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A top of the range road helmet, Froome-fuelling energy products, featherweight gilet and new MTB pedals and grips

Plus all the best news and reviews from the week

First Look Friday

It’s been a big week for news, with Shimano finally announcing Dura-Ace R9200, the long-awaited update to its flagship road groupset.

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The opportunity to give the groupset its first test runs went to senior writer Matthew Loveridge, and his first impressions were (unsurprisingly) almost universally positive. Sadly, though, that article marks Matthew’s last appearance on BikeRadar, as he has now moved on to pastures new.

His technical insight, sharp opinions and good humour will doubtless be missed by many, myself included. All the best for the future, Matthew.

Unusually, Shimano also launched its new Ultegra R8100 groupset at the same time, though we’ve not been able to get our hands on a test groupset yet.

I’m sorry to report, however, that mechanical Dura-Ace and Ultegra are dead. They’re no more, they’ve ceased to be, they’ve expired and gone to meet their maker, etc.

If you’re in the market for a new bike equipped with one of Shimano’s latest groupsets, we’ve rounded up 13 bikes with Shimano 12-speed. Plenty more bikes will be coming soon, we’ve no doubt, but if you really can’t wait there are lots of good options already.

Away from the big road component news, Merida finally announced the Scultura V Team, the new lightweight, all-round road bike we’d already spotted being raced in the WorldTour.

Strava also revealed its Beacon feature – which shares your live location with up to three nominated friends or family members while recording an activity in the app – is now freely available to all users, regardless of whether you have a premium subscription or not.

If that’s all old news to you, though, let’s take a look at some of the latest new tech and kit to land at BikeRadar HQ this week.

HJC Ibex 2.0 helmet

The Ibex 2.0 is HJC’s flagship performance road helmet, designed with low weight, ventilation and aerodynamics in mind.

Seen on the heads of Israel Start-Up Nation pros like Chris Froome, it has a more open design compared to the Furion 2.0 aero road helmet, but still promises to be aerodynamically efficient thanks to its shape. It also tips the scales at a very respectable 220g for a size medium.

Though HJC doesn’t provide any specific figures to back up those claims, it does say the Ibex 2.0 was developed in its own “wind tunnel laboratory”, using learnings from its helmets for MotoGP riders.

Perhaps of greater importance for lapsed road racers like me is that it has a clean, good looking design, ports that can accommodate sunglasses and feels very comfortable on my head.

Notably, the Ibex 2.0 uses HJC’s SELFIT fit system which eschews adjusting dials and instead uses spring tension to automatically adjust the fit on your head.

It feels a bit odd at first (most likely because I’ve been over-tightening my helmets in the past), but it provides an impressively secure and comfortable fit, and the Ibex 2.0 has quickly become one of my go-to helmets for road riding.

Science in Sport Beta Fuel

Science in Sport Beta Fuel drink powder
Science in Sport Beta Fuel drink powder delivers 80g of carbohydrates in a 600ml drink.
Simon Bromley / Immediate Media

Given how intense road cycling can often be, it’s a sport that often relies heavily on glycogen to fuel efforts.

The eternal problem for many racers and serious cyclists, though, is replacing those stores at a rate consistent with what’s being burned.

It’s no easy task and, if you get it wrong, you can quickly find yourself in bonk territory (which is never a pleasant experience).

Science in Sport’s latest attempt to solve this age-old issue is a new update to its Beta Fuel, the energy product that purportedly played a large role in fuelling Chris Froome’s historic victory on Stage 19 of the 2018 Giro D’Italia (if you missed that at the time, it’s well worth looking it up – it was Froome at his absolute best).

Beta Fuel is available as an energy drink powder, which delivers a whopping 80g of carbohydrate per 600ml bottle, or as gels or chew bars that deliver 40g of carbs per serving.

According to Science in Sport, the crucial factor is that Beat Fuel uses a 1:0.8 ratio of maltodextrin and fructose (two types of carbohydrate). This is claimed to “increase exogenous CHO [carbohydrate] oxidation by up to 17%” and offer “enhanced power output during max efforts”, while still being kind to your gut.

Does it work? Well, there are scientific studies that suggest it does, and as someone who often struggles with fueling long, hard rides, I’m keen to test this range out for myself.

Q36.5 Air Vest 69g Olive Green

Q36.5 Air Vest 69g Olive Green
Q36.5’s Air Vest 69g Olive Green is a highly packable, lightweight gilet.
Felix Smith / Immediate Media

Next up we have this featherweight packable gilet from Q36.5.

Dubbed the Air Vest 69g because it’s claimed to weigh just 69g for a size medium (our size extra small sample weighs just 65g, so that seems spot-on), this wind vest is made from a lightweight, stretchy fabric with a durable water-repellent treatment.

The front panel is windproof, to keep you warm, while the rear features a “power mesh” to help improve breathability, which is crucial during the colder months for keeping you warm and dry.

The Air Vest 69g is cut close for road cycling, and its low weight and thin fabric make it very packable. The collar comes up high, to provide extra protection from the elements ad the zip pull is long enough to use with gloves on, so no fumbling with cold hands or winter gloves.

Lastly, as the name suggests, it comes in this reversed but fetching, olive green colour.

Gusset Slim Jim Nylon MTB pedals and S2 Lock-On MTB grips

Gusset S2 Lock-On MTB grips and Slim Jim Nylon MTB pedals
Gusset S2 Lock-On MTB grips and Slim Jim Nylon MTB pedals.
Max Wilman / Immediate Media

Here we have Gusset’s Slim Jim Nylon MTB pedals and S2 Lock-On MTB grips, both colour matched in a vibrant orange.

The pedals are also available in two other colours, black or lime, while the grips are available in an array of colour options.

Looks aside, Gusset has delved deep into what it believes makes a truly good set of mountain bike grips.

Starting with an extra soft rubber compound, there are two different sizes of diamond grip, plus an eccentric core that gives the rider more padding and an overall soft feel.

Gusset S2 Lock-On MTB grips
The S2 Lock-On MTB grips feature two different sizes of diamond texture, to improve grip.
Max Wilman / Immediate Media

The grips also have a ribbed section underneath, (a feature we often see on other popular options, such as DMR’s Deathgrip grips), and is a proven way to add strength to finger position while riding.

There’s also a dedicated washboard-like thumb grip, which adds some extra dexterity when manoeuvring the bike around.

Finally, Gusset has also added a few chunky ribs to the end of the topside of the grip, which aid in keeping your hands from slipping off the bar in the event of a heavy impact.

The grips are 131mm in length, 32mm in diameter and come with a sleek black collar with a 3mm hex bolt.

Gusset Slim Jim Nylon MTB pedals
Gusset Slim Jim Nylon MTB pedals
Max Wilman / Immediate Media

Moving on to the Slim Jim Nylon pedals. This iteration of the Slim Jim has a thermoplastic nylon reinforced pedal body. While nylon pedals might not be as tough as metal ones, the Slim Jim nevertheless feels solid underfoot.

There are obvious weight savings too, with these pedals weighing in at around 360g per pair, 40g less than their CNC aluminium counterparts.

The pedals have a usefully wide platform and a low profile, concave shape to them. They also have ten user-replaceable 3mm pins on each side, for added grip.
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Finally, the Slim Jim Nylon pedals feature a CNC-machined Cro-mo axle and have fully sealed bearings to keep the muck out and keep them spinning smoothly for as long as possible.