Shimano RC7 SPD-SL Road Shoes £114.99 (reduced from £169.99).

Towards the back end of last year it was apparent that I was in need of a shoe upgrade as my old pair had developed some additional holes; mainly around the toe area. Which wasn’t ideal.

My, now old, pair of cycling shoes were Bont Riots from around 2015. They were the shoes with the bakeable sole (although I never did that) and had a full carbon sole. I think I paid about £100 for them back then and they lasted me for 4 years; which I think is a very good return. In terms of my comparisons the Shimano’s will be compared to these.

In terms of my search critera I was looking with the following requirements:

  1. Around the £100 mark
  2. Carbon or carbon composite sole
  3. Boa dials (if possible)

Of the three criteria points the first two were the most important.

As many of you are probably aware: It is a bit of a minefield when looking for cycling items when there is so much choice (e.g. bikes, sunglasses, helmets and shoes). With that in mind I started at Bont again and had a look at their updated versions of the Riots. At the backend of last year, when I was looking, these were coming in at £150; so it was back to looking. The Riots did tick a couple of the boxes, mainly the carbon sole and Boa dials.

I looked at other brands such as Fizi:k, Giro and Sidi. I then stumbled across the Shimano RC7 shoes on the Merlin Cycles website.

Shimano RC7 Red
Shimano RC7 Red

When comparing the Shimano RC7 shoes against those of the above brands at this price point, I felt that there was more bang for the buck. The Shimano’s were reduced from £169.99 to £115 and offered a carbon composite sole, Boa dials and were around the desired price point. For this reason I pulled the trigger and bought them.

Excited was an understatement for their arrival.

My old shows were a tired, off white colour with a hole appearing in the toe box. These are a beautiful striking red.

Upon unboxing them I had a look over them and they were perfect. I was a bit anxious about setting up the cleat position on new shoes but in reality there were far more positional markings on the bottom of these then there was on the Bonts. It made setting them up a piece of cake and after a short test ride and minor adjustment we were comfortable.


When trying them on for the first time they felt luxurious compared the Bonts. The inner sole felt thicker and softer which was a nice combination; as the Bonts could feel harsh. The Shimano shoes are noticeably narrower than the Bonts. This wasn’t a problem for me fit wise but if you are on the cusp, or do have, of wider feet then I would certainly get the wide fit ones.

I’ve covered about 1500 miles in them this year so far after swapping from the Bonts; once the weather picked up. I am not disappointed by these shoes in the slightest. The sole itself feels less stiff than the Bonts but I feel they are more comfortable; therefore that’s a trade off I’m happy with. As, I do not race I don’t feel I need the stiffest available sole. The sole has a stiffness rating of 10.

The only slight niggle, and it’s not a criticism of the shoes, is if you overtighten the Boa dial and need to release some pressure you have to completely undo the Boa dial by pulling up on it. It doesn’t unwind by moving the dial anti-clockwise.

As mentioned though, this isn’t a criticism of the shoes as on the next model up I believe the Boa dials have that feature. As you know though, I like a bargain and try to stick to a price point so that’s on me not stumping up the extra cash!

Finally then, I would recommend these shoes and at the price point that the sale discount took them down to I would say they are a steal.

Thanks for reading and happy cycling 🙂

2019 and Beyond

As you may have noticed my posts in 2019 were sporadic, at best!


2019 turned into a monster year in none cycling terms, in only the best possible ways. There were many weddings and many stag do’s, and many weekends away. All in all cycling took a back seat. I didn’t do any events but I did have some brilliant rides. There are two in particular that I will make separate posts about.

The year began in super low key fashion for me as I had a hernia repair in November 2018. This set me back a bit and I didn’t get on the turbo until late January let alone outside until February. Needless to say I wasn’t expecting much from the year.

My whole goal for 2019 was to do a century (miles) ride.

As mentioned there were many weekends away in Firenze, Paris and a week in Lisbon, along with the weddings and stag parties this was a year to rebuild.

Firenze Square
Firenze Piazza

Thankfully, in North Yorkshire the scenery is pretty damn good so when you are rebuilding and taking things a little bit steadier you are greeted by some killer views.

