Follow along with Nico and Sam in a top to bottom run from DarkFest.
First off, happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at BikeRadar. The team sends digital love and kisses your way on this most romantic day, and we hope you spend the weekend ahead with your one true love (your bicycle). If you’re lucky enough to have a sentient non-bicycle lover, be sure to remind them of the results of this steamy survey at every opportunity this weekend. Lastly, if you happen to be looking for a last-minute gift for the cyclist in your life, be sure to check out our guide to the best Valentine’s Day gifts for cyclists. From our perspective, think of this edition of First Look Friday – our weekly roundup of the hottest cycling swag to land at BikeRadar HQ – as a gift to you from us (a gift that you only get to enjoy with your eyes and don’t actually get to keep). Velo Orange Neutrino mini-velo We’ve already fallen for the Neutrino. Simon Bromley We first reported on Velo Orange’s Neutrino mini-velo back in October 2018 when it was an unnamed prototype and, even at that stage, it won the hearts of BikeRadar. Inspired by a 1960’s Jack Taylor Small Wheeler, this 20in do-it-all frameset is, in Velo Orange’s words, perfect for the “frequent traveller, apartment dweller, multi-modal commuter or just someone that enjoys a fun N+1 bike”. While it’s never going to be quite as compact as a folding bike, in the oh-so-hard life of a bike tester, space is always at a premium at home, and the Neutrino could fill a space that probably doesn’t need to be filled. Best bike storage ideas: a buyer’s guide to storing your bike indoors The concept of a mini-velo is nothing new but this particular take on the concept has already gained something of a cult following, with every batch of the bike selling out in record time, according to Velo Orange. Features such as these sliding dropouts add versatility to this cute little bike. With the exception of a disc 20in wheelset (how many of us have one of those kicking around?), the bike lends itself well to a parts bin build, with a standard threaded bottom bracket shell, sliding 135mm rear dropouts and an easily-sourced 31.6mm seatpost. It even has a brazed-on kickstand plate for goodness sake. View this post on Instagram Another RAD @Velo_Orange #Neutrino in #Bikecamping Style with Custom Roll-Up Full Frame Bag from @conquer_bikepacking and #Ostrich Canvas Panniers Photo courtesy of @uncle_noo #Conquer #VeloORANGE ???????? #VeloORANGEThailand ???????? #Bikepacking #BikepackingLife #จักรยานทัวร์ริ่ง #Touringbike #CycleTouring #Steelisreal #ชุมทางโครโมลี #BokBokBike ???????? A post shared by BokBokBikeThailand (@bokbokbike.thailand) on Jan 7, 2020 at 10:58pm PST This versatility and the absolute novelty of owning such a quirky and fun little bike is an undeniable draw. The bike may look like it’s finished in a drab shade of ‘cream of mushroom’ from afar, but up close it actually reveals a handsome, sparkly glitter finish beneath the clear coat. The majority of the build comes from Velo Orange itself. Simon Bromley The Neutrino is available as a complete build or frameset, priced at $2,500 and $750 respectively. Velo Orange is a fairly small brand so it’s unlikely to ever be able to be competitive on complete build prices, so we imagine the majority of would-be buyers will opt for the frameset. We’ve only had a chance to ride the bike on a handful of occasions but are already in love with the concept. It’s an absolute hoot to ride and appreciably smaller than a regular bike when tucked away in a nook at home. Expect a full review and video to follow further down the line. Frameset: $750 / £700 Buy the Neutrino frameset direct from Velo Orange Complete build: $2,500, international shipping available Buy a complete Neutrino build direct from Verlo Orange As an aside, Velo Orange also threw in one of its cute Day Tripper saddle bags with the bike. These bags are produced in collaboration with Road Runner bags. The saddle bag may not have the Instagram-friendly points of a trendy handlebar bag but there’s no denying its exceptionally practical and, dare we say it, quite handsome in a shade of rust. $95 / £89.99 Buy the Day Tripper saddle bag direct from Velo Orange WTB Raddler 40c gravel tyre The Raddler is a more aggressive version of WTB’s popular Riddler. Simon Bromley WTB’s all-new Raddler is a more aggressive