11spd: This week's best bike gear

Featuring Bontrager, Fulcrum, PRO, Answer, and more

What the… where’s your beloved weekly Friday Five-a-side gear roundup?! Well, we’ve decided to kick things up a notch and ring the changes with a new name. It’s still the end of another toilsome work-week, but from here on in we're bringing you a look at eleven pieces of new kit to whet your gear appetite.

New mountain bike gear

Fulcrum Red Passion wheelset

The fulcrum red passion wheels prioritize low weight with a shallow, tubeless-compatible aluminum rim that's milled out between the spoke holes:
The fulcrum red passion wheels prioritize low weight with a shallow, tubeless-compatible aluminum rim that's milled out between the spoke holes:

Fulcrum focuses on low weight for the Red Passion wheels with shallow-profile asymmetrical aluminum rims, lots of material milled out between the spokes, carbon fibre hub bodies, and double-butted stainless steel spokes. Fulcrum hasn’t skimped much on width, either, with 21mm of space in between the bead hooks – good enough for XC and trail use – and easy tubeless compatibility.

Splined alloy nipple bode well for long-term durability and the ultra-smooth traditional cup-and-cone bearings incorporate handy threaded preloaded adjusters for a perfect spin. Naturally, the hubs can be converted between quick-release and thru-axle fitments, and between standard SRAM/Shimano and SRAM XD driver bodies.

Actual weight for our 29er test set is just 1,477g (667g front, 810g rear, including rim tape and tubeless valves). Despite that impressive weight, the Red Fulcrums are comparatively well priced – perhaps a nice side effect of the growing popularity of carbon wheels.

US$1,160 / £800 / €1,030 / AU$1,550

www.fulcrumwheels.com

Answer ProTaper Carbon SL bar, AME stem, Rove R2 pedals

Answer's protaper carbon sl handlebar is exceptionally light at just 211g for a 780mm-wide bar:
Answer's protaper carbon sl handlebar is exceptionally light at just 211g for a 780mm-wide bar:

The legendary Answer Hyperlite was, back in the day, the handlebar any self-respecting mountain biker had to have, and the company is hoping to rekindle that fire with its latest round of cockpit components.

The ProTaper Carbon SL is a far cry from that old alloy Hyperlite, with its new-school carbon construction, healthy 660-780mm widths, and trio of rise options (flat, 12,7mm, and 25.4mm). What hasn’t changed, however, is that it’s still wicked light with claimed weights ranging from 115-215g depending on the size (actual weight for our 750mm-wide sample is 211g). Answer says that low weight doesn’t come at the price of strength, either, thanks to the semi-rigid internal cores used during the moulding process that supposedly yield denser walls.

Sadly, Answer doesn’t offer the ProTaper Carbon SL in purple, so black or red will have to do.

Mating with the ProTaper Carbon SL is the AME stem, which features forged alloy construction, a minimal two-piece faceplate, stainless steel hardware, a carbon-friendly steerer clamp, and lengths ranging from 32-80mm to suit modern frame geometries, all with a 0-degree rise. Actual weight for our 40mm-long sample is 104g and as an added bonus, all Answer stems include a matching top cap, starnut, bearing preload bolt, and headset spacers.

Rounding out our Answer test package are the Rove R2 flat pedals, with low-profile (and ever-so-slightly concave) alloy bodies, a mix of cartridge bearings and DU bushings, and tough chromoly axles. Each pedal body is equipped with up to ten pins for traction, and Answer includes both flat-topped steel pins and pointed alloy pins so you can tune the feel to your liking.

Actual weight for a set is 454g with the steel pins.

  • Answer ProTaper Carbon SL handlebar: US$195 / £130 / €197 / AU$280
  • Answer AME stem: US$80 / £53 / €81 / AU$115
  • Answer Rove R2 pedals: US$115 / £77 / €116 / AU$166

www.answerproducts.com

Pacenti PDent handlebar and stem

Hey, where'd that piece of handlebar go?:
Hey, where'd that piece of handlebar go?:

Up until now, the physical lower limit for stem length (while still maintaining a low rise) has been just over 30mm – any shorter and the bar and steerer tube would overlap. Kirk Pacenti’s new PDent concept incorporates one simple feature that allows for stems as short as 12mm: a ‘dent’ in the bar that lets the two parts come much closer together.

