Ah Friday, the day we all love that only occurs once the other six days are done. For us, it means we show you the latest gear to reach our hands, this time coming from our Sydney, Australia offices. From a smart watch to an oval chainring to latex shoe covers, we bring you 11 fresh products. Let's go!
New mountain bike gear
Thule 927 VeloCompact towbar mount rack
It may come at a premium, but if you own a tow ball and want to carry up to four bikes, you should find years of use in the VeloCompact. Supporting each bike’s weight by the wheels, this rack is well suited to carrying a wide variety of rides, including the most delicate carbon models.
Grabbing the towball with locking jaws that are likely props from Alien vs Predator, the new VeloCompact locks onto a towball unlike anything we’ve seen before. From here, it’ll carry up to 60kg total without flinching.
Once loaded, you can still access the boot without issue
Even the longest 29ers appear to fit fine with sliding wheel trays, while the adjustable arms can be moved to grab onto just about any surface of a bike. Even fully loaded, just step on the back of the rack and the whole thing swings down for boot or rear door access.
With indicators, brake lights and a license plate holder integrated into the base, this one is ready to safely transport you and your mates' prides and joys.
While we’ll be testing the three-bike version that can be expanded to four bikes, there’s also a smaller (and cheaper) two-bike version available.
£380 / $N/A / AU$879
Shimano XT M8000 Race pedals
The launch of Shimano's XT 11-speed groupset also included some subtly updated pedals. We received the M8000 Race version for review, with the pair weighing in at 339g.
Compared with the previous M780 model, the Races offer a .8mm wider pedal body for a claimed 7.7 percent increase in shoe-to-pedal contact. Additionally, the new models are .5mm lower in platform height. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same proven 25-year old SPD design that remains.
£TBC / $120 / AU$149
OneUp Traction ring
The single-ring specialist is at it again, this time offering an extensive range of oval chainrings for 1x-equipped mountain bikers. As we’ve seen from other brands recently, the oval shape for mountain biking is less about power trickery and more about achieving even power distribution, something that's said to improve off-road climbing traction.
We’ve got our hands on the new XTR M9000/M9020 compatible Traction ring, with our 32t sample weighing 57g, including bolts.
Much like the brand’s normal XTR M9000 compatible wide-narrow ring, this one offers an improved chainline and is threaded for the included M9 bolts. This latter point, along with the 7075 alloy construction, means this ring saves 51g over a new Shimano XTR 32T chainring with its associated backing plates.
From $52 (XTR as shown is $70)
Garmin VivoActive GPS smart watch
Remember the old Casio calculator watch? Thankfully this one doesn’t have much in common with that – it’s actually pretty smart. Compared with many other smart watches, this one has integrated GPS and so can be used as a sports watch away from a mobile phone. Therefore, combined with ANT+ heart rate, cadence and speed sensors, it makes a rather capable cycling computer.
Despite this feature, it happens to be one of the lightest and most compact smart watches available at just 38g. If you do more than cycling you'll find use in the run, golf and even swimming ‘apps’ (yep, it’s waterproof). Wear it all the time and it’ll tell you when to move, or how well you’re sleeping too.
Sync it to your phone with the Garmin Connect app (Android or iOS) and it’ll control your music, tell you the weather and warn of incoming calls/texts.
Watch alone: £200 / $250 / AU$339
Watch, with heart rate strap: £230 / $299 / AU$379
Syncros SP1.0 digital shock pump
Chances are your bike or fork came with a shock pump. That said, they do wear out – or perhaps you’re seeking a little more accuracy. Digital shock pumps aren’t new with the likes of Fox and RockShox offering them, but this new Syncros model adds a few other tricks.
An angled gauge acts as a comfortable handle and is easily read, too. It’ll go up to 300psi, with the digital gauge reading in 1psi increments. If you’ve got too much pressure, there’s a dial at the back to control the release.
All that is great, but the highlight is the two-stage threaded valve. Thread the valve on as you would with any other pump, then screw down the second, larger ring to drive the valve needle in. Once you’re down, unwind the larger ring to release the valve needle, and then unthread the pump – leaving the exact amount of air in your suspension as the pump said it did.
£70 / $TBC / AU$150
New road bike gear
Scott Road RC shoes
Launched just a few weeks ago, the Scott Road RC shoes are a top-tier kick from the Swiss-based brand. Claimed to be Scott’s stiffest shoe yet, the HMX carbon composite sole features a ‘torsion fork’ out toward the heal to promote joint-easing torsional flex.
