Another week, another edition of Friday Look Friday, but this hasn’t been any old week on BikeRadar.
The first of our coveted Bike of the Year awards went live, with the two winners of our trail and enduro mountain bike categories announced.
As a joint effort between BikeRadar and our colleagues at Mountain Biking UK magazine, Bike of the Year involved months of testing, on sixteen different bikes, totalling hundreds of kilometres of riding and countless metres of climbing and descending. All in the challenging ride conditions of the British winter and spring.
Taking the crown for Enduro Bike of the Year was the Trek Slash 8 – a bike that was praised for being easy to ride but immensely capable thanks to standout suspension, sorted geometry and a great spec sheet for the cash.
The Bird Aether 9 beat fierce competition to be announced our Trail Bike of the Year after impressing chief trail tester Tom Marvin with its do-it-all capability, engaging ride and exceptional value for money.
Stay tuned to BikeRadar as more of our Bike of the Year award winners are announced, including this year’s leading road and gravel bikes. And make sure you check out Tom’s full video review of the Bird Aether 9 below.
It’s also been a bumper week for tech news, with Cervélo’s Áspero 5 launched as a more aerodynamic and lighter upgrade to the existing Áspero gravel bike, while Endura’s latest women’s-specific bib shorts made the headlines thanks to their use of medical grade silicone elastomers to improve comfort.
We also spotted another new bike from Cervélo, with Primoz Roglic riding an unreleased road bike with hidden cables at La Flèche Wallonne. Is this the new Cervélo R6 Disc?
While we’re talking shiny new tech – check out the latest Bora Ultra WTO wheels from the Italian maestros at Campagnolo and these all-new 353 NSW hoops with Zipp’s radical whale-inspired rim profile.
In the world of knobbly tyres, Rockshox have introduced the revamped Domain as a more affordable version of the hard-hitting Zeb mountain bike fork.
Otherwise, motoring journalist and cyclist Dan Trent investigated how the technological advancement of vehicles affects cyclists in a thought-provoking piece on lane-keeping assistance.
Phew, what a week! Now let’s get on to our picks for First Look Friday…
Apidura Expedition fork pack
Attaching to the Tailfin Cargo Cage of Felix’s Lauf ultra-endurance bike is this fork pack from Apidura.
Cut from a tough three-layer waterproof fabric, the Expedition pack carries 4.5-litres of whatever you need to stow away for adventuring. A hands-free air release valve makes for easy packing and space-efficient compression.
The unique attachment mechanism keeps the straps away from the fork itself, making for quick and easy installation and removal, and allows for access to the contents without the need to remove the bag.
Apidura says this pack can fit any fork cage thanks to plenty of attachment loops and straps that can be cut down.
So, you want to take your camera with you on a ride but don’t want to lug it about inside a hefty backpack? Rille has your back, quite literally.
The Rille Strap simply attaches to your camera’s existing strap, triangulating it around your chosen shoulder for a tight grip that will leave the camera facing outwards against your back.
When you stop riding you can have the viewfinder to your eye in a matter of seconds thanks to a Fidlock magnetic closure. Best to check the weather forecast before you leave, though!
Brynje Super Thermo t-shirt
BikeRadar’s test team are no stranger to Brynje’s excellent mesh baselayers. They’ve topped our buyer’s guide to the best base layers for a few years now and are firm favourites of Jack Luke and former staffer Joe Norledge.
This t-shirt variant uses the same quick-drying Isolfil Merkalon polypropylene material that we know offers superb comfort and performance, but does so with a short sleeve cut and, in this case, a black colour.
We know these layers stand the test of time, but the white versions do have a tendency to take on a rather unappealing colour after countless washes, so this black version is very welcome.
The cut is particularly generous in torso length and, despite being relatively slim, does offer a lot of stretch too.
The look remains an acquired taste but the performance is proven and they’re still fantastic value too. A women’s-specific version is also available.
For a more detailed look at Brynje baselayers head across to Jack’s Super Thermo C-Shirt review.
Apidura Backcountry bikepacking bags
With summer just around the corner and lockdown easing, we can’t be the only people planning a night under the stars or a bikepacking weekend away.
Apidura has created an adventure-specific set of bikepacking bags that look perfect for lightweight off-road exploring – the Backcountry Series.
Apidura Backcountry Saddle Pack
First up is the Backcountry Saddle Pack, which comes in two sizes – either six or four litres.
The bag sits neatly under your saddle, attaching around the saddle rails and seatpost via three straps that should keep it from swaying around while riding.
The pack comes with a dropper post adapter for mountain bikes – handy for keeping your weight back on technical descents. The bag is made from a tough, waterproof nylon developed from the maritime industry, and comes with a bungee cord, light attachment and with reflective graphics. It’s a nice-looking, functional bag which, in our experience to date, easy to forget about once it’s on the bike.
Apidura Backcountry Full Frame Pack
In the same smart-looking grey and yellow, the Backcountry Full Frame Pack can hold between 2.5 and 6 litres, depending on the size of your bike. Apidura provides a handy frame-measuring tool on its site to help you choose the correct bag size.
The frame bag sits in the main triangle of the bike, and attaches via stiff velcro fasteners and ties. It’s designed for carrying heavier items such as locks or tools, keeping your centre of gravity low while you’re riding so as to not affect handling.
There are zips on both sides of the bag, which let you access a cheeky snack on the go.
Apidura Backcountry Handlebar Pack
Finally, there is the Backcountry Bar Bag, which comes in 11-litre and 7-litre versions. This bag is designed for carrying larger, bulkier items over long distances, while keeping the bike balanced on steep climbs or descents.
The bag has roll-top closures on each end and an extra bungee on top for anything you can’t fit in the bag. It’s all secured to the bike by three Hypalon fasteners, which let you adjust for load, tyre clearances and handlebar type.
The bar bag is made from a lightweight, waterproof material that, according to Apidura, should prove to be durable and tough. There are also abrasion-resistant fabric panels added to areas that might wear at a faster rate.