First off, happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at BikeRadar. The team sends digital love and kisses your way on this most romantic day, and we hope you spend the weekend ahead with your one true love (your bicycle).
If you’re lucky enough to have a sentient non-bicycle lover, be sure to remind them of the results of this steamy survey at every opportunity this weekend.
Lastly, if you happen to be looking for a last-minute gift for the cyclist in your life, be sure to check out our guide to the best Valentine’s Day gifts for cyclists.
From our perspective, think of this edition of First Look Friday – our weekly roundup of the hottest cycling swag to land at BikeRadar HQ – as a gift to you from us (a gift that you only get to enjoy with your eyes and don’t actually get to keep).
Velo Orange Neutrino mini-velo
We first reported on Velo Orange’s Neutrino mini-velo back in October 2018 when it was an unnamed prototype and, even at that stage, it won the hearts of BikeRadar.
Inspired by a 1960’s Jack Taylor Small Wheeler, this 20in do-it-all frameset is, in Velo Orange’s words, perfect for the “frequent traveller, apartment dweller, multi-modal commuter or just someone that enjoys a fun N+1 bike”.
While it’s never going to be quite as compact as a folding bike, in the oh-so-hard life of a bike tester, space is always at a premium at home, and the Neutrino could fill a space that probably doesn’t need to be filled.
The concept of a mini-velo is nothing new but this particular take on the concept has already gained something of a cult following, with every batch of the bike selling out in record time, according to Velo Orange.
With the exception of a disc 20in wheelset (how many of us have one of those kicking around?), the bike lends itself well to a parts bin build, with a standard threaded bottom bracket shell, sliding 135mm rear dropouts and an easily-sourced 31.6mm seatpost. It even has a brazed-on kickstand plate for goodness sake.
View this post on Instagram
Another RAD @Velo_Orange #Neutrino in #Bikecamping Style with Custom Roll-Up Full Frame Bag from @conquer_bikepacking and #Ostrich Canvas Panniers Photo courtesy of @uncle_noo #Conquer #VeloORANGE ???????? #VeloORANGEThailand ???????? #Bikepacking #BikepackingLife #จักรยานทัวร์ริ่ง #Touringbike #CycleTouring #Steelisreal #ชุมทางโครโมลี #BokBokBike ????????
This versatility and the absolute novelty of owning such a quirky and fun little bike is an undeniable draw.
The bike may look like it’s finished in a drab shade of ‘cream of mushroom’ from afar, but up close it actually reveals a handsome, sparkly glitter finish beneath the clear coat.
The Neutrino is available as a complete build or frameset, priced at $2,500 and $750 respectively. Velo Orange is a fairly small brand so it’s unlikely to ever be able to be competitive on complete build prices, so we imagine the majority of would-be buyers will opt for the frameset.
We’ve only had a chance to ride the bike on a handful of occasions but are already in love with the concept. It’s an absolute hoot to ride and appreciably smaller than a regular bike when tucked away in a nook at home.
Expect a full review and video to follow further down the line.
- Frameset: $750 / £700
- Buy the Neutrino frameset direct from Velo Orange
- Complete build: $2,500, international shipping available
- Buy a complete Neutrino build direct from Verlo Orange
As an aside, Velo Orange also threw in one of its cute Day Tripper saddle bags with the bike. These bags are produced in collaboration with Road Runner bags.
The saddle bag may not have the Instagram-friendly points of a trendy handlebar bag but there’s no denying its exceptionally practical and, dare we say it, quite handsome in a shade of rust.
- $95 / £89.99
WTB Raddler 40c gravel tyre
WTB’s all-new Raddler is a more aggressive version of its Riddler gravel tyre.
The DNA of the two tyres is very similar but the Raddler gets more pronounced centre and side knobs. This results in a more squared-off overall profile that should still roll relatively well on paved surfaces and offer some additional bite off-road.
The 700c-only tyre is available in 40 and 44mm widths, and our 40mm sample weighs 494g.
The tyre is available in both a black and tan-wall finish and, as with all of WTB’s gravel tyres, the Raddler will set you back £45 / €53 / $60.
The tyre sits at the upper end of the ‘radness’ spectrum in WTB’s gravel tyre range. For those looking for a less aggressively treaded tyre, Venture, Byway, Exposure or Horizon would be your best bet.
Stock is expected in shops in the next two to three weeks.
- £45 / €53 / $60
DMT KR1 Crystal special-edition Swarovski-encrusted shoes
Yes, you are looking at a pair of £420 Swarovski-encrusted DMT cycling shoes.
— Elia Viviani (@eliaviviani) September 8, 2018
The limited-edition shoe is based on the KR1, the brand’s top-end road race shoe that was developed and worn by Elia Viviani.
The KR1 features a fully knitted upper that extends quite high up the ankle. The super-elastic upper is totally malleable and feels incredibly comfortable when worn.
However, you’ll have to be on the right side of confident to feel comfortable actually wearing these jazzy numbers in public.
For the right person, DMT claims that the shoe will be perfect to “make a fashion statement on the next group ride” or, if you’re the racing type, you will “impress your breakaway partners with your sophisticated style”.
The shoe is secured with a single Boa IP1 dial (we’re terribly disappointed this isn’t also encrusted with diamantes).
The full carbon outsole of the shoe passes the cursory bend-it-over-your-knee test with flying covers. The outsole also features, much to our delight, a replaceable heel lug.
Every single cycling shoe should have replaceable lugs, no exceptions.
It’s not clear how many of these shoes have been produced but stock is low at most online retailers, so act quickly if you want to bag a pair of these dazzling disco slippers.
- £420 / €385, international pricing TBC
Robert Axle Project turbo trainer thru-axle
The majority of wheel-on turbo trainers are designed to be used in conjunction with quick-release skewers with conical end caps that a cammed lever clamps onto.
This means that the majority of bikes with thru-axles are not compatible with a wheel-on turbo trainer.
However, fret not, because The Robert Axle Project – a brand that is dedicated to solely making high-end aftermarket thru-axles – has the answer.
The brand’s imaginatively named ‘thru-axle for bike trainers’ imitates the function of a turbo trainer quick release with two nicely machined conical end caps sitting at each end of the axle. One of these end caps is removable for fitting.
Helpful functionality aside, it might sound daft but the thru-axle is actually a delightfully well-made object.
It feels high-quality in the hand and neat touches, such as the machined internal lip that holds an o-ring in place to keep the M5-threaded bolt captive, elevate it to a level of luxury that we thought unthinkable for a humble thru-axle.
This particular product is available to fit on no fewer than 15 different thru-axle standards.
- $54, international pricing TBC
- Buy direct from The Robert Axle Project