As the gloriously liberating rock of the weekend is set to come crashing down on the golden handcuffs of the working week, once again it's time for us to help ease your transition into temporary freedom with a look at all the shiny pretty things that we've got our hands on this week. Brace yourselves, it's time for 11spd!
- How to convert your bike to a 1x drivetrain
- 5 quick ways to get your mountain bike ready for a season of mud
New mountain bikes and kit
Zealous Division Mk2
You’ve probably not heard of Zealous before, but this small British brand has been doing some interesting stuff with 29erwheels and hardtails, namely using a rather unique seat tube design to get the back end as short as possible for lively handling. Basically the seat tube isn’t really a tube, with a split section that allows a truly dinky 415mm chainstay yet still allows up to 29x2.5” tyres with huge mud clearance.
Seeing it’s about to turn to the muddy season at BikeRadar Towers, that’s got to be a good thing. The bike also uses DMR’s Swopout Dropouts, which allow for a 135mm QR, 142x12mm thru-axle or a singlespeed set up should things get really grotty.
We test rode the first iteration a while back, but now we’ve got our hands on the latest and greatest model, which incorporates Plus tyre compatibility with longer and slacker geometry, and the capability to run a longer travel 130mm fork. It now has a 67.6º head angle with that fork and a reach of 431mm in a size large, and as more cosmetic concerns go the new matte finish is said to be much more durable too. Time will tell.
- £499 frame only (international pricing not available)
Suunto Spartan Ultra Titanium
When it comes to wristwear for properly rugged adventurers, it turns out they aren’t big fans of Rolexes and the like. Nope, if you want some serious outdoor arm bling then you’ll be after a Suunto. Even in the days before GPS, its barometric watches helped weather-beaten ourdoorsy people figure out roughly where they were, even if it was chucking a blizzard down.
The Spartan Ultra is its latest offering and comes with GPS/GLONASS tracking and navigation, a full colour touchscreen, support for over 80 sports and connectivity with a whole range of external meters and monitors. This Ultra Titanium comes with a heart rate monitor included. You can then track your training via the watch or by uploading it to Suunto’s own MovesCount site, which is also connected to a number of popular external training sites, Strava included.
In keeping with its older models, it also has a built in compass and barometer which work in conjunction with the GPS to ensure high accuracy. It’s claimed to have a battery life of 26 hours in training mode and it’s possible to link it with your smartphone so you can get notifications on the hoof.
- £599 / US$799 / AU$N/A
Shimano XT M8000 11-46T cassette
There’s something excellent to watch about two ideologically opposed giants squaring up and trying to knock seven bells out of each other. No, we’re not talking about that trivial election thing that might be happening somewhere; it’s something much bigger. Yup, the clash of the drivetrain titans continues as SRAM and Shimano go at it. It’s looking like SRAM’s single ring philosophy is starting to take hold across the industry and that’s meant the comparatively small range of Shimano’s rear cassettes is becoming a bit of an issue for them.
Enter the latest smorgasbord of single ring specific rear cogs from the Japanese firm — the 11-46T M8000 11spd cassette. It’s got a 418% gear range, which just about equals the 420% range of SRAM’s 11spd offerings and it doesn’t require a specialist XD freehub either. It’s also a very respectable price when compared to similar levels of SRAM componentry, and historically Shimano kit has always been super durable and offered smooth shifting.
Okay, we probably shouldn’t mention the 500% range of SRAM’s new Eagle 12spd kit and the fact that Shimano’s smoothly spaced Rhythm Step gear spacing philosophy appears to have been thrown out of the window — there’s a chunky 9T jump between the two lowest gears, greater than anything SRAM makes — but the first casualty of war is truth, right?
- £99.99 / US$97.99 / AU$189
OneUp Traction chainring
Canada’s OneUp Components has been busy sticking one up — we think it might be a digit — to the big component brands by creating such clever products as its range expanding series of cassette sprockets that allow you to run up to a huge 50T cog while keeping your existing 11spd set up.
Its latest addition to the family comes at the other end of your drivetrain, with a series of oval chainrings. We’ve got out hands on one that’ll directly mount a SRAM chainset, but you can get RaceFace compatible Cinch items as well as M9000 XTR and M8000 XT. Even you crazy cats running a plain old 104mm BCD set up are catered for.
The ring has a 12 percent ovality, meaning a 32T model will effectively offer a range from 30-34T depending where you are in the stroke, with the 115º clocking aiming to put your most powerful pedal push bang onto the big ring, while transitioning to a smaller size to help you get over the dead spot. OneUp reckons this allows you to put down more consistent torque, therefore increasing traction. Add in narrow wide teeth for chain security and a 10-blade design made to stay stiff under power and shrug off strikes, and it’s all rather promising. We expect that we’ll be able to clean every climb, even now though this seems a little optimistic.
- US$60-65, international shipping available
Upper Downs Neo jacket
Yeah, we know that 11spd is all about trying to get you excited for a weekend of bike stuff by showing you lots of pretty things that you can lust after, but we hate to tell you that it won't be long (at least for our UK readers) until all that you know will be covered in mud and moisture and going for a 'quick spin' will require at least the same time period to clean yourself up afterwards. That jolly message out of the way, feast your eyes on this new waterproof from titchy UK brand Upper Downs. Like 95% of all new bike kit (may be a made up statistic), this was born through Kickstarter.
