adjusted by using different internal pads for the helmet with a thick and a thin set being provided with each helmet. It's simple but seems to work relatively well. One of the issues I had with my original Endur-o-Matic helmet was that the strap buckle had a habit of letting the straps slip though and the straps were then loose allowing the helmet to move around to much. This is something that isn't apparent on this newer helmet so obviously a problem solved. Venting on the Urge looks to be very limited, but having had the oportunity to ride regularly in hot Tenerife temperatures I can vouch for the system actually working well so long as you're moving at the reasonable speed. Something that doesn't appear to have changed on the newer helmet. I also love the "Gangsta Pad" which soaks up al your brow sweat and disperses it so that it doesn't run into your eyes. This was something I really missed when using the Troy Lee helmet. Helmet manufacturers take note, it's a really good feature! With an RRP of around 80 GBP or 100 Euros this is a great buy if you can get on with the fit and the styling. They are more popular now than they were a year or so back, so don't expect too many odd glances.
Helmet choice is obviously very subjective. What works for one, may be completely wrong for another, so its difficult to give a definitive answer, but here is my take on things.
Price ***** ***
Quality **** *****
Style **** *****
Venting **** ****
Comfort **** *****
Fancy spending Autumn / Winter / Spring of 2013 / 2104 in the sunshine riding your bike?
Yes, it's the time of year when our thoughts turn to the busy winter season and how we will handle it this year. Spending 6 months riding your bike a minimum of 4 days a week may seem like a dream, but believe us, it's not so easy!
So whats involved?
The sucessful applicant will join us from late October and work through until late March or early April. A typical guiding day would involve initially collecting all the days riders from their hotels along with the minibus driver before heading to the hills, you would then give a trail briefing and do basic bike checks before heading off for the days ride. You would be expected to keep the riders informed of the trail ahead and to be able to make trailside repairs on both hire bikes and customers bikes if necessary. At the end of the ride, riders are then dropped back to their hotels and when appropriate the guide is expected to assist with cleaning and preping any hire bikes used that day ready for their next hire. Then the night is your own to chill out as you please.
On non riding days, you will act as minibus driver, making the pick ups in the morning and drop offs in the afternoon. Althougth the rest of the day is your own, you'll be expected to remain available just in case any emergency pick ups are needed.
The basic requirements are : -
- Minimum 27 years old (For Minibus insurance reasons)
- Full driving license (with categories D1 and D1E)
- MTB Guide qualifications (MIAS / MBLA or similar)
- First Aid certificate
- Good health
- Good base fitness level (you will be fitter when you finish!)
- Outgoing personality
- Good bike skills
- Good mechanical understanding, able to maintain and repair bikes
The ideal candidate will possess all of the above, but as important as bike skills, if not more important is the ability to know how to ride for your clients. It's different to how you would ride when out with your mates or out for a blast on your own. Our aim is to bring everyone home with a smile on their face and wanting to come back for more. That's not often achieved when the guide disappears into the dust only to be seen at the next junction!
The riding is mainly All Mountain / Enduro style on very rough, rocky terrain. We do provide some less technical XC long distance trips too, but in the main be prepared for a workout. Your bike will ideally be a 140mm to 160mm full suspension trail bike.
Please send CV's to
. We will create a short list and contact those individuals to arrange a brief interview to take place in mid August at a location in the UK.
It's been a little over 3 weeks since I picked up my fracture. I've had lots of time to do nothing! To be fair, the last 3 weeks seem to have passed more quickly than I had anticipated, which is something I'me more than grateful for, but it's still been a bit on the boring side. I can't imagine what it must be like for someone with a "real" injury that necessitates months or worse off their bike!
For me, I've done lots of walking, found new trails close to home, become familiar with the local bus service, I even bought myself a Bono Card (Pre-paid ticket) to get a discount on my journeys! I've watched lots of very poor daytime TV, infact I have a regular appointment with Mr Wanacott each lunchtime for a spot of Bargain Hunting! Do the contestants not watch the show before they go on there? They all seem to make the same mistakes, buying overpriced tat that they would never buy themselves...but lets not go there!
I've been looking after a little dog (Hutch or something like that. They're Hungarian and this is the nearest thing to the "sound" they use to call his name!) which despite his annoying traits has probably helped to pass the time for me. He has a curious habit of standing just on his two front legs when he pees, which wouldn't be a problem if it were not for his complete lack of balance and subsequent directional control! Lets just say that you have to be alert if you don't want wet feet! I tried to walk a new trail with him a few days ago, it was around 3.5km each way, we made it just over 1km up before he sat down and decided that was just far enough for him, so trail finding is now a solo effort once again! Playing spin the dog on the shiney tiled floors though is a pleasure that has not faded, he even seems to enjoy it up until the point where he can't actually grab at his rope toy anymore!
