It's that time of year again. Lycra-clad pain addicts have started their epic three-week race, demonstrating just how much it's possible to put the human body through and still keep riding, including but not limited to inclement weather, crashes, broken bones, endless climbs and days and days of back-to-back exertion. Inspiring, right? Although it makes us tired just watching them.
And of course get ready for endless discussions over Cav's latest stage win, whether Tinkoff are in crisis, and who's going to take the overall victory. If you want to sound extra knowledgeable in those conversations, check out our various Tour de France pro bike features so you can add those 'I know more than you' details when conversing on who's riding what and why.
- 6 ways for cyclists to burn fat fast
- Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 and R9150 Di2 groupsets: all you need to know
- Three weird road bike saddles (and why we love them)
That said, things would get a little dull if we all only talked about other people riding, and didn't focus on ourselves a little. So get ready for a little bike bling in the shape of this week's 11spd, with some fresh goods to lust over and give you a little distraction from all the Tour chat.
New road bike gear
New eyewear brand Cab9 says it’s got a simple aim – to make great sunglasses at an affordable price. With summer finally here in the northern hemisphere, that’s a mission we like. Our sample here is the Stealth model with ‘Blue Revo’ polarised lenses, with similar looks to Ray-Ban’s enduringly popular Wayfarer design.
Highlights include tough corrosion-proof hinges and robust-yet-lightweight frames, ready to take a few knocks. Plus those polarised lenses, which block glare reflected off surfaces and deliver 100% full-spectrum UV protection, including UVA, UVB and UV400.
£24 / €30
Castelli Idro jacket
Summer is here, and with it come dreams of sun-dappled rides in the mountains and cool sea breezes. But we're all familiar with the sudden unexpected downpours it can also bring. Enter Castelli's new Idro rain jacket, made from a very clever fabric indeed – the new Gore-Tex Active.
It's very, very light – just 123g for a size large – and packs down so small it'll fit in half a jersey pocket. It still has that famous Gore-Tex water resistance and breathability though, with a new permanent beading surface and two-layer construction. Functional details include an easy-sliding waterproof zipper, elastic bindings on the cuffs and hem, and a zipped opening on the back for accessing jersey pockets.
Change Bike DF-611 folding bike
What have we got here? A folding hybrid with full-size wheels. Made by Taiwanese company Change Bike, it features a double-butted alloy frame that folds by pivoting around the seat tube, a rigid carbon fork, 27-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain, cable disc brakes and 700c wheels. Total weight is 10.5kg, which is impressive for a full-size folding bike.
The look is reassuringly conventional – the frame has that classic diamond shape – and you won’t need tools to fold it down. Obviously it won’t pack down as small as a bike like the Brompton, which has much smaller 16in hoops, but we think this might be just the job for apartment dwellers and those short of space.
Vélobici Verne jersey and bib shorts
Made in the UK’s textile manufacturing heartland of Leicestershire, this is the new premium short-sleeve jersey and bib shorts from UK brand Vélobici. The jersey is made from their top-flight VB/Pro-VR1 fabric, and combines classic looks with some modern details like silicone grippers on the sleeves and a zippered pocket on the rear for cash, keys and other valuables.
The bib shorts again combine retro looks with modern technology: there’s a retro woollen VB logo on the thigh, and ‘Verne’ embroidered into the rear. A lot of effort has gone into the padding too, with something called Foam Carving Technology used to eliminate any unnecessary padding. Plus there are flatlock seams throughout, soft silicone grippers, and a low-cut front to make it easier to take ‘comfort breaks’.
£255 for the pair
Turbospoke Bicycle Exhaust System
Perfect for the little hooligan in your life (that may or may not mean a child), this is a definite upgrade on the old ‘playing card in your spokes’ trick that we all did as kids to pretend we were motorbike riders. Didn’t we?
It’s even got a “tuning system” – you get three different cards to fit into the exhaust, to give different sounds – and doesn’t require any batteries. It’ll fit any bike with wheels 14in to 24in, and you can even fit two of them to your bike if you like. Big fun.
£15 / $24
Yellow Jersey coffee
Coffee and cycling go together brilliantly, so two lifelong friends and cyclists from Wales have set up a company to combine the two. Yellow Jersey Coffee offers different blends themed around road cycling’s most famous jerseys, including the maillot jaune of the Tour de France’s General Classification leader, the green jersey beloved of sprinters, King of the Mountains blend, and more.
We’ve been sent the signature yellow jersey blend, which apparently has “a complex juicy body with great sweetness throughout and subtle notes of dark chocolate in the finish”, and the green jersey blend, which is a medium dark espresso roast that “mimics a sprinter's personality with a bold and energized body”. We’re looking forward to trying it.
£1.99 for 100g
New mountain bike gear
Tiger Tail foam roller
Foam rollers are brilliant for sorting out those tight post-ride muscles, but they’re also bulky and involve flailing around on the floor like an octopus with a cramp. The Tiger Tail Foam Roller is a narrow roller with a handle at each end, making it possible to iron our those knots without lying down, and it’s smaller size make it handier for travelling. Think of it as a portable but strangely pleasurable torture device.
£29.99 / $34.95
Assos Women’s T.Rally S_7 bib shorts
Swiss brand Assos have developed a women’s specific version of its Rally shorts in the form of the new T.Rally S_7 Lady bib shorts. They feature a crossover back and a Y-shaped front strap with a clip that allows the shorts to be easily pulled down for comfort breaks. An initial try on suggests the Lycra is firm and supportive, and the shorts match up with the SS.Laalalaijersey_Evo7.
£265 / $419 / AU$510
e*thirteen TRS+ tyres
The new rubbery offerings from e*Thirteen components have certainly been getting the column inches lately! The small but perfectly formed collection consists of 29er and 27.5in tyres in a 2.35in width, and each available as TRS Plus, with a race-focused triple-compound, or the TRS+ (pictured) with a tacky dual compound. There are different tyres for front and rear, with the front a little stickier, and they’re designed for grip, traction and control. So enduro!
£56.95 / $56.95 / AU$TBC
Bontrager Ajna Elite women's saddle
'Edge out your competition' - that's the strap Bontrager uses to describe the Ajna Elite saddle.It features a shaped nose, a long central cutaway to relieve pressure on the delicate soft tissue of your undercarriage, and size-specific curvature. While we've stuck in this week's MTB kit lineup, Bontrager says the Ajna is suitable for roadies too – a multitasker if ever we saw one.
£89.99 / $129.99 / AU$179
Ohlins RXF 36 fork
Ohlins has gone stiffer and wider and we like it. We've just got our grubby mitts on the new Ohlins RXF 36 fork, a new product the company developed after the popularity of the RXF 34 released in 2015. It's cross-compatible with Boost 29er and 650b/27.5+ frames, and a few 650b frames too according to the Swedish company. We weighed it at 2.076kg, and it's available in 120mm, 140mm, 150mm, 160mm travel options.
Price to be confirmed – watch this space, we'll update it when we have the info!