Like this from Lofthouse…

Lofthouse down…with Andy

Thanks to my cycling buddies I could feel myself getting stronger and stronger through the year in the build up to my century and I was feeling like I was getting back to where I was pre-surgery.

Kettlewell cycling
Kettlewell in the distance

Along with the century the only other thing I really wanted to do was cycle up Great Dunn Fell in Cumbria. Great Dunn Fell has a NATS service road to the top of the fell. It is known as the UK’s Mt Ventoux.

In other words: a must.

Last year Harrogate hosted the World Championships. Whilst the event was fantastic it was also possibly the wettest September on record (perhaps being over dramatic here) in Harrogate.

Town centre Crit
Worlds in Harrogate

The Men’s elite had to be cut short due to the rain and there were multiple crashes during the time trials due to the rivers running down the roads. The weather will have inevitably had an effect on the visitor numbers but there was still a good turn out; particularly on Men’s Elite day.

Men's U23 Final Corner - Final Lap
Men’s U23 Final Corner – Final Lap

I do have plans again for this year for something slightly bigger in terms of a cycling challenge but we’ll have to wait and see as to whether it comes off.

I will hopefully also be writing a little bit more in terms of reviews (as Christmas has come and gone I have a few more products to review) and also share some more rides.

Anyway, thanks for reading and ride on!

Scott Addict 15
Ripon Tarn in the Spring

Carnac Notus Evo Road Helmet

I have been using this helmet since the beginning of April (I think) so it has been put through it’s paces; as much as a helmet can be.

My previous helmet was a Kask Rapido and it is still in good nick but I fancied a change to something more…aero.

What with all the marketing lingo and jargon about “aero”…I finally fell for the marketing and bit the bullet. I consulted the internet and looked at the Kask Protone, Specialized Evade, Giro Vanquish (minus the plastic goggles) and the Met Rivale.

I then stumbled across the Carnac Notus on Planet X available at the following link: . When I found this I (and my wallet) felt duty bound to purchase and review it.

The Notus, as I’ll now refer to it, was purchased from Planet X and I paid £24.99 for it. I believe on their website it has been seen for £50 or even £75. However, for as long as I’ve noticed it I can’t recall it being above £24.99.

Carnac Helmets
Many different colours!

It arrived as expected and as you can see from the picture it has a matte finish. I went for the red and black with white ascents. It is also available in black, green and black, Holdsworth orange, an Astana looking blue and white. From the frontal view, below, there are 5 vents on the front of the helmet and then 4 smaller air intakes on the roof of the helmet.


The Notus also has three vents at the rear to act as exhausts allowing the air to be channelled through the the helmet and out of the exhausts. It aims to do this in the most efficient way possible to reduce the drag that the air flow creates.

In terms of weight the Notus is listed as 300g for the 58cm – 61cm size (large). I purchased the 56cm – 58cm and the weight of that is 277g according to the electronic weighing scales (of truth). Within the helmet it did list a weight of 255g (+/-10g) so it is a touch over the claimed weight. To put that in context; I think the Kask Rapido is around 245g. In real terms that is a negligible weight difference and in all honesty I couldn’t tell the difference when I actually was wearing the helmet.

I used the Notus all through the British Summer, which was surprisingly toasty this year. I found the ventilation to be more than adequate during those balmy 25 – 30 degree C days and wasn’t craving the extra vents that the Rapido has.

The adjustment on the Notus is also very good with an adjustment dial on the rear of the helmet like most major brands and models. This offers around 100mm of travel which should be ample adjustment for just about anyone. The Notus also has anti-bacterial pads as all helmets do these days.

Safety rating wise, the Notus conforms to CE EN 1078 CPSC; which is the standard within the EU I believe. It does not have MIPS as some higher end model helmets do have. However, given the price I would not expect it to come equipped with MIPS and I’m happy with the safety standards it adheres. Given that the UK is still within the EU it could not conform to that standard.

The only negative points I can give is that I like to wear the helmet quite tightly and unlike the Kask Rapido, it can leave a “V” on my forehead due to the pressure exuded on the anti bacterial pads in the front of the helmet. This subsides after about 15 minutes but you would look a little silly if you removed it at a cafe and you appeared with these marks on your head when ordering from the Waiter/Waitress.

