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Suspension improving crank spider, environmentally-friendly frame protection and new trail shoes

The cycling world is alight with activity and new products

First Look Friday

Cycling is full gas right now, especially in the world of racing, and it’s been fantastic seeing fans back at the races, especially all the supporters lining the roads at the Tour de France and the brilliant atmosphere at the Les Gets downhill and cross-country World Cup last weekend, despite the wet weather. I genuinely think it’s hard to find more passionate or vocal cycling fans than the French.


If you missed it, you can catch up with all our Tour de France coverage here and listen to our extra podcasts, including Matthew Loveridge, George Scott, and Simon Bromley discussing their favourite Tour de France climbs.

BikeRadar’s editor-in-chief, George Scott, also got the chance to chat with Lachlan Morton midway through his 5,510km Alt Tour, racing the peloton to Paris. They talk about the challenge so far, scaling the Alps and Mont Ventoux, his bikepacking setup and how he’s riding on a diet of cider, prosciutto and melon.

We’ve also got some exciting news! The BikeRadar team is growing and we’re hiring five roles, so if you want to work at one of the world’s biggest cycling websites, find out more here.

As a halfway house between road and mountain biking, Scott has released its new Addict Gravel, with more tyre clearance, more mounting options, refined geometry, and aero updates. It’s one smart-looking gravel bike.

Otherwise, here’s some MTB gear that’s landed at BikeRadar HQ recently to get you through to the weekend.

Ochain Active Spider

The Ochain Active Spider aims to improve suspension performance by reducing pedal kick back. Luke Marshall / Immediate Media
The Ochain Active Spider aims to improve suspension performance by reducing pedal kick back.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

While this isn’t a brand-new product, it has seen the limelight recently thanks to some top racers using it to great success in the downhill World Cup and Enduro World Series. So, we’d put it to the test to see what all the fuss is about and if it can make us any faster.

What does the Ochain active spider do? Well, it allows the chainring to rotate backwards (anti-clockwise) either 6, 9, or 12 degrees, depending on which elastomers you choose, independently of the cranks.

That reduces the amount of pedal kickback through the cranks generated from the rear centre extending as the suspension compresses through its travel. It is effectively giving you a more ‘chainless’ feel to your bike.

The Ochain comes with three different sets of elastomers to fine tune the amount of rotation of the chainring. Luke Marshall / Immediate Media
The Ochain comes with three different sets of elastomers to fine-tune the amount of rotation of the chainring.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

Of course, there are some drawbacks to this. It increases the dead space between pedalling and the freehub engaging, proportionally to the setting you’ve chosen, and it’s not exactly cheap.

While continuously pedalling, though, the Ochain’s internal springs engage its teeth. So it behaves like a normal spider and does not affect the anti-squat of a bike.

Ochain Active Spider
The internals of the Ochain Active Spider.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

The Ochain is available for SRAM, Shimano, RaceFace, ethirteen and Hope direct-mount cranks and needs a 104 BCD chainring.

We’re interested in seeing how much this small change improves performance and if those benefits outweigh the drawbacks. We’ll report back to you with our findings in a review soon.

Mucky Nutz Skinz

Mucky Nutz Skinz
Environmentally friendly frame protection to keep your pride and joy scuff and scratch-free.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

British brand Mucky Nutz, best known for its mudguards, has released a new product to help further protect your ride and the environment.

Skinz is a stick-on frame and fork vinyl protection designed to help protect key areas of your bike from the wear and tear, scratches and scuffs that are all too common when riding and transporting it.

There are three sets available for different parts of your bike, including a frameset, stay set, and fork set. The frame kit comes with 17 patches that should cover most areas of a front triangle. The stay kit comprises two seatstay and two chainstay protectors, and the fork kits include four patches to fend off the worst scrapes.

These universal kits are suitable for both carbon and alloy frames, and there are six designs to choose from in either a gloss or matt finish.

Mucky Nutz Skinz
There are several different designs, to add some decoration to your bike as well as protection.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

The vinyl used is Cadmium free. Cadmium is a chemical element that’s toxic to all wildlife, including plants, animals and micro-organisms. So that sounds like a smart move to us. What’s more, the graphics are made from eco-friendly inks printed between vinyl layers to increase environmental protection further.

If you want to keep your pride and joy looking its best and add a touch of decoration too, these should be a smart place to start. They can, of course, be trimmed to size or shape if needs be to achieve a precise fit.

  • Frame Skinz: £25
  • Stay Skinz: £20
  • Fork Skinz: £20

Ion Rascal Amp shoes

Ion Rascal Amp shoes
The new Ion Rascal Amp shoes are the brand’s high-end clipless trail shoes.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

Ion has updated its range of riding shoes, and the pair that caught our attention is its high-end clipless model, the Rascal Amp.

As the brand’s high-end trail-orientated clipless shoes, they should be useful for everything from trail centre loops and enduro rides to sessioning the woods with your mates.

They’re built with a sole that’s stiff to bend longitudinally but with some lateral flexibility, which aims to minimise the foot tilting on the pedal. Ion achieves this by reinforcing the shank inside the sole.

The sole features Ion’s SupTraction rubber with specific pedal and walking treads to provide grip when on and off the bike, plus when you’re riding without the cleats engaged.

Ion Rascal Amp
The sole features different tread patterns to give grip both on and off the pedals.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

Traditional laces and a wide Velcro strap help tailor the fit, to keep them secure when hitting the trails. In addition, they benefit from a raised ankle pad on the inside to help protect the rider from the cranks.

There’s also a reinforced toe box to dissipate forces if you catch your foot on a rock or root.

Ion Rascal Amp
The toe box gives the wearer some extra protection from rocks and roots, and also a little bad weather.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

The Rascal Amps are available in white or black and sizes EU37 to 47. Our size 42 weighs 936g for the pair. (468g per shoe).

If you’re looking for something more gravity focused, Ion has the race-oriented Rascal Select Boa. The shoes feature a Boa fastener, more protection and a more rearwards cleat recess.

  • Ion Rascal Amp: €169,95
  • Ion Rascal Select Boa: €199,95