Friday, 30 January 2015

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Endura Luminite II Overshoes - review

In the last batch of kit sent to me by Cyclescheme as part of the Super Commuter programme (has been cancelled indefinitely), there were these nifty looking overshoes:

Brand new Luminite overshoes
I previously had some overshoes that I bought from Aldi in one of their cycling events. Those didn't last very long at all, the zips on the back broke after a few weeks and that was it. However, the £4.99 spent was well spent as I really enjoyed the benefits that wearing overshoes has in the winter.

How my shoes should look
What they usually look like in winter
As you can see above, the benefits include keeping your shoes nice and clean! They also help keep your feet warm and dry.

Construction

The Endura Luminite II overshoes are made from a relatively stretchy waterproof fabric that are taped up the centre to keep water out. All stitching is flatlocked for durability. This also reduces bulk so that the overshoes pretty much hug the outline of your shoes. The inside of the overshoes is covered with a thin thermal, almost fleece layer, providing the warmth required on winter rides. The fastening is done by pretty hefty Velcro strips right down the ankle and heel. There are also a couple of Velcro tabs that come under the sole. The overshoes open completely down the back and sole. This allows the overshoes to be worn with any kind of footwear: road or mountain bike cleats are accessible. The bottom section below the toes is made from Kevlar, which is extremely hard wearing. This allows for walking around without destroying the bottoms (a problem in my Aldi pair). Being part of the Luminite range, they are aimed at commuting and feature reflective details on sides (bar the inside) for greater visibility.

Toe protection, sole tabs and no cleat inhibiting
Velcro fastening and reflective details

Using the overshoes

To fit the overshoes can be a bit tricky at first. I have a large pair, and size EUR46 mountain bike shoes. They are snug so it can be tricky at first getting the Velcro to fasten in the right place. It takes a little bit of effort to open them again; the Velcro is impressively strong. I find it easier to fasten the under sole tabs first and then around the heel, working my way up the ankle. The cuff comes up quite high, so the entire shoe and ankle is covered, protecting from splashes. However, if it's raining heavy, I found that water running down my leg ended up in my shoe, which kind of defeats the overshoes. Fastening tighter around the ankle and more waterproof leggings may be a way to avoid this. Walking around in mountain bike shoes is easy, the overshoes don't hinder the "studs" at all and do not scrape on the ground.

Reflective details

I am annoyed to find that one one of the overshoes that the reflective details have started to peel away. I have used a little super glue and stuck the errant patches back down, but I doubt that they will last that long. As these patches are on the heel, they are important when riding in poor light or even at night because the up and down motion of the foot through the pedal stroke is very efficient in catching drivers' attention. The large patches on the side and front of the shoes seem to be secured very well and are large enough to really catch the eye.

Some reflective patches peeling off
Large reflective areas should catch the eye

Conclusion

I think that £25 is a very fair price for these overshoes. They do everything that a decent pair of overshoes do:
  • Keep your feet dry from splashing through puddles
  • Keep your feet warm thanks to the fleece lining
  • Easy to wear
  • Compatible with all shoe types
One point that detracts from this is the reflective detailing that has started to peel. However I don't think it's enough of a bad point to deter you from buying these.

What about you?

Do you have a favourite go-to pair of overshoes? Have you used these overshoes? Leave a comment below and thank you for reading.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

That's a bright light you've got!

"I can certainly see you coming!"

"You won't get lost with that!"

Etc. etc. You get the idea. I wish I had £1 for every time I'd heard it. I think they are backhanded compliments. I like my bicycle's front light. It's CNC machined from aluminium, feels sturdy, waterproof, can be charged at work, on full whack it lasts an hour and a half and has 3 constant brightness modes plus a flashing mode.

It's a Lezyne Superdrive and it's a couple of years old now. They don't make them any more, but this is the latest equivalent.
Lezyne Superdrive (2012) - pen for scale
For regular readers, you'll know about my commute. If you don't, here's a brief description: it's an old railway line between Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor, called Auckland Way.


This track is unpaved, no Tarmac in sight - just mud, puddles, stones and in the recent windy weather, branches and twigs all over. Enough obstacles to keep your concentration levels up. It also has to be noted that there are no street lights and it's tree lined in places, so a clear moonlit night doesn't do much to illuminate your way.

These are the reasons that I chose my front light. It needs to be bright so I can see what's lying in wait. At either end of the track I'm on the roads to either home or work, so I dim the light to it's lowest setting. And that's a key point - a front light on a bicycle has to either be bright enough to see by, or bright enough to be seen. This light ticks both boxes in one beautiful aluminium box.

The problem is when I approach people walking along the Auckland Way at night. I really don't understand it. They must struggle to see where they are going. Perhaps they know it really well, navigate using the stars or maybe their eyes just adjust to the darkness. That's all well and good at walking speeds, but when travelling 4 or 5 times faster than that (maybe more), it's paramount that I can see what's ahead.

So with that in mind, I'd like to share with you 4 images I took on my commute home tonight. A compare and contrast if you like. All taken on my Sony Xperia Z1 phone in automatic mode (it set the camera to night mode, unsurprisingly) with the flash deactivated.

What I see when I switch my light off. Pitch black!

Lezyne Superdrive (2012) on minimum brightness - 150 lumens

Lezyne Superdrive (2012) on medium brightness - 300 lumens

Lezyne Superdrive (2012) on maximum brightness - 450 lumens
It's no surprise that I use my light on full brightness.

Now, I do know that the light is far too bright to look at. So when I do see that I'm approaching a pedestrian along the track, I'll dip the light on to minimum, just as you would when driving your car along a country road at night. By that point it's probably too late however, because they've already seen the light from a greater distance than the distance between us when I spot them and they usually look directly at the light.

That's the best I can do. I can dim it as soon as I see anyone, to allow us to safely cross. But please don't complain, I need to see where I'm going! Also, try not to look at the light, to the side of it instead.

How about you and your night time commutes? Which lights do you use and do you have any problems with it? Leave a comment below!
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