Member review

Bikemagic Bikemagic

Roach Indy Freeride Pants £60

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have an aversion to wearing Lycra on its own. This is probably because I know I’m going to end up looking like Max Wall !! I’ve even tried leggings under my baggy shorts and believe me that looks even worse.

In my search for a solution to keeping warm in winter I considered buying downhill pants but decided that they were a bit over the top for my “mainly xc with a bit of looning around” requirements and most of them are pretty lurid at the best of times. Pace & Kona seemed to offer alternatives for me, but in both cases you have to spend nearly £100.

I finally decided to go for a pair of Deviate pro pants, as worn by the Spooky & Pashley Teams so I took a trip up to Singletrack Bikes in Gloucester. Now I may be getting old, but I tried them on and frankly, I looked ridiculous. Personally I don’t see how anyone can ride in a pair of trousers that are so immensely baggy, if you’re 14 years old they may “look wicked”, but when you’re pushing 30 ?!?

The guys at Singletrack suggested I try the Roach Indy pants on, they were £60 and at the time were only available in one size, mine – lucky huh ?! I bought a pair in black & grey, or more accurately my wife bought me a pair for Christmas.

Fed up of looking like Max Wall?

The things that persuaded me to get these were:

· Price – they are cheaper than most equivalent products.

· Fit – They are a sensible(sorry!) cut for cycling, with ankle zips and straps.

· Colour – no Fluorescent options available.
· The Guarantee – If you rip them or wear them out, Roach will repair or replace them, for life!

Having looked at them fairly closely, well I have had them for over a year, they seem to be almost identical to Kona’s freeride trouser and both products have the same, unusual crotch area!!

How do I rate them ?

Well they can be a bit on the warm side, but then I did buy them for winter use and they were a little stiff when they were new, but now I honestly cannot fault them.

You can wear them in the pub without fear of ridicule, and they are comfortable, warm and waterproof enough for a full day of winter riding, but you do need to wear padded shorts or underwear underneath them as they have no internal padding. The thing that has really prompted me to tell everyone else about them was falling on Sunday at the BMX track (I was on a mountain bike!). My pads underneath the trousers took the shock of the fall but it was the trousers that landed in the dirt without a mark on them. It seems that the Roach guarantee is not going to be called on very often…

The Bottom Line – A comfortable, stylish, very hard wearing and relatively cheap alternative to Lycra…and now they make them in different sizes !!

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Member review

Bikemagic Bikemagic

The Karrimor Vail jacket is a classic piece of kit that many mountain bikers have in their wardrobe. A full length zip, no hood, no pockets and drawcords at both hem and neck. The original Vail was made from ripstop pertex, and packed into a stuff sack only 6 inches by 2. The reason that I rarely use my windstopper vest was that my full-cover Vail jacket packs up much smaller.

Well, the Vail is a superb product, and earlier this year Karrimor released a version produced in Activent material, the “Activail”. Activent is a material from W.L.Gore; a water-resistant membrane for active sports. The breathability is several times higher than that of Gore-Tex but the fabric is only ‘almost’ waterproof, and the seams are un-taped. The end results is a garment that can withstand a couple of hours of persistent rain or a half hour monsoon, is totally windproof, but breathable enough to wear continuously in cooler weather. Ideal for mountain biking.

My previous Activent garment – a Berghaus smock was hindered by an absorbent polyester face fabric, which tended to wet-out rather quickly, causing it to leak after half an hour or so of rain. Friends of mine have had no similar problems with Gore Bikewear or Freestyle Activent jackets.
I bought my Activail from Biketreks in Ambleside at £45, reduced from £59, a bargain (get one while they’re still there!), and it got a thorough testing in the following couple of days.

The jacket takes up more room than the standard Vail, with an eight by three inch pack size. It has a semi-drop rear flap, a reflective logo on the tail, a windproof stand behind the full-length zip, and a fetching blue colour. The seams are intelligently placed to avoid leakage across the shoulders. On Saturday it coped with 6 hours of miserable drizzle & mist , with a couple of hours of real rain thrown in for good measure, as well as the usual river-bed riding and fords to cope with. No problems. On Sunday the weather was better, with mist in the morning but loads of surface water spraying up from beneath. Again no problems.

