Christmas Confessions of a Gadget Geek

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I thought “Christmas Confessions of a Gadget Geek” was a better way of entitling a post than “Endurance tech presents I bought for myself and gave to someone else to give to me at Christmas

I’ve been generally ‘all gadgeted up’ for the things that I need for me to do my sporty stuff. And I have been in that fortunate position for a few years now. But some things wear out and some things just need ‘pimping up’ and those were the main theme to my Christmas micro-haul.

Generally, Santa did NOT do a very good job this year and the usual ‘haul’ of endurance-related gear was very much reduced. Having said that Santa DID excel himself in other areas so I still love the dear old red chappie.

What I got for Christmas

In no particular order…

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

I’ve taken a shine to New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V3 shoes in recent years. The one thing I especially like about them is that I don’t seem to get injured when I wear them. That’s a big thing, I guess. So I got some more. This time I got 2 pairs of the V4, which I’ve already snuck into a watch-related shot or two.

The colour doesn’t match ANY other item of clothing I have. Oh well, it was the cheapest price on Amazon at the time at GBP59.99/pair. I thought I had grabbed a bargain with these when I got them in late November. But they’re still the same price now (same in dollars $59.99)

I’m not sure if I am happy or not with them after a few runs. I just did 15 miles today and they feel much harder than I remember the V3 model being when new. The sole construction DOES LOOK DIFFERENT so maybe I’m not imagining it.

On the other hand, I ran some lactate-threshold-record beating 1km intervals yesterday, so they can’t be too bad.

Wheelbuilder Disc Covers

These need to be specially ordered and made for your exact rear wheel size. I had some previously with my Cosmic Carbone 50mm rims and was generally happy with them. That must have been over 5 years ago now and they are just about coming to the end of their life, being held together with Duck Tape on the reverse side of the cover.

However, I got the new set to upgrade my Mavic CXR Ultimate 80T. I might write something up when I get around to fixing them onto the wheel when it gets warmer – it takes about 15 minutes to fix on. The great thing with these is that you can easily remove them if it’s too windy on race day. Admittedly that rarely happens but it does save taking another wheel.

They are almost certainly not as good as a ‘proper’ disc wheel but the research shown on the vendor’s site is convincing enough (strange that) to make me think that I probably get >80% of the possible gains with the addition of only a small amount of weight.

I do have access to friends’ disc wheels if I need them but often the faff of having to change the cassette to fit my 10spd TT bike means I don’t bother to accept their kind offers of gadgetry help.

Site: (Aerojacket – USA-based) – these were $98+shipping with GBP20 import duties from FEDEX. I also got some extra bits from them which may have bumped the shipping+import duty up slightly.

Alternatives: Raltech (more expensive) and Vitesse (even cheaper at about GBP50 but a DIY assembly…not recommended, I tried 6 months ago and wasted hours of my life).


Last year I got some fancy GBP100 2XU compression tights that were the same as some I’d had years earlier. Well, the same apart from the price. This year it was the turn of some stuff from CompressSport.

Under a specific instruction NOT TO GET ME ANY MORE SPORTS socks. Naturally, I got some more sports socks as minor ‘surprise’ presents. This time with a twist

  • Compression running socks – I actually like them and used them before Christmas. They are really tight and comfy and probably offer no benefit whatsoever. Hey…they don’t bite
  • Compression RECOVERY socks. This was a new one to me. Yes they do exist. I’ve worn them a couple of times and they are nice and nobbly in a comfy kind of way. Do they aid recovery? A: Dunno. But they feel nice.
  • CompressSport Calf Guards – The 2018 model has a little tab on the top/outside which helps to pull them up and get them off. Otherwise the same as previous years’ models…but cleaner (so far).

Hydration Pack

Amazon Link: VaporKrar 4L hydration pack

I actually mentioned this back in early December. It turned out to be so useful I ‘opened it’ and gave it to myself on or around 10th December. Shown here

This has two smaller bottles which are ideal for my 2-hour runs but also this pack should fulfil all my running needs this year and might even be handy on some long trail rides. It has SQUILLIONS of pockets for maps and ‘stuff’ and even comes with a built-in plastic whistle.

Compared to my ancient CamelBak, it is perfect in just about every way. Except:

  • The straps across the front come loose more easily than they should. they can be re-tightened VERY easily though
  • I have had to use the rear pocket for my mobile phone. That’s fine BUT ideally, it would be best if there was a right of centre pocket for a BLE audio connection to my earbuds. With the purely central pocket, there is the occasional audio dropout (not bad tho… #usable)

And that was it 🙁 I didn’t even get some Conti GP5000 tyres that I had hoped for. Apparently my ‘loved ones’ thought I would prefer a top from Fat Face (clothing store). Hmmm.

Link: Continental GP5000 >GBP35/$80 on your local Amazon

Continental Shimano

2018 for me was the year of PEAK SOCK as well as PEAK SPORTS SHIRT. I now have sufficient socks or tops for either a 7-day cycling trip or 7-day running trip. That’s all I need. Jeez…I only have 7 proper cycling tops?… I have more tri-suits than that (literally).


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The VaporKrar has been the most comfortable hydration pack I’ve used. And found I actually like using bottles instead of a bladder. I generally carry one in my hand but easy to stuff one or two extra soft sided bottles behind the lower back.


I’m a fan of Nathan vests — I have a VaporWrap 2l which is so comfortable I forget it’s there, despite allegedly being a *men’s* model. The size small is a perfect fit for my frame and once you’ve tightened the straps of the (slightly unfortunately named…) Bladder Control System there’s barely any sloshing. I was sceptical of bladders when I bought this vest but I now prefer the bladder to bottles.


Please forgive a question that’s slightly off-topic for this post, except in a “what I DIDN’T get for Christmas” sense: in terms of upper-arm OHR sensors, is the Scosche Rhythm+ still the device to go for or has it been superseded by now? I’m interested in rectifying one of Santa’s omissions… 🙂


Those two are chest straps though, aren’t they? I’m rather loth to go down that route (sports bra…) so I’d prefer something that goes on the upper arm.


Duly read the review and it does sound good! But now that I’m thinking seriously about getting a sensor, I wonder what my options are for remaining within the Suunto ecosystem rather than using yet another app — even (possibly) at the price of going with a chest strap after all. Is the Suunto Smart Sensor still good to buy today?

BTW when I followed the amazon link to the OH1 it showed me to one single third-party offering priced at a whopping €169.11, see here: If I do a search for the gadget on I get a number of hits including one sold by Amazon itself for €60.95. Not sure what the problem is there, but it might be a bit of a disincentive to buying via one of your links. :S


I have a Spartan Sport WHR. Don’t need underwater capability for anything at all. But now I’m confused: what’s the difference between the Smart SENSOR and the Smart BELT, given that the former is significantly more expensive than the latter? Is the thing you linked to just the belt without the HR module? Sorry to be obtuse, but the product info on the Amazon page is a bit ambiguous.


OK, thanks for clearing that up! Smart Sensor is now officially on order.