The weekend is nearly here, spring is just around the corner and we’ve got four new and interesting bike bits to show you. Welcome to First Look Friday!
In other news, we published our guide to the best overshoes for keeping your toes toasty until summer arrives.
Meanwhile coach and performance consultant Tom Bell shared his insights into the relative merits of heart rate monitors and power meters as training tools.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s arrived in the office this week.
Token NINJA 5in1 TBT thread-fit bottom bracket
Press fit bottom brackets are among the most universally despised technologies in modern cycling.
Just to recap, the idea behind press fit – as opposed to good-old threaded bottom brackets – is to avoid the need for frame manufacturers to bond threaded metal parts into their sleek carbon frames, thereby saving weight and manufacturing costs while improving stiffness.
The problem is that press fit BBs require expensive bearing presses to properly install or replace, which has led many home mechanics to haphazardly hammer them in and out.
Also, while threaded BBs are generally well-aligned, the two sides of a press fit bottom bracket shell don’t always line up perfectly as a result of the difficulties with drilling accurately into carbon. This was especially true in the early days of press fit.
This misalignment between the two bearings can cause premature wear and creaking, for which press fit has become notorious.
One possible solution to the press fit problem is thread-fit, or thread-together bottom brackets.
These bottom brackets are comprised of two halves that fit snugly into the BB shell as normal, but the two halves also thread together.
This makes the system self-installing and self-extracting because the thread provides the clamping force required to pull the two halves into the frame, with no need for a separate bearing press.
And because the two bearings are physically connected via a thread, they are claimed to address the misalignment issue too. So they could solve both the major bugbears with press fit bottom brackets: difficult installation and cracking due to poor alignment.
Token also claims its thread-together bottom brackets offer “unparalleled stiffness”, although whether this supposed benefit is real and noticeable is harder to believe.
Token is not the only manufacturer to produce a thread-together bottom bracket, Hope Technology and Wheels MFG both produce similar options, but what makes this bottom bracket stand out is the modular design.
This particular model only fits Shimano cranks with 24mm spindles, but it’s adaptable to fit PF92, BB30 and PF30 frames, and other models are available for most cranks types.
This is achieved with slide-on adaptors, which increase the diameter of the BB cups to fit the latter two styles. In case you’d forgotten, BB92, BB30 and PF30 bottom bracket shells have 41mm, 42mm and 46mm BB shell internal diameters respectively – hence the need for the adaptors.
Unlike the options from Hope and Wheels MFG, the only proprietary tool required to fit Token’s BB is included in the box. This slots through the bottom bracket and attaches to the notches on the cup. The idea is that as you tighten one of the cups, the other slides into the frame without spinning.
The only other tools you need are a torque wrench and socket, as well as some grease.
Token also produces thread-together bottom brackets that are specific to a particular bottom bracket shell standard for £50 (excluding the tool), although this adaptable version, which includes an installation tool and ceramic bearings, is considerably pricier.
- £125 / $126
Shimano RX8 gravel shoes
Shimano’s RX8 shoe is the titanic brand’s second set of kicks aimed squarely at the gravel market (the first being the XC5), suggesting the genre of gravel-specific shoe is here to stay.
Like the de rigueur discipline itself, the RX8 is somewhere between road and cross-country. It uses a similar carbon soul to Shimano’s XC9 cross-country shoe and accepts mountain-bike cleats.
This should make them far easier to walk in than road shoes, as well as being more straightforward to clip-in, particularly when shoes are full of mud. This is why many gravel riders prefer mountain to road shoes.
The soul differs from the XC9 in that it has less tread around the toe and heel, and it lacks the threaded mounts for toe spikes. Apparently, Shimano thinks your gravel ride has gone wrong if you find yourself clambering up a muddy bank on foot.
Meanwhile, the perforated polyurethane upper is like you’d find on a road shoe, with far less protection than typical MTB footwear.
A single Boa dial and Velcro strap cinch it in place, helping the RX8 to achieve an impressive weight of 628g per pair in size 45. That’s about 120g lighter than a pair of S-Phyre XC9 cross-country shoes.
They’re available in silver, as well as the back-to-school black (not Shimano’s official colour name) we have here.
This smart looking black pair are fresh in to us, having previously had our feet in a set of silver RX8s.
- £220 / €232 / $249
Scott Shield sunglasses
Sunglasses may be a distant dream for most of us in the northern hemisphere right now, but with sunnier days not too far away let’s check out these striking-looking sunnies from Scott.
The huge frameless lens claims to filter out 100 per cent of UV rays, and offers a wide field of vision. The continuous, angular lens looks somehow insect-like and futuristic all at once.
Scott says they fit medium to large faces, but while the nosepiece is adjustable it’s still quite narrow, which makes them sit a little high on the face if you’ve got a broad nose bridge.
For road cycling this shouldn’t be a problem, but for mountain biking I’d be concerned about mud flicking up under the lens, which sits quite high and far away from the face.
There are five colour options available, all with interchangeable lenses.
- £80 / €89.95 / $90
- Buy from Scott Sports
Pedal Ed Jary all-road shorts and Merino jersey
Designed in Japan and made in Italy, Pedal Ed’s new Jary all-road collection is designed for casual cycling, touring and gravel riding, rather than road racing.
The jersey uses a mix of Merino wool and synthetic fibres, apparently to combine the odour-resistance and sweat-wicking properties of Merino with extra elasticity.
The cut is loose and the colours are understated and casual, so you won’t stick out as a cyclist when stopping off in a cafe or restaurant. It features some practical details you wouldn’t typically find on cycling kit too.
Buttons coming down from the neck could be used to cool off while riding or to make it easy to remove the jersey while wearing a helmet. There’s also a small pocket in the back that can fit a phone or wallet, but due to the stretchy material probably isn’t designed to hold much weight.
The jersey comes in three colours (blue, black and yellow) and seven sizes (XXS to XXL).
Meanwhile the Jary shorts are fully synthetic and are said to have a two-way stretch, rip-stop fabric for resilience and comfort.
They are water resistant, feature three small pockets, come in two colours (blue and yellow) and seven sizes.
- Short: £123 / €145 / $174
- Jersey: £106 / €125 /$150
- Find out more and buy from PEdAL ED