Deep breath, ladies and gentlemen, for you have successfully made it to the end of another week of hard work. Unless you happen to be reading this on your holidays, in which case we imagine if you're breathless it's because you've just come in from a long, exciting bike ride, right? Either way, settle down for a slice of tasty new bike goodies for your delectation and delight.
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We've obviously been hard at work at BikeRadar, investigating serious questions like what happens when you let go of your brakes or whether it's better to sit or stand when you're climbing. We like to put in the leg work so you can reap the benefits.
If you're putting in the miles too, you may want to read our top tips on how to boost your fitness gains, and of course using a computer or GPS such as a Garmin (at a bargain price) is a handy tool to help you track your progress.
Juliana Strega CC XX1 Reserve
Juliana would have you believe that the Strega has a touch of dark magic about it, and we’re itching to get onto the trails to let you know if it’s true.
It packs an all-mountain punch, with 170mm travel front and rear supplied by a RockShox Lyrik fork and RockShox Super Deluxe RCT shock, with a suspension design that handles more like the downhill-focussed V10 than the more trail and enduro oriented offerings in the Juliana lineup, such as the Roubion.
The plush model we’ve got in to have a look is priced at £7,999 / $9,399, and gets you Santa Cruz's new carbon rims, SRAM XX1 12-speed Eagle gears and Code RSC brakes.
- £7,999 / $9,399 / AU$TBC
Zimtstern Women’s MTB kit — Startrackx shorts and Brookz jersey
Swiss brand Zimtstern bring snowboard-inspired style to the trail with a range of kit for all-mountain, downhill and trail riding. Its kit comes in a pleasing array of colours and is designed to mix-and-match across the lines.
The Startrackxshorts come in four different striking colours and are made from a stretch fabric designed to move with you as you pedal. A seam-free crotch is a nice touch and Zimtstern claims the shorts are also tear-resistant.
For a full-on coordinated look, we’ve got in the Brookz jersey, which comes in a fitted style and fabric that’s treated to avoid the armpit pong that comes after a long day in the saddle.
In our experience, the shorts do size up a little on the small side so if you sit towards the top of a size range you may want to go up a size.
Prices are only in euros and you’ll probably need to buy direct from the Zimtstern website, but they do ship internationally.
- Brookz jersey: €64.95
- Startrackz shorts: €119.95
Topeak Backloader bikepacking bag
No self-respecting bike bag company these days can get away with not having bikepacking luggage and Topeak is no different.
The Backloader bag from Topeak is constructed from rugged cordura and while it isn’t waterproof, it comes with a removable dry bag. We like the vent feature in the drybag which means you can squeeze all the air from it and lock it down to keep size to a minimum.
The bag attaches with Velcro straps and clips, and has elastic bungee cords on the outside to make stowing extra bits and pieces on the outside of the bag easy. There are even places to attach lights.
It’s available in either an 8-litre or 10-litre version, and in any colour you like... so long as it’s black.
- £64.99 / $72 / AU$92
Jagwire Pro Shift Lightweight Cable Kit
Show your bike a little TLC and be rewarded with shifting that's smoother than Barry White’s voice. Well, that’s the idea behind Jagwire’s Pro Shift Lightweight Cable Kit.
The set comes with everything you need to upgrade your gear cables, including a polished stainless steel inner shift cable, lubricated shift housing, cable donuts, tips, tube tops and end caps.
Jagwire claims it’s XEX housing is 30 percent lighter than traditional housing, so this is likely to be a tempting factor for weight weenies out there.
And, should this be of importance to you, it also comes in a range of 10 colours, so you can coordinate the cable to your bike.
- £34 / International pricing TBC
POC Octal X helmet
Aimed at the cross-country mountain biker, the new Octal X packs in most of the same features of the Octal road helmet with extra features to protect your noggin from the potential blows and knocks that are more likely when racing off-road.
This means you get the familiar shape, huge amounts of ventilation, and straps that are moulded into the liner, plus an aramid bridge construction integrated into the liner to provide reinforcement, as well as an extended EPS shell that covers more of the liner.
While the helmet is available in a range of on-trend colours, the deep oxblood red and vivid ‘unobtanium’ yellow are the colours that caught our eye.
- £235 / $260 / €280 / AU€TBC
Squirt chain lubricant
We are willing to bet that you hate a rusty or dry chain just as much as we do. Thankfully there are more options than ever before to keep your drivetrain well lubricated, and here’s one we’ve not featured for a good while.
It’s a long lasting, wax based dry lube that goes without the harmful solvents and other nasties that some companies use.
It’s claimed to be good for both mountain and road bikes and, as long as it’s applied to a clean chain, you’ll be able to drop your degreasing procedure too.
