Friday, July 29, 2016

Topo Athletic Ultrafly Review



If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I really like Topo Athletic shoes.  They offer shoes with a low heel drop and wide toe box.  This allows your toes to spread out instead of feeling claustrophobic like in most shoes.  The durability of the materials that they use is excellent as well.  The MT are one of the first shoes that I reviewed on my blog.  It is still one of my favorite trail shoes because it is so light, comfortable, and really flexes with your foot.  The Hydroventure is an amazing trail shoe with a waterproof eVent material that keeps the water out but is still breathable.  Topo Athletic also has some amazing road shoes.  My favorites are the Runduro and the Magnifly.

If you are not familiar with Topo Athletic shoes, they fit snug in the heel and midfoot, while it they are loose in the toebox.  The wide toe box allows your toes to spread out, which has several benefits.  This will not only help you be more stable, but will also reduce foot injuries commonly caused by shoes that compress your toes. 

I have tested 9 shoes from Topo Athletic and have been impressed with every one.  Here are some of my past reviews.

Topo Athletic just released their most cushioned shoe to date.  The Ultrafly is the perfect shoe for runners who are looking for a little support with some cushioning.  The shoe features a 5 mm heel drop, which is still low enough to put your body in an ideal alignment, but is perfect for those runners who aren’t used to a lower heel drop shoe like some of the other shoes in the Topo Athletic and Altra lineups. 

The upper material is a light weight mesh that allows some ventilation so your feet don’t overheat.  There are strategically placed printed overlays keep the outer material strong while cutting weight and a molded foam heal to make sure the shoe will keep your feet where they are supposed to be. 

The Ultrafly has a 3-piece midsole that is made out of EVA and provides a little guidance and feedback while your feet are going through the gait cycle from heel strike (or midfoot) to toe-off.  It has a total stack height of 28mm in the heel and 23mm in the forefoot.  Even with a decent amount of cushion, it still weighs in at an incredibly light 9.2 ounces (for a men’s size 9).

I am a huge fan of Topo Athletic shoes, which you would know if you have been reading my blog for a while.  Topo Athletic has only been around since 2013, but they have made some incredible shoes.  The Ultrafly is my favorite shoe to date.  It is so comfortable and while it has a decent amount of cushion, it still feels light and flexible.  I have tested this shoe on long and short runs, easy and fast paced ones as well.  The Ultrafly performed great in every run.  Way to go Topo!

Pros:
Light weight (9.2 ounces)
Wide toe box allows toes to spread out
5mm drop allows for better form and posture
Great price ($120 at the Topo Athletic website)
Light weight mesh provides excellent breathability

Topo Athletic’s Social Media Links:

Topo Athletic continues to step up its game with the Ultrafly.  This light weight shoe comes with a low heel drop, breathable mesh upper, flexible outsole, and provides a little guidance through the gait cycle.  This list of features makes the Ultrafly a great deal at $120.  You can get a pair at the Topo Athletic website, or check the Topo Athletic Store Locator for a store near you.  Give them a try today and let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cobb Plus Saddle Review



Have you ever been riding your bike only to have your groin started to go numb?  Are you tired of riding on an uncomfortable saddle?  If you have experienced either of these, you are not alone.  It is actually more common than you would think.  As for the numbness, leaning forward on your saddle compresses the perineal nerves (which is the soft area between your groin and butt), which cuts off blood flow and feeling to the area (1). 

According to Bicycling.com, the first thing you should do to help alleviate numbness is to check your saddle tilt.  The top of the saddle should be parallel to the ground, which will allow your sit bones to carry most of your weight.  This will also help to eliminate numbness in your wrists and hands as well.  The next thing to do is to check your handlebars to see if you are reaching too far forward.  If you are reaching too much, you end up rotating your hips forward and transferring the weight to your perineum.  Make sure when your hands are on the hoods (shifters) that your elbows are slightly bent and your arms are perpendicular to your torso. 

