Plenty of trips to pro races around the world covering tech, plus commitments at home have kept my mileage low this year. But I did manage to get some riding in at the Tour Down Under, on the gravel of Strade Bianche, over the cobbles of Flanders and Roubaix, as well as fitting in a few sportives and half a ’cross season — so the year wasn’t a complete disaster!
In between all the travelling and faffing about at home, I’ve had plenty of products to test, a few of which that have really stood out and replaced some of my go-to-gear. Here are five of my favourite products from 2017.
Met’s Trenta 3K Carbon has a low profileOli Woodman/Immediate Media
Launched at the Tour de France in July, the MET Trenta helmet celebrates the Italian brand’s 30th anniversary.
The semi-aero Trenta 3K is reinforced with carbon ribs in order to reduce the amount of EPS in the helmet’s construction, resulting in a lid that sits lower on your head. It fits and looks great and while I can’t back up MET’s aero claims, it ticks all the right boxes as far as I’m concerned.
Strictly speaking, the Trenta 3K is a 2018 product, but I’ve been riding in it consistently since I received the test sample at Eurobike. It’s also the first helmet that has stopped me going back to my trusty POC Octal, which has been my favoured lid for well over three years.
Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 groupset
Shimano’s Dura-Ace R9100 crankset is all blackRussell Burton/Immediate Media
Despite my limited riding this year, a vast chunk of it has been on a bike specced with Shimano’s flagship groupset, specifically the mechanical/rim brake R9100 version.
The braking is phenomenal, and feels more like a hydraulic disc than a cable rim brake in its actuation, with comparable power and modulation to boot. Shifting is similar to the Dura-Ace 9000 series groupset, but improved by an audible click that you can also feel though the lever when you’re shifting.
Other benefits include the new rear derailleur, which sits closer to the wheel to prevent damage in a crash, and the new shifter hoods, which are comfortable even on cobbles and, I think, instantly improve the aesthetics of any bike.
Next year, I hope to spend some time getting to grips with the electronic and disc-brake version of the Dura-Ace R9100 groupset.
Our favourite road/gravel products of 2017
Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib short
Sportful’s Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shortsOli Woodman/Immediate Media
These shorts were developed in conjunction with Sportful’s WorldTour teams and with Bora-Hansgrohe partnering with the Italian brand for 2018, it’s likely Peter Sagan will be training and possibly racing in these versatile bibs next year.
The thermal fabric keeps you warm enough in temperatures that regular shorts wouldn’t but bib tights would be overkill. Combine this with the shorts’ water resistance and you’ve got a garment that’s likely to get worn more than any other over the course of the year… in Northern Europe, at least.
I’m a big advocate of Sportful, I believe the brand consistently produces some of the best cycling apparel on the market and, in my opinion, these shorts are one of its best and most-versatile products.
Challenge Baby Limus tyres
Challenge Baby Limus cyclocross tyres have fared me well this yearOli Woodman/Immediate Media
There are faster tyres for dry courses and grippier tyres for wet and muddy courses, but as an all-rounder the Baby Limus performs well in a variety of conditions.
If, like me, you don’t have the time or desire to change your tyres for every ’cross race of the season, then these are a safe bet.
Attaquer All Day kit
Attaquer’s All Day kit is a great balance of form and functionJack Luke/Immediate Media
Australian boutique brand Attaquer is known for its left-field kit designs, but alongside the statement pieces there is an array of more conservative designs in its collection.
The All Day range does what it says on the tin, offering comfort and performance that lasts all day while looking great, in my opinion.
While the cut of the jersey looks aggressive, the Italian material offers a stretch that isn’t restrictive, wicks sweat well and offers a SPV50+ UV protection. The longer sleeves are Instagram friendly and three pockets on the back offer ample storage.
For 2018, Attaquer has launched several new designs for the All Day range and I look forward to seeing how the updated kit fares over the coming year.