Friday Five-a-side: this week's best new bike gear 04/04/14
It’s the end of another working week – and time to show you the recent arrivals at the BikeRadar office that we’ll be reviewing in the coming weeks and months. Take a look at some of the most interesting mountain and road products to come our way in the past few days.
Bar Fly’s most specialised design to date works only with fi’zi:k stems but it’s also the cleanest option we’ve seen – from any company – for attaching a Garmin Edge computer to your bike. This latest Bar Fly model uses the same two-position quarter-turn interface as the company’s other mounts, but instead of clamping around the bar, the fi’zi:k version secures with a custom T-nut and bolt that’s ultra-secure, easily adjustable for angle, and nearly invisible.
Bar fly’s new fi’zi:k-specific mount is ultra-sleek:James Huang/Future Publishing
The idea behind the original Fix It Sticks is as simple as they look: two ‘sticks’ with tool bits at either end that can be joined together to form a ‘T’ for leverage. The elegant, lightweight, and supremely compact concept was a huge hit on Kickstarter and the new Replaceables version is well on track to exceeding its fundraising goal by three-fold.
Fix it sticks replaceables are extremely compact and can be customized with the exact bits that you need:James Huang/Future Publishing
As the name suggests, the Replaceables version improves on the original Fix It Sticks idea by using replaceable bits (held in place by neodymium magnets) so that users can customise their tools as needed. The more durable bodies are now made of steel, too. A complete starter set comes with eight bits (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm hex, #2 Phillips, and T25 Torx) and actual weight for the complete package is just 145g. We’ve already started using these and may have just found a new favourite multi-tool.
Fix it sticks replaceables snap together with neodymium magnets to form a high-leverage t handle:James Huang/Future Publishing
Look’s new KéO Blade 2 CR pedals use the same carbon fibre retention spring concept as the original Blades but with a new shape that effectively includes the sleek shaping of the KéO Blade Aero model at no extra charge. Compared with before, the carbon ‘blade’ now extends across nearly the entire width and length of the body to form a smooth undercarriage while supposedly making for easier entry plus a more secure hold as well.
Look’s new kéo blade 2 cr blends the features of the original blade and the high-end aero model:James Huang/Future Publishing
Even better, Look has also managed to shave a few grams (actual weight for our chromoly test set is 224g without cleats), increase the size of the stainless steel platform, and decrease the claimed stack height to 13mm. While the previous version was offered in 12Nm and 16Nm release tensions, the new version adds an even-stronger 20Nm option, too.
Despite increasing the platform area, the look kéo blade 2 cr’s undercut body still offers impressive cornering clearance:James Huang/Future Publishing
UVEX Sportstyle 104 and Sportstyle 202 Small Race Vario sunglasses
UVEX continues to expand its collection of eyewear, which includes the 104 and 202 styles we recently received at BikeRadar HQ.
The 104 uses a traditional single-piece, shield-type lens and bendable ear- and nosepieces for a customisable fit. We went with the three-lens package here, which includes dark grey, orange, and clear options plus a storage bag, semi-rigid case, and removable browpad. Lenses are held in place with a clever locking pin, too, for a secure and easy-to-operate setup.
UVEX has a very broad range of sunglasses on tap for this season including the 202 small race vario (left) and the sgl 104 (right):James Huang/Future Publishing
We went a little more off-script with the 202 model, however, opting for the photochromic lens option to accompany its tidy split-frame format. UVEX claims an enormous 9-78 percent swing in light transmission, so these should be suitable for just about everything from dusk to intense sunlight.
Many uvex glasses are offered with photochromic lenses:James Huang/Future Publishing
Sportstyle 104: US$160 / £89.99 / €129.95
Sportstyle 202 Small Race Vario: US$170 / £89.99 / €129.95
Wilier’s latest carbon fibre Cento 1 variant borrows some of the design cues from the TwinBlade TT bike to create a beautiful new aero road machine called the Cento 1 AIR. Key features include relatively deep tube profiles throughout, a dropped down-tube that more seamlessly blends with the fork crown, an aero-section carbon seatpost, an hourglass-profile straight 1 1/8in head-tube to decrease frontal area, and a more compact rear end that supposedly smooths out the air coming off of the cutout seat tube.
New from wilier triestina is the cento 1 air aero road bike:James Huang/Future Publishing
Additionally, Wilier has also incorporated a convertible internal cable routing setup and the ultra-wide (and yet impressively versatile) BB366 EVO bottom bracket shell.
The bb386 evo bottom bracket shell leaves lots of room for not only a 30mm-diameter spindle but also huge chain stays:James Huang/Future Publishing
Actual weight on our small, Shimano Dura-Ace/Ultegra equipped test sample is 7.62kg (16.80lb) without pedals. Wilier also offers US buyers an optional HED Jet 6 FR aero wheel upgrade (in addition to the stock Shimano RS21 hoops, not in place of) although at US$1,900 there’s no break in pricing as compared to full retail.
Genuine Innovations has teamed up with the folks at Slime and Gorilla Tape for its own tubeless conversion kit. Included in the kit is a 25mm-wide roll of Gorilla tape (the same as used by Enve Composites and enough for four 29er rims), an 8oz bottle of Slime’s latest Pro sealant, two valve stems, two tyre levers, and a push-on Presta valve adapter.
Slime and genuine innovations have teamed up to create an impressively comprehensive tubeless conversion kit:James Huang/Future Publishing
As Slime proudly touts its sealant as the “world’s only CO2 compatible sealant”, there are also two 20g cartridges and Genuine Innovations’ tiny Microflate Nano inflator head included as well.
Will this setup work as well as the tried-and-true Stan’s NoTubes kits? Time will tell.
