While many of us, and the rest of the cycling industry, have been out at Eurobike (and will soon be at Interbike), the new gear hasn’t stopped flowing into our various outposts. This week, we pull together the best road and mountain bike gear to land at both our Sydney, Australia and Bristol, UK offices over the past seven days or so.
New road bike gear
Specialized S-Works 6 road shoe
Specializedshoes have a bit of a cult following, and they’re commonly found on the feet of fast people who don’t ride for the Big Red S. Launched at the same time as Specialized’s new Venge ViAS, the S-Works 6 are a new top-tier road racing shoe that are claimed to be as comfortable as they are efficient.
Featuring Specialized’s Body Geometry technology for improved hip, knee and foot alignment, the detailed full carbon sole is (you might have heard this one before) said to be the brand’s stiffest yet. Meanwhile a new 'PadLock’ moulded heel cup is there to prevent unwanted foot roll and heel lift, something we can confirm is immediately noticeable.
A material called Dyneema is used to create a near one-piece upper that’s seemingly supple, breathable, stretch resistant and supportive. This material is most commonly used for high-end yacht sails, but is perhaps most famous for its use in the US Space Shuttle parachute.
Made of titanium, the three-bolt cleat nuts allow an additional 5mm of fore-aft adjustment. And with a screw hiding from the inside, the non-slip heel tread is replaceable.
Our EU43 samples weigh in at 440g, not the very lightest going, but commendable nonetheless given the dual Boa S2 micro-adjust dials, and ultimately stiff carbon sole that wraps upward into the arch and support at the heel.
Available in multiple colour choices, three widths and half sizes, these are getting pretty close to a custom shoe (something the price reflects).
$400 / £288 / AU$550
MAAP Arrows Jersey and Team bibs
As featured in the third installment of Wild Style Aussie kits, Melbourne outfit MAAP is one of the many ‘designed in Australia, made in Italy’ brands.
This jersey and bibs are made from a mix of high quality materials, and the boys from MAAP appear to have done their homework when it comes to cuts and fabrics. It’s definitely a pro cut kit and won’t flatter you if you're carrying around some extra winter pounds, but we’re already fans of the extra long sleeves.
The shorts also feature a longer leg and silicone-free leg band. MAAP has paired these with a relatively generic chamois, although early impressions indicate it’s up to the task.
MAAP also has a ginormous catalogue of socks on offer, which happen to be Australian made.
- Jersey approx $120 / approx £79 / AU$170
- Bibs approx $185 / approx £120 / AU$260
- Socks approx $18 / approx £12 / AU$24
Australian-based Curve wheels have been steadily building a loyal following within the domestic market over the past couple of years. In for review, we have the recently UCI-approved CC 38s road clincher wheelset. We’re told that Curve uses its own layup within this shared-mould design, which features a 38mm depth with a bull-nose profile.
As seen with the likes of ENVE wheels, Curve uses a wider 25mm (18mm internal) rim on the front, for what’s said to be better steering precision and impact resistance, while a narrower and lighter 23mm (16mm internal) rim on the rear is given.
The wheels are tensioned tightly with Sapim CX-Ray straight-pull, bladed spokes (20 spokes, 24 rear). The hubs are well-proven DT Swiss 240s using the Star-Ratchet freehub design. A cheaper DT Swiss 350 hub option is available too (AU$1,979).
We weighed our samples at a respectable 1527g including rim tape. Quality open-cam skewers and carbon brake pads are included in the price.
Curve is already selling internationally, so expect to see more of this brand in future.
$1,765 (approx) / £1,146 (approx) / AU$2,479
Birzman Specialist 4pcs wrench set
These aren’t new products, but remain a rather useful and clever set of tools for use in an enthusiast or professional workshop. Included inside the nice roll-up tool pouch are a pedal wrench, chain whip, HG cassette tool (Shimano/SRAM) and 16-notch external bottom bracket tool. All the tools are made of cromoly steel and feature comfortable thermoplastic rubber handles.
However, it’s the fifth item in the set (of 4pcs?) that really makes these unique – the wrench extension handle. Simply slide this over the end of any of the four tools, wind the nut down and you have an additional 18cm of leverage. That creates a 46cm long pedal wrench or bottom bracket tool to undo the previous work of even the most hamfisted mechanics. (Yes, a pipe over a standard wrench achieves the same thing, but this feels more secure and much nicer in the hand.)
Unfortunately, not included is the eight-sided spline tool to suit Shimano Hollowtech preload caps, but you can add your own for not much extra.
$160 / £100 / AU$TBC
Unior Wheel Centering Stand (for home use) & Pocket Wheel Truing tool
Made in Slovenia and designed for those looking to true or perhaps build some wheels at home, this Unior stand offers a simple one-sided gauge and will work with hubs as wide as 157mm.
The one-sided design means flipping the wheel within the stand acts as a dishing gauge (centring of wheel). Additionally, the gauge can be moved to a higher position for disc rotor straightening.
