Friday Five-a-side: this week's best new gear 22/08/14
It’s 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.
New road bike gear
Camelbak Podium Ice and Chill bottles
Camelbak has redesigned its popular podium bottles with new easier-to-use (and easier-to-clean) tops. we’re especially fond of these insulated versions for summertime use:
Camelbak has revamped the insulated versions of its popular Podium water bottles with freer-flowing and easier-to-clean tops. New shapes retain the same 610ml (21oz) and 710ml (24oz) volumes as before but with shorter form factors for better frame clearance. The handy, travel-friendly twist-lock feature carries over but with a bigger dial for easier turning, plus they seem a bit easier to squeeze than before, too.
Seeing as how much of the world is still being gripped by brutal summertime temperatures, though, what we find most appealing are the insulated bodies. The Chill models feature closed cell foam liners while the Ice versions use a more advanced aerogel insulation for the hottest of days. We’ve already been using the Podium Ice for the past few weeks and even in midday Colorado summer sun and heat, there are still ice cubes rattling around more than an hour into a ride.
Giro says the new synthe is the ultimate one-solution road helmet, boasting the aerodynamic performance of the air attack but the ventilation of the aeon:
Giro pegs its new Synthe as ‘the one’ road helmet, combining the ventilation and low weight of the Aeon with the aerodynamic performance of the Air Attack. It has sleek hairnet-like aesthetics that aren’t nearly as polarising as most aero road helmets currently on the market.
Key contributors to the Synthe’s low drag numbers include the simple and tapered shape that’s notably devoid of excessive sculpting, the free-flowing vent design, and so-called ‘Aero Mesh’ perforated side panels that supposedly better maintain clean airflow than more traditionally exposed vents.
Our size small CPSC-approved sample weighs just 209g.
Ridley is ready for ‘cross season with revamped versions of its top-end x-night carbon flagship:
It’s already mid-August, folks, which means cyclocross season is right around the corner! Ridley’s flagship X-Night carbon racer recently underwent a complete redesign, shaving 500g in the process while also gaining lower and more stable handling, improved pedalling efficiency, a smoother ride and better mud clearance.
Also new are disc brake-compatible versions, and we’ve taken delivery of the mid-range X-Night 30 Disc model. Key features include a Shimano Ultegra 6800 mechanical transmission, Rotor 3DF cranks, Avid BB7 SL mechanical disc brakes, and Ridley’s own 4ZA Cirrus CX Disc alloy clincher wheels wrapped with 32mm-wide Challenge Grifo tyres
Our 50cm sample weighs 8.29kg (18.28lb) without pedals.
Stay tuned for a full review coming soon as we’ve already logged a few weeks of saddle time. Hup, hup, buttercup!
Specialized teamed up with famed french tubular maker fmb for the turbo classics, which were used by specialized-sponsored teams during the tour of flanders and paris-roubaix:
Specialized commissioned the services of famed French tubular tyre maker FMB earlier this year, pairing the former’s fast and tenacious Gripton synthetic rubber tread compound with the latter’s ultra-supple cotton casing. While the fruits of that project were originally only available to sponsored teams for use during the cobbled classics, they’re now available to everyone in limited numbers – and we’ve got all three sizes (26, 28, and 30mm) in for test.
They weigh are 279g, 284g and 332g respectively, and as has been our experience in the past with FMB casings, these are remarkably soft and supple. Add in our extremely favourable impressions of the Gripton tread and these should be very special tyres indeed.
See.Sense. says its elite rear light can automatically adapt to different lighting and traffic conditions:
Visibility is one of the keys to safe cycling and See.Sense. bills its rear flasher as an ‘intelligent’ LED flasher thanks to an array of embedded sensors that read ambient light and your movements to adjust the output as needed – for example, blinking brighter and more emphatically when you’re stopped at an intersection or entering a tunnel, or reserving battery power when there’s no one else around. Instead of conventional buttons, See.Sense. also uses those sensors to operate its various functions via hand gestures and movements.
Despite the compact body, claimed output from our top-end Elite rear model is a whopping 144 lumens with up to 12 hours of claimed run time from the USB-rechargeable Li-ion battery, too, plus a lens shape that supposedly provides more than 180 degrees of visibility. Seeing as how it was designed and developed in Belfast, it’s also little surprise to see that the body is pretty well sealed.
Actual weight is 61g (including mounting strap) and it’s available in versions for front or rear use along with two less expensive models with lower light intensities. None of the variants are inexpensive by any means but if the promise of better visibility over other competitors holds true, it’s a small price to pay.
