Friday Five-a-side: this week's best new bike gear 3/1/14
It’s the start of a new year but more importantly, the end of yet another week – and that means it’s time for another installment of our Friday Five-a-side round up of the most interesting bits and pieces of road cycling and mountain biking gear that have recently landed on our doorstep. Take a closer look at what we’ll be testing in the upcoming weeks and months.
The bmc gf02 ultegra looks impressively versatile with clearance for 35mm tires, disc brakes, and only moderately relaxed handling: the bmc gf02 ultegra looks impressively versatile with clearance for 35mm tires, disc brakes, and only moderately relaxed handlingJames Huang/Future Publishing
Is it an endurance road bike, a light-duty touring machine, a commuter or a cyclocross bike? According to BMC, the GF02 Disc is all of the above. While the triple-butted aluminium frame and all-carbon fork have sufficient clearance for proper knobby cyclocross tyres, BMC equips this bike with relatively smooth, 35mm-wide Continental tyres and wide-range gearing that’s more suitable for general road use.
There are also predictable, all-weather Shimano mechanical disc brakes front and rear plus a head tube that’s only modestly extended, relative to BMC’s full-on road racing models. To add to its do-it-all nature, there are removable four-point rear rack mounts and an included accessory package with front and rear lights and a bell.
Chunky DT Swiss X-1900 29er mountain bike wheels and a huge 11-32T cassette push the actual weight of our 51cm test sample up to 9.11kg (20.08lb) without pedals, but we’re still looking forward to doing some exploring with this thing. Cyclocross racers on a budget seeking a one-bike-fits-all machine for general road riding and jumping barriers on the weekend would be able to remove big hunks of weight just by swapping out the wheelset too.
The castelli diluvio all-road shoe covers feature 3mm-thick neoprene construction to ward off cold wind and water. a full-length rear zipper and easy-open bottom makes it a cinch to get the covers on and off:James Huang/Future Publishing
Castelli pegs its Diluvio All-Road shoe covers as ‘virtually weatherproof’ thanks to their 3mm thick neoprene rubber shell and waterproof zippers. Even so, the suggested temperature usage range is still quite modest at 3 to 15°C (37 to 59°F), making these more of a cool weather pair rather than shoes for truly frigid conditions.
Neoprene’s inherent stretch should help these fit snugly over most shoes and there’s a split cuff with a velcro closure to help make getting them on and off easier. The open bottom is designed to work with mountain bike shoes too.
The chris king alloy ride disc wheelset uses the company’s r45 disc hubs and hed belgium plus rims, all laced together with sapim cx-ray bladed stainless steel spokes: the chris king alloy ride disc wheelset uses the company’s r45 disc hubs and hed belgium plus rims, all laced together with sapim cx-ray bladed stainless steel spokesJames Huang/Future Publishing
Chris King only recently announced its expansion into complete wheelsets, all built around the company’s storied hubs. We’ve just received a set of the Alloy Ride Disc road wheels, which use gorgeous Chris King R45 Disc hubs, HED’s ultra-wide Belgium Plus tubeless alloy rim and 28 Sapim CX-Ray bladed stainless steel spokes front and rear, laced three-cross with alloy nipples. As expected, build quality looks excellent with even tension all around and laser-straight trueness and roundness. Our set weighs 1,693g (788g front; 905g rear).
While it looks strange, the ergon cf3 pro carbon promises to deliver a creamy ride: while it looks strange, the ergon cf3 pro carbon promises to deliver a creamy rideJames Huang/Future Publishing
Ergon claims to have created a suspension seatpost with a saddle angle-preserving parallelogram action in a lightweight carbon fibre package. The unusual design is essentially two leaf springs connected with a two-bolt saddle clamp up top and locking bolt down below, which works in conjunction with the seatpost collar to lock the angle in place, while still allowing some movement.
