Autumn is officially here in the Northern Hemisphere, so that means we’re putting plenty of kit through the BikeRadar testing regime, ready to bring you the best bits and pieces to keep you comfortable this winter – so keep an eye out for those in the coming months.
Following last week’s mega-drop from Shimano, with its updated, electronic-only Shimano Dura-Ace 9200 and Shimano Ultegra R8100, this week has been quieter on the launch front.
However, we have still seen Scott’s new Patron eRIDE, with its integrated suspension, an update to the Orbea Rallon enduro race bike and a cheaper version of the Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL.
Outside of that, we’ve reviewed a number of smartwatches, including the Polar Vantage V2, Garmin Forerunner 745 and Wahoo Elemnt Rival, and BikeRadar’s Simon Bromley got his lab coat on to see whether wider tyres are faster on road or not.
And in some exciting news for us, we released our first feature-length BikeRadar documentary, Cycling’s Unbreakable Record, which looks at Michael Broadwith’s 2018 Land’s End to John o’Groats record attempt.
If that’s not enough, this week the BikeRadar Podcast goes in-depth on power meters, discussing how they work and what to look for.
Park Tool QTH-1
We don’t think a huge number of people really need a tool like this, but we reckon a lot of people will love its ease of use.
It’s a T-handle bit-driver from Park Tool, with eight of the most common bits – nothing revolutionary there, but that little black plastic bit holder reveals a hidden trick.
It’s magnetic – and can be attached permanently to a wall or magnetically to any ferrous metal – and holds the eight different bits so the tool can be used single-handedly.
The T-handled tool picks up the bits using magnets and, with the use of the lever, deposits them back in the holster when you’re done, without troubling your spare hand.
Of course, what you do with the other hand is totally up to you – hold a cup of tea? Can of beer? Or simply keep steady what you’re trying to attach.
Specialized Men’s Trail SWAT Jacket
While the depths of winter often require either a fully insulated or fully waterproof jacket, the so-called ‘shoulder’ seasons of autumn and spring benefit from something a little lighter and more flexible.
And this is Specialized’s latest answer to that.
One might expect its SWAT Jacket to have all the pockets, but it’s refreshingly simple.
There’s one chest pocket and the material is thin, light and flexible. As such, it’s the kind of jacket that’ll happily stow itself in the bottom of your pack or can be stuffed into a jersey pocket.
It has a DWR (durable water repellent) coating to keep showers at bay, but primarily it’ll be handy for keeping the breeze off when you get to the top of a climb or stop for a mid-ride snack.
If it’s even chillier than expected, the ‘scuba’ hood is tailored to slip under a helmet.
Gusset Lil’ Chap Chain Device
There is nothing worse than rattling down a favourite descent on your hardtail mountain bike, only to turn the cranks and find your chain is swinging in the wind down by the bike’s pedal axle.
That was me in recent weeks due to the chainring on my Marin El Roy being well and truly worn out (I’ve since replaced it).
And chain security is the name of the game when it comes to racing, and by the time you read this, I’ll be on Exmoor racing The Ex Enduro on said Marin.
Long story short, I got in touch with Gusset and it sent me this Lil’ Chap in the post to have a play with.
The Marin El Roy doesn’t have ISCG05 mounts, so the band-on clamp, with its adjustable arm and chain guide, means I’ve managed to get it in an appropriate place to stop my chain from falling off.
It weighs very little, takes up little space on the seat tube (34.9mm or 31.8mm), doesn’t cost masses and comes in a nice little tin.
TSG Ankle Support 2.0
The TSG Ankle Support 2.0 is a quick, efficient and comfortable way to help keep your ankle protected from bruising, minor impacts and torsional injuries.
It has a five-way fastening system that involves two quick lace straps which tighten up with Velcro – one wraps over the foot, the other at the bottom of your shin.
This is followed by two longer fabric Velcro straps that wrap over the top of the foot, under the ankle and up each side of the leg for maximum stability and protection.
These are then wrapped in a much wider, elasticated strap that encloses all other straps around the top of the ankle or bottom of your shin.
The tongue is also made of a light meshy material to stop your feet from overheating too much and is generally quite comfortable. Once the ankle brace is fastened and secure it really does feel supportive, without feeling too restrictive.
Our videographer Max recently fractured his fibula in a torsional MTB-related injury and has been using the brace to aid with his recovery. He says the padded and stiff Velcro strips that run up each side of the leg have helped in particular.
There is a loop at the top rear part of the brace to help navigate your foot in and out of the support. However, the material in this area is a little delicate, so best not tug too hard on it. A mistake Max learned the hard way.
Getting your shoes on and off is surprisingly easy with the brace fitted, though, so long as you loosen off the laces on your shoes enough.
Being Gary Fisher
This is a bit of a throwback because we actually featured this book back in December 2020 when it was released in the US. However, Being Gary Fisher is now available worldwide.
Co-written by Guy Kesteven, a former and very regular contributor to BikeRadar, MBUK and Cycling Plus, the book takes a look at the life of Gary Fisher of Fisher Bikes and latterly Trek – one of the most colourful personalities in cycling.