I fitted a Scottoiler to my 1999.5 Cannondale F900 to see if it really was as good as the Scottoiler website reckoned. Here’s my personal review of the product after 7 months of testing.
The system consists of a water-soluble lubricant and an on-demand dispenser made up of a reservoir, a hand operated pump (called a ‘squid’ in Scottoiler-speak), a modified lower jockey wheel and interconnecting tubing. The comprehensive kit includes everything conceivable required to fit the Scottoiler – right down to a tube of superglue, zip ties and pvc tape!
After reading the supplied instructions, the suggested locations for the ‘squid’ were ignored, and it was fitted under the saddle to keep plumbing to a minimum. The reservoir was attached behind the seatpost with big ‘O’ rings, and the correct jockey wheel/bush combination selected to maintain existing cage spacing.
The individual parts were plumbed together with the micro-bore tubing and the tube neatly routed down the right-hand seat stay to the rear mech.
The fairly new chain on the bike was degreased, dried and cleaned with the supplied Scottoiler Fluid as recommended. Stretch was measured at 0.25% with a Park Chain Checker. The reservoir was filled with the Scottoiler water-soluble lube and the ‘squid’ pumped to prime the system and apply lube to the jockey wheel and the chain.
Now to start riding! Since fitting the system the bike has done 1016.4 miles in all weathers and conditions including:-
Pitmedden, Fife – Very dry and dusty.
Innerleithen/Traquair – Red XC Route.
Ae Forest – Red Route.
Aberfoyle – Very muddy.
Corrieairack Challenge – 45.6 miles in heavy rain.
Holiday in Fort William – Riding the Witches Trail for 2 weeks solid. Rained for much of the 2nd week.
5/7 of the Great Glen Cycle Route, Fort William to Urquart Castle – 3055ft of climbing in dry dusty conditions.
Merida 100Km Marathon, Selkirk – 7400ft of climbing in total. Conditions varied from mist to scorching sunshine and from tarmac to bog and dusty singletrack.
Drumlanrig – Another mudbath!
and several Scottish Cyclo Cross Races and lots of off/on-road riding in between.
Application of the Scottoiler fluid seems to work well at the rate of around 1 squirt every 15 – 20 miles, more often in poor conditions. Throughout the whole test I only used about 300ml of fluid which works out pretty cheap! After riding as above, the chain has been periodically checked for wear, and currently shows 1% stretch and is due for replacement very soon. Comparing this information with previous records suggests that there has been approximatley a 40% increase in chain life.
The other claim made by the Scottoiler website is the ease of chain cleaning. I must confess to being very sceptical of claims like these. So once I got the chain nice and dirty (it never gets as dirty as a chain lubed with more conventional lubes) I wiped it across a white tee shirt and got chain dirt all over my hand …
Having seen the radically different ‘Ergon Grips’ at the 2005 Selkirk Merida 100 Enduro event in July 2005, I thought they sounded like a good idea, but remained sceptical as to their actual effectiveness. After speaking to the folks fitting them, and some riders using them, I became a bit more convinced and was sufficiently interested to consider buying a pair.
The chance to fit and test the grips came sooner than expected in August 2005 when I received a frantic phone call asking if I would like to fill in for an absent team-mate in the ‘Sleepless in the Saddle’ 24-hour endurance race….
A quick trip to Walkers Cycling, and I had a pair of MR-1 grips to fit with less than 4 days before the race.
I chose the MR-1’s, as having a stubby bar-end would offer a few more riding positions – very useful for a 24-hour race! Fitting the grips was as easy as any other grip, step-by-step instructions are included for those who need advice.
In use I expected to have to make many minor adjustments to the grip / bar end angles, (grip and bar end are independently adjustable), but this was not the case and I found an ideal position combination with only one change in angle required.
As soon as the grips are fitted it becomes very apparent why most of us get sore hands when riding for long periods – most of us ride with our wrists pointing downwards – but because we have ‘adjusted’ to it, we accept it. The Ergon grips force your hands / wrists into the correct position and are VERY comfortable as a result.
The flatter ‘paddle’ shape spreads the load over a much greater area of each hand, lessening the pressure on the palm and reducing / eliminating tingly fingers caused by excessive palm pressure. The portion of the grip nearest the shifters is fully rounded allowing the hand to pivot round easily for comfortable gear changes (I use trigger shifters but I would imagine they’d work equally well with GripShift).
The thicker profile of the grip makes for a very natural climbing position, and again the ergonomic shape reduces finger tingling / numbness when hauling hard on the bars. Descending is also made easier with a greater feeling of control and a reduction of ‘white knuckle death grip’ as less hand pressure is required to wrestle the bike and maintain intended direction.
The only problem I had was in the wee small hours of the 24hr race when I noticed the brake levers were pointing at the sky. My fatigued brain cells were too tired to notice that the whole bars had slipped round – not the newly fitted grips!!! I think that fact shows how much more pressure you can put on these grips without even realising it – all handlebar fittings were checked thoroughly before leaving for the race, and all were tight.
After covering 87+ miles in 24hrs (as half of …
As a user of Camelbak hydration packs since the early 1990’s, I was please to be able to try out the 2006 version of the most popular hydration pack in Camelbak’s range – the M.U.L.E.
M.U.L.E stands for Medium to Ultra Long Endevours, and it’s aimed squarely at all day / enduro type riders who want to carry enough liquid and supplies for a comfortable day out, without taking a rucksack.
The M.U.L.E. has a liquid capacity of 3 litres in the new Omega reservoir, and a cargo capacity expandable up to 9 litres by clever use of expander straps and pockets. The pack has 6 pockets in total:-
1) A mesh pocket for a very small waterproof, snacks, or anything else you need to keep to hand (but don’t mind getting wet / dirty / dusty). A rubberised splash guard works quite well at keeping most of the crud off the pockets contents.
2) An organiser pocket and numerous pockets for small items like change, snacks, mobile phone, a key holder. If you have a short mini pump, it could go in here too.
3) An expandable area ideal for a normal sized waterproof which can be nipped up tight to prevent fallout with the expander straps.
4) A large pocket for normal length mini pump, suspension pump, a map, sandwiches / snacks, anything not already catered for by the other pockets.
All pockets have double zips for access from either side (or for carrying weird shaped items!).
5) The bladder pocket. This is accessible from the back of the pack so you don’t have to decant everything to refill the bladder (very clever and useful!). The pocket position keeps the bladder nearer your body which helps prevent movement, and helps keep the contents warm if it’s really cold! There’s a hanging loop to prevent the bladder folding itself over and blocking the drinking tube outlet as it empties (nice touch!).
6) Fleece-lined MP3 player pocket which also has a weatherproofed zip / headphone lead exit area. Very well thought out and useful. If you don’t have or use an MP3 player, you can fit a compact digital camera, helmet lamp or helmet cam battery pack or a pair of shades in it. Anything delicate which you don’t want to get scratched or joggled about too much.
The Omega reservoir has been further improved and is even better than previous incarnations of the bladder. Featuring a wide screw neck for easy filling and cleaning, the material has an antibacterial coating which apparently kills 99.9% of bacteria and is guaranteed for life by Camelbak. I can’t devise a scientific test for this, but if sugary juice is left in it for a few days, it’s still drinkable after nearly a week!! (this was NOT possible with earlier bladders, everything tasted ‘plasticky’ after just a few hours, never mind a few days. This coating has also extends to the drinking tube – time will tell how well / long the effects …