Huuuh, really? We had a lot of those moments over the past 12 months; this round up has nothing to do with the ordinary and everything to do with the cool, bizarre, unexpected and downright wild. Some of these things are a delight to look at, others will make your bank account scream, and most are deserving of respect for the innovation even if it's far, far from what you’d ever want to own.
You're sticking around? Thought so, let's get into this...
Well, if you want some 3D custom-made printed open-frame carbon shoes for enhanced fit and comfort, as well as claimed increased power, LoreOne is offering some for a huuuge $1900. That's around £1,378.
The LoreOne is custom printed to your feet following an at-home foot scan using an iPhone and the Morphic app to create a personalised “sub-millimetre precision” fit.
The shoes make use of continuous carbon fibre with a CarbonAirFrame which features structurally interlocked "dorsal and plantar shells" - the idea being that these efficiently capture lateral and rotational forces produced by the foot through the pedal stroke.
This open-frame design is also claimed to make the LoreOne the most ventilated cycling shoe ever made. You’ll be relieved to know, though, that you’re not paying over one grand for shoes only suitable for blissful summer rides, Lore also has a solution for days with changeable conditions. Foul Weather AeroCovers can be wrapped around the open frame design for weatherproofing, and there are also a couple available for aero gains too.
You thought your carbon race bike with fully integrated cables was expensive but it turns out that one you can’t even ride is able to fetch a high price.
An image of a Colnago C64 bike sold for almost $8,600 (around £6,500) at auction on Opensea.io, with the Italian bike maker becoming the first – as far as we know – company within the cycling industry to have cashed in on the growing non-fungible token (NFT) trend in which digital assets are stored on a blockchain.
The digital picture incorporated elements of various historic models from the Italian brand, including the Bititan bike that Abraham Olano won the World Championships on in 1995, Anthony Charteau's polka dot jersey-winning C59 from the 2010 Tour de France, the C35 TTT that won the Team Time Trial World Championship 100km in 1994, and more.
Feedback Sports “debuted” its gravel trainer made with sustainably harvested gravel at Sea Otter Classic, saying it was hand-curated for the “most realistic ride feel”. With the recent surge in gravel-specific products, it was almost believable. Almost…
The brand later admitted it had nothing new to showcase at the big bike show and so we were all treated to a late April Fool's joke.
Cycling and coffee are a match made in heaven of course... and a Kickstarter project was launched this year for a bike handlebar holder so you won’t need to juggle your Costa cup in one hand and handlebars in the other as you cycle away on your city bike.
The carbon fibre used in this product has been repurposed from industry projects, its developers claim, basically making good use of offcuts that would usually end up in landfill.
The bonus of using carbon fibre is that it’ll damp road vibrations to lessen the force on your cup and its contents…! Because, why not.
This bell from Canyon, which promises over 85 decibels of ringing to alert others of your presence, differs from almost every other bicycle bell in that it fits in the end of a dropped handlebar rather than clamping onto the outside by the stem.
The Ring bar end bell doesn’t require any tools to fit and can be mounted on any drop handlebar.
Weight weenies need not worry, either, with the bell weighing just 40g. Canyon notes that it can only be installed on the left side if used with a bike that has a Di2 E-Tube junction box on the right bar end.
Jo Burt reviewed it for us and concluded it’s a “lovely little thing that sits quietly out the way until you want it to make some noise, but that position might be awkward for some”.
The Ring sits a long way from the tops of the bar and even the hoods, which is where a lot of people spend a large percentage of their bar time. That said, on a drop bar there's nowhere you can put a bell that's always going to be in exactly the right place because you have so many potential hand positions. At least with the end of a handlebar, it looks unobtrusive and doesn't get in the way of anything else.
Hoping more people “discover the healing power of this plant”, Honest Hemp is a British grower of organic industrial hemp and this year it added more gels and creams to its natural oil-based Hemp Active sports product line-up, with a Chamois Anti-Chafe Cream and a Deep Relief Warming Gel alongside its Active Gel.
“Fast-acting, fast-absorbing and made from all-natural extracts, these products are designed to relieve pain and help aching muscles following a heavy workout,” says Honest Hemp.
The Active range falls into Honest Hemps CBD Topical category. CBD stands for cannabidiol and is found in the hemp variety of the cannabis plant. Hemp plants, by definition, do not contain more than 0.3% THC, unlike its close relative marijuana explains Honest Hemp. THC is the compound that causes psychoactive effects, or a ‘high’. Every Honest Hemp product is 100% THC free.
