It’s that time of the week again when we let you in on some of the latest kit to land at BikeRadar HQ.
Alongside this, rest assured the great whirlpool of work that goes into feeding the world’s leading multi-discipline cycling website spins apace.
Monday saw my Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8 review hit the home page.
On Tuesday, we put our advice caps firmly on, with tips on riding in the rain (oh, how I needed those) and published our cycling headphones buyer’s guide. We also let you know what the best turbo trainer deals are at the moment – just in time for Black Friday and the gifting season.
To that end, Wednesday heralded our cycling gift guide with some fresh new ideas for your cycling-obsessed loved ones (yes, there’s still a pizza cutter).
For now though, let’s dive right in with some juicy juicy kit.
e*thirteen Helix Race 12-speed 9-45t gravel cassette
If gravel riding isn’t about greater self-expression in cycling, I don’t know what is.
The e*thirteen Helix Race 12-speed 9-45t gravel cassette is one such example, distilled into a fetchingly designed two-piece cassette.
e*thirteen says the cassette can be used as a drop-in replacement for a 10-44t SRAM XPLR cassette, conferring a 13 per cent increase in gearing range.
The largest two sprockets (38-45t) are constructed using one piece of anodised alloy. Our sample here comes in a blue oil-slick colourway, which e*thirteen calls “Intergalactic”, although those feeling less provocative can opt for a silver-grey version.
The other 10 sprockets (9-11-13-15-17-19-22-25-28-32t) are also made in one cluster, this time from stainless steel. The two effectively slot together, locking into place before sliding onto an XDR freehub body.
This also means the two tallest sprockets can be swapped out easily, saving the need to buy a whole new cassette.
- £329.95 / $329.95
Revoloop TPU inner tubes and repair patches
If you’re not willing to make the switch to tubeless for its purported benefits, upgrading your tubes is a good, mess-free alternative.
Revoloop TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) inner tubes are claimed to offer similar performance upsides to tubeless, and provide an alternative to latex.
Even better, TPU is said to be completely recyclable at the end of its life.
TPUplus, the German brand that manufactures the Revoloop inner tubes, says it has filed a patent for its technique, which is claimed to create a flatter seam.
In turn, we’re told this improves ride quality compared to a standard butyl inner tube, while the material itself is said to be more resistant to pinch flats and insertion punctures.
They’re also light. The lightest tube for road use, the Race Ultra, weighs just 25g with a 40mm valve, and can inflate up to 700x28c tyres.
The Race Ultra and tougher Race tube (39g claimed) can be had with 40, 60 and 80mm valves, and the gravel-oriented CC Ultra tubes (30g claimed) are available with 40 and 60mm valves.
There are also versions for MTB, BMX, fat bike and 20-inch tyres, while dedicated repair patches are available.
- Race Ultra – £27.99 / $49.99 / €29.90
- Race – £23.99 / $36.99 / €24.95
- CC Ultra – £27.99 / $49.99 / €29.90
- Repair kits – £7.99 / $11.99 / €7.95
Ass Savers Win Wing 2
The second-generation Ass Savers Win Wing 2 launched this week, claiming to improve upon the original’s minimalist muck-protecting design.
The new version is said to be stronger, with a reinforced wishbone to lend greater resistance against tough conditions.
Ass Savers reckons this will help it survive the trials of shipping.
Provision for frame protection has also been included. The basic design with rubberised contact points remains – an easy system to fit – but it also now includes frame protection stickers.
An all-black ‘stealth’ version is available for a limited time, but there are five other colours on offer besides this.
A road model, which is claimed to weigh 64g, offers space for 35mm-wide tyres. The gravel model (pictured) is just 8g heavier, but can accommodate up to 60mm-wide rubber.
- Black Dot & Logo colours – $29 / €26
- Squid, Stealth & Detour colours – $30 / €27
- Spektrum colour – $31 / €28
Castelli Alpha jackets
Famous for its Gabba and (latterly) Perfetto line of garments for all-season weather, Castelli has two new Alpha jackets for winter 2023-2024.
There are three Alpha jackets in the range overall. Oscar Huckle reviewed the range-topping, now-£390 Alpha Ultimate jacket earlier this year, but the new Alpha Flight ROS and Alpha Doppio ROS sit below this for (a little) less money.
Here’s how they stack up.
Castelli Alpha Flight ROS jacket
The Alpha Flight ROS jacket is designed for milder winter conditions, between 6 and 16°C.
It has a zippable inner liner designed to block the wind, while Polartec Alpha insulation is featured on the chest, sleeves and back for added warmth.
Castelli says the dual-layer construction is more effective than a single layer for temperature management, keeping the thermal and wind-blocking layers separate.
Anyone who’s sweated through a thermal jersey in cool conditions before now will understand the perils of being stuck with damp clothing.
Castelli hasn’t included a waterproof membrane in its Nano Flex fabric, instead relying upon a DWR (durable water repellent) finish to provide essential protection from showers.
The upside to this is a lighter garment (277g claimed in a size medium), while the lack of membrane in the outer fabric is said to help with breathability.
Despite being positioned as a lighter option from Castelli’s Alpha range, the brand hasn’t forgotten practical touches, such as a zippered security pocket, three storage pockets and an offset YKK zip.
The jacket is available in four colours – ‘Sulphur’ yellow, navy blue, black and ‘Tarmac’ grey – and sizes ranging from XS-3XL.
- £290 / $319.99 / €269.95
Castelli Alpha Doppio ROS jacket
The Alpha Doppio ROS jacket replaces the previous Alpha ROS 2 garment, with an updated cut and design tweaks that are said to reinforce its winter-resisting capabilities.
The fit is marginally looser than previous-generation Alpha jackets across the shoulders and midriff – I own an original Alpha ROS, which is tighter in the same size (large) – somewhat mirroring the development curve of the latest Perfetto ROS 2.
Bearing in mind the -5 to 10°C claimed operating window, this makes the Alpha Doppio more focused on steadier winter mile gathering than racing (that role is left to the Alpha Flight ROS above).
The main outer-shell panels are made of Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper 150 fabric. This is a thinner grade than the Perfetto (this has the beefier ‘205’ iteration), but underneath the Polartec Alpha internal liner adds further insulation.
It’s worth noting that this differs from the Alpha Ultimate jacket, which uses Polartec fabrics inside and out.
The back features a thinner fabric to aid breathability where high wind protection isn’t the priority.
The shoulders have seen a seam redesign to help reduce the chances of water ingress, while the jacket includes provision of a front-facing zipped pocket on top of the three cargo pockets on the back.
The cuffs are also double-layered, which Castelli says helps the jacket to integrate neatly with cycling gloves.
Castelli offers the Alpha Doppio ROS jacket in four colours – red, black, ‘Rover’ green and orange – and in the same XS-3XL size range as the Alpha Flight ROS.
- £350 / €319.95 / $399.99