In the immortal and unusually well-chosen words of Rebecca Black, it's Friday, and we're 'getting down' to the business of giving some delectable new bike gear the once-over.
The ravages of a week ill-spent may have taken their toll; you may be seven days older but none the wiser; but the bike industry trundles on, indifferent and monolithic. Bow before the altar of two-wheeled trickery, flagellate yourself with the dropper post of despondency, and feast your undeserving eyes on this tapestry of riches from BikeRadar's Bristol headquarters. Tremble, mortals, for 11spd is upon us, and we are not worthy.
New mountain bike products
Orange Alpine 160 RS
Aside from the company’s 324 downhill rig, the Alpine 160 RS is the longest-travel mountain bike Orange produces; and no, there are no prizes for guessing how much suspension it has. In the same way a Porsche 911 should have its engine in the back, an Orange should be a single pivot, and of course it goes without saying that it’s made in Halifax, England.
Orange did all the hard work last year when it pushed the original Alpine 160 over to 650b wheels, and at the same time extended its geometry to go hand in hand with the short stems of today. This year, aside from a lick of fresh paint and some new complete build options, it’s very much business as usual, after all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
£4000 as built, frame only from £1700 / $NA / AU$NA
Superstar Nano-X pedal
For as long as we can remember, Superstar has been producing decent quality flat pedals that undercut the big boys. Turns out it's still doing just that, and – rather incredibly – that’s despite moving pedal production to the UK. Yep, sharp cost increases associated with Taiwanese manufacturing steered the people at Superstar to invest in UK-based machinery, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For a penny under £40 you get a pedal that is CNCed down to 440g in Lincoln, then anodised in any one of nine finishes at a specialist facility in Manchester. The guts of the pedal are proven in terms of durability, and consist of two sealed bearings and a bushing in each axle. The platform of the Nano has also increased in size slightly over the last generation pedal.
Each set is supplied with a complete set of pins in both 8mm and 10mm lengths, so you can choose the level of inevitable damage to your shins. There’s even a titanium axle axle upgrade available if you don’t mind exchanging £40 for a claimed 70g.
£39.99 (steel axles) / $NA / AU$NA
Nukeproof Warhead riser handlebar
If the stick that you steer with isn’t quite up to spec then perhaps you need to call Nukeproof. This carbon version of the company’s popular Warhead riser bar is available in three rise options (12, 25 and 38mm) and its 780mm width should put your elbows out where you want them – although the usual cut marks are provided for anyone who wants to trim these down.
The nine- and six-degree back and upsweep figures are a touch more aggressive than most options out there, but are numbers Nukeproof has used on its bars for a while now. The heat transfer decals contrast nicely with the carbon finish and shouldn’t cause any colour clash issues. At 246g it’s not the lightest but it’s a sensibly sized and well priced option from a name we trust.
£100 / $159.99 / €129.99
Santa Cruz V10 Carbon C
Now in its sixth generation, Santa Cruz’s V10 downhill bike continues to win races at all levels of competition. This model, as expensive as it is, is still the cheapest way to get your leg over a V10 without browsing through the classifieds.
Just like Santa Cruz's other carbon full-sussers, the V10 is available in two versions: C & CC – the difference between the two is down to the carbon used in each frame's construction. Although strength and stiffness values are supposedly the same, the layup of the CC frame saves approximately 370g over the considerably cheaper C (CC builds start at a whopping £7,399; we didn't have US / Aus prices at the time of writing). So you’d have to really, really value that weight saving.
This build is crammed full of functional if not flashy kit including Shimano’s Zee drivetrain, SRAM Guide brakes and an FR570 wheelset from DT Swiss. Suspension at either end comes from Fox, with a DHX2 at the rear and a 40 Elite Performance fork up front. Oh, and it’s bloody pretty too…
£4,899 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Hope Direct Mount stem
Here's a way to lower the front end of your downhill bike and take a slice of weight away at the same time. Happy to slot straight on the top of your triple clamp fork is this direct mount stem from Hope. Available in 40 or 50mm lengths, our sample is the former and features an 18mm rise. It's manufactured to the lovely standards we've come to expect from the Barnoldswick bunch, and is available in a whole swatch of choices including retro purple ano, as well as Hope's recently introduced orange, which the firm was flaunting at Eurobike. We weighed our 40mm sample in at just 139g including the supplied steel hardware.
