Another week, another selection of goodies that have dropped into the BikeRadar HQ. And while the mail person has been leaving these bits and pieces for us, we've learnt how to protect ourselves from the sun, ridden a raft of BMC Alpenchallenge bikes, been taught nutrition from some of Liv Cycling's sponsored riders, and cast an eye over new bikes from Santa Cruz and Juliana.
We also had a sneak preview of some exclusive sunnies made for Peter Sagan, but, fear not fans of the Terminator, we have another Sagan exclusive here — scroll down to see what it is.
ION Mission Pack 25
While not a true trail pack, the Mission Pack 25 is well equipped to survive the urban sprawl.
The main pocket has a drawstring closure under the top flap, and inside there's a 15in laptop sleeve that's padded for protection.
There are numerous other zipped pockets to keep everything safely stowed, and the main section is covered in a weather-resistant, hard-wearing ripstop material. The felt top gives it a classy finish, while the well-shaped straps should prove comfortable.
Joystick Analogue Bar Tape
If it's good enough for Dimension Data, it's probably good enough for you.
Joystick says its Analogue Bar Tape is designed to mix comfort, lightweight and durability, using 'the latest in lightweight, vibration-damping materials', creating an 'ergnomic interface' with your bars. All very grand sounding, we feel.
There are loads of colours available, it's 2.8mm thick and 2.15m long, and comes in a packet with finishing tape and bar plug.
- £32 / $40
Continental MTB tyres
We've a small selection of the new and improved Continental mountain bike tyres to test. These include the Mountain King and Cross King in standard format and the Trail King from the Premium Range.
The Cross King is a fast-rolling summer tread, that looks like it should be ideal on the back of your flat-out feeling trail bike, while the Mountain King may be better suited up front.
The Trail King, in this Premium Range build is still made in Continental's German factory and has the Black Chilli Compound for better grip while still offering low-rolling resistance.
- £60 / $75 (Trail King ProTection Apex)
USE Vyce 35 stem and Boom Carbon 35 bar
USE (or Ultimate Sport Engineering) is the same team behind the legendary Exposure Lights, so you know its kit is going to be innovative, and likely rather good.
The Vyce stem uses a unique double-wedge clamp design, meaning tightening the two bolts that sit in the middle of the stem simultaneously clamp the bar to the stem, and the stem to the steerer. The 40mm stem comes in at 110g and is made from T6 aluminium.
The Boom bar is raced by Scot 'Boom Boom' Beaumont — one of the world's foremost 4X racers, and comes with a 7.5-degree upsweep and 5-degree backsweep. At 800mm it comes in at a claimed 220g, so not too heavy, given the strength USE claims it has.
- Stem £90 / $170
- Bars £135 / $185
Skratch Labs nutrition
Skratch Labs aims to make sports nutrition that isn't super unhealthy, and we rather like the sound of some of their more savoury-sounding products.
The selection we have in the office includes a ginger and miso energy bar (designed for sports use, or general chewing on through the day), matcha green tea and lemon hydration mix, as well as a coffee-flavoured recovery drink.
I've already snaffled a chocolate chip and almond energy bar before hitting the gym, and not only did it taste good, but I didn't get all shaky after trying to match Josh 'The Muscle' Evans (BR's social media guru) on the squats.
- 20 serving Sport Hydration Mix £15 / $20
- 12 Energy Bars £30 / $30
- 12 serving Sports Recovery Mix £29 / $32.50
American Pro — The True Story of Bike Racing in America
Forget the glamour of the Grand Tours — if you ever made it as a pro, it'd probably be part of a small, privately run team racing on the US or European domestic circuit.
Life in the lower leagues of bike racing can be tough, with far less support, money and champagne than the ones you've actually heard of. The author, Jamie Smith, followed the trials and tribulations of the Astellas Pro Cycling Team as it miraculously rose through the ranks, eventually competing internationally. It's pretty gritty...
