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Specialized’s lightweight e-commuter, Swanky Swedish lighting and subscription coffee

It's this week's hottest new bike gear

First look Friday: This week's best new bike gear

With the 2020 Tour De France now well underway, we promptly posted our complete guide to the race along with a complete start list and advice on how to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action.

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Canyon surprised us at the start of the week with its Future Mobility concept, a fascinating take on the future of urban mobility in the form of a four-wheeled electric recumbent. A little less quirky was the announcement of two all-new electric commuter bikes from the German brand; the Commuter:On and Precede:On.

If you’re in the market for a new water bottle then check out our latest tests on eight insulated and non-insulated designs.

Standout bike reviews this week include Marin’s El Roy hardcore hardtail, which scored 4.5 stars during testing, and the women’s-specific Trek Domane SL5 road bike, which also came away with high praise.

Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0

Specialized’s latest generation motorised hybrid weighs just 15.4kg / 34lbs  (SL stands for super light don’t you know).

That’s a real achievement in our eyes and makes this bike light enough for most people to be able to lug up and down staircases with relative ease. It should also make for a bike that handles well and is lighter on its brakes than many of its competitors.

It’s an obvious choice for commuters, but Specialized is also keen to push this bike on those who want to ride for fitness and fun.

The Turbo Vado SL’s alloy frame houses an own-brand motor and 320Wh battery, which puts out 240 watts and 35Nm torque yet weighs sub-2kg.

Glance at the top tube and you’ll see a neatly integrated control unit that also displays the battery level and which – if any – of the motor’s three assistance modes is active.

Spesh claims a range of up to 81 miles / 130km in the bike’s lowest eco assist mode and a bolt-on range extender battery is available for those who want to increase the range by a claimed 40 miles / 64km.

Further customisation and functionality can be unlocked via Specialized’s Mission Control smartphone app.

This entry-level model comes well equipped with a 10-speed Shimano Deore transmission, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and neatly integrated front and rear lights. Mixed tread 38mm Specialized Pathfinder tyres signal that there’s no need to stick to paved surfaces while heaps of clearance means mudguards won’t be an issue.

Our 2021 Turbo Vado SL range overview gives more information on the bikes and we’ll be reviewing this particular bike in the near future, so stay tuned for that.

  • £2,600 / $3,350

EI8HT Energy drink

Ei8ht Energy is a new sports energy drink mix by Avrox Technologies, a UK based sports performance brand.

Most sports nutrition products tend to use sugar as the main energy-giving ingredient, but Avrox has taken a different approach with Ei8ht Energy.

Using what it calls ‘encapsulation technology’, the vegan-friendly drink mix is claimed to use a patented mechanism of capturing microbubbles of oxygen, five hundred times thinner than a human hair, and delivering them to your bloodstream via the drink within four and a half minutes.

Avrox also claims an independent study by the Surrey Human Performance-Institute showed the drink delivered a 37 second time improvement over a 16km / 10-mile time trial, as well as 4 and 7.1 per cent average increases in mean and peak power output, respectively.

If you’re thinking all of that sounds too good to be true, we wouldn’t disagree, but we are intrigued. The oxygen microbubble technology might sound like science fiction, but it’s something that was originally developed for use in cancer therapy, so there could be something in it.

Avrox did also share the aforementioned study with us, and though we can confirm it shows the results quoted, it asked us not to share it publicly because the paper has yet to be officially published due to Covid-19 related delays.

It’s also worth noting that the drink mix contains 80mg of caffeine per serving, which may account for some of the performance benefits detected in the study.

The presence of multiple potential ergogenic aids also makes it difficult (if not impossible) to attribute any performance gains to the oxygen microbubble technology. Ideally, we’d like to see a study testing the efficacy of that tech on its own before drawing any conclusions.

Our in-house time trialist and performance guinea pig, Simon Bromley, took a sample as per the instructions before a recent 40km / 25 mile time trial, but doesn’t feel like he rode any better or worse than expected. He also described the taste as ‘bearable’.

Of course, that’s a sample size of one, in a very much uncontrolled, none-double blind scenario, so don’t take that experience as conclusive. We’d need to conduct further testing to have a shot at determining any benefits.

In summary, it’s too early to tell if oxygen microbubble technology will become the next beetroot juice or Ketone esters, but racers looking for the next legal edge might at least keep their ears to the ground.

  • £4.99 for two sachets

Bookman Backup Lights

Bookman Block Light

Bookman Block front light
The Block front light from Swedish company Bookman.

This cheerful little light has a rubbery strap that’ll let you attach the surprisingly bright LED unit to bars, forks and posts with ease. They’re nice and small, so can be stashed in back pockets without getting in the way, and the claimed 25 hour battery life, with a 2 hour USB-Mini charge, means you won’t constantly have to be re-charging them.

  • £17.80

Bookman Eclipse light

With a sprung clip on the back, the semi-circular triple LED in the Eclipse can be clipped to the front or rear of your jacket, or on a bag or pannier. There are five LEDs – three white, two red, giving versatility. The 60 hour burn time means you’re unlikely to be caught short (of battery…).
  • £26

Pact Gran Fondo Espresso coffee

Pact Geraint Thomas coffee
Pact Geraint Thomas coffee.
George Scott

If you like your coffee and your bike racing, this one might be for you. Pact has introduced a new espresso blend, developed in conjunction with Geraint Thomas.

The 2018 Tour de France champion has joined Pact as an ambassador and the limited-edition blend has apparently been tailored to the 34-year-old’s taste.

The Gran Fondo Espresso has a zesty profile, according to Pact, and is balanced with a dark chocolate flavour that gives it a stronger roast. The beans are grown at the Buenos Aires farm in Colombia and the Remera Washing Station farm in Rwanda, and the blend is best served as a classic Italian 5oz cappuccino.

Pact, if you’re not familiar, is a coffee subscription service; you can either buy by the bag or Nespresso-compatible pods. Geraint’s blend is available as a 250g bag of beans until the end of September.

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  • £11.95