It's Friday, it's new-gear time – and this week we've got an eclectic mix of of classy, interesting and downright weird cycling kit. May we present: downhill wheels that aren’t designed for downhill, the rear light that only shines when you brake, a handmade roadie cap from Cambridge, a leaf-sprung fat bike fork, some nasal dilators… and loads more.
New mountain bike gear
Stan’s Bravo carbon wheels
These new carbon wheels have already seen extensive testing under the Atherton downhill team this season, albeit sporting a Flow label as a cunning disguise. This is particularly intriguing when you consider that they’re not designed for downhill. Our 650b set weighed in at a svelte 1570g including rim tape and they are sold as an all-mountain / enduro wheelset. This makes the fact that they’ve withstood the Athertons’ abuse seem especially impressive (provided they’ve not been supplied a custom carbon lay-up in their wheels).
The rims, which measure 26.6mm internally, use Stan’s Bead Socket Technology to interface with the tyre. The stubby bead is claimed to increases the volume of the rubber without making it overly square as super-wide rims can. Meanwhile Stan’s RiACT (Radial Impact Absorbing Carbon Technology) system is said to allow the rim to deflect inwards by up to 10mm – helping to absorb trail buzz – yet the brand also claims the rim is three to four times as stiff as any of its alloy offerings.
The Pro version rolls on Stan’s new Neo Ultimate hubs, featuring super-sharp five-degree engagement, joined to the rim via 28 Sapim Custom Force triple-butted spokes. The Team wheels will feature the company’s Neo hubs, with 10-degree engagement and Sapim Race double-butted spokes.
The Bravos will be available in all three wheel sizes and all major axle configurations Including boost 110 and 148mm. It’s also nice to see Stan’s offering a two year warranty and a three year crash replacement scheme too.
Pro wheelset: £1,600 / $1900 / AU TBC
Team wheelset: £1,350 / $1575 / AU TBC
Gravity Grid chain guide
Who needs a chain guide, these days? Well, still quite a few people, actually. Even with a clutch derailleur and a narrow-wide chainring, the fear of a dropped chain still looms. A top guide can virtually eliminate chain drops, but many also require a bash plate to stave off rock strikes, and some are still after a bottom guide for downhill duties or to use without a clutch derailleur. This one uses a modular design, which allows you to remove the lower guide, the bash plate and the top guide independently to suit your needs. The guides also feature a tool-free mechanism, enabling you to swing them clear of the chainring to swap it out. It’s available in 28-34t or 34-38t guises, and our smaller one tipped the scales at 165g.
£120 / $110 / AU TBC
Mondraker Dune C XR
If you’re looking for the ultimate enduro bike, it’s hard to ignore the claims of Mondraker’s new carbon Dune. Combining the brand’s trendsetting Forward Geometry concept with carbon tech derived from its Summum DH steed and Foxy trail bike, the Dune is designed to be ridden fast over the most challenging EWS courses. This is the top-tier XR model, which also features no-holds-barred suspension tech in the form of Fox’s 170mm 36 fork and Float X2 shock. That’s the same twin-tube air shock that Aaron Gwin has already used to win two rounds of the DH world cup, with or without a chain. Jon Woodhouse, editor of our sister title What Mountain Bike magazine, has been out testing the bike in the Alps of late. It’s fair to say he’s impressed with the performance so far. Stay tuned for a full review in the near future. One thing’s already clear though: it isn’t cheap.
£6,600 / $N/A / AU$TBC
Boardman MTB Pro pedals
At the opposite end of the price spectrum sit these Boardman clipless pedals. At just £30 a pair (cleats included), they’re designed to compete with Shimano’s equally priced M520 pedals. They use a similar mechanism, allowing adjustable release tension and they’re compatible with Shimano cleats. At 283g a pair (actual), they’re a little lighter than Shimano’s offering. They appear to be very well sealed too, so they might just be able to hold their own against Shimano in the long run. Time (and a lot of mud) will tell.
