Gear

VN tech ticker: New Assos bibs, SRAM Red derailleur, Polar HRM you can wear anywhere

Gravel and virtual racer Kae Takeshita is a fan of Polar's arm-based heart rate monitors for training and racing.

Welcome to the VeloNews tech ticker — a quick digest of the latest and greatest in cycling gear. Here’s what’s new.

Assos Mille GT Summer Bib Shorts GTS

The Swiss clothier has a new $200 bib short— The Mille GT —that is has a dual-density chamois, a light but compressive body material, and lay-flat bib straps that cross and connect in the back like suspenders.

While $200 isn’t cheap, it isn’t on the top-end for Assos by any stretch, where the Equipe line, for example, features bibs that sell for between $260 and $380.

SRAM Red eTap AXS Rear Derailleur

SRAM rolled out a new wireless Red derailleur that can handle up to a 36t rear cog, from its previous limit of 33t.

As SRAM’s Red eTap AXS drivetrain uses a new mix of gearing — chainrings options are 50/37, 48/35, and 46/33, with cassettes that go down to a 10t cog — the top 36t-cog compatibility offers a lower gear than you make think at first, if your reference points are the more traditional chainring choices of 53/39, 52/36 and 50/34.

The $710 derailleur works with 12-speed SRAM Red and Force eTap AXS shifters. It still has the Orbit fluid damper.

SRAM says the motor and signal were improved for faster shifting but did not quantify this.

For lower gearing, SRAM Force offers a 43/30 crankset. (This has a wider stance to fit bigger tires, and require a Force wide front derailleur.)

To get even lower gearing for gravel, one popular ‘mullet’ option is to use a SRAM Eagle AXS derailleur and a 10-50 or 10-52 cassette. This works with Red and Force AXS shifters.

Polar Verity Sense heart rate monitor

With four decades of heart-rate monitoring in the bank, Polar launched the Verity Sense, which can be worn anywhere on the body. For most people, that means on the forearm or bicep. Swimmers could wear it at their temple. You could also tuck it into the leg of your compressive bib shorts, so long as it can sit tightly against the skin.

The six-LED-based unit doesn’t require moisture like a traditional chest strap. It transmits on ANT+ and Bluetooth, making it a good option for Zwift.

Kae Takeshita, who races for Abus on gravel and Saris + The Pro’s Closet online, told me recently that she loves using a Polar arm-mounted HRM because a traditional heart rate strap is annoying to wear with a sports bra when training and racing.

The $89 Polar Verity Sense boasts a 20-hour battery life, and 16MB of memory should you want to use it alone for data capture.

Goodyear tan Eagle road tires, more All-Terrain gravel tires

Goodyear, a relatively new entrant to cycling tires but a long-term auto tire maker, has some new 700c and 650b options for 2021.

The Eagle road cycling tire line now has tan sidewall options in tubed and tubeless varieties.

And the All-Terrain tires went from four models to 14, adding 700×40 and 650×50 to the County, and 700×35, 700×50, and 650×50 to the existing 700x40mm Connector models. Also, Goodyear took a page from its XC MTB book and added the Peak as a 40mm all-terrain 700c tire. All come in black or tan sidewall options.

“What may be most important,” said Goodyear’s Matt Slocombe, “is that we’re continuing to invest in our dedicated bicycle tire factory and this year will increase our capacity by four-fold from where we were just six months ago.”