“Hemp oil for topical use allows the product to absorb directly into the cannabinoid receptors, without having to pass through the digestive system or liver,” says Honest Hemp.
For the first year, inner tubes made it into one of our gadget christmas gift guides as Tubolito interestingly put a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip into its Tubo-MTB-P-SENS inner tubes.
Why? The idea is that it communicates air pressure wirelessly to riders’ smartphones for easily measuring tyre pressures on the go.
This chip is located inside the tube close to the valve, and towards the centre, so it shouldn’t be damaged if you bottom out your tyre when hitting roots, and all you need to do is open the Tubolito app and bring the smartphone close to the chip, within around 3cm. Quick and simples.
Czech bike brand Festka marked its 10th anniversary this year with 10 ultra-cool limited edition bikes based on each of its best-selling frames: Scalatore, Doppler and Rover.
All of the bikes are naked carbon with 24-carat gold detailing, including Xs on the down tubes – X as in the Roman numeral for 10, of course. Each of the Xs is further marked with the number of each bike between 1 and 10.
But that’s not all, Festka has been sharing astonishing unique finishes on its bikes throughout the year. Take this Scout gravel bike, for example, which was the result of a collaboration with artist duo Ondrash & Kasparek (Ondřej Konupčík and Radim Kašpárek).
"Ondrash & Kasparek's technique involves transferring acrylic paints from the surface of water onto canvas,” says Festka.
“We don't paint directly on canvas or a 3D object,” explains Ondrash & Kasparek. We paint on the surface of water held in a shallow tank. We pour paint on the surface using self-made tools which we call paddles. They are specially designed to keep the individual colours in parallel stripes which we blow and manipulate into the desired shapes. The canvas or the 3D object we’re painting sits at the bottom of the tank. The transfer happens by releasing the water from the tank very slowly.”
Now, this was a controversial one. Startup cycling apparel brand Go Faster attempted to interest riders with a new model for buying cycling kit that it claimed psychologically makes riders go faster.
The concept was that cyclists have to improve their average speed to be able to buy its higher level aero-optimised gear; riding for a distance of 10km or more at 26km/h (16mph) average speed “unlocks” the Level 1 jersey, and 39km/h (24mph) enables you to buy the Level 2 jersey.
The approach was also based on the idea that if you have earned your kit, then you would be proud to wear it for more than one season, in order to tackle the environmental impact of the “premature disposal of unwanted kit”.
While it’s great to see a unique sustainability-driven approach, the idea that the kit was only available to those who ride fast enough did not go down well, so much so that the Kickstarter campaign was cancelled just days after it went live after the brand learned that the cycling community was not supportive of its approach.
Go Faster said in a message to its followers: “We’ve received many messages over the last 24 hours from the cycling community, both in support of and opposed to our Kickstarter concept. Our idea was to offer performance-minded cyclists the chance to challenge themselves to improve and reward their effort with a standout jersey. But we’ve learned that the wider cycling community does not support our approach. And this is no way to start a new cycling brand.”
Looking for an indoor trainer that’ll inconspicuously stay in your living space? John Lewis is selling NOHrD’s indoor bike which comes in a stunning walnut finish that’ll match many a dining room table or sideboard.
The HindSight Edge rearview glasses, which feature an innovative two-part angled lens with semi-transparent mirrors, officially went on sale this year after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
This patent-pending lens technology claims to allow cyclists to “see forwards and backwards with a simple shift of focus rather than having to turn their heads”—for both commuter safety and a performance advantage in racing. It’s certainly an interesting concept and so we got some in for review but, alas, they do seem to be a long way off a viable alternative to a good old shoulder check.
“They can work well, if the planets are aligned and the wind is blowing in the right direction... but to nail the perfect position for the mirrored sections you'll end up looking behind you more than you are looking forward,” Stu Kerton summed up in his review.
“The thing is, the angled sections are so small (even though the glasses are still quite wide) and relatively close to your face that lining up the road behind you isn't always an easy procedure.” Then, on sunny days you also have so much reflection.
It’s not just been Festka who has been mixing it up with stylish finishes. This year Cannondale teamed up with fashion designer Stella McCartney on a series of 18 limited-edition SystemSix, SuperSix EVO and EVO CX bikes.
Check out this gallery...
