Category Archives: Cycling kit

’tis the season to help good ventures

A child seat built specifically for trails. This makes two kickstarter posts in one day, but the idea behind Macride was conceived in Scotland (I suspect) and it has been tested in the Ochil hills of Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire over the past few months, so I wanted to give this one a shout too.

You can contribute to this kickstarter fund – there are only a few hours to go on this one.

Competition! WTF?

This blog is not normally known for reviews, product tests / promotion or prizes, but it just so happens I have a fetching T-Shirt from WTF Kits to give away.

The WTF Kits logo is modelled on the classic Team Z-Peugeot kit that Robert Millar wore for 1989–1991.

British fans may know this team as GAN, who Chris Boardman rode for in the mid 90s, and later as Credit Agricole.

To enter, post a comment below with a link to your favourite all-time post on this blog. You need to link to one of my posts or mention it in your comment – maybe it was one of my early, corny ‘Scottish Cycling rules‘, one of the historical pieces, or one of the interviews, such as Steve McCaw’s hour record, Jen Taylor’s women’s champs win or one of the Scottish climbs.

Check out WTF Kits tumblr blog.

I am giving away 1 T-Shirt only, in size medium.
Entry closes 12:00 noon this Sunday November.
Winner picked at random from comments on this blog post.
Eligible only to UK residents.
I’ll contact the lucky winner privately for your name and address and post it out to you.

@wtfkits got it muddy already!

WTF is this weird t-shirt that arrived from Washington DC? Ha @CXHairs on the packet

Bike review: Lapierre Spicy 916

This post comes from my brother Chris Philipson. I am always keen to keep abreast of mountain biking, although I sold off my own 26″ hardtail in 2011-12 to replace it with a with a multipurpose Kinesis winter road / cyclocross bike. The spirit of that purchase is evident in Chris’ own do-it-all mountain bike, albeit he has gone for the best kit he could get his hands on.

Hasn’t everyone always wanted to build their dream bike? Since I was about 15, I certainly have. Well last winter, I broke my back (for the second time!) in a skiing accident, and I split up with my girlfriend – so I had a bit of time on my hands. I also had a refund from my season ski pass, and felt like I a project.

The build has some DH bits, and some more all-mountain bits. It’s a “quiver killer” designed as a do-it-all mountain bike covering both XC and DH bases, specifically for the alps.

This is not a complete custom build though. I bought a 2012 Lappiere Spicy 916 from Flying Fox. In 2012 you could not buy a frame-only from Lapierre. If you could have – I would have done just that.

I’d been riding a Transition Covert in the Swiss Alps for a couple of years. The Covert is perfect, in almost every way – but with the Hammerschmidt build I had, she was a touch hefty for long alpine ascents.

I guess normally, I wouldn’t change bits on a bike when I bought it – because it would get in the way of riding time. This time, though, it would be a few months before I could ride it. So I decided to sell some of the bits (Swiss prices! 😉 ) and replace them with my preferred choices.

Size and geometry

The stem on this bike is 35mm! Normally the shortest you’d go with is 50mm. This is the shortest available apart from a Mondraker style bike, that comes with a 5mm “on top” stem. They make their top tube longer to account for this – and with this medium size bike, that’s effectively what I’ve done.

Mondraker developed a completely new geometry where they extended their top tube lengths, but made an almost zero length stem. The short stem gives really fast, controllable steering.

And I have ended up with a medium size frame – instead of a small that I have ridden in the past. The small was a bit short, but this years medium was long, which suited me better as someone with short legs and a long body.

The longer top tube still gives you cross-country style climbability with you stability as well as more weight directly over the front wheel.

Groupset / drivetrain

I’ve gone for the 2×10 Shimano XTR the bike was specced with. If I was in the UK I’d go for a 1x set up, but over here in Europe, a 2x works a treat because there is more climbing.

Unfortunately there was a design fault on the mech hanger on previous Spicys – they only had one bolt. My first day riding it in Zermatt, and I hit the rear mech on a rock, damaging the frame. Thankfully Flying Fox (and Steve at Hotlines) were legends with the warranty, and sorted me out with a 2012 rear end to tide me over, and then a 2013 frame. Lappy have now sorted it, and changed the hanger to a more standard 2 bolt design (like everyone else!).

Lapierre Spicy 916 build
With the XTR shadow rear mech, its arguable whether a chain device is even needed. I was used to having everything locked in place with the Hammerschimdt gearbox on my Covert, so I decided to add a CGuide from Bionicon. A legendary bit of kit that matches perfectly with the shadow rear mech. The only problem then was protecting the chainrings (and the XTR ones aren’t cheap to replace!)

