Bike Press Camp 2012: Best in Show, Episode 2
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Last week in Park City, Utah, two dozen bike manufacturers rolled out their 2013 product lines to a handful of journalists. We already showed you a smattering of the coolest bikes, but there were even more interesting accessories. There were no quantifiable trends—sure, lighter, faster, and stronger, but would you buy that bike gear continues to get wickeder? One thing we do like is that our industry is accessible enough that small players willing to experiment can get a toehold based on their innovation. From the quirky and design-driven to the seriously performance-enhancing, here are five (okay, eight counting Knog’s haul and the two sets of wheels) pieces of gear we can’t wait to get our hands on.
1. KNOG MILKMAN, KRANSKY, AND BLINDER 1
Knog is making so many whimsical, highly designed cycling accessories that we couldn’t decide which one we liked best. The Milkman, a PDA-sized bike lock gets the Duh, Why Didn’t We Think Of That award. Toss this spiffy retractable cable lock in your jersey pocket as quick protection during those impromptu grocery stops or post-ride café refreshments. It’s not high security, but it’s enough to deter opportunists. The Kransky, the largest in the Sausage line of locks, brings style to the stodgy old cable by way of a rubberized exterior, a completely concealed lock core, and a rainbow of colors. Patterned after the Blinder 4s only with a single LED rather than a host of them, the Blinder 1s are dapper little patterned blinky lights that are as high quality as they are eccentric.
2. KALI MARAKA HELMET
It feels like there are almost as many helmet manufacturers these days as there are cyclists’ heads, so we were skeptical of Kali at first. But this Morgan Hill, California, lid manufacturer (yep, founder and engineer Brad Waldron worked in development at the Big S) is crashing onto the market with some fresh innovation. The Maraka uses machined reinforcement structures around major vents, which allow for bigger holes and better air flow, but, more importantly, help disperse the force of impact through the helmets foam in case of a crash. The company claims the design also allows them to use less dense foam overall for less head jangling on impact, and they’ve lined the contact points (under the pads) with softer foam for even more impact force reduction. The Maraka looks pretty darn good, too.
3. HUTCHINSON INTENSIVE GALACTIK
Despite its promise of better traction, fewer punctures, and added comfort, road tubeless technology has been slow to catch on, partly because the tires were still outperformed by tubulars. At 245 grams, the Galactick weighs less than a lightweight tire and tube combo. And not only does it cost about half of what a tubular would run you ($109 for the Galactik), but it's said to have six percent lower rolling resistance. Hutchinson hopes the groundbreaking rubber will help woo the pro peloton to the technology, in turn swinging consumers. Even before this tire, though, we were convinced. We’ve been riding Hutchinson’s heavier Fusion 3 road tubeless for months (pictured above because the Galactiks were so new at Press Camp that they hadn’t yet been photographed), which feel as supple as a tubular without all the hassle and mess of gluing rims.
4. REYNOLDS AERO & ENVE SES WHEELS
Aero carbon wheels are staples these days, but what struck us about these two sets is how two companies can take such divergent approaches. Reynolds, whose director of technology and innovation Paul Lew’s “day job” is designing unmanned aircraft for the government, relied on that aerospace background to design their new Aero line, which buck the trend of broad, round shapes with its tapered, almost wing-like rim profiles. They say the 90mm depth (the wheels also come in 58 and 72mm) reduce drag by as much as 20 watts over the popular Zipp 808s, with those savings coming at a steep $2,775 per pair. On the other hand, Enve’s new SES 3.4, 6.7, and 8.9 clincher wheelsets, designed by F1 aerodynamics-expert Simon Smart, are wide and dome-shaped for great speed as well as what the company claims to be the most stable handling in crosswinds. Starting at $2,900, a pair of Enves are right on par with Reynolds' offerings.
5. GORE ALP-X AS INSULATED VEST
The inclement-weather experts may not make the sexiest apparel, but there’s no debating that their gear will keep you warm and dry in the worst conditions. That’s why we’re so excited about Gore Bikewear's Alp-X AS Insulated Vest, which stuffs the classic cycling gilet with a very thin layer of Primaloft in the chest and back and then covers it with Gore Windstopper. It might sound heavy, but it’s actually incredibly lightweight, meaning it should be the ultimate piece for very cold mornings or great insurance on long mountain rides when the weather is variable.