RockShox Area, Hunt Gravel X-Huge wheels | First Glance Friday

Freda Walters

It’s Friday and that of program implies fresh new swag for your eyeballs.

This 7 days we anointed our Highway Bicycle of the Calendar year champions, with the Boardman SLR 9.4 AXS Disc Carbon getting the overall title, the Huge TCR Innovative Professional 1 Disc profitable Effectiveness Bike of the Calendar year, the Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1 taking the gravel Bicycle of the Yr crown, the Giant TCR State-of-the-art SL Disc winning Superbike of the Calendar year, and the Boardman ADV 8.9 staying our very best worth choose.

We also marvelled at Silca’s impressively high priced 3D-printed titanium pc mount and loved the peaceful comforts of Bianchi’s E-Spillo Luxurious ebike.

Hunt 4 Period Gravel Disc X-Broad wheelset

Hunt now offers a dizzying range of wheels for all budgets and the brand has been a vocal proponent of tubeless and wide rims for some time.

The 4 Season Gravel Disc X-Wide is a reasonably affordable aluminium wheelset aimed at gravel, with an internal rim width of 25mm that’s ideal for tyres from 35mm to 50mm wide.

The rims use Hunt’s H_Lock inner profile, the brand’s name for the pronounced bead humps that help prevent untimely dismounting of a tubeless tyre when it’s subjected to side loads, and makes riding at the lower pressures demanded by gravel safer.

The rims have hooks so can be used with standard clinchers too, although it’s interesting to note how minimal these are.

As with other Hunt wheels, the Gravel Disc X-Wides are available in all major axle standards and a choice of Shimano freehubs or SRAM drivers.

Hunt uses asymmetric rims for more even left-right spoke tension balance, and laces them with Pillar spokes secured using corrosion-resistant brass nipples.

The complete set with end caps for 12mm axles front and rear weighs 1,653g on our scales, including rotor lock rings, cassette spacer, tubeless valves and tape.

RockShox Domain RC

Feeling left out of the 38mm stanchion game but don’t have the astronomical amounts of cash needed for a ZEB or fancy Fox 38? Fear not because RockShox’sDomain is a (slightly) more affordable option.

It has those chunky stanchions that mean when you barrel into a rock garden your fork should be as stiff as any non-DH fork out there, but to save cash, its materials, damper and air spring are a little less ‘fancy’ than its top-spec counterparts.

Instead of a Charger damper you get a Motion Control RC damper, which can be upgraded to a Charger down the line for a few hundred quid.

OEM forks (i.e. the ones that come on a stock bike) might have a yet cheaper Motion Control R fork. If it’s got an R at the end of the name you get rebound control, if it’s RC you get rebound and compression.

The DebonAir Spring is present, but it’s not quite the same as the one in the ZEB, so this can’t be upgraded – that’s because the internal space on the air side is different, thanks to the use of cheaper alloys.

Aside from this, you get 150 to 180mm of travel in both wheel sizes, a short 44mm offset, 2.8in tyre clearance and a (claimed) weight a touch over 2.5kg. Want to know more? Check out our news piece on the new Domain.

Ashmei Signature kit

Ashmei makes understated, premium kit for roadies and gravelistas, and aims to do it sustainably.

The brand says its kit is designed to last, and it considers both environmental impact and ethics in its choice of materials, and Ashmei is also a member of the 1{a248e5b80c230eadd21ddb63dd84d82fc59867695094f52c900e1818e1ed19f8} for the Planet initiative.

The Signature Merino jersey is a straightforward top with the usual three rear pockets, plus a small zippered one for valuables.

It’s ultra-light and feels very high quality, with nice touches including a section of soft Alcantara inside the collar and a substantial metal zip pull.

The jersey is made from 65 per cent Merino plus 35 per cent Cocona 37.5 polyester, a material that apparently incorporates coconut-derived carbon particles to improve performance. Really, it’s a thing.

The matching bib shorts are made from more conventional sounding synthetics and are designed to give a “super compressive race fit”.

They feel almost papery in the hand and feature a substantial foam chamois. As is typical of high-end shorts, the legs are cuffless, with a laser-cut edge and tiny silicone dots on the inside to add grip.

Ashmei’s Merino arm warmers are made from the same material as the jersey and they roll up to a tiny ball you likely wouldn’t notice in a back pocket.

  • Signature Merino jersey: Men’s £128 / Women’s £126
  • Signature bib shorts: Men’s £194 / Women’s £176
  • Merino arm warmers: £44
  • Buy now from Ashmei

Q36.5 Unique shoes

Q36.5 is former Assos R&D director Luigi Bergamo’s brand and the Unique is claimed to be the first “body-mapped” cycling shoe for the road, aiming to offer comfort, support and performance.

Like other premium shoes – the Specialized Ares is one – the Unique uses a tongueless construction that’s meant to offer a sock-like fit. This is achieved by stitching a wraparound elasticated section inside a one-piece microfibre upper.

Hidden inside the shoe, a “Power Wrap Support” runs round the mid-foot including the Boa dials, to help with power transfer.

Meanwhile, the included footbed is said to reduce pressure on the foot and even outperform custom orthotics – quite a claim.

It almost goes without saying, but the outsole is all-carbon. It features an unusual three-dimensional design that mimics a vertebral column.

All this comes at a hefty price tag of course, although recent shoe launches have all but inured us to sticker shock.

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