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September 24, 2020
Photography by James Huang and Dave Rome
A lot of new gear gets sent to us here at CyclingTips. Our Tech Round-Ups are a look at some of that gear. Sometimes we’ll feature 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. Here’s what we’ve got for you this time.
Words by James Huang
Does suspension make sense for gravel bikes? Your answer to that question will likely depend heavily on your local conditions and riding preferences, but if you’re looking for a little bit of extra squish up front, Suntour’s new GVX 700c suspension fork is an interesting proposition.
Built with cast magnesium lower legs, 32 mm-diameter aluminum upper tubes, a forged aluminum crown, and a tapered aluminum steerer tube, the GVX 700c offers up to 60 mm of travel via an adjustable air spring and hydraulic damper with a crown-mounted manual lockout lever for when you’d prefer the feel of a fully rigid front end. Maximum tire clearance is officially pegged at 700×45 mm or 650×50 mm.
Suntour also includes a handy mini-fender to help keep road spray out of your eyes (and fittings for a full fender if that’s what you’d prefer), and the dropouts are available to fit 15×100 mm or 12×100 mm thru-axles, both with fittings for flat-mount disc-brake calipers only.
The GVX 700c is far from light at 1,730 grams with an uncut tapered aluminum steerer tube and tooled 12×100 mm thru-axle, and you’ll want to verify that the 456 mm axle-to-crown length (in the 60 mm travel configuration) is compatible with your current frame’s geometry before taking the plunge. But if you’re looking for proper front suspension for your gravel bike, this still looks like one of the better dedicated options on the market.
Price: US$499 / AU$TBC / £TBC / €TBC
Weight: 1,730 g (including 12×100 mm thru-axle and full-length steerer tube, 50 mm-travel)
More information: www.srsuntour.com
Although the GVX offers just 60 mm of movement in its longest-travel configuration, it’s still equipped with a tunable air spring and an adjustable hydraulic damper.
Flat mount brakes only, please.
The dropouts are available to fit 12 mm or 15 mm thru-axles (but they’re not convertible).
Mounts for full-length fenders are built into the lower legs, but a mini-fender is included for more minimal coverage.
The Pearl Izumi Elevate range mixes the performance of traditional higher-end cycling apparel with more casual styling that’s designed to also work well off the bike. New for the upcoming northern hemisphere winter season is the Elevate Insulated AmFib jacket, which features lightweight aerogel-enhanced Primaloft Gold insulation inside and Pearl Izumi’s DWR-treated Barrier exterior fabric on the front of the body and upper arms to protect against wind and light rain. Meanwhile, the softshell materials used elsewhere provide some extra stretch for a more accommodating fit.
Emphasizing the casual/performance hybrid approach are the two traditionally placed zippered hand pockets and two additional non-zippered inside pockets; there are no rear pockets to be found here.
Pearl Izumi offers the Elevate Insulated AmFib jacket in men’s and women’s cuts. The women’s version is unfortunately only offered in a single color (whereas the men’s version gets three options), but the women’s jacket does get a bonus hood while the men’s goes without. Sizing seems a bit more on the generous end of the spectrum, so choose accordingly.
Price: US$200 / AU$TBC / £TBC / €TBC
More information: www.pearlizumi.com
The front of the main body and upper arms are covered with Pearl Izumi’s AmFib wind-resistant fabric for added warmth. A DWR coating helps provide a bit of protection from light rain and road spray, too.
The rest of the jacket features a more breathable softshell fabric.
While ostensibly designed as a cycling product, the Elevate Insulated AmFib jacket is also meant to serve double-duty as casual wear.
Teravail — one of the in-house brands for US mega-distributor Quality Bicycle Products — has a new mixed-condition tire called Washburn that’s built with a smooth center and a progressively more open and aggressive shoulder tread to tackle poor-quality pavement, packed dirt, and “fast gravel”.
That same tread is available in two different tubeless-ready casing constructions: a 60 TPI “Durable” version with both a woven nylon sidewall reinforcement and a more finely woven nylon breaker under the tread; and a faster “Light and Supple” casing for reduced weight, improved rider comfort, and lower rolling resistance.
Available sizes include 700×38 mm, 700×42 mm, and 650×47 mm, all of which are offered with black or tan sidewalls. Teravail hasn’t released claimed weights for any of the Washburn models, but a 700×42 mm sample we have here with the lighter casing and black sidewalls tips the scales at 557 grams.
Price: US$55-60 / AU$TBC / £TBC / €TBC
More information: www.teravail.com
Words by Dave Rome
Giant recently overhauled its range of short-nose saddles with the introduction of the all-new Fleet. Designed for men, the Fleet borrows a number of lessons from other popular shortened saddles, including a generous central cut-out and wider shaping. The saddle features a 248 mm total length and a 145 mm width.