- £15.95 / $18.95
Pletscher Twin ESGE KS12 kickstand
Kickstands are not sexy, but goodness gracious are they useful, especially when it comes to storing heavy touring bikes, such as Jack’s stupendously unwieldy tandem.
In the (small) world of kickstands, Swiss brand Pletscher reigns supreme.
This cast alloy twin leg kickstand is formed in such a way that it cleverly clears in a graceful sweep when being folded out.
The cammed mechanism that controls this movement is incredibly satisfying to use, to the point where it had to be removed from our desks as someone was bound to lose a finger if we kept fiddling any longer.
Fitting inevitably involves a bit of jiggery-pokery and paint-damage aversion, but faffing about in the workshop is half the fun of owning a tandem anyway.
- £32.99 / $44 / €38 / AU$TBC
Cytronex / Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra
Now here's a new one for us — an e-bike that's not always an e-bike.
Electrically assisted bikes are usually heavy things that require motor and battery to be lugged around all the time. Cytronex's system allows you to remove the 180Wh battery and motorised front wheel, leaving you with a regular CAAD12 bike (the original wheel is also included).
That bike, without motor, came in at 7.6kg when we tested it, and with the kit the whole thing only comes in at 11.4kg — very light for an e-bike!
With quick fitting and removal, it looks like an easy way to get a bit of extra assistance on your road bike, without being tied to full e-bike ownership. Cytronex will sell you the kit separately too, from £906, or built into a rim of your choice from £995. As per the law, it's limited to 25kph assistance in the UK and 32kph in the US.
Compass Babyshoe Pass TC tyre
Compass was doing gravel before gravel was a thing, so it knows a fair bit about it, as shown by these 650b gravel tyres.
The Babyshoe Pass is found in the Cascade Mountains, where at 1330m/4350ft it runs between Mount St Helens and Mount Adams. This long gravel-road climb is a ‘back door’ link between Seattle and Portland.
The tyres are a claimed 42mm wide. On our Reynolds Assault ATR 650 wheelset (we have both the 700 and 650 versions in right now), with their 23.3mm internal diameter, they measure up a little wider at 42.7mm and tip the scales at 399g (light for such a wide tyre), though there is an extra-light casing options for weight weenies.
The textured slick rolling surface is gummy soft to the touch, which should make it rapid on the road, while the volume should provide a decent bit of cushioning on the rough stuff.
- £56 / $64 Standard casing
- £70 / $82 Extra Light casing
Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Alloy 27.5
The Stumpy is arguably one of the hottest new bikes to arrive in 2018, and while the top-spec S-Works versions, with all the bells and whistles might get the majority of the attention, we like the look of this entry-level model, that comes in at £2,500.
The alloy frame gets the asymmetric shock brace and 150mm of travel that it shares with the carbon and 29in versions. Up front there's a Fox Rhythm 34 fork with matching travel figures — it's a fork we're fond of, as despite coming in at the bottom of the Fox line-up, it feels great on the trail.
At the back there's a Fox DPS Performance shock to keep the rear wheel doing what it should.
Specialized has fitted 2.6in rubber to the bike, which raises the outer diameter of the wheels, as well as increasing comfort and grip — their Butcher/Purgatory combo hints at the bike's aggressive potential.
- £2,500 / $3,000
Hansgrohe Peter Sagan Edition shower head
If you ever wondered what Hansgrohe does, it makes taps and shower heads. And this rather flashy item is the latter in the guise of the Peter Sagan Edition – look closely and you'll see his name on the back of the highly polished head.
This particular model has three jet modes, selectable by an inset button on the shaft of the head, toggling between 'RainAir' (14l/min @ 3bar), Rain (14l/min @ 3bar) and WhirlAir (13l/min @ 3bar), which suggests a nice twisting jet effect.
Its specs are also interesting to the avid shower-head fan (hey, we all get dirty) — the head has a diameter of 120mm, the shaft has a thread-to-centre-of-head measurement of 160mm, while the centre of the button is 125mm from the far end of the head. Finally, the head angle is 18 degrees from that of the shaft.
- Price TBC