The products mentioned in this article are selected or reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.

A super-efficient dynamo hub, a super-cooling baselayer, a bikepacking water filter and a whole lotta sealant

Welcome to First Look Friday – your weekly roundup of the best new kit to land at BikeRadar HQ

First Look Friday 4th June 2021

We close this week and begin June (and summer!) with a period of oh-so-welcome sunshine here in Bristol’s home in South West England.


After what was one of the wettest Mays on record across the UK, everyone on the team has been topping up on good ol’ vitty-D and planning summer adventures in earnest. I hope you’ve been able to do the same.

Before you escape for a weekend of riding, let’s look back over the top stories from this week on BikeRadar.

We started the week with something of a mountain bike tech news bonanza, with Santa Cruz, Fox and Hope all launching new products. Rapha also finally entered the mountain bike market with its Performance Trailwear range.

On the road side, we saw Colnago launch a limited-edition run of its V3Rs road bike, with each priced at a cool £11,090 / $16,339 (ouch).

Ortlieb also released a nifty new bar bag that uses a system of cords to provide a super-clean quick-release mounting system.

Strava added its Group Challenge functionality (which, much to my amusement, one BikeRadar reader pointed out could also be called ‘a race’) and also updated its mapping tool.

Finally, noted Forest of Dean resident and Jack Russell botherer, Matthew Loveridge turned his ever acerbic wit towards this everesting attempt that took place… in a car?

SONdelux dynamo hub

SON SONdelux dynamo hub
I have procured a hub to match the SON headlight I have been using for the past few weeks.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

A few weeks ago we featured my new SON Edelux II headlight in First Look Friday, which I have since fitted to my All-City Mr Pink.

The light has been a bit of a revelation – it is utterly reliable, powerful and the shaped beam is really good.

Keen to go all-in on a SON system, which will also allow me to use the brand’s neat coaxial cabling system, I’ve got a hold of a matching SONdelux dynamo hub.

The SONdelux is the lighter-duty version of the brand’s dynamo hubs, using a smaller magnet system that reduces weight and overall drag.

Its power output is slightly lower at low speeds but, once you reach normal riding speeds the difference is negligible.

SON’s hubs regularly independently test as having the lowest drag of all dynamo hubs, adding only around 4.5 watts of drag at ~20km/h according to the brand’s own stats.

In the context of riding a daft steel bike with a giant boxy bag on the front, this is a negligible sum – I could probably make up the difference by switching to an aero helmet if I really cared (I don’t care).

(SON has a helpful in-depth comparison between its two main hubs on its site if you want to learn more.)

Most dynamo hub axles are stiff to the point of barely being able to turn at all by hand. While how a hub feels in the hand is rarely indicative of real-world performance, turning the SON hub’s axle is remarkably easy.

Though it is still a bit rumbly (it is packed full of magnets after all), it feels remarkably smooth when used as a satisfying plaything on your desk.

SON SONdelux dynamo hub
I’m using the 28-hole rim brake variant of the hub.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The hub is also available in thru-axle variants and, looking at the bike Josh Ibbett rode to fourth place at the Highland Trail 550, a Boost variant of the hub is also on the cards.

SON SONdelux dynamo hub
The hub ships covered in plastic to help protect it when lacing the spokes.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

As a fun aside, the hub ships with the centre of the shell covered in a protective film. This is done to protect the finish when lacing it into a wheel as the bulge in the centre will get in the way of the spokes. Neat!

This particular hub and a yet-to-be-determined matching 28h rear hub (leave any suggestions in the comments) will be laced to a pair of Mavic Open Pro UST rims, making for what I think will be a pretty classy wheelset.

  • £199.99 / $296

Katadyn BeFree water filtration system

Katadyn BeFree water filtration system
Poorly tummy be gone!
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Picture the scene – I have been out since the crack of dawn and have ridden into the dusk to a campsite, my SON dynamo setup lighting the merry way.

I arrive at camp but… hark! I have run out of potable water.

Mercifully, I have chosen a picturesque Instagram-compatible spot with a large body of water beside me.

Not one for a cheeky case of dysentery, I whip out my Katadyn BeFree to effortlessly filter a batch of water, confident my wee tummy will be happy for the night.

I too can only imagine this situation as, up until this point, I have perhaps foolishly taken my chances when drinking water from streams high in the hills (though I am yet to end up with a poorly belly).

However, I’ve read a few recent accounts of trips ruined by drinking untreated water.

It’s also an unfortunate truth that an increasing number of less-experienced people are heading to the hills and leaving… traces of their visit.