As you may notice from the pictures above; the Carnac Notus Evo bears a striking resemblance  to the Specialized Evade helmet. It is almost identical. As we all know, imitation is best form of flattery but I can’t imagine that Specialized will have been overly pleased that their design has been so closely replicated.

As has been widely reported the Evade is very aerodynamic. Planet X doesn’t offer any concrete claims of how aerodynamic the Notus is. I also do not have a wind tunnel so cannot test against the Kask Rapido I have. I think it would perhaps be best to err on the side of caution regarding how many watts it may save you. I feel that it is more aerodynamic than the Rapido but could not say with any amount of confidence that it “would save me “x” amount of watts”.

To conclude then, I think the Carnac Notus Evo helmet is great value from Planet X. It conforms to the relevant EU safety standards and there will be some aero gains to be gleaned from using it over a conventional helmet; no matter how small they may be. If you feel you want an alternative to the Evade due to cost then this would be my go to helmet.


2018 so far…

2018 is motoring on by! (Excuse the pun, motor doping reference there). We are now in July and that means we are more than halfway through the year and Le Tour will soon be beginning.

Firstly a quick round up of my year: I did have a VeloViewer account to track my up miles on a week to week basis versus the previous year. However, this became rather addictive and sucked the fun out of my cycling as I felt this kind of guilt (in a weird way) for having a day of chill and falling behind the mileage. Therefore, I let that membership expire! Anyway; as of writing I have ridden 2038 miles. I aim to do 4000 miles or more a year so I think I am on target for that.

My big year goal was The Struggle.

Let’s just say that it didn’t go quite to plan.

The run up and the training went quite well but with 3 weeks to go: the dreaded common cold hits. This means that 2 weeks off the bike ensue as all energy is sapped. This put an end to the training and I was due to do a 70 mile ride on the first weekend of illness and then an 85 mile ride on the second weekend of illness with a nice taper for the following week until the event on the following Sunday.

Now, as I’m not the most patient person in the world I tried to work on through the cold to begin with but this just ended up digging a bigger hole for myself. I began to feel even worse and come the week of the event I decided to do a midweek ride after work. I think the guilt of not doing anything kicked in. Suffice to say; I felt shit the next day and was still coughing stuff up. The Saturday of the event (The Struggle being the next day) it was a case of getting the bike cleaned and setup. I took it on a short test ride of 20 miles to check that nothing needed adjusting and to open the legs.

I am glad to report that everything on the bike was A+. The legs and lungs however: C – and that was being generous.

Hopes weren’t overly high for the next day and my Fiancé thought that I should abort before I started. She was away though and getting back after lunch on the Sunday so I wasn’t listening to that advice.

The alarm was set for 5am and I got up feeling not so bad. I went down to the start area for 7.15am and started at 7.30am. It was quite a hot day but importantly there was no rain and the forecast looked clear for the day.

Struggle Start 2018
Struggle Start 2018

Off we go…

Struggle 2018
My ride and early finish.


Unfortunately, as you can see I managed 60 miles before my lungs and head said no more. The heart and the legs were still keen but I was coughing up plenty of gunk still and, although I was was taking on plenty of fluids/food, I had a cracking headache. It got to the point where I was coughing up so much stuff and had a cracking headache, despite the fluids and food, with 50 miles to go that I thought it was erring on the side of stupid to carry on in the heat whilst feeling like that.

I felt pretty good up to the top of Malham Cove and, although there wasn’t a great deal of PR’s on Strava, I was riding sensibly and within myself. As you can see, the average speed was 14.6mph which wasn’t too bad as once you get to the top of Park Rash there is a nice long descent…unfortunately I didn’t get that lovely descent as I turned back to get picked up when I was about 3 quarters of the way up Park Rash.

Going up Park Rash
Going up Park Rash

From my previous Struggle post; when I completed it, you can see the savageness of the climbs as they are all set out in that blog post ( so check them out there.

