Four road.cc guys armed each with biro and camera covered the Madison iceBike show over two days and we're still finding good stuff as we match up incomprehensible notebook scribble with the images uploaded. There sure was a lot of shiny new kit in Milton Keynes for the press to look at; this is what we'll be seeing in our local bike shops this Spring.
Even though we've been looking at '2012' products since Eurobike in September and we've visited the Cycle Show in Birmingham in October and the London Bike Show in January there's till apparently no end to the new kit coming for the new season which may just have kicked off with the first sign of snowdrops this weekend. Having said that, we're also just starting to see the first signs of next winter season's warm clothing and lighting. There's certainly no end when you're a bike industry Product Manager.
In addition to the imminent bags, racks and computers we mentioned in our post on Friday, Blackburn also had two new front lights that will be coming on stream a bit later, ready for the Autumn dark commutes.
Super Flea is obviously a 'Super' upgrade on their existing tiny Flea light, their man Jeff Titone explaining that the new light will be more of a proper front light than merely an emergency marker. Output is boosted to an extraordinary - for such a small unit - 105 lumens from the present 40 and will run on a Lithium-polymer battery resulting in 1.5, 2.5 or 3.5 hours of life depending on the mode setting and we particularly like the highly visible 'fuel gauge' which warns when you need to be plugging back into a USB socket for recharge. The aluminium case apart from imparting a quality engineered feel also acts as a heat-sink for the fierce little LED light. Price £40.
Also encased in a nice aluminium housing is the all-new Blackburn Scorch front light - see main pic above - which has an appearance more like an LED torch mounted on a handlebar bracket. In fact, the Scorch unmounts to perform precisely that function, the cylindrical knurled case forming a chunky, grippy little hand-torch with a mighty 180 lumen output running off a Lithium-Ion battery. Run times will be the same as the Super Flea and it also charges off a USB port using an ingenious magnetic mount that techie geeks like us will enjoy playing with for hours. Price £45.
The Blackburn Super Flea; that aluminium top functions as a heat sink.
Helmet maker Giro has now offered a couple of hard-core road shoe models for a couple of seasons with sales and reviews like our's here for the Factor model sufficiently good to give them confidence in expanding the range into much more populated territory with correspondingly lower prices. The new Sage model is clearly designed for walking about a bit as well as clipping in for cycling via Shimano SPD-style cleats recessed into the soles. The upper is made of synthetic nubuck which will please vegans and suggests also that hearty scrubbing is an option if they get muddy. According to Giro's own blurb, "a supportive EVA footbed enhances fit and comfort, while a unique dual-injected shank helps transfer power to the pedals efficiently without compromising the forefoot flex needed for walking and hiking." Traditional lacing rather than space-age Velcro straps or a ratcheting filament closure system will help to make them appear more 'normal' compared to other sports shoes which will help the Lycra-averse integrate them into a wide range of clothing styles. There are a couple of colour options (see the gallery) plus a women's-fit option in black and teal for £79.99.
You can always count on Profile Design to come up with interesting tweaks on the never-ending quest for perfection in those mutually incompatible areas of comfort and aerodynamics. The new 285-gram Largo drop bar above is a 6061-aluminium 'ergonomic' bar with multiple hand positions and a fashionably shallow drop. The big secret though is that unlike the recent trend to 'shorten' the reach, bringing the brake lever hoods closer for comfort, this one lengthens it by 2-3cm which in effect allows a shorter stem.
When used that way in accompaniment with the Profile ZBS DL aerobar - the whole shebang shown above comes together as a kit for £129.99 - the arm rests are bought closer for comfort while still allowing fully-aero and semi-aero positions on the drops and the tops of the hoods. A good setup for triathletes who don't want to commit to a pure 'tri' bike, we'd have thought, as the 'clip-ons' can be easily removed for road racing where they would be illegal. Profile even suggest you could think of the setup for touring, which is a thought if you'll be ploughing along for hours into the wind.
Also new from Profile is a completely flat version of the UCI-legal superlight Svet carbon base bar called Svet Zero, the idea being that the extra 2cm of height helps to compensate for a frame front end that is perhaps a tad low for low-speed manouvres. Finally, the 540 gram T3+ Carbon is a clip-on aero bar with convoluted shaping that takes full advantage of the mouldability of the carbon material to make them comfortable to grip for extended Ironman-type periods.
Profile Design's new T3+ Carbon: they claim cutting-edge ergonomics. £169.99.
