We got a sneak peek at bike gear that will hit stores in 2015 at an industry event called PressCamp last month in California. From new electric bikes to “glowing” apparel, here are a few products that stood out.
Fastest Bike We’ve Ridden — We had the pleasure to drop the hammer on one of the fastest road bikes ever made, the Ridley Noah SL. The bike imports aerodynamic tweaks from a time-trial model for an engineering masterpiece. Read the full review of the Ridley Noah SL here.
Primo Commuter E-Bike — The Misceo electric bike from Raleigh might be the ultimate commuter bike. First-to-market with Shimano’s “Total Electric Power System” (STEPS), it has an electric motor with push-button, 8-speed internal rear hub shifting. The digital display covers both the electronic assist and shifting. The motor is powerful and smaller than competitors, and felt smooth in use. Shifting works great — it even automatically downshifts two gears at a stoplight if you choose that option. The most notable feature may be how well the bike rode with the electronic assist turned completely off, something we’ve never said about another e-bike. Available in April for $2,999.
Luminescent Apparel — You have likely seen the inside of a Columbia Omni-Heat Reflective jacket with shiny dots that reflect heat back to the body. Capo’s luminescence technology uses similar printing on the outside of clothing for safety. We love the idea. The reason it’s particularly cool is you can’t see it without directional light. But even in the day it pops much like shown in the image above.
This reflective technology is available on jerseys, jackets, arm and leg warmers, vests, you name it. One of our favorite pieces, the Padrone HiVis jacket ($350), uses the shiny material over the entire jacket. It’s very cool but does carry a pretty crazy price tag.
Smarter Pedal Cleat — You know exactly where your pedal cleats belong on your road bike shoes. You have adjusted them front/back, side to side, and the angle has been dialed in after months of tweaking, perhaps with a bike fitter. But when you have to replace your cleats … argh!
VP’s ARC6 cleat comes off one half at a time, each half “keyed” together, so you replace them one-half at a time to translate your favorite old position to your new cleats. They don’t weigh more, nor are they less stiff than standard cleats. Available now for $30.
German Supercomputer — SRM’s new head unit, the Power Control 8, may not be as flashy or feature packed as the competition, but it is the most reliable and accurate system on the market. The PC8 has a new high-resolution, backlit screen, an awesome waterproof case with a “maglock” charging/docking system, Bluetooth, ANT+, and wifi communication, and a ton of memory.
The system works when wet, pairs easily every time, starts and stops without any fuss — it just flat out works best. We suspect this is the reason we keep seeing them on Pro bikes (and curiously mounted aboard that BMC TrackMachine that just broke the world hour record).
Minuses: You can’t adjust the matrices displayed without docking it to your computer; it does not have a touchscreen display; it won’t display text messages.
Pick up a copy of Andy Coggan’s Training and Racing with a Power Meter, grab a SRM PC8, and get serious.
The Best Apparel You’ve Never Heard Of — You have not heard of ALE (say “AH-lay,” like the French say it), but its parent company has made apparel in Italy for 30 years, and it still makes it there — 130,000 pieces every month.
Coming to the U.S. as you read this, ALE brings high- and super-high-quality custom apparel to your team or shop. The Italians know how to look good, which is why you buy their stuff in the first place.
After riding in this kit for a while (we have been), you know why cyclists keep coming back for more (great materials and design). The “PRR” (Pro Race Research) kit is light and airy with a lot of stretch. The fabrics are supreme, with carbon fiber stitching for durability and to absorb static. The small amount of silicone in the leg bands is enough for a perfect fit, but it does not irritate in the hot sun.
ALE cycling apparel is not a necessity to enjoy your bike, but if you can get your hands on some, you’ll reach for it often. Available now. MSRP for primo jersey $150, bibs $160.
Bike For Extremely Tall Riders — Do you know how many bike companies make production bikes for people who are 6’5” and taller? Not one. At least until now. If you were that tall you needed to hire a custom frame builder, which is why KHS designed the 747.
It was introduced last year with a 65mm top tube, and the bike is now available in an XXXL 67mm top tube length for the tallest of the tall. The frame and fork are steel to ensure it withstands the torque a big man can produce. It even comes with 200mm crank arms (175mm is the standard length). The components are solid — Shimano 105 throughout. We have not tested it (not tall enough!), but KHS reports that reception has been positive. Available now for $1,899.
Further, you can now leave the pavement behind as KHS is also introducing the 747’s mountain bike corollary, the BNT (“big-and-tall”). Zinn also designed this bike for riders 6’4” and up. It comes in XXL (23-inch) and XXXL (25.5-inch) sizes. The frame is reynolds steel, the components a mix of XT and Deore, and the Manitou Marvel fork provides suspension up front. Both sizes are available now for under $2,000.
LED Safety In Helmet — The Urban-I commuter helmet from ABUS caught our eye with its integrated LED light. It also has a welcome “bee blocker” mesh that keeps insects where they belong — not trapped in your hair.
We especially liked its magnetized clasp that snaps together with less effort than a traditional buckle and feels more secure as well.
The helmet has a comfortable fit, eye-catching colors, and the related “Pedelec” model even has a rear “garage” out of which can be pulled a thin rain shield that covers the helmet to keep you dry and warm in bad weather. Available later this year for about $130 (Urban-I) and $150 (Pedelec).
German U-Locks — ABUS is bringing German engineering to the U-lock. You get both high security and light weight with the Granit lock — both sides lock into the bottom bar such that they don’t rotate, which means that a thief has to cut twice in order to take your bike. That doubles its protection. The steel used is the “best in the industry,” ABUS cites. The only drawback is price — $99 — a few dollars more than the competition.
Perhaps even more innovative is the Bordo folding lock. The Bordo Lite is just over a pound and although not as secure as the U-lock, it’s good enough to deter a bolt cutter.
Best Pickup Rack Yet — Canadian bike rack manufacturer Swagman is coming into 2015 with a line of high-quality bike racks to compete with Thule and Yakima, and its “Patrol” model is the best pickup truck rack we have yet seen.
The Patrol expands, pushing outward with its sticky rubber pads, locking itself surprisingly securely onto your mid-size or full-size pickup truck. It costs $240, similar in price to competing models.
The Skyline is a zero-frame contact roof rack with integrated cable lock and universal mounting system. The unit appears to be very well made with machined aluminum, beefy construction, and quality finishes. The rack is even fat-bike compatible. Available this spring at $199.