Manitou Mezza Expert fork, FSA Gradient bar and stem, and Lezyne Port-A-Shop S toolkit

Freda Walters

Welcome back to another First Look Friday. This week I’ve got some of the products I’m most looking forward to bolting to my bike, or using to bolt new kit to my bike, before giving them a thorough thrashing.

Speaking of new gear, this week Canyon released the Lux Trail, the German brand’s hardcore cross-country bike, which sees it enter the ever-popular downcountry genre. Tom’s already spent some time on the Canyon Lux Trail CF 8 and has given us his first impressions, but look out for the full review coming soon.

We also spotted what looks like a new aero bike from Orbea at the Vuelta a España.

Plus, if you haven’t yet, check out our latest podcast below on understanding the mental health benefits of cycling. We are all aware of the pros cycling can have on our physical health, but it can offer so much more than that. So have a listen and find out.

FSA Gradient handlebar and Team LTD stem

You’ll spot this handlebar on the front of Atherton Racing’s team bikes.
Luke Marshall/Immediate Media

FSA says the Gradient Carbon 35 handlebar is strong enough for freeride and light enough for XC, but at 261g, it’s competitive but a little hefty for any weight weenies. However, with Atherton Racing’s move from Renthal to FSA for its race bike cockpits, that freeride claim is looking good.

The carbon bar uses a wide 35mm clamp. Some people find this can make the cockpit too stiff, so I’ll be interested to see how it stands up against the likes of OneUp and Renthal’s carbon offerings for comfort.

Shape-wise, the bar features pretty standard geometry with an 8-degree back sweep and 5-degree upsweep. It measures 800mm wide and has markings to cut it down if you prefer.

FSA Gradient Carbon 35 handlebar

The rotation angle marks are a smart idea, to make sure you can keep a consistent setup if you ever need to remove it.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

A clever feature is the rotation marks, allowing you to reset the bar to your preferred position if you need to remove it.

This model comes with a 30mm rise, but a 20mm rise version is also available.

FSA Gradient Team LTD OS35 stem

I hope this stem is as functional as it is fashionable.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

I’ve also got this bling looking oil-slick edition of the Gradient Team LDT OS35 stem. Designed in collaboration with the brand’s enduro riders, it’s 100 per cent CNC-machined for a minimalist design.

The 50mm length version I have here weighs 154g on my scales.

There’s a zero-degree rise and zero-gap clamp design, and a 35mm stack height. It’s also available in 32mm and 40mm, ideal for bikes with long reach numbers. I hope it performs as good as it looks.

Manitou Mezza Expert fork

Manitou Mezza Expert fork

The Manitou Mezza Expert fork is a more user- and price-friendly version of its burley all-mountain/enduro fork.
Luke Marshall

Manitou was one of the first big players in the suspension world, producing some of the best feeling forks over the years, like the Dorado, albeit with its own drawbacks, but somewhere along the way it got left behind by RockShox and Fox.

The Mezza Expert is one of the latest forks from the brand that isn’t afraid to think out the box. We’ve tested the higher-spec Mezza Pro before, which received mixed feedback, so I’m looking forward to trying this simpler, more wallet-friendly option to see how it stacks up.

The chassis uses the same 37mm stanchions as the higher-priced Mezza Pro with Manitou’s unique rear arch design, which is claimed to save weight for the same stiffness and protect the seals from mud.

Manitou Mezza Expert fork

Manitou’s rear arch polarises opinion in the looks department, but I’m on the side that thinks it looks pretty cool.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

Spring-wise it uses Manitou’s IVA (Incremental Volume Adjuster) design, to adjust ramp-up with self-contained spacers. The air is pumped in from a valve underneath the fork leg and the positive and negative air chambers are self-equalising.

Travel can be internally adjusted with spacers from 180mm to 140mm in 10mm increments without buying any extras.

Manitou Mezza Expert IVA

Located in the top of the fork is a capsule that houses a volume spacer. Where you position this spacer inside the capsule adjusts the spring’s progressivity.
Luke Marshall

The Mezza Expert uses an open bath design to control compression and rebound. Its VTT-6P damper, which stands for Variable Terrain Tune, features a six-position compression adjuster and a 10-click rebound adjuster.

Each click is meant to make a distinguishable difference on the trail and aims to keep things simple for the user.

Manitou Mezza Expert VTT

The compression adjustment has just six clicks.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

Other features include Manitou’s Hexlock SL2 axle, which is claimed to add stiffness, a bolt-on fender, and something called TSR (Trail Side Relief), which are essentially valves on the back of the fork’s lower legs that let you bleed off built-up air.

Lezyne Port-A-Shop S toolkit

Lezyne Port-A-Shop S toolkit

This little pouch is neatly organised with pretty much everything you need to keep all the bolts and most spokes on your bike tight.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

This little toolkit should have enough tools to keep pretty much every bolt on your bike tight, and then some.

It includes four multi-tools and a pair of tyre levers, all organised in a neat pack where everything has its own pouch. Plus, there’s a couple of extra pockets that will allow you to fit in a few other essentials or spares.

Lezyne Port-A-Shop S Allen Keys

The Allen Key tool features sizes 1.5 to 6mm.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

Tool-wise, it features one multi-tool with 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 and 6mm Allen Key bits, plus 1.5, 2, 2.5mm L-shape Allen Key bits.

There’s a Torx key tool with bits ranging from T6, T7, T8, T10, T15, T20, T25 and T30.

The third multi-tool has an 8mm Allen Key, Philips #1 and flathead screwdriver, 8mm and 10mm spanner heads, bottle opener, disc pad spreader and tyre lever.

Lezyne Port-A-Shop S multi-tool

The multi-tool is bigger and sturdier than most common pocket tools. Strong enough for tight pedals.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

The chain tool also features four-spoke keys, two Mavic spoke wrenches, and keys that fit 3.45 and 3.22 nipples.

The tools are larger and sturdier than your average multi-tool, which looks promising for longevity, and they have been treated to be anti-corrosive, which is a nice touch.

This little kit should keep you on top of your everyday bike maintenance.

Lezyne Port-A-Shop S chain breaker

The chain breaker doubles up as a spoke key.
Luke Marshall / Immediate Media

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