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A gravel routes compendium, a shiny new helmet, a gravel racer’s snack pack and a 1960s Viking frameset

Welcome to First Look Friday – your weekly round-up of the latest new kit to land at BikeRadar HQ

First Look Friday April 15th 2022.

Happy long Easter weekend to our readers in the UK. As you read this, I will be trundling my away around a hopefully sunny south coast on a laden touring bike with my partner (no Cecil the tandem for this particular adventure).

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It’s safe to say I need some time under canvas to recover from the sheer volume of news that has hit BikeRadar in recent weeks – the cycling industry really has gone a bit bananas recently and it’s been a pleasure to report on it for you, our dear readers.

We started the week with an in-depth news story, first ride review, video and podcast all about Lauf’s new Seigla gravel bike – a shred-ready gravel bike featuring the Icelandic brand’s signature leaf-sprung fork and oodles of tyre clearance.

Tuesday then brought news that Team DSM will run a pretty whacky €3,998 (€3,998!) wireless tyre pressure control system at this weekend’s edition of Paris-Roubaix. We’ll be watching closely to see whether this system lives up to its significant performance claims.

Tuesday also saw our in-depth explainer on front derailleurs – something that has been all but abandoned in the mountain bike world but lives on in the gravel cycling and road bike disciplines.

Rounding out the week was a new range of electric bikes from Focus and Fizik’s new Decos road cycling shoes, which are designed specifically for long days in the saddle.

As always, if you want to keep up with the very best bits of BikeRadar, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Gravel Rides Scotland, Ed Shoote

If you want to plan your own Scottish gravel-riding adventure, this would be a good place to start.
Jack Luke / Our Media

I like to remind anyone who will listen (or otherwise) at every given opportunity that I’m from Scotland.

This is particularly true if whoever I’m speaking to is a gravel cyclist – I endlessly extoll the virtues of Scotland’s amazing gravel riding, which can include everything from desert-like upland grouse moorland adventures to gritty central-belt post-industrial noodling.

Ed Shoote’s Gravel Rides Scotland (Vertebrae Publishing) goes a long way to compiling the very best routes across the length and breadth of the country in a well-illustrated and interesting guide.

There are routes from 31 to 128km in length and each is accompanied by a helpful difficulty grading, meaning there’s something for every gravel rider.

Kask Protone Icon

The Protone Icon is Kask’s newest helmet.
Jack Luke / Our Media

Kask recently updated its existing Protone aero-vented road cycling helmet with a new design that, the brand claims, increases comfort and performance.

Key changes on the Kask Protone Icon include an increase to eight vents at the front and six at the rear, the addition of the brand’s Octafit+ retention system and new pads.

The helmet is based on the existing Protone.
Jack Luke / Our Media

The £245 / $299.95 / €275 / AU$409 helmet is available in three different size options and 10 colours (we’re particularly fond of the luscious matt blue option pictured). Unusually, the helmet is not available in a MIPS-equipped variant.

The helmet is available in most territories now, but won’t be available in Australia until October.

  • £245 / $299.95 / €275 / AU$409

Apidura Expedition bolt-on top-tube pack

Top-tube bags are a great choice for gravel racers.
Jack Luke / Our Media

While handlebar bags are definitely the trendiest cycling luggage option for budding gravel riders and bikepackers, top-tube bags are a very popular option for gravel racers because they offer uninhibited access to mid-ride snacks.

The Apidura Expedition bolt-on top-tube bag is a waterproof top-tube bag that attaches using the now increasingly common two-bolt fitting found just aft of the head tube on many gravel and endurance road bikes.

These winged bolts sit beneath a padded strip.
Jack Luke / Our Media

Unlike many bags, Apidura’s attaches using a plastic tool-free winged bolt (most use regular bolts), making fitting and removal much easier. These sit beneath a removable padded base, protecting the contents from hard edges.

It also features a cable port on the front of the bag, enabling you to charge GPS devices from a battery pack. You could also feed a charging cable into the bag from a dynamo setup to charge a phone or other device.

  • £50, international pricing TBC

Chrome Union Short 2.0

We love a simple set of shorts here at BikeRadar.
Jack Luke / Our Media

Chrome’s updated Union 2.0 shorts are made from a water-resistant durable four-way stretch nylon outer lined with a softer nylon fabric on the inside.

Unlike many ‘urban’ baggy shorts, these aren’t festooned with numerous useless cargo pockets or straps (a real bug bear of mine), lending them a slim silhouette that won’t look daft off the bike. The cut of the shorts is generous enough to permit comfortable pedalling without looking too baggy.

In addition to black, the shorts are available in ‘Castle Rock’ grey and a handsome ‘Wood Thrush’ tan.

My 1960s Viking track/path racer frameset

While our focus is, unsurprisingly, on the latest and greatest tech here at BikeRadar, it’s important to acknowledge that the release of something shiny with new fabulous features doesn’t make old bikes automatically obsolete. Nor does reporting primarily on new tech mean that we aren’t interested in older bikes.

Case in point – for some weeks, my free evenings have been spent trawling online for a second-hand frameset to form the basis of a new fixed-gear commuting bike, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

In the end, I found this handsome Viking path racer – so-called because it has track ends with mudguard eyelets – for sale locally that, according to the seller, is most likely from the mid-60s.

The Reynolds 531-tubed frameset features classic Nervex lugs and particularly lovely spearpoint details on the fork crown.

It’s also on just the right side of tatty for me to feel comfortable locking it up while supping murky, expensive craft beers (the only thing that could possibly be supped by an owner of such an unashamedly hipster-tastic bike).

It’s been a while since I had tickled the addictive endorphin rush of sniping for a last-minute deal on eBay and I’ve loved obsessively researching every possible purchase as much as I would any new bike.

This bike will most likely form the basis of a future edition of BikeRadar Builds, so stayed tuned for that in the coming months.

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