Albion cycling kit, Garmin’s Varia radar, Panaracer gravel tyres and beautiful Japanese tools

Plus a charming sew-on patch from a bunch of chilled out friends

  The products mentioned in this article are selected or 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.
BikeRadar First Look Friday header with Garmin Varia radar and Albion Burner

What a week it has been here on BikeRadar! 

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We kicked things off on Tuesday with the release of two new Garmin GPS bike computers, brand new bikes from Juliana and Santa Cruz, new XC products from Sun Ringle and Manitou, and a fresh new Canyon Inflite range

Moving to Wednesday, we learned how you can carry everything you need on your bike, and saw a brand new ebike from Triumph – yes, that Triumph

Finally, on Thursday, we saw the all-new 2021 Trek Emonda, which sees the brand’s climbing bike reimagined as a do-it-all race bike with the now de rigueur aero optimisation to match… oh and yes – it’s disc only. 

If that isn’t quite enough to fill your tech-hungry tummy, welcome to First Look Friday – our weekly roundup of the most swagtastic cycling kit to land at BikeRadar. 

This week we have flashy new summer kit from Albion, lovely new tools and gifts from Runwell, Garmin’s all-new Varia radar, and a charming woven patch from a bunch of chilled out guys.

Albion short sleeve jersey, ABR1 bib shorts and Burner

Albion SS20 cycling kit collection
Albion’s SS20 cycling kit collection is refreshingly pared down.
Laura Dow / Immediate Media

Albion’s new SS20 collection of warm weather riding kit launched earlier this month after the coronavirus lockdown in Italy forced the brand to push things back from its original launch slated in April. 

The collection is made up of a refreshingly slim range of just four items: a short sleeve jersey, bib shorts, a lightweight gilet and a mesh base layer, with every item being made from recycled materials. 

Albion is based in the UK but will ship worldwide.

Albion SS20 short sleeve jersey

Albion’s warm weather jersey features a very on-trend cut, with lovely extra-long sleeves and a slim racy fit. 

The jersey is made from a recycled fabric that’s remarkably stretchy and breathable and, we think, it looks best in the sunshine yellow colourway. It is also available in blue or khaki if you prefer something more subdued. 

Albion ABR1 bib shorts

Albion’s latest bib shorts are made from a new (lighter, recycled) four-way stretch fabric.

The shorts have also been updated with a larger thigh gripper and feature small reflective highlights on the back of the legs.

The large flat-seam bib straps are very unobtrusive and exceptionally comfortable. The size medium fit is spot on for Jack’s 70kg build and 180cm height.

The shorts are fairly pricy at £125 but, make no mistake, this is high-end kit and early testing suggests they have the performance to match. You could also easily spend double the price of the ABR1 shorts on something of similar quality from more well-established brands. 

Albion Burner

We don’t want to give away too much on the Albion Burner as it deserves its own standalone news but, in brief, it’s a modern take on the classic ‘stuff a newspaper down the front of your keks for extra warmth’ trick.

Weighing 18g on the nose and packing down to roughly the size of a kiwi, this is a very intriguing bit of kit. Stay tuned for more. 

Runwell tools

Every few months, a box arrives on Jack’s desk that contains all manner of delightful goodies from purveyors of “Absolutely Made in Japan” tools, Runwell.

Runwell’s exceptionally handsome Aqualia and Drip spanners are its best-known tools, but it is continuously expanding its line-up into new areas, including a range of charming and beautifully made tool-inspired gifts. 

Runwell Cog 1218 track cog spanner

Runwell Cog 1218
The Cog 1218 is a fixed gear sprocket wrench.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Has your chain whip ever slipped – or, worse still, snapped – when removing a track cog, leading you to punch the floor and/or the cog you’re trying to remove? 

If so, you’ll know it is up there with the most painful things you can experience.

The rather literally-named Runwell Cog 1218 is a cog spanner that uses a cupped open wrench design to remove fixed gear cogs from 12t to 18t in size. 

Runwell Cog 1218
The Cog 1218 feels really solid in use.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

One end of the wrench is designed for 12 to 15t cogs and the other is for 16 to 18t cogs. The whole thing feels very substantial and, in use, it’s effective and secure. Runwell cautions specifically against using the tool on alloy or carbon cogs. 