Lest you fear being locked into a single bar angle, keep in mind that that indentation has enough of a curve to it to allow several degrees of adjustment. The 800mm width also includes plenty of extra length so that you can cut to fit (with graduated lines to ease the process), and the carbon construction still keeps the actual weight down to a very respectable 210g.

The matching stem looks quite burly with a 60mm-wide, four-bolt faceplate and chunky dimensions to better support the bar. Stack height is a comparatively puny 39mm so you can get low, low, low, and actual weight is just 127g with steel hardware. Pacenti is still determining the full range of length options but ours measures just about 25mm. Pricing is still being finalised, too.

US$TBC / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC

pdent.pacenticycledesign.com

Pedro's Utility Knife

The new pedro's utility knife is shockingly well made:
The new pedro's utility knife is shockingly well made:

The new Pedro’s Utility Knife is shockingly well designed and constructed for such a pedestrian item, comprising a stainless steel and anodised aluminum body, stainless Torx-head hardware, and a convenient one-handed locking open-and-close action that you probably won’t find on anything from your local hardware store.

Pedro’s wisely equips its new Utility Knife with standard double-ended razor blades for easy sourcing, and there’s also a handy clip on the back for attaching to your belt or apron pocket (just be sure to take it off before heading through airport security!).

US$18 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC

www.pedros.com

Cobra Products FlexRoute Universal Cable Guides

The cobra products flexroute cable guides are a neater alternative to standard zip-ties:
The cobra products flexroute cable guides are a neater alternative to standard zip-ties:

Plain old zip ties certainly do a decent job of securing various hoses and lines to your frame when there aren’t already proper guides and stops but they’re not exactly pretty, they don’t always hold tight, and they can sometimes mar your bike’s finish. Alternatively, Cobra Products’ new FlexRoute universal cable guides are nice little moulded plastic bits that keep things securely in place but with a bit of room between the hose/housing and frame.

The arms are quite flexible, too, so they’ll conform to non-round tubes and the recessed channel nicely hides zip-tie straps (and if you use flush-mount ties, they actually don’t look too bad).

We’ve been using our samples for several different bikes around the office but they’re proving especially handy for keeping older externally routed dropper post lines from snagging on suspension hardware and scuffing up seat tubes. Various sizes and quantities are available.

US$8-150 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC

www.getflexroute.com

New road bike gear

Bontrager Specter shoes

Bontrager's new specter road shoes promise high-end performance at a bargain price: bontrager's new specter road shoes promise high-end performance at a bargain price
Bontrager's new specter road shoes promise high-end performance at a bargain price: bontrager's new specter road shoes promise high-end performance at a bargain price

Fibre-reinforced nylon isn’t nearly as rigid as true carbon fibre composite, but Bontrager has gotten around the issue on its bargain-priced Specter shoes by using a webbed truss structure that noticeably boosts stiffness as compared with conventional flat plates. Other high-end features include a single BOA cable reel closure (with both ratcheting tighten and loosen functions plus a single pull-to-release dial), heaps of venting, a nice sock-like fit, and a moulded heel counter to help keep the back of your foot in place.

They’re pretty light, too, at just 524g per pair (size 43).

US$160 / £130 / €170 / AU$190-200

www.bontrager.com

Blackburn Local Cooler Saddlebag panniers and Interlock rear rack

Having trouble keeping your groceries cold (or hot) on the way home? try blackburn's new insulated local cooler panniers: having trouble keeping your groceries cold (or hot) on the way home? try blackburn's new insulated local cooler panniers
Having trouble keeping your groceries cold (or hot) on the way home? try blackburn's new insulated local cooler panniers: having trouble keeping your groceries cold (or hot) on the way home? try blackburn's new insulated local cooler panniers

Grocery bag panniers usually fall short in one key area: everything is room temperature by the time you get home – and no one likes melted ice cream or lukewarm soup.

The Blackburn Local Cooler panniers feature insulated construction to help keep your food hot (or cold), mesh interior pockets for smaller items, and a built-in bottle opener. Although Blackburn says the Local Cooler will work with standard racks, it really does work best with the company’s own Interlock rear rack, which also offers the bonus feature of a locking top cover to keep your panniers (relatively) secure.

