Kit review: Rivelo Headley ¾ bib tights

Kit review: Rivelo Headley ¾ bib tights


A good set of bib shorts or tights can be a cyclist’s best friend. You spend a lot of time sitting in them with your legs moving so, the right pair is a good investment. A bad pair can be your worst enemy.

From Rivelo rrp: £130

price paid Sportpursuit: £49.99

Bib what?

Mountain biking is a funny pursuit, especially in winter. I go out riding in horrible conditions: dark, cold, wet, windy or a combination of all four so keeping warm is vital, especially as I suffer from Reynaud’s phenomenon. At the same time, it’s a hobby where you are doing endless sprints and high intensity activity so venting excess heat is often just as important.

It’s that second part that separates us from our tarmac-dwelling cousins on their road bikes with constant cadence and measured effort.

Thus, any pair of shorts or tights needs to keep you warm enough to stave off hypothermia and yet be good enough at venting heat that you don’t boil in the bag. It’s a difficult balance, one that I find best achieved by ¾ length tights (I refuse to describe them as knickers, seriously). They are what they suggest: tights that stop between the knee and the ankle. Those bare shins allow me to vent heat, whilst keeping my knees and thighs warm. It’s only in the depths of winter I go over to full tights.

Rivelo Headley

Rivelo Headley (c. Rivelo)


I found these in the autumn of 2016 on Sportpursuit, because I was going on a road trip to Scotland. They Describe themselves as being made of thermal fabric perfect for autumn and spring. This translates as being a brushed lycra, ideal under a pair of baggy shorts for much of the winter in the South Downs.

I was wary about buying something that’s from a company that’s clearly roadie-specific (their clothes are all named after famous road locations in Britain) and that I’d never heard of. I had visions of style-over-substance expensiveness. This turned out to be unwarranted, though the lovely box they come in seemed a little unnecessary (I have now found a use for it).

I’m tall and slender, which usually often means clothes aren’t long enough (or are too baggy): a previous pair of ¾’s only just covered my knees. They were spot on, they came a decent way below the knees. They fit really well. They’re snug in all the places they need to be, with room in the place where there needs to be some. Another neat touch is the mesh on the back of the knees which allows more heat to escape from a locale that can get clammy. It also means that the knee doesn’t runkle or get unsightly when standing up off the bike. The top half took a little while to bed in, feeling a touch too compressiony to begin with, but fine after a ride or two. It also features an odd keyhole back allowing better breathing under a rucksack (though that’s probably not what it was designed for).

Rivelo Headley (c. Malcolm Griffiths)

Rivelo Headley (c. Malcolm Griffiths)

Down and dirty

It’s all very well and good posing in front of the mirror at home, but they are riding tights and that’s where they would succeed or fail.

They have been flawless for two winters, going well under baggy shorts and they don’t runkle under a rucksack. They have a seamless pedalling action, never getting in the way of my pedalling or, crucially, moving about out of the saddle. They’re utterly invisible on the bike, which really is the best compliment I can pay them.

They have just the right amount of warmth and are great for riding in temperatures right down to freezing and probably beyond. I’ve not had cold or boiling legs, regardless of the conditions. The mesh upper means that my core, generating large amounts of heat, can vent effectively. They’ve been out in the rain, the wind, the mud and (eventually) the snow. They have performed admirably in all of them. They’ve gone through the wash umpteen times, with wilful disregard of the washing instructions, and come out fine. They are beginning to show signs of age from encountering the Velcro tabs on my baggy shorts in the washing machine, but nothing to write home about.

Rivelo Headley (c. Malcolm Griffiths)

Rivelo Headley (c. Malcolm Griffiths)


They have become a mainstay of my riding wardrobe, they’ve become my go-to base garment for three seasons. I bought another pair in autumn 2017 so I could have a second pair for while they were in the wash. Pretty much every ride I did in the winter was in one pair or the other. I cannot find a fault with them.

Ok, the rrp of £130 is steep, but I didn’t pay that and they seem to be in stock at Sportpursuit all the time. So I’m going to disregard it. For the price I paid, they are incredible value.

10/10: They are very good at what they do and keep doing it for a long time.

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in kit, 0 comments
Kit review: Works Components 32T Oval Narrow Wide chainring

Kit review: Works Components 32T Oval Narrow Wide chainring

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Wow! That’s a mouthful.

Ok, let’s start at the beginning. About four months ago, I managed to completely wreck both chainrings on my Stumpjumper. When I say wrecked, one of them was the same shape as a pringle. Fortunately for me, it happened a few hundred yards from the door so it wasn’t a total catastrophe.

Not a massive problem: just go online, pick up some fresh ones and crack on. Actually, no. Specialized, in their wisdom, fitted a spectacularly specific “custom” chainset on the Stumpy, which left me trying to source two fairly specific chainrings. Neither of which were available from actual shops.