We last encountered Squirt Lube back in 2008, when ex-BikeRadar staffer James Huang crowned it the ‘best wax lube yet’, scoring it a full five stars in the process.
- £7.99 / $8.36 / AU$10.61 for a single 120ml bottle
Wahoo Elemnt Mini computer
If you’re a smartphone owner that wants the functions of a basic bike computer but aren’t fussed about more detailed metrics then the Elemnt Mini could be right up your street.
Stripping features back has made for a tiny form and a body that’s just 41 x 58.4 x 17mm and weighs just 31g.
The Elemnt Mini hijacks the GPS tracking function of a rider’s smartphone, displaying and logging ride stats before making them available for wireless uploading. The connected phone can also push message and call alerts onto the computer’s screen.
Without the phone connected you’ll still get the most basic of functions such as speed (providing you’ve attached the supplied sensor) and distance.
It’s now clocking miles on our handlebars so stay tuned for a full review.
- £79 / $99
Destined for the very special hillclimb bike of BikeRadar’s Joe Norledge is this exceptionally light little number from Italian brand Extralite.
Tipping our scales at just 88g in its largest 120mm size, the 7075 alloy HyperStem treads closely to the ludicrously low numbers offered by carbon components that cost nearly triple the price. For reference, the shortest 80mm version weighs a claimed 69g.
Its titanium hardware features some of the lowest torque values we’ve ever seen (3Nm), so an accurate torque wrench will be essential for its installation.
Still, Extralite is so comfortable with this part and the way it exceeds the EN safety standard, that it will even rate it for enduro use!
Specialized Epic FSR Expert Carbon
Few — if any — brands can match the heritage that Specialized holds with its Epic in the world of cross-country mountain biking. In fact, the Epic was the very first full-suspension bike to win a World Cup XC race.
This latest Expert model has got us plenty excited, and we can’t wait to try it out.
The frame, with its familiar slender lines differs in its geometry from last year’s bike. It’s slacker, it’s longer and it now wears a fork with a custom offset — the same 42mm figure that you’ll find at the front of Whyte’s new S-150.
Spesh has dropped weight over last year’s bike too, with up to half a kilo coming away from the largest sizes. Sometimes change isn’t always a good thing though and the move to take this bike back to a regular threaded bottom bracket reflects this.
Specialized’s Brain suspension tech, which uses an inertia valve to provide an automatic lock-out, has been updated too. Brain 2.0 has been developed in collaboration with RockShox, for a system that claims to be smoother yet more reactive than the outgoing Brain.
Highlights of this Expert build include SRAM’s GX Eagle drivetrain, Specialized’s own Roval Control carbon wheels and a custom RockShox SID with Brain technology to match the rear end.
- £4,800 / $5,200 / AU$6,900
Vittoria Terreno Dry tyre
A great bike is never a great bike without decent tyres, and this new Terreno Dry clincher from Vittoria has sure got our attention.
The low-profile ‘fish scale’ centre tread transitions smoothly to broad shoulders in a design that’s aimed at gravel riders and the cyclocross crowd.
Infused with the latest wonder material, graphene, the triple compound tread pattern is mated to the company’s 120TPI tubeless-ready TNT casing. At 33mm wide, this sits in-between narrower 31mm and extra wide 40mm versions of the same tyre. They come in at 404g on our scales.
- £39.99 / $69.99
Sportful R&D Strato Jacket
The options are either an insulating cooler weather jersey that allows high breathability and ventilation, but turns into a cold, wet sponge when the weather turns to the damp side or a waterproof shell that doesn’t offer any warmth and turns your thermal jersey underneath into a warm, damp sponge as you sweat under the jacket with a lack of ventilation.
Of course, you can carry the waterproof shell in your jersey pocket and throw it on when the weather turns, but should the weather continue to change (as is seemingly the case with the glorious British summer), Sportful has added a new versatile product that offers the ventilation and comfort of a thermal jersey and the protection of a light rain jacket.
The R&D Strato has the fit, insulation and breathability of a high-end thermal jersey, while offering added protection of what closely resembles a stitched-on weatherproof vest.
Constructed from a windproof material, the extra outer layer provides protection from any front-on road spray or driving weather, as well as protection over the rear end.
The jersey part of the jacket is black and has a soft brushed inner with the outer section available in black, red or grey. There's a full-length front zip, three rear cargo pockets and extra zipped vents on the chest and it can be worn between 8-18 degrees Celsius, according to Sportful.
We look forward to testing out the jacket to see whether it offers the versatile alternative to the changeable weather as it suggests, or is just another unnecessary niche?
- Available from September: £120 / €149.90 / $229.99