Monday, January 18, 2016

Skechers GoRun Ultra Road Review

#GoFastGoPlush
The mighty cushioned shoe from Skechers Performance (Malaysia) has just gotten better in the form of GoRun Ultra Road (GRUR). An iteration of the proven GoRun Ultra, which is very much a shoe made for the trail and occasional road; I  called it hybrid and indeed it has served me very well until today (my 3rd pair of GRU now). 
The cat approved it too
Those of you that has been using GRU would know that this shoe range (the Ultra) is bulky by Skechers' standard. However, despite the outlook, it's light and super flexible. Those of you using them would also know that the sole doesn't hold up too well "on the road". 

Throughout the 3-years I've been on Skechers, I have also learnt that while the wear could look excessive, it doesn't effect the performance of the shoe (grip and cushioning). My 3rd Pair of GRU has clocked no less than 400km and still clocking in the mileage. The new GRUR now come with a completely new outsole said to help it last the road pounding.


The Fitting
Now to the usual way of me doing a shoe review. First off is the fitting of the shoe. GRUR carry on the fitment of the GRU. Wide toebox and i took US11 as my feet seemed to had grown over the past two years (hopefully not because I gained weight and the feet spreading out more to hold my weight). I have intention to use this shoe without socks (as usual) and the liner that comes with it should provide sufficient space if I choose to use socks. Over the years I've collected different liner from different Skechers shoes as well. 
Same wide toe box between GRUR (left) and GRU (right)
The GRUR is a 4mm drop shoe. Stack height of 30mm on the heel (tall!) and 26mm on the front. Removing the liner doesn't make the show decreases in drop. In comparison, one of the more famous cushioned shoe has a stack height of 33mm-29mm (Heel-Front) and still has a 4mm drop. (if you guessed Hoka One One, you are a shoe-aware person)
Similar persona between GRUR and GRU when it comes to Cushioning. 
Being a bulk of a shoe meant the GRUR too will be heavier than it's other cousins. Coming in at 10.4oz (295grams) for US9, my US11 clocked in at close to 330grams (approx 11.5oz). As heavy as it may appear, the cushioning and the ride more than make up for it. 
330grams approx
If you are a heavier person (I would say more than 85kg), you will find this shoe very forgivingly light with the cushioning. (Shoe-aware runner - do you know which make and model comes in at approx 390grams to suit heavier runners? It's named "The Beast" by Brooks). 

Does the weight bother my average weight (73kg)? Hardly. In fact, for the bulk (read:size) and weight, the shoe felt snappy and and doesn't seems to give you the sinking feeling. On some occasions, the cushioning gives the perception that it feel sloppy...but you aren't once you realised you are still running at your normal training pace. Deceiving.

Rocker-like stance. Midsole dominates to encourage mid-foot and forefoot landing
Completely New Outsole
The newly designed sole of the GRUR is made up of Resalyte material. The midsole material is plush and provides a nice soft landing . The Outsole layer is a much firmer and resilient material. The design of the outsole works around the existing GOrun series and is much firmer (when I compare to the GoRun4 and GoBionic2, but not as firm when compared to GoMeb). The more resilient GOimpulse sensors were placed strategically around the outsole for added durability. Testing it, the Pods provide good traction and feel as well.
Significantly different outsole from layout to material. GRUR (right) promises better resilient to wear and tear when compared to GRU
The GRUR is a complete revamp of the original GOrun Ultra. The upper of the Skechers GOrun Ultra Road is designed with the Skechers Performance FITKNIT® technology providing a breathable and comfortable fit. It is completely knitted upper without any overlays and seams, save for the bonded logo on the side. It's completely runnable sock-less, which is what I usually do. 
Drainage hole
Apart from the different material upper, there are two drain holes noticeable on both the sides. I supposed it is to help with draining of water should you get your feet into puddle of water or if you happen to take a shower at the water station. My thoughts on this is that it may help dispersing water out of the shoe. However, it will also encourage water from going in... so you may want to avoid running into puddles of water if you don't like your shoe (or socks) wet.
The drainage hole looked crude from this photo due to the glue that was used to stick the mesh. 
Completely New Upper
The GRUR comes with FITKNIT® upper. You may had read about it in my review of GRR Bolt where I even ran a water-holding (or lack off, which was a good proof that the knit doesn't hold water) experiment. 
Significant differences in density of FitKnit upper lend superb breathability
Interestingly, the GRUR has two knit "density" as opposed to GRR Bolt. The knit was a lot more "closer" in the support area to provide structure and it is "spaced out" in areas where breath-ability is required like top and side. The dual-knitted density itself lend the GRUR a very distinctive look. 
So breathable that even the liner has holes to promote water drainage while allowing hot air to be pushed out
The tongue was thick and is not sewn down. There was initial worry it may bunch up but that was an unproven concern after using it for a few runs. Maybe there is opportunity to reduce the thickness of the tongue to shave off some grams and lend even better (as if not airy enough) breath-ability?