A supple welded microfibre upper connects with two Boa IP-1 dials. The Boa dials allow for micro adjustments in either direction, along with a quick release for fast shoe removal.
The sole offers a huge range of cleat adjustment with sliding mounts, while a generous rubber pad sits at the heel for off-bike traction. Like so many performance shoes, the included inner sole allows for adjustment of both arch and metatarsal fit.
The 42EU sample we have in our hands weight 516g for the pair.
£TBC / $274 / AU$400
Kogel ceramic bottom brackets
Kogel, a newer player to the bearing world, is all about high-performance ceramic bearings, with bottom bracket options to fit just about any crazy frame/crank combination you can imagine. It also offers some trick derailleur pulley wheels and hub upgrade kits, too.
Like many aftermarket bottom bracket manufacturers, Kogel claims its integrated approach without the use of common adaptor spacers and shims leads to a durable and creak-free interface. This, and the tight tolerance machined aluminium cups should help too.
The bearings themselves are hybrid ceramic ABEC 5 units for low drag and high durability. Both road-specific, and double sealed cross/mountain options are available in most models. Kogel seems pretty confident in the durability of these bearings, providing a nearly no-questions asked 12-month warranty, with a further 12 months covered if you have them serviced within that time.
- Bottom brackets: Starting from £TBC / $120 / AU$145
- Pulley wheels: £TBC / $100 / AU$145
VeloToze shoe covers
Foot condoms. There, we said it. These latex shoe covers are claimed be a waterproof, windproof and aero cover for your feet. The stretchy nature can be a little tedious to put on, but once there, they should keep your extremities warm and dry – although breathability isn’t an afforded luxury.
With either short or tall cuff options, there are four sizes to choose from and a wide variety of colours, including hi-vis options.
While the design is rather simple, there are reinforced holes at the heel and cleat. This simple design means our large sized tall samples weigh just 97g for the pair. It seems VeloToze has plenty to offer for the relatively low price.
- Short version: £13 / $15 / AU$26
- Tall version: £15 / $18 / AU$32
Spin Cycle Clothing
All Spin Cycle garments use MITI elastic compression fabrics, antibacterial armpit mesh, YKK zippers and CyTech chamois. These materials and features are common in numerous high-end garments, and the initial fit feels familiar and comfortable.
One colour option of the Lifestyle kit
For review, we received the more relaxed 'Lifestyle' kit and the snug-fitting race kit. The Lifestyle kit also includes a matching vest, with a Windstopper front and a jersey-like breathable back.
It’s still early days for this Australian brand, and we’re told it's now working in a wind tunnel with skinsuit prototypes.
- Lifestyle kit (jersey, bibs and vest): AU$300
- Lifestyle vest only: AU$80
- Race kit (jersey and bibs): AU$270
Indigo 5 front light
A successful Kickstarter project, the 5 is the first front light from the new Australian start-up. Offering up to 1,800 lumens of LED light, this light packs a punch. The ‘Racing Heart’ flash feature is quite neat, keeping a steady source of light on the road with a pulsing flash for attention, a setting that lasts 3.5 hours with the internal Li-ion battery. We also like the optional ‘Antiglare Bezel’ that prevents light going skyward into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
Aesthetically similar to popular concealed lights from Exposure, the 258g Indigo 5 is built with an alloy casing, but can be opened for future battery replacement or bulb upgrades.
The Dual Mount holds a Garmin and the Indigo 5 (or GoPro)
The mounts use a GoPro type attachment, which greatly opens up aftermarket options. That said, Indigo offer a variety of mounts, including a trick ‘Dual Mount’ that sits proud in the middle of the bars and holds a Garmin too.
£125 / $180 / AU$249
SwiftWick Aspire socks
Hailing from the USA, all SwiftWick socks claim to be the perfect foot accessory. Boasting a market-leading high-density knit, SwiftWick promises its socks won't bunch, slip or wear out prematurely (something our big toes are eager to test).
Available in a variety of cuff heights (four and seven inch models pictured), we have the running and cycle-focused Aspire model. These offer a seamless toe construction, compression cuff and a thinned upper. An Olefin fibre footbed claims to be lightweight, highly breathable, ultra quick drying and all while offering a compressive arch support. Who knew socks could be so technical?
From £TBC / $13 / AU$22.50