It's the end of another work week and time to show you the recent arrivals at the BikeRadar office that we'll be reviewing in the coming weeks and months. Take a look at some of the most interesting mountain and road products that have come our way in the past few days.
New road bike gear
Cat Ears wind reducers
We first introduced you to Cat Ears wind reducers back in 2012, when many readers thought the rather unusual looking helmet add-ons were a joke. Fast forward to 2014 and we can assure you that Cat Ears actually work quite well at reducing wind noise, particularly at higher speeds. This allows for improved awareness of surrounding traffic (and racers), not to mention a generally more pleasant experience in the saddle.
We've just taken delivery of several new samples along with some experimental versions with a much lower profile.
Clement LGG tubular tyres
Clement's latest LGG tubular road tyres feature a classic slick centre tread flanked by a fine herringbone pattern for a fast roll and secure cornering grip, especially on dust-covered stones that litter the area around Liège, Belgium from which the tyre derives its name. The 25mm width mirrors the higher volume many riders prefer these days while the sealant-friendly tubeless construction should make for improved durability relative to traditional tubulars that use a separate inner tube.
Actual weight is 267g apiece.
US$130 / £TBC
Ryders Eyewear Pint, Caliber, and Trapper glasses
Ryders Eyewear prides itself on offering exceptionally clear and precise sunglasses at reasonable prices – typically under US$100. Arriving at BikeRadar's Boulder, Colorado office are three styles for use both on the bike and off.
First up is the full-framed Trapper, aimed at larger faces with generous coverage and yet still stylish enough to hit the café after the ride is done. Hydrophilic nose pads and temple tips help keep the Trapper in place on hot days, while the automatically adjusting photochromic lens transmits between 19 and 46 per cent of visible light, with a brown base tint for good contrast.
The Caliber, meanwhile, offers a similarly large fit for bigger faces, but with a half-frame design and an adjustable nosepiece. Our sample came with grey photochromic lenses well suited for bright sunlight.
Finally, there's the Pint with a more casually styled aviator shape, a full frame, and a medium-large fit. The large lenses still look to offer good coverage on the bike, though, and hydrophilic nosepads should help hold them in place.
Trapper: US$79.99 / £47 / €89.90 with photochromic lens
Caliber: US$79.99 / £47 / €89.90 with photochromic lens
Pint: US$39.99 / £35 / €59.90 with standard lens
Silca Eolo III CO2 inflators
Silca is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, having recently been acquired by Josh Poertner – the former technical director at Zipp and the brainchild behind much of that company's aero wizardry. As expected, Poertner has taken that same obsessive attention to detail to his new pet project, starting with the seemingly straightforward CO2 inflator.
The new Eolo III uses a familiar push-to-inflate operation but with all-metal construction, custom o-ring seals, pricey Dupont Krytox internal lubrication, and ultra-smooth machining all to keep the mechanism from sticking when frozen. The thread-on head works with Presta or Schrader valves, and the external o-rings that protect your fingers can also be swapped out for different colours.
Spare cartridges are even pre-lubricated to help ensure an airtight seal, and the threads are capped so they don't wear through your seat pack.
US$47 (Silca Eolo III with two 16g cartridges)
£24 / €30 / AU$40 (Silca Eolo III regulator only)
Snap-On CDI TorqControl torque wrench
We declared Snap-On CDI preset T-handle torque wrenches to be among our favourite items in 2012, and the Snap-On subsidiary has now one-upped itself with a new adjustable version called the TorqControl. Like the fixed-value wrenches – which remain in the lineup – the TorqControl uses a torque limiting design that won't allow users to exceed the selected value, unlike conventional torque wrenches that merely indicate when the proper value is reached but will still let you continue to tighten away.
The TorqControl is adjustable between 2 and 8Nm in 0.1Nm increments, and uses a comfy moulded plastic and rubber handle. Interchangeable 1/4in bits are held in place with a magnetic socket and four bits are included (4, 5, and 6mm Allen; T25 Torx; a 4in-long 4mm Allen; and a 4in-long T25 Torx).
US$80 / £TBC
New mountain bike gear
Galfer disc brake pads
Motorsports maven Galfer has been manufacturing bicycle disc brake pads for the last decade or so, but has only recently started offering them under its own brand name. We've taken delivery of the two most common compounds: the all-round black semi-metallic/organic pad with a progressive bite and good wear and lever feel characteristics; and the more racing-oriented 'Pro' compound with a more aggressive initial bite and more linear build-up in power. Select markets also get the 'Advanced' for wet and muddy conditions.
US$15.22 (per wheel, black compound)
US$29.13 (per wheel, green compound)
Lazer Rox helmet
Lazer's more budget-oriented MTB helmet features an in-mould shell, 24 vents, a clip-on visor, and the company's proven Rollsys adjustable retention system – not to mention a sleek profile that mimics higher-end models.
In an effort to keep costs low, that visor isn't adjustable and the Rox is only available in a one-size-fits-all shell (53-61cm). Five colour schemes are available, though, including our high-vis yellow sample. Actual weight is 340g with the included visor.
US$115 / £74.99 / €115 / AU$159.95
Squirt Coated Chain
Squirt chain lube has long been an office favourite for its longevity and proven friction-reducing capabilities, but its effectiveness hinges on starting with a totally clean and dry chain – not the easiest thing to do given some of the factory coatings out there.
KMC comes to the rescue, however, with special bone-dry chains that are fully nickel-plated then soaked in Squirt and packaged up, ready to install. According to Squirt, these custom-treated chains should be more reliably lubricated than ones where the typical goop is cleaned off first, plus they'll supposedly stay cleaner longer.
For now, Squirt only has the pre-treated chains to fit nine- and 10-speed drivetrains. 11-speed ones are supposedly due to arrive some time in July.
US$36 / £24 / €30 (nine-speed)
US$48 / £32 / €40 (10-speed)
Robert Axle thru-axles
Riders looking to tow cargo, kids, or other trailers have typically been limited to quick-release rear axles only – that is, until the advent of the Robert Axle. Designed as a direct drop-in replacement for most standard rear thru-axles, the Robert Axle features an additional threaded stub on the end to attach trailer mounts from Burley, Thule/Chariot, BOB, and others. A standard Allen fitting is used to secure the axle into the frame.
Most bike makes are accounted for, including Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale, GT, Felt, and nearly anything else that uses a 12mm axle diameter, and the Robert Axle can also be used to install thru-axle equipped bikes on to stationary trainers.
Actual weight for our test sample is 87g.
US$52-57 / £TBC
Tioga Spyder Stratum saddles
Tioga's innovative Spyder Stratum saddles use a unique webbed shell with no additional padding. Instead, the shell uses a dual-density construction with a stiffer 'spine' underneath and a much softer and more flexible net that's effectively draped over the top. The result is certainly visually striking but, so far, it's proving to be surprisingly comfortable.
Despite its waif-like appearance, Tioga says the Spyder Stratum shell is safe to use for all bike types and has no rider weight limit, although the flex pattern has apparently been optimised for riders weighing from 68 to 84kg (150-185lb). The top-end version's carbon fibre rails, however, are only approved for riders weighing less than 109kg (240lb).
Actual weight for the carbon version is just 124g; subbing in hollow chromoly rails brings that figure up to 186g.
Tioga Spyder Stratum with carbon rails: US$190 / £150 / €180 / AU$210
Tioga Spyder Stratum with chromoly rails: US$125 / £95 / €110 / AU$210