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Enormous Oakleys, rad Rapha headphones and swish Shimano shoes

Plus half-lobster winter gloves from Triban

First Look Friday

2021 is off to a banging start in the UK with yet another lockdown, and this time it doesn’t even come with a side-order of beautiful weather. Rude. This has also been the first week back in work after Christmas for many of us, so let us take the sting out with our latest round-up of new kit.

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This week we’ve published reviews of two very different gravel bikes; Canyon’s affordable Grail 6 and the latest version of 3T’s trend-setting aero Exploro.

We also took a look at Pinarello’s Dyodo gravel ebike with a pre-production FSA motor system, and got a first ride on Merida’s rad-by-XC-standards Ninety-Six RC 9000.

Are you struggling for motivation to ride or need some focus? Here are ten cycling New Year’s resolutions and a primer on how to create a training plan that works for you.

Read on for this week’s product highlights.

Oakley Sutro Lite glasses

Big shades are all the rage right now, with pro cyclists engaged in an arms race to see who can hide the most face behind acres of lens.

The Sutro Lite, as worn by Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Remco Evenepoel, is Oakley’s latest venture into super-sized glasses.

Based on the existing Sutro and harking back to Oakley’s classic Razor Blades, the Sutro Lite has a semi-rimless design to give maximum field-of-view and ventilation.

It’s available in six colours in standard fit and four in Asian fit, with all models featuring interchangeable Prizm lenses that claim to boost colour and contrast.

The Sutro Lite’s frame is made from ‘O Matter’, Oakley’s term for its proprietary plastic. As on other models, the rubbery bits are ‘Unobtainium’, which claims to get grippier as you sweat.

Will you be going large in 2021?

  • £143 / $176

Triban RR 920 Thermal Xtrem gloves

Triban RR 920 Thermal Xtrem gloves
Is half-lobster the best of all worlds?
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

Lobster-style winter gloves are the nuclear option for serious cold, but they’re not the most practical option for shifting and braking dexterity.

Triban (a Decathlon in-house brand) has launched its new RR 920 gloves that split the difference between full-lobster and standard gloves, with the ring and little fingers combined, but the thumb, index and middle fingers separate.

Designed for road riding in sub-zero (centigrade) conditions, these gloves are claimed to be windproof and water-resistant, with a DWR coating.

They have gel pads for comfort and feature a large reflective section on top for visibility.

Most notably, the RR 920 gloves are very keenly priced compared to some of the big brand competition, potentially a bargain if they live up to the promise of their specs.

Shimano S-Phyre RC902 shoes

Shimano S-Phyre RC920 shoe
The RC902 is the third generation of Shimano’s flagship road shoe.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Shimano has updated its flagship road shoe and it now features a so-called “360-degree surround wrapping upper” which runs right round the shoe and is joined under the sole, with no seam at the heel, unlike many shoes.

Shimano reckons it can create a better fit for “all riders” this way. Whatever the effect, it certainly makes for a clean-looking design.

Being Shimano’s top-spec road shoe, everything about the RC902s is aimed at performance, and they have an arbitrary sole stiffness rating of 12/12 on Shimano’s arbitrary scale.

Shimano S-Phyre RC920 shoe
The upper wraps right round the shoe and is joined under the sole.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The RC902 also features new low-profile Boa Li2 dials, and this pair of 43s weighs a respectable 247g per shoe.

The pair we have here are actually pre-production samples, meaning there may be slight cosmetic differences to the retail product, but the shoes are available to buy now.

We’re fans of the previous versions of the S-Phyre shoe, so we’re expecting these to be pretty darned good too.

  • £319.99 / $425

Rapha + Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport headphones

Rapha + Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport earphones
Rapha’s latest collaboration is with Bang & Olufsen for these Beoplay E8 Sport earphones.
George Scott / Immediate Media

Rapha launched its latest collaboration in November, right in time for the indoor cycling season. These Rapha + Bang & Olufsen earphones are sport-specific (they are sweat- and water-resistant) and BikeRadar’s editor, George Scott, has been using them on the smart trainer for a few weeks now.

They’re based on Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay E8 Sport earphones – there’s nothing unique to the Rapha collab apart from the branding and a cowbell chime as the connection tone – but they’re also the same price as the existing model, so there’s nothing awry there. And there’s some lovely Rapha pink.

These are pricey earphones though, at £300. Apple’s premium Airpods Pro earphones are £249, for a quick comparison.

First impressions from George? He says sound quality is superb – particularly for in-ear headphones – with the full acoustic range, from the bass that provides motivation for turbo-charged interval sessions, to crystal-clear audio clarity when listening to podcasts on less intense rides.

The EQ can also be customised in the Bang & Olufsen app, and there are a handful of preset options, too.

There are plenty more features to delve into – fit, touch controls, call quality, battery life, and so on – and George will come back with a full review soon.

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