Category Archives: UK manufactured

Superstar Nano Pedals long term test

Superstar Nano PedalsIt’s nice to see a long term review where the product is still available! These Superstar Nano pedals were bought in Oct 2011 and are still current…

They’ve been on the bike from new until now. I’ve taken them off because Teva were kind enough to send me a pair of their Pivot SPD shoes, so some suitable pedals were needed while I give the shoes a good test. Not sure if I’ll ever go back to SPDs permanently, but that’s a tangent we won’t go down at the mo…

These have been given good reviews elsewhere, suggesting they must be pretty decent & they’re also available under a few other brand names (usually for more cash)

This review is mainly looking at how they’re stood up to nearly 2 years of use, but here’s a bit of a description:

Superstar Nano Thru PinThey have a decent area to them, some people find pedals like V12’s a bit small (I didn’t), but these should suit most feet. The pins seem a good length & there’s enough of them for good grip. I like thru pin pedals – although the grub screw hex type can have sightly more grip they do tend to damage easily & then you can’t always get them out. These are much easier to remove & replace. There are thinner pedals out there but at 17mm these get noticeably fewer rock strikes than pedals like the V12. Overall dimensions are 105x100x17mm. Weight is quoted at 499g & they’re fairly well sealed. Superstar say the body is concave – this is minimal, but whatever the shape, it suits me

With riding being ‘work’ they’ve had to put up with a fair bit of all kinds of stuff including a couple of coast to coasts where the mud wasn’t washed off for a week. They also get a fair bit of air time, partly teaching others how to jump & partly because if I see a take off point on the trail, well, it’d be rude not to…

The pics show that as with any anodised finish, cosmetic condition eventually deteriorates! However it took a while & riding in mud is more or less like taking wet & dry to a set of pedals! I like the used look though

Superstar Nano ColoursSo far these have had 1 change of pins & 1 service kit. The pin change was mainly a ‘just in case’ – I didn’t want to find that any were damaged enough to remove the thread from the pedal body. They started to develop some play recently, hence the service. Both jobs were done about 2 months ago & the old pins actually weren’t too bad. The service kit sorted the play & the axles weren’t worn. I thought the axles were perfectly straight, but it turned out that one side has a slight bend – not enough to feel when riding but you can see it when the axle spins as you re-attach them. This is almost certainly from the odd heavy landing, I would guess that a ‘wheels on the ground’ rider would have little chance of doing any damage. I could replace the axles as well, but at the moment they still feel fine

All in all, recommended. Oh and they come in lots of colours!

Satmap Active 10 GPS – update

Satmap Active 10 GPS unit – review update

Satmap active10 GPS unitGot one of these through the post end of April by Special Delivery from the UK distributors. They were after feedback about the unit from a mountain biker’s point of view. There’ll be a full review after it goes back at the end of June, but here’s a few comments:

Battery power seems to be easily good for a day & a bit – so far hasn’t lasted 2 whole days with high capacity alkalines. If I owned the unit I’d go for the rechargeable battery (you can always keep AA’s as backup).

As with any device with a backlit LCD screen, the brighter the default setting the shorter the battery life. Also the longer the screen stays on before sleep the more battery drain …obvious to some, not so obvious to others. So far I’ve left the screen on a mid setting & about 30 seconds until the screen switches off. In bright sunlight the map is quite hard to read, but the waypoint pointer is much easier. As far as I can gather this is the same with all brands.

One thing I need to have a play with is the speed setting at which the compass switches modes. Sometimes at slow speeds, like on a steeper climb, the map flips 180 degrees or the waypoint goes a bit random. This can be a bit of a pain sometimes & send you the wrong way, but not for long. Still annoying though if you end up having to double back & it’s uphill… I have a feeling that altering the afore-mentioned mode change speed might sort this.

To me the unit is useful as a ‘get you home’ device. If I want to explore randomly, I can then switch the unit on to plot a route back. The route maker is easy to use & by all accounts the Satmap Active 10 is the only current unit with a decent one.
For a pre-planned route I still prefer to use a traditional map although I may be in the minority soon!

That’s all for now, more later.

Middleburn RS7 Crankset (ISIS) long term review

How has Middleburn’s RS7 stood up to the abuse?

Middleburn RS7 Silver cranksetCranks. Pedals one end, bottom bracket the other, 1 – 3 chainrings, make the bike go.

There’s a lot of talk about how stiff various cranks are. These ones are stiff, although it’s rare for even cheap ones to feel flexy. The Middleburn RS7 crankset is also on the light side. They’re made out of quality alloy in the UK. They’re a little bit pricey, with a RRP for the arms & a spider around £150 but you often see them for a fair but less than the RRP. They do have a lifetime guarantee which includes DH & dirt jumping. It doesn’t cover the splines but it’s rare that they would go on any crank in use. I would guess the disclaimer there is to avoid paying out for dodgy fitting. If you want even lighter still, the RS8’s still have a lifetime guarantee but not for DH & jumping.

