But now, as predictable as ocean tides or the collective outrage shared in our comments when we write about an outrageously expensive bike, 11spd has landed — your weekly roundup of the most exciting new road and mountain bike kit to arrive at BikeRadar.
Start your weekend right by watching Joe and Reuben gurn their way through 18 minutes of climbing agony in this week’s edition of Hill Climb Diaries
I Like Alf by Paul Jones
I Like Alf by Paul Jones could be a great addition to any cyclist’s coffee tableJack Luke / Immediate Media
This is a book about a bygone era, when cycling clubs, frame builders, shop owners and time trials ruled.
It’s also a book about a chap called Alf Engers. You may not have heard of him, but he was a time-trialling maestro who became the first rider to break the 50-minute mark in a 40km time trial, thus averaging over 30mph for 25miles!
He managed this in 1978 on a bike with very little aero trickery, so as you can imagine, Engers was incredibly fast.
His life wasn’t without drama and controversy though, and author Paul Jones covers this mythical hero of British cycling in vivid detail, having spent countless hours interviewing Engers in person for the book.
We were big fans of Jones’s previous book: A Corinthian Endevor — The Story of The National Hill Climb Championships, and we’re looking forward to getting stuck into I Like Alf.
Hunt’s first crack at the MTB wheel market is refreshingly affordable and appears solidly builtSeb Stott / Immediate Media
Hunt is an established name in the road market, and has now its launched its first mountain bike wheelsets: the Trailwide and Endurowide.
The rims measure 30mm and 33mm wide respectively and both models are available in 27.5in and 29in diameters, with Boost or non-Boost axles. We have the Endurowide wheels with 32 (J-bend) spokes front and 36 spokes rear, and they look built to last.
The rims come pre-taped for tubeless use and there are four spare spokes and tubeless valves in the box. Our 27.5in set weighed 2,033g, so they’re not exactly light. But the Trailwide wheels are probably a better choice for the weight-conscious because they use 28/32 spokes, as well as a slightly narrower rim.
These four-piston versions of Shimano’s XT brakes claim 20% more power than their two-pot equivalentsSeb Stott / Immediate Media
By combining its XT lever with a four-piston caliper, Shimano claims these XT BR-M8020 four-pot brakes provide 20 percent more power than the standard two-piston XT brakes (the BR-M8000, for those of you who think in Shimano-part numbers).
At 331g for a rear brake, with no rotor or hardware and a full-length hose, they carry just over a 30g weight penalty.
We’ll let you know how these perform once we’ve given them a proper test.
£159/ $200 / €188 / AU$305 per brake (excluding rotors and adaptors)
Nothing gets past our security guard Patrick. That’s because he keeps his vision clear with snazzy roll-off lensesSeb Stott / Immediate Media
These are basically a pair of wiper blades for mountain biking. When conditions get muddy, many downhill and enduro riders turn to tear-off lenses to keep their vision clear. But these are frankly an expensive way to litter your local trails. Many races ban the use of tear-offs just because of the mess.
Roll-off goggles, like these, offer a better alternative. The canister of 45mm-wide film spools out from one side, slides across the lens, and is wound up with a draw-string spool on the other side. This should keep vision clear in wet and muddy conditions without leaving anything behind.
The Epic Evo is still a cross-country racer, but for those who want to descend a little bit harderSeb Stott / Immediate Media
EVO is Specialized’s way of saying a bike is a little burlier, slacker and more capable.
The Epic EVO uses the same frame as the thoroughbred full-sus cross-country racer on which it’s based — the main difference is a 120mm-travel fork (rather than 100mm), which adds more comfort while slackening the head angle slightly (from 69.5 degrees to 68.5 degrees) and raising the front end.
The fork on this model is Fox’s 34 Step-Cast, rather than the lighter but flexier Fox 32. It also comes equipped with a 125mm-travel X-Fusion Manic dropper post, along with (chunky for a cross-country bike) 2.3 tyres and ‘wide’ 750mm bars. That should make the EVO much easier (and more fun) to ride over gnarly terrain.
According to our tests, the dropper post and bigger tyres shouldn’t hold it back against the clock either. This bike, in size Medium, weighs 12.1kg.
Norco’s Aurum HSP is a fine example of the new breed of high-pivot downhill bikesSeb Stott / Immediate Media
High-pivot bikes have been around for years with little mainstream attention. But, in 2018, they made a big impact on the downhill World Cup season.