Safety wise, the GRUR comes with reflective marking on the front and back of the shoe, and on the tongue where it allow shoelaces to tread through. Sufficient enough, but I would encourage you to run with lights front and back if you are the nite-runner or early morning type. Better be safe than sorry.
Blings
Verdict
The GRUR is a familiar stranger. Familiar in the sense of the plush cushioning and a stranger with the new material and two different approach to the FITKNIT®. In many ways the cushioning is expected and despite the size and bulk, doesn't hamper your movement or how fast you can run. If you are looking for a pair of cushioned shoe, this may be one of your three choices that I know in the market. By the way, if you have experience with the GRU being flexible...
Roll it all up
The GRUR doesn't dissapoint either... convincing enough despite the new material upper and sole!
Cushioned and flexible
Note: This pair of Skechers GoRun Ultra Road is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair is launched this week (today!). Retailing at RM499 for men and RM469 for women (Semenanjung). RM10-20 more for East Malaysia.

Opinion in this write up is my own and not influenced by Skechers Malaysia or 2ndSkin program.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Purpose - Technical Cycling and Triathlon wear for Asian Climate


Singapore-based Cycling and Multisports Wear Brand Purpose Launches

Creating fine technical wear for cycling and triathlons; built for the Asian climate

Singapore, SG: There’s a new name in cycling and triathlon wear. Purpose, a
Singapore-based brand launches last week, November 26th with an online presence http://withpurpose.io . Mid-2016 will see Purpose venture into retail distribution as a strategy to grow both locally and internationally.


With an aim to cater to the growing participation in cycling and multisports in Asia, Purpose’s mission is to create products that are specific to the needs of these athletes in Asia. “Heat and high humidity affect a large part of cycling and triathlon in Asia. Most of the current range of cycling and triathlon wears available in the market were not designed and built with this in mind,” said Noor Aziz, founder of Purpose.


Noor is an avid runner and cyclist, having completed several full marathons and long distance cycling events himself. “One of the challenges I found in long distance running and cycling in this weather is that we sweat at least 3 times as much as in cooler climate. The choice of fabric and what we wear for these rides or runs affect our sweat patterns as well. Sadly, there aren’t many cycling clothes made of a good enough material to be able to keep us in comfort beyond a certain distance due to excessive sweat and heat. Purpose want to change that”.
The launch series of Purpose, focused on cycling for now (with triathlon running
clothes to be added in January of 2016) is made primarily of two types of technical materials - lightweight 4-way stretch nylons/polyester in most part of the body, together with ultra-permeable mesh fabric in areas where faster dissipation of heat is required; namely arms, shoulders and upper back.
Purpose Flow
“These technical materials aren’t new,” says Noor. “They’ve been around and are used by elite athletes in professional races or tours. Pro-teams don these special kits during races where hot weather and humidity are major factors. What they wear during Tour of Dubai is different from the Tour de France, for example. Yet even so, these hot-weather fabrics are very rarely available to the general masses, and only in expensive limited edition ranges.”
Purpose Victory
With the goal to fuel the sports of competitive cycling and multisports in Asia,
Purpose’s every intention is to make these highly technical fabrics available to the general masses.

Purpose Ambition
“Purpose is making top quality, technical performance wear accessible to everyday champions” added Noor.

Purpose wears are available for test and reviews. To request one, or for an interview with Noor Aziz, founder of Purpose, please send an email to
withpurpose.io+comms@gmail.com .


