We’ve got loads of cool new bike tech to tell you about this week, including Lightweight’s £7,700 gold leaf wheels, super-fast tyres from Vittoria, shoes from Adidas, and a tiny electric pump that weighs just 141g, but we’re starting with a glimpse into something that could be on the way from SRAM…
We could soon be riding with components powered by batteries that solar-charge on your bike as you ride if designs from SRAM make it into full production.
SRAM has this week been granted a patent for a system of ‘Energy Harvesting For A Bicycle’ (patent number US 11,894,716 B2), a patent it applied for back in 2020, so you may have got wind of it elsewhere previously.
The gist of this patent is that your bike would feature solar panels that charge a spare battery for a derailleur, power meter, or dropper seatpost. If the battery supplying power to one of these components runs out of juice, that's not a problem: you just switch it for the one that you’ve been charging up as you ride (the system doesn't charge the component directly; it's all about recharging a spare battery).
You could avoid the problem entirely by just going for cable-operated components, but assuming you’re all-in on electronic, SRAM has a solution in the shape of a battery charging unit connected to a ‘solar cell array’. This solar cell array could be positioned on a mudguard or bottle cage, or it could be on a flexible panel that’s wrapped around a frame tube.
SRAM goes into considerable detail about how the design would work but the end result is that the battery charging unit would transmit power to the battery at 6–8.4 volts. The idea is that you’d be able to charge a battery from flat or just keep a spare fully topped up.
What’s wrong with just carrying a charged-up spare battery in your pocket?
“Spare batteries naturally discharge as they provide power to a battery management system (BMS),” says SRAM. “There are also internal chemical reactions which further contribute to self-discharge. This means that a spare battery may not remain fully charged, even if never used.”
SRAM’s system might be useful for anyone heading off on multi-day adventures and could also be handy if you just don’t want the bother of remembering to stay on top of regular charging. You wouldn’t need to worry about running out of charge mid-ride; you’d always have a fully charged spare battery ready to go, as long as the weather had been sunny enough.
Although you’re not going to get rich on the amount of money solar charging your bike batteries will save you, it’s a greener alternative to plugging into the mains. Plus, although SRAM's patent shows the recharging of batteries for its own groupsets, the tech might well be adaptable to cover other types of batteries too.
Solar charging in cycling isn’t new, of course. We reviewed Kong’s PWR Solar 10W Panel here on road.cc in 2022, for example, Garmin offers solar-powered versions of its Edge 540 and Edge 1040 bike computers, and there are plenty of solar watches out there.
What do you think, though? Is SRAM on to a winner here?
Who needs regular wheels when you can have these Lightweight Meilenstein Evo Signature Gold Edition hoops, complete with graphics in 23-carat pure gold leaf? Small stumbling block: they're £7,699.99.
Lightweight says, “The Meilenstein Evo Signature Gold Edition hints at this summer’s upcoming games in Paris following Richard Carapaz’s historic wins in Tokyo 2020 aboard Lightweight wheels.
“Featuring Ceramic Speed bearings, this edition has been limited to 99 sets worldwide. To ensure equal distribution, availability is set at 33 sets for Europe, 33 sets for Asia/ Pacific, and 33 sets for the Americas.”
Africans: looks like you're out of luck.
There are ever more mini electric pumps out there these days – such as the Cycplus Electric Air Pump A2 we reviewed recently and the Flextail Tiny Bike Pump we told you about in December – and this one from Nitecore is titchy tiny. Measuring just 67.5mm × 55mm × 32.2mm and weighing a claimed 141g, the EBP10 Mini is easily small enough to stick in a jersey pocket and take with you on a ride.
You can preset the pressure you want from 0-120PSI and the pump will automatically do the rest. It won’t fill two tyres to that pressure, though. Nitecore reckons that under full power, the EBP10 Mini can inflate two 700C×25 tyres from 0 to 80 PSI.
The Nitecore EBP10 Mini recharges via USB-C, has an aluminium shell, and comes with a silicone sleeve that insulates you from the heat when inflating. It's compatible with Presta and Schrader valves.
How do you get your hands on one? This is a Kickstarter project and you need to pledge at least 388 Hong Kong dollars, which is about £40. As we always point out, pledging money on a crowdfunding site isn’t the same as buying through a retailer; rewards aren’t guaranteed. However, the EBP10 Mini has already beaten it’s funding target, and Nitecore reckons it will ship next month.
Best know for its chains, KMC has branched out into cassettes with the launch of the REACT series, available in 8-, 9-, 10- and 11-speed versions with numerous sprocket size options.
Pairing well with chains from KMC and other brands according to KMC, the secret sauce that supposedly improves the shifting performance is the 'Flow Control': "The REACT cassette features dual shifting ramps for smooth and steady gear changes," says KMC.
"The ramped tooth profiles help lift and lower the chain during corresponding shifts, providing excellent shifting performance. The unique tooth profiles are wider to reduce friction and increase durability."
The 10-speed sizes are 11-36t and 11-42t and the 11-speed sizes are 11-42t and 11-50t, ideal for a gravel bike or all-road setup. They are compatible with Shimano HG freehub bodies only, with prices starting at £45.99.
Gorewear will officially launch its first PFC-free Gore-Tex jacket in a couple of weeks, although the Spinshift is already available online.
