Hello cycling tech fiends and welcome to another edition of First Look Friday – your weekly roundup of the very best new cycling kit to land at BikeRadar HQ.
Before we drink down a hearty spoonful of delicious new swag, let’s take a look at the news croutons that have been floating around the bowl of content soup that is BikeRadar this week.
We kicked off the week with a closer look at the unreleased Shimano S-Phyre RC-903 shoes worn by Mathieu van der Poel last week and now seen in closer detail on the tootsies of Jasper Philipsen at the UAE Tour.
We also officially introduced our new podcast series, hosted by regular BikeRadar contributor, Katherine Moore. We’ve got some fascinating guests lined up for this series, covering a range of topics all aimed at making 2022 your best year of riding yet.
We then saw the launch of Wahoo’s new Kickr Rollr smart rollers and accompanying Speedplay Powrlink Zero power meter pedal system. An in-depth look at how to recycle your tyres when they reach the end of their useful life and Cannondale’s new Tesoro Neo X1 are also worthy of your attention.
Finally, digital writer Stan Portus spoke to Islabikes to find out more about how the brand overcame many practical design and manufacturing problems to release the Joni – an all-new bike that is designed specifically for adults with dwarfism.
Austere Manufacturing buckles
Bikepacking bags live and die by the means by which they are attached to your bike, but there’s a surprisingly large variation in the quality of hardware used by cycling luggage manufacturers.
Austere Manufacturing was born out of former NASA space suit designer Uriel Eisen’s frustrations with commercially available hardware.
The brand launched in 2021 with its debut product – a “high-performance” US-made buckle.
Most bag hardware is either made from injection-moulded plastic or cast aluminium. In comparison, Austere Manufacturing’s buckles are CNC-machined from aluminium billet, which the brand claims makes for both a lighter and stronger buckle.
Once finished, each buckle is then powder coated. This coating has a pleasing matt surface, which also helps improve grip.
Austere Manufacturing’s own testing has shown the buckles to be incredibly strong, holding loads far beyond what a typical bikepacker or cycle tourist would ever encounter.
While they’re undoubtedly strong, it is, however, important to note that the buckles are not officially load rated, and they should not be used in any scenario where their performance would be integral to safety.
The buckles are available to suit either ¾-inch or 1-inch webbing, and come in a wide range of colours. This particular option is refreshingly jazzy and not at all representative of the brand name.
The buckles are also available pre-sewn onto lengths or webbing or on their own if you want to upgrade an existing bag.
- Buckles start at $22 without webbing and international shipping is available
Crane Bells E-Ne Revolver
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but here goes – the high-end bike bell market has undergone something of a renaissance (should that be ringnaissance?) in recent years.
Arguably starting with the now-iconic Spurcycle Bell back in 2015, the variety of high-quality designer ding-a-lingers available to courteous riders has never been greater.
The handsome Crane Bells E-Ne Revolver is the latest addition to this growing category.
The striker of the all-metal bell is operated by a wheel mounted to the bottom of the bell. Pushing this in either direction produces a series of very loud, rapid-fire and high-pitched tones.
The bell is mounted to a hinged band that is made from steel. This completely resists slipping when mounted to the bars, no matter how vigorous your warnings need to be.
A rubber band inside the clamp enables you to switch the bell between 22.2 and 25.4mm mounts. No 31.8 or 35mm clamp is available.
At approximately 32mm tall (excluding clamp) and 50mm in diameter, the bell sits prominently when mounted and is probably best-suited to commuting bikes and flat bars.
- $39.99, international pricing TBC
Shimano RC7 SH-RC702 road shoes
The new RC7 SH-RC702 shoes, which were released in November, sit just below Shimano’s top-end S-Phyre RC-902s – which look set to be replaced soon by the aforementioned, as-yet unreleased S-Phyre RC-903 – in terms of performance.
However, they’re considerably cheaper, with an RRP of £189.99 / €199.99 / $240 compared to the S-Phyre’s heady price tag of £320 / €360.00 / $425.00.
The shoes feature a pair of Boa L6 dials, a synthetic leather “surround wrapping upper” that is similar to the RC-902’s, and a carbon sole measuring 10/12 on Shimano’s stiffness scale.
Unfortunately, like most of Shimano’s cycling shoes, neither the toe nor heel pad is replaceable.
The new RC7 shoes come in white, blue/red and black. The black shoe pictured features a neat silver finish on the toe that lends the shoes a premium look.
The shoes are available in sizes 38 to 47 in half-size increments for the standard fit. Size 48, 49 and 50 shoes are also available in the standard fit.
A wide-fitting version of the shoe is available in sizes 38 to 47 in half-size increments. Size 48, 49 and 50 are also available in the wide-fit option.
Our size 45 shoes weigh 290g a piece and you can expect a review in the not-too-distant future.
- £189.99 / €199.99 / $240
Apidura Bottle Cage Adaptor
Bikepacking frame bags often present a conundrum for riders who carry water on their bike.
More often than not, frame bags will obscure the top bottle cage boss, meaning it’s not possible to mount a cage. On larger frames, you may be able to mount the cage, but you could have trouble accessing the bottle.
The Apidura bottle cage adaptor also enables you to offset your bottle cages relative to the mounts on your frame by up to 55mm, potentially giving you enough space to accommodate bottles while using frame bags. In addition, the adaptor allows you to run three-bolt cargo cages on two-bolt frames.
The simple black-anodised adaptor is made from 6061 alloy, is 140mm long and weighs 29g (including bolts).
If you’re using the mount on a down tube, you may find the bottle could foul the chainrings or front derailleur on your bike, depending on its chainline. This is especially likely on road bikes with a 2x crankset and a standard bottom bracket shell.
If the Apidura adaptor is not available in your area, Wolf Tooth and Topeak produce similar adaptors.
- £21 / $23 / €24