What does the end of the week, or if you prefer, the weekend mean to you? To us at BikeRadar it means it's time to once again tempt you into buying 11 of the freshest, most-swaggest bits of kit that have landed in our sweaty palms this week.
With a selection of tasty mountain bike, road and would you believe it, BMX kit, there's bound to be something below that will ensure a healthy clutch of crisp, non-vegan fivers will have flown out of your wallet by the time you finish reading this.
New mountain bikes and gear
Specialized S-Works Enduro 29
There are few bikes that still cause our hugely jaded mountain bike testers to drag themselves away from arguing incessantly over geometry figures, tyre casings, rubber compounds and exactly who did the best skid, but the excitement of the new Enduro landing managed to do just that.
This is the top S-Works model, which means it gets a full carbon fibre frame to house the 29er hoops and 160mm/165mm split of front to rear travel. Of course, with Specialized being super keen on Plus tyres (or 6Fattie in their parlance), you can also squeeze some chunky 3” rubber on 27.5 rims in there, should you wish.
One of the many reasons that our usually measured bike testers were all-a-froth is that this bike sports a full set of shocks from Swedish suspension magicians Öhlins, developed in conjunction with Specialized. We’ve already had a play about on the RXF 36 fork and came away impressed, so we’re interested to see how it teams up with the STX rear shock.
Elsewhere on the bike, the house deposit, sorry, asking price gets you some very high-end gear, with 30mm internal width carbon fibre hoops from Roval, a 12spd SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain and Guide RS stoppers.
That said, if you were thinking that our tester’s excitement was purely down to child-like excitement at shiny new things, you might be disappointed to find it’s rather more morbid. They’re thinking about constructing themselves a pit so they can fight it to the death with another new long travel 29er, namely Trek’s Slash.
- £6,600 / $8,500 / AU$11,000
Lezyne Pressure Over Drive pump
Joining the ranks of Bontrager’s TLR Flash Charger and Topeak’s Joe Blow Booster is this offering from Lezyne. Like the aforementioned, it marries a standard track pump with a large external reservoir that’s designed to deliver enough oomph to inflate and seat even the most stubborn of tubeless tyres.
You can either use the pump as normal to top up your tyres or flip a lever to direct all your pumping effort into the aluminium reservoir. That goes up to a maximum of 220psi, though there’s fortunately a safety blow-off valve to prevent you turning it into a kind of suicidal pipe bomb. Hook the neat Presta and Schraeder compatible chuck to your valve, turn the floor mounted lever and it aims to make you do that nervous jumpy thing as the beads ping into place in no time.
As ever with Lezyne, it’s lovingly made from durable feeling materials, with an alloy body, braided nylon hose and wooden handle. The analogue pressure gauge can be even switched out for a digital item if you’re frightened of needles.
- £120 / $140 / AU$180
Backcountry Research Tülbag
This nifty little bag from Backcountry Research is the most delightfully over-engineered solution to portaging tools and other small parts that we’ve seen to date.
The bag is constructed from lightweight, but very hard wearing and tear resistant, Terrain XPAC fabric on the front and a very rough Griptech fabric on the rear. This rough surface is designed to help stop the bag from inadvertently flying out of your jersey pocket while riding and is one of those incredibly simple, but deeply satisfying “I wish I had thought of that”, solutions to a problem that we imagine most riders have faced at some point.
The bag is finished off with a large, glove friendly ‘Mega Zipper Pull’, which should keep retrieving the bag from your jersey pocket a fumble-free experience.
We can see this little bag becoming a real favourite of ours and think it’s an ideal Christmas present for the true tool-logistics dork in your life.
- £15.99 / $13 / AU$27
Backcountry Research Mütherload
If you bought your first bike from a bricks and mortar bike shop, it’s almost a certainty that you left the premises with said bike, a puncture repair kit, a lock and a saddle bag.
This makes these accessories incredibly common and as such, our aforementioned bag dorks, Jack and Reuben cannot abide by the lowly saddle bag — it just simply isn’t an artisan enough solution for these two. But riding without a saddle bag presents a problem — where do I store my spare tubes?