US$80 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC (Blackburn Local Cooler Saddlebag panniers)

US$120 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC (Blackburn Interlock rear rack)

www.blackburndesign.com

Basil Portland Slim Fit panniers

Dutch cycling accessories company basil has finally made it to us shores. these portland slim fit panniers are definitely very eye catching: dutch cycling accessories company basil has finally made it to us shores. these portland slim fit panniers are definitely very eye catching
Dutch cycling accessories company basil has finally made it to us shores. these portland slim fit panniers are definitely very eye catching: dutch cycling accessories company basil has finally made it to us shores. these portland slim fit panniers are definitely very eye catching

Swanky Dutch cycling accessories company Basil is finally making its wares available to US customers and we recently got our hands on a set of Portland Slim Fit panniers. Instead of the more typical utilitarian aesthetic used by most panniers, the semi-rigid Portland Slim Fits are made of cotton with synthetic leather straps, a simple moulded plastic and single-strap attachment system, and a Velcro front flap to keep your contents inside where they belong.

Once at your destination, you can easily pull the Portland Slim Fits off of your rear rack and a slick magnetic closure keep all of the hardware nearly hidden away. A plaid lining adds yet another element of style and in the event of inclement weather, separate rain covers are included to keep everything dry.

US$122 / £75 / €100 / AU$TBC

www.basil.nl

Biologic Revue LED lights

Biologic's revue led flashers are undeniably tiny but yet are built with tough anodized aluminum bodies and built-in rechargeable batteries: biologic's revue led flashers are undeniably tiny but yet are built with tough anodized aluminum bodies and built-in rechargeable batteries
Biologic's revue led flashers are undeniably tiny but yet are built with tough anodized aluminum bodies and built-in rechargeable batteries: biologic's revue led flashers are undeniably tiny but yet are built with tough anodized aluminum bodies and built-in rechargeable batteries

Biologic’s latest LED flashers are barely bigger than your thumb and easily transfer between multiple bikes with their handy rubber strap mounts. Despite the miniscule form factor, each Revue is equipped with a USB-rechargeable battery and is housed in a tough, weatherproof anodised aluminum shell for durability.

Claimed output for the rear light is 15 lumens while the front churns out 40 lumens – modest figures that make the Revue best used in true nighttime conditions for optimum visibility. Claimed run times are pretty good for the size with up to 25 hours in flashing mode, six hours on low steady, and three hours on high steady. Recharge time is just 2.5 hours.

US$20 / £TBC / €20 / AU$TBC

www.thinkbiologic.com

PRO Team CNC Telescopic mini-pump

Can't bear the idea of a bulky mini-pump? the pro team cnc telescopic is about as mini as it gets: can't bear the idea of a bulky mini-pump? the pro team cnc telescopic is about as mini as it gets
Can't bear the idea of a bulky mini-pump? the pro team cnc telescopic is about as mini as it gets: can't bear the idea of a bulky mini-pump? the pro team cnc telescopic is about as mini as it gets

Can’t stand the idea of mounting an ugly pump on your bike but yet you can’t fit one into your jersey pocket, either? The PRO Team CNC Telescoping mini-pump is truly mini at less than 14cm (5.5in) long and weighing just 88g without the included bottle cage mount. It’s so small, in fact, that it’ll even fit in many saddle bags without issue.

Good luck getting up to the 160psi claimed maximum pressure but the two-stage pump does actually do a pretty good job of bringing a fresh tube up to more reasonable numbers. The locking head is a nice touch, too, and it’ll work on both Presta and Schrader valves. When not in use, hidden magnets keep the Team CNC Telescopic nicely locked.

US$50 / £30 / €42 / AU$80

www.pro-bikegear.com

Showers Pass Torch socks

The new torch socks from showers pass feature 3m reflective logos to help approaching drivers see you: the new torch socks from showers pass feature 3m reflective logos to help approaching drivers see you
The new torch socks from showers pass feature 3m reflective logos to help approaching drivers see you: the new torch socks from showers pass feature 3m reflective logos to help approaching drivers see you

We’ve all heard about using lights and reflective outerwear to increase our visibility in low-light conditions but socks? The new Torch socks from Showers Pass incorporate an ultra-bright 3M Scotchlight reflective logo to alert approaching drivers that you’re up ahead. Showers Pass says the four-way stretch, heat-transfer logo will hold up to at least 20 washes with no loss of reflectivity.

Even when it does, you’re still left with a pair of rather nice pair of reasonably priced Merino wool-blend socks with extra padding in the toe and heel, a tighter fit through the arch and heel, and a thinner upper section so as not to overly affect the fit of snug-fitting cycling shoes.

US$16-18 / £13-13.50 / €TBC / AU$TBC

www.showerspass.com

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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