As January comes to a close here's some of the highlights from the haul of products we're out testing at the moment, despite the howling wind and rain that never seems to end...
If you're after the ultimate in pannier performance, this may just be the gold standard - British brand Tailfin have created these ultra light panniers for bike packing and touring, and the full carbon frame weighs just 350g (less than a can of coke, for reference). It's universally compatible with almost any bike, and for the £319.99 price tag you can get it with either one highly durable UD package with welded seams and rubber laminate, or the super light and waterproof SL Pannier, so your stuff is safe in even the toughest of conditions (you can have two panniers if you're willing to spend £399.99). The frame easily fits to your bike's seatpost with a rubber grip clamp so there's no chance of it damaging your bike, and the bag has numerous mounting points for lights. Is this worth the rather large outlay for the convenience and impressively low weight? Jez Ash is trialling the Tailfin at the moment...
We were highly impressed with Mason's Definition when we first tested it back in 2015, and the new version has seen some subtle changes to take it bang up to date with the most modern flat-mount, thru-axle disc brake standards. To do this, the rear has been carefully redesigned so the dropouts will work seamlessly with thru-axles and flat mount discs with no effect on the ride quality. At the front, Mason's signature Aperture2 fork comes as standard (this was already fitted to the later versions of the first Definition) with the hose routing almost invisible for a crisp, clean look. This version is specced with Hunt x Mason wheels, 30mm Schwalbe tyres and Shimano's latest R8000 Ultegra mechanical groupset. Is it the most premium aluminium ride money can buy? Check back for the verdict soon.
The Barlow Pass is a gravel tyre at heart, but is also described as "a great way to transform the on-road performance of your 29er", so is pitched as a versatile everyday tyre as well as providing performance on gravel. A 3mm tread means they should last longer than most performance gravel tyres, and a supple casing makes them highly comfortable, according to Compass. You can choose them with an 'extralight' casing if you're most likely to be racing them, or standard if you intend to use them as a multi-purpose tyre. Mike Stead is trying out these tyres with a review coming soon.
Knitted they may be, but these shoes from Giro still retain the cool factor in more ways than one and also have a DWR coating for water resistance. The Xnetic knit technology makes the shoes very light at 285g each, and a carbon composite sole is included for extra stiffness. Can a knitted shoe really stand up to the British weather? Dave Arthur is finding out now.
This jazzy jacket from Huez weighs just 170g, and can easily stow away in a jersey pocket when not being used with the reversible rear zip pocket also acting as a pouch for the entire garment. Designed for road cycling, the Italian fabric has a water-column proofing of 5.000mm (ideal for light showers) and has mesh under the arms and rear for breathability. The reflectivity is courtesy of tiny beads sewn into the fabric, making you more visible to a car's headlights. Is it the perfect packable? Stu Kerton's verdict will be in soon...
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.