Seriously, it’s the end of August already? Where has the summer gone?! Well, at least it’s also the end of another week of toil and trouble, and time to go play outside.
Most of BikeRadar's team are toiling their way round the Eurobike trade show this week – and are therefore up to their eyeballs in upcoming bikes and kit, more on which in future editions of 11spd. In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the fresh gear that’s arrived at our Colorado headquarters recently – and refreshingly, most of the products this round are actually affordable for mere mortals.
New mountain bike gear
Garmin Edge 520 GPS computer
Garmin’s update on the popular Edge 510 focuses on a few key areas: a higher-resolution display, a move back to physical buttons in lieu of a touchscreen, and a slightly smaller form factor that also switches to a micro-USB port instead of the longstanding mini-USB one. Garmin has packed more features into its latest GPS computer, too, such as a ‘recovery advisor’ and the ‘cycling dynamics’ suite, which provides information on seated vs standing time, pedaling efficiency and other metrics when paired with a power meter.
Stravaphiles will be most excited about the addition of Strava Live Segments, which provides real-time feedback on your segment performances – either against yourself or current KOM/QOM record holders. This feature requires a Strava Premium account, however, and you’ll also need to pair your smartphone. Linking the two devices will also unlock other handy widgets, such as text and call notifications, automatic file uploading, and even weather alerts.
$300 / £200 / €299 / AU$399
Hutchinson Taipan tires
Hutchinson pegs its new Taipan as a true all-rounder with a balance of high grip, a fast roll, reasonable weights, and good puncture protection. The siped, six-sided tread blocks are arranged in such a way so as to provide biting edges in seemingly every direction, and the open spacing should shed mud well. The slightly squared-off profile looks like it’ll provide a nice, stable shelf for hard cornering, too.
Actual weight for a 27.5x2.25in sample is 641g.
$75 / £50 / €70 / AU$TBC
Lezyne Dry Caddy saddle bag
If you regularly find yourself riding in wet conditions, the stuff in your saddle pack is probably getting soaked, too. To help keep your essentials dry, Lezyne’s Dry Caddy is built with waterproof polyurethane fabric with welded seams and a roll-top closure – much like raft guides use on the water.
The medium size is big enough to hold a mountain bike tube, a couple of CO2 cartridges and a multi-tool, and the quick-release mounting bracket makes for easy installation and removal. There’s even a reflective tab on the back for nighttime visibility, which also serves double-duty as a mounting point for an LED flasher.
$40 / £30 / €35 / AU$60
VCRC Bike carbon headset spacers and top cap
Most of us aren’t card-carrying members of the #SlamThatStem club, which means there’s more than likely a healthy stack of headset spacers on the front end of your bike. If you’re not a fan of how a bunch of little 5mm and 10mm spacers look, VCRC Bike comes to the rescue with a huge range of carbon spacers in common thicknesses such as 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20mm, but also extra-tall ones in 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, and even 50mm sizes. All feature a unidirectional finish for a neat, one-piece aesthetic.
Going along with those spacers is VCRC Bike’s carbon top cap. It isn’t really any lighter than high-quality alloy ones but the matt finish might provide a more coordinated look depending on your frame, and the countersunk bolt yields a tidy and flush surface up top.
$12-22 / £8-14 / €11-20 / AU$16-30 (VCRC Bike carbon headset spacers, each)
$20 / £13 / €18 / AU$27 (VCRC Bike carbon headset top cap)
Maxima SC1 silicone spray
Friction is one of the biggest enemies when it comes to your bike’s suspension performance, and one trick we’ve heard from a few tuner shops is to apply Maxima SC1 silicone spray to your fork stanchions and rear shock shaft. Maxima actually bills SC1 as a sort of temporary clear coat that discourages mud and dirt build-up on painted surfaces for easier cleanup after riding, but it seems the slippery surfaces it produces supposedly improves small-bump performance, too.
Just be careful when applying not to get any overspray on to your brake pads and rotors.
$10.50 / £10 / €13.50 / AU$18.50
New road bike gear
Lezyne Mini GPS computer
Lezyne is jumping into the red-hot GPS bicycle computer market with not one, but three brand-new models. Our sample – the Mini GPS – is the smallest option and indeed lives up to its namesake, with a sleek looking case roughly the size of a Tic-Tac box that weighs in at just 30g.
