It’s peak-riding season Down Under, and so our third roundup of new 2015 road and mountain bike gear comes with a whole lot of summer riding treats soon to be enjoyed by our Australian team.
We've got mountain and road bikes from Merida and Polygon, along with an endurance-roadie from Norco. Additionally, we have some new tools, a tasty stem and plenty more.
New road bike gear
Merida Reacto DA LTD
The Reacto DA LTD aims to bring pro-level aero-road features into a more accessible – good value – price point.
Where the Reacto Team Edition uses a ‘CF4’ extra-high-modulus carbon, the Reacto DA LTD is made of a lower grade CF3. Aside from the carbon used, the frames share casts and so are aerodynamically the same.
The Reacto frame has spent many hours within a wind tunnel and is said to be one of the world’s fastest. Its flat-back NACA Fastback tube profiles allow for both frame stiffness and ride quality to be retained, it's claimed.
Further aero features include an integrated seatpost clamp, internal cable routing from behind the stem and a chainstay mounted direct-mount rear brake.
While the frame positively oozes performance, the componentry is equally slick with Shimano Dura-Ace shifters and derailleurs, 42mm deep Vision Trimax T42 wheels and FSA Team-Issue handlebar and stem. A matching carbon bottle cage is a neat addition.
£TBC / US$TBC / AU$5,000
Polygon Helios C8X
The new Helios Disc range signals a jump into the burgeoning disc-equipped road bike sector for Indonesian manufacturer Polygon. This new full-carbon endurance platform is available in two models – for testing, we've got our hands on the upper-end Ultegra Di2 equipped C8X Disc.
With stealthy logos hidden amid the gloss paint job, the frame features include a tapered steerer tube, internal gear cable routing (brake cables go externally), a press-fit bottom bracket and a slender 27.2mm seatpost.
Both frame and fork feature an enclosed thru-axle design that sees a standard quick release thread into the opposing side – compatibility with standard QR wheels remains.
The attention-grabbing near-full Ultegra Di2 drivetrain is matched with R785 shifters and hydraulic brakes, 160mm Shimano Freeza brake rotors are mounted on RX31 wheels, also from the Japanese giant.
In Australia and, soon, the US, Polygon bikes are sold direct-to-consumer – meaning the firm can offer prices that will make you doubt your eyesight.
£N/A / US$TBC / AU$3,600
Norco Valence Ultegra Di2
Given that this Canadian brand is best known for its mountain bikes, we were given an unexpected shock when we tested the Valence last year. We found it an incredibly capable and comfortable bike for all-day riding.
The 2015 Carbon Valence Ultegra Di2 offers a mid-range carbon frame, with the reliability and ease-of-use of Ultegra Di2 shifting, at an astonishingly low price point.
The claimed sub-1kg frame is designed with inclement weather in mind and so features stealthy fender mounts along with ‘GIZMO’ - a cleverly sealed, interchangeable and easily serviceable sealed internal cabling system.
Letting you spin all day is the lowest gearing we’ve seen with electronic shifting –a compact 50/34 at front with a mountain conquering 11-32T out back.
Wheels are the new lighter, asymmetric, and wider-rim Fulcrum Racing 7 LG.
Of course for the price, some exceptions must be made and this model features a heavier Shimano 105 crankset, cassette and brakes – leading to a total weight of 8.26kg (18.17lb) for our small/medium sample.
£TBC / US$3,115 / AU$3,200
Ritchey Pro Logic Cork Tape
There is really nothing new or unique about this cork tape from Ritchey. However, included are adjustable/expanding bar plugs that simplify the wrapping process for those new to the task.
Beneath the Ritchey-logo cap is an insert for an Allen key. Simply wind this and the bar plug will lock into place. It’s the lightest and most inconspicuous expanding bar plug we know of (we’re not sure why Ritchey doesn’t sell these as a standalone part).
The generously padded tape is available in black, white, blue, red or yellow.
£TBC / US$14 / AU$30
Vittoria Open Pave CG III
The Open Pave is the clincher version of Vittoria's well-regarded Pave tubular, designed for high performance on lousy roads. This new Open Pave comes in 25mm and 27mm options; we got the latter for extra cush.
The Open Pave is constructed with the same 320tpi handmade polycotton Kevlar casing as its tubular brother, except with a clincher bead instead of being sewn up around a latex tube.