Park Rash pain
Face of pain

I was running a Semi Compact (52/36) chainset but I changed it to a compact (50/34) prior to The Struggle and I am very glad I did as I would not have got as far as I did had I not changed it. It’s amazing how much a 2 tooth difference can make as I was sceptical having used a semi compact for the previous 18 months on both my summer and winter bikes that I wouldn’t feel the benefit. When doing a ride like this though, you really can feel the difference, for the better.

On this ride, barring the first 5 miles I was pretty much on my own. I managed to get chatting to a lady on the descent from Greenhow until Grassington and she was seriously quick. I think she may be doing the women’s National RR this weekend so good luck to her. She was from the Barrow Wheelers in Cumbria.

So yes; it was not to be this year and it’s always hard aiming for something and hoping to attain it; having done all the training that you can but falling short. It’s a kick in the gut not to complete it and as I am somebody whom is very competitive I am harder on myself when I fail then anyone else. However, I will be back to attempt it again and hopefully complete it in under 7 hours!

There is no question I have become a better cyclist but the climbs are still as tough. You just go up them quicker; so for the rest of this year I shall be adding to the miles and enjoying the summer.

Summer miles are underway

Review – Rapha Core Jersey Short Sleeve £55.00 (Sale Price)

As I have mentioned in my previous reviews: I buy all of my own kit.

Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone reading this review that this is my first piece of Rapha apparel that I am reviewing.

Put simply this is down to cost; not through any brand snobbery.

I actually purchased this jersey (Link: just after Christmas 2017 as my Brother and his partner gave me a Rapha voucher which was very kind and appreciated. I had always wanted to purchase some Rapha kit to see what all the hype was about but with buying a house and saving for the wedding I always had to look at the more financially sensible options.

If you haven’t clicked the link above the jersey is the Rapha Core Jersey in their “chartreuse” colour; which to you and me is Hi-Vis Yellow. At the time of purchase the jersey was on-sale for £55 + shipping. This was reduced from £75 owing to the Christmas sales. As I had a £50 Rapha voucher; this was the lucky garment that was purchased.

Rapha Core Action

Shipping, as you would imagine from a company like Rapha, was flawless and it appeared on the right date. Within the parcel there was obviously the jersey and also the shipping instructions. The shipping instructions and receipt came enclosed within an envelope. So far, so very highbrow compared to Wiggle, CRC, Decathlon, Merlin and Sigma Sports.

Unpacking the jersey and it feels very soft and stretchy. There is very nice detailing on the Rapha logo and the band on the left hand sleeve. This band is actually quite subtle, as is all of the Rapha branding on the jersey. I am a fan of subtle branding as oppose to in your face branding. The seams on the pockets and the zipper on the valuables pocket are all expertly stitched, as you would expect. There were also no frayed edges or frayed stitches.

In terms of the sizing I ordered a medium and it came out just right. The arm length and also the torso length of the jersey were excellent. Rapha market this jersey, along with the Brevet range, as utilising the “Regular Fit” as oppose to the “Race Fit” in their more performance orientated apparel. I find this to be quite roomy when in the riding position, hunched over the bars and this means that there is a bit of spare fabric that can ride up slightly.

Rapha Fit

The pocket sizes are very reasonable and quite deep. However, their positioning is just plain wrong. Yes, they are on the back (which is obviously where they should be), however they are too far up the back which means that it is not easy to get things in the pockets when packing before a ride if you are wearing the jersey. If you struggle to get things in when packing the pockets pre-ride; then I can atest that it is just as difficult to get things out of the pockets if you are on the bike and reaching for a gel, for instance. If you are stopped and off the bike then it is easier but I don’t want to be stopping everytime I want to get something out of a jersey pocket. The valuables pocket is a useful pocket. However, it is a squeeze to get my Huawei P9 in it but for keys, credit cards and coins it’s fine.

So now for the not so good: as mentioned; the pockets. Not a fan at all due to the ridiculous placement of them. I am not double jointed in my shoulders or elbows; maybe if I was I’d find them easier to access. Along with that though the front hem doesn’t have a gripper which means that the jersey rides up at the front so I need to pull it when going from the drops to the “hands on the flats for climbing” position. Coupled with that; when you try to zip the jersey back up, if it has been unzipped for ventilation, then the jersey rides up as there is nothing for it grip when pulling the zip up. This can be quite an annoyance.


