Enjoying the holiday season? We sure are.
However, a Friday is a Friday and no Christmas dinners or New Year's parties will stop us from bringing you the latest bike gear to land at our doors. Yep, it’s the very first 11spd gear round-up of 2016, and rest assured, we’ll be back every Friday.
Below we look at some of the newest mountain and road bike gear we’ll be testing for the first few months of this year.
New road bike gear
Scott Solace 10 Disc
We’re not going to lie, we’re pretty excited about this bike. Pitched as a sporty endurance bike, this 2016 Solace 10 Disc features a full carbon frame that’s designed to be stiff through the head tube, down tube, bottom bracket and chainstays, while comfortable through the remaining tubes.
The frame also features all the latest trimmings, including 12mm thru-axles, flat-mount disc calipers, tapered head tube and interchangeable internal cable routing.
Sitting a peg down from the top, the Solace 10 Disc features Shimano Ultegra 11-speed shifting linked to Shimano RS805 hydraulic disc brakes. Made by DT-Swiss, the Syncros RP-20 Disc wheels offer proven hubs and a solid build. Wrapping these are Schwalbe Durano 28mm rubber.
We’ll give a more in-depth look at this ride real soon, and plan to test it out on the roads of the Tour Down Under.
£2,599 / $3,500 / AU$4,500
Avanti Corsa ER 2
Pitched to a similar crowd as the Scott Solace 10 Disc, the Avanti Corsa ER is an all-new model from the New Zealand bike company. We had a detailed look at this bike when first announced, and now have a production version of the upper-level ‘2’ in for test.
Designed to be ultra stiff and light, the Corsa ER also claims to be Avanti’s most comfortable road bike yet.
All the very latest industry ‘standards’ are included on this one, including 12mm thru axles front and rear, flat-mount brakes, a press fit bottom bracket and tapered head tube. That press fit bottom bracket is housed somewhere within what’s certainly one of the largest down tubes we’ve seen in recent time.
Further comfort is added with the likes of a 3T Ionic Team Comfort seat post and TranzX AntiShock stem. Yep, the stem pivots at the steerer clamp to aid in small bump compliance.
The components on this one are quite impressive for the money, with a Dura-Ace rear derailleur matched with an otherwise Ultegra drivetrain. The brakes are flat-mount Shimano RS805, with smaller 140mm rotors.
The value continues in the wheels, with tubeless-ready DT Swiss R23 Spline Disc hoops wrapped in Kenda Kountach Endurance 28mm clinchers.
£N/A / $N/A / AU$4,000
Fuji SL 1.5
Taking over from where the beloved Altamira left off, the Fuji SL appears to be a weight weenie's dream bike.
Fuji says the frame of its top end SL 1.1 weighs just 690g and the complete build equipped with SRAM Red, and Reynolds RZR 46 wheels tips the scales at a feathery 4.95kg / 10.91lb. Our slightly lower spec SL 1.5 is no slouch either, with the size 54cm sample weighing 6.4kg / 14.1lbs as shown.
Manufactured using a process introduced with the Altamira in 2013, the SL’s frame is made using “High Compaction” moulding, which combines internal and external moulds to produce a tube that’s as finished inside as it is outside. This avoids unnecessary leftover material (weight), and ensures the layup is wrinkle free and strong.
The SL also has what Fuji is calling a ‘Reinforced IBeam’ fork design. As you may have guessed, this features a reinforcing ‘rib’ running the length of the fork legs.
There’s a full Shimano Dura-Ace build, while the wheels and finishing kit are from Fuji’s sister component brand Oval.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the SL 1.5 in the next couple of weeks.
£3,399 / $4,740 / AU$6,999
OTTO derailleur tuning system
When it comes to tuning your rear gears, there are web pages, books and even apps that will talk you through the process. Taking things a step further, OTTO uses your phone’s camera and special plastic guides that clip on to your derailleur and rear cogs to help you dial in your rear gears. It can even help diagnose common issues, such as a bent derailleur hanger.
The system is said to work with both Shimano and SRAM derailleurs, although 9 speed users will need a different kit to those using 10/11-speed gearing.
The two plastic pieces sit over the derailleur and rear cogs
We’ve only had a quick play with it so far, but the app quickly and clearly talked us through the steps in using the system and agreed that our derailleurs were set up correctly. Currently, the app only works with iPhones.
While we’ve still got some testing to do, we suspect this could be a nice item for those that always struggle with the fine-tuning of a rear derailleur. However, front shifting adjustments will have to wait, as OTTO can’t help you there.
£TBC / $39 / AU$60
Polar’s latest GPS bike computer includes an integrated single-LED light for low-light visibility and Bluetooth Smart integration with the included heart-rate monitor or speed, cadence or power-meter sensors.