Shimano’s new midrange SH-XC70 shoes borrow nearly their entire feature set from the top-end XC90 model, including the slimmed-down heat mouldable uppers with opposing-direction forefoot straps and a ratcheting main buckle, tough-looking plastic toe box armoring, the flatter (and supposedly more efficient) Dynalast XC shape, and a carbon fibre plate to reinforce the cleat area.
Shimano’s new sh-xc70 cross-country mountain bike shoes borrow most of their feature set from the top-end xc90 model, including heat moldable uppers and a carbon fiber reinforced cleat area:James Huang/Future Publishing
Whereas the XC90 uses a full-length true carbon fibre plate for road shoe-like stiffness, though, the XC70 goes with a more economical carbon-reinforced nylon sole. Likewise, the XC70 goes with a slightly more generous tread in place of the XC90’s more aggressively pared-down blocks, plus a more conventional synthetic leather upper instead of the XC90’s ultra-supple Rovenica material.
Whereas the shimano sh-xc90 shoes get a full-length carbon fiber midsole, the xc70 uses a carbon reinforced nylon piece that’s further beefed up with a carbon fiber plate beneath the cleat area:James Huang/Future Publishing
Actual weight for our size 43 test pair is 730g with the included heat mouldable insoles and cleat inserts.
Specialized‘s current Epic range actually consists of two different bikes: the standard and more marathon/trail-friendly Epic with 100mm of travel, 2x drivetrains, and 70.5-degree head tube angles; and the edgier World Cup variants with 95mm of more firmly tuned travel, dedicated 1x transmissions, and faster-steering 71-degree front ends. Specialized offers two World Cup models and we’ve opted for the less expensive Expert model here.
The specialized epic expert carbon world cup features a particularly aggressive geometry that’s purpose-built for cross-country racing:James Huang/Future Publishing
Compared with the top-shelf S-Works model, our Expert tester subs in a slightly heavier grade of carbon through the front triangle and aluminum seatstays. Still intact, though, are the humongous 1x-only carbon chainstays, the revamped Fox/Specialized auto-locking Mini-Brain rear shock, and the matching custom 95mm-travel RockShox SID 29 Brain fork (with an alloy steerer). Rounding things out are a SRAM XO1 drivetrain, Magura MTS disc brakes, 22mm-wide Roval Control Carbon 29 wheels, and speedy Specialized Fast Trak and Renegade tyres.
While the top-end s-works version uses carbon fiber seat stays, the epic expert carbon world cup version uses aluminum ones to decrease the cost:James Huang/Future Publishing
Impressively, the latest Epic frames can also accommodate dual (large!) water bottles inside the main triangle along with an integrated multi-tool and handy storage case for a spare tube and CO2 inflator. Stock Epic Expert Carbon World Cups don’t come with all of those options standard, but Specialized saw fit to include them on our loaner. So equipped, our medium-sized tester comes in at 10.87kg (23.96lb) without pedals – or 10.34kg (22.80lb) without all of the accoutrements.
Remarkably, there’s enough room inside the main triangle for two large water bottles, plus a storage box that holds a spare tube and a co2 inflator. hidden in the upper shock mount is a mini-tool:James Huang/Future Publishing
Tioga has now added a third tyre to its range using its auto-adjusting ‘A.I.’ knob concept. This time around, Tioga has gone with a much lower knob height and very tight spacing to reduce rolling resistance while still promising good grip on hardpacked surfaces.
Tioga’s psycho genius fast 13 tire is designed specifically for hardpacked trails with low-profile knobs that are packed very tightly together on the tubeless-ready casing:James Huang/Future Publishing
We tested Tioga’s Venture model last year and were very impressed with its performance as a desert tyre, offering tenacious cornering grip and surprisingly good wear characteristics. Given this new tubeless-ready model’s lower 678g weight for a 27.5 x 2.25in sample (713g in the 29×2.0in size), we’re hoping to get a little more speed this time around.
Visibility certainly isn’t going to be an issue with the batch of clothing Troy Lee Designs just sent over. Want neon? We’ve got you covered – literally.
You’ll be hard to miss with this troy lee designs kit. shown here is the skyline jersey, the skyline shorts, and the air gloves:James Huang/Future Publishing
Highlighting our recent arrivals are the Skyline Race shorts, built with a lightweight, two-way stretch polyester/spandex shell, an adjustable waist, a generous 13in inseam, and an extra-stretchy panel across the back. Two slash pockets are included up front plus a small zippered compartment on the back of the waist that’s perfectly sized for a mini-tool. So far, the removable chamois is proving surprisingly comfortable, too.
The matching Skyline jersey is a simpler piece made of polyester mesh with raglan sleeves, a slightly extended tail, and a small single zippered pocket on the right lower back. Adding some style are alternating-width horizontal stripes.
Troy lee designs has no shortage of bright colors in this year’s collection. shown here are the skyline jersey, ruckus shorts, and xc gloves:James Huang/Future Publishing
TLD also included a pair of updated Ruckus shorts, which now feature zippered thigh vents, additional pockets, a more conventional zippered fly and a tougher overall feel than the set we reviewed last season. So far, mud seems to wash out nicely from the fluorescent lime green polyester/spandex shell, too.
The troy lee designs xc gloves are built with full mesh backs and a dual-layer clarino synthetic leather palm:James Huang/Future Publishing
Rounding out the wardrobe are lightweight Air and XC gloves with full mesh backs and grippy Clarino synthetic leather palms, and the enduro-focused A1 helmet with a goggle-friendly shape and extra coverage around the back of the head.
The troy lee designs a1 helmet covers more of your head than typical xc helmets. the shape is also goggle-friendly:James Huang/Future Publishing