BikeRadar gear of the year: Aoife Glass's 2015 picks

It’s been a bumper year for women’s cycling in 2015, with new pro teams, increasing financial support, more media coverage and, of course, more and more gear designed for women at all levels of road cycling and mountain biking. 

I joined BikeRadar in the spring, shifting over from my previous role as deputy editor of Total Women’s Cycling. It’s been rewarding and fascinating to track  how women’s cycling has evolved over the year and continues to change.

It’s becoming clear that bike brands, clothing companies and equipment manufacturers are sitting up and taking notice of the ever-increasing number of women riding, and the fact that we’re a diverse bunch, riding at all levels, all disciplines, all ages and all around the world. 

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Highlights for me have included watching the cream of the female pro peloton lay it all on the line for La Course in Paris, and getting to shred the revamped Juliana Roubion on the old mining trails of California. It’s been exciting to hear how brands like Bell Helmets are putting their money where their mouths are and investing in quality research to ensure they’re getting it right for women, with many more brands investing in marketing, research and product development. 

There’s also never been more choice when it comes to women’s bikes, clothing and gear – though I feel there’s room for even more. 

So after thinking long and hard, I’ve selected the products that have stood out for me over the past year. These are the items I reach for again and again, the ones I bore my friends talking at length about, and the ones I’d recommend. 

Juliana Roubion 2 CC XX1 2016

Five Ten Freerider Wmns

Giro Women’s Undershort

Lululemon Ta Ta Tamer sports bra

Rapha Women’s Long Sleeve Brevet Jersey

Polaris Mica jersey

Flare Roost DH Shorts

Hope F20 flat pedals

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

RockShox' Yari fork is a lot like a budget Lyrik

When you’re trying to cut corners on a bike build, cheaping out on the suspension is never a good idea. But affordable doesn’t always mean inferior – and that’s what RockShox is hoping to demonstrate with its new Yari suspension fork.

Unveiled earlier this summer, the Yari can be thought of as a Lyrik for riders on a tight budget. It’s available now and retails for $700 / £560 / AUS $1,190. While it’s not exactly cheap, it becomes more palatable when compared with the Lyrik, which goes for $1,030 / £824 / AUS $1,776.

Related: RockShox Lyrik RCT3 Solo Air

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More importantly, the Yari fills a hole in RockShox’ OE line. It will come stock on a wide range of more affordable trail and enduro models in 2016. Until now RockShox lacked an affordable fork with 35mm stanchions. This should be a plus for many riders – allowing them to get nearly the performance of a Lyrik or a Pike on a much more affordable mountain bike. 

So how similar is the Yari to the Lyrik? Very.

In fact, its magnesium crown and lowers are identical to the Lyrik.

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

Boost your bunnyhops: explosive movements take you higher

You may have seen our original bunnyhop video, which featured a couple of ways of working it. Now Matt Legg-Bagg from Bristol’s Pedal Progression runs through how to get those hops higher.

Related: How to bunnyhop

The bunnyhop movement is an explosive one – the more you put in, the more you’ll get out. Big movements with your feet & heels, to drive the bike into the air, are what you want.

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How high you get your front wheel makes all the difference… concentrate on a good pumped manual to get high. You need big compression with dropped heels – push with your legs to get the front wheel up up. This dictates the bunnyhop, because if the front doesn’t get up enough, the rear wheel won’t follow

A big bunnyhop will take you out of your comfort zone. Find an obstacle you want to get over, and replicate its height with a piece string to practise, so that if you mess up it’s essentially risk-free. Wait till you’re nailing it every time, then take it to the real obstacle.

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

Giant Rail trail helmet

Giant probably isn’t a brand that comes to mind first when you think of trail helmets. If this new Rail model is any indication though, that’s going to change pretty quickly.

Giant’s first serious foray into the hotly contested category is supremely well ventilated, competitively light, and feature packed. Best of all, it’s a relative bargain with a high-end look that belies its appealing price tag, making it my favorite trail helmet to date.

Generous coverage and generous airflow

As is pretty much required for trail helmets these days, the Rail covers more of your head than models that are more intended for cross-country riding. The rear of the helmet extends down past your occipital lobe and the sides even dip down a bit in front of your ears to provide more protection for your temples. Despite the additional coverage, I haven’t found any sunglasses yet that don’t play well with the shape.

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There’s almost more air than shell on the exterior of the Giant Rail trail helmet

That extra coverage doesn’t at all come at the expense of ventilation, either – and in fact, I’ve found the Rail to keep my head cooler than many road helmets I’ve tested over the years.

Comfort to match

Features galore

Close enough to perfect for me

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

J.Laverack J.ACK Ti Disc

J.Laverack is a new British company. Its opening gambit, the J.ACK Ti Disc, aims to be a four-season bike for all surfaces.

Not only is the frame the first thing you notice on seeing the J.ACK, we’ve barely taken our eyes off of it since. For a frame to outclass Dura-Ace is unusual, but then nothing about this bike is run of the mill.

