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An in-van rack, Japanese bicycle bell and a couple of trail-ready items too

Ring in the New Year with some new kit!

An in-van rack, Japanese bicycle bell and a couple of trail-ready items too.

Happy New Year beloved BikeRadar reader! We hope you had an enjoyable festive period, and your heads aren’t too sore today after the start of what will hopefully be a much less fraught year than 2020!

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Given it’s the first of January, I thought I’d look back at the past year to pick out a few highlights from 2020 (there were some, I promise!) instead of just scouring the past week’s content – also, much like a lot of the TV you’ve been consuming recently, this piece is ‘pre-recorded’.

So, if you’re still digesting the festivities’ calories on the sofa, why not read my rant on the standards that the mountain bike industry really should be using or perhaps the saddle rail standard that needs to make a re-appearance? Alternatively, I think we can all get behind Matthew’s disdain for the PF90 bottom bracket.

When it comes to all-things expensive, did you catch Specialized’s £999 balance bike?! Or how about the news that Surly is still rocking 26in wheels?

We thought that Shimano had had the last laugh when it launched its 10-51t cassettes a couple of years back, but in 2020 SRAM went, quite literally, one better, with new 10-52t Eagle cassettes. A classic piece of one-upmanship.

Finally, it’s been a bumper year when it comes to our podcast. We put out two episodes a week during the lockdown, and still continue to bring you the best news, views, features and interviews, beaming straight to your ears every Monday. Check out The BikeRadar Podcast to get your fix.

Forty Winks Bike Station 1

Forty Winks Bike Station
The Forty Winks Bike Station is an in-vehicle bike rack system.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

Got a large, medium or small van, or even an estate car in which you transport your bike (or bikes)? While some people are happy to just chuck their ride in the back with reckless abandon, some of us prefer to store them a little more precisely while we drive from home to trail (or road).

There are numerous in-vehicle racking options out there, and Forty Winks has joined the gang with its Bike Station.

It’s a UK-made raised base plate onto which either bolt-thru or QR wheel hitches can be attached. We have the single bike version, but a double bike system is available (and you could add further hitches, if you have space).

The double is designed around a VW T5 or T6 van’s load space, though we believe more options will be on their way soon, and Forty Winks should be able to give you the dimensions, so you can check fitment in your vehicle.

There are cut-outs for you to secure the hitch on your vehicle’s racking points – the M10 thumb screw option didn’t fit the lashing point in our particular VW Caddy, though they should fit in the aforementioned T5/T6.

The hitches are available in QR and bolt-thru options, with the bolt-thru option having adjustable end caps to ensure it’ll fit. Its position on the base plate is adjustable, allowing easier interior space management.

Scott Stego Plus

Scott Stego Plus helmet.
The Stego Plus is the evolution of the popular Stego helmet.
Robin Weaver / Immediate Media

The Stego has long been a favourite lid at BikeRadar, with it appearing in our best mountain bike helmets list for a few years. However, we’ve now got our hands on (or heads in..) the latest version, the Stego Plus.

It’s still very much a trail- and enduro-orientated helmet, coming with plenty of ventilation and decent head coverage, adding safety in the event of a crash. As seen across many helmets these days, you get MIPS coverage too, which is effectively integrated in to Scott’s Halo Fit system.

As you’d expect from a higher-end helmet, there’s an adjustable visor which goes high enough to let you pop your goggles under, if you’re into your shredding. There’s also an action camera mount ready to make seamless shreddits. At around 420g, it’s neither featherweight, nor a porker.

  • £149.99

Giant Romero SL saddle

Giant Romero trail and enduro saddle
The Romero is a trail- and enduro-specific saddle from Giant.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

This is Giant’s first ever high-performance trail and enduro saddle, designed for the rigours of tough days out on the trail.

Giant has opted for a nylon/glass-fibre chassis, which it says makes it more flexible in a range of directions, which boosts comfort when sat pedalling, or when shifting your body weight around to suit the terrain you’re riding.

This is backed up with its Side Flex technology, meaning the side wings of the saddle have plenty of give in them to provide comfort for your inner thigh.

Padding on top of this includes a couple of ‘particle pockets’ within the saddle’s padding, which work with the flexible base to keep your bum insulated from the trail.

The upper is created from a single piece of material that wraps all the way round to the base of the saddle. This means there are no annoying seams around the shoulder of the saddle, a common point of failure, and an area where mud is easily held.

The saddle has a fairly long nose, allowing you to get nicely forward on steeper climbs, while there’s a slight rise towards the rear. Giant says that this means the saddle works well on bikes with steeper or less-steep seat angles.

  • £74.99

Crane Bell – Omamori Collection

Good luck bicycle bell
Good Luck, Felix!
Felix Smith / BikeRadar

We’re big fans of bells here at BikeRadar, with numerous delicious examples passing through our hands over the past few years. However, this one, currently residing on our video manager Felix’s bike, surely sits at the top of the pile.

Crane originates from Osaka in Japan, where its rather exquisite range of bells are produced from either brass or aluminium. Crane’s bells boast clarity and a long resonation time, meaning there’s both style and substance.

So what’s special about this one (if you hadn’t already noticed)? The Omamori Collection all feature hand-painted messages that bestow the owner protection or specific blessings, representative of the traditions of both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan, who traditionally present such amulets (or Omamori).

Six different messages are available in the collection, with Felix’s bell wishing him Luck. The bells are based on Crane’s Suzu Mini platform, have a 45mm aluminium dome and a steel clamp that’ll fit bars 22.2mm to 26mm in diameter – ideal for being fitted next to your grips or grip tape.

Felix feels particularly drawn to Crane’s design philosophy and Japanese culture after spending several months travelling through Japan by bicycle in 2017. Want to know more about his incredible adventure? Check out the video below.

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