When is it not a bumper week on BikeRadar? Although I’m considerably biased, I’d argue every week is a standout one.
Arguably the biggest news we covered this week came from Specialized, which launched its all-new Allez Sprint, claimed to be the “fastest alloy road bike ever”.
While I’m sure many will reel at that claim, there will be an equal number who are intrigued. Whatever you think, be sure to check out esteemed colleague Simon von Bromley’s review of the Allez Sprint Comp.
Will the new bike from the Big S make it into our best aluminium road bikes list? Time will tell, but expect a full review soon.
On the mountain bike side, we saw the release of a new ‘smart’ full-face helmet from POC, called the Otocon, featuring an NFC medical ID chip and a Recco reflector.
There was also big news from Lapierre, with the brand announcing its return to the cross-country mountain bike market with its all-new XR and XRM bikes.
Last but not least, I joined forces with colleagues Tom Marvin and Jack Luke to help Gary Walker, BikeRadar’s sub-editor, choose the best bike for commuting. Tune in to the podcast below or listen via your preferred podcast provider.
What of this week’s hot new kit? Keep scrolling through this week’s First Look Friday to feast your eyes on this lot.
Pedaling Innovations Catalyst pedals
The enormous platform size of Pedaling Innovations’ Catalyst pedals is eye-catching.
At 128mm long and 95mm wide at the largest point, they dwarf most other flat pedals on the market. They’re 9mm deep at their thinnest, while the leading and trailing edges are 11mm, giving a slightly concave shape.
Each platform has 18 removable pins, with 6mm pins installed and a full set of 8mm pins also supplied.
Made from 6061 T6 aluminium with a heat-treated Cro-Mo axle that spins on dual sealed bearings and a DU bush, they weigh 528g on my scales with the 6mm pins installed.
The American brand says there’s a significant amount of science behind its pedals’ design that backs up its claims that the Catalyst gives you “more power, better efficiency, [and] less pain.”
It’s claimed the larger pedals support both ends of your foot, either side of your arch. This is said to reduce foot flex, which increases power transfer. Usually, stiff-soled shoes do this job, but the brand argues it’s much better to do it with pedals.
A rider’s foot should be placed centrally over the pedal’s axle, rather than on the ball of the foot. The Catalysts are claimed to make this happen thanks to their size. This is said to reduce ankle strain and activate a rider’s hips, improving pedalling efficiency.
The balanced, central foot position and large platform help increase stability.
Instead of a rider’s weight focusing on the balls of their feet, it is more evenly spread over the pedals. This vertical pressure through the feet is claimed to reduce the stresses a rider’s feet are exposed to.
Pedaling Innovations is so confident its pedals offer game-changing performance it offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with their performance.
Fizik Terra Aidon X5 saddle
Although the Aidon has been developed specifically for electric mountain bikes, its features that make it worthy of such specificity are entirely applicable to normal mountain biking too.
Fizik claims its shell has a level of in-built compliance, or “controlled elasticity”, and that it absorbs vibrations and improves comfort. To stop the saddle flexing too much, the rails are a “closed loop” to provide rigidity.
The proprietary Type-2 foam padding is thicker where a rider’s sit bones contact the seat to provide support.
Its ticked tail is claimed to help riders keep their position on the saddle on steep climbs and the central cut-out – claimed to reduce pressure on the perineum – has a mud flap to stop dirt firing through the hole.
Its short-nosed shape and smooth edges – with Wingflex technology that means they can flex to the shape of a rider’s inner-leg movement when they pedal – are claimed to improve seated stability and control.
The X5 version of the saddle uses an S-Alloy rail, and weighs 272g in its 145mm-width configuration.
- £109.99 / $109.99 / €89
e*thirteen Quick Fill Plasma Valve tubeless valves
Tubeless valves can be the source of great frustration for several reasons.
Santa Cruz’s in-house brand, Reserve, identified that tubeless inflation was the biggest problem, designing the Fillmore Tubeless Valve to improve the speed and ease of inflation.
e*thirteen has taken a different approach, focusing on the messiness of adding tubeless sealant either when the tyre is unseated or through the valve with a removed core.
The Quick Fill Plasma Valve can be split into two. The lower portion’s opening (that the upper bit screws into) is large enough for tubeless sealant bottle nozzles to fit inside, aiding mess-free filling.
According to the brand, this design also resists sealant build-up that can restrict valve air flow, and the stem is large enough to allow for high volumes of air to pass through it, helping speed up tyre seating.
Muc-Off eBike Drivetrain Tool
Some may argue this tool represents specificity gone mad, while others might marvel at its usefulness.
Many of you with electric bikes will know the freewheel in the motor stops the backwards rotation of pedal cranks from turning the chain and cassette. This makes lubricating an ebike chain possible only if the cranks can be rotated forwards, thus spinning the back wheel.
Unless you’re happy chasing your bike around a large flat area simultaneously pedalling forward to move the chain while oiling it, lubrication needs to happen in a bike stand or with the bike upside down to permit wheel rotation with forward pedalling. Neither is ideal.
Enter the Muc-Off eBike Drivetrain Tool.
The tool fits in a chainring bolt, where a backwards-rotating pedal crank stops up against it, bypassing the motor’s freewheel and causing the chain and cassette to backpedal.
Using the tool should make lubricating your ebike’s chain a breeze.
Being cynical and applying Occam’s Razor to the Muc-Off tool, it’s plain to see it’s essentially an Allen key with a bulky handle, designed to fit in a chainring bolt.
It’s entirely possible to achieve the same thing the tool is designed to do without an extra purchase, but that argument could be made for a lot of things.
In terms of details, the tool is well-endowed. It has a soft-touch rubberised handle to stop your cranks getting marred, features a carabiner-style clip and lanyard, and has 5mm and 6mm Allen key bits as well as a Torx T30 bit. It has a magnet to hold the bits in place.
- £19.99 / €24.95