Just in: Sneak peek at upcoming test products

Küat, RAR, Williams Cycling, Giordana, Scott and Lazer Helmets

New Küat NV hitch rack comes loaded with features

Relative car rack newcomers Küat may not have been on the scene for very long but their new hitch-mounted NV flagship comes loaded with an impressive list of features and some very clever design.

Twin ratcheting arms and deep plastic-and-aluminium trays securely hold two bikes in place by their front wheels (thus requiring no wheel removal) while additional ratcheting straps at the other end keep the rear wheels from bouncing about. Spacing between the two bikes is fixed but a generous 33cm (13in) between the trays and offset tilting should prevent most handlebar/saddle interference.

A quick-release handle allows the rack to tilt down for boot/tailgate access or up when the rack isn't in use and in the latter position, there's also an adjustable-height repair stand built right into the main spar of the rack for trailside repairs and maintenance.

Cable locks are neatly tucked away inside the trays, too, and a hand-tightened wedge keeps the 1 1/4in or 2in extension from rocking too much in the receiver. Powdercoated alloy construction keeps the weight to a reasonable 20.4kg (45lb) and suggested retail price is US$495 (available in US and Canada only at the moment).

The Küat NV hitch rack features a built-in repair stand which is handy for trailhead fixes

Scott Helium range blends road fit with off-road styling

Scott's Helium jersey – available in both short-sleeve and long – uses moisture wicking polyester blends and polyamide mesh panels fashioned in a traditional road-style cut, complete with ¾-length front zipper, standard array of rear pockets, and siliconised lower rear hem.

We wouldn't have normally put brown, orange, grey and white together but it somehow works

The matching six-panel bib shorts feature similar fabrics joined together using flatlock seams, mesh inserts for additional ventilation and a stretch, multi-thickness seamless chamois. Retail prices are as follows: Helium jersey, short-sleeved £69.99/US$74.99/€79.95; Helium jersey, long-sleeved £79.99/$79.99/€89.95; Helium bib shorts £79.99/$79.99/€89.95.

Scott's Helium range blends road-style cuts with colours more typically seen on the dirt

Also included in our test kit are the Freeride and XC full-finger gloves. The Freeride (£34.99/$39.99/€39.95) features a lightly padded palm, silicon grip appliqués and a colourful knit nylon back with Velcro wrist closure. The more minimalist XC (£26.99/$29.99/€29.95) goes with an unpadded palm, a more open-mesh back for additional ventilation and a simple pull-on wrist.

Scott's Freeride gloves feature grippy silicone rubber appliques and a lightly padded palm

Lazer Helmet's new off-road model seeks Nirvana

The new Lazer Nirvana is the company's latest mountain bike-specific model, featuring extra rear coverage and an internal reinforcement skeleton, a removable peak, generously sized vents tuned to evacuate hot air, X-Static pads and a distinctly angular appearance.

The Nirvana is Lazer's latest off-road helmet, with X-Static padding and lots of channeling

In addition, the retention system uses Lazer's superb Rollsys system, which adjusts the interior circumference via a top-mounted dial and lends a snug, pressure-point-free fit. Optional padsets include a winter variant to retain more heat and an insect net to keep stinging bugs away from your head. Weight is a reasonable 309g for our XXS/M size and price is set at £119.99/US$140.

The easy-to-operate Rollsys dial up top tightens the retention system around your head

RAR Magnum road race wheels use lessons learned from testing data

RAR say five years of bench testing a wide range of wheels has been poured into the development of their new road racing range. Key features across the board include feathery hub weights (65g/182g front/rear) with the front made by Wheels Manufacturing and the rear by German component company Tune; 2:1 rear spoke lacing and an oversized driveside flange for more even tension; custom aluminium hubs with widely spaced adjustable-preload cartridge bearings and oversized alloy axles; and DT Swiss Aerolite spokes. 

