It’s official: winter has arrived in the UK.
Not only are we well into popping open doors on our advent calendars, but the weather has finally chilled to the point where clothing pragmatism overrides optimism every time we get ready for our next ride.
With regret, the heating has been turned on, too.
And BikeRadar continues to report on the latest tech news and reviews at a red-hot pace. Here are just some of the highlights from this week.
On Monday, we published our reviews of the hardtail Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp XC mountain bike and Rapha’s new Pro Team Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey.
Meanwhile, Campagnolo revealed the existence of perhaps the most expensive stocking filler in all of cycling: a €1,950 gold-plated corkscrew.
Tuesday saw a cross-discipline news bonanza. We revealed an updated endurance bike from Look, a steel gravel bike from Ribble, a revamped trail bike from Vitus, plus the new Flight Attendant Upgrade Kit from RockShox.
Finally, Thursday saw my review of the Knog Blinder Road Rear 150 rear light and a head-to-head take on the aforementioned Specialized Epic Comp and Cannondale Scalpel XC MTBs make it to BikeRadar’s homepage.
Phew! Now onto this week’s First Look Friday picks.
Kask Sintesi helmet
Thanks to its long-term partnership with Team Ineos (and formerly Team Sky), Kask helmets are among the most recognisable in the pro peloton.
The new Sintesi isn’t designed for that arena – it’s aimed at everyday riders, with a price tag to match – although the resemblance to Kask’s pricier helmets is clear.
Kask says it’s designed to appeal to a wide variety of riders, with versatility that should see it perform well on everything from road and gravel to mountain biking and commuting.
The Sintesi features tech found in Kask’s higher-end performance helmets, including the Ergo Fit system, which allows the wearer to tighten and loosen the helmet via a dial behind the head.
A leather chin strap is also said to improve comfort.
The Kask Sintesi doesn’t feature MIPS technology (the same goes for all of Kask’s helmets), but the brand claims its ‘WG11’ rotational impact testing ensures that the helmet conforms to the highest safety standards.
We have the light blue model in for testing, although there are ten other colours to choose from, too.
All in all, it looks like a smart package at a good price, but we’ll deliver our full review in due course.
- £90 / $120 / €100 / AU$200
Shimano RS710 C46 carbon wheelset
Shimano doesn’t make 105-branded carbon wheels. But if it did, this is probably what they’d look like.
In fact, at the launch of 105 Di2 in the summer, Shimano announced – for the first time – that it would be offering wheelsets to go hand-in-hand with its newest electronic groupset. This is one of those wheelsets.
Pitched as the ‘all-rounder’ in the range, the Shimano WH-RS710-C46-TL (to give the wheelset its catchy full name – no, we don’t know what’s wrong with calling it 105, either) is the deeper of the two Shimano makes, measuring at 46mm.
The rims are said to share design hallmarks of the Dura-Ace and Ultegra C50 wheelsets, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Shimano’s tendency to ‘trickle down’ tech from its higher-end road bike groupsets.
There’s a 21mm internal rim width, well-suited for supporting the wider road tyres of the day, and a hooked rim for complete compatibility with clincher and tubeless tyres. Shimano recommends the use of 25-32c tyres, covering a range typical of many of the best road bike tyres.
The rims come tubeless-ready with rim tape and valves installed.
24 bladed spokes feature both front and rear, and are laced to a pawl ratchet freehub at the rear wheel.
Branding is incredibly light touch, with Shimano printed on the hubs and a blue tab featuring on the rims. These are carbon rims to blend in with, rather than standing out from the crowd.
The wheelset weighs a claimed 1,612g (719g front, 893g rear).
- £999.98 / $1,049.99
Topeak Torq Stick Pro
Whether you’re a budding home mechanic or workshop aficionado, this torque wrench from Topeak should help keep your bike in safe working condition.
Bolts are easy to tighten incorrectly, but the Torq Stick Pro should help keep things in check.
Made of CNC-machined alloy, the adjustable wrench features presets ranging from 4-20Nm, covering most of the small and medium-sized jobs you’re likely to encounter on a bike.
On top of that, there’s a reversible ratchet tool for smaller adjustments, and a ‘finger wrench’ for the tightest spaces.
You also get an extender complete with a loosely-fitted sleeve, enabling you to hold the sleeve to guide your bit more accurately.
Handily, the ratchet tool, finger wrench and extender are all cross-compatible, and can combine in six different ways to give you easier access to well-shrouded bolts.
Whichever tool you use, the business end of each can be customised with nine Torx bits (T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T15, T20, T25 and T30) and nine Allen bits (1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, and 10mm).
Every part features magnetic attachment, which should make losing the bits less of a worry.
The Torq Stick Pro components come in a useful toolcase, which itself features tiltable holsters for the 18 bits.
- £164.99 / $199.99
See.Sense Icon3 rear light
The new See.Sense Icon3 rear light headlines with an almighty 350-lumen output, making it one of the most powerful rear lights on the market today.
There’s more than brute force here though. See.Sense says the Icon3 is designed to be seen through a 270-degree angle thanks to clever lensing, which is said to make a rider more visible at oblique junctions and roundabouts.
Inside, COB LEDs provide the majority of the brightness – I was recently impressed by Knog’s use of the technology – which is fortified by two ‘focused’ LEDs.
Internal sensors can optimise the brightness depending on ambient light and surrounding hazards, according to See.Sense.
Like the See.Sense Ace lights, the Icon3 can connect to See.Sense’s app, with reactive flash patterns and battery level warnings, plus crash and theft alerts.
The app is also capable of collecting anonymised data on the hazards and dangers it senses, which See.Sense says can be used to assist road planners to improve road development.
- £99.99 / €116.14