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A new season of cycling product launches kicked off in West Lake, California at the annual Winter Press Camp event this week. Brands from around the world came showcased the latest products that we’ll see out on the road this year. Here is a rundown of some of the more notable releases and coolest new bike gear.
Take the (gravel) road less traveled on Niner’s RLT 9 RDO
Niner recently launched its new carbon RLT 9 RDO gravel race machine with smart off-road details and aggressive gravel geometry. It’s a purpose-built bike for races like Crusher in the Tushar and Dirty Kanza 200 with Niner’s top-of-the-line carbon construction (the frame weighs under 1,100 grams) and premium build options. But it still has rack and fender mounts for added versatility. The bike is named the RLT (Road Less Traveled) and is meant for mixed-terrain exploration thanks to its big 40mm tire clearance (with 5mm of clearance on either side). Extra water bottle bosses are also found on each fork leg so you’re less likely to need a hydration pack for long, remote adventures where water is hard to find.
Panache gets Rowdy with Small Batch cycling apparel
Panache launched a new cycling apparel platform that focuses on limited runs of kits, accessories, and socks that will be released on a weekly basis throughout the year. The Small Batch program will provide approximately 50-200 pieces per run and once Panache sells out of an item, it’s gone for good.
Panache also introduced its new Rowdy Collection of casual or variable road cycling apparel. The range includes bib shorts with built-in pockets for easy storage of tools, snacks, and your phone so that loose tops don’t sag from overloading. While the Rowdy line suits dirt roads and even some light mountain biking, this isn’t your typical off-road apparel. Each piece is made with premium materials and fitted for style and comfort.
Lighten up with Kenda Valkyrie rubber
Kenda Tires introduced a new line of race tires called the Valkyrie that balances puncture resistance with lightweight, performance features. The tires combine a new casing shape with Kenda’s R3C rubber compound for improved rolling resistance while a K-Armor (KA) protection belt guards against punctures. KA is Kenda’s proprietary material similar to Kevlar but Kenda says it has better adhesion properties than Kevlar so less rubber is needed when constructing the tires. This minimal construction is reflected in the tire’s weight with the 23mm option weighing in at an impressive 179 grams. Besides skinny 23mm rubber, the tires are also available in 25, 28, and even 30mm options. Road tubeless is also on the way from Kenda with a range similar to the Valkyrie expected to launch later this year.
Ridley’s featherweight Helium SLX
WorldTour Lotto – Soudal mechanics will almost certainly need to add some extra ballast to the team’s featherweight Ridley Helium SLX bikes this season to make the UCI weight limit. When we picked the bike up at Press Camp, it nearly floated away out of our hands. While the blended 60T UD carbon frame weighs in at just 750 grams, Ridley says the frame is still 15 percent stiffer than the previous Helium SL model. It uses a new monocoque straight-blade fork for improved steering while thin seat stays should add some comfort to the light and stiff frame. It’s a great-looking bike and we’re eager to get some test rides on it this spring when the snow melts off the steep Boulder climbs.
Twice is nice with Pioneer dual-sided power meters
While dual-sided power measurement isn’t a new feature from Pioneer, it’s something the company is trying to make more accessible to the average cyclist. Riders can track their right/left pedaling balance over time and watch each foot’s radial force in real time using Pioneer’s cycling computer. This information can then be uploaded to Pioneer’s Cyclo-Sphere online training program for further data analysis. Pioneer also offers its Training Assist program that allows riders to download workouts and target power number to their cycling computer for on the go workout prompts and instructions. Pioneer is transforming itself from simply a power meter company into a training ecosystem that helps examine and understanding the detailed metrics collected by their dual-sided power meters.
Speedplay Syzr notches up pedal adjustability
Richard Bryne of Speedplay pedals as been dreaming up new solutions to pedaling problems for ages. He led the charge (along with Shimano) for dual-sided clipless pedals with the Speedplay X in the early 1990s and has been innovating the road bike pedal ever since. But last year, Speedplay jumped back into the off-road market with its new Syzr pedals that maintain Speedplay’s signature adjustability features for mountain biking or alternative road riding. These off-road pedals — just like the road pedals — are offered in different spindle lengths for riders who prefer a wider or narrower stance than that provided by standard pedals. The Syzr pedals also use a locking mechanism on either side so you can add shims to one side or the other to compensate for leg length discrepancies. These adjustability features come together to create some of the most versatile off-road pedals available.
ABUS coming to America
German cycling security and helmet company, ABUS, showcased its first five helmets to hit the U.S. market in 2017. Three of the helmets are currently available and offer features like a built-in light on the back of the Urban-I, a magnetic chin strap for easy use when wearing gloves for winter cycling with the Hyban. They range from $50 to $99. ABUS also announced two new additions to the U.S. range with the Yaad-I and Youn-I. These will be available in April and the Yaad-I will feature some custom, limited edition designs like the Chicago Cubs model pictured here.
Luxury cycling apparel company Assos, reintroduced its moderately priced Mille line of bibs that will be priced at $159. The bibs are made in the same factory as Assos’s top-of-the-line bibs that can range into the $400 price range but offer fewer bells and whistles than the more expensive options. The Mille chamois — like all Assos bibs and many of the cycling industry’s chamois — is made by Cytech Elastic Interface in Italy. But Assos uses its own proprietary chamois design and construction process. Adding entry-level products like the Mille bibs to full range of cycling apparel, Assos is hoping to make the company and the products more accessible to a wider range of cyclists. Assos is also looking to expand its role in the U.S. market with athlete and event partnerships. Rebecca Rusch recently joined the team as an athlete ambassador, and Assos will partner with the Amgen Tour of California this May.
Barnstorming gravel roads with Defeet
Defeet is launching a new athlete ambassador program through Barnstormer.cc, hoping to bring together local cycling communities for off-pavement rides. The goal is to help cyclists who might be hesitant to take the roads less traveled by themselves by providing a group ride experience and a ride leader to pick out new routes. It’s about community rather than a club or race team.
The North Carolina-based company also announced its new product development platform that uses crowdsourcing to fund small runs of Defeet products. Instead of using a program like Kickstarter or Indigogo, Defeet developed its own fundraising website that will regularly release a set of new products throughout the year. Each small batch product will go into production once a minimum number of items have been sold. Unlike other programs, however, if a product doesn’t reach 100 percent of its fundraising goal, customers will get their money back.