We've had a load of road and commuting kit land on our desks this week, including Continental's new Grand Prix TT tyres, a special Cobo Edition crankset from Rotor, urban backpacks from CamelBak and kit from Selle Royal, Blackburn and Knog.
Continental Grand Prix TT tyres
Continental's Grand Prix TT clinchers could lay claim to being the fastest tyres in the world, thanks to German Tony Martin riding them to victory in the world time trial championships last year. Of course it wasn't just his tyres that made him fast, but given that he could have ridden almost any tyre he wanted to at the Worlds, we're fairly certain that he had good reason to use these.
A racing tyre needs to be light, have low rolling resistance and provide enough puncture protection to get you to the finish (at least). Naturally the Grand Prix TT clinchers claim to do all three. At 175g (225g when paired with a decent latex tube) for a 700x23c tyre they're at the light end of the clincher range, although a top quality tubular plus glue will still be lighter.
At 330 TPI (threads per inch) they're extremely supple. This normally means low rolling resistance as they'll better deform to road surface irregularities compared to a stiffer tyre, which will bounce more. Our first impressions are that they do just that and we're looking forward to putting some more time on them.
Puncture resistance is a trickier one to quantify at this stage. Light tyres usually suffer in that department but Continental reckon their Vectran layer in their three-ply casing will help reduce flats. The Grand Prix TT clinchers will be available for sale soon, at £49.95 RRP in the UK (US$ TBC), and we've got one of the few sets in the country for advance testing. They'll feature in next month's Cycling Plus as part of a "go faster kit" group test.
Rotor 3D Cobo Edition compact cranks
We've tested Rotor's 3D road cranks (and elliptical Q-Rings) before but this set is a bit special – it's a limited 'Cobo Edition' version to mark Juan José Cobo's victory in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, with graphics inspired by his nickname, El Bisonte de La Pesa (literally translated, 'the bison of the weight').
Just 1,000 sets will be produced and only 75 will make their way to UK bike shops; ours is number 170. They're available in compact (110 BCD) and double (130 BCD) versions, with 170, 172.5 or 175mm arms. Our set, with a steel axle, 172.5mm arms and 50/34-tooth Q-Rings, weighs 712g. RRP is £299 / $500 (not including rings). For more information, visit www.rotorbike.com.
CamelBak Solvo backpacks
We first saw CamelBak's retro-looking Solvo packs at Zyro's in-house show in January and now we've got both sizes in for testing. The Solvo 25 and Solvo 30 (the number refers to capacity, in litres) are both made from the same waxed canvas fabric, with leather bases, back panels and detailing.
They share many of the same features too, including detachable bottle holder and smartphone pouches, hidden hi-vis rain covers, a plethora of pockets and sleeves for tablet computers and water reservoirs.
Both have roomy main compartments, the main difference being that the Solvo 25 has fewer organiser pockets and the Solvo 30 has a side access zip and a top zipped pocket on each side.
RRPs are £200 and £240 respectively (the packs are only available in Europe at present). If you want to add a CamelBak Antidote bladder, that'll up the price by £27-£33, depending on size. UK distribution is via Zyro.
Selle Royal Becoz saddle
Becoz is Selle Royal's new environmentally friendly saddle line-up. All the seats in the range use the same Corkgel covering, made from a mix of eco-sourced polyurethane gel and natural cork. Even the packaging is made from recycled cardboard.
The company say their ultimate aim is to produce a "100 percent ecological saddle that offers great comfort and is of the highest possible quality". Four different shapes are available, for different riding styles (Sport, seen here, Athletic, Moderate and Relaxed), in men's and women's versions. Claimed weights start at 375g. RRP is £42/€49.90.
Blackburn Camber CF bottle cage
Blackburn's carbon fibre Camber bottle cage impressed us when we first tested it a couple of years back and now it's available with these eye-catching 'designer writing' graphics. Weight is 25g on our scales and it comes with a lifetime warranty. RRP is £40 / $50.
Knog Blinder front light
We featured a prototype version of Knog's new front light last month but the Blinder looks to have undergone a few tweaks on its way to production. The vital stats are the same – four flash modes, claimed 80-lumen output, claimed 50-hour runtime on flashing, 39g weight, waterproof and USB rechargeable – but it's had a facelift. RRP is £35/$55, via Moore Large & Co in the UK.