Every week here at BikeRadar we take the time to round-up the latest mountain bike and road gear to grace the BikeRadar towers.
This week it's the turn of UK senior writers, Tom Ballard and Oli Woodman, to pick apart the fresh arrivals.
New Road bike gear
Crono Futura2 road shoes
Italian bike shoe specialist Crono might not be the most established brand in cycling, but the family-owned company has more than 40 years of shoemaking experience for other leading European brands the benefits of which are now available to British riders for the first time.
Crono currently produces an eight-strong range including road, MTB and tri shoes. Topping the three-shoe road range is the Futura2, which comes with either a carbon or carbon-reinforced nylon sole. The former has a claimed weight of 235g, while our size 45 nylon-soled Futura2 samples came in at a rather chunky 362g. Both versions are available in slim or wide-fitting versions, as well as a totally customised fit.
The carbon sole uses one three-layer carbon sheet to ensure there are no weak points when the 3mm sole is put under pressure. The nylon version isn’t quite as stiff, making it a little comfier for those who prefer a softer feel.
With a vented tongue, three vents on either side of the microfibre upper and eight perforated holes above the toe box, the shoes should deal with hot feet well.
To aid comfort, the tongue is lined with memory foam while the lightweight foam insole has shock-absorbing panels. The sole itself also has drainage holes. A snug fit comes courtesy of a padded heel cup with extra grip and the replaceable, dual ATOP A-A17 dials, which open wide and lock tight with a quick twist.
The Futura2 comes in six colours: white with red or black details, red, green, black, and black with green detailing. On the underside there are the usual three bolt holes for Shimano, Look and Time cleats.
£180 / US$250 / AU$349
Vee Apache tyres
Vee Tire Co. has been in the industry for over 30 years and the company prides itself on offering premium wheel rubber at affordable prices. Indeed, the Apache comes in at around 20 per cent cheaper than the RRP of some other high-end tyres, such as Conti’s latest GP4000.
As the brand’s flagship road tyre, the Apache is a 185tpi folder featuring Vee’s Continuum compound, which the company calls fast and durable. Vee’s new synthesis casing – a blend of materials fused together to protect the tyre’s sidewall – is also available as an upgrade option.
All of this is great – the proof will be in the riding – but what really stands out from a visual point of view is the tread design, which uses the brand’s name to increase grip in corners and disperse water in the wet. That’s just cool.
The Apache is available in 23, 25 and 28mm versions. Our 25mm sample weighed at 237g.
£35 (£40 with Synthesis sidewall) / US$50 ($55 with Synthesis sidewall) / AU$TBC
Etixx Sports Nutrition range
While it's true that there’s an abundance of sports nutrition products rushing onto the market, Etixx is a little different in that its first supplement took six years to develop and that every product since has been created following athlete requests for products to suit specific needs, such as performance on the final day of a stage race.
Now with more than 20 products in the line-up, Etixx is making its way to British shores on the back of the headline sponsorship of Mark Cavendish’s Ettix – Quick-Step team.
Etixx uses natural ingredients and every single product batch is tested against the WADA list as well as another 160 substances that Etixx believes could be banned in the future. In short, Etixx is trying to court those who take their cycling and nutrition seriously.
This explosion of Etixx products includes magnesium tablets, training shakes, beta alanine tablets, iron absorption tablets, isotonic powder, energy bars, energy release tablets, energy gels, energy load mix and recovery shakes.
All are colour coded to fit into Etixx’s five product areas: health (vitamins and minerals); strength (muscle building); endurance (gels, supplements and isotonic drinks for training); performance (race-orientated drinks, gels and bars); and recovery (post-ride shakes and protein bars).
Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo C1
Also coming from the world of professional cycling sponsorship, and in a first for BikeRadar, we’re featuring some shampoo. Specifically Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo of Team Giant – Alpecin fame.
Containing about the same amount of caffeine per wash as 50ml of Coca-Cola, Alpecin is designed to stimulate hair growth at the roots. Lather it in, wait two minutes and rinse out. There are no conditioners, so hair isn’t smoothed and thinned. Cycling Plus editor Rob Spedding tried the shampoo this week, and said: “There’s a slight tingling when you rub it in and my hair definitely had more grip after washing out.” We’re assuming Rob was using it as directed on his head.
While the brand’s fame is sure to grow as a co-headline sponsor of the German professional team, Alpecin is also famous for using the slogan ‘Doping for the hair’ for several years, and the brand was even promoted by Jan Ullrich in 2012.
Frankly, we don’t care about any of that. If it in any way contributes to Marcel Kittel’s beautifully bequiffed locks, we’re sold.
(Marcel Kittel image: Tim de Waele)
£5 / US$TBC / AU$8
Trillion Cycles Tera Custom
British brand Trillion Cycles specialises in creating quality urban bikes with top-end components – modern commuting bikes that are strong, light and handle well.
