New Garmin Fenix 6 smartwatch, a svelte Santa Cruz, and a premium Chrome backpack

Our weekly round-up of fresh product

  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.
Smartwatch and MTB frame

The weekend is nigh and that means it’s time for our round-up of the most delectable new bike things to rock up at BikeRadar headquarters. This time we’ve got a brand new Garmin smartwatch, a very Gucci Santa Cruz hardtail frame and a swish Chrome waterproof backpack.

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This week we’ve seen the triumphant (?) return of BikeRadar‘s Hill Climb Diaries and, weirdly, an article all about a car — Skoda’s amusingly odd Karoq Velo concept.

BikeRadar staffers went shopping for their dream bikes of days gone by, we set our sights on some frameset bargains and drooled over an exceptionally expensive set of Cane Creek cranks.

Meanwhile, we updated our buyer’s guide to the best £1,000 road bikes and found out why the Mondraker Foxy Carbon XR deserved a heady 4.5 out of five stars.

But on to the new stuff…

Garmin Fenix 6

Garmin smartwatch on yellow background
The Fenix 6 is available in three sizes and a variety of specs.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

The Fenix 6 is Garmin’s latest and greatest smartwatch, with all the functionality you’d expect of such a devic including GPS tracking, heart-rate monitoring, all manner of connectivity and more.

Garmin pitches its Fenix range as multisport watches and the 6 has features specific to running, cycling, swimming, skiing and golfing, as well as more general ‘outdoor recreation’ related ones and those you might use in the gym.

For cyclists, the Fenix 6 offers similar functionality to a mid-range Edge device in its Pro and Sapphire incarnations, with full Garmin cycle maps, navigation, and compatibility with ANT+ external sensors.

The base model Fenix 6 does away with the maps and also loses the music player features and WiFi.

Garmin Fenix 6 case back
The Fenix 6 monitors heart rate and blood oxygen levels via sensors on the back of its case.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

The Fenix 6 has heart-rate and ‘pulse ox’ sensors on the back of its case, the latter offering a live read-out of your blood oxygen levels.

This particular watch is the Sapphire edition in Carbon Gray DLC with a 47mm case and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Other models use Corning Gorilla Glass as used on numerous smartphones.  There are also 42mm and 51mm case options to suit a variety of wrists.

Garmin Fenix 6 strap and buckle
The Fenix’s slotted strap fits virtually any wrist, although the 47mm case of this model looks comically oversized on this writer’s twig-like forearms.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

The Fenix 6’s battery life varies dramatically according to how you use it, but if you absolutely rinse it running GPS and music, it’s claimed to last 10 hours, while regular smartwatch usage yields around two weeks. In ‘expedition GPS’ mode it’s designed to run for 28 days on a charge.

The most expensive version of the Fenix 6 adds solar charging ability to prolong battery life by up to three days.

  • Fenix 6 47mm Sapphire Carbon Grey DLC with black band: £699.99 / $799.99 / AU$1,399
  • Other models: from £529.99 / $599.99 / AU$949

Santa Cruz Highball

Blue carbon XC hardtail frame
The Santa Cruz Highball is a flyweight 29er XC race machine.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

The Highball is Santa Cruz’s top-of-the range carbon 29er hardtail, a proper racer’s XC bike.

The Highball was updated last year, with the new frame offering more rear-end comfort thanks to altered lay-ups and, as on so many road bikes, dropped seatstays.

Geometry was tweaked too, with the seat angle steepening a touch and the front end slackening, in keeping with current trends.

Threaded bottom bracket shell on blue carbon hardtail frame
Praise be! A threaded bottom bracket!
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

The Highball comes in two grades of carbon, which Santa Cruz calls C and CC. The frame-only option is the lighter CC version, and it’s available in two colours, with this blue being by far the more eye-catching. (The other one is primer grey.)

Like other Santa Cruz bikes, the Highball sports a threaded bottom bracket for maximum practicality and, as you might expect these days, it doesn’t accept a front derailleur.

This large frame weighs 1,164g on our scales, which isn’t exceptionally light in this era of sub-800g hardtails, but that does include all frame hardware (even the seat clamp), not to mention that gorgeous blue paint.

We already gave the Highball a first ride review back when it launched. Look out for this one in a forthcoming BikeRadar video where it’ll be piloted by the ever-rapid Joe Norledge.

Chrome Mazer Ensign Rolltop backpack

Black rucksack
The Mazer Ensign Rolltop is a practical waterproof rucksack for the everyday.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

Chrome makes a huge variety of rucksacks, bags and other gear. The Mazer Ensign Rolltop is an understated backpack with, as the name suggests, a roll-top rather than a simple zip closure.

That means it should be properly water resistant, although it’s worth noting that the Mazer doesn’t have the welded construction used for some other Chrome bags.

Laptop emerging from side compartment of rucksack
The pack’s side pocket holds a slim 15in laptop.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

With the top cinched shut, the Mazer is around 45cm tall, 35cm wide and 16cm deep (front to back) at its widest extremities. Nominal capacity is 21 litres, but there’s some flexibility in reality according to how you roll it closed.

Like many roll-top bags, there isn’t much in the way of dividers or compartments internally, with only a small zippered mesh storage compartment on the inside of the back.

There is, however, a side-accessed pocket big enough for a slim 15in laptop, and the foam padding on the back section means using this isn’t noticeably uncomfortable.

Open roll-top on rucksack
The roll-top design should keep contents dry.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

The pack is covered in reflective attachment loops for carrying extra gear and there’s a zip pocket for small essentials on the front that means you won’t need to open the roll-top for quick access to essentials, such as keys and sunglasses.

Open pockets on the sides with elasticated mesh dividers are designed for carrying bottles, D-locks and other odds and ends.

The Mazer’s main side-release buckles have magnets in them, a nice little feature that means male and female parts are attracted to one another, and doing the bag up is that little bit quicker.

Magnetic clip on rucksack
The clips have magnets so they’re attracted to one another, making doing them up particularly quick.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media
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