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TECH NEWS

Is SRAM’s solar-powered shifting a glimpse into cycling’s future? Plus Lightweight's £7,700 gold leaf wheels, a tiny electric pump, new KMC cassettes + loads more tech news

Check out the Vingegaard’s Vittoria time trial tyres, new bags from Chrome, Cotic’s latest gravel bike, and the rest of the week’s bike tech news

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…

Is SRAM’s solar-powered shifting cycling’s next big thing?

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.

2024 SRAM solar-charging patent - 1

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).

2024 SRAM solar-charging patent - 2

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.

2024 SRAM solar-charging patent - 3

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.

2024 SRAM solar-charging patent - 5

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.

> Check out our Garmin Edge 540 Solar review

What do you think, though? Is SRAM on to a winner here?

How much?!? Lightweight announces Meilenstein gold leaf wheels… and they’re kinda pricey 😱

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.

2024 Lightweight Meilenstein Evo Signature Gold Edition - 1

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.

2024 Lightweight Meilenstein Evo Signature Gold Edition - 2

“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.

Find out more here 

Pocket-size Nitecore EBP10 Mini electric pump promises effortless inflation

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.

2024 Nitecore EBP10 Mini electric pump - 1

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.

Find out more here 

KMC announces its first ever cassettes featuring "proprietary shifting technology" 

kmc react cassette

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. 

Find out more

Gorewear unveils its first PFC-free Gore-Tex jacket

Gorewear will officially launch its first PFC-free Gore-Tex jacket in a couple of weeks, although the Spinshift is already available online. 

2024 Gorewear Spinshift jacket - 1

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...

> How green is your waterproof cycling jacket? Why some tech is being phased out in favour of more eco-friendly materials 

“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.”

The Gorewear Spinshift Gore-Tex jacket is available in both men’s and women’s cuts, both slim fit. You’re looking at a price of £249.99. Stay tuned for a review on road.cc soon.

Find out more here 

New Adidas Velocade shoes designed for use on and off the bike

Adidas has introduced new indoor cycling shoes that are designed for off-the-bike use too.

2024 Adidas Velocade - 1

“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.

2024 Adidas Velocade - 2

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.

Find out more here 

Vingegaard’s Vittoria time trial tyre now available to buy

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.

2024 Vittoria Corsa Pro Speed tyre - 1

“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.

2024 Vittoria Corsa Pro Speed tyre - 2

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.

Find out more here 

Chrome debuts new Tensile Sling urban bags

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. 

2024 Chrome Tensile Sling bag - 1 (2)

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”.

> Check out our review of the Chrome Industries Bravo 4.0 Backpack 

2024 Chrome Tensile Sling bag - 1 (1)

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.

Find out more here

Want to ride a bike in the bath? Of course you do

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).

2024 SpaBike - 1

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.

2024 SpaBike - 1 (1)

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.

Find out more here

Cotic's latest Escapade UK 853 can be customised to your heart's desire

Cotic UK 8532

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".

Cotic UK 8531

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". 

Find out more here

S1 - "the world’s most accurate hydration sensor" - is now available to order

A hydration sensor? Doesn't your body already have one of those built-in? Flowbio says it's more complicated than that.

2024 Flowpatch - 1

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.

Flowpatch sweat monitor hydration monitor

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. 

> Cycling hydration: Is 1 water bottle or 2 best on long rides?

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. 

Find out more here

And in case you've somehow managed to miss the other tech news we've covered this week, here you go... 

Add new comment

18 comments

Avatar
Bigfoz | 2 weeks ago
5 likes

I have mechanical gears with (shock horror) external runs. Simple, cheap, reliable, accurate and can be owner maintained and a new cable run in 5 mins every 2 or 3 years when the cable needs to be changed. Does not need: Battery (with immoral rare earth metals), charging (with corresponding fossil fuel burn), a solar panel installation or a degree oin electronics engineering to keep it flamin running...

I think some of our component and bike companies have lost the plot.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Bigfoz | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

You'll be eschewing these pointless, resource-wasting over-engineered fancies like multiple gears, a chain and wheels next! Won't you think of the economy / the opportunities for young creative engineers businesspeople?

(I am also a luddite but it's a slippery slope as you ease into later life - in the last couple of years I've not only acquired disc brakes but hydraulic ones to boot.)

Avatar
Paul J replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
0 likes
chrisonabike wrote:

You'll be eschewing these pointless, resource-wasting over-engineered fancies like multiple gears, a chain and wheels next! Won't you think of the economy / the opportunities for young creative engineers businesspeople?