With all of this in mind, it seemed prudent to finally invest in a water filtration system.

Katadyn BeFree water filtration system
Water flows through this tightly packed hollow fibre membrane.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The Katadyn BeFree is a membrane filter with 0.1-micron pores that are claimed to filter out 99.999 per cent of harmful bacteria and 99.99 per cent of protozoa (single-celled organisms, some of which are parasitic).

The filter is said to be good to process up to 1,000 litres of water and is washed simply by shaking it out in fresh water.

Many brands claim their systems will filter significantly more than 1,000 litres – Sawyer, for example, claims 1-million litres. However, it only takes a little bit of searching to see this figure is widely considered to be optimistic because the filters usually break long before that figure is reached.

Using the Katadyn for its claimed lifetime works out as roughly three pence per litre, which is pretty good value for money (and is a small price to pay if it means you avoid a bout of porcelain romance midway through a trip).

I’ll probably still take my chances if I’m in a sheep-free area by fast-flowing water high in the hills but, if I’m in any doubt as to my access to clean water, I’ll be taking this along with me.

  • £50 / $40 / AU$TBC

dhb Aeron LAB Polartec baselayer

dhb Aeron LAB baselayer
The dhb Aeron LAB baselayer is made from Polartec Alpha.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

dhb’s new sleeveless Aeron Lab baselayer is made from Polartec Delta.

This is claimed to “harness the cooling properties of sweat without the cling” by using a mix of hydrophilic (something that water is attracted to) yarns next to your skin to wick away moisture towards the outer hydrophobic (water repellant) yarns.

This outer layer is claimed to “hold onto the sweat a little bit longer” to aid cooling as it evaporates.

I’ve been using the baselayer for around two months now and it’s quickly become a firm favourite.

dhb Aeron LAB baselayer
Some of the panels have a slightly waffled texture on the inside.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

I’m a very sweaty young man and it genuinely feels more comfortable than most of my other baselayers.

The cooling properties are perhaps slightly exaggerated but it is definitely one of the most comfortable ‘solid panel’ (as opposed to mesh/string) baselayers I have worn in hot weather. It really doesn’t feel clingy when sopping wet with sweat and dries very quickly.

Unlike my beloved Brynje baselayers, it also doesn’t reek after a full day of riding. The totally non-absorbent, loosely woven yarn used on the Brynje baselayers is very soft but my word do they become eye-wateringly gross after a full day of sweating.

dhb Aeron LAB baselayer
The side panels are made from a more tightly woven material.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The Delta material isn’t especially soft and I found it a little bit itchy before the first wash. However, this is not unusual for new cycling kit and, to be fair to dhb, I have very sensitive skin, so any itchiness may be exaggerated.

However, once ‘worn in’, it really isn’t noticeable, which is exactly what you want from a baselayer.

  • £40, international pricing TBC

As a useful aside, I’ve taken to washing my baselayers in Nikwax Basefresh after every five to 10 washes in regular detergent. It seems to make a genuine difference to maintaining wicking properties and isn’t especially expensive.

I definitely recommend trying it out if you want to reinvigorate your old stinky baselayers.

Oko Magic Milk Hi-Fibre 5-litre bottle

Oko Magic Milk sealant
No normal home mechanic needs 5 litres of tubeless sealant… unless you’re Tom Marvin.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

BikeRadar mountain bike tech editor Tom Marvin is currently in the middle of reviewing a batch of mountain bike wheels for an upcoming group test.

So the poor fellow will be swapping dozens of tyres (and cassettes… and rotors…), which is going to require a whole lot of tubeless sealant.

To make matters worse, Tom has famously terrible luck when setting up tubeless tyres.

As is widely documented on his often irate Instagram feed, he regularly claims this is the fault of the kit (though I and others think user error might be to blame).

Given half the sealant used in this test is probably going to end up sprayed across his workshop floor, a big bottle of the stuff is necessary to see him through the upcoming period of pain.

Oko Magic Milk sealant
The sealant includes particles to aid sealing.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

Luckily for him, Oko has sent through a novelty-sized 5-litre bottle of its Magic Milk sealant.

This synthetic latex-based sealant is said to be the stickiest out there and is also claimed to seal holes up to 6mm in diameter.

It is also claimed to have a lifespan of over six months in mild climates and when it eventually dries out, it does so in an even layer rather than clumping in a ball.

Pray for tattie-hands-Tom and keep your eyes peeled for the full group test in the next few months.

  • £84.98 for a 5-litre bottle (other sizes available)