£100 / $167 / AU$NA
New road products
Edco Monoblock cassette
Edco is a Swiss company best known for its high-zoot hubs, and it also makes some rather tasty cassettes. The Monoblock weighs just 190g including a standard lockring (11-28t Shimano), and as the name suggests it's hewn from a single block of billet. In fact, you can actually see tool marks on the teeth, which give it an appealingly raw aesthetic.
What's most exciting though is that with a special alternative lockring (not pictured), this 11-speed cassette is designed to fit on Shimano 8/9/10 speed freehubs. So if you've got an expensive pair of wheels lying around from the pre-11 era, you can ride them once more.
Ratios up to 27t £159.99 / €199 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Ratios over 27t £169.99 / €209 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Bontrager XXX LE shoes
It seems that the hi-vis pendulum has swung once again. For some time the preserve of dorky commuter types, we're now seeing a flood of proper roadie kit that places an emphasis on visibility. These XXX LE shoes from Bontrager look the absolute business. They weigh just 453g, and are half eye-searing yellow, half reflective material that lights up vividly in car headlights.
You might think it's odd to make shoes hi-vis, but these aren't really for winter (where they'd be covered in overshoes anyway) – they're proper lightweight racewear that should come in handy for evening rides, or on dull days when blending into the scenery poses a risk.
£229.99 / $324.99 / AU$349
Guee Inox Mini R
Bike lights seem to attract innovation, with numerous absurd Kickstarter campaigns bearing witness to the folly of man. Happily, there are some genuinely good ideas out there. The Inox Mini R from Guee (pronounced 'gooey' apparently) combines a pretty conventional rear light with a second downward-facing LED that casts a halo of light on the ground.
It sounds like a bit of a gimmick, but our first impression is a positive one. We've only used it for one commute so far, but on poorly-lit country roads it was amazingly effective, giving us the illusion of being surrounded by light, but not interfering with our night vision. Watch out for a full review coming soon…
£29.99 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Proviz PixElite jacket
Although we've now seen a few jackets and jerseys with clever reflective fabrics, the novelty has yet to wear off. The PixElite is a new winter roadie top from purveyor of all things eye-catching Proviz. Like other garments of its ilk, the PixElite looks fairly ordinary under ambient light, but it glows ferociously under the glare of car headlights and camera flashes. Windproof, breathable fabric of a decent weight means this should be useful on properly cold days, and it's got two handy zipped pockets in addition to the three standard ones at the back.
It's the same jacket, honest
£119.99 / $186 / AU$253
Castelli Gabba W jacket
Our number one scorpion-logoed clothing company needs little introduction, nor does the water-resistant Gabba. It's the top pros supposedly can't get enough of, and we can vouch for its effectiveness when the going gets soggy. This year's Gabba for women – hence the "W" – is available in four hues (it's pictured in violet). The eagle-eyed will notice that it retails for £5 more than the men's version (we're yet to confirm the markup in the US and Australia). Don't worry, it's not a conspiracy – apparently the more tailored shape takes longer to manufacture and therefore costs more.
£170 / $199 / AU$TBC
De Rosa Super King
De Rosa is one of those brands that every roadie knows about, and which has middle-aged cyclists pressing their faces to the windows of bike shops, and trying to work out how to remortgage their children.
The Super King is the company's newest flagship, and it's quite the beast. This is actually a pre-production version and we don't have full details yet, but it carries the logo of legendary design house Pininfarina, which is not to be sniffed at. (In case you don't know, it's the company responsible for some of the most beautiful cars of the 20th century.)
In this guise, with full Campagnolo Super Record and those obscenely deep wheels, it weighs 7.5kg. In the UK it's set to cost a wallet-obliterating £7,450; as 11spd went to press we'd yet to confirm the potential financial ruin for American / Australian purchasers but expect it to be in the $11,000 / AU$15,000 range.