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A new gravel tyre from American Classic, Sportful’s Fiandre Light Jacket, Assos winter gloves and Bontrager bar and shoe

Plus the latest cycling news and reviews

Collage with 'First Look Friday' text in white over two images, one of the Sportful Fiandre Light Jacket on the right and the American Classic Kimberlite tyre on the left

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we have passed the autumn equinox and the days are beginning to draw in. But, fear not, the world of cycling is far from going into hibernation.


We’re still seeing a number of new bikes being released and there’s plenty of racing on the cards too, with the UCI World Championships taking place this week and Paris-Roubaix on Sunday 3 October.

One of the biggest stories this week was Team Ineos Grenadiers finally switching to disc brakes for the Grand Prix de Denain. Despite the team doggedly sticking to rim brakes for so long, it always felt like a case of “when will they switch” rather than “will they ever” – especially considering the emphasis on disc brakes with the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9200.

In other news this week, BMC launched a new Roadmachine X. This “gravel adjacent” bike now has a carbon fibre frame with a slightly more aggressive geometry than its alloy predecessor.

Stating that electric bikes are the future of transport – and we’d agree – Specialized updated its Turbo Active line with new versions of the Turbo Vado and Como as well as the completely new Turbo Tero.

The brand also released the S-Works Romin EVO with Mirror saddle, which has a 3D-printed upper and a whopping £390/$450 price tag to match.

Elsewhere, Warren Rossiter reviewed the Kinesis GTD V2, praising its versatility and good looks, and also gave the new Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2 a full five stars.

Tom Marvin put the Bird Forge to the test, highlighting its modern geometry and value for money, and let us in on what it was like to race the Merida Ex Enduro on a hardtail.

Finally, we put together our selection of the best cycling watches and enjoyed hearing your opinions on whether or not you’d use a wrist-based device over a bike computer for recording rides.

American Classic Kimberlite gravel tyre

American Classic Kimberlite gravel tyre rolled up and photographed on grey tile background
American Classic recently relaunched, shifting from wheels to rubber.
Stan Portus / Immediate Media

American Classic started life back in 1982 and went on to make lightweight metal components and wheels for road cyclists.

By 2018, the brand had been through two years of sales difficulties and closed down. But now it is back and its traded wheels for rubber with a collection of eight tyres manufactured in its own factory.

The majority of the collection is gravel tyres and the American Classic Kimberlite gravel tyre sits at the pavement end of the brand’s gravel spectrum.

The tyre has a smooth central section that promises fast rolling on smooth ground and American Classic says it has 55 per cent cornering grip on its edges.

It’s tubeless-ready and comes in either 40mm or 50mm for 700c wheels or 47mm for 650b.

The Kimberlite is available in tan or brown side walls as well as the black pictured here.

The price is impressively low at $35 and American Classic says it has been able to achieve this thanks to its direct-to-consumer business model.

UK readers will have to wait to get their hands on these, though, because they are currently only available in the USA.

Sportful Fiandre Light Jacket

Sportful Fiandre Light Jacket modelled by Stan Portus
The Sportful Fiandre Light Jacket comes in this rather nice red wine colour.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

With cooler days on the horizon, I was grateful to receive the Fiandre Light Jacket from Sportful’s UK distributor, Saddleback.

The jacket falls into a category of kit that aims to provide the functionality of a jersey but with the wind and rain protection a jacket brings.

Once upon a time, the sole item in this category was the Castelli Gabba, but over the years more jackets-cum-jerseys have been released. These vary from tops claimed to keep you warm in below-freezing temperatures to others that will shed the rain but still be breathable enough to wear in (British) summer temperatures.

The Fiandre Light Jacket sits around the middle of this range, with Sportful claiming the jacket is suitable for temperatures around 10˚C.

The front, sleeves and shoulders of the ‘jerket‘ use a stretch windproof material that helps prevent wind chill on the parts of your body that cut through the air. The back uses Sportful’s NoRain fabric to shed rain that falls on you when hunched over in a riding position while also allowing moisture to escape.