--

About Purpose: Founded in Oct 2015, Purpose aims to be the voice of Asia that contributes to the growth of the sports of competitive cycling and multisports. Purpose was founded on the believe that the right clothing can and will create improvements in the self, as well as in the sports we are passionate about. Purpose is here to help people with their purpose.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Jabra Celebrates 9th Anniversary - Contest and Discounts

Enjoy special storewide discounts nationwide and promos – 9 lucky winners win 9 smartphones in 9 weeks

KUALA LUMPUR 30th November 2015 – Jabra, the leading manufacturer of innovative audio solutions, marks its 9th year in Malaysia and it looks to celebrate with you – the consumers who have helped make it the premium audio Bluetooth brand it is today.

In commemorating its 9th “birthday” to reward customers, from November 15, 2015 – January 15, 2016, Jabra is offering special discounts on all products nationwide throughout all stores.

In addition, to the discount, 9 lucky buyers will have the unique chance to win 9 smartphones in 9 weeks under its Jabra Rewards programme. This includes an iPhone 6S 16GB, a Huawei Honor 7 and many others. Check out Jabra Malaysia Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JabraMalaysia/) for more details. 
There is also the #Jabra9 photo contest. Just take a cool / unique or exciting photo related to music or sports. Upload it to your Instagram or Facebook account and hashtag #Jabra9. Now, you’re in the running to win a Jabra Sport Pace.

There are nine to be given away so don’t delay, get your photos up today! Just check out Jabra Malaysia’s Facebook page weekly to see if you’ve the lucky winner.
“The 9th Anniversary End-User Rewards Program is just our way to say thank you to all of you who have been with us on this incredible journey. Since our beginnings in Malaysia since 2006, we have grown from strength to strength and progressively have become a household name here thank to you.

We’d like to celebrate this success and reward all who have given their vote of confidence and approval to Jabra. Here’s to many more milestones ahead,” said Ann Goh, GN Netcom’s Sales Director, Central Asia, Consumer Solutions.

About Jabra

Jabra is the brand of GN Netcom, a subsidiary of GN Store Nord A/S (GN) - listed on NASDAQ OMX.

A world leader in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of a broad range of communications and audio solutions, Jabra has a reputation for innovation, reliability, and ease of use that goes back more than two decades. Jabra’s consumer and business divisions produce corded and wireless headsets, plus mobile and in-office speakerphones that empower individuals and businesses through increased freedom of movement, comfort, and functionality. Jabra employs close to 1000 people worldwide and in 2014 produced annual revenue which amounted to DKK 2,871 million. www.jabra.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hi-5 Dreamy Adventure with Enrich Junior Malaysia Airlines Berhad

1-2-3-4 - Hi-5! If you have heard of this chime before you are either parent with kids or have nieces, nephews, cousins that most probably have heard and sang with the team of 5 very energetic host on TV Program or via live show in Malaysia.
Today, I would like to share a good news brought to you by Malaysia Airline Berhad (MAB) Enrich Junior Programme partnership with one of the world most anticipated children musical tour - The Hi-5 House of Dreams Live in Concert tour.

This provide a good opportunity for us to look back and cherish the precious moments spent together with our loved one. I was told that Hi-5 performers will be bringing you through a journey through jungles, fairy gardens, underwater, even outerspace and of course into the world of dreams come true. Imagination, as they say, are endless power. 
Hi-5 and Enrich Junior Programme, will bring our the inner child in you and journey into the most exciting "slumber party" of the year. The zestful and lively showcase by the Hi-5 team of dynamic interactive casts is sure to captivate the hearts of many, adults included!

Did you know that the #EnrichJunior Programme was introduced to reward young Enrich members since 2014? It was conceptualized to ensure that not only will you experience a #EnrichUrLife experience; your little ones will also be treated to a fun-filled yet knowledgeable experience! Find out more about #EnrichJunior here.

Win Tickets to the Hi-5 Concert!

Now, how would you feel if I tell you that you can win 4-VIP tickets worth RM1,216 for you and your family to meet the Hi-5 crew... and I’ve got you covered with these step-by-step guides:

In order to win the contest, You WILL NEED TO (and please follow the instructions below):

Step 1: Post a video of your child singing a Hi-5 song OR Name your child’s favorite Hi-5 song and character (extra brownie points if it is a video!). Please provide the link to the video either on Facebook or Youtube or any media sharing sites, I will view this and will rank it!

