Hark! The bike nerds freehubs sing
Glory to clean chainrings!
Peace on the roads and winters mild
Roadies and mountain bikers reconciled!
Yes, we’re feeling festive here at BikeRadar – it’s just a few sleeps until the big day and what better way to get you razzed up for the pile of cycling swag St Nick is bound to bring you than revelling in the smorgasbord of new tech that is First Look Friday.
This week we have Adidas’s all-new road cycling shoes, some fancy oversocks to cover said shoes, a wonderful book from an impressive father and son duo, a new version of Campagolo’s outrageous bottle opener and a squashy sleeping mat that might just be perfect to lay your head down upon for a post-Christmas dinner nap.
If that’s not quite enough, this week has been packed with a host of pre-Christmas bike launches and news.
The key release of the week was the new fifth-generation Santa Cruz Nomad, which sticks with 27.5in wheels and is as rad (and expensive) as usual. We also saw Crankbrothers release its first-ever line of mountain bike shoes.
Adidas The Road Shoe
Available in a black or all-white finish, the mid-range shoes are, in Adidas’s words, aimed at a “young and burgeoning generation of cyclists”.
Well, I’m delighted to say this young and burgeoning cyclist now has a pair in for review.
The upper of the shoe is made from a very tightly-woven and malleable seamless material that has a matt texture.
The tongue extends right down to the bed of the shoe and is made from a thin sheet of a softshell-like material. There is also a foam layer around the heel cup. All of this makes for a luxuriously squishy feel when worn.
I wear a UK-size 8.5 (42.5 EUR) shoe in almost all brands but, as I will be testing these during winter, I sized up to a 9 (43.3 EUR, according to Adidas).
This feels perfect, with the roomy toe box accommodating thick wool socks and an annoying bony prominence on the outside edge of my right foot. Each shoe weighs 290g on the nose.
There is a tiny amount of give in the fibreglass-reinforced polymer sole of the shoe, during the classic ‘bend-em-over-your-knee’ test. Whether that will add up to any notable loss in comfort or performance when riding remains to be seen. The toe and heel blocks are moulded into the shoe and do not look to be replaceable.
All else aside, I think the shoes look really cool – at first glance, they’re almost indistinguishable from the brand’s World Cup football boots, which is no bad thing in my eyes.
The shoes are available exclusively direct from Adidas and retail at £130 / €150. Stay tuned for a review early 2021.
- £130 / €150
- Buy The Road Shoe in black direct from Adidas
- Buy The Road Shoe in white direct from Adidas
GripGrab waterproof knitted overshoe
And what if I need something to keep my shiny new road shoes clean? I’m hoping GripGrab’s rather literally-named waterproof knitted road overshoes may be the answer.
The overshoes are inspired by classic Belgian booties (essentially hard-wearing knitted overshoes that are better-described as oversocks).
The oversocks are made from a double-layered knitted fabric that is lined with a waterproof membrane.
The underside of the oversock is coated in a hard plasticky finish, which should improve durability. There are also small rubber grippers at the rear of the heel to help hold it in place.
I am a big fan of zipless overshoes – in my experience, zips are always the first place an overshoe will begin to break.
Indeed, GripGrab’s similar-ish Racethermo neoprene overshoes earned a place in my 2018 gear of the year round-up and, some three years since getting them, they are still my go-to. I have similarly high hopes for these.
- €69.95, international pricing TBC
- Buy the GripGrab waterproof knitted overshoe direct from GripGrab
22,000 Miles – A Father and Son Cycling Adventure by Richard Seipp
I have followed the exploits of Rich Seipp and his son, Tom, for years now – the pair’s Instagram-account is one of my all-time favourites, and I am always in awe of the huge amount of riding they both pack in.
From completing the Rapha Festive 500 when Tom was aged just seven, to riding the Continental Divide, Tom – now aged 15 – has already ridden his bike in more extraordinary places than I could hope to in a lifetime.
22,000 Miles – A Father and Son Cycling Adventure, published by Little Peak Press, covers some of the pair’s extraordinary adventures and is a wonderful read for any cyclist.
As BikeRadar’s resident tandem evangelist, a favourite chapter follow’s Tom and Rich’s 2,000km ride along the French Divide bikepacking route aboard their Sonder Cahoot tandem.
The book is richly illustrated with great photos of their adventures and, to quote the foreword written by Paralympic gold medallist Steve Bate MBE, Richard’s writing is “uncomplicated and honest”, which makes for a really fun, engaging and accessible read.
It is clear that Tom is a hard-as-nails rider, and I’m excited to see what daft adventures he and his dad get up to in the years to come.
Campagnolo Big titanium finish corkscrew
The story goes that, in 1966, Tullio Campagnolo hurt his hand while opening a bottle of wine. Dissatisfied with other options on the market, he designed the aptly-named Big corkscrew.
The Big corkscrew has been in Campagnolo’s lineup ever since, and really is the ultimate collector’s item for true Campag nerds.
Fans of First Look Friday will recall we featured the faux aged bronze version of the corkscrew last year, so I won’t dwell on the finer tech details here.
In brief, this new titanium finish adds to the already heady premium of the chrome and aged bronze versions, with a whopping €209 price tag.
I should stress that the Big corkscrew is not made from titanium – I imagine the price tag would be triple that figure if it was.
The whole thing is so totally excessive and daft, and it makes me smile whenever I use it. If you’re looking for a gift for the committed cyclist that has everything this Christmas, this comes highly recommended.
- €209 / £214 / US pricing TBC
Therm-a-rest Neoair Xtherm sleeping mat
Therm-a-rest is well-known for making some of the lightest sleeping gear around, but the Neoair Xtherm sacrifices a little bit in terms of volume and weight in the pursuit of ultimate warmth.
The mat is considered to have the best weight-to-warmth ratio of any air sleeping pad, with a huge R-value of 6.9 (this is the universal warmth rating for sleeping pads). This makes it a great choice for winter bikepacking.
We weighed the mat at 475g including its stuff bag. Again, this doesn’t make it the lightest sleeping pad out there but, for the modest weight penalty, you get a luxurious 6.4cm cushion of air between you and the ground.
Areas of the mat are coated with the brand’s proprietary Thermacapture coating, which helps to reflect radiant heat back to you.
The core of the mat is also constructed with what Therm-a-rest calls a “triangular core matrix construction”, which helps minimise convective heat loss. Who knew you could pack so much tech into the simple act of sleeping?
- £204.99 / $215 / EU pricing TBC