Standard See.Sense. front or rear light: US$76.99 / £44.99 / AU$N/A
Standard See.Sense. front and rear set: US$136.99 / £79.99 / AU$N/A
See.Sense. Intense front or rear light: US$94.49 / £54.99 / AU$N/A
See.Sense. Intense front and rear set: US$170.99 / £99.99 / AU$N/A
See.Sense. Elite front or rear light: US$136.99 / £79.99 / AU$N/A
See.Sense. Elite front and rear set: US$256.49 / £149.99 / AU$N/A
Butter’s new b2 chain keeper is designed for use on thru-axle rear ends:
Butter’s original b1 chain keeper is impeccably made but suitable for quick-release rear-ends only. Now the company has followed up with a new b2 model for thru-axles, using an expanding collet design that cleverly works with all 12mm-diameter systems regardless of thread pitch.
Like the b1, the new b2 is rather extravagantly designed, with machined, anodised, and laser-etched aluminium, machined Delrin and stainless steel hardware – all of which is sourced and assembled in the United States.
Enduroworx All Mountain 27.5in Carbon / Hope wheelset
Upstart wheel company enduroworx sells these 26mm-wide carbon mountain bike wheels for a relatively reasonable us$999:
Enduroworx is a new mountain bike wheel company based out of New Jersey, using carbon rims sourced from Asia and a variety of different hub options, all of which are hand-assembled by Pete Garnich – a man who once built wheels for Greg Herbold in the early 1990s.
Our test set features 24mm-wide (internal) tubeless-ready carbon fibre rims, Hope’s bomber Pro 2 EVO hubs, and DT Swiss Competition butted stainless steel spokes for a total weight of 1,760g for the pair (including tubeless tape and valve stems). Most importantly, they seem well built so far with excellent trueness and roundness plus even spoke tension all around.
The pricing is quite reasonable too, all things considered, and there’s also a US$150 no-questions-asked crash replacement policy if things go awry.
Ergon’s new ge1 grips are aimed at – you guessed it – enduro riders with a shape that’s supposedly purpose-built for an elbows-out position:
Just as there’s seemingly an enduro-specific version of everything, Ergon has come to the table with the new GE1 grips – which Ergon says have been shaped with an ‘elbows-out’ body position in mind. The directionally ramped surface supposedly keeps your hands from rotating backward for better control while the dual-density construction incorporates softer zones in key areas for cushioning.
In contrast to all of Ergon’s other grip models, the GE1 also moves the aluminium clamp to the inboard side.
The pair weighs 121g, and the GE1 is offered in five different colours.
Kettle cycles disappointed with its first round of carbon fiber composite brake rotors but promises that the bugs have been worked out now, particularly in combination with the company’s own brake pads. we’ll see:
Kettle Cycles certainly created quite an initial stir early last year with its ultralight disc brake rotors made from a proprietary blend of carbon fibre, ceramic, and silicone carbide. The promise was stopping power comparable to steel rotors but with vastly reduced weight – just 55g for a 160mm rotor – and unmatched heat capacity.
The only problem was that the company didn’t deliver.
Power was noticeably lacking and there simply wasn’t nearly as much friction available as most disc users were used to. We relayed those concerns to Kettle Cycles early on in our testing and only now, roughly 18 months and countless delays and missed deadlines later, the company says it’s finally made things right with a refined rotor production process and a revised pad compound that “strikes a balance between power and feel”.
We’ll find out shortly if that holds true this time.
A pair of 180mm rotors is still shockingly light – just 170g.
The new race face sixc carbon cranks borrow their design from the ultralight next model but in a beefier construction that’s better suited for hard use:
Race Face’s new SixC crankset borrows the basic design from the ultralight NEXT model but with a sturdier and burlier build aimed at the enduro/trail crowd. The carbon fibre arms are notably bigger but Race Face has carried over its clever Cinch interchangeable 30mm-diameter aluminium spindle, which can be adapted for standard threaded, BB/PF30, PF92, and even fat bike bottom brackets.
Chainring options are plentiful, too, including conventional 2x and 3x combinations plus direct-mount spiderless 1x rings using the company’s excellent Narrow-Wide tooth profile. Slip-on rubber boots are included, too, to protect the ends of the arms from rock strikes.
Weight is just 527g for a set of 175mm arms and a 32T direct-mount chainring. The PF92 bottom bracket adds 70g while the boots tack on another 16g per pair.