iceBike 2013: Thule, Profile, K-Edge, Finish Line, Blackburn, Kryptonite and Park Tool
New luggage, new wheels, new chain catchers, new pumps, new sprays, new locks...
We first saw Thule's Pack 'n' Pedal luggage at Eurobike last year. It's been through the mill a bit since then and emerged out the other side lighter and a bit simpler, but still looking very tidy. There's a range of different bags based around a clever adjustable rack and a flexible bar-mount.
The rack is a design that Thule bought from a New Zealand company, Freeloader. It attaches via a system of webbing straps that doesn't sound like a particularly good idea until you actually try it; in use it's very sturdy and super-adjustable for pretty much any type of bike. The racks are certified to 25kg and that includes off-road use. They cost £75 for the front loader and £85 for the rear rack.
The bags have a bunch of clever features, including a unique pannier mount (the Blade Helix, Thule call it) at the top that flips away when not in use to give a flat back to the bag. That's especially useful with the urban pannier that's designed to be carried as much on the back as on the bike. Thule use a rare-earth magnet for the bottom fixing rather than a hook or a strap, so again you get a flat surface.
The front bar mount is a circular affair. It's quite big but it allows you to mount more than one thing which is a nice feature. For instance, you could put a forward-facing bar bag on there and have your phone and some energy gels in a rear facing caddy as well. They make an iPad mount too, if touring with an iPad is your thing.
Another neat feature is the light pockets. They're made from a translucent material so you can just turn your light on and pop it in the pocket. So unlike a light loop, it'll work with any rear light, even one that's designed to be mounted to your frame and doesn't have a clip. There's one on both sides of the pannier bags so you don't have to mount them a certain way round. Also helping visibility is reflective thread built in to the fabric
The finalised bags are lighter than the samples we saw at Eurobike, and they've simplified some of the closure systems too so the range looks a bit neater than it did. They're coming soon, and price-wise they're top-end. The large Touring pannier and the Commuter pannier are both £99.99, with the small Touring pannier coming in at £84.99 as does the large bar bag. The handlebar wallet is £39.99 and the handlebar mount £34.99.
New wheels alert! Profile Design are better known for their time trial gear but they've made the decision to move further into road biking with a range of new products. At this point it's not clear how much of the new stuff we'll be seeing coming into the UK through Madison – who also have Pro components which will overlap with Profile's new range – but one thing we'll definitely get is the new wheels.
Profile's parent company is a market leader in wheels for wheelchairs, fact fans, and they're using some of that knowhow to produce some new wheels for the road, the 78/TwentyFour and 58/TwentyFour. The rims have a depth of 78mm and 58mm respectively, and a width of 24mm: it's not just a clever name. Come the summer there'll be a 38mm version too, and you can buy any combination as a pair to suit your riding. Clincher and tubular versions will be available.
The biggest deal with these wheels is that they're not entirely handmade: the core section of the wheel is woven by machine in a broadly similar way to the tubesets on Time and BMC Impec frames. Profile use a raw carbon ribbon, rather than a single thread, to make the core of the wheel which is then impregnated with resin and then baked, rather than using a hand-laid method with pre-impregnated sheets. The resulting section is much more even and stronger for a given weight, say Profile.
Once the machines have had their go, the wheel is hand-finished. The tubular rim has a deeper cut-out than normal and there's a groove running along the centre which Profile say makes it easier to apply the rim cement and get the tyre to sit right. The wider 24mm profile coupled with the deeper recess means the tyre sits lower in the rim, which apparently helps with aerodynamics.
Heat at the rim can be an issue with full carbon rims. Profile's rim can handle temperatures of up to 200°c and they claim that the braking performance is good. We'd need to point them downhill before we could comment on that, but we can comment on the price which is €1,499 for a set of 58s: not bad. Tubular weights aren't available at the moment but the clinchers weigh in at a claimed 1630g for 58s and 1820g for 78s.
We spoke to K-Edge's Joe Savola about chain catchers at icebike. We didn't know that he'd originally designed the chain catcher for his wife's bike. He's married to Kristin Armstrong, and the bike in question was her Beijing Olympic TT machine. Now everyone who's anyone has got one. K-Edge haven't rested on their laurels though.
You wouldn't really think there was much you could do with the design of a chain catcher but that's where you'd be wrong. They have a new version – they're calling it the Pro – which is a significant improvement in that it takes away the need to set up both mech and chain catcher in one go. With the Pro you install the mech with a special washer and longer bolt, and then you can fit the chain catcher separately once you've got the mech working properly. The chain catcher fits over the bolt and uses it as a pivot, but isn't actually attached to it; another, smaller, bolt is used to adjust and secure the chain catcher in place. Simple, and clever.
K-Edge are still making all their products at their base in Boise, Idaho. As well as the chain catcher they do a nice CNC Garmin mount, and new this year are a low-sitting GoPro mount that puts the camera out of the way below the level of the bars, and another, rear-facing mount that attaches to the saddle rails.
Finish line had some cool new product on show, quite literally. The Chill Zone aerosol is a combination of a penetrating solution and a freeze spray. seized parts are often made of different metals, the most common being aluminium and steel where galvanic corrosion between the two can seize a seatpost solid in short order. Penetrating oils are often used to free a seized part, and the Chill Zone takes this a step further by rapidly cooling at the same time. Because different materials contract at different rates when cooled the aerosol can open up tiny cracks for the solution to work its way into. Finish Line had one of those ace laser-targeted infra-red thermometers to show the cooling effect, although we mostly used them to aim at the foreheads of our esteemed colleagues from the press, sniper-style. Ahem. A 350ml can of Chill Zone costs 11.99, so not cheap but a lot cheaper than melting out a post and respraying a frame, so worth a go.
Blackburn have embraced colour in its many forms. Their Slick bottle cage is one of their biggest sellers and at nine quid and 23g it's good value. The Blackburn chap showed us the sample he'd been using all week to show that it was basically unbreakable; it was a bit mangled after four days of being twisted and jumped on, but still intact. It now comes in black, white, red, blue and pink so you should be able to find one to complement your steed.
The tiny Airstik SL comes in all those colours, and also green. Blackburn claim that the dual chamber design moves 37% as much air as other pumps of a similar size. You'll still be working on your tyre for a goodly while by the roadside, but since it's rated to 160psi you should be able to squeeze enough air into a road tyre to get you home okay.
One new product Blackburn were showing was the Airtower Shop Pump, a new top-end floor pump designed for heavy use. You get a braided steel hose, big 3-inch gauge and a maximum pressure of 220psi for those silk tubulars you love to get nice and firm. RRP will be about £90 when it lands, Blackburn are finalising the design right now.
Kryptonite have been busy making it easier to fit your lock to your bike when you're riding around. There's a simple bracket that attaches to a webbing strap that will fit to your seatpost or your rear triangle if you don't have room in the middle of your bike. There's also a handlebar carrier which fits to your bars, with the lock fitting round the bars and securing with Velcro straps.
As well as that Kryptonite have a new range of integrated chains, They're designed to be as secure as possible, with the locking deadbolt going through the last loop of the chain. The series 4 chain, with 10mm links, is rated to Sold Secure Gold and will cost you £44.99. The Series 2 chain uses a slightly thinner 9mm link and is rated to Silver on the Sold Secure test. Probably worth forking out the extra fiver.
Lastly but not leastly, check out Park's PRS33 Power Lift shop repair stand. It uses an electric motor and chain drive to lift bikes up to a maximum of 54kg. If you simply must have the poshest home workshop around, you'll need to kiss goodbye to £1,299. Or another £799 on top of that if you want it double sided...