It’s also worth noting how incredibly thin this fabric is. Granted, this is the ‘light’ version of the full-on Sportful Fiandre Jacket, but it still rivals a summer jersey for how thin the material is.

The jacket has a drop tail that covers the top of your bibs, to protect you from road spray, and a cut that is on the racier side, but not too extreme.

The red wine colour across the whole jacket is nice too, in the past Sportful’s NoRain fabric was only available in black.

Previously, I’ve only worn jackets like this that employ fabrics from Gore-Tex or Polartec, so I’m intrigued to find out how a jacket made from Sportful’s own – impressively thin – fabric compares because while own-brand materials often lead to a reduction in cost they sometimes compromise on performance.

  • £150 / $160 / AU$240 / €149.90

Assos winter gloves

A pair of Assos winter gloves placed over one another, with one showing the top and the other showing palm, photographed against a grey tile background
Detailing is kept to a minimum, with a black Assos logo on the top of the glove and blue stitching on the palm.
Stan Portus / Immediate Media

Continuing the wind- and water-resistant theme, these Assos winter gloves are said to protect your hands from freezing temperatures and road spray while the softshell fabric and low-bulk design keep your fingers dexterous.

Trying the gloves on, they certainly don’t feel like they’d impede movement and the high cuff provides enough overlap with a jacket or jersey sleeve to prevent wind or water from getting in.

The gloves use Assos’s windBlock fabric. This is a lighter version of the softshell fabric used in its deep winter glove, the Ultraz, but it still promises windproofing and water resistance.

The gloves have the usual palm features you can expect from a glove at this price point with a microfibre palm and touchscreen fingerprints.

  • £70 / $89 / AU$157 / €80

Bontrager GR Elite Road handlebar

Bontrager Elite Road Handlebar photographed on grass with brown autumn leaves
These Bontrager bars have a modest 13-degree flare.
Stan Portus / Immediate Media

Outswept handlebars are a common sighting on gravel bikes and even some road bikes, with riders appreciating the improved handling stability the design brings.

The Bontrager GR Elite Adventure handlebar picks up on this trend with a 13-degree flare on the drops. This isn’t the most extreme flare there is, but it feels wild for a rider like me who rides narrow bars.

The bar is available in four sizes from 38cm to 44cm across, and all have a short 75mm reach and a medium 128mm drop. This helps create a more upright position when riding on the hoods but still provides a decent amount of depth for when you’re flying along on the drops.

The tops have flatter sections and the handlebar comes with stick-on pads for some extra under-palm comfort.

This alloy bar has holes drilled on the underside of the drops so you can route the cables for a Di2 junction box easily along the exterior of the bar and saves the hassle of trying to get a cable in and out further up.

  • £59.99 / $99.99 / AU$139.99 / €84.99

Bontrager Circuit road cycling shoes

Bontrager Circuit road shoes in white photographed on a brown wooden bench
The Bontrager Circuit road shoes close with a Boa dial and a Velcro strap.
Stan Portus / Immediate Media

Bontrager recently released a new version of its Circuit road cycling shoe, which aims to provide an equal parts stiff and comfortable feel.

Like its predecessor, the updated version closes with a Boa dial and Velcro strap,

The upper uses a synthetic mesh and TPU fabric that Bontrager says conforms to the shape of your foot and is often only found on pricier shoes, while the last used has a roomier feel than some other road cycling shoes.

Bontrager Circuit road shoes photographed with one showing the shoe's upper and the other upside down to show the sole.
The Circuit road shoe’s sole will take two- or three-bolt cleats.
Stan Portus / Immediate Media

The heel is said to hold your foot firmly in place, with the brand claiming this helps achieve “optimal power transfer”, while the nylon sole should also play a part when it comes to power transfer. Bontrager rates its stiffness as 7 out of 14.

Finally, the shoes are compatible with two- and three-bolt cleats and they come in black, red, navy and coral, and white.

  • £139.99 / $139.99 / AU219.99 / €149.99