version of its Riddler gravel tyre. Best gravel bike tyres in 2020 The DNA of the two tyres is very similar but the Raddler gets more pronounced centre and side knobs. This results in a more squared-off overall profile that should still roll relatively well on paved surfaces and offer some additional bite off-road. The 700c-only tyre is available in 40 and 44mm widths, and our 40mm sample weighs 494g. We’re suckers for a handsome tan wall tyre. Simon Bromley The tyre is available in both a black and tan-wall finish and, as with all of WTB’s gravel tyres, the Raddler will set you back £45 / €53 / $60. The tyre sits at the upper end of the ‘radness’ spectrum in WTB’s gravel tyre range. For those looking for a less aggressively treaded tyre, Venture, Byway, Exposure or Horizon would be your best bet. Stock is expected in shops in the next two to three weeks. £45 / €53 / $60 DMT KR1 Crystal special-edition Swarovski-encrusted shoes These might just be the jazziest cycling shoes we’ve ever seen. Simon Bromley Yes, you are looking at a pair of £420 Swarovski-encrusted DMT cycling shoes. Best cycling shoes 2020: 17 top-rated road cycling shoes DMT KR1 Italian Champ edition ???????? @dmtcycling pic.twitter.com/aGLX4cMVDN — Elia Viviani (@eliaviviani) September 8, 2018 The limited-edition shoe is based on the KR1, the brand’s top-end road race shoe that was developed and worn by Elia Viviani. The KR1 features a fully knitted upper that extends quite high up the ankle. The super-elastic upper is totally malleable and feels incredibly comfortable when worn. However, you’ll have to be on the right side of confident to feel comfortable actually wearing these jazzy numbers in public. It’s a shame the Boa dials are not also encrusted in crystals. Simon Bromley For the right person, DMT claims that the shoe will be perfect to “make a fashion statement on the next group ride” or, if you’re the racing type, you will “impress your breakaway partners with your sophisticated style”. The shoe is secured with a single Boa IP1 dial (we’re terribly disappointed this isn’t also encrusted with diamantes). Every single cycling shoe should have replaceable lugs. Simon Bromley The full carbon outsole of the shoe passes the cursory bend-it-over-your-knee test with flying covers. The outsole also features, much to our delight, a replaceable heel lug. Every single cycling shoe should have replaceable lugs, no exceptions. It’s not clear how many of these shoes have been produced but stock is low at most online retailers, so act quickly if you want to bag a pair of these dazzling disco slippers. £420 / €385, international pricing TBC Latest deals Robert Axle Project turbo trainer thru-axle Who knew a thru-axle could be so lovely? Simon Bromley The majority of wheel-on turbo trainers are designed to be used in conjunction with quick-release skewers with conical end caps that a cammed lever clamps onto. This means that the majority of bikes with thru-axles are not compatible with a wheel-on turbo trainer. Best smart trainer 2020: top-rated turbo trainers However, fret not, because The Robert Axle Project – a brand that is dedicated to solely making high-end aftermarket thru-axles – has the answer. This thru-axle is so well made. Simon Bromley The brand’s imaginatively named ‘thru-axle for bike trainers’ imitates the function of a turbo trainer quick release with two nicely machined conical end caps sitting at each end of the axle. One of these end caps is removable for fitting. Helpful functionality aside, it might sound daft but the thru-axle is actually a delightfully well-made object. It feels high-quality in the hand and neat touches, such as the machined internal lip that holds an o-ring in place to keep the M5-threaded bolt captive, elevate it to a level of luxury that we thought unthinkable for a humble thru-axle. This particular product is available to fit on no fewer than 15 different thru-axle standards. $54, international pricing TBC Buy direct from The Robert Axle Project
Follow Kate Courtney, Loïc Bruni and Finn Iles as they attack the tracks of Fort William, Leogang and Nove Mesto. Will Kate be able to deliver once again? Will Finn be able to catch up to Loic? Over the course of the past 2 seasons, Fast Life has combined the best on course action with Read More The post How Long Until Finn Beats Loic? – Fast Life Season 3, Ep. 2 appeared first on BIKE Magazine.
