Welcome to First Look Friday, a collection of some of the hottest, most swinging swag that’s landed with our team of tech editors and writers in the past week (or two). This week we’ve got a couple of pairs of shoes, a saddle that’s super adaptable, and one of the most user-adjustable shocks on the market.
But before we crack on, let’s have a re-cap of our week at BikeRadar.
First off, it’s bargain central with the kicking off of our Black Friday deals coverage – keep an eye on site for links to the best deals from across the cycling world. Pick of the current early-doors bunch has to be a Garmin 1030 for £299.99 (down from £499.99)
Moving to some curly-bar news, this week saw the launch of the new Wilier Filante SLR superbike, Jack got all hot and bothered by the achingly cool Arc8 Eero gravel bike, and we imagine Rapha’s collab with Bang & Olufsen raised a few eyebrows. Looking briefly back towards gravel, did you catch our podcast on why roadies should take up gravel riding? Check it out below.
Fans of knobbly tyres will be happy to hear it’s been a bumper week for launches, and with a diverse bunch of bikes. Calibre launched its value-packed Triple B Pro – a limited-edition version of its 130mm trail bike. We then saw the new Merida Ninety Six XC race bike, which looks pretty rad for a skinny-tyred whippet. And, finally, Vitus announced its new E-Sommet eMTB – a long-travel enduro eMTB that packs a punch in the value stakes.
Fizik Vento Stabilita Carbon
Fizik’s new Venta Stabilita carbon shoes landed with us this week, promising unrivalled support. These new premium shoes radically redesign Fizik’s arch support system that debuted on the Infinito R1.
The new 2.0 system combines with a new wired tension system using BOA’s latest version of the LP2 dials. The new dial is made from recycled plastic and is both smaller in diameter and lower profiled too.
Fizik claims this improves the aerodynamics of the shoe, however we reckon that it’ll also mean winter overshoes will clear them better. The upper BOA dial tensions the arch support as it pulls a ribbon-like structure and the open arch to a close fit around your foot. The lower BOA pulls in the volume of the forefoot.
Fizik claims the arch support adjustment creates a much better pedalling platform, combining its stiffest ever carbon outsole (rated 10/10 on Fizik’s scale) with a lightweight upper that’s closer fitting and much more stable than standard outsoles. This gives better stability that minimises foot movement, meaning more Watts of your power to the pedals.
We’ve only unboxed them so far, but we’re looking forward to seeing if this radical reimagining of the road shoe bears the performance fruit claimed. Our size 45 test pair (UK 10.5/US 11.5) tips the scales at 575.8g (287.9g per shoe).
- £374.99 / $399.99 / €400
Specialized 2FO Roost shoes
Sticking with footwear is the latest set of kicks from Specialized – the aptly titled 2FO Roost.
The 2FO is a long-time favourite with BikeRadar testers, and this latest version, the Roost, is designed for trail riders who also want to look the part down the pub after getting down the hill.
Two versions will be offered – clips and flats – and we’ve got a pair in for testing on some of our favourite flat pedals.
The upper has a durable looking leather and textile construction, with a toe box to protect your pinkies from nadgery lines through rock gardens.
The midsole uses Cushioned EVA foam to give comfort, boosted by the Relaxed Fit last that Specialized has used on this shoe. As you’d expect from Specialized, its Body Geometry concept is present, making sure your legs are aligned nicely as you push through the ‘Still Lollipop’ nylon composite backed sole.
Finally, both the clipless and flat shoes get a SlipNot rubber sole for grip on and off the bike.
- £110 / $120
Ere Research Genus CC-T ProRoad saddle
Dutch brand Ere research has launched this innovative take on the short saddle. At first look, the Unisex 240mm long, 145mm wide saddle with its full length channel, carbon hull and carbon rails is much like myriad of other high-end saddles. However, it does have a trick up its sleeve.
The Genus saddle has a patented ‘comfort trigger’ – a red lever mounted underneath the nose of the saddle that has three positions which alter the stiffness in the hull by 10Nm from stiffest to most flexible. Ere claims that by being able to alter the hull’s rigidity you can tune the comfort level to the riding conditions.
Hit cobbles or rough gravel and switch the saddle to the softest setting to aid the 55 durometer foam padding in providing cushioning from the bumps.
In fast riding situations you can stiffen up the hull to provide a more stable platform. Because the hull is designed to flex and the long channel provides relief, Ere has added a ‘dynamic torsion bar’ between the two carbon rails to allow the hull to flex freely without putting undue wear on the carbon rails and spread loads more evenly.
At 136.2g for our test saddle, it seems the trigger switch hasn’t had an adverse effect on the weight because this is still one of the lightest saddles around.
- €299 / £TBC / $TBC
Cane Creek DB Kitsuma shock
Cane Creek has taken its venerable line of Double Barrel shocks and introduced an updated family of air (pictured) and coil shocks that are claimed to be highly adjustable, provide maximum performance and be incredibly intuitive and easy to use.
While many of the most adjustable shocks use hex-key bolts to adjust compression and rebound circuits (both low- and high-speed), with little visual indication of where the settings sit along the range of adjustment, the Kitsuma uses visually distinctive dials.
The tool-free dials only rotate one revolution on low-speed compression or rebound circuits, or two revolutions on high-speed circuits, and so it should be quick and easy to see where the shock is within its range of adjustment and easily alter it to suit where you’re riding.
Dials are labelled Soft to Firm for compression and Slow to Fast for rebound. While the range of adjustment has increased, the number of steps within the range has been reduced, so each stepped change in the dial has a greater, more noticeable effect.
Cane Creek has also updated its Climb Switch to now include a Firm setting for tarmac and fireroads, on top of the ‘Climb’ setting (added damping of the compression and rebound circuits) and Descend – the fully open mode.
Finally (well, it’s not finally, there’s actually an awful lot more going on with this shock!), the bodies of both the air and coil shocks are now smaller, in order that they can fit in to a wider range of frames.
- Air: £624.99 / $699.99
- Coil (exc. spring): £599.99 / $669.99