People’s Poncho Review

People's Poncho Review

Our People’s Poncho review is here! For years I’ve fondly remembered the poncho being worn by old cycle tourists, usually made of waxed canvas materials which are heavy and take a lot of looking after. Apart from that, there really wasn’t anything on the market. Until People’s Poncho was founded in 2015. Unlike my inspiration, they looked East. Ponchos are a very common sight in Taiwan (and China). I can testify for the usefulness of them after living in Taiwan for three years. Everyone rides a scooter and everyone has a poncho! But they are made of heavy and cheap materials. But that inspiration drove People’s Poncho to create a better, technical, stylish and practical version.

They eventually came up with their poncho you see here. Iona and Johnny Ratcliffe from People’s Poncho explain it like this; One size, different colours to suit different personalities, 100% waterproof poncho made from Japanese polyester, reflective piping to ensure safety at night and a pocket to store your possessions. All in a dinky bag small enough to travel anywhere.

People's Poncho Review

That all sounds great but, is it 100% waterproof and did it work whilst riding a bike? Simple answer is yes, but it does have it’s limitations. The first and foremost aspect, it’s multi-purpose. So many cycling products are not. That alone makes the Poncho a very appealing purchase. Wear it to commute on your bike (which I did), take it hiking, wear it at a festival. An all-round item that can be used cycling is a rare thing indeed.

People's Poncho Review

The fabric is great, being a high quality waterproof polyester from Japan. Oddly you can probably thank these fabrics for the carbon fibre bikes ridden today. Experiments to produce ultra-fine fibers of a continuous filament type were made subsequently, the most promising of which were run in Japan during the 1960s by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto, a scientist at Toray Industries. Toray Industries produces most of the carbon fibre sheets used in bicycle production around the globe.

It’s waterproofness is not it’s limitation. The recent storm in the U.K. called Doris which sounds friendly enough brought storm force winds and I thought it might be fun to ride to work wearing the poncho. I met it’s limitations and nearly took off like a kite. Most others would have been far more sensible and taken a bus (or stayed at home). That aside, other wet days proved no problems, riding at a fair speed and with a backpack it stayed put. It’s an odd but cosy feeling wearing a poncho on a bike but it keeps you a lot drier than a jacket but you don’t get the ‘boil-in-a-bag’ sensation, which is very welcoming. You do loose some of the freedom of movement a jacket provides though. A neat and needed feature for cycling is the loops stitched on the inside to keep the poncho in place and they do the job perfectly.

Overall I’m really impressed with the People’s Poncho, it’s construction is really high quality and at £55.00 it’s really well priced (a jacket of this quality would cost much more). As a comparison to the waxed canvas ponchos I fondly remembered, well they cost nearly £100 today. I would rather have the People’s Poncho, light, easy to pack and always waterproof.

Quirk Cycles Any Road Mile Muncher

Quirk Cycles

Quirk Cycles really impressed us at Bespoked 2016 and we’ve secretly been following his work since. The latest creation is this, Jack’s Any-Road Mile Muncher and it’s lush with it’s deep paint scheme over finely welded steel tubes. Built for long hours, days and even weeks in the saddle. I think looking down and see this bike below would keep a smile on your face. See more pics and other bikes at Quirk Cycles website.

Quirk Cycles

Volata Smart Commuter

Volata Smart Commuter

You may not of heard of Volata or the smart commuter they have designed. It’s packed with tech and features that you don’t see on bikes – yet. Volata Cycles is headquartered in San Francisco for R&D and the design office is in Milan. Founded in 2015 by a group of product designers, engineers and creatives who bring their extensive expertise to the cycling industry, Volata merges all the heritage and creativity of Italian design with the innovative spirit of the Silicon Valley. It aims to develop bicycles for a wider market. The goal is to convince more and more people to use the bicycle daily as a primary means of transport.

So, the smart commuter…

The new city-oriented Volata Model 1c is designed to improve the experience of everyday riders by solving the problem of dealing with multiple accessories. It integrates a computer, lights and safety features into an elegant, cohesive Italian design, and premium components make maintenance almost obsolete.

Volata Smart Commuter

Volata Smart Commuter

Built in computers!

The Model 1c’s app-based computer provides instant information such as riding metrics, turn-by-turn navigation, weather forecast, music, heart rate, smartphone notifications and more. All information and controls are right in front of you on the handlebars. A GPS-based anti-theft system informs the owner if anyone tries to steal the bike by sending real-time notifications to the user’s smartphone. The system also sounds an alarm if the bike is moving while it shouldn’t be. When lost or stolen, the bike can be found by tracking its location. The need for maintenance is kept to a minimum by using belt drive technology and an internal gear hub. The dynamo located in the front-hub automatically charges the internal battery while pedalling. Frequent over-the-air updates add new features and ensure the bike becomes better over time. Volata also keeps cyclists safe during their ride. A horn will help you get noticed in city traffic with a flick of your left thumb. Sleek, built-in front and rear lights automatically turn on when it gets dark. Lastly, Volata’s smartphone app collects all riding stats and shows the bike’s location and status (like on modern cars).

