As we approach the end of another busy week here at BikeRadar, it’s about time we delved into the stories and products that made it one worth remembering.
First up has to be Matthew Loveridge’s detailed Campagnolo Ekar groupset review, which gave us a much-anticipated verdict on the intriguing 13-speed gravel-specific groupset that was first announced in September.
Radon’s Cragger 8.0 hardtail trail bike scored an impressive four stars during testing. It’s a bike that’s best for harder-charging riders and is one that features a great spec thanks to the buying power Radon’s direct-sale model affords.
Another four-star rating went out to the Patagonia Rainshadow jacket. Our review found it to be a high quality and versatile waterproof that looks good and is ideal for a wide range of outdoor activities including mountain biking.
Our latest Bike of the Week article starred the Planet X Pro Carbon Disc, a fully specced road bike with a price that will make you look twice.
Our technical explainer article on the Shimano I-Spec standard was also updated. For those who don’t know, I-Spec is basically Shimano’s standardised way of keeping modern mountain bike handlebars from looking and indeed being too busy.
Our ever-popular list of the best gravel bikes of 2020 grew once again as the latest top-scoring reviews filtered into the rankings – it now features an impressive 33 models that each impressed our testers enough to score a minimum of 4 stars.
Shimano Ultegra RT800 disc rotor and J04C disc brake pads
These distinctive RT800 disc rotors from Shimano are nothing new, but they’re a relatively inexpensive way to give your disc-brake road bike a fresher look and potentially some more performance too.
Like many of Shimano’s rotors, the RT800 uses the same three-part sandwich construction, placing an aluminium core either side of two stainless steel layers.
Large cooling fins at the centre make for an almost solid appearance, but one that is easily distinguished from the mostly black Dura-Ace RT900 rotors.
At 108g for the 140mm version or 128g for the 160mm part, each rotor represents a small weight saving over the SLX level RT-70 components that were fitted to many early disc-brake road bikes.
They’re centrelock only and include an alloy lockring to cinch down to your hubs.
To match our new braking surface we also got hold of a pair of Shimano J04C disc brake pads. These genuine Shimano parts feature the heat dispersing cooling fins that work like a heatsink to ultimately reduce brake fade.
The sintered pads are compatible with a huge list of Shimano disc brakes and are a direct replacement for many of the firm’s mountain bike brakes, as well as BR-RS785 road bike brakes.
Compared to the OE (original equipment) organic pads, they’re likely to be a little louder, but should make up for it with much better durability in mucky conditions.
Brooks C67 saddle
If you like your saddles big and plush then Brooks has always had your back(side).
The Brooks C67 can be seen as a modern take on the company’s classic B67 sprung leather saddle. It’s ideal for anyone covering serious distances on a bike with an upright position.
The C67 takes the generous form factor of the B67 but is produced from a combination of rubber, glass fibre and nylon like the rest of the Cambium range.
This leather-free seat also goes without the heavy spring assembly of the B67, instead relying on the compliance and absorption of the material used. That means the 490g C67 is significantly lighter than its leather counterparts.
Better still, the break-in period for Brooks’ leather saddles doesn’t apply, so this one’s as comfy on day one as it is when it’s eventually retired.
The black finish with its subtle anodised rivets means this saddle won’t look out of place on a wide range of bikes both old and new.
- £105 / €120 / $130
Madison DTE 3-layer Waterproof Storm jacket
The DTE 3-layer Waterproof Storm jacket from Madison is the most expensive in the brand’s line and yet it is priced very low compared to many of its rivals.
Madison’s stab at the ultimate mountain bike jacket is constructed from a fully seam-sealed 3-layer waterproof and breathable fabric.
Two huge double-zipped chest vents are there to help regulate your temperature or can be closed and used as pockets.
Adjustment arrives in the form of concealed drawcords at the waist and the hood, and the latter can be stowed away to prevent it flapping around in use.
If this bright red/orange finish is a little too much for you then it’s also sold in plain black.
It looks like a particularly well-featured garment for the cash and we can’t wait to put it to the test.
Petzl Actik Core head torch
The Actik Core model offers 450 lumens at its brightest setting and weighs just 75g. What’s really neat about this one is the hybrid charging system. This means the torch can be powered by not only the Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery but also 3x AAA batteries.
This is particularly useful if you are on a longer trip and need some backup power because AAA batteries can be found in most small shops around the world
The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 1,250-milliamp hours and can be charged via a micro-USB, which takes around three hours to fully charge. This means you get around two hours of full power at 450 lumens and a seriously impressive 130 hours on low power mode.
Three different LED bulbs offer different beam patterns and there’s also a small red bulb, which is designed so you don’t lose your night vision or blind your friends. It’s also got an IPX4 weather-resistant rating.
Our tester, Felix, thinks this torch will also be useful for night-time gravel sessions and staying visible while commuting. To get the best out of it, he’s stuck the supplied universal mounts onto his helmet to help guide the straps in place and stop them from moving.