The middle of January can be a gloomy time for cyclists. This year it won’t stop raining in the UK, the trails are mostly bog and the roads are in pieces, but the flood of new product never abates. Welcome to First Look Friday!
This week we’ve taken a look at the bikes of the British National Cyclocross Championships and ogled the aluminium Specialized Allez Sprints of Team Deceuninck–Quick-Step and Bora–Hansgrohe.
If you need Veganuary inspiration, don’t miss our vegan energy snack recipes and check out our piece on vegan diets for cyclists. Oh, and if you’re ready to dive back into pro road racing after a quiet winter, make sure you tune in to watch the Tour Down Under, which kicked off yesterday.
Specialized Diverge X1
Specialized’s Diverge is a do-everything gravel bike that comes in both carbon and aluminium flavours. The X1 is the most affordable carbon model and it gets you 11-speed SRAM Apex mechanical shifting with matching hydraulic discs.
The frame is made from Specialized’s FACT 9r carbon and it uses the BB386 bottom bracket standard, along with 20mm thru-axles front and rear.
The Diverge’s USP is its Future Shock front suspension, the same system used to great effect on the Roubaix endurance bike. The version used on the Diverge is, according to Specialized, tuned for the bigger bumps of off-road riding.
Specialized pitches the Diverge as having “Open Road Geometry” which in the case of this 48cm bike means a fairly low bottom bracket at 265mm high, a fairly slack front end at 70.8 degrees and reasonably short chainstays at 419mm.
This size (the smallest available, incidentally) gets 360mm of reach and a towering 569mm of stack — that’s quite a tall front end.
According to Specialized, the effect is to create “a road version of a modern trail bike” with “playful handling” and because the Future Shock is in the top of the steerer, handling remains predictable because the front wheel’s position remains fixed as you move through the travel.
The Diverge’s frame accepts tyres up to 700 × 42mm or 650b × 47mm. The bike shown here is wearing 700s and it weighs 9.2kg.
This particular machine is to be our Head of Production, Helen’s, long-term bike for 2020, so you’ll be hearing all about it over the coming months.
- £2,199 / $2,500
Latest deals for the Specialized Diverge X1
F3 Cycling FormMount OTS
Out-front mounts tend to be the default choice for Garmin users because they’re generally an elegant solution and place your device well forward, making for a comfortable viewing angle.
Sometimes an out-front mount isn’t the best option, say for example if you want to use a bar bag or if your cable setup gets in the way. In that case, the natural alternative is the stem, but if you’re running a short one, there may not be room. That’s where this little mount from F3 Cycling comes into its own.
The FormMount OTS (‘over the stem’) replaces a skinny headset spacer and lets your Garmin hover above your stem.
It’s made from a material that feels like hard plastic but F3 describes it as carbon composite, and it weighs just 12g on our scales.
A simple hinge allows the rider to adjust the viewing angle, with a bolt locking the mount in the desired position.
- Buy now from F3 Cycling
Marzocchi Bomber Z1 coil fork
We reviewed the air-sprung Marzocchi Z1 fork last year, and while it’s a very impressive big-hitting fork at a relatively reasonable price, we thought the air spring let it down slightly.
Now, though, there’s a coil-sprung version. This will be music to the ears of old-school Marzocchi fans, who pine for the days of super-reliable, plush and reassuringly heavy Marzocchi suspension forks.
This tradition was started by the legendary original Bomber Z1 back in 1997 and peaked in the early-mid 2000s, when Marzocchi was synonymous with super-smooth suspension.
We’re hoping the coil fork will improve on the slight lack of mid-stroke support we experienced with the air fork, while improving sensitivity, particularly in the first part of the travel.
The latest Z1 coil fork uses a (relatively) light-weight tempered silicon-chromium steel spring. Marzocchi says the spring uses air pressure to add progression to the linear coil spring and thereby helps it to resist bottom-out, although this progression isn’t adjustable.
Otherwise, it uses the same stout chassis and forgiving damper as the air-sprung Z1.
The fork is available with 160 or 170mm travel in 29er and 650b versions, plus 150mm in 29in only and 180mm in 27.5in only.
Marzocchi says the weight in the lightest configuration is 2,525g, but our 29in 170mm travel version with the extra-firm spring weighs 2,524g, with the steerer cut to 195mm.
There’s also a coil spring conversion kit to convert your air-sprung Z1 to coil for £155.
- Z1 coil fork: £779 / €949 / $749
- Plunger for conversion kit: £155 / €180 / $130
- Spare spring: £55 / €63 / $45
- Find out more at Marzocchi
Shimano Windstopper Thermal Reflective Gloves
Good gloves can make or break a ride and riders who are prone to cold hands are forever in search of the perfect design.
These heavy-duty winter gloves from Shimano appear to tick a good few boxes: they incorporate a Gore Windstopper membrane and make use of “metallic thermal tech” for warmth, which sounds very exciting.
The palm is designed to curve naturally around Shimano STI hoods (doubtless they are compatible with competitors’ levers too) and there are touchscreen pads on the thumb and forefinger.
The cuff is a simple elasticated one with no strap. That does mean there’s no way to cinch it down if you’ve got skinny wrists, on the other hand there’s also no Velcro to snag on other clothing.
There is a nice big wipe area along the top of the thumb so runny-nosed riders will like these. Curiously, despite the name, reflectives are actually a bit limited.