We have loads of cool new stuff to tell you about this week, including clothing from Rapha and Snow Peak, a limited edition Mathieu van der Poel Aeroad CFR from Canyon, and the latest collab between Specialized and Fjallraven, but we’re kicking off with news that a new budget electronic shift system is about to hit the road bike market…
Chinese brand WheelTop is set to launch a budget electronic shift system into the mountain bike market that can be configured to work with almost any cassette from 7-speed to 13-speed, and it promises that a design for road bikes will follow, probably later this year, which could shake things up for the likes of Shimano and SRAM. We thank Bike Europe for the lead on this story.
Now before you dismiss the credibility of WheelTop, the company has been around since 1951 and has produced parts for major brands. At the Taipei Cycle bike show in Taiwan, it showed a prototype mountain bike system comprising an electronic rear derailleur and a wireless shifter.
The WheelTop EDS (Electronic Derailleur System) OX design communicates via Bluetooth and ANT+. The rear derailleur uses sealed bearings and has a clutch to reduce unwanted chain movement.
The EDS controller has an IP67 rating which means that it’s impervious to dust and is waterproof in most circumstances (it can be immersed in water up to a metre deep for 30mins).
One interesting feature is that you can tell the system – via its smartphone app – how many sprockets are on your cassette. The rear derailleur will work with anything from 7-speed to 13-speed, which covers pretty much anything you’re likely to be running.
The rear derailleur will take a maximum sprocket size of 52T and is very lightweight – a claimed 351g.
According to Bike Europe, WheelTop says that the next step will be the integration of both AI and cloud control. It also plans to allow EDS OX to work with an e-bike battery.
As for the price, the WheelTop EDS OX rear derailleur, thumb-operated controller, batteries and charger cost just £325 (you’ll have to pay import duty too). For comparison, that’s similar to the price of a SRAM Force eTap AXS rear derailleur on its own.
From a roadie perspective, the really interesting thing is that WheelTop says it plans to take its technology to the road bike market next, probably before the end of 2023. We’ve contacted WheelTop for more details and will fill you in on exactly what those plans look like.
We reported recently on the release of the the new electronic eRX road groupset from Chinese groupset manufacturer L-Twoo.
Do you think that we’re at the start of a new era with electronic groupsets from Chinese brands or would you steer well clear?
Rapha has teamed up with Japanese outdoor brand Snow Peak on a new collection of off-road clothing and accessories, the second collab between the two.
The collection includes a down jacket, merino T-shirt, overshorts, and various other items of clothing, plus a vacuum bottle, mug, and titanium spork (spoon/fork hybrid).
The Rapha + Snow Peak Down Jacket (£300), for example, features a ripstop shell with water-repellent treatment and is packed with goose down.
The Rapha + Snow Peak Explore Merino T-shirt (£80) is 52% merino and 48% nylon and is designed for multi-day use.
Canyon has unveiled a limited edition Mathieu van der Poel Aeroad CFR road bike.
“With a colourway designed in collaboration with MVDP himself – and which he raced while storming to victory at Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo 2023 – the special-edition Aeroad CFR Disc MVDP is an aero race bike fit for a champion,” says Canyon.
The bike features a 3D MVDP logo on the front of the head tube, and also the words 'Poetry in Motion’ around another logo tucked away on the underside of the down tube just in front of the bottom bracket. That’s one of MVDP’s favourite mantras, according to Canyon.
The bike is built up with a carbon Canyon CP0018 Aerocockpit, Canyon’s SP0046 aero seatpost, and 60mm-deep Shimano Dura-Ace wheels. The groupset is Dura-Ace too while the saddle is a Selle Italia Flite Carbonio Superflow MVDP Edition.
Mathieu van der Poel has been racing this year on a prototype Aeroad CFR that looks subtly different from the model that’s currently available from Canyon. It's a minor change to the frame that reflects a new position for the seat post wedge bolt.
The Mathieu van der Poel Aeroad CFR that you can buy here doesn’t seem to be this slightly updated version. Some people might say that after releasing a limited-edition Aeroad CFR in an eye-catching manga finish last week, also not in the new design, Canyon is doing a good impression of a brand that wants to shift some stock sharpish. Not us, though. We wouldn’t say that.
The Mathieu van der Poel Aeroad CFR is priced at £9,499.
Swedish outdoor brand Fjallraven has again teamed up with Specialized for a new range of bike-packing products covering everything from bags to T-shirts and other clothing and even a sleep poncho.
The polyamide Handlebar Rolltop (£105), for example, is designed to offer easy access storage. It has a 13L volume although Fjallraven says “it can be overpacked to hold even more”. It doubles as a shoulder bag when you’re off the bike.
