So, read on for the latest bikes and goodies that have turned up at BikeRadar HQ, from the Gucci-est of gravel machines to the latest bouncy bits for your mountain bicycle.
New road kit
3T Exploro Ltd
The 3T Exploro is an aero gravel bikeMatthew Allen / Immediate Media
The Exploro launched to much fanfare last year, calling itself the world’s first aero gravel bike and heralding a new era of GravelPlus and other fanciful, hashtaggy terms.
Matthew Allen detailed his experience of it at the press event in Tuscany and BikeRadar has now taken delivery of a test machine, kitted out with 3T’s own 650b Discus Plus C25 alloy gravel wheelset and SRAM 1x components.
This is a bike that made a whole lot of sense on Italy‘s sun-soaked, dusty trails, but does it work in the UK? Let’s find out!
The Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite NTX is a delightful little tool setMatthew Allen / Immediate Media
We are unrepentant tool dorks at BikeRadar and so this little ratchet kit from Topeak has us all a-flutter.
With bits including hexes from 2 to 8mm, a Phillips #2 and the two most common sizes of Torx, it covers all the important bases. The ratchet itself has a lovely taut snickety feel and offers impressive leverage for such a small tool. (You can also insert bits into the end of the handle should the need arise.)
Also included are 4, 5 and 6Nm torque wrench attachments, plus an extension piece and a pair of plastic tyre levers. The whole lot weighs 225g including the case.
We’ve been using an older, more basic version of the Ratchet Rocket for years and it’s held up incredibly well, so we have high hopes for this one.
VeloBici socks are a delightful place to put your feetMatthew Allen / Immediate Media
Fact: roadies love socks. They love them so much that they’re forever creating arbitrary rules about how best to wear them and what colours and heights are acceptable at any given moment.
Whatever your feelings on the subject, we’re confident you’ll like these luxurious foot-gloves from VeloBici. The black and white synthetic ones feature ‘Premgripp offset foot technology’ (yes, really), which claims to stimulate nerve endings and improve circulation, helping to reduce numbness. More importantly, it makes them look like those slipper socks you had when you were a kid.
The red socks are a luxurious merino/synthetic blend for cooler days (and minimum stink). Lovely!
The PRO Compressor Team TubelessMatthew Allen / Immediate Media
While some tubeless tyres will happily seat on a rim with an ordinary track pump, many won’t, and that’s where a dedicated tubeless inflator is incredibly handy.
Rather than acting as an all-in-one device, like Bontrager’s popular Flash Charger TLR and its many competitors, the catchily-named Compressor Team Tubeless is a simple reservoir that you pump up with a standard track pump. It’s a similar concept to the Airshot, but in a sturdier feeling package that’s a bit more workshop-friendly, if less portable and a lot heavier.
Formula makes a statement with the new Selva forkTom Marvin / Immediate Media
Formula isn’t holding back when it describes the new Selva fork: “The new benchmark for Enduro,” “The pinnacle of Enduro fork performance,” and “Your definitive weapon for Enduro,” (slightly more alarmingly). These are three of the phrases that adorn the 2017 product catalogue from the Italian brake and suspension brand.
On paper, it certainly bears the marks of a fork that may well be a capable option for those of you who wish to ‘shred the gnar’ or whatever else someone who needs an Enduro weapon does.
The 27.5” model comes in 120-160mm and 170-180mm variants, with a 46mm offset, 35mm stanchions and Boost spacing, while the 29er fork is adjustable from 120-160mm, with either 51mm or 46mm offsets.
The rather nicely sculpted knobs and levers on the top and bottom provide high- and low-speed compression adjustment as well as rebound. Adding or subtracting oil takes care of air spring volume, while you can swap in different valve heads to change the compression feel: soft, medium or hard. You can even add the Remote Cartridge Control for mid-ride compression damping adjustments.
Aaagh! Why is the gold lockout lever in this position when the fork is open?Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
We could harp on and on about all the other features of the fork, but you’ve got your day-to-day life to be getting on with, so we’ll just leave it as this – there are loads of features and loads of adjustments to play with and we’ll make sure we play with each and every one of them before we publish our review.
