Extraordinarily beautiful tools, waterproof bib shorts and gravel handlebars

First Look Friday: Your weekly roundup of the most desirable kit to land at BikeRadar HQ

  The products mentioned in this article are selected and reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.
FLF 13TH SEPTEMBER

What a couple of weeks we’ve had — we’re still reeling from Eurobike, all while being in the throes of The Cycle Show, which takes place in Birmingham this weekend. Still not sure whether you want to go? Here are nine reasons you should get yourself there, plus a full schedule of talks on our sponsored advice stage

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If you’re still hooked on Eurobike, then check out part one of our weird and wonderful Eurobike mega gallery.

In other news, Matthew Allen gave us the final instalment of his Trek Emonda ALR long-term review, proving that alloy bikes are still great. 

If you’re more of a ‘steel is real’ type, then don’t miss our PSA about the world’s lightest steel road bike

We also saw some pretty big launches yesterday, starting with our review of the new Nukeproof Reactor 275 RS, followed by the news of two new bikes from Trek: the Rail and the Powerfly.

If that’s not enough to tickle your cycling content pickle, scroll on for more. 

Runwell Drip 15, Stex, Take 56 and Fixer

Japanese manufacturer, Runwell, makes some of the most beautiful bicycle tools out there, including what we think is the world’s most delightful 15mm spanner

We received a host of new tools from the brand last week and the sticky hands of the BikeRadar team have been trying to nab a bit of “absolutely made in Japan” loveliness from Jack’s desk since. 

Drip 15

Runwell Drip 15 spanner
The Drip 15 is the miniaturised version of the Aqualia 15 that we featured last year.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

In short, the Drip 15 is a miniaturised version of the Aqualia spanner that we featured last year. 

Measuring 125mm long and weighing 87g, the Drip 15 is a beautiful little thing to behold. It won’t have quite as much leverage as the longer spanner but is perfect for stashing in a tool roll or jersey pocket. 

We have the gold and silver version, but a lovely rose gold option is also available.

STEX

Runwell STEX
The Stex is a small replaceable bit tool.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The STEX is a pocket-sized replaceable-bit wrench 

The lovely forged tapered bump in the centre of the wrench is reminiscent of an old school Campagnolo hub. The wrench measures 10cm long and weighs 49g. This could make it a viable alternative to a multitool.

The stock bits on the STEX have 3, 4, 5 and 6mm hex heads. These are secured in place with a 2.5mm grub screw. 

Runwell doesn’t offer replacement bits on its site, but we can’t imagine it would be an issue finding a replacement if they ever wore out. 

A stainless steel and titanium version of the STEX, the SUSX and TITANEX, are also available. 

  • Pricing and availability TBC

Take 56

Runwell Take 56
This could be the loveliest tool on your shadow board.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The Take 56 is a longer single-ended replaceable bit wrench designed for workshop use. It measures 17cm long and weighs 115g. 

As the name suggests, the stock bits have a 5 and 6mm hex head. A longer version, the Take 68, which has a 6 and 8mm head, is also available. 

The tool is designed for workshop use and, again, it is an absolutely delightful thing to use. Like the STEX, it has a lovely forged shape that is reminiscent of a stick of bamboo (take actually translates as bamboo from Japanese). 

A neat paracord loop is tied onto the end of the wrench for hanging it from your, no doubt, beautifully curated shadow board. 

Fixer

Runwell Fixer chain tool
Niche? Yes. Lovely? Double yes.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The Runwell Fixer is a neat little chain tool produced in collaboration with chain manufacturer Izumi.  

The Fixer is designed to be used with traditional track chains, which are often joined using a small flat head screw and a square nut, rather than a quick link or split pin. 

The main body of the tool — which has a small magnet embedded into it — acts as a spanner of sorts and a small flat head screwdriver unthreads from the other end.

Runwell Fixer
The main body of the tool is used as a spanner.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

This is an extraordinarily niche tool but, for the right person, it’ll be a genuinely useful addition to their life. 

