You know how this goes right now, but it just wouldn't be the same without an intro now would it? The end of the week is almost upon us, hot gear has been piping through the doors of the BikeRadar offices around the world and we're itching to share some of the tastiest morsels with you – yep, it's Friday Five-a-side time.
New mountain bike gear
Fox DPS Shock
Following suspension testing with pro downhill racer, Sam Blenkinsop, Fox Racing Shox determined that riders spend as much as 25 percent of their time at or very near full extension of their suspension when going flat out downhill. Therefore, they concluded that it is important for air shocks to be very supple off the top of the stroke in order to better absorb small bumps and maintain traction when near the full extension of the travel. This led to the EVOL air can, which features an enlarged negative chamber for a smoother and suppler beginning stroke.
The DPS shock takes advantage of this spring, incorporating it into a trail / all-mountain shock. The damper has been updated too. CTD (Climb, Trail and Descend) is out, and in comes the new Open, Medium and Firm modes. It’s more than just a renaming, though. The Open mode offers three low-speed compression settings to fine-tune the support when descending; the Medium mode is very much akin to the old Trail setting, while the Firm mode is now practically a lockout and is controlled by a separate lockout piston. The new damper and spring configuration is also claimed to cope with heat build-up better than previous trail shocks for consistent control on long descents.
Bird AM 35 Wheels
UK based bike brand Bird has been ruffling some plumage with its superb value, customisable direct sales bikes. Now it's branching out into the world of wheels. In typical Bird style, the pricing is particularly aggressive. Before you roll your eyes in derision, £850 is relatively cheap for a set of carbon wheels – a set of ENVE rims on Chris King Hubs could set you back three times as much.
At a claimed 440g per rim, they’re not feather-light (sorry) for carbon hoops, but Bird puts an emphasis on toughness. The broad and sturdy carbon rim is offset in terms of stiffness by a 28-spoke, three-cross build, which is designed to allow for a little more compliance from the wheel than a more traditional 32-spoke, two-cross setup. As the name suggests, they sport a 35mm external width, with 30mm internal. This puts them right into the fray with the other trendy modern wide-rimmed wheels.
£850 / US$TBC / AU$TBC
Intense Carbine 29 Expert
Having put in serious hours on Specialized’s iconic Enduro 29, we don't need telling twice that the combination of long travel and 29in wheels has the potential to deliver incredible speed and huge grins. With 140mm travel out back and 160mm travel up front, the Intense Carbine 29 fits into this category. Featuring a full carbon frame and a super-efficient VPP suspension system, this Expert build is specced with RockShox’ Pike fork and Monarch Plus shock, KS Lev Integra seatpost and Stan’s Rapid 28 wheels. James Costley-White, from BikeRadar's sister mag Mountain Biking UK has just taken delivery of this XL version for his long-termer. Lucky man. We'll be publishing his thoughts on the new steed over the coming months, so look out for that.
£5300 / US$6000 / AU$TBC
Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS
How much is your brain worth to you? The Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS is a pricey, but effective way to look after it. The carbon shell contains multi-directional EPS foam to effectively absorb impacts, and it passes all the MTB full face safety standards. In addition, this version boasts the MIPS system.
Developed by Swedish neurosurgeon, Hans von Holst, MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection system) is designed to isolate the head from rotational forces, reducing damage to the brain in real-world crashes. It’s claimed to be compatible with most neck braces too. We were fortunate enough to ride with this helmet on in California earlier this year, where the 17 vents helped keep heads impressively cool. The pictured XXL example will comfortably accommodate even the hugest noggins nicely, and a respectable mass of 1228g aids comfort too.
£330 / US$450 / AU$TBC
Lake MX 237 shoes
These striking looking kicks are sure to turn a few heads on the trails, and the carbon sole promises awesome power transfer to boost your speed too. Impressively, our size 46 pair tipped the scales at just under 800g, and the dual Boa closure system is quick and easy to use. The outsole is reassuringly rubbery too, not like the plastic-souled disco slippers many XC riders have to put up with. The upper contains real leather to round-out the quality feel, we're looking forward to putting them through the wringer to establish whether they truly are quality performers.
£199 / US$280 / AU$TBC
New road bike gear
Scott Plasma 5 Team Issue
Pictured here without all the superfluous triathlon add-ons, this is the UCI-legal version of Scott's top-end TT bike, recently used to win the opening Giro d'Italia team time trial by Orica-GreenEdge.
The bike is specced with SRAM Red mechanical gearing – including the American brand's brilliant, though tricky to set up, return-to-centre shifters, a Zipp 808 / 404 Firecrest wheel pairing and the specially developed Profile Plasma 5 Aeria aero bars. It's a slick looking machine with loads of innovative features such as the cowling of both the front and rear brakes and the spiralled, wind-cheating chainstays.
If Darth Vader were to get into time trials, we reckon he'd choose this.
£8,500 / US$12,000 / AU$TBC
Trek Emonda ALR 6
Trek's carbon Emonda range was, until very recently, the lightest production road bike platform in the world. Not everyone wants, or can afford, carbon though. For these riders, Trek has produced this – the Emonda ALR – formed with beautifully smooth-welded Alpha 300 aluminium.
With a claimed frame weight of 1,050g (size 56cm), our test bike weighs in at just 7.2kg – very sprightly indeed for an alloy machine and unlikely to be bested by many carbon bikes at this price point.
The ALR 6 pictured comes with full 11-speed mechanical Ultegra, Bontrager Race tubless ready wheels and a carbon seatpost. There's also the ALR 5 – a Shimano 105-equipped version, which is the only model available Down Under.
£1,700 / US$2,250 / AU$2,200 (ALR 5 only in AUS)
The Rivet is the latest aero road helmet from Giant and is designed to offer an aero advantage in the myriad wind conditions faced (quite literally) by roadies. It looks something like the Giro Air Attack but features large air intake and exhaust ports, which aim to keep a constant breeze over the top of the head while riding at speed. The vents are also aerodynamically neutral according to Giant, so there's no drag penalty for them being there.
Dorky-looking it may be, but that won't stop those seeking aero gains (or triathletes).
£TBC / US$160 / AU$TBC
Pearl Izumi Elite RD IV shoes
The Elite RD IV shoes have a stiff carbon sole that features much improved stiffness compared with some of Pearl Izumi's older gear, but the best thing about the design is the central Boa retention wheel on the tongue. Twiddling the dial secures the fully bonded, seamless upper around the foot equally, rather than to one side, helping to eliminate uncomfortable hot spots and pinch points. There's also a Velcro strap to customise toebox fit and longitudinal arch support to avoid the foot folding and causing a loss of power on the downstroke.
£150 / US$200 / AU$TBC
Osram FX70 and RX2 bike lights
Osram is the world’s second-biggest consumer lighting manufacturer, so it’s a bit surprising that the company is only just getting into the bike light market. The brand’s first range features three front and one rear bike light – all LED based.
The FX70 is designed with power enough to light a darkened road or off-road trail with a wide beam and features five brightness settings from 54 to 225 lumens. A rechargeable 2,600mAh Li-ion battery – separate from the lamp itself – has a claimed life of up to seven hours and a four-hour charge time. The RX2 rear light uses a pair of AAA batteries that give a 4-lumen output for 36 hours and is rain proof too.
£90, £8 / US$, AU$ TBC