The Cura, in all its shiny, polished glory (black also available)Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
If you’ve militarized your rig with a weapon of a fork, you might as well put up the defenses with a set of stoppers too — Formula Cura’s, perhaps?
The flip-flop forged aluminium lever pushes mineral oil, the first time for Formula, to the two-piece piston for what is supposed to be excellent performance. Certainly our initial impressions of the brakes have been pretty stellar.
Formula reckons that the Cura is versatile enough for everyone from weekend warriors to DH racers to use. While most DH spec brakes feature four pistons, Formula must be pretty confident in its design to promote its use for the most extreme mountain bike applications.
A rather expensive set of rather lovely looking wheels from FFWDTom Marvin / Immediate Media
Ok, we’ll admit it, the achingly simple aesthetic of the Outlaw AM wheels has us drooling a little bit and hankering after the Boost width front wheel to arrive so we can sling it in the Selvas and go ride.
FastForward hasn’t exactly gone in cautiously either, as the build is clearly aimed at those with slightly deeper pockets than average.
The 33mm wide, 24.5mm deep tubeless carbon rims have that classy matt 3k carbon finish and are laced into DT Swiss 240s Straight Pull hubs, for a combined weight of just 1,575g (735g front, 840g rear, 27.5”, XD driver). That’s pretty light for a set of burly trail wheels…
All you really need to know: carbon rims, DT Swiss hubsTom Marvin / Immediate Media
Laced 3-cross, the spoke bed is asymmetrical, bringing the triangulation of the spokes slightly more central for a stiffer build. This sort of ‘squashed conical’ rim profile traditionally doesn’t build into the most vertically compliant (sorry, cliché alert) wheel, but we’ll get these out into the real world before we commit to claiming that about them.
250London – we see youTom Marvin / Immediate Media
Eye-catching. That’s probably the easiest way to describe the range of jerseys from new-to-the-scene 250London.
With a MX, MTB and BMX focus, its race-style jerseys are likely to stand out from the crowd should you slip one over your shoulders come race day. We have the relatively subtle Scatter Bolt and the somewhat less subtle The Tomcat designs here in the office waiting for someone to step up to the mark and commit to the look.
The cut is definitely focused at those who head to the races, with room for body armour and a material that’s clearly pretty breezy. The long arms can be hoiked up for further ventilation should you wish with the deep cuffs holding them in place.
While we might not venture as far as Tropical, we rather like the look of the various Stars designs, along with Bolt and Arcade — pop along to 250london.com to have a gander yourselves.
Specialized’s special Enduro S-WorksTom Marvin / Immediate Media
While scouting the workshop for a bike suitable for the heady-heights of 11-Speed, the so-called ‘Gloss Nordic Red / Hyper / Black’ colour scheme on the S-Works Enduro made it hard to ignore.
Looking closer made it impossible to ignore. Nothing else in the entire mountain bike workshop drips with so much top-end kit. Only the obscene, aero-slippery, cut-throat TT bikes our triathlete colleagues manage to get their mitts on compare, and you can’t even take them off road… (the bikes and the triathletes).
Öhlins Swedish goodness on the American dream machineTom Marvin / Immediate Media
While the paint scheme takes centre stage, the more subtle Öhlins RFX 36 and custom STX fork/shock combo barely hide in the shadows.
SRAM has come onboard to deck the X-Wing layout frame with the crème-de-la-crème of stop and go kit (XX1 Eagle, Guide RS Carbon, naturally), while Specialized’s in-house Roval wheel company takes care of the carbon hoops.
If you’ve got a vast range of your own finishing kit you might as well use it, so Specialized supplies everything else bar the Syntace MegaForce stem, for whatever reason.
For the same money you can get a 650b version, while the 29” frame is sold with both 29” and Plus tyred variants.
Matthew is an expert on bike tech and a lover of practical, beautifully-engineered things. Originally a roadie, he dabbles in all disciplines and has tested a huge variety of bikes and gear over the years.