11spd! It’s kind of like Christmas every week, but we get all the cool stuff and you, dear readers, well… you get nothing except the cockle warming satisfaction of knowing you’re up to date with what the hippest, most freshest road and mountain biking kit to land at BikeRadar HQ has been this week.
Read on to find about what’s making a noise on the trails, what’s helping sculpt said trails, what we’re donning to keep cosy on the bike and to have a sneaky peek at a book about some MAMIL who used to cycle pretty well.
New mountain bikes and gear
Hercules WAE Outdoor 4Plus FM
As every rad rider knows, it’s nigh on impossible to shred the gnar without a sweet soundtrack, which is where this wireless speaker from Hercules comes in.
At around 300g, it’s light enough to pop in a pack and thanks to an IP66 rating, it’s totally dust and sandproof with excellent water and shock resistance too.
As well as being able to connect to your phone or other device via the magic of Bluetooth, there’s a 3.5mm stereo jack input. Even better for those that prefer the sweet sounds of The Archers on BBC Radio 4 over thrash metal, this model also has an FM radio receiver.
- £70 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Kona Hei Hei Trail Supreme
Designed as the hardest hitting bike in the lightweight Hei Hei range, you get 140mm of travel at either end, with the rear using a new trunnion mount shock and a flex-stay design to help drop weight.
As you’d expect, considering the rather substantial price, you get a whole load of super-trick kit bolted to the carbon fibre frame, with wide WTB Ci31 carbon fibre rims built up on Hope hubs, a SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, a RockShox Pike RCT3 up front with a Deluxe RT3 shock at the back. Maxxis Tomahawk rubber for grip, and SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes for the stopping.
- £7,899 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Ibis 738 Aluminium wheelset
If there’s one mountain biking trend we’re pretty sure is going to go big in 2017, it’s wider rims, even for those that don’t want to run Plus sized rubber.
A wider rim helps square up your tyres, leading to a greater contact patch and less carcass roll, which allows you to run high volume tyres and maintain steering precision, as well as other benefits.
Ibis has been offering its range of super-wide rims for quite a while, but this new wheelset offers a decent 34mm inner width paired to Ibis’ own brand hubs for a rather reasonable price. They come with standard and Boost spacing, plus SRAM XD or Shimano freehub.
We’ve got these in for an upcoming feature, where we’re going to experiment with various rim widths and tyre widths to see just what the drawbacks and benefits of different setups are. Stay tuned.
- £549 / $549 / AU$TBC
Topeak Nano Torqbar
Apparently, it’s no longer acceptable to tighten things down by going until it makes a bad noise and then backing off a bit, like in the good old/bad old days. In all seriousness, it’s very easy to damage carbon bars and posts by overdoing clamp torque and it’s not very healthy for anything else either.
This rather neat little tool from Topeak allows you to accurately tighten the bits on your bike. The Torqbar comes with a single interchangeable head that’s preset to a certain torque value, with 4, 5 and 6Nm models available. You can then stick one of the five included bits into it and tighten away with a rather cool clutch mechanism that slips when the correct tightness is achieved, meaning that unlike many designs it’s not possible to overtighten by ‘clicking’ the bolt tighter.
The torque head and bits come in a little plastic case, but the Torqbar itself slides open, allowing you to store two bits in there and the head in the base, if you don’t want to take the whole caboodle with you. It’s really rather tooltastic.
- £28 / $40 / AU$TBC
Ergon GD1 Factory grips
Ergon is well known for its range of ergonomically shaped grips, but it's branching out into more aggressive riding territory with the new GD1 range of grips.They’re made for downhill riding, though many of the team enduro riders, such as Joe Barnes, have been won over by them.
Despite having an outwardly more normal looking profile, Ergon has packed a load of clever features into them. There's a choice of two diameters for larger or smaller hands while the grip itself gets slightly wider towards the end, aiming to maximise feel and comfort. They’re a lock-on design with a carbon fibre bar-friendly clamp and the rubber they’re made from is said to be so super top secret that it’s made in Germany and then shipped to Taiwan, ensuring rivals can’t get their hands on the magic mixture.
- £30 / €34.95 / $34.95 / AU$56
Bulldog Digging spade
Here at BikeRadar, we like to think we’re the sort of straight talking people who’d call a spade a spade, so here’s a rather lovely spade from Bulldog. It’s definitely a spade and not a shovel because there is a difference and that sort of thing is important.
As the name suggests, it’s made for digging, with a 48” long, straight, ash handle and a super-tough steel-forged blade, all made in the UK. The long handle and tough head means it should be ideal for the rigours of trail building, allowing you to scoop up dirt and beat it until it gives you a lip. As this is the best season to go digging trails, we're planning to put it to good use soon.
- £38 / $70 / AU$TBC
New road bike kit
Bontrager Classique Road Shoe
Put down your hair net helmet and stop fumbling about looking for your downtube shifters — although these natty lace up road shoes from Bontrager may look old school, you’ll find no circa-1972 tech here.