So, you want one, how do you get one?

The new Model 1c retails for €2,499 with mechanical shifting and €2,999 with Di2 electronic shifting, the Model 1 retails for €3,499. Starting from today the Model 1c t is available for online reservation at €299 through The balance is due upon delivery, which will begin in September 2017. Volata can be configured online and offers the choice of four sizes (S, M, L, XL), two colors (Ice White and Moon Grey), and two different saddles (men/women). The shipping fee is €90 and Volata will deliver the bike to the desired location 99% assembled. Multiple pop-up events throughout Europe during the year will allow customers to meet the company founders and test their latest bikes – we will do our best to keep you informed of those events.

Volata Smart Commuter

Bullitt bikes in illustrated boxes

bikes in illustrated boxes

These Bullitt bikes in illustrated boxes are just awesome. The mundane brown bike box is transformed into works of art fit for a gallery.

bikes in illustrated boxes bikes in illustrated boxes

The illustrator Kristian Eskild Jensen was drafted in for the project and dreamt up a fantasy world for the series, encorporating well known Danish sights and and fables. Added to the scenes are Larry vs Harry’s favourite musical heroes of yesteryear and characters from cult films, a reference to the brand’s quirky and eccentric tastes.

Larry vs Harry happen to be a Copenhagen-based bicycle brand, makers of the original Bullitt cargo bike. They saw an opportunity to make their large bike and component boxes altogther more interesting by commissioning Kristian to create a fantasyworld.

They often receive pictures from customers who have used their Bullitt boxes to build playhouses and dens for their children. If they are saving the boxes and getting inventive with them anyway, we thought it would be nice todo something unique and original with the boxes,  says, Larry vs Harry’s owner Hans Fogh. In case you’re not familiar with the bikes they look like this…

bikes in illustrated boxes

Shop: Frederiksborggade 43, 1361 Copenhagen K, Denmark

à BLOC the cyclists beer launches in the UK

à BLOC the cyclists beer launches in the UK later this month with an already successful launch in the Netherlands and Australia of this craft beer. à BLOC has developed an outstanding beer – à BLOC Superprestige Bicycle Beer – with added Alpine Minerals, aimed at cyclists worldwide. It is an unfiltered, unpasteurized natural blond craft beer at 4,9% vol.

à BLOC the cyclists beer launches in the UK

à BLOC is building a community of cycling enthusiasts. A place for all of us who share the same passion. It’s a club where membership is automatic, because we speak the same language. When you know how it feels to ride cobblestones, to arrive on top of a col, or to sprint to the finish line, that’s when you’re a member for life. And let’s drink to that.

For more info on à BLOC beer, like where to buy etc, visit the website here.

à BLOC the cyclists beer launches in the UK

Bikes of 2017: Canyon Endurance CF SLX Disc

Canyon Endurance CF SLX Disc
In the first of our bikes of 2017 is the Canyon Endurance CF SLX Disc. We all love bikes right? We might not be able to buy or ride them all but every year a raft of wonderful production machines are on offer, some rad, some bad. We are going to take our pic, based on what looks rad. Be it some nifty feature, overall look, or potential purpose.

With the Canyon Endurance CF SLX Disc it’s basically the overall appearance that has us. Especially the red 8.0 version fitted with Ultegra Di2 giving it some very clean lines, with all internal cabling. But most of all the vibrant red.  At an eye watering £4,499 price tag, it’s probably only dentists and lawyers buying these machines but, we can only admire that dentist zipping along on his jazzy red carbon beauty.

Canyon Endurance CF SLX Disc

Love or hate discs on road bikes, they give a certain look to a bike, clearing the stays and fork bridges of clutter and distributing it at the centre of the wheel, personally I dig it. And there is no denying, they stop well.

Canyon Endurance CF SLX Disc

Canyon have done well to market the bike with it’s online presence and it’s worth having an explore of the landing page for the Endurance range with it’s videos and marketing talk.

The range as a whole is worth considering, as the lower CF models, whilst not having disc, offer much better bang for the buck. Or you could look at the AL options, one being in the lovely vibrant red, same as the CF SLX disc.

Overall an impressive machine, even at the price (which is much the same across the competitor’s line ups this year).

Condor: A contemporary take on heritage


You can dispense an awful lot of cycling wisdom in the near 70 years that Condor has maintained a retail presence on the busy London thoroughfare of Gray’s Inn Road. Sales associate Mindi Mickevicius talks through the company’s heritage, how the purchasing process works and why customer satisfaction is the secret to success in such a competitive market.

