Every January, UK distributors Zyro invite their dealers to a hotel near their headquarters in Harrogate, Yorkshire where they showcase their key products for the year. Highlights of this year's show included kit from two brands that are new to the Zyro stable, XeNTiS and Etxeondo, plus urban gear from CamelBak and Altura, saddles from SQ Lab and a new secret-formula lube from Fenwick's.
We’ve seen the distinctive XeNTiSwheels on plenty of triathlon and track bikes overseas, and now they're going to be much easier to get hold of in the UK. The deeper aero wheels are hard to miss, with their unique quad- and five-spoke designs, but Xentis also offer a full range of both clincher and tubular road wheels. All are handmade and built in Austria.
For weight weenies and climbers, the SQUAD 2.5s are the obvious choice; at just 1,252g a pair, they're seriously feathery. The SQUAD 4.2 is the Zipp 303 rival, with a weight of 1,385g – impressively light for a 42mm deep carbon wheel. The SQUAD 5.8, as the name suggests, is a 58mm deep carbon wheel, and an obvious rival to the Zipp 404.
XeNTiS's SQUAD 2.5 road wheels are seriously feathery at just 1,252g a pair
The time trial/triathlon wheels are named MARK1 and MARK2, and are available in various configurations (standard, TT or Track, tubular or clincher). The MARK1 is the original design, with four aerofoil spoke blades made from unidirectional carbon fibre that are moulded into the woven fibres of the rim. XeNTiS claim this allows them to tune the stiffness of the wheel so that it's supremely rigid laterally but still offers a comfortable ride.
Even though the XeNTiS wheels are impressively light, rider weight limits are impressively high – 120kg (265lb) for all but the SQUAD 2.5s, which have a limit of 110kg (243lb). They also have some neat touches that separate them from the competition. Each wheel (apart from the minimal 2.5) has a computer magnet bonded into the rim at 180 degrees to the valve hole. This allows the wheel to be perfectly balanced and means the magnet has no affect on aerodynamics. The valve holes also have a soft insert to hold the valve and stop any rattling.
The quad-spoke MARK1 TT is available in clincher and tubular versions
The most important feature, though, is the patented 100 percent carbon brake track. This is claimed to offer consistent, powerful braking whatever the conditions, high resistance to wear and no need for carbon-specific brake pads. We'll have test sets arriving soon, so we'll let you know whether these claims stand up.
Etxeondo design, develop and manufacture all of their clothing in Spain. They have a long history in pro racing, with their kit being worn by the likes of Sean Kelly, Miguel Indurain and the Euskaltel squad, and the quality of materials and construction sets them out as a true premium brand. Think 'Spanish Assos' and you’re not far away.
Etxeondo's Gizon jersey (£69.99) and Dicolor bibs (£89.99)
The Trier jersey combines multiple Meryl microfibre fabrics to create a superb form fit. The use of high-stretch fabrics with different densities means the jersey contours brilliantly and offers support in all the right areas. Details like the flattened zip, seamless arms and reinforced spine are all top quality. This is reflected in the price: £119.99.
The matching bib short is the Attaque, which uses a mixture of Tactel and elastane fabrics. The cut is again highly form fitting and the highly elastic fabric offers true compression qualities. The seat and inner thigh sections use heavier weight fabrics for durability, and the bib section's stitching is cleverly reversed to avoid skin irritation. The bibs retail for £229.99.
Etxeondo's Trier jersey and Attaque bibs
The Attaques won’t make headlines like the new Feather shorts, though. Billed as the world’s lightest shorts, they're made from a highly elastic, abrasion resistant micro-weave Lycra sport fabric. Features include compression sections on the lower back and a dedicated handmade and hand cut chamois. In a medium size the Feather bibs tips the scales at just 119g – that’s around half the weight of the competition. RRP is £169.99.
Sticking with clothing, Altura have a new line of UK designed and developed urban/commuting clothing. Called Altura Metro it consists so far of shorts, three-quarters and trousers, plus a new polo-style riding shirt. This has a unique collar that gives the appearance of a collared polo shirt when undone. But fold it up using the magnetic closure and it turns into a round-necked cycling top. It's made from a fast wicking, soft touch, cotton-like fabric and detailing is superb. More so when you factor in the bargain price of just £29.99.
Altura's new Metro Polo shirt and 3/4-length shorts
The accompanying trousers (£59.99), shorts (£49.99( and three-quarters (£54.99) are all made from the same lightly ribbed high-stretch fabric, have higher backs than fronts for on-the-bike usability, and Velcro pulls for waist adjustment. They all use the same fleece pad, which is minimal so as not to be noticeable but should offer enough comfort for commuting duties. The trousers have Scotchlite reflective detailing on the inside of the ankles, to provide both nighttime visibility and protection from oily chains if you turn up the legs; a button closure is provided on the right (drive side) leg to prevent it rolling down as you ride.
