11spd: This week’s best new bikes and gear

Flashy new products from Vaude, Park Tool and Campagnolo

The end of the second week of January can be a bit of a grind. The celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s Eve seem like a distant memory, but the guilt of overeating, overspending and over-everything-ing is still very much there. Don’t stress, however, we’re here to provide you with some fantastic two-wheeled escapism.

What mountain and road biking marvels have we seen this week, then? Well, Saracen and Nukeproof are both doing their best to put a spanner in the works of bike categorisation, with Nukeproof launching a new Digger complete with dropper seatpost and Saracen’s Levarg featuring both a 40mm travel Fox 32 fork and a dropper. Check out the video below.

Is Saracen's Levarg an XC bike with drop bars? We try to answer that question

We’ve also had great fun telling you what we think the best MTB, gravel and road trends will be for 2019. Hopefully, the biggest trend will be more bikes, more fun and more riding. High five.

Our very own superstar reporters Jack Luke and Josh Evans have flown to the other side of the world to bring you coverage from The Tour Down Under. Keep your eyes peeled for bike checks, interviews and new products from some of the world’s top brands and riders over the coming days. 

And finally, this side of the Ethernet cable, here's some of the best kit and bikes for you to enjoy.

11spd this week…

USE Helix dropper post

The USE dropper uses a helical shaft to clamp the post at the desired height
The USE dropper uses a helical shaft to clamp the post at the desired height

USE’s brand new Helix post comes in two lengths: a shorter 125mm drop and a longer 165mm drop. The post is made in the UK and USE claims that it does away with common problems associated with air and oil droppers that are currently on the market.

The post is operated using a helical shaft with a clutch that clamps the post at any point in its travel. The remote lever is bar mounted, but the post is only compatible with frames with internal routing.

The Helix features some neat details
The Helix features some neat details

  • From £259.98

Vaude All Year Moab jacket

Vaude's Moab jacket has fantastic green credentials
Vaude's Moab jacket has fantastic green credentials

Vaude prides itself on being as environmentally friendly as possible, producing clothes that are not only made from sustainable materials but are produced by people in good working conditions, earning a fair wage. The All Year Moab jacket is no exception, wearing Vaude’s green-compliant accolades with pride.

The jacket’s lightly insulated with PrimaLoft Eco insulation and promises to keep you toastie on the colder autumn, winter or spring days. The hood’s helmet friendly and the outer material is water repellent. The jacket has a fairly relaxed fit but is stretchy for when you activate beast mode on the trail.

  • £175

Crud XL Fender

Crud's a brand with plently of history
Crud's a brand with plently of history

Crud is one of the longest-standing mudguard and accessory manufacturers out there, with its original and iconic down tube mounted Crud Catcher debuting in 1991. Fast-forward to the era of the Marsh Guard and other fork-mounted mudguards, such as the Mud Hugger, and the original Crud catcher seemed like old hat, until now.

The recently revealed XL Fender seeks to put Crud firmly back on the mud-protection map. With a soft nose, which Crud claims stops the guard clogging. Completely. These are bold claims, but Danny Hart’s the poster boy for the new guard so it can’t be all that bad.

The guard is attached using rubber o-rings and is completely tool-free to fit. Oh, and it will fit all suspension forks.

  • Projected sub-£30 retail price

Park Tool MT-40

Park's MT-40 has plenty of tools to get you out of trouble
Park's MT-40 has plenty of tools to get you out of trouble

Made from aluminium side plates, the MT40 features more tools than you’ll need out on a ride. With a 12-speed compatible chain tool, C02 cartridge adaptor, Allen keys from 2 up to 8mm, T30 and T25 Torx keys and a screwdriver, you could almost build a bike up from scratch using this alone.

The only Allen key missing is the 2.5 — but we're doubtful you'll miss this out on the trail
The only Allen key missing is the 2.5 — but we're doubtful you'll miss this out on the trail

The high-quality tools and construction does mean the tool is fairly weighty, but that could be a price people are willing to pay for the ‘get out of jail free card’ this tool represents.

  • £49.99

Evoc Neo 16l

In sand, the 16-litre pack is a good looker
In sand, the 16-litre pack is a good looker

Evoc has been the benchmark in bags and riding backpacks for many years. Hoping to retain its top-of-the-pile status, Evoc has launched its latest back protector and backpack combination aimed squarely at the enduro market.

With ‘next level protector technology’ from the integrated Airshield back protector that comes with a category two TÜV/GS certification, meeting the EU 89/686/EEC norm.

In short, this means the pack offers excellent impact protection. To top this, Evoc states that its back protector needs to be replaced after a serious crash, and fortunately for the accident-prone among you, Evoc offers free crash replacement for damaged protectors. Hurrah.

