New mountain bike gear
POC DH jersey
This downhill jersey from Swedish protection specialist, POC, is designed to be loose enough to fit over body armour and durable enough to resist damage during crashes, while the polyester material is said to remain breathable. It is Polygiene-treated to combat sweaty odours – so if someone buys one for you, try not to take offence!
£70 / US$90 / AU$149 / €80
Norco Sight Carbon C 7.2
Canadian brand Norco has designed this 140mm travel all-mountain bike for serious trail shredding. At its heart is a Cane Creek Double Barrel inline shock, offering supreme adjustability and a clever climb switch for efficient pedalling – keep an eye on BikeRadar for more info on that – yet the aggressive Schwalbe Hans Dampf / Magic Mary tyre combination hints at its gravity-orientated bent.
Norco tailors the rear-centre distance to the size of the frame: ranging from 423mm on the size small, to 435mm on this XL model. This is said to help keep the rider’s weight balanced between the axles, whatever their height. Pretty clever, eh?
£3,600 / US$5,465 / AU$6,199 / €4,850
Azonic Flow handlebar and The Rock FAT35 stem
Bars have got a lot wider over the last few years. It wasn’t so long ago that 680mm was considered wide. Now that we’ve seen the light, 780mm is pretty conventional, and this increase in width has put more control and confidence in riders’ hands. Despite this reshaping, the 31.8mm clamp diameter has remained the standard. Increasingly, though, bars and stems are designed around a 35mm clamp diameter, promising a higher stiffness / weight ratio for wider bars.
This bar and stem combo from Azonic employs the 35mm standard. The Flow bar measures 785mm wide and weighs 296g. The Rock Stem weighs in at 146g, with a 45mm length and 40mm stack height. With a wide faceplate and aimed at the aggressive all-mountain/enduro/freeride rider, it promises to match the stiffness provided by the bar.
- The Rock FAT35 stem: £80 / €90 / US$TBC / AU$TBC
- Flow handlebar: £50 / €60 / US$TBC / AU$TBC
Fizik M5 Boa shoes
These stylish Italian shoes aim to combine a fairly stiff carbon reinforced nylon sole with a grippy rubber-treaded outsole. The boa closure system is designed to quickly and evenly secure the shoe without pressure points, while the perforated upper looks to be very breathable. The insole features a removable insert under the metatarsal to fine tune the fit.
£150 / US$185 US / AU$295 / €200
Clarks M2 hydraulic disc brakes (pair)
It doesn’t matter how many times that we look at the price of these latest generation M2 stoppers from UK firm Clarks; it’s still hard to take in. Yep, for £40 you’ll get a set of these twin piston hydraulic stoppers plus all the hardware you need to get them fitted right away.
We called these in as a replacement for BikeRadar staffer and beginner mountain biker Tom Ballard’s long-term test bike as an upgrade from a decidedly wooden feeling set of Tektro hydraulic discs.
The finishing quality by far surpassed our expectations, and both the caliper and lever do an amazing job of hiding their almost embarrassingly low pricepoint. Our sister publications What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK have recently tested these brakes and were thoroughly impressed, we’ll keep you posted on how we get along with them.
£44.99 (pair w/ 180mm/160mm rotors) or £39.99 (pair with 160mm rotors)
New road bike gear
Shimano R171 shoes
Shimano’s R171 shoes were announced last year and borrow heavily from the range topping R321 in terms of looks and features. Most obvious to the eye is the new Surround perforated upper, which is made from super light Teijin Avail 100 synthetic material that’s designed to improve fit and increase support under power.
The low-profile, aero-enhancing black cover is matched to the white section that runs underneath, providing a one-piece wraparound side and tongue complete with two Velcro straps and a ratchet buckle. There’s more perforation here along with a vent over the toe box to aid cooling.
Unlike the R321, there’s no custom moulding on offer here but the R171 has a dual density foam insole designed to stabilise the heel. The sole is full carbon with Shimano’s Dynalast technology – optimising toe spring for smoother, more efficient pedalling and reduced energy loss.
