The Musette is ’ Friday series in which we take a quick look at some of the world’s best cycling gear. We’ll take a look at pro-level equipment, bikes and components, alongside some of the most desirable clothing and newest accessories in the sport.
Another week has gone by, and so it’s time to take stock of what’s arrived here at Cycling News over the last 7 days, in part to whet your appetite for upcoming reviews, and in part so we can feel #Blessed that we get to play with toys for the general bonification of the greater cycling community.
This week, in a post-Easter chocolate haze following the long weekend, we’ve been getting a first look at some bib shorts from Rapha with new materials and a hefty price tag, some stylish purple road slippers from Fizik, and a set of flagship race wheels from Hunt.
What’s more, my long term test bike from Fairlight has finally been given its first outing to dial in the setup with a blast around the local woods, so you get a sneak peek at that too.
Kettle on, feet up, treat yourself to some light journalism and then plan your weekend riding.
The Memory Map Explorer is the best possible outdoor map for harder walks and off-road riding. It transforms your PC/devices into the ultimate GPS system and it shows footpaths, bridleways and other rights of way along with thousands of points of interest! The 1:25,000 map is an intuitive and easy-to-use...
Fairlight Secan 2.5
Here at Cycling News we get to test a fair number of bikes, the majority of which are carbon or aluminium. Rarely are we treated to high-end steel, though. Getting to test the Secan 2.5 out long term should redress this imbalance somewhat, thanks to a frame constructed of custom butted Reynolds 853.
Why choose steel, then, when it’s usually seen as a material for artisanal but not necessarily performance bikes? Well, to my mind there has been a resurgence in properly high performance steel bikes over the last few years, possibly due in part to a revival in the handmade bike scene, which uses steel more than any other material. In short, I want to see how a steel gravel bike fares against other materials, and whether “steel has a springy ride quality” is just one of those phrases bandied about with no real thought.
What’s more, as a long termer, it needs to be versatile enough to allow me to test other components on; 650b or 700c, clearance up to 2.2in tyres (like these Continental Race Kings), well used standards with no mad proprietary componentry.
Fairlight doesn’t do stock builds, instead opting for a ‘choose your own adventure’ style spec list. I went for an 11spd GRX Di2 groupset, dependable 650b Hope alloy wheels, wider 44cm bars that are usually standard on their its models, and a matte black Chris King headset.
The giant 2.2in tyres might seem a bit overkill for tamer gravel riding, but a lot of my local routes in the lake district involve terrain that’s borderline MTB territory, so having a bit of extra squish will hopefully allow me to maintain some more speed when the going gets rough. Getting the tyre pressure right took a bit of experimentation, but once they’re on the money they’re a real joy. I do need to set them up tubeless though; on my first proper ride one small thorn really scuppered things. Serves me right for being impatient I suppose!
I’ve only managed about 30km so far in one frantic after work session, so I’ll refrain from offering an opinion yet other than big tyres are a lot of fun and make me want to bunny hop every puddle and speedbump.
If you want to learn a little more about the production of steel compared to other bicycle materials then our guide to how bikes are made will probably be a perfect weekend read, and to have more of a look around the Secan 2.5 then head to Fairlight.
– Reviews Writer
Hunt 60 Limitless Aero Disc
British brand Hunt Bike Wheels has a reputation for offering good wheels at great prices, backed up by even better customer service, and despite being familiar with the brand for years, I learned something recently: that Hunt isn’t only a ‘direct-to-consumer’ business. It also sells via a pretty sizeable number of brick-and-mortar stores. The reason for this, as Hunt’s Road and Gravel Brand Manager explains, is connected to The Rider Firm, the company that is most easily described as Hunt’s parent company. The ethos of The Rider Firm is a customer-first approach, and, quite simply, many of Hunt’s customers still prefer to shop in person. This customer-first approach also relates to the after-sale service, of which I’ve heard of numerous positive experiences.
That’s obviously great to hear, but it won’t turn a bad wheelset into a good one, so I’ve got my hands on a pair of the brand’s flagship wheels – the 60 Limitless Aero Disc – to see how they compare to their competitors. In fact, spoiler alert: I’ll be taking them to a wind tunnel in a few weeks to really get some comparative data, which I will use to back up my own riding experiences over the next few months. Stay tuned for that.
– Senior Reviews Writer
Rapha powerweave bibs
Sitting at the very top of its race-ready range, Rapha’s Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts are extremely lightweight and low bulk, thanks to the use of the brand’s proprietary Powerweave fabric.
Originally seen in the Rapha Pro Team Powerweave Shoes, this proprietary fabric is woven rather than knitted, which is what you’ll usually find in most traditional bib shorts. Having said that, there’s definitely been a shift towards woven fabrics lately, as seen in the Castelli Premio Black bib shorts, as they are able to provide compression and support for fatigue prevention and fast recovery, with less bulk to weigh you down on race day. The Powerweave panels can be seen running full length on each side, with a subtle Rapha logo stitched into the pattern.
The Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts are designed for high-intensity race efforts in mild to hot conditions, thanks to their high breathability and moisture wicking, the latter of which Rapha claims is twice as fast than with knitted fabrics.
They feature an open structured central back panel that’s designed to aid temperature control, while the seven-panel construction is claimed to render them 20 per cent lighter than Rapha’s Pro Team Bib Shorts. Ergonomic laser-cut bib straps are unintrusive, and feature an integrated radio pocket, the brand new race chamois pad is said to be more breathable, quicker drying, slimmer and lighter than the brand’s previous offering, and there are no regular leg grippers to speak of, thanks to the woven fabric’s ability to incorporate elastic yarns and provide a stable fit.
At £305 / $415 they’re eye-wateringly expensive. Price aside they feel absolutely luxurious against the skin, fit wonderfully, and look beautiful (unless you’re a strict ‘black bibs only’ kind of cyclist).
– Reviews Writer
Fizik Tempo Decos
It’s only been a matter of days really since Fizik released the new Tempo Decos onto the market, but I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a pair in a rather regal shade of purple. If you want the news story then head to the link above where you can find out more about the features and construction of the shoes.
I’ve yet to give them a run out as yet, as my testing recently has been of a gravelly nature and they really aren’t the best option for protracted hike-a-bike. The fit however, from popping them on about the house, is excellent; Fizik has a print at home guide to make sure you get the perfect size, which I initially forgot about. It was fortunate that I checked as the pair that fit me (a EU44) are a whole size different to my Giro and Specialized shoes. Don’t chance it; just measure your feet.
Aesthetically they’re very pleasing, though purple isn’t the easiest colour to match with kit (I think I’ll be sporting a lot of muted greens). The inside rear panel being black is a bonus for me too, as I cycle with my feet slightly bowed out and these bits always get filthy on my shoes.
For those with hot feet (me, as it happens) a perforated platform appears to be suspended above the unidirectional carbon sole, allowing air channelling to cool the whole foot. Combined with a laser-perforated upper I’m hoping to keep the sweaty feet at bay as the summer progresses.
The single BOA dial isn’t unique in the market, but it certainly adds to an uncluttered look. What really interests me about these shoes though is whether the ability to slam the cleats rearwards will have any perceptible difference in terms of performance and fatigue resistance. It’s something unusual, even among the best cycling shoes, so will it make me faster or will it just mean another bike fit metric to overthink?
– Reviews Writer