Is there a typical Condor customer?

Not so much typical but what tends to unite them all is a need for quality, longevity, good service and a great fitting bicycle. All important aspects of our business model as word of mouth recommendations bring a lot of new customers to Condor.

Are the steel frames you offer still relevant in an era of carbon fibre?

Condor designs and manufactures the most amazing carbon frames but we also recognise that custom shaped steel tubing enables our designers to tailor a superb ride. As good quality carbon frames are expensive –  and not everybody can afford a £3-5k bicycle – steel frames like our popular Fratello and Acciaio models are great alternatives and ride much better than cheap carbon.


Can you explain how the ordering process works?

It starts with a consultation where an individual customer’s needs are determined. Then the components and aesthetics are discussed. This is followed by a bike fitting session on our jig where we can replicate the geometry of a particular size frame. That’s when we can discuss whether a custom frame is more appropriate. The waiting times are determined by the amount of bikes in the build queue or if an order is full custom or a custom colour.

Do you view this waiting time as a necessary evil or an important aspect in the sense that it builds expectation on the part of the customer?

As each frame is built by hand in Italy there’s an inevitable element of waiting between the ordering process and your bike being delivered. But quality takes time – it’s embedded in the company’s DNA – and our customers are investing in a product that will last many years.

Do people have certain perceptions, real or imagined, of Condor as a brand?

The big manufacturers average things out. By that I mean a large size bicycle will come with a certain bar width and stem length. As a buyer you have no control over what components will end up on your new bike. The result is that you either ride the bike with these unsuitable components and a fit that is compromised or you start to replace items after getting a bike fit. The cost quickly adds up. They also tend to cut corners by fitting basic brakes, wheels, tyres, and cranks. When you get a Condor bike it’s already set up for you in terms of the correct saddle height, an appropriate handlebar width and stem length – all the variables are considered. As a customer you don’t need to compromise – you can pick and choose what’s going onto your bike. All that’s left is to ride it, enjoy it and maintain it.


Condor has a long-standing involvement in bike racing?

For more than ten years we’ve supporting pro cycling team JLT Condor and they enjoyed a very successful 2016 season riding the Condor Leggero. It’s nice seeing a handmade carbon fibre frame being raced in the pro peloton. And we’ve recently re-launched the Condor Italia RC that’s fabricated with a race tuned aluminium frame. It’s focused on riders wanting to compete, say, in criterium racing. Light, stiff and very fast.

As a family business, Condor can trace its history back to 1948. In your opinion, how does this heritage impact on the customer experience?

I think it’s easier for customers to trust a company which is family owned and has been trading for so long. You see Condor’s history everywhere in the shop from the founder’s original wheel jig to a display of frames representing each decade. But that’s not say we don’t forget the importance of staying current and fresh.


What’s the most enjoyable aspect of working at Condor?

I represent a family run business with a rich history and a successful professional cycling team. I get to work with all the latest cycling components and kit but also the longstanding customers with their ‘older’ Condor steel bikes; kept in perfect condition and fitted with vintage Campagnolo. But I suppose, basically, it’s about the interaction I enjoy between my colleagues, the mechanics and the customers. About learning something new every day.

For more information, visit Condor Cycles

Images by @openautograph

Peter Sagan Wheelies 2017 – Bora Hansgrohe

So, Peter Sagan Wheelies in 2017 for Bora Hansgrohe! The new team, the new bikes, new everything but still doing tricks. To be honest you can’t beat a bit of showboating. We love most of Sagan’s antics on the bike, if not the podium. Can’t wait to see what the prince of the peloton gets up to this year. With the new team around him after so good times with Oleg Tinkov, it would seem a new chapter. Perhaps. I hope we get to see more tomfoolery and excellent riding from him.

You can find a little history on Bora Hansgrohe on Wikipedia. Also the Bora Hansgrohe team website for race calendar and more.

TCR No 5 – Transcontinental Race 2017

Transcontinental Race 2017

The Transcontinental Race 2017 is ready to go this July and has a full start sheet of riders. We have followed this race since the first time and have loved it, especially seeing what riders do and take.

It’s probably the closest thing to the Tour de France, in it’s earliest editions, without the brutal sabotaging, ciggies and brandy that a rider can get – and we can follow. Watching #171 The Transcontinental Race journey is a marvellous insight to the race and what the riders can expect this year.

Chris Akrigg – As it lies

Chris Akrigg – As it lies, came out in-between Christmas and New Year and really shouldn’t be missed, unlike that quiet time of the year. Chris really is the master of the unseen line, carving his way through natural paths and making his own track through it. It all looks effortless but, I’m pretty sure it took a lot of hard work to make it happen. Sit back and watch some radness to motivate you in 2017. Happy new year all.
Chris Akrigg - As it lies


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