11spd: This week’s best new bike gear

Some lighter than light handlebars, turbo trainer-specific kit and a mandatory Christmas-themed saddle

This is it. The last haul. The final countdown. If you now have that song stuck in your head, I’m sorry. Still, it’s better than Wham.

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It’s not over yet though, and while we’d like to think that most people have finally finished their Christmas shopping, it’s inevitable that many folks will be rushing around this weekend in a last minute panic. Pray for them. Pray for their families.

Getting back to more important things — bikes, of course! — we’ve been busy this week. Seb got his geek on, finding out what the fastest tyres for mountain biking are, while Steve Williams has made some more cycling mistakes that we can all learn from. Plus, we’ve put together some meat-free Christmas dinner ideas for anyone looking to stay fuelled on something a bit different this year.

Of course, that’s not all. As you’d expect at this time of year, we’ve received an abundance of gifts from our good friends in the bike industry, so here’s a roundup of what’s landed on our desks this week.

Schmolke MTB Flatbar TLO Oversize

The Schmolke MTB Flatbar TLO Oversize is ridiculously light
The Schmolke MTB Flatbar TLO Oversize is ridiculously light
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

TLO stands for ‘The Lightest One’, and it’s not hard to see why. This full carbon flatbar weighs in at a feathery 95g and when you hold it you feel the sheer terror that it might crumble in your mighty hands (or is that just me?).

Crumble it won’t, though, because Schmolke is all about getting maximum strength and performance at the lightest possible weight. With up to 16 layers of carbon fibre in the middle section, it feels super stiff, and we look forward to finding out for ourselves just how much of a battering it can take.

The middle section is 200mm, while the grip sections have a 6-degree sweep-back. The oversize bar is compatible with any 31.8mm stem with four clamping bolts, and it’s designed to be used with Schmolke’s extralight 21mm carbon plugs.

  • €239 / £TBC / $TBC / AU$TBC

Kali Alpine MTB full-face helmet

The Kali Alpine full-face helmet is claimed to be one of the lightest on the market
The Kali Alpine full-face helmet is claimed to be one of the lightest on the market
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

Kali claims that the Alpine is one of the lightest and strongest DH helmets on the market, and we were surprised to find that ours (in a size medium) weighed 863g — 37g lighter than the claimed 900g. The Alpine combines the brand’s Low Density Layer (LDL) with its Composite Fusion Plus technology.

We’ve written previously about how LDL and Composite Fusion Plus work. In short the Alpine combines Lego-esque viscoelastic gel pads (that reduce rotational and low-g linear impact forces by 25 percent and 30 percent respectively) with in-molding technology that merges the shell and EPS foam liner. This is said to eliminate the air gap between them to make them stronger, and work together to better absorb g-forces.

The Alpine features a break-away visor, accessory mounting system, anti-microbial pads and a removable and washable liner. It has 12 vents — six in the helmet, six on the chin bar — and comes in a full size range from XS–XL.

  • Pricing TBC

Specialized S-Works Recon MTB shoes

The S-Works Recon MTB shoe is Specialized's new flagship off-road offering
The S-Works Recon MTB shoe is Specialized’s new flagship off-road offering
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

These mixed terrain MTB shoes are the new flagship off-road offering from Specialized, and they’re designed for everything from gravel, to cross-country to cyclocross.

Scoring 13 on the Stiffness Index, they’re made for maximum power transfer. The FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) carbon soles and Body Geometry footbeds, along with the hard TPU Pontoons, are claimed to be ergonomically designed to increase power and efficiency.

The upper is constructed from Dyneema material, which Specialized says doesn’t stretch to keep your foot planted firmly in place. There’s a rubber toe and heel, aiming to give more traction off the bike, and the Padlock Heel is claimed to hold your heel in place to prevent slippage while also providing comfort.

Our size 43 weighed 303g, and we’re looking forward to finding out just how much power we can get out of them.