Vittoria uses an IsoGrip rubber compound with silica for better grip in the wet.
£48 / US$75 / AU$TBC
New mountain bike gear
Merida One-Twenty 7. 500
Launched for 2015, the One-Twenty series aims to bring its quality trail dual-suspension frame platform to affordable price ranges, and few more so than the entry-level 7. 500 we have in for review.
While the 7.500’s frame is slightly different to the more expensive models, it shares Merida’s Float Link suspension system, which claims to help keep the shock leverage ratio consistent.
Made of triple butted and hydroformed 6066 alloy, the frameset also features smooth welding, internal gear cable routing and a 142x12mm rear thru-axle – all features rarely seen at this price.
The 120mm front and rear suspension is from SR Suntour, with both the Epicon front fork and matched Epicon LO-RP rear shock providing adjustable air-springs, rebound control and lockouts.
The rest of the build includes a mixture of 10-speed Shimano Deore and Alivio components, Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes and Merida branded cockpit and wheels.
£TBC / US$TBC / AU$1,800
Polygon Siskiu D7.0
As with the Helios C8X, this Polygon dual-suspension mountain bike offers another ‘how can that be real?’ price.
Built around a single-pivot alloy frameset, the 650b-wheeled Siskiu has 120mm of trail-friendly suspension, controlled by a SR Suntour Epicon LO-R rear shock.
Up front sits a RockShox XC30 air-sprung fork with lockout and rebound control.
The 30-speed drivetrain is a mix of Shimano XT and Deore, while Shimano M445 hydraulic discs handle braking duties. The standard quick release wheels feature basic Shimano hubs too.
At 13.75kg (30.20lb), it’s no flyweight, but not as heavy as one might assume either. There aren’t many competitors at this price, so we look forward to seeing just how far this low-priced ride can go.
£N/A / US$TBC / AU$1300
Park Tool 2015
Every year Park Tool launches a range of updated or totally new tools – sometimes these are to keep with new standards; sometime just ‘because’.
Dummy hub – DH-1
Designed to replace the wheel and hold the chain during cleaning or transport, this dummy hub will work with standard open dropouts along with thru-axles of up to 12mm in diameter. To fit the latter, simply take the wheel off its mini-skewer and slide it over your frame’s axle. A sliding design allows the chain to be shifted during cleaning.
£TBC / US$21/ AU$40
Chain whip pliers – CP-1
Holding a cassette in place while the lockring is loosened is something many struggle with. While other brands offer options, this is Park Tool’s first option away from a traditional chain whip.
Spring loaded and with dual density grips, it’s designed to quickly and comfortably grip 9-24T sized cogs without manual adjustment. At 35cm long, it should afford plenty of leverage too.
£TBC / US$54 / AU$100
Internal cable routing kit – IR-1
This is well on its way to being a true hit, fixing many common frustrations when it comes to internally routing brake and gear cables through frames. The kit cleverly uses magnets to attach and guide the plastic-coated cables.
See how it works:
The kit is designed to work with electric wires; brake and gear cables and housing; and hydraulic tubing.
£TBC / US$60 / AU$120
PRO Tharsis XC stem
Designed with new XTR Di2 integration in mind, this alloy stem boasts a host of features that others can’t match. We first used one of these stems with our 2015 XTR 11-speed, and now have one in a preferred length for review.
The big story is in the integrated headset adjuster, which keeps the fork steerer open for a Di2 battery and wires. When combined with the new Tharsis XC Di2 handlebar, the wires can be near entirely internally routed.
This system uses a 32mm headset spanner (supplied) to wind down a locknut onto the headset topcap for bearing preload – the stem is then tightened, locking it all into place.
With titanium bolts as stock, our 80mm sample weighs 140g, a competitive number once you account for the lack of top cap, bolt and star-nut needed.
£TBC / US$TBC / AU$180
SKS X-tra-Dry XL fender
Want a little more coverage from your clip-on rear fender? SKS's new X-tra Dry XL is a generous 95mm wide and 600mm long to shield your rear end even from crud spat out by the chunkiest 29+ rubber (and although SKS offers specific products for the segment, we've had pretty good luck using it on fat bikes, too). The impressively secure quick-release seatpost mount is easy to use and adjustable for seatposts up to 35mm in diameter, and the angle locks down tight with a 4mm hex-head bolt.
£16 / US$20 / AU$TBC