There's in-built protection too
There's in-built protection too

The bag is available in two sizes, but overall stowage capacity is still 16 litres. The bag will be available from March 2019.

  • Price TBC
Joe gets his hands on what are possibly the lightest MTB bar and stem available

Fizik Terra bar tape

Are you ready to hit the gravel with Fizik's Terra bar tape?
Are you ready to hit the gravel with Fizik's Terra bar tape?

The new Fizik Terra bar tape, in its muted colours and soft compound, looks like it could be the perfect gravel riding companion. We recently checked out the tape, and despite the gravel-specific ridiculing, are all really excited to get our bars wrapped in Terra tape.

  • £32.99

Merlin Malt-G Tiagra gravel bike

Merlin's Malt-G represents fantastic value for money
Merlin's Malt-G represents fantastic value for money

It’s becoming more frequent that we see fantastically specced and performing bikes for well under £1,000 and this is a great thing. The Tiagra specced Malt-G gravel bike from budget brand Merlin is no exception.

Simple tubes help to keep the cost down
Simple tubes help to keep the cost down

Okay, so it’s not the most bling bike, but the fantastically-performing 10-speed Tiagra, carbon fork and more-than-adequate disc brakes mean this bike is ready to hit the gravel trails without any necessary upgrades.

It's gravel ready!
It's gravel ready!

  • £649
What's faster for gravel? We find out

Fitness Warehouse slam ball 9kg

Get all the gains using this 9kg slam ball
Get all the gains using this 9kg slam ball

Gainz don’t come for free and hours spent grimacing in the gym can mean more time smiling on the trails. Whether you’re a T-rex figured roadie or a Popeye-armed mountain biker, few gym-based activities beat picking up heavy things time and time again.

How many times could you do this?

The slam ball is designed exactly for that, except you’ve got to pick the ball up above your head, then throw it to the floor as hard as you can, pick it up again and rinse and repeat until you can no longer feel your arms.

This one weighs 9kg, but after the 100th repetition, it’ll feel more like 900kg. Just think of the gains!

  • £25.20

Shimano RC701 shoes

They might look like disco slippers, but Shimano is confident they'll help you to ride faster
They might look like disco slippers, but Shimano is confident they'll help you to ride faster

These fancy looking competition-specific clipless shoes have a carbon fibre composite sole, a Boa fastening system and are made from synthetic leather so you’ll no longer have any excuses for going slow.

The shoes are available in sizes 38 to 50 and come in both wide and normal fittings.

  • £169.99

Campagnolo winter kit – C-Tech Winter Jacket, Magnesio Winter Bib Tights and C-Tech Winter Gloves

Jacket, gloves and bib tights combine to help you fight winter
Jacket, gloves and bib tights combine to help you fight winter

Campagnolo’s riding kit looks sleek and functional. Its winter kit retains the minimalist aesthetics but adds cold weather performance. Both the C-Tech gloves and jacket are specifically designed to keep you warmer and dryer for longer thanks to their water-resistant construction and in-built thermal qualities of the fabric.

Campagnolo's winter riding kit is simple but feature-packed
Campagnolo's winter riding kit is simple but feature-packed

Match these to the Megnesio bib tights that have a water repellent treatment and you’re going to be keen to keep going on even the grimmest of days.

That said, the level of performance this kit promises does come at a price!

The gloves look winter-ready
The gloves look winter-ready

C-Tech Winter Gloves

  • €65

C-Tech Winter Jacket

  • €249

Magnesio Winter Bib Tights

  • €179

Birzman Damselfly Universal 12 speed chain tool

Functional and good looking
Functional and good looking

Although it’s not the most glamorous product in this week’s 11spd, this interestingly-named chain tool is not something to turn your nose up at. Compatible for all chains from 5- to 12-speed, it’s a chunky workhorse of a tool.

  • £39.99
Alex has been riding bikes since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He first raced back in 2003, winning the Juvenile category on a sketchy hard tail Planet X bike. Alex lived in the Alps for seven years so isn't shy of a climb or two and loves getting out in his bike in all weather. His favorite thing to ride is steep loamy tracks with loads of opportunities to slam the bike into turns and really give it some frame bending welly! He's broken his fair share of frames, so any bike between his knees is going to get a right seeing to.
  • Discipline: DH, Enduro, XC, BMX, Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Epic descents covered in the world's finest loam and hero dirt
  • Current Bikes: Nukeproof Mega 275 / Giant Anthem Advanced 275 1 / LeMond Reno / Deluxe Pro 2 BMX
  • Dream Bike: Giant ATX 1 DH (1999 model)
  • Beer of Choice: Teetotal
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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