The Expandable Hip Pack (£105) lives up to its name by expanding from its normal 4.5L capacity to become an 11.5L backpack.
Fjallraven describes the Sleep Poncho (£215) as a “lightweight sleeping quilt” that you can also wear when you’re not sleeping, so there’s no need to pack an insulating jacket.
POC has unveiled new limited-edition Elicit Ti cycling sunglasses that are made from 6Al/4V titanium recovered from the manufacturing of surgical tools.
POC already offers the 23g Elicit in its range. Fans of the most marginal of marginal gains will be pleased to hear that the frameless Elicit Ti, which will be used by the EF Education-EasyPost team at the Giro d’Italia, is claimed to be a gram lighter.
“The Elicit Ti features a unique titanium truss design along the temples allowing the perfect balance of rigidity and weight,” says POC. “Featuring specially designed slide-in joints, lens changing is effortless and quick, allowing riders to change lenses in seconds. The joints also allow the temples to break away from the lens in a fall, minimising damage.”
The POC Elicit Ti comes with a curved dark lens and a spare clear lens. You also get nosepieces in two different sizes and a hard case.
The price? Ah, there is that. The POC Elicit Ti is priced at £350. Still, medical-grade titanium. In another life, your glasses could have grown up to be a scalpel.
US component brand SRAM has made a patent application (US 2023/0135779 A1) for handlebars that feature recesses specifically designed to house its wireless Blip satellite shifters. Both drop bars and mountain bike-style riser bars are included.
On the drop bar, the recesses are located both on the drops and on the tops so you’d be able to shift from different hand positions. On the riser bar, they’re at the point where the grips would end.
The idea is that the Blips sit in the recesses so that they don’t “generate raising surfaces” on the handlebar which, SRAM says, are a “visual defect” and “may be adverse to the bicycle in terms of aerodynamics”. In plain English, the idea is that it looks better and is more aero.
As with everything patent related, the design may never make it to production. If it were to become a reality, SRAM’s Zipp and/or Truvativ brands would be the most likely avenues.
“The mantra behind the new collection is all about celebrating movement and bold self-expression, with Chrome’s design team and Allan Shaw [founder of Gay’s Okay] working together to reinvigorate classic styles with this new objective in mind,” says Chrome.
Another launch in August will include Chrome's Citizen Messenger Bag.
We’ve already reported that Parcours is now making wheels equipped with Classified Powershift hubs but this disc wheel is a new ’un, spotted at last weekend’s PTO European Open triathlon in Ibiza. It’s the first time we’ve seen Classified Powershift incorporated into a disc wheel.
One significant benefit that a Classified system offers in triathlon is that the lack of a front derailleur can reduce overall drag.
This wheel hasn’t been released yet but we imagine a launch can’t be too far off. We'll keep our eyes peeled.
CeramicSpeed has introduced three new products to its UFO product family, including a lube that’s specifically formulated for indoor riding.
CeramicSpeed says, “Wax chain coatings have multiple benefits, but also tend to shed excess surface wax after initial application. With UFO Drip for Indoor, the balance of wax to friction modifiers has been adjusted to maximise efficiency in clean conditions with minimal surface buildup.”
UFO Drip Indoor comes in a 100ml bottle for £19.95.
UFO Drip Wet Conditions has been “developed to maximise the benefits of a wax chain lubricant, while resisting deterioration through wet riding conditions”, according to CeramicSpeed. Again, a 100ml bottle is £19.95.
UFO Bike Wash (£19.95, 500ml) is described as being eco-friendly and safe for indoor and outdoor use.
Italy’s Prologo has added new models to its range of AGX saddles designed for adventure, gravel and cyclocross riding. AGX saddles feature a more flexible base than normal and extra padding designed to absorb shock and vibration while riding off-road.
The new performance-orientated models are the Scratch M5 AGX (£122) and Dimension AGX (£101), each equipped with Nack rails composed of carbon fibre, Kevlar and aluminium filaments.
“These versions of the Scratch M5 AGX and Dimension AGX with Nack rails also rest on a new base made of carbon long fibre (long fibre carbon injected nylon), which can provide further weight reduction and increased stiffness to further increase power transfer during pedalling,” says Prologo.
The Scratch M5 AGX has a claimed weight of just 172g while the Dimension AGX is even lighter at 169g.
As well as the standard models, these saddles are available in Space versions which are wider and more padded. Prologo says these are ideal for riders with wide ischial bone spacing, those with a high body mass index, or those just wanting extra comfort.
Both the Scratch M5 AGX Space (£122) and the Dimension AGX Space (£122) are available with TiroX (light steel alloy) rails. The Dimension AGX Space is also available with T4.0 chromoly rails (£101).
And as usual, don't forget to read our other tech news of the week:
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.