This is a quality garment in terms of workmanship and materials. The breathability is good and the fit is excellent. If ever so slightly coming up on the larger side. However, it is let down by a number of small yet essential details such as the pocket placement and lack of front hem gripper. As this is the case I don’t think I would be happy to pay the full retail price of £75. To be honest, had I not had the voucher I don’t think I would have been happy to pay the £55 sale price.

In short…probably a 6.5/10 (no voucher and sale price) or a 7/10 (with voucher and sale price)

Review: Lifeline Heart Rate Transmitter


No matter which way way you look at it you need something to be able to measure your efforts against. Be that cadence, heart rate or power.

Unfortunately I am not lucky enough to have a Power Meter so I measure by heart rate (zones) and cadence. I find this method, although not precise, gives me enough scope to train by.

As this is the case it is essential I have a heart rate monitor; so after my Garmin HRM died after 4 years of impeccable service I decided to purchase the Lifeline HRM from Chain Reaction Cycles.

Links for HRM: 

There was 3 considerations for this purchase when looking at Heart Rate Monitors:

  1. Cost
  2. ANT+ compatibility (for the Garmin head unit)
  3. Cost (again)

With those strict criterion I plumped for the Lifeline Heart Transmitter. The service was top notch once again from Chain Reaction Cycles so here’s a short review of the Heart Rate Monitor itself.

The Garmin Team in Paris. What HRM’s do we think they use?


The Heart Rate Monitor is a soft strap with 2 pads on the inside that you dampen with water before putting on. The strap is soft and stretchy as you would expect. One of the main annoyances of the strap is there is no “L” or “R” on the pads on the inside. For most people this wouldn’t be annoying. However, for me this was not ideal…mainly for troubleshooting (more on that later).

Pairing with the Garmin (I had a 500 when I started using the strap last July and got a 520 in the New Year sales) was very straight forward and it was always picked up as soon as it was put on the body and the Garmin was switched on.

During the rides the heart rate was transmitted without fault and never dropped out. The strap was comfortable on the skin also and could be adjusted to get the perfect fit.

HRM Strap

So far, so good…

Now for the not so brilliant:

Having used this strap since July 2017 (very almost August) I have gone through two. The first one failed towards the end of November. Chain Reaction swapped this out, which was good of them. The second one failed again this last week. Around the 3/4/2018.

So; in around 8 months I have had two die on me in this period with the same issue. The issue was that the clips that the HRM Transmitter clips on to the strap. The metal corroded and rusted on both causing it to stop working. (Picture below minus the corrosion). In trying the trouble shoot I switched batteries, switched the strap around and changed the orientation of the of Transmitter on the strap (hence no “L” or “R” lettering made this confusing) and then tried to reset the transmitter by unravelling a paperclip and placing it on the metal nodes.

None of these worked so the unit was well and truly dead.


I have now decided to bite the bullet and buy a Garmin Heart Rate Monitor to replace this. Chain Reaction gave a full refund but the hassle of contacting Customer Services and then waiting for a new one to be dispatched is not worth it.

I paid £24 for the Lifeline HRM and I would have to say that due to the issues I have had I would steer clear and pay the extra for a Garmin/Wahoo/Polar (delete as applicable) heart rate strap as I believe that these will last longer. The last Garmin HRM I had lasted 4 years and was corrosion free.

Hope you found this useful and it helps some people.





Team Garmin photo and article header photo are mine.


Chamois Creme – Group Review

Since I have been cycling seriously I have found the need to have Chamois Creme. Now, admittedly, I am not using “elite level” cycling shorts; I’m thinking anything over £100 + e.g Assos or Rapha. (Although, if anyone wants to lend me some to review; I would, more than happily, take up the challenge.)

Chamois Creme can be a bit of a hot topic in terms of whether it should be used and how it should be applied. I won’t be going into the application; just the positives/shortfalls of the product.

Also, just for the sake of clarity, these were all bought by myself rather than being given to me so there is no bias on my part.

There are 4 different products that I have used. These are Chapeau Menthol, Chapeau Original, Udderly Smooth and Paceline Products Chamois Butt’r (Euro Style).

