James Spender

27 Jan 2023

Electric gloves, dry bikes and nifty locks… these are the things I’ve been loving this week

What time is it? I can’t hear you. I said what time is it? Yes it’s Friday! Which isn’t a time per se, but it is a wonderful time of the week.

And top pop fact pickers: Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ meaning ‘day of Frigg’. Because yes, that’s correct, Frigg is the Germanic goddess of love who is often associated with the Roman goddess Venus, and Venus is of course often associated with the day that is Friday in lots of different cultures.

But hang on a second, what about the Old Norse you cry? Well it’s true, it does get sticky. Because the expected cognate name in Old Norse would be friggjar-dagr yet the name of Friday in Old Norse is frjá-dagr, with the modern Scandinavian form being fredag, meaning ‘Freya’s day’.

All totes legit unless you contest that Frigg and Freya aren’t descended from the same Proto-Germanic figure after all. Yeah, I know right. So what should we do? Well, the best we can hope for, says the Venerable Grundy, ‘is to survey the arguments for and against their identity, and to see how well each can be supported’.

Sage words, and I’ll be back with those arguments next time (or not), because for now we should really get onto the matter in hand, this week’s In the Drops.

But before that, let me tell you what else I’ve been enjoying in the world of the wide web this week. Because this week there’s been Will Strickson’s smashing guide to the best places to cycle in the French Alps, the re-release of what many will consider the most iconic bike of all time (as for me, I wanted the one that made laser noises and had an FM radio), plus Emma Cole’s brilliantly insightful piece that answers the question we should all be asking: what do to with your old bike stuff?

Also, Wikipedia got an all-new fresh look, which I know because I had to plagiarise the etymology of Friday from somewhere. Thanks Jimmy. No, I’ve already donated, and to be honest you don’t seem that hard up. Try looking sadder next time. Cheers for the info, though.

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Ekoï Heat Concept 5 heated gloves

I have Raynaud’s Disease. There, I said it. Like the best diseases I have diagnosed myself online, so not being a doctor I can only assume I am correct, and certainly my symptoms match.

These days my hands barely have to look out of a window and they start getting tingly and cold, so I finally bit the bullet, wrote a letter of apology to Bernard Hinault for my wimpiness and tried out a pair of these heated gloves from Ekoï and boy, they are game-changing.

Inside the gloves are a bunch of flexible heating filaments buried around the fingers and backs of hands, which heat to one of three temperature settings – 30°/35°/40°C – each lasting 4hrs/2.5hrs/1.5hrs respectively, claims Ekoï.

There’s a single button on the back of each glove which is on/off if held down, or toggles through the heat settings when pressed once. These buttons are chunky and easily operated when wearing.

Batteries are hidden in zipped pockets on top of the cuffs, and though that means the cuffs are ski-glove massive, the Concept 5s don’t feel as bulky as they might look.

Also, there’s a reason ski-gloves have massive cuffs – it keeps you warmer as your wrists are pretty poorly insulated, and as the old adage goes, wrists are a crucial junction to the hands.

Said batteries charge in a claimed 2-4 hours using the supplied charger, which allows you to charge both at once, albeit be warned – you’ll need to draft in your plug adapter as the charger is European.

The gloves have a waterproof membrane and are windproof, plus of course they’re pretty heavily insulated too. Yet given this, dexterity is decent; I can find shift buttons as well as in most gloves. Grip is also good, and there are Velcro clasps and elasticated draw-strings to really batten those hatches down.

All this said, it should be noted that Ekoï doesn’t endorse wearing Heat Concepts in heavy rain, but make of that what you will. I’d fall on the side of common sense and the fact Ekoï of course has to cover itself. Worst case I expect full-saturation would short them out; I can’t imagine these will end up like electrified gauntlets in a downpour.

Bottom line is they seem to work a treat, but I’d say whatever gloves you usually have, size up. These are XL and they’re snug. I’d usually be a size large.

Hiplok Switch lock 

The Hiplok Switch is one of those ‘every now and again a product comes along that’s so simply genius it’s simply genius’ products.

It’s a folding lock, sure. We’ve all seen one of those before. But it has clever stowage/carrier system where the lock slides into a carrier that mounts to the bottle cage bosses, but… wait for it… when you don’t want the lock the caddy section slides off and your bottle cage slides back on.

It works as the design is three-piece: a bottle boss mounting plate bolts to the frame, onto which then slides either the Switch lock’s caddy or a secondary base plate.

The secondary base plate has generic bosses which you can screw your regular bottle cage too, so hey-presto, you can switch between carrying a lock or a bottle cage, depending on where you’re going, all without tools.

The lock itself folds out to be large enough to go round most objects save for those chunky lampposts that hide all the fun electronics behind a little door in their bellies. It’s rated Sold Secure Bronze, which is not the best (Diamond is now the highest rated, then Gold then Silver*), but is certainly good enough for trains, cafes or pops-in-the-shops locking.

I wouldn’t therefore use this as my primary lock for long-stop, city-centre duties, but to do so would kind of miss the point. I see the Hiplok Switch more as a useful addendum to your race bike so you can take it places, stop indoors along the ride and pop into the newsagents to get some milk on your way home.

Just be wary about carrying a four-pinter in your jersey pocket. Better off with two two-pints in two pockets. Trust me. And always buy organic, kids!

* For what it’s worth, this is what Sold Secure ratings mean apparently (this info doesn’t seem to be easily found in Sold Secure’s literature; I’ve lifted this direct from Squire locks’ website, and they are still rather woolly… I’d wager ‘hand tools about the person’ doesn’t include an angle grinder. 

– Sold Secure Bicycle Bronze: the lock can withstand a 1-minute attack with hand tools that can be concealed about the person

– Sold Secure Bicycle Silver: 3-minute attack with a higher level of tools

– Sold Secure Bicycle Gold: 5-minute attack with tools of a higher level again

– Sold Secure Bicycle Diamond: 5-minute attack with an even higher level of tools, including some power tools and some machine-based testing alongside physical attack testing

Storm Skin waterproof bike cover

If the Hiplok Switch is ingeniously simple, the Storm Skin fits the ‘didn’t know I needed one, but I do’. This is essentially a huge, weatherproof bag to store your bike in outdoors, and it’s made from the same stuff as hiking rucksacks. That is, high thread-count, ripstop polyester.

This fabric – which Storm Skin says is 100% recycled – is taped at the seams and rated as waterproof to 3,000mm.

For context, the Gore-Tex in a jacket is 20,000mm, and that means the material can withstand the equivalent pressure of a 20m tall, 1-inch diameter column of water being placed on it and not leaking through.

Although considerably lower than Gore-Tex, in industry terms 3,000mm is considered waterproof, and while 40 days and nights of Noah-grade rain would probably get through, I’d wager the Storm Skin will do as promised and keep your bike dry. Plus, this fabric is much, much hardier than a Gore-Tex jacket.

There are some neat features, two flaps front and year where a lock can be threaded through so the bike can be covered and locked outside, and an elasticated draw-cord to pull the Storm Skin snug around the wheels.

The Storm Skin fits bikes up to 220cm length, 140cm height and with a 70cm max bar width. As such it’ll pretty much cover a moped, but as you can see from the pictures, on a sub-1m wheelbase road bike it drapes rather than wraps. Still, it does the job and you could probably camp in it.

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