Runwell Fun Key bottle opener

Runwell Funkey
The perfect gift for the beer-drinking cyclist in your life.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

If you like drinking and want to remind everyone around you that you’re into cycling at every given opportunity, the Runwell Fun Key could be just for you. 

Based on a substantial 10mm hex key, this chrome-plated bottle opener feels nicer than pretty much every other hex key in our collection. 

Runwell Toostier cocktail stirrers

Yes – you are looking at adorable cocktail stirrers that look like miniature tools.

At ¥1,400 (roughly £10) a pop, these would make a perfect gift for the mechanic in your life who likes to indulge in a cheeky mojito after work. 

They feel remarkably well-made for what is basically a novelty gift, to the point that we wouldn’t hesitate to take that crosshead to the limit screws on a derailleur. 

Runwell… Cheesepick?

Runwell Cheesepick
Who knew something so simple could be quite so lovely?
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

OK, we’re just getting silly now. 

We never knew high-end cheese picks were a thing but… well, these came in the box and we’re here now. 

Runwell Cheesepick
Here is a photo of the cheesepick picking up a tiny little sandwich.
Runwell

If you don’t need a high-end cheese pick in your life, these will also double up as an unnecessarily lovely awl for opening up cable ends, picking debris out of your tyres or flies out of your teeth. 

Garmin Varia RTL515 rear radar

Garmin Varia RTL515 rear radar
The new Garmin Varia RTL515 rear radar.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The new Garmin Varia RTL515 combines a smart rear light with a rear-view radar system that alerts you if cars or other vehicles are approaching from behind. 

The system gives audio and visual warnings, either through a standalone unit, a compatible Garmin Edge GPS bike computer, bike computers from Wahoo and other compatible brands, and, for the first time, any compatible smartphone, if a vehicle is moving towards you.

The radar is capable of detecting cars up to 140m away, according to Garmin. You will receive a colour-coded warning on your phone or computer to indicate how fast the car is moving and how close to you it is.

The 60 lumen light itself also features improved optics that, Garmin claims, means it can be viewed from up to one mile away when running in its daylight flashing mode.

The Varia RTL515 has a claimed battery life of up to 16 hours in the aforementioned flashing mode or up to 6 hours when run as a solid light. 

It’s been years since we’ve tested a Varia radar, so we’re looking forward to seeing if this new unit addresses some of the concerns we had with the original system.

  • £169.99 / $199.99

Panaracer GravelKing SS and SS+ 38mm gravel tyres

Panaracer GravelKing SS and SS+ tyres
The new Panaracer GravelKing SS bridges the gap between the GravelKing and GravelKing SK.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Last month, Panaracer launched the all-new GravelKing SS and SS+ – a semi-slick gravel tyre that sits between the aggressive GravelKing SK and the slick GravelKing.

If that sounds confusing, that’s because it kind of is – if you include the special limited edition colour options, there are a whopping 15 tyres that share the GravelKing name.

The GravelKing SS is available in two different casings, with the SS+ getting a bead-to-bead puncture protection layer. In a 38mm width, the tyres weigh in at 462g for the GravelKing SS+ and 419g for the GravelKing SS.

Panaracer GravelKing SS and SS+ tyres
The tread should be good for a wide range of conditions.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The tyre has a minimalist file tread at the centre that transitions to a light diamond tread, before shifting to a block side knob for increased cornering grip. 

The tyre is available for both 650b and 700c wheel sizes, with 43- or 48mm width options for the SS or 28-, 32-, 35-, 38- and 40mm options for the SS+. 

  • Panaracer GravelKing SS – £40 / $49.99
  • Panaracer GravelKing SS+ – £50 / $59.99

Bonus extra – Grass Up The Middle CC patch

Grass Up the Middle CC woven patch
Grass Up the Middle CC is well worth a follow.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Grassupthemiddlecc is a charming Instagram account and blog run by a group of Manchester-based “green laners, rough stuffers and folk of a relaxed persuasion”.

They are constantly in search of the “holy grail” of little-used country lanes with – as the name suggests – a strip of grass up the middle.

This is a simple concept, but an oddly compelling one all the same, with the exploits of the bunch well worth a follow. 

This lovely little patch is the first bit of merch produced by GUTMCC and was well worth the £5 Jack spent on it as he can now show off his support for both the group and riding with a relaxed persuasion, once he gets around to sewing it on his well-weathered Carradice saddle bag. 

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