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by Sarah Lukas
May 24, 2020
A lot of gear comes across our desks here at CyclingTips. Our Tech Round-Up is a look at some of that gear. Sometimes it’s products we’re doing long-term tests on, other times it’s stuff we’re stoked on but don’t have time to fully review. And, sometimes it’s a wild innovation someone sent us unsolicited and that we’re having a laugh about.
The FSA Energy Modular BB386EVO crankset is a fairly inexpensive way to get into downsized gearing for your gravel or adventure bike.
For riders looking to gear down their drivetrains as they move to increasingly higher-volume tires on their gravel and adventure bikes, FSA offers a relatively low-cost solution that shouldn’t require dramatic changes. The Energy Modular BB386EVO crankset features hollow-forged aluminum arms and a direct-mount interface that accepts a wide variety of chainrings.
The 46/30T set shown here is the smallest of the bunch, offering the same 16-tooth jump common to more road-sized cranksets while still working with the same cassettes you have now — and with something like a reasonably sized 11-34T cluster, you get low gearing well below the coveted 1:1 ratio. FSA makes bottom bracket cups that let the oversized 30 mm-diameter 386EVO aluminum spindle work in nearly any frame, too (with Trek’s BB90 being one notable exception).
– Hollow-forged aluminum arms (170, 172.5, or 175 mm lengths)
– Oversized 30 mm-diameter aluminum spindle
– Direct-mount double chainrings (52/36T, 48/32T, or 46/30T)
– Self-extracting driveside arm with aluminum mounting bolt
– 724 g (172.5 mm arms, 46/30T chainrings, without bottom bracket)
– Price: US$270 / AU$479 / £287 / €289 (including VAT)
– More information: www.fullspeedahead.com
FSA offers quite a few chainring combinations, but this 46/30T sub-compact setup is likely the best choice if you’re running fatter 700c rubber.
The 30 mm-diameter BB386EVO aluminum spindle can be adapted to fit nearly any bottom bracket shell.
A series of indentations around the inner circumference of each liner helps shave a bit of weight, and also makes for (mildly) easier installation.
Foam tire inserts have recently become popular amongst the mountain bike crowd for good reason. By partially replacing the air inside the casing with a dense foam liner, the claim is that you can run lower pressure for improved traction and more comfort, without worry of damaging your rim or burping a tire in a corner, and supposedly without adversely affecting rolling resistance, either. You can even temporarily ride the tire completely flat if necessary.
CushCore is one of the market leaders in the category, and it recently debuted a set specifically for the gravel and cyclocross crowd, complete with reliefs along the inner circumference to help lower the system weight. These inserts are for tire widths between 33-46 mm and internal rim widths between 19-26 mm. The full kit includes two foam inserts, two custom valve stems (regular ones won’t work), and a valve core tool.
– Dense closed-cell foam construction
– Claimed improvements in ride quality, traction, rolling speed, and rim protection
– 257 g (complete set, including two foam inserts and two valve stems)
– Price: US$149 / AU$286 / £159 / €175-199 (region dependent)
– More information: www.cushcore.com
Enduro and trail riders have for years praised CushCore’s foam tire liners for their ability to soften the ride, boost traction, and save rims. And now there’s a size for gravel tires, too.
Special valve stems are included. Note the perpendicular exit hole for the air at the base of the stem.
MicroShift has been on a rebranding path with its new 1x mountain bike drivetrains. Advent X is MicroShift’s latest and greatest, a 10-speed shifter, rear derailleur and 11-48T cassette combo designed to be matched with whatever 1-speed chain and crank you desire. And the key selling point? The price.
The mountain bike version has received most of the press to date, but there’s a drop bar version that makes use of the same rear derailleur and cassette. The drop bar shift levers feature an ergonomic shape most similar to Shimano’s entry-level hoods, with a shifter lever action that stacks the shift levers one above the other. The brake cables are hidden beneath the bar tape, while the rear derailleur is externally run. The pair weigh 384 g (without cables) and are intended for use with road rim, cantilever, or mechanical disc brake calipers.
The derailleur (312 g) features a chain retaining clutch mechanism with a subtle on-off switch. The pulley wheels are large 13T items, while the straight path cable routing and hex head limit screw bolts all further defy the price. That cassette fits any 8-, 9-, 10- and 11-speed HG freehub, meaning your old bike is most likely ready for this. It’s available in two versions, with the lighter (416 g actual) and slightly more expensive alloy carrier version in for testing.
