A lot of interesting and extremely impressive new products have passed through the road.cc office in 2015, and I’ve been fortunate to test some of them. Here are some of my standout products from the past year.
Focus Izalco Max Disc
Billed as the lightest production disc road bike, the brand new Izalco Max Disc is a fully-fledged carbon fibre road bike that has been given the disc brake treatment. A 56cm SRAM Red model weighs a claimed 6.8kg, right on the UCI weight limit. More impressive than its lack of weight though is the way it rides, which is stunning. It does everything you expect of a top-end race bike but is enhanced by the extra control the disc brakes provide.
Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket
Cycle clothing has come an incredibly long way in the last decade, and it's winter clothing that the most impressive advances have been made. Sportful's recent Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket is a good example of this development, combining rain protection with adequate breathability that ensures it keeps you well protected whatever the weather, without leading to any overheating.
Oakley Jawbreaker Prizm Road glasses
Yes, they're seriously expensive, but the new larger lens design means an almost completely unobstructed line of vision, whether you're cruising along with your head up, or with your head down in a road race bunch. The fit is perfect, they're comfortable, and the lens can be easily changed out for another to suit the conditions.
Granted I've only ridden it for a very short time, but Cannondale's mould-breaking new Slate, one of the interesting new bikes to come out this year, demonstrated great road bike performance and ability to tackle rougher tracks with more confidence than most other regular road bikes. Let's just say I was impressed. Cannondale sure looks to have delivered a potentially genre defining bike here. A full test will shed more light on this new bike in 2016.
Raleigh Roker Pro
British brand Raleigh is on its roll. I was hugely impressed with the entry-level Criterium aluminium road bike for combining good performance and value for money, but the Roker Pro blew me away. An adventure/all-road bike with a light and responsive carbon frame, SRAM's category defining Rival 1x groupset and hydraulic disc brakes, it's a bike that can turn its hand to any sort of riding and not be phased.
Fabric Line Elite saddle
Cycling would be nothing without a comfortable saddle to sit on, and Fabric's burgeoning range of saddles includes the very nice new Line. It's based on the Scoop but is a bit narrower (ideal for racers) and the recessed channel reduces pressure on your sensitive bits. Looks good too, and not too badly priced.
Bowman Pilgrims Disc frameset
Road bikes are changing, and the Pilgrims is a good example of the push towards wider tyres, disc brakes and capability for tackling more than just the smooth roads. Road bike geometry but right at home in the rough, with a light and stiff aluminium frame that is light on the wallet (compared to anything made from carbon fibre) and designed with disc brakes in mind. More of this in 2016, please, bicycle industry.
SRAM Rival 1 groupset
SRAM's new single chainring groupsets raised plenty of eyebrows this year, and after spending several months riding the cheapest Rival 1 version, it's clear SRAM has created a groupset that will work for many cyclists and bikes. Reduced gear range yes, and slightly bigger jumps between certain ratios, but improved simplicity, cleaner aesthetic and lower maintenance are big pluses that make it work on the road.
Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail tubeless wheels
With disc brakes getting more popular, there's naturally more demand for decent wheels. And more width too. The Grail's combine a 21mm internal width aluminium rim with tubeless compatibility and disc-specific hubs, and an appealing weight and price, to offer a wheelset that is well suited to any new disc-equipped road/adventure/gravel/touring/Audax bike.
Velotoze Tall Cover overshoes
Sometimes it's the simple products that stick out in your mind. These overshoes do a grand job of keeping wind and rain out of your shoes, and probably make you more aerodynamic as well (though that needs verifying in a wind-tunnel to be sure). Don't break the bank either.
Here's to testing more interesting new bicycle products in 2016.
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