Our annual pilgrimage to the Core Bike trade-only show gives us the chance to check out what’s new from some of the most desirable brands in cycling.
Having already brought you the inside scoop from Kinesis, TRP, Identiti and Ritchey, here’s news of revamped shoes from Bont, a road dropper seatpost by Thomson, an old-school Merckx, FDJ-inspired Lapierres and skincare by Sportique.
Bont revamp Zero and Vaypor shoes
Bont shoes have fast become the footwear of choice for a number of riders. The top-of-the-range Bont Zero, which has a full one-piece monocoque design and a heat moldable chassis, received the ultimate endorsement in 2012 on the feet of Bradley Wiggins. The Zero has been updated for 2013, with the Zero MkII both lighter and cheaper than its predecessor, and with a new lacing system.
The original Zero’s lacing system used, well, laces, covered by a velcro panel to improve aerodynamics. The new shoe, however, uses a pair of Atop dials which work in a similar way to the popular BOA system found on many high-end shoes, including the Gaerne G.Chronos recently reviewed on RoadCyclingUK. That should allow for a more precise and easily adjustable fit, while the switch also sheds a little weight from shoes, which only weighed a claimed 170g each to begin with.
The sole has also changed and it’s now made from unidirectional carbon fibre, which also helps drop the weight a little. Otherwise, the shoes have a new dimpled appearance on the outside. Despite all that, the Zero has dropped significantly in price, from £390 to £275 as Bont say the new design is easy to manufacture.
Meanwhile, the Vaypor has now become the Vaypor Plus. Like the Zero MkII, it’s also gained a two Atop dials, replacing the ratchet and two velcro straps of the original shoe. Otherwise, the Vaypor Plus has got a new arch support, whereby the angle has been changed to improve circulation, and the shoe uses the same unidirectional sole as the Zero MkII. That’s resulted in a small price hike from £225 to £249.
That’s Bont’s two top-end shoes covered, and they’ve also introduced an entry-level model which will be available later this year at a penny under £100. The Riot uses a glass composite sole which has a thin carbon fibre layer on top, so it won’t be quite as stiff as Bont’s full carbon soles, but it will save you a significant wedge of cash. Like it’s more expensive siblings, however, it also has a heat moldable sole, which is impressive for the money. Otherwise, the Riots use a ratchet and single velcro strap to lock your foot in place.
Thomson lift lid on road dropper seatpost
First from Thomson is the news that they are to launch a dropper seatpost for the road market. A dropper seatpost? Dropper posts use a handlebar-mounted lever to allow you to move your seatpost up and down by a couple of inches. They’ve become popular in mountain biking in recent years for riders wanting to quickly adjust their position according to trail conditions.
A dropper post has an obvious application on technical mountain bike trails, but less so on the road. Thomson’s David Parrett told us, however, that it’ll be ideal for tackling the cobbles of the Tour of Flanders sportive, or similarly rough roads. As a result, the road dropper post will offer two levels of ‘drop’. First up, you will be able to drop the post by two inches, which Thomson say will increase confidence and control on descents, while, most interestingly, it’ll also have a pavé setting that will allow you to drop the post by 5mm, but with a little built in suspension to take the edge off rough roads or sections of cobbles.
It’s a niche application, admittedly but an interesting development nonetheless. Thomson are determined to be ahead of the game having been all but last to market with their mountain bike dropper post. Thomson are aiming to launch the road dropper this summer and it should be on show at Eurobike in September.
Core also provided us with the first opportunity to check out Thomson’s new carbon road handlebar. And very nice it is too. The ‘bar uses a monocoque construction, rather than three separate pieces co-molded and glued together, and Thomson say that means it’s very light.
The handlebar has a wing shape on top, but it’s mild enough to allow for plenty of ‘bar angle adjustment without locking out your wrists. Otherwise, the ‘bar has a mid-compact reach and drop, and a clamping area wide enough for aerobar extensions. Yours for £239.99 and available in 40cm, 42cm, 44cm and 46cm widths.
The Thomson carbon cyclo-cross handlebar was designed in conjunction with Katie Compton, the American who won this season’s overall women’s World Cup title. The Thomson KFC-One, as it’s known, has been designed to ensure maximum control regardless of where your hands are on the bars. The top profile is round and as wide as possible, while flat areas on the bottom make for a completely round ‘bar when wrapped. Like the road handlebar, it uses a monocoque construction, with the retail price set at £254.99 in 40cm, 42cm and 44cm sizes.
We’ve already shown you the highlights of the Eddy Merckx Cycles 2013 range, not least the top-of-the-range 525, named after the number of wins amassed by the Cannibal during his prolific career. It’s a 21 Century collection packed with technology – but this is something else altogether.
Spotted on the stand of the Belgian bike brand’s UK importer, i-ride, this is a 1986 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra constructed from Columbus SLX tubing. i-ride found the dilapidated frame on eBay and asked the Merck factory in Brussels to restore it as a one-off – and this is the result.
Three Lapierre models now available in FDJ paintjob
One snippet of news from Lapierre. They are now offering three models in the colours of FDJ, the WorldTour team sponsored by the French brand. You can have a team replica edition of the top-of-the-range Xelius, the mid-range Sensium and the entry-level Audacio.
Pictured above is the Audacio in FDJ colours. The £999.99 machine is based around an aluminium frame and carbon/aluminium fork, with Shimano Tiagra, Shimano R501 wheels, Michelin Dynamic Sport tyres, Ritchey finishing kit and a Selle Italia X1 saddle.
Skincare by Sportique
Last, but now least, is Sportique, a new cycling-specific skincare brand. It’s an American company which has recently picked up UK distribution through Saddleback, who look after a number of high-end brands including Bont, Felt and Castelli.
The Sportique range includes chamois cream, embrocation cream, road rash balm and an elements cream, which protects your skin from wet, cold, hot or dry weather. See the full range here.