Hello to adoring fans of BikeRadar and welcome to First Look Friday – your weekly roundup of the bestest, goodest and freshest road and mountain bike tech to land at BikeRadar HQ.
This week we have bikepacking bags, new gravel tyres, a fancy satellite messenger, a sweat-activated jersey (weird) and tasty snacks for you to ogle over.
If that isn’t quite enough to whet your greedy swag-hungry whistle, this week’s content cup has been filled to the brim with exciting news and releases.
The week started with the BikeRadar team reeling off what – in our humble opinions anyway – are the coolest Tour de France bikes of all time.
We then saw the launch of the all-new Addict eRide, which Scott claims is the world’s lightest e-road bike.
We also saw Salsa launch an enduro and trail bike that both use the same frame but different links and shocks to dictate travel and geometry – groovy!
Garmin also launched a new smartwatch and premium heart rate monitor chest strap, both of which will be like catnip to the data-hungry nerds that will also appreciate our update to the ultimate guide to Zwift.
Aiguille Alpine Frame Wedge Short frame pack
Aiguille Alpine is better known for its exceptionally handsome and timeless rucksacks but recently expanded to produce a line of bikepacking luggage.
Alongside custom frame packs, handlebar slings, saddle packs and other bags, Aiguille also produces a range of frame packs.
The frame packs are available in either a wedge-style (shorter but taller and braced against the down tube) or a standard pack (runs the length of the top tube and is shorter).
Pictured is a size small wedge in a fetching shade of orange that I think we can all agree looks fabulous.
A chunky zip runs the length of the bag and stores away neatly in a small pocket at the front end of the bag.
Available in eight different colours (you’re daft if you go for anything but the jazziest options), the made-in-the-UK bags are competitively priced at just £55 for the small size.
- Aiguille Alpine Frame Wedge, small – £55, international postage available
- Buy direct from Aiguille Alpine
WTB Byway 40mm SG2 gravel tyres
WTB’s gravel tyres in widths 37mm and wider are now available with a 120 TPI casing that is matched with the brand’s all-new SG2 puncture protection layer.
WTB’s SG2 technology is a lightweight and ultra-thin nylon insert that runs across the whole carcass of the tyre, giving bead-to-bead protection.
WTB claims that the fibres used to make this layer are “uniquely flat”, reducing the amount of rubber required to “fill the gaps” between fibres compared to typical round fibres. As well as reducing weight, this is also said to improve the feel of the tyres due to the decreased overall casing thickness.
The SG2 layer is claimed to also improve air retention in high-pressure tyres compared to the brand’s typical 60 TPI tyres.
An increase in weight of 5 to 10 per cent is claimed compared to WTB’s typical tyres depending on the size and width of the tyre. They also command a slight increase in price, at €59.85 compared to €52.25 for a standard pair.
- €59.95 / $59.95, international pricing TBC
- Buy direct from WTB
Spot Gen4 satellite GPS messenger
While services such as Strava Beacon and Garmin LiveTrack are a valuable addition to your safe riding arsenal, they will only work if you are in an area with, at minimum, 3G data coverage.
Satellite messengers and phones are the answer when you want to stay in touch in areas with poor or no cell coverage.
Here’s an enormously simplified overview of how they work – instead of communicating via land-based cell towers, satellite messengers communicate via satellites orbiting the earth. These satellites then relay your communications to the ‘nearest’ gateway on earth.
(A far more in-depth overview of how satellite communications work can be found here.)
Spot has long been a market leader in the satellite messenger market, with many ultra-distance races requiring the use of one of its devices to track locations.
The Spot Gen4 is the latest satellite messenger from the brand. As well as broadcasting your location, the unit can also send SOS messages, allow you to ‘check-in’ with contacts, send a pre-determined custom message and request help from a list of contacts in non-life-threatening emergencies.
The device is powered by four AAA batteries with a claimed life of “1,250 check-in and custom messages” on a single set of Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries.
Coverage is claimed to be “virtually all of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, portions of South America, portions of North and South Africa, North-East Asia and hundreds of miles offshore of these areas”. A full map of coverage is available on the Spot website.
It’s worth noting that to use the device, you must be a subscriber to Spot’s services. This is available as a 12-month contract for €11.95 / month for the basic package or on a month-to-month basis at €14.95 a month.
Both plans are subject to a €19.95 activation fee. I recommend taking a close look at Spot’s pricing plans for full details because there can be other charges for heavy usage.
The device itself is only £150, which is actually pretty reasonable for such a specialist bit of kit. If you are only interested in the device’s tracking abilities, the more affordable Spot Trace GPS satellite tracker is also available at £83.
£150 /€149, international pricing TBC.
Megmeister Ultrafris Pro Cool jersey
Megmeister’s Ultrafris Pro Cool cycling jersey is designed to keep you cool and prevent overheating by, of all things, “activating your sweat”.
Instead of letting your hard-earned sweat go to waste, the tech in this jersey is claimed to cool you down when it reacts with the xylitol erythritol which is embedded into the “Freeze Tech prints” in the fabric.
Once the sweat dries, this reaction causes the temperature of the fabric to create a cooling effect, and the more you sweat, the longer the cooling feeling continues.
In addition to the cooling tech, the jersey’s material is lightweight and has a UPF50 UV protection rating.
It comes with all the features you’d expect of a jersey of this calibre, too: three rear pockets, a zipped pocket for valuables, silicone gripper for the waist, and a YKK zipper with a garage to prevent chafing.
It’s available in a range of sizes (XS to XXL) and colours (grey, navy blue, light blue, burgundy). The jersey is priced at £119.95 / €129.95.
To complete the look and for further protection from the sun, the Pro Ultrafris Cool range also includes a set of arm coolers (rather than warmers), a headband and skull cup.
- £119.95 / €129.95
- Buy direct from Megmeister
Outdoor Provisions energy bars
Outdoor Provisions is a new-ish UK-based sports nutrition company that is starting out with four tasty and notably natural energy bars.
The bars largely comprise of organic sultanas, oats, dried banana and almonds, with each flavour inspired by the endemic cuisine of the national parks of England and Wales: Cherry Bakewell (the Peak District), Kendal Mint Cake (the Lake District), Bara Brith (Snowdonia) and Parkin (the Yorkshire Dales).
Tasting notes are best summarised as ‘authentic’ – as noted, the bars are all made with natural ingredients with no flavourings or refined sugars. This really shows when actually eating them because, unlike some products, there is no cloying sweetness or gurgly-protein-addled tummy-syndrome to report.
Tastiness aside, Outdoor Provisions deserves praise for using compostable packaging, which is still rare in the world of sports nutrition.
Note that this doesn’t mean you can go burying your snack refuse out in the woods – packaging like this must be processed in a commercial composter to effectively break down, so it should be disposed of via your household food waste.
Priced at £27 for 18 bars, £13.50 for an eight-bar variety box or £7 for a four-bar variety box, the bars work out at roughly £1.60 a pop depending on the quantity you buy. This is fairly standard for this type of product, if not on the cheaper end of the spectrum.
A subscription service is also available, which will knock off a minimum of 5 per cent per order and also bags you free postage.
- 18 bars: £27
- Eight bars: £13.50
- Four bars: £7
- Buy direct from Outdoor Provisions