Step 2: Caption it with a simple sentence, “I deserve to win these tickets because...” (in 20 words or less)

Step 3: Post it in the comment section below in my blog and your Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), please use the hashtag #todayishere, #malaysiaairlines, #EnrichUrLife, #EnrichJunior when posting in social media. Please provide link to the sharing in the comment box below

Now, if you by any chance do not want to go through the trouble of trying to win the tickets, all you need to do to enjoy a 10% discount is to be an Enrich members with promo code - enrich10, for any Hi-5 House of Dreams Tour in Malaysia 2015 tickets purchased.

Winner announcement for the contest will be made on my social media Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/TriStupeSBR

Terms & Conditions
1. Contest period lasts from 11- 23 November 2015.
2. The final selection of winners is subject to the approval from Malaysia Airlines.
3. Winners are chosen based on the most creative submission. The contestants’ stand a higher chance of winning should they post a video of their child dancing or singing to Hi-5 songs.
4. Winners will be announced on my Facebook Page no earlier than 28 November 2015.
5. The winners will require collecting the prize tickets from RallyBuzz at the IPG Mediabrands office from 30 November - 9 December 2015.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Camelbak Podium Ice Bottle Review

I have been a long time user of Camelbak Podium bottles. It started when the quest for that "perfect" bottle that does not spill, do not alter the taste of the liquid, high-flow and no need for any biting of the nipple (valve) to start drinking. My first purchase of the Camelbak Podium (2x21oz)was the original bottle and I obtained the Podium Chill (4units of which 2x21oz and 2x25oz)aka insulated bottle a few years later. These bottles has been serving me since 2007 and they all has story to tell on their own. All surviving bottles (4 out of 6) is very much still functioning despite the scratches and broken valve. I lost 1x25oz Podium Chill coming down from Frasers Hill about a month ago. 
Latest Addition
Recently I received some of the newest products from Camelbak Malaysia and the Podium Ice (21oz, RRP RM110) was one of them. I thank Universal Fitness & Leisure (UFL) for this opportunity to review this as a user. 
In 3-color. I naturally go for the Blue bottle to fit my Colnago Dream Mapei livery.
The Podium Ice is the top of the range bottle for cycling that claims to be able to keep water cold up to four times as long. I believe this benchmark is against a non-insulated bottle. How this will be achieved is via the Aerogel insulation that keeps the liquid inside cold for longer. 
All the feature for the Podium Ice
The Podium Ice only comes in 21oz size instead of the other choices of 21+24 for Podium and 21+25 for Podium Chill. For the metric people like me, this simply meant the volume of 620ml (21oz), 710ml (24oz) and 740ml (25oz). Depending on your ride distance and availability of fuelling stations along the way, a 620ml will be good for up to an hour of activities and the typical 2-bottles setup will allow you to ride 2-hours before needing to re-fill. You may want to refer to my 2013 article on optimum hydration and electrolyte if you are looking for more guidance on this.
Nicer when compared to brochure
The Podium Line-up
Having own the many iteration of the Podium, I get to compare how each model changes in terms of build quality and finishing. My first Podium(Original) was bought back in 2007 and that meant the bottle has close to 8 years of service life despite having the valve bitten off by my son when he was 3 years old. 
From Left to Right : Ice (21oz), Big Chill (25oz), Chill (21oz) and Original (21oz)
The Chill 21oz and 25oz came about 4 years later when I bought them in Singapore during a race kit collection and that has been very much the bottles I've been using for my 4 Ironman races carrying enough liquid fuel (for dilution) for the 180km cycling. It has served me really well and has taken up many drops and bruises. Testament of how well built these Camelbak bottles are!
Close up of the bottle cap with Jet Valve
Do take note that the Camelbak Podium bottle cap did not change much between 2007 to 2011 where the valve (known as Jet Valve because water shoots out like Jet from these valve), the locking mechanism (twist and lock) and most notably the "Camelbak" brand is embossed on the top cover. You will see the exact same on these bottles pre-2015 and the reason for this comparison is to highlight the differences when compared to the 2015 (Podium).
Total change of the bottle cover
The Jet Valve has grown in diameter and noticeably larger than the older version. The twist lock too has became bigger assuming it will allowed gloved hand to able to twist it over easier.
larger diamter Jet Valve. Take note of the embossed "Camelbak" vs the printed on the Ice
One thing I found surprising is that the 21oz Ice is the same size/as tall as the 25oz Chill. Does this meant there is at least 4oz (or 120ml) worth of Aerogel that insulate the Ice, providing the 4x longer/cooler/colder retention? Maybe.
size printed at the bottom

