Are weeks getting lighter and stiffer, too? They do seem to be getting faster. No matter, because here at BikeRadar, we've discussed women's role in the early days of cycling, which outlined nine women who've made a difference in our two-wheeled world; mentioned the shocking wheel failure at the Tirreno-Adriatico team time trial for Team Sky and Shimano's response; and also managed to highlight an obscenely light bike from Wilier that's off limits to the pros, but not to you. So what else has been grabbing our attention this week?
New mountain bike gear
Grips are important. They’re one of only three touch points a rider has with the bike. Having the wrong grips can make your hands sore or ache, and there’s no fun in that. We have the full line-up of Sensus grips here.
No matter how you prefer your grips to be stuck to the bar, Sensus has it covered with lock-ons, slip-ons and single sided lock-ons. And while the signature grips have some of the biggest, ballsiest freeride names (Cam Zink and Andreu Lacondeguy to be specific) on them, we’re betting they feel just as nice even if you’re tires stay solidly on the dirt.
- Swayze slip-on Zink signature grip: £TBC / $10.99 / AU$TBC
- Sensus Lite: £TBC / $28 / AU$TBC
- Swayze lock-on: £TBC / $31 / AU$TBC
- Disisdaboss! Lacondeguy signature grip: $ £TBC / 31 / AU$TBC
Topo Designs Lightweight Mountain Shorts
You’d be surprised how hard it is to find a pair of lightweight baggy shorts for cycle touring and casual after-work shredding that meet Jack Luke’s ridiculously specific criteria — they must be made from a quick drying synthetic fabric, have no cargo pockets, be cut slim enough not to flap about in the wind and, most importantly, must be cut just high enough above the knee to be a little saucy.
After years of searching in vain, salvation has come in the form of these pleasingly simple shorts from Topo Designs.
While not designed specifically for cycling, the cut is slim enough to be comfortable on the bike while looking good off. The lightweight nylon fabric should also dry quickly after inclement weather or a cheeky post-ride dip. As with all of its kit, Topo produces these shorts in the USA.
At $89.00 (£109.90, AU$TBC), there’s absolutely no denying that these shorts are expensive, but when you’re as picky as we are, sometimes you just have to commit.
- £109.90 / $89.00 / AU$TBC
Northwave Outcross Plus Shoes
XC shoes, enduro shoes, downhill shoes, how about some good ol' mountain bike shoes? You know, the kind that can happily take on any type of ride and look casual while doing it. Well, Northwave's Outcross Plus shoes fit the bill.
They're ready to conquer pedally days with a mildly stiff midsole and more than ready to hop off the bike for the occasional scramble thanks to the Michelin rubber tread on the soles.
The fit is easy to dial in as well, with Northwave's Speed Lace Winch 2 system. The SLW2 allows micro adjustments for both tightening and loosening with a mere touch of a button.
- £104.99 / $132 / AU$175
Lamere Dopamine fat bike
Minnesota-based Lamere Cycles claims its Dopamine is the world’s lightest full-suspension fat bike.
In addition to the paltry 2,200 gram frame weight is a full range of wheel size compatibility. Lamere states clearance for 5-inch fatty rubber and space for 29+ tires in the 130mm travel frame.
More versatility comes from the interchangeable rear triangles, fat tire-friendly 170/177mm or 190/197mm hubs or slap on a Boost 12x148mm rear end for a more standard 29er or 29+ set up.
Lamere builds up every bike that it sells unique to the customer's demands. The Dopamine in on test is loaded with SRAM XX1, propelled by a Race Face Next SL crank, carbon rims laced to Industry 9 hubs, a Thomson dropper post and a carbon bar and stem.
- XT fat bike build $5,700
Ortlieb coffee filter
It may come as news to you but cyclists tend to like coffee a little bit. To appease riders who need a caffeine fix even on the go or on a tour, Ortlieb has answered the call with its collapsable coffee filter.
Boil some water, slip in two support sticks, silverware, tent stakes, etc. (not included), add your grinds to the paper filter (five are included) and be grumpy and groggy no more.
The 30g gravity brewer folds flat (12x19cm) when not in use and the heat-resistant material should be pretty darn durable, even if you’re bumbling around in an angry, pre-coffee state.
- £TBC / $12 / AU$TBC
Bikase GoKase bike mount
Name one thing you can’t go without. Your smartphone was likely on that shortlist if not at the very top.
Bikase gets it. Its GoKase bike mount includes a handlebar mount and a durable TPU-injected molded case for your smartphone. Cases for iPhone 5, 6, and 7 as well as 6 and 7 Plus models are available.
The mount lets you position your smartphone either vertically or horizontally. And the case works with Bikase's arm band and car vent mounts.
- GoKase iPhone 6 bike mount $39.99 (UK and Australian pricing TBC)
New road bike gear
Topo Designs Bike Bag
Topo Designs also sent us over one of its new bike bags along with its do-it-all shorts.
Designed to be slung from your handlebars or the rails of your saddle via two very grippy velcro loops, this cool little bag is voluminous enough to accommodate everything you might need for a longer day out on the bike.