The Classique shoes from Bontrager have been around for a few years now and although we had some issues with their fit, they received a favourable review from us back in 2015. While you pay an 85g penalty over Giro’s comparable Empire SLX shoes, they're £75 cheaper at RRP and, in our eyes at least, look equally as classy.
The cat’s tongue-like gripper should help resist any energy sapping rising of the heel, though how your thoroughly #sockdoped stockings will fare when faced with hours of abrasive abuse remains to be seen.
In a world gone mad for BOA dials and weird, tech riddled, hybrid closure systems it’s refreshing to see a set of good ol’ laces on an increasing number of shoes and we’re looking forward to trying these out as part of a larger group test of road shoes over the next few months.
- £199 / $270 / AU$359
Rapha Women’s Core Rain Jacket
To start, we should apologize to those that don’t live in inclement climes similar to that of the UK — we can’t recall a single recent edition of 11spd in which a member of our Bristol based contingent hasn’t had a wee moan about the weather or received a bit of kit designed to fend off said meteorological frustrations.
But habits are hard to shake off and this week we have a selection of rubbish-weather road gear for your delectation.
First off is this feathery shell jacket from Rapha. The Core is a fully waterproof jacket that features fully taped seams, an AquaGuard waterproof zip and elasticated cuffs, all designed to help keep bad weather at bay.
Our size medium women's sample weighs in at 133g, which is exactly the same claimed weight of the similar Gore-Tex Active One jacket. While Rapha makes no claims as to the breathability of the jacket, the Core jacket does come in at a Gore-worrying £100 — a £120 saving over the Active one.
While we’ve gone for a shade of navy to reflect our weather-beaten mood this winter, the jacket is also available in a delightful sunshine yellow hue, which could bring much needed optimism and visibility to the roads this winter.
- £100 / $150 / AU$180
Rapha Brevet insulated jacket
As well as trying to keep dry on the bike, those in the Northern Hemisphere are also currently locked in the fierce, seasonal battle to keep warm while riding during the winter months — overshoes have been wrestled with, liners have been jammed into cumbersome gloves and necks are looking truly Buff-ed up.
While keeping extremities cosy may be relatively simple, working out the right layering solution for your core can often be a more faff-ridden task — although covering up in numerous layers of stretchy nylon and polyester will go some ways to keeping you warm, the bulk of that much clothing can feel pretty cumbersome while on the bike.
Various manufacturers have cottoned on to this problem and have started offering insulated jackets and gilets cut specifically for cycling, and Rapha recently sent us through its take on the roasty-toasty layer — the Brevet insulated jacket
The jacket is lined with a thin layer of hydrophobic, Polartec Alpha insulation, which should do the work of several less insulating layers, even when damp.
Compared to fleece, Polartec Alpha also compresses very well when packed away. So if you do end up sweating buckets in the Brevet jacket, you should just be able to pack it away in a bigger jersey pocket.
Deputy Editor, Jamie Beach will be testing the jacket on both perilous, frosty commutes and on a few longer rides during the next few chilly months.
- £150 / $220 / AU$255
Greg Lemond: Yellow Jersey Racer by Guy Andrews
Greg LeMond: Yellow Jersey Racer is a year-by-year account of the career of the road cycling legend and is filled to the brim with hundreds of retro-licious photographs from the era in which LeMond competed. The photos are also accompanied by numerous revealing interviews with LeMond, his teammates and other racers.
While the insight into this legendary racer's career is undoubtedly interesting, checking out the vintage kit of the period is also a highlight — looking through the photos it’s hard not to reminisce about the days where wool jerseys as itchy as hair shirts were the norm and the legendary Oakley Razor Blade could be worn without a hint of irony.
The book is published by Bloomsbury and is available from all good bookshops now.
- £36.54 / $45 / AU$90
SRAM RED WiFLi rear mech and cassette
As we reported in October last year, SRAM has added a WiFLi long cage rear mech and cassette to its wireless RED eTap groupset and a test unit has just landed in BikeRadar HQ.
The new WiFLi kit is designed to work with SRAM PowerGlide and PowerdomeX cassettes up to 32t in size. The smallest cassette that the WiFLi mech can accept is 11-26t — any smaller and you’ll need to fit the existing short-arm Red eTap derailleur.
However, the WiFLi rear mech only weighs a scant 6g more than the regular short cage mech, so we certainly can’t complain about the weight.
Expect us to be chickening out on climbs, making full use of our newly afforded granny gear over the next few months.
- The full SRAM Red eTap WiFLi Upgrade Kit costs £745 / $920 / €907 / AU$TBC and includes a SRAM Red eTap WiFLi rear derailleur and battery, SRAM XG-1190 11-32 cassette, and SRAM Red 22 chain.
- The SRAM Red eTap WiFLi rear derailleur on its own costs £485 / $610 / €570 / AU$TBC .