UK trade distributors Hotlines have always been known for their cool brands; this year they're adding cult Canadian clothing company Sombrio and they've launched their own OneTen clothing range, too.
Lynskey from Tennessee, USA can always be relied on to distract attention from everything else in the room not helped by them making some tasty titanium mountain frames as well but we tried hard to focus on just the new road models which consist of the Helix OS range-topper and a new less pricey race frame called R230.
The Helix featuring its distinctively twisted top and down tubes we'd met before but never having ridden one we're still in 'giving-them-the-benefit-of-the-doubt' mode. There's no doubting the exquisite machining and welding craftsmanship, though, especially on those clover-leaf dropouts. The big news this year is a price drop to £2,499.99 and a suite of changes not unlike what's been going on in carbon frames : bigger 44mm steerer, beefier BB30 bottom bracket and correspondingly fatter down tube towards the bottom along with asymmetric chainstays. It's all about making the frame stiffer one way but less the other which is also the claim they're making for the helical twists to the tubes.
The R230 frame conforms to an altogether more straight-ahead template appearance-wise although geometrically identical to the Helix. That thing alone plus a £1,599.99 price will appeal to plenty. There is also due a slightly pricier version with 'Ui2' appended to the name; for internal routing of Di2 cables. Check out the lightbox picture gallery for more details.
Manufacturers are polarising into two camps on speccing and pricing their forthcoming Ultegra Di2 electronic bikes; those offering a sub-£3,000 price by offering lower-spec parts elsewhere and maybe an aluminium frame - as low as £2,100 in the case of Rose - or the full monty approach on carbon for more like £3,500. The Ghost Lector Pro falls into the latter camp featuring a full groupset including crankset and brakes as well as tasty Easton wheels but only costing £3,100.
Clean and simple colours and lines mark the new OneTen kit consisting of all the basics - bib-shorts, tights, long and short sleeve jerseys, armwarmers - plus a nice white superlight rainshell called Vento for £49.99. "These are no off-the-shelf garments," according to Hotlines' spokesman or, as their website puts it, "cycle clothing that distils decades of research into garments that are engineered to perform under the most demanding of conditions, and across a range of cycling disciplines." Anyway, the samples are already in and the reviewers riding it as you read this so shouldn't be too long for first impressions. OneTen details here.
A couple or three really nice additions from the Pro-Lite brand; not least that they're bringing not just aluminium but shiny silver aluminium versions of their Bracciano wheelsets now for £349.99. They won't go any faster than black but a welcome addition for builders of classic frames and folks who just want a break from the unremitting gloom of dark rims.
Mmmm. Machined aluminium and carbon. Pro-Lite Gavia wheels.
Also on Pro-Lite wheels and in the 'reasonably-priced, considering' category are the Gavia wheels with 38mm carbon rims on patented Balzano giant-flange hubs. Price: £1,049 for tubular rims, £1,249 for clinchers.
Is it a track frame? Hotlines' Will Longden shows off Pro-Lite's budget TT/track Espresso.
Budget time triallists, aspiring trackies and urban hipsters might all want to be having a look at the £350 alloy Pro-Lite Espresso Time Trial frame. It has rearward-facing track dropouts but with a removable derailleur hanger so you can race it on the road or track or build an outrageous fixie.
The new top Gearne road shoe is now the G.Air for £269.99. It's lighter and only a little more expensive than the continuing and otherwise identical G.Mythos model by virtue of the new Kevlar-cord and Velcro straps. Best of all though - yes, there is a very Euro white option if you must - they come in shiny black.
The Cragg Vale we reviewed, and liked a lot, as a new product back in May seems all the more relevant now it's October and thoughts are turning to all-purpose commuting and training frames that take mudguards for not too much money. £329.99 seems a stonking price for an aluminium frame especially as it includes carbon fork, integrated headset and the 3M reflective sticker set.
The Sombrio clothing line qualifies as 'cult' by virtue of being one of those brands that never quite makes it to the shop rails because the staff buy it all and wear it to events with a knowing little, "look at me in my exclusive insider-knowledge Canadian jacket" smile. Now with a UK distributor in the form of Hotlines it should be available in more British shops come Spring and in big enough quantities to please the shop staff and customers. There are tons of mountain bike and leisure riding options but also garments that would work for road centuries if you're keen to break the Lycra monopoly. We liked this soft 'Tannen' jersey for £59.99 and Moniker £89.99 water-shedding shorts.
This Sombrio combo looks very road.cc, don't you think?
This one even has a triple chainset: Lapierre Audacio 300 £829.99
As previously reported in Tech Roundup, the Lapierres this year feature an interesting new aluminium frame that has been hydroformed within an inch of its life to reduce the weight, maintain all the strength and ride-quality attributes while also making it look like a carbon frame unless you look really closely. This was the first time we'd seen the new Audacio models based on the new frame and in terms of external weld quality and finish they appear to be challenging the likes of Cannondale, Specialized and Trek although they're not ridden yet, obviously. We like that there are compact and triple options in the chainsets.
No engineering changes to the carbon bikes but new paint for Xelius 400 FDJ £2,849.99