Now, before we go to a small experiment I devised, the internal of the bottle cover remained unchanged that they actually looked almost identical saved for the two "indention" on the Chill bottle (it's a stopper for the twist lock on the older model)
Chill (grey) vs Ice (white)
Curiosity got to me and I interchanged the bottle cover to see how it will fit the 2015 (Ice) model. Happy to report they all fitted perfectly and remained leak-proof. So this is a good indication for replacement cover if you needed them. Also, the new Ice bottle cover (and I assumed the 2015 range) allow the Jet Valve to be fully removed for cleaning. No more dark yucky stains ;-) Compare this with the older pre-2015, you can remove the rubberised nipple but not the whole valve. I attempted to do it with both and managed to remove (and put them back). Honestly, I find no reason to remove them as long as we wash the bottle and valve properly after every use. 
Ice with Chill bottle cover
Ice with Original bottle cover. Yes, the rubber valve was bitten off.
Ability to Keep Cool?
The Ice is priced at RRP RM110 which is much more expensive compared to the usual Chill bottle that can range between RM65 to RM80 depends on sales. I do not know the RRP as the last I bought was back in 2011! So does the additional price paid justify the ownership of Ice? What I did was to freeze water in three different bottle. A non-insulated (which I used another brand as the Camelbak Podium original need a heavy scrubbing after years of non-usage/retirement), the Chill and the Ice. All of them are filled about half way with boiled water from the same source. Time started was 1030hours and I intended to leave it in there for at least 7hours or up till 1730hours. This setup is typical for me when I leave my water to freeze overnight before the ride the next day. From experience, I know the non-insulated will freeze within 3-4hours while the insulated will take that 7-hours to actually get 80% frozen/slushy. How long will it take the Ice bottle with Aerogel? My bet is never.  
Start!
 My freezer temperature was left as it is as to simulate real freezing condition.
Looking forward to frozen water later
After 7hours, I removed the bottles and as expected, the non-insulated has frozen over. The Chill has slight movement of water inside, indicating not fully frozen (expected as with every time I store them overnight in freezer) and the Ice has some ice forming in it. 
1730. You can see the non-insulated bottle frozen
 First the Podium Chill - not all frozen after shaking it more vigorously, the ice broke
Podium Chill
 And the Podium Ice has significantly more liquid vs ice
Ice
One sign of the Ice insulation working is that the Ice bottle has significantly lower level of condensation when compared to the Chill bottle. Meaning, the Aerogel is keeping the liquid inside cooler without it being lost to the ambient temperature despite being insulated.
Ice, Chill and Generic. You can see the level of condensation on the non-insulated vs the Chill and very little on the Ice
Closer look. Smaller condensation on Ice vs Chill

I then let the three bottles sits at the corner (room temperature) and checked when the ice in the non-insulated bottle melts. I will pour the content of the Chill and Ice out onto two separate cup to show the level of condensation. This will provide sufficient proof that the Aerogel is working to retain the temperature. So after almost 4hours later (9.23pm)...the Ice managed to make the glass frosted!
The condensation test after 4hours (from 5.30pm to 9.30pm) left in room temperature
Had to pour the water out else can't really show the condensation. Non-insulated, Ice and Chill.
 Looking closer...
Impressed?
From experience, the Chill bottle can or will retain the coolness of the liquid up to about 2hours (meaning it's still cool and not room temperature) which by then, you should technically finish all the liquid, assuming you are biking. What really makes the differences is the ability of the Ice bottle able to keep the liquid inside much cooler as it takes longer to lose the temperature. This meant even at your last gulp (as the Jet Valve shoots liquid out like..well...jet), you will still get a big gulp of cold iced liquid to keep your core temperature down on a hot day ride... and you have the assurance it will keep cold 4hours later even when left in room temperature.

Impressive Camelbak Podium Ice!

Note: This unit of Camelbak Podium Ice is courtesy of Universal Fitness & Leisure (UFL) the authorised distributor of Camelbak in Malaysia. You can view and purchase these at World of Sports, UFL Outdoor Bangsar and other authorised resellers. Recommended Retail Price RRP is RM110. Opinions and test/experiment is my own and you please offer any suggestion to better show the capability of the Aerogel. 
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