Related: J.ACK titanium road bike by J.Laverack – first look

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Stunning finish

That beautifully finished frame is made from customised 3Al/2.5V titanium. The stout head tube, housing a steerer that’s tapered for increased stiffness, is fronted by a choice of two head badges. The tubes are on the chunky side of slender, and round except for the top tube’s flattened underside.

Widely set chainstays and downswept seatstays meet at sturdy dropouts, the frame takes 28mm rubber with mudguards, 32mm without, and mudguard, rack or Di2 fittings are available at no extra cost. The welding is stunning, and so neat it’s almost invisible in places. The cables benefit from full-length outer casings, passing through internal channels with immaculately smoothed edges.

Surprisingly stiff and punchy

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

Argon 18 Nitrogen Pro road bike is faster, lighter for 2016

The new Argon 18 Nitrogen Pro road bike had its debut at this year’s Tour de France, and will go on sale for 2016 with its new integrated handlebar and 100 percent monocoque carbon seat post.

Described as “lighter and faster” than its predecessor, the new Nitrogen 18 has seen its frame weight shrink to 835g, and they’ve managed to take around 50g off the fork too. Plus there’s a new stem system within the integrated handlebar that gives plenty of aero advantage, but with a bit of adjustability too.

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Related: Argon 18 showcases ‘world’s fastest’ tri bike

So how does the new stem system work? There’s a bolt that runs down the centre of the stem, and a jaws mechanism then interlocks the bar to the stem. The integrated system delivers a claimed 30% drag reduction vs a regular handlebar and stem, and it weighs just under 400g in a 100mm stem configuration.

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

We visited B’Twin Village and the Kool-Aid was delicious

Take a straw poll in your circle of cycling friends about B’Twin – go on, we’ll wait. Chances are, if you’ve heard of the brand, you’ll know it belongs to sports giant Decathlon, and that it makes some very cheap bikes.

You might suggest one to a cash-strapped friend looking for a way into cycling, but there’s a good chance you wouldn’t even consider a B’Twin for your next serious purchase – it’s basically a catalogue brand, isn’t it? Well no, not exactly.

Decathlon invited BikeRadar to visit B’Twin Village, the brand’s immense headquarters in the French city of Lille. The Village houses one of the largest bike shops we’ve ever seen, and it’s also home to B’Twin’s design headquarters, as well as a factory where the company assembles 180,000 of the 3.5 million bikes it produces every year.

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We got a very brief look at the production facility

The place has an odd atmosphere. Although it’s a shop open to the public (with a workshop, a restaurant and a gym for good measure), most of the people wandering around when we visit are employees. Those that aren’t wandering zip purposefully past on an indoor bike lane. They’re pedalling, or riding scooters of the kind popular with 12-year-old children. It’s less big-box bike shop, more tech startup in feel.

B’Twin 2015-2016 highlights

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

Miche SWR RC wheelset

As the industry seems to be embracing the ‘wider is better’ mantra when it comes to rim design, there are still some who continue to forge their own path. Among them is Italian drivetrain component and wheel maker Miche (pronounced ‘Meekah’ rather than ‘Meesh’), and we’ve been racking up the miles on its SWR RC carbon clinchers.

They’re available in three options – 38mm or 50mm deep pairs, or as we have here, a 38mm front wheel and 50mm rear – and there are three colours. The theory behind differential rim height is to maximise handling and control up front, while the stiffer rear wheel transmits more power to the road with minimal deflection.

So that’s the rim depth taken care of, but they’re 20mm wide externally, and a measly 13mm internally, making our 25mm tyres resemble light bulbs. Without rim tapes or quick release skewers, they weigh 1676g, or 1821g including everything, which is average for the price. One reason could be the spoke count, with 18 radial bladed Sapim spokes up front and 24 behind, which are built three cross, although the alloy nipples are there to reduce weight.

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One thing these wheels aren’t is underbuilt –from the off, they feel extremely stiff, surging with every pedal input, and they’re definitely not lacking efficiency. CNC’d aluminium hubs spin effortlessly on sealed SKF bearings, and over rolling roads they make fine progress.

On long climbs, good power transfer pays off, virtually making up for a little extra mass, but we found descending at speed less positive with their rigidity and narrower profile feeling less planted. Braking though was very good, with great power, despite the characteristic burning carbon smell.

The rims state a maximum inflation pressure of 123psi/8.5bar, which shouldn’t worry many riders, but is lower than average, and we’d prefer to see the spoke holes in the 50mm rim drilled asymmetrically, as some of the SWR RC’s nipples sit at differing angles, creating unnecessary stresses. Otherwise, this is a reliable and resilient wheelset that does most things very well, but might just be starting to show its age.

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

Subscribe to Cycling Plus mag and get winter protection

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If you love to ride, then Cycling Plus is the magazine for you. It’s the manual for the modern road cyclist. Whether you’re cycling weekly, daily or a Tour de France fan, you’ll find everything you need.

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Every issue is packed with unrivalled, expert reviews of the latest road bikes and gear, inspirational routes and rides from the UK and around the world, evocative features that take you inside every aspect of cycling, and unmatched nutrition, fitness and training advice that’s guaranteed to help you get the best from yourself and your bike.

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You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar