Friday Five-a-side: this week's best new bike gear
By James Huang | Friday, December 13, 2013 12.00pm
The American Classic Wide Lightning 27.5 trail wheels have an incredibly generous 29.3mm internal width. Even so, total weight is just 1,487g for the pair James Huang/Future Publishing
It’s the end of yet another week, and that means only one thing in the BikeRadar office – it's time for our Friday Five-a-side round up of the most interesting bits and pieces of road cycling and mountain biking gear that have recently landed on our doorstep – this week, it's the doorstep of our US office in Boulder, Colorado. Take a closer look at what we'll be testing in the upcoming weeks and months.
New road cycling gear
Lake Cycling CX145 winter shoes
While booties and shoe covers can be highly effective, dedicated cold-weather shoes are far more convenient – and often warmer too. Lake's new nylon-soled CX145 road shoes fill the gap between its standard summer shoes and its heavily insulated, Arctic-ready MXZ303 boot. They have a non-vented (but also non-insulated) waterproof outer and snug fitting, high-cut design. According to Lake, this keeps out rain, road spray, and wind for riders who regularly head out in damp and chilly conditions but aren't interested in tackling sub-freezing temperatures. The dual Boa closures should be relatively easy to operate with gloved hands too. Actual weight for our size 43.5 pair is 915g.
US$259.95 / £169.99
Rolf Prima VCX Disc wheels
Sleek, deep-section carbon fibre wheels typically hog the spotlight but the reality is that medium-section alloy wheels are what people actually buy. Rolf Prima's VCX Disc model sports a 33mm-deep, 18mm-wide (internal width) aluminium clincher rim and gorgeous polished aluminium hubs, made in the USA by White Industries. They also have a durable titanium freehub body, six-bolt rotor interfaces and an optional front and rear through-axle fitting. Joining it all together is the company's trademark high-tension, paired spoke pattern. Actual weight for our test set is 1,815g (855g front, 960g rear – without skewers). Rolf Prima offers the VCX Disc in a tubular version too.
US$1,099 / £849
Rosset Ogival chainrings
If you already thought Rotor Q-Rings or Osymetric chainrings were unusual looking, turn away now. Rosset Ogival's take on non-round chainrings is far more radical with their (American) football shape and decidedly pointed ends. Despite appearances, the basic thinking behind them is similar to that of Rotor and Osymetric, which is to increase the effective gear ratio where you're putting out the most power but decrease it in the dead zones in order to facilitate a smooth and efficient pedal stroke. We have a set of road-specific Rosset Ogival chainrings on hand here but the company also offers mountain bike versions – including a thick/thin variant for SRAM's XX1 drivetrain.
Scott-Mathauser brake pads
Back in the day, Scott-Mathauser rim brake pads were widely regarded as the absolute best available, with the unique iron oxide compound providing superb bite in dry conditions, only a minimal performance degradation when wet, and fantastic durability – all while still somehow being easy on rim surfaces. The ever-faithful Scott-Mathauser adherents can finally stop scouring eBay, because Yokozuna USA has resurrected the hallowed formula. Most popular fittings are available, too, including replacement inserts for Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo-style road cartridge holders, cantilever and V-brake pads with either smooth or threaded posts, and even the simple 'retro' style pad design.
US$11.99-29.99 / £N/A
The Tern Tool is aimed at urban cyclists who might need a few more bits than roadies or trail riders. Along with the usual 2 to 8mm hex keys, spoke wrenches, screwdrivers, chain tool, and T25 Torx tools, there's also a built-in metal tyre lever, a bottle opener, and 6, 8, and 10mm open-end wrenches. There's even a 15mm open-ended wrench for pedals and axle nuts – and if you arrange the Tern Tool just right, you might even have enough leverage to break them loose too. Adding to the convenience is a small pocket in the neoprene carrying sleeve that's just the right size for a glueless patch kit (included).
US$40 / €40 (approx £34)
New mountain bike gear
American Classic Wide Lightning 27.5 wheels
There are wide rims on the market right now and then there are really wide ones. American Classic's new Wide Lightning laughs in the face of most trail wheelsets' 'wide' 21mm rims with tubeless-compatible aluminium hoops that measure a whopping 29.3mm across – and that's from bead to bead, not the less relevant external width. Despite the generous dimensions, the Wide Lightnings still manage to be surprisingly light thanks to their thin-walled extrusions and the company's own feathery front and rear hubs. Actual weight for our 27.5in (650b) sample set is a staggering 1,487g (687g front, 800g rear).
US$849 / £600
Backcountry Research Awesome Strap Race II
Backcountry Research could be accused of being boastful with such a name, but so far, the Awesome Strap seems just that – and it's not just your average cinch strap. Instead of jamming your spare tube and CO2 cartridges into a traditional bag, this product somehow manages to secure everything beneath the saddle with a clever arrangement of nylon webbing, velcro and D-rings. It's a clean and tidy visual package for sure but also makes for quicker access to gear – a critical feature for endurance racers who typically have to haul their own repair kits.
US$12 / £7
Lezyne Shop Shock Drive
The Shop Shock Drive's big and heavy form factor is anything but easily portable but that's intentional – as it's aimed at heavy-duty users that might otherwise be churning through more cheaply-made suspension pumps. Key features include CNC machined construction throughout, along with a fluid-filled, oversized dial gauge and a braided stainless steel hose capped with a no-leak head. Casual users might not really need such a thing, but it would certainly look fantastic hanging on your workbench wall.
US$99.99 / £69.99
Pedro's Apprentice tool kit
The Apprentice kit packages 22 of the most common workshop tools into a compact plastic case that should be well suited for small workshops or when traveling to events. Included in the mix are: an eight-piece Allen key set (1.5 to 8mm); T10, T25, and T30 Torx wrenches; tyre levers; Shimano-standard splined bottom bracket and cassette lockring tools; an external-type bottom bracket wrench; flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers; a square-taper crank puller; pedal wrench; combo chain tool and spoke wrenches; cable and housing cutters; a cog wrench; and a nylon brush for cleaning smaller items.
US$285 / £174
Ritchey WCS Paradigm pedals
Ritchey's WCS Paradigm mountain bike pedals offer a tantalising blend of low weight and reasonable cost. Our test set tips the scales at just 243g (without cleats), making them nearly 70g lighter than Shimano's top-end XTR model. While other lightweight pedals resort to titanium spindles, Ritchey manages to do so with a chromoly one too. The inner bushings aren't likely to last quite as long as XTR's adjustable ball bearing guts but these look to be a good option for race day.
US$159.95 / £125
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