It’s certainly a sleeker looking solution than some other similar options we’ve seen, plus it’s quite light – 232g for our 27.2x330mm size. Ergon says the CF3 Pro Carbon is intended only for road use at the moment but we might just try it on a 29er hardtail too!
Sick of running around trying to find all of your favorite energy food? consider using the feed to have everything delivered instead: sick of running around trying to find all of your favorite energy food? consider using the feed to have everything delivered insteadJames Huang/Future Publishing
The Feed, a new sports nutrition delivery service run in the US by the folks behind the Garmin-Sharp cycling team that ships bars, gels, drink mixes, chews, and recovery aids from 24 different brands right to your door. Customers can select items a la carte, choose a preconfigured box, custom create one of your own or subscribe to amonthly delivery.
The 45nrth fasterkatt shoes are built with a fleece lining and waterproof cover to protect your feet during mild winter riding: the 45nrth fasterkatt shoes are built with a fleece lining and waterproof cover to protect your feet during mild winter ridingJames Huang/Future Publishing
45NRTH builds its Fasterkatt shoes with a more minimal approach than most winter cycling footwear. While the exterior is shielded with a waterproof membrane, high-cut ankle and a rubberized, zip-up shell, there’s no additional insulation aside from the fleece lining and the heat-reflective wool-and-aluminium insoles. 45NRTH only recommends the Fasterkatts for temperatures as low as -4°C (25°F), although in fairness, that’s about as low as many will dare to go anyway. This size 44 test pair weighs 1,175g.
G-Form uses a reactive material that’s pliable in normal conditions but stiffens up dramatically in an impact: g-form uses a reactive material that’s pliable in normal conditions but stiffens up dramatically in an impactJames Huang/Future Publishing
G-Form says its ‘Reactive Protection Technology’ padding remains soft and pliable in regular use but stiffens up instantly upon impact to absorb more than 90 percent of the incoming energy. We’ll hopefully not have to see for ourselves first-hand how well the stuff works in a really nasty wreck, but it’s certainly intriguing stuff when just pedaling.
The material is remarkably light, and deep channels moulded into the padding lends far better flexibility than what we’re used to in protective armoring. G-Form bonds all of the padding on to a thin and stretchy Lycra/Spandex base, so it all actually fits quite nicely.
The sq-lab 611 team ltd. race saddle features raised pads under the sit bones plus four width options: the sq-lab 611 team ltd. race saddle features raised pads under the sit bones plus four width optionsJames Huang/Future Publishing
German company SQ-Lab’s approach to high-performance saddle design includes distinctly raised padding underneath the sit bones, a mostly level profile, a dropped forward section, and a flattened nose. It claims all of this delivers better support without impinging on your tender bits. The top-end 611 Team ltd. Race saddle comes in four different widths and is generously padded, yet the carbon fibre rails help keep the weight down to just 215g.
Thule now offers the 919 fat tire kit so that current t2 hitch rack owners can load up fat bikes: thule now offers the 919 fat tire kit so that current t2 hitch rack owners can load up fat bikesJames Huang/Future Publishing
Fat bikes are fun but they’re not the easiest things to transport. Thule has recently delivered a retrofit kit for its T2 hitch mount bike carrier that accommodates tyres up to 5in wide – 2in wider than the standard cradle. Thule also includes an extra-long ratcheting strap for the rear wheel to lock everything in place. The oversized fittings will still work for standard mountain and road bikes too.
Looking for a stylish way to pedal around town but still want to be clipped in? the dzr strasse looks like it might fit the bill: looking for a stylish way to pedal around town but still want to be clipped in? the dzr strasse looks like it might fit the billJames Huang/Future Publishing
Take a more classic approach to your urban commute with the DZR Strasse mid-top shoes. The uppers are built with a mix of leather and herringbone-pattern fabric for a casual look but down below is a recessed pocket for two-bolt cleats and a mildly stiffened shank for more efficient pedaling. We plan on donning these for regular errands about town and might even hit our local bike park in them for a few sessions too.