2016 has been another great year for road bikes, especially on the disc front with bikes that blend road bike speed with all-road ability thanks to being able to take larger volume tyres. Bikes I’ve been hugely impressed with include Trek’s Domane SLR, Focus’s Paralane, BMC’s Road Machine, and Specialized’s Roubaix. Kit and component wise, we’re now seeing disc-specific wheels really coming of age and big improvements in clothing in both materials and design. My pick spans from a simple-but-clever Garmin mount up to wheels; all stuff I’ve used extensively and continue to be impressed with.
Northwave Extreme RR shoes
I’ve been hugely impressed with how shoe design has come on in 2016 going into 2017, with Shimano’s S-Phyres proving quite wonderful and the luxurious new sportive aimed Bont Vaypor+’s (in kangaroo leather and cowhide) both taking plenty of miles at the end of my pegs.
However, these new range-topping road shoes from Northwave have won me over. They use an upper that’s just 0.5mm thick in its unreinforced parts and is highly elastic; the single dial pulls in the shoelace evenly which makes for a fit that’s a close as any shoe I’ve ever tried with no pressure points or friction at all.
This is all balanced with a supremely stiff carbon sole (that’s compatible with speedplay direct adaptors) making these 548g (size 45s) some of the best race shoes I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding in. Shame they are quite this pricey, though.
Fizik R3 Link Bull shorts
Fizik’s new shorts range that’s directly matched to its saddle designs is one of those ideas that seem so obvious you wonder why nobody has tried it before.
Now the Aliante is one of my favourite all-time saddles and the new Link Bull short is matched to the shape, so that means a pad designed to work in unison with the.
That’s not the only neat trick, however. With the lack of a seam running through the gusset these instead use a wide band of incredibly elastic fabric that offers much more comfort.
The patterning and fabric orientation throughout the legs offers a mix of supportive almost compression feel and the high waist and deep back with flat braces keeps everything in check brilliantly.
For a debut design from a company that’s never made shorts before these are impressive and have fast become my go-to shorts for long days in the saddle.
Hide my bell v2 Garmin mount
This is one that’s spent plenty of service on my long-termer Cannodale Slate.
It may not have the coolness of a CNC’d K-Edge (those are fitted to my road bikes), but the simple inclusion of a bell integrated into the base of the Garmin twist mount means I can always let other trail users know I’m coming (and being a typically reserved Brit I’d much rather send a ding ahead than have to resort to shouting).
The new V2 model also integrates a GoPro/action camera mount halfway up the out-front arm leaving your bars free of clutter. It’s a clever bit of design from Dutch cycling journo Mathijs Wagenaar (who handed me one of the originals at the Dutch bikemotion show) and I’ve been using one ever since, upgrading earlier in the year to the new version.
Rudy Project Tralyx with Multilazer orange lens
I love the looks of the Tralyx frames. The web-like design gives a real open feel when you’re wearing them (and looks cool, to boot).
They’re light at 28g and the open frame design and vented lens means these almost never suffer from any sort of fogging whether riding in the hottest summer days or cool misty mornings.
The high contrast, high definition lens means you can pick out road surfaces even on the brightest days.
Add in fine construction with proper bolted metal hinges and metal-cored arms that can be bent to fit your head (plus a nose piece that’s similarly tuneable) and I’ve found the shades I reach for every day bar the worst dull wet winter rides.
Roval CLX32 disc wheels
The CLX32s look a little understated but the relatively shallow (32mm deep) rim that’s laced by hand to aero-optimised hub shells (taken from the deep section CLX60’s) with DT Swiss 240 internals at the rear and ceramic speed bearings have proven quick, super tough (with plenty of gravel miles under their belts) and light-enough-for-climbers.
Specialized claims these are more aero than the previous CLX40 (with its deeper rim) and whilst I can’t vouch for that, I can appreciate the 21.8mm wide internal dimensions to the rim and its tubeless-ready design with specially designed plugs rather than tapes shaving further weight. These are great everyday wheels: I’ve used these on my road bike (BMC gran fondo), Specialized Roubaix and even on a couple of test CX bikes and in every case they’ve improved the ride.
Vittoria Corsa ITS Graphene plus
The latest wonder material ‘Graphene’ is used in the compound of the new Corsas and my test set in 25c come up more like a 28 on the Zipp 404 NSWs they’ve spent their time on.
The supple goodness of the compound continues to impress, as does the level of grip offered come wet or dry.
Unlike previous Corsas these have proven hard wearing, too. At 257g each they certainly aren’t the lightest around but the benefits are worth the extra gram or ten. Yes, Vittoria does offer a lighter speed version, but feedback from fellow testers isn’t as positive on the longevity front, and they aren’t tubeless compatible (but neither are my expensive wheels).
They face stiff competition from Michelin’s new Pro4s and Schwalbe’s Ones, not to mention age-old favourites like Conti’s GP4000sII. I’m looking forward to spending more time on the Pro4s and Ones but rest assured I’m in no hurry to confine the Corsas to my spare parts bin.