Altura’s Ergofit road wear has also had a major overhaul. The new Ergofit Pro bib features seamless legs, a laser cut bib section and an improved 3D ergonomic pad. Power Lycra sections are used to give a compression-like fit and extra durability. The Ergofit Pro bib has plenty of features we’d expect to see on much pricier shorts. RRP is £99.99.
The revamped Altura Ergofit Pro bib short and matching Ergofit Comp jersey
The colour and design matched Ergofit Comp jersey (£59.99) features a full zip and three rear pockets, with a zipped security pocket too. The fit is performance orientated and has been developed with the aid of the Altura road team. Also launching for the summer is a new Ergofit Pro mitt. This features a super-light, seamless, laser cut design with a slim palm and sculpted fit. It'll be available in white/red or black/red in S, M, L or XL for £29.99 a pair.
CamelBak have set out to prove that they don't just make great hydration packs but great backpacks too. The Solvo urban bag has a waxed cotton outer, with the handles, bottom and ribbed back pad constructed from superb quality fine-grain leather. Inside are organiser pockets, including dedicated padded spaces for your laptop or tablet.
CamelBak's new Solvo packs are made from a heavy duty waxed cotton fabric, with fine grain leather detailing. This is the larger Solvo 30
The Solvo is available in two sizes/styles: 30 and 25. The larger Solvo 30 has a full-length quick-access zip, so there's no need to dig through the bag's contents to get to your laptop. Both feature a full rain cover, detachable bottle holder and smartphone pocket. They’re extremely limited, with only 100 coming to the UK. Pricing starts at £199.99 for the 25, rising to £239.99 for the 30. It’s a lot to pay, but construction quality is outstanding – among the best we’ve seen from any backpack.
SQ Lab are known for their ergonomic saddle designs. Rather than just buying a saddle straight off the shelf, they recommend you measure your sit bones using their remarkably simple system. All you have to do is sit on the dedicated SQ Lab stool, which uses a piece of corrugated cardboard to record an impression of your posterior. You can then measure the distance between the sit bone centres, and use SQ's gauge to find your optimal saddle width, taking into account your preferred ride position, varying from time trial/triathlon through to upright.
SQ Lab's fitting stool contains a corrugated cardboard sheet. Sit on it and pull your weight down using the handles, and the impression you leave allows you to measure your sit-bone width
This data has been arrived at by sampling the shapes of 50,000 riders of all types, and SQ offer saddles for everything from trekking and city comfort all the way through to racing. For those looking to save some weight, the standard SQ offerings may seem a little basic in their construction. To address this, SQ are launching a lightweight carbon-railed, pro-level model in the spring.
The ‘active’ – read 'performance' – range has a shape very distinct from everything else on the market. The rear seat area is set much higher than the slim, narrow nose. This step-down design is combined with a deep depression at the transition between rear and nose. SQ claim this gets rid of potential pressure points that can lead to numbness and discomfort. The nose is almost completely flat, in order to better distribute pressure when riding up on the front.
Arriving in the spring is this new lightweight, carbon railed, pro-level SQ Lab saddle, which will be available in different widths
The saddles are all tuneable to your needs too. Each comes with three different rear elastomer inserts. Rated soft, medium and hard, these allow the rider to choose the amount of flex for their particular needs. The claims made about the SQ saddles are intriguing and we’re looking forward to getting one in on test. We’ve been measured up so we're just waiting for our test seat to arrive.
Fenwick’s Stealth lube
It takes quite a lot to get us excited about maintenance but Fenwick’s new Stealth dry lube may just do it. Most dry lubes are wax- or ceramic-based, and can suffer from hardening on the chain or drying out and separating in the bottle. The new Stealth lube uses neither of these ingredients. Fenwick's wouldn’t tell us what’s inside but did inform us that the metallic finish to the lube is a buffing agent and it’s this that gives a smooth lubed surface to your chain. It’s also claimed to be highly contamination resistant.
Fenwick's Stealth lubricant comes in mountain bike (front) and road bike (rear) versions
The bottle has a pipette integrated into its lid. This means it's easy to apply the lube to individual chain links and you don’t use excess lube when applying. Fenwick's claim one application of Stealth lube is good for 3-500 miles on the road, and around 100 miles for a muddy mountain bike ride. Stealth lube is priced at £9.99.
Check out our image gallery for more pictures of these products, plus new kit from CatEye, MKS, Prologo and Izumi.