Once again Friday has rolled around and that means it's time for the latest edition of Friday Five-a-side.
As usual, we're rounding up of the most interesting bits and pieces of road cycling and mountain biking gear that have recently landed on the BikeRadar doorstep. This week, it's brought to you from our Australian office.
New mountain bike gear
With its classic steel lines and long standing history, this frame has made many old-school mountain bikers swoon. This is actually the second version of this frame that Ritchey has made. The company first produced a 650b wheeled mountain bike in 1977, until tyre supplies dried up and forced them to switch to 26on wheels.
While it won't win any awards for light weight (the 17in frame tips the scales at 2,028g), there’s no denying its classic appeal. The head tube and dropouts are forged-and-machined. The frame is built to take a 100mm suspension fork, so we’ll be building ours up with an X-Fusion number and a handful of gear from Ritchey.
This frame is the 2014 model, for 2015 it will see a few updates, such as a tapered head tube.
AU$1,299 / US$1,100 / £TBC
Trek X-Caliber 8
The 2014 X-Caliber 7 left us with very positive impressions when we reviewed it last year, and were we pleased to discover that Trek has made some subtle improvements to the X-Caliber lineup for 2015.
The X-Caliber 8 you see here is one model up from the version we previously tested. Its upgraded RockShox XC32 fork, tubeless-ready rims and SRAM 2x10 drivetrain should make it even more trail-worthy.
Trek also now offers the X-Caliber in its Smart Wheel Size solution. The two smallest sizes have 650b (27.5in) wheels and all the others have 29in wheels.
AU$1,199 / US$1,099 / £750
Scott Spark 740
Having just reviewed the half-carbon Scott Spark 720, we now have our hands on the slightly cheaper, alloy framed 740.
This 650b wheeled, 120mm travel bike seeks to blend marathon-racing performance with trail-bike fun. Its shares the same FOX three-mode suspension as the 720, and both rear suspension travel and front fork compression is adjusted by the handlebar mounted TwinLoc lever.
The butted and hydroformed alloy frame also features the same tapered head tube, 142 x 12mm rear axle and adjustable geometry chip as the 720.
The parts are subtly cheaper than those of its carbon sibling, and include Shimano Deore brakes and hubs. Our medium bike weighs 12.38kg (27.24lb).
AU$3,999 / US$3,249 / £TBC
Beta 951 T-handle wrenches
We regularly spotted these shiny sliding T-handle Allen and Torx wrenches in the toolboxes of many mechanics at WorldTour races and World Cups.
Beta tools hail from Italy. The company forges the hex heads from round bar to give a stronger and more durable wrench end. On first use, the tolerances are precise and certainly grab a bolt more securely than most other wrenches in the workshop. Not too surprising, considering Beta is a common sight in both Moto GP and F1 racing pits.
Yes, they are priced at a premium, but we’re eager to find out why many of the world’s best mechanics swear by them – despite often having access to other (free) tools from team sponsors.
Starting from AU$24 / US$26 / £TBC per wrench
Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex tubeless conversion kit
We reviewed this kit many years ago and while many of the parts have remained the same, Effetto Mariopsa recently updated its Caffelatex sealant formula (the old sealant bottle is pictured). This new sealant contains ‘microscopic silicate particles’ which are said to allow the sealant to move through holes more slowly and fix punctures up to five times faster.
The Caffelatex foams up more than other sealants. Effetto Mariopsa claimes this helps it seal parts of the tyre that other sealants wouldn’t reach.
The kit contains everything you need (except tyres) to convert a non-tubeless wheelset to tubeless. It’s available in two sizes, based on rim width. You can buy the sealant and the other components separately too.
AU$79 / US$TBC / £TBC
New road bike gear
Specialized Grail Short Finger gloves
This unassuming slip-on glove has been scientifically tested to improve circulation, resulting in reduced hand numbness and fatigue. This is achieved through equalising the pressure in soft tissues of the hand.
The rest of the glove offers familiar features such as a breathable mesh top, microwipe surface at the thumb and synthetic leather palm.
AU$44 / US$35 / £30
Giro Treble II shoes
The Treble II is the entry-level model in Giro's shoes range, and it borrows plenty of design features and style from the brand’s higher-end offerings.
The synthetic upper has three wide velcro straps to give a firm hold on the foot. The injected nylon outsole is compatible with both two- and thre-bolt cleats, so they will work with just about any pedal system. Our size 43 (EU) sample pair weighs 569g.
AU$129 / US$100 / £85
Scott Addict 20
The Addict was first introduced in 2007 and set a new benchmark for super light framesets. Eight years on, the Addict remains a competitive option for those seeking an all-round performance bike without an aerodynamic focus.
The wide BB86 pressfit bottom bracket and tapered 1 1/8 to 1 1/4in headtube are accompanied by high-end details such as a 360g full-carbon fork, carbon dropouts and front derailleur braze-on mount.
The frame weighs a claimed 860g, so much of its cost is sitting in its frameset. It's equipped with Shimano Ultegra and finished with a range of Syncros kit. Our complete 52cm test bike weighed 7.76kg (17.07lb).
AU$3,799 / US$TBC / £TBC
Token 11-speed Cromo cassette
This 11-speed cassette offers is designed to fit 8-, 9-, 10- or 11-speed wheels, and offers the ability to use older race wheels on a new drivetrain.
Ten of the cogs are machined from a single piece of steel and then press-fitted to a carbon-fibre carrier, so few expenses have been sparred here.
The 11th cog is offset so it can fit onto a narrower freehub body
Given the Cromo cassette's price, many will argue that it’s cheaper to upgrade the freehub (if possible) or even the wheels, however its weight is competitive compared to the likes of Shimano Dura-Ace and SRAM RED. While it’s designed to suit Shimano-style freehubs, it should suit SRAM and Campagnolo drivetrain users too. Shift quality and durability will prove to be the deciders for this item.
It also comes in 11-23, 11-25 and 11-28T options. Our 11-28T sample weighs 185g with the included alloy lockring.
AU$349 / US$TBC / £TBC
Fuji Transonic 1.3
Launched at the Tour de France this year under Team NetApp, the Transonic is Fuji's new aero road machine. There are three Transonic frame platforms — the SL, 1 and 2 — each with various builds. This is the 1.3, which comes with complete mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace, including the new Direct Mount brakes.
In construction of the frame, Fuji engineers took many of the lessons they learned in the wind tunnel with their latest time trial bike, the Norcom Straight, and applied them to the road.
Wheels, cockpit components and saddle from house-brand Oval keep the price down, without adding much to the heft of the bike. This 56cm test machine is 16.16lb (7.33kg).
AU$5,999 / US$4,699 / £4,299