Considering a pair of R171s cost half the price of their bigger brother, it’s a little surprising that they also weigh less too – 486g compared to 489g (EU size 40) – making them a smart choice for those seeking high performance without handing over too much cash.
£150 / US$200 / AU$229
Juin Tech R1 disc brakes
While we're increasingly seeing Shimano or SRAM hydraulic brakes on higher-end machines, there are many factory-fresh road bikes being specced with regular levers and mechanical cable-pull brakes, the stopping performance of which pales in comparison to that of hydraulic systems.
What's clever about Juin Tech's R1 brakeset is that it pairs cable-actuated braking with a closed hydraulic mineral oil system. The pistons, and therefore pads, move together in tandem to brake rather than the one-sided movement of mechanical discs, giving power much closer to fully hydraulic systems. The guys at UK distributor and stockist Edge Sports have tested the R1 brakes over the Three Peaks Cyclocross race, claiming outstanding braking performance and stopping power.
As well as being light – 142g per caliper – the R1s are great value considering there's no additional lever cost. Each set comes with two post-mount disc calipers (including adaptors), pads, two 160mm stainless steel Shimano-compatible six-bolt rotors and all mounting bolts. You can be up and running for a penny less than £150.
£150 / US$TBC / AU$TBC (worldwide shipping is available)
Lusso Leggero jersey and 2-Zero thermal bibs
The Lusso name might conjure up Italian imagery, but this competitively priced kit is made in Manchester, the home of British Cycling. Lusso pairs top quality fabrics with thoughtful designs to create a broad range of comfy, high performing kit and this jersey and bib combo is no exception.
The race-cut Leggero long sleeve jersey uses MT.1 fabric designed for the high moisture transfer needed when riding at high intensities. Grippers around the hem help avoid riding up and the back is equipped with three standard pockets plus a zipped section as well as reflective detailing. The jersey is Roubaix-lined for snuggly warmth, but isn't so thick that it won't layer easily and also have factor 50+ UV protection for cool, sunny days or chilly mountain descents.
The bibs use Italian Roubaix fabric for warmth and ten-panel construction for comfy anatomic fit. The 13mm microfibre pad is designed for mid to long-distance rides, the wide straps helping to spread the load and maintain comfort over tiresome days in the saddle. Lusso also ships internationally.
£60; £70 / US$112; $126 (approx) / AU$142; $162 (approx)
Compressport F-Like Full Leg compression sleeves
Compression gear is perhaps most often associated with triathletes' garishly coloured calves and something that roadies, even when decked out in skin-tight Lycra themselves, will raise eyebrows at. But in a world of marginal gains, and considering the growing number of multi-day amateur cycling events cropping up, now’s the time to think again.
Being used by the likes of Tinkoff–Saxo in 2015, these Full Leg compression sleeves from Compressport (now available in the UK through Madison) are designed to increase venous blood flow to return de-oxygenated blood to the heart more quickly – producing much the same effect as muscle contractions. This venous compression helps to avoid post-exercise waste build-up pooling in the legs, decreasing swelling and recovery time.
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that muscles ache less after wearing compression gear, while a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found lower body compression increased one-hour time trial performance by an average of five per cent in a group of 12 well-trained cyclists. That sounds like a gain worth having to us.
£70 / US$120 / AU$130
No Such Thing Fishtail Trench
No Such Thing describes itself as “a fashion brand for women who ride” that aims to bring together cycling and style, form and function along with ethically sourced materials.
Available in navy or red, the Fishtail Trench's non-toxic waterproofing technology means you'll shrug off downpours on the way to your destination and look sophisticated in the process. Jersey inserts along the side of the jacket and mesh sections at the ribbed storm cuffs provide air flow to avoid overheating while riding.
When things get hotter, the Fishtail transforms into a gillet with a few button pops, revealing a breathable upper back section. The collar can be turned up for maximum coverage or folded down to suit.
There's a brightly reflective stripe running down the back of the jacket with added visibility from pocket and cuff reflectors.
£210 / US$TBC / AU$TBC (worldwide shipping also available)