This week in First Look Friday we’ve got a number of exciting new products from some of the biggest names in the cycling industry.
There’s a new lightweight jacket from Rapha, Schwalbe’s latest Pro One and Pro One TT tubeless tyres, MET’s new Allroad gravel helmet, a suite of tubeless products from Muc-Off and a trio of items from German brand Fidlock that use magnets to help you attach all manner of things to your bike.
But before we get to all of that, we interrupt your regularly scheduled programme to bring you this important message: don’t forget to watch or listen to the latest edition of the BikeRadar podcast, if you haven’t already.
In this episode, BikeRadar’s assistant editor Jack Luke and I – two self-confessed millennials – look deep into the annals of cycling history to discuss ‘Road tech that was way ahead of its time’.
As always, don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on your favourite platform, and leave us a review or a comment – we’re always keen to hear your thoughts.
Now back to the show.
Fidlock Twist and Push
Fidlock’s Twist system is designed to replace traditional bicycle bottle cages. It uses two magnets and a twist locking/release mechanism to hold bottles securely to your bicycle frame.
According to Fidlock, an advantage of the twisting release mechanism is that, with its 450ml bottle, it’s an ideal bottle system for “even the smallest frames” that often don’t have room for a traditional top-entry bottle cage.
There’s also a universal bottle holder for the magnetic mount, with an integrated Boa dial and wire that Fidlock says can be used to attach “any bottle to your bike… and bananas”.
This one could be useful if you’re regularly using lots of different shaped bottles or really need a good banana carrying solution.
On top of that, Fidlock has sent us its Push saddle base and saddle bag system. It’s a quick release saddle bag system that uses magnets to make swapping a saddle bag between bikes a little quicker and easier (though you would need a Push base for every bike to take advantage of this).
The design of the Push saddle bag system looks quite elegant and the bag itself looks to be of high quality construction. The bag easily snaps into place on the magnet and you simply push the chunky button to release it.
We have to admit to being initially a little sceptical about the bottle mounting systems though. We can’t help but think that the added complexity of the system and relatively high prices of all the parts, compared to a simpler side-entry bottle cage, make it look a little bit like a solution in search of a problem.
Additionally, the Twist mechanism only works in one direction (the bottle twists to the right to release), so it also looks like it might be quite awkward to use on the seat tube of a road bike.
But, all that said, the added security of the magnets might well make this a compelling option for those who regularly ride off-road or on very rough roads, so we’ll report back once we’ve had a chance to properly test them.
- Fidlock Twist bike base and 450ml bottle: RRP £29.99 / €34.99 / $39.99
- Fidlock Twist bike base and Uni connector: RRP £39.99 / €39.99 / £49.99
- Fidlock Push saddle base and saddle bag: RRP £44.99 / €N/A / $N/A
- Replacement bottle, 450ml or 600ml (with magnetic connection system): RRP £ N/A / €29.99 / $ N/A
- Replacement bottle, 450ml or 600ml (without magnetic connection system): RRP from £7.99 / €9.99 / $11.99
- Buy Fidlock Twist and Push systems from Fidlock
MET Allroad Helmet
Yes, ‘gravel helmet’ is now a legitimate product category. As you’d expect, MET has tried to combine the best of road helmet design with a couple of off-road specific features to increase its versatility.
The visor is detachable – it simply slots into place where a roadie might store their sunglasses – and a battery- (CR 1632) powered LED rear light is integrated into the fit dial. MET claims it should last about 1.5 hours in steady mode or 2.5 hours in flashing mode.
The helmet itself has 16 vents and the retention system offers four positions of vertical adjustment. MET also says that it’s ponytail-friendly.
Our size large test unit weighs 275g without the visor and 299g with the visor – so pretty much in the ballpark of the 285g weight for a size large that MET claims.
The helmet is available in six colours (white, grey, black, black/red, black/cyan and high-viz yellow) and three sizes (Small (52/56cm), Medium (56/58cm) and Large (58/61cm))
BikeRadar’s intrepid videographer Felix Smith is going to be testing this helmet on some of his monster audaxes, off-road adventures and the daily commute, so he’ll be able to report back on the advantages or disadvantages of the Allroad’s gravel-specific design soon.
- RRP £70 / €75
Muc-Off PIM range
Looking to get a piece of the ever-growing road tubeless pie, Muc-Off’s latest PIM (which stands for ‘Prepare, Inflate and Maintain’) range of tubeless products aims to provide everything you need to get yourself set up for tubeless tyres on your road, gravel or ‘cross bike. Naturally, all of it comes with Muc-Off’s trademark punk-style branding.
The Ultimate Tubeless Setup Kit contains a 10m roll of 21mm wide rim tape, two 60mm tubeless valves and two 140ml pouches of sealant. You’ll just need to add compatible wheels and tyres.
The BAM! (Bottled Air Magic!) is essentially a CO2 canister combined with tubeless sealant – the idea is that it fixes punctures and inflates the tyre at the same time. Muc-Off says that its compatible with both Schrader and Presta valves and can seal holes up to 3 to 4mm in size.