The bikes which were on display in McCartney’s flagship stores in London, New York, Tokyo and Shanghai, featured designs from three artists who are part of Stella McCartney’s A/W 2021 collection: Ed Cutis from London, Myfawnwy (Maisie Broome) from New York, and Tom Tosseyn from Antwerp. They’re display only though, so although that may make you sad, your savings account is relieved.
Unsurprisingly, this picture got a lot of attention online...
Is it real? If so, how long has this poor guy been riding like this? How has nobody said anything? Was he clipping in the SPD or three-bolt? Or was he wedging the pedal between the two?
Some will say it has to be fake... if the guy 'toe cleat man' was riding with knew about cleats, and also used them, surely he could have helped, or at least avoided the ignominy or a trip to the bike shop? But then again, we've seen more than our fair share of disastrous home mechanics and maintenance over the years.
Here's the story, as told by Trench Tales on Instagram: "Two guys roll up - the second looking really awkward on his bike. First guy says 'can you help my buddy out here? He's tired of pedalling on his tip-toes, and is wondering if there's a better way you can mount his cleats!'
"I say 'alright, let me see your shoes', at which point he takes them off and hands them to me. I must have stared for two minutes straight - not uttering a word - fully expecting cosmic black holes to open up on the bottoms of those kicks."
Bike Cycles Wilmington was just pleased the profession is likely to be around for the foreseeable: "That, that right there...That gives me hope that bicycle shops will continue to be around. It is spectacular."
Some of you lot weren’t so convinced though. NotBenLopes wrote: "The wear on the cleats seals it for me. He’s been like this for a minute..." Jon Bayley's calling it fake too... “Road cleats are attached by the toe stud holes. Bolts look pristine, rest of the shoe and cleats worn - so likely a setup.”
Hövding’s £249 safety offering doesn’t look like a typical 'helmet'... and that’s because it’s not, with the Swedish brand boldly stating "the world's safest cycling helmet is not actually a cycling helmet" on its website.
Okay, yes this one isn’t actually a new product (you can watch our very own Tony Farrelly trying out version 2.0 for himself in this very entertaining video below), but what is new is how well it performed in some recent testing…
It was found to offer greater protection than standard cycling helmets, according to the results of extensive cycle helmet tests conducted by the independent French testing institute Certimoov at the University of Strasbourg.
The crash-activated airbag for cyclists bagged full marks for the protection against rear impacts, and it scored 4.5/5 for the other metrics which were frontal impact, lateral impact, oblique frontal impact, oblique lateral impact 1 and oblique lateral impact 2, while no other cycling helmet received more than 4.
How does it work? Well, ”via advanced sensors and a unique algorithm, the Hövding monitors the movement patterns of the cyclist and reacts by releasing an airbag in 0.1 seconds in the event of an accident, offering the world’s best impact absorption and protection against rotational forces,” says Hövding.
Who saw this one coming? It’s now possible to spend a whopping £175 on a bike computer mount.
Dipping its toes into 3D-printed products for the first time, Silca unveiled its titanium computer mount called Mensola that’s made in a latticework design to increase strength and save weight. Silca says that it is six to 12 times stronger than designs made by traditional methods and weighs as little as 27g.
“3D printing lets you have full control over the design of the product compared to traditional CNC methods because it’s possible to also design the interior,” says Silca. “This results in a lighter and stronger product which can be optimised in ways which are not possible by any other method.
“The [Mensola] mount takes full advantage of this by having a latticework inside instead of being made of solid titanium. This design uses techniques and concepts from architecture and aircraft design allowing for maximum strength at minimum weight, and then 3D printing allows these techniques to be applied at a scale far smaller than is possible by any other manufacturing method.”
“The load is all in the top and bottom skins, then you connect them with struts and you end up with a part that’s 15% lighter but somewhere in the order of six to 12 times stronger than any of the other products on the market.”
We can't say we've had particular problems with the strength of existing computer mounts but maybe you have?
We’re quite used to seeing lycra collections launched by current or former cycling powerhouses. CHPT3 is David Millar’s Girona-based apparel brand, and, for another example, track cyclist Jason Kenny launched some aero-focused kit (JK9) with HUUB design this year.
You may not have expected a former international rugby union star to put his name to a new black and gold cyclewear range, though. Wales’ record try scorer and former IRB World Player of the Year Shane Williams unveiled his new Agilis sportswear ranges, having found a new passion for endurance sports since retiring from professional rugby.
Williams launched 'cyclewear' and 'leisurewear' ranges, aiming to offer both high performance garments for on-bike efforts and casual threads for your downtime.