We’ve actually had a hold of this bag for a month or so and Jack hasn’t been on a ride without it since, packing his beloved Fuji X30, a zillion tortilla wraps and a few spare tubes with ease.
Made from hardy 1000D Cordura and lined with vinyl-coated polyester, we’ve also found the bag to be impervious to all but the heaviest of downpours.
Prospective buyers should however note that the Topo Bar Bag is quite wide and works best when braced from the outermost webbing loops on the top of the bag, so can interfere with the tops of your bars if you fit it to drop handlebars.
- $49.00, international shipping available
Sonnet Track MK-II
Sonnet is as fresh as they come — launching back in January, this semi-bespoke brand is initially offering two classically styled bikes, which are said to be inspired by “the iconic, Italian, racing machines of yesteryear” and we’ve spent the last few weeks on the Track MK-II.
Despite being called the Track MK-II and having a pretty aggressive, lo-pro-ish silhouette, the bike is best thought of as a singlespeed road bike, with routing for both front and rear brakes and clearances for up to 28mm tyres on request.
Having said that, the bike doesn’t have any bottle cage bosses, but you could always bring along a suitably artisan beverage in the aforementioned Topo Bar Bag. Also, as a semi-custom operation, Sonnet will almost certainly be able fit any number of braze ons should you so desire.
The frameset is produced in Europe and is beautifully finished, boasting a blingy sterling silver headbadge, classy sparkly paint work and chrome plated lugs.
Our build as pictured — which features some seriously top shelf components from Nitto, White Industries, Selle Royal and Campagnolo — comes in at approximately £2,499. The Columbus SL frameset costs £1,499.
Arriving six years late to the fixed gear scene, Jack has clocked a few hundred KM testing the Sonnet Track MK-1 so far and on a diverse mix of highly inappropriate terrain — you should expect to hear his thoughts soon.
- Frameset: £1,499 / $N/A / AU$N/A
- Build as pictured: £2,499 (international shipping available)
Soma Cazadero 650x42mm tyres
Regular readers will almost certainly have noticed a glut of #gravelspecific kit featured by the UK team in previous editions of 11spd over the last few months.
While grinding said gravel is currently the hippest niche in cycling (sorry Jack, fixies aren’t cool anymore) and it’s our duty report on such matters, the BikeRadar team is also in the midst of preparing for this year's Dirty Reiver.
Seemingly not learning our lesson after last year's epic 200km ride, Jack, Reuben and Joe have signed up for another go and are each gathering together what they consider to be the best kit for the day, and these plump, skinwall tyres from Soma are Reuben’s choice of rubber for the event.
The tyres feature a raised central tread to maintain low rolling resistance on hard packed surfaces or asphalt alongside aggressive lugs on the outer edges to aid cornering when things get loose.
Like many small production run tyres, the Cazadero is produced by Panaracer in Japan. It is also available in 700c.
While they’re not officially rated to be run tubeless, many have had success doing so and Reuben plans to run Cazaderos sans-tubes at the event.
Keep your eyes peeled for lots of coverage about our bikes and experiences at this year's Dirty Reiver over the next few months.
- $73.99, international pricing TBC
Fizik M3B Uomo mountain bike shoes
We first saw these minimal looking shoes from Fizik back in September at Eurobike and have been keen to get a pair in for test ever since.
The M3B combines a lightweight carbon sole with a one-piece polyurethane upper that is coated to provide a degree of water resistance, which will be very welcome on the still puddle-strewn trails around BikeRadar HQ’s native Bristol.
The shoes are closed by a single BOA dial, so on-bike adjustments shouldn’t be much of a faff either.
Our size 42 shoes came in slightly under the claimed weight at 664g for the pair, which is pretty damn feathery for a mountain bike shoe. A cursory attempt at bending the shoes while sat at a desk yielded no bending either, so we assume they’ll be plenty stiff out on the trail.
We’re going to be getting a lot of use out of these this season for mountain biking and gravel riding, and with the addition of toe spikes maybe even 'cross season.
- £229 / International pricing TBC
Far End Gear XDU Pathfinder single bud headphones
While there will always be those that chastise riders who choose to jam out while on the bike, there will also be those that continue to listen to their tunes regardless.
Now we can meet a happy halfway point with these nifty, single bud headphones from Far End Gear.
By running both channels to a single headphone you lose as little quality as possible, while leaving one ear free to listen out for vehicles, other trail users and compliments about how good your butt looks.
The headphones come in a number of configurations, including options to include a microphone for those that can't leave the #connected world behind, but we’ve gone for the simple noise cancelling headphones in both short and long cords.
The buds themselves are machined from alloy and have a hard-wearing, nylon-reinforced cord, which should hopefully hold up to years of riding.
While you’ll always lose a degree of fidelity pumping both channels into a single speaker, the XDU Pathfinder sounds pretty darn good for a bud-style headphone and we've found them to be more than clear enough for podcasts so far.
- £17.99 / $24.99 / AU$TBC