Two days is a minimal test period, but from friends’ experience with Activent, it can replace a waterproof in all but the worst weather, and it is certainly many times more weatherproof than the pertex Vail. And anyway, Karrimor have discontinued the Activail, hence the price, so if you don’t buy one soon they’ll be gone! To confuse matters even more Activent itself will be known as windstopper from now on, as they were both the same membranes anyway (useful to know if you own any windstopper garments).

The good news for those dosh-laden among you is that the Activail will be replaced next year with the Vail Paclite. i.e. Paclite Gore-Tex fully waterproof, and not much heavier, but £130. Still a snip however, compared to the £200 stretch Gore-Tex Easton jacket and this year’s £240 Paclite offering from Berhaus. Other Vail jackets for next year include a lined four season jacket, and some horrible beige smocks, in a cotton-like material (think Rohan) that look fit only to walk to the pub in.
Anyway, I’m extremely happy that I’ve got one of these superb garments before they disappeared to be replaced by something less practical. If it is anywhere near as useful as the original pertex Vail, I’ll be wearing in on every ride between October & April for the next 6 years!

Function 5/5
Value 5/5

Check out the whole Karrimor range on their website, go on no-one’s looking.


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Member review

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I’ve had these lights since November 1999, so I suppose this qualifies as a long-term test. However, as far as I can tell this year’s models are basically identical to mine. Lumicycle only sell direct: their products can be viewed on their website:

So, what do you get for your money? Good presales advice and suitably swift delivery (less than a week after my telephoned order) for a start. First impressions are that the system looks, er, a bit homemade. Don’t let that put you off though: the build quality is excellent throughout. Lumicycle will put together virtually any system you want from their range of components. The basic system I bought has 12W spot and 20W flood CNC’ed black anodised light units which fit on the bars using reusable zip ties, controlled by a robust switch on the back of each light. Side-to-side adjustment is by loosening a screw on the light mount. The lights each contain a removable lamp unit: you have a choice of 5,12,20, or 35W spot and 10,20 or 35W flood. Comprehensive instructions are provided, along with plenty of spare zip ties!

The lamps are powered by a 13.2V 4Ah NiMH battery in frame or
bottle-mounting form. The frame fit battery I ordered is in a tough Cordura
pouch with Velcro straps and hangs easily under bars or top tube. A choice
of “slow” overnight or “fast” 5hr charger (which I opted for) is provided.
The whole system weighs about 800g.

A couple of technical points make these lights stand out from the crowd. The
nickel metal hydride battery is lighter and more compact than an equivalent
NiCad or lead-acid one and lacks the “memory” effect of NiCads, a bonus for
frequent users who want to top up their charge often. Just don’t run it down
completely: this can damage the cells. The lights are 12V units but are run
at 13.2V so they give a brighter, white light at the expense of a slightly
shorter lifespan.

Current model starts at £139.99

How are they in use? My lights have performed faultlessly in daily use
through the rain, hail and snow of last winter and are in daily use again
now: they have survived several crashes and still look like new. Fitting of
the system to the bike is quick and easy. The light these things give off
has to be seen to be believed: the contrast from my previous Cateye halogens
is incredible. To be honest on my daily commute (road/poorly lit cyclepath
mixed) the 12W spot is enough alone. With both lights offroad you can ride
almost as fast as in daylight. The 12W spot gives me about 4 1/2 hours burn
time. When I use both lights I get about 1 1/2 hours burntime. The only
(very minor) niggle is that I have found that the switches can be a bit
fiddly with gloved hands when you’re moving offroad, but I suppose sensible
people switch their lights on before they start off anyway.

Well, what’s the verdict? You’ve probably got the impression that I like
these lights. Oh yes. I’d not hesitate to recommend them to anyone looking
for a set of quality rechargeables. Equivalent NiMH-based systems like
Vistalite’s Nightsticks are now appearing, but are less flexible in their
lamp combinations than the Lumicycle ones. Sure, the Lumicycles cost a bit
more than lead-acid or NiCad equivalents but I think the advantages of the
NiMh battery are worth it and they’re a top quality product. Oh, and they do head-mounted and rear lights too if you’re interested. In conclusion,
well-made, light, bright and reasonable burntime. Reclaim the night!

All the current models and buying information can be found on

Email them directly on or telephone 01202 269863.