The stand can be mounted to a workbench for absolute stability, although the included foldout leg appears up to the task and allows for easy and relatively compact storage when not in use.
Those using thru-axles will need to purchase axle adaptors (available from Unior). Despite its home mechanic intention, the powder-coated steel construction should ensure your investment lasts.
Borrowing a similar plastic-tipped gauge design, the Pocket Wheel Truing Tool features an elasticated, rubber-coated Velcro strap than can wrapped around a frame or fork for wheel or rotor truing. It’s not as solid as a purpose-truing stand, but it's a 95g truing tool designed to fit in your pocket after all.
- Wheel Centering Stand: $120 / £107 / AU$180
- Thru-axle truing adapters (per pair): $20-$21 / £17.50-£19.50 / AU$29-AU$32
- Pocket Wheel Truing tool: $21 / £19.50 / AU$34
New mountain bike gear
Shimano XT M8020 Trail pedals
In the wake of our covering the lighter M8000 Race pedal a few weeks back, the M8020 Trail pedals have now arrived. Building on the Race model with an outer metal platform, the Trail pedals offer increased contact area and pedal protection.
Compared with the previous M785 Trail pedal, the new version claims 11.7 percent more pedal-to-shoe contact due to a 3.3mm increased width. The platform height is lowered by .5mm too.
The rest of the pedal carries over from the previous generation, which is a good thing given their well-respected durability. We weighed our samples at 402g, which is a few grams lighter than their predecessors.
$120 / £TBC / AU$150
RockShox Digital shock pump
This shock pump is perfect for those seeking a more refined pressure reading in setting their suspension. A large digital gauge can be toggled between psi, bar and kg/cm read-out – with a maximum read pressure of 300psi. A metal bleed button sits above the gauge and away from accidental release.
The rest of the pump is a familiar affair, although the swiveling hose does appear longer than what we’ve seen before.
Those who owned the original Fox digital pump will be pleased to know the battery in this one is a replaceable CR2032. Much like how the standard Fox and RockShox pumps are sourced from the same manufacturer, this digital model appears to share an identical design with the new Digital shock pump from Fox.
$70 / £TBC / AU$100
Rocky Mountain Sherpa
For some of us, mountain biking is all about thrashing round local trails, smashing Strava times and beating out mates. The Sherpa is aimed at a different kind of mountain biking altogether. With 120mm of travel up front, 95mm in the rear, and wide 27+ rubber, it’s designed to get you and your gear where you’re going, wherever that may be. Bike-packing can be immensely satisfying in its own way, and this looks like an ideal tool for the job. It’s claimed to be able to carry you across technical terrain even when loaded up with gear, meaning you can set up camp in the most remote parts of the world, far from the nearest trail centre. Look out for a long-termer review of this one somewhere down the line.
$4449 / £3499 / AU$TBC
Fox Float X2 Shock
Air shocks have been steadily gaining popularity among downhill riders over the last few years, and Fox’s Float X2 has stepped up the competition against their coil-sprung rivals. Like the coil version, it features a twin-tube damper to improve damping consistency in big hit absorption, as well as a large external reservoir to allow heat to escape as the oil heats up on long descents. Some air shocks are prone to overheating, when the oil becomes thinner and the spring becomes firmer due to the heat being transferred to the air in the spring – this can cause a pogo-stick sensation as the rebound speed becomes very fast.
There are four separate adjusters for low and high speed compression and rebound, allowing fettling with settings to get the best damping performance possible. The EVOL air can uses an oversized negative chamber to soften the initial part of the stroke, giving a more coil-esque feel to the spring in the first third.
The air version is not only lighter than the coil shock; the spring also offers infinitesimal adjustment (as opposed to the 25lb/in increments in spring force available for coils), and the progressivity of the spring can be adjusted to prevent bottom out. According to Chris Porter from Wales-based suspension specialist Mojo, this makes the air version even more sensitive than the coil version, because less high-speed compression damping is needed to prevent bottom-out. With Arron Gwin fresh from winning the 2015 World Cup downhill title using the Float X2 shock, it seems Chris is in good company.
$595 / £499 / AU$TBC
30th Anniversary Gore Bike Wear range
Yep, Gore Bike Wear has been in business for 30 years, and the German clothing specialist are celebrating with this anniversary collection. The 30th anniversary signature is emblazoned on a range of Gore's technical products, including the Phantom 2.0 Windstopper Soft Shell jacket pictured, which features removable sleeves and three deep rear pockets for storage, and Equipe Gore-Tex cap.
- Jacket: $200 / £160
- Cap: $46 / £36
Mucky Nutz mudguards
A cheap, plastic mudguard (or fender, if you're reading this in the States or Down Under) is a great way to keep filth out of your eyes and away from your fork’s seals too. Mucky Nutz is now offering its range with an even greater range of designs, including branded ones to match your bike.