I can’t think of anything bad. They’re available in square taper & ISIS. Stop, I hear you say, but aren’t ISIS BB’s the worst product ever invented? Well they seem to have a bad rep, but in my experience if you get a quality BB, (not necessarily the most expensive), they last as long as the old square tapered ones. The axles are larger diameter & therefore stronger. The FSA Platinum I 1st used lasted 16 months of hard use before any play developed. It was replaced by a Superstar a couple of months ago, the design of which makes total sense, so I’m expecting that to do well. As a comparison, the best I’ve had from an external type BB is 6 months, the worst is 3 rides! Before anyone asks, yes the BB shell was faced. There are better units available now, however, from Hope, Chris King & others.

Although these have a triple, the spider is removable & you can fit a lightweight XC double where the inner ring is also the spider for the big ring. Uno setups do away with a spider, the ring fits where the spider would normally. Spiders are available in XC & DH versions, and trials set-ups are also available. In the more standard config, you can get various 4 or 5 bolt types including one for XTR cranks to allow you to run your own choice of rings.

Lastly, a word about chain rings. The pic shows Middleburn’s own fitted to my set of RS7’s. I use these because they seem to last better than most. It’s very hard to decide on a longest lasting make of chain ring, because the conditions & the weather make it a bit variable, but these seem to do the job. The granny ring has been on other cranksets, so it’s 2 years old or more, The big ring isn’t showing any signs of wear & it’s about 6 months old & the middle ring (gets the most use) is still going after a good few months, but has some wear. Not enough yet to need replacing, but enough that you can see it. The one on there at the mo is a hardcoat, unlike the older one in the pic.

To sum up, buy a set of RS7’s if you don’t mind shelling out a bit of cash for something that will last. They’re due to release an external set sometime soon, so you may want to wait for that – I’d say there’s no need, this one is fine. Another UK product that works & works well.

Orange Five long term review

Orange Five Long Term Review

Orange FiveThis isn’t so much a detailed review, you just need to Google for tons of reviews & info on how it rides & handles. This is more about how it stands up to long term use. This one’s an ’08 model – not so much has changed for 2010; a slightly lighter/stronger top tube by Reynolds & the head angle is a little bit slacker. I wouldn’t have said it needed it, but it’ll make the bike slightly more stable at speed & help prevent over the bars incidents on the really steep bits.

…back to the bike – it’s lived up to expectations. No major problem’s so far since it was bought in Dec 2007. It was the basic ‘S’ model with factory upgrades where it seemed worth it. Forks were upgraded to Fox TALAS RLC, hubs, brakes & headset to Hope items & a GravityDropper seatpost added by me. Reasoning was that drivetrain stuff will wear out anyway, so why pay extra at the start? Just upgrade if necessary when stuff wears out.

The forks went to MOJO after a year to have the TALAS system sorted, it almost stopped working due to an unsealed system on the ’08 forks that lets in dirt. They fitted the ’09 assembly which has been great – instant travel adjust instead of almost instant, and it’s now sealed. It’s currently the only system that’s so easy to use you can adjust it on the move.

Pivot bearings are still smooth, so well done Orange for quality bearings & a design that obviously doesn’t put much stress on them. Had to change the shock bushings & went for TF Tuned stainless ones which have been good so far, and they sell the tool for DIY purposes. Although it’s nothing to do with Orange as such, the Fox shock has done well. No issues & it’s easy to change seals on the air can & add some float fuid every so often just to be on the safe side. Mojo reckon if you do this you won’t need a factory service as soon.

Most upgrades have been due to wear & tear or personal choice rather than breakages. One exception was a front rim – bent the original WTB item on not too heavy a landing. Replaced it with my current rim of choice, a Mavic EN321 (used to be XM321); cheap, reasonably light & I’ve not bent one yet. I replaced the rear recently with one that became spare from another bike. It’s handy that EN321’s & WTB SpeedDisc AM rims take the same length spokes, so can be swapped without replacing the spokes if they’re in good order. The other major replacement was a set of Middleburn RS7 cranks, due to the Truvativs being required for another bike. Nothing wrong with the Truvativ set, the external bearings don’t last ages, but I got a lot longer from them than from Shimanos I’ve used. The RS7’s are an awesome bit of kit & there’ll be a detailled review sometime.

That’s it really, does everything I need & does it well.

[edit] I am still using this bike in 2014! Obviously components wear out, but the frame is still fine. It’s running on the original shock & has only had 4 sets of pivot bearings & 3 sets of shock bushings so far… #26aintdead