While a wrap of electrical tape seems like a perfectly acceptable solution for top-end enduro racers, it’s hardly guaranteed to be secure and we don’t really enjoy cleaning gluey residue off our bikes.
Enter the Mütherload, the mountain bike friendly, tube and Co2 carrying solution from Backcountry Research. Just like the Tülbag, this is a fantastically overkill solution to a problem you never knew you had.
Constructed from incredibly hard wearing and non-stretchy Hypalon, the Mütherload is reputed to “hold with the tenacity of a honey badger while swaddling your set up like a loving mother”.
With marketing claims as bold as that, we’re looking forward to putting the Mütherload through its paces in the near future.
- £18.99 / $16 / AU$32
Only What’s Necessary FR-01 shoes
The humble flat pedal shoe has come a long way in a fairly short time. Back in the day — you remember, when things were awful and nothing worked well — anyone that shunned a clipless pedal in favour of a flat had to made do with shoes made for skateboarding. The soles might have hooked up well with pedals, but they were made from hard rubber and the uppers were no better at keeping your toes warm and dry than a teenager’s illicit house party is at fending off gatecrashers.
Things have got better, with many shoes having sticky rubber rubber soles for loads of grip and uppers that manage to keep you comfy even in pretty foul conditions. Only reckons its shoe is the next step in the evolution of flat pedal footwear however, with a rather cunning modular design. The outer consists of a tough Kelvar upper with a dual-compound Vibram rubber sole that has an aggressively treaded heel and toe for walking and climbing, and with a flat mid-section to hook up with your pedal pins. The lack of build in padding means that they can be hosed down easily and will dry quickly when they get grubby.
“But what about comfort?” we hear you cry. Well pipe down and stop being so impatient, we’re getting to that bit. The outer is best thought of as a vessel for the removable inner, the bit that your foot goes inside. The real magic is that there are two inners to pick from, with a highly breathable mesh vented option for warm weather use and a fleece lined softshell option with a clever water repellent coating to provide maximum weather resistance.
Both have a contoured and shock absorbent D3O impact foam footbed for extra comfort and protection.
Seeing as a lovely British winter is in full swing, you can guess which one we’ll be starting off with.
Shred Short Stack helmet and Soaza goggles
You'll be forgiven if you've never heard of Shred before, unless you've a passing familiarity with the world of snow sports, but they're starting to expand into mountain bike kit too. We've got our paws on the Short Stack helmet, which uses Shred's proprietary and rather smart Slytech NoShock technology. It's basically a foam honeycomb structure that sits inside the expanded polystyrene foam that makes up most of the lid and it's said to help dissipate impact energy in multiple directions.
You also get Infinite RAA, which allows the helmet to rotate on the head on impacts thanks to eight small 'absorption units' with a slippery coating. It's said to minimise the impact of rotational accelerations on your noggin, which we presume must be a good thing. Elsewhere, the lid is low cut at the back for extra coverage and on-trend enduro looks, plus you can get it in loads of (quite wild) colours.
Of course, an enduro open face lid is nothing without a set of goggles and it's here that Shred excel, with these super-wide angle of vision Soaza units. Ours came with a pair of lenses, but as light is in short supply round our way we stuck the clear ones on straight away. The lens also gets an anti-fog treatment and there are pins for using tear-offs, but if you do, remember to pick them up kids. Littering ain't cool.
- Short Stack helmet: £120
- Soaza goggles: £80
Believe it or not, but within the hallowed halls of BikeRadar HQ, there still exists a small subset of rad shredders who remain true to the BMX cause, jumping about, doing sick turn-bars and watching MTV, or whatever it is that cool BMX bandits get up to nowadays.
And even though the number of BMXs that are featured on the site is low compared to the swathes of plastic pew-pew, go fast bikes and gnarly shred sleds, we’re currently overrun with an abundance of little wheeled, stunting machines that are in for test.
Among that number is this United KF22, which as it transpires, isn’t actually such a little wheeled bike after all. The bike uses 22” wheels as opposed to the more common 20” standard, which is used on nearly every other BMX on the market.
Citing the decreased rolling resistance and increased levels of comfort that the 22” wheels offer compared to smaller wheels, it’s very easy to draw comparisons between these larger BMX hoops and the move from 26” to 27.5” wheels on mountain bikes.