This ‘Aero’ frame, which forms the basis for the company’s 2015 Tera build uses polished Reynolds 520 tubing. The frame itself is built in Taiwan following two years of development by Trillion.
This gorgeous example of Trillion’s work is built around the company’s naked steel Reynolds 520 ‘Aero’ frameset, which is polished rather than stainless steel. The singlespeed is built up with Miche X-Press rims with blue anodised hubs and 25mm Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tyres. A 49T Miche Primato crankset takes care of the drivetrain while Miche Primato brakes are paired with Tektro levers.
Bars, stem (60mm) and seatpost come from Aerozine Titanium, and there's no prize for guessing what they’re made of. White cables and the white and silver Shimano M520 SPD pedals complement the cockpit and seatpost while details such as the brass band-on cable guides, matching custom headset cap and cable-end crimps really finish the Tera off in style.
Trillion is also working on a road range, including bringing fabrication of a carbon frame in-house.
£350 frame / fully built from £980 (US, AUS N/A)
New mountain bike gear
Specialized Enduro Expert Carbon 650B
Before it was cool to say the word enduro, there was the Specialized Enduro and, aside from a few exceptions, it has pretty much always been a sound and extremely popular choice. As well as being available in 29in format, the Enduro has now expanded to the 650b wheel size for 2015.
The frame’s carbon front triangle is the same as you’d find on last year’s 26in bike but now the alloy rear end and suspension hardware have been tweaked to accommodate the larger wheels.
With an X01 drivetrain, a Pike RC fork up front and a Custom Cane Creek DB Inline shock at the rear, the Enduro’s spec sheet has all the right names - but at £4,600 so it bloody should have. Those heavy handed lads on MBUK will be abusing this beast so stay tuned for a full review.
£4,600 / US$6,600 / AU$TBC
Extreme Shox Storia
The Storia from Extreme Shox is the result of two great minds in the world of suspension putting their heads together, namely Italian shock guru Franco Fratton of Extreme Racing Shox and UK suspension tuning legend, Dave Garland.
We're sorry to bang on about wheel sizes again but in this case we must, and that’s because the people behind this damper have spent an awful lot of time working out the real world differences between 27.5in and 26in bikes – and in-turn what that means for a bike’s suspension performance. They’ve put exactly what they’ve learned into practice and as a result the Storia is sold in either a 26in or 27.5in tune.
The chunky alloy body almost makes some of the competition look like a toy and features adjusters for high and low speed compression adjustment as well as rebound damping. If you want to geek out on the tech involved (and there’s plenty to geek out on) then head on over to the Extreme Shox website.
£600 / US$TBC / AU$TBC
After more than half a decade in the pipeline Hope’s cranks are finally here, and as far as first impressions go we certainly aren’t disappointed. The three piece design uses a unique expanding spline interface between the axle and crank arms which Hope says should keep things play and creak free no matter how many times you remove and refit them.
Choose between either a single or double set-up, the former also being available with a direct mount version of Hope’s Retainer narrow/wide style rings. This is Hope, so you’ll get them in a whole swatch of anodised colours too.
A splined mounting for spiders or direct mount chainrings, the former meaning either a 104BCD (Bolt Circle Diameter) single-ring setup or a 64/104BCD double option while the latter makes use of Hope's Retainer narrow/wide style rings (26t-36t). For full details see our first look article.
£245 / US$430 / AU$TBA as pictured
NS Bikes Movement
This is the Movement from Polish firm NS Bikes. It’s sold in this complete build form and is essentially an alloy-framed version of the company’s popular Metropolis dirt jump rig. That Dayglo paint wouldn’t look out of place at a rave and its construction pretty much defines the overused term of being bombproof. Meanwhile, the Marzocchi Dirt Jump 3 fork up front is basic and weighty but should take the sting out of heavy landings.
NS are smart when it comes to specs, take the brakes for example – they’ve stuck an Avid hydraulic disc brake at the back and a Tektro cable disc up front, as they know most riders will ditch that front stopper straight out of the box.
We’ve handed it over to our resident street/dirt jump head, Jonny, who’ll be trying his best to break it.
£800 / US$1,244 / AU$1,520
Ecoxgear Ecorox Bluetooth speaker
The Ecorox speaker from Ecoxgear allows you to bring your sounds to places you’d not normally want to take a speaker. It’s fully waterproof and rated to a depth of 3 feet. Should it fall into water then it’s unlikely to end up that far down though - because the unit actually floats.
You shouldn’t have to be careful with it either; its rubberised body is built to be abused. Pairing it to a phone is a doddle and the device’s buttons make it easy to navigate through your playlists and to set the correct volume.
Talking of volume, the sound is pretty good and that’s thanks to 6 watts of stereo speakers. A built-in mic also means you can take and make phone calls from the speaker. The rechargeable battery lasts particularly well and once out of juice is charged easily via a supplied USB cable. It’s ideal for trail builders and home mechanics.
£120 / US$130 / AU$N/A