I’ve had my behind on the top-end full carbon version, the Fleet SLR. Beneath the covering hides some high-rebound foam and Giant’s “Particle Flow Technology” which sees two pockets filled with free-flowing elastic particles that are said to “reduce pelvic pressure by 20%”. Overall the fairly thick foam is on the firmer side of things.
The Fleet’s shape offers a subtle curve along its length. The rear of the saddle features a cut-out and some overhang of the shell past the padding – these elements create a number of catch zones that make the saddle best kept for on-road usage.
The most obvious comparison is to the original short-nose saddle, the Specialized Power. The Fleet’s nose offers more padding, while the width is much the same. The Power offers a longer centre cut-out that reaches to the most forward part of the saddle, whereas Giant’s design ends the cut-out more abruptly before leading into the padded nose.
But what I didn’t get on with is how the Fleet’s nose quickly widens compared to the Specialized Power which stays narrower through the saddle’s mid-length. And it’s exactly because of this absolute personal preference that you don’t see us doing many in-depth saddle reviews.
Price: US$TBC / AU$300.
Weight: 184 g.
More information: giant-bicycles.com/au
The Specialized Power in a 155 mm width (left) versus the Giant Fleet SLR in a 145 mm width (right).
Flipped over, you have the Specialized Power on the left, and the Fleet SLR on the right.
Giant’s Particle Flow Technology aims to add a little more stability than foam alone. Overall the new Fleet is a big improvement on previous saddles from the mega manufacturer.
Overall the build quality of this saddle is great. It also offers Giant’s “Uni-Clip” accessory attachment at the back which can be put to multiple uses.
Real World Cycling (RWC) offers a small range of unique, useful and American-made suspension and bearing service tools. Tested here is the Arizona-based company’s different take on the common bottom bracket tool, one which takes a 3/8″ square drive ratchet or torque wrench to use.
Compared to most traditional socket-type bottom bracket tools, RWC uses a Crowfoot-esq design that solves common axle clearance issues when tightening external disc rotor lockrings (while still allowing for a torque wrench to be used). The open design also provides an easier visual of the tool engagement, while the minimalist size is easy to store.
The double-sided design features an offset on one side and a flush fit on the other which allows you to pick which side provides the best purchase on the bottom bracket or lockring you’re trying to work with. And with non-Shimano external disc brake lockrings forever getting shallower and more prone to stripping, the tight and flush fit of this tool is quite lovely.
RWC offer this style of tool in three sizes. There’s one to suit Dura-Ace R9000/R9100 bottom brackets, one to suit 12-notch threaded 30 mm bottom brackets (such as SRAM DUB, RaceFace Cinch, Rotor BSA30 and Enduro BSA30), and one to suit the most common “24 mm” style bottom brackets and external disc brake lockrings.
Price: US$40-US$50 each.
More information: realworldcycling.com
RWC’s bottom bracket tools are a blend of the more common tool options. My general go-to is the Abbey Bike Tools bottom bracket socket, which is one of the few on the market with clearance for hub axles. I like sockets as I can pick the length of my handle and also use a torque wrench when needed. By contrast the RWC tool puts your leverage in a more direct path of where you want it (not off-axis).
A quick size comparison. The RWC tool offers a reasonable external profile, however there are better options if you require a slim fit (like some full suspension frames do).
The RWC tools can be used with any 3/8in square drive tool, including long breaker bars, ratchets or torque wrenches.
Note how the tool offers a flush fit on one side, and an offset on the other. The choice is yours.
Released late last year, the Edge+ Pro Road is the latest flagship offering from the small Swiss-based shoe company Suplest. The successor to the Edge3 Pro Road Shoe, the Edge+ Pro Road is a racing shoe with a few signature Suplest features, such as a carbon fibre reinforced tongue, insoles from Solestar, and a supple microfibre upper.
The carbon fibre plate at the tongue is designed to more evenly spread the load from the Boa IP1 wires. Beneath the carbon sits a well-padded material with a design that effectively wraps the two sides of the upper around your foot. Such an enveloping fit isn’t unique to Suplest, with the likes of Shimano and Giant offering similar, too.
The foam-core-filled carbon soles feature two ventilation ports, while the cleat mounting threads can be slid fore-and-aft. There are generous grippers at the heel and toe, although they’re not replaceable.
Sadly I haven’t been able to test these as the sizing runs a little on the short side, likely the result of a toe box that tapers in sooner than many others. Otherwise, the shoe offers a fairly normal fit in terms of width in the forefoot and room at the heel.
Price: €359 / US$400
Weight: 576 g (size EU42.5).
More information: suplest.ch
Suplest is a small company based in Bern, Switzerland. They offer well made and well-designed shoes, but finding a pair to try on for size is likely to be a barrier.
The carbon sole features a foam-filled construction.
That tongue is well-padded and protected from any pressure placed by the Boa dials. However such a design won’t allow any airflow to the top of your foot.
The insoles come from specialist German company Solestar.