Anyway, enough of the doggie madness. As a way of giving myself a new fitness goal, I decided to enter a round of the UK Gravity Enduro series while I'm in the UK for our annual holiday this summer (I know, UK and summer are two words that don't sit together too naturally anymore). I was planning on riding in round 4 the Dyfi Forest enduro. The dates were right and the location would take me back to some areas with fun memorys from following the rallys around in days gone by. So I joined the British Cycling website and selected the event only to find that the site didn't seem to like any of my Spanish bank cards and kept returning an error. So I transfered some cash to my UK account thinking I'd get around the problem that way. So a day and a bit later, the funds had arrived and I logged back in to BC to enter only to find the bloody thing was now full! To say I wasn't a happy bunny would be an understatement. Anyway, it's saved me 60 quid I guess, but I need something to aim for, so if anyone knows of anything please let me know.
Right thats me for now, typing is a pain as trying to use both hands gives me some problems due to the angle I have to hold my left arm at to reach the keyboard! Just think along the lines of "I'm a little teapot short and stout" and you'll get the picture!
Last Friday I had an off. It wasn't what I'd class as a biggie, but I went down fairly hard and broke the cardinal rule..... I put my hand out to stop myself. Surprisingly, I got up and felt ok, but my elbow was pretty sore, I was sure I'd done some damage, it was one of those crashes where I'd heard / felt something "go".
One of my clients that day happened to be a GP from the UK and he gave the arm a good pull, prod and twist all with minimal pain and we happily agreed that I'd probably just damaged the ligaments. So we set about finishing off the ride which got gradually more difficult and I had to bail on to the road to make my way back on an easier surface.
We parted company later with an agreement that if the arm didn't feel better the next day that I'd go and get it x-rayed.
After a semi sleepless night I woke to a still painful and noticeably less mobile elbow than that which I'd arrived home with the previous evening. So off I went to the local A&E department for a check.
A quick x-ray later and the doctor informed me that he believed there was a fracture and that it may need surgery!
Now it has to be said that this wasn't the outcome I'd been expecting. From here I was sent off with x-rays in hand and a referral to another hospital for a second opinion. A brief consultation established that the first doctor was correct and that I indeed had a type 2 radial head fracture and that I was to be admitted for surgery a couple of days later. After some negotiation I managed to get a stay of execution with an appointment to return the following evening at 6pm.
So following my return and subsequent 2 night hospital stay I'm now back at home with my newly pinned fracture in a plaster cast. Already I'm going stir crazy, but have already found that at this early stage of recovery, too much exercise makes the arm swell which is a tad uncomfortable in this cast!
I've already caught myself gazing at the mountains from the roof terrace and wishing I was there, but secretly knowing that I won't be there for a good 6 to 8 weeks.
So, please excuse me whilst I vent my frustrations in this blog.
We recently dumped our Avid Elixir brakes in favour of the latest Hope Evo Tech X2 beauties!
The main reason for taking off the Avids was not due to their braking feel or performance it has to be said, it was more to do with their temperamental nature and the amount of time such things as a basic pad change could often take. Piston creep being the biggest problem, making it almost impossible to get the wheel back in after replacing the pads and the suggested fix for this resulting in having to bleed the brakes avery 4 or 5 pad changes. I spend a lot of time working on the hire bikes as it is, I don't need to extend that time with annoying niggles when doing a basic pad swap.
So after looking at what was available, I decided to approach the guys at Hope Tech to see if we could do a deal to use their brakes on the fleet. Thankfully they were happy to help us out.
Hope Evo Tech X2 Brakes
For the bulk of the bikes I decided to go for the new Evo Tech X2 brake. Having had chance the try the X2's earlier in the year, I was confident that they could handle the extended braking duties that Tenerife has to throw at them. I haven't been disappointed! Feel and modulation is fantastic, the shape of the lever gives perfect single finger braking, but also allows double digit riders to be comfortable. The drilled surface where your finger(s) rest gives fantastic grip too. The levers are super easily adjusted for both reach and bite point, this gives every rider a comfortable braking feel. Not only do these brakes perform brilliantly, the engineering on the levers and calipers is just beautiful and brings a touch of "bling" to the bikes. I'm sure those who try them will be converted!
A creature of habit I may be, but when something performs well, you just stick with it.
I recently tried some Five Ten Karvers as I fancied the extra ankle protection that these provide, but I found that he high ankle somehow either cut off the blood to my toes or pressed on a nerve and gave me numb toes when riding. So it was back to the trusty Five Ten Freerider's for a bit longer. I was then given a semi new pair of Impact Low shoes, but again noticed the same numb toe problem. This puzzled me as the Impact is supposedly the same shoe as the Enforcer that I had worn before with no problems at all.
Five Ten Freerider - Old and NewAnyway, the Freerider's came back out and I ordered some new Freerider Pro shoes from our local stockist.
This weekend they finally arrived and first impressions are great. They are instantly comfortable, there is a much better toe box which should help take the sting out of the occasional rocks that are thrown up and hit my toes. The sole and "trim" are also now a one piece thing, so there should be no more shedding of little bits of rubber from around the edge of the shoes.
Only time will tell whether the aquisition of Five Ten by Adidas has had any negative impact on the products, but if these last as long as the last pair of Freerider's (2 years) then I will be a happy bike guide chappy!