  • Pricing and availability TBC

Cosmo smart bike light

Cosmo smart rear light
The Cosmo smart rear light is very neatly executed.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The Cosmo smart rear bike-light features turn signals and a ‘brake’ light. 

Left and right turn signals are controlled via a small Bluetooth remote that attaches to your levers. The light also has a hazard function, allowing you to alert other road users when there’s an obstruction ahead. 

The bike also features a ‘brake’ light — this isn’t connected to your brakes and instead detects deceleration, increasing in brightness as you slow down. Giving it a shake in the hands to imitate slowing down, it does work as expected.

The light has Bluetooth connectivity and, if connected to your phone via the dedicated Cosmo app, can use its inbuilt accelerometers to detect a fall or crash. The app can then inform chosen contacts that you’ve taken a tumble.

The light can attach to either a helmet or seatpost. Cosmo sells three dedicated helmets, produced in conjunction with Kali, that are designed to allow the light to seamlessly mount. 

The USB-rechargeable 900MAh battery has a claimed runtime of up to 8 hours. 

Regardless of how you feel about the likes of smart locks and smart lights, there’s no denying this is one of the best executed smart light we’ve seen. 

Pearl Izumi PRO Escape PI DRY bib shorts

Pearl Izumi PI DRY bib shorts
Pearl Izumi’s PI DRY-equipped shorts could be perfect for the moist months ahead.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Pearl Izumi’s lineup of water-resistant PI DRY-equipped cycling kit has grown massively since it was first introduced at Eurobike 2018 — from full-on bib tights to Gabba-like waterproof jerseys, there’s little that hasn’t been touched by the good hand of waterproofness. 

The PRO Escape thermal bib shorts are a cosy fleece-lined bib short that looks perfect for the — we’re sorry to say — chilly months ahead here in the northern hemisphere. 

Pearl Izumi bib shorts fleece lining
The thin fleece is delightfully cosy.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The inside face of the shorts is lined with a thin brushed fleece. The straps and body panels are also fleece-lined, increasing the cosiness factor by some margin. 

Small reflective details across the shorts also make them ideal for the darker months. 

We’ve had good experiences with Pearl Izumi’s PI DRY kit in the past, and these shorts are no different — rain beads and rolls perfectly off the shorts and, even in heavy rain, our botts have remained dry when using these shorts. 

The cut on the shorts is ever so slightly short. Modern bib shorts have been getting longer for years and the 9.5-inch leg on these now feels positively old school. 

Either way, the cut shouldn’t pose an issue if you plan on matching these with knee- or leg-warmers. 

Zipp Service Course 70 XPLR SL alloy gravel handlebar 

Zipp Service Course XPLR bars
Zipp goes full gravel with its new bars.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Zipp rounds out its alloy Service Course finishing lineup with this new gently flared gravel bar. 

On paper, the Service Course 70 XPLR strikes a nice compromise between a regular road bar and a more ‘traditional’ wildly flared gravel bar. 

The drop of the bars is a touch shallower than a regular handlebar, coming in at 115mm compared to the 128mm found on most of Zipp’s compact road offerings. 

Zipp Service Course XPLR bar
The bars strike a nice balance between a traditional road bar and an all-out gravel cockpit.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

There is also a generous ‘outsweep’ (11 degrees) on the bar. This is different from the flare of the bar — outsweep refers to how the bars move outward from below the hood clamp area. The flare comes in at 5 degrees, which keeps the levers close to vertical.

This arrangement sounds, in theory, like a good compromise. The super-aggressive flare of some gravel bars can make shifting feel weird, but can improve control when in the drops.

The regular flat tops mean that the bar is compatible with aero extensions and the bars are also Shimano Di2 junction box compatible. 

A regular and SL-level version of the bar is available. Our 44cm wide bar weighs 274g. 

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  • Zipp Service Course 70 XPLR SL: $110 / €123
  • Zipp Service Course 70 XPLR: $55 / €61