  • £325 / $425 / €359.51 / AU$TBC

Reaper Custom mudguard: Tom Marvin edition

Tom Marvin's going to be the coolest kid on the trails with his custom Reaper mudguard
Tom Marvin’s going to be the coolest kid on the trails with his custom Reaper mudguard
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

Now you can be the coolest kid on the trails with your very own custom mudguard from Reaper. Tom Marvin jumped on the opportunity to get all the recognition he could ever want as he shreds the gnar in the name of BikeRadar.

While Reaper has a range of designs available to buy, it’s pretty cool that you can put your own custom design together. You need to supply your design in a high-resolution file after you’ve made the purchase, quoting your details so they can consolidate them with your order.

They send you a proof template before it actually goes to production as well, so there aren’t any embarrassing typos to get in the way of your trail cred.

The mudguards are made from recyclable Polypropylene and measure 262x261mm. Tom’s weighed in at 30g.

  • £14.95 / $18.92 / €16.63

What’s the best bike for bikepacking?

Canyon Neuron WMN CF 9.0

The Canyon Neuron CF is billed as a do-it-all trail bike
The Canyon Neuron CF is billed as a do-it-all trail bike
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

We gave you a first look at the Canyon Neuron CF back in November and now we have a couple in for testing: the Neuron CF 9.0 in a size large, and the Neuron WMN CF 9.0 in an iddy-biddy XS frame for yours truly.

The new carbon 130mm travel do-it-all trail bike has had a bit of a makeover compared to its alloy sibling. In keeping with its other bikes, Canyon has varied the geometry over the range of sizes, adjusting it to suit riders of all heights.

The large has 29er wheels and a 67.5-degree head angle, while the XS has 650b wheels while the head angle is 67 degrees. Both have a 74.5-degree seat angle.

For a full breakdown of Canyon’s geometry, and the various features of this bike, check out the first look.

  • £2,799 / $3,999 / €3,099 / AU$4,449

Madison Turbo bib shorts and jersey

The Madison Turbo range is designed specifically for indoor training on a static bike
The Madison Turbo range is designed specifically for indoor training on a static bike
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

Turbo trainers are ever popular with cyclists wanting to get the miles in over winter, among other reasons. In light of this, Madison has released a range of indoor-specific cycling kit.

What makes it different to regular Lycra? Madison says it’s optimised for how our bodies react to training on a static bike. There’s a lot more sweat to wick away because we’re not moving anywhere, so it’s made from an open mesh fabric that’s meant to be fast-wicking. It’s been stripped way back so there’s less bulk, because it’s not like you need pockets, and it’s treated with an anti-bacterial coating in the fabric because, you know, hygiene.

Both the jersey and bib shorts are simple in design, having no external prints to allow for a hot 60-degree Celsius wash to kill bacteria. The jersey has a full length front zip, which is sure to provide a welcome flood of cool air at the end of a session, while the bib shorts are claimed to be pre-curved into the riding position for a great fit.

  • Jersey: £44.99 / $TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC
  • Bib shorts: £69.99 / $TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC

Bollé Messenger Premium Hi-Vis Commuter helmet

The Bolle Messenger Premium Hi-Vis helmet is designed to help you be seen
The Bolle Messenger Premium Hi-Vis helmet is designed to help you be seen
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

The Messenger Premium Commuter helmet from Bollé is designed with the safety-conscious commuter in mind. The combination of hi-vis colouring and reflective strips at the back are designed to keep cyclists visible in all light conditions.

There’s space for an integrated LED rear light (not pictured) located at the highest point of the helmet’s silhouette, which Bollé claims is the most visible point for a rear light. This comes with two modes: flashing and constant.

What’s most interesting about this helmet is the interchangeable winter and summer linings included. The winter lining has ear flaps and feels thick, fleecy and warm. It’s machine-washable and attaches directly by Velcro.