While adjustments are great, there are some other options that will help both with overall comfort as well as reducing or eliminating numbness in the groin area.  There are several brands of saddles that offer cutouts in the center channel of the saddle.  I was using a Fizik Arione saddle before.  It was extremely comfortable, but I wore it out and was starting to have numbness issues.  I received the Cobb Plus Saddle to review.

On the Cobb Cycling website you can use their awesome Seat Selector Guide.  First you pick if you are looking for Men’s or Women’s saddle. Next, you pick the type of cycling you do (i.e. road, triathlon, mountain biking, or track).  I picked the road option.  Then it asks you if you are a recreational, club or aggressive rider.  This mainly has to do with the setup of your bike and there are pictures that explain how to tell the difference.  I picked the club rider option.  It’s that simple.  It gave me two options, the Plus2 and the Max.  I ended up reviewing the Plus which is an older model but is almost identical to the Plus2 with the exception of the design on the saddle and the Plus2 has a little softer foam and a rear hydration option, which the Plus didn’t have.  It costs $189.99 for the Plus2 versus $169.99 for the Plus.  So what are some of the features that make the Plus such a great saddle?

Cobb has a patented on their relief channel design.  It is made to eliminate numbness by reducing pressure points in the perineum.  The nose is “cut down” or lowered to increase airflow to the relief channel.  This helps to dissipate heat and moisture in your crotch area.  I found this to be an excellent feature, especially on my rides when the temperature reached over 100 degrees.  The nose of the saddle is 40 mm wide, which is narrower than a lot of saddles out there.  This narrower nose eliminated inner leg chafing.  That is great news for people with bigger thighs like me.  Cobb uses a medium density memory foam in the saddle for all day comfort and improved blood flow to the crotch area.

I have put over 200 miles on this saddle to really make sure I can give it a thorough review.  Nothing on a bike is cheap and I want to make sure that if I am going to recommend a product that I really put it to the test.  I have done sprints, hills, and long rides to see how the Plus would do.  I recently did a 40 mile ride in the foothills near my house in 95 degree temps and the saddle performed flawlessly.  I couldn’t be happier with the Plus.  The cut down nose really helped on my shorter 20 mile sprint in 102 degree temps.


Pros:
Great price for a premium saddle at $169.99
Pressure relieving cutout eliminates numbness
Best all-around saddle Cobb offers, for all types of cycling
Extremely comfortable, even on long rides
Lowered (cut down) nose increases airflow to help dissipate heat
Narrow Saddle nose eliminated chafing on your inner leg

Cons:
Priced slightly higher than some saddles, but you get what you pay for

Cobb’s Social Media Links

The Plus has been Cobb’s number one selling saddle over the years and I can see why.  I would be lying if I said that I didn’t absolutely loved my Fizik saddle.  I was even a little skeptical about if Cobb had a seat that would live up to my high expectations.  I tried out the Cobb Plus, and it is my new favorite for sure.  It’s a saddle that I can really push in my sprints or intervals, but still be comfortable on my long rides.  The tools on the Cobb website make it easy to pick the right seat.  When your saddle shows up, you get a measuring tape and directions on how to install it.  You can pick up your Cobb saddle on their website or at a local retailer near you (click here for locations).  While it might be a little more expensive than some of the saddles out there, you simply can’t beat the comfort and features of the Plus.  I would love to hear your thoughts if you own or have tested a Cobb Saddle.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

References:
(1)    http://www.bicycling.com/maintenance/bike-fit/prevent-numbness

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Yeti 36 Ounce Rambler Review


Have you heard or Yeti Coolers?  They are probably the most rugged coolers on the market.  Yeti was founded by Roy and Ryan Seiders and is based out of Austin, Texas.  Roy and Ryan always had a passion for being outdoors and loved to hunt and fish.  The problem that they found was that coolers out there just couldn’t handle the demands of their adventures.  The brothers decided in 2006 to start Yeti Coolers with a simple mission: “build the cooler we’d use every day.”  They sure didn’t make your ordinary cooler though.  Their coolers are designed and marketed toward more serious outdoor enthusiasts.  The prices of their products reflect that. 