£30 / $N/A / AU$N/A
Luaf Carbonara fat bike fork
Love them or hate them, fat bikes are everywhere. Their popularity is growing as people find more and more ways to ride them. Suspension forks are nothing new on fat bikes but these seek to offer a compromise between rigid and full-on suspension. They use a leaf spring system to deliver 60mm of travel; there’s no damping, so we’d anticipate a bouncy ride, but they should be very supple thanks to their lack of bushings and seals. At 1,179g (actual) they’re a lot lighter and simpler than a conventional suspension fork too. They are available with two choices of springs for lighter or heavier riders (by rights, most fat-bikers ought to fit into the latter category). We took a closer look at Lauf’s forks on a recent trip to Iceland.
$990 / £TBC / AU$TBC
New road bike gear
Fabric Line saddle
Brand new from Fabric, the Line is the British brand’s foray into pressure-relieving design. It’s a little slimmer than the Fabric’s carbon ALM saddle at 134mm and features a split design with a central pressure relief channel that runs from the back to near the tip, tapering on the way.
Rather than having a cutaway hole in the saddle, the channel is filled by the flexible nylon base to avoid road spray on your shorts and maintain Fabric’s usual smooth saddle hull design. The lightweight foam padding is quite firm, but this is very much a performance orientated perch and there have been no formal complaints from our tester’s backside so far. There are two options: Elite with cromo rails for £40; and Race, which comes with titanium rails for £55. Our Elite sample comes in at a very respectable 250g.
£40 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Sigma brake light
This neat little accessory light from Sigma attaches via a hex-bolt to your rear brake cable and sits just underneath the barrel adjuster. When you apply the brake it closes on the body of the light and turns on a bright single LED when braking. It’s simple, cheap and adds safety, making it ideal for both commuters and those regularly riding in a group. The mini light comes in five colours, but it’s not too good in bright sunlight.
£8 / $10 / AU$TBC
SiS GO Electrolyte gel
Electrolytes can from a key element of long ride nutrition, especially in the heat, but these hydration enhancing minerals have traditionally only been available in sports drinks. SiS is looking to change that with the launch of its new Electrolyte gel, which gives a 22g carb hit along with 118mg of sodium, 9.5mg of potassium and 1.5mg of magnesium, which help maintain fluid balance and protect from hyponatremia (that's low sodium concentration in the blood).
The new 60ml gel is available in Raspberry and Lemon & Mint varieties. We’ll save our taste test for a nice hot day (perhaps we’ll have to send them to our colleagues in the US or Australia).
£1.50 / six for £8 / 30 for £40 (international prices calculated at checkout)
Bontrager Ballista helmet
We’ve already covered the launch of Bontrager’s comfy, well-ventilated aero road helmet and tested it in the wind tunnel, but we just couldn’t resist showing you this totally bad-ass* hi-vis version. Aero road lids aren’t always the most flattering, so you’ll need to be sure of yourself to wear this – or confident in your ability to go fast enough not to be recognised.
The helmet features the brand’s Headmaster II retention system, which lets you adjust on the fly with a generously sized dial, while three large vents on the front along with exhaust ports keep air moving over your head.
*The ‘bad-ass’ nature of this helmet’s looks are subjective and the writer takes no responsibility for your incorrect opinion if it differs from this view.
£130 / $175 / AU$200
TIC Panache Jacques cap and socks
Independent British brand This Is Cambridge is a specialist in handmade cycling caps – and it's now offering socks to match. The four-panel Panache hat is made from wicking brushed cotton with a traditional millinery headband and detailing. The flippable hard peak is wider than most for added protection, and the snug-fitting cap comes in five sizes to ensure comfort under your helmet. Two colours are also available in this design, which can be paired with either of the matching sock choices for swappable style.
The socks themselves are made from antibacterial Meryl Skinlife material with a reinforced heel and are designed to be supportive and breathable. These 15cm high socks offer pull up roadie style whether on or off the bike.
Cap: £24.50 (international prices calculated at checkout)
Socks: £13.50 (international prices calculated at checkout)
Turbine nose clips starter pack
These are the nasal expanders that two-time Tour champ Chris Froome slots in for his post-stage warm-downs. Well, not actually these ones (sorry to disappoint) but you get the idea. This starter pack comes with three sizes to help you find a comfortable fit. Created by Rhinomed, the Turbines are designed to gently open each nostril to allow an average increased airflow of 38 per cent according to the brand. Each clip is said to be reusable 10 times, after which three Turbines in a single size will cost you $28.
$14.95 (international prices calculated at checkout)