As I write this introduction, I spy out of my South West UK window both a big, dark storm cloud and a tantalising patch of blue sky. While we may not have had much in the way of April Showers, May has well and truly taken the relay baton and is running with it. I hope you’ve had more chance this week to snatch a quick ride in the sun than I have!
And, if this Friday is as wet as I suspect it will be, that’s okay. Gardens will be devouring the moisture, trails will be getting primed for summer and it really can’t be long until the sun starts to shine properly. In the meantime, here’s a selection of the best bits to appear on BikeRadar in the past seven days.
The week was dominated by two key bike releases. First up, Canyon launched the Grizl – a carbon adventure bike without funky hover bars. Not only did we give you all the details, but our very own Matthew Loveridge has ridden the bike and published his Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by review (and video below too).
Next up was Specialized. Love ’em or hate ’em, e-MTBs are very much here and are big news, and the Turbo Kenevo Levo SL is what happens when you mate Specialized’s impressive motor technology (as found on the Turbo Levo SL) to the equally impressive Enduro. We have one in for testing, and our senior technical editor-in-chief Rob Weaver is currently putting it through its paces – though you can find his brief ride impressions in the news piece.
Moving away from bike tech, we had a look at 16 different ways to increase your average speed – presumably, Taco van der Hoorn didn’t need to read that because he won a stage of the Giro just before we published the list. However, even if those 16 steps weren’t needed by van der Hoorn, the five ways his ride was optimised most likely did help.
Finally, for a bit of inspiration, why not have a read about a bunch of riders riding 500km through Ramadan, in our Fasted 500 piece, or listen to our podcast with legendary mountain bike photographer Steve Behr. He’s been snapping pics for MBUK Magazine for three decades and has shot the world’s best riders during that time.
Kendal Mint Co. (KMC) energy products
Kendal mint cake is one of those legendary products and is more commonly associated with the bottom of a hill-walker’s day-pack, pulled out at emergency situations when a burst of sugar and a minty kick are needed to get up that last fell or along the valley to a long-awaited pint of bitter. Word has it, plenty of the strong white stuff has found its way to Everest too!
As a massive fan of the sugary tablet, I was blown away by my discovery that there’s a full Kendal Mint Co (KMC) energy product range. From the classics (normal and chocolate-covered) to energy gels and drinks, a recovery shake and some rather tasty superfood bars, KMC’s range of product, unsurprisingly, all have a fairly refreshing taste (well, apart from the superfood bar that’s just a really good grainy/oaty bar).
While we won’t go into details on every product here, the KMC NRG Bar caught my eye. KMC makes a couple of compelling claims about the bar. Yes, filling your body with a massive hit of sugar sure feels good, but only until the resultant sugar crash hits. KMC says that the bars have therefore been enriched with B Vitamins and electrolytes.
This is claimed to create “a more efficient energy delivery system and helps with red blood cell functionality, reducing the typical ‘bonk’ or ‘crash’ when consuming sugary foods”.
Furthermore, if you’re accustomed to a strong minty toothpaste, you’ll know the menthol in peppermint clears your nose pretty well, and the same goes here.
KMC also claims that peppermint is a natural anti-inflammatory (a good thing), and increases bile flow (I’ve no idea, and I’m not sure I want to know).
Needless to say, I’ve tried pretty much everything here and I’m both smelling minty fresh and have ridden my bike nice and fast. I approve.
- KMC NRG Bars: From £7.99
- KMC Natural NRG Bars: From £9.99
- KMC NRG Gels: From £15.99
- KMC ISO Mix: £19.99
- KMC PRO Mix Recovery: £24.99
- Buy direct from Kendal Mint Co.
Hutchinson tubeless parts and accessories
I’m in the middle of a massive mountain bike wheels test, so I’m not only requesting a dozen pairs of wheels (priced from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand pounds), I’m also setting them all up tubeless for testing. As such, I’m taping, valving, sealant-ing and (hopefully not too often) repairing a load of wheelsets.