(I am also a luddite but it's a slippery slope as you ease into later life - in the last couple of years I've not only acquired disc brakes but hydraulic ones to boot.)

Recent and late-in-life convert to fixed-gear here, and... multiple gears kind of are over-rated. Least for commutes on sub 2%-average routes. There is a lot to be said for simplicity.

Avatar
evilcherry replied to Paul J | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I have a 15% on my lunch run. So whatever you say I need gears.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Paul J | 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Paul J wrote:

Recent and late-in-life convert to fixed-gear here, and... multiple gears kind of are over-rated. Least for commutes on sub 2%-average routes.

Maybe for commutes without much in the way of junctions and traffic lights, a friend lent me their singlespeed (not fixed) bike once when mine was out of commission and with roughly forty sets of lights on a 25km run I found having to put down big power to pull away at a reasonable speed followed by spinning out just as I got to cruising level pretty wearing. Horses for courses of course, but even though my commute definitely fits the sub-2% average criterion I still want my gears.

Avatar
ChurchillR replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
1 like

For years I kept up perfectly well on club rides on a singlespeed. Hilly ones, too. Some people were amazed but the truth is, one gear simply isn't anything like the disadvantage people think it is. Pick the right gear, learn to spin a bit faster for the higher gear bits and build some power on the low gear bits.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to ChurchillR | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

As I said, maybe that's fine on a good long run without interruptions but for me personally I found the lack of gears for pulling away from traffic lights a significant handicap when riding in London, I can definitely pull away faster by gearing down on approach and then switching up as I move off.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to ChurchillR | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I can do most things with a knife, yet my cutlery drawer has forks, several sizes of spoons, a peeler...

Poor-man's-horses for courses.  Singlespeed until recently (still) was the most common in NL because it's fine for their use - and they have hills (well - bridges) and some nasty winds.

Sometimes it's great to do more with less.  I haven't yet been bitten by the singlespeed bug (but apparently that can strike at any time of life).  But a 80s-ish tourer with a 3x7 setup and canti brakes is a great "does pretty much everything" for me.  Then again I don't race, or do downhill MTB.

I can't imagine the "need" for electronic shifting (well... longer bikes / bendy cable routes could be a use-case I guess) ... but then I didn't have desire for disk brakes until I accidentally acquired a bike with them.  Now I find them quite convenient - although I still have bikes without.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Bigfoz | 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Bigfoz wrote:

Battery (with immoral rare earth metals)

Which the computer or smartphone you used to make this comment uses. Unlike the Li-ion battery used in Di2, which doesn't.

Avatar
don simon fbpe replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
2 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
Bigfoz wrote:

Battery (with immoral rare earth metals)

Which the computer or smartphone you used to make this comment uses. Unlike the Li-ion battery used in Di2, which doesn't.

Quite right, the shit  in Di2 only kills the environment, just use a steel cable. You're not a pro, you don't benefit from marginal gains. 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to don simon fbpe | 2 weeks ago
2 likes
don simon fbpe wrote:

Quite right, the shit  in Di2 only kills the environment, just use a steel cable. You're not a pro, you don't benefit from marginal gains. 

I no longer use Di2 and wasn't defending its environmental footprint (which is absolutely miniscule in the general scheme of things), simply pointing out that it doesn't use rare earths. Why do you have to be so rabidly aggressive about everything and continuously swear in all your posts? I worry that you may not be a very happy person.

PS You were saying the other day just how super your nineteen year old SUV is, weren't you? So I'm not sure posing as a green warrior is entirely consistent with that.

Avatar
don simon fbpe replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Good to see you still don't understand what you read and still posting about stuff you know jack shit about. And thanks for letting me know that your thinking is so limited that you can assume having a 4x4, it's not an SUV, it's a 2.7tdi, can not make someone environmentally friendly, that's fucking hilarious. Please don't project the sadness of your life on to others, it's embarrassing. Chao!

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to don simon fbpe | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

QED.

Avatar
don simon fbpe replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
1 like

rendel can't demonstrate my green credentials... I win, I win, I win...

Avatar
Velophaart_95 | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Some of this new tech is 'Emperor's new clothes'.....and expensive. Sometimes simplicity is just best.....

Avatar
don simon fbpe | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

If only Nitecore could come up with a tiny powerpack to carry for when my SRAM solar fails...

As for bike friendly casual shoes from Adidas, Samba is the correct answer.

Avatar
jaymack | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

"A hydration sensor? Doesn't your body already have one of those built-in? FlowBio says it's more complicated than that." Which of course is exactlly what you'd expect the snake oil salesmen to say.  

Avatar
ktache | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Cables, we don't need no stinkin cables!

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