Tech editor Dave Rome has just installed the high value group onto an old cyclocross bike to test it out. Expect a full review soon.
– 11-48T gear range from a 10-speed cassette
– Clutch-equipped derailleur
– BYO chain, crankset and mechanical brakes
– Price – Drop Bar Shifter: US$149.99 / AU$TBC
– Price – Rear Derailleur: US$71.99 / AU$120
– Price – Alloy Spider Cassette: US$64.99 / AU$110
– More information: www.microshift.com
The Rev Pro MIPS is Giant’s latest top-tier road racing lid. Used by the CCC Pro Team, it’s a helmet that claims to find the balance between ventilation, aero speed and safety. There are 20 vents matched with extensive internal channeling and plenty of room for air to leave out back.
Featuring an ovoid shape, the helmet uses a new version of MIPS which integrates the safety system with the adjustable retention system. Along with a multi-density foam, the coverage offered is deeper than many other road racing helmets, with obvious coverage of the temples being a key example.
“First impressions are that this design sees the MIPS better match your head for greater comfort, and the liner is certainly more open and better aligned with the helmet’s deep internal channeling when compared to more traditional MIPS liners,” said Dave Rome of the sample just received for review.
– 20 wide vents
– TransTextura Plus antimicrobial padding
– Cinch Pro MIPS adjustment system
– Available Colours: Gloss metallic white, gloss metallic black, matte metallic blue, matte silver
– Weight: 296g (medium, Aus standards)
– Price: US$250 / AU$350 / €200
– More information: www.giant-bicycles.com
Roka offers a convenient Home Try-On program that lets you see how up to four candidates look on your actual face.
Worldwide, approximately 75% of the population requires some sort of vision correction. While there are plenty of options for cycling eyewear (including contact lenses and prescription cycling-specific sunglasses), there aren’t many casual options for athletes who prefer traditional glasses instead of contact lenses when doing other activities.
Roka’s range of prescription glasses is designed to be worn everyday, but includes features such as adjustable ear pieces, hydrophilic textured contact points for a secure hold while exercising, and interchangeable (or adjustable) nose pieces for a customizable fit. Frame materials are generally chosen to be lower in weight, too, such as nylon and lighter-gauge metals (including titanium!).
More than a dozen styles are on tap, all of which are available through Roka’s “Home Try-On” program, where you can sample up to four frames in your own living room to see what works for your face.
– Non-slip and adjustable contact points
– Lighter-weight frame materials
– Decent selection of styles
– Convenient Home Try-On program
– Price: Varies
– More information: www.roka.com
Roka’s Geko Grip earstems hold tight, even when wet, and the ends are also bendable to fine-tune the fit.
It’s unusual for casual prescription eyewear to offer adjustable nosepieces, but Roka’s frames include up to four different thicknesses to accommodate different face profiles.
A good set of hex keys is the central piece of any cycling toolkit, and German tool company, Wera, knows it. The company has been making strong moves in the cycling industry lately, and its new T-handle hex keys offer a number of features to set them apart.
Firstly, Wera’s hex keys feature its patented Hex-Plus design that aims to increase the surface area of the tool with the fastener, leading to fewer rounded-out bolt heads and greater available torque. Secondly, this particular set features Wera’s “Holding Function”, with a small, ball detent integrated into the end of the long hex end for holding onto bolts. Add in a soft rubber and ergonomic handle and these should prove plenty comfortable for extended daily use.
Our resident tool nerd, Dave Rome, has a set in for use in a larger hex-key feature down the track. “They’re wonderfully comfortable in hand and offer a nice fit and feel with the fastener,” Dave said. “The holding function is surprisingly effective, too. However, I do believe that Wera has wrongly named these — they’re closer to a P-handle than they are a T-handle. Additionally, the lack of a ball-end may limit their appeal to some people. These should prove a nice complement to a more traditional L-type hex key set, but do be warned that the provided wall mounts are fairly poor.”
– P-handle hex keys with a number of unique features
– Available with or without fastener-holding feature
– 454/7 set includes sizes 2.5-10 mm. Individual sizes, including a 2 mm, can also be purchased separately
– Price: US$103 (454 HF / 7 Set)
– More information: www.wera.de