It’s always a Good Friday when a bunch of kit so wonderfully varied as what follows has arrived in the BikeRadar offices during the week. This time out, we’ve got selections from BMC, Specialized, SR Suntour, Rotor, Ibis, Pearl Izumi and more.
New road bike gear
Rotor four-bolt Q-Rings
Available in 54/44t, 53/38t, 52/36t, 50/36t and 50/34t set-ups, the solid, aero chainrings are CNC-machined from 7075 T6 anodised aluminium. They’re also ramped and pinned for better shifting and allow adjustment across three angles for a custom position.
The four-bolt rings cost £175 / US$320 / AU$325, the same price as Rotor’s other options. You can successfully mount them with Rotor's normal chainring bolts, but the shaped bolt covers (designed to fit perfectly on Dura-Ace, but look fine on the Ultegra set-up here) cost an extra £45 / US$75 / AU$90. Yes, that’s a lot of cash all told. But still, think of the oval-ness.
Rotor says Q-Rings increase power and lower lactates because the shape makes use of a larger gear on the downstroke and a smaller gear in the usual dead spot, getting you back to the downstroke faster. Such benefits are most pronounced at high intensities, but studies haven’t shown any downsides to using oval rings more generally.
While stories of mis-shifts have dogged oval rings for years, our prolonged use has shown them to be no more prone to dropped chains than a round compact setup. You can always fit a chain catcher if you’re worried. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee too.
- Rings: £175, / US$320 / AU$325
- Bolt covers: £45 / $75 / AU$90
Huez Starman Wind Jacket
Huez claims to have scoured the four corners of the Earth to find materials that'll assist its quest for "a world where modern sportswear is so enriched with technology that people are able to live in style and be more healthy than ever before".
The Starman Wind Jacket is cut from advanced Japanese ripstop fabric – it’s almost unbelievably light and incredibly thin, so it packs down easily into its own zipped bag for storage. The Starman’s wide, popper-secured rear vent also doubles as an access point to jersey pockets.
The front YKK Quickburst zip has a special arrangement of teeth so that when unzipping, it pauses below the breastbone, then continues with a second downwards jab. It sounds odd, but it allows fast opening of the upper part of the jacket for ventilation without accidentally opening too far.
£125 / US$185 / AU$243
Pearl Izumi Women’s Elite LTD jersey and Drop Tail bib-short
Updated for 2015 in a slick new colour scheme, this race-cut jersey and bib combo from Pearl Izumi offers cool comfort in warm conditions.
The jersey is made from fast wicking Elite Transfer Dry fabric and features a full-length zip and direct-vent panels on the sides to avoid overheating. The usual three pockets are present and correct on the rear, along with an elasticised hem gripper to avoid the jersey riding up and causing irritation.
The bibs use Pearl Izumi’s Elite 3D Chamois – a 13mm three-layer, variable-density pad that’s anti-microbial and designed for comfort during longer rides. The fabric on the shorts is the same as the jersey and boasts superior moisture transfer according to Pearl Izumi. The upper straps are made of light mesh and have a central clip to secure them comfortably around the chest.
The shorts also feature a drop tail – the elastic at the rear isn’t sewn into the straps – enabling you to answer calls of nature swiftly and be back on the road in record time.
- Jersey: £70 / US$110 / AU$120
- Bibs: £100 / US$145 / AU$140
Fuel Your 10k Hours Protibrick
If one thing has spoiled our enjoyment of Weetabix over the years, it’s been a fear that there just isn’t enough protein to sustain our chunky legs through, and after, all the hours on the bike. But no longer! Sports breakfast company Fuel Your 10k Hours has rebirthed the wheat biscuit with added protein to replenish muscles.
The two main ingredients of the square-cornered and aptly named Protibrick are wholegrain wheat and soy flour, giving cleaner carbs with an extra protein boost. The result is 15.7g protein per 100g (6.3g per 40g serving), compared with 11.5g/100g in Weetabix. That’s about the same as a large egg.
