One of the best parts of being a cyclist is new kit. Or, more precisely, spending untold hours browsing the internet, drooling over new products and figuring out how to get them.
It’s fun, it’s interesting and, in some cases, it’s borderline masochistic if what you really want happens to be a Bianchi Specialissima or something similar. And because we at RCUK are such committed enablers, we’ve put together another round-up of the latest kit to drop into the offices over the last few weeks.
So sit back, enjoy and make sure your credit card is locked away before you succumb to temptation and click any links…
Shimano Sport Camera
If you’ve enjoyed the on-bike footage that’s been appearing over the course of the season, you’ve likely been enjoying some of the work from Shimano’s new action camera.
Not simply happy to be lords of the groupset world, Shimano have been branching out and this smart little unit is their first foray into the world of video.
With three video quality choices – the highest being 1920×1080 at 30fps – as well as the ability to take six megapixel still pictures and time lapse recording, it’s packed with features.
Connectivity comes in the form of WiFi as well as ANT+, meaning the camera can connect to a Shimano Di2 SM-EWW01 unit to display speed, cadence, power and heart rate on screen during playback. There’s also a compatible app for iOs or Android which allows you to configure the camera and use your phone as a viewfinder.
In mounting terms, Shimano have been pretty smart. Basically, the mount in the box makes the camera compatible with all current GoPro mounts which, cynical as it may seem from Shimano, is a fantastic move because the camera is launching into a market already full of amazing mounting options. Smart.
Shimano reckon you’ll get about two hours out of one of these, and a full charge will take four hours, but that’ll depend on what settings and connectivity you’re using.
At £199.99, it’s competitively priced, and if you’re after a closer look, you can find them on UK distributor Madison’s website. Madison also distribute K-Edge, so there are plenty of mounts on display too.
Park Tool TW-6 torque wrench
Torque wrenches have various uses in the bike world, and Park Tool make two: the TW-5 and TW-6. The TW-5 has a range between 3-15Nm (Newton Metres) and this one, its bigger brother, has a range from 12-60Nm.
For most bike-related applications, the TW-5 would be the ideal companion as its range corresponds perfectly with stem, bar and seatpost clamps and most other bolts you’ll find. In fact, you can get away without going full-on torque wrench for those things, and for most people a torque key will do the trick.
But the TW-6 comes into its own for crank installation (especially Campagnolo Ultra Torque that have a bolt through the axle that needs to be torqued to approximately 42Nm), and the 15cm arm means you’ll have no trouble with leverage. It’s also useful for precision installation of Garmin’s Vector pedals.
The TW-6 has a 3/8” drive attachment, and torque can be adjusted in 0.2Nm increments, so there’s an impressive degree of adjustability – although it’s worth nothing that Park Tool claim the accuracy is +/-4 percent.
You can get your hands on one of these for £114.99, or you can take a closer look at the TW-6 (and the £99.99 TW-5, for that matter) on Park Tool’s website.
Tortec Super Comfort bar tape
Whether any of you have realised it or not, I’m a bar tape nerd. Not that I’d go on about it. Lots. Because that’s not my style. Anyway, the point is that when the new red version of Tortec’s Super Comfort bar tape dropped onto my desk, I was quite excited.
You may know Tortec from their pannier racks, but the British brand have expanded their horizons in the last little while with bar tape, bottles and bottle cages.
The Super Comfort tape comes in two long rolls, with 2100mm in total, meaning that it should be long enough to cater for even aero bar shapes, and the outer surface is nice and grippy, which hopefully means it’ll do a good job in the wet.
Thickness-wise there are three millimetres of padding, which comes courtesy of a layer of ultralite EVA foam in the middle, and the backing of the tape is a gel layer, which should stand up to removal and re-installation.
It’s also worth pointing out that if red isn’t your thing, or you’re a traditionalist that thinks black is the only colour for tape, you’re in luck. Black, white, and a pretty in-your-face green are available too.
A set of this tape will cost you £19.99. Not bad if it lives up to its billing, and we’ll be getting this on a bike to find out soon. Check it out on distributor Zyro’s website.
Wahoo Kickr Snap
The Kickr Snap is the latest indoor training inspiration from Wahoo Fitness. It comes hot on the heels of the universally lauded direct drive trainer the Kickr, and is essentially a wheel-on, cheaper version of the turbo used by Team Sky.
First off, the Snap drops £300 off the price of the Kickr, coming in at £649.99 rather than £949.99. The main feature of the Snap is that it’s 100 percent controllable from your smartphone through a Bluetooth Smart connection, and it also has ANT+.
Speaking of power measurement, one of the features that had to be dropped from the Kickr to meet the Snap’s price point was the in-built power meter. Instead, the Snap uses an algorithm to determine power output that Wahoo claim is accurate to +/- 5 per cent, a claim that we’ll be keen to test out. One particularly interesting feature is that you can override the built-in power measurement with that from your own power meter, if you’re worried about that +/- 5 per cent variability.
But one of the best things about the Snap is its accessibility. Like the Kickr, Wahoo have opened up the platform so that almost anyone can make an app that’ll work with the Snap. So things like Zwift, Trainer Road, and a huge assortment of other goodies will all work, as well as Wahoo’s own dedicated app.
Polar M450 computer
We’ve already done a pretty hefty launch/first ride report on Polar’s latest M450 bike computer, and now we have a unit in to test.
It’s the little brother to the V650, which comes in at £209, so although UK pricing is (still) yet to be confirmed, expect the M450 with heart rate strap to drop at about £150, and the unit alone to be around £110.
Unlike its bigger brother, there’s no touchscreen on the M450, which instead uses a button system. Similarly, there are no plans for the recent map update to the v650 to be added to the m450, so you while you’ll be able to view your route post-ride thanks to the GPS, you won’t be able to plan routes on the go using the unit.
Similarly, there’s no ANT+ compatibility. Garmin own ANT+, and Polar have made the bold decision to not include any ANT+ compatibility in any of their devices, instead going for Bluetooth Smart. That means you won’t be able to pair it with any ANT+ accessories, and will instead have to use the more limited range of accessories with Bluetooth Smart. That choice is likely to grow in future, but it’s a potential limiting factor for now.
We’ve also received a selection of extras with the m450: the speed and cadence sensors (£54.50) and the H7 heart rate strap (£64.50). We’ll be posting our full review of the m450 in the next few weeks.
SiS Go Energy + Electrolyte gels
Coming in two pretty sweet sounding new flavours (lemon & mint and raspberry), Science in Sport’s new Energy + Electrolyte gels are designed to sit alongside the existing isotonic energy and caffeine options to increase the choices for how athletes get their energy on the go.
Each gel contains 22g carbohydrate alongside 118mg sodium, 9.5mg potassium and 1.5mg magnesium to replenish both energy stores, as well as the vital elements that can be lost through sweat during exercise.
We had a quick taste of the lemon & mint gel, and the early verdict is ‘a little bit lemony and a little bit minty. Pretty good.’ Groundbreaking stuff there, I’m sure you’ll agree!
You can get your hands on these gels for £1.50 each on the Science in Sport website, as well as a box of six for £7.99 or a bumper box of 30 for £39.99.