Lapierre Spicy 916 build
I went for a carbon bash guard from Carbocage. It was designed to pair up with their single ring guide – but they were happy to sell it on its own. It required a fair bit of filing to get it flush enough with the frame for the 2x set up, but that combined with a couple plastic washers (from an e-13 bottom bracket and crankset), and it fitted a treat. I couldn’t really find many bash guards that would fit with the XTR 2x set up. If their Saint one comes out I might try that too. The Carbocage one does slide over rocks nicely though.


The Spicy came with Formula The One discs. I’d had them on my Covert before, and I’m pretty happy with them. They are nice and light, but a touch on the flimsy side. My biggest gripe is the cost of spare parts. If I had to replace them I’d perhaps go for Hope M4’s for their sturdiness and more sensibly priced spares. I upgraded the discs to floating rotors because the heat dissipation helps a lot on long alpine descents. They were silly priced though – and I used Hope titanium bolts instead of the formula ones because they were about half the price – you cant have rusty bits on a bike this bling! 😉

Lapierre Spicy 916 build

I had been pondering a Whyte 146, so I couldn’t help reading about the carbon Haven wheels. Silly price though, so I couldn’t allow it. That was until I spotted a set massively reduced, and I realized selling the new aluminum set would get close to paying for them.

Marsh Guard is such an easy and light solution to mud in the face I thought I’d give it a try. I accidently ended up with two, so I thought I’d try one on the back and see if my riding pack ends up any less wet. It’s probably not worth having on the back though.

Finishing kit

The specced 711mm Easton carbon Haven bar was changed to a 750mm Easton Carbon Havoc bar – that was a no brainer.

The 70mm Haven stem was ditched for a 35mm Havoc. This was a tricky one, I was trying to make the the length as similar as possible to my Covert – and I do like a short stem, but I was worried that this was perhaps a bit too short.


Seatpost – I couldn’t resist making use of the stealth cable routing on the 2013 Spicy frame. The stealth reverb adjustable seatpost comes in a 150mm extension model – which measured up exactly right for me and on a 160mm travel bike it makes sooo much difference. You can pedal uphill with full leg stretch then slam it down into downhill mode easily. 

The internal cable routing of the Spicy is just perfect. The frame came with a cable run through to make the reverb routing easy. The little plastic clips that you get with the reverb were perfect for making the front end super neat.

Contact points – pedals, saddle and grips

My previous pedals had died, so I couldn’t resist going for the Hope F20’s. I’ve left the centre to pin spots free, to give them a touch of a concave feel. The hope grip doctors pair up nicely with the ESI silicone grips and help protect the carbon bars.

Lapierre Spicy 916 build

The ESI Silicon grips are not lock ons. They are super grippy and more shock absorbing, but also way lighter than lock ons. This enabled me to add Hope end plugs.

So far I’m pretty happy with the Fizik Gobi saddle – and I’m resisting the carbon model!


I do like the compression adjust on the Fox 36 Floats, compared to the previous oil bath model I had. Had I been choosing I’d be giving the Boss deville forks a closer look mind!

Easton have just announced a free upgrade to new bearings and spacer kit – which should eliminate problems with the bearings wearing out due to the Preload adjuster either unthreading or being set slightly wrong. I’m looking forward to fitting mine as I already have a slight play in my bearings. No- I don’t have an excuse to rebuild the Haven’s with gunsomoke Hope Pro2’s though! ☹


She’s come in at bang on 12.6 Kilos (27 pounds). OK, I’ll admit it, I’m a weight weeny, and many may say that I’d get more advantage by loosing some weight myself. It’s true, but I did loose the same amount as the difference between my Covert/Hammerschmidt build at 15.5kgs.

All the hardware I could possibly change is Ti!

She was named after the Malaysian for chilli sauce – Sambal. Spicy – gettit?

Lapierre Spicy 916 build


Homemade chamois cream recipe

Further to my wee bro’s homemade protein recovery flapjack (PFJ?) recipe, here is a formula for your own chamois cream.

The spirit of home made and fettled things have been in the spirit of this blog ever since I published Official Rule #8: Performing your own maintenance. The mythical Scottish cycling champion is able to set up his own bike, build his own wheels and even design and make his own frames. Hang, on, we already have one of those, his name’s Graeme Obree.

The concoction is created by Simon Lamb of sadly-now-defunct Gazzetta della Bici fame, and founder of the non-location-based GS Gazzetta cycling club. Simon created his own massage oils and sold them for a while under the La Clinica A Mano label, although [edit] as of 2012 you can now find them at Il Dolore.

Chamois Cream Recipe:
•Large pot emollient cream, Large pot Aqueous cream. Essential oils [lemon tea tree] and Witch Hazel.

•Mix creams together a bowl. Then add the Witch Hazel [50ml] but add it gradually and mix well to stop it splitting

•Then add 5ml’s of each of essential oils gradually. Put the mixed cream back in the tubs it came in and thats it!

•Use quite liberally, as it’s thinner than some you get. But it cheap, easy and lasts for ages.

