Friday Five-a-side: this week's best new gear

Featuring Specialized, Race Face, Fox, Lezyne, Saris and more

It’s the end of yet another week – and that means it's time for another installment of 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.

Here are the best bits of kit we've received this week.

New road gear

Étape: 20 Great Stages from the Modern Tour de France

Author Richard Moore looks back on twenty of the greatest stages of the Tour de France in this 336-page paperback, using exclusive interviews that shed light on some of the race's most memorable moments. These include: Greg LeMond's return to greatness in 1989 after nearly dying in a hunting accident; Bernard Hinault's victory on the cobbles in 1980; Eddy Merckx's battle with Luis Ocaña in 1971; and Claudio Chiappucci's victory atop Sestriere in 1992.

US$18.95 / £TBA

www.thebesttdfstages.com

Lezyne Gauge Drive HP, Control Drive inflator and Power Lever XL tyre levers

The Gauge Drive HP takes Lezyne's fantastically compact (and highly effective) mini-pump design and adds an inline gauge so you don't have to guess how much pressure is in your tyre. The thread-on head can be used with Presta or Schrader valves and the integrated pressure release button keeps valve cores from unscrewing, too.

As always with Lezyne, the overlapping handle design yields an impressively long stroke given the pump's compact size, while the extendable hose makes for easier pumping and fewer bent valve stems.

Also arriving from Lezyne is the new Control Drive CO2 inflator head, which threads on to the cartridge as usual but then uses a knurled aluminium knob to precisely control the flow. If you find instant-on inflators a bit intimidating, one of these might be just the thing.

Finally, we've got the new Power Lever XL tyre levers, built with fibre reinforced 'Composite Matrix' material and a generous 148mm (5.8in) length to help get stubborn tyres on and off. The slim head looks to be easy to pry beneath tight-fitting beads and there's a little hook at the other end to clip on to a spoke to hold things in place. Sold in pairs.

  • Gauge Drive HP: US$49.99 / £39.99
  • Control Drive inflator: US$26.99 / £21.99 (including one 16g cartridge)
  • Power Lever XL: US$4.99 / £4.99 (pair)

www.lezyne.com

Osmo Nutrition for Women drink mixes

Osmo's latest range is designed specifically for women. Each product is adjusted for what the company claims are "different metabolic needs than men before, during, and after exercise". According to Osmo founder Stacy Sims, this is rooted in women's menstrual cycles, which produce fluctuations in hormone levels that can affect basic physiological processes such as body temperature control, muscle synthesis and recovery, fluid balance, and how the body burns fuel.

Included in the range of drink mixes is a Preload Hydration formula that helps load up the body with necessary fluids before exercising in extreme heat; an Active Hydration formula for use during rides; and an Acute Recovery blend that is said to promote muscle repair and glycogen restoration.

  • Preload Hydration for Women, 20 servings: US$24.99 / £19.99
  • Active Hydration for Women, 40 servings: US$19.99 / £15.99
  • Acute Recovery for Women, 16 servings: US$34.99 / £29.99

www.osmonutrition.com

Saris Freedom SuperClamp 2-Bike hitch rack

Saris' latest hitch-mounted bike rack uses twin clamps to secure each wheel individually, instead of just one ratcheting clamp and a tie-down strap as most others use. Either way, the end result is the same: no frame contact and what should be a secure, rattle-free hold for your precious machine.

The claimed weight for our sample is 13.6kg (30lb), including the integrated cable lock. Part of the weight saving comes from the omission of any sort of tilt mechanism though, so getting items in or out of the vehicle while bikes are mounted might be a chore. The included adapter allows the Freedom SuperClamp 2-Bike rack to mount on to 1 1/4in or 2in receivers.

US$389.99 / £N/A

www.saris.com

Specialized Air Tool ComPak floor pump

The Air Tool ComPak promises all the functionality and convenience of a standard floor pump but in a far more compact and portable travel-friendly package made of durable machined aluminium. The handle quickly removes from the main shaft and stores on the side of the body while the feet fold up to fit inside the included storage case.

