Well, we’re on the home-straight to 2021 now, with 2020 more than half-done. In the wider context, it’s been a, er, turbulent year. So here’s hoping that the remaining six months are a little more tranquillo (as our friend and colleague Jack Luke might say).
On a shorter time-frame, this week has had a whole host of new product releases. The world of mountain biking has seen not one, but two new ‘down-country’ bikes, from Yeti and Transition. At the other end of the scale, Commencal released the latest version of its park-bike, the Clash.
BikeRadar’s Tom Marvin ‘down-countrying’. Max Wilman / Immediate Media
If curly bars are more your thing, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Mont Ventoux will soon be rideable on the internet (via Zwift), Rapha has brought out, no joke, some gravel-focused sunglasses and Santa Cruz and Cervelo will be colab-ing on some road and gravel-focused Reserve carbon wheels in 2021.
Finally, if you just like to stand out from the crowd, pick out your most colourful socks and pair them with Shimano’s latest, and greatest, footwear. Yes folks, the SPD sandal is back in a limited-edition model no less. Form an orderly queue.
Rotor INspider power meter
All laid out, ready to be built up… Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Power data is definitely the current preserve of the really keen cyclist, thanks to the cost of collecting such data, and the analysis of it, which really benefits from at least a passing interest in fitness and performance.
Road cyclists seem to take a little more interest in such frivolities, however the mountain bikers among us have been a little slower on the uptake of power measurement while riding.
The reasons are likely as varied as mountain bikers themselves, but there are systems out there for knobbly tyre enthusiasts who want to get deep and dirty with their power data.
The INspider is compatible with pretty much all of Rotor’s crank-products. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Rotor often graces the pages of BikeRadar with its relatively unique range of products, including its hydraulic groupsets. Its INspider power meter isn’t as ‘out there’ as some of its other items, but it’s still interesting.
The system is modular, and so fits on to a wide range of its 1x and 2x cranks, with both oval and round rings.
Being spider based, you get left and right leg power data, as well as analysis of how power varies through the pedal stroke.
Rotor’s cranks built up and ready to go. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
The INspider itself weighs 147g and we’ll be pairing it to a set of Kapic alloy cranks and (for now) a round ring on an XC bike – though it may well make it on to a gravel bike for longer term testing soon.
Continental Terra Speed tan wall gravel tyres
Continental’s tan-wall Terra Speed gravel tyres are now available in the UK. George Scott / Immediate Media
Hands up, who likes tan wall tyres? All of you? Well, Continental’s Terra Speed gravel tyres are now available in the UK with tan sidewalls. And very nice they look, too.
Continental launched the Terra Speed and Terra Trail last year and we reckon they’re some of the best gravel tyres out there (providing they’re suitable for your type of riding, that is).
They are tubeless-ready, use Continental’s premium BlackChili compound and have a ProTection casing borrowed from the German firm’s mountain bike tyres.
The Terra Speed is, as the name suggests, aimed at fast gravel riding on hard pack surfaces. Think of those rides where you’re switching between the road and baked bridleways and trails, or if you’re lucky to live near proper gravel roads.
It’s not a tyre for slippery or muddy conditions (the Terra Trail, with its chunkier tread, is better suited there if you want a gravel tyre from Conti) but we’re looking forward to slipping these summer boots on to a gravel bike for the warmer (fingers crossed…) months ahead.
The Terra Speed is available in 35mm and 40mm widths, for 650b and 700c wheel sizes.
Nikwax Cycling Kit
Nikwax’s Cycling Kit includes a handy dry bag. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Yes, it’s the middle of summer, so probably the last thing you’re thinking about is the efficacy of your waterproofs. But that’s where you’re going wrong! It is the best time to be thinking about it all.
Let’s face it. After a winter of use, at the first sign of spring sunshine your waterproof jackets and shorts got unceremoniously slung in the back of the cupboard ‘ready’ to re-emerge this coming autumn. You were glad to see the back of them too, we’ll bet.
They’re currently sat there with dirt ingrained into their micro-pore fabrics, stoic in the knowledge that come winter 20/21 they’ll be performing below their best and you may well shun them for a new, expensive jacket that, actually, won’t work any better if you just sling your current ones in the wash with some proper winter kit cleaning products.
From washing to re-waterproofing via stopping them ponging, the Cycling Kit should do it all. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Nikwax has been the go-to name in waterproof and outdoor fabric cleaning for some time, and it’s got a Cycling Kit, er, kit ready to go.
The Tech Wash gently cleans expensive, technical fabrics, while the TX.Direct Wash-In reinvigorates the waterproofing of your jacket.
The Basefresh is there for your baselayers, said to keep them smelling fresh and drying quick, while the Glove Proof sponges on to keep waterproof and water-resistant gloves doing their job.
The kit even comes with a dry-bag, which always come in handy in the wettest of weather.
MudHugger Front GravelHugger
The fender prevents spray soaking you from both sides of the fork. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
You only have to look at the range of top-level racers who use MudHugger’s front fenders to realise just how good they actually are.
From Loic Bruni and Marine Cabirou to Sam Hill, the zip-tie-on mudguards are as much a fixture at World Cups as they are down the trail centre.
And, now, there’s a gravel version too – the GravelHugger.
Keep crud from your eyes with the GraveHugger. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Ours came with rubber bands to fit, and it goes under the fork crown with the design catching spray coming off the back and front/top of the wheel.
While it might not keep your feet dry, like a full-length mudguard with mud-flap, it will keep your torso clean and dry, and help protect areas such as your headset from being in the firing line of the spray and grit that comes off your front wheel.
Simple rubber bands hold the GravelHugger in place. Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Yet to arrive at BikeRadar HQ is the rear version of the fender, but while they may look a little more striking, our experience of the mountain bike version is that they do very much contribute to keeping you drier in damp conditions.