Amaury Pierron won the men’s overall title aboard his high-pivot Commencal Supreme, while Martin Maes beat downhillers at their own game aboard his GT Fury. Norco’s Aurum HSP uses a similar layout.
The high-suspension pivot point creates a rearward axle-path, while an idler-wheel routes the chain up past the pivot, minimising the chain’s effect on the suspension. It has enjoyed racing success of its own, with Sam Blenkinsop taking some of his best results in recent years.
The Aurum HSP is available with 27.5in and 29in wheels, and in two build options. This 27.5in bike is the cheaper option. With a carbon frame and solid rather than flashy parts, it weighs in at 16.6kg in the L/XL size.
We talk through the all-new Specialized Shiv on our YouTube channel
Tumble & Fall Pro400 and Redeye lights
Tumble & Fall has a pair of powerful commuting lights for £40Seb Stott / Immediate Media
This pair of USB-rechargeable lights could be a promising option for commuting duties.
The Pro400 is a moderately powerful front light that generates 400 lumens of intensity for three hours, or 200 lumens for six hours, while the rear Redeye has five flashing modes, providing between four and 25 hours of illumination (according to Tumble & Fall).
Charging cables and mounts are provided. They weigh 106g for the front and 31g for the rear light. In the UK, they can be bought as a pair for £40.
£30 / €34 (front) and £15 / €17 (rear), international pricing TBC
Katusha Sports Light Softshell Jacket Long SleeveJosh Evans / Immediate Media
Katusha Sports has been knocking at the door for several seasons now, continuing to produce high-end technical clothing on a par with other brands at a similar price point.
The wind-blocking, water-resistant and breathable outer of the Light Softshell jacket from Katusha Sports should combine to offer a great training jacket for autumn and spring riding, as well as doubling up as an insulating layer during colder temperatures come winter.
Reflective detailing on the full-length zipper and around the waistband is appreciated, while a mesh gusset on the rear pockets will allow cargo to come away from the body instead of digging in.
Like most Katusha Sports clothing, the jacket has an aggressive race fit with especially narrow arms.
MFCK’s 25 wheels have a rim-depth of 25mm and internal width of 18mm. They weigh 1,256g on our scalesReuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media
Back in early 2017, we reviewed MCFK’s 35 wheelset and gave them a glowing 4.5 star write-up due to their exceptional weight and performance. And we’ve now got a set of even lighter 25s in for review.
Unlike the 35s, which were built to Tune 6 bolt hubs, these have the easier-to-live-with 12mm front and rear DT Swiss 240 centerlock hubs. Sapim CX-Ray spokes complete the build.
Internal width is 18mm, which is a 0.5mm increase over the previous 35s (which have also been increased to an 18mm internal).
The most impressive thing about these wheels is the weight. MCFK claimed weights are from 1,250g and our set wieghed in at 1,256g (without tape and valves).
MCFK says due to its build process, risk of spoke failure is near zero due to its attention to “the homogeneous tension of all spokes of each side”. While this is a bold claim, we didn’t have any issues with the 35 spokes when reviewing them over a harsh winter of road riding and cyclocross racing a year and a half ago.
The Syncros Tofino 1.0 regular is designed for endurance ridingReuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media
Syncros has completely revamped its saddle range for 2019. Working with German bike-fit company gebioMized, which claims to have amassed more than 50,000 data sets in the last 15 years, the result has been two men’s saddles along with a women’s and a tri-specific model.
Syncros defines the difference between a race saddle (where you’re in an aggressive position) and endurance (where you’re more upright). The race saddle range is called V-Concept and the endurance the Regular.
Both are available with either a channel or a cut-out; the main difference between the models is width. The V style measures up at 145mm and the Regular measure 135mm.
We’ve got the range-topping Tofino 1.0 men’s regular saddle in for test. The shape follows the current trend for shorter designs and the 1.0 measures up at 248mm long, which is 8mm longer than the Specialized Power. As you’d expect from a top-tier saddle, it’s carbon railed and carbon soled, with a plush padded upper.
It weighs 185g.
Syncros also offers a range of direct mount accessories that include mudguards and saddlepacks, which mount to 2x5mm threads hidden under a Syncros logo on the base.
Mudguards and saddlepacks can be mounted via two bolt holes underneathSeb Stott / Immediate Media