Surely it can’t be… oh, but yes, it is! It’s the end of another work week, which means that it’s time to show you the latest test gear to arrive at BikeRadar’s US office in Boulder, Colorado. Feast your eyes on the goodness while you make your plans for the weekend. And now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go for a ride.
New road bike gear
Bontrager Aeolus 5 TLR Disc D3 clincher wheels
Bontrager is making sure its Aeolus aero wheel line is keeping up with the times, recently adding tubeless, thru-axle, and disc brake compatibility to several of its premier models – and increasing rim widths, too. Our Aeolus 5 TLR Disc D3 test wheels certainly tick all the boxes with a generous 19.5mm internal width, a versatile 50mm depth with a blunted shape for crosswind stability, convertible hubs with interchangeable end caps, and a CenterLock interface that accepts Shimano’s fantastic 140mm Ice-Tech disc brake rotors.
Actual weight for our set is 1,555g – almost exactly inline with the 1,558g claimed figure, although that doesn’t include the 97g of additional rim strips and valve stems required for tubeless use (or the 138g for the included quick-release skewers).
We’ve earmarked these for a rather special upcoming project here on BikeRadar so stay tuned for the full reveal in a few weeks.
US$2,850 / £2,200 / €2,900 / AU$n/a
Enve Composites SES 4.5 clincher wheels
Enve takes a different approach to aero wheels, giving the front and rear rims specific depths and widths to supposedly maximise their speed in various wind conditions. Our SES 4.5 rear wheel is 56mm deep, for example, while the front is a slightly shallower 48mm. Similarly, the front rim has an internal width of 18.5mm while the rear is actually narrower at 17mm between the bead hooks.
The SES 4.5 clinchers aren't tubeless compatible; nor do the Chris King R45 hubs they’re built around offer a thru-axle option but so far, we can at least confirm that the SES 4.5 wheels feel gloriously fast and are freakishly stable even in strong crosswinds.
Actual weight is also pretty much spot-on with claims at 1,511g per pair (673g front; 832g rear), plus 58g for the fancy titanium skewers.
US$3,050 / £TBC / €3,199 / AU$3,749
Bont Vaypor S shoes
Bont’s flagship road shoe gets an all-new upper design for 2016, which now uses a proper Boa-branded dual-reel closure system and revised cable paths that do a better job of securing your feet than before. Finish work is improved, too, with a nicer-looking moulded toe cap and replaceable heel tread.
Unchanged is Bont’s signature composite construction, which effectively wraps your feet in ultra-rigid (yet remarkably thin) carbon ‘bathtubs’ down below and a thin synthetic upper. And instead of forming the upper and lower halves of the shoes separately and then bonding them together, the Vaypor S is actually constructed as a monocoque, which keeps things surprisingly light without compromising on stiffness.
The whole lot is also heat malleable for a customised fit, and Bont can even build on a variety of different lasts if your feet fall a little further outside of the bell curve than usual. Actual weight is 481g for a pair of size 44 shoes.
US$439 / £270 / €329 / AU$470
Easton EC90 SL clincher wheels
As the lightest option in Easton’s recently overhauled carbon aero road wheel range, the EC90 SL weighs in at just under 1,500g for the set while also offering some of the most progressive rim shapes on the market. Easton says the extremely wide and blunt ‘Fantom’ rim not only produces superb aerodynamic performance in a broad range of wind conditions but also delivers better tyre casing support than more traditionally sized rims – and they’re tubeless compatible with no rim strips or tape required, either.
Easton has apparently scuttled its hub durability demons, too. The all-new Echo hubset features unusually wide bearing spacing for better axle support along with a fast-engaging 10-degree driver mechanism to more quickly get the power down to the ground. We’ll freely admit to being quite fond of the subdued graphics package, too.
US$2,800 / £2,300 / €2,800 / AU$TBC
Specialized Road Tube Spool
This one’s for the minimalists out there who just can’t stand the thought of attaching an unsightly bag underneath that sleek Italian-made saddle. The rather clever Road Tube Spool bundles a tube, tyre lever, CO2 cartridge, and inflator head all in one compact package that fits neatly in a jersey pocket.
Nothing more, nothing less.
US$25 / £20 / €30 / AU$40 (including tube, lever, cartridge, and inflator head)
New mountain bike gear
Rotor INpower power meter
Rotor is giving mountain bikers new options in the power meter game with its new INpower system. Tucked inside a highly adaptable 30mm-diameter aluminium spindle, INpower can be integrated into almost any of Rotor’s crankset models and is almost entirely protected from weather and impact – plus it adds just 55g (not including the battery) to a standard Rotor crankset.