But while 27.5” wheels have become almost ubiquitous for nearly every type of mountain bike on the market, the 22” wheels, and the KF22 as a whole, are more limited in their scope — the bike is designed primarily for use on dirt jumps and not a whole let else.
The dirt jump scene is still alive and thriving in the UK and we’ll be taking the KF22 on many an adventure in the near future.
- £699.99 / $882.61 / AU$1,189.07
New road bikes and kit
Huez Sockgame socks
Is the inclement winter weather bringing you down? Are you fed up of suffering on your commute home, riding through the seemingly endless frosty gloaming? Would it be fair to categorise these symptoms as a chronic case of the winter blues?
We certainly think it is and this week we’ve been reflecting our weather beaten mood through our sock choice.
While it’s fair to say that in curating our sock choice, we’ve been #sockdoping in a certain sense, but this stocking-induced high is more of a downer than the usual neon-upper that we prefer.
These socks from Huez are made from synthetic fabrics, so will dry quickly after a good soaking and are guaranteed to reflect the gloominess of your mood.
In conclusion, life is pain, buy these blue socks.
- £15 / $18.77 / AU$N/A
Sportful 2nd Skin long sleeve baselayer
While our highly considered sock choice may simply reflect our downtrodden mood at this time of year, another clothing choice, although hidden from plain sight, demands comparable deliberation — the humble baselayer.
Donning a baselayer that is appropriate for the conditions you plan to ride in is a key part of ensuring comfort while on the bike, and an ill-suited choice will result in either brittle nipples or an overwhelmingly sweaty ride that feels comparable to being boiled alive.
We recently received this 2nd Skin baselayer from Sportful which uses an ingenious mix of soft, ribbed panels to keep exposed areas (e.g. shoulders, forearms) toasty while using thinner, more breathable panels around your core to prevent overheating.
The inside of the 2nd Skin baselayer is lined with a super-soft, towelled fabric which when paired with the stretchy, close fit makes for a supremely comfortable and highly wicking bit of kit.
Jack has used the baselayer on a few bitterly cold morning rides this week and so far the results are good.
- £50 / $64 / AU$85.90
Le Col Cycling Pro C2 Jacket
Competing for pro continental team ONE Pro Cycling until earlier this year, it’s reassuring to know that Le Col’s founder, Yanto Barker, has the credentials and expertise to design high quality cycling kit.
Year after year, winter jackets are produced in black or dark colours, hardly suitable for the low light of the winter months. Yet, basic economic theory dictates that if consumer demand exists, supply in the form of dark winter clothing occurs. Le Col has continued this trend but added a unique twist by not only adding a retro-chic patterned design, but reflective panels on the top of the shoulders and the rear of the jacket too.
Intended as an outer layer, the Pro C2 jacket is constructed from a combination of Windtex and Schoeller-Dynamic materials. This combination offers decent wind protection and water repellency, while remaining breathable and comfortable due to its four-way stretch ability.
The Pro C2 jacket comes with the sort of price tag that makes this piece reassuringly expensive. We look forward to seeing whether this jacket lives up to its high expectations.
- £220, international pricing unavailable.
Huez Starman Wind Jacket
We recently received this bruised-avocado green jacket from Huez which, weighing in at scanty 97g, looks to be one of the lightest windproof options out there.
We like the look of the velcro panel on the back of the jacket which doubles up as a sort of jersey pocket hole as well as as a sweaty back relieving vent.
It remains to be seen how easy this panel will be to close back up while on the bike as the velcro tabs are relatively small, requiring a level of precision we think most will find hard to muster while riding along.
The jacket is also fitted with a YKK Quickburst zip, which allows you to pull apart the zip from the middle outwards in a rather dramatic, Incredible Hulk like fashion. Think stripper clothes, but for skinny and overheated roadies.
The seams of the jacket are not sealed, but the lightweight, ripstop fabric is treated with a DWR coating which should help to keep showers at bay.
At £125.00 the jacket certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s a nicely finished bit of kit that we’re looking forward to trying out over the next few months.
- £125 / $157.50 / AU$ N/A