  • £95 / $TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC

Silca Speed Capsule TT

The Silca Speed Capsule TT is designed to be aerodynamic and weatherproof
The Silca Speed Capsule TT is designed to be aerodynamic and weatherproof
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

The Speed Capsule TT is a slimline direct mount bag that fits multiple places on the bike. Its slotted mount eyelets allow for 10mm of fore and aft adjustment. It’s constructed around a semi-rigid polyethylene board and designed to be as aerodynamic as possible while remaining accessible on the go.

The outer material is 200D nylon with 3M reflective side panels, which according to Silca is high-strength and water resistant. The whole thing is sealed with a YKK Aquaguard zip and features a spring-loaded locking pull tab to prevent rattling while on the move. The bag measures at 29 x 9 x 5.7cm.

  • £TBC / $34 / €TBC / AU$TBC
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Suplest Road Pro shoes

The Suplest Road Pro shoes are loud and proud
The Suplest Road Pro shoes are loud and proud
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

These very loud-looking Swiss racing shoes are — according to Suplest — designed to be as comfortable as possible without sacrificing power transfer.

They feature a Solestar insole that’s claimed to be designed specifically for this purpose, as well as the brand’s ERGO 360 concept carbon outsole.

Suplest’s ERGO 360 concept is one that focusses on not just maximum power, but also maximum comfort, which it aims to incorporate into the design of the shoe as a whole.

In terms of the Road Pro shoes, this means a supple microfibre upper and Anatomic Wrap tongue that’s claimed to accommodate multiple foot shapes and widths. It’s all sealed with two BOA IP-1 closures.

The Road Pro shoes are compatible with multiple cleat systems, including Look, SPD-R, Time and Speedplay (with an adapter). A single size 45 weighed in at 334g.

  • £TBC / $TBC / €349 / AU$TBC

Cannondale Synapse Neo Al SE

The Synapse Neo Al SE is Cannondale's first e-road offering
The Synapse Neo Al SE is Cannondale’s first e-road offering
Aoife Glass / Immediate Media

Everyone wants a piece of the e-road market at the moment, and Cannondale is no different. We’ve got a Synapse Neo SE in for testing, and we’re not afraid to use it.

The Synapse Neo SE shares a similar relaxed, endurance-focused geometry to its non-electric counterpart. It’s the first to use Bosch’s Generation 3 Active Line Plus e-bike system, which blends into a more standard-looking frame than its predecessors. The system also promises virtually no drag when it’s off, which would be a welcome change.

The 500Wh Powertube battery integrates neatly into the down tube, as is now quite commonplace. The brand claims that it has the potential range of a whopping 200km. That’s a lot more than anything we’ve seen on other e-road bikes.

Interestingly, it comes with a double-chainring as standard, meaning you’ll get the same gearing you’re used to if you already ride a Synapse. There are a whole host of features we could get into now, but stay tuned for a full first look very soon.

  • £3,299.99 / $3,540 / €3,765 / AU$6,680

Fabric Christmas Saddle

What's more Christmassy than a saddle that sings Christmas carols?
What’s more Christmassy than a saddle that sings Christmas carols?
Immediate Media

We can’t have a list of new products THIS close to Christmas without some kind of novelty item, and this year that item comes courtesy of Fabric.

It’s a limited edition version of its popular Scoop Shallow saddle with some added features, including a tree designed by none other than rider Max Nerurkar from the 50to01 riding collective.

What could be more festive than planting your bum on a picture of a Christmas tree and going for a ride on Christmas Day? You can avoid those terrible Christmas TV programmes, or the inevitable post-dinner game of charades, and instead venture out for some welcome fresh air. It’s even got a festive greeting emblazoned on the rails.

But wait! There’s more! Press gently on the red star atop the tree at the nose of the saddle (you can use your fingers for this, although your bum might also work) and it will play you a merry rendition of ‘We Wish you a Merry Christmas’ as you zoom along.

What could be more festive than that?

Sadly, this saddle is so limited that you can’t actually buy it in shops. You’ll have to settle instead for a Scoop Shallow.

  • £44.99 / €64.99 / $80 / AU$78.88