Welcome to another edition of First Look Friday – your weekly delivery of fresh cycling kit to have been harvested from the tech fields surrounding BikeRadar HQ.
This week we have the all-new Specialized Diverge, a squishy shift lever extender from SureShift, Shimano XT flat pedals and a palatial tent from Vango.
With thoughts of the lockdown here in the UK lifting – gradually and cautiously, I hope – idle thinking leads my mind to future summer miles spent cycle touring, and the choice of items in today’s edition reflects that.
If that isn’t quite enough for you, be sure to check out the release of SRAM Force eTAP AXS Wide, read our ultimate guide to backpacks for commuting and ogle Matthew’s handsome new Genesis Croix de Fer 853 build.
If that isn’t quite enough to whet your appetite for scintillating bicycle tech content, be sure to subscribe to our new BikeRadar Bargains deals newsletter.
2021 Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon
The 2021 Specialized Diverge gravel bike launched last week, gaining the brand’s hydraulically-damped Future Shock 2.0 on select models, updated longer and slacker geometry, increased tyre clearances, and a wildly divisive flat bar version that definitely isn’t just a mountain bike, please move along, thanks.
We have received the Comp Carbon version of the new bike, which is the cheapest (£3,399 / $3,800 / AU$5,700) version in the range to feature the 2.0 version of the Future Shock. All other models get the 1.5 version, with only the two very-cheapest alloy models having neither.
The wheelset is based on DT Swiss’s G540 gravel-specific rims (yes, really), which are laced to Specialized’s own sealed bearing hubs.
These are fitted with Specialized’s 38mm-wide Pathfinder Pro tyres. They don’t come set up tubeless but it should be a fairly painless conversion if you’re so inclined.
Our 56cm model weighs 9.87kg with no pedals and we’re itching to get back out testing as soon as possible.
- £3,399 / $3,800 / AU$5,700
SureShift shifter lever extender
Resembling a charming squashy silicone wedge of cheese, the SureShift shifter extender is designed to make it easier for children or adults with small hands to operate trigger-style shifters.
Fitting either a Shimano M310 or M315 shifter, the sleeve is held in place with friction alone and brings the lower thumb shift lever closer to your hands as well as improving leverage.
It’s remarkably effective in use and really does make a difference to the overall ergonomics of the shifter.
In particular, my partner has a long-term wrist injury and she has found it makes a real difference to comfort over a long day’s riding.
£15 may feel like a big outlay for a piece of moulded rubber but could make a difference for the right rider.
- £15, international delivery available
- Buy direct from SureShift
Shimano M8040 XT MTB flat pedals
Shimano has been producing dependable and affordable flat pedals since time immemorial, but the XT M8040 is one of only a handful of pedals to bear the XT name in the modern era (yes, I am aware Shimano made the traditional M730 and M735 pedal approximately one bazillion years ago).
Available in small/medium (EU 36 to 44) or medium/large (EU 43 to 48) sizes to suit different sized feet, the pedals have a gently concave profile and ten 3mm or 5mm replaceable pins that should keep your tootsies steadfastly secure.
Confusingly, the listing for the pedals states the pedals spin on “low-maintenance sealed cartridge bearings”, but it appears this has been lost in translation because the service instructions for the pedals show a typical cup-and-cone setup.
This is just as well because Shimano’s cup-and-cone bearings are legendary and near maintenance-free, earning them endless accolades over the years.
The M8040 pedals sit alongside the larger gravity-focused Saint flat pedal as well as the non-series budget-focused PD-GR500.
- £94.99, international pricing TBC
Five Ten Five Tennie approach shoe
If you’re looking for a non-cycling-specific shoe that will also suit general riding or touring with flat pedals, the Five Ten Five Tennie could be a good shout.
With a grippy and largely flat sole made from the brand’s highly-regarded Stealth rubber, the shoes should play well with most flat pedals.
The leather upper is water-resistant and the toe rand will reduce damage to the upper from pedal pins.
The shoes don’t have quite the same level of padding or protection as a cycling shoe, but this also makes them far more comfortable for off-bike exploits. For this go-slow ice cream stop enthusiast, this is critically important.
All else aside, the shoe’s vintage-inspired looks are unquestionably cool and that’s what truly matters when it comes to picking up a fresh pair of kicks.
- £99.95 / $125
Vango F10 Erebus 3+ tent
However, at just 2.6kg for the whole lot, it’s hardly a heavyweight for such a large tent and will be perfect for multi-day adventuring with pals in the post-lockdown era.
The flysheet of the tent is constructed from lightweight 20-denier silicone-coated nylon and the inner is even lighter at 15-denier.
However – and critically for the typically wet conditions encountered here in the UK – the floor is made from heavyweight 70-denier nylon. This can be backed-up with an optional footprint if desired.
The tent is available with or without the large vestibule area. I’d recommend opting for this option because it only adds a small amount of weight to the overall package of the tent but massively increases storage for panniers and adds a useful cooking area.
The poles fold down to a very manageable 46cm long. This means they’ll easily slot into most panniers or framebags.
If you’re using flat bars and want to take a more bikepacking-like approach to your overnight adventuring, they could conceivably be lashed to the front of the bike also.
I actually received this tent as a birthday gift last year (bought on sale – my family isn’t that generous) and was hoping to be on a trans-Écosse tour on my beloved tandem, Cecil, right about now.
As such, I haven’t actually had a chance to pitch the tent in anger. This photo of my dad poking his head out in a trial run in my living room will have to suffice for now.
- £500, international pricing TBC