This week’s First Look Friday brings you something our mountain bike test team are hugely excited about. More on that later though. Here’s a run-through of this week’s latest and greatest news and reviews on BikeRadar.
With the nights drawing out and winter slipping away, bike rides can start becoming longer again. For those looking for an endurance road bike, Stan Portus has put together a round-up of the best options out there.
Elsewhere, Warren Rossiter checked out the latest Tifosi Cavazzo Ekar, explaining how the do-it-all frame has been nudged gently in the gravel-bike direction with bigger tyre clearance and revised geometry to better tackle off-road trails.
Liv has released a new Embolden, its entry-level full-suspension trail bike. The new bike comes with a 29in-wheel option and there are two models available. Liv claims these are aimed at trail riders who are new to the sport. Check out Oscar Huckle’s story for all the details and prices.
It isn’t, though, all about complete bikes this week. If you’re looking for a new road bike saddle, then check out our top picks and reviews. And if you’re keen on listening to a podcast while out riding, the bone-conducting Shoxz OpenRun Headphones review might be right up your street.
Freelap MTB Personal Pack
This is a bit of kit I’ve been interested in for a long time. The FreeLap MTB Personal Pack is a timing system that enables you to turn any section of trail into a race course.
For us mountain bike testers, this is an excellent tool for comparing bikes to see if one is faster than another, whether that’s down a rough section of trail or in climbing efficiency.
It uses two transmitters, one as a start line and the other as a finish line. Each transmitter emits an electromagnetic field. This field is detected by a transponder attached to the bike as you ride through it, and it records the time interval between each transmitter.
This time is sent by Bluetooth to the Freelap app on a phone that records it and enables you to compare different runs.
This is an expensive solution, and may not be suitable for those who enjoy just going for a blast in the woods, or would rather tick off kilometres. But for those who are looking to improve their speed on a bike, or love a mates race – or for testers like us, this is a great bit of kit.
Royal Racing 2022 jerseys
Here, we’ve got two new Royal Racing jerseys for 2022. The Core long sleeve and the Quantum short sleeve.
The Core jersey features a casual cut blended with a technical fabric aimed at everything from gravel rides to enduro and downhill.
The material is 15 per cent cotton and 85 per cent polyester, offering a cotton-like feel and comfort, while drying up to four times faster than a 100 per cent cotton jersey.
The fabric has also been UV treated to help protect the skin from harmful UV rays when the sun does shine.
The Quantum jersey is one for the environmentally conscious and is produced from 100 per cent recycled polyester.
This jersey has a casual fit and styling. It has also been finshed with an antimicrobial treatment to help with any odour problems, so you can go longer without washing it, further reducing stress on the environment.
The price of both these two jerseys seems good, as these days the best mountain bike jerseys can be expensive.
O’Neal Predator WP pants
With the recent tempestuous weather, these waterproof pants from O’Neal have turned up just in time.
The 2.5-layer fabric has a soft touch and is claimed to provide a 10,000mm waterproof rating and 10,000g/m2/24h breathability. That offers decent performance for their reasonable price, and should keep the worst of weather from soiling your chamois.
To help keep them from leaking, the pants have sealed seams and waterproof zippers. The cut features pre-curved leg-tailoring to help them fit properly when on the bike. They also have a high-back waist strap to prevent any skin from showing.
There’s a waterproof fly and button to fasten the pants, with dual hook and loop tabs to tighten them and tailor the fit around the waste. They also feature two zipped hand pockets to help carry items securely.
Other details include reflective logos and a hang tab on the waist to help them dry. We’re keen to see how these stand up to the British winter weather, and if they can hack it against the best waterproof mountain bike trousers.
STZY tubeless tyre repair plug kit with tubeless inflator
Putting a hole in a tyre during the middle of a ride is no fun, especially when the best tubeless sealant won’t bung it up. Here’s where you have two choices. Throw a tube in, or try to plug the hole. Inner tubes are helpful, but they puncture more easily, and if you can repair the hole, you’ve still got an emergency last resort.
This new tool from STZY is a tyre plug and tubeless inflator in one. It comes with 10 bacon strips (plugs) and fitment for a CO2 canister so you can quickly re-inflate the tyre, or seat the bead on the rim if it has come off.
The tyre plug tool features a reamer to roughen the surface of the hole and help the plugs seal, plus a standard forked prong to insert the strip. The fork can then be unscrewed from the tool, and this becomes the thread for the gas canister.
The tubeless inflator will fit both Presta and Schrader valves. It’s made from 7075 aluminium alloy and weighs in at a measly 37g. Having two tools in one seems like a smart idea, plus it’s available at a decent price.