The benefits of Yeti Coolers can be worth the money depending on your needs. They are simply made to not break.  Roy and Ryan never want to sacrifice quality to save a few bucks.  Originally only offering coolers, they have branched out to cups, bottle openers, Hoppers, and more.  I was thrilled to test out the 36 ounce Yeti Rambler.

I have used a vacuum sealed Contigo bottle in the past before it broke.  I then went to a Hydroflask bottle, which has been decent.  I will be comparing the 36 ounce Yeti Rambler to the 20 ounce Hydroflask and a non-insulated shaker cup.  Let’s first talk about what the 36 ounce Yeti Rambler has to offer. 

They classify the Rambler as 100% over-engineered stainless-steel drinkware.  “It is over-engineered for maximum beverage enjoyment” they say.  What does that mean though?  Unlike some openings, the Rambler uses Over-the-Nose Technology (a large opening over 2.5” across) so you can drink without your nose getting in the way.  This especially good if you have a big honker like me. 

The 36 ounce Yeti Rambler uses 18/8 kitchen-grade stainless steel so they are not only puncture-proof and rust-resistant, but it won’t leave a metallic taste in your mouth.  It has a double-wall construction with vacuum insulation.  This is important because it will help keep your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot.  The vacuum insulation also will prevent sweating so you can say goodbye to rings on the coffee table as well as wet and frostbitten hands.  The 36 ounce Yeti Rambler is BPA-free as well.  


Yeti uses a TripleHaul Cap, which is a loop that is easy to grip with 2-3 fingers depending on how big your fingers are.  The cap is insulated as well, unlike my previous two vacuum bottles (from Contigo and Hydraflask) which is where they lost most of their benefit.  You can get your 36 ounce Yeti Rambler personalized with a monogram, logo, or picture on the Yeti website.  There are also 3rd part companies who sell vinyl wrap for your Rambler.  I just ordered an American Flag one for $15 including shipping.  The Rambler is covered for 5 years against any manufacturing or material defects.  So let’s get to the field testing.

I filled up three bottles, a shaker cup (non-insulated), 20 ounce Hydraflask, and the 36 ounce Yeti Rambler with about 18 ounces of ice.  Then I filled them all up with cold water.  I left them out on my counter to see how long it would take for the ice to melt.  I started on Friday at 6:00 PM. The non-insulated shaker cup’s ice melted after 4 hours (Friday at 10:00 PM).  The Hydraflask’s ice melted after 28 hours (Saturday at 10:00 PM).  The 36 ounce Yeti Rambler’s ice melted after 51 hours (Sunday at 9:00 PM), a full 23 hours after the Hydraflask.  That is amazing! 
 
Pros:
Overbuilt to take abuse
Easy to hold with the TripleHaul Cap
Over-the-Nose Technology makes it easy to drink
Ice last for days
18/8 Kitchen Grade Stainless Steel won’t leave a metallic taste in your mouth
BPA-Free

Cons:
Priced higher than its competition at $59.99

I knew I would be impressed by the 36 ounce Yeti Rambler.  I have friends who bought the large Yeti ice chests and had ice in it for over a week without the ice melting.  I never expected the ice to last 23 hours longer than my Hydraflask bottle.  I like the way the 36 ounce Yeti Rambler feels, and it is awesome to have ice water even after it has been sitting in my hot car all day.  This is great for trail running when you get back to your car and just want some ice cold water.  You can pick up your 36 ounce Yeti Rambler at the Yeti website or online through other retailers, although the prices are almost the same wherever you buy it.  As a runner and cyclist, hydration is vital in performing at my best.  Hydrating when you are not running is just as important, if not more important before and after a run than during your run.  Pick up a Rambler for yourself and let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.