The inline pressure gauge , which reads up to 200psi, and the hidden storage inside the handle for smaller items like patches and valve extenders. It weighs 1,088g, including the semi-rigid storage case.

US$100 / £100

www.specialized.com

New mountain bike gear

Fox 32 Float 29 120 FIT CTD w/ Trail Adjust fork

It seems that not a single year goes by without Fox making some sort of tweak to its damper cartridges, and our 2015 test sample is no different. According to Fox, the new FIT cartridge now provides a more seamless transition between the high-speed and low-speed compression damper circuits, which also has the side benefit of supposedly lending more mid-travel support for more 'pop'.

Other improvements include a smoother Kashima coating, new molybdenum-infused 20W Gold Oil for the oil bath, and lower-friction seals on the damper cartridge shaft for improved sensitivity. Our test sample weighs 1,738g (3.83lb) including an uncut 1 1/8 to 1 1/2in tapered steerer. The requisite 15mm thru-axle adds another 74g.

US$842.50 / £729 / €899

www.ridefox.com

Kuat NV Black car rack

We were reasonably impressed with Kuat's first-generation NV car rack when we reviewed it in 2010 but also discovered some notable shortcomings. This latest version looks to improve on most of those deficiencies with a substantially beefed-up main pivot, a more refined finish, and smoother-operating ratchets on the pivoting wheel arms.

What hasn't changed are the original NV's main draws, which include a sleek design, an effective slop-free wedge system for the receiver, a handy tilt-down/tilt-up base, a cleverly integrated repair stand, a hidden cable lock, and compatibility for wheel sizes from 20 to 29in in diameter (but sorry, no fat bikes).

The weight of our two-bike 1 1/4in version is 20.4kg (45lb).

US$529 / £N/A

www.kuatracks.com

Osprey Talon 6 lumbar pack

One curious side effect of the enduro craze is the resurgence in popularity of lumbar packs – worn on your lower back as intended, not rotated up front, awkward tourist fashion. Osprey's new Talon 6 is about as techy as these things come with a moulded Airscape ventilated foam back panel, a shaped and padded hip belt, twin bottle holsters (with bottles included), two waist pockets, two main compartment pockets, and compression straps to keep everything tied down and stable.

Its total storage capacity is 6L – about the same as some of the smaller conventional hydration packs out there.

US$69.95 / £45

www.ospreypacks.com

Race Face Turbine crankset

Race Face has completely redesigned its workhorse Turbine aluminium mountain bike crankset for 2015. The forged aluminium arms are very deep for stiffness but they're also heavily relieved to help keep the weight down. More importantly, Race Face has incorporated its highly versatile – not to mention stiff and light – Cinch spindle system, which uses a 30mm diameter 7050 machined aluminium axle that can be used with nearly any bottom bracket system.

Even fat bikes are accommodated with a simple spindle swap, while the removable spider can be set up for 1x, 2x, or 3x drivetrains with options for different bolt circle diameters and bashguards. We went with a direct-mount 32-tooth Narrow/Wide spiderless ring and standard threaded bottom bracket for our test setup, which weighs just 730g complete – including the brilliant little rubber crankarm caps that should prove handy here in rocky Colorado.

  • Crankarms only: US$199.99 / €199.90 / £TBA
  • Crankarms with direct-mount single chainring: US$269.99 / €249.90
  • Crankarms with 2x chainrings: US$299.99 / €269.90
  • Bottom bracket only: US$59.99 / £39 / €49.90

www.raceface.com

Specialized Enduro XL locking grips

Riders who prefer a softer feel from their grips might appreciate the soft and tacky exterior of Specialized's new Enduro XL locking grips.  A hard plastic inner core and single inboard locking clamp keeps things stable on the bar while the soft rubber exterior is reinforced with aramid fibre to help prevent premature wear.

The 100g Enduro XLs are available in four different colours – and if you prefer a smaller diameter, there's a standard Enduro model too.

US$25 / £16

www.specialized.com

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