As luck would have it, just as I started, Hutchinson got in touch offering to fire over its full range of tubeless accessories.
This includes a latex sealant (from £6.95 / €6.90), various tyre levers, including a long metal one for getting over the tightest of beads (£8.95 / €9.90), some rim tapes of various widths, tubeless valves and, as an absolute treat, a tubeless sealant injector.
As someone fairly averse to bike maintenance, anything that makes getting tubeless work more easily is a good thing in my book.
The sealant injector is basically a massive syringe with a long, thin hose that’s furnished with a locking valve. Suck up some latexy goodness, remove the valve core and squirt in some sealant via the hose.
No longer do I need to un-pop a tyre from its bead to squirt some sealant in, and I’m not precariously trying to get the nozzle of a bottle of sealant over a tubeless valve and squirting half of it on the floor.
There’s also a natty tubeless repair plug tool. One side has a bit for making the hole in your tyre the right ‘shape’ and the other a pronged fork for jabbing the repair strips through the tyre.
I’ve used it in anger (I was very, very angry) and it worked first time. Its small size belies its usefulness and at £8.95 / €9.90 including five repair strips, good value.
It’s the simple things, huh?
Leatt MTB 4.0 Helmet Enduro
Convertible helmets are all the rage, and it’s easy to see why.
On the way up, the best enduro-focused ones are nice and breezy, and can be made even more so by removing the chin-piece. On the way down, having that full-face capability massively boosts safety, as well as confidence. So long as the chin-bar isn’t a hassle to remove, you might as well just have two helmets in one, right?
Leatt’s take on this is the MTB 4.0 helmet. It has a chin-bar that’s secured with a pair of swivel clip locks, and has plenty of vents in there to keep it cool when it’s in place.
The plastic mesh ‘roost’ guard at the front, which stops flies and mud from spraying through the chin piece, can be popped out for an even cooler ride. Remove the chin piece altogether and you end up with an open face helmet that’s got plenty of coverage down the back and a host of safety features inside.
While MIPS is the best known, there are other systems on the market to reduce rotational impacts on your head. Leatt uses its ‘360 Turbine Technology’, with its little blue rubber turbines that connect pads to shell and both absorb direct impacts as well as twist to reduce rotational forces.
The helmet comes with a fully adjustable cradle, a visor that gets out the way of your goggles and a Fidlock buckle for quick and easy removal when wearing gloves.
DexShell waterproof socks
No one likes soggy feet when riding. Generally, you’ve got three options when it comes to trying to keep your feet dry: overshoes, waterproof cycling shoes and, as we’ve got here, waterproof socks.
Now, each has its pros and cons, and if it’s really wet out there, chances are you’re going to get wet feet regardless, but you can at least give yourself a chance of dry tootsies.
DexShell specialises in waterproof gear, with a range of waterproof socks, gloves and hats for a range of sports. We’ve got three pairs of DexShell waterproof socks here to run through. All have a three-layer construction, similar to a waterproof jacket, with an inner lining, a membrane in the middle made by Porelle and a piece of outer fabric.
DexShell Pro Visibility Cycling Socks
The Pro Visibility Cycling Socks are new in the range and have reflective stripes around the cuffs.
They’re a little lighter than other DexShell socks, with a moisture-wicking Coolmax FX liner to add some breathability. As with any product with a waterproof membrane, there’s a balance between keeping rain out and letting heat escape.
DexShell Thermlite Socks
Next up, the Thermlite Socks aren’t cycling-specific but there’s a Merino lining to add a little more warmth on cold, wet rides.
DexShell Ultra Dri Sports Socks
Finally, we have the Ultra Dri Sports Socks. These have a ‘drirelease’ wool blend inner fabric, which in DexShell’s words: “offer the combined performance of quick moisture-wicking and superb warmth”. These also have an in-cuff seal to try and keep out the water that runs down your legs.
All three socks come in a couple of colour options and are available in four sizes (S to XL).