Crankbrothers have been enjoying a pretty remarkable turnaround in the wheel world over the last year or so. Just a few years ago, they were riding out a design that was unconventional, but without any real good reason. They’ve done a full 180º with their Synthesis wheels, which are unconventional, but for very good reason(s). To be quite frank, they’re the best carbon wheels that I’ve tested to date. Following up on their success, crankbrothers have applied the same concept to a line of more affordable alloy wheels, which are now available. More specifically, that concept is the idea of being “tuned” for front and rear specific duties through better design. I’ve been logging some serious ride time on this new, more affordable version during the winter months – follow along for a review of the new Synthesis Alloy E wheelset… Details Sizes: 27.5″(tested) & 29″ Available as singles $299 front / $399 rear USD Industry Nine 101 hubs *available with CB Synthesis “standard” hubs for $239 front / $359 rear SRAM XD(tested), Shimano HG & Microspline drivers available as standard 28 hole front / 32 hole rear 4º engagement Sapim D-Light front spokes, Sapim Race rear spokes 837 grams front / 1018 grams rear claimed. *878 g. front / 1059 g. rear actual. The front and rear specific approach is carried out in three ways – with a varying spoke count (28 hole front / 32 hole rear) and spoke gauge as well as with specific rim widths. Just like the Synthesis carbon wheels, the front and rear rims have 31.5mm and 29.5mm inner diameters, respectively. The front/rear specific spoke count helps encourage compliance up front and added strength and stiffness out back where the wheel bears more weight. The varying rim width helps provide the front wheel with a broader tire footprint, as you’re more apt to run wider tires in the front than the back of the bike. The graphics are clean, classy and part of the final surface treatment, rather than cheap decals. There are no eyelets in the nipple holes. This saves weight, and a rather strong case has been made that it’s actually a sturdier way to build a rim. The Industry Nine 101 hubs quickly became an excellent mid priced boutique offering that many wheel manufacturers are leaning on. They’re easily rebuildable by hand (read: no tools required), simple, smooth and bulletproof. I’ve had great luck with them in the past and have nothing bad to say about them. Their engagement is quite fast as well. Following recent trends in both the carbon fiber and alloy rim world, the Synthesis rim is neither very deep or very shallow, but rather it is right in the middle. They feature an asymmetrical shape for better spoke bracing angles and a stronger wheel build. Unlike most carbon rims these days, but keeping in line with most alloy rims, these do in fact have a bead hook. Tubeless tape and valves are included as standard. On the trail Suffice to say, it’s been a while since I’ve spent a bunch of time aboard aluminum rims, especially on a personal bike of mine. I opted to test the Synthesis E Alloy on my 27.5″ Yeti SB-165 which started with carbon fiber Roval wheels – it has been interesting going back and forth between the two wheelsets. Tubeless setup was a snap with a floor pump, and so was the cassette installation. All three of the popular driver bodies are available for both this version with I9 hubs, as well as the more affordable option with in-house crankbrothers hubs. At 1937 grams, the weight is quite respectable given how burly they are – they weigh in at roughly 150-200 grams more than the carbon wheels they replaced, but also come in at exactly half the price. As far as on trail feel goes, the Synthesis E Alloys were quite nice – particularly for an alloy wheelset. While they did lack that certain springy liveliness carbon exhibits, they felt really good – at the very least, they were far less “dead” than most alloy wheelsets. In fact, I’d argue that they took on high frequency trail chatter better than some of the stiffer carbon fiber options on the market which I’ve tested as of late. The difference in front and rear wheels’ construction was definitely perceptible on trail, mainly due to different spoke count and spoke thickness. I’d be lying if I claimed to feel a difference from the 2 millimeter variance in inner diameter widths, but on paper it certainly is a better approach. It also means trickier logistics and more SKUs to keep track of, so you’ve got to hand it to crankbrothers for going the extra mile. A 30mm inner diameter seems to be right where most brands want to find themselves for the average heavy duty trail/enduro rims these days. With the Synthesis E Alloys hovering right around there, they provided a nice tire footprint and good support in the turns. I tried them with a 2.4 and rear combo and a 2.6fr/2.35rr combo and thought the support was excellent with both. Anyhow, Santa Cruz isn’t known for being ferociously rocky, but I sought out some of our roughest trails this winter and even tinkered with pressures down in the high teens, which is way lower than I usually venture. As of writing this, despite my best efforts, I’ve yet to flat, dent, flat spot or knock these out of true. I also bashed a few turns a bit too hard and haven’t managed to burp my rear tire – side to side, the rear wheel is really really really stiff. Overall The Synthesis E Alloy wheels are a very utilitarian, mid priced option but are far from rough around the edges. In fact, they’re very well thought out. Sure you can find wheels out there that are cheaper as well as more expensive. Unless you dive into a custom build, you most definitely will not find a complete aluminum wheelset with this much attention so well spent on achieving specific front and rear ride characteristics. So the big question is…who do these wheels make sense for? I would think that a privateer Enduro racer would be all over them, as well as any rider looking for a damn good set of mid priced wheels that are no frills and built to last. www.crankbrothers.com
Red Bull loves to stir the pot and their Fast Life video edit should help you get hyped for 2020. Follow Kate Courtney, Loïc Bruni and Finn Iles as they attack the tracks of Fort William, Leogang and Nove Mesto. Will Kate be able to deliver once again? Will Finn be able to catch up to Loic? Find out and enjoy! ? Over the course of the past 2 seasons, Fast Life has combined the best on course action with unparalleled mountain bike athlete access, unique racing insights, snappy dialogue and killer music into a winning formula. Bottom line, you only have to check out Fast Life once to know that it’s the most relevant, sexiest, most adorable World Cup web series on the planet.