Meanwhile, ANT+ wireless compatibility makes the INpower play nice with a wide number of display units, Rotor’s free desktop software provides an impressive suite of analysis tools, and the system will supposedly run for up to 300 hours. Best of all, INpower uses a single AA battery – far easier to find and less expensive than coin cells.
The spindle-based design means that – like Stages – the Rotor INpower effectively only measures the output of your left leg and then doubles it, so there are some necessary assumptions made in terms of left-right balance. That said, the pricing is competitive and we’re digging the form factor.
US$959-1139 / £649-699 / €799-949 / AU$TBC (left and right crankarms, spider, and spindle)
US$779-869 / £499-599 / €649-725 / AU$TBC (left crankarm and spindle only)
Speedplay SYZR pedals
Oh my word, is this real? Speedplay showed its first SYZR mountain bike pedal prototypes more than five years ago and after countless modifications (not to mention a complete redesign of the original concept), it’s finally in production – as in we actually have a set in our hands.
Long waiting period aside, Speedplay may very well upturn the mountain bike pedal world like it did on the road side with the original X-series and Zeroes. Unlike conventional mountain bike clipless pedals, which rely on the shoe tread for stability, the SYZR offers a remarkably secure and stable fit between the cleat and pedal themselves for a true, no-slop fit. Rotational float is built into the cleat itself, and the cleat-pedal interface not only self-adjusts for wear but also features little ceramic rollers for a smooth exit even when wet or muddy.
Speaking of which, there’s a ton of open space to let dirt, mud, and other detritus pass through and fall away.
Actual weight for our set is 311g plus 67g for a pair of cleats.
US$229 / (Speedplay SYZR with stainless steel spindles)
US$420 / (Speedplay SYZR with titanium spindles)
Osprey Escapist 32 pack
The Escapist 32 is aimed at bikepackers and adventure riders who need big capacity in a lightweight package. The huge main compartment can be accessed through upper or lower zippered openings, or split into two separate sections. A plethora of other zippered and open sections on the exterior help you organise smaller items, too.
There’s also a dedicated sleeve for a hydration reservoir, a liberally padded mesh back panel and hip belt for comfort, side compression straps to help manage bigger and/or heavier loads, and even a built-in rain cover for when the weather turns sour. Up top is Osprey’s awesomely simple and elegant LidLock helmet holder while down below are some reflective patches for nighttime visibility plus an attachment loop for an LED blinker.
Osprey offers the Escapist in two sizes, both with an adjustable main harness to fine-tune the fit. Total capacity on our smaller S/M size is 30l.
US$130 / £80 / €100 / AU$TBC
Pearl Izumi clothing
Pearl Izumi is getting into the bibs-plus-baggies game with the new Summit shorts and matching bib liners. The Summits feature ripstop nylon bodies with a DWR coating to shed mud and water, internally adjustable hook-and-loop waist tabs, and stretch panels at the lower back and crotch/inner thigh areas to provide extra freedom of movement while maintaining a trim cut. Two zippered hip pockets are on hand to store your stuff.
The matching bibs are purpose-built to be liners with 100 percent open mesh construction for breathability and Pearl Izumi’s antimicrobial Elite 3D pad for comfort. Out back are three rear pockets big enough for a bottle, some food, and a layer or two so you can enjoy the practicality of a traditional cycling jersey but with the look of a loose-fitting jersey.
Unfortunately, though, there’s no way to connect the bibs and liners together, like there is with similar offerings from Dirtbaggies or Specialized, nor is there any gripper material on the inside of the outer shorts to keep things from shifting around. We’ll find out soon enough if this is an issue on the trail.
Topping off our test kit is the new Launch 3/4-sleeve jersey. Light mesh is used through the entire back and much of the sleeves to help keep you cool, and the cut is decidedly loose to keep things casual.
US$80 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC (Summit shorts)
US$100 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC (Bib liner shorts)
US$65 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC (Launch 3/4-sleeve jersey)
Colorado sock company Point6 may be a new brand but the people behind are anything but new to the wool sock game, having previously founded Smartwool in 1994. Once again, they’re betting the farm on Merino wool for the entire Point6 collection, on the grounds of its ability to regulate temperature, high breathability, and the fact that it won’t retain odors like synthetics.
That may very well be but so far, we’re particularly enamored with the socks' unusually soft hand feel, which supposedly comes about from Point6’s use of finer ‘compact spun’ yarn. The muted colors also look good and, if our experience with other higher-end wool socks is anything to go by, we expect these to last a very long time, too.
US$17-19 / £TBC / €TBC / AU$TBC