It uses a three-layer Polartec NeoShell waterproof outer that claims best in class breathability, so hopefully you can stay dry on the inside, even when you start exerting yourself properly. it's fully seam sealed with waterproof YKK zips and there's also a hood that can be detached. The cut is designed to work on the bike, with elongated arms and a dropped back, but not be so extreme that you'll look weird should you decide to wear it down the pub. Whichever jungle you need to struggle through, the ripstop face on the fabric should prevent the material getting torn to pieces, despite the lightweight design.
We wish we could say we were really looking forward to testing it, but there's a sort of bittersweet autumn thing going on...
- £189, international shipping available
New road bikes and kit
Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc
That Giant would eventually put disc brakes on its proper, lightweight race bike was a foregone conclusion, but that doesn't mean we're any less excited about it.
The TCR Advanced Pro Disc is a lean and mean climber's machine kitted out to the nines with Shimano Ultegra Di2 components, R785 hydraulic levers with matching flat mount disc calipers, and Giant's own carbon clincher wheels. In keeping with the thoroughly modern theme, this 7.6kg (medium) bike has 12mm thru-axles front and rear, and in what may be a first for us on a road bike, it arrived set-up fully tubeless with sealant already in the tyres.
According to our tester Matthew Allen, who had a quick go on one at the Eurobike Media Days in
- £3,599 / US$4,700 / AU$5,299
Genesis Equilibrium 20
At BikeRadar we have to admit to having a real soft spot for Genesis bikes. They aren't always the best value on paper, but they have a certain reassuring 'sortedness' to them, with sensible component choices and cheerful paint jobs matched to decent all-round performance. The steel Equilibrium isn't a new bike but we couldn't resist featuring this 2017 model because of its charming retro looks.
The Equilibrium 20 weighs 9.4kg in a medium and comes specced with a shiny silver Shimano 105 groupset. The modest low-profile alloy wheels are shod with deliciously old-school tan wall Clement tyres. The Equilibrium has eyelets for a rack and mudguards, with tyre clearances to match — could this bike be any more British in spirit?
- £1,199.99 / US$N/A / AU$N/A
Titanium bikes have a timeless quality to them and this be-fendered beauty from Dolan is no exception. The new ADX is, as the name suggests, aimed at the audax/sportive/gran fondo set, and it's a practical machine with bosses for mudguards and/or a rack. The geometry is slightly more upright than that of an all-out racer — this 52.5cm bike has a moderately tall 152mm headtube (offering 562mm of stack).
Dolan offers an endlessly customisable range of builds to suit different budgets, starting at around £1800 for SRAM Rival or Campagnolo Veloce. For maximum value, a Special Edition bike like this one is the way to go. With Shimano Ultegra, Mavic Ksyrium Elites and some choice finishing kit this lovely thing weighs 8.9kg. If you'd rather roll your own, framesets are also available.
- ADX Ultegra Special edition: £1,999.99 / US$N/A / AU$N/A
- ADX Ultegra Special edition with finishing kit upgrades as shown: £2,198 / US$N/A / AU$N/A
- ADX frameset: £999.99 / US$N/A / AU$N/A
Edco 3AX pedals
Originally launched on Kickstarter, the quirky 3AX pedals with their built-in ability to 'sway' from side to side are now in production, manufactured by Swiss component specialist Edco.
The idea behind them is that they don't force your feet to stay at a fixed angle throughout the pedal stroke, instead allowing them 4 degrees of rotational movement about a longitudinal axis — hence the term 'sway'. This is supposed to enhance long-distance comfort and potentially even unlock some wasted power by reducing lateral knee movement and facilitating smoother pedalling.
The 3AXs use a Look Kéo-compatible cleat and this set weighs 379g on our scales, plus 70g for the cleats and mounting hardware.
- £249.99 / €299 / US$TBC / AU$TBC
shoes Lake CX332
Shoes and carbon are two of our favourite things in the whole world, so it follows that carbon shoes are just the bestest. The CX332 is
The outsole is made from super stiff carbon, while the insole sits on a fibreglass platform that’s ‘suspended’ for a bit of comfort-adding flexibility, as well as allowing airflow underneath the foot. The upper is kangaroo leather, while closure comes courtesy of dual Boa dials. The shoes are available in white, black/silver, or (for a charge) literally any combination of colours you like thanks to
Like all of
- £280 / US$429.99 / AU$TBC
Pure Electric Diamond JKT e-bike jacket
We can hear you groaning already, but e-bike specific products could be set to replace Enduro ones as the Next Big Thing the bike industry will get itself in knots over. This fancy Italian-designed jacket is halfway to being a full-on piece of motorbike kit, and it incorporates removable protective pads for your shoulders and elbows.
There’s also a diamond-shaped rear pocket (called the “Diamond Pocket”, funnily enough) which houses a high-vis stuffable rain jacket, and which can be used as a security pocket or to hold an additional shock-absorbing pad, sold separately.
Given that you’re still likely to work up at least a little bit of sweat on an e-bike, this jacket will probably be a cold weather garment only. It also feels pretty heavy duty compared to conventional cycling kit, so we think it’s probably more of a natural match for the faster Euro-style e-bikes (“speed pedelecs”) that are allowed power assist up to 45km/h, rather than our puny UK-spec machines.
It could well be a sign of things to come however, and although we’re not totally sure about the styling with the protective pads on show, it’s a pretty inoffensive garment that can be rendered even less obtrusive by removing the pads from their pouches and stashing them elsewhere. Oh, and there’s a ladies’ version too, in case you were wondering, as well as a cheaper model that omits the Diamond Pocket.
- Diamond JKT (Man or Woman) including shoulder and elbow protectors, rain jacket: €699
- Plain JKT Man including shoulder and elbow protectors: €559
- Plain JKT Woman including shoulder and elbow protectors: €529
(Currently available direct only)