Another week, another bumper-load of fresh goodies. Yes, BikeRadar reader, it's time for 11spd, our round-up of what's hot in our HQ.
- The new Giant Defy is more comfortable, and better integrated
- Top spec versus budget tyres - we suss out the difference
But first, a recap of what else we've seen this week on the World's Leading Bicycle Website*.
First off, last week saw the finale to the cycling world's biggest event, Le Tour de France. Given that we, along with our friends at Cyclingnews, had a crack team out in France covering the event, we thought it wise to bring you a gallery stuffed with the custom bikes of the jersey winners.
Forcefield Pro Shirt X-V 2 Body Armour
Given that this body armour suit is listed on various motocross webshops, we figure there must be ample protection for the committed mountain biker.
The suit features chest, back, shoulder and elbow pads, protecting you to CE2 levels. These are mounted on a stretchy baselayer top with a full-length zip down the side to give access. There are thumb loops at the end of the full-length arms to keep it all in place.
The pads are flexible, should dissipate crash impact forces well, and they’re held behind a mesh that Forcefield claims is super strong.
- £219 / $279
USE Helix 165mm Dropper Post
USE’s dropper is relatively unique in that instead of using a hydraulic or air cartridge as is commonly seen, it uses a helical shaft and clutch mechanism to control the shaft’s action.
The benefit of this, according to USE at least, is that it avoids issues cartridge controlled droppers have, including that irritating sagging feeling that can often occur. The return speed is controlled by an air spring, with the pressure adjustable to define the return speed.
The lever sits on a ball-joint for plenty of adjustment, and the textured lever looks like it should give some thumb purchase in grim conditions.
- £285 / $535
BikeYoke Divine SL post
At the opposite end of the dropper post scale is this new XC focussed post from BikeYoke (it brought us the Revive last year, which had fancy internals that allowed you to reset the IFP in case of sag).
This lighter post (387g on our scales) apparently doesn’t need the revive ‘function’. BikeYoke claims that there’s no way air can get in the lockout system — though it won’t tell us how, yet! But, it does need a special tool to set the cable — fortunately this is included.
There’s a revised head, with the pressure setting valve underneath it, and a body that can be cut down to reduce the overall length of the 80mm travel post.
It’s not available yet, but pricing should be roughly similar to the €360 Revive.
Mondraker Foxy Carbon RR 29
If you don’t know why Mondraker stand out from the crowd, where have you been for the past five years?!
Mondraker was arguably the earliest proponent of the currently de rigueur long and low geometry, with its Forward Geometry concept featuring across its MTB range.
Basically, long reaches and short stems mean bucket loads of high-speed stability, while maintaining reactive handling.
The Foxy Carbon RR 29in has big wheels and a carbon frame, along with a quality spec list, though it’s fair to say that you’ll pay a pretty penny for it.
There’s a Fox 36 Factory fork and DPX2 air shock, SRAM Code brakes and X01/GX Eagle groupset, along with plenty of in-house finishing kit.
If the figures mean much to you, the size Large has a 490mm (!) reach, 66-degree head angle, 75.5-degree seat angle, 21mm bottom bracket drop and a 30mm stem.
- £5,899 / $7,199
All Mountain Style and Unite products
HKT Products is a small but growing distributor in the UK, with a range of products from a number of brands, including All Mountain Style and Unite. We had a peak at its range and came away impressed by what we saw.
Shown in the picture above are a couple of chainrings from Unite — and it looks like Unite has most options covered, as well as a chainguide from the same brand. Unite also has anodised main pivot bolts for most Santa Cruz models, and soon Orange's range too, as well as headset spacers.
Al Mountain Style produces a range of frame protection products, including these crank protectors, which have an additional piece that can sit slightly further up the crank.
Finally, if you're in to all-things MTB, the HKT podcast is well worth a listen and is available through most podcast services.
- Unite Chainrings: £40–£50
- Unite Compact Bash Guide: £75
- Unite Headset Spacers: £9 for four
- Unite Santa Cruz Upper Pivot Bolts: £15
- All Mountain Style Crank Defender: £15
The People’s Poncho Hardy 2.0
In addition to the handlebar straps, a waist strap keeps the garment from flapping around too much, while reflective details add visibility.
Valuables can be stowed in a water-resistant front pocket and the Hardy folds down into an easily-carried bag when you’re not using it.
- £65 / $85 / AU$116
Kru Cycling components
Kru isn’t exactly a household name and it remains somewhat unclear when we’ll actually be able to buy any of this stuff, but the brand makes an assortment of finishing kit and carbon wheels, some of which look quite tasty.
The tidy one-piece Super Compact Aero Cockpit weighs 374g on our scales including its clamping hardware in a size 42. The matching top cap and expander add 12g and 46g respectively.
The bar has channels with removable covers to run cables or hoses, as well as threaded holes to accept a Garmin mount or other accessories.
Kru’s Compact Classic bar is a nice, if unremarkable, set of drops, which weigh a respectably light 210g in a 42. The matching Kru Classic stem comes in at a spindly 113g.
Cycle of Good panniers and purses
Cycle of Good (or Cog) is a charity that works in Malawi, training locals as tailors and employing them to make a variety of products from sustainable or recycled materials. It’s the same organisation that’s responsible for the Elephant Bike, of which BikeRadar is a big fan.
Cog’s panniers are hand woven from sustainably grown palm leaves, making for a tough and rather charming look.
The panniers have clever retractable handles and a simple latch design, all made from leaves. They attach to a rack using simple straps, a version of which is made from recycled inner tubes.
Cog offers a number of accessories made from tubes, and it sent us its coin purse as an example.
Fancy something practical which also supports a good cause? Cycle of Good’s online shop is definitely worth a look.
- Palm leaf pannier: £36 (£66/pair)
- Inner tube pannier straps: £5/pair
- Inner tube coin purse: £7.50
Chrome Urban Ex Rolltop 18l backpack
We love a trendy urban rucksack at BikeRadar and the Urban Ex fits the bill perfectly. It’s a simple bag with a few compartments for odds and ends (including a small tablet) on the inside.
The bag measures approx 11×16×6in (28×41×15cm) making it big enough for a medium sized laptop, your packed lunch and whatever random clothing and tchotchkes you carry around day to day.
Welded construction and the roll-top design mean it’s properly waterproof, and a handy external compartment means you don’t have to open the bag up fully to get to your wallet or phone.
If you’re achingly cool, you can even slip a D-lock through the loops on the back of the bag, pretty neat, eh?
The Urban Ex is available in three colours including a very handsome grey option, which has just launched.
- $120 / £120
Hunt 4 Season Disc wheelset
Hunt has wormed its way into our cold, cold hearts with straightforward, well-specced and reasonably-priced wheels.
Its latest offering is an updated version of the do-it-all 4 Seasons Disc, which goes slightly wider (19mm internal/24mm external) and uses a different (and apparently better) alloy for the rims.
They’re also slightly lighter (around 10–15g) at a claimed 1,571g and feature reflective 3M decals as standard.
Like all of Hunt’s wheels, these are tubeless-ready out of the box, and roll on Hunt’s own-branded hubs.
- £319 / $416 / AU$565 / €358
Jtek Shiftmate 8
Shiftmates are one of those delightfully geeky components that are incredibly useful to a small subset of riders. They let you mix and match components from different brands and generations, flying in the face of boring convention.
The Shiftmate 8 lets you run Shimano 11-speed road shifters with Shimano 11-speed MTB derailleurs, or vice versa. That makes it perfect for adding huge range to a road touring or gravel setup, or for flat bar conversions.
- £29.99 / $39 / AU$52 / €34