First and foremost, Merry almost Christmas to you all from the BikeRadar team! We hope you’re gearing up for a restful festive break (heck knows we need it) with the odd bit of riding peppered in.
This week saw the start of our annual Gear of the Year round-ups, which highlight the best bits of tech the team have used and abused in the past 12 months. So far, we’ve seen this year’s top picks from Tom Marvin, Warren Rossiter, Alex Evans and Luke Marshall. That’s only a small taste of what’s to come, so keep your eyes peeled on the site over the next couple of weeks for more.
Now it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy this week’s edition of First Look Friday.
Cadex 36 Disc tubeless wheels
Following familiar wheel-naming conventions, the Cadex 36 Disc tubeless wheels have a 36mm rim depth, alongside a variety of interesting features and component choices.
Probably most surprising is the use of carbon fibre spokes, which Cadex says reduce weight, minimise lateral flex and are aerodynamic.
Carbon spokes are used on the slightly deeper Cadex 42 Disc wheelset, and, if they are anything to go by, these shallower wheels will be stiff and fast.
The Cadex 36 wheels are designed to run tubeless and use a hookless rim. This relies on air pressure to hold tyres in place, rather than a hooked design, which ‘catches’ the tyre. While hookless rims limit tyre choice, they do result in a stronger and lighter rim.
These wheels have a claimed weight of 1,302g for a pair and with an inner rim width of 22.4mm. Cadex says the wheels will fit 700 × 25c to 700 × 32c tyres.
At the centre of the wheels are Cadex’s own “low friction” hubs, which are said to be machined in a way that reduces the bearing load.
Inside the hub, Cadex has opted for ceramic bearings, and claims this increases rolling efficiency because the bearings are 1.5x smoother than steel bearings.
Whether ceramic bearings are actually worth having is a contentious subject, but this choice from Cadex shows these wheels are aimed firmly at the ‘every watt counts’ crowd.
- Cadex 36 front wheel: £1,099.99 / $1,575 / AU$1,960 / €1,049
- Cadex 36 rear wheel: £1,399.99 / $2,050 / AU$2,540 / €1,349
Albion Zoa Insulated Jacket
Albion recently released its Zoa collection, which includes this insulated jacket.
The jacket uses a combination of materials to keep you warm and relatively dry on any bikepacking adventures. Inside is PrimaLoft Gold Eco insulation and the exterior shell and liner use Pertex Quantum fabric.
Quantum uses thin yarns in a tight weave, which Albion says traps air and makes the insulation work better. The fabric also has a durable water repellent coating.
The Zoa Insulated Jacket is packed with details. There are eyelets so you can wear your helmet under the hood but still have the straps fitting against your chin. Four pockets provide plenty of storage and the rear pocket doubles as a stuff sack. A double-cuff design integrates nicely with gloves to stop any cold air from getting in and gives the jacket a cleaner look than if it had Velcro straps.
Albion says the Zoa collection is for on-bike and off-bike use. Accordingly, the cut of this jacket is fairly neutral. It doesn’t feel tight across the shoulders like some race-y cycling jackets and the drop tail is no more extreme than a hiking jacket.
The jacket is available in orange, black, or orange and black.
Quoc Mono II road shoes
The Mono II is the latest version of British brand Quoc’s top-shelf road shoe.
This rather sleek-looking shoe uses a unidirectional carbon sole, which, on first impressions feels very stiff – if cycling shoe stiffness actually matters.
Inside the shoe, there is a Quoc insole, which is said to absorb vibrations and have “ball-of-foot pressure point release”. The Mono II is supplied with three arch support inserts so you can tailor the level of support to your own needs.
If you lift up the inner sole, you can find the screw that holds the replaceable heel pad in place.
The upper of the Mono II is said to be developed from a last that closely follows the contours of the foot. The heel cup is said to be reassuringly supportive, while the dovetail tongue design removes any extra material that could dig into your feet.
The upper uses two bonded pieces of material, so the tongue doesn’t move out of place. Quoc says the stitching that joins the sections is inspired by the zig-zag lacing on brogues.
The shoe closes with a dual-dial design. This provides plenty of adjustment across the upper and lower sections of the shoe.
The dials tighten much like a Boa dial. To loosen them, you have to turn them in the opposite direction, which releases the tension in the cable.
I have a suspicion I’ve been sent a pair of the shoes finished especially for cycling industry Illuminati, as Simon von Bromley would say. Alongside the standard reflective dot pattern, one of the shoes I received has a chart explaining the Mono II’s spec printed on the side, as well as directions to tag #quocshoes on social media.
Prime Orra aero gravel bar
Do you need a carbon aero gravel handlebar? Prime thinks so, and it has adjusted its Primavera aero road handlebar to suit the demands of life off-road.
The top section of the Orra bar is almost identical to the Primavera, but Prime says it has adjusted the carbon layup to improve stiffness and compliance without impacting strength.
The bar features an 18-degree flare on the drop. A bigger flare is pretty standard on gravel handlebars, but while many brands cite greater stability as the reason behind this, Prime emphasises how this creates plenty of room for a handlebar bag.
Cabling runs internally for a clean appearance and Prime says it has kept its triangular drop design for ergonomics and grip over rough terrain.
The bar is available in 40cm, 42cm and 44cm. The 40cm bar has a claimed weight of 234g and our 44cm bar tipped the scales at 243.3g.
For perspective, this is 1g lighter than the ENVE G Series Handlebar, which also happens to cost over £200 more than the Prime bar.
All In Racing socks
- Buy from All In Racing
Cycling lags behind many other sports when it comes to diversity and inclusion. This is something that is felt acutely by LGBTQ+ people in the competitive cycling scene – many of whom feel they must hide their identity in order to survive in the sport.
Started by amateur racer Josh Jones, All In Racing is a new initiative that looks to change this.
The initiative aims to improve LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation in amateur and semi-professional bike racing by working with brands, organisations and teams, as well as providing free resources for LGBTQ+ athletes and allies.
All In Racing recently released these rainbow socks to coincide with Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces day on 8 December.
Made in collaboration with Rapha, the socks were limited to only 210 pairs. 120 were available to buy online and sold out. Ninety were given to riders participating in the Clanfield Cross UCI cyclocross race and other sponsored teams. All In Racing says it will release more socks in the future, and possibly in a black option, but that the price is likely to go up from the original £10.
All In Racing will formally launch in spring 2022, and in the meantime, it is welcoming teams and companies to get in touch and get involved.
- £10 (likely to change)