It's the end of the working week and around here that means just one thing, yep, it's time for the latest edition of Friday Five-a-side.
New mountain bike gear
GT Sensor Carbon Expert
This year’s GT Sensor trail bike has already score highly with BikeRadar and yet it wasn’t without its flaws. We felt the bike was somewhat under-forked, restricting its potential to really rip once you pointed it downwards. However, it seems someone at GT was listening to our feedback and has pushed the 2015 bike out with a 150mm RockShox Sektor. On paper at least it’s hard to push holes in any of the kit choices GT have made with this one. We’re looking forward to giving it a thrashing.
£2,899.99 / US$4,340 / AU$N/A
Shimano XTR M9000 groupset
Arriving in what could well be the finest packaging we’ve ever come across, is Shimano’s latest M9000 XTR groupset. Soon we’ll be pedalling, shifting and braking through trails equipped with Japan’s finest shadow chrome components. It’s only once you really get hands on with this stuff that you can truly appreciate the quality. For full details on the latest XTR group see our previous article.
WTB High Tail Carbon saddle
WTB's new High Tail saddle is designed to make trail buzz a thing of the past. Notice the distinctive shape cut out at the rear? That's there to maximise tyre clearance and prevent saddle/tyre interaction – something that's a fairly common issue on today's 650b downhill bikes. Our test sample is the top-shelf carbon railed version but WTB also produces a Team version with titanium rails (£109.99 / US$159.95) and an entry-level chromoly railed model (£69.99 / US$119.95).
£179.99 / US$249.95 / AU$N/A
Santa Cruz Palmdale grips
These grips are standard fit on any of Santa Cruz' complete builds and if that isn't an indication of confidence in a product then we don't know what is. The Palmdale grips use a single clamp system that Santa Cruz say offers the security of a dual clamp design, thanks to a nifty tapered locking core.
The generous 125mm (4.9in) grip surface features a pattern that was chosen to offer a good balance between feel and grip and features a closed end to prevent scuffing and provide a slight bumper in a tree-strike scenario.
£14.99 / US$18 / AU$N/A
Superstar El Plastique pedals
If you're looking for a new flat pedal that won't break the bank then these new plastic flats from Superstar might well take your fancy. The El Pastique's Nylon-reinforced composite bodies help make them cheaper than Superstar's alloy pedals and, at just 343g, lighter than most of them too. These run on proven sealed bearing and bushing hardware and six of the eight pins on each side are replaceable. We'll be trying our best to break them over the next few weeks and will let you know how we get along.
£24.99 / US$N/A / AU$N/A
New road cycling gear
Bkool Pro Trainer
Some days it’s not possible or safe to brave the cold and dark on your road bike. For these occasions, there’s always the trusty turbo trainer to keep the legs strong throughout the dank, freezing months – though the Bkool Pro Trainer offers a lot more than just that.
Road-like sensation and automatic resistance are combined with BKool’s 3D World to give VR training on more than 500,000 routes. Basically, any route on the planet can be ridden – just plot it on a Google-style map. There’s even a virtual velodrome to play in. There are also hundreds of video routes, multiplayer support for up to 100 riders – including voice chat – and challenges to keep you motivated. Then there’s a wealth of ride analysis, training plans and fitness tests. The ANT+ based software is compatible with PC, Mac, iPad and Android tablets, and the unit comes with an ANT+ dongle.
The turbo itself is more stable than the previous model, with extendible legs helping to absorb up to 1,200W of power with no drama. Each trainer comes with a year's premium subscription – giving access to all the best features – after which you can choose to continue with the pared down free option or get all the good stuff for €10 per month or €8 per month with an annual package.
£429.99 / US$649.99 / AU$603 / €650
Rotor Garmin mount
Made from 7075 T6 aluminium, this new out-front Garmin Edge mount from Rotor looks and feels beautiful thanks to the precision machining and the faint textured lines that come as a result of the CNC process. A two-bolt design secures it to any 31.8mm bar and it weighs only 31g on our scales. Did we mention how nice it looks?
£29.99 / US$N/A / AU$N/A
101 Damnations: Dispatches from the 101st Tour de France – Ned Boulting
Ever witty and charming, Ned Boulting’s account of the 2014 Tour de France meanders its way from Leeds to Paris with characteristic humour ranging from guilty chuckles to eye-watering hilarity. On his exhausting behind-the-scenes circumnavigation of France, Boulting encounters race favourites, retiring legends and the obligatory man dressed as a baguette. If you’re a cycling fan looking to stay in touch with the summer as daylight dims, 101 Damnations will keep the madness and majesty of the Tour de France close. It's out on 6 November.
£14.99 / US$10.68 (Kindle) / AU$16.13 (Kindle)
Adidas adistar jersey and bib shorts
This high-performance jersey and bibs combo is the same spec as that worn by British Cycling’s elite squad and boasts plenty of pro-level features. The cut of the jersey is designed to be aerodynamic yet comfy thanks to a stretchy, minimally seamed upper section and all the black material being quick wicking mesh.
There’s also a silicone hem gripper, a full-length zip and three reverse pockets, including a small, enveloped security pocket inside the main central one. The bibs use stretchy Formotion material, designed to allow good range of movement, along with lazer-cut legs and silicone grips to hold them in place. The soft pad is smooth and provides “up to six hours of comfortable riding”. The upper and straps are made of mesh and there’s even a race radio pocket for the real pro feel.
- Jersey: £100 / US$N/A / AU$N/A
- Bibs: £120 / US$N/A / AU$N/A
Topeak Transformer X pump
Winner of a gold award at this year’s Eurobike show, Topeak’s Transformer X floor pump doubles as a portable bike stand, making it an ideal choice for taking to events. Stabilising legs fold out and lock to give a wide, sturdy base while height-adjustable hooks are designed to slot under the chainstay and seatstay, lifting the rear wheel from the ground for last minute mechanical tweaks. The hose is 120cm long to allow easy reach to the front wheel while your bike’s in the stand. The pump’s head has a cam lever to secure it to the valve and there’s also an air release button to help perfect pumping pressures.
£95 / US$139.95 / AU$189.95