It also uses a latex foam sealant that should play nice with tubular tyres (the ammonia found in some tubeless sealants can damage the latex tubes in high-end tubulars).
If you’re the kind of cyclist who’s still out there on tubulars despite not having a team car following you, or even if you’re running clinchers or tubeless tyres, this could be an ideal quick fix in the event of a puncture. Handily, Muc-Off also sells a utility belt for attaching a canister of BAM! to your bike.
Lastly, Muc-Off’s Glue and Sealant Remover claims to “laugh in the face of stubborn rim tape glue, dried on tyre sealant and tubular glue residue”, so this could be a godsend for anyone who’s, understandably, not too keen on using heavy solvents to clean their wheels.
- Muc-Off Ultimate Tubeless Setup Kit: RRP £40 / €45 / $59.99
- Muc-Off Glue and Sealant Remover: RRP £7.99 / €9.95
- Muc-Off BAM! and Utility Belt: RRP £14.99 / €17.95 and £4.99 / €5.95
- Muc-Off Tubeless Rim Tape (28mm): RRP £14.99 / €17.95 / from $11.99
- Muc-Off CO2 Inflator Kit (Road): RRP £24.99, $17.99, €27.95
- Buy Muc-Off PIM products direct
Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow Jacket
Designed to be a lightweight, packable layer for riding in cold and wet weather, Rapha’s Pro Team Lightweight Shadow jacket certainly looks the part in this lovely ultramarine version that we’ve been sent.
But with packable waterproof jackets made from ultra-lightweight fabrics, such as Gore-Tex Shakedry, on the market, it faces stiff competition in this category.
Rapha says the jacket uses a proprietary woven fabric that features a double durable water-repellent treatment, and though the seams are taped for added wet weather protection, the jacket doesn’t have a waterproof membrane. So Rapha doesn’t claim that it’s completely waterproof, simply that it’s water repellent.
It’s a very minimalist jacket, weighing in at 180g in a size small, and the cut is indeed pleasingly racy and close fitting for a jacket – the fabric has an element of stretch that helps in this regard.
Initial impressions are very good: it’s quickly fallen into my rotation of go-to kit, especially with the onslaught of the British winter, being both more packable than my Rapha Rain jacket and offering a better fit and more protection than my old Sportful Hot Pack.
I’ve already been caught in at least one heavy shower while wearing it and it kept me comfortably dry on top when my bib tights (which, admittedly, have no waterproofing) were quickly soaked through.
So far, my only criticism is that it’s quite hard to get on and off while riding if you’re wearing winter gloves. The semi-elasticated sleeve holes are tight, which is great for keeping the wind and rain out while you’re wearing it, but make it hard to to take off mid-ride without the jacket turning inside out.
- Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow Jacket: RRP £200 / €240 / $275
- Buy the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow Jacket from Rapha
Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tyres
These are the updated models of one of our favourite tubeless tyres, the Schwalbe Pro One.
For 2020, Schwalbe has split the product line in two, meaning there’s now both an all-round racing tyre and a time-trial specific tyre.
The all-round Pro One tyre uses a new casing that Schwalbe says has markedly improved suppleness as well as a new compound that offers a claimed 13 per cent reduction in rolling resistance and a 22 per cent increase in cornering grip.
Our 700c 25mm pair weigh 265g per tyre, which is 20g more than Schwalbe’s 245g claimed weight, but nothing to really worry about.
Thankfully, ease of installation has also been another focus on Schwalbe’s development, so we’re hoping both tyres will be merciful on our delicate fingers.
Said to be the lightest tubeless tyre on the market (we weighed ours at 226g per tyre – again, that’s around 20g over the claimed weight of 205g), the time-trial specific Pro One TT tyre uses the same 2 x 127 TPI casing as the Pro One (the sidewalls have simply been painted to give that classic gum wall look), but has a much thinner tread and the puncture protection belt has been removed.
These changes are said to reduce rolling resistance by a further 21 per cent.
Tubeless ready TT tyres are a product we’re increasingly seeing from other big players in road tyres, with the likes of the Vittoria Corsa Speed TLR and Continental GP5000 TL already proving popular in the pro peloton.
Usually, the trade off for running ultra-fast tyres is a total lack of puncture protection, but one benefit of running a tubeless system is the sealant can fix small punctures on the go, so if these tyres can live up to the rolling resistance hype, we’ll be very excited indeed.
- Schwalbe Pro One TLE (25mm, 28mm, 30mm): RRP €70 / $81
- Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE (25mm, 28mm): RRP €70 / $81
Holidays are coming…
Last but not least, you’ve probably noticed that it’s very swiftly coming round to Christmas. So, if you’re struggling to find that perfect present for the bike-obsessed loved one in your life, check out our Christmas gift guides.
We’ve produced numerous lists for cyclists of all categories, so there is almost certainly something for everyone.