I haven’t tried it myself but it has been road tested by illustrator Richard Mitchelson and others- give it a go!

Scottish Cycling Foods: protein recovery Flapjack recipe

After posting about Graeme Obree’s low-fi energy food recently, you may end up ‘breathing in crumbs’, to borrow a phrase of his, with this recipe.

The recipe is the creation of my brother, who spends his spare time mountain biking and back-country skiing in Switzerland, when he isn’t trying out the trails of Borneo.

The addition of protein powder certainly makes it more of a recovery food than race fuel, but having tested it on the reliability rides this month it is good on-ride winter fodder if you nibble in small quantities, or is ideal for carrying as an insurance policy against the dreaded bonk.

Protein flapjack ingredients 1

Ingredients Continue reading

Focus on mechanics: Brendan Milliken

Brendan has kindly agreed to answer some of my questions about the past two years he has spent as a full time mechanic for Endura Racing.

You’ve spent the past 2 years as mechanic with Endura Racing, remind us how you got the gig?
Since the age of 14 I have been involved in cycling, as a rider and working in cycle shops as a mechanic, cycling has been a big part of my life and to be involved in the professional scene on or off the bike has always been a dream. I have been involved with Endura Racing for 4 seasons now, from the original incarnation that was PedalPower Race Team/Endura where I assisted the team with mechanics and support in the team car at a few Premier Calendar events. During the 2009 Halfords Tour Series after a mechanical-strewn 1st round, I was offered the position of mechanic, looking after team bikes, driving and logistics which led to a full time job with Endura and Endura Racing.

Tour Doonhame 2011 | Photo by Larry Hickmott | courtesy of Endura Racing
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Scottish Cycling T Shirts

I’m rediscovering my mojo for blogging a bit by getting back to short pieces. It’s not hard to be inspired with designs like these around.

Bathgate Alps – by Matt Ball/West Lothian Clarion
A nice minimal design, with some nice typefaces and a list of the many West Lothian climbs. There’s a map on the WLC website.

The Robert T Shirt – by Rich Mitchelson/Rouleur
Robert Millar rouleur t-shirtI blogged this one before, but it’s worth doing again- again, I like Rich’s minimal 2D style. Also available as a mug.

Ronde Van Vlaanderen – by Scott O’Raw/Velocast
OK, so the Tour of Flanders isn’t anything to do with Scotland, but this T is designed by Scott from the Velocast, of which I am a big fan. Check out this and other designs and support the show.

I’ve got other ideas for Scottish Cycling T Shirts but unfortunately not the creative flair, time or knowhow to see them through. If you have any suggestions for things I’ve missed, post in the comments or send me a message.

On a tangent- some other design work from this year that I really liked was for the Tro Bro Leon race – a ‘mini Paris Roubaix’ held in Brittany. It’s held in mid-April and was raced by Endura last season. There’s a sportive too, which I’d love to try.

I’m not much of a designer myself, but I loved the illustrated style, which nods to the graphic novels (or ‘BDs’ – Bandes Dessinées) that are highly popular in France. The theme was integrated throughout the event website and would be cool on a T Shirt. I’m not sure who the designer was so unfortunately can’t credit.

Focus on mechanics: Mark Leadbetter

I’ve been meaning to give mechanics some attention on the blog for a while, and it’s easiest to start with one I know: Mark Leadbetter is a bike mechanic local to my Stirling area, and a club mate. An experienced wrench, he honed his trade at Stewart Wilson Cycles in Stirling (below), which has recently changed hands and is now revamped and trading as Velocity44.

He’s a good wheel builder and mark considers this his own speciality or ‘wizardry’. I’ve spent many years examining factory wheels or those built by other people which would come to me for service or repair… spotting even the most minute mistakes in the build. I think of the many thousands of wheels examined in all that time… I saw only half a dozen or so that I would have been happy to have supplied.

When I wrote this post, Mark didn’t have a website, but you can now reach him at
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Bike ‘review’: Felt AR5

I got a loan of this from my mate Pedro at Flying Fox Bikes in Alva. The Felt AR5, or ‘felt arse’ as it has affectionately come to be known locally, is an aerodynamic road bike designed to slice through the wind.

I’m no product tester, having only ever ridden a carbon bike once before, ‘d hesitate to venture into the subjective area of equipment reviews. But it’d be a shame to have tried a machine such as the AR5 without giving it a mention on the blog, so here goes.

Felt AR5

Felt AR5










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Graeme Obree’s ‘The Hour’ watch

Graeme Obree designed a watch to celebrate his record-breaking hour record.

Graeme Obree interview – The Hour from Mr Jones on Vimeo.

The watch appeared last year, and the other week he was on STVs ‘The Hour‘ programme (available on limited catch-up, click ‘part four’). There’s his typical frankness about the pain of attempting the hour record in this video, mixed in with some philosopy about time.