Despite the tiny size, Lezyne nevertheless manages to squeeze up to four lines of data (three of which are fixed) on to the highly legible LCD screen, up to 10 hours of run time from the onboard rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and up to 100 hours of ride data.
Being the most affordable of Lezyne’s new GPS computers, the Mini GPS does without several key functions such as ANT+ or Bluetooth capabilities for pairing wireless sensors, and it also only works with GPS satellites for tracking as opposed to higher-end models that add in the GLONASS system for better accuracy and faster location locks.
There are no mapping or navigation functions, either, but that’s probably fine given that the tiny screen wouldn’t be terribly useful in that role, anyway.
$140 / £110 / €139 / AU$190
Alchemy Bicycle Company carbon bottle cages
Boutique frame builder Alchemy Bicycle Company is expanding beyond road and ’cross bikes for 2016, first into MTBs with the new Oros carbon hardtail 29er, and now with a range of accessories that include these rather tidy-looking carbon bottle cages.
The design of the cage looks familiar enough, and at 25g they’re about the same weight as the competition. What sets Alchemy’s version apart, though, is that they’re completely fabricated in-house right in the company’s Denver, Colorado factory – including cutting the carbon sheets, laying up the plies, molding and finishing.
Given all that, the pricing is surprisingly reasonable (given that it’s no more expensive than ones mass produced overseas), and there’s also the bonus option of bespoke finishes if you’ve got a particular aesthetic in mind.
$60 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC (Alchemy Bicycle Company carbon bottle cage, standard finish)
$80 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC (Alchemy Bicycle Company carbon bottle cage, custom finish)
Giant Rev helmet
Giant recently debuted a complete line of high-end helmets, all of which are either completely new or thoroughly overhauled. The Rev road lid falls into the latter category with a similar outward appearance to the previous version but with a new internal skeleton that now allows for much larger vents and deeper internal channeling. Additional features include antimicrobial padding (because smelly helmets are gross), lightweight webbing, and Giant’s easy-to-use Cinch Pro retention system.
The revamped Rev is also quite light at just 253g (medium, CPSC-approved sample), and perhaps more importantly, very reasonably priced given the performance it offers. We’ve been riding in one for much of this summer season, in fact, and so far it’s a winner.
$150 / £100 / €100 / AU$170
Specialized Rib Cage II with Tool
Let’s face it: given the option, we’d all rather hit the road with fewer things in our jersey pockets than more, or a smaller saddle pack instead of a giant one. Helping matters along in that department is Specialized’s Rib Cage II w/Tool bottle cage.
Part of the company’s ever-expanding SWAT (Storage Water Air Tools) concept, this cage includes a clever bolt-on attachment at the bottom that holds a small multi-tool with 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm Allen, T25 Torx, and flathead screwdriver bits – all essentially out of sight, tucked neatly against the frame.
Add in the company’s equally clever Top Cap Chain Tool (which hides a chain tool inside your steerer tube) and you’ve got most of the essentials always ready to go and never to be forgotten on your next ride.
$50 / £37.50 / €60 / AU$80
Ornot Dark Wolf socks
"You could be a rolling billboard… or not."
That’s the tagline for boutique cycling clothing brand Ornot, which prides itself on minimally branded apparel that’s cut and sewn in California. The designs are refreshingly eye-catching without being at all over the top, and there are ample options for creating your own coordinated kit – there are even coordinated water bottles available if you really want to go super matchy-matchy.
Jersey and short prices are pretty reasonable – relatively speaking – but if those are out of your price range, you can still buy yourself some style with a pair of socks. Our ‘Dark Wolf’ samples are made of soft Merino wool by DeFeet. Given how much they’ve already been worn, long-term durability looks very solid, too.
$19 / £15 / €TBC / AU$TBC
Elite Candea bottle
Elite has a rather interesting take on nighttime visibility. Instead of strapping lights to the front and rear of your bike, the new Candea bottle incorporates white LEDs in a removable lower cap that makes the entire vessel glow like a small lantern. Campers have actually used similar tricks to create ambient outdoor lighting, and the same concept looks to be reasonable effective here, too.
Three settings are on tap – high, low, and blinking – and claimed run time is up to 60 hours. The Candea unfortunately doesn’t use rechargeable batteries, though, but at least the two CR2032 coin-type cells it requires are generally inexpensive and easy to source.
$30 / £21 / €20 / AU$TBC