Profile Svet base bar with a bit of drop or this new Svet Zero with no drop. £199.99
Josh Ogden from Gear-Up in Kansas explained that they've made their long-standing specialist bike storage company something of a one-stop-shop for all kinds of products as long as they're focussed on hiding, tidying and racking bicycles in the home and workshop. Some designs are their own and made in the USA, others are licensed from smaller specialists from all over the world. We admired the Bikes Up and Away units above that hold up to four bikes off the ground for £169.99 and are nicely enough made in oak or aluminium that architects approve of them to turn your bikes into artworks.
Cheaper and simpler are the £14.99 free standing Grandstands that you just move around as you need them to support the bike by its rear wheel. Very popular with bike shops apparently as they're tough as old boots and can be adjusted for tyres fat, thin or in-between. Finally, the Steadyrack needs wall mounting but once in place, holds the bike off the ground by its front wheel and then pivots almost flat to one side, opening up possibilities to store multiple bikes in narrow spaces.
Gear-Up Steadyrack pivoting bike rack: saves space. £69.99.
Gear-Up Grandstand single bike adjustable floor stand £14.99
According to founder Harry Cole, Respro asked themselves the question what could be done to make The Hump back pack cover we reviewed in these pages back in the Autumn even more visible and back came the answer "Lighting." And not just lights but "Lights!" as in Las Vegas-style blinking, flashing, techno-style LEDs that will make it pretty inexcusable for drivers not to notice you. They've also designed a new print for their well-established anti-pollution mask called CinQ® which has a lot of reflective ink for safety.
Respro mask in 'CinQ®' design, reflective, too.
Now here's a good idea. It's simply a cover for your drivetrain; the Chain Johnny that attaches with Velcro and makes sure all the greasy bits are well covered. It's a two-ply construction with a rubberised inner and a tough nylon outer, and should ensure that you don't leave grease marks all over your walls/car interior/trousers/work colleagues when you store or transport your bike. Good job. Price £19.99.
White Lightning also had a new Crystal grease that's Aluminium-based and entirely waterproof and non-toxic. They made big play of licking the grease to show just how non-toxic it was, but you're probably better off smearing it on your bearings and not your crumpets. Price 9.99 for a big one-pound - 453 gram - pot.
White Lighting's new Crystal grease: good enough to eat.
We now know how a Grand Tour is won and lost: it's all down to which bottle cage you choose. That's what Elite would have you believe anyway. To be fair, they did manage a clean sweep of basically everything in 2011 with the likes of Mark Cavendish, Cadel Evans and Sammy Sanchez all using the £64.99 28-gram Sior bottle cage which has now had a bit of a tweak. Riders found that when the going got gritty the band could hold the bottle just a bit too tightly, so they've redesigned it with a Titanium wire spring in the middle of the band that allows the bottle to disengage more easily but still holds it nice and snug.
Elite also had a new cage-mounted storage system, the Byasi. It's nothing fancy but it's nicely designed to look like a standard Elite bottle, and it features a removable tray at the top to keep your valuables separate from your greasy inner tube.
Elite Byasi looks like a bottle but it's luxury storage for all your stuff. £7.99.
The Ogio brand is a new addition for Madison dealerships but back in the USA the range has been sold to athletes, golfers, students, hydration slurpers, laptop schleppers; basically, anyone who has to carry anything, anywhere. Although for the purposes of UK bike shops we're just concerned with the cyclists and triathletes that have to carry their helmets, shoes, clothing, nutrition products, sunglasses, chamois cream, race licence and and...have we forgotten anything? The four different sizes of the Ogio Endurance bag - numbered 5.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0 and priced £69.99 to £129.99 - really do cover all the options including ventilated but waterproof compartments for - potentially wet - shoes and everything else you could possibly think of including straps to carry the bag as a back pack.
The overshoes and winter gloves that have been branded as 'Pro' for some time as of next September will be shipped to bike shops with the Shimano name thereon which has been a good excuse to cheer up the range in various weights to suit the climates where the Japanese company's products are sold. Since launching the 'Pro' name some years ago as a neutral alternative where 'Shimano' is synonymous with 'Japanese components' the brand has crystalised a peerless reputation for handlebars, stems and seatposts but looked a little anachronistic on overshoes and gloves where Shimano has also been developing parallel 'Shimano' branded clothing. Anyway, whatever the Machiavellian motivation of the marketing folks, the important thing is that the three different gauges of overshoes and two winter gloves seem well made and prices reasonable if the early prototypes we've seen at iceBike are anything to go by. Don't forget there were also the new Shimano bags we posted about on Friday.
New Windstopper 'thin' gloves for £36.99 and now branded Shimano from next Autumn.
Meanwhile, there are also iceBike 2012 stories on: