CTech August Product Picks
In our August CTech Product Picks we have an array of products to showcase to you. This includes Bont’s newly designed Vaypor + shoes, Bontrager helmets, Schwalbe tubeless tyres, Giro shoes, Fyxo’s ‘KING lights, Apres Velo tee’s, Prologo’s Scratch saddle, and Clif Bars. If you have any experience with any of these products, please leave us your thoughts in the comments. We’re keen to hear your feedback.
Bont Vaypor+ Shoes
Here’s what Bont as to say about their newly designed Vaypor+ road shoes:
“The Bont Vaypor has been re-engineered from the ground up to create the Vaypor+. Whilst maintaining all of the design and technical attributes that has made the Vaypor one of the finest cycling shoes available, the Vaypor+ introduces new materials, closure design and last shapes that not only improve fit, but also performance.”
There’s so much good information about these shoes on Bont’s website and not enough room for it here, so I highly recommend you visit it if you want to learn more.
Bont make shoes which are hard to explain. When you first try them on and before you’re clipped into a bike, they feel all wrong. But once you move forward on your first pedal stroke, you know that there’s something remarkable about them.
You might think that there’s a point in a shoe where “stiff” may get uncomfortable. However, the Bont Vaypor+’s soles don’t have a millimeter of give and it’s something you can appreciate, if not love when riding. There’s a nice snug feeling in the back of the foot with how the carbon cups the heel, but the immediate instinct is that they will be uncomfortable. Not so. Although they take a bit of getting used to, comfort is definitely there, but performance is ultimately what you buy this shoe for.
The “atop” dial system works well, and ever since dials have been introduced onto shoes I much prefer these over the ratchet systems. These dials are slightly different than Specialized’s “Boa” system in that the top dial on the Bonts immediately loosen when turned anti-clockwise, instead of backing off one notch at a time. The positive side is that this system makes the shoes extremely easy to get off, but it would be nice to have a way to back off the tension instead of completely undoing them and then tightening again while riding (the front dial does have a unidirectional dial though). However, I can’t say that this is a true inconvenience when put into practise.
The Vaypor+ shoes are also heat moldable which you can easily do at home. I recommend going through the process as it will make a big difference to the fit and comfort.
Bontrager Oracle and Specter helmets
Here’s what Bontrager says about their Oracle and Specter helmets:
Oracle: “Low profile. Massively ventilated. Exceptionally aerodynamic. Oracle is a pro-caliber road helmet for riders who won’t settle for anything but the best. Featuring an in-molded carbon fiber skeleton that provides the superior structural integrity and load dispersal necessary to create the biggest possible vents in the lowest-profile design, Oracle uses internal channeling and CFD-optimized ventilation to maximize airflow efficiency through the helmet and over the head, for impressive levels of cooling and drag reduction.”
Specter: “Aimed at racers and performance enthusiasts, Specter borrows DNA from the pro peloton-leading Oracle to deliver outstanding fit, massive airflow, and quick, easy adjustability. ”
RRP (AUD): $299 Oracle, $199 Specter
For more information on Bontrager helmets visit their website.
My first introduction to Bontrager helmets was when one was gifted to me at a Trek Madone launch back in 2012. It was a white Specter (similar to the black/red one shown here) and have enjoyed wearing it ever since. The fit on either Specter or Oracle is good and comfortable, but they are both quite different. The Specter seems to fit slightly higher on the head and not quite as all encompassing. Both have convenient dial adjustments on the back and the chin straps require very little adjustment when first setting up. As usual, my preference is with the more expensive of the two – the Oracle. The shape between the Specter and Oracle is quite similar except for a subtle difference at the back. The most important part however, is how do these look? All helmets need to be safety certified so it’s a given that they’ll protect your head. Well, both the Specter and Oracle pass my “look test” in the mirror, however the shell is still slightly larger than my ideal preference. Possibly the best part about all of Bontrager’s helmets is the free replacement you’re involved in a crash during the helmet’s first year.
Schwalbe Ultremo ZX Tubless tyres
What Schwalbe says: “It’s not only the fastest tire Schwalbe has ever produced, but also the safest: The Ultremo ZX tubeless raises rolling resistance and puncture protection to a higher level. Schwalbe is the first leading supplier in the racing bike sector to put a tubeless tire on the road.
“We’ve had the idea of applying the tubeless technology used for mountain bikes into racing bikes for ages”, says Christian Lademann, Schwalbe’s Product Manager for racing bike tires. “But in spite of our experience with tubeless in the MTB field it was technically quite challenging to produce a high-pressure tubeless racing bike tire.” With the special carcass design and development of the carbon bead, Schwalbe engineers broke new ground in bicycle tire technology. After three years’ development, hundreds of test rides in training and competition, as well as numerous prototypes, Schwalbe is now enthusiastic about its tubeless tires for racing bikes.”
RRP: $169 AUD for bundle of two.
For more information visit the Schwalbe website.
A few years ago I wrote about my experience on Hutchinson tubless road tyres and at that time it was unclear whether or not tubless was just a passing fad or something that was real. I loved the feel of the tubless ride, the durability, but I didn’t love the messy process of putting them on or changing a puncture.
Schwalbe tyres are one of my favorite brands of tyres. They wear nicely and are extremely durable. Plus, they do a great job at supporting the local community at the events, so consider that when considering where to purchase. However, at the time of writing I haven’t tried these particular tyres. However, it was nice to see that everything you need for a tubeless setup is contained in this kit. I’ll be sending these to Matt Wikstrom (our tech editor) to use and write a feature article on tubeless tyres and his impressions. If you’ve used these particular tyres, please let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Giro Code Shoe
Here’s what Giro says about their Code shoe:
“Hardcore trail riders and XC racers want mountain biking shoes with maximum power transfer plus the comfort and durability need to withstand rugged trails and conditions. The Code answers the call with a light-yet-tough Teijin microfiber upper that shapes to your foot, plus our adjustable SuperNatural Fit Kit that allows you to tune the level of arch support, enhancing efficiency and comfort. Welded scuff guards boost the upper’s durability and structured feel of these premium MTB shoes, and the optimized Easton® EC90 unidirectional carbon sole provides pro-level stiffness for the most efficient power transfer available in mountain bike shoes today.”
RRP: $299 each.
When I think of Giro, I think of their helmets. That needs to change at some point because from my experience with their shoes, they are outstanding. I’ve worn their road shoes before but this is my first mountain bike shoe (let’s call them Cyclocross shoes, okay?) from Giro. The fit is perfect, they have excellent grip for walking when you have to dismount, and they’re actually quite comfortable for walking as far as cycling shoes go. The longterm durability test has still yet to be done, but if they’re anything like their road shoes, I can’t foresee a problem.
Fyxo ‘KING BRIGHT
Here’s what Fyxo has to say about their ‘KING BRIGHT light:
“For dark times. We stock one light set so you don’t have to wade through a sea of options. This is the best value and performance lightset for commuting and nocturnal adventures bar none.
— 1000 lumen output for cycling amongst other things.
— The burn time on super-dazzling mode 3.5 hours +
— The burn time on semi-dazzling mode is about 15 hours.
— Flashing mode 30 hours.”
RRP: $79 AUD each.
For more information visit fyxomatosis.
Lights have sure come a long way in the past 5 years. My $600 Night Rider halogen lamp that lasted 1 hour from my mountain bike days is a testament to that. The ‘KING BRIGHT is absolutely incredible for seeing in the dark, and for $79, it’s value and quality that you simply cannot beat. It comes with everything you need to get on the road or trails – the lamp, a headstrap, the battery, a charger, and a cool box. Get on it.
Apres Velo TdF Shirts
In 2012, Eleanor Grosch and her husband Peter Dalkner travelled to France to ride their bikes and take in some stages of the Tour. They had a great time and it inspired them to collaborate on a series of contemporary prints in honour of the 100th edition of the Tour. Apres Velo have adapted these designs for their latest range of t-shirts, offering five designs for men (Arc, Sprinter, Alpe d’Huez, Finish Line, and Sunflower Fields Forever) and three for women (Alpe d’Huez, Finish Line, and Sunflower Fields Forever).
RRP: $49.95 each.
For more information visit Apres Velo.
Grosch’s bright, geometric styling readily evokes the Tour, I can almost hear euro dance music when looking at these t-shirts. Apres Velo dedicates each design to a single style of shirt, but lightweight fabric is used throughout the new range that is best suited to summertime weather. Each shirt is well finished with some nice details, such as a stitched logo, contrasting fabrics, patches, or pockets. Proof that not all cycling t-shirts have to celebrate the pain and suffering of the sport.
Prologo Scratch Pro CPC Saddle
Prologo divides its catalogue of saddles into three families according to cross-sectional shape. “Round” saddles have a round cross-section (ie when viewed from the rear) that are best suited to long distance riding since the round shape spreads out the rider’s weight and avoids pressure points. In contrast, “Flat” saddles have a flatter cross-section and wider seating surface that are recommended for short distances such as time trials, while the “Semi-round” shape sits somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
The Scratch Pro belongs to the round saddle family, and the latest iteration features “CPC”, patches of a rubbery polymer designed to absorb shocks and vibrations. Prologo also claims that these patches will also improve your performance too. The new saddle has a carbon-injected base and uses the company’s Nack carbon rails that are braided with kevlar and aluminium filaments. The Scratch Pro CPC is 278mm long and 134mm wide and comes in one colour (deep metallic blue with white highlights).
The patches of “CPC” (Connect Power Control) that cover the surface of Prologo’s new saddle comprise tiny volcanoes and ribs that compress and sway under load. To the touch, the CPC polymer is both spongy and sticky, so once I planted my backside on this saddle, I wasn’t surprised that it stayed in place. I don’t normally use a Prologo Scratch saddle, so I can’t say if the addition of CPC improved the comfort of the saddle, but it certainly didn’t detract from it. I found the sticky patches served to anchor my efforts and may have improved the efficiency of my output a little. Normally I like to slide my butt into place so I had to be a little more precise when sitting on this saddle, but once accustomed, I found I could make minor adjustments to my position without much effort. All told, the CPC material is sticky, but not too sticky. Otherwise, the Scratch Pro is a narrow saddle with a very firm base that is clearly race-oriented. For the uninitiated, the addition of CPC attracts a premium that will probably dissuade them from experimenting with this iteration of the Scratch Pro, plus, there is the odd colour to contend with, which is likely to clash with more bikes than it suits. For those riders already familiar with the Scratch Pro, then this saddle provides extra grip without intrusion.
From Clif Bar’s website: “CLIF BAR is the original energy bar made with organic ingredients that delivers an optimal blend of nutrition for sustained energy. CLIF BAR uses whole ingredients you can see and taste, such as oats, dried fruits and nuts, to create delicious, convenient food that’s good for you and for the planet.
The initial release will be the CLIF BAR with Crunchy Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, and White Macadamia Nut. More varieties and flavours will be coming later in the year with Shot Gels expected Mid July and Shot Bloks in October.”
For more information visit Clif Bar’s website.
Finally, Clif Bar is in Australia. For those who know me will know how I used to bring back boxes of these things to Australia whenever I visited North America. The bars taste like real food (imagine that!) and so do the gels, but they’re made with the conveniences that we all need while on the bike and gasping for breath (i.e. texture, consistency, packaging, etc).
Bonk Breaker is the only other bar that I’ve found that compares to Clif Bar and I’m happy to see both of them being imported into Australia.
Most of these other products in this post I need to send back, but I’ll be eating these.
Have you used any of these products? Please let us know your long-term impressions and feedback in the comments below.