Chapeau Chamois Creme Menthol – £11.99 

The first of Chapeau’s two offerings. This is my local bike shops stock hence the 2 different versions that have been tried.

At £11.99 (slightly more at the LBS) this is mid range of the creams I have tried and in all honesty I was disappointed by it.

I found this cream, although it had a nice fragrance, was very thin and did not really last that long. I don’t know whether that is because it is in a tube rather than a tub but whatever the cause; it didn’t last long, And I wasn’t being overly liberal.

In terms of feel, it is very thin and was greasy more than viscous which wasn’t a nice feeling. Futhermore, the menthol flavour/feeling didn’t really come through so that was not as advertised. Or at least, didn’t live up to expectations.

This is not a product I would consider buying again and would probably rate it around a 3/10.

Chapeau Menthol

Chapeau Chamois Cream – Original – £11.99

Another LBS special.

Now I must admit, I got this Original and used it and when that had finished decided to get the Menthol.

That, as I’m sure you will have guessed, means that I didn’t think that this version of the cream isn’t that bad.

In terms of differences between the Menthol and the Original the obvious difference is the lack of Menthol-ness. However, and the crucial difference is…it’s much thicker. Which is fantastic.

In terms of smell and feel it is streets ahead of the Menthol version. As it is much thicker it seems to last so much longer and as a result I was actually using less during application than the Menthol but was having better results.

Once again, it is in tubular form and I feel that it runs out quicker than a tub…but that may all be in my head.

Far better than the Menthol and if I was out of my preferred option and had no access to the internet/any other brands in the LBS then I would use it; but only if all else fails.


Chapeau Chamois Cream Original

Udderly Smooth – £8.90 (Wiggle)

The Udderly Smooth chamois cream is an odd one. It was first developed for use on livestock, hence the name, Udderly.

As that is the case, I wasn’t sure what to really expect.

Upon opening it up it has a very distinctive, almost sterilized, surgical smell which threw me a bit. Once you get over the smell and actually dip your fingers in it is almost more solid and pliable. It is certainly less viscous but not runny in the slightest. That is comparing to the others.

The colour of the cream is white and if you put it on and then stick your shorts on there can be white looking stains coming through the lycra. Although, once applied the surgical smell is not present. It does however miss the tingle.

When actually in use the cream performs admirably and lasts well without a need for reapplication on longer rides.

This outperforms the Chapeau and is slightly less expensive than Chapeau’s offerings; whilst being in a tub, which is another positive.

In terms of the amount needed, there was less required which meant this goes further than the Chapeau.

Verdict: 7/10.

Udderly Smooth
Udderly Smooth

Paceline Chamois Butt’r Eurostyle – £13.99 (Wiggle)

The Paceline offering is the stand out performer and is my preferred chamois cream (not sponsored, purchased through my hard earned cash). There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, the smell is much more endearing than the Udderly Smooth and the Chapeau. The Chapeau Menthol does come close but the Paceline has a stronger menthol smell which I do like.

Secondly, with it being “Eurostyle” it is menthol which means that there is a tingle which is a nice feeling. Particularly on a cold winter’s morning. The consistency is also on the more formed side of viscous but it is still pliable. Also, a little seems to go quite a long way meaning that the tub actually lasts quite a while.

Finally, although this is the most expensive that I have tested, this comes with a significant increase in quality and there have been no saddle sores/need of reapplication on longer rides.

Verdict – 9/10

Paceline Chamois Butt’r Eurostyle 8oz Chamois Cream


Paceline’s offering is the best I have used and is now my go to product. If I was on a budget I would use the Udderly Smooth. However, the difference in quality is quite noticeable.

As Saddle Sores are a pain in the ass (excuse the pun) I would rather pay ever so slightly more for better quality. However, it is worth pointing out Udderly was better than the more expensive offerings from Chapeau.

As I have mentioned, I am not sponsored and buy these products out of my pockets. This explains why the Assos chamois cream, Rapha, Muc Off & Castelli creams have not been tested. Due to the cost of these, £15 + per tub/tube for a smaller tube/tub than what I tested, I could not justify paying more money for less product.

Basic economics, unfortunately.

Hope you find this useful!

Any questions give me a shout back.