It’s a nice idea to have post-ride protein in your breakfast bowl, even just for the sake of foregoing a post-ride shake. We’ve not tasted them yet, mind.
£2.69 (pack of 24) / US$ N/A / AU$ N/A
Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube
We covered Muc-off’s latest marginal-gains getter last week, but couldn’t resist testing out the (Team) sky-blue liquid and supplied UV light, which is designed to let you check link coverage. It actually worked surprisingly well, though it needed a dark environment to let it shine properly.
It’s a high-end lube for wet days or dry and dusty conditions and you can see Team Sky’s dedication to even the smallest advantage in the development of the product – 18,000 miles ridden for less than one watt saved compared with the previous C3 Wet lube. Even so, we're sure it'll do the job well.
£16 / US$TBC / AU$TBC
New MTB gear
Specialized S-works Demo 8
It's the reinvention of a privateer favourite – the new Specialized S-works Demo uses a strikingly asymmetric carbon frame, showing-off the bright yellow Öhlins shock; when combined with the race-ready spec, it a real head-turner!
It’s not all style and no substance either. The carbon chainstays pivot around the bottom bracket, rather than slightly above as in most designs. This boosts stiffness and lowers the centre of mass of the bike, but presented the engineers with a real challenge. They wanted to replicate the same suspension kinematics they had refined on the old design, but lowering the main-pivot usually compromises pedalling efficiency.
They claim to have managed it, though, by rearranging the other pivot locations. The lighter carbon rear-end also reduces unsprung mass, when compared with the old (alloy) design, which helps the rear end to remain active. The super-low 343mm BB height and 63.5º head-angle characterise the typically race-ready geometry.
An Öhlins twin-tubed TTX shock controls the rear suspension, while a coil-sprung RockShox boxer team deals with the terrain up front. A SRAM X01 DH seven-speed drivetrain and Guide RS DH brakes take care of stop-go duties. Available in four sizes, our medium sample weighed in at 36.5lbs. It’s not cheap, but it’s a potential World Cup winner!
£7,000 / US$9,000 / AU$10,500
DRC X-Monitor lap timer
This bar mounted timer weighs in at just 41g and can accurately record intervals on your local trails. A button can be placed right next to the grip for convenience when starting and stopping the clock. It looks like it could be a great tool for training, or for trying out different lines and bike settings if you've got a head for numbers.
£35 / US$50 / AU$N/A
Ibis 941 wheels
Boasting a super-wide 35mm internal width, these carbon wheels are designed to maximise traction on the trail. The wide profile supports the tyre to avoid squirming or burping even at low tyre pressures. This, combined with the burly hookless bead, is claimed to allow the rider to drop 5psi or so for maximum traction and efficiency. Spinning on DT Swiss hubs and 32 spokes, our 29-inch wheelset weighed just 1752g. We can’t wait to get them out on the trail!
£1,300 / US$1,300 / AU$1,699
Diamondback Lumis Carbon 3.0
It's been a while since we had our hands on a hardtail like this new offering from Diamondback. The Lumis 3.0 has a full carbon frame - a rarity at this price. It's also furnished with a RockShox Reba RLT fork with remote lockout, 650b wheels, an Easton cockpit and SRAM X9 shifting.
At £1,900 it represents solid value, on paper.
£1,900 / US$ N/A / AU$ N/A
SR Suntour Raidon XC fork
Available in 80mm or 100mm travel options, the Raidon from SR Suntour offers has 32mm stanchions and many of the features found on high-end XC forks: a 15mm axle for added stiffness (complete with the brand's ultra fast QLoc2 system), remote lockout for climbing efficiency, air spring and rebound adjustment.
The claimed weight is 2,016g – very decent for the price – and there's also a 27.5-inch version with 100 or 120mm of travel.
Depending on how these perform on the trail, they have the potential to be a steal at this price.
£219 / US$275 / AU$N/A