PFCs are perfluorochemicals and they degrade notoriously slowly and are associated with a number of health effects. Gore Fabrics says its goal is “to eliminate PFCs of environmental concern from the lifecycle of its consumer fabrics”. If you want to know more about this, head over to Emily’s excellent feature...
“The Spinshift cycling jacket features the new Gore-Tex ePE [expanded polyethylene] membrane, which is thinner and lighter, with a lower carbon footprint, while delivering the same guaranteed-to-keep-you-dry promise.”
Adidas has introduced new indoor cycling shoes that are designed for off-the-bike use too.
“By combining the support and technology of an indoor cycling shoe, with the walkability and silhouette of a street shoe, Velocade helps athletes to move seamlessly through their schedule, and the world around them, without having to worry about carrying multiple pairs of shoes,” says Adidas.
The Velocade features a mountain bike-style two-bolt cleat system with that cleat recessed into the sole. A nylon plate extends across the front two-thirds of the sole to provide stiffness for cycling while also allowing for flexibility at the heel when walking.
The Velocade is available in Crystal Jade, Carbon Black and Grey White, and in 3.5 to 10.5 sizes. It is priced at £130.
Vittoria has launched the Corsa Pro Speed tubeless-ready tyre that Jonas Vingegaard used when dominating the Stage 16 time trial at last year’s Tour de France. That’s the one when he went off like a train and put 1:38mins into second-placed Tadej Pogacar in just half an hour. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Corsa Pro Speed will turn you into a world-beater, but you never know.
“Featuring an advanced Graphene + Silica compound specifically designed to provide unparalleled efficiency, while returning a very high level of grip on both dry and wet surfaces, Corsa Pro Speed ensures faster times and a smoother ride,” says Vittoria, in its best marketing speak.
The tyre, designed especially for time trial and triathlon, is available in 24mm, 26mm, and 28mm widths (all 700C), features a 320 TPI (thread per inch) cotton casing. The 26mm version has a claimed weight of just 230g. Light, then. The Vittoria Corsa Pro Speed is priced at £89.99.
Chrome Industries, best known for its vast range of backpacks and messenger bags (although it does plenty of other stuff too), has added new models to its Tensile Collection, and they look pretty handy.
Designed to be worn around your hips or across your body, the Tensile Sling (£110) is described as “a neat, sharply styled piece boasting a 7-litre carry capacity, ideal for transporting essentials”.
It features a wide webbed strap, a quick-release buckle that comes complete with a bottle opener – well, you never know when you’re going to get thirsty, do you? – along with multiple internal organiser pockets, and three external pockets.
The Mini Tensile Sling is much smaller, coming with a 2-litre capacity. It’s much cheaper too, priced at £46.
Each is made using a water-resistant 3-ply 210 denier recycled poly shell with recycled 150D liner and polyurethane-coated YKK zippers.
Aqua cycling: it’s a thing. It’s like a spin class… but in a swimming pool. It’s yet to take over the world, but it has existed for a few years (we first reported on aqua cycling back in 2013).
Now, though, you can get your own personal aqua cycling cabin, so you can pedal away at home while you watch the Six O’Clock News.
We won’t go into too much detail because, let’s face it, you aren’t going to buy one, but the SpaBike is essentially a big bathtub with multiple jets to massage your legs and a pedal/crank system. It’s designed more for therapy and wellness than for enthusiast cyclists, and it’s coming to the crowdfunding site Indiegogo soon.
Cotic has revealed its latest steel gravel bike, the limited edition Escapade UK 853, in so many different colour options that decision-making paralysis is guaranteed. The bike is handcrafted in the UK using Reynolds 853 steel tubing, and Cotic promises it will provide "the heritage of Reynolds tubing, with Cotic-style modern performance and versatility".
The Escapade is available in 10 frame colours (the stock one in the pictures is called Cirrus) with graphics in gloss or matte finish. Prices start at £2,699 for the base model, with options ranging up to £4,849 for premium builds.
The Escapade UK 853 marks the brand's return to UK-based manufacturing, and Cotic said it's hoping this bike will be "the start of something long-term that allows us to bring more production back to the EU and UK; this reduces supply lines, reduces our environmental impact, and is not just following the herd".
A hydration sensor? Doesn't your body already have one of those built-in? Flowbio says it's more complicated than that.
After a lot of sweat (and perhaps some tears, too) the all-new hydration sensor called S1 is now available, aimed at those who'd like to wave goodbye to cramps and guesswork about their sweat rates.
The device clips onto your heart rate monitor – and is compatible with most optical monitors, including those worn on your arm – and by analysing a little bit of your sweat, it is said to provide data on your real-time sweat loss.
The sensor connects to your chosen fitness app or device – it's compatible with anything from Garmin, Wahoo, Zwift, Polar and TrainingPeaks – and can then sync your juicy data to your phone. However, the system is only compatible with iOS at the moment.
You get detailed info on your sweat and sodium rates, and Flowbio says the app's patented algorithms can also predict your hydration needs in upcoming sessions and provide recommendations on what you should be drinking before, during and after each session and race.
The S1 has been in development for years, and has been tested by the likes of EF Education and double Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee. It is priced at £329 (plus £12 for shipping). Granted, that's a hefty sum but, you know, marginal gains and all that.