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Why is one chainring better than two?

I dropped into my local bike shop to ask for answers. The manager took one look at it and told me it was time to embrace the one-by revolution. 1x chainsets only have a single chainring and no front derailleur or shifter. It’s a simpler, lighter and less mud-catching set up. The other advantage is that, once the chainring is freed of responsibility for making the chain come off the ring easily (to aid shifting), it can be shaped to help keep the chain on. This is usually achieved by having narrow and wide teeth to match the chain.

The downside was that I would have only ten gears not the “twenty” I had until now. I’ve put that in speech marks because there are a lot of duplicate ratios in those twenty. He reckoned I wouldn’t notice the loss. Apparently, it was an easy swap.

Why an Oval chainring?

While I was at it, it was suggested that I could also embrace oval chainrings. I remember Biopace oval chainrings from when I was a teenager. They never took off because no one liked them. Apparently, modern oval rings are different. The premise is based on the fact that there are parts of the pedal rotation where you are putting more force through the pedals and parts where you’re weaker. The idea of the oval ring is that it’s bigger (and therefore harder) where you’re strong and smaller (thus easier) where you’re weaker. The effect is to make the circle feel more even. This should create a smoother pedalling stroke and, more importantly, more even power which should create more grip and reduce the risk of spinning the back wheel on a climb.

That’s the premise. How do they work in real life?

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Oooh, Who’s a pretty chainring then?

Actually, there’s no such thing as a pretty chainring. When I opened the box, I was greeted by a very nicely machined piece of metal. The narrow-wide teeth were clearly present, along with some machining that clearly helped to do something. It wasn’t so intricately machined that I feared it would be a mud magnet, nothing fancy but everything in place. There was also sensibly black anodising covering the aluminium. For an item that cost a measly twenty-two quid, it looks pretty impressive. It looked ready to rock.

Lovely. But how does it ride?

Some components are game changers. Your riding will never be the same once you’ve used them. This chainring is not one of them. Other components are so utterly anonymous in use that you completely forget you have them. It is one of those.

On the first ride, it felt a little funky for about a minute. Then it became normal. Then I forgot about it. Four months later, I’ve forgotten that it was ever new. I honestly can’t tell you whether it has delivered on any of those claims to better grip etc. What I can tell you is that it works. Uncomplainingly, unfalteringly and anonymously. All the time. If that is the sign that something is working properly, then this chainring delivers in spades. It doesn’t feel funky, there is no feeling of pulsing, it just feels “normal”. Which is high praise.

Here’s a video of it in action.


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How about the chain, does it stay on?

Disclosure: I also have a dangler chain device and a clutch rear mech. However, it (and I am aware that I am jinxing myself here) hasn’t dropped once. It hasn’t slipped once. I’ve had not a single instance of chain suck. As far as I can tell, it’s been flawless on that front.

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How about the gears then, is ten enough?

Right, nerd stats alert:

My current setup is: 32T chainring, 11-36T 10 speed cassette, 29er wheels.

This was my biggest fear: would I run out of gears? Would I spin my legs out at just the point where I wanted to put the power down? Or, worse, would I run out of gears going up hill? I live in the South Downs so, whilst my local riding lacks vertiginous rocky ascents, there are plenty of long steep pulls.

I have found myself in the bottom gear on many occasions. On some of them I have had to just put more power through the pedals rather than spinning. On only two occasions have I actually run out. One was on a steep path near the house where I wasn’t really warmed up and was stalled by the undergrowth. The other was in walking boots, on flats, at the end of a long day, trying to ride with people on foot up a steep road. Neither could be solely attributable to the bike.

At the other end of the cassette, the only time I’ve noticed the lack of gears has been on tarmac descents. That’s not really where my bike should be performing anyway, so I’m not that bothered.

Is this chainring any good?


Four months of riding and it hasn’t put a foot wrong. I cannot really fault it in any way, shape or form.

In a world of shiny carbon and expensive suspension, it is really nice when something that costs so little is a genuine upgrade.

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Posted by BackPedalling Andy in kit, Thoughts, 0 comments
Gear Review: Giro bib undershorts

Gear Review: Giro bib undershorts

I’ve been going through my kit locker recently. I’ve been thinking about which bits of kit to keep hold of, which ones to retire and where I have holes to be filled.

So, I’ve decided to put together reviews of the things I pick up to let you know how I get on with them. I may supplement it with reviews (reflections) on the things I’ve ridden to death.

I hope some of this is useful to you.

Giro bib undershorts: A review (Currently £47.99 on SportPursuit)

Before I start this review I need to state, for the record, that I do not have thighs like Sir Chris Hoy. Nor, also for the record, do I believe that I am any more than average in the “trouser department”. Why am I telling you this? It will all become clear shortly. Continue reading →

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in kit, Thoughts, 0 comments