Polar’s new Flow software offers a fairly detailed look at short- and long-term training metrics (think TrainingPeaks), plus some social fitness functionality (think Strava).
While the Bluetooth Smart paired quickly to the included heart-rate monitor and a Stages power meter in our initial testing, the absence of ANT+ severely limits the computer’s compatibility with third-party devices.
£154 / $199 / AU$N/A
Capo Special Edition M90 kit
Capo goes winter camo with the limited-edition M90 jersey, bibs and matching arm warmers.
The longer jersey sleeves are made with a snug and ribbed micro fiber knit that keeps them aero and in place, while the main body uses a Micro Quattro knit.
The 8-panel bibs use a medium-gauge Lycra and a newD4 Evo Elastic Interface chamois.
£N/A / $350 / AU$N/A
New mountain bike gear
Park Tool DAG-2.2
Poor rear shifting is all too commonly caused by a mis-aligned rear derailleur hanger (as OTTO would tell you!). To correct this, a derailleur alignment tool provides the answer and there’s none more commonly used than the Park Tool DAG (Derailleur Alignment Gauge).
For 2016, the DAG has been updated with the 2.2 offering far tighter tolerances for improved accuracy, a longer tip for wide frame/hanger compatibility and a replaceable threaded tip.
Otherwise, the same chrome plated steel construction and method of use carries over from the older DAG-2. The DAG-2.2 is a shop-tool that’s priced to be accessible to all.
£65 / $75 / AU$110
Dharco women’s clothing
Dharco is a young Australian ‘surf inspired’ mountain bike apparel brand, something we first looked at in 2014.
Everything they do is rather simple in construction, features and styling, perfect for being seen in public without telling the world you’ve just been a ride. Though this isn’t to say the gear is lacking in design, there is a huge focus in materials and cuts suited to aggressive riding.
The pieces breathe really well, which isn’t surprising given they’re designed on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. And the four-way stretch Gravity shorts we have in for testing also feature water repellency.
Currently sizing runs small for ladies. Where our tester Kath Bicknell would normally wear a small, she’s currently testing a medium in these. Kath says the ¾ jersey is more fitted than a traditional trail top, giving it femininity without it being overly girly.
And yep, there’s a full range of men’s clothing too.
Ladies 3/4 jersey - Trail: £50 / $55 / AU$65
Ladies Gravity shorts: £78 / $95 / AU$115
Thule 594XT Sidearm
With so many lightweight (fragile) carbon frames kicking around, we cringe every time we see them being toted around on roof or racks that’s main support grabs the frame.
Dropout mount racks are one solution, but are a pain if your stable of bikes includes more than one of the growing number of axle standards.
Although not a new product, Thule’s solution to these problems is the 594XT Sidearm. This no frame contact roof rack is compatible with nearly any frame design, wheel size, and axle standard. Using the ‘secure hook’, the rack grabs the front wheel and is claimed to fit most 20" to 29" wheels with tyres up to 2.6in wide.
Supporting the bikes is a doublewall aluminum tray which Thule says provides maximum strength and rigidity. Initial testing shows putting bikes on the roof is a bit less awkward than similar wheel-only holding Yakima racks.
£N/A / $200 / AU$299
Taggio Pro pump head
A while back we brought you news of an interesting pump head called the Rapido Pro. After doubling their initial crowd-funding goal, we’ve now got our hands on the spring loaded one hand operated unit, since renamed Taggio Pro.
The Taggio Pro’s onehanded locking interface fits both Schrader and Presta valves with no switches, adapters, or levers. Attaching the head is as simple as pulling back on the plastic collar to load the spring, pushing it onto the valve and then seating the collar downward to seal it. Removing the head is simply a matter of lifting the collar and air pressure pushes the head off.
As pump heads can be a sore subject, the Taggio Pro appears to offer a simple and efficient aftermarket upgrade. Claiming to be the holy grail of pump heads, we’ll be putting this one to test for sure.
£TBC / $38 / AU$TBC
Specialized Women’s 2FO ClipLite shoes
With the Women’s 2FO previously only available for flat-pedal riders, the ClipLite opens up this aggressive trail and enduro shoe to clipless pedal users.
The shoes feature a ‘Lollipop’ shank within the sole to improve pedaling stiffness without trading off walkability. Aiding in control when off the bike is a rubber sole while an EVA midsole adds additional comfort.
Two Boa S2 dials handle retention, while the upper is smooth and stitch-free. The cleats have more rearward fore-aft adjustment than most other shoes, something that’s ideal for a descent-focused riding position.
While many of the features are the same as found on the men’s versions, the Body Geometry women’s standard fit last makes them a women’s specific item. And being a Specialized shoe, our tester has said it was easy to find a pair to try on for size.
They're available in either a black/grey or ultra bright 'hyper green'. And yes, our tester went ripping trails in them before we even got a photo.
£130 / $180 / AU$230