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Exotic (and expensive) titanium finishing kit, a jersey made from scraps of fabric and a retro-compatible handlebar

All of the latest and greatest cycling swag to land at BikeRadar HQ

First Look Friday 16 July 2021

The 2021 Tour de France draws to a close this Sunday and, with the accompanying flurry of launches and new tech almost behind us, BikeRadar can breathe a collective small sigh of relief… until the Tokyo 2020 Olympics starts, where we expect it will all kick off again.

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While there have been plenty of new goodies to ogle at this year’s race, it hasn’t brought quite as bountiful a harvest of new cycling tech as previous years. Could brands be holding back their best new cycling swag for the Olympics?

Back to the Tour and highlights have included a number of new pro bikes, lots of unbranded wheels and new time-trial equipment, and the extraordinary sideshow that has been Lachlan Morton’s Alt Tour.

Back at BikeRadar HQ, we had tech writer Simon Bromley giving his verdict on the state of the aero road bike market following his recent group test. We also had mountain bike tech editor Alex Evans sharing his all-time favourite tools for “hitting, being hit and hitting harder” in our latest edition of High Mileage Heroes.

ControlTech TiMania stem, seatpost and handlebar

ControlTech TiMania finishing kit
In addition to alloy and carbon finishing kit, ControlTech also produces a line of cast titanium parts.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

ControlTech started out producing bar ends in 1989 before expanding into other finishing kit (with the odd dabble in suspension forks and other components along the way).

Following a relaunch in 2017, the brand now produces a wide range of finishing kit across all disciplines in an interesting variety of materials, including a wild titanium/carbon hybrid drop bar.

ControlTech’s TiMania titanium finishing kit range is a particular highlight, and I have a selection of it in for testing.

Whether or not titanium is necessarily a better material for finishing kit than carbon or alloy is debatable, but that’s hardly the point.

It looks cool, feels a bit exotic (and is priced as such!) and will match your brushed titanium road bike nicely. This will be justification enough for the true ti-vangelists out there.

Controltech TiMania stem

ControlTech TiMania finishing kit
The stem weighs 148g.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Like most conventional alloy stems, the TiMania stem is forged.

Many titanium stems are welded together from separate components. This is a less complex process because stem lengths and angles can also be easily accommodated by mitering the central ‘extension’ to suit.

Forging the stem is claimed to improve strength and allows Controltech to more accurately remove excess material from certain areas compared to machining.

The stem is available in sizes 70 to 120mm. My 120mm sample weighs 148g.

  • $485

Controltech TiMania riser bar

ControlTech TiMania finishing kit
Titanium bars are claimed to have a buzz-taming ride quality.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Matching the stem is this Controltech TiMania riser bar. It is a fairly conventional bar with 20mm of rise, 6 degrees of upsweep and 9 degrees of backsweep.

It is available in 720 or 760mm widths, weighs 266g in the wider size and has a brushed finish. A flat top and true flat bar are also available.

Like titanium frames, titanium bars are claimed to provide a degree of pleasing vibration damping on rough terrain (I’m dubious but will withhold final judgement until I have tested it).

That aside – to quote ControlTech – the “natural metal finish adds a subtle hint of exotica to any bike”, which no one can argue with.

  • $445

Controltech TiMania SB0 seatpost

ControlTech TiMania finishing kit
The titanium seatpost is a lovely bit of kit.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Finally, we have the Timania SB0 seatpost. This is the zero setback version of Controltech’s titanium post. A post with 12mm setback is also available.

It uses a familiar clamp arrangement that sees a cylindrical tube running through the post. This is then attached to a matching free-floating clamp. The saddle rails sit in a carbon fibre cradle. A similar setup is used on many lightweight seatposts.

The brand has indulged in a cheeky bit of drillium at the base of the post in the name of weight savings, with the uncut post coming in at 225g.

  • $455

Deda Piega handlebar

Deda Piega handlebar
At the other end of the price spectrum, we have Deda’s Piega bar.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Deda’s Piega bar is nothing new or particularly extraordinary, so what has earned it a spot in First Look Friday?

Put simply, this is a public service announcement for the retrogrouches among us – if you are looking for a black road handlebar with a 26mm clamp for a retro build, don’t mess around waiting for some new old stock option, just buy these.

I toiled over eBay for hours prior to buying these and can almost guarantee you’ll struggle to find anything better for the price.

Deda Piega handlebar
The bar has a modern profile that works well with integrated shifters.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Available in sizes 38cm through 46cm in 2cm steps, the Deda Piega handlebar has a perfectly inoffensive modern semi-compact shape that works well with modern integrated shifters.

You’ll probably have to do the ever-terrifying ‘penny trick’ to pry open the clamp on a typical quill stem when fitting it, but that’s not unusual for this type of bar.

Better still, it can be regularly found from most online retailers for ~£25. What’s not to like?

These have been fitted to an upcoming ‘neo-retro’ (I hate myself for calling it that too) build I’m working on. Full details to follow once the last of the parts arrive. Stay tuned.

  • £31.99 / €38.49 / $37.99 / AU$55.99

MAAP Evade Pro Base OffCut jersey

MAAP Evade Pro off-cut jersey
It’s called fashion, look it up.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

MAAP aims to tackle in a small way the (horrifying) issue of off-cut waste in the fashion industry by repurposing scraps of fabric to create what is best described as a high-performance technicolour dreamcoat.

Said to be inspired by the samples used by shoe salespeople in the ’80s that would include all available colours in one shoe, the MAAP Evade Pro Base OffCut is a hot weather summer cycling jersey made from off-cuts from other colour options in the Evade line.

This is no raggedy patchwork quilt though. The jersey is made of the same premium materials as the ‘normal’ jerseys – it just mashes them into a much jazzier hodge-podge arrangement.

MAAP Evade Pro off-cut jersey
The sleeves are suitably long.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The jersey has a form-fitting pro cut and suitably trendy almost elbow-length sleeves, which are made of a honeycomb mesh.

The whole jersey boasts SPF 50+ sun protection (no bad thing for this peely wally wee Scot).

MAAP Evade Pro off-cut jersey
Even the pockets are a fetching, clashing shade of salmon.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Though one jersey clearly isn’t going to turn the tide on this enormous issue, it illustrates brands can create something genuinely fabulous with what would otherwise become waste with a bit of ingenuity. Take note, cycling industry.

MAAP Evade Pro off-cut jersey
With this socks and sandals combo I could almost pass as Lachlan Morton (almost).
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Kit from the MAAP OffCuts programme is available in limited quantities, but different designs will follow season-to-season depending on materials available at the time.

IceBreaker Merino/linen Dowlas T-shirt

IceBreaker Dowlas T-shirt
A Merino T-shirt is a nice choice for carefree zooming about.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

While zipping around in fashionable go-fast cycling kit is good fun, dressing down and smashing about in normal clothes is also an underrated treat.

While a good ol’ cotton top is fine for cooler days, I run hot at the best of times, so something that wicks and dries quicker is essential if I want to stay comfortable.

Keen to find something that wouldn’t whiff after a full day’s riding, I got a hold of one of IceBreaker’s much-admired Merino tops.

The IceBreaker Dowlas is made from a 70/30 blend of Merino wool and linen and comes in three colour options.

I went for a medium top but, on reflection, should have probably sized down – IceBreaker’s ‘regular fit’ is quite baggy and the cut of the top is weirdly long (I could probably wear this as a T-shirt dress if I didn’t mind a wee bit of cheeky peach showing).

For reference, I am 181cm tall and usually take a medium in most cycling kit.

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  • £90, international pricing TBC