RAR's Magnum carbon road tubulars feature custom made hubs with wide bracing angles

Our Magnum test pair ups the ante further with 430g 66mm-deep carbon tubular rims made by Reynolds and an impressive 1,303g total weight (579g front, 724g rear, without skewers). A clincher version is also available, adding 270g. Other available models include the more climbing-specific Svelt (930g for tubular, 1,220g for clincher) with 32mm-deep all-carbon rims, and the all-purpose Optimal (1,020g for tubular, 1,325g for clincher) with 46mm-deep all-carbon rims. 27mm-deep alloy clincher rims are used on the 1,370g Tempo model.

The Magnum front hub flanges and bearings are widely spaced

Retail price for any of the three carbon models, tubular or clincher, is €2,149 for the pair (approx £1,950/US$2,930), including a pair of feathery 45g titanium-shafted skewers, wheel bags, valve extenders and brake pads. The alloy Tempo is set at a more attainable €799 (approx £725/$1,090). White or red spokes are available for €120-132 (approx £110-£120/$165-180) depending on wheel model.

The Magnum rear hub is made for RAR by Tune

Williams Cycling switch rim suppliers for 2010 Wheel System 58

Direct-to-consumer wheelhouse Williams Cycling have changed rim suppliers for the 2010 version of their Wheel System 58 carbon tubulars, moving from Zipp to Asian-made Carbotec. Why the change? Company founder Keith Williams says he was "at the point now that durability is more important than the lightest carbon wheels I can make", and that the increased weight (430g per rim versus 397g) was worth the additional impact strength.  

Williams Cycling's Wheel System 58 is a deep-section carbon fibre road tubular

Carrying over from the previous edition are the lightweight alloy hubs with hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings, easily interchangeable alloy freehub bodies, and well-proven Pillar triple butted stainless steel spokes with brass nipples. Williams says he has also switched bearing suppliers this year, so quality and durability have improved in that area, too.

Upgraded hybrid ceramic bearings are said to last longer than previous versions

Our test set is still fairly light at 1,476g for the pair (854g rear, 622g front, plus 117g for skewers) and still refreshingly attainable at a retail cost of US$999 (not available in UK) including quick-release skewers, SwissStop Yellow King brake pads and valve extenders.  

Williams have switched to Carbotec for their rims, saying durability is worth the extra weight

Spring and summer kit from Giordana

Also recently landing on the BikeRadar tech desk is some of the latest spring/summer gear from Giordana. The FR-C Trade jersey, part of the top-end Body Clone collection, is built with a surprisingly soft and stretchy Asteria fabric, augmented by carbon-reinforced Ametista materials for improved durability. Perforated Antigua bands at the cuffs and hem finish off the skin-tight fit. 

Giordana's FR-C Trade jersey and bib shorts offer a skintight fit and advanced fabrics

The matching FR-C Trade bib shorts feature compressive Zaffiro panels, the same Antigua bands around the leg openings and for the bib straps as used on the jersey, and an open and airy upper section to improve breathability. Finishing things off is Giordana's premium T-Select Gel OmniForm pad. Riders seeking a more subtle design can also swap Giordana's trademark centaur logo for more straightforward geometric colour blocks. RRP is US$200 apiece for the FR-C Trade jersey and bib shorts (UK prices TBC).

Antigua bands around the hem and arm and leg openings provide a close but unrestrictive fit

Expanding the FR-C Trade kit's temperature range is Giordana's Windfront Short Sleeve base layer ($100) and remarkably cozy-feeling FR-C Seamless arm and leg warmers ($70 leg, $60 arm), which use a variable knit throughout for extra stretch in key regions and a better fit but without needing extra stitching.

The Giordana Windfront Short Sleeve base layer adds a little extra protection on cool mornings

For cool spring mornings, we'll be reaching for the FR-C Lightweight Jacket with its wind- and waterproof Versatect fabric and stretchy Moovix HD panels. A fully backed full-length front zipper provides further protection against cold drafts along with the asymmetrically cut cuffs with Ametista AV grippers. RRP $250.

The Giordana FR-C Lightweight Jacket lends wind and water protection in a packable shell

Rounding out our test kit is the FR-C Custom Glove ($50) with seamless wrist openings and silicon rubber appliqués for grip and the Formared Mid Cuff socks ($17.50) with specific left/right sizing for a closer fit.

Seamless wrist openings are featured on the FR-C Custom glove

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