The Cycle Life

Best Bikes

Seven cool new accessories from Bike PressCamp 2013

Best Bikes
Testing the Niner JET9 at Deer Valley. (Niner Bikes)

Best in Show: Round Two of Bike PressCamp 2013

In addition to all the great new bikes, manufacturers showed a wide spectrum of interesting new parts, accessories, and apparel at PressCamp 2013 in Park City, Utah, a small-scale media event that showcases the latest trends in the cycling industry. From gadgets for the hardcore cyclist to clothes that literally glow in the dark, we’re constantly amazed at how innovative companies are about making life easier. There’s also lots of trickle-down here, especially in the wheel realm, where prices on high-end technology are finally starting to nudge down.

Best in Show: Enve Twenty7.5 DH

The latest in MTB wheel technology. (Courtesy Enve)

We get the question about whether carbon is strong enough for mountain biking all the time. Enve responds with an unequivocal yes with the release of its Twenty7.5 DH, an all-carbon rim for downhill use. Downhill World Champ Steve Pete and his Santa Cruz Syndicates team have been racing on the 26-inch version of these rims for two seasons, and Enve says they’ve had no trouble handling the abuse.

These are burly hoops (30mm wide and 31 deep), but not overbuilt pigs. Whereas most good alloy DH rims range from 580 to 660 grams, Enve’s weigh just 475 grams. And the fact that the company has decided to release the DH rim in 27.5 (540g) is just one more sign that 26-inch wheels are on the decline. (Enve says they’ve seen a fast and dramatic drop in orders for all of their 26-inch wheels.) As with every Enve product, the Twenty7.5 DH comes with a five-year warranty and a lifetime crash replacement guarantee.

Best in Show: Reynolds SLG wheels

The Reynolds Strike SLG. (Courtesy Reynolds)

The price of reputable carbon wheels continues to drop—Easton, Specialized, Enve, and others have released mid-level composite hoops in the last year—and Reynolds follows suit with a revamp of its Performance line. The company puts its own spin on the wide (25mm), oval-shaped profile that’s become so popular in recent years with its proprietary Swirl Lip Generator (SLG). These matching protuberances on both sides of the spoke face are said to calm handling in cross winds while still keeping the aero advantage. The Performance line includes three wheels: the 29mm-deep Attack SLG (1365g; $1,600), the 41mm Assault SLG (1540g; $1,800), and the 62mm Strike SLG (1635g; $1,900). That might not yet qualify as affordable, but it’s also not too much more than premium alloy. Also of note, Reynolds says a tubeless carbon clincher is on the way.

Best in Show: Rotor Power Crank

Rotor cranks (Courtesy Rotor )

Though Rotor is best known for selling oval-shaped chain rings, which they say increase power output by eliminating dead spots in the pedal stroke, what we like most about the company is their commonsense, do-it-better approach. Their cranks fit virtually every bottom bracket standard available (seriously!), and they are sold in completely modular fashion so you can buy only what you want, be it cranks, chain rings, bottom brackets, or any combination. The new ANT+ compatible Rotor Power Crank offers some of the most accurate readings available by embedding a strain gauge in each crank arm (as opposed most systems that have just one and use algorithms to compensate). It is the only product on the market to truly measure right and left power balance, and it also collects data on torque effectiveness and pedal stroke fluidity to help you improve your pedaling.

Best in Show: Sugoi RSE and RSX NeoShell jackets

(Courtesy of Sugoi)

While there are plenty of great waterproof breathable shells on the market, Sugoi’s latest is notable as the exclusive cycling-specific jacket to be cut from PolarTec NeoShell. The material has a nice, soft hand and isn’t loud and crinkly like competing fabrics. But what really sets it apart, according to Sugoi, is how well it breathes. A side-by-side demo that compared NeoShell to GoreTex Paclite demonstrated that while both fabrics are watertight, the NeoShell lets significantly more air pass than the competition. The Vancouver-based company will debut the fabric in two models for 2014, the trim-cut RSE for roadies and the fuller bodied RSX, complete with detachable hood, for the trail.

 

Best in Show: Capo Padrone High-Vis

Testing out the reflective gear, day and night. (Courtesy Capo)

We were already fans of Capo’s fashion-forward cycling gear that managed to both look good and let us be seen. Now the California Bay Area apparel manufacturer has infused its high-end Padrone kit with fabrics that look normal by day but reflect light after dark. Constructed of a tailored mix of Super Black and P-10 fabrics, which stretch and compress just as well as any performance textiles but go from silver and black in the light to iridescent white by night, these pieces are destined to become our de facto early morning and late night kits. Reflectivity is built into the fabrics and won’t wash out or wear off.

The line will include four pieces to begin with, including short-sleeve jersey ($225), bibs ($275), vest ($225), and jacket ($300). That’s approximately a 25 percent mark-up on the already-premium Padrone gear, but that’s a small price to pay to decrease your chances of getting hit by a car.

Best in Show: Answer Gentleman’s Collection Handlebars

Custom red bars. (Courtesty Paisley)

Answer’s flamboyant mountain bars bring some levity to a market dominated by drab black and so-serious carbon. Each design, Houndstooth, Plaid Flannel, Herringbone, and Paisley Daydream, is a limited edition run, so if you see something you love you best hurry before it sells out. Answer will add new graphics to the line every few months or so to keep it fresh. The patterns are anodized straight into the 7075 alloy so they won’t scratch or wear off, and the bars come in a 780mm width in either a ½” or 1” rise.

Best in Show: Knog X Globe Prowler

(Courtesy Knog)

Only the Australians could get away with showing a skateboard at a bike press show. In collaboration with the skate company Globe, Knog is producing a longboard that’s optimized for commuting. In addition to glow-in-the-dark wheels for visibility, the Prowler comes equipped with rear axle-mounted Blinder 1 taillight, visible from more than 1,500 feet. There’s also a rivet at the nose of the board for a Milkman cable lock, so you never have to worry about someone running off with your ride. It’s as genius as it is cheeky.

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